Friday, May 07, 2010

I've Been To Lonelier Parties

Kristin stumbled over cracked concrete. She smoothed her skirt mechanically with her free hand, the cigarette in the other letting some of its ash fall. Behind her, she heard Alex do nearly the same thing - only in heels.

"Where the fuck does he live?" Alex said.

The street was dark, the lights strangely unlit though it was past dusk, early evening. Clouds had rolled in but decided to stay. Last night the moon was almost full, & the summer stars had been weirdly bright.

"That's his SUV," she said, though she didn't point. Or Alex couldn't see if she had.

They could hear laughter & chatter on a dark nearby porch. The plastic creaking of a cooler opening, followed by the rustling of wet ice as a bottle was lifted out, gave clues to the women though they still couldn't see anything or anyone.

"Someone didn't pay their bills," Alex muttered.

"I think they just haven't turned on any lights," said Kristin.

They heard the sounds of some Eagles' greatest hits record as someone opened a door, & Kristin turned to Alex & said, "Of course they're listening to that shit."

"Snob," laughed Alex, as she stood side-to-side with Kristin at the top of the sidewalk.

"Kristin!" a voice called out, & David was soon in front of them, holding a sweaty beer, pleased to meet Alex, offering her a damp hand.

The Eagles were replaced over time with Hall & Oates, or perhaps a band doing Hall & Oates covers, because the lead singer was a woman. Alex had been sitting on the back porch watching a small group start a fire, which they stood around, watching. Occasionally an insect zapped itself to death in unearthly blue at the far end of the porch, but Alex had gotten used to that sound. She had said something to someone earlier about wishing she had not quit smoking.

Kristin said, "Hey."

Alex said, "Hey."

Kristin said, "Are you ready to go?"

Alex said, "You want to go already?"

Kristin said, "Well, it's nearly one. Didn't you have that brunch thing?"

"I don't feel like I drank anything at all." She felt for the beer bottle at her side, shook it to remind herself it was empty.

"Hey," Kristin said, "you missed the whole porn party thing."

"What porn party thing?"

"David's friend George has a video camera," Kristin said. "He has apparently been visiting these web sites that are supposed to be like amateur porn filmed on parties. He spent the night trying to get people to have sex on camera."

"Oh no."

"He kept coming up to women & asking us to pretend it was Mardi Gras."

"Good lord."

Kristin laughed. "Someone took his camera away. Then they videotaped him throwing up in the bushes outside."

"Ha ha," Alex said.

"Do you mind," Kristin asked, "if I have one more cigarette before we go?"

"Sure," said Alex, & Kristin went inside again.

A sudden light in the corner of the backyard was shone on a balding, pudgy guy with a ponytail urinating by the back fence. The light came from a video camera. The handful of people in the backyard burst into laughter.

"Fuck you!" said George. "Fuck all y'all!"

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Secrets Of The Postal Service Revealed!

I could send it in a letter to you, but I'd rather play it on the radio if you don't mind. Tonight! An entire Self Help Radio dedicate to women named Brown. Not performing, but, rather, in song. Jenny Brown, Lucy Brown, Bonnie Brown, Fanny Brown, even sweet Georgia Brown. Miss Brown, they'd say, to you. Doesn't that sound cool? It is!

Tonight, as I've said, at midnight sharp, on 88.1 fm WMUL in Huntington; archived later on If you name is Miss Brown - or even Mrs. Brown - the show is dedicated to you!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Whither The Lovely Miss Brown?

I once heard a story about a martial arts master who would tour high school auditoriums (auditoria?) & provide demonstrations to the students of the arts of self-defense &, if the audience were perhaps older, in meditation & the Eastern philosophies which provided the underlying reasons for entering into the discipline in the first place. The sinister secret was that the reason this martial arts master did what he did, going to elementary, middle, & high schools to throw children around, was because he was a convicted pedophile, & in fact (this was in the days before sex-offender databases), most of the time he was around the children it was quite illegal & could have gotten him thrown back into jail, if the authorities knew he was embracing children to "teach" them how to defend themselves. The fact was, this man was not trying to help the children at all; he would use the process to select his next victim, & in fact gain their trust so he could abuse them later.

I heard another story about him in which he travelled & taught not because he was a pervert, but because he had had a child who had been attacked & killed by a mugger or a bully & he regretted not teaching his child how to fight off such an attack because, you know, he wanted his child to study & become a doctor or lawyer or something "better" than he was. This story ends with the martial arts master by sheer coincidence teaching the selfsame bully who had killed his child &, recognizing him, breaking his neck on the spot. He goes to jail, maybe even gets the death penalty, but he has his revenge.

Both versions of the story appear to satisfy some lurid desire in the teller (&, the teller hopes, the listener) to either reiterate how vulnerable our children are or to satisfy our sense of revenge &/or irony. In both cases, though, the story is most definitively false, based on some banal backstory, embellished to have a point, be it shock value or a storyline. I happen to know that backstory, which goes like this:

There was a martial arts master in a medium-sized suburb who had a small strip mall "academy" & who would occasionally visit nearby middle schools & do a canned, dull demonstration, which mainly consisted on him throwing around his assistant. The long-suffering assistant was also his mistress, who had somehow fallen for him & his corny charisma, & on whom he took out his frustrations, & for whom he promised he'd leave his wife but never would. At one school, a teacher who had been reading contemporary accounts of child abuse & devil worship in child care centers, fueled by the false-memory-syndrome debacle, became convinced that the martial arts master, who, as I said, would occasionally talk about the Tao or perhaps Zen, was a Satanist & imagined that he was "collecting" children for devious rituals, & began to enlist parents in her concern. The martial arts master, unable to prove that he wasn't a Satanist, lost his school gigs, & eventually his students at his "academy" disappeared. He was fortunate to avoid criminal charges & jail time, but of course his marriage was broken & even his assistant left him, both women in his life unsure whether this man whom they thought they knew was really a pedophile. He began to drink & spent the rest of his lonely life working in a convenience store in a part of town nowhere near a school.

Okay, I confess I don't know if that's the real story, but I like it better than the first two.