Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Night I Quit My Crappy Job

I have been to two tattoo parties in my life, and both were great fucking times. EagleMan threw both parties. The first was several years ago. It was a sobering event, even with the copious amount of alcohol that was drunken by all. EagleMan's father had just passed, and as a tribute to him, we threw a big party in his now empty apartment. Well, empty except for all the alcohol. It was a night for remembrance, a night for anecdotes, and a night to get so blitzed that we tried to forget why we were there. But it was still in the back of all of our minds, and we knew that the pain we felt upon entering the empty apartment would return again, along with a massive headache, in the morning. But for a few hours we could celebrate life, and take away the pain of loss, and that is what we did. Holy shit that is what we did.

The second tattoo party was only a couple weeks ago. EagleMan has thrown quite a few in his day, but I was usually out of the state when they were thrown (I made a special trip into town for the first one for obvious reasons). I was in town for this one, so of course I attended. You know my feelings on my job, and as luck would have it, I had to work the next day, which was a Sunday. This hardly pleased me, as it never does, but I vowed to myself to stop drinking and head home at 10. When I arrived, I was shoved towards the keg of Bud Light. The night went uphill from there.

So what is a tattoo party? It is a simple concept. A person throws a party. Among others, he invites a tattoo artist, not to party, but to do his thing. The artist can easily make close to a grand tattooing people in rapid succession, as the hum of house music penetrates the walls around him. Pretty damn good for a nights work. Everyone who comes to the party knows that there will be a tattoo artist there, so most of the people who attend want a tattoo. And they know that they will get a good deal. There is far more business at one tattoo party than there is during a regular day at a tattoo shop. At least per hour anyway. EagleMan always gets a tattoo during these parties, and he usually gets a huge discount, merely because he brought in a shit-load of business for the artist. [Note: this article is interesting but the tattoo artist here is a professional, and everything was extremely safe, hence the ten minutes (at least) between tattoos to change out his equipment.]

So I showed up at 8:30 with the best of intentions. Hangout for a while, drink a couple of beers, watch a couple of tattoos being done, and take off so I could get my beauty rest for my killer workday. Then, I was told about the keg. I quickly found a cup, and headed out to garage was the keg was resting. It was a glorious site. I cannot remember the last time I went to a kegger. I pumped, flipped the switch, and watched the golden liquid flow out the faucet. My dear friend Bud Light and I were about to take our relationship to the next level.

After filling my cup, I returned inside, and surveyed the scene. "I should go into Criminal Defense," I thought to myself. Of the 25 people there, there was probably an accumulated total of jail time served near my age. The tattoo artist had just gotten out of the joint, and it was not his first stint there. EagleMan's younger brother has probably spent close to three years in stir. I did not really know much about the other people there, but they did not seem to me to be straight-edge. The tattoo artist was even wearing a shirt with a picture of a guy holding a briefcase that said, "Jack Schitt, Esq." Yeah, these are my kind of people.

Nothing too terribly exciting actually happened at the party. At one point I began offering discounts on legal fees for anyone who mentioned EagleMan's name. So if the that is the highlight, it was a pretty boring party. Except for all the tattoos of course. I stationed myself close to the tattoo artist to watch him work. I love watching people draw, mainly because it is a skill that I do not have. People who can draw a straight line without sweat forming on their forehead piss me off, yet never fails to leave me amazed. The tattoo artist is pretty damn good too. He has done most of EagleMan's tats, the ones the tattoo artist has not done (because he was in jail), are clearly of inferior quality. This guy makes it look so easy, yeah, I am a little jealous.

I was not there to get a tattoo myself (I have none and do not plan on ever getting one). I went for the free beer. I certainly got my money's worth. Ten o'clock soon turned into eleven, which suddenly became midnight. Around midnight I began bitching to anyone who was next to me about how I hated my job, and I should just fucking quit it. Had I been sober, I would have realized that rationalizing things when you are hammered is not the best idea. But I was drunk, and by one I began to think that quitting was the best idea since college football.

Around 1:30 I was having trouble staying upright, and began wondering to myself why the hell I was still there. I had to get up at six for work, and the way things were going, each sip made that less and less likely. Then it hit me. I knew when I could leave. EagleMan still had not gotten his tattoo yet. "I have to stay to watch that," I drunkenly slurred to whoever was standing next to me at the time. That person quickly moved away. I went to get another beer.

By the time the tattoo artist finally began EagleMan's tattoo (on his right pec, what a stud), I was shitfaced. It is a damn good thing I only live two blocks from his house. The tattoo would take an hour to complete, and I was unable to stay for the whole thing. At 2:30, I finally had a rational thought that said, "You have to go home and go to bed RIGHT NOW!" I stumbled and swayed back to my house, spent two minutes trying to find the right key to unlock the door, wandered around for a while looking for my bed, found it, and crashed.

Lucky for me, I had the presence of mind to set my alarm clocks before I went out. And at 5:45 I was shocked awake. I flopped like a dolphin off my bed, five feet into the air if it was an inch. I reached blindly out into the dark room trying to figure out how to turn off my alarm clock, and finally succeeded. You should know that this is no ordinary alarm clock. This one does not make any noise at all.

All my life I have searched for a cartoon alarm clock, one that has a mallet come out and bash you on the head when it is time to wake up. My search has, thus far, been futile, so I settled on the next best thing. A vibrating alarm clock. It is a normal clock, but it comes with a pad that you put into your pillow case. When the alarm is tripped, your head begins shaking like it is the only part of your body in a 7.0 earthquake. And when your head starts shaking and you are still drunk, it is enough to wake you up so violently, that your heart begins beating 200 times a minute.

I got out of bed, and stood up, or tried too, I was a little wobbly. I really, really did not want to go to work, but I really only had to stick it out for two more weeks, then I would have a nice cushion of cash, such that I would not have to worry about money while waiting for my refund check from the Law School. I braced myself, and took a step. The room began to spin. I took a deep breath, and ventured to put my left foot in front of the right. I nearly vomited. I sat down on my bed, and thought about what to do.

This would not be the first time that I had driven to this job drunk. But it would be the first time I would be drunk at work and it was over 90 degrees outside. I decided that I should suck it up, and go to work. It wouldn't really be that bad. In 13 hours all this would be over. Sometime around nine, I would start to feel hungover, and the dehydration would hit, and probably last until one, and then there would only be six hours of work left.

At that last thought I said that is it. Fuck it. I could have called in sick, or called to tell them that I would not be coming in, but Fuck it. All the drinking on work nights was just me acting out my misery. Why should I continue? My drunken mind thought that to be brilliant reasoning. So I went back to bed. And slept. Until noon. It was transcendent.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Wasp's Tale

Because it was so nice out, sunny but with a nice breeze, I decided to read outside. I packed up all my gear, book, smokes, lighter, iPod, coffee, and a glass of water, and headed out onto the back porch. Upon opening the screen door, I immediately saw my nemesis.

A wasp was having a grand old time hanging out on my chair. He was walking up and down the back like he owned the fucking thing. This wasp needed to be taught a lesson by another WASP. I calmly, and with as little movement as possible put down my reading gear, while the wasp continued his exercise, walking up and down the curvature at the top of the lawn chair.

Once I had dropped the dead weight, I beat a hasty retreat back into the house, seeking out the nearest magazine. I quickly found a two-month old double issue of SI. Perfect. I rolled it, and snuck back out. The wasp was where I left him, continuing his journey to nowhere. Summoning all of my Native American heritage (which is probably none), I quietly snuck up behind him, and delivered a mighty THWACK.

When I removed the magazine from the point of impact, the wasp was no where to be seen. He was not attached to the magazine nor the chair. Confused, I crouched down to see where his flattened body had landed. I did not see it anywhere. I looked high and low, but the wasp was gone. I quickly retreated into the house.

Once safely behind the impenetrable fortress that is my screen door, I evaluated my options. All my stuff was outside, including the book I wanted to read, as well as a possible super-wasp, who could not be killed by an ordinary strategically aimed magazine. But, one day I will be a lawyer. I am sure that I will walk into many situations where I will eventually be stung (though in the pocketbook, or at least the client's pocketbook), and sucked it up and headed back out to continue my search. I figured my search would be fruitless, and I could go ahead with reading my book, keeping one eye on the words and one eye to the sky.

I saw him almost at once. He was four feet from where I attempted to murder him, hidden underneath a table. Half of his body had been smashed, and he could no longer fly. He was pulling himself along the ground like the Terminator at the end of The Terminator. Only two of his legs worked, and he looked pissed. I pulled my magazine out its sheath, and proceeded to pummel the half dead wasp. He had no chance. I was left with a highly dead wasp on my back-porch, his stinger halfway out. Not wanting to touch him, I used my magazine like a putter to get him to the nearest patch of land that would not have any foot traffic.

Once I succeeded, I was able to settle into my chair, and start enjoying my book.

About ten minutes later, two additional wasps buzzed my head. I freaked out and immediately grabbed for my sword, err, magazine, but by the time I was in my Gladiator position, they were twenty feet away. They kept buzzing around, a safe distance from me, and I went back to reading, keeping one eye on them. Soon, there was no activity, but I kept alert.

Then, one of the wasps returned, and landed on the porch about two feet from me. And he brought me a present. Secured in his arms was the wasp that I had killed, and putted into the dirt. For a second it looked like the second wasp was trying to slap his dead brethren back to life, but he quickly gave up, flew away and left the dead wasp lying on the ground, two feet from my bare feet.

His threat could not have been more subtle had he left a horse's head in my bed. I fled back to the safety of my bunker.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Warped Tour

You say this ain't the end to me
Fall down, pull the rug under me
Feels like I'm falling but I tell you
I'm not going down

      Zebrahead--Over The Edge
Last weekend I went to the Warped Tour. If you do not know what the Warped Tour is, then shame on you. Basically, it is a bunch of bands touring in a festival-like atmosphere. I dropped $35 of EagleMan's hard earned money to buy myself a ticket to see one band. One of my favorite bands has decided to abstain from touring in any city remotely close to where I am, and therefore, I had to see them at Warped Tour.

Warped Tour is filled with 30 minute sets of many semi-popular bands. The good bands take up 3 stages, while all the crappy bands fill up the remaining 5. I was interested in seeing only one band, but to fill time between my arrival, the best band of all-time, and my departure, I checked out some other acts. Thursday was great, as was Less Than Jake. Armor For Sleep was a bit of a disappointment, as they play a lot of mellow songs and it did not translate well into a parking lot stage. NOFX sucked. I hate them. Unfortunately, I missed The Academy Is . . ., but at least I saw Motion City Soundtrack (oh, wait, I left halfway through their set to get a beer). Senses Fail looked pretty damn good from a mile away though.

But my glorious savior, beer, was hard to come by that day. Not only was it 100 degrees outside, but a large beer cost me $7.50. Motherfucking highway robbery. Who the hell would pay that for a beer? I mean other than an unabashed alcoholic like myself? Yeah, so I drank a few. Of course, they did not start selling until 2 p.m., and I was jonesing for a beer around 12:30 (which incidentally was a little after we arrived).

I was smart though, I brought in an unopened bottle of water (if opened it would be confiscated upon entry). I was able to refill this bottle several times ($3.75 for a bottle of water? Fuck You!), and alternate beer and water so I would not pass out from dehydration.

But the entire day was going through the motions until Zebrahead took the stage at 5:15. I saved my energy for this performance. For all the others I hung back, tapping my toes like a 90 year old at a jazz bar. But when Zebrahead took the stage, I went off. They are one of my favorite bands, and it has been two years since I last saw them. Last time, I was 23, still a respectable age for going fucking nuts at a concert, but now I am 25, and a future lawyer, one day to be a pillar of the community.

Once they hit the first chord of Playmate of the Year, I forgot all that shit. I went nuts. Jumping around, helping kids get up to crowd surf, shit I was even a mosh pit for a couple seconds.

It was my release. Better than ejaculation. Everybody experiences music a different way, and when you are two yards from the band, surrounded by people you have never met, but know you share a sacred common interest, you can act how you want. You let the music dictate what you do, and the music compels each person differently. If you want to jump, then by all means, jump. If you want to throw horns in the air and bob your head, go forth. If spinning around in circles is your bag, then do it, no one cares. We are all here for the same reason.

But at the same time, we are all lemmings. If you watched the World Cup like I did, because you have nothing better to do (like work), you would see each country had cheers, long exhaustive cheers. In the US, our cheers are things like "Go, Go, Go!" or "*clap* *clap* *CLAP*" We suck at cheers. We need a Jumbotron or organist to tell us what to do.

The same is true with bands. Sometimes they feel the need to tell us when and how to clap, what lyrics to recite, or what actions to take. Personally, I feel that is insulting. The band is telling us that we are too stupid to know how to react to the music they play. And for the most part, they are right. Americans are stupid. But I transcend those people, and refuse to play along. I never follow along with the Simon Says that the band espouses.

Unless Zebrahead is on the stage. They could tell me to commit mass murder, and I would have to think twice before deciding against it. So when the lead singer for Zebrahead called out for a circle pit during their second-to-last song, I gleefully complied. A circle pit is basically the audience running around in a circle. It seems pretty stupid, and it is, but when the band tells you to do it, you think it is the best idea since DC*.

So they launched into their song, and I started running. I was pretty drunk at this point, despite the oppressive heat, and soon learned that a bunch of people running in a circle was a death trap. Some people ran too slow, some too fast, and I bit it hard because I could not find the happy medium. I tripped and fell not once, not twice, but thrice (they did not play (Thrice is a band)). Yeah, I kept going even though I knew it was a death trap. I was feeling the music, or something like that. Maybe I was just shithoused. I ripped my pants and ripped my knee open. The wound proceeded to bleed through the next song, and ten minutes afterwards before I noticed it. By the time I noticed, my pants were drenched in blood.

I felt so cool. I had a battle wound. A Zebrahead battle wound.

I am going to wear the blood soaked, ripped pants on the first day of classes. Everyone is going to ask me what the hell happened, and I am going to say, "Never ever fucking sue Wal-Mart. Those guys play for keeps."

*Yes, Direct Current did not work out in the end. An Edison failure, but when it was introduced it was the main ideal. It took a couple of years for AC to take over, but at first people thought DC was the greatest thing ever. Then they were introduced to AC.