Big guy cool

Fyl’s watching a Star Trek marathon again, and between incessant spots for some incredibly irritating character named Gigi–that irony thing again–I’ve seen a commercial for beef jerky a few times in which some big dude batters a vending machine to get his bag of beef jerky. It had gotten stuck. He unstuck it. He strides off camera in slow motion, savoring the jerky.

I used to be the guy that people would call when the vending machine got stuck. Hey Brick, can you come down to the lunchroom, I put in a dollar and my chips are just hanging there, stuck. It was always a clerk or a pretty secretary. They’d flirt a little on the phone. OK, I’ll be right down. I’d show up, take hold of the vending machine, rock it back and forth a few times, let it drop again with a satisfying crunch, and the bag of chips would become unstuck. Sometimes I got squeals of delight. Sometimes I got applause. And once the prettiest lady in the whole building gave me a kiss on the cheek. I blushed like mad, totally blowing my big guy cool.

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Books

Somebody mentioned they were watching High Fidelity and I remembered how the vinyl geeks in the flick were forever reorganizing their records by weird categories of the moment. Yeah, so we all did that. Maybe not as geekily as in High Fidelity, and maybe we were never in bands as anti-climactically lame as the one that ended the movie (I fucking hated that band), but we reorganized our record collections. Alas, I’ve gotten rid of most of my record collection to feed my epilepsy medication habit (I probably have 400 LP’s left….) and reorganizing it just doesn’t hang anymore. It’s just sad. I only have four categories left. One is jazz. One is classic jazz. One is pre-Baroque music. And the final one is everything else. You know you don’t have many records left when one of your categories is everything else. And I just sold another batch yesterday. There’s no joy in reorganizing LPs when you barely have any. What normally would last all weekend now takes an hour watching Bob Ross on PBS. Funny little clouds indeed.

So I spent the weekend reorganizing my books. Getting rid of 90% of my jazz library suddenly opened up all this space so I was finally able to get the books out of the closet and shelf them. I did so lovingly. All these wonderful books, mostly hardcover, all non-fiction, any one of which could make me an excruciatingly dull person to sit next to at a cocktail party. Not to mention an annoying know-it-all on Facebook. It was a happy time, sorting and shelving books, Caetano Veloso on the stereo, three cds worth. (I’ve been on a Brazilian kick lately.) Finally, I tucked in the last book in the last spot. I was done. Project complete. I sat at my desk in the office (aka the living room… brickwahl.com maintains a homey work culture) surrounded by hundreds of carefully shelved books. I felt intellectual to the max.

Then as I lay in bed in the dark going off to sleep, the German inside of me began to grumble. Kein Ordnung, sie sagte, so viele Bücher und so ein Durcheinander. And the German was right, it was anarchy. Just a mess. This is what happens when I let the Irish me sort books. I glory in their words, I lay them out in random order, sprinkled like spring blossoms on an Irish hillside. But what I needed was them broken down by subject. So first thing this morning, as the Irish me slept in late, as usual, the German me came into the living room and worked my German engineering magic. Now right next to the desk is my linguistics section, while behind me are the history and science sections. There’s a whole shelf full of brain books. The surviving music books are tucked away where vinyl used to be. Beneath the desk is an enormous stack of to be reads, maybe a hundred of them. Stretched across the desk is a whole column of reference works, making me feel very secure. Next to me is a charming little collection of foreign language dictionaries, because you never know when you might need to say við hliðina á mér er heillandi lítill safn af erlendum tungumálum orðabækur in Icelandic. There’s a pile of coffee table books to my left, another bunch to the right. There’s even a secret stash of Penguin classics for when I want to read Xenophon xenophobically.

And I still have longstanding plans to get more shelves. And more books. Collecting music has lost much of its magic. Too many formats. Too easily accessible. I do it but it’s not as exciting as it used to be. Books, though…probably three quarters of the books in my library are not available digitally. Books are the last bastion of old analog bastards. Books and the boxes full of handwritten scrawl in my closet, daring me to digitize them. And the photographs. Thousands of them, unscanned. I had so much hair then, and looks, and charisma, and modesty. There must be a quarter century of photographs. Pictures of parties and gigs and bands and all these young people raising hell. There are even cat pictures. Good lord that will be a project. I’ll have a throwback Thursday that will last the rest of my life.

“Books, young man, books. Thousands of them. If time wasn’t so important, I’d show you something. My library. Thousands of books.” Elisha Cook Jr., as an old school lawyer, to Captain Kirk on Star Trek.

Book ‘em, Dano

(Not sure when I wrote this, but quite a while ago, or to whom even.)

So it was Tuesday night last night. I love Tuesday nights. No responsibility nights. Nothing to worry about nights. Deadline is six days off. I’ve already scheduled everything—bills, whatever—over the weekend. Already did the bigtime job search thing Monday morning. So Tuesday night there’s nothing. Almost never go out on Tuesdays (summer excepted). Fyl cooked up a light dinner. Eat a lot of light dinners. I found a bottle of Giant Chicken wine. (Well, it has a big rooster on the label, but I can never remember the name so it’s just Giant Chicken). Polished off half of that. That’s a lot for me. Then cracked open a good bottle of port. I’m old enough now to enjoy port. (You have another seven or eight years to go, but it happens.)  Looking through a drawer in the coffee table here, behind a stack of Playboys (seriously, a stash of Playboys, somehow I get a free subscription) and I found half a joint. I’ll be damned. Some stoner must have dropped it at my birthday party. They take out the zines and clean their pot on the centerfolds. There’s always an expanse of white ass in the center that makes it easy to see the seeds. This was explained to me. Anyway, I fired it up. Yow. Pharmaceutical grade. The hockey game got very confusing but quite beautiful.  Poured another glass of port. The game ended. Fyl switched to Star Trek.  Cool, my favorite ever episode. Frank Gorshin painted black on one side, white on the other chasing some dude who was white on the one side and black on the other.  Their bi-coloration was unusually vivid this time. I was really getting into it. Settled back on the pillow. So sweet, baby. Closed my eyes just for a second. Opened them. Jack Lord said book ’em Dano. Some guy in a flowered shirt and a lei around his neck. What the? Hours had passed. It was like 2 in the morning all of a sudden.

Seizure meds have made me such a wimp. I love to drink, but man, what a lightweight I’ve become. So I rarely do more than a couple glasses of wine. Open a bottle and it sits there a couple days. Or maybe it’s just that I ain’t used to this new pot. It’s all so potent now. Or maybe it’s both. Whatever. Book ‘em, Dano.