My Prophecy Was Not Fulfilled

The victory celebrations around the OSU campus after the Buckeyes’ victory over the Miami Hurricanes produced the usual drunken hooligans, but did not erupt into car-flipping, Dumpster fires, and couch-burning, as I had predicted and feared.  Saturday afternoon, after Susie was finished at Hot Times in Olde Towne East, I made a trek all the way to Upper Arlington to return some electronics at MicroCenter, and then went to Kafé Kerouac.  (I’m proud to say I was rather productive there–wrote my first poem in God knows how long and also completed a 2½-page diary entry, all of it in longhand.)

The poem had been percolating for some time, and I felt confident enough that I went to College Town while the game was in progress and bought a Roaring Spring single-subject notebook specifically for the purpose.  The finished product was almost three pages long.  I need to type it up, and then decide what lucky publication will get first crack at it.  I’m arrogant enough to be considering either The New Republic or The New Yorker.  I celebrated this productivity by buying (for $5!) a hardcover copy of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg, by Bill Morgan, which I had not read previously.

Steve had borrowed my Kodak EasyShare camera, so I had to reacquaint myself with the other Ph.D. camera in the house, Susie’s Digital Blue camera, when I wanted to take pictures of the girls performing at the Hot Times Festival.  (Hot Times is 100% volunteer-run.  Some people describe it as a mini-Comfest, and that’s a valid comparison, but if it’s like Comfest, it’s minus the topless women, public urination, and pot-smoking.)  Susie and friends performed at high noon, so she and I had to be there at 11 a.m. for check-in and warm-up.

This meant we were there as the food vendors were setting up.  I bought her a hot dog after she left the stage, and I’m sure I made her want the earth to swallow her up when the man gave us the hot dogs.  He said, “Condiments are right there,” pointing to the ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, and mayonnaise in front of us.  I declined saying, “I don’t use condiments, I’ve had a vasectomy.”  (I recycled a line I’ve used when a co-worker who moonlighted as a Realtor tried to evangelize me about “why [I] need to buy a condo.”)

Suzie Simpson, the director of Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp, was grateful to the girls who came, since quite a few seemed to be laid up by seasonal allergies and autumn viruses.  I felt badly for Susie because she composed a song at camp she wanted to perform yesterday, but her guitarist/accompanist was one of the ones who was sidelined by the bug.  (I’ve been sneezing so hard I thought I had broken my nose, so I have sympathy for the girls who weren’t there.)  As it turned out, Susie had to sing a non-original song a Capella to fill out The Moonlight Band’s gig, holding an MP3 player to her ear for accompaniment.  (When I lived in Boston, a trumpeter frequently played on the subway platforms.  At his feet was a boom box–then known politically incorrectly as “ghetto blasters”–the size of an attaché case–labeled The Band in big letters.)

Susie and her portable accompanist.

This is as good a time as any to mention that Girlz’ Rhythm and Rock Camp can always use donations and support.  Pearl Jam contributed $14 thousand several years ago, which helped with buying instruments, equipment, and electronics, but they will always welcome a tax-deductible contribution.  To that end, immediately after the show ended, Susie took the jar and went to work in the crowd.  We heard both the clink of coins and the ruffle of dollar bills.
Wouldn’t you be quick to open your wallet and 
checkbook to someone with this sunny a countenance
when she comes to solicit funds (fundz?) for girls to
go to camp?

I roamed High St. for much of the evening after leaving the sanctuary of Kafé Kerouac.  My motives were not pure.  If honest-to-God rioting broke out, I was going to take a few dozen pictures and let my blog’s readership be the first to see the action in all its glory.  (I take after my maternal grandfather, Charles Lester McKee, in that respect.  In September 1925, he was home in Caldwell, Ohio and saw the crash of the USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), the Navy’s first rigid airship, in a squall line, which tore the ship to pieces and killed its commanding officer and 13 of its crew.  My grandfather, aged 30, saw that the ship was about to tear apart and crash, so, being the Christian and Good Samaritan he was, what did he do?  He ran home and got his camera.  By the time he came back, there was debris scattered everywhere and people were tearing off scraps of the hull fabric as souvenirs.  I’ve watched eBay for hull fabric on sale for a year now, so far in vain.)
The worst thing I saw all night was a guy leading three or four boys, the oldest of whom was maybe 12, selling candy bars for Buckeye Youth Basketball.  They had boxes of the fundraising Anthony-Thomas candy bars, and they were out there around 9:30 p.m. amidst all the drunkenness, open containers, airborne bottles, and sidewalk vomiting.  Kids shouldn’t be out selling at that hour on the most tranquil of nights, and this definitely was not one of them.
I only snapped two pictures of the crowd, neither of which came out very well.  The flash on the camera illuminates a radius of millimeters, so after dark, you capture more silhouettes than people.  I took a picture of the interior of The Sloppy Donkey, a bar that occupies the site of the former Larry’s Bar, where OSU dropout Phil Ochs (“Draft-Dodger Rag,” “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore,” and “Outside a Small Circle of Friends”) had his professional debut.  Larry’s, the only bar which offered classical music in its jukebox, is now a sports bar.  (As a loyal Democrat, the name offends me.)
Post-game interior of The Sloppy Donkey.  May Phil
Ochs’ unhappy ghost haunt them night and day.

I was intrigued by the restroom at Kafé Kerouac.  Its walls are decorated, floor to ceiling, in items found between pages of books returned to the OSU Library over the years–letters, court orders, photographs, notes, scratch pad pages, postcards.  I could stay in there for hours and read them.
Some samples of the pictures displayed in the Kafé Kerouac restroom.  This holds my attention much more than “For a good time, call…” 

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No Calm Before the Hurricane

My only long walk today was down High St. tonight, since I needed something from CVS.  The one near us closes at 10 p.m., and it was past 10 when I stepped out the door.  So, I headed to the one at Lane and High, just a little over a mile south.  I had a dim recollection that Ohio State would be playing the Miami Hurricanes tomorrow, but Saturday is so jam-packed with activity for me that even if I was a football fan, I wouldn’t have time to watch the game or go down to the ‘Shoe to watch it.

So, walking down High St., it was impossible to go a city block without passing porches loaded (and overloaded) with people, all of them drinking and cheering, with endless renditions of “Hang On, Sloopy!” and “O-H!”  “I-O!”  The game doesn’t even start until 3:40 p.m., and yet everyone is out on their lawns, porches, and the streets, and the drunken enthusiasm has begun.

The open containers of alcohol have been blatant tonight.  On my way home from CVS, I counted no less than a dozen people leaving private residences or their cars carrying open bottles and cans of beer.  The irony is that I worried about getting a police officer’s attention when I left CVS with an open bottle of Diet Pepsi!

Errands will take me far from the campus area for most of the day.  I am thankful for this, since I wonder if the enthusiasm of a crowd which is stoked already, when kickoff is still 14 hours away, can be dialed down once the game is over.  The outcome of the game really has no bearing on what a crowd–especially one fueled by alcohol and fan adrenaline–will do.  At OSU, people will riot as a way of celebrating victory, as happened in 2002 when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan (see below picture).  In 2002, one of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologues said that the first duty of the then-new Department of Homeland Security was “to protect Americans against Ohio State football fans.”  (Seeing Homeland Security’s stellar success at capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, as a Columbus resident I am thankful Leno was only kidding.  Bin Laden would have to text-message his GPS coordinates to Homeland Security before they’d even be remotely capable of capturing him.)

Aftermath of the OSU-Michigan game of 2002,
downloaded from http://www.dipity.com.

People are just as likely to take to the streets out of frustration when Ohio State loses a game.  This is impossible to predict, and I’m not predicting that the partying I saw tonight will lead to a disaster tomorrow evening.  In fact, the overall atmosphere (I shudder away from the word vibe–it’s a cliché I should avoid like the plague (get it?)) of the street seemed to be festive and fun, more like the Undie Run Scott and I happened into last spring.

That hasn’t always been true.  When I first lived in Columbus, in 1985-1986, there were many nights when I would be prowling the bars on High St. (many of which have long ago been razed) and would have a feeling that the street just seemed ugly.  There was a hostility and bad feeling that seemed to be in the air, almost like static electricity, and as much a part of the air as the carbon dioxide.  I didn’t feel that it was directed at me personally, but it was on those nights that I would still get drunk, and prowl in vain for a one-night sexual encounter, yet I would be doing it with my guard up, or as on alert as you can be when you’re getting hammered.  Those would be the nights I’d take a cab home instead of walk, or would go straight home after the bars closed, instead of trying to find an after-hours party.  My wariness paid off.  I didn’t pick up The Dispatch the next morning and find out that I had just escaped a full-scale riot, but at no time was I beaten, mugged, or pickpocketed.  I often think that maybe I was such a careless–if not outright sloppy–dresser that many a would-be thief thought I was too broke to be worth rolling.
In my entire drinking career, I was never cited for open container, because usually I was pretty conscientious about not carrying open containers of alcohol in public.  The closest I came was my last quarter or two at Ohio University, when the school began to crack down about where alcohol could and could not be consumed.  In the dorms, you were permitted to drink and serve alcohol in your room, but it was forbidden in any of the public areas.
An R.A. almost cited me for this once.  I was propped on my bed late one fall weekend afternoon, reading and drinking a beer, when I thought I heard someone knocking on my door.  (I lived on New South Green, in a single room.)  I had called out “Come in!” but no one turned my doorknob.  A little frustrated, I got up, opened my door, and went out into the hall.  It wasn’t until I saw my R.A. staring me down that I realized I had carried the beer can out with me.  She let me by with a warning, but I realized I should have taken the nanosecond necessary to set the beer down on my desk before I stepped from the sanctuary of my room.
Many people groaned about this new policy, but we all knew the alternative was a dry campus.  (The president of O.U. would have been lynched if that had ever become law, I’m sure.)  Even if I had been a teetotaler at the time, I would have thought this ridiculous.  It made no sense that the powers that be were proposing that it was okay for you to go up to Court St. and get blasted, and then stumble back down to your dorm and vomit in the hall or (as happened in my residence hall more than once) in the shower, but sharing a 12-pack with your legal-to-drink friends while watching videos in your room would be verboten.

I’m probably worrying for nothing.  I doubt many of the people I saw tonight will be sober by game time, and if they are, they will be hungover and in no condition to continue.  As for me, I have something to do that will consume most of my morning.  At noon, Susie and her friends from Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp are performing at the Hot Times Community Arts and Music Festival in Olde Towne East.  She and the others will be on the grounds of the Columbus Health Department (formerly the Ohio School for the Blind), and I’ll be on hand for the performance.  I give you fair warning I’ll be posting pictures of this in the blog later this weekend.
Where you’ll find Susie and friends come high noon,
240 Parsons Ave. (corner Parsons and Main.)
Unfortunately, I will be missing the “Burn No Sacred Books” Day service at church, a service that will both honor the memory of the people who died on 9/11 in 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and counteract the lunacy of Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and his plans to mark the anniversary of this tragedy by burning copies of the Koran.
The third event I am sorry I will miss is God’s Family Reunion, in the parking lot and property of Faith Believers’ Ministry in Mineral, home of the Feed My Sheep pantry that I visit with Jacques on those rare Mondays when I am not working.  I have known about this since spring, and was planning to take Susie to it, but her services are needed at Hot Times.

With My Final Reserves of Energy, I Drag Myself to the Laptop to Chronicle My Weekend

I’m sitting at my overly cluttered desk with The Moody Blues (the Every Good Boy Deserves Favour album).  Truly riding on fumes here, but I realize I haven’t written in here in a week, so–even if no one else is reading–I’m going to post to try and restore my mental and physical energy level.

On Monday, Steve and I took Susie to Girlz Rhythm ‘n’ Rock Camp at Hoover Y-Park in Lockbourne, about 18 miles from us.  This is her second year there.  Girls aged 8-18 come together to form bands, write music, learn to perform it, and put together complete stage performances.  Unfortunately, after we dropped Susie off, Steve made good on his promise to get me to work promptly afterwards.

I’m sure Suzie Simpson (the director) and her volunteers kept the girls running around to all hours, until they fell over from exhaustion.  My week was packed to the rafters with work, since my co-worker is on vacation the entire week, which doubled my workload considerably.

So how did I unwind?  By cramming Saturday with one activity after another.  Our friend Cynthia drove me down to Lockbourne Saturday morning to see the girls’ performance and take Susie back to Columbus.  Susie surprised me when I saw her onstage at the Yamaha keyboard while singing lead vocals for Moonlight Band.  (She had to sing two vocals, since one of the girls in her band left the camp by emergency squad on Friday, apparently with appendicitis.)

The littlest kids’ song had everyone in stitches.  I didn’t catch all the lyrics, but the gist of it was “Leave me alone, get out of my life,” and the refrain included “When I see you, I want to vomit.”

Susie at the Yamaha, awaiting the cue to begin.

Only one finale was appropriate: a very spirited rendition of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock and Roll.”
They love rock and roll!

Susie and I went to the Whetstone Library once we were back in Columbus.  The outdoor performance was racing the sky, which was darkening every minute.  Steph and her friend Joanna had come down separately from us, and headed back to Columbus as soon as the performance ended.  Cynthia, Susie, and I stayed for the potluck.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of the blackberry pie that Cynthia contributed.)  By the time we were back in Columbus, it was raining.
I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until Susie and I came home from the library.  I lay down for about 45 minutes, and then jumped on the COTA bus northbound to the Noodle Company, across from Graceland Shopping Center.  Pulpfest was this weekend at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Sinclair Road.  I went to it last year–its first year in Columbus–but didn’t go this year.  (I wrote about the ’09 show in my LiveJournal blog here.)
Since I met him at an Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention in Cincinnati in 2006, I try to see Mike Nevins any time our paths intersect.  Long before I ever met him in person, I had bought his Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die, which chronicles the wretched life of the author of “Rear Window” and The Bride Wore Black.  Last year, he was our dinner guest, and since I couldn’t make it to PulpFest, Steve and I met him for dinner at Noodles.  Mike talked about his forthcoming book, Cornucopia of Crime, in which he analyzes the works of many popular 20th-century crime novelists, such as John D. MacDonald, Cleve Adams, and Erle Stanley Gardner.  (We all had quite a discussion about Perry Mason in its various incarnations.  This started when I opined that Hamilton Burger had to be, without question, the most incompetent attorney in American history.)  All the characters of the Perry Mason series grew and changed with the times, of course.  I always remembered Raymond Burr in the courtroom with “But, Mr. Phillips, if you were in San Diego that night, as you claimed, how could you have known…”

Steve headed home, and Mike back to the hotel for a PulpFest event.  I’ll probably see him in Cincinnati next spring at the radio convention.  He planned to head home to St. Louis early Sunday morning.  (Mike publishes under the name Francis M. Nevins, and has written several mystery novels, including Beneficiaries’ Requiem and Publish and Perish.  He is a retired professor of copyright law at St. Louis University.)

Mike Nevins and me, post-repast at Noodles Company.
Not sure why we look so solemn.
Through the miracle of Facebook, I was invited by a friend of a friend ad infinitum to a “Meet Our House” party on Medary Ave.  It was truly a wonderful occasion, christening the Judi Bari House (named in honor of the Earth First! activist who died in 1997).  No one there knew me by name, although when I introduced myself to one of the hosts, he recognized my post to the event’s Wall.  (I wrote: “Only in Clintonville can you have a calendar like this: 1. Pick up daughter at summer camp; 2. Have dinner with mystery novelist in town for PulpFest; 3. Go to radical activist house warming party in evening.”)  I walked into a crowded, but still comfortable living room, and everyone was drinking beer.  I felt a little presumptuous, but I went straight to the kitchen and filled up a cup with water, which was all I drank all night.  (I truly overdid it on the Diet Coke during my dinner with Mike Nevins, and had tried to walk some of it off between dinner and the party, so I wouldn’t be quite as wired.)

A lesson I never learned when I was in Athens was that booze isn’t what makes the party.  It’s the people, and I met quite a few people I hope will become friends, and not just in the loose form of the word that all the social networking sites use.  I spoke with different people–male and female–at different stages in jobs and education, many at the crossroads.  (One woman has a very circuitous journey planned for the next several months.  She plans to become a laborer at The Farm, the Tennessee intentional community, and from there to move into a squat in Brooklyn.)  The music consisted almost entirely of very unorthodox dance mixes and hybrids of disparate sound files.  I am not a dancer, so I remained on the porch or in the kitchen, where I could actually hear myself think.

I was home around 3 a.m.  Steph was sound asleep, but I was too wired to sleep.  I considered blogging, but I made a stab at writing in the holographic diary and finally fell asleep around dawn.  I had wanted to go to church, but when I woke up, I realized I wasn’t going to make it.

Now the work day looms before me, and I still want to write up the day’s events in the diary, especially since I’m down to the last seven pages in the composition book.

A DOA Literary Experiment

Over our lunch at Wok and Roll (formerly the boarding house of Mary E. Surratt) in Washington, D.C. last spring, my friend Robert Nedelkoff said that he had Googled my name and found a Usenet post (circa 1996 or 1997) in which I asked, “Are there any newsgroups where one can post diary/journal entries?”  Since you can’t copyright an idea, I’m not going to wring my hands about all the wealth that could’ve been mine.

Recently, I heard somebody say that most bloggers blog about… blogging.  While I enjoy keeping this record up to date, and welcoming the incoming comments of everyone who reads it, my first love as far as record-keeping is concerned is my diary.  Late in the afternoon, Susie and I walked up to Olympic Swim and Racquet, and I was grateful when everyone flocked around the diving platform, because it gave me some time to commune with my composition book and my ballpoint pen.  (I am down to the last 13 pages in this particular volume.  Once I finish it, my journal continues in the volume pictured below.)
Maybe I should start using blank books that
would look better in museum display cases.

Elsewhere in this blog (and its predecessor on LiveJournal), I have sung the praises of the late Reverend Robert Shields, a retired United Church of Christ minister and teacher who kept a diary of everything he did from the moment he awakened (indicated as “GOD–Genesis of the Day”) until he finally fell asleep.  This included everything he ate, bought, excreted, thought, read, or saw, complete with sales slips, business cards, and other evidence.  He kept a whole arsenal of IBM Wheelwriters on his back porch office, in case he ran out of ribbon or one of them broke down, and the diary kept him, not vice versa.  This dominated his life until a stroke partially paralyzed him in 1997.  He passed away in 2007.
In the same league, although I don’t think he suffered from the hypergraphia that dominated Shields’ life, was former U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida).  He was briefly on Al Gore’s short list for Vice Presidential candidates in the ’00 campaign, but his penchant for writing down everything in his life in small spiral-bound notepads soon became a running joke and a late-night TV punch line.  This article in the St. Petersburg Times covers Senator Graham’s extensive note-taking and need to chronicle.  When this 2003 article appeared, Graham had already filled 4000 notebooks.  When the North Carolina Paper Company discontinued this particular size (about the size of a deck of playing cards), he bought the company’s leftover inventory of them.
Lord knows I am envious of men like Shields and Graham, and hypergraphia is one psychological condition I wish I could develop.  As I sweat blood over a single short story–which I think may be ready to try on some unsuspecting magazine editor later this week–and have to force myself to the keyboard to work on my novel, Graham and Shields cannot shut off the flow.
So, one day in June, I decided to chronicle one day the way that Graham and Shields had done.  Sometime in May, I bought a green Mead spiral memo book, which I had carried in my over-the-shoulder bag without ever marking in it.  Very early one morning, I decided to put it to use.  Here is how I grandiosely marked the cover:

The “Genesis of the Day” that day was about 2:30 a.m.  The smoke detector had beeped at 30-second intervals, which meant the nine-volt battery was on its last legs.  Once I went downstairs and tended to that, I was just too wide awake to sleep.  I logged onto my laptop and read a Slate article about Graham from 2003, and that was when I decided to do it.

I won’t share the entire day with you, but here are some of the early notations from the morning, many of them made on the fly.
B/R is bathroom.  I wasn’t going to elaborate on that.  The 6:45
notation alludes to my returning the Bible to my shelf.  I had
plumbed its pages for a verse to use as an epigraph for something
I was outlining at the time.

I tried like mad to keep a record of everyone who
boarded and disembarked from the bus between
Clintonville and downtown.  I listed the male (♂)
and female (♀) symbols as a shorthand in lieu
of writing out the words.  S/B is southbound.

And that was how I filled up two thirds of that memo book.  At work, I had to make the notations somewhat furtively, like a spy sticking microfilm into his pocket, but I managed to do it.  That night, there was a Homeschool Dance and Luau at Whetstone Recreation Center, and I managed to drive Susie nuts (though I neglected to write that down) as I noted each intersection we crossed when walking to Wendy’s for dinner–since we arrived early at the dance.
So I managed to maintain this record for 24 hours, and it exhausted me.  Even as I left the William Green Building for the night at 5 p.m., I was chronicling like mad:
At the dance itself, Pat saw me writing and wondered if I was covering the dance.  Yes, but not for any journalistic media.  (He and his family came to the dance as well.  My head ached too much to go in the gym with all the loud music.  I’m just thankful there wasn’t a ’70s theme, which would have meant mirror balls and strobe lights.  I am not epileptic, but strobe lights, especially when reflected numerous times, wear me out.)
So, I’ve returned to sanity with my diary-keeping.  As the kids and parents clustered around the dive tower tonight at Olympic, I managed to write about the day, how I awakened fully intending to go to church, but the sound of the thunderstorm and wind outside made me decide to go back to bed for a few more hours.  I wrote about Sporeprint and the work they do, pretty much the same way I did here in the blog.  (Writing at poolside has such a John Cheever-esque ring to it.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in “The Crack-Up” that “In the real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.”  I just heard my watch beep the hour, and when I glance down at the lower left-hand corner of the laptop screen, it says 3:03.  The digital clock sitting nearby is in agreement.  My friend Steve is driving Susie to Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp in Lockbourne, and we’re leaving at 9 a.m.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the whole day off work, but couldn’t.  So once we drop Susie off, we’re turning right back around and heading back to Columbus, where the rest of my day (until 5 p.m.) belongs to the good people of the state of With God, All Things Are Possible.
And look how well I’m resting up for this busy day ahead.  I have many concerns on my mind right now–which I don’t want to publicize at this time–and they’ve kept sleep at bay for much of this weekend.