Sunday, August 31, 2003

Hello everyone. I haven't posted or kept up for a while. Just thought I'd say hi and can't wait to see those of you who I'll be seeing soon. Also hi those of you who I'll be seeing "someday." And even to those of you who I may never see again, sadly. Hell, even to those of you I've never met. Hi, everybody.

Anyway, I do have this one Johnson City memory that is worth telling. I wonder if it's been told already. Some six or seven of us were looking for something to do one night back in 1988. I don't remember what month, but I believe it was in the late Spring. Kurt Hagardorn had some Pabst Blue Ribbon in his fridge, and we went to get more. The idea was to sit under the overpass and drink it, sort of like a group of scary loser trench coat teenagers in some bad movie about youth angst and disaffection. Yep. So, we go drink the beer under the overpass, which turns out to pass time a lot less well than you might imagine. After maybe a half hour or so, we decide to get up and go to a minor league baseball game or something. I don't remember. Just some other idea, but I think it may have in fact been a J.C. Cardinals game we were headed to. Doesn't matter. Anyway, Lisa Williams was last to get up and start making her way back to the car. We didn't notice when she got up, she totally clonked her head on a concrete beam and wound up back down on the ground.

She didn't scream. She didn't cry. She did nothing to alert us to her distress. We kept walking. When we made daylight, we all sort of gathered up and noticed that Lisa was still back there on the ground. She wasn't passed out. Just holding her head and saying something like "That wasn't good" over and over.

Pabst and concrete don't go well together. I can report to you that Lisa made a full recovery, but not that evening. We broke apart and gave up on the other idea (baseball?) that we had in mind. I took my belly full of Pabst down to Quarterback's, where Bleu Jackson was playing. Would you believe that Mr. Jackson walked over to me that night and said, "Man, you are WILD with all that 'Italian Women' and 'Moonshine Still'. Totally wild." Do you think it's possible that the people who created the character of Boomhauer on King of the Hill modeled his speech patterns on those of Mr. Bleu Jackson? Just a thought. Love ya, Blue.

Again, nice to "see" all of you. As ever.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I will say for "Mulholland Drive," I felt I understood Lynch's fascination with red curtains truly for the first time. Those heavy velvet drapes used to be standard issue on every auditorium stage in like, every school in America. Did anybody get through grade school without the experience of waiting behind those curtains at least once for some performance to begin? It's probably the first time most people have a really focused awareness of there being two worlds, one "out there" in anticipation of which one is breathless with fear and/or excitement, and one "in here" which is hidden and safe at least for the time being. I now think the red curtain motif is a direct visual referent for that precise moment not just of perception but of actual experience of two different, simultaneous realities.

Just yesterday, I was groovin' on my "March Hare." It's a small white plastic rabbit bobble-head with evil orange eyes. It was my birthday present from Barbara Herd this year. It is just the coolest thing that ever was. I have it stuck on the dashboard of my tiny white Metro, and it bobs along to whatever music I have on without ever missing a beat. People stare at it at intersections and cross themselves. I keep my pitch-dark glasses on and just snap my fingers off-tempo. What's really weird is that it came in the mail about a day after I saw "Donnie Darko," went to the "Donnie Darko" website and took the "Find out which Donnie Darko character you most resemble" quiz and the answer came back, "You're FRANK! Have a nice day!"

Brook, I feel obligated to inform you that under The Patriot Act, a sick bone in your back is simply not allowed.
Good to see you on your own blog again.
That said, I just want to mention that your last post enthralled me. By the end of the last paragraph, I felt absolutely STONED.

most lynchian JC story...? great question... in a way i think David Lynch should come clean on his favorite Johnson City Story.

Did anyone else see Blue Velvet the ONE WEEK it played in the Goodies Clothing shopping centre theaterplex? What was that feeling? recognition... reflection? Lumberton WAS so easily Johnson City... the saturated colors and highly acceptable neighborhoods... sidewalks and creeps in muscle cars... crooked deals and smoky bars and never.... not once.... does anything beg for explanation. and that's okay because... look... a robin!

then, Twin Peaks! Does anyone remember the completely sincere excitement of watching Twin Peaks unfold every week on Friday night? John says the bass player from the Paralyzers claimed he was going to have to quit the band to watch the show... they broke up during the shows' run... who knows.

Twin Peaks dug deeper into Lynch's steamy pile of Meta Shit. The Black Lodge. Good and Evil. the Log Lady (Is it just me or did the Log Lady not totally remind you of Edie Patrick?). It's the metaphysical lynch that i think most closely resonates with Johnson City. What Lisa said about the murder at beauty spot when the flock of birds fell from the sky... all VERY Lynch... but the tastiest burnt kernel there is that a very similar murder had happened at Beauty Spot nearly twenty years prior... making the event seem ever more so fated or SCRIPTED to happen as if a hungry ghost was lured from his cave in the laurels by the smell of fresh betrayal. the unfortunate couple were supposedly having an affair. it's so lynch it's beyond lynch. oh god... it's uberlynch!

the mountains are moody, dangerous creatures and poppa eraserhead did a good job of exploring that theme without sounding lame. he got lucky, but he's not the genius i thought he was. wild at heart... lost highway... mullhulland drive... he's not even trying anymore. i think the early lynch would find something interesting to say about the Beauty Spot yarn... the post-twin peaks lynch would have to incorporate hot lesbian sex scenes into it to make it interesting for himself and anyone else. he's gotten old, sad and embarrassing. JC, on the other hand, despite the new, sad and embarrassing strip malls, is still quite noire. with or without hot lesbian sex.

there is one recent David Lynch production, "Rabbits." has anyone seen it? it sounds promising. Three people in bunny suits doing a staged one-act. But even if he's on to something Rabbit-suit themed, it's only because people in bunny suits have been blowing in the zeitgeist since Duncan's senior show which, i am convinced, is somehow responsible for the repetition of the image of grown people in bunny suits for the last ten years. if you haven't noticed it, you haven't been looking. people in bunny suits are EVERYWHERE. Donnie Darko... anyone see that? This is funny. I loaned that DVD to mr Relleva the week it came out which also happened to be easter weekend. after watching it, he says he was outside on his front porch looking down the row of perfectly aligned front porches and down a way... maybe 3 porches down, there was a full-grown person in a giant rabbit suit casually waving at him. sooooooo creepy!

when i was little my mother sewed a pink bunny costume for me for halloween. i'd love to have that now or one my size that i could wear whenever i go out and work in the garden. the thought CRACKS me up. but i am heavily medicated. funny thing about morphine... last time i had to take it for my back i had constant william burroughs black, shiny, exoskeleton insect dreams and visions. this time around, i close my eyes and i see dewey-eyed, furry animal face wallpaper. like little ferret faces repeated ad nauseum. or poodles. meercats! BUNNIES!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

thanks for the thoughts you guys. i've been diagnosed with vertebral osteomyelitis -- or, a sick bone in my back. i'm in a brace (arg, some of the time), on IV antibiotics, got a TENS unit and plenty of narcotics for the pain. they hope that four to six weeks on antibiotics will make it go away. in the meantime i'm bedridden, which is just too freaking weird.

i wish i could blame my ill-health for my lack of posting, but that would be a lie. i've been so pissed off with politics that every time i sit down to write, the only stuff that comes out is frothy hatred for all things bush. i'm sincerely afraid the bushies are pathologically out of control. and there's so much stuff to say about it, it's exhausting. sure, there's the concrete worries about the economy and the war -- but i'm finding myself being even more outraged by the trivial shit -- like the commander in chimp taking a FUCKING MONTH VACATION while the country careens out of control. he's golfing while his troops are being picked off 3 and 4 at a time. do you know anyone who takes a month vacation every year? i've never heard of such a thing. wouldn't that be great though? a whole month off a year -- not including the generous time off for holidays. wow, that would make work seem almost humane. wouldn't it be nice if the Commander in Chimpster himself encouraged congress to mandate the same amount of holiday for us "regular joes?" hell, wouldn't it be nice if a reporter would simply ASK him to justify his month's vacation every year? man, when these narcotics kick in, they really send me off to la la land...

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Cheery e-cards on the way!
Let's show Brook some love!

Monday, August 25, 2003

Ms. Hines has been in the hospital recently, but is now home, an encouraging bit of news. It has been a scary time, I gather. I'd be willing to bet a cheery e-card or two from Blogsville would not go unappreciated.

Does anyone know how Brook is doing? It's been quite a while since she posted, and she wasn't feeling well last month.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Well, is anyone going to be picking up Al Franken's new book?
We'd better hurry before the 'fair & balanced' powers-that-be make the publishers change the cover...

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Don't hold back Tony, tell us how you really feel......

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Kinda quiet round here,,, heard any good jokes lately????

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Without a doubt, my most Lynchian vision of JC and environs would be the flock of birds that flew into the ground. I see them laid out in V-formation on a sidewalk or a parking lot, little numbered tags attached to them and fluttering in the breeze, military brass standing around, lab-coated underlings roping off the area, taking photos and scribbling on clipboards...

Next to that, there was an occasion when many messed-up kids were sitting on a large porch in the wee, wee small hours of the morning and through the hedge came a skinny, twisted-looking guy on crutches. He was something of a low talker and he kept a distance between us, standing out in the yard, making us strain to hear him. He complained about his sad lot in life and asked if someone couldn't go inside and make him a sandwich. "Just a sandwich." A sandwich seemed to me at that time a lot to ask, involving bread, meat, mustard, mayo, lettice and tomato...Who did this guy think we were, the fucking Kings of Siam? If we had ONE of those ingredients in the house, it was probably mayonnaise, and it was probably twenty years old. We told him so and he didn't believe us. He wanted to go in and see for himself. "I know I could find something to eat, just a sandwich..." He needed a reality check, bad. We told him it was up a lot of stairs, but then that seemed like more information than he really ought to have. The offensive capabilities of those metal, brace-like crutches were occuring to me about that time; they seemed not unlike double-length nightsticks with a hook on the end, and he had TWO of them. The more he kept talking about "JUST a sandwich," the more convinced I became that his economic standards for sustainance were ludicrously higher than mine, and it was starting to piss me off. He was letting us know in no uncertain terms how shitty he thought we were to not even offer him a sandwich, and it was clear that he was really taking advantage of the situation of being around people who, for reasons of their own, were reluctant to call the cops to make him leave. It went on and on in a slow-motion car-wreck kind of way and it became impossible to maintain a sense of how long he'd been there, harrassing us. Finally someone told him that if we had sandwich stuff in the house, we'd be eating sandwiches ourselves at that very moment. With this, he huffed off into the night on his largely unnecessary crutches, leaving us to ask, "Did all that just happen?"

My vote for the two most Lynchian places in town: The Mecca and the Downtown Restaurant...

To my knowledge, no one has shat while talking on the phone to me. However, I could have missed some important clues. Knowing I could have unknowingly taken something of a number two position of importance in a conversation has given me something new to lay awake nights worrying about. "Talk Now--Shit Later" for a bumper sticker? (This is assuming everybody's seen the "Drive Now--Talk Later" ones.) Full-page ad in the New York Times with a laundry list of things you shouldn't do on the phone? Retro fitted cell phones with special shit-sound detectors and alarms? "Warning - this conversation will terminate in 3 seconds, unless you remove your ass from the porcelein." How about keeping a tape loop of massive diarrhea to fight back with? "That's see AND a raise, buddy!"

Ah, the fair. The smells, the rides, the food and the...well, the smells. I haven't been to it in years. Too crowded. Too hot.
Most of my memories of the fair revolve around an old friend, Lisa Harkelroad. My freshman year in high school, Lisa and another girl decided to run away and leave with the fair. Their parents were frantic and everyone who was known to be close to the girls was called to the office and interrogated. Meanwhile, Lisa's mother figured out where they were and they had to travel out of state to pick the girls up where they found them staying with carnie guys in thier 30's or something, smoking copious amounts of dope and listening to way too much Molly Hatchet.
Years later I would see Lisa at the fair again, working the ticket booths. She was a junkie by this time, all sunken eyes and needle tracks. She was in pain almost all the time, but she would always talk a good game about how delightful her life was and whose ass she had kicked recently. Because of her, I stopped getting on the rides, since she explained to me exactly how shit-faced the guys were who put them together. I always imagined my ferris wheel car crashing to the ground because of one loose screw, no pun intended. Lisa actually became a full-time carnival worker, traveling the country and getting more addicted. She overdosed almost three years ago, and at her funeral, people who like to think they have class spoke in hushed whispers about what a terrible junkie she was. How you couldn't really be surprised that she was dead because of how she had lived. How the only thing they were surprised by is that it had taken her so long to finally get to that point. And of course, all of the horrible things she had done to support her habit. All of this within earshot of her then 14 yr. old daughter.
That daughter, now 16, has been staying with my family for a bit this summer, which is why all of this is so much on my mind. She's a wonderful, well-adjusted girl who misses her Mom terribly and still thinks of her as being a parent who tried her very best. I love to get her tickled because when she laughs, she sounds just like Lisa. And if Lisa were standing over my shoulder reading this she'd start bitching. "This shit is sad as fuck, Nicky!" She would not be impressed.
I won't be taking her daughter to the fair, by the way.

Oh, and to change the subject, I really hate to be talking to someone on the phone and have them start grunting because they're taking a shit. Is nothing sacred? I don't know about any anti-shitting on the phone bumper stickers, but you'd think some sort of group could be started of people who oppose this.
Just say 'No' to shitting while conversing. You would think that you wouldn't have to remind folks of that.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Blue Velvet,, no doubt about it! Why recently we had a pair of very gristly murders revealed by the discovery of body parts... heck, we found the whole head, not just an ear! "Heiniken? Fuck that Shit!!! Pabst Blue Ribbon man!!" 'nuff said.....

Hey Doug! It's really good to see your Times Romans on the screen. Last I heard you were teaching at Northeastern in Boston?, and I know you're married and now have a baby? I saw you at Todd's wedding, but we didn't get to talk. It's good to know you're around the blog.
Yes, the Appalachian Fair is on its way. My memories are similar to yours, I guess - the ducks; the strange Lynchian connection; the music that I remember was once really great. I also saw Merle Haggard there, with my parents. I remember my Dad saying to me, "Don't ever forget this." My dad used to win some tacky stuffed animal for me at those booths. I remember in particular a pink and white bear, huge, full of those beans that, in a few days, were flying around my bedroom after I'd already punched a hole in the thing. I remember a lot of guys spitting and me trying to imitate them, including my dad, who, when he was trying to quit smoking, would chew Red Man.

On the other end of the spectrum, this weekend here, in J.C., the 7th annual Umoja Festival is being held Fri. through Sun.. It usually goes on in Carver Park. Umoja is Swahili for Unity. It's basically an African/African-American celebration. Do you believe it? This year, it was held at Freedom Hall, and I've enjoyed it - a lot of booths with crafts from West Africa, and even Caribbean and African cuisine. Pretty amazing for around here. One booth, Joan's Caribbean Cuisine, served some great jerk chicken and other stuff. Art dealers up from Atlanta and other places. African music. I've been really impressed, and it's the first year I've heard about it. It receives little advertising though, mainly in a small paper here called News and Neighbor. Did anyone else in J.C. see or hear any other advertisements?

Lisa, I don't know why forgetting about a murder would make you feel you're going insane. But if it helps, I remember that murder. I didn't know the people, though. I heard about it through Randy Hixson, soon after it first happened. I remember he went to the funerals. (s). There was all this upset, naturally. It's funny, how you hear a story, about something that actually happened to people you don't know but, in a way, do know indirectly, and how you replay it in your mind. Also everyone who tells it, tells it differently, since they weren't there, of course. I always picture a squarish blue car, and then a series of events, certain clothing, hair a certain length, a smell in the air...I imagine standing there while it happened, or watching from above, like I'm flying. And then, I do know Jerry Henninger, who has performed in several J.C. bands, was dating the woman at the time she was killed.

Later, when I was working at Buffalo Mtn. Camp, in the retreat center (late 90's), we had this group of Jesuit priests come in from all over the country for a conference. One of the priests, a guy from Detroit, wanted me to take him somewhere "scenic". I decided on Beauty Spot, even though I hadn't been up there since the murder. On the way there, I told him what happened. What I'd heard. He was wearing his priest's robe too. Brown, with a hood; I shit you not. He was from Detroit, and my story "triggered" (pardon the pun) a memory of his own, when a man threatened to kill him in the inner city. I remember he said something priestly and profound, while this person held a gun to his head. He said something like, "If you feel this is something you must do, for your own well-being or someone else's, then I am ready to help." The guy dropped his gun in the road and ran off, he said. We got to Beauty Spot. It was foggy and drizzling rain, and he prayed the entire time we stood up there. I haven't been up there since.

On An Entirely Different Note:: I just need to discuss this. It's funny, not long ago, my brother called me. While we were talking on the phone, his voice echoed; you know, like he was in the bathroom or somethin'. I ignored it, and we talked, and then, while he was trying to tell me something, his voice was straining.
I'm like, "What's wrong? What're you doing?" He says, "I'm taking a shit."


Needless to say, I hung up on him. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, and it has happened to me more than once, not only with family, but friends too. Why do people feel it's ok to talk on the phone while they piss or shit now? Is it just because we are now free to do so?--unencumbered as we are now of the twisty chord? Somehow, the removal of the telephone chord has created this situation that, call me old-fashioned, I find disturbing. It's like, people now think, "Man, I'm so relieved; I no longer have to piss alone?" One of the things that's always comforted me is that I DO piss alone, and shit alone, and I will continue to do so and hope others will do the same. We need to nip this in the bud. What's next? You're eating dinner with soemone, and they just drop trow and piss right there in the floor so as not to interrupt the "natural flow" of conversation? Or, suddenly, being alone in a bathroom stall is disturbing, creating some kind of unwanted separation anxiety that---now--is unnecessary because, hey, I can always call someone while I'm pissin'?
I'm ready for a bumper sticker. So--while everyone is thinking of Lynchian J.C. moments per Doug's request, maybe they can come up with a good bumper sticker for this problem?


Hello bloggers, I see in the JC Press that it's almost time for the Appalachian Fair again. I have always loved the Fair, if only for one thing: the spectacle of dozens of ducklings marching up a ramp, trying to get some food, and falling back down a slide into a pond. When I was little it was funny, and when I got older it became allegorical, and when I got a little older than that it was just funny again (OK, and a little bit allegorical). I also especially enjoyed Ron England's Jail, where the glass display cases of homemade weaponry and dope paraphernalia seemed to be having the opposite of its intended effect, as kids and battled-scarred good ol' boys circled around going "Cool!" and "Man, I need me one of those!" as they looked at the spiked brass knuckles and hash pipes.

The other thing that makes me fondly recall those golden Fairs of yesteryear was that it used to be a pretty awesome place to see live music, back when the roster consisted almost entirely of just-over-the-hill, underappreciated country stars. I saw Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard there. I saw Charlie Daniels turn in a tremendous performance. He sang his new, awful, socially-conservative version of "Long Haired Country Boy" but you couldn't make out what the cleaned-up words were because the crowd screamed the old lyrics over the bowdlerized sections. I saw Ray Charles there a couple of years before Diet Pepsi repackaged him. Seems like just about everybody I saw there has since either died, retired, or been re-discovered by Rick Rubin or somebody and is now playing the Knitting Factory. The best thing about seeing music at the Fair, though, was being in this crowd of folks where most were just rank-and-file Tri-Citians who were there because it was free and they were killing time waiting for the pig races, but some of them had come down from Tolleytown or St. Charles or someplace for the great social outing of the year, and then there was a sprinkling of the local musicians, artists, and other assorted oddballs whose copy of Golden Hits of Ray Charles was sitting next to Bad Music for Bad People and Who's Next in the record rack because that's the kind of weird shit that happens when you grow up middle-class, smart, and bored in East Tennessee.

Here's a related question for discussion: what scenes from David Lynch movies most remind you of Johnson City? (I'm operating under the assumption that everyone from Johnson City who sees a David Lynch film--even Dune--is at some point reminded of home.)

Monday, August 04, 2003

I tried to email this to you, Tony, but it bounced back so I'll post it here.

You are just too super-groovy cool...Did you find this in JC Press on-line archives? I didn't think they went back far enough, but I did try "Beauty Spot," "Erwin," "Unicoi," and "murders" and "shooting" (which was all I could remember) in all possible combinations, so I'm curious as to how you found this.

I greatly appreciate your contribution towards restoring my sanity. Next time I see a fur-lined waffle iron, I'll get it for you.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

OK Elizabeth Brook,,, yes a couple got shot at Beauty Spot,,, I think it was early to mid 90's. As to the birds flying into the ground in formation, I think you are crazy, I don't remember hearing that one. It seems that the shooting was band related, but I don't recall more than that. I would note that the last place Wade Jenning was seen was at a Hindu Rib Roast; thats not really relevant, but I think it should be mentioned from time to time...

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Help me, bloggers of the Johnson City variety, confirm that my memory is not wholly shot to shit...two incidents in the mid-90's. One, a couple got shot at Beauty Spot. The girl's name was Marcia and she sang in a local band called "Crystal Visions." Two, a flock of birds flew into the ground in or near Erwin. They were still in V-formation on the ground and the story was picked up by the AP and some military specialist was sent to examine them to try to figure out why fighter pilots get disoriented and lead formations into the ground or the side of a mountain sometimes. Somebody tell me they remember either of these two things or I will go really crazy.

Friday, August 01, 2003

George W. Bush
The White House, Washington, DC, USA

I ran for Congress and lost.

I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; the company went
bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team, in a sweetheart deal and built a
stadium using taxpayer money.

With my father's help and name, I was elected Governor of Texas.

I changed pollution laws in favor of the power and oil companies and made TX
the most polluted state in the US. And replaced Houston over LA as the most
smog-ridden city in America.

Cut taxes and bankrupted TX government to the tune of billions of dollars in
borrowed money.

I set the record for most executions by a Governor in US history.

I became US President after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes
with the help of major Enron money and my father's appointments to the Supreme

I attacked and overtook two countries.

I spent the US surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in US history.

I set an economic record for private bankruptcies in any 12-month period.

I set the all time record for the biggest drop in history of the US stock

I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.

I set the record for most days on vacation in any one year.

After taking the entire month of August off, I presided over the worst
security failure in US history.

I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips by a US president.

I set the records for the least amount of press conferences than any
president since the advent of television.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in US history and refused to
intervene when oil industry corruption was revealed.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans.

I set the all time record for the largest number of people worldwide to
protest my policies in public venues (15 million) shattering the record for
protest against anyone in world history.

I have dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

I have made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US

I am the first president of US to have all 50 states simultaneously go

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any country in

I am the first president to order a preemptive attack and the military
occupation of a sovereign nation, and did so against the will of the United Nations.

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more
than any president in US history.

I am the first president to have the UN remove the US from the Human Rights

I withdrew the US from the World Court.

I refused to allow inspectors access to prisoners of war and thereby have
refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.

I am the all-time US and world record holder for receiving the largest
corporate campaign donations.

My largest campaign contributor and one of my best friends, Ken Lay, former
CEO of Enron, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in US

My political party used the Enron Private jets and their corporate attorneys
to assure my success with the Supreme Court during the 2000 election.

I am the first president in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%)
view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

In the past 22 months since the World Trade Center attack, I have
successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in US

In a little over two years, I have created the most divided country in
decades, possibly the most divided since the Civil War.

I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and have turned
every single economic category downward, all in less than two years.