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:
   complex socializing
Saturday, April 11 1998

ometimes it's just hard to find the necessary motivation to do all the things I want to do. The weight of the world presses in, and for some reason freak pains in my body begin to distract me and make me irritable.

The day was cool and brightly sunny, like all the April days I remember from my youth, but for some reason the paragraph above applied to me perfectly. I came home from a semi-miserable session struggling from across the Internet with my on-again, off-again web server (not that I'm complaining; the alternative is Geocities) to find Jessika eager to put together a circular dinner table from two different junk sources. I'm the one with the tools and the know-how to run them, so it fell to me to assist her. She hates it when I write about these sort of occasions, so let me just say that we put the table together and it was perfect in most respects, but I was grumpy the whole time, and she was on the defensive, wondering if perhaps this was one of the times when she was occupying too much of my time. To make matters worse, we knocked the table against my painting Hormone Prisoners, kicking loose a chip of paint about a third the size of a dime. As I fixed this new problem, Jessika went off to her room.

The jolly artist Nikolai called our house and told Jessika that those people who will be hanging art for the next opening of the Downtown Artspace need to actually hang their works on Monday. That had relevance for us, since both Jessika and I (and perhaps even Deya) intend to show some recent works in that show. Nikolai added that we should come to the Downtown Mall and perhaps run across him there.


t was such a beautiful sunny day that this was really all the excuse we needed to get out of the house and go to the Downtown Mall. Jessika dressed in her leather jacket and blue wig and I put on my olive drab sportscoat and black fedora. We caught a free UVA bus on JPA to the Corner, and, as we walked by Main Street Guitar and Drum, spied Bn just leaving. He gave us a lift to the Mall in his sporty black car.

Jessika, Bn and I soon came across Zachary (with, of all things, the Baboose!) in front of the York Place branch of the Higher Grounds coffee shop. While Bn stayed to talk to Zach, Jessika and I continued on. Jessika wanted to find Peggy, who was supposedly off at one of those consignment shops so popular with the girls.

We found Peggy not far away on the Mall. She told us that she had walked all the way from her house atop Carter's Mountain to the Downtown Mall, carrying the Baboose on her back for all four miles of the journey. She says that her car is officially totalled and she has no transportation except walking. I suggested that when she get her next car, she have the key permanently affixed to her finger so only she can drive it. Her husband shouldn't be trusted with a car any more than the Baboose should be.

We all returned to Higher Grounds and Nikolai showed up. He told me about a free Guided by Voices show in Tennessee that he will be going to next Saturday. He said he'd lined up a good car for the trip and that we could hangout backstage and smoke fatties with Bob Pollard, the creative genius behind the acclaimed low fi band from Dayton, Ohio. Nikolai, you see, claims to know Bob personally. It really wasn't very difficult to sell me on the idea of going along, since GBV is one of my favourite bands. But then who should come up the Mall but Michelle the Manic Chinese-American Girl, who had just met Nikolai in the Mudhouse. She started rambling on and on about how excited she was to be going to the Guided by Voices show, confirming times and places with Nikolai. Horrified, I thought maybe she was the driver that Nikolai had lined up, and suddenly I didn't want to go. But it seems that she'll actually be going separately. Anyway, now it just doesn't seem like as enjoyable a vacation as it had originally, though I would very much like to smoke fatties with Bob.

Raphæl was at Higher Grounds as well (as he often is). He told me that he wants me to make him a web page for his band, which is (amazingly enough) also called Raphæl. Raphæl was just then, he said, an hour and a half late for a band practice, and Zach jokingly suggested that his bandmates might fire him and hire a "new Raphæl."

Strange things happen when you're on the Mall, especially when you don't go there very often. It's the place where people go to run into unspecified other people who are there for the same reason. It's also the place where out-of-town friends go when they're just passing through town. Suddenly I saw Michæl Nace and the other members of his emoesque band, Drill for Absentee. Jessika and Peggy didn't believe me until they turned and looked and saw for themselves. Drill for Absentee, which did a couple shows at Big Fun and later signed with Polygram records and moved to England, is now back on the East Coast. Today they were en route to Lynchburg for a show there. We talked a little about old times and people who have come and gone, but the schedule was tight for Drill for Absentee, and they had to get going.

Jessika and I went into that used record store in York Place called CDs for less, and browsed around. I bought Dirty, a 1992 CD by Sonic Youth for $5 and Phantoms (a vinyl LP by the Fixx that came out in 1984) for $2. I think tonality has been good for Sonic Youth, and I especially like the song "Chapel Hill." But when I finally got around to hearing the Fixx, I found the only song worth listening to was "Our We Ourselves?"

KC, the occasional Quintuplet, was driving around town with what I took to be her boy of the day, an anonymous youthful-looking dude. She saw Jessika and me as we emerged from a consignment shop on Main Street and gave us a lift to the Corner.


n front of the Corner branch of Higher Grounds, we passed the self-appointed skinhead spokesperson Wingnut as he chatted up a Leslie Montaltoesque hippie chick. Amused, I wondered what common issues they could possibly discuss. Anyway, I gave him a bland hello and kept walking. Jessika thought she saw Wingnut affecting some kind of super-tough posture, and it did little to revise her opinion of him as a brutish guy with unpleasant emotional problems. I have to say, however, that I never cease to be amazed by the fact that seemingly intelligent, otherwise sensible girls often demonstrate attraction for guys who are clearly debilitated by their testosterone excretions. R. Crumb touched on this issue a little in the documentary Crumb.

As I was crossing 14th Street, I turned around and saw Wingnut giving me some cryptic gesture involving two fingers and the back of his hand. That a skinhead was resorting to uninterpretable handsigns instead of the usual panacea, ass kicking, added somewhat to the surreality of the day. My life has its ups and it has its downs, but I'm not Ray; Wingnut doesn't have a lifetime contract to do my sister.


essika and I caught another UVA bus back home. Simultaneously, we cooked a spaghetti dinner and reorganized the furniture downstairs, moving Angela's uncomfortable couch out to the garage and Jessika's leopard print day bed into the living room. We put conventional chairs around the new dining table to provide ourselves, for the first time ever, a centralized place to eat.

Deya came home and, as we were about to eat dinner, Amy from Memphis arrived. Amy sat with us through dinner and talked about things, especially her old boyfriend, Mike, the Vitaman of the Vitamen. We drank some antique-store vino. It had an obnoxious edge to its flavour that I remembered from certain bottles of mead that my mother used to make when I was a kid.

Then more people arrived: Shonan and Sarah, people who normally live elsewhere but were back in Charlottesville for Easter. Wilbur the Cockatiel sat on my shoulder, putting on a big comic show, drinking a little vino and acting silly. He went through his various whistles almost on a per-request basis, then bobbed his head around and squawked like a sea gull.


  was experiencing some sort of lower-abdominal distress and a mild fever. Whatever this problem is, it's been growing worse since Tuesday. My discomfort was now so bad that it was preventing me from enjoying much of the socializing I was doing. I eventually crawled off to my bed.

Jessika, Deya, Amy from Memphis and perhaps others went to the Tokyo Rose to see our own noise-music heroes, a band we call "the Wertland Band" (Patrick, Chesney and Crazy Tom). They weren't, of course, the featured band. That awful funk-punk band that played last the night we went to the show in Richmond was also there, as well as a much better band called Oneda.

I woke up in the middle of the night when Deya and Jessika came home. I was feeling a little better, but by no means perfect.

Ray Roebuck, reeking as usual of cigarettes, dropped by. He took Jessika and Deya to "that girl" Beth's house to hang out with Monster Boy, suspected to be her latest lover. She has been the lover of many, including Zach and Raphæl.

Sorry about all the names I mentioned in this entry; I can't hope to explain who they all are.

one year ago

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