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Ponder, for a moment, the lowly, oft-used, at times abused, everyday fixture of metabolic necessity – the toilet. It is, of course, a receptacle for all of your cast-off humanly bile and toxic waste. The toilet, or commode as it is known in the south, or shitter, as we lovingly say in the trades, has the singular distinction of sanitarily disposing of an entire species’ collective excrements. Over the years, it has also been the unfortunate splash landing spot for some of my dearest possessions:

Phil the Hermit Crab

My misfortunate, gravitationally-challenged relationship with the toilet started at a young age. Barely past the potty training stage, I was faced with the horrifying act of having to ship my beloved first pet, a  Hermit Crab named Phil, off to greener seas after he/she had made the awful decision to exercise his/her only form of self-defense against the tender skin of my brother’s scrotum.

As unenlightened children, we had for some reason engaged in a form of crustaceous Russian Roulette: taking turns sticking Phil down our pajamas in a timed contest to see who could handle the tickling of his shelly phalanges the longest without screaming. It was after bed time. The lights were out in our room, but this grand scheme had our competitive juices awash with muffled laughter.

The game went on for several “successful” turns, each of us enduring Phil’s weird traverses in our underoos…until disaster struck. In a shocking turn of events, what I had assumed would be some fun, cage-free exercise for my buddy Phil quickly turned into a nut-pinching fight for life that woke everyone in the house after the previously docile crab unexpectedly clamped his formidable left claw on Brody’s testicular region.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the sensation of having your gonads savagely scissored by an enraged sea creature, but judging from my brother’s reaction, it is scream-inducing unpleasantness.  Thusly ensnared in a bony, serrated vice, Brody emitted a sustained, high-pitched primal howl that I have since only heard in Tea Party conventions and small-claims court.

At the beckoning of Brody’s shrieks, my parents came bursting into our room, expecting the worst. Bewildered, they found us gripped with fear and screaming bloody murder. After ascertaining that I was not the afflicted one but rather suffering from empathetic emotions, my father set upon Brody to save him from some unseen demon. “What is it? What in Jehovah is going on?” he demanded. Biting both lips at once, tears pouring down his cheeks, the eldest Anderson son gingerly lifted open his drawers and pointed down to his nether regions with a quaking, inconsolable finger. “Ffff..ffff…fffil got his nads, Dad!” I yelled, reporting for my shock-muted brother.

The Phil Removal Project was quickly underway, and I will spare you the details due the graphic nature of the operation. For the sake of educational purposes (should this savagery ever occur to you or your own bright-minded progeny), I can report that the operation took no less than the use of a D-Cell flashlight, a rusted pair of my grandfather’s carpenters pliers, a jar of salt (Mom’s theory, relating to slugs), a wooden stick from the backyard (for Brody to clamp down on), a splash of hydrogen peroxide, and a large, perhaps overly-gluey Band-Aid.

Phil, mangled from battle, was handed to me to dispose of by my perturbed Dad. The toilet and the mysterious waters beyond offered the only thing close to Phil’s native habitat for which to reintroduce him into the wild. So, accompanied by a river of mournful tears, and with a splash pattern that would make a Chinese diver proud, I cast my best friend into the wilds of the Contra Costa County Sanitation System.

R.I.P. Phil.

Superman Toothbrush

Some time had passed since my sorrowful goodbye to Phil when I was again broken-hearted by dropping a vital possession into the toilet. I was ten then – old enough to have collected a few prized items of my own that did not also belong to my brother. One of those was my electric Superman toothbrush. I may have been a wee little feller and mostly reliant on my parents for food and shelter, but dammit I had electric Superman toothbrush, and together we could conquer the world!

It was near bedtime and I was “scrubbing my pegs,” as my Dad always called it, a strange term for dental hygiene now that I think about it, since at no other time in our youth did he utilize pirate-speak. Like all ten-year-olds, I was excited to get the actual brushing behind me so that I could go read more “Choose Your Own Adventure,” books.

It was in this Adventure-bound frenzy that I found myself rushing Superman’s main chore along. A quick lap around the gums was all that I had time for. As I wheeled to grab Dad’s Listerine off of the shelf next to the toilet, I somehow loosened my grip on ol’ Supey. Down he went, spiraling through the air like a buzzing, spitting, super heroic depth charge. I noted the unchanging, goofily grinning expression on Superman’s plastic face as he broke the water’s plane and slid down along the bowl into the muck that I had as yet neglected to flush.

It was at this time that I chose to let loose an undeveloped but aspirational string of 10-year-old swear words that would have made a drill sergeant blush with shame. Coincidentally, it was at this time that my live-in, elderly grandmother decided to check on my progress. Needless to say, Superman did not make a heroic return to the sink counter. Much to my chagrin, a well-used, tooth-marked bar of soap did, however.

The Only Expensive Pair of Sunglasses That I’ve Ever Owned

You know that predictable asshole named Murphy? The one with all of the Laws and the sick sense of humor who comes around to mock your regular inability to spot malady even when it is barreling down on you like a stroked-out trucker? I do. All too well. He nearly blinded me in 1998.

I was a lift operator at a ski area in Colorado, “living the dream” after my college years. Twenty-five-years-old, criminally handsome (so I’ve told myself), living on a half of a rotten couch for $200 a month, surrounded by impossibly beautiful mountains, adventurous women and piles of mostly illegal intoxicants.

The inevitable late nights of our ski bum existence always seemed to bleed directly into the next far-too-early morning, usually before light actually arrived, when we had to meet our snowmobile hop up to the bottom of the ski lift to start our work day. The sustained lack of appropriate sleep, combined with eye-reddening substances and the brutal glare of sunbaked snow made having a strong pair of sunglasses a vital necessity. Losing or breaking a pair was akin to jabbing yourself in the corneas with a flaming marshmallow stick. So, even though I made a total of somewhere south of seven dollars an hour at the time, I decided to throw down for the latest, most expensive pair of shades possible – a stylish pair of Bolle’s that ran me a season’s worth of oily tuna cans.

Being most of the way up a 12,000 foot mountain and far from a sewage system, the facilities at the bottom of the High Alpine lift consisted of a horrible smelling, freezing cold drop toilet. Using the head was something that was to be avoided at all costs. Everyone on the mountain ate the same disgusting processed food diet, and it proved out in decomposition stage. “Holding it,” was a way of life. Thus, the locker room facilities were often equally destroyed on a daily basis once everyone skied down at the end of the day, but at least they cleaned those. Poor fuckers…

As Murph would have it, you can’t always hold it, especially after consuming half my weight in malted barley and free Crab Rangoon (Phil’s revenge, I called it) the night before. So, off I went, bracing myself with a makeshift turtleneck gas mask to enter the lair of an assy beast.

Now, the thing about a homemade outhouse on the side of a mountain is, there isn’t much light to see your way around with. They were built with as little ventilation as possible, so as to contain the olfactory demon within. After all, nobody wants to pay $80 bucks to ski Aspen only to have their sense of smell permanently deadened by the gaseous emissions of lift-operators. Most days I considered the lack of light a blessing, given the god-awful creature that lived down below the wooden rim. But on this day, proud of my brand new sunglasses as I was, I decided to keep them on rather than stow them away on the bill of my hat. I figured they might work in tandem with the turtleneck mask and form an impenetrable shield against the evil that lurked in the High Alpine shithouse. Also, I was lazy.

Somehow I managed to find myself in proper unloading position without the benefit of illumination. It was on the hasty dismount that I ran into trouble. The elastic suspenders that normally held up my ski pants formed a sproingy lasso when unleashed, and when I stood to quickly evacuate the premises, they wrapped themselves around the iron toilet paper holder, yanking me violently around with enough force to lose my footing on the snowy pine floor.

I landed in a twisted heap on the shithouse floor, face-first on the brink of the death hole. My Bolle’s went hurtling down into the pit, forever sealing them in the mud of a thousand poo’s.

Dazed and dejected, I extricated myself by kicking out the shitter door, crawling to a blinding freedom. I was greeted with a chorus of bellowing laughter from my fellow crew members and cheers from the skiers who were craned around from a half dozen chairs, rising into the skies from the base of the lift.

Later, at the end of the ski season party, I was presented with a pair of sunglasses that were made out of duct tape and cardboard toilet paper rolls, upon which someone had written “Bolle” in fine black marker along the sides.

Cell Phone

Generally, the “five second rule” only applies to non-sticky food stuffs that have been dropped on a relatively clean floor. In some dire cases, this rule has to be applied to items that are both irreplaceably expensive and vital to your working life, such as my first iPhone.

Like many people, I enjoy good reading material when nature calls. It is an unscientific fact that the act of reading ushers along the biological process. In the past, I would go to great lengths to procure reading materials of any kind prior to heading for The Loo. But that was before Steve Jobs made all of our lives better by giving us unlimited options for restroom infotainment, all in a smart little box that fits in the palm of our hands.

And while the iPhone is a brilliant package of mystifying technological magic, I found out the hard way the one thing that it is not, is waterproof. So, when my entire working and social world made that inevitable, ironic plunge into the Bakersfield, California In N’ Out toilet after slipping out of my breast pocket during an unfocused attempt at flushing, I was faced with an unpleasant, split-second decision. Perhaps you’ve been there yourselves, and can empathize with my plight.

Despite what most of my former employers, girlfriends, and teachers would say about me, I consider myself a Man Of Action, an unflappable beacon of pragmatic agency. It is only due to this inner-Chuck-Norris that I was able to utilize my cat-like reflexes and follow its course immediately down into the water and fish my phone out of the fast food restaurant commode before the shock waves that its splashdown had created in the bowl allowed the traditional contents there within to recede back to their former resting places.

Just as quickly as it had entered the toilet, it exited, along with my hand, which did not escape as unscathed as the fetchee. Into the sink everything went for a wash. Fortunately, the In N’ Out had both paper towels AND a power blower, which I promptly forced into sustained usage.

I was just about satisfied with my efforts at drying out my afflicted tele, contemplating where I might find a bag of dry rice at midnight when the bathroom door swung open. It was a pimply kid in a paper hat, peering in on me with one crooked eyebrow, his foot holding the door wide open to the full dining room.

“Dude, are you number 130?” he asked hesitantly. I stared back at him from underneath the blower. “Your order is up and we thought you disappe…,” he added, pausing when he saw my phone in my hand below the air dryer. His oily head tilted to the south momentarily, and then his eyes lit up with delayed recognition. “OH SNAP!” he shouted, snapping the fingers on both hands at once for effect. He was laughing now, his voice rising and squeaking in a crescendo of pre-adolescent dynamic range. “Did you drop your PHONE IN THE CRAPPER!? Dude, that SUUUCCCKS! That happened to my toothbrush once!”

 

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“Dear God. Jesus Lord. Jah…Great Yogi Spirit in the Sky,” I pleaded aloud to all humanity from atop Coyote Mountain, a short hike that terminates at the locked gates of an abandoned Molybdenum mine not far from my house. I was down on my knees, as piously posed as one can be. You know the look: hands pressed together, elbows bent and tucked rib-ward, back straight, my head tilted precisely at 45 degrees, eyes closed to the world but opened inwardly to the possibility of random salvation.

“I. Need. A. Job. Any job…. Work.” I continued, really working up a spiritual lather. I felt my voice subconsciously morph into the staccato pattern (strangely, including an effective high-ceilinged echo) of a Baptist Minister who was reciting a particularly meaty passage of The Good Book.

“I need this work badly, you see. Any paid sort of regular activity will suffice, so long as I am able to pay my goddamned bills.”  I paused for effect.

It was in the pause that I first felt an eyebrow lift uncontrollably towards the heavens – a peculiar reaction. I am generally not prone to facial spasms, and so I took this as some sort of sign.

“Oh Jesus. Was that you? Controlling my brow?” I asked aloud without my typical trepidation for public oratory. What the hell. There was nobody around the old mine that could hear my prayer but me, the dog (who was off wallowing in irradiated mud), a few haggard marmots and The Big Guy Upstairs.

It occurred to me why my brow had twitched. Heavenly disapproval seemed the likely culprit. “Uh. Sorry about the “goddamned” thing.” My brain pinged.

“Whoops! Sorry again. I’ll stop with the goddamn stuff. Er. Yeah. OK. That was the last one. I swear. OK. Well, not anymore. With the swearing. I promise. Semantics…”

The other brow lifted to match its partner. “Whoa. So it IS you, right? With the brow tick thing?” I asked excitedly. I hadn’t officially prayed since 1993, and that was only to see if He might allow me to make out with Jenny Dorrance, a total hottie who otherwise ignored me with all of her pigtailed, freckled glory, on the church-sponsored 7th grade ski trip.

“OK. Well, hell..,” I continued. Looking around to make sure that I was truly alone. Of course I was alone. Nobody else EVER hiked this trail. They were worried about contamination. They read the signs and accepted their warnings as law. HA! I knew better. And because I knew better, I had my own private mountain to hike on whenever I wanted.

“OK. Brass tacks, sir. So, this job deal…I need one. Again. I know, I know. I am really sorry about that last one. I seriously tried to make that work, Dear Lord God. I Gave It My All.

“Unfortunately, my all was too much, apparently. It appears in retrospect, God Sir, that in fact, I gave too much. They said that I was “Over The Top” and that I was ‘Scaring the Customers’ with my ‘Antics.’

“Well, fuck em’, Lord. I am sure that you will agree that the Right Dishonorable Senator Teabagger was laughing just as hard as I was when I “accidentally” spilled that decanter on his lap. I mean….You were there. You tell me!?”

“So. Lordy Lord Lord. God of all G’s. Yahweh the Almighty. Can you help me? I won’t go so far as to say that I am in a pickle because I fuckin’ hate pickles. Too bitter. And all those seeds! Yuck! Why cant they make pickles out of carrots, anyways? See if you can look into that…”

“Anywho…,” I prayed with every ounce of spirit-loving hopeyness that I could muster. “I won’t go that far, but I did have to sell my left kidney to science this week to pay for my weekly massage. Priorities, right? We’ve all got ‘em. I’m sure that you do to. Like this job thing. If you can see to it that this little favor gets shuffled up there on your List above all of those prayers from the goddamned mute Jesus freaks down at the monastery that would be really helpful. Maybe if they did a little less silent prayin’ and spent their time making more beer they’d have something to really talk about ,” I added for good measure.

Have you ever had both eyebrows and your ears twitch at the same time? Well, neither had I, until then. It was as if my entire bedraggled face decided to lift itself without provocation or expensive surgery. But that is exactly what happened to me right then and there in front of the old rusty skull and crossbones sign at the shuttered entrance to the Coyote Mountain Molybdenum Mine. This new, enhanced tick was a sure-as-shit sign that my prayers were working. Allah himself was shining down his ever-loving Light of Destined Employment upon my jobless ass. I could almost feel the heat and smell the smoke of providential change singing my back hair. The facial quivering eased up. I could feel my dog at my side. (He dropped a slobbery rock on my exposed calf.)

Slowly, I opened my eyes. A new heavenly dawn was upon me, but it was dusk as hell, and Coyote Mountain is no place to be after dark. I collected the sacraments that I had spread around me in my prayer circle – old corporation name badges, a half bottle of lukewarm Schlitz, some Redman chewing tobacco, and a pack of saltines – and began the winding walk back down the trail to my truck.

I could feel The Spirit lifting my every step and was eager to get home to see what new job God had assigned me. My mind raced at the possibilities, and I found myself smiling as broadly as I had ever even attempted to smile. As I verily skipped down the path, I looked up at the darkened sky and yelled “THANK YOU LORD GOD THE JESUS!”

“You’re welcome.” My answer came in an echoing crackle that filled the hillside. My heart leapt out of my skull while my stomach rocketed right out of my ass simultaneously. It was He. The Great Employer.

“Is that really YOU?” I asked aloud, my feet no longer touching the dirt. I felt myself floating down the hill like some hillbilly Moses hot-rodding around in an invisible Segway.

“Yes. Come here. I am at the bottom of the hill.” The voice commanded. It sounded like God had gotten himself one of those fancy megaphones. I was not surprised in the least. I’d always heard that he works in mysterious ways, but secretly I had always taken The Lord for a man of practicality.

The dog was going nuts by now and had sprinted ahead. It was clear that he too was Called Forth.

Disbelief crept briefly into my psyche, but was quickly dashed by an incredibly bright light that was now shining up the trail from down below. There was no time for pondering the reasons behind my sudden anointment. I had done the hard work of prayer, even Tebowing on my way down to my prayer position, and this was the result. I had to go with it.

“Do you have a JOB for me!?” I sang aloud in a gravelly voice that I’d only heard Jimmy Stewart use before.
“Yes, Mister Anderson, actually I do have a job for you.” The voice said. I was astonished. HE knew my NAME!

Running now around the last corner of the trail, I prepared myself to meet The Creator. The voice talked me into the blinding light.

“Tell me, Big Guy. What job do you have lined up for me?! What am I going to do? Er…Is there, by chance, health insurance involved? Maybe a few weeks of vacation… without having to wait a year to cash in?” I asked, thrilled at the possibilities, trusting my footing in the white wash of heavenly illumination.

Then my world went dark again. My pupils rioted against the sudden change, clamping down on my spiritualized cones and rods with bank vault alacrity. It took a disorienting moment, but I was finally able to see the slim human form of God emerge in the spotty blackness. Hmm, I thought to myself. He’s skinnier than in the paintings.

“Your job, Mister Anderson, if you choose to accept it…” the voice answered from mere feet away. I steeled myself to receive my Ultimate Destiny, delivered by an Eternal Being. My eyes continued adjusting until I could make out the rig that God stood next to. It was a Chevy Blazer with a Pitkin County Sheriff emblem emblazoned on the side. “…is to move your goddamned truck. It’s blocking my way, and I’ve got to get up that hill to investigate reports of someone trespassing at the old mine site.”

“And leash this fuggin’ mutt, he took a piss on my tire.”

(This story was originally published in the literary website, flipcollective.com in August, 2012)

CONDORS

Away from the grey, nauseous coast
free wheeling through a great, long valley
burnt to char, closed to overland travel
an easy cab for travel, blue and loud
loaded for bear, some of everything, except Bear
stories fly like ashy mud from rolling stock
until the decisions add up

across the cracked expanse
of the Central Valley
and a bitter, paranoid failure avoided
there is no hope in the Greenfield Sleaze Inn
It’s the Glory Road, minor through dirt road
red pocks stitched across a blank white void
Doctor Know indeed, intuit knew it
leads us to, over the finest night rally track
that I have ever bombed, dark and empty
as all unknown adventures should be
cows gather but stay put, black blurs on the hoof
the risk and reward, to persevere. Per severe ants
Pre-severance, too broke to go, too rich to stay
Pea Knuckle National Mausoleum
void of the holiday hordes that
abhored me on first attempt
shaken and discouraged enough to drive
two unknown hours, thus to sleep
in the cancer flakes of Asbestos Creek

All night loon chatter about a roaring fire
spoons and forks and thought full lines
drawn in the sands of my corporation plaque
blasting torrents of dead stars
tracing hell through the heavens
God becomes the topic de jour
for railing logic, pulled and pushed
until that notion too ascends in smoke
for his own consideration, or emptiness
finally, warm scotch seizes the mind
and turns off the fun receptors
until cold, lonely night locks the scene

And with day is play, this new place, still ours
empty save for a lonely tent that keeps appearing
looping drives to pay our share, but where?
a slow man allows passage into sweet water
the honor system and a giant tabulator
and off for the hills that bleed sand
and know the dark shadow of giant birds
the colors thicken in the falling light, bloom in dusk
it is a well beat trail, the heart knows a good trail
and rushes forth, testing its flow, alive to go
up through the golden spires, stalwart skies
in search of the Condors gliding on warm thermals
and now this rock, quake shot stone
to hold my calm, to hone my soul

C. Madison Anderson
Pinnacles National Monument
12-3-08

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July 11, 2012
Metallica, Inc.

Dear James, Kirk, Lars, Rob, and the rest of the Metallica crew and management:

Hi. I see on your Facebook page that more than 26 million people are Metallica “likers”, which is an astounding number, and an indication that you must get hundreds, if not thousands of letters a week. I hope that this one makes it.

Many, many huge congratulations to you all for sticking with your dreams and making shit happen. Metallica is one of, if not THE best rock and roll bands in the history of music. And that, my friends, is an amazing thing when you put it into historical context based on where we all came from.

Note that I did say we. Like yourselves, I grew up California, in my case in the Bay Area. When I was 14 years old, my brother Ody, who was three years older, started telling me about this band called Metallica that was playing around Oakland and The City. Every chance he could, he would go see you guys play. I still remember the ticket stubs that stuck out of the border of the mirror on his desk like paper spokes. Metallica, Metallica, Spastic Children, Metallica, Primus, Slayer, Grateful Dead (!) Metallica….so on.

He knew about you cats because he happened to be a DJ at the only heavy metal radio station in the Bay Area (that we knew of), 90.5 KVHS FM out of Concord – actually, out of Clayton Valley High, to be geographically factual.

You see, KVHS was a high school and college radio program at a particularly metalheaded high school right smack dab in the middle of, or perhaps right there on the screaming, bleeding, serrated blade tip of the Metal Revolution of the mid-80’s.. Mark Osegueda (singer/band leader for Death Angel) was Ody’s CLASS PRESIDENT fer chrissakes! He was also our next door neighbor. It was undoubtedly a cool time and place to grow up, and your music was one of our major guides and sources of inspiration (and good/bad hearted debauchery!)

I had the good fortune of following my brother into the radio program at KVHS when I was a sophomore at CVHS. By then, Metallica was a staple. You were actually FOUGHT over since DJ’s could, by rule, only play the same band every other show. I personally watched a fist fight occur outside of our studios between a DJ who “slipped” one of your songs in as he was about to get off the air and a DJ who had based his whole show around the theme of Fire and was going to lead off with Fight Fire with Fire.

When I joined KVHS, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be in radio – to be a broadcaster, and they gave me that avenue, that opportunity: To help people rock to their fullest. Thankfully, I was surrounded with a whole bunch of likeminded folks there. EVERYONE at KVHS wanted the same. And for years, KVHS trained countless professionals how to get into and succeed in the business. Our alumni includes actors, DJ’s, station managers, TV personalities, musicians, sound men and women, and hundreds of other media professionals.

I am writing to let you all know that KVHS is being killed off by unrighteous bureaucrats of the Mount Diablo Unified School District. Clayton Valley High School, where KVHS has been located since its inception, has turned into a charter school, and subsequently both the support and funding for the program was pulled and all options for moving the station to another school were dashed – called “too expensive.”

I do not believe that it is presumptuous , nor is it an exaggeration to say that in some ways, the success of Metallica as a band was spurred on by the wholehearted support of both KVHS and its personnel as they/we moved into the professional ranks. We loved and still love your band and what you stand for.

I wonder if the band might care to comment, intervene, or otherwise remark upon this development in some way? Things are that dire. There is talk of selling off the frequency. The Wilson’s, who have administered the program for many years, have already been given their walking papers. In no way do I intend to guilt you all or anything of that nature – but rather to bring to your awareness a situation that I think, and many of my colleagues think, is just a G$^#%$d shame. And, importantly – something that should absolutely be avoided and corrected if at all possible.

I, and I am sure all of my colleagues, wish Metallica many years of continued success. You are all inspirations for every single rocker who ever lived. Keep shredding! Long live Metallica, and long live, even if in our memories, The Rock, 90.5 KVHS FM in Concord, California.

If I can help with any of your questions and concerns, please feel free to have anyone in the Metallica organization contact me.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this letter and to consider the request.

Corby Anderson

Director of Sales and Marketing

RadioCMC

Colorado Mountain College

1402 Blake Street

Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

 

Destination Destitution

by Corbett M. Anderson

Copyright 2012

 
Never said, livin’ was easy

That’s just summer in a song

Never said, dyin was hard

That’s just some collar on the phone

 

Never wanted, nothin’ at all

Well, I’ve got plenty of that

Anything’s better, than the nothin’ I got

But if I had you that’d be somethin’ else

 

Never know, the price you pay

Til’ the check comes in the mail

Never know, the debt you owe

Til’ the man comes with the nails

 

Destination unknown

Destitution well known

Destination unknown

Destitution well known and on and on and on…

Uncool Takings

By Corby Anderson

Eyes raw and spackled with cat hair, my mouth ravaged with an unknowable and toxic combination of the previous night’s gustatory insults, I wandered into the kitchen for a glass of water. Relatively speaking, this morning watering was the most important thing in the world, you see.

I crossed the kitchen linoleum one slow inch at a time, so as not to upset the booze-rattled inner ear. I reached into the cupboard, fingered the handle, and leveled the old mason jar to the cold water tap that fronts our refrigerator, and when the glass had filled to the rounded top, I claimed my blessed prize in great gulps.

As I drank of Mother Nature’s joyful tears, it occurred to me that something in my immediate surroundings was different. I glanced around. The walls were still painted in that sickly green foam color that our senile landlord named after herself. The cabinets were the same, as were the duck-themed curtains that my wife had hated but installed anyway after their much-ballyhooed presentation as a wedding present. It all looked the same, but something felt slightly amiss.

Down the street, a dog yipped — probably Ron Rivera’s dad’s cockerpoo –setting off a major quake that split viciously down through my grey matter. Holding my head together, and sipping my salvation, I studied the fridge — that oblong container of abandoned condiments and foreign cheese which, other than as the place where half-eaten boxes of white rice go to wither and die, serves as the artistic and archival hub of our household.

The walls and face of our fridge were barren and devoid of life. No pictures. No yellowing strips of newsprint with dumb headlines (“Brown Eyed in Acorn Probe” or “Satan lifts Flyers over Avalanche”), no early Crayola works of a future Master. Not one.

The stark white face of the Kenmore was a clean and unmanaged as a newborn’s conscience. No wet or smiling dogs, no super-soaking river wars, no camping sing-alongs, no shotgun weddings, no monochromatic sunsets, no bluish snorkelers holding hands underwater atop a dumbfounded turtle. Not even a random familial babe.

Fear T-boned my gut like a herd of rollerblading rhinos in a Chinatown alley. What was wrong? What had I done this time? I had just awakened on the ten-minute couch, but that is not illogical, or un-normal, for that matter. On certain nights of folly and mirth, I’ll claim the couch rather than roust the wife. Why wake a perfectly good sleeper, a far more innocent soul, with my rambunctious sleep-bound gyrations? It was late when the garage concerto came to an ugly head — at least 4:30 a.m., and there had been a half-hearted push for our heinously pickled band to head for the beach to gander at rare winter waves and a pissy, rising sun. But I do not believe that this meteorological mission occurred, judging by the lack of sand in my beard.

Why on earth would someone come in and steal all of our photographs and carefully vetted fridge magnets while leaving me utterly unscathed, I wondered: Had I ordered a new icebox in my stupor, one exactly like our old standby, but without the memories attached? Montel’s juicer, maybe. Likely, in fact. But no calls to Sears or Home Depot rang any bells. I had not won any bets, that I could recall. Nor had I lost any, at least none that required forfeiture of my magnetized collage. To the best of my knowledge, I had not made any donations to charity, unless you count Berto’s Beer Cave and Corner Market register No. 2 as charity.

But the receipt jammed into my chest pocket said nothing of photographs. Only a 750 milli-something jigger of Jagermeister, eighteen Coors Lights in can formula, a set of dominoes, seven Lucky Seven lottery scratchers, a gross of tequila-flavored beef jerky, several pairs of plastic sunglasses, a pack of Marlboros, Snickers bar, Snickers ice cream bar, tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, and ten gallons of low-grade diesel, which in hindsight is interesting because I think that I know for a fact that I did not drive to Berto’s, and even if I had, I do not own a diesel. Nor do I smoke. Much.

The things that go through your head when you are dying of thirst and your very past has been erased! Like mercury through a colander, my mind raced from nowhere to nowhere, coming to all conclusions at once. Robbed. Stolen. Targeted by some unknown syndicate. Maybe I was dead. Maybe I was someone else.

The chilly fridge water coursed down my singed gullet, easing the reflux, slightly cooling the kettle below. I studied the rectangle that stood nakedly before me. White skin, stretched square. Too white. Too square.

Suddenly, more than anything, even more than the water I had finally won, I wanted to have a round refrigerator. And not just circular. Round. Orb-like. No, not like an orb. Round. Let’s see the bastards try and strip my fondest memories from that, I thought. No one would dare molest a round fridge. Even hardened thieves would draw that line. It would be too weird and difficult to attempt. Like necrophilia. Or cricket.

My cell phone was dead, the life sapped right out of it by a pervading, innate laziness. So much for “smart phones.” Phones should know how to charge themselves by now. It’s 2010, ferchrissakes. Enough with all of these obscure plugs and tiny cables.

To hell with it. I grabbed the wall phone and dialed 911. A lady answered, sounding uncertain and tired. “I wanna report a theft!” I shouted. “Oh yeah? Of what?” “Whaddya mean of what? My goddamned pictures of my goddamned life. And the magnets. The fuckers took the magnets too,” I continued. I looked again through nuclear eyes. The Space Ghost magnet was indeed missing. “Aw…holy hell, my God. The fiends took Space Ghost!”

 

The line was quiet. Too quiet. I listened to see if she was calling in the APB somewhere in the background. No radio chatter. Nothing but dead air. Then I heard a faint sound. It sounded like someone snoring lightly. “Hey!” I shouted. “What the hell is this? First my house gets invaded, and then the cops ignore me? Are you fucking sleeping? I’ll have your badge, you reckless ditz!” That oughta wake her ass up, I figured.

“Corby,” she said, finally.

“Yes! Yes … that’s me. It’s about time. I’m over here with criminals running amok, bashing in doors and stealing magnets and … hey … howdidyouknowmyna …”

“This is your wife. I washed the fridge last night. The pictures and the stupid magnets are in the basket by the door. Come back to bed and stop making such a fucking racket!”

 

Spicy lineup in Snowmass features chili, beer, music

 

Real Aspen –
June 4, 2012
The vaunted Roaring Fork Valley summer festival season kicks off this weekend with a two-day mountain party that holds something for anyone who loves great craft and home brews, world-class nosh, and a fantastically diverse live music lineup. 

The 9th Annual Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest takes place all day long on both Friday, June 9, and Saturday, June 10, on the Snowmass Village Mall and the Fanny Hill stage.
The festival is a serious competition for brewers and cooks alike, with prestigious awards going to the top Summer Seasonal Ale and to the best home brew. Chili cooks from across the nation will be serving up their heated concoctions and vying for purses of up to $1000 for the primo traditional chili red, chili verde and salsa categories, all judged on taste, flavor blending, consistency, aroma, color, and – bolster your guts – heat!
As an added incentive — as if seeing an entire village of happy gastro-adventurers greedily lapping up their igneous concoctions isn’t enough – the winners of the Snowmass chili competitions secure themselves a spot in the International Chili Society’s 2012 World Chili & Salsa Championship held in Charleston, West Virginia.
A traditional festival highlight are the Seasonal Brews Samplings from 5-8pm on Friday and a Grand Tasting from 3-5pm on Saturday, which feature samplers from all of the participants, including a European and exotic brew tasting tent and a Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon booth (Friday) and a Sauza Tequila booth on Saturday.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Snowmass festival without an incredible music lineup pumping jams out on the verdant lawn of the Fanny Hill ski run. 

Music headliners include international sensation Gypsy Punk band Gorgol Bordello who perform on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m., along with New Orleans Funk Band, Galactic, who play at 1 p.m. On Friday night, West African Reggae band Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, will take the stage at 4:30 p.m. and open for The Congress, a southern Rhythm & Blues/Rock & Roll band, who play at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are affordable for both single-day event passes and full festival passes, with various options offered. A 2-Day Party Pass is a bargain at $65 for all of the beer, food and music a person can possibly enjoy in one weekend.
Festival-goers are encouraged to use the bus and shuttle systems as parking is limited in Snowmass Village.
For more information on the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest, go to www.snowmasschiliandbrew.com. For more information on lodging and ticket packages call 1800SNOWMASS or go to www.snowmasstourism.com.
The Snowmass Chili and Brew Fest is this weekend. http://www.snowmasschiliandbrew.com/