The brickwahl.com universe so far also includes brickpicks.com (culture), bricksbrain.com (cognition, perception and my epilepsy), and brickspolitics.com, brickshistory.com and bricksscience.com.
New car long ago
Us in front of our brand new car way, way long ago.
That was our second Chevy Celebrity, the undercover police car of choice. No one ever fucked with that car. Crackheads would scatter into the shadows when we passed, no one broke into our car no matter how dingy the neighborhood the club was in. Vatos pulled to the curb figuring they’d had it, and even cops thought I was a cop behind the wheel of that thing. The perfect wheels to cruise stoned in. Big and roomy, pure Gemütlichkeit, even had a cassette deck for all the groovy noisy mix tapes I’d assembled in those analog 80’s. That car spun us all through our late 30’s in the crazy rocking 90’s. Loved that car. Of course we fucked in it, need you ask? You didn’t? Well, we did.
It’s a Saturday and we’ve got brand new technology up the wazoo. First came the guy from JC Penney’s with the air fryer oven (soon to be pronounced li’l oven, just like all its predecessors). Fyl had gone shopping a few days earlier. She’d gotten an air fryer oven, a sapphire ring and some underwear. I tried to see a pattern there but couldn’t. Anyway, they delivered the oven. Cool. I got to manfully remove it from the box—amazing the places they can find to cover with tape—and busted up the styrofoam and voila, we had English muffins. There’s a mess of instructions, but I know how to make English muffins. It’s a start. Then there was a knock on the door and there stood a cute young thing with a strip light. Alas, she was from PetSmart and the strip light goes on top of the fish tank. But at least I almost got a joke out of it. Finally there was a knock on the door and when I opened it there were no humans to be seen, just the cutest little food scraps bucket you ever saw. It came with a mess of instructions, in English and Spanish, the air fryer oven came with way more instructions. I didn’t need instructions for the strip light, you turn it on, turn it off. I can manage that. They had them, though, in English and French. You never know when you might need to say strip light in French. In Mexico, though, if you need a strip light you’re on your own. Probably best not to ask.
To be honest, Fyl toasted the English muffins. I got to play with the box. Have to. We don’t have a cat.
OK, another little essay about nothing.
Greg Romero, aka The Pope
Fyl and I had so many great times with Pope. Probably the most fun times I’ve ever had were those hundreds of times we picked Pope up—imagine trying to get him out of the house each time—and took his endlessly babbling self out to some spot or another. Then, hours later, it took forever getting him back into the car and he’d babble endlessly home, and then there was the titanic struggle getting him to give us a final good night so we could get home. Sometimes we’d repeat the process the next day….
We knew this was coming. We’d been ready for a couple years. I imagine it was organ failure, the innards finally giving up the ghost. I remember the last time he made one of our Xmas parties, after his cancer diagnosis that began the end, just before the pandemic changed everything, he took me aside and said he didn’t think he’d make another, but was here to party one last time. He fired up a joint, we each took a long drag, coughed and hugged. Remember the good times, he said.
So as part of our winter cleaning and destuffication campaign, I went through my remaining records, pulled half of them and a friend, thrilled, took them home. Probably 300 or 400 albums worth. (Ever behind the trends, I’m all about CDs and YouTube rather than vinyl). I used to have thousands of records. Anyway, our friend, who we’ve known for decades, works for a place that does the plants in office buildings and traditionally shows up at our tree trimming party with gobs of reject ornaments. As we haven’t had a party in a while, he had a big pile of undelivered ornaments, like six big bags full. Each ornament was individually wrapped for their protection, and being a total stoner, he’d apparently smoked a joint (or joints) and, armed with rolls of glass tape and acres of bubble wrap, had wrapped each in layers of protection that would not only keep them intact until the next party but through any nuclear holocausts that happened in the interim. Indeed, I could have buried these secure in the knowledge that thousands of years from now they would utterly mystify an archeologist. Instead, though, I decided they had to be unwrapped. So, armed with a couple pair of scissors, a fading alpha male’s finger strength and sheer determination, I spilled the dozens of weird looking Christmas cocoons onto the living room floor and began the process slicing, tearing, pulling, yanking and cursing them open.
All the ornaments emerged unscathed but one, a longest thing that I thought I’d pulled apart from it layers of wrapping but alas its pointy Yuletide tip was still held by glass tape and as I tugged the tip exploded like a mortar shell, spraying hard plastic like jagged plastic shrapnel. I sharp piece caught me just below the eye—a fraction of an inch higher and I would have one of the more novel cases in the emergency room that night—but when I realized what had happened (it took me several seconds to realize that a Christmas ornament had exploded, as Christmas ornaments don’t generally explode), I carefully searched for the fragments, which were surprisingly jagged and sharp as a razor. The scene cleared, I stretched out again on the floor and proceeded to dissect the packages with various degrees of skill and violence. After a half hour I sat up and felt wetness on my hand. You’re bleeding everywhere, Fyl said. It certainly looked like that, big broadbrushed smears of blood running up and down from my elbow, my shirt and pants soaked and splattered like a particularly nasty murder had occurred. You’re still bleeding, she said, and after trying to wipe some of the blood off me, retrieved a few bandaids. That stemmed the flow. I found a shard of plastic on the floor, especially sharp, that had caused the wound. I’d never felt it, just obliviously bled all over everything. Ha. Anyway, bleeding stemmed, I got back down on the floor to go at the rest of the ornaments, pausing only to brew up a steaming cup of coffee and then returned prone to the floor, where I managed to knock over the cup which spilled its entirety all over my back and the seat of my pants. Ha again. I swabbed the floor with a handy kerchief but let the remainder thoroughly soak my backside, I mean why not?
At last, all the ornaments freed of their mummification, I got them all into two bags which I got into the space I’d just made available in my closet. All the wrappings I got into a single large outdoor garbage bag. Thus went Christmas in January. Or almost. While prepping for bed, after flossing and brushing, I took my traditional elixir of mint oil and water, very handy for the digestion. The oil comes in a little dropper bottle with a cheery mint green label, and I always drop about half a dozen of the intensely minty drops into a little bright red plastic dixie cup where they float, shimmering, on the surface of the water. It was all very Christmasy. One has to be careful with mint oil, though, it burns like the juice of a canned jalapeño, and as I raised the cup to my lips as I’ve done without incident thousands of times before my hand slipped somehow and I spilled it all with perfect precision onto my unprotected scrotum. That was an erotic experience that was new to me, sort of like the opposite of a very strong orgasm. I mean it rendered me just as speechless, and with the same urge to shriek, but instead I just gritted my teeth and thought of baseball. Several minutes passed and the sensation passed from paralyzing to merely stinging, from agony to annoying. It all seemed too perfect, the blood, the coffee, the mint oil on the scrotum. Merry Christmas, I said.
Actually when the since thrown out bathroom contour rug sent me flying and left in a crumpled heap on the floor where the contour rug had been (clothed, so don’t ask) I managed to take out the antique towel rod with my elbow. Snapped it clean in half. It looked ancient when we moved in thirty years ago so the thing could be sixty years old. Maybe older. The wood was actually worn down in the middle from a zillion damp towels like the wheel ruts in an old Roman road. I destroyed an artefact.
So I bought a plastic replacement and have to saw it down to fit into the fixed ceramic (or whatever it is) tile rod holder things which are 22” inches apart instead of the accepted 24” because back in 1932 The US was still on a base p-11 number system. Or maybe the builder fucked up. Whatever.
So yeah, a saw. Our old saw (like as ancient as the towel rod) was no longer sawable. So I got to be manly for a minute and look at all the tools to find saws on Amazon. Bought one. That’s it, the whole story.
You know, there are essays about nothing and then there are essays about nothing, and this was an essay about nothing.
One of the fun things about getting old is that you always remember the times it rained like this before. You call this wet? You should have seen the rain in ‘78. Rain was really wet then.
I think the wettest I ever got was one rainy afternoon in Goleta in 1978. It was like I’d gotten thrown in the pool. Gotten thrown in several pools. Each one wetter than the one before. Pools were wetter then. And sequentially even wetter.
I just figure we had real rain back then. Not this “rain” rain. Or maybe I was 20 years old and just too stupid to get out of the rain. Wait ten years and I might be too stupid to get out of it again. Life has its cycles.
Is it still raining?
Sixty five years old and I still can’t fold a fitted sheet. There must be a secret to it, but some things, like magic, are best left secret, or left to my wife, anyway, who can fold a fitted sheet like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Men have their purposes, I suppose, and folding fitted sheets is not one of them. I blame it on biology.
So I put away the perfectly folded pillow cases (those I can do) and dropped the fitted sheet for her atop the bed in an unmanageable fluffy glop and left the room. She was in the throes of a solo Scrabble game and barely seemed to notice. Ten minutes later I returned to the room to find her still concentrating every ounce of her being on the Scrabble game and the fluffy sprawling glop of a fitted sheet in a perfectly geometric rectangle about so big. As far as I can tell it’s some sort of Sioux magic thing. Best not to ask. I put the sheet in the linen closet atop the other perfectly geometric rectangles. Weird. Neat, though.
One of those tall guy experiences tall guys don’t talk about. I was hobbling down the stairs out front when one of the neighbors started coming up. She’s young and attractive and very sweet and she was going to wait for me down on the sidewalk but ever the gentleman I said, please, come on ahead, and I stood aside. As she passed she smiled and reached into her purse for the mailbox key. She found it and let go the purse, which swung backward as purses do when a lady is climbing stairs, and caught me square in the nuts. Ouch is not really the word for it.
It’s an ever present vulnerability when you’re tall, one learns to be wary of innocently swinging purses. I suppose tall guys are even more vulnerable not only because our most vulnerable spot is at such a testicularly dangerous height, but because the damn things on tall men are bigger and present a better target. Well, this one was a bullseye. Still, I made not a sound nor grimaced, so that she never knew, and instead I stood there in that utterly unique form of agony that only men experience and I smiled. She smiled back. Then I gingerly made it to the bottom of the stairs, stood against the railing and sobbed, if only mentally.
The pain only resonated for maybe an hour. It faded slowly, as it always does, a man’s balls are real drama queens, so sensitive and easily hurt. At last there’s just a dull ache, and we arrange the testicles carefully as we sit so not to outrage them further, the poor things. The dull ache finally slips away, and the only thing left hurting is our big guy pride. And that’s when I wrote this, because a big huge guy getting smacked in the nuts is really quite funny.
Heavy metal tomato squeezing
So Glenn Danzig has left the building. Well, left Los Feliz. My pal Paul Grant posted one of his signature perfect little paragraphs about it. (There are, here and there, some wonderful writers tucked away on Facebook). You’ll remember that Danzig had that gothically painted black trimmed place on Franklin with the heavy metal lawn. Someone has bought the place now. Probably give it a sprightly paint job and pretty trimming and a lawn with actual grass growing. I don’t know if that is gentrification or just demetalification. Or even if Danzig qualifies as metal. Is he doing the Misfits thing again? I remember him singing Astro Zombies with the Misfits at Al’s Bar about a zillion years ago, though he was still a New York punk rocker at the time. Since then he moved out to Hollywood (Los Feliz is a suburb of Hollywood, like Silver Lake) and became a rock’n’roll professional. Show business. Lawyers and agents and promoters. Teenage girls in black lipstick out on the sidewalk, giggling. It has all gotten so complicated. Mother!
I feel a connection here. You see, Danzig was the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. The first was Henry Rollins in the market where the Silver Lake 99 cent store is now, so long ago that his band was considered what they used to call crossover, back when Henry was poor and lived in the house on the other side of the fence behind us, not that we knew it. Late 80’s. I ran into him periodically, he was alternating between his really hard, metally band and a series of spoken word projects that college DJs just couldn’t get enough of. Maybe they were good, I don’t know, I just hated all those 1980s heavy serious political spoken word albums, the free verse clunking like furniture tossed down the stairs. Our parents had Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl LPs, we had Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra and Mecca Normal. But I digress.
But my Danzig tomato squeezing experience was maybe five years later, in the local Albertson’s on Virgil. That was on the way to a BBQ at Jonathan Hall’s on Berendo and I excitedly told everyone that I had just seen the second in my heavy metal tomato squeezing trio. They humored me. They humored me a little less when I’d bring it up periodically afterward. Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for the third and final heavy metal tomato squeezer since then. I’ve given up. They’d probably be grape tomatoes anyway. Heavy metal grape tomatoes is not a thing.
I’m also waiting for the third sighting of shiny pink fuck me pumps. Stories that you can’t finish are really irritating. I don’t know what I will do if the pumps wearer is squeezing tomatoes.
So Fyl mentioned that she needed socks. Even the socks the Sioux keep sending her we’re getting holes in them. We looked at the Kohl’s site and she found some zany socks. She likes zany socks. Then she said she needed underwear. Underpants? Nobody says underpants she said. They say panties. She didn’t see anything she liked in the price range she wanted, not on the Kohl’s page. I said I’d look around a bit later. Panties, she said. Not underpants. About an hour later I went into Google shopping and typed panties. Instantly an infinity of tushes filled my screen, no matter how far down I scrolled, adorably pert little models’ tushes with no body or limbs attached, everyone of them in a thong. I never seen so much uncomfortable looking underwear in one place. They didn’t even have thongs when I was young enough to see young women in their underwear. Actually they didn’t always have underwear. Suddenly I was feeling very uncomfortable, like the husbands and boyfriends trying not to look at anything in Victoria’s Secret. Way too many tushes for an old man to be looking at. It was just wrong. I closed the google window and wrote this.