Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: Abandoned T-Shirt Factory

I've been thinking about Seattle, my friends there, and the unrest in the Emerald City these past couple days. I had seen Drew Keriakedes and Joe Albanese play with Circus Contraption and can vaguely recall meeting members of that band - most likely either or both of these gentlemen, who -with 3 others- had their lives taken from them on what should have been an average Wednesday. (Now, my recollection is never 100% accurate, but after having seen photos of these great musicians in the news, my head clicked with how familiar their visages seemed; "Damn it,  I've been at a party with those guys!" was my first reaction. Then, just "Damn it. Damn it!")

I never experienced anything as traumatic as the incidents within Cafe Racer and outside Town Hall. My most "horrifying" moments in Seattle were being led out of my office building by the National Guard during the WTO Riots of '99 - and praying that I didn't get maced by the cops on the way home.

In 2006, Bess and I moved to Seattle from Florida (back for me, first time there for her) - and we settled in an apartment on First Hill, just blocks from where Gloria Leonidas was made a victim yesterday as well. We were in the city when the Seattle Jewish Federation was attacked by a shooter in July of that year - the incident then left us o.k. but slightly numb, each of us having been in separate nearby buildings when that tragedy took place.

I guess, occasionally, the universe feels the need to explain - with bloody and feral ugliness - that our lives are indeed precious commodities, friendships are to be celebrated, and, ultimately - we may not have control over our own fate.

This is not a good intro for a blog that is ostensibly humorous in nature, but I'm sure you'll forgive my mourning a bit for one of my alternate home towns; a place that - for all the oddball and uncomfortable circumstances which caused me to move there and vacate it, twice - still gives me plenty fond and quite happy memories. While you may be suffering right now, Seattle, good times will recur - and I may wish to join in those again myself someday. Peace to you.

And now some stuff that I'm pawning off as "wit:"

"I'm not tense, just terribly, terribly alert."
At first, they seemed to be the perfect tourists. A mother and father quietly, politely ushering their quiet and polite children into the gift shop. Mom, ready for the day - energetically buxom and threatening to burst free from the sundress she was strapped into,  picked out two small bracelets for the kiddies. Referring to her husband as "Adonis" (which, at one point  - before the balding, before that look of ingrained stress that accompanies taking care of children between the ages of 1 and 47 - he may in fact have been) - she collected their cash and headed to the register.

"Great," my whimsical thoughts colluded,  "a quick trip through, a fast purchase, then out the door and every one's happy."

However, if that were the case, I probably wouldn't be telling this story.

It seems some folks view the purchase itself as a kind of admission fee into the realm of our retail playground. [I don't know exactly why, but this seems to occur with our global neighbors from different countries. Perhaps they view our intense capitalism as mainly a spectator sport?]

The moment the receipt hit Die Mutter's handbag, the kids strapped on their bracelets like those extremely sticky and hair-gripping paper/glue wristbands one gets at a concert festival or theme park - then off to the races they ran. Mom und Dad dropped their umbrellas at the front door and followed the children, slightly, as the whole family cavorted about the store. For 10 long and loud minutes.

They made no further purchases, but did bring in visitors; Uncle Sven, Aunt Dagma, Grannie Claire, the entirety of WWII's allied and axis fronts - all of whom HAD to see what trinkets and baubles were to be gawked at or groped in our gallery of grisly and groovy gewgaws.

Finally, the crew left in mass, having completed their first trip on a day full of roller coaster consumerism. On their way out, they nearly knocked over two brothers comparing weaponry. The eldest son explaining to his younger sibling how the pistols they just bought could so easily be launched from the handy and inexpensive slingshots at hand near the store's entrance.

They'd barely pulled back on the rubber band when I could hear a far off parents audible yawp:
"Put those down right now!"

Those kids will probably become Generals in the Army someday...
"No sense in being pessimistic - It wouldn't work anyway!"
The ubiquitous "they" have decided to enhance the warning labels on cigarette packs. Instead of just the standard "this is dangerous and can kill you" phraseology, images reflecting the hazards of smoking - charred lungs, malformed body parts of cancer patients, people on deathbeds, etc. - will provide a more visual 'caveat emptor' for the purchaser.

I think this is a great idea. If it works the way it's supposed to - I have suggestions for the outer wrapping of other consumer products:

Fast Food: Sandwich containers should feature a photo of either an exploding heart, or perhaps a photo of an EMT crew having to rip off the side of a house in order to rescue a 1200 pund man. This is, of course, provided you can see the pictures around all the grease.

S.U.V.'s: The perfect 'warning label' for these behemoths of the pavement would simply be a mylar reflection of the purchaser. The mylar itself, however, would show extra stress lines on ones face, and picture ones clothing with holes wherever pockets would be. (Also, in the background - there should be photos of angry people with word balloons saying things like "You cut me off!" - "Watch it, Ass#ole!" - and "I think you just ran over that family..."

Alcohol: So many different images to choose from! I say go lenticular, that way, we can have two photos on every warning - and the possibilities are endless. Example; look at a bottle of booze from one angle and see a picture of a really ugly baby, look at it another way - a portrait of a wrecked vehicle parked atop a mountain of debt receipts, lost friends, and a ripped up license - there's an arrow pointing to a big mess underneath the pile,  the mess is labeled "You."

Marijuana: I had a really great warning label in mind for that but I think I left it in the...hey man, good to see you, how'd you get here - what?

(cough, cough). Yeah, I know what you're thinking:
"But, what kinds of labels would you see at a tombstone warehouse?"
"I started off with nothing, I still have most of it left."
I was at a local festival recently. The band on-stage had just finished performing it's first song of the day.

"Hi, we are _________ _______," the frontwoman gleefully told the crowd, "We're so happy to be here today! This is our VERY FIRST GIG. Thank you so much for coming out and especially to the crew of______ Sound for doing such a great job for us today!"

She then moved across stage to change guitars.

"SKREEEEEEEONKONKONKOOOEEEEEE" - chortled the loudspeakers.

Thus began the triple feature of audio horror:
-'The Big Feedback.'
-'Feedback Too; Revenge of Feedback.'
-'Sweet Feedbacks Baadasssss Song.'

A quarter hour of beeps, boops, and tweeks that were nowhere near as cute as their appellations would imply.

After a few half-hearted attempts at dangerously bad jokes and a number of quizzical looks tossed amongst band members - the problem got fixed.

Rejuvenated - the group strode the front of the stage, heads held high.
They performed two mediocre cover tunes. Then left.
"That's our time, Thank you St. Augustine! Good Night!"
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Prop Rioteer for sloganeering and japes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Dispatch From Escalatorville: And I've Got More Hits Than Sadaharu Oh

Amok. Turtles. Oops.
On a recent trudge, I happened upon a local lake chock full of area wildlife.
Cranes preened from mid-water stones while screeching their songs to any being with ears. On the near bank, a plethora of turtles - one big guy lazily fanning himself with his giant paws. Or so I thought.

Taking a closer look, I found that low tide had left the large one stranded. Belly stuck on a hump of mud, he paddled the air. I was on a dock 10 feet above, heeding the "Gators In Lake" sign - and opted to take a picture of the fellow, figuring he'd be perfectly fine in a half hour when the tide came in.

I got out my photographic device, bent down to aim, and then - "WHOOOSH!"
some massive, unseen force launched the turtle off the bank - swiftly diving through the ripples at waters edge, only to resurface a half minute later - and 20 yards out.

There are a number of reasons for his rapid escape; electroshock mine planted by those wily cranes, massive buildup of reptilian methane, or what have you. Of course, my theory is that he was in some sort of Lake Dwellers Witness Protection Program, and was fleeing the camera for fear of having his photo seen by angry members of the Turtle Mafia.

Oh, IT exists. Everyone knows you sleep with the fishes if you cross Don Tortuga.

 "Accidental, Tourist?" vs. "Drunkards Lullaby"
A former drinker myself, I've indeed navigated the streets of this ancient city with an inebriated, slightly incoherent, charm. Having that experience amped up my humor intake on a recent stroll. A couple headed toward a nearby vehicle, the potential passenger already on the road to Schnokker-Town. Her Royal Drunkenness whoopsilly avoided hitting a parked car, and me, as she excused herself off the sidewalk.

"Babe," spoke her companion/chauffeur, opening a door to the aforementioned car, "This One's Us."

"Oh, right," she clumsily slurred, "that's right because that's the one that's it."

Her phraseology reminded me of a piece I'd written years ago to describe a familiar old town evening that so many of us now fail to remember:

Drumble Home Stunk (writ by z.f.lively)
Twas late, no, early evening-
a misty night in town.
We'd foregone dinner once again.
Yet, still, we washed it down.
At a local Irish saloon,
The ale steadfast was poured.
A pint, a quart, a gallon?
No one can be quite sure...
"One more, barkeep!" our battle cry
before the trek to meet Queen Mab.
"All right, just one," answered a sigh,
"and then, you'll pay your tab?"
Through night air tower bells would ring,
like echoes from a tomb.
We talked, and laughed, and tried to sing
on that awkward stumble home.
A cryptic phrase from someones lips-
twas pointed out as words were spent-
"This is grass. That is brick. And There, is just cement."
Despite our froth, I'd not forget
thoughts of her that filled my head.
So, I snuffed another cigarette -
and took myself to bed.
Takin' It From The Streets
Feeling, as Eeyore might say, a little "un-cheered" the other night - I embarked on a hike around the neighborhood. Sure enough, three minutes later, I was a bit uplifted.

I passed local legend Carrie Johnson's house. Emanating from the backyard, a Doobie Brothers classic. I walked along, bobbing my head - as I heard voices from other houses begin to chime in:

"I'd like to hear some funky Dixieland
 Pretty mama come and take me by the hand
 By the hand (HAND), take me by the hand (PRETTY MAMA)
 Come and dance with your daddy all night long
 I want to honky tonk, honky tonk, honky tonk
 With you all night long..."

You don't get to see to many spontaneous community sing-alongs like they have in the movies, but I reckon this one was close enough.

I saw the Beastie Boys in 1985 as the opening act on Madonna's 'Virgin" Tour.
I had no idea what to make of them: they entered on skateboards, looked like street thugs, and played a really loud mix of punk and hip-hop.

They were awesome. I was a fan.

Some months later, I was sitting in a parked car waiting for my dad to get back with a pizza for the trip home when the radio had a "Smash It Or Trash It" poll for the single of "Fight For Your Right (To Party)." Alas, the listeners of the local classic rock format voted to Trash It.  As soon as we got home, I rushed to the phone and called the station - "Um, if y'all aren't gonna use that song - uh, can I have it?"

The answer was No.

Soon enough, however, the album 'License To Ill' was on top of the charts and was the soundtrack to summer school. Their videos were all over television. They were cool. They were rowdy. They were controversial. They were genius.

They began to evolve. Began to play their own instruments, Founded Record Labels and Charity Groups, Organized Benefit Concerts and Festivals. They made Jazz records (!) - good ones.

Then, in the ultimate act of maturity, founding member Adam Yauch passed away from cancer at 47.

Death is a bit more of a shock when it strikes someone whom came to prominence for youthful and juvenile behavior. Adam Yauch - along with his cohorts Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond - became an example of what it means to actually grow up and still retain your cool.

He may have left the planet, but his influence remains global.

If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece/
If you can hear what I’m dealing with then that’s cool at least/
What’s running through my mind comes through in my walk/
True feelings are shown from the way that I talk
Pass the Mic
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Science Dropper - complaints/compliance/compliments & condiments