Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Grandfather and the Old Goat 

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My grandfather was a rather larger than life, Howard Hughes (without the crippling OCD) character. He died of cancer before I was born, which he probably developed poking around in some uranium mines he owned. One of his great passions was flying, and during the 1930s somehow ended up establishing the air force for that death squad wielding, right wing dictator treasured ally and bulwark against communism, Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo recently had taken over the Banana Dominican Republic and, like most tin pot dictators, desired an air force of his very own to show off and command. My grandfather was in the Air Force Reserve, and he and his best friend, without knowledge or consent of the United States government, went down there for a few months in Trujillo’s employ. This was most likely treasonous, especially since they were wearing a foreign sovereign's uniform, but my grandfather never let matters like that interfere with his good time. He loved visiting Latin American and nobody could throw a banquet like those dictators.

Here he is pictured with Trujillo. My grandfather is on the right. He and his friend spent most of their time in the Dominican Republic strafing peasants delivering the mail and attending large parties and banquets in their honor. In the sixties, my great aunt stopped in Santo Domingo on a cruise and everyone they talked to remembered him and his friend. A man at the market said that he had been a little boy at the time and used to follow my grandfather about because he thought he was a movie star. I’m sorry I never got to meet him. He wasn’t the best family man and at the time of his death, a lingering, horrible death from cancer, was estranged from both of his daughters. My mother had many unresolved issues with him that affected her her entire life, and I always thought that it was curious, that there must have been some kind of connection, that they succumbed to terminal cancer around the same age.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'Tis the Season 

For schizophrenics to call the library.

"Library information? How may I help you?"

"Get me Ted Turner's mailing address."

While I was looking up the information, he began muttering under his breath, "Cops, library security, Bill Gates, no one will loan you a dime if you've been arrested. No one will loan you a goddamn dime. Why can't I get any money?"

Later that hour:

"Library information."

"OK, I'm reading this book and I've got to know if this is really true. Who was the first woman to interview a president of the United States in the nude?"

"Are you asking if the president was nude, the female conducting the interview or both?"

"The president, the president was in the nude! The first time a woman interviewed a president he was in the nude. It's in the book! It's in the book! I got it from the library. I read all about it. I want to make sure it's not stolen. It contains some really amazing stuff. There's a chapter about a woman who ran against another president on a platform ticket of orgasms. She believed in shorts skirts, orgasms and national childcare. There is some really important stuff in this book. It's called Nymphos and other Maniacs, but I'm afraid this book will be stolen. Has the library's copy been stolen? HAS THE LIBRARY'S COPY BEEN STOLEN?"

"We have several copies. I wouldn't worry about it, although I really appreciate your concern. The book is by Irving Wallace, who's usually pretty reliable. I would trust him. You have a good day."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My library books were seriously overdue but the fines should be waived because... 

"I loaned them to friend and her house slid off its foundation with the books in it! The house was condemned! Did you want me to break the law and endanger my life to retrieve the books? Are you saying the books are worth more than my life?"
(She tried to use the same excuse the next year.)

"I'm battling a possible addiction."

"Due to the richness of the material I couldn't possibly savour these books in the paltry time allowed me." (12 weeks)

"I thought society was going to collapse and it didn't, but I left the books I had checked out on survivalism in the woods and now I can't find them."

A man's sister sent some overdue interlibrary loan books back with an apologetic note for their lateness. The books were European 'art' texts with pictures of naked children. Right after he checked the books out, her brother had gone to jail for 6 months for pedophilia. When he was released he did the honorable thing, which is hang himself, although not completely honorable, because he didn't return his library books first. His sister found the books, a pile of overdue notices as well as some other really unpleasant things when she was cleaning out his apartment. What a grim task that must have been.

Librarian Foot Fetish 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI don’t obsessively monitor my statistics counter like I used to, but it’s still great fun when I do check it. The information I get is crude and basic since I’m using the free version, but I can tell from which ISP a visitor (shout out to P.T. at M&H) is accessing my site and what Google searches were used. Having the word foxy in this blog gets a lot of hits from porn seekers:

Here's how some randy Qatarian found me:
sexey foxy
foxy wemon
foxy and sexy ladey

foxy vixens

Desperate and dumb:
buying methadone on the internet - HAH! Good luck

zoo p@ssy

Even more disturbing:
Oprah booty (as in her buttocks, or her extravagant audience giveaways?)

Librarian foot fetish

Although imagining the deep disappointment porn seekers must feel when they reach my site brings me great joy, I do have to feel sorry for the person burdened with this impossibly specific and, I imagine, lonely, fixation. So, just for him, here’s a picture of some librarian feet. Yes, in this circle of feet is a librarian’s, mine! Pretty damn hot, huh? Actually, it was pretty damn hot. This picture was taken at the Dead Elvis Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, an annual event that takes place the weekend around the date of the King’s death, which as every schoolchild knows is August 16. When I played, the tournament was held out on a shadeless sod farm next to a power plant which would periodically spew black clouds of toxic filth, which you can see coating our legs. (I really don’t miss that laissez faire approach to environmental matters down in Dixie.) Usually the temperature exceeds 100 and the tournament is not complete until 2 or 3 players are hospitalized for heat and/or sun stroke.

I myself got a touch of heat poisoning there, which I have to say is one of the worst possible feelings in the world. I felt like I literally had  been poisoned, and had to stagger off the field in the middle of a point to throw up, which I did behind a trashcan, like an elegant and well-bred young lady. When I read Dennis Covington’s book Salvation on Sand Mountain, a memoir about his time among the fundamentalist snake handlers of Sand Mountain, Alabama, I found that the vivid descriptions of what it feels after you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake matched this feeling, although I didn’t see the terrifyingly psychedelic auras and halos around objects that these snakebite victims report. After my touch of heat stroke I couldn’t even muster strength to go to the party, and I felt rotten for days, and for a long while afterward couldn’t get in a hot tub or play too long in the sun or I would I could feel that whole mechanism start up and get that wretched feeling again. Supposedly this is the case for multiple snakebite victims as well. Contrary to what I had always heard, you don’t develop any sort of immunity to snakebites from repeated exposure to the venom. Instead, the poison has a cumulative effects, making you sicker with each bite.

I recommend this book, by the way, if you’re into freaky religious Appalachian cults. The book is about how this strychnine drinkin’, rattlesnake handling, speaking in tongues congregation was torn apart after the preacher was accused of trying to kill his wife by thrusting her arm into cage that housed the rattlesnakes the church would handle during the services. Even after suffering multiple bites, she managed to escape and crawl through the woods to her neighbor’s. The preacher claimed that she had asked him to put her arm in the cage to test her faith, and the congregation was split down the middle in opinion of his guilt. Dennis Covington, a New York Times reporter, goes on location to Sand Mountain and eventually becomes swept up in the religious fervor, and at one point even takes up a snake himself. His wife finally catches wind of what he’s up to and shows up and tells him to cut that shit out and come home.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Billy Jack 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe other day Billy passed by, mincing down the hall.

e: Oh, dear God!

f: What?

e: It's Billy. He's walking around like he owns the place!

f: Oh, about that. Actually, he does. Don't you remember that time when he got you all drunk and made you sign over the house title? He convinced you that it would save a lot of money as part of some complicated tax shelter. Anyway, it seemed to make financial sense at the time.

e: Uh-oh.

f: And he wanted me to let you know that he'll be needing the master bedroom now.

How not to write a complaint form 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe files of the complaints and suggestion forms are a real garden of delights. 90 percent consist of complaints about the condition of the men’s bathroom, which no matter how hard the valiant janitorial staff tries, is always appalling. The other day there were reports of a large man, naked except for a pair of red cowboy boots, having some sort of fit in there. The guards investigated and found a man who had diarrhea all over his clothes and himself and was trying to clean up the mess in the sink. The facilities are not adequate for laundry and such an extensive toilette so he was splashing the filth all over the floors. The worst part was that he adamantly refused to remove his cowboy boots, in which a good portion of the diarrhea had puddled.

There are surprisingly few complaints against the staff, but they are usually the most entertaining. Some of the complaints most likely are legitimate. Civil service does not always bring out the best customer service practices in people and we all have bad days, but patrons often undermine their case with their letter. Even if the case the patron is making is cogent the patron will blow it by describing the employee against whom they’ve taken issue as a “limp wristed librarian,” “illegal alien Oriental janitor,” “bitter old maid who needs desperately to get her some,” and, my personal favorite, that “haughty fairy on the 3rd floor.” Here’s a tip: hate speech discredits you, you will not be taken seriously, and your complaint letter will be ignored. No one from administration will get back to you and the employee will not be reprimanded.

Some more advice. Although it’s hard to have neat penmanship using the golf pencils the library provides, try anyway, because this will help your case. Also, try to calm down. Fury negatively affects one’s writing ability. Sometimes people write the letters in such an agitated state that the letters are so riddled with errors and misspellings that the form looks like the scribblings of a barely literate madman. If you just want to vent, then fine, but don’t expect anything to be done about your complaint.

Often the forms are from mentally ill who, even though amazingly articulate, make no sense whatsoever. Although they have no point, they are wonderful in their own way.

I complimented a man on being handsome. He kicked me out for 30 days! I complied.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Idle Hands 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comA man approached the desk. He was dressed in a nondescript way except for a fuzzy magenta scarf.

“Do you like my scarf? My girlfriend knit it for me. Go ahead, touch it.” He pulled the scarf toward me.

“Oooh – cozy. I wish I could knit, that I had a hobby like that.”

“So do I! I can’t knit, but I can needlepoint. In fact, I have this idea for a project. I want to take a giant canvas and put it on my wall. Then I will project a pattern on it and do a needlepoint tapestry. I need a hobby. I don’t really have any, except masturbating and smoking pot.”

Although the content of his speech was anything but, his delivery was dull and monotonous. I then looked at his eyes, which were crazy diamond/black holes of the sun/see you on the darkside of the moon vacant, haunted pits.

“Well, we all need a hobby. You know what they say about idle hands and all… Knitting and needlepoint books are on the 2nd floor. You have a good day, Sir.”

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Loud Pipes Save Lives 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comYears ago when I worked at the sheriff's office I spent a few days entering information about the local bike gang into our new database, DrugTrak. Much to my delight, many of these files had photographs taken by undercover agents at various biker gatherings. The bikers all looked straight out of central casting, complete with nicknames and alisases like "Tarantula" and "Mad Dog." A couple of them were even missing eyes, gouged out during fights, I presume, and meth rotted teeth. I certainly wouldn't have hired this sorry looking bunch to do security at my concert. I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more of an ugly bunch of lowlifes until the department busted up a dog fighting ring a few months later - those mutants looked straight out of The Hills Have Eyes. There wasn’t a lot of biker gang activity in the county, so the project didn’t last long. The Feds did send us a fabulous poster that had photographs of all the jackets of various gangs emblazoned with their mottoes. I coveted that poster dearly but my sergeant, a weekend biker, pulled rank and claimed it instead.
Here are some of the mottoes I remember from the poster:

Hell' s Angels: Three people will keep a secret if two are dead.

Outlaws: God forgives, Outlaws don't. (GFOD for short.)

Bandidos: We are the people that our parents warned us about

Mongols: Respect Few - Fear None

Pagans, maybe? Your brother ain't always right, but he's always your
and Snitches are a dying breed

Rockers (English bikers): N.C.N.R. (No C#nt, No Ride) I guess that's the British version of Grass, Ass or Gas - Nobody Rides for Free.

I like the bikers who oppose helmet laws and wear "Let Those who Ride Decide" t-shirts. Those in need of organs thank them!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Helping and Hating the Homeless 

The front steps of the library are buzzing with homeless entrepreneurship and activity. A man has set up an al fresco barbershop, complete with a black barber's chair he must have dragged out of some dump. There are several towels spread out by crack heads pedaling their strange wares: broken sun glasses, scratched up, empty CD cases, collapsed shoes, moisture swollen mass market paperbacks, battered cooking utensils, 4 year old Yellow Pages. A raving homeless man is preaching fire and brimstone, but seems only to be evangelizing the pigeons, rats and roaches, which seem to be there more for the bread crumbs he has spread before them than the message. ‘Tis the season for Samaritans to drive by and drop off plates of food, which the homeless litter half eaten on the steps, rich leavings for the pigeons and rats. I consider these drive-by do gooders more of a nuisance than the homeless themselves. Their misguided philanthropy contributes to the transformation of the the library steps into a homeless gathering places, a de facto homeless shelter, and we have neither the resources, training and funding to deal with the this. I am trying to balance my frustration and repulsion with pity and empathy for everyone involved in the whole sorry, endlessly complex mess.

Suggested further reading:

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: a Memoir by Nick Flynn. The author’s father was a self proclaimed artist who abandoned his family to live on the streets. The book is about Flynn’s drifter twenties, in which he spends most of the time working in homeless shelters, trying to come to terms with his father’s decisions and circumstances.

Helping and Hating the Homeless: The Struggle at the Margins of America by Peter Marin
Originally published in Harper’s, this is a beautifully written essay by a former homeless man that recounts the author’s own experiences, as well as the history of homelessness and events that have shaped current philosophies and attitudes toward the condition.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Whippit, Baby 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy new dentist is an elegant, glamorous Chinese woman who looks like she’s about 22. Multiple fountains burble and ozonate the office, and the décor, with its use of soothing beige raw silk, is much more suggestive of a spa than a dentist's office. Opera arias plays softly over the loudspeaker and Vogue is on the waiting room tables. The maternal but stylish dental hygenists soothingly press their soft bosom into your head while they're cleaning scraping your teeth. Aside from all the aesthetic beauty of her office, my principal reason for selecting my new dentist is her guaranteed ‘anxiety free’ method of dentistry, i.e., lots and lots of nitrous, even for the most basic and minor of procedures.

The other day I had to get a filling replaced and a deep cleaning. As I was greedily and frantically sucking the nitrous like a starved piglet, mindful not to let my eyes roll back in my head lest I be cut off, I noticed the piped music changed from classical to Christmas music. The song Feliz Navidad began to agitateme and increase my anxiety levels, but the next song, “Christmas, Christmas” by Alvin and the Chipmunks, horrifying under the best of circumstances, was absolutely intolerable loaded on nitrous. I stopped the procedure and asked for headphones. Most of the CD selection consisted of Celine Dion, Bette Midler and Frank Sinatra, so the best I could find was Natalie Merchant's Tiger Lilly. Although I’ve never been a particular fan of hers, as I lay back and relaxed, trying go to my special place, I had thoughts like,
"These lyrics are both beautiful and...profound. I...am...so...getting...this...CD.”

Anyway, nitrous definitely made a potentially traumatic experience rather beautiful, although after I have nitrous I always feel like I shaved a couple of IQ points off for a couple of days. Doctors are using nitrous oxide on children in emergency rooms to help reduce pain and anxiety while they undergo treatment. While on laughing gas, children often even giggle while getting bones set.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ill-Advised Word Choice 

Using the word ‘niggardly’ when addressing a crowd of hostile African-Americans in D.C., especially when you epitomize ‘The Man.’

After a wealthy but unsophisticated American donates money to rebuild your English church after it was damaged in WWII bombing, saying “Thank you for this succour from abroad” in a prayer of thanks during the reconsecration. (The American stalked out of the ceremony in a huff.)

In last month’s Allure Magazine, in a description of the writer’s experience at the Denver Ashtanga Yoga Center.
After our Thai massage, we left feeling calm, clear headed and fully erect for the very first time in months.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Self Help 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhen asked why his favorite working girl Trixie did something odd, saloon owner and charactonymic Al Swearengen of the delightfully, shockingly profane Deadwood responds, "I would rather try to touch the moon than figure out the workings of the mind of a whore." That is how I'm beginning to feel about the reasons for the actions of some of my patrons, and why I've stopped trying to ponder why patrons do the things they do.

A bashful man approached the desk and softly asked where our self help books on tape were, specifically those on improving self esteem. I showed them where they were on the shelves. He chose one called Build your Self Esteem  and thanked me. A few minutes later he returned to the desk. His face was red and he said, “I think someone switched the tapes. I don’t think this tape belongs in the case.”
I said, “I’m so sorry! That’s happens sometimes – we put the wrong tape in accidentally or patrons switch tapes intentionally around to amuse themselves. I’m glad that you caught that.”
The tape that had been switched for Build your Self Esteem ? Creating & Nurturing your Lesbian Relationships. Now why would someone do that? Was it some sort of practical joke or weird sexual compulsion? OK - I admit it. That's a tiny bit funny. Anyway, I'm beginning to stop caring, although I wish they would stop it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhile I was home for Thanksgiving I asked my grandmother for an update on her best friend Polly, truly one of the most elegant and preternaturally poised women I have ever met. Polly was always immaculately dressed in the height of fashion, even while vacuuming. Once at one of Polly’s famous dinner parties my mother wandered into the kitchen to see Polly in an evening gown and full heels laughing and flambéing some complicated dessert for 12 people, not a bead of sweat marring her perfect makeup.

Polly could also hold her liquor like no one else I have ever met.

When she was in her twenties, a cousin stayed up all night with Polly, then in her fifties, drinking cocktails. Although my cousin considered herself no lightweight, being of hardy Scott ancestry and all, she couldn’t even begin to keep up with Polly. The next morning, my cousin crept to the kitchen to get some coffee. Quivering with the worst hangover of her life, she heard a sing-songy, “Good Morning!” She looked up through her bloodshot eyes to see Polly descending the grand staircase, fresh as a rose, hair styled perfectly, ready to spend a full shopping day at Neiman’s.

My grandmother described a typical cocktail party with Polly. The two of them would outlast their husbands, killjoy sissies who would retire at 1:00 AM. My grandmother and Polly would continue to talk and drink and laugh well into the night, until at last one of them would regretfully leave for home. (The husbands knew to drive a separate car.)

Either my grandmother or Polly, whosever house it was, would say, “Why, it’s much too late! I must follow you home. You couldn’t possibly drive home by yourself.”

Once they arrived at their destination, one would invite the other in for a nightcap.

After a few more drinks and the other would leave for home, the other would exclaim, “Why, it’s much too late! I must follow you home. You couldn’t possibly drive home by yourself.”

And they would repeat the whole scenario, back and forth, until before they knew it was dawn.

I, who have had basically to renounce alcohol bitterly and unwillingly because of debilitating, blistering hangovers inquired, “Didn’t all of the alcohol and cigarettes ever make you feel bad the next day? Even just a little bit?”

My grandmother tossed her head and replied, “Nevah!”

Polly survived three husbands, all of whom apparently died from exhaustion trying to keep up with her. She met her latest husband in an upscale assisted living facility, where competition for men was fierce because the ratio of men to women in that demographic is about 1:8. Leave it to Polly to land the one eligible man in the entire facility.

Polly remained very involved with her college sorority, and as an adult traveled to chapter houses around the states, advising the girls on issues of etiquette and fashionable domesticity. One remarkable fact I never knew was that her sorority created fund as well as a sort of an underground railroad for women in abusive marriages, including several sorority sisters who had married Saudi men who they met while the men were abroad studying in the United States. These men were seemingly Westernized, charming and exotic with large allowances, but once they were married and back in Saudi Arabia it was Not Without my Daughter. Their plight was ignored by the State Department and these women had nowhere else to turn. Their sorority sisters would give money and pull strings and even hire mercenaries to rescue these women back to the United States. Now that’s sisterhood!

Pitiful stories of mistreatment as well as pleas for the US Government to intervene in child custody issues between US women and Saudi nationals had become such a problem that the State Department in 2003 issued an advisory brochure detailing what is in store for American women who marry Saudi nationals. The State Department posted the brochure on its website, but removed it shortly for revision due to pressure from the American Muslim Council, who protested that it was prejudiced and derogatory. The new revision has yet to be posted.

Curiously, the Saudis themselves had no problem with the brochure.

Another interesting fact about Polly was that one of her great-uncles was taken by the Comanches from the family's West Texas ranch when he was boy. His family wasn't able to ransom him for a few years, and when he finally was returned it was against his will. He had gone fully native by then and for years kept trying to run away back to the Comanches. When he wasn't trying to escape, he would spend the rest of his time out on the porch staring wistfully into the horizon. He never readjusted to life among the whites, and eventually drank himself to death.

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