July 31 1998, Friday
oday is the second birthday of these musings. You can see for yourself how primitive conditions were when I was just starting out. I'm pleased to have kept a record of my humble beginnings.
This morning I ran around the farm being a nuisance with my digital camera. Hoagie views my musings, particularly when I'm armed with my digital camera, as an invasion of privacy. It upsets her that people at the racquet club know what a terrible slob she is. The face you see above is typical of her reaction when I'm on one of my photodocumentation sprees. I usually laugh off her concerns. Special note to people at the racquet club: if you really want to know about what goes on here at Muellers' Mountain, your best bet is to not tell my mother anything you've read in my musings. Dealing with her feedback is the surest thing to keep me from writing about her. It's really rather simple, actually, but I guess when you're getting paid minimum wage as a life guard at a lousy athletic club in Redneckistan, no one can honestly expect you to be too smart, huh?
My brother and father don't seem to care as much, as you can tell. My Dad is proud of the intellectual clutter around him and Don is off in his own world. I think neurotic obsession with reputation is a contribution from my mother's side of the family, though of course it's been substantially tempered with eccentrism and back-to-the-land tendencies.
ve got the cheaper of my two laptops in my lap right now. I'm in the passenger seat of Hoagie's Subaru and we're en route to Charlottesville, just crossing Christian's Creek on I-64. There's some kindof construction on the bridge, but we're by it now.
The reason I'm using my cheap black and white laptop is because it runson 12 volts and (using a modification I made) can be plugged into the cigarette lighter.
Now we're going by Nethken's in Fishersville. That's the place where Iused to take my Punch Buggy Green. Nethken is a good guy. He does allsorts of crazy customized fixes to inexpensively get an old Volkswagen intoserviceable (if not entirely perfect) working order.
We're coming down onto the South River floodplain upon which Waynesboro lies. It'sthe last bit of flatland before the Blue Ridge. Waynesboro, the childhood hometown of Matthew Hart, is more of a working man's town than eitherStaunton or Charlottesville. It's crowded with a number of big industrialplants such as DuPont, along with a great many seedy bars catering to raucous post-shift crowds of working stiffs and the hard-faced women theyconsider gorgeous.
We just crossed the top of the Blue Ridge at Afton Mountain and are, for the next few seconds, in a corner of rugged & rural Nelson County. But now we're in Albemarle County. Only 20 miles to go.
To my left is a massive cross section through the native greenstone,a metamorphic igneous rock common on the east side of the Blue Ridge. It'sused to make much of the gravel on local roads, imparting a vaguely greenishhue to the asphalt.
Between the Blue Ridge and Charlottesville lies a largely-forested sparsely-populated region ofsteep hills, big power lines, and the occasional river. Two landmarks on my drive through this region are Stockton Creek in the west and Mechum River in the east. When you drive an old car like I do, everylandmark you make it past is an occasion worthy of at least minorcelebration.
kay, now I'm at UVA, in the Alderman Library. After just failing to track down a necessary .dll file, I'm cooling off in the massive front atrium computer center using a cheap Gateway 2000. Typing on this keyboard makes me think of chewing on styrofoam. The reason, by the way, that Hoagie and I are in Charlottesville is to attend a photography exhibit at the Downtown Artspace beginning at 7:00pm. Jen Fariello and local rockstar Shannon Worrell are the featured photographers. I'm told some of the pictures are of me.
cashed an increasingly crumpled check that had lingered in my wallet, then I bought myself a 32 ounce bottle of Mickeys at the Corner Market and continued on to the Wertland Mansion, the home of Jessika and Deya and their very ordinary collegiate housemates. No one was home, but I needed a place to drink my Mickeys, so I went up to the second floor porch and read sporadic fragments from the latest C-ville Weekly, looking up now and then to drunkenly ponder the lessons taught by sentences I had just read. Dark clouds had gathered and it looked like it might suddenly begin to rain, though it never did.
I noted all the recent decorations and half-finished Deya projects around me. One intriguing found item was a globe made of clear plastic cups all oriented with their concavities pointing outward. In the middle of the floor of each cup a little Christmas light from a chain of such lights protruded.
Suddenly there was a timid knocking on the window behind me. I knew someone had driven up, but whoever it had been had come in a shiny Toyota Tercel, not exactly the kind of car driven by one of my friends. It turned out it was Peggy (along with her ever-expanding Baboose). She'd just driven up from the Tidewater in her kid brother's car. She and Zach had been visiting Josh Smith, who now lives in Virginia Beach. The Baboose can almost walk unassisted now, and his hair is a remarkably thick carpet of straight blond hair. And when you hand him things, he doesn't immediately put them in his mouth even though I expected him to. He just stands there quietly looking at me as if to want to know why, what and how. What is it like to be a little kid and not have any good explanation for the ways of the world, or for why people do the strange things they do? Early childhood is such an imperfect state. It's a wonder this stage doesn't leave them immobilized with quandaries.
From left: Peggy, the Baboose, and Deya on the front steps of the Wertland Mansion.
We talked a little about this and that. There isn't much new in Peggy's life, though there is obviously much that is new in mine. I decided to discuss the situation in Michigan as little as possible, a game which all my friends seemed content to play along with me, though it soon proved obvious that they knew all about what's been going on.
Peggy and I were about to head downtown together when Jessika and Deya arrived from a grocery excursion. Neither Peggy nor I had been expected, so it was a double surprise to find both of us on the front porch. We chatted, we gossiped, we drank a few Schlitzes and talked about things to come. The news is that Jessika, Deya and Wacky Jen are all moving together into a house in Belmont. The trio spends considerable time hanging out as a clique these days. Jessika pointed out an old bicycle in the front yard that Wacky Jen had bought recently for a dollar at a yard sale. In the basket was a sign that read "Own a piece of history! Used in the filming of the original Wizard of Oz." Jessika obviously wanted to believe this bit of yard sale hype was entirely true. Doo-deet-doo-deet-doo-doo.
ventually Peggy drove us all down to the Downtown Mall. During the long search for a precious parking space, Jessika was talking about hanging out with some of Chaz's friends at a house near the Wertland Mansion. Evidently these kids all dislike me a great deal (nothing new about that), but they're also terribly confused. I was particularly delighted to learn that they all think I am gay. What I didn't like about this discussion was my detection of a slight sympathy for the views of these kids coming from Jessika. I could feel myself growing angry, and in concert with all the beer I'd drunk, this made me boisterous, threatening and insulting - not against Jessika, but against these little thugs. It's precisely this sort of thing: my increasing alienation from Jessika (all courteousy of these musings, interestingly enough) that makes me want to find some other town to call home. I feel like I've burned all my bridges in Charlottesville. More accurately, I feel like I've strip-mined the town of its social connections to me, spinning it all into prose on my website and leaving myself alienated in the process. The only reason this isn't devastatingly depressing is that there is a whole new world of promise now awaiting me in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I think I'll try to learn from the lessons of Charlottesville and do things slightly differently there. But already my musings are causing rough social seas in that town.
I hate it when my musings becomes the biggest character in its own narrative. In a way, though, it's an important part of its own drama. Rock and Roll has shown us the important musical value of feedback; now I find myself finding a literary use for it as well.Okay, I admit I'm being dumb.
The Downtown Artspace had a good spread of food and vino. Oh, and there were pictures too. I think I've seen all of Jen's pictures before, so they didn't affect me much one way or the other. But Shannon Worrell had some pretty good stuff. It's unfair for me to provide much of a critique, though, since I was rather drunk at the time.
People showed up. Johnny Two Boom Mancini came with his newest girlfriend, the skinny & pretty Senna. I noticed that they were holding hands much of the evening. Perhaps she'll bear him a fat Italian baby some day. It would be her third kid. Morgan Anarchy came with Senna and Johnny. They and Senna's kids all live together in a big house with Jatasya and Quiet Andy, though only Senna, Jatasya and Andy actually have any money to pay rent, and the latter two are trying to find some other place to live. Deya says it's a filthy crash pad and "smells like a barn."
My mother arrived eventually. She had a room at the Omni Hotel on the end of the Mall for the night and had been off watching teevee and taking advantage of the cleansing effects of endless water, a luxury we don't have back at Muellers' Mountain (where we collect potable water off the roof). She ended up hanging out most of the show on a couch talking with various weirdoes who latched onto her. That's one thing I've never understood about her outgoing nature; it seems designed exclusively to attract a bad element.
Jen Fariello didn't have any of the pictures of me hanging in tonight's show, but she showed me some that were lying around loose. One featured me doing what appeared to be a dangerous thing with high voltage power lines.
I'd get bored with the scene down in the basement and I surface out in front of the Jefferson Theatre to smoke a virtual cigarette. Leslie the Stuff Grabbing Hippie was there smoking cigarettes of the non-virtual sort. She was looking unusually fine and being not-uncharacteristically friendly. I don't care what others might say, I like Leslie the Stuff Grabbing Hippie and I was flattered by her attention.
I also talked for some time to Annette the Reluctant Aries. She's got a refreshing cynicism about her that provides bright illumination for all that is ridiculous on the streets of Charlottesville.
Sarah Kleiner showed up with a fresh new piercing centered between her chin and lower lip. I thought it worked for her, dispelling a little of that pre-pubescent look. "It's still pusing a bit," she replied. "No one has to know that, " I shot back.
Oh, and Amy Sage was there in full force as well. For some reason I find myself missing Charlottesville more for these people I don't see very often than for my usual close associates.
By now, David Sickmen was doing a little solo singer-songwriter stuff before a sitdown audience. Then Shannon Worrell did her thing. Then Raphæl. It was a little too low-key for my taste. I think drums & distorted guitars are important for music played on a Friday night.
Shannon Worrell plays for a sit-down audience at the Downtown Artspace.
Deya and I went off to have a cup of coffee at the Mudhouse and somehow got stranded on the Downtown Mall in the Corner. Deya didn't want to walk home alone in the dark partly, she said, because she was wearing a skirt. Women wearing skirts are more vulnerable to attack, she said. So I joined her on the walk back to the Wertland Mansion.
e'd learned of a number of parties tonight, and debated which to go to while sipping on Schlitzes and watching an old mostly black and white Spike Lee movie on cable teevee. In the end, Deya decided to go check out the situation at the Tokyo Rose while Jessika and I decided to ride our bicycles over to a party at Ben Beasly's house off JPA.
For whatever reason, Ben Beasly is a veritable condensation nucleus of socializing. He has lots of friends, and he's not especially picky about who they are. We weren't at Beasly's long before a contingent of his tough guy friends arrived. These included the likes of Chaz's brother, some dense little swarthy baby-faced kid, his older sister (the former raver girl) and Red-faced Collin. Collin has been away at college for most of the past year, but he's back now for summer vacation. When last I saw him he was hanging out with Chaz and Dean the belligerent tough guy (who I had once mistakenly taken to be a mohawk-wearing Nazi). I'd known Collin from the old days and knew him to be a sensitive, intelligent, mild-mannered kid. His new chums seemed to be having a bad effect on him, and this had alarmed me. That was a year ago. Today he came running up to me, stuck his red face (which for some reason isn't nearly as red as it used to be) in my face and started telling me off, accusing me of calling him a Nazi. Now I knew this was mostly a show for his tough guy friends (who were by now shouting their own share of blustering insults), so I did what I could to defuse the situation. I knew that in his heart Collin is actually a reasonable person, and that he wasn't really going to do anything stupid. His stated objective at this point was to get me to leave the party. But I refused, even after one of the more skittish members of the household joined in with a rational voice trying to convince me to leave.
I finally got Collin to sit down and have a little conversation with me. As already stated, he was mostly upset about me calling him and some of his friends "Nazis" on my webpage. Now I don't know whether I actually called Collin a Nazi or not (I'm too lazy to go research the matter) but at this point I don't think he's a Nazi, and I told him that. I said that anything I wrote about him a year ago was the result of the fucked up things that resulted from the time Chaz crashed Space Party II, and he had to understand things in that context. Things are obviously different now, and it's time to get beyond the past. Among the things I said in that spirit was that I'd actually decided I liked Wingnut, Charlottesville's self-proclaimed local leader of the "traditional [non-racist] skinhead movement." It was a weird conversation, all in all, and in the end Collin and I made some kind of peace. What else can we do, after all? We go to some of the same parties and I've demonstrated repeatedly that I'm not going away (even though I actually am).
I asked Collin about his major in college and what his politics are these days. He said he's majoring in Latin American studies and his politics are mildly conservative, perhaps libertarian. See, he's a smart guy, and he deserves a peer group of appropriate intellectual quality.
Later in the evening, Chaz's brother came up to me and extended his own one-sentence olive branch. No one really bothered me the rest of the evening, though Collin did object at one point when I joined a conversation he was having with Jessika.
Jessika at one point during all this was shaking her head in a scornfully patronizing way, saying I needed to confront more of my problems this way instead of letting them build up. I found her attitude disheartening and unsupportive. She's been no help at all and I have no use for her at all. That little slock still owes me $26.
The party was interesting in other ways. I had amusing conversations with a number of people in the kitchen, mostly about my musings. Then this black guy showed up, something happened, and he left in fiery rage. It made my earlier altercation with the tough guys look like a disagreement among Biblical scholars.
eya showed up at a certain point, and after awhile she wanted to go to a party at John Arnold's house. So I joined her. We went driving back and forth on Monticello Avenue looking for a street address that evidently doesn't exist. Eventually we gave up. Somehow I ended up sleeping in the passenger seat of Deya's car.
was awakened by the voice of Wacky Jen. She asked if I wanted to sleep at her place tonight instead of in Deya's car. That sounded like a good idea to me, so I rode with her back to her place and she put me up in the extra room. "I'm not going to remember how I got here tomorrow," I said. "I'll write you a note," said Jen. And she did, slipping it under a mug full of water. She's still thanklessly kind to me and I've really not been very good to her. I think Wacky Jen is the biggest loss of never returning to Charlottesville. But I have to get away from that place.
one year ago
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