Aug. 22nd, 2008

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The fine folks at KOOL-FM were out at the ballpark tonight and I pried from their hot little hands the Rhino 2-disc special edition of Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul, one of my favorite vinyl LPs. Because I love soul music. They also gave me sunscreen and lip balm. Because I chafe. And they gave me a KOOL-FM notepad. Because I forget stuff. I salute you, KOOL-FM.

When I was a kid I was a frequent guest on their sister station on the AM. I would call in and say annoying genius kid things. Commenting on current events, answering callers' questions, explaining convoluted scientific principles in layman's terms, handicapping upcoming elections, you name it. They'd talk to me for 20, 30 minutes at a time, a couple of times a week, it was a regular scheduled thing. At the time I felt this was my well-earned big break in the show business, but now I think I was only entertaining because of my extreme oddness. And that it was only cute when I was nine. But I did get tons of free albums and t-shirts out of the deal. Stuff is the consolation prize God gives us for failure and death, you know. It's swag from the Demiurge, a nice parting gift, the eschatological equivalent of a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni. Play your cards right and you can console yourself with Van Gogh's Irises, or a mint Honus Wagner card, or a stereo first-state butcher cover, or...what I've got, which is the home game--a bunch of unboxed, beat up old toys, 8,000 LPs of varying quality, a few crates full of TV guides and Beta tapes and 8-tracks, and the "A-An" volume of every encyclopedia printed between 1969 and 1978. See, back in the 70s, grocery stores would often sell encyclopedias, and the first volume was always either free-with-purchase or under a buck, which means that every birthday, every Christmas, my dirt-poor (or dirt-cheap) family would present me with yet another "A" volume of whatever encyclopedia was in vogue that year. Future volumes were always some insane amount like $2.99 or $5.99 or something, and as you know that alphabet has got a lot of goddamn letters, and Pabst Blue Ribbon isn't going to buy itself.

So I'd sit there like a chump and voraciously read everything I could about Roald Amundsen, or the Aardvark, or Albania. Damn you, King Zog.

The B's through Z's remain a blissful mystery to me. Because I was educated in--yes, you guessed it--Arizona. And it was awful. Abysmal, you might say.

So somewhere I still have the A's. I worked a lot as a kid, saved my leks and eventually bought a secondhand encyclopedia set from a going-out-of-reading sale at a library in Raton, New Mexico in 1983. I still have that too, but it was an encyclopedia from the 50s, which is why I'm so hep to Dave Garroway and Mr. Muggs, I assume. Speaking of trained monkeys doing tricks on talk shows.

But yes. I have many things. This is what we literary types call symbolism, the physical embodiment of some nebulous concept. In this case, I assume the hamhanded author in question is trying to convey to you the idea of baggage, emotional or otherwise. It's not all me. A lot of it is leftovers from people who've died, which seems weird to me now. At one time I thought of it all as a treasure, and I still do, but lately I've begun to wonder if it isn't all some kind of beyond-the-grave way of them making me look after them, as I did in life, still, forever. Preserving these small pieces of who they were. No, wait, it sounds like a treasure again. But you know, when it's dark like this and I'm riding this annoying melancholy thing, I wish they'd cared as much about me as I care about all their stupid crap. Even half as much.

It's not my fault, it's Otis. He's got the blues. He's dead too. Left me one of his treasures here.

Anyway. We'll stop that right there, because it's Friday, and everybody's a winner on Friday. You, especially, so get out there and slap life right on the ass, champ. I'll be cheering for you.

The Diamondbacks won, by the way. And Ketchup won the condiment race again, the bastard. I had everything on relish. Relish was due.


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