| I spent my last day walking around my home, silently saying goodbye to the decaying structure that had protected me from Florida's elements for the past two years. I thought one last time about the angry
un-patched holes in the walls that had been created from the rage of the last inhabitants. The posters that once covered them now packed in boxes. I entered my old bathroom and tapped along with the aquatic metronome in the sink, trying in vain to remember the tunes I once hummed with it's tempo. As I entered the kitchen, the refrigerator powered up to cool it's all but empty interior. The pilot light of the water heater continued it's quiet hiss, waiting for the rush of gas to give it life. The walls heaved with a heavy sigh for we both knew it was about to be over. The life I had within those walls was soon to be a memory and each second was a new word in a chapter easily forgotten by time.
Next door, my friends slept through our "goodbye" that never happened. That's fine with me. I can't stand good-byes. Even in very ordinary situations, I make it look like I'm just stepping out of the room for a moment, but then I never come back. That's how much I hate good-byes.
My trusty Ford Econoline100 van was packed to the ceiling with all the things I could live without. Well... all the things I could live without for a few months...
|You know, In some ways, this could turn into a really generic story. It could be the most boring thing anyone has ever seen. It could also be someone's favorite story, one they would read over and over, but I somehow doubt that. Actually, I never really intended this zine to be categorized as a "travel-zine". Then again, I never intended it to be categorized as anything, so maybe I should skip this whole charade and duck out before the cops get here.|
|Here's the short version...
Rebecca (my girlfriend) and I drove our vans to Mississippi. We tolerated the incoherent speech patterns of my relatives for a couple of hours, ate their food, and parked my van with all my stuff in an outside garage then left. We drove Rebecca's "Trans-van" to Branson Missouri and saw my parents. The same two people that once gave me life went about the usual subtle tortures that have served to make and mold me into the complete bastard I am today. They acted concerned and supportive, but all the while were just trying to get us to talk about the parts of our lives that we were trying to keep secret. Well... that's how my mother saw it. She assumes that everyone hates her, that they're all looking at her butt, and that they are evil malicious people spending the days doing drugs and COPULATING out of control. The guilt levels were high, the hunger levels were low, the level of suspicion coming from my mom was through the roof, and Rebecca and I just wanted to leave. After four days, we drove to Bloomington, IN so Rebecca could do a photo exhibit at our friend's book store (Secret Sailor Books). It was fun. I love Bloomington. Rebecca crashed my bike en route to the rock quaries (from the movie Breaking Away) and split her chin open to the bone. I taped it up with some medical tape-stuff and it's better now. My medical abilities are the equivalent of grunting and banging rocks together, but they work. We left Bloomington for St. Louis to enjoy the company of her dad and step mom, then endure the chaos that is her mom and brother (they live together in the land of emotions, drugs, and anger). We went to Centros Sociale and saw a horrible band play, then left after two days in the city.
In Kansas City, we stopped to see my friend Brian Huff. We tried and tried to convince him to come with us, but he just wouldn't budge, so we left. After many hours of driving, we had to pull off the road in South Dakota (it was pull off or be blown off) for a "severe thunder shower" that was moving through the area. More like constant lightening, 70+ mile an hour winds, and a near escape from a tornado that touched down at the first place we almost stopped at just half a mile away. I thought I was going to die that night, but I didn't die and here I am writing this in a coffee shop in Seattle so some reviewer at another magazine can tell me my writing sucks. Go figure! Hmph.
|Okay... let me tell you a little about my life in Seattle so far. I'm staying in a friend's basement apartment where they do not allow dogs... and I have a dog. We sneak him out each morning and night, then again when we take him out to coffee at either the Green Cat Café or B&O Espresso. The manager of the apartment building has no idea that we're staying there, so everything is hush-hush. So far, we've gotten two parking tickets for parking on this vast expanse of empty concrete across the street when there were no other spaces. Everyone used to park over there, then for some reason a meter nazi maid decided to start patrolling the area and issuing tickets. Right... so, when it's taking every cent we have (and then many thousands of borrowed cents) to hopefully get into a home, this prick in a three-wheeled contraption has decided to take some of our hard-earned cash from us.
In a way we can draw a vague correlation between the meter maid and the zine reviewer. Considering that most zine writers get little respect, and usually spend far too long making publications that few will remember, for a reviewer to discredit a person's work completely is the abuse of trust that that reviewer's readers might have. Also considering how much work a zine can demand, and how much a return is not guaranteed, I think to take a heartless stab at a stranger with such a bad review is just as good as kicking a person when they're down. Then again, I suppose that's what the human race is all about... fucking each other over for a little personal gain.
|Okay, I'm skipping around again. I'm sorry.
While writing this, I looked up at Rebecca (who is going to write about our trip in her zine), who explained to me that it is probably in fact YOUR FAULT (that's right you, dear reader) that zine reviewers are such biased pricks. She equated zine reviewers with movie reviewers (critics that make a living by having a severely critical opinion on the work of others). I have to agree that some people probably really do love to read the words of a reviewer who is trying to destroy a writer, but I also think we should get to know that reviewer first. I'd shriek with horror if my writing were only judged by Korn fans and 60-90 year olds (two groups I've decided I have little in common with).
|Rebecca already has a job with the same company she worked for in Pensacola, but she makes a lot more now. I have a job waiting for me (as a security guard in an empty building), but I haven't gotten it yet due to the fact that we have one vehicle and I don't know where I'm going to be living. We did find a place, but it requires a $700 deposit, and first and last months rent. At $850 a month, that's $2400 that we have to come up with. Now, considering that we've rung up about $1000 just getting here, we're going to be over $3500 in the hole, and two little jobs just aren't going to reduce that fast enough. To think that just a month ago, I only had to come up with $300 a month to have a place to live and be happy. There's a lot of stress in our lives, and making farting noises is sometimes the only escape we have. Of course, for me it's easier because I have the blessing of being able to make two deSTINKtly different fart sounds at the same time. I'm sure that's confusing, but if you knew me, you'd understand.|
|There's another unforeseen aspect of our lives that has caused me to rethink my view on a particular device we all see every day. Due to Rebecca's job at a camera store, we get a discount on a gadget that makes it possible for us to function in this city. It's a phone, but not just any phone... it's a cellular phone. The average house phone costs $30 a month weather or not you make any calls on it. we don't have a house, so we have to go about it a different way. The funny thing is, we now have this telephone where we can get calls from prospective landlords and employers for only $10 a month. Sure, I feel a bit funny with my leather and studs, standing on a sidewalk with a cell phone stuck to my head, but that's just because I know what everyone else must think about me. When one of the millions of fucking spare-changers sees this after hearing me (honestly) deny having money to spare, he/she would probably assume I was lying. Well, there's nothing I can do about the ignorance of those people, but at least I'm taking steps to ensure a future that is not like theirs. Sitting on the ground and asking the same annoying question over and over is not how I want to spend the rest of my life. That's why I'm planning to live in a house and have a job. It's simple really.
An easy equation to calculate: House + job ( homeless & poor.
Somehow, we had managed to score a pile of temporary cash via credit cards, advances on future monetary gifts, and begging from relatives. We both put on the nicest clothes we could muster up and I combed my mop and colored the bleached/dyed parts with a giant Magnum 44 marker. We looked square as fuck as we drove out to meet the potential landlord.
I had been talking to my future employer on the phone about my situation of getting a house, and about how that would be difficult without a steady job. He agreed to tell my landlord that I'm working over time and getting paid out the ass should my landlord call him for a reference. I had previously filled out a resume-type thing with fictitious previous landlords (actually my old next door neighbor), fictitious previous jobs (at my favorite book store back in Florida), and all this phony crap. I typed it up on the ancient laptop computer I've been using for the past mellinea, then printed it out on the cheapest printer you could possibly have bought 2 years ago. I had mailed it to the landlord so he would know we were serious.
It was a short drive to the dream house. A brick mansion with basement and tiny garage located in the cracked out area of North Seattle. We met with the 50-something year old landlord where he exchanged his authoritarian comments with my verbal bologna. We fibbed about our lifestyles, we acted all uppity like corn-bred yuppies, and generally pulled off the routine act one has to perform to get a rental in a big city.
Why were we looking at a house instead of a low-rent apartment you ask? Well, it's simple. One of my best friends in the world happens to be a big black dog that society fears with a passion. He's harmless, but try convincing an elderly stranger of this. Also consider that 99.9% of all available homes in Seattle have a strict "NO DOGS" policy. I felt like Charlie Brown trying to take Snoopy out to eat. You remember the episode... Everywhere they went, the signs all sang out low and clear "Nooooo Dooogs Aaaalooooooooooowed!". Sorry Charlie, I now know how you feel.
|There we were, in the kitchen... I wanted to run around the place and look at all the nooks and hiding spots, all the switches, outlets, doors, carpets, faucets. All the things I might get to see every day. Instead, we stood in the turquoise kitchen and filled out more paperwork. It was another application, but not one that we needed to be concerned with as much. Not an application that would decide our fate, but one that would seal our fate as we had just been told that we could move in that weekend. WE GOT THE PLACE!
Yikes! I mean, GREAT!, I mean Huh???
|I started working night security at a big empty office building. Two days a week, 12 hours a day, $10/hour. It wasn't a whole hell of a lot of cash, but enough to pay rent. Two weeks after I got the job, I lost the job(?!)... The office building people decided that they didn't need to secure the other half of their complex, so the guard who worked in that half got moved to my half, and I got moved onto the street with an apology. Just like THAT I was out of a job... Again.
Okay, on to Plan "B". Unlike many of my punk rock comrades, I have been bestowed with the unpopular gift of being a computer geek. Yeah, I can read, I can type, and I don't get lost when someone starts talking in geek-lingo. Maybe it's time I explore the other-side-of-life. With as many times as I've cracked cruel jokes at people that work in cubicle filled office buildings, I had never actually worked in one. The thing about Seattle, is that the largest "freak" employers in the world are located here. That would be the evil empire of Microsoft, and the bewildering bastion of online consumerism, Amazon.com.
I pranced my happy ass down to a temp agency wearing stupid black slacks, a stolen blue button-up shirt, and smelling of the Magnum 44 marker I had just used in my hair. I caught the express elevator to a lofty office in a downtown skyscraper. I've never been in an express elevator before. What these things do is, they skip the first 20 or so floors by zooming up at a double-gravity rate. Then they rapidly slow down making you feel like you're about to float off the floor. Then the door opens and you PUKE YOUR GUTS OUT! Or you can just walk down the hall and fill out more paper work like I did.
I took the typing test, I took the computer-smarts test, was asked some questions I was unprepared for and finally was hired on the spot!
YES! Saved by the.... By the... Saved by some stroke of something or other that I can't describe.
| Maybe it's just that all the struggling in those small towns all my life was unnecessary. Maybe now I find myself squashed beneath this lumbering concept... feeling like something was just dropped on my testicles.
Moments later, I fell down the elevator shaft with 3 other people, walked out the door, changed my clothes in the restroom while some stranger took a very noisy crap in the next stall, then walked out a new person. A gainfully employed individual. I could then see the checker pattern below my feet and everyone around me appeared strangely similar. I could find no other pieces on this game board, just countless pawns like myself. The corporate world had a grip on my skull and was threatening to move me to a better place. A place where I didn't have to worry about my next meal, or my next home. If money is power, then for me it is simply the power to be a little less under someone else's thumb. Let's not delude ourselves... We all will always be under a thumb of some kind, no matter how camouflaged it might be. I have simply made a decision to choose which thumb I am beneath.
|Let me tell you... it's a lot lighter than I thought it would be.|
Coffee / House
|I'm sitting in a nook that protrudes out into the sidewalk. I have a good view from here where I can see the people walking on the other side of the street. About half of them will invariably notice themselves in the reflective furniture store window over there which causes them to straighten up a bit. It doesn't seem to matter if they are attractive or homely, they all seem to want to look some way that is other than natural for them.
The chairs here are made of wood with green felt covered seats and backs. The square tables are all topped with a thick glass layer that sandwiches a black tablecloth between the glass and wood. Except for mine. I have a round formica and particle board construct covered with heavy black vinyl who's texture is a faux leather. The intricate lines of this material are to simulate the creases in cow skin which are formed from the way each particular cow moves. Interesting that we would desire to see all around us the effects of aging in animals. Maybe it's the same reason that there are tattoo museums where you can view the decorated backs and appendages of human corpses splayed across tables and racks. Skin is a wonderful thing. It's a horrible thing. It's amazing, amusing, and great for abusing.
The spoon I grabbed from the silverware jar is thick and heavy. If I didn't like this place I would steal this spoon and carve my name into it's luster. I would give it a complicated name and operate it with the greatest of efficiency. Never to dig holes, never to clean the cat box, never to kill another creature. Probably just for cereal in soy milk.
Across the room a power box sits open with circuit breakers exposed, beckoning me to run over and flip them all to their "off" position. The pictures hung close to the windows are faded from the sun. Most faded of which is a painting that depicts a girl sitting alone in a coffee shop I've never seen. I like coffee shops that have pictures of other coffee shops. However, Starbucks coffee shops have giant paintings of the word "Starbucks" on their walls, and that's just another reason why I hate them.
|Our first potential landlord here in Seattle is wasting no time in fucking us over. He says things like "there are other people who want this place" and "when people see how big it is, they really like the price". I think he's trying to get us to offer him more money so he can impress his aunt (a nice older lady) who owns the place. I can already tell he's a complete bastard from my conversations with him. It's really unfortunate that the only place we've found so far that we can afford has to be controlled by a total prick. If it isn't one thing, it's another.
This morning I tried to take my secret dog out of the "no dogs allowed" apartment so he could relieve his bulging bowels. I peeked out the apartment door and was surprised by the maintenance man in the closet across the hall. I quickly closed the door then listened through the crack by the door frame. He was talking to his assistant about a note they were going to put on a car that had parked in the back lot, trying to come up with the scarriest threat of car removal possible (towing) with frightening words that sound official. I think it's the most powerless of authorities that try and sound the most official. Like the building janitor who calls a tow truck on some hapless individual who mistakenly parked in the wrong place. Just like the landlord who lives in a nice house and fucks with people who are just trying to find a place to live. They'll come up with all these official papers that ask useless and complicated questions, then they'll demand hefty money deposits for damages that will never occur knowing full well they'll one day refuse to pay them back for damages that only landlords can see. In the end, they might just grin and flip a coin to decide who gets to have a home. I don't think I could ever do that.
We were living in Industry 13. It was a warehouse that my friend Trey had started up to do shows in. It was also a living space for three full-time people and a couple of out-of-luck people who didn't have another place to stay, of which I eventually counted myself as one. There were a couple of couches there that got scooted around during shows to wherever was convenient, but one of them had suffered a horrible couch catastrophe.
Trey and myself were in Fsunjibleableje at the time (our beloved noise band) and during one of our more fiery performances has inadvertantly launched a roman candle right smack-dab into the middle of this one couch. Wouldn't you know it, that was the only couch left to sleep on when I stammered into the warehouse to live. I figured a way to sleep so that my butt went right into the hole, and as long as I didn't move around too much, I could escape irreparable spinal injury by sleeping there.
We had already built a magnificent stage for the bands to play on, and now we were discussing a glorious balcony from which the masses of audience members could watch from (things were good there, the place was often packed for shows), all of which had been and would be constructed from found wood. We got our supplies from dumpsters, from behind stores, and from construction sites. Some of which could be considered as very unorthodox.
Just a couple of blocks away, there was some construction going on behind a small strip mall. We scouted the place out and began the process of stealing boards and walking them back to the warehouse. Apparently someone had seen us, because during one of our trips out to the site, we noticed cops pulling into the alley a short distance away, their lights flashing and their spotlights aimed directly at us. The two of us immediately dashed between two buildings, across the street, and into the woods. As I ran, I noticed the very obvious sounds of dogs behind me. As I dodged trees, I thought about how this was the first time I actually had dogs chasing me! My partner in crime and I had gotten separated in the chaos, but I knew he would be okay. I remembered something from the numerous western shows I had seen in the past... if you're running from dogs, the easiest way to loose the scent was to cross a creek. Just up ahead was a small creek that flowed not far from the warehouse, so I jumped in and ran as best I could down stream, then crossed. Up a hill, down a side road, and the barking began to fade. After a quarter-mile jaunt perpendicular to my path back, I came around to enter the warehouse from the opposite direction. Once inside, I saw my friend and we had a good laugh, shut the lights off, and waited until the cops had given up.
We waited two nights, then went back and got the rest of the wood for our balcony that never actually got built before we got evicted.
You think we would have learned.