atthew Hart and Angela went off to feed Peggy and Zach's cats up on snowbound Carter's Mountain, (the cats hadn't been checked since Christmas), and when they came back, I joined them on a lunch mission. The plan was to go to Mel's, an Afro-American greasy spoon on Main Street. We wanted to order their legendary chili burgers.
But Mel's was closed for New Year's day, so to get our fix of lowbrow cuisine, we continued on to the Jak and Jil over on East Market Street. There was a jacked-up pickup truck out in the parking lot with a rifle in the gun rack and Matthew was thinking we ought to steal it. It had a beautiful wooden stock and sexy black scope. Oh well, I guess our parents raised us right because we went on in to the restaurant. [Suddenly I notice a down-home folksiness creeping into my writing as I describe this place.]
The Jak and Jil is in the blue collar white trash part of Charlottesville, where motor oil is 89 cents a quart, where the kids have buzz cuts, where nothing is considered good (from women's hair to chicken breasts) unless it's fried. Deep fried. There's something about the me-too way the adolescent girls apply their makeup, the way Cool Aid mustaches permanently stain the lips of toddlers, the way fat settles into the upper arms of middle aged housewives, that reminds me of my formative years in Redneckistan.
Matthew and Angela eat a lot of food. They'd already eaten out this morning somewhere else, and in front of me they wolfed down onion rings, cheese burgers and went on to split a foot long hot dog. Matthew was upset that a cheese burger "all the way" doesn't include chili.
The final foot long hot dog was just a bit too much for Angela. She ate a few bites and got a horrible look on her face. So we took the rest of it home for Shira the Dog.
But we didn't make it home directly. There was something about our original culinary quest that put us into a certain sociological mindset. When we spied a shiny four wheel drive Chevy sport utility vehicle, its NASCAR stickers caught our attention. One of these was a sketchy depiction of some mustached stock car hero. Angela thought maybe the depiction was actually of the driver, perhaps as some kind of embarrassing narcissistic display, but Matthew knew better. It turns out that, among blue collar white guys, there's a whole NASCAR culture, one with which Matthew was familiar. NASCAR culture has its paraphernalia, its heroes, and its hero worship. Since there are many more worshippers that worshipped, the great bulk of paraphernalia one is likely to see on a given day is devoted to the fanatic worship of NASCAR heroes and their cars. Every make of vehicle has its own brand-loyal heroes, but the most fanatical of all, according to Matthew, are those surrounding Chevies. In addition to their NASCAR stickers, such people often display stickers saying things like "friends don't let friends drive Fords."
Angela and Matthew argued back and forth (in their typical faux-insulting play-fight style) about the NASCAR phenomenon. Angela grew up in New York, so she found the whole thing unbelieveable, and Matthew took it upon himself to give us a tour.
It's amazing how easy it is to overlook an entire culture thriving in your midst. In the K-Mart parking lot, we found at least two gleaming Chevies with NASCAR paraphernalia. But still Matthew was unsatisfied, so we went to Pantop's Shopping Center. With its decidedly white trash customer base, we expected to see skads of NASCAR stickers. But we didn't find any at all, not even over by the increasingly scruffy Roses Department Store.
We bought a few things at Roses: door latches for me and a football for Matthew.
ack at Kappa Mutha Fucka, we sat around watching teevee with Deya. Of late there's been a kind of advertisement that's been working miracles on us. Any time we see an ad for a miraculous new invention costing "only 19.95," we reach for the phone. Something is usually wrong, though: the credit card is out of reach, my computer is using the phone line, or we've forgotten the number. Things we especially want these days include
So when the Jerry Springer ad came on this afternoon, we grabbed pens and paper to write down the essential phone number. We were so distracted that we presented Shira the Dog a rare opportunity; she dove at Wilbur the Cockatiel and took a snap. Feathers flew, the bird let out a squawk, we grabbed the creatures, shouted "No!" and managed somehow to save the day for little Wilbur. I smacked Shira hard too. You can't fuck around when one of the kids wants to eat the other. Angela is more into the hippie "time out" punishment technique, so she locked Shira in Matthew's room.
- The Eurosealer
- The electronic device that electrolytically destroys hairs without painful plucking or waxing
- The Jerry Springer uncut videotape (with much more sex and violence than Jerry is normally allowed to broadcast)
Now, I don't really know what goes through a dog's mind when it does something, but I mean, did Shira really think she could eat Wilbur the Cockatiel, satisfy a tiny bit of hunger, and that would be just fine with us?
Wilbur was a little roughed up, and he had a tiny bleeding wound on his leg, but he seemed okay.
n the evening, I came down the stairs and found Deya surfing the teevee channels. Whoah, hold on a moment there! It was a body builder show, featuring oiled-up lobster-orange fake suntan guys, bristling with hideously unnecessary muscles. "Ew!" we both screamed, but we watched anyway. It was fascinatingly unbelievable. These guys looked more like lobsters than human beings. But around them, yet again, was this whole thriving culture, complete with ludicrously warped standards of beauty, peculiar terminology, and awards.
Another fascinating show was World's Worst Drivers, featuring videotapes largely from England, where traffic-monitoring cameras are evidently ubiquitous. This takes America's Funniest Home Videos to a new level, where people really get to die (and it's funny because they are bad drivers, and everybody hates bad drivers). I guess this is a natural progression in our sensationalist media culture. And of course, I love this crap.
atthew and Shonan came in from a beer/video run, and we watched American Me, mostly a documentary of Mexican American prison culture. It was a decidedly disturbing thing to watch. Every few moments someone was getting repeatedly stabbed or fucked up the ass. Even when our hero gets out of jail, all he knows about sex he learned in prison, and of course he tries to fuck his date up the ass.
Matthew and Leah once smuggled a Mexican gangster across the Mexican border to his home in South Central Los Angeles, and according to that gangster, American Me presents an accurate depiction of prison life. It's just another scary culture, like body building and NASCAR. But it's so mean and primitive, so completely based on medieval notions, and here it thrives like an alien fungus in the midst of our high-minded modernity.