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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   greasy, sandy truck floor mats
Saturday, October 12 2002

Today I rode the Long Island Railroad out to Long Beach to pick up the Toyota truck. [REDACTED]
A steady rain was falling as I walked from the Long Beach train station to Trai's condo building on the beach. I was about 50% soaked by the time I made it to his place. Things were a little more problematic than expected, because the bolts holding the old license plates to the truck had all rusted and Trai had been forced to cut them. Lacking replacements, I had to attach the new plates using segments of wire from a coathanger.
I liked the way the truck drove on the way home, though the brakes seemed a little unresponsive. I had to push the pedal most of the way down to get any action at all. It seems I need to bleed them or something.
Towering above the other motorists in my big-wheeled pickup truck, I got a sense of why Americans are so obsessed with Sport Utility Vehicles. It all comes down to safety and superiority. You feel safe driving them, and you worry less about your fellow travelers on the highway. You know that sense you have when you're driving about the distance to the people on either side of you? In my truck it didn't seem to matter; I just knew people would have the sense to stay out of my way. Even concrete barriers, the kind used to separate traffic lanes from a construction site, seemed less threatening. If I were to bump up against one, it just seemed like my tires would figure out what to do for me.
Once I got home, I undertook a massive campaign to purge my truck of the unpleasant cooties of its former master. I had to do whatever it took to removed the sticky goo on the steering wheel. I also had to excise all traces of cigarette smell, starting with the unclean dashboard ashtray.
One seemingly easy ritual to perform was to clean the floor mats, so I threw them in the laundry machine. A half hour later I went to check on the progress of the mats cleaning and was horrified to see a thick layer of black grease adhering to the inside of the washing machine's cleaning chamber. I've washed some dirty clothes in my day, and this was the first time I'd ever made a washing machine dirty through use. I was forced to scrub its insides by hand in order to eliminate the residue. I also found that the truck's floor mats were deeply and richly impregnated with beach sand. Between the beach sand and the black grease, these mats had to have been the most recalcitrantly filthy fabrics ever cleaned in that washing machine.
As soon as I was done with restoring the washing machine to a presentable condition, Gretchen and I went out with David the Rabbi to Mooney's Pub on Flatbush Avenue. When we arrived, the place was full of firemen from Miami and New York. They'd all been to some big September 11th memorial thing, and now the only item left on their agenda was getting shit-faced drunk. There wasn't a bartender in the city willing to let the terrorists win by cutting any of these firefighters off, so their drunken behavior was getting pretty out of control. They were laughing extremely loudly, shouting at each other, and chatting up their one female groupie, a blond chick in a tight translucent American flag-print shirt. At a certain point we had to get up and move to another table across the bar just to get away from these drunken heroes.
We drank a couple pitchers of Bass Ale and talked about a wide range of issues, starting with the infuriating politics underlying the distractionary war with Iraq, passing through a monologue I gave on the subject of signals versus noise, and continuing into a discussion of the unusual judgementality of mankind. Why do humans discriminate against "people of color" and dwarfs? (Our friend Anna, who is also David's sister, is a dwarf.) Dogs might be frightfully primitive about a lot of things, but (in sharp contrast to humans) they're delightfully enlightened when it comes to tolerating other dogs who happen to look different from themselves. Dogs, it seems, don't care one way or the other about appearances. How can you not find this refreshing? Somehow this led into a discussion of nature versus nurture, and it concluded with me giving a very tangential biography of my famous marathon-running grandfather, Clarence DeMar.

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