Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


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


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   refrigerator full of forties
Saturday, March 21 1998

  had another one of those meteorite dreams last night. I was out in the middle of a field at night under a luminous sky, one having an eerie quality that closely resembled the tornado scene in the movie Natural Born Killers. Suddenly I saw a shooting star, then another. Then I saw dozens of them drifting down, all coming from one point in the sky and going straight downward. I saw them hitting the ground all around me and a few other people. The rocks from on high were in arbitrary and sinister shapes. In a panic, I, along with the other people, sought shelter under some concrete structures, but still we were hit by falling rocks. They affected us not with physical pain but instead with a sense of psychological numbness.


vercast skies, cool temperatures and overall boredom pervade today. There was a long time during which Jessika and I sat on the couch looking at books, a North American geography book for me and a vegetarian cookbook for her. It seemed like a surrogate for more interesting fun, but motivational and other barriers stood in the way.


ventually, though, Jessika and I mustered the necessary motivation, put on our jackets, and went for a walk. We had no plans except to get to the Corner. We walked the whole way through the chill and occasional drizzle without seeing a single bus going our way. We didn't do anything especially interesting on the Corner. We did run across Kirstin the Eco-Radical at Plan Nine Records, and she told us of a hip-hop party at Freedom's house on Wertland Street. She added that there would be a "refrigerator full of forties." I found the concept very appealing and immediately made plans to go.

Jessika and I ate some salty junk food from the Corner Market as we awaited a bus back home. One eventually came. To get a head start on the night of forties, I suggested we get a couple forties. Jessika was reluctant, but what the hell, she got one.


've been noticing that Deya isn't as forgiving of me these days. There's an austerity and sternness about her that reminds me of a cranky old school teacher. Tonight I didn't especially want to go on a planned excursion to Wacky Jen's House to watch Jen bleach her hair, and Deya seemed kind of pleased to get Jessika away from me, treating me like a naughty child as she made the necessary phone calls and social arrangements that didn't include me. When I'm treated this way, I frequently aggravate the situation and act even more childish and the matter escalates in a feedback loop. I'm overdramatizing this of course, and failing to mention Jessika's effect on the process, but you get the idea.

While Jessika and Deya were going off to help Wacky Jen bleach her hair, I took a bath. There's a stereo in the bathroom that plays whenever the lights are on (it's one of Jessika's contributions) and while I puddled around in the water staunching bleeding from a razor cut, it played some Beat Generation readings recorded on tape. I found these somewhat inspiring.


fter uploading the musings at UVA's Olssen Hall, I rode my bicycle to the end of Wertland Street to the hip-hop party and its (by now in my mind legendary) refrigerator full of forties.


ell, let me say I could tell things were going to be interesting when I arrived to find a substantial contingent of the Downtown Mall juvenile delinquents hanging out. These included the increasingly plump former raver girl with long, dark wavy hair. Let's just call her Helga. She was present the night I was attacked by boneheads on the Corner, hurling her share of ill-informed and poorly-rehearsed generic insults. Tonight, though, it seemed she was content to sip her forty (or whatever it was) and not draw attention to herself. Like all other teenagers, it's important to conform to the crowd, and her crowd had not taken special notice of me. The only people interacting with me were members of my weekend social network. They're always very happy to see me, full of hugs and how'reyadoin's?. I may not know half their names, but I'm always about equally happy to see them (especially after spending a whole week looking at nothing but Deya and Jessika).

The first of my friends with whom I interacted was Kirstin the Eco-radical. She was dressed up sort of like a Puerto Rican muddamychile from South Central (let me hear you say "Yo," like wave your hands like you just don't care). That's about as close to gangsta as a white girl can muster, I suppose. She introduced me to the refrigerator full of forties, which had been set up in the living room and now contained only about a half dozen bottles of beer, though it had once contained seventy. And they weren't lame-ass 32 ouncers either. I set my sights instead on a punch bowl of pre-mixed gin & juice. I had neither my mind on my money nor my money on my mind, except to the extent that I moved my wallet to my pants pocket before removing my overcoat.

Little conversations, there were many. Lots of people came up to me and told me they'd been reading my musings and that they were great. These were people I didn't expect, people like KC and two of the Triplets, Esther and Naomi. There was this other girl with them, I believe her name is Karina, and though I'd never met her before, she seemed especially interested, not just in the musings, but in factors of my life completely unrelated to the musings, such as where I live and with whom I live. She kept interrogating me, always in a friendly and intelligent way, even following me around to do so. At first I had the impression that she might be coming on to me. She's a girl and I'm a boy after all, and that's the way most girls come on to me, since I usually come across as somewhat aloof if not gay. The thought that she might be playing me in this way made me feel a number of things, some good, some bad, but I mostly felt uncomfortable. She looked to be, you see, about sixteen years old, although her familiarity with people, places, names and ideas seemed unusually mature.

Freedom was another who said she'd seen my musings. I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the sudden hemorrhaging of my characters into my readership.

I also ran across Andrew, my old housemate, the guy who used to live next door at the Dynashack. In case you've forgotten, he was the non-painter who played lots of techno, disco and hip-hop and aspired to be a dance-party organizer as well as a reluctant cog in the American Military-Industrial Complex. We talked for awhile, and though he's only visiting now, he hinted that he might decide to relocate to Charlottesville with his girlfriend. Life is relatively cheap here, and good-paying jobs for a college graduate are not difficult to find. As for his current job, Andrew found it to be a pain. He told me that one of his recent life lessons has been that good jobs are just as much hell as bad jobs. Andrew is still an ardent reader of these musings and claims that I was especially good "two months ago" but that I've sort of slacked off since then. I've felt the same way myself.

I didn't have it much in me to dance, but to humour various people, I moved a little to the block rockin' beats. Hip hop is good party music. There's a menace to it, an angry and irrational driving force, that I admire in music. To see a room full of people wearing baggy clothes swinging big forty bottles to the beat really brings out this quality in the music. It makes me recall the days when hip hop was just emerging as a mainstream music form back in the 80s, when some didn't even think it was music, when some spoke of its damaging effects on the minds of children, when some linked it to crack, fatherless babies, and other signs of societal decay rampant among those unfortunate black people. Now, of course, it's part of the thick stew of late 90s music, though it hasn't yet penetrated far into advertising ditties, the most conservative of pop music templates.

Not that there actually were very many black people present, mind you. White people have some black friends, but the two worlds are mostly separate in this town. I've had this phenomenon explained to me, usually with a line something like, "It's a legacy of Charlottesville's racist past." But in Oberlin, Ohio, one of the supposedly least racist towns in America, the races also kept largely among themselves. Most black kids who hang out with white kids are essentially cultural white people; they grew up in small towns or white suburbs and have always hung out with white kids.

I was feeling unusually social, capable and vigorous, and this feeling came as something of a relief, since of late it seemed to me that my language and social skills had dwindled away and I was little more than a bumbling dunderhead. Not being immediately snapped up for any of the jobs for which I've applied has contributed to this feeling, but so has the limited nature of my social landscape, exemplified by the fact that I almost never socialize with men anymore. I have to give a little credit to the gin I was drinking. Gin is unlike most booze in that, at least to me, it seems to provide a certain energy boost. When I drink gin, I feel energized as if I'd just had a double shot of espresso. But it's a drunk high, which brings along its own set of problems, capabilities, handicaps, and mood alterations.


  stepped out the front door for a moment and there were two white girls out there. They looked about fifteen years old. One of them was scrawny with longish hair and vacant redneck eyes, the kind of eyes controlled by a simple mind that doesn't want to know anything. For the purposes of this story, I'll refer to her as Leslie Tapeworm. The other girl wasn't as scrawny and had bleached short hair; she looked kind of like she was trying to affect the appearance of a dyke. Based on her subsequent actions, I came to believe she actually was a dyke, though of course I have no way of knowing for sure. Let's call this girl Bella. Leslie Tapeworm seemed familiar from my altercations with the young tough guys of Charlottesville, and tonight I'd seen her hanging out with the representatives of that group who were present, including Helga the increasing plump former raver girl. A little while before, Leslie Tapeworm had asked me my name, and I'd casually told her. Well, when she saw me come out the door, she told me "you better go back inside, or you're going to get beat up." I looked up and down the street but all I could see were these two inconsequential girls, neither of whom I knew at all. It turned out, though, that these girls were threatening to beat me up themselves. Why? Because I'd been "talking shit" about "our boys." Yes folks, as ludicrous as this sounds, these girls were expressing an intent to beat up someone they didn't know simply because of things I'd said about a couple of their friends ("our boys," by the way, was a reference to the mansion-inhabiting would-be skinhead Chaz as well as the blue collar Nazi skinhead, Eric "the Huffanator" Huffman). I doubt that these girls had ever read anything I'd written (indeed, I entertained doubts that they even knew how to read). They'd just been told that I was the enemy, and here they were posturing like gang members. I didn't want to start any shit with anyone of course, but I found the humiliation of them telling me I better get in the house before the count of five (followed by their actually counting) to be just a bit too much. Before I went back in, I told them that I wasn't afraid of them. One took a swing at me, but it landed on the door as I closed it behind me.

Back then among the largely white crowd of hip hoppers, I gradually became infuriated that these ignorant little girls thought they could terrorize me. I decided to go back out there and deal with them again. I guess that wasn't a very good idea, but I wasn't in an especially rational state anymore, and books and movies don't provide much help on what the honourable solution is for a thirty year old man under attack by two angry little teenage girls. Like most people, I'd like to be the hero of my own life story, but I couldn't think of any heroic solution to this situation. For all the noises women have made about being treated as equals, when it comes to fights, there is no subculture in which it regarded as cool for a man to retaliate (or indeed, even to defend himself) against an attacking female. I guess he's just supposed to stand there being clobbered with a chivalrous smile on his face.

When I came across the two angry teenage girls again, I asked what the hell their problem was. They weren't much into rational discussion. I don't think rational discussion had ever played much of a role in their lives. One of them attacked me, perhaps they both did. In the mayhem that ensued, who can really say what happened. I suddenly came to the realization, though, that this was a fight I couldn't win. I had to get away from these evil idiotic girls. They chased me through a nearby room, and Leslie Tapeworm managed to hit me hard in the ear. This wasn't a situation where she could really hope to injure me, but since I couldn't really defend myself, this was, let us say, an uncomfortable situation. Given the ridiculous and inflexible nature of societal taboos against men hitting women, it was a little like being attacked by the last mating pair of Panda Bears at a World Wildlife Fund Convention. This simile can only go so far; for one thing these girls represented anything but a scarce resource, my high school was full of such beasts.

I retreated to the kitchen and managed to surround myself with female friends and explain to them the surreal nature of the situation in which I found myself. I told them that I felt sort of like Salmon Rushdie. They, especially Freedom, Cory the Former Coffee Cart Girl and Kirstin the Eco-radical, were very understanding and supportive, but meanwhile the girls had gone off whining to a bunch of boys, telling them that, of all things, they'd been minding their own business and that I had hit Leslie Tapeworm. So Dave Mack, a tall skinny boy who lives there, came in and asked (in a pleasant, humourous, but still interrogational way) why I had gone and hit a fifteen year old girl. I explained that I hadn't hit her at all, that these two crazy girls were chasing me around the party for something true I'd put on the Internet about somebody else. At first Dave Mack was of the opinion that it would be better if I left, but with these crazy girls and who knows what friends laying [in wait] for me, that didn't seem like an especially good idea.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, the two angry girls appeared again, standing there with dismayingly stupid looks on their faces. Their eyes were so devoid of reason and wisdom (while still hosting a certain youthful innocence) that it was actually difficult to tell how angry they were. Anyway, my female friends tried to reason with them, but they were completely irrational, even attempting to hit me around my friends. None of the cooler heads present could comprehend why these girls were acting so upset about something I had written many months ago. The girls tried to explain, but their rage got in the way. It's rare to hear such nonsense coming from people so fervently convinced of their own righteousness. At this point my fury rose to a head, and, with an evangelical waver to my voice, reiterated what I've said many times to many people about Chaz's villainy, saying, "Chaz hit a guy who was down with a lock attached to a chain, simply because the guy asked him to stop stealing from my house. He could have killed him! What kind of guy would do this?"

"You best not be talking about Chaz!" one of the idiotic girls said.

"Oh Chaz is the greatest, the best, he must be worshipped!" I sneered.

"Are you being sarcastic?" Bella the Dyke asked. This is the moment when I realized Bella was only in this battle for the chance of getting a piece of Leslie Tapeworm's tail.

I tried a variety of means to defuse the tension so that, in a Rodney King sort of way, we might all "just get along." One way was self-deprecation. I told the girls that if we fought, they would surely kick my ass, so why can't we just say we had a big fight and that they won, and call it done.

"And we would win!" one of the girls said irrelevantly.

I then listed other ways in which I was a loser unworthy of a fight. I said that I was a thirty year old virgin and that I'd been turned down by sixty girls for the high school prom. I had my friends chuckling with these statements, but the angry girls didn't seem to find me the slightest bit entertaining. They sought to express their hatred in every way imaginable, and when insults and physical violence proved insufficient, they (or Leslie Tapeworm at least) resorted to death threats. "You'll be dead very soon," she menaced.

The girls continued to challenge me and even take swings at me for an extended phase of the evening. I would have been content to ignore them, and I did mostly stay away from them, but they were on some kind of mission, so altercations continued. I wondered for a long time when, if ever, the residents of the house (almost all of them friends of mine, mind you) would get around to kicking out these girls. But I guess the residents didn't want to cause any trouble, and as long as the girls were only focused on me, it wasn't really anyone's problem but mine, and no one else was going to take the initiative to do the heavy lifting necessary. For example, at one point Freedom said she thought the girls should leave, but she couldn't muster a sufficient army to do so. Adding to the drama, sometimes the girls said they were leaving and would vanish for a few minutes and then return.

I was a little dismayed that the girl Karina suddenly stopped paying me any mind once the two teenage girls started waging their war against me. I wondered suspiciously if Karina had been sent on a mission to befriend me and extract facts from me for the benefit of my enemies. I couldn't see Karina having much in common with these girls, she seemed so refined in comparison, but I had seen her talking with the nasty girls, and I'd been smoking pot and was at times experiencing a certain amount of paranoia. Of course, in Charlottesville, everyone talks to everyone. I know, for example, that KC is not anti-Gus, but I frequently see her talking with my worst enemies.

On their own, the teenage girls weren't actually having that much luck making me miserable. In a way I sort of enjoyed the unscripted drama unfolding before me. I knew it was going to be a fascinating story to tell in this forum. Unsatisfied with their lack of success on their own, the girls recruited at least two different boys to kick my ass, evidently whining to the boys that I'd hit Leslie Tapeworm and that I needed to be taught a lesson that boys don't hit girls.

The first confrontation I had with a guy happened in the kitchen. Suddenly this white dude with a completely circular face and regional accent appeared, shouting at me that I'd hit Leslie Tapeworm, that Leslie Tapeworm was his "girl." He then told me that he was going to have to kick my ass. I explained quickly that I hadn't hit his girl, that I had no beef with either him or his girl, and that I just wanted to be left alone, thank you very much. Such explanations seemed to be doing no good, and the circular-faced dude continued to posture and menace before a gathering crowd of spectators. Most of these spectators were my friends, but the two teenage girls were also there with looks on their faces as if they were about to devour a chocolate fudge sundae.

Well, I don't know what I said, but I apologized for any and all slights and aspects of aggression I might have made against the circular-faced dude's girl. I went on to explain that the problem was that these two girls had been chasing me around all night trying to get me for things I'd said about Chaz, and that I knew I couldn't hit them, and I didn't know what to do. Saying this seemed to change everything, and the circular-faced dude mellowed considerably. He turned to Leslie Tapeworm and commanded her, "leave him alone, don't be chasing him." It turns out that the circular-faced dude is not a big fan of Chaz either, and he didn't think the girls should be defending him at all. Paradoxically, though, the circular faced guy claimed that he actually does like Eric "the Huffanator" Huffman. "Let's not talk about him," I urged. At this point, the circular faced dude seemed to want to wash his hands of the whole issue (no doubt he was relieved not to have to fight me, even though I'd told him I was a wimp and that don't even know how to fight). He shook hands with me and even recalled fondly a day many months ago when he'd met Cecelia the Brazilian Girl and me together drinking tussin.

The night was far from over, however. Leslie Tapeworm wasn't especially pleased that the circular faced dude and I had come to some sort of understanding, so she continued behind the scenes to convince guys that the chivalrous thing to do would be to kick my ass. Wherever there's a pussy with a potential to become wet and willing, there's a guy willing to play the fool for it. So, when I was back on the dance floor in the living room, I saw Leslie Tapeworm pointing me out to a black guy who appeared to be lost within layers and layers of baggy clothes. He came up to me and said something menacing in a quiet, even tone. I told him the same old story, and did what I could to smooth out the situation again. I mean, I had no idea if this guy had a gun on him or if he was crazy or what. My saying I would relocate to the other room seemed to be sufficient for this guy, and I even gave him a high five to demonstrate there were no hard feelings.

By this point, the party had spiralled completely out of control in lots of different ways. A not-inconsequential contingent of local folks from the nearby 'hood of Tenth Street had wandered in, and there was word that wallets had disappeared and a variety of fights were brewing. I saw a few of these Tenth Street folks standing around looking skeptically at the white folks dancing to the hip hop, and the "energy" of the party seemed very tense. I guess I was out on the back porch when the shit finally went down. Suddenly a fight erupted between a couple of the Tenth Street folks, and this somehow catalyzed a battle between residents of the house and the various people connected with the two teenage girls who had been chasing me all night. I can't say for sure what happened, but somehow Freedom and her boyfriend Patrick, both of them residents of the house and both of them avowed pacifist vegans, found themselves shoving these girls and their retinue of boys over a fence. The cops had arrived by this point and soon I could see them gently interrogating the hoodlums in the street. Those of us still at the party who'd been involved in the violence were worked up into a rage and hollered insults at the bad guys while cooler heads tried to shush us.

I noticed that Patrick was bleeding badly from the mouth, and inside in the better light I could see his lip had been split badly, right down to where the lip-coloured part met the flesh-coloured part of his upper lip. It looked like a little secondary vertical mouth. I'm not one to reflexively urge hospitalization, but I wondered if it would heal correctly if left alone, so I suggested he get stitches.


bout this time, Jessika, Deya and Jen the Wacky Tokyo Rose Bartender arrived from their entirely separate experience. They'd had a much less eventful evening, first spending a couple hours dying Jen's hair, then going to a "Warhol Underwater Party." The Warhol Party had been a much calmer, more intellectual affair, though it had been cursed with a few maladies common to such parties: no one really knew each other, there were quite a few dorks, nerds, and other caricatures present, and lots of people refrained from drinking very much. But the beer and the conversations had been good. Jessika got to hang out with Amy from Memphis for the first time and decided she was pretty cool.


efore any of this could be explained, however, there came a banging at the door. Some extremely angry person was trying to kick it open. Before anyone could really think what to do, the wood of the door frame gave way and the door flew wide open. There was a curly haired white guy with a stick coming through the door, followed by those infernal teenage girls who had been cursing me all night. Oh shit, this didn't look good. Patrick and I decided it was best to hide. We ran outside, around to the side of the house and into Dave Mack's room through the window. I hit my head on the edge of the window pretty hard as I was leaping through, leaving a big bleeding bump in my hair. We hid in this room for about a minute, talking to (of all people) a girl whom Farrell once convinced Matthew Hart to sleep with back in the days of Big Fun. Patrick said he feared the attackers might have brought a gun, and just because Patrick said so, this possibility seemed real to me as well. The sort of anger our attackers were manifesting was not the kind we wanted to experience, especially since we were obviously the individuals being targeted in the assault.

When the coast cleared (and it did so very quickly), Patrick and I emerged and joined the others. We learned that the team of attackers had been comprised of three girls and three boys: Helga the increasingly plump former raver girl, Leslie Tapeworm and Bella as well as a black guy and two white guys. Jessika told us that the guy in the front had been "foaming at the mouth." While we discussed these things, Patrick bolted a security hasp on the door. Its latches and deadbolts had all been splintered, mangled and otherwise ruined. One dark haired girl, I forget her name, stood by the door with a knife at the ready should the attackers return.

The cops arrived. The dark haired girl was told to put her knife away; she'd forgotten she was even holding it. Th police told us that this time, the attackers had all been seized and taken downtown, but that the minors (the girls) would probably all be released to their parents since their offenses were not regarded as severe. The boys, on the other hand, were all at least 18, so prospects don't look especially bright for them. Patrick, Freedom and I all gave statements to the cops and expressed intentions to press charges, though I decided subsequently not to pursue the matter since I knew no one had seen the girls punching me.

Deya drove Jessika and me both home with my bicycle in the back of the car.

Moral of this story: I don't really know what to say, except that if you throw a hip hop party with a refrigerator full of forties, there's a real potential for craziness and violence. If you find yourself pursued by lunatic fifteen year old girls who want to kill you, muster an army of friends and kick them out immediately or else go somewhere else. Irrational fifteen year old girls are the queens of the social chessboard and woe befalls those who forget this fact.

An observation: my online journal has succeeded in becoming a monster. It's mostly unseen and largely unheard, but it causes reverberations throughout my social network all the same. Tonight's violence, the violence back on March seventh, the intensity of that violence, and the ramifications that will follow from it, all have roots in the fact that I publish my uncensored opinions about people nearly as quickly as I have them. My publications are fed back into the minds of the players and are amplified, get redocumented and get reamplified. It's an out-of-control positive feedback situation, something I never considered when this journal began. But it's my wife and it's my life, and we go on together hand in hand until the end.

Another observation: the local toughs of Charlottesville evidently fancy themselves some sort of street gang, one whose honour must be defended at the expense of all else: personal reputations, possible friendships, and the ability to go certain places. By their actions tonight, Leslie Tapeworm and friends have just familiarized a whole new group of people with their unqualified dreadfulness. There's a reason street gangs only form in big cities, folks; it takes much longer to expend your social reputation in New York City than it does in Charlottesville. Very soon, it seems all the street toughs in this town will have such nasty reputations that the only places they'll be able to hang out is at Chaz's Daddy's mansion.

I believe this is my longest musings entry ever. It's almost 32K in size.

Some links to more tales of skinhead/tough guy violence.

one year ago

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