Yes, the site and the forum are back up, but alas, we have a split on IRC at the moment that can't be resolved for some time. Sooooooo .... for now, connect to server galt.mindasylum.net. And if you happen to be using the java chat and find an empty chat room, just try again. Our apologies for the down time earlier.|
I have been so disappointed in the situation with the elections. We all know what's happening, as it is on every channel, all day and all night. Last night I was sipping wine, speaking with my stunningly handsome husband, and we began trying to think of new and different ways to see this ridiculous situation. First, I must say how embarrassed I am to be living in a country where people cannot even figure out how to push a little stick through a clearly marked hole! Personally, if they can't do that, they shouldn't be voting (of course I could go off on this tangent on how many idiotic and clearly STUPID people there are living in the United States, and more specifically, FLORIDA...don't ask why I live here. Perhaps it's for my own ego, as I am obviously the smartest one living in the state). ANYWAY! Back to trying to look at this situation in a creative manner...|
Being a grown up has its advantages, ones that I have only noticed as of late. For example, we have our own radio stations, with dj's that are our age, and have our sense of humor and tastes in music. Movies, T.V. and magazines continue to have more and more young writers contributing. How exciting it is to be a grown up! So when will we get our generation in the White House??? I long for that day. How sad that the baby boomers can't figure out what the fuck is going on. It is up to us, Generation X. Get out, get involved, and do something. It's so obvious to me that the world needs our laid back view of life. We're adults now, it's time we took over a few things. Leave things to our parents and grandparents and they can't even give us decent candidates to vote for, let alone settle on which asshole to elect.
I encourage all of you to educate yourselves on politics, economics and any other current event type interests you may have.
And please, please look into the libertarian party...it seems to me that, as a whole, generation X'ers are more libertarian in their views than we think.
Say what you think, and mean what you say.
Be passionate in everything you do.
Keep an open mind and heart, and always seek out the truth.
I saw him sitting with his back against the side of a filthy dumpster behind a run down hamburger joint. He was gaunt, unwashed, tired, and guilty. Guilty. Of what, I could not honestly tell you. I only know that it must’ve been some great, resoundingly horrible crime to merit a sentence as harsh as this. Filthy and ignored by all passers-by, his best hope lay in striking a chord of pity in the heart of some poor, compassionate soul who might toss him some spare change and thereby ease the weight upon his own cowardly heart for having borne witness to injustice of this caliber, and done nothing meaningful about it. Small fucking hope, that.|
I stood on the outskirts of the parking lot and watched him for a while. He turned, and dipped his hand into a small bundle of rags, bringing out a single, indefinable piece of tiny something that he brought to his mouth and chewed, slowly. I could not help but wonder where he came by that morsel. Was it here, perhaps even from this very dumpster? Or, maybe it was an edible scrap fished out of the leftovers of some earlier patron’s meal. Whatever the case, even from where I stood, I could tell that it was clearly unfit for human consumption.
I’ve spent a lot of time in places like this, watching scenes like this one unfold. There are a lot of things that I just don’t understand about people anymore. I try though, I really do. Open refutation becomes nothing more than foolish pride when it is based upon ignorance. So there I sat, watching, like the same unforgiving God that so many of these passers-by claim, emptily, to believe in. I sat and observed in the vain hope that I might eventually learn something that would fundamentally reshape my core values and allow these increasingly common incidences to pass without offending me anymore. I wanted to know how all of the other people saw what I saw without becoming outraged by it. In that moment, as in many others, I selfishly craved emancipation from the knowing of right and wrong. I wanted to be free of it; to turn it in for a nice, healthy dose of oblivious happiness.
As the people walked by in their little groups, emerging first from shining new cars and rumbling sport-utes, I counted the times that I heard derogatory reference made to the man in the alley. There were many such instances, and they were interestingly variegated. Please, allow me to recount a few for you.
“Fucking filthy bum.”
“Lazy son of a bitch.”
“Piece of shit.”
And my personal favorite: “I saw on the news how these bums come out here to beg. It’s all just a big put on. You’d be surprised at how many of these fuckers get into Benz’s at the end of the day and drive home to their mansions. It’s true. I fucking saw it on TV, man.”
So, I stood there and I drank it in for a while. Not once did I hear a word of compassion uttered for this man, crouched down in the sickening effluvia of this cold, empty alley that he had probably come to call his home. No one approached him. Many people openly avoided meeting his gaze, as if by doing so they could somehow manage to invalidate his existence through the pretense of their own ignorance. More importantly than all of that, he made no overtures to anyone. He did not rise to beg. He did not gesture or make as if to approach anyone and ask for assistance. If anything, he seemed to be trying to shrink down into himself. Somehow, despite all this, people still found him enough of an encumbrance to gift him with a torrent of merciless epithets as they passed by.
(This is something for you to know, you who serve to exemplify everything worthless and reprehensible about humanity. Someday, somewhere, I may come to know you for what you are. I will commit your face to the cold vaults of my memory, and circumstance permitting, I will rejoice to the echoes of your pitiful wailing when the time comes for you to suffer. Not everything is love, and not everything in this place is either forgiven or forgotten.)
The time for watching drew to a close as I noticed him groping beneath the dumpster for what seemed to be another pile of trash to pick through. I rose from my perch and strode directly for him across the crowded parking lot. I consciously kept an even, measured pace in an attempt to control the anger that had welled up towards the procession of spiritually vacuous automatons that passed, ceaselessly, by.
I drew up to him and excused myself. Upon realizing that I was addressing him, he left off searching for morsels of food in his new pile of leavings, and rose to greet me, dusting his hands upon his grimy trousers.
I extended my hand and introduced myself to him. He hesitated for a moment and then took my hand in a dry, surprisingly firm grip. His name was Donny, and he seemed every bit the gentleman.
He asked me what I wanted, and I told him that I was walking by and had noticed him reclining in the alley. I told him that I was about to sit down and have a bite, and I politely asked him if he would care to join me.
He hesitated for a moment and then informed me that he didn’t have any money to buy food with. I assured him that it was okay, and that if he would agree to sit and chat for a while, I would be glad to share what little I had with him.
I could see the hunger in his eyes. I could honestly see them glaze over at the thought of a hot meal, but still he maintained his demeanor. He thanked me for the offer and told me, politely, that it was all right and that I didn’t have to take pity on him. He was “all right” and he wanted me to know it. He said that he appreciated the gesture, but he “wasn’t no beggar or no bum.” According to Donny, he had just fallen on a little hard luck, that was all.
I understood. Of course, I understood. When you fall that low, all you have left is the esoteric. All that you can honestly lay claim to are the fragile illusions of having once been something better, worthier. It’s desperately hard to try and be a decent man when the world seems bent on labeling you as something else, something less than human.
With a nod and a casual smile, I told him that I had no intention of just “buying” him lunch, outright. I told him that I was doing research for a book on people who live in Los Angeles, and that I would be grateful if he would take a few minutes out of his day and chat with me for a while. That was all right with him. I couldn’t help but wonder at what a diseased world we have created wherein the wretched and starving accept derision more readily than a benevolent gesture.
I would like to tell you that things went well and easy from that point on, but they did not. I imagine that most of you probably never stopped to think about what difficulties a homeless man might face during the pursuance of even the most mundane tasks during his day. There are lessons there for the ignorant and unfeeling to take heart of. There are lessons there for everyone, I perhaps, chief among them.
I walked him ‘round to the front of this two-bit, ghetto, hamburger joint, and we stood in line together. He stood there, as stoically as he could possibly manage, as he pretended to ignore the overspoken whispers being muttered by the people around us. There were dark natured imputations of every type on the wind, and through it all he simply stood, eyes forward.
For a moment, I felt badly about having drawn him out from the comparative comfort of the cold, dark alley, where at least he had some claim to peace. If I had chosen to feel pity and deigned to shed a tear, it wouldn’t have been for him, however. It would have been for those sad, empty little souls around us who remained incapable of even the simple nobility of silence.
(“I am not one of them. I am not one of them.” I could stand and chant that mantra for a thousand years, and still it could not replace the taint I feel from being kin with such walking excreta as they, the disgruntled, muttering, heartless, inhuman masses that seem to throng this place. I often rant on about the poisoned oceans, the filthy soot-smeared skies, and the dwindling forests. These are marks of shame and I abhor them. Nowhere else, however, do I recoil so violently from the overwhelming hopelessness of man’s situation than when I am privy to the whims of the selfish and the barrenness of heart that seems to dominate the greater mass of men. What have we done? I look at them, what they aspire to, what they long for, what they venerate. I consider all the myriad opportunities for grace that have been coldly shunned, and I cannot help but ask, “Why, and what for?”)
Of course, purchasing the food was no simple matter, either. As soon as we made it to the front of the line, our little ordering girl ran away and the Mc Manager took her place.
“I’m sorry sir, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Why,” I asked.
“It’s just our policy. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, please.”
Standing my ground and growing increasingly angrier, I stated, “Sir, am I to understand that you are asking me to leave because I am Jewish (which, I am not)? If you will not give me a valid reason for dismissing me from this line, you and your establishment will have my attorney to deal with.”
“No, it’s nothing like that. Don’t get the wrong idea. We have a policy of not feeding the homeless. It’s bad for business. It brings a bad element around here and it drives the customers away. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave now.”
At last, the heart of the matter. Feeding Donny is bad for business. Feeding Donny might start an infectious trend. Now, I am not so close-minded a man that I cannot fathom the workings of modern business. I understand the point that this man was trying to make. Yes, from a business perspective it does carry some validity. Nevertheless, I cannot accept that anyone should be allowed to let another man starve for the sake of profit. There comes a point when someone has to stop passing the buck and start taking responsibility for the tragedies that wander the courses of these shit-caked streets. Profit fucking-well made them, and profit can fucking-well buckle under and do it’s part to correct the damage that it has done, even if that’s only so small a concession as selling a hungry man a sandwich. I know that many of you will openly disagree with that (some of you may not even understand the processes of economics that I refer to in the preceding statements). Think about it for a while, though. For God’s sake, lay down the abacus and just think about the humanity of it for a minute. I know, in your heart, that you still know the difference between right and wrong. It’s not a mathematical problem. It’s something altogether different than that.
So, excusing myself momentarily from my conversation with the manager, I apologized to Donny and asked him if he would be kind enough to step away for a moment. He shrugged and obliged.
That done, I turned back to the manager and continued, “My friend has stepped away. He’s very hungry, as you can plainly tell. I would be obliged if you would be kind enough to sell me some food now. You may package it to go if that will ease your mind any.”
That being said, the manager finally relented and took my order, although he was visibly unhappy with the exchange. At that point, if he had decided to continue giving me a difficult time, I would have probably ended up reaching through that little window and throttling him with his own grease spattered, clip-on tie.
I ordered food, enough for several meals. I also made sure that it was picked right out of the little ready-made pile. I didn’t want to risk Donny or myself having to eat the regurgitated snot of some disgruntled fuckburger employee. Yeah, you who’ve worked the grease-mills already know the drill, don’t you?
So, I got my two big bags of food and my two large chocolate shakes, but instead of making my way to the car, I walked to the nearest table and beckoned Donny to come over and join me. With the barest hint of a mischievous smile, he came over to the table and took a seat.
I am notorious for having a ravenous hunger, and I seldom refrain from attacking my food. As hungry as he obviously was, he showed a lot more restraint than I did. Still, a solid five minutes passed before he took a long enough breather to ask me what my book was about.
I told him that it was a collection of short stories. Stories, I said, that I was going around and collecting from people that I bumped into while walking through the streets of Los Angeles.
He grunted around a mouthful and eventually asked me what it was about him that I thought was so interesting.
I told him that I thought he looked out of place. I said that I thought he looked like a good man in a bad circumstance, and I wondered what had transpired in his life to lead him to this.
His eyes hardened for a bit at that. I could see him wrestling with his pride for a moment, but the look gave way and he started to talk.
(Getting Donny to talk to me was something more of a task than the following passages may suggest. In the interest of brevity, I have summarized the exchange.)
Donny used to be a carpenter. (The moment he told me that, I couldn’t help but draw some sort of parallel with Christ.) He was a carpenter who used to do contract work on construction sites for Mobasally engineering in Los Angeles. Things were great and work was constant (as it rarely is in the construction field). He earned a respectable living, and had managed, after a few years, to squirrel away a down payment on a new house for he, his daughter and wife to move in to. Money was a little tight with the mortgage and all, but his wife had managed to find a respectable job as an extruder at a tubing factory, and would soon be able to help considerably with the monthly bills. Things were looking good for Donny and his family until his daughter fell ill.
Cancer is a devastating illness. The reach of its taint is not confined to the individual. It eats its way right through the hearts of everyone that’s close to it; everyone who has to sit idly by and watch as their loved ones are consumed from the inside out. In Donny’s case, it consumed even more than that. He had no medical insurance, and his wife had been hired too recently to qualify for coverage yet. He loved his little girl, what else could he have done? He spent every cent that he had trying in vain to keep his daughter from dying. Of course, he tried to get her into City of Hope. Her name was on the waiting list. Waiting. Waiting for some other poor, unfortunate child to die so that a bed might free up and his little girl be allowed a chance. It never came, though. She died before hope had the chance to reach her.
(Of all that this world had taken from him, it still hadn’t managed to wrest his little girl’s picture away from him. He reached into his grimy pants as he told me his story and produced this tiny, smudged-up little photo of a beautiful little dark-haired child. The picture was all frayed around the edges from having to ride around in his trouser pocket all day, with only the benefit of a tiny, bent scrap of cardboard to protect it. Still, it was beautiful. There was something almost holy about it, holy the way that religious icons are supposed to be holy.
He held it up so that I might have a better look, and as he did so he smiled his grimy smile and the tears were welling up a bit around the edges of his eyes, but he wasn’t bitter. He spoke up and although his voice quavered a bit from emotion, I detected nothing of anger, only love. “Yeah, that’s my little angel. Isn’t she beautiful?”
She was beautiful. She was everything beautiful, innocent, and pure. For a moment, I fancied that I could almost understand the pain that he must’ve felt while enduring the prolonged agony of his daughter’s illness. It was just an imagined glimpse, a pale shadow, but it was enough to make me lose my breath. I felt as though a thousand-pound weight was on top of my chest and, for a moment, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do anything except mourn the loss of this poor, innocent child who I had never even shared the grace of knowing. I could not help but wonder how he had managed to survive emotional pain of that magnitude.)
So, Donny lost his little girl, his angel. He had spent all of his money trying to save her, and managed to lose his new house in the process as well. The strain of the whole experience was too much for his wife to endure, and she ended up leaving him, too. At the end of all that, Donny finally gave out and, deciding that there was no longer anything left for him in this world, tried to leave it for the comparatively peaceful silence of the grave. Thankfully, he failed at that endeavor, too. As a result, he ended up spending six-months as a patient at Lanterman developmental center, a long-term mental health care facility, where all of the collected efforts of modern psychiatry finally convinced him to stop trying to end his life and start trying to rebuild it, instead.
So, fate saw him off to The Hampshire house, a halfway-type facility whose purpose was to re-integrate recovered psychiatric patients back into the mainstream. They had managed to secure a full time job for him at the local flower shop, and he had begun to save up a little money. Things were going well for the first three and a half weeks, until funding ran out for the facility and the residents were all turned out into the street to fend for themselves.
Most scattered off into the streets going anywhere that they could manage to find shelter and food. One, however, lacked even the capacity for that. Her name was Michelle, and in his opinion she ought not to have ever been allowed to leave whatever mental healthcare facility she had come from. She was a frail lady, maybe in her early thirties, who had the mental capacity of a toddler. She was never loud, assaultive, or belligerent. She just skipped around all day, acting like a little girl and hugging a tiny scrap-cloth doll, nothing more than a child in a woman’s body. He guessed that they had probably let her into the halfway program because she wasn’t a danger to anyone. Unfortunately, she lacked the cognitive ability to fend for herself in the real world. When the doors closed on the Hampshire House, she just sat on the curb and waited for everyone to come back. Donny found her there two days after the facility had closed, just a few feet from where he had last seen her, sitting in the middle of the yard and looking longingly at the door.
Donny used some of the money he had earned at the flower shop to rent a room at one of the local motels. Knowing in his heart that no one else would take responsibility for her, he grabbed Michelle by the hand and ushered her back to his place for a warm meal, and a warm place to sleep. He had been trying to find another job, one that would allow him to afford a long-term place to stay, but without a permanent address, he wasn’t having much luck. In short order, the money ran out and Donny and Michelle were out on the street. Donny managed to retain the job at the flower shop for a little while longer, but the owner was well aware of the “circumstances” surrounding his past. When things got hard and Donny no longer had the benefit of fresh clothing or warm baths, the owner decided that it would be better to terminate him than offer him the opportunity to clean himself daily in the back bathroom.
Homeless and jobless, Donny and Michelle took to rooting for food in the dumpsters behind the local Lucky’s market, and sleeping just a few feet away beneath the awning of the loading-dock door. During the day, Donny took to asking passers-by for spare change. Occasionally, someone would show compassion and give him a little bit of money. Most of the time, however, the people would react angrily, as though he were somehow offending them with his need. There was a comment that he made during our conversation that sticks in my mind. I will try to recall it as accurately as I possibly can, although time has clouded my recollection, I am sure. It went something like this:
“I got to the point where I was begging change from people, you know? That was hard. My father always brought me up to respect hard work and frown on begging. Begging. I tried to get the work; that’s the thing that a lot of people didn’t understand. I’d walk up to these people after a couple of days of going without anything to eat, and I’d ask them if they could spare some change so that I could get something to fill my belly. I never knew how they would react. Is he going to ignore me? Is he going to curse me out? Is he going to hit me? Maybe he’s actually going to give me a little bit of change to get a mouthful of food. More often than not, whomever I’d ask would either tell me to get a job or just call me a bum. They didn’t know me, or what I’d been through. I’d have killed for a chance at a job. How in the hell are you going to get a job when you live in an alley? Who’s going to hire you? It got to the point that when I’d ask for change, I screwed the words up in my mind, you know? I’d be asking for money with my mouth, but I’d really be asking these people for a change, in my head. I’d be asking them to give me a chance so that I could make a change. Anything. I just wanted to wake up and see something change one day, but the best I ever got was a handful of quarters.”
Yeah, a handful of quarters doesn’t make for much of a change. I know. Try as he might, Donny couldn’t get a job and he and Michelle continued to live behind the Lucky’s market. Then, one night, Donny woke up to a savage beating. A gang of men had found them in their hidey-hole and decided to have a little fun. They beat Donny until he couldn’t fight back anymore, and took turns brutally raping Michelle in the cold shadows of the loading dock door, her scrap-cloth doll stuffed into her mouth to stifle the screams.
At the end of it, Donny had come out with a nasty cut over his right eye, and a couple of broken ribs. Michelle had been hurt in a different way.
He got to the phone and made a call to the police. Since they were both victims of a crime, they received preferential treatment and were ushered off to County for a night of comparative pampering in the emergency room. Reports were taken, but without a fixed address, or any known relatives, not a whole lot was followed up on. Michelle was retained in the psychiatric portion of the hospital for, what he had been informed was, “an indeterminate period,” due to her extraordinarily low-functioning mentality. He figured, at the time, that such was for the best. At least she had managed to make it off the streets. She had paid a terrible price for her reprieve, but she had earned it and that was enough.
Several months’ later, living in an alley behind a barbershop, he ran into Michelle again. She was making her way up the alley and looking for a dry place to sleep, with her pregnant belly swollen out in front of her scrawny frame like a misplaced basketball. He never found out why she had been released from the facility, as she didn’t speak. While she decided to tag around with him for a while, it wasn’t long before she fell ill, became feverish, and stumbled out into traffic in the middle of the night, where she was hit by a passing automobile and killed.
Two months after that and here he was sitting in the back of a brand-new alley, and basically waiting to die.
He was tired of asking for change. He was tired of hoping for a better day that never came. He had lost his faith in humanity, and I didn’t blame him one bit.
So, when we came to the end of our meals, I thanked him for his story and asked him if he had gotten enough to eat. He told me that he had, and thanked me profusely before getting up to leave. I stopped him and asked him if he might like a little change.
He paused, saying, “I don’t want your money, man. Thanks anyway.”
“I’m not offering you money, brother. I asked you if you might like a little change. It might not be much, but I think I can get you a job and a place to stay for a while. What do you say?”
Yeah, he was suspicious at first, but I ended up taking him out to Enigma Productions, Inc. (It’s a little video production company that’s owned by a friend of mine) where I promptly got him a job as a courier, running 3/4sp’s in between Enigma and another company called Pacific Ocean Post. It earned him eight-fifty and hour and had the added bonus of presenting him with an empty room, replete with fold-out leather couch, for him to sleep on.
Yes, this is a story with a happy ending. Donny worked at Enigma for a little over a year before he managed to meet someone and fall in love. You know, once he had been cleaned up and fed on a regular basis, he turned out to be a pretty good-looking man. Well, the ladies thought so, at least. He ended up meeting a vacationing librarian while he was out sunning himself on the beach in front of Enigma. They got to chatting and really hit it off. She came out to visit him a couple of times before he finally called me and told me that he was going to have to leave. He had made plans to go back to North Carolina and marry his lady-love.
During his tenure at Enigma, he had picked up some pretty useful skills. Now, Donny could handle himself with a respectable degree of efficiency around several different kinds of high-end recording equipment. What’s more, he had natural artistic ability and could do some pretty amazing things if you sat him down in front of an AVID bay for a while. His love had done some footwork and already secured him a job in North Carolina at a local broadcasting station. He was set.
His second reason for calling was to thank me for everything that I had done for him. You know, by the time he got that part out, he was already choking back a lot of emotion. I was, too. It felt good to hear that, to know that he was back on the road to healing inside. A part of me wanted to take some credit for making the grand gesture that made it all possible, but that’s really not the truth of it. I didn’t do anything profoundly good. In fact, I didn’t really do anything at all. Any courage, any achievements, any noteworthy traits, they are all his. He’s a good man, a good husband, a good friend, and a good father. Any one of those is rare enough these days. He suffered, he endured, not me.
Now, I get the occasional phone-call or card from time to time. His first-born is going to be two years old this March the twenty-sixth. Her name is Michelle. He sent me a picture of her, and for the life of me, every time I look at it I can’t help but think of that frayed little photo in the cardboard folder that’s probably still riding in his right front pocket.
I’ve no great sermon here. Just a story, and if I may, I would like to ask a favor. The next time someone in need asks you if you could find it within yourself to spare some change, don’t dismiss it lightly. Think hard on the difference that a little human decency can make.
My mother had been trying to contact me for some time. I was a month away from being 18, and lets face it, I was never that great at returning phone calls. My parents had been divorced for a few years, and I had chosen to live with my father. I hardly ever got the chance...or rather, I was too lazy to make the effort to meet up with my mum, even though she lived within walking distance of my home. She was only a phone call away, and that was all I really needed at the time. We used to speak for hours, sometimes until 6 or 7 in the morning. She always listened to me, gave me the chance to explain without butting in, never judgemental, and always gave me the right advice at the right time. For that, I will always be grateful.|
So I would get back from school, listen to the ansafone, hear her voice, "...will you call me please, I love you, Mum.". I would make a snack, and as I always did, I would go into my own little world, a trance-like state, like every other teenager who'd just got back from school. Of course I would forget about phoning my mum.
Over a period of a week or so, reminders were given to me by my dad, my sister, my mum on the ansafone. "Will you call your mother, she wants to speak to you soon, OK?", but I always procrastinated and promised I'd "do it tomorrow". Anyway, the time finally came when I managed to get my act together and call her. By this time it felt like some kind of overdue homework that had to be handed in, but when I heard her voice it was beautiful, as it always had been. Why had I left it so late? I loved talking to her. I could say anything; I would make her laugh, she would make me laugh, we made each other feel good. I longed to see her, but speaking to her at that moment was all that mattered. So the conversation ended, and I carried on about my business of being a moody teenager with my dad.
A few days later - it was a Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. - I was awoken by my elder sister who was living with me and my dad at the time. She knocked on my door. I slowly opened my eyes to see her standing at the end of my bed, white as a sheet, one hand over her mouth, the phone in the other outstretched to me. I looked at her. What was going on? I took the phone slowly from her. It was my dad on the other end.
"Mariana... I have some very sad news."
"Dad? What's happened?"
"...ahem... your mother has passed away."
What can you say to that? My jaw dropped. I looked at my sister again, standing there with tears in her eyes. I was shaking. I passed the phone back to her. I think she spoke to my dad again briefly, and as she hung up, I reached for her. She came to me and we hugged. We cried. I still wasn't sure if I had actually woken up. But it wasn't a dream.
People say their lives flash before them when they are about to die. How can you fit a lifetime of experiences into a split second? But in the first five minutes of me waking up that day, I had gone from thinking I had two parents to knowing I would never see one of them again. It was the longest five minutes I have ever lived.
I got dressed, for we were to go to my mothers house. I can't remember how we got there, but we arrived to see police outside talking to my dad. We ran up to him. I was wide eyed, in shock, disbelief. There was a female police officer. Very sympathetic, but obviously embarrassed. She didn't know what to say, but what can anyone say in circumstances like these? I wanted to know what had happened, where my mum was. Her body had already been taken away. The neighbours hadn't heard from her in a couple of days. They had got worried, and eventually found her lying on the kitchen floor.
I hadn't seen my mum for a while, and looking back, whenever we did manage to meet up, we always met in the tea room round the corner, or at her neighbours house. I asked her if I could come round to play the piano, but she always made up an excuse not to go into her house: "I need to go to my neighbour's while she's away to water the plants" or "I really like this tea place... let's leave it until next time, shall we?".
The kind police officer looked at us. "Do you want to go inside?" Me, my dad and my sister all looked at each other and silently agreed. "Ok. but let me warn you, it's quite a mess in there. It might come as a shock. You don't have to if you don't want to ok?". I had to go inside.
She lived in a basement flat in a posh area of North London. It never got much light inside, and she always kept a duvet up against the front window to block out the drafts. We held hands and slowly walked down the steps and into her small flat. I couldn't believe it. Tears were welling up in my eyes. I placed my hand inside my jumper and over my mouth and nose. The stench was unbelievable. There were plates, pots, pans, mugs, glasses, knives, forks, spoons everywhere that hadn't been washed. The sink was full, dirty and greasy. Food and milk had been left out to rot for god knows how long, days, weeks, maybe months even. Maggots had made their way into the fridge, had lived, bred and died. I looked at the space on the kitchen floor where my mum must have been found dead. I stepped over it, still holding on to my dad and my sister.
It felt like I was in some sort of scary dungeon. I was scared to turn around, to touch anything, to let go of my dad's arm in case something would take me away to a different world, like it had with my mum. We looked over into her "living" room. The floor was covered. You could not move. It was covered in empty, 1 litre vodka bottles. We had found the murderer. At the scene of the crime, lying there on the floor.
In the backs of our minds I guess we had expected her to die. Although it was a shock, we all knew. So did she. She needed to talk to me that week. And she did. She wanted to say goodbye. And she did. She wouldn't leave us until she had said her goodbyes.
As I sit here, feeling sick to the stomach, tears occasionally making their way to the fronts of my eyes, I think to myself that it will be four years at the end of this month that she has been gone. Nearly a fifth of my life I have not known her. If I die at the age of 80, I will not have seen her for over three quarters of my life. But I know she is in a better place now. Nothing could be worse than the hell she must have gone through.
I will always have the memories... they will never leave me.
She will always live... in my heart.
“What is the first thing you remember in your life?”|
“Well…..hmmmm. Nope, I’ve forgotten it.”
“What is the first thing you remember after all that you have forgotten?”
---Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
My first memory ever.
Cut to Asheville, North Carolina. The city of my birth. I was five at the time.
We lived in the heart of the Smokey Mountains. A cul-de-sac at the top of a hill. Kinda like a figure nine, with the loop being the top of the hill.
And in the middle of this loop was a single large spooky lookin’ Crab-apple tree.
I remember it was dusk one night and all the neighborhood kids were surrounding this tree. My twin brother and I were psyched because my mother was stuck on the phone and thus unable to put us to bed. It was a feeling of euphoria coupled with paranoia. We were joyful in the way only children can be at the prospect of staying out in the dark with the neighborhood kids, but constantly looking over our shoulders, sure that at any moment our mother would exit the house and scream at us for exploiting her mistake.
In any case, I remember that all of us were picking up the apples around the tree, and lobbing them into the branches and leaves.
Because in this tree were a myriad of bats.
Most could not be seen. It was dusk, a few minutes from total dark, and the tree had a lot of very deep purple leaves. The shadows played about, and we could barely make out the black shapes of the hordes of bats within.
So all of us kids were picking up the apples and lobbing them into the tree. You couldn’t see what your apple hit, but when you hit a bat, there would be a sudden fierce ruffling from within the endless sticks and branches. It was great fun, in a sadistic little boy sort of way.
My twin brother and I were not doing well. We were only five, and most of our apples barely hit the lowest branches of the very full tree. And this had been going on for awhile.
At one point, I wound up and with the most force I could muster shot the apple I was holding right smack dab in the middle of the tree.
We could suddenly hear a great squeaking noise and a larger amount of rustling than we had yet heard. We all took a few steps back.
And suddenly, the tree exploded in activity. I must have hit their leader or something. The entire hoard of bats suddenly took flight, exploding from their hiding positions into a great cloud of winged rats that shot out in a chaotic formation and took to the skies.
We all scattered, screaming like little girls.
End of memory.
Years later, in Topeka, Kansas, I was maybe 12 or 13. One of the activities I enjoyed most in those pre-Manilla Gorilla days was sewer exploring. Topeka, KS, as do most major cities, has a really cool system of sewers that span underneath the city. They were also all large enough to navigate. Some were small enough that you had to bend over like Quasimodo, some so large you could easily drive a car through.
In any case, my friends and I would often go explore them. We’d take cans of spray paint and pilfered cigarettes and go do our thing. We also would take along fireworks or whatever other assorted forbidden goodies we could get our hands on.
The sewers are wonderful places. The feeling that civilization and all the strict demands of authority figures was so close, and yet we were just beneath their radar scopes. We would spray paint messages, light off fireworks (which were spectacularly loud and brilliant in the sewers), and generally make merry in a 13 year old sort of way. It was great. Down there it is warm in the winter, cool in the summer.
Well, one day we were going down “the bridge”, which was a circular tunnel about 6 feet diameter, that connects the cramped tunnels of the residential areas to the gigantic ones of the city. When, ahead of us, we spied a black object.
We would see it fly towards us, then disappear as it stopped on the dark ceiling in some crevice or something. We would think it had left, start to advance again, and then it would pop out again and come our way. Repeat this about 6 times. To a 13-year-old, this is very frightening. And also, it was blocking the one tunnel we could use to go wherever it was we were going.
So we concocted a plan.
We had with us those fireworks, you know, the types that come all strung together and sound like a machine gun when they go off. Our thinking was that bats see by radar, using sound, and if we created a loud enough explosion, it would fuck it up or something. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sure WHAT we were thinking. But at the time it seemed like a good idea.
In any case, we put a whole mess of fireworks on a piece of paper near where we thought the bat was, lit the paper and ran back, covering our ears.
It took a minute or two for the fire to reach the fireworks. And just as they were about to go off, we saw the bat appear, fly right fucking above where the fireworks were, and disappear into some crevice.
BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!!!!
Loud as a cannon.
As the smoke was clearing, the bat appeared out of it, making some sort of strange squeaking noise. It was also flying very erratically. When I say erratically, I mean the bat would fly like a drunk driver, and would occasionally smack itself into a wall.
We named him Stupid and he was our companion for the next few months.
We would be in the sewers somewhere and we would hear the sound of a bat flying into walls and know that Stupid was around. I have no idea how it survived, as it was probably stone deaf, and couldn’t fly worth a damn anymore, but it somehow scraped by.
In retrospect, I feel kinda bad about it. It was not a nice thing to do to one of God’s Creatures. But little boys are evil things. And that bat sure was funny.
Karma, my friends, is a bitch.
So I’m about 17, outside smoking late one night while on the cordless phone. Across the street there is a gigantic tree, very full, very beautiful.
So I’m standing there, and I see some black object fly out of the tree. I follow it with my eyes, just a passing interest sort of thing.
As I stand there and watch it, It kinda swoops down low and gracefully, and heads my way. I think to myself “this is odd. Some bird is coming right for me.” But just stand there anyway, expecting it to notice me and then alter its course.
It does not.
It goes straight for me, and then SMACK! It crashes into my face. Felt like I had just been socked in the jaw. I drop the phone (which breaks on the cement) and yelp. I had a black eye and my nose was bleeding.
I look down and there is a big-ass bat, with its back broken, lying on the ground. And me with a black eye that lasted for weeks.
I am stunned. I look back at the tree, and see another single black object fly out and swoop in my direction.
I run inside.
I ain’t messin’ with no kamikaze bats!
A few months later I go see a concert. Bush/Hum/Toadies. I got dragged to it, as I abhor Bush, but the Toadies were great, so it was worth it (any band that brings a live donkey on the stage commands my respect). The venue is an old building, used to be a theater but is now falling apart basically.
Hum comes on, and the second they hit a really loud note, a huge cloud of bats comes out of the woodwork. This was amusing, though not scary, cuz the ceilings were very high and the bats were just flying this way and that way up there in a panic as Hum plays an opening number.
I look behind me and realize me and my group of buddies are standing near a large open window.
I look back up, and the bats are all headed RIGHT for us.
Suddenly, the 50 or so people surrounding the window are covered in a cloud of bats. In my hair, on my clothes, smacking into my chest in their desperate attempt to flee the trite alt-rock. The 50 or so people that are getting pummeled by the bats are screaming, everybody else is laughing, the music stops. The bats seem endless. I got pretty scratched up and had bat shit all over my clothes by the time the last bat had found its path outside. All the other people who had been bombarded compose themselves and laugh it off, but not me. I suspected malice.
About a year later. Visiting a zoo. The Topeka zoo has a really cool feature that is kinda like a mini bio-dome that houses a complete rainforest ecosystem.
It also houses a lot of the biggest goddamned bats you have ever seen.
So I’m walking along, and all of a sudden a bat bursts out of the brush and swoops so close to my ear that I could feel it’s wings against my neck. Then it flies up and disappears in some trees.
Whew, I think to myself, that was close!
I brush my shoulder to get all the dirty bat germs off, only to realize (a little too late), that the bat had shit all over me. It was nasty. It must have been saving it for awhile too, cuz there was a lot of it. Bat shit is not really much like bird shit, BTW. It is more like very runny dog shit.
At this point, I’m getting pretty paranoid.
A few months later.
I go to my room one night, ready for bed, and the second I open my bedroom door I see these three bats flying around like nuts. I had left a window open, and they had apparently gotten in and now could not get out. I spent all night trying to get them out with a broom. They had broken two lamps, a shelf full of knick-knacks, a stereo speaker I had attached to the ceiling corner and had shit in my closet by the end of it.
I have since had maybe 12 similar encounters with the foul flying demons from Hell.
I am convinced that the bat population is trying to teach me a lesson. Trying to right the wrongs of my youth. I am on the bat shit-list, my friends, and it is no fun. I live in constant fear. I am always looking over my shoulder, examining trees with suspicion. I jump at the slightest squeak. And don’t even talk to me about sewers or Bush.
I am a broken man.
If I could have taken back that apple that hit the bat-leader, I would. If I could restore Stupid’s hearing, I would. But alas I cannot.
All I ask is for the bat community to please forgive me and let me live my life.
But they refuse.
They are a vindictive, stubborn race.
I have a bad case of the bat karma.
Tune in next week.
Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Place.
By the time you are reading this, our current Presidential election may be decided. Probably not, though. Both candidates will contest this one down to the swearing in ceremony on Jan. 20 more than likely. There's never been an election like this one. Or has there been? Well, let me tell you a story.|
In 1876, Rutherford Hayes, Rep. & Samuel Tilden, Dem. ran hot and heavy campaigns. During this time, Reconstruction in the South was a very divisive issue. After the votes were tallied, Hayes polled 4,033,950 votes to Tilden's 4,284,885. Tilden had 184 Electoral votes (one short of a majority) to Hayes's 163. Four states where the voting was contested, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon, controlled 22 Electoral votes. If all 22 went to Hayes, he would win; Tilden only needed one of these votes to win.
Congress tried to settle it all, but the GOP controlled the Senate and Democrats the House, so they deadlocked. Congress then created a 15 member bipartisan commission to resolve matters. It consisted of 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 5 Supreme Court Justices (2 GOP, 2 Dem.s, and the 5th intended to be non-partisan - but who was, in reality, a secret Republican acceptable to the Democrats). The last Justice was where the whole election hinged upon.
The commission unanimously awarded Oregon & South Carolina votes to Hayes, and Louisiana's votes went to Hayes on a 8-7 vote. Hayes probably would have won these states without the commission's votes, but Florida was still hotly contested. So how did this turn out?
Well, when the commission makeup was being decided, the GOP promised Southern Democrats at least one Cabinet post, Federal patronage, subsidies for improvements, and the key promise that Federal troops would be withdrawn from the South and Reconstruction ended. In exchange, the Southern Democrats allowed the supposedly independent last Justice, a closet Republican, to be chosen. Of course, when the commission voted about Florida, it went strictly upon Party lines: 8-7 for Hayes. A shady backroom deal had settled the Election for Hayes, 185-184. True to GOP promises, Hayes removed Federal troops and ended Reconstruction, which left Southern Democrats free to enact segregation laws, and allowed other measures (like the KKK) to control the black population, which caused much turmoil and evil towards blacks in our country for almost the next 100 years. The GOP knew this, but let it happen all because they wanted to be in power.
Could a shady deal happen again today? Unlikely because the media would probably expose it, but it is possible. Hold on to your hats, folks, and watch this one closely. History may indeed repeat itself.
Why I remember one time we were fishing down on the Pecos. We had been up all night drinking and hunting earthworms down at Art's Basshole, a favorite hangout of ours back then, bein's as how it was both a bait shop and a bar. We would go down there and get drunk, go out back with old Art and dig through his worm troughs, getting in fistfights over who found the biggest worms, ahhh those were the days...|
Anywho, So there we were down on the bank justa fishin' and adrinkin' when this great big raven flies over JEB and dumps this huge shit which goes right down the back of his neck.
Jeb leaps to his feet, screaming and hollering about blowing that bird right out of the sky, and runs smack into this big ole tree. He backpedals right to the edge of the bank and was teetering when I leaped out and just in the nick of time, was able to grab the beer out of his hand before he plunged into the river, which was a good thing because it was almost full and we were running low.
For the longest time I stood there in a quandry, JEB hadn't surfaced and there was no level spot to set the two open beers I was now holding. I realized I needed to do something fast so I began chugging those beers like there was no tomorrow, knowing my old buddy was fixin' to be a goner.
Just as I was polishing off the last one, here comes good ole JEB floating to the top, bellyup. As soon as he broke the surface, he started snoring! Here he had me worried all to shit, and the bastard was taking a fucking nap down there!
I was just fixin' to yank his lame ass on shore to tell him what I thought when I see my cork go under and the biggest bass I had EVER seen jumps out of the water with my hook in his lip!
I snatched up my rod and commenced to do battle with this monster and after a few minutes had him in my net.
I turned to show off my prize and damned if JEB hadn't drifted off downstream about forty yards and got hung up on a half-sunk log!
Once again, I was in a quandry. I couldn't just leave him there even though he was doin' fine justa floatin' anda snorin' away, but the day was too young for me to go jumpin' in and gettin' all wet as I knew that the way things were goin' we were probably gonna get arrested for something later on and I hate sleepin' in a cell with wet clothes, kinda chafes ya in the crotch if you know what I mean.
So I took the hook out of that trophy bass and cut loose with an incredible cast and Lo and Behold, dropped that hook about two feet past his pumpkin head! I reeled in slowly and managed to catch his cheek and with a quick jerk set the hook. Keepin' a steady pressure on the line I reeled him in easy as pie, everything going fine ‘til I had him about ten feet offshore then all of a sudden he wakes up and commenced to thrashin' and flailing about like a walleyed pike.
My natural instincts took over and I let the line play out a little then heaved back and began crankin' that line in like crazy. He never had a chance, I had him on the shore in no time and smacked him upside the head with a board before he could get the hook out and swim off.
I grabbed some pliers, dragged him up on the bank and pulled the hook out. A few minutes later he came too, and the first thing out of that ungrateful asshole's mouth was, "You jackass! You drank my fuckin' beer, didn't you?"
By the way, we did wind up getting arrested later on but that's another story.
Ok - a little color on the page can't hurt, right?|
Congrats to the old man - wonderaz popped the cherry on the P3K Club today. See the topic listed on the left in the Indigest.
And welcome our newest columnists: Ali Rum & Rama Dam Bubba. We hope you'll enjoy their insightful offerings.
This first edition of the Asylum Astrology Service is to acquaint you with some basics on the different signs of the Zodiac. The AAS does not base any of it’s observations or forecasts on antiquated methods but uses only the finest of modern astrological approaches and the sharpest mind available to ascertain the most accurate information possible. |
The readings found herein can be freely used to make any and all important life decisions. If the results are catastrophic or fatal, then:
a) You did not use the information provided correctly and/or;
b) It’s not our fault.
3-21 to 4-20
Ruling planet- Mars
The Aries person is incredibly childish and self-centered. Of all the signs of the Zodiac, Aries children are the first to swear at their parents. The parents of Aries children do not have to worry about missing any of their children’s childhood, as it will be permanent.
Because of their inability to mature, they do not fit into the workforce well. The one area that Aries can do well in is being a celebrity. Their desire to be the center of attention and their self-centeredness fits stardom to a tee.
Most Aries wind up in prison.
4-21 to 5-21
Ruling planet- Venus
The Taurus are usually excruciatingly boring. They are the consummate Yuppies. Taurus’s consider tennis to be an extreme sport and are outraged that golf is not an Olympic event.
Many Taurus’ work in Wall Street type jobs and all die within a few months of retirement of terminal dullness.
Most Taurus’ commit road rage.
5-22 to 6-21
Ruling Planet- Mercury
Gemini people are clever and charming criminal schizophrenics. They tend to hold top-level positions because of their conniving personalities. Their sign portrays their duplicity, as they can be very two-faced. A true Gemini could easily be a church deacon while running guns to the Colombian Cartels.
Most car salespersons are Gemini.
The Gemini is quite often the victim of assassination.
The Gemini will always cheat at cards.
6-22 to 7-23
Ruling planet- Moon
Cancers are shy and artistic and considered by everyone to be an incredible liability. They have a highly developed sense of self-pity that is tempered by their extreme self-righteousness. The Cancer is also famous for their moodiness, which waxes and wanes according to the cycles of their ruling planet, the moon.
The fun thing about the Cancer is their spontaneity. One never knows when a Cancer will suddenly throw a tantrum in a fancy restaurant or start laughing hysterically during a funeral.
Cancer soldiers are usually shot in the back.
By and large, Cancers are rather long lived and can be found cluttering up nursing homes, as their families will have nothing to do with them.
7-24 to 8-23
Ruling planet- Sun
To a Leo, success comes easy. That is because they are bossy, greedy and arrogant.
The Leo enjoys being loved as long as the love is based upon envy.
Once success has been achieved, the Leo is able to combine an intense desire for luxury with a total lack of good taste into a world of unparalleled tackiness.
Salespeople love Leos because they can be flattered into buying anything.
Most Leos are killed trying to operate expensive toys.
8-24 to 9-23
Ruling planet- Mercury
The Virgo is a very clean person. This is because they are hypochondriacs.
They hate being around sick people because not only might they catch something else, but also they prefer to avoid competition for who is the sickest, so they make horrible doctors and nurses.
Virgins love to put other people down as a result of their own generally diminutive size.
Pontius Pilate was a Virgo and was very obsessive about his cleanliness.
Virgins usually make it to middle age and are then killed in car accidents. They make excellent organ donors.
9-24 to 10-23
Ruling planet- Venus
Librans consider themselves to be very popular. They made up the phrase "I am a people person", and love to say it. The Libra is also pathologically incapable of making any decision within a reasonable amount of time and quite often, not at all. If they do actually make a decision, it is absolutely impossible for them to change it, which has resulted in the untimely demise of many Librans.
Another endearing quality of the Libra is their parasitic nature. Librans usually surround powerful people. The courts of Louis XIV and Richard Nixon were all Librans, for example.
All hermaphrodites are Librans and all Librans are hermaphroditic in nature, as they can’t decide which sex they really are.
Most Librans die in small plane crashes or by drowning.
10-24 to 11-22
Ruling planet- Mars/Pluto
It is the universal consensus that the Scorpio is an extremely unsavory character and that the whole of Mankind would be much better of without them.
Scorpios are well known for their intense loyalty and unmatched cruelty. A Scorpio child invented the wingless fly. Scorpios enjoy power and love to inwardly reminisce over the utter destruction of those who stood in the path of the Scorpio’s climb to said power.
Scorpios can go for long periods with out blinking or showing any sign of mercy.
Scorpios never cheat at cards but are the usual culprit when violent death occurs during card games.
Despite their arrogance and aloofness, Scorpios tend to become very close to people around them. This way, they can exploit their weaknesses.
It is considered proper to kill all Scorpios during a purge.
11-23 to 12-21
Ruling Planet- Jupiter
Sagittarians are clumsy and quite accident-prone except when they are breaking things on purpose.
They should never be invited to any gathering where a modicum of etiquette is expected.
The Sagittarian is very sports-minded and has no problem putting a beer bottle through a TV screen on a bad call by an umpire. They tend to drink too much and have a propensity for throwing up in restaurants where exotic food is served.
All Sagittarians consider Rod McKuen to be profoundly insightful.
4 out of 5 Kamikaze pilots were Sagittarians. Their commanders told them to fly through enemy ships on the way home. Sagittarians have never been accused of being overly brilliant.
Sagittarians tend to die from massive coronaries or strokes, usually while operating something that allows them to take a few innocent bystanders with them.
12-22 to 1-20
Ruling planet- Saturn
Capricorns consider snobbery to be a virtue. Their ambition knows no bounds and they will do anything to get ahead up to and including TV evangelicalism or genocide.
All Capricorn children are absolutely disgusted with their parents’ status and wealth and consider them to be beneath contempt.
Suicide attempts should always include a Capricorn friend, as they are always happy to remind you of how worthless you really are and will even help with little push off the bridge if you get cold feet.
Capricorns never pay for anything. The entire country of Scotland is Capricorn, they just lie about when they were born and celebrate birthdays whenever they feel like it.
Most Capricorns die of starvation and/or malnutrition. The fighting over the full pantries of the deceased often results in bloodshed amongst the relatives.
1-21 to 2-19
Ruling Planet- Saturn/Uranus
Sign- Water Bearer
Aquarians are probably the slowest of all the signs. If cows all turned into humans, they would be Aquarians.
They are heavily into alternative lifestyles, as they haven’t the attention span to stick to a conventional one.
All wealthy Aquarians inherited their money and every one of them dies poor. Aquarians do well working in health food stores and know a little too much about the benefits of coffee enemas.
Aquarians are born without a sense of humor and only know it as a level of spirituality to be achieved in the next life.
Aquarians either die young from natural causes or old from drug overdose.
2-20 to 3-20
Ruling planet- Jupiter/Neptune
There are no famous Pisceans. Nobody ever remembers them due to the fact that one of the most outstanding traits of being a Pisces is not having a personality. If you know a famous Piscean, there is one of three reasons for this. One, they are really Capricorns and are just lying to you or two, they are Aquarians or Sagittarians and are either too stoned and/or too stupid to remember their real sign or three, they are Cancers and their parents lied to them about when they were born.
The tribes of the Mongolian Steppes allowed Pisces children to be raised so they could be used for target practice. This may seem a tad barbaric but if you ever knew any Pisces, you can see the merit in the practice.
Most Pisces die in household accidents.
A quick update in case you haven't yet read yesterday's offering from Paint just below this:|
New U2 from LeroyBinks - check it out. Coffee, tea or Leroy?
The Dinglator3000 has come through again as we introduce Asylum's Inmate Cam Portal!!! You're gonna love this ... set your own refresh rate, and check out the "Custom Cams" page! If we didn't catch you the first time around, we're now again accepting applications for a spot on the portal, or recommendations for other cams you think would be willing to link us in exchange. For those of you already listed, show us something!