Bergen op Zoom

(2017, mostly)

Die Antwoord would lose a lot of their Goth appeal if Goths could pronounce Afrikaans. Dee Antvoart, with that mewling diphthong, is not happening if you have black painted fingernails. DIE!!!!! Antwoord, though, that is cool. Sort of like how Björk sounds cool like New York except in Icelandic where it rhymes with jerk. A dipthonged nasally jerk at that. Admittedly New York is full of nasally jerks (not to mention dips in thongs), but that doesn’t help any, it’s still Björk like jerk. So I say Björk like New York and avoid the embarrassment.

Heavy metalers have no idea how an umlaut can reduce a strong vowel to something weaker and embarrassing. Motörhead doesn’t matter because ö is an er anyway, though Mötorhead would be Mertorhead, not so gnarly. Lemmy knew about umlauts, but then Lemmy collected Nazi paraphernelia so of course he knew about umlauts. (“Mein Führer, durch für gegen ohne um! Aus ausser bei mit nach seit von zu! Gegenüber!”) Blue Erster Cult could have been a nonstarter outside of parts of Brooklyn, but there were very few Germans on Long Island to point it out and besides, BOC weren’t metal anyway. But Mertley Creyew is just plain embarrassing. And I saw Möngöl Hörde on a marquee once and read it aloud: Merngerl Herd. Mern Grrrl Herd, somebody said, and everyone laughed. Riot Grrrl humor. Not a good sign when your macho metal name could be mistaken for an angry female punk band from Olympia, Washington. Actually it said Merngerl Herdeh, but why ruin a good Riot Grrrl joke with proper German pronunciation? How punk fucking rock my German’s spelled?

I’ve always wondered if these things affect popularity in any way. I noticed this many years ago when (pardon the non-sequitör) I realized my favorite funny named city, Bergen op Zoom, was pronounced Bergen op Zhome and suddenly was no longer funny. That cursed Dutch phonology. I haven’t made a Bergen op Zoom joke in decades. Imagine my chagrin: Zoom is funny, but Zhome is where the heart is. Which is such a forced pun it just shows how unfunny the correctly pronounced Bergen Op Zoom is. Or how unfunny long O’s are in general, O-Hi-O excepted. So calling Das Boot boot as in boot the footware is funny. Calling it Das Boot as in boat is just sad. But then it was sad. A very sad film. Depth charges, doom (as in room) and despair. No Tony Curtis and Cary Grant in a pink submarine.

Seems I digressed.


Saw my first Donald Trump piñata last night. My buddy Pope Romero went after it with a vengeance. Trump was dancing on the clothes line and Romero closed his eyes and swung and caught the Donald square in the mid section, whoomp. Innards went flying. Swung again, whoomp, right on the back, and more dulce innards went flying. The next blow did Trump in and his insides exploded, candy everywhere, tootsie rolls and rubbers (“because he’s a dick”) and lots and lots of lollipops (“for all the suckers voting for him”). The crowd cheered and made for the candy. That last swing was for all of us who couldn’t be here Romero said, only half laughing, then dropped the bat to fill his pockets with Trump’s sweet insides.


This story can also be found on, along side all the political stuff I’ve written about.

Medical marijuana initiatives

[From 2010, I think.]

So when I got to the polling station here in L.A. yesterday to vote on the three marijuana initiatives I was so stoned I couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to vote for and which two against. All those long words, man, and that crazy legal lingo. I just stared at them for a long time. Like a real long time. I heard someone cough and turned round and there was like a line of people staring at me, wondering why I was taking so long. I kinda freaked out and just voted all three yes. Righteous. Voting for weed three times. Jah Rastafari. But as I left the booth every one was looking at me. I gave the ballot to the dude who gave me a flag sticker which I accidentally stuck on upside down. Detov I. Everyone was still looking at me weird. Well, not everyone, but the dude with the flag stickers, and the old ladies, the guys in line, and the pretty chick with the big, the one who told me I signed on the wrong line. They were all looking at me. They could all tell I voted yes for all three weed initiatives. Which ones were cops? Which ones were narcs? Which ones were gonna tell my prospective employers? I started shaking and asked for my ballot back. I wanted to change my vote to no on all three. The guy said I couldn’t. I got upset and said why not? It’s too late, he said. I started freaking out. You mean they know I voted for all three pot initiatives? Now everybody in the place were all looking at me, everyone, even the incredibly old people who could barely do anything. I couldn’t believe I said that out loud. I might as well have screamed look at me, I am so high!!!! And I was. I mean righteously high. Totally Bob Marley. Insane in the membrane. I split so fast, nearly ran out of there, cut across the lawn and walked home. Thank god I had a bowl full on me. I ducked behind a tree and fired up a good one, keeping an eye out for cops and old people. I exhaled slowly. It felt good. I waited till it grew dark and walked the several blocks back to my pad. Walking felt good. Felt natural. I felt one with the birds singing and the stars blinking and the car alarms. Jah Rastafari. Too bad I’d driven to the polling station.

It was a lot easier when pot was illegal.

Martin Shkreli

There was a time when the funniest thing about Albania was a king named Zog. Funnier than that, though, is the fifty thousand pillboxes their nutjob Stalinist dictator had installed everywhere with enough concrete to build several Hoover dams. They’re everywhere, in yards, in pastures, on beaches, in the street, or in little clutches like eggs in a nest, their gun portals facing all which ways. That’s funny. Of course Albania is doing well now, democratic and stable, hip and beautiful, a tourist mecca. So what happens? The son of an Albanian janitor in Brooklyn gives away fifteen million dollars in bitcoins to some nonexistant human–no doubt Russian–to get the sole copy of Kanye West’s new album. Fifteen million dollars poof, just like that. Better yet is that he originally offered ten million and his supposed Kanye contact got him up to fifteen million. There are Nigerians rolling their eyes to heaven wondering why didn’t they think of that. Fifteen million dollars. Do you know how many pillboxes you can buy with fifteen million dollars? Enough to build a Brooklyn Bridge, which Martin Shkreli also owns, I’m sure. Yet something tells me this can’t possibly be true, that’s it all some weird twitter hoax. I mean good Zog, can rich people really be this stupid?


I am sick to death of nostalgia. I think people should do something new until they die. Unless, of course, you’re getting some nice money to put on a show for the old folks and their impressionable children. But otherwise, people, the past is over. Gone. Like we’ll all be eventually, so I don’t see the point of repeating our twenties over and over until the arthritis kicks in.

Red Queen

A couple weeks ago I confessed on a thread that I had no idea what football player beat up who. And I really did have no idea, I’d missed the whole appalling thing. Which meant I had no idea what these people on this particular thread were all raving about. And they were raving, words gushed out in the hundreds, the thousands, torrents of angry words. Flabbergasted at my ignorance, they turned on me, fairly outraged that I could so be out of touch. I apologized and sputtered something about not being an NFL fan. Neither, it turned out, were any of them…though, apparently, that was quite beside the point. It’s all over the news, they said. So I apologized and said I don’t really watch the TV news. Neither did they, they said…except this time. Well, I’ve been busy. It was a feeble excuse, and I could almost see them rolling their eyes and sighing. They threw themselves back into heated discussion. So and so should be jailed. So and so should be fired. So and so should sue them for everything they’ve got. I quietly slipped away. The Red Queen was coming, a blind and aimless fury.



Kim Kardashian you’d expect but nude photos of Vladimir Putin on the web? Wrestling a Siberian alligator no less? For real? Does it matter? I miss the Weekly World News. TMZ is so unimaginative, naked movie stars and tacky selfies. Aliens meeting presidents and reptile man Elvis and naked Putin wrestling an alligator, now that is news. Waiting in line at Ralphs was exciting then. Now a supermarket check out line is the inevitable fifteen things that drive men wild and those pictures of Princess Di. It’s just not the same. You’d think the Koch brothers would bring it back, the Weekly World News. Fill it with lies and conspiracy theories and recipes from other galaxies. How do we slip them some mind fuck acid? Grace Slick just missed dosing Richard Nixon. His mind was nearly psychedelicized. In some alternative universe it happened that way. Time really did come today. Nixon in the White House, grokking with the protest kids. Freaking to Country Joe and the Fish. Give me an F, he says. Spiro does, and a U and a C and a K as well. What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell?

But no, we got Watergate. And nattering nabobs of negativism. And the Koch Brothers. TMZ. Kim Kardashian’s naked ass. Sometimes I think we’re in the wrong universe.

Richard Nixon on brown acid at Woodstock.

Richard Nixon out of his mind high at a Grateful Dead show. Don’t eat the brown acid, they said. But Nixon went to China, and he ate the brown acid. Chou En-Lai wasn’t so sure, but Mao dug it. Feed your head, Nixon told him, feed your head. Mao did, and went for another swim.


After the crash

I was looking at a photo essay of abandoned buildings in Ireland. They’d had quite a tech boom there for a while, then came the crash. You know the story. And while I stared at bittersweet pictures of Ireland I couldn’t help thinking of stretches of Southern California. It was just after the our own crash, in 2009, way out in the distant suburbs, the ones that sprang from nothing in the nineties and oughts. Though unlike emerald Eire with all its rain, out there in the high desert or Inland Empire or Temecula the unwatered lawns withered and died. You could drive through a tract of beautiful homes and tell the abandoned places by the dead lawns. Dead, dead, dead, green, dead, green, green, dead, green, dead, dead…’d see the lone green lawn on a cul de sac and wonder how eerie it must be to live there.

Empty houses seem more than foreclosed. It’s like whole a family was snuffed out. Streets of them, just gone. Ghosts.

Dead lawn, Temecula.

Abandoned yard, Temecula.




I’ve become fascinated with Facebook’s sense of time…it’s free of real time chronology….I keep seeing obituaries for people dead years ago, and news stories from the past get people outraged anew. You can will time, or more likely, Facebook wills you to accept whatever is posted as of the now, even if it isn’t. Time shifts suddenly, or it stops, or goes backwards, goes forward. Time hovers. Sometimes time disappears completely, and you’re looking into another universe where what was never was, string theory come to life. Done correctly, you can never die, or you can have died already, and we can all have your stuff. Combine this with all the fake news, and it’s all completely surreal. Take this post, for example, I wrote this three days ago next week, except I never wrote it, and it’s completely untrue. So there.


You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space — but any objections! 

Elwood P Dowd, Harvey 

Facebook exists outside of time. It’s like the past and present are one. A story ten years old will be posted and commented on as if it’s happening right now. Yesterday I saw a thirty year old story that people assumed was new. I politely pointed this out. The commenters didn’t see the point. Thirty years ago or now, it didn’t matter. Forget it Jake, it’s Facebook time.

I keep seeing hoaxes and urban myths reappear. They  invariably are believed, often by the same people who knew they were hoaxes years ago when they went around via email. But email was a different universe. Different laws of physics. Time was sequential then. Email was how we communicated on the Internet, and the Internet was virtual reality. It followed the rules of reality. There was a then and a now, and what was then could not suddenly be now. People noticed.

People don’t notice now. And even if they do, they don’t care. They just hit the Like button. There’s time and there’s the like button. Liking trumps temporal reality every time. Facebook is becoming a whole other reality, devoid of linear time, devoid of objective truth, devoid of any standards of accuracy whatsoever. People will believe anything they see, and whatever is posted becomes reality, though only in Facebook. You repeat a Facebook story at a party and somebody will go to Snopes and make you look stupid. Someone else will go to Wikipedia and make you look stupider. There’ll be an orgy of smartphone fact checking at your expense. You’re not on Facebook anymore. Reality is harsh, real time is linear, and people can be rude, cruel and brutally sarcastic. They laugh, you turn red and retreat into the security of your iPhone. At Brick’s party, you post, surrounded by a**holes.

Sometimes I think that the Internet made people much more informed than they had ever been, and Facebook is rendering us all stupid again. But then again, Facebook is nicer. Pleasant, even. No one  trolls, and no one’s an a**hole.

Years ago my mother used to say to me, “Elwood, in this world you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Elwood P Dowd, Harvey