Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shameful Pride Part I- SO DAMNED HAPPY


Author's Note: For the past few months all things Hindenburgian have been neglected. Capturing decaying cities and eroding into the Vallejo lifestyle consumed all aspects of existence. I'm back with guns blazing and eyes aglaze to bring you...ANOTHER SPORTS POST! Fuck it. I ain't even ashamed. Days like today are the reason why I'm in love with antics of mongoloid 1 athletes. 

1 The word choice of "mongoloid" has a nice cadence but otherwise makes no sense. It means Asian. My preference for Asian Women does not extend into the athletic realm. Otherwise Jerseys of Dat Nguyen and Ichiro would hang in my closet...if I had a closet.2

2. Clothes are kept in a bin that lives in the back of my van. 

*****3

3 Typing those five stars again felt damned good. I haven't written anything with passion in months. I'm glad to have this piece of my soul back. 

OK. The post starts here. No more messy footnotes.4

4 I mean it. 

*****

Have you ever experienced the feeling of shameful pride? I first felt this emotional phenomenon in the presence of the great Ben Zurawski. My fellow Pollack came to visit me in Chicago, where I'd been studying animation and petty crime with great ardor. We went to an Italian restaurant in Wrigleyville. As I recall both the meal and service were quite excellent. Upon exiting the restaurant we were startled to find that an Eve 6 concert had sprung up during our meal. Neither of us had much appreciation for Eve 6. In fact, we rather hated them. Still, we were happy to see them live. Ben summed up the experience as "the first time I've ever felt shameful pride."

I got hungry last night. Wanting a nosh I drove to Taco Bell at 3:30 in the AM, ordering a Burrito and a Bacon Flavored Quesadilla. The clerk asked if I wanted any sauce. My reply was something to the effect that I'm too lazy to open sauce packets. She joshingly offered to open the sauces for me. I agreed. 

"Are you serious?"
"If it's not too much trouble. I'm sorry. I just can't pass this up."
She opened three sauce packets and handed them to me. I tried to read the labels and dropped one. I gave her a helpless look. She reciprocated with a decidedly unmerry laugh. I paused to emphasis my seriousness. She opened another packet, placing it in my palm. 

"Don't drop this one." Why? She would've given me another. I drove home, hoping to brag to Jeff. I pride myself on a library of bizarre human experiences that I share in moments of bliss hoping my friends will nod before reveling in the World's Weirdness. 

The Taco Bell Packet Fiasco is a classic strange experience but falls short due to lack of innocence by those involved. Though proud of the packets I felt like a real douche as well. 
. On one hand I felt cool and cocky in a Ferris Bueller sort of way. On the other hand, I made a minimum-wage employee of Taco Bell open my sauce packets for me in exchange for a smile and a bit of playing dumb. It was outwardly manipulative and rude. The sort of thing a person shouldn't be proud of. The sort of thing Dan Lawlor lives for (he makes this a beautiful art form...just ask The Wacko). 

I still thought it was cool. 

Shameful pride. 

Being a Detroit Lions fan makes me feel the same way. 

Jeff doesn't like Sports and the dogs don't speak yet so I don't talk about Sports with too many people. Having spent an inordinate amount of my upbringing discussing sports with Nick, the Scaramuccis, Bryan, and Tom Guttenberger5

 5. Dear Tom, 

If you ever google yourself and end up reading this I hope you aren't too weirded out. Afterall, we haven't talked since Junior Year of High School when I turned into the Dearborn High Weirdo. I probably seem like that same weirdo for mentioning you in this blog about Taco Bell when we haven't spoken in seven years. Nonetheless,   I heard you're doing well.  Our Moms are in the same Water Aerobics class together. From what I gather the women in these classes wade around the water and gossip about their sons. Mrs. Scaramucci is in the class as well. That's how I found out about David Scaramucci getting a girlfriend.6  Actually, Mrs. Scaramucci is as well. It's kind of weird that of the 5 people mentioned in the sentence in question (six if you include David Scaramucci and not just John Scaramucci) that 60% of them have mothers in the same water aerobics class.)7 

6. My mom found out and called me. I care more about David Scaramucci's love life (Beav and Beavette 4 life) than I will ever care about my own. 

7) The class instructor is Mrs. Knox. Her son Kevin was my boss at Ford. Our relationship had a  lot of shameful pride in it. EX: He once defended me for refusing to wear socks to work. 

That got away from me but here's the gist. Though I don't discuss sports there is still a wealth of sports related conversation inside me. If I hear the faintest mention of sport I will suddenly inject myself into the conversation. I have shameful pride for this as well. A) I get to talk Sports B) I'm the weirdo who harasses you about the Cover-2 Defense in the produce section of the grocery store. 

People are usually nice enough to include me in the conversation. It's amiable until I mention my love for the Detroit Lions. This always makes people smile. They shake their heads in disgust, usually uttering something along the lines of "that's tough". 

But is it?

Ohio State University recently published a study of Sports Fan Psychology. The study concluded that those with the most negative emotions towards their team derive the most enjoyment from their fandom. 


I'd agree. 

Roughly 1989
My Dad (love you) sits my 3 year old self before the television and puts on the television. I didn't understand what football was yet I was transfixed by the brilliant blurs of green. From that day forward, Fall Sundays were reserved for watching Lions Football. I started learning. The blurs became people. I saw Barry Sanders. The people became poetry. Then, at the same juncture that they became part of me, the Lions became terrible. Real terrible. It's no exaggeration to say the Detroit Lions are worse at being a professional football team than any other business is at any other thing. The ineptitude induced riots. Granted they were in Detroit but still. 

I haven't faltered in my fandom. I guess shittiness transfixes me. Fans of good football teams like to argue and prove points. That isn't necessary when you can only cheer ironically. Life had a great running joke. Saviors would come, regimes would change but nothing ever brought much hope. I felt honored to cheer for such a team. If a Special Olympian wandered into the real thing wouldn't you pull for him? 

This morning brought the same motions. Down 24-3 before my first cup of coffee, I could do little but stare bleakly. The scarlet letter's no trouble but having it stitched on each Sunday still blows. I swore them off for the ninth time this year. Then the amazing happened. We won. It wasn't even a fluke. We stormed from behind, overcame adversity, and found a hero in young Matt Stafford. I've seen plenty of great games but never from my team. Details

I feel elated and confused. Sure beats shameful pride. 





A Long And Winding Letter To My Friend Bryan Hood Regarding The Atrocities Concerning The Bazooks, My Fantasy Basketball Team...



Author's Note: The following is a long winded argument on the behalf of my fantasy basketball team & the true nature of reality. It is also an epistle. Due to these flagrant offenses against common interests it should not be read by anyone.

Dear Bryan,

I know you could sense it. My NBA Fandom slipping away in the throes of adulthood. I accepted an Olive Branch to your Fantasy Basketball League not realizing you'd conspired with David Stern and the bodies governing MCLs, Wrists, and Andrew Bogut.

You can connive all you want. I've forgotten to play Fantasy B-Ball due to other activities (namely: starting a team for my trailer park and building shrines for my Dad as he entered into heart surgery). Once my life had been dealt with I got around to checking my roster. Kevin Martin, Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and Mehmet Okur are all down for an extended count. Three crushing injuries. It would be four but my census decries Bogut and Okur as the same person.

I'm battered. I live in a Trailer and eat out of garbage cans. My scent is now rancid. My hair now frayed. But fuck that noise. I, Joel Walkowski, like many before me--including Hannibal Lecter--have retreated from our world into the sojournist library universe constructed by my mind's eye. This dimension is a good place to be. It is far from Vallejo. A dog's single gesture is accompanied by a thesis text on Canine Development. Instantly browsed, downloaded, and placed in a fireproof box for nowhere is safe from fire. Also in this dimension: lots of gravy, drunk for celebration in lieu of Whiskey. The world reserves gravy for meat and milks. The kitchen of my mind, manned by a bewildered seventeenth century Squaw, stocks the pantry with gravies for all foods and most concepts.

I do not want to leave this place. I want to stay and happily wither. You, Bryan Allejandro Bianco Domino Pachinko Hood, have ruined this, rousing me into reality by the stone cold hand of your Yahoo Sports and the nefarious AutoDraft, incarnate of unhappiness.

At the time of our draft I was busy whittling ships. Of course not actually whittling ships. Activities are passe. Conceptual Activity is the new black. I will now close my eyes and count to ten.

1
2
3
4
Nebraska
5
6
7
8
9
10

A new pair of loafers now flanks my feet. Not actually but enough for warmth.

No one could blame me for missing the draft but Yahoo AutoDraft has no space for forgiveness. Looking at my team, I survey a series of wonk busting misfits, a loosely guilded & muchos uninspired collection of the 2005 Phoenix Suns but only the dregs. Amare, Marion, Barbosa. Give me a time machine and we're even. Goggles and all Amare's a skunk. Marion's gifts are manifested in Dallas with Dirk but the apparition, now satiated on success, has vanished from the box score. Barbosa? I'm fairly certain he was kidnapped over the summer. Steve Kerr and other dunderheads atop the Pyramid (scheme- R. Sarver) have yet to notice and I am the victim.

Insults are not limited to the Seven Seconds or Less Canon as the rest of my roster looks like this:

G
Leandro Barbosa
(Pho - PG,SG)
31%-----------SG
Peja Stojakovic
(NO - SG,SF)
AtlW, 96-8854%.4171.0005.71417431000G
Ronnie Brewer
(Uta - SG,SF)
DetW, 100-9744%.500.5000-15533120SF
Shawn Marion
(Dal - SF,PF)
64%-----------PF
Jason Thompson
(Sac - SF,PF)
@HouL, 113-10672%.500.7500-15540120F
Anderson Varejao
(Cle - PF,C)
PhiW, 97-9131%.0001.0000-4720200C
Andrew Bogut
(Mil - C)INJ
@MemW, 103-9863%--0-0000000C
Mehmet Okur
(Uta - PF,C)INJ
DetW, 100-9776%--0-0000000Util
Jeff Green
(OKC - SF,PF)
57%-----------Util
Michael Redd
(Mil - SG,SF)INJ
@MemW, 103-9848%--0-0000000BN
Kevin Martin
(Sac - SG)INJ
@HouL, 113-10630%--0-0000000BN
Chris Bosh
(Tor - PF,C)
74%-----------BN
Amar'e Stoudemire
(Pho - PF,C)
57%-----------


Cruel Karma made this construction.

Peja Stojakovic: His bust is being blazed for Springfield as basketball's pompadoured answer to baseball's Steroid Superstar.
Ronnie Brewer: So inconsequential that if he fell in the woods with millions watching and an army of Sennheisers and Sony 744's recording there would be no noise.
Anderson Varejo: We all agree that he is the enemy.

My sole salvation is Mr. Chris Bosh, coming to my aid with contract year nightlies of 27 and 12. He loves the Internet. He loves my team.

I must run. My Sunday morning is busy with Detroit Lions football followed by handfuls of pills. I'm not going back to my universe. My team is in last place. Seeing the circumstances--a last place team--I have no choice but to engage my reality and set you in my sights.

Godspeed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Own The Night Starring Scatman Crothers

Did you know…
…The Atlanta Hawks are doing surprisingly well this year.
And that my roommate is from Atlanta
A City in Georgia
Referred to in nomenclature as the A-T-L
Yet no one in the Tall Trees Trailer Park will play a game of catch with me.
And that the office number of Tall Trees is
707-252-7247

The preceding paragraph was probably an easy read and slightly enjoyable at that. However, punch packed by the prose is nil, if any, for none of the aforementioned facts carry any weight, significance, or bearing on your being.

It’s been like that lately. In a lot of ways. I can’t help but feel that the world—even things I love—is comprised of commodities composed to be as frivolous as engineering can allow. This perspective cannot be unseen by the mind’s eye. See it once, even a glance, and the rest of your visage will be a smidge smudged.

I love football more than all but four things. A few Sundays prior I thought to myself, “what a silly game”. Loving gridiron warfare I proceeded forward and watched Matthew Stafford toss interceptions with reckless abandon (like the warehouse fires mere blocks from his home field) but I couldn’t shake my notion. My vision was altered. The lines (1080p) blurred as I stared at a muted image for no reason whatsoever.

I don’t identify with this. It isn’t me.

That being said I’ll be up early to watch the Lions tomorrow.

You don’t have to identify with all you love but a basic humanity would be nice.

I fear I am not making sense. Let me digress. Here is a meaningless bit of my past.

I used to be obsessed with Tom Green. By obsessed I mean crazed, driven stark mad with idiosyncratic, constant impersonation obsession. I’d watch his show (the aptly named Tom Green show) before terrorizing my middle school teachers by turning their classrooms into a debauched series of reenactments.

The apex of my obsession came with “The Bum Bum Song” in which Mr. Green rubbed his bum (or buttocks) on various objects while narrating his escapades over a crisp hip-hop beat. I believe he wore a prosthetic rear as well. In anycase, a music video was made. I’d tune into MTV’s Total Request Live, watching as the video for the Bum Bum Song ascended the ranks of some obscure database fueled on misplaced teeny-bopper adulation.

Tom Green retired the video after it reached number one on TRL.

I thought this was a poetic gesture.

In all likelihood it had much more to do with commerce. While a cute piece of self-promotion for MTV, the Bum Bum Song did not serve the musicmakers MTV was designed to serve. TLC was molded for world domination. Taking a backseat to a rubber bum could not have been a merry blow. The same goes for “NSync even though they were formed to perfectly emulate Orlando. They succeeded in this. If you think teenage girls went crazy for ‘NSync than you’ve never seen a young girl visit Orlando. Nor have I for that matter but I can imagine.

The Bum Bum Song was a trill piece of trash. By believing in this song and Mr. Green’s efforts I was mitigating the self, extinguishing the fire from which are souls are dredged.

*****

My goal is to do things humans ought to do.

On this note:

My new dream is to walk for twenty-four hours straight. When the hands of the clock complete their second cycle, I will lie down and rest, regardless of where I am. Be it street or subway, I will slumber.

The world belongs to us all.

I’ll be taking my piece later this week. Let’s say Thursday. Join me. Do whatever you can to do whatever it is you want.

See you bitches in Valhalla.

PS Haven’t written much lately. 2
about the rust. I could’ve been doing a lot—like self promotion!—but I’d rather do nothing than bullshit.

PPS Buy Typing With One Hand by Hoopster Jurich.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Had to Concentrate to Stare at The Light

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. At the center it was a wash of white, details indistinguishable, clearly the source, but nothing clear about it actually; outwards came a reality forced upon me – that I did not choose to see, not consciously at all, but its luminance projected before me the world all around. My eyes showed me the light was there. My mind told me it was true. I had to concentrate.

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. There was no detail in its center and my eyes begged the questions, “Where is it? What are we looking for? Why must we look for it?!” – and my mind said only, “Try,” for my mind was confident and also curious. They gave it their best, my eyes, they glanced steadfast and they glared, ignoring the sense of pain (that was only fake), arisen of the inability to see all they intended, and indeed they were not good enough.

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. This challenge became more difficult for my eyes, and even my mind began losing its confidence for confusion. My eyes, though they refused to turn away from its eminence, the light, it was taking over, and everything that once was clear and visible, now, it was less than so. “Keep trying!” and they did their best to obey – no one able to lend a hand in the endeavor, not my ear, mouth, nose, not my hand, and my eyes continued trying to serve their only purpose.

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. My eyes, well they lost focus, and my mind, it tried to compensate. Where they lost details my mind filled in the gaps, when colors blurred my mind tried again to separate them, and when reality faded… my mind insisted. My eyes were gone, and “it” was up to it: my mind.

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. My mind surrendered my eyes because they did not function. My mind. The light. Alone in that moment were my mind, the light. My mind; the light. My mind – the light. My mind: the light. The light: my mind. Everything and nothing became the same white color, and it was only that color that became at all. “White.” Thought. My mind. “White.”

I had to concentrate to stare at the light. No more did even time exist. The light. It was not. Anything. My mind. Thought. It did not. All that was was only what it was, and not anything more (no less), and there I was also, just sitting, and being; I was, it were, not concentrating, not staring, not anything: not anything in front of a light. Then, my eyes, they focused on the tip of my nose. My mind - it followed.

I am staring at the tip of my nose, though there’s barely enough light to see. My nose – it breathes out. My nose – it breathes in.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

With A Bloop Scoop, A Chimney Swoop, & A Rudder Full of Mud

Life is happening. All around us. With very little editing and less to be done. I saw an old DVD player strewn about the local Methie's trash heap. A Patrick Swayze DVD (Ghost) was trapped inside. The pottery scene was waiting to be sniggered at but even with a screwdriver I was unable to free the DVD. I could download a torrent or turn on late night cable but it wouldn't be the same.

Do me one favor. Whenever you find a discarded videotape, DVD, CD, book, or any form of communication: give it your time & effort. Listening to the universe bears copious rewards.

The spontaneity of found objects went unmatched by anything on broadcast television...until tonight. There is a show called Taxidermy Trails. The host, Dan Brantley, greets you from 1996. He puts his dogs in a box, puts the box in the back of a pick up truck & drives to the woods for hunting. From there, Mr. Brantley skulks through the underbush until killing something. With the animal dead he hoists it up for a series of comedic poses before gutting the animal and turning it into a piece of art.

Every commercial was for the Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy. It wasn't just one though. PIT had 8 commercials for each demographic (including women! Ladies? Not cut out for cosmetology school? Then how bout filleting some foxes?").

I was transfixed by this. As if abducted into the Deep South.

I feel the same way about life right now but can't go any further with this explanation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Scissors Aren't For Shearing

I recently moved to Vallejo, California. A place I knew nothing about.

If someone requested a Vallejo fact, I probably would've said, "Vallejo is home to every different kind of Beetle." I would've been completely wrong but not that far off. One thing about Vallejo: things are good aqt existing here. The town is almost perfectly divided down racial lines, half urban, half rural, and home to California's first homosexual mayor. People are too busy living--jobs, mates, meth labs--to stop you from doing the same thing. This collective mindset is ideal for the rise of a black market in the Raley's parking lot. Bootleg DVD's are brandished from the popped trunks of rusted automobiles. Things like this happen in the first decade of the twenty first century.

Pictured above, is a card I made for a local grocery clerk. Something about this town makes grocery clerks come alive...Rick S...Irma...Howard...Lydia...Yours is the siren song of the real America.

There are glints upon Rick S' chest. These shimmerings can be traced to candelas, magnified and refracted, by his bounty of customer service medals. Were they mine I would throw them off the bridge and into the river but they are not. Tokens, handed down by commercial empires as "signifiers of success", arew taken as exactly that. They are not ironic. It is not an insult to dole out food to Vallejellians. Rick S does his job. He does it well. The medals show this.

Also in Vallejo: the Zodiac killer. The Zodiac killer killed many in the 70's and terrified a region. You could call him the worst man of the 1970's. You could also call him the opposite of Rick. S.

The Zodiac is opposite of many things.

I saw the Full House House yesterday. Hoping to find a piece of our childhood, Jeff and I drove for two hours without realizing that we disembarked from the Full House House to find the Full House House. Reminiscing about a popular television is unlike killing canoodling couples.

We drove last night. We left the city behind. To the farmland. The clouds had never met wind before. They sat, stolid & high, waiting for a breeze that would never come. We were lured to the boonies, not by present temptations, but the fleeting touch of the 1970's. Zodiac killed his second and third on this same stretch of road. Primal anger, bustling through his every vein, removed him from humanity and made killing others seem like a right & proper thing to do.

Housing a man like Zodiac isn't in a city like Vallejo's best interests. I only found his territory because the clerk at Raley's told me about it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"You Want Me To Be Cool? WELL I'M NOT!"- Bootsy Collins

Taking account of my current affairs it is difficult to know what's going on with anything. Two questions need answering: "What the hell am I doing?" and "How far can one fall?" The soul's contemplation adheres to these lines when one's body moves into a trailer park.

The white trash elements are not lost on me. I have literally no money, I'm liable to take a job at McDonald's, and there are two dogs running around shitting and pissing. Also: I do not eat food & my sandal has a hole in it. My toe pokes in it. I do not enjoy this because it heaps attention on my toe. I don't own any nail clippers. The nail is ingrown and quite painful. I wince at these steps as I stride through the San Francisco fog. The world is terrible for a few minutes. Cesspool commences. The fact that Joel Walkowski lives in an RV with a Georgia weirdo eats dog food is no longer cool. Then Joel remembers why he's here & doing what he's doing?

What the hell are you doing?

Exactly what I want to.

That's right. I'm the world's worst street performer :)

Untitled from Jeff LaPenna on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hi...Again


Down to the mononucleosis walls, E.C. is defined by one thing: a rampant and unerring professionalism. His services are renowned the world over as words like punctual, succinct, and gruff are bandied about. His gaudy resume is three pages thick but such things don't matter in a time of recession. The callers have quelled and E.C has been forced to take low ball offers from a rag tag bunch that is fresh out of film school to put it mildly. He works with them for three weeks. The professional rapport grows into burgeoning friendship. This lends itself to good natured ribbing before one announces to a room full of emissaries "E.C. is visibly aroused."

E.C. is confounded. His only retort: "I can see why your girlfriend left you."

Welcome to the world of filmmaking. I've been stuck in this world for the past three weeks with scant time to monitor e-mail, survey pornography, or live the lift of a human being in even the mildest sense of the world. I don't know if I can write anymore. Could creativity be washed away because of too much contact with Detroit Grizzlies? Of course not/I hope not.

I recently produced a documentary film about Detroit. Once ironically referred to as "Paris of the West", Detroit has degraded itself into a cesspool of strife and abandoned buildings with junkies milling about their corridors, wondering whether to assist or stab the neighboring film crew.

From the first time I picked up a camera and pointed the lens towards my Dad's bald head I knew I wanted to be part of this field. The pursuit of making something beautiful, creating the universe as you saw it held an indelible mark and allure. Sitting on couches with fellow wise cracking film school students, we'd watch a film. We'd ooh and ahh at a good film. If the film was bad? We'd let loose. Fuck manners. A bad movie deserves nothing but scorn. We'd mock the craft, the creation. Not even title sequences were immune. "Trajan? What an original font!" Followed by giggles of course. It's easy to degrade from one's high horse but after being in the fire I don't think I'll ever poke fun at a movie again. (Lie). For one thing, it's hard. Labor aside, filmmaking exists in a frenetic world where 16 hour days are the norm. You're weak if you want a family. Even weaker if you want a break. Work well and try hard and you might find yourself in the fraternity, labeled as a filmmaker with the extra paunch around your gut to prove it. I commend anyone whose ever worked to put a piece of life into motion picture form. If it's good? Then I fucking salute you. "Where is the ice?" "Do you have the permit?" "Where do we park?" These questions are among the hundreds I received daily. To be able to wade through this muck and realize you're making a movie is one thing, to do the same task with a vision for quality is the work of saints.

Why are so many movies bad? Dude, there's no time to think about the movie. Over the past three weeks, nothing has warranted a quiet consideration of the film's quality. In this industry the sole objective will always remain: GETTING IT DONE.

Enough about film. It's pedantic and droll. I never want to be the consummate professional acting affronted at invisible hard-ons. Life's a game and film should be too.

I told myself this was my philosophy for making films. I used it as an excuse to play football.

Football was a big part of our shoot. I skipped out on interviews, opting to play catch in the street. I would play with anyone around. This pursuit of sports brought me into friendships with crack addicts, Crunkstop, and whoever happened to be walking by at the time. This past Friday, we were stationed at a halfway house in Virginia. The responsible producer would've and should've kept tabs and arraigned dinner for the ravenous crew. It's a solid task but it's hard to get up for anything that doesn't directly help the film. I surveyed the grounds. A meadow stretched before me. I could;ve sat and watched it for hours but distraction laid in the left of my vista. A basketball hoop. Gathering up the ball, I surveyed the grounds and found an inmate willing to play. We played One-on-One with him ultimately ousting me 21 to 16. Most of his points were scored on jump shots with a touch that could be described as feathery. I was struck by this. If I were locked inside twelve hours a day, my muscles would jangle into a coiled ball. Given my freedom and a sphere, I'd be surprised if my shot didn't soar over the basketball hoop, let alone the entire state.

I considered myself a Detroiter since birth. I was born in the suburbs. I'm white as they come (I like Hall & Oates). When I first stepped into the city's dregs on a location scout I was terrified. Who knew what awaited me in the pitted houses and storefronts. Flash forward a single month. I'll go into the same areas, utterly comfortable even though there ain't a Pier One around for miles. In an abandoned building or crack den my first thought will be: Who wants to play?

This is a random collective of yammerings. It has to be the way. It's been so big, so intense, so eye opening that I'd have to write another book just to capture it all. If I know you, you'll be hearing about this from me for a long, long time.

I'm back.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's A Great Time To Own A Dog


I have a swiveling chair I use for swiveling more than sitting. With blue lights, of the upper crust Christmas variety, hanging overhead, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good spin and wonder session. I sat down a few moments ago. Dog's are man's best friend. This is true in the case of my mutt, Avery. She's tethered to my trajectory. It might be strange to follow larger creatures around for food. But being the creature in question, I see her wisdom. I am usually carrying a sandwich.

When I sat, Avery came over, panting with old dog emphysema. She shook herself off. I got flecked with little drops of liquid. I thought the roof was leaking on my wonders. Then Avery rattled her canine form again, recommencing the shower. This second episode was the prelude to the stench of urine dancing across my nostrils. A few feet away, amidst the aluminum rugs, sits a puddle of smoldering piss.

Thanks!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Leon Russell- Out In The Woods

Hello. I hope you're having a good day today. I don't know how you define a good day. I generally prescribe to the theory that a good day includes fundamental human joys--good food, music, creativity, dancing, usefulness--all of which may be exacerbated by the presence of friends.

I like to give gifts. I have lots of ideas about fun things to do (Gerbil Fireballs, anyone?). If I really like you, I'll probably tuck you while singing a song about you. I'm not a good hugger but I'm working on it. I am all of these things but it doesn't change the fact that I'm a difficult person to know.

*****

Friday Night.

I spent the evening working on a cartoon and drawing strange creatures until the Hoopster stumbled in. His goal was to whisk me to a party because the girl to guy ratio was in the surplus. I insisted on shaving but didn't. I showed him some films and we went to the party. I spent it as a lying ball of awkwardness--spewing fibs without provocation. Hoopster got drunk, danced, and hugged girls. He's a very good hugger. After a while, I couldn't stave off the temptation of jungle juice and I insisted we leave. I took him to my home. I took off my shirt and did push ups in the driveway.

Within minutes, Hoopster wanted to punch me. It was a flash of drunken whimsy but the sentiment was repeated throughout the weekend.

Hoopster went home. I went inside, feeling quite empty. My eyes weren't besotted with sweat, the day had amounted to nothing; YET AGAIN! The apathy turned into hunger and a desire entered my heart. I wanted to see what I could do in a single day. How far I could stretch my mortal coil before it came springing back to home base. After a brief chat and ensuing inspiration, I dialed the Hoopster.

"What are you doing tomorrow?"
"Nothing."
"Let's go to Rothbury. We'll feel alive."

If you play the we'll feel alive card, people have little choice but to go along with you, no matter how foolhardy your plan may be. In this case my plan was very foolhardy. With no money, an unreliable vehicle, and a vague connection in the form of pizza slingers Brock and Ryan, I was going to traverse the state and go to a music festival. The thing about music festivals is that their an annoyance. A slew of unsavories descend, take drugs and steal from the local gas station. I suppose this is why the majority are held way out in the boonies. This wasn't a Detroit Rock City moment. I had no attachment to either of the headliners--the Grateful Dead & Bob Dylan. In fact, the only band I love (Girl Talk, which isn't really a band) had already finished the plan by the time I decided to leg it out past Muskegon. This either makes me fun or a nuisance, presumably both.

I drew two drawings of hitchhikers. Then I wrote my Mom a note. It read:

"Mom,
I have no money or a clue. I only know how I feel inside: stagnant and old, like the remnants of mayonaisse after a hard rain, sliding around disgustingly with nowhere to go.
Went to Rothbury.
With Hoopster.
Hopefully Brock can get us in.
If not? L'aventura!
<3 Joel"

Hoopster arrived and we set out through the night, talking about girls and peeing on the side of the road as we whiz banged across suburban structures until the night grew glowy and the farms numerous. We stopped for a fill up around Lansing. I nearly conviced a drunk to get in the car with us. He was all in but grew reticent because "ain't no females in that Van."I don't blame him. It is a very suspicious van. For all I know his presence would've altered the dynamic and the entire lot of us could've played out the final act of deliverance with him in the role of Burt Reynolds and Hoopster strumming the dueling 'jo.

They wouldn't cash my checks at the gas station. 150 miles out we were without a dollar. We would've had some money left but I spent my last buck on a Nutrageous. It would be the last food I bought that weekend.

When the sun took over, illuminating the Grand Rapids Press Building like some oceanic site, the wheel was relented to Hoopster. The rest of the drive flew by as I stared out the window, seeing airplanes that may or may not have existed. Hoopster didn't see the airplanes but I saw signs for "Remote Control Outposts" They were strewn up on farmland. It may have been a prank.

We didn;t know where we were going so we pulled into a gas station for assistance. I couldn;t get to the register. Upon my entrance I was immediately accosted by two gentlemen with the strangest beards I've ever seen. It was like a racoon hung as tinsel. On both of them! They tried to sell me wristbands. I told them I was going to sneak in. They laughed and gave us bad directions. Thankfully, an older couple pointed the way. They seemed like perfect blips, able to come in for a moment's servitude and nothing more but it wasn't meant to be. I saw them two days later, necking in a hammock. I didn't bother them then.

As we neared the festival we formulated several plans for sneaking into the festival.
1) Pose as reporters from the Oakland Press.
2) Work as Pizza Men.
3) Masquerade as Pizza Men.

Rolling up we found out that there was no press entrance. We went through country back roads before stumbling upon the entrance where security guards were busy searching cars. I saw a man pour out his salsa. A man named Shitty, adorned with a weed leaf chain, offered us breakfast beer. Hoopster stepped in and explained my explosive vomiting habits. We went to will call who sent us to a middle school down the road. We rolled up in the Van and told our story. We were reporters from the Oakland Press. I was the photographer because I wore an expensive camera around my neck. Hoopster was the writer because he was practicing for his future as a journalist. They bought our story but a system was in place. You needed to be reigstered in the computer! How I long for the halycon days of the 80's when bullshit could fly. We stammered away, leaving them to wait for a phone call from our Editor, Dan Lawlor, that would never come. Soon after, Hoopster squelched the plan in case he ever worked for the Oakland Press.

We walked to a gas station to glean information about the fest from the local papers. No information was gleaned although in a comparison between Rothbury and Kids Fest, it was noted that Rothbury attendees favored LSD and ecstacy while Kid's Fest participants favored lemonade. This Kid's Fest was not to be dismissed as it was headlined by Third Eye Blind. I was thankful Heidi wasn't with us b/c I wasn't ready for a kid's fest. I dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and a furry sweater, abandoning walking in favor of a romping march that brought the fur hood bip-bopping over my head like Pac Man Chomps.

Everything comes full circle. Attention Skylakers: Pac Man has returned!

We settled into the Van, only to find it out of gas. It wasn't actually out of gas but it likes to pretend it is. She's a big needy broad, willing to do anything so long as her stomachs full. Without 5 gallons in her tank, she'll refuse to start. In the past week, her PMS episodes have stranded me on Michigan Avenue, at a bank, and in a Middle School Parking lot. A valuable lesson was passed through this annoyance. Men love to help other men push their vehicles. Consider it the cave gatherings of the American Roadway.

With no gas, we settled in for a sleep, but an older man talked to us for a really long time. Full of fatherly pride, he'd supported his son's company by trucking 30G's worth of audio equipment to Rothbury from Allen Park, Michigan in support of "Thunder Audio" his son's event audio company. Though well versed in stereosonic vernacular, the man's knowledge of Automotive Insurance was devoid like, I don't know, a desert? A mole's bank account? The shiver of timbers? Something clever to be sure. He kept talking while I hunkered in the back and tried to sleep. No rest was had. Eyes were shut for a few minutes but we were too restless and alive. We clambered down the road. I played a three-note ditty on the Harmonica while Hoop screamed lyrics. I told a man "Have a good Sunday" without realizing it was Saturday. Laughs were had. We approached the field of entry, flanked by school buses, vans, and a versimiltitude of beggars. They were Dead Heads for the most part, living a life on the road; begging, borrowing, and stealing to find their way. I suspect they moonlight as accountants or carpenters.

Immersed in tune, we circled the field until realizing we weren't along, as a man with a train whistle was joining in. Marching up and down in a silly hat, he hoot hooted his train whistle ad nauseum. We stopped and spoke. He explained that he was a Dead Head.He was a Dead Head. He'd been following the band (ie taking drugs) for 31 years. He didn't have a ticket or money but was sure that, "One way or another I'll get into the show. 5000 Dead Heads will be here tonight. We'll march in because the music belongs to us." Such confidence, exuded from a derelict who'd abandoned his family (in California!) to be there, touched me in a weird way. My eyes shot upright and open and as I began to speak I found my voice raised an octave and stilted by stammering. "That's a beautiful statement. I believe you'll be in there. I really do." Then I touched his shoulder. He blew his train whistle and marched away. A few minutes later I spotted him in combative conversation with a police officer. "Fuck off!" echoed across the parking lot.

We talked to a few Dead Heads, marveling at their ethos. Not only does the music belong to them but everything does! A few lines of conversation would inevitably be followed by requests for cigarettes. I had no cigarettes so I had no guilt. The only thing I had was some candy I found on the ground. I munched on the candy until remembering Gas Money, the cross I must bear as proud owner of a GMC Safari. Hoopster and I rooted through the garbage, collecting cans and a full arsenal of germs. I suspect this is how I gathered the cold I now hold dear. It's the price you pay. Cans are worth ten cents in Michigan. Scavenge a tailgate zone and you'll get paid. With a few bushels full, we lugged them to the van.

Along the road, we fell in with a muckraker of a girl named Star. A nymph of 18, wearing a mohawk adorned with beer bottles. Her life is traveling to shows, scrounging rides, and maintaining the harmonious state attached to a fly by the seat of your pants existence. Unlike many enlightened (ie Weirdos) she held her state without gravitas. She called us out on our bullshit. "Why isn't this your life?"
"I don't know."
"Make it your life. Like today. Come to New York with me."

I loved her for living like I can't yet. She respected Hoopster for going to school and me for having a tattoo. She helped us load up the cans. The Van started. We went to the Gas Station, grabbed some snacks, and waited while she pooped. As we munched our PowerBars we were joined by the most exploitative couple in all existence.

The man had gray dreadlocks and Lennon glasses held on by bejewled strings.
The woman was a waifish acid type, all song and no heart. Standing between them, toting a sign boasting "We need a miracle" their three-year-old daughter begged passersby for tickets.

I asked the man to show me his Van because he had a sweet rack on top along the lines of a white picket fence. He responded with "You like original music?" before trying to sell me a CD of his wife's music. I didn't budge but I must respect his opening line. Original Music leaves no response. "No. I only like music t robotically fabricated to combines all music ever recorded. You can strain for days without hearing a single chord."

Back at camp, things were simmering. I'd accidentally insulted a Dead Head by complimenting his pants. I couldn't talk to them anyway. Their life style would infuse certain connotations into my RV laden future that I can't take right now. I want to own a microwave. I don't want to yell at dogs. Not having a microwave and yelling at dogs seemed like a requirement for nomadic existence.

I had to do something. I decided I was going into the concert. Hoopster didn't want to go. He waited in the van and read Doystoyeyesksiski. (intentionally butchered).

Along the highway I fell in with Cole, a man from Indiana. He was attended the show because he "fucked up and enlisted in the army". He had a borrowed bracelet that security guards sniffed out but was desperate to get in because this was his "last chance to do drugs before boot camp." We spat out small talk before cruising through the brambles and hopping through a hole in the fence. I was in. Tents splayed out in all directions. People were barbequing, singing, dancing, and generally acting like fools. I loved it. Walking through the lot, I felt at home. I didn't have to be the fool or comic relief, I could simply be an observer. As an observer people slinked up with backpacks, bestowing strange offerings.

The sky was overcast and a light rain trickled down. My pants got quite heavy. Coupled with the lack of sleep I became made of stone. In a good way. I tried walking in but there was another bracelet outpost. I struted around the campgrounds, waiting for Hoopster to arrive and took a nap by a fence. People in green shirts were guarding all trash cans for recycling's sake, which made it difficult to scrounge for bracelets.

After sneaking into a Lake, Hoopster managed to get into the Rothbury campground. I saw some people from my high school but was too busy eating popcorn, rummaged from beneath a car tire, to be friendly. No one's friendly when they're hungry.

Sizing up the infrastructure I felt it was time to go. There was a small gap, guarded by a security guard. I felt we could get in. Part of me knew I was going to get into this festival. I told Hoopster "We're getting in." We walked a few paces, strong virile paces until Hoopster clammed up "We're not getting in." He stopped walking but I couldn't. Seeing the security guard roused a great strength. I knew I was mightier than him. I knew he couldn't stop me. If he mentioned a word I would run. I shut my eyes and walked as fast as I could. I walked right in. It's amazing what you can do with confidence. A 300 dollar concert ticket wasr free. Hoopster watched from behind. Enthused by this moment I had two options.
A) Call Hoopster and apologize
B) Run, Jump, and Scream.

I chose B. I ended up losing my cell phone and keys. Friends had to rescue me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

He's supposed to be like a moth, get it?

Dear Italy

The Wise Man told me
"If there's something you are lacking
Give it to the Earth and it shall return to you in turn."
Before I left
He gave me a candle.
He'd like many more candles.
I skulked off, towards the leaking Basement I call home.
It smells of sewage but I don't mind.
In the kitchen, a sandwich was made
By my very own hand.
It had: ham, lettuce, mayo, tomato, and bread.
White. Not Wheat. Not Rye.
I wrapped the Sandwich in paper towel
and wrapped the paper towel in my finest wrapping paper.
Snoopy. Christmas Edition.
I set off in a dark night towards some semblance of civilization.
None could be found.
I spotted a lonely Oak instead.
I put the sandwich in a hole that held shiny objects.
"For my friends the Raccoons"
I walked home.
I haven't eaten since
How would I?
I don't even know where to begin.
I'm now a raccoon.

"Hello Heidi! Hello Joel!" from Jeff LaPenna on Vimeo.



I received this video greeting from Jeff the Pen, our wayward sergeant in arms, who's spending his pre-RV stint in Italy, teaching kids English in theatrical form. I was warmed by the greeting. I know Jeff regales them with stories of our friendship. I do the same to the figures in my life: the dog, the cat, the man in the crawl space. They like to hear about my friends. Zeke the cat is softened by tales (tails) of adventure although he has trouble telling the difference between "fun" and "adventure". I tell him not to bother.

I decided to respond to the kids in turn. Of course I took the opportunity to slander Heidi via video collage.

FOR THE KIDDIES from Joel Walkowski on Vimeo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. MJ

Yesterday, circa 6PM.

I was lolling around the house and toying with a basketball when I decided to head to the kitchen. Before I could arrive in the kitchen, an electricity burst through my being, freezing me in place. The feeling spread through me. I couldn't move or see. If it hadn't been for the chance of laying a hand on a nearby chair, I would've fallen over; collapsing on the carpet to be licked by a dog. The feeling escalated. My eyes went blind and my mind was immersed in a blitzkrieg white aura of electric light. I'd felt this feeling before--when nearing mortality's edge.

I was terrified when I emerged. Fearing another medical episode was near I stood completely still for several minutes. Then I received a text message. Like a good citizen of the 21st Century and Pavlovically programmed to boot, I went over to check the text. It was from my Mom. "MJ had died."

I'm pretty sure I felt him pass.

Weird.

Goodbye Michael.

I'll remember dancing to Motown as a little kid, throwing myself against the couch cushions to the sounds of his pre-pubescent voice. Michael was the definition of Superstar as I came up. His aura and presence, made the world a far more interesting place. Listen to some early Jackson 5. Hear his tender-sweet voice on ABC or Rockin' Robin. The sounds are synesthetic. I know those emotions, the experience of being a heart-broken phenom is close at hand. It's impossible not to be thankful for such a person's existence.

From finding the Great Narrative in Earth Song to dancing with 12 years olds, Michael's been in the musical landscape.

Blare Beat It and wave goodbye to the soundtrack of our lives.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Call Wacko!


I recently found something that filled a profound gap in my existence.

When I threw up blood I happened to throw up blood on my favorite pair of black basketball shorts. I would've proudly worn my bloodshed but Brock and Appu have higher standards for my sartorial choices and opted to throw them out. Since I don't cash my paychecks I spent today conniving a way to obtain a pair of black basketball shorts. Then, I found a pair on the basketball court. Wee!

That's not what I meant to talk about it all but things escape sometimes, like dreams in the night.

The profound gap in my existence has been filled by an intern. My intern is Nick Olah. So far his responsibilities have included discussing the NBA Draft and making prank phone calls for legitimate business reasons. He's leaving a negligible effect on the finished product as am I in a weird way but his presence alleviates the monotony of waiting in a library or filling a prescription. Crossing the lakelike threshold of a business day in Michigan Summer Swelter, we move with brisk business like strokesm, flecking the day with fun by way of sojourns to Arby's for free Arby's. (Blogging about Arby's is copyright of Beavette).

Today. We were picking up a prescription when a Yellow Pick-Up Truck caught our attention. Emblazoned on the back of the pick up truck was a Demon with an eye popping out of his socket. It dangled down to a small logo that read "Call Wacko" then listed a phone number.

We called Wacko immediately. He picked up with a voice that sounded like Malt Liquor. "What's up dude?" was his trademark beckon. Nick asked "What's up?" Nothing was going on with Wacko.

We called again. I discussed the possibility of him doing a "tatt-oooooo" of the Hindenburg on my back. He was a perceptive listener at first but my flamboyant pronounciation of "tattoo" drew his scorn. He swiftly hung up returning to waxing his boat, gelling his goatee, punching Dogs, and other activities of the Wacko. The Wacko does not tread lightly. He moves through this life, taking his desires and no prisoners. Sex on the first date? Never. Wacko has sex before the first date, before he even meets you. That's how the Wacko rolls.

His football shaped eyes are that of an Artist. His football shaped gut is that of a Patriot. He smokes Camel Wides as he swims in above ground pool. He has had fourteen tattoo removal surgeries so he can "redo the canvas with sum current shit." He's removed an American Flag for Ronald McDonald. The portrait of his mother has been editied into Brandon Inge. Brandon Inge is the troll-like Third Baseman for the Detroit Tigers. Before this season his bat left something to be desired but his hustle and defensive acumen have branded him as a "scrapper", a status that nestled him between the clogged arteries of White Trash Hearts throughout Southeastern Michigan. Inge is having the best season of his career, elevating him to deity status. Since season's inception Wacko has added wings, horns, and a spatula to his Inge tattoo.

I called Wacko again. It went straight to voicemail.

"This is Wacko. You know what to do."

Yes I do. All thanks to you.