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
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Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
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Backwoods Home
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Like my brownhouse:
   unnecessary scrutiny
Saturday, November 6 1999
On Friday, seemingly out of nowhere, Kim suddenly was possessed with a renewed desire to purchase a house in Ocean Beach. This time she was motivated not by the coercive whims of her over-involved and frequently neurotic mother but by an actual property, a cute little "shotgun-style" two-bedroom house near People's Food Co-op on Muir Avenue. To Kim this was the ideal house for this period of our life. It necessitated, she seemed to feel, a panic response. Suddenly Kim expected me to meet with mortgage and real estate agents and plan for the imminent purchase of this house. Whether or not she was aware of it, Kim was putting me through precisely the sort of stress her mother routinely inflicts upon her. But of course I was essential in this equation. Unlike Kim, you see, I have a flawless credit history. I also have the bulk of our combined savings in my bank account.
This morning at 10am, as my hangover pounded relentlessly within my skull, Kim and I set off to rendezvous at the house with our real estate agent, funky guy with a poofy head of curly hair wearing a matter-of-fact Hawaiian shirt and driving a shiny black El Camino, circa 1974. Despite his funky flamboyance, he was extremely low-key. When he talked he had a tendency to drift conversationally like an squeezably-adorable absent-minded professor.
The house sat on a narrow lot with a sliver of lawn curling around it like crust on a slice of bread. Features included a roof deck with a vague view of the ocean and a two car garage. Unlike most houses for sale in Ocean Beach, this one appeared to be in perfect condition. In San Diego beach communities, the quality of the house has little to do with the price of the property, since the vast bulk of the value is in the lot itself. Thus, with an asking price of $250,000, this house was cheap by San Diego standards.
Unfortunately, we weren't done looking at houses. Our agent took us all around Ocean Beach and into adjacent parts of Point Loma. Kim seemed to be having fun, but I was growing weary of the whole ordeal.
The worst part was when we went to the Real Estate agent's office to print out data on houses within our price range. The office was down beside the ocean near Sunset Cliffs and the surf was unusually dead. For some reason this condition filled the air with the unpleasant fragrance of rotting seaweed. But the stench was nothing compared with the humiliation I was about to be put through. Suddenly we learned that someone was closing on Kim's dream home on Muir, the house that had originally instigated all this mad activity. Kim wanted to make a counter offer, so this meant we needed to make an emergency call to David, a mortgage agent and friend of our real estate agent. I ended up on the phone with David, telling him the humiliating reality that I only had $10,000 to put down for a deposit and that my pay for the last tax year was only [the small amount that it was]. Trying to explain the management system in my workplace, where most of my income comes in the form of unpredictable bonus checks, was a lost cause. The numbers we had to work with simply weren't adding up. It was a humiliation, and an unnecessary one at that. I knew we didn't have what it took to buy a house, but still Kim had forced me onto the proctologist's table. She rationalized all of this by saying we needed to learn what it would take to buy a house so we'd be prepared the next time the ideal abode appeared on the market. The most important lesson was that we should get credit cards and start building a credit history. (In the age of check cards, credit cards seem sort of anachronistic, but I suppose it's the game you have to play.)

Big naps dominated the day. Every time Kim and I attempt to watch the original foreign version of The Vanishing, we end up falling asleep.

While Kim was at work, Lisa the neighbor girl invited me to go to a party with her and the latest resident of our courtyard community, a hippie girl named Anne Marie who has moved into Joe's old place. (Meanwhile, Joe has moved into the refurbished crack house where Steph and EJ squatted during the spring and summer.)
We rode in Anne Marie's car. Sure enough when she started it, a Grateful Dead tape was on the stereo. It's been a long time since I hung out with people who actually play the Grateful Dead.
The party was high on the ridge overlooking southern Ocean Beach. It was a birthday party and the featured band was a local hippie favourite, Psydecar, playing a me-too mix of reggæ, hip hop and jazz. They're fronted by an African American with dreadlocks, but most of the other band members look like Schteves. It definitely wasn't my sort of music, but I still managed to enjoy myself, drinking cheap keg beer, scarfing a vegetarian jello shot, and smoking some exceptionally fine marijuana from a fat hooter.
Since I wasn't dancing all that much, Lisa came and sat with me on a bench and we talked some about the scene. I was impressed by the look of the crowd. They were all dressed in baggy unisex clothes, loose pants with jackets or sweaters. All the girls had long hair, but only two of them in the whole crowded throng wore skirts, and those were unflattering hippie skirts. I tried to picture Kim in this crowd, dressed in her usual leggy, sexy way, but it was impossible. These people evidently enjoy looking like sacks of potatoes. I asked Lisa about this, and she said it was fairly typical in the Phish-Grateful Dead scene, where the emphasis is on personal happiness and not on getting laid or being stylish. Honestly, this must have been the first time I ever partied with such people. It was a complete revelation to me.
There was one older guy present wearing exceptionally tight jeans, revealing every nuance of his misshapened rear and pouty genitalia. I delighted in grossing Lisa out by saying I could see every pimple on this man's penis through his pants.
Towards the end of the party, I actually did start dancing, but it was mostly an ironic thing, motivated mostly by marijuana. I was waving my arms and ass like I was playing a bit part in Saturday Night Fever. Lisa was appalled and delighted simultaneously, but every time she got Anne Marie to turn around to look, I was standing as still as an uncomfortable tree.
Speaking of trees, there were a great many exceptionally tall people present for this party. One of these guys was named Big Mike, and he had long wild hair, a big bushy beard, and a gut the size of laundry basket. When he passed me a joint, it was like the hand of God bringing life to Adam.
At around 11:00pm, the cops showed up and brought the party to an end. Ocean Beach is sort of lame place for throwing loud parties.
As we walked back home, Lisa and I were treated to a wonderful view of the lights of Newport Street from a street on the ridge above.
We met Kim driving her Volvo on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. She'd been to the party, but of course it was already over with by the time she'd showed up.

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