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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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   small footprint film crew
Sunday, July 14 2013

location: Off 5th Street (Ridge Street), Charlottesville, Virginia

I woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting back to sleep, so I drank some sassafras-infused vodka on ice. But the tussin was still in my system enough to make it taste like poison. At some point I checked the and learned that George Zimmerman had been acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager he stalked, had an altercation with, and then fatally shot. Why? Because Zimmerman had "stood his ground."
Under normal circumstances Sara Poiron would have found out about this before I did, but she hasn't been able to do her usual internet things on the road, so she learned about the Zimmerman verdict from me. "Are there any riots?" she asked. "I don't think so," I said. "Let's go down to the bad part of Charlottesville and start a riot!" she exclaimed. Sara had vivid memories of her first days in Charlottesville, when various people she'd met had warned her about "the bad parts" of Charlottesville, parts that seemed ordinary to her and were evidently "bad" only because their populations were largely African American, something neither she nor Jessika found unusual or threatening. While we're on the subject of race, I should mention that Jessika doesn't like the term "African American" because she views it as wildly imprecise. Some Africans, she points out, are actually white. Is Dave Matthews an African American because he was born in South Africa?
Today we'd arranged interviews for Sara and me with the filmmaking kids who are making a Big Fun documentary. They'd already interviewed Jessika some time ago, having sent out a seven-man team of camera guys, boom operators, and God only knows what. Last night Aaron (who is fluent in production jargon) had suggested a "smaller footprint," and so when they came out today it was only a three-man team. We'd cleaned up the back deck to make it a suitable place for conducting interviews. I'd also taken a non-timerelease adderall in hopes that it would make the interview that much more awesome. I don't know if it improved what I said, but it definitely made what I said feel more important to me.
I was the first interviewee and somehow the interview went on for the better part of an hour. The questions were good ones and provided leaping-off places for me to talk generally about the Big Fun experience, my life leading to it, and Charlottesville generally. The "tussin" questions were segregated into a separate section; evidently two cuts of the documentary will be made, one of which will include drug content and one of which (for the purposes of mainstream viewers and award opportunities) will not.
Though the guys doing the interview were about 17 years old, they had the technique, sense of purpose, and directness that suggested experience and nascent professionalism. For example, they interviewed us separately in hopes that we would be more candid than we might otherwise be (though Sara didn't care whether we heard what she was saying or not).
Next Sara did her interview, and it was no surprise that it went long. There was lots of backstory to be said and lots of points of fact that she felt the need to clarify. Any good film editor will surely be able to string something awesome together out of the enormous data dump we witnessed.
After Sara's interview, Jessika, Sara, and I did a group interview as a sort of reunion of Big Fun's "Grand Air Trine." Grand Air Trine is an astrological concept referring to the fact that our three birthdays are almost equidistant around the zodiac and all fall in the final days of "air signs." What was the Grand Air Trine at Big Fun? According to Sara, it was an excuse to be mean to other people. How did we get into astrology? Sara picked it up from Jessika and I learned it as a language necessary for talking with the Malvern Girls. How important was astrology at Big Fun? For me it really was a language more than an actual method of knowing anything. As with ideology mapped onto verses of the Bible, if we wanted to like someone, we'd find what we needed in their astrological chart. If we wanted to hate someone, we'd find that in their chart instead. How did the Grand Air Trine come to an end? Sara said the arrival of Shira had something to do with it, and Jessika traced the origin of her schism with me to the incident where she broke a beer bottle over my head (probably with just cause).
The interviews lasted from 1:30 in the afternoon until 5:00. While the production team were there, I also gave them copies of all the video I'd recently ripped from VHS tape to digital files. Uncompressed, it came to about 16 gigabytes. But just this afternoon, the presumably-uncompressed audio they recorded using multiple simulataneous devices came to over 40 gigabytes.

Me being interviewed. Photo by Jessika through the bathroom window. Click to enlarge.

Sara being interviewed. Photo by me. Click to enlarge and widen the scope.

After the interview, I had that good mix of adderall and alcohol (Mountain Brew Beer Ice, new formulation) in my system, so when Aaron put on a CD from his band Pantherburn, I found myself grooving in place to the music to such an extent that Sara commented on it. She said, "You only do that when you're happy." Aaron had read something I'd written in the Big Fun Glossary condemning the guitar solo, and so was a little apologetic about what the Pantherburn guitarist was about to do. But, partly because of what Kirk Hammett said about them in Some Kind of Monster, my views on guitar solos have moderated since 1996. Absolutely eliminating them is a step too far and will make the music of our time seem just as dated as the music of some other time having some other extremist musical fashion. And the thing the Pantherburn guitarist did at the end of that song was a far cry from an actual late-1970s-style solo.
By some twisted conversational pathway we got to talking about tattoos. Somehow, despite our tattoo-slathered peers, all four of us had made it to 2013 without any of us getting even the smallest bit of ink. Sara said she'd been tempted a few times but had made herself a rule requiring that she wait six months before actually getting any tattoo for which she had a hankering. And it never once happened that she wanted a tattoo six months after getting the idea of having it.
Another odd thing about all four of us was that none of our parents had gotten divorced. Jessika said something that implied that she thought our unusualness might have roots in some sort of astrological connection, however, because both Aaron and Sara are Geminis, our four-way Grand Air Trine was "Gemini-heavy." The idea of the four of us being a Grand Air Trine came up several times, and it got to the point where Sara and Jessika would say the phrase "Gemini-heavy" simultaneously.
Later in the early evening, Aaron's mother came over to do her laundry (I forget why) and then one of Jessika's friends (let's call her Melissindra; she's Jessika's "astrological twin" in that she was born on exactly the same day in exactly the same year) came over with one of her kids. Melissindra lives way out in the country where the internet is only reachable via satellite, and, since the month's quota of internet bandwidth had already been used, her kid was very excited to be able to take advantage of Jessika and Aaron's WiFi. "You have unlimited internet?" he asked in wide-eyed delight. Such are the simple pleasures of being a country kid visiting the City. It turns out that that kid's father is none other than Persad, Theresa Venesian's old boyfriend from back in the days of Goth Central. I mostly remember Persad these days as "the guy who stabbed the Huffanator." By the way, I never knew how to spell Persad's name; it's actually spelled "Prasad." We discussed all this old history out on the back deck. Melissindra recounted a few incidents early in her relationship with Persad when Theresa would come over for an amicable evening of socializing and then say something like this to Persad: "Do you remember when we used to make love?" Melissindra also recounted another trademark Theresa move: getting up in her face and saying, "You are... so beautiful" and yanking her hair painfully to emphasize the "so beautiful" part. These days Theresa is married to a young Hispanic man she'd met in her dance class (not all Latin lovers turn into Hispanic husbands, but this one did). But it's doubtful she has forgotten about all that love making she asked Persad to remember.
Aaron's mother and Melissindra left, the sun went down, and then Aaron cooked Jessika and me vegetarian sausages on the grill (it turned out they contained egg whites, and though Sara made the "woo-woo" noises of the vegan police, I'm not the sort of vegan who refuses to eat non-vegan food if it gets purchased by mistake).
Later still, I worked on Jessika's laptop, which was bogged down by multiple antivirus programs and an excessive propensity to update. Does anyone really have time to sit around waiting for their computer to install updates? I certainly never do; and so I turned off as much auto-update shit as I could find. There was an idea of maybe going downtown to see the Hogwaller Ramblers, but it was late and we were tired despite the fact that we'd never left the house at all today.

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