Tue, Apr. 13th, 2004, 08:16 pm
i saw this building and was convinced that if my family never left the bay area - silicon valley region ages ago my fate would have been sealed here, in a building like this i saw the other day, hidden deep inside the third floor in a cubicle with nothing on the walls.
Tue, Apr. 13th, 2004, 08:00 pm
There’s this little orange miniature cooler thing on the top of my refridgerator filled with Gatorade powder that I’ve been mixing up and drinking like crazy lately. It’s kind of silly actually. I’m like the fat lady who thinks she’s going to lose seventy five pounds by Tuesday by drinking some canned milkshake from the powerbar aisle of the grocery store. Except for I think I’m going to drink and smoke like a little devil for days on end without even a motion towards the filtered water fishbowl in the kitchen and then dump some sugar drenched Gatorade powder in water with its “magical electrolite replenishing system” or whathefuckever and then I’m going to be tip top.
Anyhow, so I mixed me a big ole pint of Gatorade before bed last night and was reading some brain numbingly dull article of ex-SF defense security contractors in Iraq and had the ole pint glass about an inch from my mouth all ready for the magic blue ice cold beverage when I noticed that there was a run of red liquid on the inside of the glass, just below the rim. I immediately panicked, and for a small yet powerful fraction of a second I knew what it was. However, I was unsure how they had gotten into my apartment and snuck themselves near my pint glass in between the time I poured the blue beverage and the time I was preparing my first sip. Because I knew somebody had come in and left poison lying in wait there for me. I was to be killed in my own bed by an unseen adversary, while enjoying Gatorade and a Time magazine.
As the second passed, though, it occurred to me that I was being silly and that somehow I must have bit my lip very hard until it bled recently. So, I thought about the last few times I’d had sex and whether it was so fucking intense that my mouth just started gnawing on itself, but it didn’t seem so. Not drawing blood intense.
Luckily though Beth was nearby and came up and said, “ooh cool, the dyes have separated!” – and with this once again I realized how stupid I am.
Thu, Mar. 25th, 2004, 10:14 am
i have painfully stinging toes from athlete's foot i acquired at the crappy airborne barracks in georgia.
i will now heed the advice of a dear love and proceed to the shower whereupon i will pee on my own feet. yes. i was told that's the key to nice feet. the pee.
Today is day three of sitting around with Beth doing random things waiting for the U.S. government to fill me in on whether I’m going to Iraq almost immediately or going to South Dakota for OCS in a month or so. Nerve racking to say the least. Although lying down on the couch watching amazing little dvd’s my brain’s been deprived of for ages with her head resting on my thigh and her little four-eyes peeking up at me every once in a while wearing a neat little look is the most incredible thing. Then I’ll think wow I won’t see this amazement for a year.
She quit smoking – or kind of quit – last week. I think she’s trying to at least get down to what I do which is to not really smoke at all during daylight non-vampiristic hours of the day or even at night but the moment alcohol in any form touches your lips you begin to chain smoke as if your existence rested on how much you can blacken your lungs in a short span of five or six hours. Anyhow it all made me think of love in it’s pure form and of exactly how altruistic the feeling of love is, and so like a dull little virgo boy I had to break it down and I figured out that I love her brilliantly but the feeling of me being glad of her quitting smoking – or decreasing it or whatever – might have nothing to do directly with my love for her but selfishly about my self-preservation. I would like it to be purely from a feeling of me being so in love with her that I can’t bear her damaging her body anymore, and that definitely is there, but I think the primary feeling is that I love her and I feel so good being with her that I am happy that she won’t die sooner than she normally would do to lung cancer – because if she did then I would have to go on without her, and I don’t want that. Love’s weird.
Airborne is over now, at least. The jumping part was interesting. I was the first man out of the door all the time due coincidentally to the spot I was assigned to stand at in formation and I guess that provided me with a front row seat everyday to how the world looks from the door of an aircraft before you jump out of it. Everybody else (including me on the first jump) merely cramps themselves together in the body of the c-130 and when the drop zone approaches you basically shuffle run as fast as possible down to the back of the plane, hand off your static line to the jumpmaster frantically, and then bail out of the plane without barely even looking at anything until you’re falling and the jet blast knocks you around in the air. But the first position went something like this: in the plane I stood up and hooked up to the static line above me, then there’re all these crazy formalities you do up there while the pilots are getting you near the drop zone, and when everybody is basically standing in contact with the jumper in front and behind them they call the thirty second warning. The door is already opened, and at this point – especially the night jumps – this is where for the first time in my life I actually felt the feeling of my knees getting weak. I remember just looking down and seeing myself standing in a plane with 98 lbs. of equipment on, a 68 pound parachute on my back, and an m-4 carbine on my side, with the alice rucksack strapped around my ankles so I can barely walk about to jump out of a plane at midnight and wondering at what point in my life of seeking out new adventures it was when I actually truly lost my mind.
So, the jumpmaster then calls “standby,” which is my cue to hand off my line and do a facing movement so that I end up standing there about a half-foot from the edge of the door with my hands holding my reserve chute. Then it’s about a minute there, just standing. For the night jump I just kept looking out and the ambient light out there was slightly noticable above the treeline, but just barely, but other than there was absolutely no light whatsoever anywhere else. It was like jumping into well at one in the morning out on some abandoned farmhouse. Then the word “go” came and somehow the legs just started moving and out you go. With the ruck strapped to my legs, though, I really couldn’t jump far though to beat the jet blast, so I just kind of held a tight body position and was blown in a circle by the prop and jet blast until about three seconds later when the chute popped open. The wind that night was around 26 knots which is pretty bad wind, so I was trying to slow the chute as much as possible, but to no avail. Then the coolest fucking thing happened. All the jumps before that I had been hitting the ground at between 18 – 23 miles per hour (ouch, thud), but this time I was able to start seeing the ground with the slight ambient light at about 75 feet up and saw I was coming straight for a creek, so I pulled the right risers a bit and somehow landed right on the muddy bank of it and basically just came down landing on a nice little mud pillow. like a little cotton ball jumper boy. plop.
another weird jump was the very last one which was during the daytime because the winds were so high that they were altering the precise spot they told me to start jumping from to compensate – of course they don’t tell me that. so I’m in the doorway looking out and thinking “where the fuck is the dropzone?” because all I could see is forest and creeks, and then out of nowhere the jumpmaster lets go of my belt and yells “go!” – and I wanted to hesitate for a minute and say, “really, dude, you sure? I mean, there’s no fucking drop zone down there?!” but, of course, I’m in the army at Airborne school, so I just jumped out of the damn plane, and sure enough the black hats were right and eventually the high winds slammed my skinny ass into a dropzone. at least that’s the worst that happened to me – a friend of mine’s parachute canopy entirely collapsed on him at about 800 feet for a full three or four seconds, which gave him a particularly close allegiance with god following that. that was his first jump of the day. his second jump that day? his head whipped back against his neck from the jet blast and swung forward all the way down so that his chinstrap unhooked his left riser clip (the one thing holding his body to the actual parachute.) he was a bit shaken that night to say the least, but he jumped again the next day. go miller, and, uh, godblessya, I guess.
but, all in all, you know, my friend jackie is in europe right now and probably doing the meeting people around europe thing that is so right to do and all, but I remember being far more afraid to approach somebody and say “hi” to them when I was traveling around than I ever was jumping out of a plane at midnight or even of the possibility of parachuting into war. Then again, I never was a cornflake girl.
other than my face becoming potato chip crisp from the georgia sun, only one memorable thing happened this week. on wednesday and thursday we were dropping kids from the 250 foot tower with little old parachutes on their backs so they could practice their little parachute landing falls. anyhow, i was on the rigging crews and thus instead of falling from a big tower (made by the same people that brought you those crazy unsafe rides at coney island in the 1950s) i was one of the people who hooked up the parachute to this big hula hoop type thing that raises up to the top before it drops. anyhow, when the thing was yanked up there with a kiddy attached to it [p.s. i'm listening to this fucking incredible cover of face to face covering jawbreaker's "chesterfield king" right now, anyhow...] there's a leash going from the kiddy to the ring so if it disconnects the aforementioned kiddy'll still dangle from the ring and thus live. when killer boy gets to the top, though, he takes that leash and releases it and it falls alllllllll the way down to the ground. it was so great. i spent the bulk of two entire days with my heavy kevlar helmet wearing head yanked all the way back watching this thirty or so foot ribbon like thing snake and play through the air and then the tip'd hit the ground and after a while it all just seemed to slow down to me and bunch up nicely as it toppled on top of itself. it looked almost like it feels when i'm drastically bored and take my dog tags off to start putting the end in the palm of my hand and then slowly lower the rest of those little metal balls down on top of it. it was only every once in a while that i thought of the filmmaker of "american beauty" focusing his camera shot on the bag for like five minutes that i thought i was being unoriginal by starting at the leash falling downa -- but i'd get over it quickly.
i want to write an article for time magazine as a sort of follow up article to their little "person of the year" thing being "the american soldier." all i would do is submit the text version of this speach given by the inprocessing sergeant at the ranger indoctrination school here at fort benning (a place where some soldiers go who have just been through the pipeline of infantry school, then airborne school, and who are on their way to ranger school -- as a sort of prep course for the insanely tough ranger school.)
anyhow, he's this short and immensely stocky phillipino man who is apparantely the most intense two legged creature to ever walk the planet. so, the first day these kids get there he tells them that they should be proud of themselves -- that they have indeed made the best decision they have ever made in their lives. There is no better feeling alive, he continues, then "kicking in some motherfucker's door, smacking his bitch around in front of him, kicking his children aside to the floor, and then shooting the motherfucker in the face. there's nothing like shooting a motherfucker in the face, men." and to imagine it, his captive audience is a room full of mostly 19 year olds wanting acceptance so badly in the ranger community that they'll willing to go with anything "hard core."
as a sidebar to that article, though, i'd add a few conversations i've heard with other infantrymen here at benning who think all that is purely sick as fuck. like me. there are indeed those of us who really don't want to kill anything, let alone get excited about, but somehow were swept up in an internal need to serve our country. but fuck i hate that influential non-commissioned officers are given so much leash to the extent of motivating kids to want to humialiate and kill members of families they've never met. but, i do have to admit that a very small part of me quietly agrees with the practice, because if i ever had to go through the front door of a house in some far away land with a rifle at my shoulder i have a feeling i'd have more of a chance getting back home alive to the people i love with cold hearted killers next to me, then with intellectuals sensitive to the needs of families.
so, maybe i'm no better. what's that about those who remain silent remain complicit?
I just came across this picture in my savebox from way a long time ago taken by the little cam thingy at one of those Gateway stores where you can't actually buy anything hungover one saturday morning and realized that the american flag with subtely salient up there in the background and it pissed me off. You know that even when you go to the movies here at benning that before the previews are done this little 2 minutes short comes on ordering you to stand for the national anthem and proceeds to show you two minutes of short patriot clips of like soldiers being inserted by helicopter and then the next one'll be a soldier mother coming home to her baby and all that. It's sick. It reminds me of the "2 minutes hate" i think it's called. Wasn't that the name of the short movie those subjected to the state had to watch in either 1984 or fahrenheit 451? Fucking flags.
Sat, Mar. 6th, 2004, 03:20 pm
Out of utter bone dry boredom last night I went to this bar in downtown Columbus where a bar band was playing covers all night. These guys were so bar band it was awesome. I mean, it's hard to imagine these doods anywhere in the world other than on that little wooden stage belting out crap radio rock like Creed or Everclear. The singer had obviously worked so amazingly hard to perfect that voice with which -- on the drop of a pin -- he could instantly bust his right leg out in front of the microphone stand, set his left leg back, whip his head back so his sweaty mop hair jerked all rock and roll back, and then proceed to nail eddie vedder, chris cornell, that STP dude, the creed god singer guy, or that nerd from Staind with the big head's voice. Your choice. You want some Candlebox circa 1997, he'll give it to you. More importantly for you ladies out there, if you care to get out on stage and straddle his sweatk denim'd leg and sing along, you're more than welcome to. These guys rocked. It was like turning on the radio for two hours live, and for that two hours, these guys were rock gods. Needless to say, I stayed and watched, which makes me the guy who never got over Soundgarden and now has to be very careful putting on his ripped 501's and cardigen on because they are so worn and torn that they're nearing evaporation.
My knee is still so amazingly eaten up. The running is mostly in combat boots here on concrete and about 10 miles total per day, and every time my right leg hits the ground it feels like a small australian midget is hitting my knee with a very heavy Russian hammer. Ouchie. I can't go to sickcall, though, because they'll put me on a three day profile, which would result in me missing training, which in turn would result then recycling me back to the beginning of Airborne school. So, f'ing hell, just two more weeks of ouch ouch ouch (I say "ouch" in triplets in my mind), ouch ouch ouch.
Bob Dylan kicks ass. That's just a fact --> but what kicks more ass than Bob Dylan is people covering Bob Dylan. I've got Social D's Mike Ness belting out "Don't Think Twice" careening through my ears right now and fuck, all props to Mike Ness and all but you'd have to be a tone deaf banshee to mess up that song -- it's just perfectly written rock and roll waiting to happen. Now I realize Bob Dylan's version is all bluegrassy peace-brotherish sounding, but who ever said people have to realize the full potential of their brilliance when it occurs? I mean, I'll bet you anything that when Jackson Pollack tossed paint at canvas he actually didn't say to himself, "well, you see, I am commenting on the reaction of Americans to the absolute conformity that was demanded of them during the war years, exemplified in the song "Tiny Boxes" and the track homes it was written about. My work allows American's do disengage this kind of thought and reform their notions of social order." Fuck no he didn't. He probably said, "damn, I'm out of bourbon." Then, some smart careerist grad student from Columbia probably said all the above and Jackson was like, yeeahhh, that's it. So, anyhow, back to Bob Dylan. He writes good songs. Yes. Now, Leonard Cohen writes amazing songs too, but for some reason people song like hell when they try and cover him. The only decent one I've ever heard was Peter Gabriel doing "Suzanne," and all the rest are people basically trying to butcher his simple songs which were written by LC for LC's unique style. I don't know.
Speaking of music, I left Airborne barracks this morning and was walking the dreary mile down past all the OCS buildings, the Jumpmaster school, etc., just a bunch of beige buildings in a row was a big decaying field on the other side looking like what I used to think of whenever I heard the phrase "teenage wasteland." It actually kind of looks like the parking lot the kids gathered in to listen to Christian Slater jockey in "pump up the volume." Anyhow, I was listening to modest mouse's tune "trailer trash" in my phones and it got to that one part where he says face and then you hear him yelling "face" again from way in the back of the studio and I almost burst out in tears, literally. Right when I heard that years of living an amazingly rich life came back to me, all on the coattails of memories being small modest mouse shows and when that part in the song came up the entire venue would scream "face" -- an entire venue filled with Seattle people who say "excuse me" and are nice and enjoy beauty and dress in ways that compliment the surroundings like a Wright building does to the hillside and whose smiles say five hundred different things in their subtely and I almost cried in mourning for the death of that old self that I can't reach as hard as I stretch my arm out. Anyhow, the cure's disintegration is now in my headphones so I'll quit writing before I get too shoegazingly marose.
Today while practicing falling down on gravel, repeatedly, for twelve hours straight, I got to talking with this quasi-Special Forces soldier from Greece who's here on some strange Allied Forces exchange program or something. Anyhow, being Greek I asked him if my name was common in Greece and told him why the spelling was so terribly fucked up. Somehow I got into explaining that some family of mine had gone back to Greece years ago to visit and had all rolled up on the family abode about 25 miles outside of Athens in some old military town. Upon opening the door and being informed in probably Frommer's guidebook quality Greek that they were Americans from the family there in Greece to hang out, eat, drink, and spend time with them, the Greeks promptly shut the door. Being nice folks, however, they did open it once more and explain that they in fact were not stupid and knew why they were there: Obviously to take back land that someone from our family ten billion years ago probably lended to a second cousin in exchange for some feta and a sip of uzo.
"That sounds like Greeks," the SF Greek dude said, "they'll do that." "You should marry a Greek girl," he continued.
"I married Irish."
"Oh," he said, then repositioned his head forward again and spoke not, as he has done the entire time we've been here.
At that point I was so tired that all I could do is sit there in my drench soakes BDUs for the during of our short break and wonder what the fuck, what the goddam fuck on earth was Ralph Machio (the karate kid, yo) during right then, just at the very second. Like was he checking his hair in the mirror of his boxish 1987 Jeep Cherokee Laredo on his way to the gas station for a Dr. Pepper and a Whatchmacallit chocolate bar? Was he being reassured in an L.A. cafe by a very bad bad agent? Perhaps he was watching the Karate Kid on DVD and coming up with really great and keen and groovy ideas for a new limited edition special features section?
I had no idea.
Quite recently I saw a photo of this guy I know in a magazine being interviewed outside in an outdoor cafe in London about his new band. Now, my reaction surprisingly wasn't like the Morrissey song (hate when your bleedin' friends get famous, etc.), but instead was one of utter shock at where I happened to be standing while reading it.
You see, my music snobby, Spiritualized loving, black shaggy hair totin', civil rights law studying, beauty and color-in-life seeking and exploring skinny ass somehow happened to be toting a huge rucksack on my back, fully in camo, and just having had completing a training mission in the woods of Ft. Benning, Georgia that day. I had been here so long in training that I had long learned to numb and block out the amazing things in life, like scarves that clash with other thrift store clothing, or how cool black wool fingerless gloves look wrapped around a coffee cup on the cold streets of seattle. But when I saw that guy in the magazine, I guess the feeling came back to me that life has these amazing little opportunities to walk through windows of creative epiphone. Or maybe moreso, that out there off an Army Infantry base people actually care and appreciate individual expression in forms other than shit-talking.
Well, anyhow, if it makes any sense, that some how led to me randomly starting this journal. It's March 2nd right now, and I'll be here at Ft. Benning until the 19th (I'm now at Airborne School), then I'm back to Seattle or the Sand.