Work has been, well, work. Lots of personnel changes, new managers, new stores. My recent floating between stores is morphing into having a home base. Until further notice, I will be spending time at the Nightclub Store, under the newly-promoted Eva Braun. Store managers don’t have a hard time bossing me around, even though I’m the one who trained them. They keep on me, but they are respectful. In return, I respect my bosses and their position. I couldn’t do what they do. Product vendors would drive me to a nearby tower with a high-powered rifle.
I have enough trouble dealing with the public. And the public is KWAAAZY!
It was the best-kept secret in the history of Master P’s stores. It wasn’t until the day before the actual announcement that I learned the location of the new store. It’s in the West End, on the tip of the Pink Zone in what used to be called Vaseline Alley. Yup, we are now running a convenience store in the middle of Portland’s version of the Castro District.
Oh, there’s more to the location than that. Once the home of all things homo, the Pink Zone has spread across the city, leaving only Scandal’s and a couple other low-key establishments. In a tribute to Portland’s acceptance of the different, they aren’t thought of so much as gay bars, but just good old-fashioned neighborhood bars. It’s about time.
The West End was once an extension of skid row, filled with chicken-wire hotels and dive bars. The mentally ill would wander the streets, spilling out of said cheap hotels. I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood when Meg and I were close. Over the years, the loonies wandered away, the bums moved to the Eastbank Esplanade, and Fred Armisen bought an apartment in a giant eco-building on 12th & Washington. Soon the yuppie storefronts came along. (“Cacao!” anyone? $9 for hot chocolate.) Between the Portlandia BS and the filming of Grimm, the neighborhood was recognized as another gem in the oyster. (“Fuck you, neighboring Pearl!”)
All of a sudden, everyone in the neighborhood is rich, and a cheeseburger costs $15. Ask my ex-wife, who took me to Lardo. I bet she’s still complaining.
With all the DINKs (double income, no kids) milling about, Master P saw an opportunity and ran with it…
I have a new weapon in the war on crime.
It was a typical Friday night. Everyone’s been paid, but it wasn’t too busy. At 10 PM the drinkers are out, and the street trash is drunk and either ready to crash or just getting started. (Meth, the wonder drug.) I see it all from my captain’s chair, the upside-down milk crate.
There’s been a lot of activity in the Master P camp, some of which I will be discussing very soon. Secrets have been kept, but gag balls, I mean gag orders have expired, and we can talk freely.
We’ve been doing business for years, and he trusts me implicitly, as I do him. So a chill ran down my spine and rested near my nutsack when I heard him say the words, “Randy wants to see the books…”
A celebration of life was held in our backyard this morning. It was attended by Sister and I, as well as animal representatives Luna and Django. Luna, the ADHD-addled teenager, was all over the place, not understanding what was going on but having a great time helping. “We’re digging holes in the back yard?” Luna loves the dirt, and she loves rootballs that resemble human hearts. With her all-black coloring and demon-eyes, watching her rip and tear makes me proud, and a bit nervous.
I would use a three-pronged prospector’s pick to loosen the clay, until Luna would get nosy. Then I’d shovel some dirt out, toss an empty plastic bottle across the yard and shovel some more, before Luna would come dashing back to the top of the dirt-pile, knocking a bunch of dirt back into the hole. At one point I would pick with my left hand while she attacked the shovel in my right. Some days this might make me cranky and impatient, but today I was enjoying her insolent distractions.
The time had come to bury Sandy.
The past few months I’ve been revisiting music from my teen years, stuff I listened to that formed my musical tastes. After not hearing it for forty years, I wondered how some of it would stand up over time.
I’ve covered the basics. You all know I like Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, ZZ Top, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa. I’ve mentioned Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bad Company and others as they blip on my radar. I have a Hoopla app on my smartphone (fancy!) and can stream albums from the library.
One musical act I’ve always loved to hate is Ted Nugent. This is Ted at the heighth of his glory. It’s a good thing he’s is there to watch everyone play guitar and sing lead. I wondered how his riff-heavy knucklehead rock would hold up, so I caught a righteous buzz and investigated…
I’ve been taking another musical stroll down memory lane.
My early musical tastes were not drug-inspired, and led toward the poppy. The first record I ever bought was Paul Revere and The Raiders’ Indian Reservation. My first albums were The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Three Dog Night’s Naturally. (“I never understood a single word he said, but he always had some mighty fine wine…” –Hoyt Axton, re Jeremiah.)
Over time I started leaning toward the harder stuff. I loved Heart. I loved the heavy guitars and chest-rattling bass, but if it was just noise? Pass… I needed sensible lyrics and cohesive melodies. I had paid attention in music class, goddammit!
During my twelfth to fourteenth years, I spent some time defrauding Columbia House out of penny-LPs, expanding my collection. I experimented with groups I’d read about in Rolling Stone. Hence I got copies of Born to Run, virtually all of Elton John’s catalog, and a host of other bands and albums I would not have been willing or able to spend $4.79 apiece on.
Two of the bands I loved most in my pre-teenage years? Bad Company and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
I have standards.
For those too young to get the reference, Radar was the string-pulling corporal on the TV show/movie M*A*S*H*. He could sweet-talk the colonel while hornswoggling Major Burns, all the while keeping his diva doctors happy. He could horse-trade three cans of k-rations for a drivable Jeep. Dude was a straight-up hustler.
Well folks, Radar ain’t the only one who can pull a miracle out of his ass…
Chuckles and I worked at a store before Master P’s, and over time I brought along him and Uncle Cliffy. While Chuckles was mostly immobile, he was as honest as the overnight is long. His inability to move was his downfall; Chuckles weighed over 600 pounds the last time I saw him, and he was walking then. Sorta.
The first time I saw Chuckles was a mindbender. I was in a roadside convenience store, being interviewed by Guy and Gayle, the names of my sister and brother-in-law. A huge redheaded guy named Chuck walked in, and by huge I mean jaw-dropping huge. I could tell by the look on his face that my shock had registered. Being fat at the time myself, about 450, it at once made me feel better and horrified about myself. I’d already lived through one hospital life-saving, where I weighed in at 528. Chuckles was walking around with about 150 more pounds than that. The fact that he could walk at all amazed people.
Chuckles loved guns and Jesus, hated drugs and hookers. I was cool with all of the above. (That was how people told us giant redheads apart. My hair was buzzcut to a quarter-inch, he was bald.) We both had a thing for black girls, but his took him for his life savings, so he hated black people too. This caused minor problems in conversation, because his racist commentaries would conflict dearly with what I had learned in life. I wouldn’t allow him to bag on people for being different. He was blessed to be born white, but cursed with the affliction that is mocked universally. He was fat.
I had some good times working with Chuckles. Whether pranking him, or pranking him, I always had him on alert. He needed it working the overnight shift at the Mothership. Eventually Master P had to let him go, and because of which, Master P even changed his store hours. Because he’d “eliminated the position” Chuckles could collect unemployment for upwards of a year while looking for a job closer to his home in the mountains. It’s the only time I know of Master P helping someone get unemployment. He also helped with Chuckles Social Security. Most bosses wouldn’t go out of their way like that.
And now, Chuckles has gone off to that great graveyard shift in the sky. Him and Jesus, hanging out, talking guns and eating pork ribs. Aim your guns at the south, Chuckles. RIP.
Who says Oregonians don’t use umbrellas? A little rain doesn’t stop Niece from a morning of backyard reading.
Fall came at exactly September First. The clouds rolled in, I think it may have rained, I don’t recall. I know it looked like it was going to, and that was good enough for me.
We collapsed and retrieved the cloth-based items, like chairs and pillows. I was sure to close the vents and cover the barbecue. We don’t want an adobe oven next spring.
Not that it will take until next spring for me to barbecue, or do yard work. I was out there at 9 AM (dawn in my world) weeding the driveway. We don’t have a car, but we have room to park one.
I’m almost downtown, where the leaves are hinting at change. School is back in session, and the smell of Autumn is in the air. The sunshine was nice, but clouds and rain are more suited to my mood these days.
It’s almost time for the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.