Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Florida or Germany?

To enlighten herself further Eleanor downloaded a clip from Car Stuck Girls, and while she was studying it she noticed that the girl in white stiletto boots revving the seriously overstrained engine had a distinctly Euro accent (Oh, vat vill becomen of me?), not the Tennessee or Texas twang that you would have expected.
When she told me, it dawned on me that the purveyors of this site weren't rednecks that had somehow sexually imprinted on tractor pull type activity, but GERMANS! Of course! How could I have been so blind? Who else but Germans would be so weirdly depraved?

Even though the girls who star in the videos look homegrown and like they strutted right out of a ZZ Top video, I thought there was something suspiciously Teutonic about the site. I mean, why were these ladies running Audis and Volkswagons into the ground instead of Chevys or Fords?

Germans and rednecks do have a surprising amount in common, proven time and again by Loveline's Florida or Germany game, where callers call in to the show and read a bizarre news story that took place in either place. Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew have to guess the provenance of the story and they are often stumped.

This site has a brilliant cross cultural appeal because it combines the perversion of Germans with the redneck's love of cars and mud. I have a feeling that it does quite well.

Damsels in Distress Doing Terrible Things to Cars
Or, Unstuck her Truck then F**k

Thank you to Eleanor for this website that offers a fascinating glimpse into a fetish that I was completely unaware existed: Car Stuck Girls. The fetish (or convergence of fetishes) is complicated and I'm still trying to sort it out, but it has something to do with silly, sexy girls who have gotten themselves into a real automotive bind in a deserted locale and need to be rescued by a big, strong man who knows something about freeing cars. At least that's my take. Any theories out there?

I like how the make and model of the car are important elements to the fantasy, as well as whatever substance has mired the ladies down. Each DVD and photo gallery is categorized according to car and situation. Although ice, sand, clay, and wet grass scenarios are available, mud seems to be a favorite entrapment because (I guess) after the girls get themselves hopelessly entrenched by doing all of the things you're not supposed to do when you get bogged down (like spin the tires until black smoke pours off of them), they can turn on each other in frustration and get down to some foxy mud wrestling.

DVDs are available and operators are standing by.

Monday, March 29, 2004

The Street Sheet
Punky and the Very Special Birthday Present

A beat cop spotted Punky skulking toward the alley behind this neighborhood’s Catholic elementary school. Acting on a hunch, the cop trailed him into the alley, where she caught Punky on his knees in flagrante delicto  performing an 807 (lewd and obscene public act) on another local park regular. They were doing this in full view of the rear of the school, which is lined with large paned windowed classrooms full of children. Punky, the height of discretion.

When the police officer asked Punky what he thought he was doing, Punky replied, “Well, it’s John’s birthday and I wanted to give him a present.” The police officer made sure to wish John a happy birthday as she booked them both.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Library of Sand and Fog
The mysterious branch

The branch where I was stationed yesterday is rumored to be haunted, although the staff is very cagey and evasive if you ask them about it. The branch is in old Carnegie library, and like many Carnegies, is built in the Classical Revival architectural style: beautiful and grand, but a little reminiscent of a mausoleum. The neighborhood that this library is in is near the ocean and so it almost always damp, misty, and fogged in, which adds to the library’s overall eerie and mysterious atmosphere.

The first time I worked there was on Halloween night, appropriately enough. I was the only librarian and the evening was uneventful until right before closing. Most of the lights had been turned off, and the staff had completed their final rounds through the aisles to ensure all of the patrons were out of the building, a procedure known as the 'creep sweep.’ It was a chilly night and the steam radiators had been hissing and clanking industriously all evening, but all of the sudden they started rapidly popping, almost like automatic gunfire, and just as deafening. The clanging was interspersed with an occasional loud thud as if someone was throwing books of the shelves with great force onto the linoleum floor. The thudding sounded like it was coming from the back of one of the dark aisles instead of one of the radiators, which I thought at first must have been an acoustical trick. Although I was sure that no one could possibly be back there, I decided to go investigate, because the last thing I wanted to do was lock a patron in the library over night. I had just heard about a notorious incident where one a homeless woman had hidden in one of the rooms of another branch that didn’t have a motion detector alarm on Christmas Eve and had been locked in. Just before midnight she had decided that she didn’t want to be there and had called the police from the inside line. The manager had to get out of bed to go let her out and deal with the situation and he was understandably put out with his staff. I didn’t want anything like that happening under my watch, so just to make absolutely sure there were no stowaways I headed down the dark aisle from where I thought the noise was emanating. As I started to go back there I noticed that the staff was acting a little strange and one of them told me over all the noise,

"It's nothing. Let's go."

Now it sounded like someone was banging on the radiator pipes furiously with a hammer. I was about halfway through the aisle and could see no one, but I just had the undeniable feeling that someone was there. Then one of the staff said loudly,

"I promise you, it's nothing. Let's go."

Not seeing anyone, or anything, but still detecting some kind of presence, I reluctantly followed the rest of the staff out into the night, who seemed very relieved once we were all out the library door. When we exited the library I noticed that all of the hair was standing up on my neck and arms and I had a bad case of cold chills. I shit you not.

Months went by and I was talking to another librarian who likes to dish and has been in the system forever and that branch happened to come up in conversation and he said,

"You know that branch is haunted."

He told me that he had a supernatural experience there himself. To get to the staff room you have to walk through a basement storage area. He was on his break headed toward the staff room when he had the strange urge to read his book in a chair by a bookshelf in the storage room instead of the break room. As he was reading he had the distinct feeling that someone was looking over his shoulder. He slowly turned his head around and of course, there was no one there. He detected no malevolence in the presence - it was as if someone had been looking over his shoulder in a friendly and curious way to ask,

"Hey, whatcha reading?"

He closed his book and walked right back up the stairs, his neck and arm hair all raised, like mine had been.

Supposedly the staff became reluctant to work in the branch alone before the library opens. One night one saw out of the corner of her eye a woman in a long skirt heading for the children’s room. right before closing. When she went to tell the woman that the library was closing, there was no one there.


Some of the Buddhist staff members started leaving little offerings for the presence, and recently did a cleansing ceremony, and unexplained activity has subsided almost to nothing. I was secretly a little thrilled when I had to go down to the basement to retrieve Frederick out of storage, but felt nothing, much to my disappointment and relief. I'm not sure if I believe in the supernatural anyway, so who knows if there was anything there at all. The libraries are haunted by enough lost souls that are living, though, so it make sense to me that one or two dead ones might become waylaid there. Maybe that poor lost soul has finally found its way and moved on.

I'll leave you with a quote from Ghostbusters.

Dr. Raymond Stantz: Of course you forget, Peter, I was present at an unexplained, unseen mass sponge migration!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Uh, Ray, the sponges migrated about a foot-and-a-half.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Another One Rides the Bus

While I was waiting for the bus to go to work today the sky bottomed out and the buses became so crowded that I thought for a moment that the entire city was being evacuated. I have never seen the buses so overloaded - it was like rush hour in Tokyo or Mexico City. Like Tokyo, the bus could have used some people pushers, because passengers were not being good team players and refused to share their space until they were coerced by the sheer mass of humanity forcing its way onto the buses.

It was Bedlam in every sense of the word, because half of the passengers were certifiably insane, looking for a cozy place to get out of the rain, I presume, or were having psychotic episodes triggered by the crowded conditions. Though the inside of my bus was like one huge writhing scrum, people did manage to give the man who appeared to be having a violent argument with himself plenty of personal space. It was a frotteur and pickpocket’s dream. At one point the bus picked up a bunch of African American high school students and one of them, a girl, shouted indignantly,

"People be putting their ASSES on me!"

Which totally made my day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Teacher's Pet

"Miss Oslen, you so nice. Next year I'm going to come back with a gun and kill all the teachers except for you."

What one of my friend's sister's pupils told her when she taught 3rd grade in inner city Atlanta for a year. It's the little things that make teaching so rewarding.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sleepy Time
Maybe there's a carbon monoxide leak upstairs, because I just had to wake up 5 men who were in the deepest stages of REM in the magazine area of this branch. Rather than wake each one up individually, I just clapped my hands, stomped my feet, and hollered, "No sleeping in the library!" I then hightailed it down the stairs and skulked behind the circulation counter for a while. Sleepy homeless can be very grumpy and unpredictable when startled awake.

Earlier tonight, I noticed one of the homeless patrons hawking and then spitting in a large potted plant. A patron had donated that plant to beautify the library and now it was being used as a spittoon, and this outraged me. I told him that I would call the police in a jiffy if he didn't stop immediately. He harrumphed and then began flipping through Time Magazine, disrespecting my authoriTAY, not intimidated by me in the least.

I'm beginning to dread Tuesday nights because I feel extremely vulnerable. We have no security guards, and there are just some other female librarians here with me and the rest of the support staff are these non threatening, beautiful Asian girls, an old manager's fetish made manifest. I wish this branch would hire some giant thugs to shelve the books like some of the other branches have, because I promise you patrons think twice about acting up when I'm at a branch that has some muscle.

When my little sister and her friend Kate were in town last week we all went to the Benefit makeup bar to have a morning of beauty. Since the girls only had $1500 worth of NARS products between them (that is not an exaggeration), I figured they could use more cosmetics so we went to Benefit to load up.

Elizabeth and I spent most of our time at Benefit having a deep and meaningful discussion with the very personable gay makeup stylist about who was destined to be America's Next Top Model. I have incredibly louche taste in television and our entire household has been transfixed by this show about 10 girls desperately competing to win a modeling contract, definitely a new low in reality TV. Anyway, we debated at length the merits and flaws of each remaining girl: Shandi's rap sheet , Yowana's strangely loose skin, Mercedes' fortitude in the face of a potentially life threatening autoimmune disorder.

We marveled at Shandi's scandalous sexual indescretion with the Italian model, and all had a good laugh about how embarrassingly easy American girls are. One time a girl I met at a wedding who told me about how she was staying at a youth hostel in Florence before she was to begin her semester abroad. She met this other American girl and they decided to go to Rome. The girl seemed sane and friendly and they were having a good time together until they got lost in Rome and the girl approached a policeman to ask for directions. While her travel companion was getting directions my friend consulted her Lonely Planet, and when she looked up from the book she was startled to see her friend making out with the policeman on the steps of a church they were standing on, like they were all in some bad music video, a Mentos commerical, or a porno. My friend was shocked but she was sheltered and afraid to go off by herself so she tagged along reluctantly to dinner with the girl and her new police boyfriend. The two inamoratos were all over each other the entire meal, but the policeman thoughtfully brought along one of his friends for her, a middle aged, obviously married man, who spoke little English and stared hungrily at my friend while he made passes at her throughout the entire extremely uncomfortable meal. The girl then ditched my friend for the night to go off with the policeman and my friend sensibly got right on the next train back to Florence, and, now with her internal skank detector sharpened, became a little wiser from then on about her choices in travel companions.

Monday, March 22, 2004


As I predicted, we were thoroughly routed during our first game against Red Fish Blue Fish. We did manage to score one point toward the end of the match, though, and, in a demonstration of class and spirit, celebrated in the endzone by spiking the Frisbee, thrusting our pelvises savagely into the air a bunch of times, and then doing a spirited Highland Fling. Take that, RFBF! I did the exact same thing after I shoved my cousin Eden out of the way to intercept the bridal bouquet at the last family wedding.

The highlight of the day was beating a better team that several of our better men had defected to. If Ted had a soundtrack playing while we were shaking hands at the end of the game it would have been, “I’m Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

San Jose has been having a drought so the ground was like cement with some grass thrown over it on which our cleats could find no purchase. We were all slipping and falling which we thought was comical until the groin and leg muscles started ripping. I hit the ground hard a couple of times and today I am so sore that I screamed when I sneezed.

The bad news is that some punks went on a real crime spree in the parking lot of the high school where the tournament was held. A slew of cars were burglarized and several windows were smashed. Elizabeth’s purse with BOTH of our wallets was stolen out of our car, which the little assholes jimmied open. So, we been canceling credit cards, filing police reports, and doing all of that other tedious business to restore our affairs in order. The perpetrators used Elizabeth's card to gas up, but that's all they managed to do before we canceled the cards. I hope you fry in hell, delinquents!

Yesterday was a very inauspicious day. Eleanor had a woodworking accident and nearly severed her left index finger (which I call my shushing finger), destroying her handmodeling dreams. I wish that we could regenerate like starfish but since we can't, let's all be extra careful with our digits.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

This morning I went to Dogster to add new nicknames for the puppies: for Spoon, "Spo'Nique" and for Billy, "Son of Sam." I was thoroughly disgruntled when I couldn't find either of the dogs on the site nor open my account. Billy Jack and Spoon's profiles had been expunged! I thought at first Dogster had removed their profiles because maybe I mentioned something on Billy's profile about how it would have been better for everyone involved if we had just drowned him when he was a puppy, but it turns out the reason that the dogs' profiles were missing is that Dogster was inundated back in March. Dogster was unable to withstand the volume, so many of the dogs added in March 'ran away' permanently.

I also have this icy, queasy dread in my stomach because tomorrow is the first real Ultimate frisbee tournament of the season, and I am woefully unprepared. My only off season conditioning has been sporadic Bikram classes and a 3 mile stroll with the puppies each morning, which won't be of much use to me tomorrow, especially for our first game against one of the top seeded teams in the country. I suspect the rest of my team has the same lackadaisical approach toward their training regimen. I predict a wholesale slaughter, like Gallipoli or Wounded Knee.

My branch has been slammed today! For some odd reason this branch is nestled amidst all of these tattoo parlors, at least four of them. This is a very touristy part of town, so people must think that getting a tattoo on a whim and a lark while they're on vacation is a good idea. Or at least they do at the time. So far today I have had to find images for three different people wanting tattoos. Google images makes this child's play, so I had no problem finding a griffin, a crouching tiger, and a rearing stallion. I'm not so into body altering myself, but if I did have a superfluous nipple I think I would have to get it pierced.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sarah Silverman, comedic genius

"I was raped by my doctor, which is a bittersweet experience for a Jewish girl."

Responding to a wide spread protest against her led by Guy Aoiki of Media Action Network for Asian Americans for saying "I love Chinks" during her standup routine on Late Night with Conan O'Brien,

"Guy Aoiki associated my name with racism all over in hundreds of publications. And as a member of the Jewish community, it really makes me concerned that we're losing control of the media."

Graffiti my friend Derrick saw scrawled on a condom machine in a bar in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dog Daze

We're having an extended spell of unusually hot weather in the city, and it has filled me with torpor. I've spent most of this day at the reference desk, narcotized by the heat, listlessly thumbing through a folder of incident reports filed at this branch. This branch sees a whole lot of action so the folder is as thick as a biblical concordance and provides almost endless entertainment. Poring over these old incident reports is usually an activity that I take great pleasure in, but today even reading seems like too much effort.

Here are some highlights:

Why are homeless junkies so petty and vindictive? After being told that he couldn't sleep in the outdoor patio, one citizen of the streets systematically smeared every single one of the library's padlocks with his shit. I guess he showed the library.

A majority of the reports features the heavily trafficked bathroom, in which junkies love to shoot up and the homeless to bathe. Now patrons have to sign and time their usage. That stalwart toilet has suffered a lot of abuse, but it has been understandably temperamental ever since someone tried to flush a tennis shoe down it.

I liked this recent one. This elderly woman with a garish make-up and a teased up Dolly Parton wig told a staff member who had reprimanded her for interrupting the staff member while she was helping another patron,

"Too bad you ain't getting any. Maybe you should try smiling once in a while cuz you certainly need to get laid." After dispensing that advice, that old male panacea for female bitchiness, she left the library cackling and snapping her fingers, extraordinarily pleased with herself.

Which reminds me... one time my friend Elka was being snappish and her no nonsense receptionist, Regina, advised,

"Girl, you need to get you some vitamin D."

When Elka looked at her quizzically, Regina replied,

"You know what I'm talking about."

More when I'm not so lethargic and dull from the heat.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Sex and the Slutty
Or, 4 Hos in Manolos

Although it was a good time while it lasted, I have to say that I’m not going to miss Sex in the City, the HBO show about the big city adventures of four fashionably dressed sexual predators, all that much. It was always fun to see what venereal escapades and imbroglios the girls had gotten themselves into, as well as what they were wearing, although Carrie definitely drifted into fashion victim territory often enough for some critic to accuse the show's stylists of intentionally dressing her to look like an organ grinder’s monkey. Although I desperately wished the girls would talk about something, anything besides men or themselves (it was especially annoying to see the way each girl would seize onto the most tenuous segue to wrest the conversation back to her favorite topic, herself), their friendships did seem genuine and the writing clever and witty.

The HBO show was inspired by Candace Bushnell’s column in the New York Observer, and let me advise you that if you liked the show, under no circumstances should you read one word she has written. Please trust me when I tell you that theHBO writers turned a real sow’s ear into a silk purse. The TV writers are to be congratulated for pulling off that amazing feat of alchemy, because not only is Bushnell’s writing inept and dissonant, her characters are vicious, shallow gold diggers, unredeemable in almost any way. The ‘Carrie’ in Bushnell’s column is almost unrecognizable from that of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character. She is extremely unlikable, much like Candace Bushnell herself, I suspect, based on interviews I’ve seen of her. The first time I saw her I thought she was this amazingly beautiful woman, impeccably groomed, her wonderfully maintained highlights shimmering expensively under the studio lights. She seemed like this perfect little blue eyed china doll until she opened her mouth, when her affected Long Island Lockjaw, her simpering smugness, and the inane platitudes she spewed collectively ruined all of her allure. Recently I saw her interviewed on Oprah, and the pearl of wisdom she bestowed to single girls looking for a husband was ‘to think outside the box.’ Well, if that means marrying an obviously homosexual ballet dancer 9 years your junior after knowing him just 8 weeks, well then, good for you, Candace, following your own advice like that, because that definitely was thinking outside the box.

Lately Carrie’s puns on the show were getting especially grating, and the girls seemed obscene and hardened instead of daring and sexually liberated.
Like when Carrie was talking about going to visit Big over breakfast with the girls, and she started doing this dancy, pot stirring motion with her hands and says crassly,

“Ah-I’m going to get laiiiiiid.”

Carrie, you’re all class, babe.

Samantha was always outrageous, but announcing your suspicions about your maid using your vibrator is not appropriate dinner party conversation, especially when it's apparent that you're repulsing your elegant, Old World (if a little creepy Hannibal Lector-ish) host. Have at least a little bit of courtesy and respect.

Carrie's flailing in Paris experience proves that she may be a New Yorker, but she’s also provincial and shallow.

The perfect antidote to the show was a recent Daily Show segment. In one of their 'set up' interviews Lauren Weidman sat down with 3 Carrie wannabes, all drinking Cosmopolitans. They’re all ready to dish about what fun it is to be a young single girl in New York because they’re naive enough to think that this is an actual interview. At one point, they’re all nattering on and talking over each other in this very annoying way when Lauren interrupts them by blurting out, “So, who likes to take it in the back door?”

The way those girls recoil in shock and horror is something to see, and Lauren succeeds in finally shutting them up.

To see the segment, scroll down on the right hand side of this link to "The Real Sex and the City."

Monday, March 15, 2004

Breaking News: Loretta robbed at knifepoint

The tribulations of Loretta continue. The Feisty Old Broad, who operates as my informant in Loretta’s underworld circle, told me with a spiteful gleam in her eye that Archie, one of Loretta’s former beaux, had robbed Loretta. Archie held a knife to her throat and threatened to cut it open unless she handed over all of her SSI money, which she promptly did. She was carrying on and wailing about it in the park to anyone who would listen but then abruptly clammed up, and now she is denying that it even happened. The FOB heard that Archie threatened to beat her if she wouldn’t shut up about it and to kill her if she told the police.

Loretta receives over $1000 a month of our tax dollars, which is a considerable amount of money, especially when you're not paying for any sort of housing. Her entourage, sensing her weakness, is turning on her on her like a bunch of jackals and starting to pick her clean. I’m hoping that they won't go too far, since it’s in their interest to keep her alive and not kill their purple tam o'shantor wearing cash cow.

Oh, and I hate to add to your cynicism about the candor of junkies but it turns out that Punky did not really get married. It's not like I really believed that he and his lady would even be capable of making it down to the courthouse to file the paperwork anyway. Even if they had, he probably wouldn't have been allowed to leave since there are most likely several outstanding bench warrants for Punky's arrest.

Why the couple lied remains a mystery, but it reminded Elizabeth and me of the scene in Sid and Nancy where heroin addict Nancy Spungeon is calling her nice Jewish New Jersey parents from a London phone in the middle of the night trying to extract drug money out of them. You only hear her side of the conversation and it goes something like this,

"Mom, Dad! Sid and I just got married!"
(pause, while her parents are obviously responding)

"We did, too. Would you send us some money?"
(pause, while her parents respond some more)

"But we ah-re married!!!! And we need you to wire us some money as a wedding gift right now! We need some wedding sheets. No? Well, FUCK YOU, MOM. FUCK YOU!"

Then she slams the phone down.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Mimi and Kate to hit the city tomorrow

Sorry I've been publishing on a lighter schedule, but my 16 year old little sister and her best friend Kate arrive tomorrow from Texas for their Spring Break, so we've been cleaning the apartment and preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually. Wish us luck.

Wow. I'm watching 20/20 right now and the lense on Barbara Walter's vanity cam must have an inch of petroleum jelly smeared on it. It also bathes her in this gauzy light so that she glows brighter than Roma Downey when she reveals herself as a messenger of God on Touched by an Angel.

We call Touched by an Angel "Inappropriately Touched By an Angel," because watching that show is like being molested yet having your body betray you by getting aroused against your will. The plot lines are so treacly, simplistic, and manipulative, and have such sinister Christian Right agenda undertones, that you feel like the biggest sucker for even watching it, but somehow you can't stop yourself. The first time I watched it was with Elizabeth & her brother Dan. The episode guest starred Winona Judd and the plot involved some adorable little boy who was dying of cancer. He had made a little to do list that he wouldn't let anybody see, and at the end of show Winona is belting out some country spiritual and this big crowd of people who have gathered around the little boy's house are all swaying and singing along together in this giant hootenanny of joy and praise. Then that actor who plays Death takes the little boy's hand and leads him away and you finally get to see the little boy's list, and the last entry is "Go to Heaven," which has miraculously been crossed off. So there we all were sitting on the couch weeping, too embarrassed to even look at each other because we felt so dirty and full of shame that we could be that weak and easily emotionally manipulated.

So, we made a little game out of it to sit down each Sunday and see if we could make it through an episode without crying, and we never did. One time we thought we were home free, but then Death comes for someone completely unexpectedly right at the end of the show and it was like a sneaky sucker punch right in the gut. That show sent me into a full blown crying jag, the kind where you have to go breathe into a paper bag and throw some cold water on your face to get yourself back together.

Thankfully, Valerie Bertinelli's addition to the cast finally broke the show's grip on us, but channel surfing is dangerous because if I happen to stumble on an episode on Pax TV then I'm helpless to stop myself from getting sucked back in.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves

Before I went to Italy a few years ago, I read several travel advisories about roving gangs of thieving gypsy children. Their m.o.would be to swarm tourists, create a diversion, and strip their victims of all their valuables. Although I never encountered any myself, almost everybody else I know who has traveled to Europe did and got a very good story out of it.

My aunt and cousins were in Rome when they were surrounded by a band of about 15 children, who approached them begging, palms outstretched. Although my aunt and cousins look like sweet, gentle marks, they have lived in New York City most of their lives and are hardened and merciless. When the children tried to form a circle around them my cousins fell into defensive formation around my aunt and began savagely kicking at the children with their pointy toed cowboy boots. The children quickly moved on. Even my aunt was surprised at her daughters' ferocity and said,

"Oh, my babies!"

Another friend was walking alone when she found herself suddenly surrounded. They managed to empty her bulging pockets in seconds and were off. Sadly for them, she had a terrible cold and her pockets were stuffed with nothing but tissues full of snot and germs.

The best one happened to another friend while she was actually in New York City. This was her first visit to the New York, and she had had one of those magical days in the city that only New York can offer. She was marveling at the city, drinking it all in outside Saks on 5th Ave. when she looked over and saw some scruffy little gypsy children on the corner smoking. One little girl, who looked no older than 8, was provocatively dressed and strutting back and forth in front of the boys she was with, waggling her hips like some pint sized hooker. My friend said to her companion,

“Oh my God. Those kids are smoking.”

The little girl overheard her, and immediately ran up to her, sucked on her cigarette, exhaled and yelled,

“What the fuck did you say? What the fuck did you say, you fat fucking whore?”

My friend, in complete shock, froze, while the little girl continued,

“Hey, bitch. My brother over there," motioning to a boy no older than 10, "he wants to know… how much… you’ll charge…to FUCK HIM!”

Terrified, my friend whirled around to get away from the little girl, and when she whipped around saw this haughtily elegant woman in a full sable coat, loaded down with shopping bags, step off the curb to signal a taxi, trip, and faceplant right on the street.

That was just too much, and my friend grabbed her companion and ran off, laughing hysterically.

The Wisdom of Good King Herod

I am officially an adult librarian, but when I float at other branches I often work in the children's room. After a really long shift, especially one that involves the after school rush, my nerves are shot and I have to go and get really drunk.

Oh, I exaggerate, but children can be trying under the best of circumstances, and many of our littlest patrons are unsupervised latchkey children who have been dumped off and do not want to be there at all. Children's internet computers have introduced a really unsavoury element and set of undesirable behaviors to the library, as well. I especially despise the hardcore game addicts who treat the library like their own personal arcade. Like all addicts, they will lie and cheat and do anything for their fix, and they treat me with maddening insolence when I call them on it. Sometimes these children will play games like Tetris for hours, and I fear that their hands will soon be crippled and gnarled from repetitive stress injuries because our computers are all ergonomic time bombs. I can count on one hand the times I've see a child use the internet computer for research or homework. Forget a porn filter, install game filters on these computers, please.

Home schooled children are a delightful exception, though. They are invariably the sweetest, most well mannered children I have ever encountered. They'll come skipping joyfully in, and without even glancing at the computers, head straight for books on Medieval castles or mummies or science experiments. They fill the room with their wonder and joyful enthusiasm to learn. They engage me in intelligent conversation, ask interesting questions, and are eager to impart and share some interesting fact about whatever topic they've been studying lately. When they visit the library they brighten my day and make me adore my job. I do worry, though, that their parents will tire of homeschooling or their circumstances will change somehow and the innocents will be sent off to public school, where they will be eaten alive.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

We had some medical drama here yesterday at the branch. A young man who has been in here for the past few days, scruffy but certainly presentable by the low bar established by the kind of people who wander into this branch, fainted quietly on the little set of stairs leading up to the landing where the copy machine resides.

He had been making himself at home earlier that day, eating a sandwich and reading the paper at one of our tables in the back. When my manager told him that he couldn’t eat in the library he left but returned a short while later, queued up for the 15 minute express internet terminal, and then passed out. Maybe it was something he ate. When my manager couldn’t revive him we called 911. He was breathing and seemed like he was sleeping peacefully or had fallen into some state of suspended animation. Occasionally his hands and feet would twitch, like a dreaming dog. Or a pithed frog.

It made an interesting sociological study to observe how the other patrons reacted. One man seemed very put out that he had to squeeze by the unconscious man to get to the copy machine, like we were all inconveniencing him intentionally. The woman who was in line for the internet terminal seemed pleased that there was now one less person in front of her. Other people disappeared behind newspapers. One young man, probably a tourist, said excitedly,

“If he’s not breathing someone should give him mouth to mouth!”

Not to be insensitive to the man’s plight, but that sounded like a good way to get a mouthful of diseased vomit to me, and no one rushed forward to volunteer to give "the breath of life." Fortunately the man was breathing just fine so mouth to mouth was not necessary, and the EMTs arrived quickly to deal with the situation.

The man’s comment reminded me of the scene in Midnight Cowboy when innocent rube Joe Buck, fresh off the bus from small town Texas, is standing over the unconscious bum on the sidewalk of New York. He is absolutely dumbfounded that no one is rushing to the man’s aid and that people are callously stepping around the body. Unfortunately, Punky, Loretta, and their ilk have hardened most big city residents, destroying their Samaritan impulses and any willingness to get involved. Anyway, the EMTs could not revive him and wheeled him out on a stretcher to the awaiting ambulance. Unless the man returns we’ll never hear what was wrong with him or get any sort of closure, but I'm going to go ahead and dust off the plastic mouth shield from the first aid kit in case anything like this happens again soon.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Wedding Bells Ring for Punky

My manager was having coffee at a popular neighborhood café this morning when Punky the bike thief prison recidivist (see Jan 29th entry for more details) promenaded by with a woman about 30 years his senior on his arm. The woman he was squiring about had the sallow, sunken looks and jerky gait of a professional junkie, and despite the unusual heat was modestly attired in a baggy long sleeved shirt, probably to cover her track marks and abscesses. They stood before the outdoor tables for a moment until Punky's special lady friend announced loudly to no one in particular, “We just got married!”

After sharing their news, the happy couple headed off to the park, I'm sure to celebrate their union by getting loaded and doing various things that will fill tourists with revulsion and amazement that a city in America tolerates that sort of behavior in its public spaces. Punky and his gang probably also make the Chinese trying to do tai chi in the park actually pine for the totalitarian regime from which they immigrated. I imagine you don't see a lot of people in China carrying on like Punky does in the park.

Junkies are not known for their veracity, so I’m not sure if they really are married. I don't see how the junky lady ‘scored’ Punky anyway, since it as well known fact that he is a gay hustler. As I understood it, his homosexuality is genuine and not just opportunistic or for professional reasons or a prison survival strategy. So, I’m not sure what Punky is up to. I believe California is a state with conjugal visits, so maybe he is just planning ahead for some companionship the next time he’s in prison, which I predict will be very soon.

Speaking of suspicious marital arrangements, there is a group of semi-homeless derelict men who are regulars in the park who belong to an immigration scam ring. Every five years or so these guys are cleaned up by this consortium and sent over to China to marry some female Chinese nationals desperate and willing to pay a lot of money for US citizenship. To fill their end of the bargain, all the men have to do is stay in China for a few months and not marry again for 5 years, and they are paid $5000 for their trouble. My manager has spoken to one of the ‘grooms’ who confessed that consummating the marriage is not part of the deal. I’m sure that the Chinese women would sleep with a knife to ensure this if they were ever forced to share a room for appearances. Even though the standards of the ring are not high, there is no way Punky would be eligible because even the most burned out, apathetic, corrupt INS agent would not buy that he legitimately married one of these women.

Elizabeth is a little hurt that Punky chose this day to get married, because today is her birthday and now Punky has stolen away some of her attention that she deserves for her special day, so let us all give our best wishes to both Elizabeth and the newlyweds.

And no, I'm not sure where Punky is registered, but I'm sure that the liquor store that gives him credit on the corner would like a cash gift to offset his tab.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Passion of the Loretta
"Can a man not control his bitch with violence?"*

Today the Fiesty of Old Broad told me with rather unchristian gleeful malice that Loretta had been beaten and robbed, which might explain why she looked more forlorn than usual when I saw her outside the library this morning. The aggressor, a tall and skinny white guy who has been frequenting our internet computers lately, had insinuated himself into Loretta’s entourage last month. He courted her and pitched woo and bided his time until ‘payday’ (the first of the month when she receives her SSI check), when he viciously assaulted her and ran off not only with all of her cash but also her heart, like an especially cruel confidence man.

Her situation is almost just getting too sad to write about. The FOB told me that the reason Loretta has been on crutches for the past month is because one of her regular beaux stamped on her foot last month when she balked at giving him a cut of her SSI money. Her health is really taking a turn for the worse, because in addition to all of her other ailments she's drunk herself into diabetes. The diabetes has slowed circulation to her extremities, so her foot is not healing like it should, and I'm not optimistic about her being able to hang on to it.

She remains banished from the neighborhood homeless center, so March is going to be a long month for her. The weather is getting milder so she should be all right, but it looks like 2004 is not going to be Loretta's year.

*Ronnie Dobbs, the Musical

Check out this superfan site. He has compiled a list of quotes from Loveline, a call in radio show for people who have questions about love and relationships. It is one of the most entertaining show I have ever listened to, mostly because of the lightning wit of host Adam Corolla and his perfect foil, Dr. Drew Pinsky, a medical doctor and addiction specialist.

After hanging up on a caller, "Ryan," because he seemed hopelessly stupid:
ADAM: You know, there are a few levels of retarded. There's, like, Level 1, and then there's the basement.
DREW: DefCon retarded?
ADAM: Right! DefCon retarded. In the event of some sort of retarded emergency, you crawl into Ryan. There, you'll withstand the bomb.

Talking to a caller about paganism:
CALLER: I'm a witch.
ADAM: Well, the real question is, how fat are you?

Talking to a female caller who began having sex with a guy when she was 13:
CALLER: I lost my virginity to him when I was 13.
ADAM: 13. And then you stopped having sex with him?
CALLER: Yeah. Because I got in a lot of trouble and ended up having to move away to Alaska.
DREW: Because of this guy.
CALLER: No, not because of him, just because I started sneaking out and stuff, and just getting in trouble. And my mom finally got tired of it, and she was like, "You need to go to Alaska." So I ended up just having to move away, I dunno.
DREW: Just picked Alaska from a map?
ADAM: Your mom just threw a dart at a map, and that's where you had to go?
CALLER: No. My aunt and my uncle live there.
ADAM: Listen, I'd be pissed if the trouble-making, whoring, young niece of mine was sent over to squat my frozen farm in Alaska.
CALLER: Whatever! I am not a whore!
ADAM: No, baby, I didn't mean that in a bad way.

To a 20-year-old guy who is having sex with a 15-year-old neighbor:
CALLER: SHE kept coming over to MY place.
ADAM: Listen, if her frisbee kept coming over the fence, would you start humping it?
ADAM: Stop having sex with her. Don't be an idiot.
DREW: (Sarcastically) But she keeps coming over!
ADAM: Go kick your dad in the nuts for me, will you? Somehow he's failed you.

CALLER: I want to get my penis pierced.
ADAM: Are you into the Goth scene?
ADAM: That means somebody molested you.

Talking to a caller named "Kresta":
ADAM: When somebody calls your name, or pages you in a restaurant, does it always come out sounding like "Krista"?
ADAM: Which is why you should go kick your mom in her fat ass.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Literary Feuds

In response to John's comment, here is a good and nasty exchange between Dominick Dunne and Gore Vidal, which Dunne wrote about in Vanity Fair. Vidal's comment to Dunne on class in America:

"Why do you suppose Irish Catholics are all such social climbers? Is it because their mothers were all maids? Oh, I don't mean you."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light™, Writer of Dreck™, Architect of Doom™

Thomas Kinkade Painter of Light™, the colossus who bestrides the mass produced Christian mall art market, has metastasized into the field of literature, among other things.
Not content to ruin one art form, the creator of the Precious Moments/Beanie Babies of wall hangings and throw pillows is now trying his hand at writing.

As a librarian, I’m taking this personally.

If you’re not familiar with his ‘artwork’, he paints excessively quaint, inspirational scenes that make Norman Rockwell’s work look like that of Francis Bacon in comparison. He is an industry unto himself, and has his syrupy and acquisitive tendrils in an ever expanding array of markets, even a gated housing community. Instead of inspiring me to be sweet and devotional, his work makes me want to do something violent and depraved. Or debase myself in some unspeakable way.

Take hope, though – it looks like he has overextended his business empire and he's about to declare bankruptcy. My faith is restored in capitalism - the market does eventually correct itself from certain outrages.

Unfortunately, his recent business troubles haven’t affected his book publishing schedule, which has the same relentless frequency as The New Yorker. He’s already churned out 4 in two years, and he brings the same monstrously cheerful sentimentality and insipidness to his writing that he does to his painting.

Look how some reviewers on Amazon are having a bit of fun with Kinkade and his fans. These are excerpts from reader reviews for the first book in Kinkade's Cape Light series, which has absolutely nothing to do with lesbians or homosexuality in any form.

A powerful Lesbian novel, March 18, 2002
Reviewer: sarah from Denver, Co.

Thomas Kinkade has crafted a touching, original novel about an older gay woman who is the mayor of a small Massachusetts town, and the rich (emotionally) people who inhabit the town. The gay mayor's sister comes to town so the two can take care of their ill mother. What I liked about this book was the "normal" way in which a gay person is "painted."

Good portrayal of gay life in a small town, April 18, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Noe Valley, San Francisco

Thomas Kinkade skillfully weaves a novel of gay life in a small New England town. Emily, the lesbian mayor, is under attack from Charlie Bates, who plans to oppose her in the upcoming election because he disagrees with her sexual orientation. But Kinkade shows us the errors of Bates, who is blind to the fact that his own wife, Lucy, is also gay, even though she runs the local restaurant, cleverly named "The Clam Box."

A little slice of life in a small town, July 31, 2002
Reviewer: A reader

Kincaid captures the slightly hidden lifestyle of a lesbian in search of a fulfilling life. That rascal is quite subtle, but I think everyone will get the "real" message from this painter of light. I highly recommend it to anyone needing a glimpse into "another side of the light" BRAVO!

Read on as the sincere and legitimate fans of Thomas Kinkade indignantly try to refute the claims about the mayor being a lesbian....

"As far as the lesbian mayor - that is so far off base that it doesn't really deserve a comment - but I am going to do it anyhow. First of all the mayor was married and in love untill after two years her husband was killed - I think there are unresolved emotions there. She also had a child. (sorry hope I don't ruin it for anyone.) I think her and the editor of the newspaper will end up getting together. Secondly - Thomas Kinkade being an upstanding, outspoken Christian - would never write about lesbians. There are enough perverts in the world to do that. "

NOT about lesbianism!!, September 28, 2003
Reviewer: tdmac54 from Cody, WY United States

I don't know where Sarah from Denver got the idea that this book has ANYTHING to do with lesbianism!! It most certainly does not. It is about two sisters, one of whom is the mayor of their hometown, but she was widowed as a young mother. This book, in no way, implies that she's a lesbian. If you have any doubts, read the following two books in the series. I seriously doubt if Thomas Kinkade, a devout Christian, would write a novel that has anything to do with homosexuality, which the Bible says is an "abomination to God". Anyway, the book is enjoyable entertainment, and I found I wanted to read the sequels to find out what happens with the characters next.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Now, an open letter to our library patrons

Please do not flush sanitary napkins, paper towels, or syringes down the commode. If you must shoot up in the bathroom, please do not leave arterial spray on the walls. Neither the janitor, nor the shaken mom with toddlers who reported the problem, nor the parade of street people coming in to use the bathroom but now cannot because it's closed appreciates it.

Thank you for your consideration!

Well, the source of this evening's toilet overflow was not tampons as we first naively suspected, but syringes. The bathroom of the branch where I'm working at is now officially closed for the evening.

When I first moved to San Francisco the dotcom situation was heating up and for a while I illegally subletted an apartment in a beautiful Victorian in the Castro that was perfect in every way except for my nimrod roommate, Chuck. Chuck was a nice guy and we got along fine, but Chuck would do things like substitute paper towels for toilet paper after he ran out. For reasons I cannot fathom, he also made a habit of flushing his dental floss down the commode. The old pipes finally became overwhelmed and clogged and there was a massive flood in Chuck's bathroom. Toilet water rich with Chuck's fecal matter rained down all over the downstair's houseproud homosexual couple's antique Oriental rugs. When the absentee landlord appeared to deal with the mess he discovered that none of the original tenants were living at our place. There was a lot of messy damage that would require extensive repairs so I thought it was best to just leave before I was evicted.

The lesson is that toilets are not dumpsters and if they can't handle feminine hygiene products like the sign says, then they can't handle your works, either.

An open letter to my fellow male students at Bikram's Yoga College of India

Unless you are a competitive swimmer, Speedos are unacceptable attire at any time, at any place. Let me qualify that: even if you are a competitive swimmer, speedos do not belong in the yoga studio. Nor do manties, tanksuits, thin cotton boxers, or those weird boxer/brief hybrids. The sort of apparel is not pleasing to the ladies. It's repellent. You know what is pleasing? A sense of modesty, decorum, and decency. Those baggy surfer shorts that hit the knees are functional and attractive. Buy some.

I know that you're cognizant of the waterfall of liquid coursing down your arm onto the carpet. Not only is sweat potentially pathogen bearing, it is corrosive. It also makes an ugly stain. My former studio had to close down for days while the owners had to tear up and replace the carpet and part of the floor boards all due to one prodigious, insensitive sweater. Be a decent human being and bring an extra towel and position it so your sweats hits it.

Suffer in Silence! No groans, moans, or other vaguely creepy sexual noises. It's aural harrassment, and you know it. Stop it.

Gum chewing is a vile and trashy habit at any time, but it's just stupid and reckless during Bikram, since there's a strong chocking hazard during the inverted poses. Be considerate and  sensible. If you’re still so firmly stuck in the oral fixation stage of development that you have to chew gum at all times then it's time to see a therapist so you can move on.

Back waxing is not just for the homosexual/metrosexual anymore. If a toddler can grab your back hair by the fist full and swing playfully on it, it’s time to do something about it. There are many (practically) pain free options available. Explore them.

While I'm in Savasana, do not flick or drip sweat on me while as you walk by me on your way out.

Monday, March 01, 2004

'Cause I get a kick out of you

Remember this dreamboat, the paranoid schizophrenic resembling Nick Nolte who assaulted the MUNI driver a couple of months back? (see January 13th entry) The hapless cable car operator had been minding his own business in the new books section when a book caught his eye on the bottom shelve. When he bent over to take a closer look this deranged lunatic ran up behind him and, making sure to put all the momentum and weight of his 200 pound menacing hulk behind him, kicked the MUNI driver right in the ass. A huge fist fight ensued between the two but the MUNI driver prevailed and chased the perpetrator off into the night. I filed a police report and incident report with our own security, but he hasn’t returned to the branch since and I hoped that that was the last I would see of him.

Yesterday I was picking up some extra hours at another branch when I looked up and saw the kicker quietly perusing the current issue of Ladies Home Journal. It was unmistakably him, and he was sitting at the table not 10 feet away from me thumbing through a women's magazine. He had made a lasting impression on me the first time I encountered him, but he made it nice and easy for me to make a positive identification this time because he was wearing the exact same outfit (although a little worse for wear and a few shades darker from the two month accumulation of grime since I had seen him last) as the night he assaulted the MUNI driver. How thoughtful of him. Even though he was behaving himself perfectly I was overcome with dread and slowly and unobtrusively as possible made my way to the children’s reference desk to call security. Because the children's librarian at that branch hates and despises children, she has rigged the phone so you have to enter in this complicated numerical sequence to get an outside line. God knows it’s worth risking my safety so I am not able to dial 911 to ensure some wicked brat cannot use the phone without permission to, say, call his parents to come pick him up from the library. (Our phones don’t dial long distance anyway, so it's not like children were running up long distance charges). After almost tearing up in frustration I finally managed to get an outside line and reach security at The Main, who helpfully told me that it was too close to quittin’ time to send anyone down there, and if I felt like I was in danger to call the police. At that moment the man gathered his filthy belongings and lumbered out without incident.

Even though nothing happened I am still a little rattled. Since I started working at the public library I’ve been determined to maintain this philosophical, fatalistic attitude about what can befall me on the job. I had always been wary about working as a public librarian until I got a temp job in the corporate offices of a consulting company located in the shining office building at 101 California. Not long after I started working there I found out that the offices on the floor used to belong to a law firm and were the site of the infamous 101 California shootings, the first big office place massacre. So here were these lawyers and office personnel who thought that they were as safe as they could be in a fancy office with security and that didn’t help them one bit. If it’s your time, it’s your time, and that’s the way I have to think about it or I would just be a nervous wreck and never want to show up for work, which is the most wonderful job I could ever ask for 99% of the time. I do carry red pepper spray and I plan to start my Krav Maga classes soon, and although the Texas in me wants to buy a handgun I'll refrain for now.

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