Tales of nonsense and items of little interest, sometimes true, always poorly thought through. Less sophisticated than most newspapers and magazines.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

An Army Of One

Call them what you will Tramps, Bums, Hobo’s, The Homeless, they intrigue me. If I see one of them exhibiting particularly strange behaviour I am fascinated and usually can’t put them out of my mind for at least a day or two until something else catches my eye and my attention. They always leave me with more questions than answers…

There used to be this bloke who lived on the corner or Broadway and 1st St for at least 5 years that I know of, who each morning would perform his exercises (jumping jacks) in his terrible arseless pants. It was truly a sight to amaze and horrify passers by. Every now and again they would cart him off (presumably to a mission) while they hosed down the pavement and got rid of all his rubbish. Next day he would be back, clean shaven and obviously washed yet still wearing the pants with no arse in them. Why the fuck did they not give him new pants? Or did they offer him new ones only for him to refuse? I suppose that wearing pants with no arse in them has its advantages, especially if you never get up to go and shit. One day he was gone for good. Dead? Relocated? Eaten by wild dogs? Who the fuck knows?

Then there was the lad who stood at the corner of Broadway & Temple every afternoon reading aloud from a three ring binder into a microphone, the wire of which led into his back pocket. I was determined to stop and listen to what the hell he had to say that was so important to him but parking was never possible and I would just drive right by. On the day that I said to myself “Okay, this is it. I’m going to risk a ticket and hear him out,” he was gone, never to be seen again. I will never know what was in the binder. Could have been blank pages, could have been the ranting of a mad man, could have been the secret to life, the universe and everything.

There was the bloke in the gas mask who would dance like a fuckin’ maniac outside the various discoteca stores that pump out loud banda, norteƱa, and salsa music down on Broadway, south of 4th St. What the fuck happened to that guy? Did he like the music that much? Did the store owners employ him to draw attention? I suspect he was just crazy as every now and again I would see him dancing outside Clifton’s to the sound of traffic and police sirens.

Since someone realized that they could convert all the old buildings downtown into high rent lofts and make millions, the LAPD have been cleaning up the area and getting rid of all the loonies, shadow fighters, screamers and urine reeking prophets. Causing dismay to dedicated people watchers like me. Luckily I will always have Hollywood. Santa Monica is fertile ground for jakeys too, but I don’t get out there that often. Hollywood is closer and to be honest, is home to a different breed of nutcase. There was this one lad who seemed to keep crossing the same street, backwards and forwards. Over his shoulder, he carried a black hold-all which held probably all he owned, a blanket and a stereo from which he was blasting what sounded like Smokey Robinson, but was, I was reliably informed, The Temptations. Every now and then he would stop, do a bit of a shuffle and mess with the volume, then cross the street again. The hold-all bore the legend “US ARMY – An Army Of One”, this was no doubt his free gift for his application to enlist (rejected). As interesting as this behaviour was, even more intriguing to me was what he carried in his right hand….a blue cellulose sponge. The kind that you wash dishes with, well the kind that the wife washes dishes with, I don’t do dishes. It didn’t appear to be wet, it was dried out. What the fuck was he doing with it? Did he like the texture? Was it his comfort sponge? Was it his favourite thing in the entire world? Could “the man” have taken his home, his pride, his dignity but not his sponge? I should have fuckin’ well asked him when I had the chance…..

This shit has my mind in a spin. I may not sleep tonight.

By the way, I commented on the lad with the furry yellow bike’s blog. It was moderated but he put up my comment anyway, he just didn’t answer my questions. He did not offer an explanation for the protest and did not offer his favourite remedy for saddle rash. So I still do not have closure on that bizarre event.

Monday, August 6, 2007

High School What?

When I was a lad, back in the wild North West of England, High School or Secondary School or Comprehensive School was a place where men were fashioned out of mere boys and girls were set up for a lifetime of abuse and disappointment. It was here that you learned how to make a bog roll holder in woodwork class, a keyring in metalwork and under protest, a swiss roll in home economics class. It was in these hallowed halls that you either kicked the shite out of someone or got the shite kicked out of you.
We didn't have a "senior prom", we didn't even have a "leaver's do" thanks to the previous year's celebration breaking out into a mass brawl and several thousand pounds worth of damage to the local British Legion. On my last day at High School, I brazenly walked into an off license and bought 12 cans of Swan Light ( a non-alcoholic beverage of Australian origin) for myself and my mates. I didn't know at the time of purchase that it was non-alcoholic..... As embarrassing as it was for me, it was nothing compared to the embarrassment of a couple of my mates who were pretending to be drunk until the discovery was made that there was in fact no alcohol in said beverage. My last day in High School was, to say the least, something of a let down. Luckily, I had more than made up for it with my last year in High School which was a non-stop riot of debauchery and teenage delinquency of which I may tell you someday.

Because of all this, the concept of High School Yearbooks, Proms, Rings and all the other bullshit that accompanies graduation in the USA is completely alien and therefore of great interest to me. I just do not understand all the fuss. What many people describe as the best years of their life were really the worst years of their life. Why the fuck would you want a constant reminder of teen angst and confusion, anger and self loathing? Or is that just me?
I actually consider myself well grounded but I didn't have to deal with the pressure from peers and family to over achieve during these all important years. Mediocrity was/is considered a success in my part of the world. A job is a fuckin' job and any old slapper will do as long as she can reproduce.

When I tell people here that "I graduated High School" at 16, I am greeted with gasps of amazement and bewilderment. I must, in their eyes. be some kind of genius. Here in the USA, you graduate High School at 18 (with the equivalent of a 10th grade UK education). I am more than willing to let them believe what they want to believe. Coupled with the fact that to their uneducated ears I speak "proper English", I am nothing short of Royalty. This is, in part one of the reasons why I stay here.

So, High School Yearbooks in particular intrigue me and I have started to collect them, old ones I mean. I love the smell of them more than anything. The musty old smell that you can only associate with old book shops. So far, I only have two and they amuse me to no end. The pictures and captions are fuckin' great. Here, I present to you, some of my favourite pictures from "Little Giant 1963" of Highland Park High School, Illinois...... Names may have been changed to protect the guilty.

Voted Most Likely Transevites
Ronald Rathsam & Helen Rizzo

Voted Most Likely Wife Beater
Albert Panther

Voted Most Likely Crackhead
Herbert Katz

Voted Most Likely Bunny Boiler
Marilyn Crocetti

Voted Most Likely Wanker
Randy Bletsch

Voted Least Favourite Member of Staff
Girls Locker Room Attendant - Mrs. Arnold Pfister

There are, of course, many more pictures that I would like to share with you, and maybe I will but instead I invite you to share with me your favourite High School story. Where did it happen? Who did it to you and how long did it last? Come on.......you know you want to.....