Archive for October, 2008


Who'd have thought reading e-mail could be so enriching?

Reading e-mail is very enriching!

    While the world economy melts down like a candle in a blast furnace, I just received the opportunity of a lifetime in my e-mailbox:        “My name is Mr. Peter T S Wong director of operations in Heng Seng Bank Hong Kong, I have a Business proposal in the tune of 125,750,000USD.”  

    I will not print the entire e-mail because frankly this communication is a private matter between myself and my generous benefactor, Mr. Peter T S Wong. The gist of the deal-e-o is this:  I get $125 million cool ones after I give Mr. Wong some personal information about myself like my bank account numbers, investment account info, passwords, social security number and such. No biggie. I suppose he just wants to know I’m a good guy who’s fiscally responsible and not some deadbeat schmuck.

    Fair enough, Mr. Peter T S Wong! The info is yours. 

    Cynical folks might wonder why a stranger in Hong Kong would contact me out of the blue with the opportunity to cash in on $125,750,000. Well, I don’t look no gift bankers in the mouth, so you can keep your cynicism to yourself, pal–– I smell the stench of envy on you, and I suppose not even a shower of Brut 33 will mask that.

    I’m a lucky man, and I thank my lucky stars to have somehow been contacted by Mr. Peter T S Wong. For now, I’m going to do my level best to jump start this stagnant world economy. I’m going on a massive spending spree. Hey, I’ve almost got my hands on a huge fortune and it’s burning a hole in my pocket.

    Thanks, Mr. Peter T S Wong for helping me move to Easy Street.

"Headless" Lou Kolirew, An Pretty Amazing Blues Artist

"Headless" Lou Kolirew-- A Pretty Amazing Blues Artist

     Any blues aficionado knows the legendary names of “Blind Boy” Fuller and “Blind” Willie Johnson.  But even hard-core blues fans know little, if anything, about bluesmen like “Terribly Nearsighted” Lewis… or “Can’t Read Much Small Print At All” McCoy… or “Having Awful Problems Seeing At Night” Mason… or “Trouble Judging Distances” Jenkins.

     Unfortunately, these great players are but footnotes in the history of the blues. Many claim this was not for lack of talent, but rather lack of deformity. I spoke recently with noted optometrist/ blues historian Dr. Randall Gurr about this.

      “Basically,” Dr. Gurr told me seated in a leather chair while petting his pet cat Fluffy-Muffy-Woo-Woo, “these men did not receive the attention they deserved because their eyesight was merely poor rather than nonexistent.” Dr. Gurr shifted his weight in the chair as his loving pet took an angry swipe of her claw at his face. The good doctor dabbed the flow of blood trickling from his cheek with a handkerchief and continued speaking like a poor ventriloquist, his lips flapping in salutes to the words coming out of his mouth.

      “Had ‘Terribly Nearsighted’ Lewis been blessed with blindness, he could have called himself ‘Blindman’ Lewis and probably have given ‘Blind Boy’ Fuller a run for his money. But, being nearsighted just didn’t have the appeal to blues listeners that blindness does,” the Doctor sighed as Fluffy-Muffy-Woo-Woo dug her sharp teeth into his beefy forearm. The medic flung his beloved cat across the room into a display of Hummel figurines and quickly ripped a sleeve from his shirt and fashioned it into a makeshift tourniquet on his bleeding limb.

She looks so innocent...

She looks so innocent...

     “Blindness pretty much assured great success for blues players. Everyone wanted to see a blind player play.” The doctor turned his attention to his cat. “Here kitty, come to papa,” the Doctor cooed as his pet viciously pounced onto his head, digging her razor-sharp claws firmly into his scalp. Wearing Fluffy-Muffy-Woo-Woo like a coonskin cap, the learned man spun about trying to shake her off. He tripped over an ottoman and hit the floor hard. The cat disengaged her claws and quickly scampered into the kitchen. Dr. Gurr cursed under his breath and slowly rose. He grabbed a doily off the chair, placed it atop his head to sop-up the oozing blood and sat down. He continued with his discourse.

     “Although blindness was a very popular deformity, there were other ways a blues musician could get some recognition. These players include the likes of ‘Pegleg’ Harless, ‘Two Fingered’ Pete Wilson, ‘Big Ol’ Beer Gut’ Kincaid, ‘Three Eyed’ Bessie Randall, ‘Ruptured Spleen’ Thompson, ‘Splitting Migraines’ Bubjoy, ‘Abscessed Teeth’ Stinky Popler, ‘Nose Busted In About Sixteen Places’ Charlie Rothroad, ‘Itchy Rash Over Damn Near My Whole Body’ Fletcher, ‘Ingrown Toenails’ Todd Lohrenz, ‘Rusty Spike Driven Into My Left Kneecap’ Carlson, ‘Crotchrot’ McGuintry‘Ears Oozing Pus’ McClintock and ‘No Lips To Speak Of’ Dundee. Each of these people contributed a swatch of fabric into the grand tapestry of blues history. Curiously, few of them could sew,” the good doctor said softly. He noticed his cat coming in from the kitchen with a steak knife in its mouth. He smiled lovingly and spoke again.

     “Perhaps the most amazing blues legend of all was “Headless” Lou Kolirew, who in l934 recorded the classic blues standard “Don’t Tell Me You’re Leavin’ ‘Cause I Don’t Have A Head To Hear You WithAnd By The Way, Are Those New Shoes You’re Wearing, Or What?  It was a very popular song that— owwwww!!!” the man wailed as he looked down and saw a steak knife planted into his calf. 

     His cat meowed softly, dropped the knife and hacked-up a hairball. I slowly moved to the door and ran quickly from the house. Later it struck me that some people really do have the right to sing the blues and maybe some people just are aren’t cat people.


Doesn't look all that hard to me.

It just doesn't look all that hard to me.

    Like many people, I like to take up a hobby occasionally for a little something to distract myself and pour my passions into.

    So I thought long and hard about what hobby to take up: coin collecting, serial stalking, magic, competitive mumbling, animal husbandry — then it hit me like a ton of bricks (though not nearly as painful or bloody). A hobby that was good for me and good for others, too.

    Brain surgery is my new hobby!

    I can’t wait to get started on this side interest. I want to saw skulls open and poke around the brain goo and get my hands dirty under the hood of someone’s mental engine. I believe I can tinker here and there and make things hunky-dory, then put the lid back on the jar and sew it up, good as new (better, actually, because I will have “fixed” my patient, but good).

    All I need is some business. Working at an ad agency, I have access to many sharp objects, Bestine, paper towels, a large studio table–and I’m not at all afraid of the sight of blood! 

    Some people might be skeptical of my education, knowledge or skills for brain surgery. Well, let me put those fears to rest. I have been a HUGE fan of medical shows on TV (especially that cantankerous “House” fellow) and I’ve seen lots of movies that contained brain surgery scenes. Frankly, it just doesn’t look all that hard. I’m a pretty quick read, and I’m confident I’d be a crackerjack brain surgeon in no time.

    So how about it? Do you have a troubled noodle? Get severe headaches, see imaginary stuff, have severe personality hiccups, need a brainium nip ‘n tuck? Call me, we’ll squeeze you into the schedule.

    Dr. Scullin will be happy to help you with his new hobby. Thanks.


Taste some mad gone drizzles, daddy.

Taste some mad gone drizzles, daddy.

Come gather ’round cats and kittens while I laddle a little beat poetry into your soul waffle iron.

Here’s seven slabs from my book of beatnik poems entitled Burma Signs Express: Observational Poetic Hogwash bled from Skids Turmoil. Don’t look for it on Amazon or in Barnes & Noble, it’s published by copy machines I’ve passed along the way on my career path.

The backstory. I worked a couple crappy ad jobs, got fired, saw an ad in AD AGE for “Circus Marketing Directors”, laughed with a pal in a bar about how funny it’d be if I applied for it (sweet beer courage), applied for it, interviewed, got the job and ran away and joined the circus. I traveled ahead of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus Big Top and pimped the show in glamorous locals like Methuen, MA, Oneonta, NY, Bluefield, WV, Greenwood, MI, Port Arthur, TX– you get the drift. 

I was the lonely carny man, a stranger in town living in cheap motels and hunkered over plates in greasy spoons slurping weak coffee and fighting the madness of loneliness. A young man trapped in a Tom Waits world.

I did that gig for a circus season and came back to reality. Then, at the tender age of 23, finally got around to reading Jack Keoruac’s “On The Road”. Having just come off the road, the manic prose of that way gone daddy was like angels blasting my eardrums out. I had heart palpitations. There were times I had to put the book down. Had to, man, lest I bust.

I had always suspected I was born in the wrong time. Always thought I was born too late. I was late to the beatnik party and beat was what I felt I was. I was young man out of time.

So for the next year and a half, I casually explored my beat soul: working my ad job by day and exploring my beat world by night. I wrote 96 of these beat poems, assembled them in an order that made some sense to me and called it “Burma Signs Express”  because like the old Burma Shave signs that were used along the road for so many years, together these poems would tell a story. Maybe they did, I don’t know, but the beat journey was fun (and much cheaper than therapy).

Oh, and the name “Skids Turmoil”, well, artsy fartsy types call writing under a different identity a nom de plume (pardon my French). I call it a fun beat name. These poems were written on an ancient 1950’s IBM electric typewriter with a gorgeous font and erratic key striking pressure. I think the machine added to the beat soul of the project.

Here then are seven swatches, seven signs along the road. Maybe they’ll add up to something for you, dig.