It's all a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The Circle of Life According to Wylie Allman Greer (2 1/2 Years Old)

1) Lions Eat grass
2) Tigers Eat crackers
3) Horses like water
4) Cows like milk
5) Hippo and Rhino eat nuts and juice
6) Giraffes eat reefs
7) Chicken eat popcorn
8) Fish eat catfish
9) Snakes eat snake food
10) Lizards eat bugs
11) Frogs eat bugs
12) Bugs eat smaller bugs
13) We eat chicken

Monday, December 16, 2002

I guess I should have gotten a flu shot, huh?I do believe that I have a case of what the medical community refers to as Influenza. Down here in the hood, we call it Dem Flewbugz, Y’all.

The symptoms: Snotty head; coughing up lung biscuits; sore neck and back; stomach cramps; headache; blurry vision; fever chills; bad hair; bad breath; zitty chin; bad BO; decreased will to live; increased sense of whininess; no ambition; no friends; no happiness; no tenderness; nobody loves me but my momma, and she could be jiving too.

Don’t tell me to go home from work, because I have frittered away all of my sick leave for the year on lesser illnesses. I do have 16 hours of vacation time, but I am saving it so I can take off work the 26th and 27th to be with family for the holidays.

How sick am I? All the Fatboy has had to eat this morning is a can of sprite, which I drank very, very slowly. That is extraordinary! As I am sure that you are aware, sprite does not contain caffeine, alcohol, or pork. Those are the three criteria for something to be ingested by me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The War on Drugs is a Failure

Federal drug laws should be repealed and currently illegal drugs should be regulated by the states

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop.
We like it.
It left a trail of graft and slime,
It don’t prohibit worth a dime,
It’s filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we’re for it.

Franklin P. Adams (1931)

“There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.” P.J. O’Rourke (1993)

The federal government’s war on drugs is a misguided failure. Currently there are 400,000 non-violent drug offenders in jails and prisons. More than sixty percent of the federal prison population consists of drug offenders. An estimated 1.2 million suspected drug offenders are arrested each year, most for simple possession or petty sale. The government spends 19 Billion dollars every year to enforce its drug laws, more than the Commerce, Interior, and State Departments put together. In spite of all of this, according to the US department of Health and Human Services, 26.7 million Americans used an illicit drug last month. Every year from 1975-1995, at least 82 percent of high school seniors said that they found marijuana “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain.

Not only are drugs still widely available, evidence shows that we could be making the problem worse. In 1985, 5.5 percent of American high school seniors used marijuana daily, but in the Netherlands (where marijuana is legal) the rate was only 0.5 percent. Indeed, a national survey found that only 1.7 percent of people who currently do not use drugs said that they would try drugs if they were made legal.

Even police officers agree that we are mismanaging the problem. In 2001 David Klinger, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri and a former officer in the Los Angeles Police Department, stated that as he worked as an officer he, “started to view most people involved with drugs either as broken souls who made self-destructive choices or as harmless people who indulged their appetites in moderation—not as crooks who needed to be punished.” Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh says that while he was working on the movie Traffic, he made a point of interviewing police officers about their work. Soderbergh posed one question to each cop: "If your daughter had a drug problem, would you involve the police department?" Without exception, the answer was "no."

Prohibition of drugs has created the exact same problems that prohibition of alcohol created in the early twentieth century. Before alcohol prohibition, safe and regulated alcohol was readily available from reputable sources. After Prohibition, alcohol was still readily available, but in unregulated condition and from disreputable sources only. This spawned violence and crime. The murder rate rose with the start of Prohibition, remained high throughout Prohibition, and declined for eleven consecutive years after the repeal of Prohibition.

Likewise, before drug prohibition opium, morphine, and cocaine were legally and cheaply available without a prescription at drugstores and grocery stores and through the mail. (Marijuana, of course, is an opportunistic native weed and will grow up through the cracks in a concrete parking lot if left unattended.) Cutting off these safe and reputable sources has forced these substances to be controlled by criminals, but made them only marginally less available. Most, if not all, “drug-related murders” are the result of drugs being forced into the black market and would likely never have happened without prohibition.

Also it is important to note that the federal drug laws are constitutionally dubious. The Tenth Amendment states that any powers not given to the federal government in the constitution are reserved for the states. Alcohol was only prohibited federally by an amendment to the constitution. However, Congress never asked the American people for additional constitutional powers to declare a war on drug users. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is considered by many to be the most far-reaching federal statute ever passed. It asserts federal jurisdiction over every drug offense in the United States, no matter how small or local its scope.

Further evidence of the federal government’s slapdash attitude about the constitution can be found in their retort to statewide medical marijuana initiatives. A recent survey found that more than 70 percent of U.S. cancer specialists said they would prescribe marijuana if it were legal; nearly half said they had urged patients to break the law to acquire the drug. The British Medical Association reported that nearly 70 percent of its members believe marijuana should be available for therapeutic use. In 1996 voters in California and Arizona responded to this by authorizing physicians to recommend the use of marijuana to seriously ill patients residing in those states. The Clinton administration quickly announced that any physician recommending or prescribing medical marijuana and patients who use marijuana under state law would be prosecuted in federal courts.

The bureaucracy that enforces drug laws is a perfect example of self-perpetuating big government. When drug use goes up, taxpayers are told that the government needs more money to fight against the rising tide of abuse. When drug use goes down, taxpayers are told that it would be a big mistake to cut spending just when progress is being made. Whatever the news, spending levels must be increased. The history of the drug war plainly shows us that spending levels have little to do with drug use, and likely has an adverse effect.

The best solution for the liberty-thieving problem that is the U.S. war on drugs was spelled out by the libertarian think-tank, the Cato Institute, in their Handbook for the 107th Congress. I would lessen its impact if I tried to restate it, so I will close with the same paragraphs that they did:
Congress should repeal the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, shut down the Drug Enforcement Administration, and let the states set their own policies with regard to currently illegal drugs. They would do well to treat marijuana, cocaine, and heroin the way most states now treat alcohol: It should be legal for licensed stores to sell such drugs to adults. Drug sales to children, like alcohol sales to children, should remain illegal. Driving under the influence of drugs should be illegal.

With such a policy, Congress would acknowledge that our current drug policies have failed. It would restore authority to the states, as the Founders envisioned. It would save taxpayers’ money. And it would give the states the power to experiment with drug policies and perhaps devise more successful rules.

The war on drugs has lasted longer than Prohibition, longer than the Vietnam War. But there is no light at the end of this tunnel. Prohibition has failed, again, and should be repealed, again.

Did you hear that the new Secretary of the Treasury gave up his membership in Augusta National because of the recent non-scandal concerning female club members? This is what Jay Nordlinger said on NRO's the Corner about it, and he could not be more right.
"Anyone who would give up a membership in Augusta National to be Treasury secretary is absurd. In fact, anyone who would do so is too misguided to hold high public office."

Time out from conversations with the Naked Cowby to bring you the beautiful baby Amanda Grace Yielding
Born: 12-02-2002
Birth Time: 6:10 pm
@ St. Vincent Doctors Hospital
Weight: 6 lbs 7 oz
Length: 19 in
She is as pretty as her momma.
God bless her.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Welcome back Naked Cowboy!

Thanks, Fatnathan.

Man you are welcome on my blog anytime. Can I ask you a few questions?

Certainly, Shoot! I mean, draw!

Why do the chicks love you so much?

Well Fatboy, for a variety of reasons. First there is my Euro-Jesus hair. Then there is my voice of pure testosterone. Also, you might not realize this, but Naked Cowboy works up quite a sweat singing ballads of the western prairie and Slow Ride for the sweet ladies of New York City, and the Naked Cowboy’s sweat sends out pheromones that are an aphrodisiac on a par with pure rhinoceros horn.

Wow that is great! So when you get the ladies all turned on, do you take them back to the old Cowboy shack for a little private performance?

Don’t be ridiculous, Fatso. I’ve got the Naked Cowgirl waiting for me back home. When the ladies get all turned on and out of control, I just encourage them to turn their love into money and place it in the Naked Cowboy Boots. That is how I make my living.

Is it a good living?

I do alright. I certainly ain’t complaining. I am able to work in New York and make ends meet without having to rustle up money with my naked six gun.

You mean to tell me that you are packing heat?

Why do you think that the Naked Cowboy keeps his tighty whities on?

Modesty, I assumed

Don’t be ridiculous. Want to hear some Blue Oyster Cult?

Nah, How about some Marty Robbins?

Who the hell is that? Some kind of queer cowboy poseur?

Let’s change the subject.

No problem. Let's talk about why you are ripping off Tony Pierce.

Let's talk about how he has no link for me, even though I have him linked right at the top of my blog!

Let's go get some beer with this stinky boot money of mine and get tore up!

Let's not. Goodbye Convertible Cowboy/Star Guy

Later Lunchbox

Ray-Ray just admitted that the Mimes dream was not his at all . . .
I just got the following email from my old buddy Ray-Ray "Dr. Earl" Baser. Grad school must be more stressful than I had imagined.
I had a dream last night; it was about mimes. I saw myself surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of mimes. All of them pointing and laughing at me. Mocking me. Pretending to sip tea. With their smug grins and painted faces. WHO ARE THEY TO LAUGH AT ME? Suddenly it started to rain knives from the sky. The mimes got pierced and maimed. Blood was everywhere. One of the mimes caught a knife in the side of his head. He screamed and cried, but all the other mimes were being impaled and couldn't help him. He looked at me and exploded. It seemed the hell I was in was turning into heaven. After it stopped raining, only pieces of the mimes remained. They could no longer torment me. I was free from hell. Or so I thought. I don't remember what happened next, but suddenly that bitch was there. I hate her. Then I was at a park, with more mimes. This time they were juggling and balancing chainsaws. I ran over to one of the mimes and took his chainsaw, saying "Oh, it seems I have your chainsaw. How do you like that, bitch?" The mime shrugged, so I chopped off his legs. Then I woke up.

Mimes are worthless. If they'd get real jobs, we wouldn't be harassed by them everywhere we go. I'm sure there are mimes in hell. Mimes and all things shitty. What the hell is wrong with people when mimes can still make a living?? Don't they understand that mimes are evil and should be shot? Greedy bastards, always stealing my candy and throwing rocks at me. Throw rocks at me will you? I'll burn your house down. HAHAH. I'll laugh and laugh like you did so many times before. And then it will be my turn to not invite you to my birthday party. How do you like that, asshole? HAHAH.

Mimes torture me with their existence

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Robert Burck, a street performer known as the 'Naked Cowboy', sings in Times Square in New York on December 5, 2002 as a snow storm hit the city. Burck, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who sings in Times Square throughout the year, said he was not cold because he was 'burning with desire.' Snow, sleet, and freezing rain from the region's first major storm of the season played havoc with the morning rush hour along the U.S. east coast snarling commuters in traffic accidents and flight delays, and forcing schools to close.  REUTERS/Peter MorganLook out because I will rock you. Stand still and I will rock you. Move and I will rock you. I am the Naked Cowboy and I am here for one reason, heavy freaking rock. Heavy Metal. Hard rock. Acid Rock. Naked Cowboy R-O-C-K! My guitar is like a laser beam. My hair is like the golden locks of Euro-Jesus. My voice is like a beautiful kitten that has been thrown into a food processor. That’s right, a food processor. That is how rock-and-freaking-roll I am. I will throw your kittens into the blender. I will steal your girlfriend. I will outrun your fastest car. I will break your momma’s heart. But I will not mess with your boyfriend if you are gay, because I ain’t like that. The Naked Cowboy is NOT gay. Get it. I am rock and roll in the Aerosmith way, not the Boy George way. I am rock and roll in the Foghat way, not the Pet Shop Boys way. I will rock you up one side and down the other. Do you see this guitar? Don’t look too closely because it is a lethal weapon. Do you see these boots? They are for stomping weaklings like you. Do you see this hat? Is it too much, because my ex girlfriend said that it made my nose look big. I like it. Do you? When you see the Naked Cowboy coming, better step aside. Hide the booze, cause I will drink it. Hide the drugs, cause I will take them. Hide the women, cause they will be mine. Don’t worry about hiding the dice, because the Naked Cowboy does not gamble. I don’t gamble because I am a sure bet. Put your money on me, because I am going places. The Naked Cowboy is going places fast. Right now, I am going inside, because it is as cold as a mother out here! But first, do you have some spare change or something, because the Naked Cowboy is hungry and the naked cattledriving business just ain't what it used to be.
This is Canadia writer David Warren's take on Christian/Muslim relations and attitudes. (Via David Frum)
“It is a commonplace today that Christians in the West have lost their faith, whereas Muslims in the East are still believers; that what we now have is a confrontation between decadent post-Christian secularists, and sincere if possibly misguided Muslims. The first part of this proposition often seems true enough, especially of contemporary Europe. But I really think the second proposition is false. I think one of the reasons Islamism has erupted with such gale force in the Muslim world is indeed the very loss of faith, and the fear that comes from this. ...

“It is in moments of doubt that one often makes the wildest, most desperate, professions of faith; and in a way Osama bin Laden is doing this within his own person, and calling to fellow Muslims who are experiencing the same dark night of the soul. It is as if they were confronting not us, but instead Allah, and saying, ‘Show us! Prove to us you still exist; because, if you don't, we will give up on you entirely.’

“At the edges of that Muslim world today, there is much, chiefly anti-Christian violence: in the Philippines, Indonesia, in Nigeria, Sudan, and across Africa, in the Trans-Caucasus and elsewhere. But part of the reason for this, I have come to realize, is the very success of the new Christian missionaries. They are coming today not from Europe and America as they once did, but from churches now indigenous to Africa and Asia. For in the grand statistical overview of the present day world, Islam is expanding by its birth-rate alone, it is not making many converts; whereas, paradoxically, it is Christianity that is now spreading like wildfires from many different centres in the Third World, both by birth-rate and by conversion.”

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Just when I thought that my job could not be any more insufferable, there has been a sewer leak on the floor above my office and now the air is rife with the nose hair singeing bouquet of poopoo. The walls must be flowing with crap. My eyes are watering and my chest burns. Yuck! To top it all off, time appears to be standing still.
Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the Indian honor guard at the RashPati Bhavan, or President's House, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002. Putin meets with Indian leaders and businessmen Wednesday to map out joint efforts against global terrorism and reinvigorate economic ties. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS, Presidential Press Service)Wow man, you people really know how to dress a soldier here in India. You really know how to dress a soldier and you know something about curry too. Yep, curry is one of your specialties here on the old subcontinent. I love curry. Do you put the saffron in it? Because that saffron stuff is kind of expensive, but it is yummy. I know that you grow the saffron. I also know about you growing the poppies, huh. Yeah you grow the poppies in a clever and covert manner here in India. That is the spice that Columbus was looking for, saffron and curry and smack. Also you got that chi tea stuff. Man, I love that chi tea. It is so tasty with the nutmeg and the cinnamon and the sugar and the milk. Of course, I guess that you don’t use cow’s milk here in the subcontinent. You know, since you think cows are your dead granny or something. You probably use goat milk or something weird like that, huh. Oh well, I still love that chi tea. Chi tea and Gandhi. Man that Gandhi sure was a sharp cat. He really knew what was up. He could have used a cheeseburger or something though, because he was so thin. Oh, wait, no cheeseburgers. Maybe a goatcheeseburger. Or some curry! Anyway, that Gandhi guy was really something and I liked him the Searching for Bobby Fisherman movie also. That was a great move, with Joe Montana and that kid who really knew how to play checkers. Oh yeah, Larry Fishbone was in Bobby Fisherman also. Man he is a good actor. I really liked him in that Matriarch movie with Bill or Ted. I forget which one it was. You have to respect Bill or Ted though, because they went from being in movies with George Carlin to being a real dramatist. At least one of them did. Bill or Ted. The other was never really seen from again, was he. But The Matriarch had cool special effects like they do on Monday Night Football. But I guess you don’t get Monday Night Football here on the old subcontinent. Or if you did it would just have soccer, because I heard that you call soccer football and football something else. Man, what a strange place. I’m going back home!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Dave Barry has ruined christmas for everyone.
Speaking of the wise men: How many of you readers, when you hear the words ''We three kings of Orient are,'' even if you are attending a somber worship service, find that your brain automatically responds with, ''smoking on a rubber cigar''? Me, too. It's like at weddings, when the organist plays ''Here comes the bride,'' and everybody's brain, including the groom's, automatically responds: ``Big, fat and wide.''

Monday, December 02, 2002

This morning Dan reminded me of a limerick I wrote when I quit my job as a cook at Smitty's Bar to go to work for a tile contractor. I had been hoping to get a job with a law firm as a title researcher, but it did not work out.

There once was a man named Nathan
Who worked for a company ran by Satan
He had hoped to with haste
Move into real estate
Instead he became a tile mason

The place that he worked was called Smitty's
The scent of this dive was truly shitty
People go there to drink
They pick up the stink
Then say, "Smitty's shitty is truly a pity"

Now Nate won't have to stink
And it didn't drive him to drink
But methinks looking back
He would rather have been a hack
But you know heinsight's 20/20

He'll miss the artwork that hung on the wall
And the pay per view days of football
But what he'll miss the most
Later on when'st he'll boast
Will most certainly be the pinball

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Guts of the Delta

Two Aliens Observe Pine Bluff, Arkansas

About three years ago I went on a late February fishing trip with my friend Ray. The weather was cold and a little snowy, and we never did get around to much fishing. Instead we ended up driving across Arkansas, East to West, and back again by a different route. Along the way, we fell into this strange routine: Whenever we would come to a small town, the driver would call out to the navigator, “Which shit-hole is this?” And the map person would say, “Flippin,” or “Berryville,” or “Calico Rock.” But it really did not matter because they were all the same to us.

About a year later I was driving through downtown Malvern with my best buddy Daniel when I realized that they do all look the same. If you were dropped by helicopter on Main Street of any Arkansas town with a population between five and thirty-five thousand, you would have to look at the names of the stores (Bank of Malvern) to know where you were. This will not do. There must be a reason that people continue to inhabit these places. These shit-holes have a soul and I am determined to find it. I must know the stories that set apart each of these otherwise insignificant little villages.

For me, the obvious place to start was Pine Bluff. I have an uncle that lives near there, in White Hall. He is a chemical engineer at the Pine Bluff Arsenal where he disposes of chemical munitions. My dad commuted from Little Rock to work at the paper mill in Pine Bluff when I was a toddler. Also, like Madonna in high school, there is a reputation that I would love to find out the truth about. I have often heard that the city of Pine Bluff has more liquor stores and pawnshops per capita than any city in the US. I did some research and was not able to find any empirical study to back up this claim, but I did discover that it has twice been chosen the worst place to live in the US by national publications. It has an astonishingly high murder rate. The Arkansas Times’ Bob McCord wrote in 1999:
Remember that for two years in a row, 1997 and 1998, Pine Bluff had the highest murder rate in the nation -- 33.8 per thousand population. The national average is 6.3. The prosecuting attorney in Pine Bluff says his town has more guns than people. The New York Times reported that if New York City had the same percentage as Pine Bluff, it would have had 2,500 murders in 1998 rather than 629.

Also Pine Bluff has the reputation as being a polluted, industrial place. A river port and rail hub. A major polluter of the Arkansas River. A generally smelly town.

It was with this information that I picked up Daniel in my old green pickup truck and hit the road. It was Veterans Day. I had my notebook and camera. Dan brought his keen observational sense. We would find the heart of Pine Bluff. We would know its essence. We would need a shower when we got home.

A few days after we returned, I conducted interviews with my Dad and Uncle Mark about what goes on in this fabled city. I probably should have called them before I left, because Mark told me about a Country and Western museum in the convention center where a talking bust of Johnny Cash greets you. That would have made Daniel’s day!

Dan and I started south on I-530 and we quickly realized that a sterile, common freeway was no way to prepare our minds for the economic hub of Southeast Arkansas. I took the Dixon Road exit and we headed for the old highway. I pulled over in the parking lot of an old barn that had been converted into a tavern and turned the wheel over to Dan. I would need to have my notebook handy as I observed the city of Little Rock giving way to the flat delta and then reemerging as urban Pine Bluff.

In the city of Sweet Home, Dixon Road meets what is traditionally known as “The Dollarway Road.” This road dates from the very beginning of the automobile, and was once the longest continually paved stretch of road in the United Stated. Now it is just called Arkansas Highway 365. We were immediately confronted with shotgun houses, old rusted cars on blocks, dilapidated shacks, and barns that were even worse. We passed a man on a riding lawn mower, headed to the store. “Wow!” Dan remarked, “It is like we have been suddenly magically transported to Southeast Arkansas.”

The shotgun house is historically the home of choice (or more likely necessity) for delta farm hands. Long and narrow, with the rooms in succession to each other, it is like a mobile home that does not move. We came to a place on the road where two of the bleak houses stood. Abandoned for years, they had caved in roofs and their yards were waist deep in weeds. In front of them on the road, a government sign read, “2002 Volunteer community of the year.” I said to Dan, “I guess the volunteers haven’ t made it to those houses yet.”

“Nah,” he replied, “The sign was probably stolen from another town.”

One of the last towns that you pass through on the Dollarway Road before entering the Pine Bluff area is called Dexter. Everyone in Dexter has an RV. Many people lived in mobile homes and still had an RV in the front yard. Other lots had only an RV with full time residents. There was no citizen in the town of Dexter, Arkansas that did not have immediate access to an RV. Dan and I speculated as to the explanation. Was there an RV factory nearby? This was pretty close to the Arsenal; perhaps the RVs were in case of emergency evacuation. Later on, Uncle Mark explained to me that this was a Gypsy community. (He suggested I use the word, Traveler. Sounds too Tolkeinien for my taste.) The citizens of Dexter load up in their RVs every April and travel the country in search of work. One or two stay behind to guard the property. They usually return around September. Dad said that the guys out at the paper mill liked to date the Gypsy girls because they put out.

Although Dan and I saw no sign proclaiming us to be in the city of Pine Bluff, a store advertised as “Pawnshop: Guns and Cars” made us think that we might be close. Daniel and I are both fat guys. We were feeling a bit eleven 0’clockish. We decided that the first order of business would be to find a great local restaurant. After trying the doors of several places and finding them closed, we stumbled on our Mecca: Kribb’s Bar-B-Que #2.

The smell of hickory-smoked meat was thick. Kribbs was tiny inside; there were only two full sized booths and one two-person booth. There was a scarred butcher-block counter where you placed your order. Typical 1970’s paneling covered the walls. A video camera pointing at the register was the only thing in the store of any more recent vintage. On the counter were six huge softball trophies and a big yellow poster advertising a blues concert at the County Line Club. A large black lady took our order, then turned and went to the kitchen to make our food. After a few minutes she peeked at us through a small pass-through window and said, “Honeys, y‘all can have a seat.” Dan and I sat in the two-person booth next to a couple of gumball machines with twenty-five cent temporary tattoos or gold rings.

A steady stream of locals came in the door to order food. Predominately black, working men in dirty clothes with dirtier boots would walk up to the counter and yell out to the kitchen, “Two jumbo pork. Two Fry. Two cuppa tea,” then turn around and walk back outside. In a few minutes they would walk back in and Miss Kribbs would place their order in the pass-through windowsill, walk all the way around from the kitchen, and ring up their food. Finally she came around the corner with baskets for Dan and me. It was worth the wait. In each basket was a large chipped pork sandwich, dripping with sauce and slaw, and wrapped in wax paper. Next to that was a small paper envelope that was overflowing with short, thick, hot, greasy, home fries. The tea was very sweet, and that was the only way it was offered. There were no nutra-sweet packets on the table. When we took a bite of our sandwiches, an equal amount of its contents would spill out of the back into the basket. Paper napkins were no match for this fare. The fries appeared to be hand cut from fresh potatoes and ketchup was an insult to them. Dan and I spoke not a word. The food was quickly disposed of. A deep breath, a sigh, finally Daniel broke the silence.

“You know what would be really good?”

“What’s that Dan?”

“To take two of those sandwiches and stack them on top of each other with about a half inch of pepper-jack cheese in-between. We could call it the Fatboy Special!”

Our lunch was going to have to digest for a little while. Dan and I decided to drive around and get a feel for the town. We traveled the area between downtown and the suburban mall and then back again. We saw the headquarters of Simmons First bank. Ten stories high, it was by far the tallest building in Pine Bluff. Also downtown was a big and tall men’s store called “Pinky and Johnny’s.” We saw the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, one of the few schools in the nation where Caucasian students are eligible for a minority scholarship. There was a strip club with a sizeable Monday lunch crowd. We saw a beauty salon called, “A Touch of Mink” that was next to what appeared to be a downtown grain silo. The silo was the second tallest building in town. We drove past Bad Bob’s Country Nightclub, a place my uncle described as “Take the first shot, and the next two bullets are on the house.” We saw dozens of liquor stores, pawnshops, churches, beauty salons, and florists.

We worked our way out to the edge of town and got on the interstate bypass to circle back downtown. Dubbed a “Scenic Byway,” I-530 offers a panoramic, three-part view: Pine Bluff, muddy cotton fields, and a murky marsh. While driving sixty miles-per-hour on the bypass, a deer hunter on a four-wheeler passed on the access road. Blaze orange vest flapping in the breeze; he was going faster than we were.

Back downtown; with the brick in our stomachs now partially digested, it was time to park the car. We needed to stroll the city’s fair boulevards. Admire its public structures. Read its historical markers. Dan saw an army surplus store.

Dan parallel parked the truck at the foot of Main Street in front of what appeared to be the skeleton of an ancient building. There were long wooden posts and metal pipes tied together with hemp rope and pointing off in all angles. I stepped out of the truck (and into a large spider web, geez . . .) and realized that this was some sort of public sculpture. A very, very bad public sculpture. A sculpture entitled “Bridge to the Future.” It looked more like a giant pre-teen’s aborted attempt at a clubhouse from the scrap materials out behind his dad’s barn. Just as I was thinking to myself, “If this is the future, I ain’t going.” I heard a big squishy splat and noticed that the fountain next to the sculpture had a clogged drain and was regularly overflowing across the sidewalk and down the street. Later on my uncle told me that this sculpture was a major source of discontent among the city residents. Apparently tens of thousands of tax dollars were spent on its commission.

I started across the street (damn, another spider web, yuck!) to read another historical marker. Now I know that Jefferson County was named for Thomas Jefferson in 1829. Right underneath the sign was the rotting carcass of a dead pigeon. Whatever killed it was certainly not a person, because as I looked up and down the sidewalks of Main Street Pine Bluff, I saw not a soul. It was Monday afternoon about 1:00 and no one was around. Perhaps that is why spiders flourish in the downtown. Just as I was about to complain about the third spider web I had walked through in fifteen minutes, Dan said, “Boy you sure can tell this is harvest time in the delta, with all of this cotton in the air.” Oh yeah. I should have thought of that.

Just across Highway 65 from downtown is picturesque Lake Pine Bluff. Now, this being a holiday, I had noticed many people out fishing since we had gotten to town. There were people all along the banks of the Arkansas River and its backwaters. Beautiful Lake Pine Bluff, with its public fishing piers and paved boat ramps, was totally uninhabited. I remembered to ask my uncle about this and he told me a fascinating tale that gets to the essence of the Pine Bluff attitude.

There once was a factory in Pine Bluff that made transformers. The process by which they manufactured transformers in those days created a highly toxic waste known as PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls.) Not having anything else to do with their PCBs, they illegally and covertly dumped them into Lake Pine Bluff. By the time the public found out about this, the company was out of business and the fish in this popular lake were found to contain dangerous levels of PCBs. The lake had to be closed to the public. Unfortunately the only way to clean up PCB contamination in a lake is to drain it, dredge the bottom, and refill it. This is hugely expensive and you still have to dispose of the contaminated earth that is dredged up. The city decided it would be prudent to drain the lake and have the soil tested again to make sure that it was contaminated. Still showing as contaminated, they had it tested again, and again, and again. Lake Pine Bluff was tested over and over by every available private company and government agency until finally one guy looked at a sample and said, “Eh, it’s probably OK.” The lake was immediately filled back up, and restocked. A big ceremony was held in which the mayor ate the first fish caught.

Pine Bluff’s most notorious calling card is its signature smell. Although the smell has recently been sweetened by the addition of a Tyson’s chicken preparation plant, its sulphuric essence has always been the International Paper mill. This would be the last stop on our Pine Bluff pilgrimage.

Located just outside of town on 5200 acres along the Arkansas River, the first thing we glimpsed was belching steam from towering chimneys. As you get closer you see the gargantuan lumberyard. An entire forest of trees stacked about twenty feet high in long rows as far as the eye can see.

I remember the first time I drove through Pine Bluff with my family when I was a small child. Of course, my natural response was to say, “Dad, what is that smell?” My father considers himself a closet chemist and loved the opportunity to give his children a science lesson. He adjusted himself in the drivers seat, turned down the radio, and rubbed his chin.

“Nathan that there is the paper mill; where they make milk cartons. You see, at the mill they take trees and strip off their bark. Then they burn the bark to generate the electricity that powers the mill. Then the trees are sent to the chipper and chopped up into itty-bitty pieces. Next those pieces are sent to this big pot they call the ‘digester’ where they’re mixed with the same sort of chemicals that you have in your stomach to digest your dinner. After the chips sit in the digester and cook for a while, they uncap that mother and it lets off an enormous poot!”

Mmmm, Pine Bluff.

Friday, November 22, 2002

These past two weeks have been horrendously busy. They have changed my duties at work, so that I am now spending the day going around to people’s desk and fixing their computers. Also I have been traveling one day a week. Last week I went to an office three hours west of Little Rock. This week I went to an office three hours west of Little Rock. Every day when I get home from work, I have to go to class. When I get home from class, I eat dinner and then play with the boy for a while and then get him put to bed. That means that I sit in leisure for the first time at about 9:30 every day, if I don’t have homework. Several nights last week I had to work on stuff until midnight or later, then go to bed and do it all over the next day.

So I want to write to you people, but I just don’t have time. Please be patient with me. About next Tuesday or Wednesday I will post a 3000-word piece that I have been working on. That should hold you over for a while.

God Bless.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Where the hck has Nathaniel been? Is Taco Bell having an all you can eat buffet?

No, my job has changed drasticly over the last week. Instead of sitting at a desk answering the phone when it rings I have been actually going out and laying my hands on computers and healing them. Also, I have had much writing to do for school. I want to write for you people. I love you! I just can't right now.

See you next week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The Cross and the Cleavage
This picture was on today. It is a fine example of the phenomenon that my dad (a Baptist preacher) refers to as "The Cross and the Cleavage."

Friday, November 08, 2002

Symptoms that you have a blogging problem:

  1. You notice that your toddler goes number two every time that you are in a particular place and think, “Gee, I really need to write about this.”
  2. You consider a story about James Lileks’ daughter consistently crapping her pants in the same department store to be a heartbreaking work of staggering literary genius.
  3. You brag about your website to a co-worker or a college instructor or classmate, but are ashamed to tell them the URL because it is
  4. You feel it is an important personal responsibility to read every word of every single post in NRO’s The Corner.
  5. You think that people who post to Slashdot are hoplessly uncool, but people who post to Metafilter are hip!
  6. You consider the invention of Blogger to be Mankind’s crowning achievement, but would never spend the money to upgrade to Blogger Pro.
  7. You feel you have the right to throw a huge fit when your free site hosting service or free comment hosting service is down, but would never consider paying to upgrade to something more stable.
  8. You think that anything you find on the internet is public domain and take pride in stealing photos and code from other websites; because that shows that you have the html savvy to find the code and steal it.
  9. You consider an online “If I were a ____ I would be:” quiz to carry informed psychological authority.
  10. Tony Pierce links your blog in a prominent place on the busblog and you think to yourself, “Now I can die happy.
  11. Tony Pierce takes the link to your blog down after a month and your daily visitors go from 100 to 20 again. This makes you suicidal.
  12. You consider yourself a personal failure if you don’t put something new and original on your blog every single day, regardless of the personal circumstances that keep you from posting.
  13. You refresh your site every fifteen minutes to see if anyone has commented.
  14. You do not understand why all of your family and all of your friends don't read your blog every day, and you can't figure out why they don't each have a blog of their own.
  15. For a class project, you write Bloginstructions and instead of printing a hard copy for your instructor, you email her a link.
  16. You are a Libertarian

Please add your own experiences in the comments.
If I were a founding father, I would be:

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Sometimes the forces of good prevail. I made my appointment with the dean for next Thursday. I sent my advisor an email and he cleared me to register without even seeing me. I called the HR person at my company’s head office and discovered that I have enough leave time to cover what I missed this week and I will accrue enough vacation time to take off the two days after Christmas. Wylie just got back from the Dr. and he is OK. Just a little virus of some sort. He is still going to Grandpats for the weekend. And finally, I have not caught a mouse in over three days. I think they are finally all gone.

The grand totals for Micedeath 2002:

25 dead rodents in ten days.

But that is a story for another time and place.
Monday night Wylie was sick and up most of the night and I have been kind of hacking with a sort of chest cold so I stayed home on Tuesday and we chilled. I forgot how wonderful it can be to take a large dose of Nyquil at 10:00 in the morning after not sleeping much at night and then take a four hour nap. I slept like someone was sitting on top of me. Wait, someone was sitting on top of me. It was the boy. Jumping actually. He seemed to be feeling much better.

I got my jazz paper back on Monday night. I made an A, even though I never did figure out if I should capitalize bebop or not. Also it was edited kind of shoddily. I’m sure that you noticed that. My instructor had mercy on me.

Work continued to stink. It stunk last week and it stinks this week. One of the joys of working for government is that when stuff is broken, no one gets in a hurry about fixing it. In a private company heads would have rolled and people would have been brought in to work in shifts 24 hours a day to make sure that everything was back on line as soon as possible. The state had a couple of dudes halfassing it for eight a day with plenty of smoke breaks and an hour and a half lunch trip. They even managed to come over to my desk to investigate the system wide problem and screw up my pc for me. Now I have to place a trouble ticket for myself (something I do forty a week for other people) and get my stuff rebuilt, because they think that is the only way to fix a PC problem.

The boy goes to Mother’s Day Out on Thursdays. They called me this morning and said that he was flipping out. They called me because Ms. J left her Cell phone in Fred’s in the village yesterday and has not been back for it. I had to shag ass over there and pick him up. He was glad to see me. He said, “Dadoe I don’t feel too dood. Need to go home and take a nap.” Maybe this is an extension of what was going on Monday night? So home we went, but the car seat was in Ms. J’s car so he got to ride in the front seat of Dadoe’s truck with a big boy seat belt. He was so out of it that he did not even notice, I don’t think. Finally located Ms. J. She is going to take him to the Dr. this afternoon.

Don’t know how I am going to pay for all of this time off. I am fresh out of sick leave. I have to meet with the dean to figure out where I stand towards graduation and meet with my advisor and then get registered for school and all by close of business tomorrow. Oh yeah, also I have class tonight.

Monday, November 04, 2002

I have a sister-in-law who is a senior in high school. She is the embodiment of every image that conjures up. I love listening to her talk about high school gossip and like who is popular and like who was with who at the football game and like what they were like wearing and stuff. A few months back she started sending out an email news letter to her friends that was pure genious. She named it "umm..." Here is a sample from the September 1, 2002 edition:
In the last eddition of "umm.." (which was a special eddition, The Judea and Ashley Show) I mentioned how the AHS band had to work like horses in order to get ready for the marching season. Well one of my friends from Illinois, Jordan Pless (yep she is related to our very own Liz Pless) wrote me back telling me how her band had to work from 1:30-9 for three stright weeks, plus one week of 7 AM-9 PM, and another week of 9AM-9PM practice! Now that would be a battle of the bands i would want to check out.
Speeking of bands, check out Thrios in downtown Arkadelphia. They have the BEST cookies, not to mention a great atmosphere and yes even occasional LIVE BANDS! They are "umm..."'s hot spot of the month.

Ok so now we have a great hang out spot, what more could we add? Oh yeah! college students! Thats right, they are back with their hot cars, late nights, and big parties (like i know!).
As you can see from this sample, I had to talk her into starting a blog and sharing this sort of information with the world at large. Well, she finally did. There is nothing much there yet, but in time I expect it to be very entertaining. It is sure to become the definitive source for the latest in Arkadelphia High School Rumor and Hearsay! Keep an eye on JuJu Beans!
Janna is a real writer and I anxiously await every one of her posts. She only updates her site every couple of weeks, but it is always worth the wait. I have been bugging her to write something about the DC sniper for weeks, and she finally came through. Go read it. Bring a tissue.

Friday, November 01, 2002

I skipped class last night to take the boy out. In my previous life as a college student, I was the king of class skipping. As a matter of fact, once I never went back to a particular class after Halloween and the instructor still gave me a D. These days when skipping, even if I have a good reason, remorse will hit me. It is like post-premarital sex remorse. It is like the remorse you have after eating Taco Bell. I shouldn’t have done that, but it felt so good that I know I will do it again. I guess that it is because the tuition bills come to my house now. Last night in the car when I was feeling particularly regretful and thinking about all of the knowledge that I was missing out on I heard Wylie mutter from the back seat, “Dadoe has to go to class.” And Ms. J said, “No, Wylie. Dadoe took the night off from class so he could be with us.” Wylie let out the loudest longest, “YEA!” and started clapping. The remorse melted away.

Wylie was a race car mechanic for Halloween. We dressed him up in red, oil-stained corduroy coveralls with mechanic patches all over them and steel-toed boots and a floppy red baseball cap from an ancient ford dealership and we took him around to see friends and relatives and score candy. When we would get to a house, he would walk up to the door and bang on it and yell “TRICKERTREAT!” at the top of his lungs. When we were riding in the car to the next house he kept saying, “More chokate peese?” and we would give it to him because it was Halloween. When we got home at about 9:30 last night, Ms. J was carrying him in and he said, “I don’t feel dood, momma.” His first Halloween candy related tummy ache. He woke up often last night. I did not get any sleep.

There is another reason why I am not getting any sleep. The last few days at work have been so dreadful, so stressful, so dehumanizing, that I can not make myself go to bed at night. Just thinking about what I know I am going to have to go through the next day has literally put me in tears two nights in a row. If this were not Friday, I would be very concerned for my mental health. Hopefully a few days off and playing guitar Sunday morning will rejuvenate me. They better have stuff fixed by Monday. I can not deal with this anymore. I would give you more detail, but I don’t think I could stand to retell it.

Note: I don’t know what the deal is with Enetation, the service I use for comment hosting. They have been down more than they have been up the last week or so. Sorry. If you have anything to say and commenting is down, you should definitely email me and I will proudly post them on the site.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

James Lileks found this great excerpt from Walter Mondale's acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
“When we speak of change, the words are Gary Hart's. When we speak of hope, the fire is Jesse Jackson's. When we speak of caring, the spirit is Ted Kennedy's. When we speak of the future, the message is Geraldine Ferraro”

Boy he really was a soothsayer wasn't he.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I mentioned that I was writing a piece on jazz for one of my classes. The assignment was to write about something as an expert for an interested and uninformed audience. I do not claim to be a jazz expert, and I do not claim that everything in this post is true, but it fulfils the requirements for the course.

A Brief and Incomplete History of Jazz Music


Jazz has often been called the most American of art forms. It was the first piece of American pop culture to cast influence on cultures around the world. Indeed, the scholar Gerald Early once wrote, “I think there are only three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They're the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced.”
The most productive period in jazz music stretches from around the turn of the century until about the late 1970’s. During this time it morphed into many different sub-genera. It is my goal to list some of the more important of the instrumental styles and provide a brief description of them. Also I will list some of the trendsetters and name some recordings that are examples of each method.

Scott Joplin


Ragtime music was at its most popular around the turn of the century. The musician and composer most associated with ragtime is Scott Joplin. His first published piece, Maple Leaf Rag, was released in August of 1899. This was the most popular piano rag of its time. Joplin’s The Entertainer (1902) experienced a revival when it served as the soundtrack to the 1973 Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie, The Sting. and small ragtime bands

Although Joplin’s music was composed primarily for solo piano, there were also small ragtime bands as well as ragtime musicians who performed unaccompanied on guitar. A typical ragtime combo might have included a small drum kit or even just a bass drummer and/or snare drummer, a banjo, a piano, and a few horns such as cornet, clarinet and perhaps a tuba. Ragtime melodies are marked with cascades of steady sixteenth notes.

Louis Armstrong


Ragtime music made a natural progression into Dixieland. While Joplin lived in the Texas-Arkansas-Missouri area, Dixieland developed a little further south in New Orleans. Joe Oliver played coronet with brass bands in the parades and saloons of New Orleans from 1908-1919. Then in March of 1919 he formed King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and moved to New Orleans. When Oliver invited a twenty-year-old Louis Armstrong to join the band in 1922, Dixieland music was at its peak.

The instrumentation in King Oliver’s band was two coronets, bass, drums, piano, trombone, and clarinet. Many other Dixieland bands included banjo. The trademark of this style is the way the melodic instruments improvise a different version of the melody over the top of each other at the same time. The Dixieland groups also featured solo improvisation and often vocals.

Louis Armstrong’s playing with King Oliver’s band won him the respect of all the Chicago musicians. In 1925 Armstrong left to form his own group. The recordings he made with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven between 1925 and 1928 are considered some of the most influential music of the Twentieth Century. As jazz music moved beyond Dixieland, Armstrong appeared in movies and on television where he went on to become one of the most beloved performers of his day.

Duke Ellington


During the Swing Era, from about 1930 until 1945, jazz music broke out into the mainstream. This was the era of the big band and the great bandleaders. Most of the popular big bands had a rhythm section consisting of drums, bass, piano, and sometimes guitar. The horn section usually included five saxophones (two tenor, two alto, one baritone) four trombones, and four trumpets. Radio and records spread the popularity of the bands that performed in dance halls across the nation.

The three most important bandleaders of the Swing Era were Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman. Benny Goodman is significant as one of the first popular white jazz musicians. Duke Ellington stands alone as perhaps the greatest jazz composer. He wrote beautiful melodies and complex arrangements that are still played by students of jazz to this day.

In swing music, group improvisation, typical of Dixieland, fell out of vogue. Instead the musical focus was both on long tutti sections where the entire band would play together and sections where one of the horn players would solo over the pounding rhythm section. But in all honesty, for most of the people, the focus was not on the musicians at all, but on the pounding beat that the masses had come to dance to. It was this focus away from the musical aspects that led to the next movement in jazz.

Dizzy Gillespie


Bebop was a reaction to swing in the same way that Punk Rock was a reaction to the bloated excesses of 1970’s Arena Rock. After World War II, musicians became dismayed with the musical stagnation of swing and its focus on dancing. It seems to me that the organizing principle of bebop was, “If they can’t dance to us, they’ll have to listen to us.”

Bebop featured small combos of musicians, usually just five or six as opposed to the fifteen or more associated with the swing sound. Most bands consisted of a rhythm section and just one or two horns. The music was fast and chromatic, often dissonant and completely undanceable. The musicians performing bebop were virtuosos. The standard form for a bebop tune is: The horns would play through the head or melody of the song, then the various instruments will play several choruses each of solo improvisation over the basic song structure, finally everyone will play the head together again to end the song.

The most important innovators in bebop were trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, and pianist Thelonious Monk. The music that they created represents the technical peak of jazz. Jazz has progressed since bebop principally by working through the advances of bebop or by grafting other musical traditions, such as bossa nova or rock, with modern jazz.

Chet Baker

Cool Jazz

The cool school of jazz was flowering at about the same time as bebop and is exemplified by the 1948 Miles Davis recording, The Birth of the Cool. Miles had moved to New York to play with and study under his idol, Charlie Parker. He became frustrated trying to play bebop because he did not have the technical skills necessary to play that fast. Davis’ response was to slow the music down and make it lush and harmonically complex. Davis’ band was larger than Charlie Parker’s, but smaller than the big bands of the Swing Era, and he included instruments that were new to jazz like the Harp and French Horn.

Cool jazz is the music that we associate with the coffee house, beatnik culture of the fifties. Other influential artists from the cool school include: trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, pianist Gil Evans, and pianist Dave Brubeck.


Modal Jazz

A reoccurring scene throughout the next thirty years was Miles Davis at the forefront of a new movement in jazz. This was certainly the case when he almost single-handedly started the modal approach to jazz. The modal approach uses a small combo playing simple head tunes with short, undemanding melodies. In the solo section, the musicians are given only one or two chords to work with. As this uncomplicated framework does not necessarily infer a specific harmony, (or key) the soloist is allowed to work within several scales or modes.

Davis’ 1959 recording, Kind of Blue is the gold standard for modal jazz. His band on that album: John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb, and Paul Chambers, was the next generation of jazz heavyweights.

Stan Getz

Latin Jazz

Latin music has had an influence over jazz since the early years of the Swing Era. One of the most popular bandleaders of the 1940’s and 50’s was Puerto Rican percussionist Tito Puente. It was his influence that led bebop stylist Dizzy Gillespie to write the Latin sounding hits Manteca and A Night in Tunisia in the late fifties. These songs would go on to be played by thousands of jazz bands and become considered as jazz “standards.” Latin jazz finally came into it’s own in 1962 when tenor saxophonist Stan Getz introduced the world to the bossa nova through the music of Brazilians Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Their hits Girl From Impanema and Desafinado are the consummate 1960’s Latin jazz tunes.

John Coltrane

Free Jazz

If bebop was a reaction to swing that took the music and made it more complex and less pretty, then free jazz took that idea as far as it could go. Combos playing free jazz improvised simultaneously and independently without the framework of a chord progression. The music was dissonant, experimental, provocative, and hard to listen to. Horn players manipulated their instruments to produce shrieks, squeaks, growls, and wails. Even for the late 1960’s, this music was too much for most jazz audiences. Many jazz musicians and critics, however, love free jazz and feel that its “organized chaos” was an inevitable moment in music’s evolution. Alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, Tenor saxophonist John Coletrane, (from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue band) and pianist Cecil Taylor made important free jazz records that college music students are still getting headaches from today.

Herbie Hancock


Once again Miles Davis spawned a new movement in jazz music in the 1960’s. This time he combined jazz improvisation and harmonic sensibility with the rhythms and attitude of rock. Davis’ bands from this era contained the jazz all-stars of the next fifteen years. His albums Bitches Brew, Live-Evil, and Paraphernalia introduced the world to musicians like saxophonist Wayne Shorter, keyboardists Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, guitarist John McLaughlin, and Bassist Ron Carter. These players separated over the next few years to form the most important fusion bands of the 1970’s: groups such as Weather Report, The Headhunters, and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Fusion bands use mostly electric instruments. In a typical fusion tune the rhythm section will set up a groove and the musicians will take turns improvising over it.

Opinionated Conclusion

Jazz has advanced little since the mid-70’s heyday of fusion. Most of what passes for mainstream jazz these days is little more than a mildly talented soloist improvising simple melodies over a drum machine driven band-in-a-box. There are still enjoyable jazz artists, (Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall, Soulive) but they are typically working in the styles I have already listed. Indeed, a trip to the recently released jazz listings at showed mostly re-releases of old material by the masters that I have named. There are innovators out there, carrying the torch improvisational instrumental music. Groups like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, John Scofield, moe., and the now defunct Phish form a genus of music that is more often referred to as ‘Jam Bands.’ For the most part, these innovators are not to be found on the radio and their music is rarely called jazz.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

They have finally identified the secret gas that the Russians used to incapacitate the terrorists this weekend. You guessed it: elephant tranquilizer. This is disappointing news, because the antidote to it is common and the soldiers who went in could have carried it with them. This fascinating article in the Washington Times contrasts the stuff the Russians used with the incapacitating gas that the US has in its arsenal, BZ. It seems that BZ gives people who are exposed to it an immediate and acute case of advanced but temporary Alzheimer’s.
An injection of the drug tacrine (approved by the FDA for treatment of Alzheimer's) will bring the person back to normal in less than 60 seconds.
It will do no good, however, for a terrorist to anticipate this, and have injections of tacrine in his terrorist kit bag. Once hit by BZ, he will simply forget why he is a terrorist. His short-term memory evaporates.
"Why am I holding this gun?" he may ask himself. It's heavy — his muscles have lost their tone, and thus their strength — so he drops it. "It's hot," he tells himself. BZ prevents sweating. So he decides to take off his clothes, and that heavy, uncomfortable explosives belt, which he has forgotten what it's for.
The U.S. military has done extensive research with BZ. A group of well-trained Marines were sent out on a simulated mission at Parris Island and subsequently were exposed to BZ, for example. They proceeded to take off their clothes and sit on the beach. They wouldn't obey their commanding officer because they simply couldn't remember what his orders were. They didn't have the faintest idea of what their rifles were for, or why they should salute this stranger ("What's a salute, anyway?").
Condemned as the "Superhallucinogen," BZ has been made illegal in warfare. But terrorists are not in uniform. They are fair game for BZ. As far safer and humanitarian than M99, Mr. Putin should consider BZ the next time Muslim terrorists assault his country. For now, he needs to come clean on his mystery gas. No more secrets, Mr. Putin. We already know what the secret is.

Anthologists is a local Little Rock record label that puts out a CD a year of local artists. This year they decided to do a Christmas album and asked The Mark Currey Band to do a song. NOTE: DO NOT ORDER FROM THIS WEBSITE. I will have copies of the album to sell in a week or so. If you buy it from them, our band does not make any money. If you buy it from us, we are going to soak you for a cool $15. I have heard all of the tunes on the album and it is excellent. Lots of folky stuff, some Jazz. The Amy Garland Band is awesome, the best local group I have heard. We are by far the loudest thing on the album.

If you click on The Artists and then scroll down the page there is a bio. If you then click on The Mark Currey Band you will see a giant picture of us. Let me tell you, we are fat.

If you want a copy of the CD, just shoot me an email and we will work it out

Friday, October 25, 2002

The biggest problem with having a beautiful, sweet wife who is also a gifted decorator and homemaker is that our house has become so comfy that all of God’s creatures want to live with us. In the past six months we have been infested with roaches, ants, fleas, ants again, and now this: Yesterday I trapped and killed seven mice in our kitchen. Seven. onetwothreefourfivesixSEVEN! And I may not be through. It is just gross.

One thing about it, the bastards do not stand a chance when they get in to my house. I am a rat killin’ sumbitch. My secret . . . crunchy peanut butter. They are powerless against it.

Sniff. Sniff. Mmmmmm peanut butter. I’m so hungry. This is great. My favorite thing right here on the ground just for me to eat right up. Mmmmmm peanut bu . . . SLAM!!!

I had to be at work at 7:00 this morning. I usually come in at 7:30. Some observations:
  • It is still pitch black dark at 6:45 in the morning.
  • There are a suprising number of people out at 6:45 in the morning.
  • Thirty minutes makes a huge difference. I usually feel like crud in the mornings, but I really did not want to get up this morning.
  • when you come in at 7:30, you have to search for a parking spot. At 7:00 you can park it anywhere you like.
Actually I got here at 7:07. I am the most punctual guy in the world – after noon.

There are basically three types of posts that I make to the blog here. 1) News or political commentary. 2) Personal notes to my intelligent and talented readers. 3) Humor or parody. I am an aspiring humorist. That is what I want to do in life. My heroes are P.J O’rourke and Christopher Buckley and Douglas Adams and Neal Pollack, guys like that. I have noticed lately that when I post short humor pieces or parodies on my blog, they get no comments.

I realize that I am being neurotic, but I just wondered what the reason was for that. Have I left nothing to say? Are they not funny? Do you skip over them? Do I smell funny? Don’t leave me! Please! I can change, I swear!

Thursday, October 24, 2002

I am writing a piece for my Expository Writing class about the history of Jazz. This morning I have been scouring the Ken Burns web site for stuff to steal. I found this great tidbit about the Kansas City Jazz scene:
Competition between Kansas City musicians ran especially deep. "For some reason," Claude "Fiddler" Williams remembered, "Kansas City was different from all other places because we'd be jamming all night. And it you come up here ... playing the wrong thing, we'd straighten you out." "Regardless of how much anybody played or where they were from," said Mary Lou Williams, "when they came to Kansas City they found out how little they were playing." The trumpet player Buck Clayton compared Kansas City musicians to gunfighters. Lips Page, he recalled, used to slip notes under the hotel-room door of visiting trumpet players reading, "Meet me tonight at such-and-such a club."

The pianist Sammy Price remembered going home at 10 o'clock to change his clothes after playing at a session only to return to the club at 1 a.m. to find they were still playing the same tune. There were informal cutting contests for high school kids, free-for-alls for professionals, and the equivalent of heavyweight championship contests between the top musicians in town, often held at the Sunset or the Subway, the Reno or the Cherry Blossom. Kansas City jazz rewarded both individualism and cooperation. In order to provide a pleasing background for a succession of soloists, those waiting to play were expected to master complex harmonized riffs: "It showed a young guy that came in there," the bassist Gene Ramey recalled, "that he didn't just have to learn how to play a solo, he had to learn how to team ... [how] to breathe at the same time." Kansas City jam sessions were most like camp meetings, Ramey continued, "completely imitated from one of those revival meetings, where the preacher and the people are singing, all that living, and there's happiness all around."

One evening in 1933, the great tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins himself was in town with Fletcher Henderson's band, on the last night of a week long engagement, part of what would be one of the struggling band's final tours. After the show, he carried his horn into the Cherry Blossom at 12th Street and Vine, looking for challengers as he did wherever he went. Three of Kansas City's best tenor players were waiting for him: two whose styles owed much to his, Herschel Evans and Ben Webster — and 24 year-old Lester Young whose unique laid back style couldn't have been more different than Hawkins'.

By four o'clock in the morning they were looking for a fresh piano player. Mary Lou Williams was fast asleep at home:

Around four a.m., I awoke to hear someone pecking on my screen … Ben Webster was saying, "Get up pussycat, we're jamming and all the pianists are tired out now. Hawkins has got his shirt off and is still blowing." Sure enough, when we got there, Hawkins was in his [undershirt], taking turns with the K.C. men. It seems he had run into something he didn't expect. Lester's style was light ... it took him maybe five choruses to warm up. But then he would really blow ... That was how Hawkins got hung up. The Henderson band was playing in St. Louis that evening and Bean knew he ought to be on the way. But he kept trying to blow something to beat Ben and Herschel and Lester. When at last he gave up, he got straight in his car and drove to St. Louis. I heard he'd bought a new Cadillac and that he burnt it out trying to make the job on time. Yes, Hawkins was king until he met those crazy Kansas City tenor men.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Hello. You are listening to NPR member station KNEE and we are going to have to interrupt Jed Ledbetter’s Ozark Mountain Jubilee for just a few minutes to bring you Boulevard 2002.

This wonderful programming that you have been enjoying costs money to get on the air. Other radio stations constantly interrupt their broadcasts with piercing, aggravating commercials that they have sold to local car dealerships or small time politicians in order to afford to keep playing the same top-forty drivel that you can hear anywhere else. Here at KNEE, we follow a different business plan. We play no commercials, and we give you the best programming on the far right end of the AM dial. How do we do that? We let our listeners pick up the tab.

If you are a regular listener and you have not made a pledge yet, shame on you. Do you realize that you are stealing from the public? Or how about we just stop broadcasting, how would you like that? Not very well I would think. Honestly, where else are you going to hear great programming like everyone’s favorite call-in auto repair show: Goofy Grease Monkeys? Or perhaps you are a fan of long running NPR Quiz show, What’s the Difference Between a Beaver and a Weasel? Irregardless of which KNEE programming you frequent, it costs money to get them on the air. These shows count on you, and you are apparently a thief and not worthy of our trust.

But KNEE realizes that it takes more than just award winning programming to get people to part with their pocketbooks, so we are offering this special deal: If you call right now with a pledge of twenty dollars, KNEE will ship you a lovely purple bumper sticker that says, “I’ve got KNEE on the brain!” A pledge of fifty dollars will get you a very cute pink plastic KNEE key chain that you can keep for one year at which time you either return the key chain or renew your donation. Pledge one hundred dollars and KNEE will send you the precious CDs, The Best of Garrison Keillor Wheezing into a Hot Microphone, and Michael Feldman’s Whad’ya Know about Sex. Remember people, these products are not available in stores.

If you act now and buy a special five hundred dollar Gold Membership, KNEE will reserve you two seats at our annual Arbor Day banquet in which we recognize the sacrifice made by the volunteers who read the local news and weather once every other hour over the KNEE airwaves. That’s right, for only five hundred big ones you can meet a dozen or so local semi-celebrities, and buy yourself the peace of mind that comes from knowing that KNEE will be on the air for at least six more months.

No we have to get back to more folk music and corn-pone humor on Jed Ledbetter’s Ozark Mountain Jubilee. Stay tuned, because we will be back in twenty-two minutes to goad you for money with more from Boulevard 2002. Call . . . pledge . . . or be prepared to suffer the consequences of your actions.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Children’s music makes me happy. I love how it can be directed at a younger audience, but be more intelligent than most of what most adults listen to. I love that Bob Dorough can write lyrics meant for eight year olds and they are more poetic and more intelligent than anything you will hear on MTV. They seem to grossly underestimate us. That is the story, the lowest common denominator. That is why we have The Bachelor and Christina Aguilera and Josie and the Pussycats. Three is a magic number. Somewhere in the ancient mystic trinity, you get three.

I forgot how much I enjoy going out to the red barn after the boy goes down and plugging in one of my three sweet axes and just playing stream-of-consciousness for about thirty minutes or an hour. It is not long enough, but it is nice. A relaxing way to end the day. A good creative outlet when there is nothing left to blog. The only problem is that between work and school and you all, my fingers ain't got much left in them by the end of the day.

The boy came back from Mee-Mee’s yesterday and when I got home from work, boy was he glad to see me. (And I, him) He sat on my lap, straddling my legs, facing me. He kept looking at me and grinning and then he would fall on to my chest and then he would lean back and grin and then he would fall onto my chest. This went on for about ten minutes, until the television finally distracted him.

So this morning blogspot was down and then this afternoon, our internet connection was down, and now that it is back up, I am not much in the mood. Too tired. I can not seem to get the sleep thing happening lately. As I mentioned earlier, the boy is up a lot at night. I can not seem to convince myself to go to bed until it is way too late and I have ruined any hope of a peaceful night’s sleep. Sometimes I go to bed and stare at the ceiling. Sometimes I have too much caffeine. Every morning, Wylie gets up and wants me to get him some milk at a time that is too late for me to go back to sleep and too early for me to get up. So I get up and take a shower and mess around making tea and adjusting my pompadour until I still end up being five minutes late for work. If I showed up for work on time, I might catch them talking about me, except that no one else is here that early. Just Laurie. She wouldn’t talk bad about anyone.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Saturday night I got to play music and read stuff that I have written and play more music and read more stuff of mine to a nice group of about forty or fifty people at this great little party that Ms. J and her thecomfyhome threw for our good friend, Lady Amy-Amy, who was turning thirty. It was really nice to get to read something I wrote to a friendly crowd that was paying attention and listening to every word. It was exhilarating to hear them laugh at the funny parts. It was reassuring that they laughed at the parts that I though were funny and not at the parts that I meant to be not funny. Also it was nice to have them completely stop paying attention when we started playing music, because we were playing background tunes and if they had stopped and listened, they would have heard that we had not rehearsed any and really were not very good. Everyone just starting talking among themselves as soon as the music started back. That was fine because me and Dan had never played with Mark Bennet on the piano with us. As it turns out, he is a really good musician. I knew that he was a piano performance major working on his senior recital, and I figured that he was going to be a technically impressive musician, but I was pleasently surprised to find out that he can not read the notes any better than I can, and also he is a wonderful improviser. But then at the end of the night, all of the people said good job even though they did not hear what went down. Ms. J was happy with us and said that we made the party with our background music and funny readings, but she was wrong. She made the party. She always does. That is why she has thecomfyhome and that is why everyone will want her to throw their parties for them, just as soon as they see what she can do.

October 21, 2002

Mr. A.G. Lafley, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive
Procter & Gamble
1 Procter & Gamble Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45201

Dear Mr. Lafley:

As a man with a house full of Procter & Gamble products, and a man with dry skin that shows signs of aging, I was very excited to discover your Oil of Olay Total Effects Body Visible Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment on the shelf of my local market. I have used Oil of Olay products often in the past to try and reduce the signs of aging and stimulate surface cell renewal, and I have had moderate success. As the label on your Oil of Olay Total Effects Body Visible Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment touted it as an improvement over old treatments, I felt certain I would not be disappointed.

I am sorry to say, Mr. Lafley, but the product did not perform like it should have on problem areas such as my arms, legs, and chest. While I have no known allergies to any of the items listed in the ingredients, when I rubbed the Oil of Olay Total Effects Body Visible Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment into the aforementioned areas, they immediately broke out in a red, puffy rash.

I do not think that it is unreasonable to say that this is not acceptable. As a long time customer and appreciator of the large line of Procter & Gamble products, I would appreciate it if you would send me another product in your line that would address my wrinkling and aging needs without turning me into a swollen, itching mess. If you do not have an acceptable replacement product, then a full refund of the $3.79 the Oil of Olay Total Effects Body Visible Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment cost would be acceptable. I have included my store register receipt and proof of purchase from the bottle label.


Nathaniel W. Greer


Friday, October 18, 2002

Prepare yourselves for another fit of bitching. If that sort of thing depresses you, fell free to skip ahead. I have posted a lovely sonnet below.

First of all, let me say that Wylie is an exceptional boy. He has amazing athletic ability. He has the vocabulary of a five year old. He can be a sweet as saccharine. This morning he was lying in bed with Ms. J. watching his morning Sesame Street. I walked into the room and said, “Bye y’all. Have a nice day.” And Wylie goes, “Stop Dadoe! I need a bye-bye kiss!”

But something is terribly wrong. Either there is something wrong with him, or we have made a horrible parenting misjudgment, (the latter is much more likely) but he is well over two years old and still does not sleep through the night. No kidding. He needs our attention every night at some point. This morning he woke up flipping out at 4:00. He wanted in my bed. Then he didn’t want momma in the bed with us. Then he wanted a cup of milk, which he gulped down in about three seconds, and then he wanted more milk. When I would not give him more milk, he wanted back in his bed, where momma was now sleeping. Then we finally got him back asleep and I went back to my bed wide-eyed. I finally got back to sleep around 5:00, and Wylie still gets up at 6:30 ready to watch his shows. This was honestly a very average night. I think we missed something in one of the parenting manuals somewhere.

I’m sleepy! I love the boy, but I am ready for an eight hour sleep without his interruptions. Thank God for Grandparents.

Anyone with any advice on this is welcome to offer it. Anyone with kids, that is. If you have no kids, keep your parenting advice to yourself.

General complaints about work:

I really don’t understand why management doesn’t enforce a “no talking” rule at work. We rarely have to communicate out loud for business purposes, and if we did, there is email and telephone and instant messenger and bulletin boards. It drives me crazy to have to listen to people discuss ignorant, banal, and often times made-up nonsense. It is distracting. It keeps me from my work and keeps me from being able to concentrate on more important things like writing to you. Often times I will literally put my fingers in my ears to not have to listen to people talking about the jousting competition they were at this weekend, how many points their kid scored in pee-wee basketball last night, which pepper is the hottest, who is going to win Survivor, and what score their kid made on the ACT test. It drives me crazy! I actually had a lady at work tell me that her son had always made straight-A’s in class, “until he signed up for those damn AP (advanced placement) classes! Those things ain’t doin’ nuthin’ for him but ruining his grade point!”

Also the lady in the cubicle next to me has six gospel tunes saved on her hard drive that she plays over and over every single day. I even went so far as to subtly make her a mix CD of assorted tunes that I thought she would enjoy: a little R&B, some soul, some blues, some gospel, some pop. She listened to it once and went right back to listening to the same six tunes again. If I try to put on something, she just turns hers up louder.

Governmental Waste

So you say that you don’t believe all of the nonsense people spread about government employees getting away with anything and never working hard? I just took a call from a customer who had gotten locked out of a particular mainframe system. This is not a big deal, and is something that we deal with all of the time. We just call a number that rings in the office of the administrators for that system, and whichever of the four of them that is available will answer the phone and reset this person’s ID. This afternoon I called the number and after four rings it rolled to another phone. That phone rang four times then rolled to another phone. That phone rang four times then rolled to another phone. That phone rang four times then rolled to another phone. The person who answered that phone told me that the admins that reset security violations had snuck out without saying anything at about 11:30 (this was at 2:00) She did not know where they went, neither did she know when or if they were coming back. Furthermore, she could not take a message because she worked in another division down the hallway and she was not even sure why she was taking their calls. I had to go back to my customer and say, “Sorry, but it looks like you are out of luck and are not going to be able to access that screen until Monday.”

That right there is your tax dollars at work, friends.

That is why I am a small government, privatization, no-taxes, libertarian-conservative.

Things That Sustain Her

It is not like changing the air filter for the central heat
Or cutting the grass out of a sense of obligation,
More like and obsessed greaser polishing his street machine
When I massage her neck until my hands cramp from motion.

Nor like taking out the trash or washing the silverware,
But like a gardener kneeling in moist dirt
Gently cultivating each sweet scented soft flower,
When I switch off the small screen and surrender the night.

Like a voyager out of matches who must regularly nurture
His fire to survive, I am grateful and glad
To serve her; Take her window gazing at furniture,
Clothing and fixtures I could never afford.

These things mean no more to me than any other time together,
But yielding the remote or bringing home sweets are things that sustain her.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Today Only


Pieces Dan and Nathaniel have written
But Ms. J will not allow them to perform
At a Coffee House Open Mic

The Song
by Andy
Collected, Coerced, and transcribed by Dan

I am a black orchard monkey.
I've come to eat all the fruit...
and now I've come down the road.

Down the road, we are going down the road.
We are going down the road just like a toad.
In the middle of December past month of November,
We were hoppin' down the road like a big ol' toad...

Going to the house gonna watch some TV, gonna eat what's on my...
Don’t know, I'm gonna get some...Cho, Cho, Cho, Cho, Cho, Cho...
Like, like...frog, frog down the road, road like a frog, frog...
Big purple, black, orange, yellow, white frog.
Purple, orange, yellow and green I don't know what I'm doing to me,
But I'm goin' down the road like a toad.

Big ol' truck goin' down the road. Big ol' truck goin' down the road.
Goin' fast and the big ol' nose...on the face of Pinocchio!!
Were driving down the road at an amazing rate of speed
With pine trees on our left and right and grass beneath our knees'.
We were driving along at a great rate of speed and it was not fast it was slow to me
'cause I was use to snortin' lots of methamphetamines.

Now were gonna met these red necks right up here.
There gonna do lots of favors and drink us allot of beer.
Their gonna take us down to the swimmin' hole,
We’re gonna get us a couple hoes and don't you know,
We’re gonna, swim down at the hole this New Year.

'Cause we're crazy red necks livin' in the woods.
Crazy red necks, feelin' pretty good.
We we're driving down the road lookin' at them goddamn telephone poles...
With wires between them on the center of the earth.

High now, we're talkin' about the world and the way it was round,
About the way that the lizards crawled around.
They don't crawl strait they kind-of-curve just like this, eunt, eunt, eunt.

It was the coolest thing I ever thought of, because I was not a model.
Now I'm just a cook, now, now, now, now just a cook and not a model.
'Cause I could serve on the stage,
eating lots of crackers and bouillon today....


Bouillon of course, the chicken based by-product that contains no chicken but makes things flavorful in a chicken sort of manner.

Oh yeah, bouillon.
Today Only


Pieces Dan and Nathaniel have written
But Ms. J will not allow them to perform
At a Coffee House Open Mic

A Folk Song
by Nathaniel

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!

If you bet on the Jews, you'll always end up ahead.
If it were up to the French, the Jews would all be dead!

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!

Too keep your money safe, put it in a Jewish bank.
When found on a pirate ship, Jews are made to walk the plank.

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!

Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!
Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!

When fighting Jews in battle, hardly anyone has ever won.
They always forget that Jews are God's chosen ones!

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!

Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!
Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!

Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!
Horowitz! Goldberg! Miller! Stein!

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!

Jews can't loose!
Jews can't loose!
Today Only


Pieces Dan and Nathaniel have written
But Ms. J will not allow them to perform
At a Coffee House Open Mic

by Dan

The pain, which my ass was stricken with, was unimaginable.
A pain like no other…
Silent screams could be heard evacuating the room, as if they were jumping from a lost ship at sea.

The pain...
The pain...

Oh the horror...

By it's inception I knew the tragedy of the coming morrow.
But how could I say no to such a request.
Warned twice of it's impact I engage without hesitation into inevitable sorrow.


Is my only ally in this struggle.
However time is something that a dying man may not wish.

At long last the pain was taken from my soul.
A simple, ancient method was performed on my body like an olden ritual.
And in one word you'll know the rest of the story...

Today Only


Pieces Dan and Nathaniel have written
But Ms. J will not allow them to perform
At a Coffee House Open Mic

There's a familiar exchange of love between the men and the coffee cup. Why shouldn't the coffee cup get some love? After all you don't hold the delicious black nectar of life itself. All we do is consume. So my hat is off to the coffee gods and the cups that make their consumption possible. Another thing, we rarely pay any attention to coffee cups outside of drinking coffee. We treat them like a porno mag stuffed under the bed only drawn out by our desire for a quick fix! NO! I Wont Have It! I am here to put an end to coffee cup neglect. Not only should the coffee cup be used for all beverages, but I think the coffee cup, if properly examined by a group of native
Kwajaleins (part of the Marshall Islands), is the answer to high speed travel in space. Oh...My...Gosh!

It's all clear! Don't you see it?! CAN YOU FEEL IT BABY!! All this time we've been sittin' on our butts lookin' at porno mags while the Kwajaleins have been goin' who-knows-where, doin' who-knows-what.

I just want to know one other thing.

Thanks for listening while you read.
talking from his ass

Let me tell you something cowboy:

I had a coffee mug that I loved very much. I would refill it many times during the day. When it was fresh and full I would gently hold the steaming mug to my bosom and let the aroma lift to my anxious palate in a sort of olfactory orgasm. Savoring every molecule, I would slowly lick the last few drops from the sides of the mug when the volume became low enough that gravity would not pull them out.

The dark bean was my savior; the snowy ceramics mug my best friend.

Focusing on the sunburst Gibson Les Paul on its outer shell, I know its message well. "Hard Rock Cafe" it proclaims, "Houston, Texas." Loud and clear it speaks to me, in a back country sort of guffaw that makes one picture a lonesome scene, perhaps a camp fire and Sam Elliot as he pulls the mug away from his parched lips and sucks the java residue from his ample mustache.

Ah my old friend the coffee mug, how it has been with me through the ages. A gift to me from my roommate Ray-Ray after a psychology department field trip, I often carried it in my backpack during the college years. Many a day it left the classroom next to notebooks in an empty and neglected state, waiting to be rinsed and refilled at my convenience. Often times it would hold more than just coffee. First thing in the morning as the precious brew was percolating; perhaps I would fill it with milk to take a BC powder with. Occasionally it would be necessary for the first cupful to be half Evan Williams or cheap vodka, still trying to combat that hangover. My mug was always with me, and often the only thing that got me to work or class on time.

Perhaps the thing that I miss most about my old friend is the way it brought perfect regularity to my digestive system. As I close my eyes even now I can remember sipping that last cup of the morning and immediately making a break for the privy. Nothing in the universe is so healthy for ones colon as a steady supply of the glorious bean juice of the Java Arabica plant. Even to this day I long for that feeling of immediacy to my bowels.

The coffee mug, I know it well. Alas I have no good use for it now. The damn thing just sits on my desk holding pennies.

Longing for more,