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:
   the gauche thing
Sunday, August 30 1998

im and I walked to Café Zola to maybe get some breakfast, but the place was packed and we had to eat at an alternative café down on Main Street. The place was striving hard to be super-French, from the faux-architectural murals to the cigarette-stained tiled floors to the haircut on the overworked waitress. We ordered an inexpensive continental breakfast and watched the interplay of the various dogs that happened by (including our very own Sophie). One guy had a microscopic beagle puppy which attracted young children like a Publishers' Clearinghouse van attracts middle-aged ladies.

Kim this morning. The blue dog to the right is a print by Cajun artist George Rodrigue and is worth about $5000.

A baby beagle entertains children on Ann Arbor's Main Street, the same Main Street about which Bob Seger once sang.

Kim holds Sophie the Miniature Schnauzer.

The rest of our adventures downtown consisted of trying (unsuccessfully, of course) to get a refund for some $80 rinky-dink ear rings Kim's Mother had bought at a trendy boutique. While we waited for the store to open, a weather-beaten indigent with glassy eyes and unusually yellow, leathery hide came up and began to pet Sophie, occasionally grunting semi-intelligible comments. He said his wife was "upstairs" but "in good hands" (meaning she was in Heaven). I looked at the indigent's hands and was appalled. They were virtually orange in colour and several of his fingers either ended unnaturally abruptly or were tipped with big angry blood blisters. I wanted to get Sophie out of his clutches as soon as possible before she contracted yet another skin condition. Her hives had retreated but their memory was still fresh in my mind.

By now Kim had decided to cancel plans of attending a friend's wedding in Miami in early September. She already has a plane ticket, but now of course North West Airlines is on strike and it's looking doubtful she'll be able to fly out of Detroit. Instead of attending the wedding, Kim has decided to send a nice present. At the trendy boutique, she traded in the earrings for something else worthy (in her estimation) of being a wedding present, but almost as soon as she bought it, she promptly misplaced it.

On the walk back to Kim's apartment, a guy named Andy on a silver bicycle stopped and said hello to me and Kim and "Sophie... Sophie the Schnauzer!" He was obviously a musings reader, one pumped up on too much coffee, cocaine or crack. He was sure to remind me of a "Social Engineering Party" he's organizing, saying he had stopped by Kim's house before to leave a wad of promotional flyers stuffed in an old computer chassis. "You better come!" he said in trembling mock-meance. I live for moments like this.


n the afternoon, Kim and I went out to the countryside west of Ann Arbor to visit her "adopted Godmother" (who is also one of her massage clients) at her horse farm. The plan was to drop off the futon and the blue dog print and then leave, but when we got there we found a party happening. It wasn't a large affair, but family and friends were drinking Bud Lites, riding horses, fussing over a new baby colt, and preparing a barbecue. We joined right in with the beer and chatted with a couple young horse enthusiasts. Kim said to her godmother, "Not to be gauche or anything, but do you have some chips or something, I'm starved!" I was impressed to see Kim using essentially familial powers over her god relatives. Her supply of generous relatives seems to be utterly bottomless.

I've never been into horses, but it's a familiar culture (since my mother is nearly as horse-crazy as some of these people). One young man (probably in his early 20s) talked of his plans to ride a horse all the way out to South Dakota. He also told us about his interest in Civil War re-enactments. It was all very alien-sounding to me, but he was enthusiastic enough about it to make it all sound kind of chinese.

Kim and I ended up staying for dinner. We're not ones to turn down a free dinner.


e spent the evening loading all of the contents of Kim's apartment into both of our cars. We also did some last minute cleaning, particularly of the refrigerator. All this work taxed both our time and initiative, and we had to cancel all other engagements, such as a planned dinner date with Matt Rogers.

We decided to take Spunky Lisa up on her invitation to have us move into her place for the next few days. She says all her housemates are gone for the next few days and we can have free reign on her house in the meantime, along with her and boyfriend, Josh. So we went to WCBN (where she was preparing to start her show) to pick up the house key. Josh let us in when he came out for a cigarette break when we couldn't figure out the combination-button door lock. Then we had a brief chance to look around the studios. All these underfunded college radio stations look the same: walls and walls of tattered vinyl sleaves in something approaching alphabetical order on makeshift plywood shelves labeled in hasty black magic marker. An old guy named David was doing a Duke Ellington show and he was amazed to learn my name actually is "Gus."

Lisa's house is near the corner of Division and John Street, and parking is kind of tight. We crammed our cars into the driveway and, following Kim's plans (which were somewhat mysterious to me), we proceeded to move a large fraction of our loot into the room we will be occupying in Lisa's house.

After we had things the way Kim wanted them, we discretely parked the Dart at nearby Fingerle Lumber (Sophie insisted on riding with me in my car) and we continued on to the massive Meijer department store. Above the bright red Meijer sign, a huge big-brotherish television camera panned back and forth across the parkinglot. If I'd been stoned I would have lost my mind. We bought a headlight for the Volvo and some groceries. Fancy that: Kim buying groceries somewhere other than the Merchant of Vino.


n the evening, Spunky Lisa and Josh cooked up a fine multi-step dinner of tortillas, rice and beans, which we ate with a variety of alcoholic beverages. I was sticking mostly with a vodkatea made of Vespers tea: valerian root, fennel and hops. From across the room, it smelled a lot like my old socks. The "gauche thing" (as Spunky Lisa puts it) at the end of every glass of vodkatea is for me to suck the last bit of strongly-flavoured vodka out of the tea bag. I made the gauche thing into a comic act, allowing the bag to adhere to the roof of my mouth and claiming it was a second epiglottus.

Everyone went to bed sort of early, though Kim wanted to stay up. "When was the last time you had to get up at 8:00 to go to work?" Spunky Lisa asked her.

Kim and I didn't have a mattress in our room, so we put down layers of blankets on the floor. The floor beneath us was very very hard as we slept. Tossing and turning, I had all kinds of crazy dreams.

one year ago

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