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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Epitaph for Doc Schlosser

I received some distressing news today. I was told that an old friend of mine had died. I'm not sure when; it could have been this year or last year or maybe even the year before that. It was that type of friendship. We could go for months or years without seeing each other, lose touch, come and go in our travels and then reconnect on a sidewalk or over drinks in a bar. We didn't call each other or visit much; we were occasional drinking buddies. The main thing is that I will miss him. Doc, as most everyone knew him, was a genuine character and a great storyteller. He had an accent that was hard to place and a lyrically rhythmic speech pattern. I always thought it sounded like a blend of Georgia elite and New Orleans hustler. Another thing that he did effortlessly was knowing where to put a punch line. This talent he was either born with or learned during his tenure as a stand-up comedian in New Orleans during his younger days. I'd always heard that he probably could've taken that career somewhere if only the club owners had figured out that they should give him an early slot instead of putting him on at 11 at night. If they'd have put him on at 8 or 9 they could have had him before he'd started drinking. That's right, Doc was an unrepentant drinker. He was also well-spoken, apparently educated and as sharp as straight-razor.  By the time I met him, in the early 90's, he was already on the skids, he was perpetually broke or about to be and, it always seemed that he had either just gotten out of jail or was in the process of trying to avoid it. He lived in conditions that would be unacceptable to most people, sleeping on floors or mattresses loaned to him or in one of the old beaters that he drove around. He had a wonderfully self-deprecating way of looking at his condition; he made fun of it and laughed about it and turned it into stories.

He told a story about being arrested in the French Quarter in New Orleans which was typical of the “Doc affliction", his self-inflicted curse. He had been relieving himself between two parked cars when a New Orleans police officer walked up. She was short and, according to Doc, somewhat rotund. When she started to rouse him, he looked her up and down and said, in his gently sarcastic drawl, “I thought that the New Awlins City Po-lice had height and weight re-kwiya-ments.” He caught six charges for that one, including resisting arrest. This was Doc, he had a cavalier approach to situations which usually led to a negative outcome for him. He was definitely the sole author of the tragicomedy that was his life.
 
There are probably as many stories told about Doc as there were stories told by him; here is one of mine. Once upon a time, I owned a business in downtown Vicksburg. It was a modest business but I had put everything I had into it and was struggling to make it work. Doc had been living in the store next door to mine as a guest of the owners. He was allowed to sleep there at night in exchange for “night-watch” duties, errands, and various chores but, mostly just to help him out. It was just days away from Christmas and to say that my business was very slow is being generous. The only reason I went in every day was to get the mail and lie in wait for the occasional customer. My sole employee, John, had been letting some “raisin buck” ferment in my darkroom. Raisin buck is a toxic concoction not completely unlike wine, the manufacture of which had been learned while my employee was incarcerated. I'm not sure of the etymology of the word “buck” or the use of it instead of wine in this case; it may have something to do with the fact that it was fermented in a garbage bag or the involuntary spasm that hits you on the first sip. No customers had darkened my door for over a week and we were just sitting around staring at each other wondering what we were going to do when Doc stopped by for a visit. We started talking and Doc was telling stories and being the consummate entertainer when I got the idea for a small impromptu Christmas party. I told my employee to go down and get the raisin buck and we'd all have a drink to pass the time. It wasn't half-bad and I didn't think it would blind us, so we continued to drink the stuff while Doc cracked jokes. Vicksburg's mayor had, several years earlier, started a tradition of making the rounds of businesses with a film crew to get holiday greetings from business owners to air on the local television station. He had also started a tradition of completely ignoring my business for these promotional spots. So of course, he picked this moment to decide to stop ignoring me. He ambushed us and got a holiday greeting from the three of us: my employee, Doc and myself; all of us aglow and half inebriated from the fermented buck. I think I may have even offered him a cup. I wish that I had a picture of me and John standing there with our cups, Doc in the background, smiling and waving.
 
Doc's name was John M. Schlosser, and he would tell people that the “M” stood for Moderation (it really stood for Mason) and that his last name had “loser” in it. He was a genuine character. It was said that he could clear out a bar faster than an angry man with a gun but, while most people would try to avoid him, I was always glad to find a seat next to him. I've been told, several times in the past, that a friend had passed away only to find out later that I had been misinformed. I hope this is the case with Doc and that I'll run into him somewhere one day and we'll have a few drinks and tell some stories.

Update:  A mutual friend confirmed that Doc was taken off the respirator at River Region Hospital and passed away on June 11, 2012.  Your friends are gonna miss you, Doc.

Jimmy Bishop

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Now For Something Completely Different - My Illustration Work

I figured that since I've been sharing a good bit of my experiences and stories on here that I would add another dimension, my artwork.  I wanted to be an illustrator for as long as I could remember and even spent a couple of years at The Florida School of the Arts in Palatka, FL studiying graphic design.  I even won the Art Council's Scholarship after my first year.  Unfortunately, life intervened and I didn't finish my degree.  I owned my own business for a while designing logos and graphics, printing shirts and painting signs.  Anyway, here are some of my pieces for your perusal.
 
Sam Kinison - One of the greats.

  Sam Kinison is a photo manipulation done using Photoshop software


 
American Queen at Vicksburg
 American Queen at Vicksburg is a photo manipulation done using Photoshop software
 
 
 
The Bride - Inspired by Poe's Premature Burial and other stories

The Bride was rendered digitally using an Intuos 3 tablet and Corel Painter 9 software


 
Ambrose - Inspired by Addams Family and Grimsly's Children
Ambrose was rendered using an Intuos 3 tablet and Corel Painter 9 software.
 
 


Chickens of War - I wanted to do something absurd, it was almost Guinea Pigs of War
Chickens of War was rendered digitally using an Intuos 3 tablet and Corel Painter 9 software.
 

Wood Nymph - rendered in traditional methods using India Ink and brush
 Wood Nymph was rendered using traditional methods with India Ink and brush on watercolor paper.



Scratch - Always a fan of 60's and 70's comic art, I wanted to do something in that style
Scratch was rendered digitally using an Intuos 3 tablet and Corel Painter 9 software.
 
 
 
Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton is a photo manipulation using Photoshop software 
 
 
 
Cthulhu
Cthulhu was rendered digitally using an Intuos 3 tablet and Corel Painter 9 software and, yes, I know, no wings
 
 
 
Where's the Party?
Where's the Party was rendered using a combination of methods.  I first drew the design in pen and ink, then scanned it into CorelDraw and converted it to a raster file to manipulate the colors.  It was a commission for a Mardi Gras Crewe to use on their t-shirts.
 
 
Thanks for looking, maybe I'll post some more once I get more of the traditionally worked pieces scanned or photographed.  Maybe I'll even get inspired to do some new work.
 
All images copyrighted by Keith Browning


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Kraken - A Beast of a Spiced Rum


 
In nautical lore, few beasts have inspired more awe and fear than the Kraken. In Norwegian mythology, it was huge, the size of an island with arms that could reach up to the top of the masts on the tall ships. It was big enough to attack a sperm whale...and win. In the thirties, there were reports that they occasionally attacked modern ships, but caught the worst of it when they encountered the propellers. The point being that, even though not the beasts of myth, these giant squids were large enough to mistake a ship for a sperm whale and attack it; a truly daunting creature.

Tonight, I am releasing The Kraken, The Kraken Spiced Rum that is. Like the beast of myth, the spiced rum is pretty daunting at a hefty 94 proof (that's 47% alcohol for the mathematically challenged). The first thing you notice is the cool double-loop handles on the jug-like bottle, pretty authentic looking and definitely nothing candy-assed here. A nautical-themed label depicting a Kraken attacking a ship...cool. The liquid inside is as opaquely black as the area where the weak brain cells used to reside inside my skull before I started thinning the herd. It is downright inky...nice.
 
About to release The Kraken
 
It was the looks of this bottle and the liquid that it contains which first drew my attention; its lack of frivolity intrigued me. It just looked like it was “all business”. I took the plunge and bought a fifth to try out. My first test was straight over the rocks, just to see what we're working with here. The first swallow (not a taste, mind you...a swallow) spoke to me on a primal level. It said, “Damn, that's a spicy burn.” It was a little like vanilla flavored kerosene. Then I regrouped and had another drink. The spices came through nicely, though there's still a burn (94 proof, remember?), it's a good burn. It's a good burn the way that a good alcohol drink is supposed to burn, enough to send some fire to your core and to let you know that you're still alive. The vanilla comes through nicely.
 
The second test was to mix a little Coke with it (I started with about a half-and-half mix), it would seem that it is the perfect blend. I have mixed few things with Coke that supported and complimented the mix as well as The Kraken (Bacardi Select is a close second as far as taste). The spice punches through the Coke flavor at just the right velocity. I have tried other spiced rums and The Kraken beats them all in my book. The flavor is great, it's a potent drink, and it is not one of those over-priced, over-advertised disappointments. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The Kraken is distilled in Trinidad and Tobago and blended with 13 secret spices, which is 2 more than Colonel Sanders used on his chicken.  Also, it is gluten, wheat, nut, & lactose free as well as vegan, for anyone who gives a shit.
 
Now, let me add my disclaimer so that all the pretentious pricks who have made it this far will feel vindicated:

If you've made it this far or have read any of my other posts, you know that I'm not a connoisseur nor sophisticated in my opinions, I am a drinker. I don't swirl my drinks in glasses, sniff at them and talk about 'bouquet', nor do I talk about the subtleties in a blend. It's simple, I like to drink and I especially like to drink things that (1) taste good, and (2) will aid me in my quest for inebriation.  I'm Irish, I work in a bar and in a liquor store and I feel that it is my duty to drink as much of that sweet elixir as possible.  Having said that, I will give The Kraken a hearty thumbs up and my own stamp of approval, an endorsement, if you will (are you listening, liquor companies? Reciprocate!). It fills my needs on both levels. This is something that I will buy again and suggest that my friends try. And yes, I do have friends, very interesting friends as a matter-of-fact, thank you.

As always, I will post a 'morning-after' report when that information becomes available.

The morning-after (or in my case, the afternoon-after) came without any ill after-effects, no headache, nothing. Just a little laziness, but I'll attribute that to the "sleep aids" that I took at 6:00 this morning to try and overcome my chronic insomnia.  So, my final verdict is that The Kraken is a quality product and my initial endorsement still stands.
 
And a thousand, thousand slimy things lived on and so did I.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Coleridge
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Battle of New Orleans - July 17, 1976

This is an older post from several years ago.  I'm bringing it back for a couple of reasons.  (1) I'm considering consolidating all my old blog posts into one location and, (2) because someone who had read it before requested it.  So here it is, warts and all!

Trying to remember all of the concerts that I have experienced made me think about some of the circumstances surrounding these events. I call them events, not in the same way that promoters refer to them as events but, in the sense that, in those lost days from the 60’s to some point in the 90’s, they were truly events, milestones in a teenager’s life. It was a chance to go see the artists that you’d idolized and listened to on recordings endlessly and only occasionally got to see on television.

You could read about them in magazines like Rolling Stone. Back then, Rolling Stone magazine was an important and relevant publication, worthy of the money you spent on it. It was an edgy magazine with great articles and writers, and the musicians were interesting trend-setters and experimenters. Rock and roll music was still in its adolescence and was not yet accepted into the mainstream and was frowned upon by most of society. Information on musicians used to be hard to come by, especially if you lived in the outlands. There were no 24 hour-a-day music channels on television and they weren’t the mainstream social entities that they are now. Today, Rolling Stone magazine is not worth putting in the bottom of a bird cage. It has been sold and sanitized and filled with talentless, plastic poseurs who put out pre-fabricated recordings of meaningless tripe.
 
Most of these concert events were wild road trips with caravans of friends in different vehicles, loaded with passengers and party supplies, roaring along the highway blasting music and pre-gaming for the show. I figured that there were some that would be worth writing about. Here is one.


 
I had been out partying with a couple of friends all night and, with the arrival of morning, the glaze of the night before became painfully apparent. We had been smoking and drinking for hours and the grimy crust of an all-nighter hung on us like a parasite. We had drunk beer and wine all night and smoked ourselves into a near catatonic state. The sun was coming up and we were faced with the decision to find somewhere to rest or to keep going. We were just sort of cruising around and winding down when an advertisement on the radio announced that The J. Geils Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top were playing at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans that night. Well, that was only about two hundred miles away, three hours driving time, give or take and, at the time, ZZ Top was the big dog. They were outselling The Rolling Stones and were traveling with the world's biggest sound system packed in nine semi trucks. The tickets were $12.50 each at the gate, remember this was 1976. My buddy, let's call him Rat because many years later that's what his nickname turned out to be, said, "I'll buy the tickets and pay for the gas if we can take your car." That sounded just about as reasonable as it could be, to a sixteen year old who'd never been to New Orleans, so I agreed.
 
We spent some time around town picking up a couple of other friends along the way, we’ll call them Willie and Randy. See how this is already starting to become an “event”? At the time I was driving a pretty ragged out '67 Chevy Malibu with worn out shocks and a really good stereo system (typical '70's style). The shocks were non-existent so anytime I had passengers in the back seat the tail pipe would drag when you hit a bump. In the 70’s you could get away with driving a car like that and even be very successful with the ladies. Then, not many kids our age were driving cars that were as good as or better than their parents, unlike now. After stocking up on more party supplies, we were off, I just didn't know how "off" we were going to be before it was all over with.
 
Being only sixteen, I felt like the only proper thing to do in this situation was to let my parents know where I was going. I also knew that, given the chance, they'd probably forbid it, so I was elated to spot my younger brother playing in the yard when I drove up. He was four at the time and I figured that he was more than capable of delivering the message so I leaned out the window and said, "Hey! Tell Mom and Dad that I'm going to New Orleans to see ZZ Top, I'll be back tomorrow," and then I left. I was feeling really responsible and good about myself, having done the right thing.
 
The first indication that we may be in for a less than pleasant experience was when, before we even cleared the city limits, we were pulled over by a cop. Rat was driving because I was still sort of blown out from the previous evening's debaucheries and besides, he knew The Way. I was hunkered down in the passenger seat trying to be invisible when the cop thrust his huge head into the car to look us over. I can remember squinting up at him through red, puffy eyes and seeing the little alligator style, roach clip that I had clamped on the visor rubbing all over the top of his cop hat. I just tried harder to be invisible by closing my eyes and squishing lower into my nest. He made some comment about us needing new tires and let us go on our way.
"Jesus!" I thought, "I can't believe that lunatic is just going to let us go, doesn't he realize that he'll be responsible for whatever happens to us from this point on! Oh, well, whatever happens will be on that crazy bastard's head."

The next time that I opened my eyes we were somewhere in the bowels of downtown Mobile, Alabama. I looked up with one eye and saw a One Way street sign slide past my window with the arrow pointing toward the rear of my car. I sat up and looked around. I was disoriented and needed desperately to get my bearings. I was also a little concerned about the sign which seemed to be at odds with the direction we were taking. I considered the possibility that it could be an omen.

"Hey. Rat. That sign said One Way"
"I'm only going one way" was his reply.
"Oh."

That sounded like a reasonable answer.

We were in Mobile to stop by someone's (I forget whose) sister's house. Why? I don't know. I guess to raid the refrigerator and see if there was anything we could steal because that’s probably what we did. After about an hour we were back on the road, finally, some interstate travel.
 
The closer we got to the venue, the more carloads of "heads" and young people we saw. In one of these cars were some cute, girls who were about our age. They pulled beside us and held up a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey. We didn't have whiskey but we did have weed, so we held up a joint. They motioned for us to pull to the side of the highway and we sat beside I-10 sharing our weed and their whiskey. They were on their way to the same concert so we had plenty to talk about. After this short interlude we resumed our noisy, sodden journey.
 
When we reached the Tulane area of New Orleans it became apparent that there had been no provisions made for parking this many vehicles. We got as close as we could and just pulled up onto the median or 'neutral ground', if you’re using the local patois, in the middle of Tulane Avenue. We weren't the only ones doing that, Tulane Avenue had turned into one long parking lot with crowds of concert goers walking along the sidewalks carrying bottles, backpacks and ice chests. This was the party! We were there! We got out and locked the wreck up and fell into the procession. We were walking behind a guy who was carrying two plastic gallon milk jugs with some murky looking liquid sloshing around in them. Assuming it was wine we asked for some and in the post hippie spirit of the mid-seventies he was happy to oblige. After taking a few good pulls on the neck of the jug, I think it was Randy who said,

"Man, that's some shitty tasting wine!"
"That's not wine, it's mushrooms." Psilocybin, woops.
"Oh."

That didn't faze us, being the veterans that we were. It just set the tone for the rest of the day, weirdness.

As we approached the gates where the crowd was being bottle-necked into the arena it got tighter and tighter. Randy, who was a couple of years younger than us and much smaller, said that his feet weren't even touching the ground. He was just mashed up in the crowd and being swept along. I reached over the shoulders of several people and got a hand on him to try and keep him from being separated from us. We finally got inside and found some seats in the stands to call headquarters. Anyone who was ever at an outdoor concert like this in the seventies knows that it is a non-stop hedonistic orgy of excesses and this one was no different. The gates opened at three and J. Geils wouldn't start until around seven. Loud music was blasting from house-sized speakers and everywhere there was fun. F-U-N fun. More fun than is allowed, more fun than is legal, more fun than we should be having. So much fun that it could scare the shit out of you. Smoking, drinking, tripping, fighting, puking, necking, running, shouting and dancing. Fun fun fun. It was as if someone had opened the back door to a lunatic asylum and let them all out into a fenced yard to romp in the evening air. Small town Alabama was never like this, even on Saturday night. It was a lot to take in.

The J. Geils Band got started a little before it got completely dark and put on rollicking good show. Peter Wolf was dancing and scat-singing like an amped-up version of King Louie from the Jungle Book, yes, like an orangutan ripped to the tits on crank. I never knew that the human body could move that way.
Soon, after they finished their set and left the stage trouble started brewing. We saw a commotion and looked into the crowd on the ground in front of where we were sitting and saw a blue knot sliding through it. It looked like a big blue porcupine because on top of the blue mass were all these spines sticking up bristling and moving. Then we realized that the spines were night sticks being wielded by the New Orleans City Police who were moving through the crowd stomping the shit out of everything too slow or too stupid to move. What got all this started we never knew, but as soon as the crowd in the upper seats noticed what was going on it turned into a bottle throwing competition. Bottles floated out of the night sky from every direction aimed at the blue mass of law enforcement storm troopers down there. After the aerial assault had gone on for a while and the cops had slowed their beatings down in favor of covering up their heads, someone came on stage and made a statement over the P.A. system.
"Hey, everybody, calm down! Calm down! We're all out here trying to have a good time, now, don't ruin it, just calm down…and will the New Orleans City Police please leave the stadium!"
 
Holy shit! Really? They can say that?  And get away with it? It was an epiphany! If you have a big enough crowd on your side and a microphone plugged into a big enough P. A. system, you can get away with saying all kinds of stuff.

At the sound of this last part of the announcement the crowd erupted in a deafening roar of approval. This went on the entire time that the police worked their way back out of the crowd like a bunch of whipped dogs. I still don't know what sparked that whole incident off and I don't know how asking the New Orleans Police to leave the stadium really worked, but it did. Many years later I heard that one of the cops had been paralyzed by someone dropping an ice chest on his head from the top of the stands. I don't know if this is true or not, I hope not, that’s somewhat severe. I also heard that this incident had a lot to do with the closing of Tulane Stadium and that they didn’t have any more concerts there after this one, I don't know if that's true either, but it did close. What I do know is that they had one there, one time, and we were there.

A little later another announcement was made stating that due to some airplane trouble (ironic, isn’t it?) that Lynyrd Skynyrd would not be able to make the show that night. It was a terrible disappointment because I never got another chance to see them before their plane crashed in a swamp in Mississippi a year later. But to make up for it ZZ Top came on and put on a hell of a show.

Three spotlights hit the stage illuminating a cactus with a vulture (I think it was a vulture) perched on it to one side of the stage, a bison on the other side of the stage, a guy holding up what we assumed to be a rattlesnake in the center of the stage and long horn steers all on a huge Texas shaped plywood stage.  Then, they introduced ZZ Top. If there had been a roof on the place it would have been blown off. This was their 1976 world tour, back when they were still just a little old band from Texas and they were blues fueled, raucous and kicked ass. They started out just like the live side of their album (some of you will recognize the term “album side”) Fandango with "Thunderbird" and rocked the rest of the night.

ZZ Top wound up returning to the stage for seven encores that night for over 50,000 fans. At the end of the last encore a curtain was lowered with "Adios Amigos" emblazoned across it to the strains of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" playing over the P.A. system to usher us all peacefully out into the New Orleans night.

By then we were completely wrung out and exhausted. We made our way out of the stadium and back to the car in the middle of the median where we had to sit and wait for traffic to clear before we could move. It was a pretty long wait if memory serves. On the three hour drive back Rat decides that he's had enough and wants to pull over to sleep, after a brief argument I took the wheel and brought us back home without incident.

It was a wild ride on a wild highway and one of those experiences that helps us to become who eventually turn out to be. That is life, that’s what life is. It is a series of experiences each of which changes you in some way to make you the person that you are right now. Ten minutes from now you may have had an experience that turned into a different person, that’s who you’ll be then. There are an awful lot of instances of questionable behavior and wrong turns stowed away back there in my youth, some of it dangerous and irresponsible. Everyone likes to think about going back to their youth and knowing then what I know now, but you know, if a person were to go back and fix all of their mistakes they would surely be an entirely different person. In some cases that may be an improvement but in most I’d say, probably not.

They began demolition on Tulane Stadium in November 1979, but in my mind it will always be there on July 17, 1976 the place where, at sixteen, I was part of the biggest party in New Orleans for one night. I won't ever forget my first trip to New Orleans to that concert thirty-one years ago. My mother won't let me.


The names have been changed to protect the lawless, criminal swine who took part in this shameful episode but the dates, places and events are all true.
Keith Browning - 2007
 
I still have this but I have no idea where my keys are

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Origin of 'The Howler'

When my friend, Lee, and I first moved to New Orleans in 1991, it was like we had landed on a different planet. I had never been anywhere even remotely like it, and haven't since. It has its own look and feel. Hell, it even has it's own atmosphere. I'm not talking about it's attitude or the personality of the place, I'm saying it had it's own atmosphere. When you enter New Orleans you can feel the very air around you change, not to mention the smell. That's not to say that it's always unpleasant, like the piss and vomit odor that is always present around Bourbon Street (except in the summertime when it smells like piss, vomit and armpits), it's just different. It even has it's own aura; it's never completely dark in New Orleans, at night the sky is a weirdly glowing pink color.

The people who live there are why New Orleans such a wondrous place, but you have to be there for a while and be accepted before you really understand that. New Orleans has the face that tourists and casual visitors see, but when you live there and you get to know some of the characters, you get the feeling that you've been allowed behind the curtains at the world's most bizarre freak show. That's when you start making friends with some of the hustlers and screwballs and you begin to realize that all of them aren't really crazy, sometimes that's just their job. One of my early-morning coffee buddies had, at one time, been a CPA. She was working, during the time that I knew her, as a hooker around the Shrewsbury-Airline Highway area of Metairie. During tax season she would revert back to her old ways and do tax returns for some of her clientele...for a fee. One of the more memorable things that I remember her saying to me was one morning when we were sitting outside drinking our coffee when, out of the blue she said, "I'm so sick of all this fucking coke. I really wish some decent heroin would hit town".  As far as I could tell, there was no response necessary; I couldn't even think of one that qualified. Or like some of those strange, outlandish characters in the French Quarter that you can make donations to and then take their picture or have your picture taken with them. We got to know a couple of them and hung out with them on occasion, and the face paint, masks, beads, baubles and costumes was just their job. They go stand in the French Quarter and let people take pictures of them for money. Then they go home and take off their costumes and have a whole other life that most observers never consider. Some of them make very good money doing this, by the way.
 
There are characters in New Orleans though, who are far too crazy to be allowed within reach of you and we encountered one that we named 'The Howler'. Our first encounter with The Howler scared the hell right out of us, mostly because it was so shockingly unexpected. We were in Lee's car and had stopped at a traffic light, we had seen the man when we pulled up, he was black, wore dreadlocks, dressed a little scruffy and was carrying a plastic shopping bag. The windows were down and we were just enjoying being where we were at the time and all was right in our world. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angry scream punched it's way into the interior of the car like a rocket-launched grenade. We both jumped like rabbits and looked at each other like we were trying to figure out which direction to bolt while I scrambled to roll the window up and get some glass between us and this menace. I guess the poor fellow must have been suffering from some fiendish tourettes-like affliction because he just kept standing there yelling and screaming incoherent obscenities in the most frightening way imaginable. The light finally changed and we were able to leave the intersection without further molestation. We continued to see The Howler around town occasionally; always dressed the same, carrying the shopping bag, and always walking down the sidewalk screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs. It was intimidating as hell but we sort of got used to it.
 
Live music is a huge part of New Orleans life, that city is music. We used to attend every show that we could possibly manage. We went with a group of friends to see a show at the RC Bridge Lounge one night in the middle of the week. There was a pretty large group and everyone split into about five different vehicles to make the trip. We drank and jumped around in the mosh pit and slammed into each other and, in general, had a great time. As the night wound down our group began to filter out. I'm guessing (hoping) that each of my friends who had driven that night assumed that I would be riding with someone else because when the night was over, I was alone. I was drunk, exhausted, sweaty and stranded. I also had to be at work in Metairie at seven o'clock in the morning, which, by this time was only about three-and-a-half hours away. So, I began walking. Let me stop here to give a the reader a description of myself to set the scene. I'm 6'3 and, at the time, weighed around 240 lbs. I had very long hair, which was sweaty and hanging in my face. I imagine that I was sort of an imposing sight, especially in my old army field jacket, jeans, t-shirt and combat boots. So, there I was, walking and thinking about my friends who had left me in this situation. I didn't have enough cash for a cab and it was a fairly long walk across town. At four or five in the morning, New Orleans streets are sometimes still pretty populated so there were a lot of people around. The more I walked and stewed, the madder I got. Before long I was muttering a pretty steady stream of obscenities, punctuated occasionally with a loud, “FUCK!” or “GODDAMMIT!” and I began to notice people shying away on the street ahead of me, giving me nervous looks and refusing eye contact. Couples were crossing the street to avoid me. Then it hit me, “Holy shit! I know what's wrong with The Howler, somebody brought him down here and left him, and he's walking around still pissed-off about it.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Extolling the Virtues of Alcohol: Troisième Partie

Absinthe...what can one say?  Some of the greatest, most creative minds of our time have enjoyed, and probably been destroyed by it's sweet, slightly hallucinongenic qualities.  I have long wanted to tame the "green fairy" but there was a stumbling block.  Apparently, sugar cubes are not easy to find these days, or weren't.  A friend of mine aquired some Absinthe from overseas a while back, before it was legal here, and they searched high and low for sugar cubes to no avail.  So, many attempts were made to use substitutions or just say, "fuck it" and drink it.  The last option is not a viable one, it can be drunk straight but it tastes like a bag of rancid assholes.  After a long time of being unwelcome in this country in its genuine form (with Wormwood) it was finally approved.  Apparently, the "powers-that-be" looked at Wormwood with a jaundiced eye, not being sure of it's hallucinogenic qualities or how it would affect the populace.  I'm sure that they thought it would bring down western civilization.  One critic is quoted as saying,

"Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country".

Sounds about right.


The Green Fairy is about to become my bitch


Here's what Wikipedia says:

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45–74% ABV / 90-148 proof) beverage.  It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (a.k.a. "grand wormwood"), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but may also be colourless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" (the green fairy). Although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a liqueur, absinthe is not traditionally bottled with added sugar, and is therefore classified as a spirit. Absinthe is traditionally bottled at a high level of alcohol by volume, but is normally diluted with water prior to being consumed.
Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It arose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Owing in part to its association with bohemian culture, the consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Ernest Hemingway, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers.
Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug.  The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Any psychoactive properties attributed to absinthe, apart from that of the alcohol, have been much exaggerated.

Absinthe without Wormwood is like Near Beer, just sort of pointless.  So, I've been lovingly looking at the beautiful gift packs of Absente in The Liquor Store for weeks but feeling depressed because of the (reportedly) shortage of sugar cubes.  Tonight, I got the call from Jenifer, my daughter, she had found my sugar cubes (Walmart, dur).  That was the deciding factor, I bought the Absinthe.  I am now into my fifth glass and, I must say, it is a rather "heady" high.  It seems to be a social drug, but on a small scale.  I can see that sharing a bottle with a like-minded friend with some good conversation would be pleasant, whereas, sitting in a bar with an obnoxioulsy loud juke-box blaring the most current mindless tripe into your cerebreum would probably be miserable and may drive a weaker individual to suicide.

It is anise based, so it has a flavor reminiscent of black jelly beans or licorice.  If you don't like this flavor, Absinthe is probably not for you.  There is a ritual that goes with drinking Absinthe, that's where the sugar cubes come in.  You need to get ahold of a gift set with a glass and an Absinthe spoon.  I bought the Absente brand, which is 110 proof, or 55% alcohol.  The glass that I have has a bulb shape on the bottom which holds approximately two ounces of the precious fluid, which is the proper amount for your drink.  After pouring the Absinthe into the glass, lay the spoon across the top of the glass and place the sugar cubes on the spoon (I prefer two cubes). I know that, at least in one popular movie, the sugar cubes are set on fire.  I have it on good authority that this can lead to disatrous results (thanks for the heads-up Clay) so, even though sorely tempted, refrained from setting anything on fire.  Pour three ounces of cold water over the sugar cubes to dissolve them into the drink.  It should turn a light murky greenish color, sort of like lemonade.  After the sugar is dissolved, stir the mixture with the spoon, sip, repeat as needed.

I am currently eight glasses into this experiment and have been feeling the effects since the very first glass.  Although there have been no noticeable hallucinations, I noticed that my ability to speak with clarity had diminished by the second glass and typing this has been riddled with backspaces.  It also, apparently, has time-travel qualities.  I've been drinking for about two hours but my watch says that five hours have passed.  Curious.  I will have to invesigate this further.  I will also have to update this blog at the completion of the experiment to inform about after-effects.

L'Absinthe, by Edgar Degas, 1876
Okay, here's the "morning-after" update.  No hangover, no more lethargy than normal.  All systems seem to be "go".  It was a very pleasant high with no negatives as far as I can tell.  Mellow.

     "Absinthe has a wonderful color, green. A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset?"
                                                                                              ~Oscar Wilde

If you'd like to really get into some Absinthe and don't mind spending a little, here's a link to some quality brands and some of the paraphernalia.
http://www.absintheclassics.com/

Here is a page with more information about the history of Absinthe and the controversial ingredient Thujone.  (Thanks Megan).
http://www.thujone.info/

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Extolling the Virtues of Alcohol: Part Dos


I took on a personal challenge a few days ago, I decided that I should tackle the Tower of Margarita at my favorite local restaurant, El Sombrero. This is a three-foot tall monstrosity that holds about three liters; enough Margarita to stimulate your pineal gland. The Tower caught my attention when I saw a group of about five people sharing one. I did some quick calculations and, knowing my appetite and capacity, came to the conclusion that I could take one of these things down. El Sombrero is a very nice establishment with a professional and friendly staff and I couldn't think of a better place for this kind of thing, so the location was chosen. I wanted to approach this project like the professional that I am, so I knew I had to have a research team. I needed experienced drinkers whom I knew I could count on to comport themselves with dignity and grace, no matter what condition that we wound up in and, more importantly, at least one who was responsible enough to act as our driver. The team came together easily, two friends, Carla and Cheryl, said they were up to the challenge so the plan was set. We would take on The Tower on Sunday, September 16.


As a statement, it speaks for itself

Carla and Cheryl chose to eat first, feeling hungry and not wanting to attempt this on an empty stomach; they ordered food, I ordered The Tower. There was a momentary uneasy exchange with our server, Angel, as he was trying to make sure that he understood what I was ordering, “Yes, The Margarita Tower, yes, I'm sure...absolutely”. When they bring this behemoth to the table, it is like staking a claim; planting a flag that means We Are Serious And Not To Be Trifled With. Yes, when you are sitting in a bar which is situated in the middle of a restaurant filled with families and amateur dabblers, a three-foot-tall Tower of Margarita on your table gets attention. We began to notice nervous looks from some of the patrons but I find that the best way to handle gawkers is to ignore them, let them amuse themselves by observing what it is like to be in the presence of pros, but never get caught up in trying to perform for them. We did notice that the man at the table next to ours was amused at our conversation, but that is just a statement to our talent with witty banter. Unless you approach and crowd them, wolves don't give a shit who watches. Just go about your business because an undertaking like this requires concentration, determination and commitment.

We began our ascent immediately, slowly climbing through the layers of inebriation until we hit cruising altitude. This happened about halfway through the tower. this kind of maneuvering can be tricky, the drinks are delicious and tend to go down easily, especially if you are thirsty and get distracted.  You have to maintain focus and keep a firm grip on the throttle. There were two of us who were going to really tangle with this thing, our driver was hanging back safely. I had asked the manager, Roberto, who is Costa Rican and a fine and hospitable gentleman, whether many people get through The Tower.  He said, "Yes, but it is usually groups of five or six". This is about what I expected.  I felt that it was important to have a gauge to measure our progress against, for research purposes. The Margaritas were cold and tasty, the way they should be but I could tell early on that this wasn't going to be the Herculean feat that I had anticipated, The Tower was already getting light and I still had plenty of reserves left. We had loosened up and were enjoying ourselves, comfortably encapsulated in our space and surrounded by a protective layer of alcohol. My daughter, Jenifer, was working in the restaurant this night and she and her friend, Raven, visited our table frequently to check the atmosphere. Jenifer knows that I am a professional and, as an Ordained Clergy Person, I would not do anything to offend the Gods of Inebriation and would keep the experiment under control. It's always a good idea to have an uninvolved party in these situations to observe, take notes if necessary and to make sure that everything stays on track and there are no unintentional "drifts".


Jenifer and Raven

When we got to the end of The Tower we realized that it was only eight o'clock and that we still had an hour-and-a-half before the bar closed. It was then that a better idea struck me and I spoke the words which ramped this up to the next level, “You want to drink another one? I think we can do it.” This set off a small flurry of anxious activity, Angel was a little taken aback and the manager came to check on us to make sure. Since they know me well in this establishment and could tell that we had things easily in hand, we were approved. They brought the second Tower to the table and, if the first one was an attention-getter, the second one was a game-changer. If you want to be spectacular, sit at a table with two lovely co-researchers and two Towers of Margarita.

The research team

They had a pool going in the kitchen by this time and were getting regular updates.
“Dos! Dos Torres!”
"¿Está borracho todavía?"
They had taken an interest in the proceedings but didn't realize that what they were witnessing was a controlled experiment by professional researchers and were sorely underestimating my ability to function with a gallon of Margarita on board. So, as we came into the home stretch and we ambled to the finish line, the second Tower fell with a mellow gurgle. Needless to say, we came through unscathed and won the admiration of the staff. There has been talk of a Hall of Fame being instated there for those of us who drink copious amounts of alcohol responsibly and handle it admirably. That is the important part, many could handle this feat physically, but to do it with dignity and charm was the challenge.  How many people would you trust to pull this off and not wind up being kicked out for being sloppy drunk and causing a ruckus?  If you're going to drink, do it like a pro.

Our server, Angel, was great, we never went without fresh ice or a regular check-in to see if we needed anything.  Everyone was gracious and friendly and made us feel welcome.  There were no casualties, although, after checking in for after-effects I did learn that there was a small bout of amnesia, nothing serious.  There were no painful hangovers, which leads me to believe that they had used quality materials for our endeavor.  Overall, I'd say that our experiment was a success.

Jenifer and Angel

Jenifer and I left El Sombrero when her shift was over and decided to do a wind-down to finish the night. So, we went to another bar and had a few beers and a couple of Irish Car Bombs. That ends the tale of the Two Towers but, since you're only as good as the last thing you did, I think that next time, we'll start earlier and go for three.

This is how to do it right


Friday, August 17, 2012

Extolling the Virtues of Alcohol: Part One


I'm so happy I could just shit
Ah, sweet nepenthe. Ambrosia. How does one properly describe the heady pleasures found in the partaking of fermented drink? The release of inhibition, the muscular relaxation, the dulling of razor-barbed nerve endings. Only first-hand experience can present the case suitably. Anyone who says that they don't enjoy it isn't doing it correctly. Who can honestly say that reality is more pleasant than setting sail on a sea of blissful inebriation? Problems slough away like dead cells. Yes, they will still be there when you return, but for a few sweet hours they are but dim, unimportant twitches in your memory; reduced to insignificant annoyances to be dealt with at a later time. It gives you a faux sense of well-being that you will not find outside the delusional influence of a televangelist or perhaps, just prior to stepping forward onto a bed of hot coals at a Tony Robbins seminar. It will give you the courage to thumb your nose at a pool-hall full of cowboys and rodeo clowns with impunity while talking some sweet love-making to a jaded parking-lot squeegee. Your looks will improve as do those of anyone around at closing time who happens to strike your fancy. People will fall under your spell and be drawn to you like a panhandler at a convenience store. Your movements will become graceful and rhythmic on the dance floor leaving observers stunned and transfixed. You will be driven to display your prowess whether you can find a person who has attained the same level of confidence as yourself or not.

You're doing it wrong
Your conversational skills will be improved to a previously unexperienced level. Verbal communication will soar into the stratosphere, becoming a poetic symphony of well-placed grammatical witticisms and double entendre meant to entertain and seduce. Again, people who aren't on this level of communication will be intimidated by the blazing quickness of your repartee and your massive vocabulary, they will flee in shame. You will find that people everywhere are drawn into a fascinated trace-like state as you regale them with anecdotes and snippets of wisdom that suddenly come spewing to the front of your cranium like a dam has burst inside of you. People will want to know you. They will want to know your history, everything about you. There will be so much information flooding their consciousness that most will slink away to try to process what you have imparted before you can even finish. Yes, this magical elixir can do all this and more. There is, however, a learning curve involved. One cannot simply leap into social inebriation without some training. Most of it will involve some painful trial-and-error experimentation. I will try to help ease this process by giving some basic beginner tips.

  1. Pace Yourself: There is nothing wrong with getting a head-start by doing some pre-gaming before entering the social arena. Have a few drinks at home to lubricate yourself and get warmed up before hitting the bars. This will save you some money and allow you to slither into the room with the slickness of an eel covered in baby oil. Once you achieve the proper stage of euphoria, the trick is to drink enough to maintain that glow without crossing the line and stepping onto that slippery slope into sloppy drunkenness. No one wants to be that guy. The stumbling, incoherent slob whose breathe smells of vomit and has pee-stains on the front of his khakis, destined to wake up in the morning crawling blindly out of the shrubbery beside some cheesy strip-club, with a hump in his spine and eyes that look like two piss-holes in a snow bank. You must maintain a steady altitude without going into a power-dive. I can't stress the importance of this rule. Unfortunately, to paraphrase the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the only ones who know where the edge is are the ones who have gone over it.

    You're definitely doing it wrong
  2. Be polite to bartenders, waitresses and bouncers: Maintain your best behavior when you are in the company of these people, they are your friends, they will get you knee-walking drunk and help protect you as long as you don't insult them or get too “chummy”. One mistake that is often made by beginners and cretins is the “pissing contest” with the bouncers. Bouncers are never, let me repeat this, never impressed by the amount of ass you claim to have kicked or by the number of bouncers that it took to throw you out of the last bar that you got into a fight in. You will not win this, they will smile and nod and keep their eye on you all night. You will have just become the night's entertainment for the security team. The moment that you fuck up (and you will) they will call you out on all your ridiculous claims and embarrass you in front of all the other drunks. You will wind up outside the bar, in the parking-lot, shouting about how you weren't doing anything to get thrown out. Yet, there you will be, and the people who are inside will be making unkind jokes about what a twat you are. People who work in bars see an awful lot of bizarre behavior, and have to deal with the people who are responsible. Chances are, you're not going to surprise or impress them, you are going to annoy them. People who work as bouncers in bars don't usually last long unless they are good at what they do.  Trust me on this, the last thing that you want is the undivided attention of a team of bouncers. Bartenders, for the most part, don't want to go home and fuck you. They are at work, at their jobs and most of them are in stable relationships. There are exceptions to every rule but, mostly, you will bore them. Do you really think that you will be the one who comes up with the cute and original pick-up line that they've never heard before? “Hey, baby, you're cuter than a speckled puppy. You wanna come home with me and see my new pillow cases?” These people work in a bar...every night...they hear it constantly...don't. They are friendly because, well...because they're friendly and it's their job. If one smiles at you it doesn't mean that you're one step away from the doing Horizontal Hokey-Poke with her, she is doing her job. You want to impress a bartender? Tip them. The same goes for cocktail waitresses, except for the added temptation to grab them on the ass while they're at your table. Again...don't. If you cannot help yourself and you are compelled to grab a cocktail waitress, please refer to the section on bouncers above. Go out and drink. Drink for the sake of drinking. Don't drink stupidly, that's easy, there are thousands who do that every night and even more who do it on “amateur nights" (more on amateur nights later).  Learn to drink like a pro, it can be very rewarding.

  3. Don't be a dick: Nobody likes dicks.

  4. Don't drink and drive: I know...this makes it exceedingly difficult to get your vehicle home, but the police are out there, just waiting for you, believe me, I know. No matter how much practice you've had, no matter how good you are at it, the police will not listen nor will they be impressed. They are not drinking (or, at least, shouldn't be) and they are not your fucking buddies, they are people who want to put you in jail and then talk to their police buddies about the drunk dick-head they arrested. You may know nearly every cop in your town but, the one that pulls you over will not be one of those. It will be some brand-new, badge-heavy prick with something to prove and an ax to grind and you will be his prize. You will be fucked with and misused (they seem to take great pleasure in making snarky, smart-assed remarks to help entertain you during your difficult time of need) and it really, really sucks to wake up hung-over, in a drunk-tank after having slept on a plastic piece-of-shit mat that's about a quarter of an inch thick (for your comfort during your stay) to the worst fucking food you will ever encounter. Your insurance will go so high that you'll have to take out a second mortgage, your license will probably be suspended for some amount of time and the stick-in-the-mud, high-horse sitters will click their tongues at you like you were caught on a kindergarten playground with your pants around your ankles. Thank MADD for that (more on MADD later). It's like they think we all set out to turn our vehicles into flaming deathbombs when we get into them and are out looking for mini-vans full of six-year-olds to slide into. Personally, I'd rather share the road with someone with a six-pack under their belt than some dipshit pecking on a cell phone.

  5. Know the playing field: Don't go out drinking at a biker bar with “The Only Difference Between A Harley And A Vacuum Cleaner Is The Location Of The Dirt-Bag” t-shirt on. You'd stand a better chance bobbing for piranhas in the Amazon.

  6. Hangovers: They hurt. They suck. Avoid them. Stay drunk. There are several combinations of non-FDA approved chemicals and alcohol that you may have luck with. Experiment and find what works for you. The only sure-fire cure that I've found is the one that my father gave me when I was just a drunken tadpole, “Cool water, kind words and day-after-tomorrow”.
There are many things you will learn on the high road to drunkenness. Like how much fun it is to ride home still drunk on Sunday morning and passing all the neighbors all fresh and pressed, on their way to church and the looks that they will give you. Be patient and choose your poisons carefully. Avoid weird shots from strangers and know that enough Jägermeister will rob you of your ability to function as a human being and that Mongolian Motherfuckers are for full-grown drunks (that one's for you Aaron). You have to learn to ride the crest of the wave and stay above the rabble. Occasionally, you will overshoot the mark but don't be discouraged, keep trying. If you wake up in the backseat of your car, feeling like you've been poisoned, handcuffed to a kitchen chair with Sharpee ink all over you, you only have one eyebrow and your pants are missing, go find the nearest liquor store and get the makings for a good breakfast drink to put yourself back in the saddle. I suggest Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers...and maybe some cheap speed.

Keep practicing

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Perfect Shit-Storm: Race, Guns, Gays and Chik-Fil-A

Given the amount of public uproar lately on numerous different topics, I am proud to see that people are able to exercise some of the rights that are currently left to us.  We have the right to be wrong.  We have the right to be assholes.  We have the right to express our outrage over people being assholes.  We have the right to support the asshole of our choosing.  So far, everyone seems to be within their rights on most of these issues.  There are groups who are in fear of losing certain rights at the moment because of the actions of a few.  Isn't that the way it always is?  There are groups who are struggling for more rights against the actions and opinions of others, it's been that way for a while too.  As long as it stays civil, hopefully these issues will work themselves out eventually and, with any luck at all, they will work themselves out to the benefit of the greater good.  Not magically, but by people exercising their rights.  Some of the rights that we have enjoyed for a long time are being taken away (be careful of how you protest the government these days) so we should enjoy them while we still have them.  The day may come when even these are gone.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows how I feel about religion and more specifically how I feel about mixing religion and politics.  When you mix religion and politics you get politics.  In my not-so-humble opinion (this is my forum, after all), politicians should work for the people they represent.  There is no way to satisfy every single person out there so they have to compromise and try to represent the majority.  The tricky part of that is figuring out what the majority really is.  It's not the majority of the big-money contributors, although that is the way it seems to work, unfortunately.  The best way is to try to represent the majority of people who are active and vote.  That should be the way that the majority makes itself heard, but are the politicians really listening?  Also, there are organizations that rally people to them and get them worked up with a shit-storm of propaganda and misinformation.  These are usually portrayed as nut-cases, flakes and lunatics, especially when they don't agree with your ideals.  There is a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling going on out there and there are an awful lot of people who seem to be mistaken about a lot of facts.  I don't pretend to have all the answers but I do have opinions and that's what this is, an op-ed piece, if you will.

Gun control is an ongoing controversial debate that people will likely never, ever agree on.  For the record, I am a gun-owner and support gun rights.  A gun is an inanimate object, it can not hurt anyone on it's own.  The problem being that, in the hands of (1) irresponsible, (2) criminal (3) mentally unstable (4) untrained people they can become a dangerous tool.  They can be more dangerous than a knife or something similar because those don't require the nerve to get up close to your victim, also you can rack up a large body-count.  Maybe not as large as a nut with a rental truck full of home-made explosives, but a respectable body-count nonetheless.  A rental truck full of homemade explosives was used in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 and killed 168 people in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and Mr. McVeigh was long gone and down the road, he never had to look a single victim in the eye.  He manufactured his explosives using readily available materials.  On the other hand, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate killed eleven people in 1957-58 using a rifle, a shotgun, and a knife, they also used strangulation.  Charles was eighteen and Caril was fourteen.  Most of the Manson murders were done with knives.  The hijackings and subsequent crashes killing thousands on September 11, 2001 was supposedly pulled off using cheap box-cutters.  The point being, if someone becomes unbalanced and decides to perpetrate mass murder, they will find a way.  It is sometimes pointed out that the U.S. is a world leader, if not THE world leader in gun deaths.  That may be true but I think we probably also rank pretty high with serial-killers and other violently mentally unstable people wandering around.  That would be the statistic that I would be most interested in.  Once again, a gun is an inanimate object.  I am not opposed to some required training or licensing to own certain types or amounts of guns but that will not keep criminals from acquiring them.  If passing legislation was all it took to fix a problem, the government would have won their war on drugs thirty years ago.

There has been a lot said about discrimination and civil rights over the years.  Evidently, a lot of people do not like change.  Recently a couple were denied the right to get married in the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, MS, not because they were gay, but because they were black.  Really, in 2012 this happened?  I can attest, as a lifelong Southerner, that this is not the status-quo in this region in spite of how popular media portrays us.  This incident has, justifiably, raised quite a stink.  It is my understanding that the couple had been going to this church and were going join as members after the ceremony.  I wonder if the church has a problem with accepting tithes from black people?  This is an embarrassment and I can't believe that the church thought that they could get away with this type bigotry and hypocrisy.  Is this really what some of the members of this church consider to be "Christian behavior"?  This type of thing doesn't just go away.  It will leave a permanent stain on that church no matter what they do to try to fix it.  That is one of those bells that cannot be unrung.

Still on the discrimination and civil rights subject, Chik-Fil-A has stood by their support of the “standard” recognized definition of marriage (marriage of a man and a woman) by the Christian Church resulting in a massive shit-storm of public outrage and a boycott.  As they have not, to my knowledge, denied service to anyone or denied anyone employment they are within their rights to take this stand.  This is not a new thing, they have always followed Christian tenets including being closed on Sunday.  This does not mean that I agree with their opinion, it means that I agree with their right to have it.  Gays also have the right to express their displeasure at this and  have by protesting and boycotting.  People on both sides have come out in support of their respective positions.  As long as it stays non-violent they are all within their rights.  Personally, if gays want to get married, I don't mind.  I'm sort of iffy on marriage anyway, if you're in love and decide to spend the rest of your life with one person, why do you really need to get the law involved.  There are other, more heartfelt, ways of expressing your love to someone without entering into a legal contract.  I really don't know how things get to be the way that they are in this world but I will pose this question.  If the religious fundamentalists are opposed to homosexuality because they claim that it's a personal choice and not genetic, where do they stand on the issue of hermaphroditic or, more correctly, intersex persons?  For those unfamiliar, these are people who are born with varying degrees of organs belonging to both sexes.  I am not lumping these two types of people into the same category, I am using it as an example because of the fundamentalists who choose to believe that sexual orientation is a choice.  In some cases it may be, I don't know, but in the case of intersex people, it is most definitely genetics and there is a LOT of gray area there.

I am a proponent of “live and let live”.  Don't invade my personal space.  Don't encroach on my rights as long as I am not causing unjustifiable physical harm to anyone.  The world is full of assholes and they are on both sides of all issues:  race, sexuality, politics, religion, civil rights, etc.  They will always be here and there is nothing that can be done about it, and as tempting as it is to shoot them all with a large caliber assault weapon, exile them to some leper colony type situation, perpetrate genocide, legislate them out of existence or deny them the basic human rights that everyone should be able to enjoy during our short and difficult tenure here, it's just not right.

Article on couple denied church wedding because of race

Article on Chik-Fil-A's stance against gay marriage

Articles on the Chik-Fil-A Boycott

Article on Colorado killings and gun control

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Anticipating the apocalypse

With the spate of cannibalistic activities in the news recently I have been thinking about the upcoming zombie apocalypse and the possibilities of shooting people in the head who are displaying aberrant behavior. I really like the idea. In fact, this is something I've thought about many times.  The problem is that, I'm sure some people may view my behavior as aberrant and want to shoot me in the head. This is unacceptable.  So I intend to arm myself heavily and extend my personal space from about two feet to somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred feet, depending on the number of people displaying said behavior and the severity of said behavior. For instance if I see someone just stumbling around aimlessly and this person is alone and doesn't pose an immediate threat, I will give them some leeway. I have seen people doing this for ages and haven't had a face-eating incident as of yet. Even a small group of them may get a pass unless they crowd me. Just being in the New Orleans French Quarter on any weekend you could see enough of this kind of behavior to warrant multiple shootings if you were jumpy. If, however, I witness someone in the act of eating someone's face and that person growls at me, that's going to be an automatic head-shot, no questions. The zombie's victim may not be shot right away but, rest assured, I will be watching them closely.

Yeah, somebody's about to get shot

Now, the subject of “bath salts”. Something so contrived, insidious and impossible to pronounce could have only come from some underground secret government lab. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.

Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties which acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). First developed in 1969, it remained an obscure stimulant until around 2004 when it was reportedly sold as a designer drug. It is also known as Cloud 9, MDPK, MTV, Magic, Maddie, Black Rob, Super Coke, PV and Peeve. Products labeled as "bath salts" containing MDPV are sold as recreational drugs in gas stations and convenience stores, similar to the marketing for Spice and K2 as incense.
Incidents of psychological and physical harm have been attributed to MDPV use.

“Incidents of psychological and physical harm have been attributed to MDPV use.” Indeed, we have seen a good bit of that lately. Considering that George Romero's masterpiece of prophecy, “Night of the Living Dead” was released the year before MDPV was developed (or introduced...hmm), is it really such a stretch to see that perhaps there is a connection? I think not. If you have ever watched any of the post-apocalyptic zombie-themed movies then you already know that it is always the government and big industry who are to blame for releasing some experimental chemical onto an unsuspecting world, causing postmortem homicidal activity. Having used these movies as my model, I am assuming that the government has joined forces with the pharmaceutical industry to create drugs that will emulate the zombie apocalypse to (1) perpetuate financial and political support for their ineffectual war on drugs, (2) expand their philosophy of letting the “great unwashed” kill themselves off by giving them the means and letting them run rampant (3) give them more excuses to use us for live target practice.

This kind of dumb shit will also get you shot

Surely, they are aware by now that we are no good when left to our own devices. We are like the cocaine monkeys they experimented on in the eighties. If given a choice to self-administer a chemical that makes us feel frigging great or to do something else, like eat or sleep or continue to have a pulse, we'll go for the chemical every time. Think about it. Why is it that every time we get pissed or depressed or upset, we reach for a bottle of whiskey, a carton of cigarettes and drugs instead of eating an apple or gobbling a mouthful of vitamins? It's because we want to feel good and we want to feel good quickly. Apples and vitamins don't make you feel good quickly and anyone who tells you different is probably on steroids. We need keepers. Keeping that in mind, it is easy to see how they can manipulate us and manufacture an apocalypse. Who'll be the survivors? Why, the people hunkered down in fortified bunkers with many guns and a lot of ammunition who are willing to eat spam and pork and beans for years at a time. Well...them and the government, of course. They have a fucking army.

Not this army

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Rise of the Douche-Bag

As I have said before, I am a people-watcher.  Sometimes it’s entertaining, sometimes disturbing and sometimes it makes you wonder how in the hell we ever survived as a race for as long as we have. One distressing trend that seems to have somehow become incomprehensibly popular is douche-baggery. They are out there, walking among us and apparently breeding like rats. You can spot them puffing and preening and wearing ornamental t-shirts that would be too tight for a young greyhound. This, I assume, is to show off their fresh ‘gym pump’ or perhaps their steroid pimples. They have a vacancy about them that they try to compensate for by talking incessantly about their prowess at shooting Jager-Bombs and the frequency which they get sex. I’m thinking that somehow the two things are linked, if you feed someone enough Jager-Bombs you can leave your rohypnol at home. I wonder how many half-bright, second generation, window-licking douche-bags have been inflicted on the world because of poor decision-making and Jager-blindness. They sport goofy-looking tattoos that scream, “Look at me! Look how incredibly cool I am!” I’m not against tattoos, only the ones whose function is to draw attention to a weakness in genetics. When I encounter one of these walking abominations and have the misfortune to endure any amount of conversation (it happens frequently, I work in a bar), I usually have a hard time focusing on what they are saying because I get distracted by fantasies of driving a rat-tailed file through one of their eyeballs and into the area where an un-mutated human’s brain would be. I suppose that they are necessary in ways; they drive the economy with their conspicuous consumption of over-priced sports cars, unnecessarily large and ornate trucks, expensive t-shirts that don’t fit and men’s hair products. They are also good for the alcohol and bar industry. Besides the alcohol that they consume themselves and pour down the throats of potential victims, they also force others to buy and consume more alcohol, how else could anyone tolerate their presence? I would have to be blind drunk to share space with one for more than a few seconds at a time, otherwise I may start to chew the furniture in a desperate, mindless frenzy to distract myself from the monosyllabic idiocy that seems to ooze from these creatures constantly. So, be mindful friends, if you encounter something that has a one-dimensional personality with a two-digit I.Q. and makes references to themselves in the third person, exit the area as soon as possible so as not to be driven to murderous rage or disintegrate into depression for the future of our world. Douche-baggery is afoot and there is no cure. If you could spot them in infancy you could kill them before they were allowed to feed, but unfortunately it is an affliction that develops later. Maybe someday they will have tests for douche-baggery but, for now, there is just no way of knowing.


Self-Evident

The Rat-Tailed File: A Possible Cure For Douche-Baggery