Monday, November 19, 2012

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

That was the inscription that was allegedly found over the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno. I am not intent on entering any type of ecclesiastical debate, but suffice it to say that everyone has their own definition of hell. I think that most of us, at one time or another had to endure a crappy job, a despotic boss, extreme weather or some piece of shit car breaking down by the side of some stretch of desolate road, all hellish experiences to be sure. Some people might subscribe to the Cartesian view that "hell is other people" and a ride on a bus through Cracktown can certainly prove that theory. However, other than circumstances that are mostly out of our control, hellish situations can be avoided and life is great. I try to avoid those and am getting more gregarious as time goes buy. I hang out with greasy people, go to greasy shows and spend time drinking beer in dirty, greasy shops. Life is greasy and hellish encounters are averted. Here is a short guide on some small corners of Hell to avoid and a good way to avoid aggravation, high blood pressure or multiple assault charges.

1. The 'Burbs.

I have ranted about this in the past, but am again reminded what a special kind of hell suburbs can be. The treeless landscape filled with row upon row of soulless, identical houses devoid of any architectural merit is depressing enough in its own right. Suburban dwellers fail to see the innate strangeness of driving two miles to some of the strip malls that intersperse these qausi-towns just to get a pack of Marlboro's. That is part of the main problem right there with suburbs. These are not real towns, but shamelessly manufactured ones. The slavish adherence to post-modern architecture and the cheap materials and design lacking any imagination make the 'burbs that much more depressing. Depressing to me that is, because suburban dwellers are blissfully unaware of this.

One might argue that buying a house in the suburbs maybe cheaper than buying in the city. This might be true, but I suspect that this is rarely what motivates people to buy houses there. It is a square mindset that somehow makes it seem desirable, or actually preferable to living in the city. The absolute lack of cultural stimulation doesn't bother them, quite the contrary, they actively avoid it. They sniff aristocratically at at the urban denizens and condescendingly call them " City People". While they are debating the finer points of reality shows, waiting in line at bland family restaurants, eyeballing the latest Lexus at the showroom and going to Costco like it was a spiritual experience, I will be busy. I will be busy rockin' my life away to great bands, drinking fine beers, meeting cool people and look at buildings that are more than three stories.

It's not that I am a snobbish urban dweller. I have lived in the country on a farm. I went to a lot of barnyard parties and you ain't lived right until you've had drunken tractor races, teased 2000 pound bulls, scared some chickens and eaten fresh corn on the cob while sitting on a bail of hay. Everybody is hammered, you can make a bonfire as big as humanely possible, hoot and holler like barbarians and there ain't a cop around for miles. Lots to be said about country living. Sadly, it is the 'burbs that are encroaching on arable farm land and these days one has to travel pretty far to have a proper wing-ding.

2. The Dentist.

Unavoidable as this may be, everyone eventually ends up at the dentist's office. There are three simple tenets that apply to a visit to this house of horrors: Yes, it's going to fucking hurt, it will be outrageously expensive and you will have to wait three hours to have the privilege of having the surgical equivalent of a multitude of punches in the mouth. Before any of this begins, large pieces of cardboard will be jammed in your mouth so the sadist, I mean dentist, can take x-rays ( which  bombard your brain with lethal doses of radiation). Before any of the medieval procedures begin however, you will be sent to some virago of a dental assistant for a cleaning. An integral part of the cleaning process is the assistant berating you for not coming often enough and yelling at you because your gums are bleeding ( if she stopped jamming pointy metal instruments on your gums, maybe they wouldn't bleed). You are sent back to the dentist to have your mouth frozen. This pointless ritual doesn't alleviate any pain, it is only designed to make look like a fool for the rest of the day as you mutter and dribble water from the sides of your mouth when you try to have a drink. The dentist will produce a series of terrifying and shiny instruments and proceed to do more contortions than the rubber-man at the freak show. After two hours of enduring excruciating pain, having bright lights shining in your eyes and watching bad shows on a TV stupidly embedded in the ceiling, you will be sent on your way. The parting advice is always the same " Take a couple of T-3's. My reaction is always the same, " Fuck it, I'm going straight to a bar for some liquid T-3's". This is the time when I usually toy with the idea of going straight-up hillbilly and not having any teeth.

3. Uh-Oh

There are four words in the English language that will strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest of men, cause even the stoutest tough guy to quake in fear, cause doubt in even the meanest of bikers and maybe even make some men cry like beaten dogs. These words are " Bend over and cough"

Comes a time in every man's life when a the inevitable visit to the proctologist becomes a reality. The dreaded prostate exam becomes that unavoidable situation where a rock meets an immovable object. Without going into the gory details, most men put this off as long as they can and would gladly gargle with gravel rather than go through that frightening procedure. Women might berate me and call me a chicken-shit as they regale me with tales of child birth that make a prostate exam look like a Sunday morning nose-pick. Men don't care; they will readily admit to being a chicken shit, they just don't want to do it. This is probably a graphic example of why it's a good idea to live a clean life and avoid prison. There seems to be an inordinate amount of proctologists in jail, and they keep dropping their soap in the shower for some reason.

4. Tastes Like Chicken.

I generally don't like restaurants. I don't like being in close proximity to strangers who will eavesdrop on my conversation. I don't like waiting around when I'm so hungry that I could punch a cat. I don't like the insincere servers with their Aryan efficiency. I don't like being asked if everything is OK while I have a mouthful of mashed potatoes.There is also the distinct possibility of servers putting boogers (or worse ) in your food should they perceive even the most innocuous of slights. The part that I dislike the most is that the food was prepared by strangers in a greasy kitchen. I have been inside my fair share of restaurant kitchens years ago when I would run wiring for sound systems. Even the high end ones were greasy, and not in a good way. I would slip and slide all over the place as I stood on all manners of greasy surfaces running wires into even greasier ceilings.

I hate to admit it, but one of my guilty pleasures is watching Gordon Ramsay on TV. I like him because he curses like a sailor and yells at idiots all day. Who wouldn't love a job where you get to berate morons all day and they gotta take it? British cursing aside, what astounds me is how clueless some restaurant owners are and how absolutely disgusting their kitchens can be. Some might call me naive and claim that all this stuff is staged and makes for good TV, but there must be a basis for truth somewhere in that show. All one has to do is look at the local paper and check out how many restaurants are cited for health infractions on a daily basis.

The bottom line is that many kitchens resemble the average frat boy's apartment. Unwashed dishes that are growing mold so big that it has developed a consciousness, new forms of life mutating in the refrigerator, cockroach parties, rats setting up their own corporations under the sink, piles of compost under the table and thousands of empty booze bottles. I'll just stick to Costco hot dogs. I know they are made from lips and assholes, but at least everyone there is wearing a hair net.

5. Cyclotrons.

There is a large University here called UBC and for some reason they have a really big cyclotron. It is housed in a huge subterranean facility and must be the size of two football fields. There main function is to take sub-atomic particles and smash them into each other thereby creating other , mainly unstable, sub-atomic particles. There are massive cement blocks piled up everywhere to prevent the dangerous particles from escaping, but I found that hardly reassuring.  These particles are flying around ad libitum at nearly the speed of light and I am sure that they were entering my brain. I could have sworn that I felt a strange tingling sensation inside my head as these mutated radioactive particles vaporized my brain cells. It was more than a coincidence that everyone who worked there was extremely weird. Their weirdness did not stem from working with complex mathematical formulas, playing dungeons and dragons for days on end or participating in medieval mock-sword fights. It's all those flying protons I tell ya. I haven't felt right since I left that place. That might explain why I like twangy 50 year old music, put tons of greasy shit in my hair, have the uncontrollable urge to stomp on gas pedals when I drive cars and get real angry when I see(or smell) hippies. Damn protons !

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