Things People Don’t Know About Me (not all the things)

Two New Years Eves in a row, I lost a $20 bill in a cab

I was once given the deed to a square inch of the Moon.

I have a certificate from Worm University, and for a while actually tended a worm farm and harvested the poop to enrich the garden.

I took 4 years of Latin and 6 years of French – in the public school system.

When I got mugged in Venice CA, my tape cassette machine was playing “Jungle Land.”

I once slow-danced with a very short man whose hard-on repeatedly bumped against my knee.

I once fast-danced with a Down Syndrome guy.

For more than 25 years, I’ve kept my clothes in a cardboard chest-of-drawers that a woman gave me when she relocated to Alaska for the sake of love.

I did Kirlian photography with a kit from Edmund Scientific.

At age 8, I had a broken finger for 9 days before being taken to doctor.

I once sat for many dark hours at a kitchen table clutching a large knife.

My paintings have been in 20 group shows (including a juried national show) and 8 one-person shows.

I’ve been drunk three times, and recall in hideous detail how each time proved that booze is not my jam.

I saw and heard Willie Nelson and his band – from just a few feet away — at Floore’s Country Store.

At age 21, I was accepted into Mensa.

My second ex-husband and his friend shot a game of pool to see which one would go home with me one night.

In seven consecutive grades, I was awarded pins for perfect Sunday School attendance. (Later stolen by a burglar.Sunday school pin

One of my short stories was published in Choppers magazine.

I sold my mother’s engagement ring, and also a good watch that some guy gave me.

I lived in a house with two kids and a man who kept a loaded gun under his pillow, and he was blind.

Trygve Bauge stored his grandpa’s corpse in a freezer, which led to the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, Colorado. Before he was deported, I met him once.

I moved to California with the intention of training to become a sex surrogate. Yes, that was a legitimate profession. Maybe still is.

In the high school orchestra I played first stand violin.

I was in group therapy with the mother of a guy I occasionally hooked up with.

I spent 7 years mentally and emotionally enthralled by a man I never met in person.

Back in 1969 I flipped a table in a very cinematically dramatic way, and made an angry mess.

My first son-in-law was connected with the Wu Tang Clan.

My second husband married me so his grandma could die happy.

I have five portraits of me, done by two different artists, and there used to be more.

In the home office of a man with brain cancer, I covered one wall with a mural in colors recommended by a healer.

Taken all together, my contributions to the original Hite Report made up about 6 pages of the book.

I took a course called Silva Mind Control.

I stole something from the FBI. (Surely, the statute of limitations has expired. Besides, I no longer have it.)

For a while, I took belly dance lessons.

Once I picked up David Carradine’s hitchhiking daughter, and later had the chance to tell him that.

When falling asleep as a child, and with no preconception of how a celestial chorus was supposed to sound, I sometimes heard an angel choir.

Many times, I stood with one foot on either side of an international border.

The community college I attended was housed in an old elementary school, a Ramada Inn, and the former Shredded Wheat Company headquarters.

In group therapy, I was designated most intimidating.

I’ve owned only two cars, and worked on them both. I’ve replaced three alternators, a water pump, and a whole lot of oil and spark plugs. And patched a gas tank.

I ghostwrote a political article published in Hustler magazine. (They pay great.)

I can set my brain to wake me up at a certain time.

My second son-in-law was killed by an unlicensed, underage, uninsured drunk driver.

I was once deemed an honorary (n-word).

On KCRW radio I did an interview in the character of erotica writer Felice Jordan.

Like comedian Ari Shaffir, I once took a dump in Griffith Park.

For a former Hells Angel who is serving a life sentence, I maintain a website.

I used to make X-rated cookies. Some were bought by the owner of a shop called Debbie Duz Donuts. Some were served at a meet&greet with a presidential candidate.

One night I got away with driving 40 miles of freeway, criminally drunk.

I tried an isolation tank, at what I believe was the first float-tank establishment ever to open in Los Angeles.

I shared an elevator ride alone with Arnold Schwarzenegger (and was not molested.)

The third time I got married, a guest brought her pet snake to the wedding.

As a grownup, I was scolded by another adult for something I said out loud in a restaurant. (The offending word was “abatement.”)

My only car accident was right at the entrance to Santa Monica Pier.

I helped Ace Backwords publish one of his books, Acid Heroes.

I went to Assertiveness Training.

I worked for a show business professional who had worked with Charlie Chaplin. Shook hands with this person who had shaken hands with Chaplin. Two degrees of separation. That blows my mind.

Also, I met someone who had known Duncan Grant. Few things in life have thrilled me to such an extent.

More than once, a guy drove from Odessa to San Antonio just to see me. That’s an almost 700-mile round trip.

I believe that women can be pricks and men can be cunts.

I have anniversaries that mean a lot to me. They’re just not the same ones you celebrate.

There are very few people whose company I enjoy as much as my own. And only a couple of people I care about being famous to, and one of them is dead.

I knew a man who backed a truck over (and killed) his two-year-old son.

In my teens, favorite radio was the Buffalo R&B station WUFO.

I knew somebody who was later on Howard Stern’s show.

When West Side Story hit the theaters, the piano teacher let me choose its songbook for my lessons.

In my teens, my literary heroes were James Baldwin and Lenny Bruce.

I was told more than once, by subjects I profiled, that it was the most interesting interview they ever had.

As a kid I listened repeatedly to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat Minor.

I knew a blind vet who, one Halloween, removed his prosthetic eyes and, with empty sockets, answered the door to trick-or-treaters.

I was invited join a cult in Brownsville, Texas, who were building a landing pad for the spaceship that Jesus would return in.

I was once forced to learn the team sports song “Buckle Down, Winsocki.”

I met a man whose wife and girlfriend had babies on the same day, both his.

As a “tween” I was allowed to join choir practice at my girlfriend’s church, even though I couldn’t show up to sing on Sundays.

I find it in my heart and philosophical repertoire to defend Assata Shakur, the Branch Davidians, Bradley Smith, and a motley assortment of dissidents.

As a kid, I used to draw elaborate, complicated house plans. Not just a music room, no. A piano room, a violin room, a harp room…

I’m an est graduate, and still think it was the best $300 and two weekends I ever spent.

I knew a woman whose house was the set for the film Transamerica.

I made the National Junior Honor Society in middle school, the Honor Roll in high school, and the Dean’s List in college.

I have really good book-scout instincts.

I once learned a card game called Knucks.

When I was a kid, my cavities were drilled and filled without anesthetic, by a dentist who believed that children didn’t develop pain nerves until they were older.

I once participated in the effort to remove a pair of corrupt judges. It was successful, and extraordinarily satisfying.

My first pot dealer had lost a couple of fingers to a power saw, which did not faze any of his customers.

I knew somebody who had known Lenny Bruce.

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A Little Activism, A Little Fun

Addicted to War

In 1966 Allen Ginsberg reasoned that if somebody could declare war, somebody else could un-declare it. (Of course, the Vietnam conflict had never been officially initiated according to America’s guidelines for war-declaring, so that only added to the irony.) Next came the Phil Ochs song “The War is Over,” which has, by the way, some kick-ass lyrics.

“I declare the war is over” was a brave, quixotic, flower-childy kind of an idea. The decree didn’t stop the Vietnam war, but if Phil Ochs had lived long enough, he would have seen wondrous things of a similar nature. One day everybody in Germany decided “let’s take down that stupid wall.” All of a sudden everybody in Russia decided that being Communist was no fun, and decided to stop it. Sometimes the course can be reversed. Sometimes it happens overnight.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2006, when the mood seemed to be “no more need for protest,” a feeling that we could all go home now and resume normal life as it was before Bush. As if people were saying the war is over, not in a wishful-thinking Sixties way, but in a way that meant they were sick of hearing about it and had better things to do. I didn’t quite get it. I wrote,

I wish Americans would learn more about the countries they carpet-bomb. That novel The Kite Runner I read last week about Afghanistan before everything went pear-shaped, was real good on illuminating the charming, civilized aspects of Afghan culture (and in reminding us that not everyone is a religious fanatic.) Here’s an example. Somebody is thanked for a favor. They don’t say “de nada” or even “You’re welcome.” They say, “For you, a thousand times over.” Wouldn’t you think twice about invading a country where they have such nice expressions?

That was written to Marc Madow of Earthblog.net (both now deceased) and he sent me a copy of  Addicted to War, written by Joel Andreas and published by Frank Dorrel, which knocked my socks off. Dorrel made me a screamin’ deal so I bought 10 copies and set aside a day to bike around town. I left copies of the book at the public library’s admin office, at the library’s discard and donation shelf, in a Methodist church library, and at six coffeehouses. On the first page of the coffeehouse ones, I had written,

I was donated for lots of people to read. Please leave me here. If you must take me home, please bring me back or pass me on to a friend.

The establishment at the nearest major intersection to where I live was called Mugs, and on their bookshelf I also left a copy of Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, an excellent companion volume to Addicted to War.

Three or four weeks later I was back at the shopping center, for groceries, and as usual I cut through the alley by the coffeehouse. There, on top of the dumpster, along with a couple of weekly papers, was Addicted to War. It couldn’t have been there long, it was all clean and no snow had fallen on it. From the evidence of the spinal creases it had been partly read at least once, before the staff rejected it. And just by the merest chance, I happened by at the exact right time to rescue the book.

Aren’t coffee houses supposed to be hotbeds of dissident thought? When such a place throws out such a book, what is America coming to?

Not long afterward I visited the coffeehouse again, and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, and put the same copy of Addicted to War back on the bookshelf. I hope it freaked somebody out when they found it there again, a reproachful revenant back from the grave.