Saturday, April 18, 2009

Travels: Boise (Day One)

Day One of Boise started with a shower in Stone's basement bathroom. The shower was one of those stand-up jobs. I am what you might call "pocket-sized," and yet I still had a hard time maneuvering in this be-spouted shoebox. (When it came time for RJP4's turn there was only the sounds of muffled thuds and curses.) I also encountered a spider of some significance legging it under the door when I got out. I mentioned this to Stone. His response: "Yeah. We've got spiders here." It was implicit that "here" referred to Idaho. If we had driven to Idaho instead of flown we would have passed the massive welcome sign reading "IDAHO: Yeah. We've got spiders here."

For breakfast we decided to walk down to Elmer's--a diner-type place that Stone had talked up quite a bit. On the way we passed one of Boise's many irrigation sluices. It looked very much like a river, and Stone explained that some people do, in fact, swim in them. Apparently a fun thing that the children do is allow themselves to be sucked into one of the pipes and be propelled out the other side. Problem: sometimes there are grates on the other side. Again we see the invisible hand of Darwin plucking, in this instance, the chaff from the wheat.

Elmer's really was delightful. I got the best steak and eggs I've ever had there--and the hash browns were all mixed up with some peppers and onions. Very good. I also bought a copy of the Idaho Statesman from a machine outside. RJP4 and I compared it to the Scranton Times-Tribune we brought with us (RJP4 explaining his daily purchase of the Times: "It has two crossword puzzles."). Some notes: The Times had the following headline, "ANIMALS: Now We Know Better." The Statesman had excellent pictures--but all of its political articles were from either the AP of LA Times. The OpEd page had a prominently featured letter about tipping buffet waitresses. But then again, as stated, the Times had an article about us not understanding animals. Point, Scranton.

After Elmer's we crossed the road to Boise State University. All bicycles and pleasant people. Stone had to go to some kind of Theatre Person class where I assume they show you how to pretend to be a tree or paint yourself silver and stand still (the finer arts are lost on me). RJP4 and I walked over the "Friendship Bridge." The idea behind the friendship bridge is that if you walk across it with someone you will be friends forever. This is a silly thing, and even the attempt deserves our contempt and derision. I compell all of you to fly to Boise and openly urinate on this abomination. I'm a little worried that because RJP4 and I crossed it together that we are now gay married.

All my cranky cynicism melted away, however, because almost immediately after crossing the Friendship Bridge I saw a giraffe. You'd be surprised what wonders a completely unexpected giraffe can do. If only Hitler had, upon crossing the Rhine, stumbled across the legendary Meandering Giraffe of Gaul we might not all be comparing various American presidents to him completely outside of any historical context. ...I think things got away from me a bit. Anyway, the giraffes were peering over the fences from the zoo in the park across from Boise State. I found myself wondering--as we all do--if it were possible to put a saddle on one and ride it. And if so, what would be the top speed? What kind of obstacles would be neccessary to stop a giraffe cavalry? But the magic quickly disappated when I realized that the ground we were walking on was covered in geese. And their leavings.

While Stone was in class our wanderings were uneventful. We saw Boise State's Taco Bell Arena. I was almost tempted into free chili. We were loudly instructed to vote by a man wearing a homemade t-shirt proclaiming "TALK TO ME." We haughtily regarded an enormous drawing of a snail that was mislabelled as a slug. A few guffaws, upturned-noses, and East Coast elitisms later and we were reunited with our now more erudite travelling guide. And thus we ventured...downtown!

Here is where my remembering becomes fuzzy. Fuzzier. So bear with me. Bare? The following things occurred in some order on that day:

We went to what is basically the gift shop for all of Boise. I bought postcards and Stone bought us all "Spud Bars" because we didn't know what they were and how can you pass something like that up? It turned out to be a weird nougaty-marshmallowy substance wrapped in dark chocolate and coconut. I assume the goal was to mimic what it might be like to bite into a raw potato and perhaps enjoy it. The Spud Bar achieved this goal. I believe this is all that needs be said on the subject.

It began to drizzle, and then rain. RJP4's "solution" to this "problem" was to buy a one hundred dollar jacket from The North Face. It was bright red and he did not regret it: it had technology that caused the rain to simply bead up and wipe right off. Arthur C. Clarke, I think, said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and clearly this is the proof. In the meantime the rain soaked through my ten dollar hooded sweatshirt. I did not have the aid of sorcery. At this point I threw out the latter half of my Spud Bar.

We visited Stone's place of employment: The Flying M, a coffee shop that is decidedly gay. And by that I mean that it is frequented by homosexuals. It serves many things--including various cereals in bowls--and there is a vending machine that pops out little boxes with art in them. None of the furniture matches and I think the best word for it is "comfortable." It was an excellent place to sit while the rain really picked up.

We visited the liquor store and saw vodka sold in a bottle shaped like a human skull. RJP4 bought some black label and all was well with the world. We trudged home in the rain like immigrants. Stone had to go to a long rehearsal and I put my hoodie in the dryer and fell asleep. Before he left Stone told us that there was a Chinese food place "nearby" called Panda Garden. RJP4 left in search of it. It turned out to be about a mile away.

I woke up when RJP4 returned, and the smell of his veggie lo mein made me envious. I, then, set off for the distant Panda Garden--but without the aid of the magical water repelling coat. My poor hoodie, so recently dried, was soaked through again by the time I returned. Along with most of the rest of me. But there were things to be said about my miserable trek: it gave me a good look at that part of Boise. Three observations: /1. Many houses in Boise are very small and simply do not believe in a second story. "One is enough," they say, believing more to be a sign of capitalist decadence. /2. There is a ponderous amount of classic cars in excellent shape in Boise. (My uncle would later explain that they don't use salt in the winter...which sciences up your car.) /3. The community pool is an above-ground. Who ever heard of such backward and savage ways? My hoodie went back in the dryer.

Later when Stone returned from rehearsal we walked back in the same direction, but past Panda Garden to the Albertson's grocery store. I picked up a package of "brownie cookies." A sticker on the box had a picture of the brownie cookies and read: "Brownie Cookies. It's a cookie and a brownie!" I could not pass this up.

On day one we walked, in total, roughly one thousand million hundred miles. My legs hurt as I drifted off to sleep on Stone's couch--surrounded by my cookie brownies or brownie cookies and the sleeping sounds of my close, drunken friends.

Next time! It doesn't rain, we walk more, and sadly no more giraffes are seen. Tune in!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick [Demarcations] update

A woman came up to me and asked if we had a book on crystals. I hesitated. There are books on crystals--as in the actual geological phenomenon, and there are books on "crystals"--as in "I am insane and/ or stupid and I think caressing certain rocks will cure my fetal alcohol syndrome."

"Uh," I sputtered. "What kind of crystals?"

"You know," she said. "Crystals. Like...crystals.

Yup. Retard. I just lead her to the Stupid Horseshit section and cut her loose.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Travels: Boise, Idaho (The Trip Out)

On April 7, 2009, RJP4 and I flew out to Boise, Idaho to visit our friend (and former occasional guest DJ), Stone. RJP4 is moving out here, and I am thinking about doing the same if my all my shit goes pear-shaped. Which, you know, is what is happening. Anyway, I decided to detail our exploits on this here web log for your singing and dancing pleasure. I will try to withhold anything that might result in either RJP4 or myself being arrested and killed by stoning. Which is what they do here.

On Tuesday the seventh we left the Wilkes Barre/Scranton airport at 6:09 pm on the smallest jet possible. "This feels like a bus," I said to RJP4. "No," he said. "Buses are larger." This is why I hate flying out of the local airport. The closest thing we have to an actual commercial airliner is a World War I era biplane flown by an old man in scarf and goggles. It is unsettling to be able to look out the window of a plane and be eye to eye with a man standing on the runway. Once they cleared away the goats from the runway by means of blowing the great horn we were able to take off. It was roughly an hour and a half out to Chicago, and RJP4 and I were seated behind a baby who screamed as if in a meat grinder.

Chicago's O'Hare airport is the size of a small city and is a surreal place to say the least. We had to go to concourse C from concourse F--and you can take a shuttle, but RJP4 has feelings about such things. We decided to take the long walk through the strange--passing on our way the skeleton of a brachiosaurus, and riding one of those movable walkways in a tunnel with blinking neon tubes on the ceiling. "O'Hare is a massive robot," I said, "and we are riding though it's horrible brain." RJP4 was unfazed by our surroundings, quite like the semi-sinister Willy Wonka in the tunnel of terror--I was almost expecting to turn to me and start jabbering disturbing poetry about being lost in the belly of a great phosphorescent whale. This is the airport in Chicago.

Our plane out of Chicago was a proper one, thankfully. But our seats were taken by a family with several screaming children. They were largely unapologetic, so RJP4 and I scrounged seats behind them against the wall of the bathroom. During the flight the children were yelling and walking around while the flight attendants were trying to tell the parents "UH YOU CANNOT HAVE THE CHILDREN ROAM AS FREE AS CHICKENS" and "UH YOUR SON AND/OR DAUGHTER HAS CLIMBED OUT ON THE WING PLEASE RETRIEVE." I assume the family was Mormon for the following reasons: first, they were as blond and blue-eyed as the American Jesus. Second, at one point the father told a bedtime story to his daughter about space aliens with large families who don't like black people. Either way, like many observational comedians, we consistently sat behind ill-behaved, screamy children. And, in one case, creepy Mormon children.

Once we landed at Boise we were picked up by Stone and his friend Veronica. On the way we picked up another of Stone's friends and went to a bar in downtown Boise called Mulligan's. It was odd to be downtown at night. I grew up in a place where those who trespass upon the night were practically gauranteed to be, at the very least, raped. We sat at tables outside, and the worst thing that happened was that a drunk woman came by and asked for a drink of Stone's beer. He obliged and she thanked him and continued on her way. No one was raped.

But that is not to say that Mulligan's is the best place to take someone on their first Boise experience. While the bartenders and bouncers are nearly suspiciously nice, the clientelle is composed of a strange demographic which I have termed "metal hipsters." They look like hipsters but with more tattoos and worse taste in music. They have long hair and scraggly beards and look like they will stab you to take the pins from your backpack. RJP4 and I played pool until about 2 AM. I am very bad at the game, and RJP4 was drunk, so it turned into an hour or so of flailing and cursing and shame being brought upon our families.

After last call we got a ride home to Stone's house. I went to bed assuming that Boise was composed entirely of vaguely threatening ponytailed twenty-somethings that view skateboarding as a legitimate and age-appropriate mode of transportation.

Next time on SQR: Day One of Boise, wherein our hero discovers that Mulligan's is a dive that caters to what passes for assholes in Boise--and that the city itself is actually quite nice indeed.

Stay tuned!

Quotes from the playground

While many of us picture spring break as drunken debauchery spewed across some Florida beach, my spring break was at the opposite end of that spectrum. This past week has been the spring break for the school district that I work in. While this should have been a week of total relaxation and sleeping I had to spend part of it working at the vacation camp that my after school program runs whenever school is on break. Working at the camp often means boredom and board games, but generally the child do manage to making it entertaining. One boy, L, is in second grade and is most likely the most outrageous child I have ever met. No taller than four feet he manages to climb on everything and everyone like an escaped monkey from Six Flags with the voice of a veteran two pack-a-day smoker. His thought process is completely unpredictable, like a pinball machine being played by someone with Parkinson's. Today while sitting on the swings L decides inform me that his grandfather once did a very bad thing. My curiosity peaked, I asked L to explain. He then told me the following:

"He flipped his car once! He told everyone he would never do it again, but then HE DID IT AGAIN! And He had a pet raccoon when he was little. And he once had an itchy pair of pants that he decided to burn, but he accidentally burnt down the whole barn!"

He asked me later on, during lunch, to hold him upside down because he wanted to see if he could eat his sandwich while inverted.

If you were able to peer into L's mind it would resemble something along the lines of a acid induced rave staring Pink Floyd and Hunter S. Thompson.