First stuff is first: birthdays!
Happy birthday to the Roswell, NM, UFO crash – July, 1947
Happy birthday to the Apollo 11 lunar landing – July 20, 1969.
and happy recent birthdays also to the following NON-EVENTs:
H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama, Ringo, The Bacon of Kevin, Hanx, “Shaft”, Dio, Arlo, Michelle “DUI” Rodriguez, Cheech, “Picard”, “Rorschach”, The Hoff, Brian May, Ph.D., Santana, and the Master: Cormac McCarthy.
Yes! It is the best day of today! I finally finished the darned editing on the Sign of the Tail interview with none offer than Terence McKenna. That was a shot in the dark, because #1, he’s dead, and #2, Sylvia Browne, to whom we gave the honor of channelling Terence, is a considerable drunk, petulant egomaniac, and greedy asswipe. She charges fully THREE times the going rate for an MLPD (Mid-level, pre-decadal) Celebrity Channel. Sure it is cheaper than that bastard John Edwards, but hey, WE got bills to pay, too, Sylvia! Anyway, we had to do the whole thing by phone because we were not about to pay her airfare and a room in The Sorrento. So, see the link below and enjoy! You also get to see Prod Mewlo and I getting into it. Sorry about “The Rockefeller.” I fell into a ravine while climbing Mt. Si. earlier that day and set off a pre-existing neural condition. It is sort of funny, when you get used to it. I am back to normal now. A few nights of sleep usually fix it, but NOT before I go through a sloppy North Irish brogue, a raging Cajun, a brisk Baqsue, and a very messy Monrovian.
New kittehs up!
Unlike teh cheezburger, the picture/caption combinations found at MCHY are put together by myself and maybe a half-dozen forum members. We use non-idiotic concepts, for the most part, the English language as it was intended by EVOLUTION! and we are completely subversive and offensive. Yet, even my own family does not approve of my methods. But they said that of Colonel Kurtz, didn’t they? Now who is laughing? That yak that got its fucking head cut off! I think we understand each other NOW, don’t we?
There are some new kitties for your enjoyment. If you do not laugh, then do not worry. If the understanding is not manifesting, approach the entry as a koan: with equanimity and mindfulness. Your mind will experience the ligature and will realize the caption for what it is: the shunyata.
** WARNING – NON-CAT STUFF AHEAD **
This is the promised summary of my last year back in Seattle. But we can’t quite get to that until I talk about where I have been the two years previous!
WHERE I BEEN – Part I
For those of you who do not know the story of where MCHY was during the Great Drought of 2009-2011, it is like this you see:
By February , 2009, I had finalized the sale of my restaurant, Georgetown Liquor Company, to Topher and Leslee Mesloh. I was done with the drunks, the lack of sleep, and the stress of “the business.” I needed a vacation and by God, I meant to take one.
From my very first acquaintance with the world of Recreational Vehicles, I was a convert. Cruising into middle age, I found the experience of sleeping on uneven ground, buffered by perhaps a deflated air mattress, to be something better left to children and those wishing even more pain in their older lives. The idea of driving my campsite around was seriously a trip, and even more important, it was doable.
So I didsk it! Perusing the online classifieds, I soon found a lovely twenty-six foot Tioga Class-C motorhome – an Econoline 350 sitting on a medium-duty van chassis. This comes into play much later somewhere on I-80 in the middle of Nevada. For now, I was comfy enough driving a monster like this down the Pacific coast to stay in my favorite town of Warrenton, OR.
Althea and I were having our maiden voyage, and within 72 hours of leaving port, she was getting pulled over for the first time – with me. The details are not important, but the speeding ticket certainly cemented my already curious suspicion that law enforcement in Podunk towns depend on cleverly-devised traps for out-of-towners that are usually spending their savings just being ON the damned trip. Luckily, I was exceedingly wealthy at the moment and simply stuffed three hundos in Officer Spudnick’s Kevlar vest and told him to go get himself a nice Irish girl, on me, the Mick himself.
We stayed at Fort Stevens, a state-appropriated World War II artillery battery jutting into the mouth of the Columbia River. We meaning Althea and myself. It was rather cool and foggy our first night out, and was sort of creepy as I walked the trails of the nearly empty campgrounds, an almost-full moon illuminating the mist that hung heavy among the trees. I walked and smoked and decided upon that moment that she is definitely ready for the real test: Mariners spring training in two weeks.
We hustled back to Seattle and prepared for a few months away from home. As with most of my life, I had a plan of about 5 days; get to Los Angeles and visit the family.
That was accomplished with much fanfare and attention paid to being in an altered state of mind. When I came to, I was on my way to Arizona.
The southern border of the United Stated is an interesting place. As I ambled through Yuma, AZ, the large black fence protecting good Americans from the evil Messicans stretched for miles in either direction. It seemed to be made of a mesh unwieldy enough for handhold but easily seen through. At its base armored men and women guarded it with silent fervor. Among the rocky hills along Interstate 8 were nestled Humvee vehicles fitted with all manner of offensive devices. At first glance they were missed, but if you were stuck at a checkpoint, you could see the hot desert sun reflecting in their windows. It was at one of these checkpoints that I encountered a less-than-friendly group of U.S. Border Patrol agents looking for troublemakers such as Althea and myself.
“Where are you headed?”
“Where are you coming from?”
“Probably Washington, like on the license plates.”
“Do you have any drugs, guns, or people aboard?”
Well, that was a loaded fucking question. The first two, certainly. The last, not that I knew of.
“We need to board you.”
Yes, board me. As in come inside my home and snoop around. They opened the door themselves and came into my private residence, as described by law. I protested at the canine, being slightly allergic to the animal. It did not matter, of course.
The female agent, the nicest of the bunch (good cop?) asked me if I had picked anyone up.
“No, but you might want to check in the fridge. Those Messicans are pretty small.” And Lord help me, she looked in the icebox.
Above the driver’s seat was the cab-over bed, and nestled just within my reach against the mattress, was my Glock 9mm. One of the officers saw it and asked me about it.
“This is my home, and by Arizona law, I may keep a firearm within reach.” He left it at that. To be completely honest about the matter, in Arizona, I can keep the damned pistol in my lap, in my hand, but LEOs prefer that you keep it on the dashboard to conform with open-carry laws. I thought that was silly until I passed other vehicles with various firearms laying out on their dashboards.
The funny thing was the drugs. Now I am not a user by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy relaxation by way of herbal remedies. The small amount I brought with me on this trip (a couple ounces to be exact) were stored in a special airtight/waterproof astronomy/photography Pelican case, also stored over my head. You know what they say, you get what you pay for. In this case, the price was worth the protection. The dog smelled nothing, the officers left the RV, and I was on my way. Good ol U S of A!
By the way, but no offense to all concerned, Yuma is a fucking pit.
I made it to Phoenix that very night and spent a few weeks enjoying the Mariners spring training, hanging out in the sun, drinking fine beers, and biking all over town. Then it was time for me to embark upon my secondary mission: glider lessons.
Being not a fan of heights or flying (even though I have done plenty plenty of it), it only made sense that I should find an open spot at an RV park that sat 200 feet from the gravel runway of Turf Soaring School. There is so much to say about my week there, it is another small novella. Some highlights, though.
I had an awesome instructor called Rick that got me in the air and showed me the essential of flying by basically making me fly. So, for anyone who might ever need to know. You do NOT just use the stick. The floor pedals (rudder controls) MUST be used in conjunction with the lateral movement of the stick or you will suck on a grand scale. I will say this also, not to toot my horn, but once you get “the dance” down between the floor pedals and the stick, it really is like dancing. In a few fluid movements you will be finding another thermal and climbing another thousand feet and then again. Best week of my life. I never thought a 600# contraption of aluminum and cloth could be so liberating.
After nightfall the real fun began. I would go out onto the gravel runway with my camera gear and photograph the heavens until I was too tired to stay afoot. For those from the northern climes, the southern sky is so different, it is worthy of the bucket list. You don’t know beauty until you are standing among the Joshua trees on a moonless night watching Sagittarius rise from the horizon, its signature teapot bathing you with the light of countless nebulae.
Then one night I heard them. I was sitting at my computer sometime in the early morning hours, writing a very long blog entry and getting the evening pics of Orion online when I heard, and I am lying not, what I thought was a woman having some damned outrageous sex; perhaps she was mid-orgasm, I am not sure. I listened. What else could I do. It was coming from the RV parked just next to mine.
The next morning, I went to the airstrip shack and hung out with the “other” pilots (mostly Vietnam-era) and the owner, who preferred helicopters over his own light plane. I mentioned the “noise” the night before and they all laughed. You see, the pilots and other field personnel, of which there were two I think, all lived on base, as they called it. The airfield was a strip of gravel with a few mobile homes and RVs camped around it.
“What you heard, Jim, was the burros!” Ah, that explained it. Who the hell were the burros?
“We have a herd of wild burros that come in at night to drink from that old trough you have seen over yonder!” Indeed I had seen the trough. It has a slow-drip hose attached to it over by Rick’s “house.”
When the laughing had subsided, I thought upon it. Yes, it was in fact the very sound of a burro or two hee-hawing. But the real trip was that when they were hee-hawing, they were probably three feet from my RV window.
That very day, Rick invited me out for a bike ride. Where were we going? A mile or so down a dusty trail from the runway to a copse of old cacti. And buried within the cacti were nests. And in the nests, were a litter of gorgeous desert owls. Big-feathered and dusty, the babies poked their heads from the hole dug into the cactus rump, waiting for mom to come home with mice and other desert meals.
That very night, I returned again to the gravel runway and with drink and cigarettes and relaxed under the darkest skies one can imagine. Then I heard again a noise with put me upon edge. A low crunch, then another, then many. I could not see five feet in front of me, so I backed to a tree and took refuge behind it until they were upon me. Them were the entire herd of wild burros, coming across the runway to the drinking trough. I never saw them , but estimating by the number of hooves I heard crunch the gravel, then dividing by four, I figured upon perhaps a dozen. And as they came across the runway, they were silent save their crunching. No snorting or heeing and hawing about. Like a train of ghosts, perhaps.
Finally, I had to leave Turf Soaring School and my new found friends. I was heading up to Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert.
If you haven’t seen Meteor Crater, AZ, and do not have a hard-on for big holes in the ground, do not bother. As it turns out, I do, so I bothered. Something about a mile-wide crater strewn with meteorite fragments from outer space makes me happy. The visitors center leaves much to be desired, but what can you do? Who is going to fund this room that sits on the rim of a huge hole in the ground?
The Painted Desert, what is there to say about that? Gorgeous, wonderful, immaculate, full of broken-down trailers. Oh well; we don’t get to choose to whom Jehovah has given dominion of his world, do we?
Into Panguitch, UT, and further north to Salt Lake. Desolate, forbidden desert, all of it. And beauty along every mile. I stopped at a rock store and bought a whole load of different indigenous geology for my friend in Alabama.
As it turns out, I am not the only one in the Southwest who takes advantage of their lawless ways and carries a firearm openly in its holster. In Phoenix, I was in a Safeway and saw a younger man carrying a very nice holstered pistol as he shopped with his gorgeous young blonde daughters. All through the desert folks wore their weapons, harkening back to the Old West, when we protected our own and our neighbors.
One particularly funny episode occurred while I was riding my bike into Phoenix from Peoria with my Glock tucked into its holster at my side. A Jeep full of young guys was parked at a light as I crossed the road and one of them stood up and yelled out to me, “Stay true to the safari, niggah!” Since I am not black nor on a safari, there must be some pop culture reference in there somewhere. Another reference to my open carry was made as I rode along a highway out to a popular lake. A truckful of folks pulling their boat yelled out various things, “bang bang cowboy! WOO HOO!” etc. Desert folk, you gotta love them. But they are, after all, Republicans
During these long travels, I of course kept up on emails and even posting cats to MCHY. Then I got an email from a fan in Baltimore, MD. Her name was Athena Baxivanos. She was a site-long fan, in fact her own boss had bought her very many goodies from our site to entice her over the holidays into secret rendez-vous.
She asked, innocently enough, if I would be visiting Baltimore anytime soon for a book signing. Well, I was in the middle of the fucking Southwest, so probably not anytime soon. But I signed a copy of the MyCatHatesYou book and sent it to her. She replied within the week that her and mom had gone to dinner and read the book and had the big guffaw and what times! Okay, that is safe enough, but being the on-the-road-drinking-it-up sap that I was, I started an email conversation with her and soon pictures followed, showing her in full wine-drinking glory accompanied by a small personal resume.
Quite in innocence, I replied and talked about days gone by and things of the more metaphysical nature. At the time, I was I believe staying in some crazy mom and pop in the middle of the desert. My internet was spotty, but we managed to stay in touch. On a daily basis. What had I else to do? Drink the whiskey, ride the bike, and sit on the ‘net. Verily, this was my life, aside from traveling this great nation of ours.
As I planned my move toward Nevada, Athena called me (we had exchanged phone numbers). I was pulling into Flagstaff, AZ, my pistol on my hip, to fill Althea with petrol. After filling, I pulled over to the a side road that led to the Flagstaff airport, which was another gravel-style strip of land meant to bring unfortunate souls to their destination.
Her first words to me were, “YOU ARE GONNA GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK!”
It was spoken in a great Baltimore accent. I did not know it at the time, but that was how they spoke, those Baltimoreans. It sounded very East Coast, of that I was sure, but I did not quite get the dialect, until I knew her for some years.
When I asked what caused her to think of a heart attack, she mentioned the fact I was feeling out of sorts before hitting the road and I did not know how far I would get. So she felt the impetus to call and make sure I was okay. This is true.
So, that started the “voice call” part of the heretofore Internet-Only relationship. And then we started talking at random times during the day and then at night, and then it got to the point of “saying goodnight.” WOW! This is some cool shit!.
So we talked all through my trip, which took me across the Nevada desert from Salt Lake to Reno. Now, that is where the build of Althea really took a hit. She was not built upon a typical RV frame. Well, honestly, at the time, perhaps she was normal. Take a big Ford Econoline 350 engine and frame for say, a personnel van, and toss a big heavy fiberglass shell on top, add a generator, bathroom, water and poop tanks, etc. Overbuilt for sure. Even the RV experts told me: yeah, she is a BIG girl for that size frame.
Bottom line: she swayed like a Jew in prayer. And the best time to cross the Nevada desert is apparently during a great big fucking wind and sand storm! Althea and I swayed and rocked for hundreds of miles, eventually having to pull over around the Bonneville Salt Flats. There was a nice little rest area (more like bathrooms) somewhere on I-80 where I could get off the road, get some “air” and take a pee. I went into the mens area and was taking a pee when a young man came in and started cleaning the room and asked me (as I was peeing), “So, who makes your carry?”
“Glock 26, sub-compact 9mm,” I said.
“Ah! I carry a S & W .45 , blah blah blah.”
I washed up and we checked out each other’s pieces and then talked guns for a bit. He was a State employee that took care of the bathrooms along I-80, and as an American, he carried a firearm.
Then I hit Reno. By now I had been talking on the phone pretty much every day with Athena Baxivanos. We had been texting and sending emails and whatnot. She seemed to be an interesting person, based on these conversations.
She was not classically trained, and had no education to speak of. Well, neither was I or had I, so I wouldn’t hold that against her. But she had some interesting ideas about reincarnation and the Vietnam War and as on her way to Florida to buy a house in Jupiter. In hindsight, this makes sense, because I have the idea that she is probably not from this planet.
She had sold her house in north Baltimore, and moved in with a good friend of hers, the lecherous old timer known as Dave Holland. This was over on 101 N. Rolling Road, out there Catonsville way.
Now Dave is an interesting character. Athena Baxivanos has known him for the last 17 years or so, from the auction circuit that she adheres to. That was a big hobby for her and probably her final downfall. But on this circuit, she meets Dave, who instantly has the hots for Athena. He wants to do more than just up her bid, if you know what I mean. At this particular point in their relationship, Dave has an extra room in his house available for her to live in, as she has sold her house and needs a base of operation while she goes to to Florida, looking for a place to buy.
In the past, interesting things have been attributed to Dave and his psychotic leanings. What I mean by that may become more clear as this story goes on. But when Athena moves in with him at this point in time, he is already in love with her, and I think he had a hole in the wall he watched her shower through.
That was Dave’s style. He had already done time for starting a ring of thieves. It went down like this: someone sees Dave’s ad in the paper, stating he will give top dollar for gold, silver, etc. The whole world is doing it, why not Dave. But he has an angle! After he goes on a house call, an estate run, whatever the hell you want to call it, and he has determined a price for what the caller has to offer, it is usually too high. So he is refused and he hangs his head and leaves the abode. But as he hangs the head, he calls the homes. And within a week, the house is burglarized and certain goods are stolen. Then Dave and the Hoods split the loot and go on their way. This is the life Athena Baxivanos has chosen as a pathway to the Good Life.
It should be said that she was only interested in one thing, that is: the good life. To her, it means someone else taking care of her and her money sitting in the bank, accruing interest. You see, it makes no sense if she spends her money, when YOU have money in the bank, such as I did, six figures at the time of my road trip.
So, we evolved, Athena Baxivanos and I, from simple emails and text messages to some of the deeper stuff. We recognized in each other some kindred spiritness, I suppose, Not being involved with burglary-ring-masterminds or international mafia folks, though. That was her milieu. I was not interested in associating with those type.
And as it turns out, the type of people I decide to associate with were not the ones she would choose. Among these people were cross-dressers, homosexuals, blacks, hispanics, Asians, drunks, drug users, poor people, and worst of all: females!
There was no place in this woman’s life for the female 1/2 of our specie. So great, ultimately, was her insecurity from whatever sufferings had occurred in her life, that she viewed even a barista at Starbucks as some kind of ultimate threat to her relationship with me. That was one of those things that did not stand out at first, it was hidden behind a well-maintained facade many years in its construction. But there it was, this insecurity. It was to be the bane of my life for two full years.
Back to the story, though! By now, I am in Reno, last I checked, and having lived in my RV for over one month now, I was ready for a break. So, I parked Althea behind the Silver Legacy casino and got a room that I could peer from onto my vehicle below. What a nice change it was to have clean linens (not that mine were particularly dirty, I just could not wash them every night), a big screen plasma style TV, and air conditioning that did not cost me $ 2.00 an hour.
Nice hot shower, good meal, a drink or two and I was off to the craps table, where I find myself having the best luck. And once again, luck I was having. In fact, within three solid hours of playing I was up six bills and a meelion free gin and tonics.
Then they sent in the cooler. And if you don’t know who the cooler is, look it up, but they exist, for sure and the SL sent one down to our table because, dig it honkey, not only was *I* up, EVERYONE was up, and up big. Chips were flying north on every roll and the suits were getting antsy. So, in comes Bobby Boring. Within five minutes of him showing up, the table was not only cold, it was the dealer, the cooler, the stickman, and me. Fuck that, I colored up, packed up my chips and went upstairs to watch the Shawshank Redemption, as I KNEW it would be on some cable channel, somewhere!
The next day I was out on the town, checking out the few blocks that make up the entirety of Reno; the Women’s Professional Bowling Championship was in town, So I had to go into the building that seemed to be built just for them. That was a trip. I have never seen so many women wearing mullets in my life. I sat in the air conditioning of the building – which had a very regal and official designation – and watched the women competing for a position in the big tournament.
The rest of Reno is pretty much… fucking boring with an outskirt of more boring. If you don’t like desert luxury and casinos, stay away. But Tahoe is close, so going there is always an option (like firing squad).
Point is, ladies and gentlemen, I am on my way BACK to the casino, when I see it:
THE MOODY BLUES
Playing in only two days, one of this hippies favorite bands ever. Now, speaking of hippies, Athena Baxivanos made it clear to me that she was a hippie, one-generation removed. I can dig this the most, and so can you if you know my background. I am not just talking about the free love and sex and drugs, I am referring to the other stuff as well.
More to come . . .