The Sequel of the Damned
It’s 8:45am and I’m uncontrollably sweating from an alleged caffeine overdose while systematically demoralizing myself in the courthouse corridor pending my morning meandering through today’s newspaper. As I stand waiting to be admitted into the courtroom for another day of statutory show and tell, I can’t help but think that a measly contempt of court charge, at the very worst a day or two in jail, is starting to look a whole lot better than more of this ex officio State of California bullshit! However, never one to let “the man” know that he’s won, I act all nonchalant and continue reading the paper and down below the funnies today’s horoscope comes into focus…
LIBRA September 23-October 22
Hopefully you’ve been a judicious Libra — then you’ve nothing to worry about. If not, a karmic slap on the wrist puts you on the right track.
I am truly cursed, even the god damn planets are against me!
At the break of dawn as the sun was rising and my awareness was being jolted into existence by the subsequent ingestion of massive espresso infusions. I had somehow stumbled down the eight blocks from my apartment and onto the F Streetcar and as the pounding subsided in my head I became aware of the rest of the world and a very loud animated discussion that two girls sitting a few seats in front of me were having. What it was that they were going on about I’m not really sure because I don’t think it was in English. Actually I know it wasn’t English only I was understanding about half of it and I thought that either I was having an Asian osmosis moment or I’d somehow traded in my coveted gift of dyslexia and become bilingual.
“那FUCK’IN BITCH BRITNEY SPEARS, 她看起来象 HO! FUCK’IN WHITE GIRLZ 所有神色GOD DAMN 同 样, YO! 与那被漂白的! N***A PLEASE! HELLA FUCK’DUP头发和他们的驴子停留.YO您去PE或您去跳直到午餐? PE? HELL NO N***A! YO丢失了您的 FUCK’IN 头脑MUTHA FUCKERS ‘LL 钉子如果我去体操, 不MCDONALDS 和得到BIG MAC和 CHILL! FUCK高中和所有那些FOOL N***A’S!”
Your Honor! Juror #4 would like to make an objection! Cute Chinese girls in front of me are talking shit and using the N word and its only 8am! I’d like to have it stricken from the record or at least banished from the earth!
Unfortunately out here in the real world you can’t give instructions to disregard imprudence and besides I was about to bite the bullet and continue on my way into the realm of legalities for another day of my juristic obligation. Forget that my boss was gonna lose it if this trial went any longer and that in trying to keep the peace at work I hadn’t had a day off in the last three weeks. Most days after court and on the weekends I was going to work and trying to keep appearances up but even that was impossible to truly accomplish and things were going undone and I was getting way behind and the god damn case was droning on and on and there was no end in sight!
What totally amazed me was that these lawyers and judges seem to think that we should put our whole lives on hold so that they can play a ludicrous game of charades and divvy up the spoils and then send us on our way. Like justice has been served and the public’s begrudging involvement makes democracy go round like the capitalistic wheel of fortune that it is and we’re so daft that we think its all a big game show like on TV. Ok, so maybe I’m the only one that thought it was like TV, or the Twilight Zone to be exact, and here I felt like I was stuck in some reality warp and any minute I’d come out of it laying comatose on a battered cot in some Salvation Army Detox covered in grungy blankets sweating out the DT’s as demonic hallucinations clouded my vision. But no such luck!
Introducing Juror Exhibit Number 13: Juror # 4 is slowly losing his mind as lawyers dissect grocery bills. Please send major drugs as even a triple espresso can’t keep his attention deficit disorder in check!
Like the drooling mad Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy infected primates that we have become, we the jury line up once again and file into the courtroom to take our perspective seats in the jury box with practiced Pavlovian obedience.
“Good morning to you.”
“Oh, good morning.”
Until I am brain dead with niceties and my tolerance for social intercourse is at an all time low. Everyone wearing a false face as no one really wants to be here and least of all us; the jury getting a stipend of $17.50 a day, as the judge carries on with the lawyers who have nothing but contempt for one another. Justice is being served and would you like fries with that? A fast food decision for these fast times as the law comes in sound bites and the futile attempt at disregarding another snide remark from opposing counsel becomes as second nature as trying to forget your own name.
During the numerous breaks that are allowed we have been cautioned that it is considered bad juju to greet any of the attorneys or their clients and while this is feasible in the hallways the plausibility in the restroom is another story. Avoiding eye contact while negotiating the urinal stalls and washing one’s hands at the sink while the opposing parties hover around you like sharks tends to diminish any moment or reprieve that one might try and acquire in those precious few seconds away from the proceedings.
Of course I could deal with it all like Bob does. The old man, juror #9, makes a b-line for the local bar at lunchtime and an hour later comes back vigorously chewing spearmint gum with a big smile across his face ready to discern fact from fiction. Or I could busy myself and take copious notes like the lady next to me who must be writing the unabridged version of the case to take home to her family at night in hopes that someone be aware of the torturous pain that we are going through.
Meanwhile juror #7 is busy playing a game in his head where he tries to figure out which actor or actress would play the part of the actual person we are all watching in court. Occasionally he will turn his head and blurt out a name under his breath real fast and we all murmur in agreement or grumble in disagreement and then a silent argument will erupt if its not unanimous. So far the stenographer is Margaret Choa, the defense lawyer is Dustin Hoffman and the defendant is a female Henry Winkler. No one else can agree on the other players in this drama as it is hard to work it out under the watchful scrutiny of the judge. I wonder what they would think if they all knew we were spending our testimonial time casting their character for future portrayal in some indie film from hell?
Juror’s Exhibit #14: I am so bored! Even my ass is a sleep
What is really going on here none of us knows. What we do know is that one lawyer is as bad as the other. They are both greedy despicable human beings, after all, they are lawyers, and there is quite a lot of money that both of them want, but only one is going to get. When asked, the judge said we did not have the option of giving the money back to where or whom it came from in the first place – a solution much preferable then seeing either of these cretins profit from the toil of others. Soon the case will be ours to deliberate and soon we will be sending them all a message as to what a waste of time, money and human resources this has all been. Soon they will regret picking any one of us for jury duty. Soon we will have our revenge!
Dedicated to my good friend Mad Dog. 1986-2004 – May you rest in peace.
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Wednesday, October 20th, 2004 at
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The new apartment holds a view. The old one had one too, but of the elevated freeway across the decrepit wino filled alleyway with cars rushing about at eyelevel and nothing too stationary as to become familiar. Now I look out through a barbed wire security barrier across a parking lot and onto various other apartment buildings whose opulent vista must now include me! Me standing in front of my window and obscenely gesturing as my neighbors have their morning coffee and read the paper out on their swank apartments’ elegant balconies. Me coming out of the shower naked and groping for a towel as I drip water all over the carpet – a former poster child for drug abuse with the body to prove it. Me at night illuminated at my desk staring into my laptop as I try and conjure up something halfway intelligent and then input it before it is gone and lost from whence it came.
The voyeuristic lure for me of course is that my neighbors’ apartments are not the small cell-like affairs that the apartments are in my building. No, in fact from what I can see, they’re quite spacious and bright as in lots of windows and very tastefully embellished with expensive furniture and giant TV sets. My neighbors have things like dining rooms and bedrooms and living rooms. A concept so foreign to how I live that it makes me wonder what they think when they look into my one-room multi-purpose hovel?
“Look honey, he eats while writing at his computer! Such a work ethic the disadvantaged have. Why do you suppose they’re all so poor?”
Ah, the native degenerate in his little unsophisticated domain! Priceless, eh? When my building was erected there wasn’t that let’s-be-rich-and-live-in-the-city-type movement afoot that there is today and its proximity to the Bay Bridge’s soot emitting entrance deemed that it was never going to be a highly sought after address. But that was before the mass exodus of the monetary enlightened out of the sterile suburbs and into the urban realness of the mercantile downtown and its reclaimed factory spaces – thus affording the newly relocated suburbanite an easy commute of strolling the few blocks to his firm’s skyscraper every morning and then working out at the local 24 hour gym with his travel time saved in the early evenings. Accordingly his equally competitive spouse is also able to run that dot.com start-up right out of the spare bed room that is now her office in their condo apartment as life just keeps getting better and better here overlooking the bay!
“Dear? What do you suppose those crotch grabbing gestures represent?”
Unfortunately the building where I live was built to accommodate the lower class, the once indigent or at best the hired help surviving on minimum wage. And now, chalk it up to bad urban development, my unsightly flophouse is right in the way of their million dollar view and what’s worse it’s not going away; it’s getting fuller by the day. The bulging populace is oozing outside and into the streets and they don’t seem all that grateful for the opportunity to reside here. So what is the solution for the indisposed members of our little community? The police never respond when called, the ambulance and fire trucks are out front of my building every night yet it doesn’t appear that the residents are killing themselves fast enough. Besides if one wants a trendy San Francisco address the choices are limited and dwindling more so all the time, so you are going to have to put up with some sort of undesirable element no matter where you are, and it’s not like they actually live in the flat next door and are dropping in unannounced at tea time!
My favorite couple, yes, I have my favorites that I tend to scrutinize, are the young newlyweds that moved in a few weeks ago to the apartment directly across the concertina wire coils from mine. Their picture window affords me a rather startling perspective of their living room, where at times, like their house warming party, I was so close that I felt like one of their invited guests. Though the harsh glances that the hostess continually gave me did tell another story that never let me forget that I am not a guest just an unwanted witness to their extravagance – one whose objectionable presence after the party was quite easily removed by closing the drapes and retiring across the hall to the bedroom that overlooks their courtyard and probably a more acceptable class of the city’s population.
I guess that I could compare my overt interest in my neighbor’s activities to my constantly looking out the little security peephole of the front door to my place in order to watch the foot traffic in the hallway as crackheads and dope fiends wander the corridors in search of prey. But it just wouldn’t be the same as how can you compare that to the adverse luxury of the living room across the street? And where’s the vicarious pleasure of living a life that is not your own and for the most part currently unattainable? Granted I’m not one of my building’s many dissidents who on their hands and knees are scratching the hallway’s carpet in a futile attempt to find some long lost hit of rock cocaine amongst the bits of dirt and lumps of kitty litter. But out of choice I have no desire to be so. Yet an extravagant loft, happy social times with friends and even newly married with somewhat of a future ahead are not things that I would turn down if so offered. It’s just that at the moment they’re not being offered and I am on the outside looking in.
Ok, so I know what you are thinking… Why doesn’t he just close his blinds and let those poor rich folk get on with their lives? And you know in one aspect you’re right. It’s not nice to endlessly stare at the fellow citizens of your community and god knows other than writing this small bit they really haven’t provided me with much inspiration other than a small case of self-loathing, but I think I was already guilty of doing that without their help. And if the tables were turned would I want the same decorum of civility returned? Well, no. I mean after all I am who I am and having a nice address would change nothing and I’d still be dancing naked out of the shower with the drapes thrown aside and screw anyone that didn’t like it! As for closing my blinds, well you try living in a studio apartment with only one window that when closed off brings the claustrophobic hee bee gee bees in like a bad acid trip and all that you can think about is how small a place this is that you live in. Of course at night when I attempt to fall asleep while staring at the ceiling my blinds are closed, after all what kind of barbarian do you take me for? Its not like I need people to watch me in order for there to be some validity for my existence and sleep is best when it is dark.
Over on the other side of the building in my old apartment I left the blinds open and all night long I was bathed in the constantly moving headlights of oncoming traffic – a sort of industrial audio/visual lullaby to mollify yourself to sleep. So the overt interest in the seemingly technicolor lives of my neighbors may just be in response to being deprived of my former indulgence and it too may just become the norm, a backdrop to my reality as I continue on in life and they continue on with theirs.
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Saturday, October 16th, 2004 at
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I had just finished washing and drying my clothes in the machines that my building’s apathetic management provides for us lowly tenants to do their laundry in. And now while in my apartment folding and putting them away I can smell a rather strong aroma of musky cologne, a scent that I neither wear nor want to wear, coming off of my supposedly clean clothes. Apparently the swarthy dark haired gentleman from down the hall, the one with the unbuttoned to his navel polyester shirts and gold chains, that reeks of this same fragrant aberration and who must use it by the gallon on a daily basis, has contaminated the public domain of the laundry room and its appliances and I have fallen victim to his odorous indiscretion!
Not that this is by any means the most disgusting aspect of doing laundry on the premises and rather than drag it the two blocks over to the laundromat on 3rd Street, which, believe it or not is guilty of much worse infractions of the public health code, I have grown accustomed to such atrocities and endure them like I do every other malady that living here seems to accost me with. Most of the time just going into the laundry room is bad enough with the perennial flooding forming the mounds of discarded lint into small islands so that in order to not get your feet soaked you are forced to jump from one soggy mass to another on your way across this mini trash strewn archipelago to the dryers. And like some advancing armada you are surrounded by a small fleet of those little single serve boxes of detergent that are acquired from the lobby’s vending machines now discarded and floating aimlessly in the tepid sludge.
But even wading in the stagnant mire is preferable to having to use the same washer that whoever it is that seems to be so cleanliness challenged that they leave a grungy ring of dirt caked around the inside of the machine after every time they use it. I might as well just throw my clothes on the fetid floor and stomp on them rather then use that washer because when I have mistakenly in the past, my clothes come out soiled and dingy like I never tried to wash them in the first place, and one can only imagine the state of the dryer after that. Well, you get the idea as obviously it’s a losing battle to try and keep anything clean in this building and for some reason that’s the way everyone seems to want it to be.
Whether it’s a case of misuse, planned obsolescence or a general lack of respect, one machine after another breaks down and sits idle, flooded with sullied water for months at a time and as soon as one is fixed another bites the dust and the process is repeated and played out over and over again – with sometimes more washers to use than dyers. And then the next week just the opposite till you’re just happy that one of the machines is working even with the crud on its rim, and you know maybe that’s the grand scheme of things and you’re just being too naive about the whole affair.
Why I am even the least bit surprised by the laundry room environment I do not know. When all I have to do is walk around and see the same mistreatment of the entire neighborhood. Outside this morning among the other bits of discarded crap there was what appeared to be a well used condom lying on the sidewalk by the street corner. Out of place as a used rubber was just laying there it didn’t faze me at first as I’ve seen a many a strange thing out on the street. But what’s the deal here? Was somebody really fucking right there on the sidewalk in plain view of the whole world and half the commuter traffic going over the Bay Bridge and then just rolled over and left it there? Or did one of my fellow tenants sling it out the window from high above and the wind caught it and deposited it here on the street corner? Hypothetically speaking, in my mind I tend to not prefer the later explanation as it would forever leave me scanning the skies whenever I was entering and exiting the building in fear of being slapped in the head by a used airborne latex cum receptacle. And evidently this concept of discarding even the most personal of items is how everything around here is treated, like one big dumpster. Yet the public trashcans are ignored in favor of the common greater ease of bulk disposability by tossing everything straight onto the ground and into the streets.
Accordingly this adverse external behavior of the local denizens directly translates into their obvious lack of laundry room etiquette that in my building is continually being brought into practice. Where the question of just how long do you wait for your neighbor to retrieve their washed clothing and put it into the dryer or do you remove said clothes to the top of the dryer while you engage the washer instead of waiting all day for someone that isn’t even conscious? When I first moved here I would always sneak a look at what type of clothes they were and not wanting to upset some older woman by having handled her undergarments I’d leave them in hopes that she’d return soon. Otherwise if they looked manly-ish or like some dudes apparel, I’d move them out immediately and continue with my wash. This was of course a wiser choice than leaving my laundry unattended because at first I lost quite a few articles of clothing and more than a few times rode the elevator down while trying to figure out if that nodding dope fiend next to me was wearing my missing t-shirt or do all black pocket t’s tend to look the same in the glare of a hundred and fifty watt anti-crime light?
What finally broke me of the habit of being so overly polite was my then next door neighbor who when she wasn’t partaking in the smoking of crack behind the locked doors of her apartment would be in the laundry room nodding off asleep, her head in the dryer with her generous ass sticking out and that’s how I’d sometimes found her which led to another question: What is the proper way to handle a volatile coming-off-a-run-crackhead that is attempting to either warm herself or steal somebody’s freshly dried garments? Thankfully she’d never be able to fit into my stuff so we never had to broach the subject of whether she was wearing anything of mine. But there were more than a few loud arguments in front of her apartment between the other women who lived on the fourth floor. I’m not saying that that was what they were all about because there was always some sort of altercation going on over there at just about any time of the day or night and other than the often repeated phrase “Bitch, I want my money!” I really couldn’t make out what it was that they were going on about.
Most of this conjecture on my neighbor’s behavior is of course meaningless unless you’re writing your thesis on the exaggerated activities of the crack ho in her natural habitat and I have once again as usual strayed way off from the subject at hand. Laundry, tenant relations and saving the environment all have a productive sort a ring to them but to be truthful it is only a piece of the reality and that socioeconomics tend to govern the behavior and circumstances of the people in my community. But none the less it is still something that we are all forced to deal with on some level and as the saying goes, what doesn’t come out in the wash usually comes out in the rinse.
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Tuesday, October 12th, 2004 at
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