Flight of the Stewl Pigeon

June 2, 2018 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers)

A bird in the hand…

I deal with all kinds of animals at work, mostly the stinky two-legged human variety. Pitbull “service animals,” the occasional rodent, or, the most frightening, cockroaches and bedbugs. (These critters will get us moving; the last time a guy came in with a bagful of cockroaches, we badgered him out of the store forever, and I locked up and ran to Rite Aid for bug spray. WAR!)

A more common interloper, something we are almost used to?

Birds…

I’ve talked about birds before, specifically when referring to certain managers. It’s the perfect metaphor for what happens when Grinder shows up, or when a pigeon walks in.

We get pigeons, seagulls, crows and starlings wandering into the Waterfront Store. Eventually they find their way out. To the best of my knowledge, no bird has died at the Waterfront Store.

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On The First Day of Summer

May 6, 2018 at 4:20 am (Cussed Dumbers, Drunk and disorderly)

Cinco de Mayo; it’s the beginning of our Xmas season.

Downtown is a constant beehive, although the past few years the sidewalk seems to roll up earlier than ever. I could take my break on 5th Avenue, sitting in plain view puffing on my one-hitter, eyeballing the occasional bus or MAX, and only see one or two shopping cart people rifling the trash for empties. That is standard from January through April. Nobody out for the hustlers to hustle.

But once May rolls around? Yeehaw!

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The Seven-Year Itch

May 3, 2018 at 10:40 am (Drunk and disorderly, On the road again..., Sweet sticky things)

“Hello, my name is Charlie and I’m an alcoholic.” And a drug-addict and all-around man-about-town.

I’ve been quiet lately, not feeling like sharing, or much of anything, really. Was dealing with depression issues for a bit, but like in my teens, eventually it evaporated. Depressed about what? Nothing more than the pressures and general shame of life. In the midst of the downtime, I’ve had some fun. It’s just that the fun evaporates as well, leaving me to my own empty (yet way-too-busy) thoughts.

My friends have been there for me. I drop in on Dr T. Dizzy and kitty Naomi are stalwart companions, giving me smiles and support. At work, Igor has risen to the top of the milk jug like fine cream, positioning himself to become manager-apparent. Doing such, we spend lots of time working together. I’d rather teach my boss what I want than have to make them figure it out.

And then there’s Wednesday, my day on the road. Mizelle and Lily show up about 9 AM, smiling and bringing sunshine on the rainiest days. I get up about 6 or 7 AM, putter and get my head ready for driving. Lately there’s been nothing to prep my head with, which leaves me in a weird limbo…

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The Chuck Wagon To Kansas

March 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Get out! No! Get out.”

I say that so many times a night. Thieves, scumbags, crazies. If I see them coming through the door in time, I issue a preemptive strike. I start with a normal tone, albeit a bit loud. If I have to repeat myself, I switch to Dad-Voice and project an authoritative “HEY!” that would pierce the tones of Slayer on headphones. It usually involves an argument, “I didn’t do that!” or “That was somebody else!” Once in a while I am wrong, but not too often.

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The Redhead’s Rolling Rock Review

March 15, 2018 at 11:40 am (Cosmic Encounters, On the road again...)

I look forward to Wednesdays. Mizelle and Lily come down from the mountain, and I chauffeur them all over the metro area. One of the perks is the music. The Ford Explorer has a CD player as well as AM/FM, and it gets put to use.

Knowing better than to mess with another’s presets, I clicked around on the radio until I found presets closest to the stations I was after. Preset One, or Preset Five, and four clicks of the search button going right, got me one of the two classic rock stations in Portland.

KGON, to quote Bob Seger, is still the same. I called it the B.S. station. Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Squier, Buffalo Springfield. But no Black Sabbath, unless you count Paranoid. (Or Iron Man, if the DJ has to take a shit.) KGON does play a lot of Ozzy, but mostly Crazy Train and Mama, I’m Coming Home. Sho’nuff, Mr Crowley was playing when I turned on the radio.

So we click button number five, and push seek four times, to find 105.9 The Brew. Basically KGON with more Def Leppard and less Journey. (I stopped Believin‘ a long fuckin’ time ago.) Bonus: Cort Webber from the old KUFO days is the 10 AM-2 PM DJ, so the on-air interjections are humorous and brainier than usual. It’s comforting to hear a voice on radio that has been there for 30 years. From his intern days on the Bill Prescott Show, to the Cort and Fatboy heyday, Cort’s baritone snarkery is a constant favorite. He’s like Portland’s Walter Cronkite, with more nose hair.

Lily helps with musical selection. I try to explain that Pink Floyd isn’t really anti-education as we rock out to Another Brick In The Wall on the way to school. Pink Floyd gets the loud treatment; it was fun watching Lily’s face react as Welcome To The Machine threw itself around the speakers of the SUV. I reassured her it was supposed to sound that way, and the car wasn’t falling apart.

Time, with all the bells and cuckoo clocks, plays nicely in our terrestrial space ship.

Sadly, most of both channels are a playlist unchanged from 1986. Can we put Steve Miller away already? And Bon Jovi? Fuckin’ king of the earworm. I love AC/DC, but all they ever play is Back in Black and TNT. Put on some Soul Stripper or Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and watch the volume knob have an orgasm. Judas Priest is touring again, sounding as good as ever. How about a little love? Besides You’ve Got Another Thing Coming? (I noticed they are playing the song Grinder on this tour. It’s radio-safe!)

Ozzy’s duet with Lita Ford is lovely, but I skip songs about suicide when Lily is in the car. We have some deep conversations. I’m not ready for that one yet.

The past few weeks I’ve been bringing CDs, either off my sister’s “drinking pile” or stuff I’d previously burned for road trips. Lily wasn’t as excited about Blue Oyster Cult as I was, but, judging from her facial cues, she really enjoyed my Paul McCartney and Wings homemade greatest hits. We were the band on the run…

After 12-13 hours, I’m ready to let the eardrums rest for another week. I’m keeping my eyes open, in case Sister unearths another great one. My ace in the hole? When Bohemian Rhapsody comes on, and both Lily and Mizelle are in the car, I’m going full-on Pavarotti.

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Riding With The Manny-Goat

March 6, 2018 at 12:13 pm (On the road again..., Sweet sticky things)

Explorer’s Spirit Animal

Arrgh. 7 AM. Usually when I’m drifting from hard sleep to REM. When the TV gets muted because the ads will keep me awake. (Enough with the miracle spring water, already.) But on Wednesdays I bounce out of bed, as bouncy as this old bag of bones gets, and make a frozen waffle breakfast. Kelly green butter is the first of many pretty colors I will be seeing.

By 9 AM, I am dressed and sitting by the window, waiting for Mizelle and Lily to pull up. Wednesday is road trip day!

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The Mango Shitz

March 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

“Party woohoo!”

Oh, the humanity.

I deal with a lot of downtrodden types at work. I’m given a lot of latitude when it comes to who I serve. Our goal is to serve everyone (legally) and send them away happy enough that they will return to spend more money.

Returning empty bottles is a bane to every cashier. You have to stop whatever you’re doing and go dig through trash, and then pay the stinky disruptor. (It isn’t always that bad, but more often than not.) As of a couple months ago, there’s a dime deposit on damn near every drink bottle in the 8 oz-64 oz range. I love certain aspects of the new system. I redeem my own at work, and am shameless as I collect cans along the way.

But, I don’t dig in the garbage, and I don’t smell awful when I’m done. Others aren’t so blessed.

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“Where Ya Been?”

February 24, 2018 at 12:35 pm (Cussed Dumbers, Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

Ya Big Silly!

Hey strangers… It’s Stranger Yet!

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve been a negligent blogger, watching life’s moments pass by without stopping to note each one. Been spending a lot of time pondering the universe, and sometimes the thoughts that wander through the brain need time to age, ripen, ferment. Not that I’m any kind of genius. I just needed a break.

Sunshine passed away last week. Rain’s new boyfriend and Sunshine were best buddies, and Rain was crying when she called to tell me. Sunshine had a major case of ass-cancer, and was a hard-living old coot, so it wasn’t unexpected. (Anyone who can smoke three packs of American Spirit full-flavors in a day is living on borrowed time.) How he lasted as long as he did is a tribute to the stubbornness of the human spirit. I’d been holding up okay, but then I saw Werner Klemperer on a Law and Order rerun, and noticed that Werner and Sunshine were dead ringers for each other. (Literal.) I’d thought about reaching out, but our chats lately involved lots of his get-rich-quick schemes, usually needing my financial support. (Sorry Sunshine, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.) The doctors, frustrated with his use of street drugs, cut off his prescription meds and told him to go for it with the heroin and meth. I don’t know if he passed from natural causes, or got a fentanyl hit, but Sunshine has faded into the night. RIP, you giant teddy bear.

I have a sneaky feeling my beloved cousin has also moved on to the next level. He’d not been well, and moved to Arizona. All phone numbers are disconnected, no news whatsoever. I’m going to write him a long letter, in longhand, to tell him goodbye. Whoever says adopted relatives aren’t as close as blood relatives has not met our family. WE decide who is family, and if you burn us you might find yourself unadopted, bloodline or no. You can choose friends but not family, the saying goes. Our best family are the ones we’ve chosen, not those thrust upon us.

A lot of other stuff has been going on, which I will eventually write about. I needed time for life to percolate. Also, there have been major changes at work, and I don’t want to pontificate too much about that in a public space. I love my job at Master P’s, and now, other than the bookkeeper, Grinder and Master P himself, I have been there the longest. Art East is behind me by about six months. Everyone else, my bosses? I’ve trained them all. I’m feeling a bit of burnout, it’s been thirteen years. But I’m not so burned out I’m ready to jump. I took a sick day, creating a four-day weekend, and it was just what I needed. I sat around just long enough to be restless, but not long enough to appreciate being bored. I came back to work a half-hour early, urging Southie to bank those minutes for the next time my bus is late.

It’s been a dark time in my world. Ain’t no Sunshine to brighten it up. It will be a long time before I forget Sunshine. He was a sweet, thoughtful career criminal who gave me more smiles than I ever realized at the time. Save me a fistful of happy pills, bud, and I will see you when I get there.

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The Crashing of the Mothership

January 12, 2018 at 11:11 am (Cussed Dumbers, Waxing Nostalgic)

After 34 years, Master P’s main store is closing. After a long, hard-fought battle with the landlord, (the City) he let out a big sigh and closed the doors last week. Downtown’s infamous late-night c-store is no more.

I peered through the window of the Mothership. Art East was winding up cords from the security cameras, and storing them in milk crates. I used my key to come inside. The first thing I noticed was the quiet.

“Wow, the sounds of silence. It’s amazing how quiet these places are is when you don’t have thirty to forty coolers running.”

“Yeah, and how funky-smelling it is with the door closed for a week!”

The dusty smell was pervasive; the aisles have been emptied, rectangular squares of dust marking their previous location. An old copy of Busted! Magazine was on the floor. I was tempted to grab it, but Art was using it to protect his jacket. I settled for the Wall of Shame, a poster collection of mugshots, of whom half the people were still coming around. It would make a nice addition to profiles of the shitbird contingent at the Nightclub Store.

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RIP Mr Burns

January 12, 2018 at 8:00 am (Sweet sticky things, That's not funny...)

So long, little buddy. You will be missed.

We have had a plethora of wacky pets over the years. Mostly it seems like a science experiment; can dogs, cats, mice, fish, guinea pigs and other critters live under one roof? We have tried, and yes, it can happen, often with amusing results.

Mr Burns came to us a couple years ago. Sister bought two male mice at the “feed store” and put them in a cage. Boys will be boys, and since they seemed to do better in their own areas, we put them in separate cages. Creeper, the black one, died after about a year. We thought he’d be the hearty one. But he had half the lasting power of Mr Burns.

Mr Burns was chosen for his craftiness. When Sister got him home he was “hiding” by clinging to the roof of the box. Smart little feller, huh?

He got his name from his stature. He had something up with his front legs, so he tended to scoot around on his butt. He’d hold his paws in front of himself and wiggle his fingers, like Monty Burns from The Simpsons. He’d wobble over to say hi when he heard my voice. Mostly because I bribed him with toffee peanuts and popcorn.

He’s looked ragged his whole life, and each day I would wonder. Last night when I went by, he was sleeping in an unusual place. I blew on him, that usually got a movement, but not this time.

When I came down the hall, I saw the cage had been cleaned, and my little friend was gone. Sister had pronounced him, and he was sleeping with the fishes. Specifically, my niece’s several pet goldfish from over the years.

I salute you, Mr Burns. The hounds have been released for the last time.

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