Im skipping ahead to the last time Kristin and the kids left. They left for Burbank around the beginning of October. Kristin (aka Gigi) and my buddy, David Giffels, said, “Read ‘The Dirt’ by Motley Crue”. I’m compulsive about reading before bed. It’s my way of tricking myself into slumber.
This book produced the opposite effect.
Not a fun-filled romp.
I was in a band. Our version of depravity was someone having to throw away their sleeping bag because they puked in it. When I toured with the TwistOffs, I had a frame reference from which to draw. We all had a basic moral/ethical operating system (more or less). It was a subroutine, forged from a stable childhood and quirky, solid & supportive parents. The boys and I rumbled-off in our yellow school bus for weeks at a time. We did this with unabashed innocence. We got drunk all of the time, we had hilarious stories, we got into a frakas or two, but the highlights were usually sweet and harmless. For example:
Highlight: A drunk girl kissed the side of our bus, right by the door where our pee sprays out of the funnel while we are rollin. She really mushed it on there. Her lip print was there for years.
Another highlight: Daring someone to do a shot of Jack Daniels mixed with the water drained from a can of corn.
Dumber Highlight: We all made hats out of paper bags and wore them for weeks.
The Motley Crue dudes were homeless drug addicts who often stole food. I know, I know, they made it because they suffered for their art… I know. But reading about these these Motley Crue fellas was really starting to bring me down. I wasn’t judging, I swear, I was just imagining how miserable I would have been if I had been a coked-out and bloody trombone player. Just as I finished reading about how Nikki Sixx and his girlfriend Lita Ford were messing around with the Necronomicon for weeks on end, looking pasty and scared, with forks and knives flying around and cupboard doors slamming and “MUUHHGUUUURRRRLLLLOWWWWWW”
Daisy meows. Scared the living shit outta me. She does this weird sad meow shit all night. She does it in the the bigger shower for added resonance. She’s 17 years old and its the cat version of an old person crying out at a nursing home. It curdles my soul. I’m done reading that book with its wretched tales.
My other cat, Jet and our stupid house bunny, Hermoine conspire against me. I see them shiftlessly gathered in corners. Upon my approach, they break apart with conspicuous nonchalance. If they were human, this is where they would be looking at their watches. Hermoine is no longer allowed into my office (room above the garage) because she has chewed over 20 power cords clean through. I hate her.
Remember when I caught them doing dope?
A an employee of a certain national tree service company, located in Kent, Ohio, who will remain nameless, a second-generation tree ninja told me that 2 large ash trees in my yard had to come down. They are lousy with the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Im happy because this will keep me busy.
So I busy myself between cutting wood, writing music and floating around in ennui at work. The reason I haven’t published a blog in so long is because I have been goin bananas with writing music… Why does it have to be writing or music? Why cant it be both? Lori Printy, my spirit animal, lovingly scolds me when i’m not writing to make her laugh. But I haven’t been in a rock band for almost 20 years and now, I’m back at it like a bad rash.
So i’m gonna cut this shit out of this wood. Manual labor. Lets go. I have a helper. Hillbilly Stu. He lives across the street, fancies himself a lumberjack. He squats outside of his front door like an asian woman when he smokes. He can sit like that for a long time. He’s a rascal. Months ago, I was pulling out of my driveway, late for something or other, and Stu comes running into the street, arms waving, and the hood of his shit-mobile up in the air.
“hey Al, um hey man, can you, uh run me up to Auto Zone and back?”
“uh, Sure” i answer, defeated.
We stand at the counter after he makes his choice and the clerk says, “$151.42”.
Stu turns his head to look at me. “I’ll, I’ll pay you back, man…I’m good fer it. I’ll cut some trees down or sumpin”
I don’t want this yoyo in my yard. A few months ago this lumber-zealot cut down a tree and took out the power in the neighborhood for 4 days. He’s on the emaciated side. You can make out what his skull would look like without the skin. He is my only friend since I cut down these trees. He’s gonna work-off the $150.
He has been helping me with the wood, but only when I rouse him. I ply him with Busch lites and an open ear for all his failed plans and chainsaw expertise. He thinks i’m stupid. He uses the worst excuses to explain why he hasn’t been fulfilling his promises. I am molding him into my henchman. A dependent sidekick. Drugs have whittled away his initiative. He struggles with an opiate addiction. He has asked me for Subutex on several occasions. I want to be nice and be his pal, but just as soon as we cross a little bridge getting to know each other, he takes this new friendship plateau as a opportunity to hit me up for something beyond the scope of our current labor agreement. Verbally hammering dudes like this to do what you want is pointless. He’s 56 and has heard it all before. I tried food. I brought him an apple at a break in the wood cutting action. He quipped, “Al, what in the hell are you bringing a man with no teeth an apple fer?” Oh yeah. He’s toothless.
I have the unique ability to find a way to embarrass myself in front of every possible class of people. My quirky inadequacies do not discriminate. When I lived across the lake, I was trying to set up a big tent in my backyard on my own. I had the audience of roughly 6 retarded adults from Weaver School. My neighbor, Don Berg, a teacher at Weaver with 30 years as a teacher brought these fellas over to his house to hang out. You’ve pretty much hit rock bottom when you get heckled by retarded adults. I saw one fella wipe tears from hie eyes.
Ive discovered that log splitters are talismans for wingnuts. Apparently, they emit a high-frequency whine that calls out to anyone with emotional, mental, and substance abuse problems. That’s basically every adult on Iroquois street, a zig and a zag across from the end of my driveway. In the midst of all the chainsawing and raking, Steve, the defacto leader of Iroquois nation, rode into my yard on his 4 wheeler like a frontiersman on a great steed. He dismounted with a slow and measured cowboy affect as if he was a US marshall from the 1840’s. Looking at the ground, he asked if i tint windows. I said no.
It takes balls to ride up to someone on their lawn wether you have malicious intentions or not. He has worn the same day-glo construction hoodie every time i have seen him. Thats good because I can visually track him.
In a gesture of naive hospitality, I bought some cheap beer for Stu. Thats when Iroquois street emptied out into my yard. Sherrif Steve had promised me his wood splitter. I waited for 3 days and nothing. When i gave up on him and rented one, he returned as if we never met, full of cheerful bluster. What has changed? He was drawn in by the talisman promising cold, free Busch Lites.
The spectacle continued. At one point, a gal by the name of Patty sat cross-legged on my lawn, amidst the rumble of a log splitter and chainsaws, strumming an acoustic guitar. Her toddler, Carson, teetered around the logs and axes. “Carson, stop” was all that she was willing to employ to contain her kid. James, her boyfriend, father to the potentially short-lived Carson, was busy splitting smaller stuff w a 2-headed axe with one hand, while holding a beer in the other. I held Carson as i picked up small brush wondering what the hell just happened.
My neighbor, Geri Young did not make the scene. The wood chipper talisman has no effect on her. She has a different skill set. She knows when I burn stuff. The next day, she showed-up up at the exact moment I burnt 3 trays of homemade chocolate chip cookies.
The wood is all chopped and put away. I haven’t seen anyone from Iroquois street since.