The Clash Files
"I Wish I Were Dead"
This webpage is dedicated to the memory of Larry Trask, who, on Saturday, July 6, 2002, was eaten by either large bears, or by medium-large bears. I really wish we could get some authoritative answer as to whether the bears were of large or medium-large size, but I'm starting to lose hope.
| February, 2002 | January, 2002 | | December, 2001 |
Author's Note: While most of these accounts are drawn from my actual life, this is by no means a work of non-fiction. Fact is intermingled with falsehood, events are taken out of context, embellished, expanded upon or, in numerous cases, created out of whole cloth. I'm not saying my life isn't this pathetic, I'm just saying I made a lot of this stuff up.
Wednesday, July 3, 2002Okay, I didn't go camping yesterday. Coco, who stopped by to jam for a bit yesterday afternoon, has some business to take care of in Arcata today, so we're going to go after that. We'll probably leave here around 5:00 pm. I'll be touring the "Avenue of the Giants" before we head to Trinity River National Park. The giants in question are California redwoods. Those big trees. They are quite spectacular, I do admit. If you've ever seen that picture of a tree that you can drive through, that's along the Avenue of the Giants (on "Drive Through Tree Lane," in fact).
Tuesday, July 2, 2002I'm going to be incommunicado for the next couple of days. Coco and I are going camping in the Trinity River National Park (Cathy's off visiting her sister in Seattle). It should be a lot of fun, but basically I only want to hang out in my house so I'm not particularly looking forward to it. I'm sure I'll like it once I'm there.
Monday, July 1, 2002I played the video game, "Grand Theft Auto III" pretty much non-stop from noon until 4:30 am.
Sunday, June 30, 2002Busy, busy morning. First, I had to get rid of some (well, a lot of) recycling. They don't have curb-side pickup for recycling here in Arcata*, and my raging alcoholism produces plenty of recycling (cans and bottles and so forth). So I had a problem to deal with and this was the morning on which to deal with it. (Oh, BTW, my throat-lump is still there, but I seem to have a bit more energy today.)
I also had to drop off my rent check, which was a bit more of a problem than you might think because I forgot my landlord's address, and she's not in the book. I was only at her house once and I didn't exactly remember where it was, but I remember what the house looks like and I had a vague feeling it was near the recycling center, so I wrote out a check and stuck it in my backpack, figuring I'd find the place eventually.
In truly uncharacteristic fashion, it's sunny this morning. Now, normally, you can expect to see the sun between 3:10 and 3:15 most days, but it's overcast and cold at all other times during the day. Not so today, though, and thus my walk to the recycling center was very enjoyable. And, as serendipity would have it, my landlord's house was indeed near the recycling center -- two blocks away -- and I was able to find it after wandering around for only about fifteen minutes. Not too shabby!
Next stop: Wildberries Marketplace. I bought some raisins, four plums, five nectarines and a 1.5-liter bottle of red wine. (Cloë was nowhere to be seen.) I have to say that, while housing costs are *way* lower here in Arcata than they were in the Bay Area, that's about it. Groceries cost just as much, restaurants seem to be priced about the same, electricity's not any cheaper nor is water or gas. Gasoline ("petrol" to you Brits) costs about the same as it does in the Bay Area. That's nothing to me, but still, isn't that odd? So, yeah, it's a bit cheaper to live up here but only because housing costs are lower.
At this point in my life, I don't need much. I have basically everything I need as far as material goods are concerned. I've got my pots and pans and cooking accoutrements, and I'm good on musical equipment. My wardrobe is somewhat basic, but I have all the clothes I really need. And I'm good on furniture ("No matter what else happens, I've got that sofa problem handled." -- Fight Club). If you gave me $1,000 and set me loose in a mall, I wouldn't know what to buy. And I don't have a car, so I don't have to worry about payments, gasoline, insurance, maintenance -- all those car expenses. Basically, I just need shelter and food (and electricity and water and so forth). It costs me -- as near as I've be able to determine in the few months I've lived here -- about $800/mo for those things. Add to that another $200 for miscellaneous items (deodorant, alcohol, books, credit card payment, records, etc.), and I've got a churn rate of about a thou/mo, minimum. That's not a whole lot of money, all things considered.
But, still, let's say I get a job working as a clerk in a retail bookstore and they're paying me minimum wage (which is about what such a position would pay here in Humboldt). I work a regular 40 hour week so that's (5.15 x 40 = 206) per week, $824 per month, gross. Subtract one third for taxes and I'm left with $576 and change at the end of the month. That's not going to work for me; I'm not going to be able to even come close to my minimum of $1k/mo (which I still say is a pretty tight budget. I mean, most people spend much more than $1,000/month for total living expenses including rent, food and bills and everything, especially here in Cali). It used to be the case, not too long ago, that a single person with modest needs could get by just fine working at a book store, or pumping gas, or waiting tables, or being the produce guy at the local grocery store. I don't think you can anymore.
Anyway, when I finally got back home, it was nearly 11:00 am, and I was feeling a tad thirsty. Since I had the bottle of wine and all, I thought I'd have a glass or two. But listen to this: Because it's so sunny and warm today, I've got the blinds up (as I usually do during the day) and my windows open. Of course, I don't want the neighbors to see me drinking wine at this hour of the day, so I went into the bedroom (where the blinds are down) and poured the vino into a coffee cup, and that's how I've been drinking it.
First of all, drinking wine this early and at the first opportunity is obviously not so good, but hiding in the bedroom and drinking out of a coffee cup is really sad. These are, of course, the behavior patterns of an alcoholic, which I freely admit I am, but for some reason I think it's okay to do these things if *I'm* the one doing them. If you described this behavior to me and attributed it to a friend of yours, I'd be like, "man, that guy has some serious problems". But if it's me, I think, "well, you just have to know me. Sure it seems bad on paper, but, you know, it's me". Anyone see anything wrong here?
Well, I didn't get much else done today. I cleaned my bedroom, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed (finally!) and did some dishes. And I read a lot of Clandestine, by James Ellroy. If any of you like hardboiled detective fiction, I *strongly* encourage you to pick up any of Mr. Ellroy's fine books. The Black Dalia is where I'd start, but any of his volumes will be enjoyable. He is really a masterful writer, and a genius at plot development. Though he stays in the police/crime genre, his writing really transcends that narrow category. I'd call him one of the best writers working today. "James Ellroy is one of the best writers working today," -- Clash. I won't say he's in the Dashiell Hammett realm, but he's close. (BTW, isn't "Dashiell Hammett" a great name? If I had a name like that, instead of the horrible "Larry", I think things would have gone quite differently for me.)
Okay, I've got this wine to finish, so I won't take up any more of your time. Enjoy your Sunday.
*Lately, I've been getting the feeling that I'm repeating news I've already discussed here. That could be true, or it could be just an inaccurate feeling; I'm certainly not going to go back and look at past entries to determine which. So, sorry if I'm repeating myself.
Saturday, June 29, 2002I had an ambitious schedule for today. I wanted to do the dishes and tidy up a bit around the house (it's been more than a week since I vacuumed!), start writing a screenplay, get in some solid piano practice, finish up "A Distant Mirror," go down to the Plaza to the farmer's market and pick up some fresh vegetables, cook something good for dinner, meet some friends and start laying the groundwork for my next relationship.
I did none of those things. Here's what I did do: lay on the couch reading, or rather, re-reading a P.J. O'Rourke book from noon (when I woke up) until 7:30 (when I went to go buy a bottle of red wine). That's pretty sad, but I felt I had no choice. First of all, once again I had no energy at all today. Something is wrong with me, I don't know what. I mean, I was never a ball of enriched plutonium or anything, but lately, I'm just completely drained from the moment I wake up and for the rest of the day (and I got plenty of sleep last night). That's not right.
Second of all, that lump in my throat did not go away over night (though it doesn't seem to be significantly worse), and that has been bothering me all day. I still figure it's because I injured it slightly yesterday, so I've been trying to take it easy on my throat all day by not swallowing more than I absolutely have to. Have you ever tried this? It's like that "don't think about elephants" thing. If you try not to swallow, the only thing you CAN do is swallow.
Hey, does anyone know where spit comes from? I mean, do we manufacture internally? Obviously, it's mostly water, but is it just made from the water we take in, or does our body somehow combine hydrogen and oxygen, cold fusion or something? Probably it's the former, but that would be rather cool if it were the latter. The body is an amazing machine, folks, don't kid yourselves.
At night I watched "Taxi Driver". Let me give you some advice: If you're ever feeling somewhat "blue", feeling alienated from the rest of the world, out of sorts, not in step, and a little bit like maybe you're losing it? Do NOT watch "Taxi Driver". It's not going to make you feel better. It's going to make you feel worse.
So, yeah, that's it. Couch time, all day. There's nothing wrong with just sitting back and watching as your life slips away, right?
Friday, June 28, 2002I picked up my prescription at Long's today with no hassle from the insurance company, in a bit of unexpected happiness. Don't get the idea that it's all good with Pacificare, though. I still hate them. I'll be leaving their ranks in a couple of days because my UC health insurance runs out at the end of June and I couldn't be happier. I'll have no health insurance! Aside from childhood illnesses, I've basically never been sick a day in my life, save for colds. Now that I don't have health insurance, though, I think we can all expect a case of colon cancer to set in fairly soon.
Speaking of cancer, I've had an annoying lump in my throat since about 1:00 this afternoon. When I was having my cheese and bread for lunch, I thought I had some cheese (or bread) stuck in my throat, so I spent about five minutes violently trying to clear my throat (which I was never able to do satisfactorily), and I think I injured it then. Either that, or it's throat cancer.
And that's pretty much it for today. I didn't play very much piano, didn't play guitar, didn't clean the dishes...didn't do anything except fuss about my throat and watch "Fight Club". That's a decent movie, if you ever get the chance to see it.
Thursday, June 27, 2002Not too much happened today. Is this getting boring? Or monotonous? Because I'd hate to get boring or monotonous.
I went down to Long's Drug to try to get my last insurance-covered prescription of Wellbutrin. According to official documents I received from Cal, I'm covered until the end of this month. My prescription should be ready by tomorrow according to Judy, the Long's prescription person. If I know Pacificare (my insurance carrier), though (and I do), they will find some reason why I'm not eligible. I hate them.
Oh, I got rid of the table today! Good deal. "Ruth" came to pick it up. She's just moved here from North Carolina to go to grad school at HSU, which is a bit odd, because HSU only has three or four graduate programs. There's some legislative mandate that says that only UC schools can have grad programs, not Cal State schools (though they can have a grad programs in education and also any discipline for which UC does not offer a graduate degree). Anyway, she took the table off my hands, which is great. I could tell she kind of wanted me. I played it cool, though. I expect her to call within the next few days to say how much she likes the table and to invite me out for drinks as a thank-you. I'll keep you posted.
I'm really good at singing "Eisler on the Go," by Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg. I figured out how to play it on piano, and I sing along with the record when I play. Most songs I can't sing very well, but this one I'm right on it. I guess it's in my natural register.
I'm getting skinny as a mofo. A couple of years ago, Peggy bought me these size 32 black jeans, but they were too tight for me to wear. They were too tight when she bought them, and then I put on another 15 pounds and I couldn't even get them all the way up. Well, yesterday I was walking around in size 33 bluejeans, and they were almost falling off me. So this morning, on a whim, I tried on the black jeans and they fit perfectly. Size 32. That's the size I wore in high school. (I actually wore these jeans to work one day before I left. I wasn't as skinny then as I am now and the jeans were still a little too tight. I didn't realize exactly how tight they were until I was on the bus, by which time it was too late to turn back. I ended up walking around all day at work looking like a 70s guy.)
I went back to Wildberries Marketplace today to buy some more beer and to see my friend Cloë. I think she remembered me from yesterday. I got the feeling while I was standing in line that she sort of wanted me, but I didn't make any moves. I'll just let this one come to me.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002Things are really slowing down around here. I had to get up at 7:30 am again, because the carpet guys had some more work to do, which, combined with yesterday's excessive drinking, put me on the couch for most of the day. I made good use of my time, you'll be happy to hear, by reading more of the LSD book (I'm almost finished).
If there are any ex-hippies out there, please answer this: WHY DIDN'T YOU GUYS KEEP GOING? You had a nice little political and social revolution started, but then all that somehow turned into the 80s. Jerry Rubin went to Wall Street, fer crissakes. I don't even want to talk to you. Just stay out of my sight for the next couple of weeks until I've had a chance to cool down. (Though if you any spare acid, please send some to me: 914 18th Street, Apartment A, Arcata, CA 95521. Thanks!)
I also made an ad for a table I'm giving away. My friends Coco and Cathy were going to take it -- did I mention this? -- so I held it for them, but then they decided they didn't want it. After finishing the ad, I walked "downtown" to post it in some coffee places and bookstores and such. On my way back, I stopped by Wildberries Marketplace (god I hate that. "Marketplace". Jesus!), because they have a "community bulletin board (please check with office before posting)". I chose to forego the office-checking and just tacked it up there (covering an ad for Herbalife products, which I considered a community service).
As long as I was in the Marketplace, I decided to spend some money on groceries, so I got some plums, some brown rice, some tahini, some lentils, and some beer. A very cute girl (Cloë) put my purchases in a bag for me, commenting on how tasty the beer looked. That, right there, was the highlight of my day. I'm sorry folks, but, in case you haven't noticed, I don't really have a lot going on in my life these days, so a few random comments from a cute girl is a big deal to me. I hope that's not too "boring" or "monotonous" for you.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002Slow news day. I got up at 7:30 am to let the carpet guys in, I finished the web work I was doing (except for one page) ( http://www.larrytrask.com/) and I consumed twelve cans of Olympia beer.
Monday, June 24, 2002I'm adding Adobe GoLive 5.0 to my enemies list. Jesus fucking christ this program sucks.
Ok, with that out of the way, let's get to it.
I did nothing today. I got up early and worked on the new website from about 9:30 am until just before 3:00 am. That's a lot of work. Too bad MOST OF WHAT I DID CAN'T BE USED. I had to scrap seven or eight hours of work because, if you use their handy "layout grid", the code that (Won't)GoLive produces is unreadable by the four browsers on which I tested it. I had to rebuild about eight pages from scratch, this time without the fucking layout grid. Arrrrgggh.
And that's it.
Sunday, June 23, 2002Finally we got some sunshine up here. When it's sunny out, the weather here in Humboldt is very pleasant. Not as good as the Bay Area, I have to say, but perfectly acceptable. However, on many days, the sun never comes out. It stays overcast and cold all day. And on those days, it's pretty much just Arcata that's overcast, because if you go one range of hills to the East, it will be sunny and warm. The average temperature in Arcata during the summer is around 63. Twenty miles to the East, the average temperature is in the high 80s, and, I'm told, on many days in August and September, it gets into the 100s. California is weird that way.
I tooled around town quite a bit this afternoon, checking it out and taking pictures. I splurged on a double latte down town and sat in the Plaza to drink it. Some Xer kids wanted to sell me "buds", but I didn't buy any (I'm good for the moment). I understand that buying weed in the Plaza is foolish, because Johnny Law keeps an eye on things. There's a park over on the other side of the highway that's supposed to be much better and safer. I hope I'll never have to resort to street buying again, but it's nice to know it's there if I get desperate.
Saturday, June 22, 2002Another low-energy day. I read some more of the acid book and made a salad. Then I spent like nine hours trying to put together a whole new larrytrask.com (coming soon!). If any of you are thinking about buying some WYSIWYG web development software, let me give you a word of advice: do NOT buy Adobe GoLive. I stole this program from work, which is a good thing, because I'd have to go on a violent rampage if I had spent so much as a penny for it. Let me see if I can sum it up: GoLive is the worst product, of any kind, that it has ever been my misfortune to know.
Friday, June 21, 2002Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. And that's about it for today. I've been feeling a little morose lately, and also I had zero energy (I don't know why I'm always so fatigued these days. I'm getting plenty of sleep and not drinking too much, but about three days out of seven I have no energy, I feel weak and I can't get enthused about anything).
So I mostly laid on the couch and read a book about the history of LSD. It's very fascinating. Most of the major points I knew already, but I picked up many details. Here's my theory: cultural trends developed in the mid-50s to early-60s that set the stage for everything that came after. I mean there was a dividing line somewhere in the mid-50s where you can say, "everything earlier than this belongs to the past and everthing after this belongs to the future". Here in the 21st Century, we're still very much a product of what happened back then. You had the generational conflicts, and the counter-culture, the anti-government protests (and more generally, a loss of faith in the righteousness of the US), the seeds for all of which were sown in the late-50s to early-60s. Obviously, no one individual is responsible for all the changes. But still, you have to take a close look at Keasey if you absolutely *have* to narrow it down to one individual. He was the bridge between the Beats and the hippies (along with Ginsburg and, I guess, Cassidy), for one thing. And you can look at the Pranksters as proto-hippies (and later, of course, just plain hippies). It was the Pranksters who first used day-glow body paints and psychedelic design (look how they painted Furthur), and a bunch of other things that became hippie-norm. They took the anti-conformist sentiments originating from the Beats and added mirth and outrageousness (coming from the acid and -- I belive this -- the general spirit of the Bay Area). I mean, the Diggers? C'mon!
Anyway, I'm sure I'm romanticizing it, but that period of time really stirs my imagination. I was alive then, but just barely. Except for the fact that I'd now be either dead or really old, I wish I were 18 years old in 1962 and living in the Bay Area. I'd definitely be on the bus.
Thursday, June 20, 2002Another busy day! I got up early and, after just one cup of coffee, I was out the door on the way to the laundromat. Oh the indignity. And these laundries are so expensive nowadays. It cost me $2.00 for a wash and then $0.35 for each ten minutes of dryer. That's too much to have to pay to for the privilege of doing laundry. The attendant girl was pretty cute, so it wasn't all bad.
The laundry took pretty much all afternoon. I putzed around for a few hours and then called my friend Carol in LA. She says another friend of mine in LA (Monica) will give me a bunch of frequent flyer miles so I can fly down to LA for a visit for free! Pretty sweet deal, eh? I'd love to see all those folks ... Carol, Monica, Teresa, Sam, Rosemary. I've know Carol since 10th grade and those other people for like 15 years.
We'll see if the LA run works out, but that's pretty nice of them to do for me.
After that I just Photoshopped for a couple of hours, drank some Olympia beers, screwed around and went to bed.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002Today was a day of rest after yesterday's work-a-thon. We had a delicious country breakfast and a bone of Humboldt's finest. Coco and I played guitars for a bit, and then I took a lot of pictures. I played with their cats for about a half an hour, and then it was time to head back. Coco had to go into Arcata for a dentist appointment and I was catching a ride back with him.
We stopped along the way for a number of errands and then arrived back here. We had a beer and "jammed" (me on piano, Coco on electric guitar) at my place, and then Coco left.
I didn't do too much after that. Hung around and crashed pretty early.
Tuesday, June 18, 2002
This was a long, action-packed day. But, because I'm writing this entry several days after the fact and I still have a few days yet to cover, I'm going to be brief.
Monday, June 17, 2002Got up early is and cooked some black beans, which, after they were done, I divided into three containers and put in the freezer. I'll have those bad boys waiting for me whenever I want!
At 1:30 or so, Cathy came by to pick me up. We ran a few errands in town and then headed out to their place, which they call "the Grateful Acre", because they are Grateful Dead fans. Cathy's not the best driver in the world, so the 1.5 hour drive from their house to mine was somewhat harrowing, but we managed to survive.
This place is just so beautiful and peaceful. I love going out there.
I hung out for a while, had some dinner, and then headed off to bed at 9:30 pm! It's definitely early to bed, early to rise on the farm.
Sunday, June 16, 2002
I played a little piano, cooked some rice and beans and watched "Grosse Pointe Blank", with John Cusak. If you get a chance, check this movie out. It's great. Also, it's one of the four or five movies with Dan Akroyd that isn't just humiliatingly bad. He's good this time around, so it's worth for the novelty value alone. Plus Minnie Driver is quite appealing.
I'm going out to Coco and Cathy's farm tomorrow. I'll stay there tomorrow night and then again Tuesday night, returning here on Wednesday. It's very peaceful out there (they live in the hills above Ferndale), what with the sheep and cows and such. I'm going to help Coco with farming chores! That will be fun.
Saturday, June 15, 2002I caught up on my sleep last night, that's one thing I can say. I went to bed at about 1:00 am and did not get up this morning until 2:00 pm. That's a lot of sleep, but I felt pretty good when I woke up, not sluggish as you might expect.
Today was the big Oyster Festival here in Arcata. I wandered down to the town square during the afternoon to check out the oyster-related festivities. And festive it was! I swear, wherever you go in this country, these outdoor festivals all look the same, no matter their thematic purpose. You've got your food stands selling grilled meat on a stick; your various beer sellers (and lots of people walking around with plastic wrist bands); the overbearing "security" people, big guys hired off the street to keep people from walking beyond the chain-link fence with beers; homeless people working the crowd for change; one of those big blow-up jumpy things for the kids; and empty plastic cups everywhere.
I milled around for a while, but I only saw one oyster-related thing there, which was a stand selling roasted oysters (I did not partake). They also had a local band, who weren't really all that great, but I was very interested to see all their equipment and how they had it set up. I've only set up two music shows in my life, so I'm always curious.
I am pleased to say that I did notice a few pretty girls in the crowd. It's nothing like being in the gym at Berkeley or anything, but sill, I was happy to see that. Of course, the best looking of them were HSU students who probably aren't sophisticated enough to realize that what they really want is an older gentleman. One who understands what a woman really needs, not these fake bohos who populate the campus. Oh well, one of them is bound to figure it out sooner or later. I'll be here.
After about 45 minutes, I was pretty much done with the Arcata Oyster Festival, so I strolled around town for a bit (nice day!) and stopped by the locally-owned grocery store on my way home. I needed to pick up some beer. I am very sorry to say that the beer isn't any cheaper up here than it was in Oaktown. The microbrews still go for about $7.00/sixer. I did find a bargain, though: 12-packs of Olympia were on special for $6.00, including tax. That's $0.50 per beer! Nothing wrong with that (other than the taste of the beer, of course, but you can't have everything).
And that's pretty much it. I watched a cute girl (student) move into the apartment across the street from me, and then played piano and drank somewhat unsatisfying beer for the rest of the night.
Friday, June 14, 2002Another low-activity day. I think I might be ill. I don't have any cold symptoms or anything (and colds are pretty much the only illnesses I ever have, and I only have those about twice a year) but, yesterday and today, I've had zero energy and some vague feeling that something is a little off. I dunno.
I have this odd phenomenological sensation that I get from time to time (remind me to describe it in more detail, because it is very weird). It only lasts for a few seconds (less than ten) but it's *very* unsettling. Whenever I get it, it always takes me a couple of days to fully recover from it, and I had it yesterday. I don't really think that's what's behind my feeling off, but it could be.
So, yeah, I didn't get much done. I reread the music theory book and played piano for about five hours, and did various other things the rest of the time. I did not make it out of the house even once today, which was okay when I did that in Oakland, but it's really not okay here. Well, because I'm ill or descending into madness or whatever, I guess it's okay for today. But tomorrow? There will be no more of this indolence.
Thursday, June 13, 2002I stayed up a bit late last night playing piano and drinking screwdrivers. So late, in fact, that I did not stir this morning until this afternoon.
Not much happened after that. Except for two food breaks (a homemade burrito for breakfast, which was delicious and some salad for dinner, also good), I did nothing but lay on the couch and read a music theory book.
Not the most productive day, but, considering (a) I was debilitated by my activities of last night, (b) it was overcast and cold today, so not a good day to be out and about, and (c) I have no job or other responsibilities, I think I can afford to spend on day on the couch. Tomorrow, though, it's Up And At Them.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002I actually don't have very much to report today. I woke up late and mostly just hung around my fabulous apartment, learning how to play "Lake Charles" (Lucinda Williams) on the piano. I already knew how to play it on guitar, so figuring out a (simple) piano accompaniment was relatively easy.
Tuesday, June 11, 2002I finally returned the rent-a-car today. The first stop was the recycling center, where I disposed of my remaining moving boxes (for which, you'll remember, I paid $300. I'm going to stop going on and on about this soon, but I'm still freaking pissed at how much this move cost me). They wouldn't take the styrofoam (of which I had tons), so I had to find an unguarded commercial dumpster to illegally dispose of that. The dumpster I finally found was located a block away from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which was nice.
I returned the rental car (another fucking $275 added to the debt!) and strolled leisurely through town, stopping at a music store to buy some cables and adapters. Remind me, some day, to tell you how unbelievably fabulous my audio set-up is in the new place. I've got all the music creating equipment (piano, guitars, effects, recorder, etc.) connected to my monitors via the mixer, of course, but I've also got the computer going into the mixer, and the mixer output connected to the aux input on my home stereo. It's a beautiful thing, believe me.
One I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the fabulous audio system, smoking some of the finest marijuana on this beautiful planet, and basically digging life. Please, god, let this current state of affairs never end (except send a hot babe over).
Monday, June 10, 2002I didn't do too much work around the old apartment today, but I did some. I was hoping I'd be able to drop off my ton of recycling this morning and then return the rental car, but, as it turns out, the Arcata recycling center is closed on Mondays. Because I have the car almost totally loaded down with cut-up boxes, newspaper, bottles, and styrofoam, I couldn't really return the car today. I'll take care of it tomorrow, though, don't worry.
I've been out of pot for a couple of weeks now, which is a situation I like to avoid if I can. As luck would have it, my pals Cathy and Coco drove in from near Ferndale, which is about an hour and a half southeast of here. They wanted to see my place and check me out, but they also needed -- a happy coincidence -- to buy some weed. "Can I get in on that," I said. Yes. That was not a problem.
We walked over to Coco's pal's place, which, small world, happens to be about 300 yards from my place, so that's convenient. As soon as we walked into "John's" (not his real name) apartment, the scent of skunky weed was all over you. I've walked into plenty of rooms where people were smoking pot, but this was nothing like any of those times. The skunk smell hit you like a wall the second you entered the place, and enveloped you wherever you were in the apartment.
John was a cool guy. An old hippie from Georgia, he spoke with a bit of a twang and was a good guy. He told a funny story about how -- a month ago -- his landlord told him they were going to do an inspection in the apartment, in preparation for the sale of the building. This was a cause of great concern for John and, at first, I thought it was because the place was such a mess. And it was, I'm telling you. Nothing gross or anything, but there was just STUFF everywhere. Boxes, boardgames, thousands of pirated video games, long dead houseplants, bits and pieces of about five computers and just tons and tons of stuff everywhere you looked. But, as I learned, that wasn't the problem.
No, the problem was that John had converted one of the apartment's two bedrooms into a grow room. (OHHHHH! That's why the place smelled so much like pot.) He had to dismantle the whole thing, which, I gather, is a huge pain and plus the plants don't like it. But he did it, and the inspection went forward without a hitch, and he put everything back together again. But then the landlord called him last Tuesday to say they needed to do ANOTHER inspection, which made John both pissed and scared. Pissed, because he had to dismantle everything again, and scared because, why were they doing a second inspection? Did they notice somthing the first time around that they want the cops to check out???
As it turns out, no they didn't. There was nothing really mysterious about the second inspection. They just looked at the water heater and the washer/dryer, and left. That was it. Good story, but it took him like thirty minutes to tell, all the while he was measuring out two half-ounces of "train wreck" (one for me and one for Coco) and two half-ounces of "white widow" (one for me and one for Coco). This was all negotiated matter-of-factly, because, of course, no one would ever buy a whole ounce of the same kind of weed. They (Coco and John) were discussing the qualities of the various kinds of weed available like people in Napa discuss cabernets ("It tasted exactly like what we had at Red Rocks that one time, remember? It was really fruity going in and tasted like pine on the exhale? It felt like a sativa, too. I don't think it was, but it totally felt like a sativa." -- John). It was fascinating, but the whole transaction took more than an hour. Not that I had anything else to do, but I was getting a bit antsy.
On my way out, John said to me, "just give me a call when you want some more". AWESOME!!!! I now have a dealer, located less than a minute away from my house, who specializes in locally-produced killer weed. NICE!
Now, this product costs a bit more than what I had been getting. When I was in Oakland, I had a connection who could (and did) provide compressed Mex for what to me was an amazingly low price ($65/oz). This pot did the job, no complaints, but it was not exactly connoisseur quality. The weed I bought today cost just a bit more than that: $300/oz. It was really hard to give up that $300, knowing that $300 buys me about three weeks more of job-free living. But I was out of pot so what was I going to do?
Coco and Cathy came back to my place and hung out for a while over some coffee. If I haven't said this before, let me say it now: Coco and Cathy are two of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met. Anyway, we had a couple of cups of coffee and then a few bong hits of our new acquisition.
OH MY FUCKING GOD. Everything you've heard about Humboldt weed is, I'm telling you right now, true! With the Mex, I usually took 10-15 hits to get stoned. Humboldt weed? Three hits. That's right, THREE! And it was a nice, energetic mind buzz, not the heavy stoning you get from Mex. $300/oz is a bit much to pay on a regular basis, but god damn. Also, I feel good knowing that it comes from a local producer and is 100% organic.
So far? I am pretty much loving Humboldt County.
Sunday, June 9, 2002Another fabulous day. Worked on the apartment non-stop from 10:00 am to 2:30 am (and that's almost literally true. I stopped to pee from time to time but, other than that, I pretty much was working the whole time). Things are starting to take shape pretty nicely.
That's all I have to report, except to say that I'm starting to really come around as far as Arcata is concerned. I don't want to leap to any conclusions, but, so far, this little town seems excellent. It's a good size (no crowds, no congestion, no lines, plenty of parking), it appears to have a liberal, anti-corporate attitude (if a town can have an attitude, that is. There are hardly any chain stores or chain restaurants, for example. Most everything is small and locally-owned), the people are very friendly, and, because of the college, there are cultural and intellectual opportunities here you don't find in most towns this size (it's nothing compared to Berkeley in this regard, of course, but few places are). Oh, also, there are lots of original (and modern-day) hippies, which I like a lot!
I'm also enjoying the fact that I don't have a job at the moment, and, unless something goes drastically wrong, I won't have one until August. Well, I'm almost enjoying that fact. I can't fully enjoy it because, everything I start thinking, "hey, I don't have to go to work today! This ROCKS!", I also think, "yeah, but at some point, I *am* going to have to go to work. And it will be all the worse because, by then, I'll be totally used to NOT having to work". So you can see how I torture myself. However, I realize that I should be really happy about all this, and that's enough for me.
Saturday, June 8, 2002Today was basically the same as yesterday. I set up all my musical equipment, but I'm not sure about the arrangement, so I may have to do it again. The thing is, I want to be able to look out into the room (and, through the windows, out into the world) while I'm sitting at the piano. So that means that I can't have the piano up against and facing a wall. And that, in turn, means that I can't have the speakers (or "monitors" as we professionals call them) up against a wall, because I want them facing me as I sit at the piano. This results in the monitors (which are on pole stands) being right in the middle of the room, which takes up a lot of space and also presents a possible hazard, because the monitor/stand combination is rather top heavy, and you don't have to bump into them too hard before they crash to the floor or, worse, onto the piano.
So I've got to figure something out there. I wish I had thought about this problem before I spent three hours connecting all the equipment together and carefully gaffing down all the lines. I've got some time on my hands, though, and I do like this work, so it's all good.
Friday, June 7, 2002My life has become a human-scale slider puzzle game. Let's say I want to work on the kitchen, right? So I take everything that's in the kitchen -- all the boxes, chairs, tables, digital pianos, everything -- and move that into the living room. Then I unload the kitchen boxes and get that squared away. Now it's time to work on the living room, so I take everything I just moved into the living room and move it back into the kitchen, so I'll have some space to work. And so on for every room in the house. There are some boxes and pieces of furniture that I have no idea where they're going to go, which I have moved to different locations dozens of times.
Anyway, I spent the day just doing that from about 8:30 am until 10:00 pm, working pretty much non-stop. I still have a long way to go, but this is very enjoyable work.
Thursday, June 6, 2002I got up early today, because I had a lot to do. First thing was to load my hotel gear (computer, monitor, guitar, suitcase, empty alcohol bottles) into the truck and then make a quick stop at my new house to unload. Then off to the Penske place to return the truck. The guy there, Sean, was such a pleasure to deal with. He even knocked off one full day of late charges when I explained to him why and how much I hate U-Haul.
I walked back to my apartment, called a cab, and then started arranging things. Once the cab came, I was off to the M6 to check out and get the rental car, and then back to the place to get things squared away there. A fun day!
Wednesday, June 5, 2002I was feeling pretty confident this morning about the apartment on 18th Street. So confident, in fact, that I figured I wouldn't call Doņa (the landlady) right away. I thought I'd give her some time to get settled in to the day, which is also what I wanted to do. I had a leisurely (and delicious) breakfast at Marsha's, bought some batteries for my new digital camera, and generally kicked it.
Finally, at 1:00 pm, I thought the time had come to give Doņa a call. Actually, I was a little surprised that she hadn't called me. I thought she was going to speak to my former landlady, get a positive report, and then ring me right up to give me the good news. Oh well, she's probably busy. I'll just call her. Here's how the conversation went:
LT: Hi Doņa. This is Larry Trask. I came to your house yesterday to fill out an application for the apartment on 18th Street? I was just wondering if you were able to get in touch with my former landlord, for a recommendation.
Doņa: Who is this?
LT: Larry Trask. I came to your house yesterday? I met your daughter-in-law?
D: What apartment you want?
LT: The one on 18th Street. Unit A.
D: I already rent.
D: I already rent.
LT: You already rented the apartment? It's no longer available?
D: I already rent.
LT: Oh no, I'm *really* sorry to hear that. I thought, after our discussions yesterday, that it was only a matter of your getting a positive recommendation from my former landlord.
D: A couple came this morning to my house and they rent.
LT: Wow, well, that's really bad news. I'm very disappointed.
D: I have that apartment on the market for more than a month. That one and three others and then, today, they all rent. Crazy!
LT: Yeah, that's weird stuff. Well, I don't know what to say. I'm desperate to rent an apartment. With my stuff in the truck and the rent-a-car and the motel and all, it's costing me about $200 every day that I don't have an apartment. I didn't even look this morning because I was so sure we had a deal.
D: You want phone number for my friend? He has some apartments, I think they are vacant.
LT: Well, I guess so. Boy, this is really discouraging news.
D: They all rent this morning! Crazy! A couple come to my house and they rent!
D: Ok, my friend is Moe Green. His number is [Mr. Green's telephone number]. I don't know. I think he has some apartments.
LT: Ok. All right, well, thanks, I guess. So are you going to just rip up that check I wrote you?
LT: When I came to your house yesterday, when I filled out the rental application, I wrote you a check for $100. I thought that was to hold the place while you checked my references, but I guess not. You're going to just rip that up, right?
D: Who is this?
LT: Larry Trask. Do you remember me? I looked at the unit with you in the morning, and then I came to your house yesterday at 3:00 and filled out the rental application. I met your daughter-in-law? Remember? The nice young man?
LT: Yes, Larry Trask.
D: Wait one minute.
[two minutes elapse, during which I hear papers shuffling and muffled conversations]
D: You are Larry Trask?
LT: Yes. I am Larry Trask.
D: Oh, hahahahaha. I thought you are somebody else. You are Larry, hahahahahaha. So, you want rent apartment?
LT: Yes, very much so. Very much so indeed, yes I do.
D: You can come here at 1:30 to pay deposit and sign lease?
LT: You bet. I will definitely be there at 1:30 with my check book.
D: You are Larry. Hahahahaha. I thought you were the other gentleman. Okay, you come here at 1:30, okay?
LT: Yes, that is very okay. I'll come there at 1:30 with my check book.
D: Ok, good bye.
LT: Good bye [click]
So that was a little scary, but it worked out in the end. I went over to Doņa's, paid the deposit, signed the lease and -- just like that -- I had an apartment. I went back to the M6, drove the truck over to my new pad and unloaded all my stuff. Remember how it took me two days to load the truck up and it seemed like it would never end? Well, it took me about 45 minutes to unload the truck! Of course, I just put things anywhere they would fit with only a little thought as to logical placement, so that made it easier. Let me tell you, it was very satisfying as I was gazing into an empty 17' truck! I'm also very proud because I moved entirely by my self. Except for the next-door painter guy helping me with the mattress for about 20 feet back in Oakland, not one single person assisted me with this move. I am a very strong man.
I went back to the M6 for my last night at that lovely establishment. What a nice feeling.
Tuesday, June 4, 2002What a difference a day makes. I'm still at the beautiful Motel 6 in Arcata, but I really feel like tomorrow, I'll have a place. I had two very encouraging discussions with potential landlords, and things are looking good.
I'd like to mention at this point, that I have wonderful, fantastic, beautiful friends. In my hour of need, my friends rallied around me, offering all kinds of help, one of whom went to great efforts (and potentially great financial risk) to help me out. If this situation has been demoralizing on many levels (and it has), at least I come away from it with a renewed appreciation for my good friends. I love you guys (in a non-sexual way).
This was a very busy day. I got up at 8:30, took a quick shower, and was on the road, checking out apartments. The first one on the list sounded very promising: "dplx w/xtra loft room. New, spotless, skylight, many windows, quiet area. Private yd, garden. $615/mo, inclu. most utilities". Sweet, right? Except the address the landlord gave me (1437 Spear Avenue, Unit A) was not an apartment. I'm not an idiot, okay, so I can look at a street address and a map (and the physical world) and usually find a place. But, at 9:07 am, I was standing in front of 1437 Spear Avenue and it was NOT an apartment. It was a single-family home and obviously occupied. I called the landlord back for clarification, but she never returned my call (that seems to be a Humboldt tradition, not returning calls). So fuck that.
Next I visited four places managed by American Property Management Associates, Inc. None of these units were exactly what I'm looking for (spacious older sunny 2-bedroom with lots of character for under $600/mo), but three were perfectly acceptable and one was acceptable+. A positive development, so I pointed my rented green Escort north on the 101 and descended upon the good people at APMA,I. I explained my situation to the head of the office (Belinda McCarthy) -- how I don't have a job or anything but am eminently employable and anyway have a ton of cash in el banco, and she seemed down with that. She said she had to check on my references, deal with some issues related to the carpet in the unit I was most interested in, and asked me to call her back at the end of the day. Looking good.
Next stop was 914 18th Street, Apartment A. This was a smaller place (one bedroom) located a bit farther away from the rocking part of town (though closer (walking distance) to Humboldt State). Even in my state of desperation, I was like, "let me think about this place for a bit". It reminded me of the "anti-apartment", if any of you remember that story. But still I called the landlord back and told her I was interested, and she said I should come by her house at 3:00 to fill out an application. Can do.
Then I kicked it for a while back at the M6, had a glass (or two) of cabernet, and watched a re-run of "Law & Order" on A&E ("free" cable at Motel 6!). When 3:00 finally rolled around, I went to fill out an application for the Anti-Apartment II. The owner turned out to be a very sweet older Portuguese woman (with a TOTALLY hot daughter-in-law, whom I met). Doņa, the landlord, seemed to like me very much. I think I charmed her. She had me meet with her son and her son-in-law, both of whom help her manage her many properties. They seemed to like me too.
I did make one horrible mistake during the interview. Doņa was explaining to me why she had to be so careful to check out prospective tenants. It turns out, her previous tenants were a couple of college students who did not take very good care of the place. In particular, Doņa said, she was annoyed that they disconnected all the smoke detectors in the apartment, which resulted in Doņa being fined $300 by the local fire department. "Why did they unhook the detectors," I asked. "Because they were smoking marijuana," said Doņa. Here's where I made my mistake: I said, "well that's stupid because pot won't set off a smoke detector". D'oh! I seemed to get away with it, though.
So I filled out the application, explained my somewhat unusual situation, assured them that I could demonstrate a hefty bank balance even if I didn't have a job, and tried as hard as I could to be charming. I walked out of Doņa's house a confident man, pretty sure 914 18th Street Apartment A is mine if I want it.
I called Belinda at American Property Management Associates, Inc., once I returned to the M6. Their apartments were better (and the same price as) the Anti-Apartment II, so I was hoping she'd say, "oh, yeah, Larry, right? Yeah, that's no problem. You're approved-amundo", but no such luck. Instead, I heard, "um, Belinda's on the phone right now. Can I take a message?" I've had my fill of leaving messages up here so, instead, I sent her an email. (No response yet.)
So it looks like Anti-Apartment II. As it stands right now, Doņa wants to speak to my former landlord to make sure I'm not a deadbeat and then, I'm pretty sure, she'll approve me for the apartment. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed, and I would ask you to do the same. Thanks!
Monday, June 3, 2002Not a particularly good day.
I got my rental car at about 9:00 am, and that all went fine. Then I drove into Arcata, and had a quick breakfast while I perused the rental ads. There were fewer apartments available than I expected, but there were still some that looked okay. I made a bunch of calls, but either I got answering machines (with no return calls to date (5:38 pm)), or management companies that would get right back to me (none ever did).
I drove around town for a while looking for "for rent" signs, but I didn't see any. Finally, I stopped in the office of one of the main rental agencies to look at their listings. There was a one-bedroom available in my price range located near HSU, so I told them "I'll take it" sight unseen. I filled out an application, but I was told I wouldn't qualify because I don't have a job. I offered to pay three months rent up front, but it was still no dice. More discouraging still, they said to me, "no one in Arcata will rent you an apartment if you don't have a job. Too many people have been burned in the past. If I were you, I'd give up on the apartment search for now and concentrate on getting a job".
That's not going to work for me, though. So now what do I do? I have no idea. Or, wait, I have one idea, but I don't like it. I can put all my stuff in storage and return the goddamn truck. That couldn't suck more, but, at this point, I don't think I really have a choice. I'm going to do some serious apartment hunting tomorrow morning but, if I don't have an officially rented and ready-to-move-in apartment by, let's say, 3:00, it's mini-storageland for me.
I do not like this one bit.
Sunday, June 2, 2002I won't lie to you, today was a day of frustration. We got things rolling pretty early here at the Motel 6 this morning, because I had a busy day planned. First and foremost, I need to find a place to live. See, I have to get the truck back to Penske by 11:00 am today, or else I start incurring $100/day late fees, and I don't want that.
I figure I need to live within walking or biking distance to Humboldt State, because that's where (I hope) I'll be working, so that means I need to be downtown. In fact, that's one reason I chose to stay at this particular Motel 6, because it advertises itself as being located in "downtown Arcata". It's actually not that close to what I would consider downtown; too far to walk, anyweay. That means I'll have to drive the truck, find a place to park it and establish a base, and then start branching out from there. Small problem, though, in that, as you recall, the truck won't start.
Not to worry, because Penske assured me last night that someone would call by 9:30 am to arrange for a jump. Well, 9:30 am came and went and I did not receive a call, so I called them. A friendly human being picked up the phone right away (yeah!), but she was only the "routing operator" who, upon hearing my story, sent me to the "operations center". Reaching a human being at the operations center proved to be far more difficult than reaching the routing operator. In fact, I never did get to speak to a human being. I was on hold for -- I timed it -- 47 minutes before I finally gave up. I called the routing operator back and told her about my long hold time, but she told me (in somewhat broken English) that she could not help me.
So that's a little exasperating because I'm losing valuable apartment-hunting time. (Oh, BTW, while I was on hold, I noticed that my rental contract says I'm to return the truck to Arcadia, Calif. (which is in SoCal), not Arcata, Calif. I hope this isn't a problem.) I took a shower and tried to figure out what to do next.
What I did was walk down to the gas station near the Dollar Tree store and ask if they could send someone over and give me a jump. They were happy to do that for $80. That seemed a little pricey to me, considering my truck was located about a quarter of a mile from the gas station, and that giving a jump takes all of about five minutes, but what could I do? I paid the man his money and, fifteen minutes later, a wrecker showed up and we jump-started the truck. "I'd drive that around for about an hour before shutting her off again," said Red, the friendly gas station guy. Well, I wasn't too happy about that because that's more time lost, but, still, a drive would be nice.
So I drove down to Arcata proper and took my first-ever look around the city. It actually looked pretty nice. There are many older buildings and a quaint town square ("Arcata Plaza") with many locally-owned non-chain restaurants, bars and shops surrounding it. I didn't see any apartments to speak of, but no matter because I couldn't have stopped the truck anyway. All in all, this drive around Arcata was encouraging, which was a pleasant change.
That only took half an hour, so I got back on 101 heading north and drove for about forty-five more minutes. The drive north was spectacular! 101 is very near the coast up in these parts. The ocean was a sparkling jewel in the sunshine (yes, sunshine!), framed by pine-covered hills and rising mountains. Just gorgeous.
I made it back to the M6 by 1:00 pm. I decided that apartment hunting in the truck was really impractical. For one thing, the truck is pretty big and the local streets in Arcata are not. For another thing, I'm getting fairly close to my maximum allowed "free" miles, after which using the truck will cost me $0.40/mile. That can add up quick. So, smart young lad that I am, I decided to call Enterprise Rent-a-Car, because they'll come pick you up. Perfect, right? They'll come pick me up, I'll get a nice little economy car to tool around in, and life will be grand. Sure, that's another couple of hundred dollars in debt but, at this point, what does it matter?
Only thing is, the local Enterprise franchise is -- get this -- not open on Saturday or Sunday. It's not open? On weekends? No, it's not open on weekends. That's...that's not what I wanted to hear. I was now starting to realize that I was going to lose the day, as far as apartment hunting went. I could have taken a cab into Arcata, I suppose, but that's more dough and it still doesn't help me out all that much.
After a Tourette's-like bout of loud cursing, I resigned myself to giving up on the apartment hunt for today. I figured I could at least get the local paper and make calls, maybe set up appointments for tomorrow. So I got the Sunday Eureka Times-Standard and started perusing the ads. There were a number (seven) of promising ads, but when I tried to call, I remembered that my cell phone doesn't have service here at the Motel 6. I could use the hotel phone, of course, but they charge some ridiculous fee per call, even for local calls. Jesus fucking christ!
There was nothing left to be done except to go to Martha's Family Restaurant for breakfast. (Big sign out front: "Open 24 hours!" Smaller sign on door: "Hours of operation: Sunday-Thursday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm; Friday and Saturday 6:00 am - 12:00 pm" [here I think they meant, "12:00 am"]. I guess Martha would say, "the restaurant IS open 24 hours. Just not 24 hours in a row".)
I had a nice "country breakfast" and a couple of cups of weak coffee while I read the local news. Now, many of you are going to think that I'm making the following up, or embellishing it somehow, but I swear to you that is not the case. The main story on Page 1 above the fold was headlined, "Humboldt Reaches the World". (Incidentally, a smaller story below the fold had the headline, "Pakistani President Says Nuclear War Unlikely". That was good to hear.) Here is the lead paragraph from the 'Reaches the World' story:
Websites are becoming so common these days, it's a wonder some people don't have them tattooed on their foreheads. [What? -- ed.] Here on the North Coast, despite all the talk about the "Redwood Curtain" isolating us from the rest of the world, that familiar "www" is being seen more and more.
That's right, it's a whole big article about these crazy things called "web sites" and how they're popping up all OVER the place! The story talks about savvy local entrepreneurs who have begun to set up "home pages" for their businesses. "To them," the article says, "the World Wide Web is literally the gateway to the world." This is one of my favorite parts: "When the Web first began to gain widespread acceptance around the late-1990s, and many people started 'surfing the Web' both at home and at work, one frequent topic of discussion was how it allowed small businesses to participate on an even keel with 'the big boys.' The Internet as a global network, and the World Wide Web with its millions of websites, were said to 'level the playing field.'" AWESOME!
Another item. Here's the headline of an article in the business section: "Business People Should At Least Have Email".
Arcata's keeping up with the times.
All right, I gave up on the apartment hunt for yet another day, despite the fact that doing so is going to cost me big. The juice is running on the truck starting at 11:00 this morning, and that has me a little nervous. Realistically, it's going to be at least two more days before I can get the truck back, and now I've got the rental car to pay for, as well. I'm deficit-financing all of this, which sucks. After being in credit card debt for more than 15 years, I dug myself out last summer and owed a total of $0. Now I'm back in the hole for two grand and counting. Motherfucker.
I'm going to head out now to the lounge at the North Coast Inn, which is located across the street from Martha's. I'll watch some sports, drink some alcohol and check out the ladies.* That should take my mind off my troubles for a little while.
*Did I mention that, in the weeks before I left the Bay Area, four different people, completely unknown to one another, told me the same thing: the local women up here are ugly? Because that is what happened, and I've been keeping a close eye out since I got up here to see whether or not that's true. I'm going to say the jury is still out for now, but here's the tally so far: Ugly women: far, far too many to count; Cute women: three, though one of them was probably only about 15 years old, so you probably shouldn't include her.
Saturday, June 1, 2002[These are just notes to myself, which will soon be replaced by a full entry for today]