Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Screw Danielle Steele, I've got Jerry Hager & a big bag of Bugles

Not having time to keep up with my waxing [philosophical] lately. I have been encouraged to reveal an excerpt from a piece of fiction I've been lax in continuing. I could set it up but I think it may be more interesting without knowing what in the hell I ate the night I had THIS dream.

So here it is for all to enjoy - excerpts from Jerry Hager's romantic novella, The Legend of Demeanto Saylike.

All in the compound of The Abbey emerged from their dormitories & helped decorate & light candles & place eucalyptus pot pouri. They sang joyous, lively songs as they arranged laurels over the leopard skin mantle & scattered iris petals at the main gates. When they had finished they stepped back & looked at what they had accomplished & they saw that it was good.

They gathered in circle, holding hands around the Tower Of The Lonely Hearts Search Light on the Western Lawn of the compound. Then in song & jubilee they continued to celebrate their achievement with dancing in the main courtyard. Glorious. From the elevated reclaimed stone patio on which was kept a jasper-ornamented wet-bar of Burmese Teak, this crash of rhinoceri resembled the commotion & disarray of the pushing & shoving & leaping of a celebratory mosh comprised entirely of The Muppets. Or perhaps a more distinct image would manifest itself by picturing the silhouette of The Fat Albert Gang falling down some stairs. Each dance was different from the next but the sum of the parts, the movement, direction & timing of each constituted the larger, junky machine - like a human, ill-maintained, rattle-trappy still.

There was one dressed in a tie-died Mexican pullover wearing a goatee & glasses under a curly brown & grey mop similar to Al Jaffee's. His jig featured a bouncy, clanky, quarter-note, vertical jump with his chin at a 45 degree angle - his arms stretched heavenly with hands & palms revealed vulnerably toward the star-filled Northern sky.

Oh & then there was the skeleton of a man that supported his tie-died shirt not unlike a wire coat hanger crowned at the hook by a three dimensional Styrofoam bust of John the Baptist. This hoofer had more of a strut; a march in place that included alternating swings of elbows upward in a satisfied-with-one's-self manner.

Completely introverted, the next hoedowner - truly with the body of a Dr. Seuss character, clad in hemmed denim shorts under a skin-tight tie-died T-shirt (to use a French term) adorned at the top by the most bold yet rigid-less turkey-neck the commoners had ever seen & a mullet that, honestly, was disorienting to see - was clearly the most talented figurante present. With her sway left to right, boogie on one foot & then the next, each time while outwardly with a swishing motion, presented her tooth-white Reeboks she kept at the end of her extensive shanks...

...As the time came for the impending visitor to arrive, the thick, industrial stone & brick walls were sweating with tension. Magdalene could be seen floating from room to room with a glow about her, warming the the darkened halls. She was a sight to see. Beautiful, yet frightened. Fierce, yet vulnerable. The residents scrambled via servants' passages in order to spy the fair Belle in each new chamber. Clumsily falling onto one another, clamoring for the best glimpse of this angel in polyester. She was just... enchanting.

Then... the fateful sound. It came quietly at first - almost instantaneously freezing all action in the compound. Everyone halted & listened with every inch of their skin, like deer sensing that they might have heard the sound of a Skoal can lid being snapped shut. Then again. Rapping from the front gates came wafting over the peach blossoms that draped the knees of the fierce looking main hall. Taken as the cue this announcement was meant to be, feet could be heard stampeding into unnoticeable crevices. The entire compound was, within seconds, as a ghost town, save for Magdalene & the two mimes, who doubled as Belle's personal... eh... 'Mimes In Waiting' - the near-riot dissuaded.

As she caught herself mid-faint, Belle, almost as if with her last breathe, barked in hysteria, impatience & despair to the mimes to "Answer the call of destiny - It's rapping at our humble door." They scampered to do so without scoffing; the urge to roll their eyes on this particular occasion didn't even enter their miniature, silent minds.

The heavy doors swung left then right. Pouring in from the humid night, the fog felt to the mimes as a cool blanket of joy. "HE is before you," they heard as clearly in their minds as they had heard the Abbott snap them into action just moments before. They watched as HE stepped onto the blue night grass. HIS eyes searched the compound for a mere moment then settled gently on the darkened, quivering, magical figure of Magdalene in the massive arch of the main hall. As The Legend Demeanto Saylike advanced toward her, the mimes silently fell back, dissolving into the white-smudged night.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Ye Olde Mail Bag

dear info@jerryhager.com,

we would like to inquire as to why jerryhager hasn't published a fresh new blog in almost three months. we have anxiously awaited and now are tired of anxiously awaiting.

tired of anxiously awaiting for things

Dear JerryHager.com valued customer,

We appreciate that you have given of your own time & energy to provide feedback on our undying efforts to serve our clients. As with all comments that we receive, yours will be forwarded on to a capable Customer Service Representative who will certainly give it the consideration it deserves. After which, you may expect an appropriate & insightful form letter.

While that's going on, our PR department will be vigorously constructing an effective reaction plan that will, when executed, explain the hiatus of the 'blog' to an extent that will not only appease, but shall entice all to anticipate the return of the legendary & inspired journal entries with such fervor that they will disconnect their cable.

(unless, of course, they have cable internet)

Thank you,

The JerryHager.com gang

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hot & Sunny On The Causeway

On the shorter side of notions: I heard an ice cream truck playing the main theme from The Godfather today.

It got me thinking, really, because I saw the movie 'Open Water' this weekend. And during the moments of fear & dread, the underscore was comprised of beautiful music of Fiji. I've always loved that music. And it was really effective being used in such a manner.

I know it's not new to clash painfully beautiful music against terrible scenes in film. Most often you see it in war films. I've seen documentaries on WWII with great songs such as "We'll Meet Again" & "Till Then" playing during graphic & awful clips of battle. Effectively, it makes you feel even sicker inside. And in the case of 'Open Water' you watch & connect to the angst on the screen while your heart flips upside down to the glorious & peaceful Polynesian harmonies. It'll tear you up.

But somehow playing The Godfather theme on a recorded calliope through a distorted bullhorn atop an '83 Chevy van just doesn't hit me as artistic irony.

Needless to say, business wasn't exactly busting for the driver. But I'm wondering - Is there some sort of dairy business credo in marketing to adolescents that states "A.B.I. Always Be Intimidating?" Is there a bulletin board in some Good Humor garage that says, "Air conditioned vans are for closers?"

So beware boys & girls. I know, it's all harmless Summer fun when you go running through the neighbors' xenias digging in your pockets for change. But make sure you don't go gettin' messed up in the rackets. It'll be too late when from the shadowy van window you hear slowly, "I think you want TWO Bomb Pops, kid."

Friday, July 16, 2004

Martha Stewart's New Entombment Line

Dearest Madeline,

It happens that today I was at the service entrance of Vanderbilt Hospital. It was the end of the day, around 7pm. A friend & I had to enter the immense complex of medical buildings through the freight elevator. But to get to them there is a gauntlet of smells to overcome.

One is the vat of used cooking oil that the recyclers come to empty every month whether they need to or not. That's at the bottom of the steps. Next to that there's the school bus-sized dumpster that holds solid waste. This thing is clearly always overflowing, which reminds me of the age old axiom, "You can never put too much waste in a biological dumpster." But the piece de resistance is the warm liquid waste container. It holds leftover & spoiled milk that is thoughtlessly removed from the patients' rooms & deposited there in the 97-degree drum-shaped kiln.

When I was quite young in elementary school, the janitor had presented himself in front of all of us students one day. He had informed us that before we left the lunchroom, we were to walk up to one of four of his wheeled mop buckets & pour our leftover milk into them. He said they were for his sty of pigs he had back on his farm. Now, I don't think that even the most trashy of pigs would fancy warm, spoiled & backwashed whi-colate mixed nasty milk from some elementary school, not even on their worst day.

And I never actually saw the pigs or the farm. No one else ever saw the pigs or the farm either. Some of us weren't sure they existed. But I have to believe that they did because had they not, what would that say about the janitor? I don't mean about him lying - I mean what was he doing with all that swill? That would have to be good for at least 5 points on the "Is Your Custodian A Maniac" test. And if he had turned out to be a twenty-four carat baked kook that had an impressive & catalogued slop collection, what would that say about the HR department in the Livingston County School District? I need for the farm story to be true because otherwise it would be too much for my naïve heart to process. I'm thankful it was a mystery that I was too young & distracted to investigate.

Well, the wall of stench at the medical center today had reminded me of the pigs, even though it was truly difficult to think of anything at all while walking through it. When approaching this area, it was hard to imagine anything that could make it smell worse. Normally we would make sarcastic comments about it & distort our faces in reaction to it. But today we couldn't overcome the devastating effects enough to amuse ourselves. It could really take away your breath & thoughts. And you'd be happy for it.

As we were waiting for the vertically sliding split steel doors that open into the elevator, we were silent & held our lungs still. And we didn't even glance at each other because we didn't want to acknowledge our own presence in such a filthy & hopeless place. I nodded toward the doors indicating that they were about to open. We anxiously clustered toward them though the elevator hadn't yet stopped. Even the hot iron box that would transport us to the basement seemed like a chariot flying us to the promised land with its stale & unripened air that lay beneath the massive complex. And as the doors slid noisily up & down out of sight, I could see that the elevator was carrying a passenger.

I stepped back to make room. My friend did not at first notice what was going on, but stepped out of the way too when the passenger pushed the gurney out. Upon it was a body. The man navigated this corpse around like a real pro. He went around us like he was pushing a casino cashbox cart back to the count room. Even though he had clearly used this service entrance many times for very likely this same reason, something did not seem right.

I noticed that the body hadn't been put into a zippered bag. This person had been stretched out coldly on this gurney to be taken from the hospital, presumably to the funeral home, covered in nothing but blue hand towels. There they were, placed out end on end so as to cover the entire body much like I would do at my house if I couldn't find a proper tablecloth for a dinner party. Don't they put corpses in those body bags anymore? Don't those seem more sterile? Are we not to use those now? What's wrong with them, do they pose a choking hazard to toddlers or something? Why hand towels? Were they out of sheets?

Here's this guy, just a few days ago he had been paying taxes. He had probably seen this week's episode of Matlock. Most likely he had thought about whom he was going to vote for this November. Possibly he had irritated the crap out of someone all week with his incessant Catholic priest jokes.

There laid possibly not an unhappy life. Maybe even a very successful one. Maybe he married his high school sweetheart. And he might have even learned the purpose of his own life along the way. Perhaps he had raised some wonderful children & tried to teach them what he had learned.

Some years ago he had been born somewhere in a beautifully decorated maternity ward, probably not unlike the one on the 4th floor of that very building, designed to comfort & encourage new parents & families. He had most likely been in & out of the hospital from time to time during his life for, perhaps, a broken leg, bronchitis, gallstones, or even an injury from a deli slicer. But each time, almost certainly through the front entrance or the Emergency Room.

And yet, here at the end, he's been taken out of this world by way of the service entrance. The loading dock where the trash is piled up. Where the unwanted liquid waste is poured carelessly into steel drums, the odor is unbearable & a hospital worker hums to himself while doing his God-forsaken job of hosing down the filthy platform like it's the hippo house at the Toledo Zoo. And in the background a blue handtowel-laden buffet cart squeaks & rocks toward a white van that's already running because the KFC All-You-Can-Eat Buffet is about to close. If you weren't paying close attention, the whole scene could be mistaken for the clean up & tear down of a well catered hotel convention event.

It all made me think of how I'd like to be taken to my final resting place. How would I want my closing parade to be routed from my place of death to where my body would spend its eternity? What swan song would be fitting while my soul found its way to Valhalla or wherever I decide I want to go? I'm quite sure I don't want to be rolled like a steam table of cold dishtowel-covered cornbread through the wash room past the rotten "to be composted" bin at Luby's.

I suppose I'd much rather be laid in the back of a pick up truck & driven after school to an imaginary farm to be buried next to a drove of pigs that love half-eaten fish sticks & warm Hi-C drink boxes.

Sounds kind of nice actually.



More tales from Roderick Usher. 

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Crimes & McDemeanors

I was just reminded of the time I knocked Dave Thomas down some stairs. And I don't mean the Strange Brew guy. It's God's honest truth, and that's saying something at my house.

I had dropped into Davis-Kidd, probably to see if they had any copies of Hustler left. It looked like everyone & his mistress was there. There was one of those long fake-wood-Formica tables with foldout legs right in the middle of the store. Lots of anxious people in a line holding books like footballs & rocking onto the balls of their feet every few seconds or so.

As I tried to weasel my way around the mob & right through a huddle of professional types, someone I presumed was an intern franticly said to another while holding up a Sharpie, "Dave likes the fat Magic Markers; not these pointy ones! What are we going to do?!" I thought to myself, "I'm glad I'm me. I'm glad I'm me."

Being the stupid naïve wretch that I was at that time (I'm told now I'm over that), it hadn't occurred to me what was going on. I had no idea I was intruding on a book signing. I had no idea what a book signing was. I had no books. I must have been there for a gift. Either that or I had mistaken the place for the day-old Nutter Butter shop.

And there, among the elite literary aficionados trying to get their copy of Dave's Way autographed, was this oblivious heathen. I most likely had been attempting to get to the 'Humor' section to pick up the newest Jim Unger book of Herman cartoons or something of that sort.

Once I realized that even if I did find what I had come in for, I wouldn't be able to get to the check out. This herd had barricaded entirely the row of counters that held the registers & was completely blocking out the sun in 'Self Help'. Since I had come in from the rear parking garage, I didn't realize that this line of Wendy's patrons stretched out into the front parking lot past the last Winnebago. I was done for. There was no way of recovering from this misstep other than just giving up.

So that's what I did. I turned, plowed right back through the congregation & past the hysterical intern & made my way back to the stairwell where this nonsense began. I can't say that I remember being angry but I'm sure I was frustrated. And given that, I would have been mumbling & cursing under my breath while unaware of everyone around me. (It's good to know yourself.)

As I flung the stairwell door open I had already started my usual stair-descending rhythm I like to do. You see, when climbing or descending stairs, I sometimes pretend I'm being filmed for a big cop movie where I'm chasing some criminal. In all those scenes where the cop is chasing the bad guy on foot, I'm frequently yelling at the screen, "Come on! Pick up your feet! You run like my grandmother!" So when I'm barreling down a flight of stairs, the game is to show off for my imaginary director who'd be saying, "Are you sure? We can get a stunt guy for this."

This day was no different. Each time I cornered to go down the next flight, I gripped the heavily painted steel rail & twisted my palms around it almost to the point of blistering. I'd turn, slinging myself around the rail so fast that my hair would go horizontal for a moment. It was like a figure skating routine. I was something to behold.

At the top of the last flight I hadn't heard the other people in the stairwell. The theme song from 'The Rookies' was bouncing around in my head. I was still at top speed when I saw the suits. There were three of them. I never really saw their faces, just ties & American flag lapel pins. Stopping was out of the question. It was too late. I slammed into the guy in the middle. He fell about 5 or 6 steps backward before the guy behind him was knocked into the wall & left bracing the two of them there halfway up the steps.

I didn't fall or anything. I just sort of wound down my little quickstep jog until I stopped for a moment on the step above them. So wrapped up in my little movie I hadn't really put my 'reality' brain back in yet. I didn't help either of them up. I don't know why. Maybe I was considering continuing my chase scene, but this time with me playing the role of the fleeing criminal. Instead I stood there for a second, looked down at the frightened white man I had just borderline battered & said, "Hey. You're Dave Thomas!"

He exhaled & decided not to look me in the face. As his two publicists helped him to his feet, he just kept his eyes to the floor as if to be looking for his front teeth & said, "Yeah."

They slowly started up the stairs again never looking back as though I was a gust of wind that had just peppered their eyes with sand while they were looking for a rest area sign. And without another beat I just snapped back into my rhythm for the remaining eight steps & out the steel door I went.

A few minutes later I was clear of the crime. And that's when I started thinking. I could picture him upstairs at his makeshift podium/desk. Every minute or so he'd be looking across the table at yet another pair of black socks rising just below a set of milk-white knees belonging to the umpteenth guy named 'Wilford.' Trying to write real big with this crappy needlepoint marker that some slack-ass intern had given him. Every autograph looking as if John Hancock had just been picked up by Penguin Publishing.

All the while he'd be thinking about me. Not knowing me, mind you, but pondering the incident. Did he for a moment think I had just robbed the place & had he not had his wits knocked to the floor he could have saved the day? Did he just survive a failed assassination attempt from the Long John Silver's people? Or was it just some rude jackass too caught up in the fast paced world that we all live in to pay what is now considered uncommon courtesy? He'd be thinking, "Hope he can work in some wholesome fast food time while he's out thrashing & flogging innocents."

Only then did I realize what I had just done. I had just mauled the man who brought the Frosty & the Triple With Cheese to my hometown. The man who burned a childhood dining image into my adult mind forever - the newspaper ad laminated tabletop. The man who, for a time, earned drug-dealer status among broke students when he imported into college towns all over the Mid-West the holiest of holies, the All-You-Can-Eat Super Bar.

I never apologized. I never tried to write him through his publisher; not even through the Wendy's website. Perhaps the trauma could have led to his heart surgery not long after & possibly even his death. And me, too small of a man to acknowledge & face my own mistakes. What kind of person does that make me? Not knowing has been a heavy load. I want to think I'm now a better man than that. Because what shock & injury might he have suffered? I can't now get my mind off of the pain he may have endured. It makes me somber sometimes.

Not to mention the miserable herniated bastard he fell on.


Jared Fogle

Thursday, June 24, 2004

It's OK. He doesn't know I'm talking about him.

Since I'm the new guy & don't really have experience in exposing myself in this manner (important distinction), it's probably a good idea to take my sister's advice. She said that in writing in a journal that everyone can see, it's easier if you pretend you're writing to someone specifically. I've expanded that to include imaginary people. Getting started is difficult but I think it helped. So here's my attempt in that method.

Dear Ndugu,

My dog smells like oatmeal. (Pretty good start if you ask me.)

B.B. is an overweight, oversexed, needy black lab - everything I aspire to be. His size & color go about as well with Nashville heat & humidity as those Canadians I used to see at Cedar Point in mid-August. I'd watch them, full of energy & anticipation, bound into the park over a wet paved thoroughfare already steamy at 9am. Then around 2pm I'd notice them, one by one, being ferried out on a golf-cart-ambulance with heat stroke, singing 'I Feel Pretty.' Sometimes I could hear myself sarcastically whisper, "Amateur." But I'd always be happy to know that's one less person somewhere ahead of me in line for the Demon-Drop.

So to prevent the sun from cooking B.B.'s brain, I've been bathing him more often. And doing so with oatmeal shampoo. But if it's rained sometime in the last week & he's been outside, he just smells like a wet dog that's had a better breakfast than me. And that's a disturbing smell. I'd say it's immeasurably worse than just 'wet-dog.' It's distracting. It's the kind of pungency that could make you forget your own social security number. So genius here decides to bathe him more & more often thinking, "Volume, baby. Volume! Maybe some ammonia..."

No help.

Well B.B. has been walking me in the park more frequently lately. Many times he finds a way into the creeks & ditches & just lies down. Up to his neck in water, he'd be quite happy to remain there until a Milkbone truck goes by. This also sets off the smell. But when he does this there's something I've been noticing. Despite his oatmeal/hippo-house odor, he's got this spooky ability to attract beautiful women. They're mesmerized by him. They say things like, "Isn't he the most darling thing?" And, "Look, he knows we're talking about him." And, "You love being scratched there, don't ya boy? Hey, put that away. Nobody wants to see that."

He's got it made. And, by proxy, so do I. I swear to you, I could be walking him in July wearing moon-boots & a Jim Jones sweatshirt & they'd still want to talk to me & rub his belly. Therefore, I've decided that I won't be trading him in on a newer model this year. His tenure has been granted, you could say. And not only to offset the aroma but also to emulate his appeal, I've changed out all the bottles of Suave on my shower-shelf with Gee-Your-Hair-Smells-Like-Grits.

Hope you are well.


Max Von Poteet

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Is that door unlocked?

Not sure what my brain might do with this power so let's all keep our heads. OK?