Thursday, February 21, 2002

My Girlfriend's Loose

This column was going to be great. Anitra, Tex, and Cowboy, "the Seattle First Three of Six", were going to be tried by Seattle for the crime of sheltering people in out of the rain under the King County Ad Building overhang. I was going to skip the boring bits, skip all the hours that Anitra et al would spend watching lawyers jockey. Just as the trial got interesting, I would be there taking notes, and this column would have been the distillation of all the awesome trial drama.

Well, guess what. There wasn't anything BUT the boring bits. After about twelve hours of mind numbingly dull motions, not counting breaks for lunch and paper copying, the city just asked the judge to dismiss the charges, and the judge said OK.

That was it. No harangues, no "where were you on the night of." No "I would like to remind the witness she is under oath." No last minute note passed to the defense attorney by a handsome private detective. No brilliant cross examination. No map of the scene of the crime. No one screaming from the back of the courtroom, "Alright! I did it! Yes, I did it! I had to do it, don't you see? I hated her so much, with her damn poetry workshops and her computer lessons! That's why I framed her!"

It seems the defendants were charged with trespassing on county property, but the county wasn't willing to have a representative appear in court to explain why it objected to allowing a handful of people to escape the rain on public property when they weren't being a nuisance in any way. So the city, who was doing the prosecuting, realized it couldn't win.

So instead of talking about that, I'm going to reminisce about my old '69 Rambler. Long-time readers may remember her from my Opus 7, "Home was a '69 Rambler / I'd rolled it away from the road / Home was a '69 Rambler / until the state ha-ad it towed / etc."

I didn't just buy that car to live in it. We had a history together. We were a couple. A math professor and his wheels. I bought her at Rutgers NJ in 1979 for $200. Her previous owner had lost her in a drug bust. I needed her to make it between classes in that sprawling campus.

When classes ended in 1980 I had to come here to Seattle. I decided to keep the Rambler by driving us across country. That trip was to cement our relationship forever. (Get it? "Cement." Ha!)

There were "thunder strips" in Pennsylvania. Thunder strips shake your car apart if you are doing more than the speed limit. We met them in a rainstorm. I thought she was dying. I cried over her for hours on the side of the road. Then the rain subsided and I could see the strips.

The Man in the Yellow Beetle appeared in Pennsylvania. From there to Wyoming not a single hour passed that one of us didn't pass the other, except for a detour over a mountain. It was amazing. We took breaks at the same times. We must have slept at the same times. We drove at the same speeds. Uncanny.

I saw an interstate shunt that went over a mountain alongside Mt. Rushmore. As is my wont, I thought, "What the hell?" That stretch of interstate inspired this Haiku (this is the original version.)

'69 Rambler

Divided Highway Ahead

My Girlfriend's Behind

The "highway" was one lane in each direction, no shoulders, usually no railings. Divided highway signs signaled such things as trees in the middle of the road. As we reached the peak, my love nearly died of high altitude asphyxiation. It was snowing. I will never forget her gasps of pain. But she made it. We both arrived here May 17, one day before we would have been ashed on by St. Helens.

This column is dedicated to her spirit -- my '69 Rambler, b 1969, d 1984.

Thursday, February 7, 2002

Abate My Ass; No, Really

Today's new word is carminative. Try to figure out what it means from the context!

One loose end is tied. A while back I ranted righteously and justifiably about the incessant cowboy music at 3rd and Pine, courtesy of that intersection's McDonalds. I am happy to note that said McDonalds is now gone, so we may all be spared the unwelcome musical invasion in our lives when we walk the sidewalks there, at least until a new obnoxious tenant moves into that space. I am unhappy to note that this outcome has been achieved by normal business development, when it should have come about by this city's always unfairly applied Noise Abatement Ordinance.

Here's a rule of thumb for you guys in Tom Carr's office: if a business PURPOSELY pipes music OUTSIDE of it's own establishment, that is an INTENTIONAL disturbance of the peace. That is grounds to pursue legal remedy. The public doesn't want to be unwillingly subjected to Hank Williams, no matter how good his stuff is. We want to be willingly subjected to it, in the privacy of our own homes. So abate that.

One loose end unravels. As of this writing, Street Outreach Services (SOS), in the same neighborhood, has been evicted. SOS is part of the solution. Their loss can only make the Pike/Pine area worse. As matters become worse, they will likely lead to some business down there subjecting passers-by to bubble gum music. The city will do nothing. I will have to be committed.

For those of you too young to remember bubble gum music, imagine Britney Spears with no midriff showing, hair in pigtails, singing in such a way that you are really genuinely convinced that she's a virgin after all.

Speaking of drugs, I am now one of the biggest drug users in the country. In the world. I am taking drugs for everything. The following is in the direction of a full disclosure. The cover-up will consist of the omissions.

To begin with, there's the Beano. Without the Beano, I would be a social outcast. Until the discovery of this miracle drug I had to rely on that old-fashioned carminative, cumin, or cummin, as it is sometimes spelled. A man can only take so much cummin.

My favorite drug is something called Olanzapine. Sometimes people say to me, "Wes, why are you such an atypical non-psychotic?" I'm not your everyday non-psychotic because I take an atypical anti-psychotic, Olanzapine. It makes all of the rest of you bearable so that I don't mind spending the rest of my life with you and even feel like communicating off and on. Otherwise I would go back to my corner and talk to my extensive collection of plastic figurines and damaged wind-up toys. I love my damaged wind-up toys.

Another fun drug is Wellbutrin, which as the name suggests makes you one happy butrin. I'm not actually taking any Wellbutrin right now because I'm going through a little phase in which it has been decided that I'm happy enough for now, thank you very much. Whee!

Then there are all those meds that counter the old-paunchy-guy syndrome. It is simply unbelievable how much of a pharmacy it takes to lower an old guy's cholesterol and drop his blood pressure. I'm personally taking a statin, a diuretic, and a beta-blocker everyday. I'm told they are working.

Before I forget: a carminative is an anti-flatulent. Did you get it right?

So, to sum up, not counting the carminative and the cover-up, that's five high-powered meds I'm taking every day, all legal and all socially sanctioned. And I'm just one crazy old fart out of millions.

Do yourself and America a favor. Proudly invest in our great pharmaceutical corporations. Today, a brave new country, tomorrow, the world.