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:
   sober carnal fun
Wednesday, October 14 1998
The San Diego Padres (oh, think of the illegitimate children they're actually padres of!) were playing an important game this afternoon at the stadium just up Mission Valley, so of course my co-workers all had their radios tuned in. Padres appreciation almost seemed to be coerced; even non-sports fans were going through the motions of seeming interested.
Far more sinister is the issue of when to leave work in the evening. I can't really tell when it's appropriate to go; we all get here bright and early at 8am and every one is still busy at 6pm. Since we all own parts of the company, we feel we must do our part, or more importantly, act as though we're doing our part. No one wants to appear to be the first to head home. So we all sit here acting busy as the sky grows increasingly dark. I guess I need a light for my bicycle.

I forgot to mention the other day that in the space of a few hours I received email from both my old housemate Leah (now visiting Charlottesville, Virginia from her home in New York City) and my old chum Rory (deported to England in the aftermath of his rampage through the states). While Leah says she wishes we could share another half gallon of whiskey some time, Rory has updated his web page with details from his arrest and deportation and it makes for some highly entertaining reading.

sweating skinhead throng

Kim's connections with various other students in her somatics program propelled us out on the town tonight. It was already 10pm when we hit the road, so I knew I wouldn't be getting much sleep tonight; I'd have to be up at 7am.
The first place we went to was Canes' in Mission Beach, where we expected to see a punk rock band featuring some friends of one of Kim's somatics friends. Canes' is a huge rambling bar sitting directly on the ocean front with the long white lines of waves breaking only a hundred feet away. Kim and I approached the place from the windy beach side and tried three or four sets of doors before we finally found the right one, being repelled by bouncers each time. The tickets to get in cost $12 each. That's right, $12 each ($24 total); certainly more than I've paid for live music since I saw the Throwing Muses at Trax (then Crossroads) in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1995.
The music being played was harder core than I'd expected. A bunch of big, fat, tattooed shaven-headed 40-something guys on stage playing loud, heavy, fast music, and aggressively barking out lyrics as if the words were commands. It was the sort of music I like: hot, sweaty, angry, with a loudness one can feel. The crowd, though, was a decidedly frightening assemblage. For the most part they were skinheads or skinhead wannabes, skinny white guys decked out in boots and braces, though (judging from the sentiments expressed in their many tattoos) none of them appeared to be Nazis. I saw at least one black "skinhead," the kind SHARPS are forever pointing to as evidence of the existence of non-racist skinheads. The crowd's actions, though, were decidedly fascistic. When they weren't slam dancing or glancing around with hostile expressions, they gathered in front of the band, forming an angry mob that shook their fists in the air to the ranting of the vocalist, who seemed to be addressing them much like a would-be dictator. It seemed to be carrying the concept of entertainment to a new sublimely terrifying meaty primitive level. There was a power evident here that definitely disturbed me, but I could also sense its attractive quality. I could see these jack booted skinheads doing anything they were ordered to, hypnotized as they were (and as I was too) by this wonderfully comforting ocean of pissed-off guitar crunch. As if this entertainment was too intense and provocative to be mixed with any influence, there was no alcohol to be had whatsoever. But this was only because the show was as an all-ages one, the sort that admits teenagers.
The musicians, by the way, sang only about such issues as "unity," "strength," and "rising up." Admirable goals, certainly, but in this context they definitely seemed flavoured with a frighteningly hearty dash of fascism. I'm sure it would gall the musicians to hear their music described in this way. They're hard-working middle-aged guys with wives and kids. In the one monologue delivered by the vocalist between songs, he said he'd been called the "King of Hardcore" and that his brother Vinny on guitar had been called the "Godfather of Hardcore" but that he didn't believe in Kings or Queens or any of that crap. He would only admit that his eleven year old daughter was the "Princess of Hardcore" (at which point he proceeded to sing a song dedicated to her, every bit as aggressive and angry as any of the songs that had come before).
I kept feeling as though I stood out; my hair was the longest male hair in the place, or so I thought until I saw the groovy dude running the sound board. My only claim to credibility in this throng were my battered old combat boots (which I wore to work today, incidentally). No one could accuse me of buying them yesterday. On the other hand, anyone can shave his head given 15 minutes' notice of an upcoming skinhead event, right? The skinhead movement is designed from the ground-up to attract instant converts.
It turned out that we'd missed the three preceding bands; we really hadn't gotten our 24 dollars worth. Kim's friend showed up at the end; she and her contingent were substantially more punk rock than the other people at tonight's show.

I go to a strip club

I would have been content to call it a night, especially since I had to be up early tomorrow, but Kim wanted to go out for at least one drink somewhere. The place she had in mind, though, was odd to say the least. It involved another friend from her somatics class, an attractive slender young woman with an unusual profession. This friend, it turns out, works as a stripper at the coolest strip joint in Point Loma, a place called Deja Vu. There's a whole strip (if you'll excuse the term) in Point Loma dedicated to male entertainment, catering to the large number of navy guys stationed in the area. This friend invited Kim to stop by Deja Vu tonight for a special "strip contest" that would be going on. So, that's where we went. As surprising as this may sound, my girlfriend was dragging me to a strip bar. This was totally new territory for me, mind you. I'm not a consumer of pornography, I don't surf porno sites on the web (except for one fetishistic page on a few occasions) and I've probably considered suicide in more articulated detail than the notion of going to a place where I can pay girls to bare their wares.
The big sign over Deja Vu claimed they had totally nude girls. I was feeling uncomfortable already. No, I wanted the world to know, I wasn't one of the pathetic creatures who actually goes to these places.
I guess the woman working the door at Deja Vu could tell we weren't regulars. She explained the rules. We had to pay six dollars each at the door and buy a $4 drink at the door as well, and each buy a $4 drink each hour thereafter, unless we bought a special $7 glow in the blacklight cup that would allow us free drinks all night. That sounded like a lot of money, but when Kim said we actually knew one of the girls working there, the rules suddenly changed. Now we could get in if we each got the $7 unlimited cup. That sounded like a good deal to me until we made it inside and found out that the drinks were all entirely non-alcoholic. It was again an issue of the entertainment being so intense that it couldn't possibly (or, in this case, legally) be mixed with mind-altering substances. I didn't know the proper protocol for these places and Kim had to keep reminding me that I was supposed to tip people. A tip here, a tip there, and soon my wallet was completely empty.

but it's art

Inside, drenched in the ruddy pulsating light, a vaguely frightened-looking slender female figure whirled about the stage from pole to golden pole, "dancing" to the Cure. She wore only black underwear and some sort of top, but in good time these were flung aside and she was completely naked, save for her goth eye makeup. It didn't seem tacky or even especially contrived; everyone seemed to regard the show as high art, and I definitely found myself regarding it that way, seeing actual talent in the performances. The girls were sexy, true, but it didn't turn me on either.

a culture of sexuality

The guys who'd come for the show sat in a polite crescent, applauding when necessary, and watching intently, but not making catcalls or doing the rude things I might have expected. And they weren't hairy, sweaty blue collar guys either. They were mostly young and average looking. A few were navy guys in uniform. What surprised me most of all was the large number of girls there. A not-inconsequential fraction of the men had brought their girlfriends, and there were plenty of extra girls milling about, some dressed in ornate costumes and others wearing almost nothing. They were outgoing with one another but mostly ignored the males. Not being with the main part of the audience, but in the back of the room as a shy wallflower among the off-duty girls, I think I was accorded somewhat more respect than the average customer.

a circus-like atmosphere

The overall atmosphere of the place was actually an almost tasteful kind of glitzy, with little metallic red streamers hanging from the ceiling, disco lights, and ceiling fans. There was even carpeting on the floor. I was surprised that the place smelled so good, but I didn't notice until the end that there was a large smoking area in a fenced-off courtyard.
The bouncers were all big ugly apelike guys dressed in medieval leather armour (if you can believe that). They trawled back and forth with nothing much to do since everyone was so well-behaved. The master of ceremonies was a short, enormously fat guy dressed in formal evening attire and equipped with a radio-mike. He'd launch his banter right over the music like a radio DJ (to such an extent that at first I thought the music was just coming in off the radio). Despite his wonderfully lyrical radio voice, I could barely understand anything he said. He waddled by me several times and I was amazed by his sheer bulk; surely the management hires such guys so the regular customers won't feel romantically threatened.
In between "shows," a stage crew would quickly redo the set, hang new decorations, bring in new props, and perhaps most disturbingly fascinating, clean the poles with disinfectant. Naked pussies, you see, had been sliding along those cold golden shafts.


Women employed in this field are usually defensive about the tawdry nature of the work they do. As a way to maintain their self-esteem, they choose mostly to hang around other girls in the same industry, and they try to recruit their non-industry friends. (This is something I learned years ago from the excellent book Deviant Behaviour: A Text-Reader in the Sociology of Deviance.) So it was no surprise to learn that Kim's somatics school friend had told her that on some nights she makes as much as $200 and that, if she wanted to, Kim could probably work at Deja Vu too. And believe it or not, Kim and I actually discussed this line of work as though it might be something worth considering. I was supportive; all I could think of was the stories Kim would be bringing home. I'm not especially interested in bodywork culture, but I think I definitely could get into strip club culture, especially if I could see it from the female viewpoint. For Kim, working at such a place would have several benefits: she'd meet lots of new female friends, she'd make a lot of money, and she could quit at any time. She already has one essential prerequisite taken care of: the haircut. The other haircut. I think it's important for me to stress at this point that this discussion was more like a brainstorm than a genuine series of proposals.

the grand finale

For the final "show" for which we stayed, a girl in a fluffy 18th century costume acted like a puppet, with strings going up to one of the stage crew on the football-goal-shaped pole set above her. The music began as a frilly classical thing, with the girl jerking and bobbing like a puppet. But then the music suddenly changed to Metallica's classic "Master of Puppets," at which point she flung off all her clothes and twirled about the stage, eventually spreading her legs so everyone could get a good look at her shaved pussy.

after the show

The discussions Kim and I had about strip clubs tapped into some very deep issues of trust and jealousy. This wasn't immediately apparent, though it reared its ugly head later during the drive home and manifested as (of all things) a fight about what exactly the strippers think of the guys they entertain.
Though I didn't notice it at the time, I think the show did something good for my libido. The night ended well.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next