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Man Shower, The Soiling

Makeup was done more on the professional side of things, with Ben Nye stage makeup, Kryolan yellow tooth stain,  and Rigid Collodion for scarification.

Shortly after makeup, we assembled in my apartment for the soiling. This was an elaborate process meant to mimic a thousand piss-drunk nights spent crawling through the gutters of a major metropolis. We started with duds culled from work trunks and thrift stores, and brought them to the soiling station, which in its armaments contained used motor oil, wheat germ, white and black spray paint primer, canola oil, mustard, cranberry juice, a propane torch, and Super 77 spray adhesive.

We started with the torch, burning a few miscellaneous holes here and there. I charred the brim of my hat a nice burnt brown, and melted the outside nylon of my jacket into a spidery coating that bonded to the insulation.Then we put the burnt clothes on and commenced some serious stainage.

All the stainers worked pretty well. The used motor oil left pitch black, nasty stains that worked well for the ass. The spray primers helped to tinge things light and dark. Liberal coatings of spray adhesive on the knees and crotch, followed by rolling around on the boiler room floor imbued us with a certain inalienable filth. But in the end, it was the mustard that prevailed. Not only did it leave bold yellowing stains, but it also imparted an odor to the affair that was not disgusting, but strongly off-putting in a very devious way. In the end, the mustard was our favorite.

After this process, makeup and foul soil, indeed we looked like true and marginal degenerates, people to be avoided.

Next… The Adventure

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Man Shower -alive-

I’ve been trying to edit down the video from the Man Shower Tenderloin Expedition last weekend. As it turns out, a hidden chest cam is capable of providing hours of near crap footage. And being a novice video editor, it is taking me days to edit out the few good minutes. But since the video is still only about half way done, and looking more and more like it may be very short, I thought it would be a good thing to do to give it the old literary, for now, to keep everybody happy.

The following is a written account of one of the weirdest nights of my life.

The idea was to spend a night undercover in one of the sketchiest parts of San Francisco, the Tenderloin. The cast of characters included my best friends here in SF, who, for reasons of potential political careers (not to mention basically any future careers at all) shall remain anonymous. But if you know them, you may recognize them here, dressed up as Jack Cornfield, and Jo Jo, accordingly:


And then myself, Jimbo Jones:

Next… The Soiling

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Man Shower (or lack there of) in the Tenderloin tonight!

I being a prospective father-to-be, had a dear friend asked me what I might like to do by way of a man-shower. That is, a final hurrah in the bowels of venial male depravity. The man-shower idea is wonderful and the offer is kingly--one last chance to tear loose with the fellas before I dedicate the next couple decades of my life to making a corner of our world hospitable for a brand new person. As a tradition, it is something that I hope catches on, and as a gift from a friend, it is absolutely endearing.

But the fact of the matter is, in my time with my buddies I have done some seriously disturbing things. Be it riding illegal, high speed couches down International Blvd in Oakland at 4:AM and drunkenly hoisting our gin bottles at the confused looking pimps and hoes, or trying to kidnap a hapless chicken in broad daylight while dressed like 7 different Anna Nicole Smiths, or washing the blood off of the "safety equipment" with scotch so that Smash Truck could continue usual operation "safely", it has been an epic ride with many good friends.

But when my buddy suggested the man-shower I became a bit concerned. If such ludicrous revelry has actually become the norm, what on earth am I to do to stave off those wanton desires for cross dressing, cocaine fueled poker nights for the next 7000 days?

I realized that a party is not what I needed. I needed something more. Something that I could never justify again, outside of this pretext. Something that my lovely wife will never want anything to do with. And then, I knew what that thing was.

Many months ago she and I were wandering home through the Tenderloin quite late at night. It is a place that is vividly alive with the riffraff of petty (and not-so-petty) street crime. For more than a century and a half, it has been filled with derelicts, prostitutes, wackos, and more, living it up true SF  style. And at 3:AM on a weekend, it is still a full scale circus. It was then that I got the idea to to dress up like one of these locals and attempt acceptance in some small way. Excitedly I told Juniper about this idea and her response was succinct.

"If you do that", she said "I'm not letting you back into the house until you've had three showers. Better yet, I don't even want to be in town."

And that was that.

Until the man-shower was proposed.

As it turns out, Juniper is flying back to Denver this weekend to attend her baby shower.

And it's going to be a hell of a night in the Tenderloin.

A few people have expressed interest in joining us. Others have said that they would at least like to meet up with us at a bar sometime during.

The current list of musts reads as such:

Dress up like homeless people in costumes that are good enough to stand up to the scrutiny of cops and hobos alike.

Panhandle enough money in Union Square to buy either A) An hour at a pay by the hour hotel, or B) a jug of McCormick's Vodka and take them three blocks to the 'loin (either of which are likely to be donated to someone who would really know how to use it)

Try and get a room at the Hilton.

Get kicked out of the Westfield.

Meet up at a bar to drink with our more civilized friends.

Try and sell miscellaneous items out of a cart.

Make a reservation at a 5 star restaurant before hand and try and get them to honor it. Order only malt liquor if they do.

Try and get massages at any one of the all night parlors.

Preach Revelations (because it is the end of the world after all)

Document the entire night using secret HD cams.

Try our very best not to get stabbed.

Stay tuned to ethersmith on Facebook and Twitter for the live account, or check back to this blog for the video, assuming we do not meet our end.

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Doing it right for the New Year

Happy New Year to all you out there on this big interwebz. Here’s hoping you did more to ring it in than watching Leave It To Beaver reruns from the couch.

I myself had a smashing one, if not just a bit quenched at the end by pouring rainwater.

The event was Cannibal Carnival, redux. The location, our dear happy Etherhaus.

The gist of this cannibal thing is to eat flesh off of flesh in wild celebration of (whatever you are celebrating). So… we prep’d the house by closing off the kitchen and dining room so we could prepare the table in secret. We moved the bar into the living room so that guests could be directed straight past, with only a hinting scent of what lay in store for them. Once seated in the living room we filled them full of absinthe (straight from Italy… Thanks Troy!) and suitable snacks.

Our darling Minerva cooked up the magic in the kitchen, and prepared our “platter”.

Then when it was time to eat (9-10?) we opened the doors. The guests where awed as they silently filtered in to the dining room to find a beautiful naked woman (Thank you Phoenix!) covered in ribs and mashed potatoes, root vegetables and gravy, surrounded by candles, posed perfectly on the dining room table, and ready for consumption. It was the last image of 2010 we did take with us.

The norm here, of course, is not to eat the platter, but rather to serve her. And so we did. Bites of perfect meat, finger-fulls of potatoes, snacks of perfectly roasted veggies were offered up to our delightful serving tray.

From here we were all ingratiated to the slow passing of opulent time, as the minutes ticked into the New Year. Our model had a warm shower and emerged glowing and content. Martinis flowed along side wonderful conversation. The atomic clock steadily advanced toward midnight. And then that fateful hour emerged. The countdown. The revelry. The kissing. It was joy in 2011.

And yet, with that luscious memory in our mind of the end of 2010, we were not to go far into ‘11 hedonistically challenged. No sooner had we settled into our heady post-NYE multifaceted highs, than it was announced that dessert was served. Once again we stumbled quietly into the dining room, this time to find yet another beautiful woman (Thank you Lux!) elegantly stretched out, now covered in chocolate fondue, strawberries, and pineapple. It was the first image we took into 2011, and we will be hard pressed to find one better. Yet I think we will all do our best. We have, after all, an entire year.

Happy New Year everyone.

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

I am sold.

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Handel Flash Mob

It appears that I owe my mother some, to my digital enculturation. Thanks Ma, for sending this along.

Happy holidays y’all.

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A night at the opera

Lady J and I took in the opera Saturday night. Capping our fancy duds with motorcycle helmets we buzzed down to San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House to see the SF’s current rendition of The Marriage of Figaro.

Motorcycle parking was a gimme, and we felt like rock stars, snatching up an immediate spot and walking the big wide stairs all wind blown ‘n shit. After handing our tickets to the taker, who politely informed us we could drop our helmets at the coat check, we were immediately stopped by  what William Burroughs might describe as an old church (or in this case opera) going woman, with her mean, pinched bitter old face. She held a stack of programs, and whatever near-volunteer office that came with them. She was obviously put out by us, if not scared, and edgily informed us that we absolutely MUST check our helmets. If I had my wit along I might have informed her we intended to wear them, but alas, I explained that the gentleman taking tickets had done this part of her job for her.

After the coat check, the magic was on. Folks dressed to the nines, sipping champagne through elegant flutes. Children all done up and smoothed down like miniature adults. Men with obvious escorts. It was the opera.

I am abashed to say that it was the first time I have seen Figaro live. It was a wonderful show, and not something I would try to critique. It filled me with joy and happiness.

If I had a single complaint, it would be directed at the War Memorial Opera House. This was my first visit to the old place. Built in the early Thirties, it has a grand lobby. The interior boasts a gilded proscenium and a vast art deco chandelier. But when it comes to acoustics, it is plain to hear that they are still working with 1930s technology, carved into thousands of tons of immovable stone.

From the lower balcony, the show is a quiet one.

The other observation that Juniper and I both had was that behind the airy spaciousness of the lobby, loomed numerous snaking corridors which one traverses  to get to their seat. Stone staircases and windowless landings are stacked upon each other, lending the feel of a 1930s government building, polished, unforgiving. And during intermission when the theater empties into these spaces, the feel is claustrophobic. In future visits it may indeed be worth spending another stack of bones for reservations to the Opera House Cafe.

All in all though, the magnificent performance and the charm of merely seeing the opera will surely bring us back, helmets in tow.

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Badly Done guerrilla marketing

It’s election season, which means airwaves, marquees, and mailboxes full of political propaganda. Every flier I get or soundbite I hear is offering one thing: A kinder and gentler decision. In political ads, hard choices are made for me and the process of exercising my democracy is reduced to two stacks of crap: crap that rallies me and crap that inflames me. So there it is in my hand. A big full color brochure that tells me how simple the issue is and how easy a decision I have to make. It is ostensibly free, the only hidden cost being that of the missing truth.

I received the following email from an anonymous address yesterday (click for full size):

FYI Dean Clark is running for a low level city office here in SF. I went to the bit.ly address armed to the teeth with antivirus, and downloaded the purported PDF. Turns out it is a poorly executed marketing campaign trying to ride the coattails of bloggers.

The “strategy adjustment”, or rather the core of this promotion, was dumb. It was a single page with an original picture (shown left)

And then this image was repositioned as a modified image with text reading “Dean Clark, or the puppy gets it”.

This is probably done by some Dean Clark lackey who, certain of his or her own genius, has put together a plan to get free web exposure for the big man. We can at least hope that Clark himself isn’t so gauche.

I suppose lackey has succeeded, insofar as getting me to print the man’s name. Woohoo, Go Dean, you mean political machine. Your brilliance outshines us all.

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Mor on BP

I came across this post-up a couple of days ago on an abandoned store front:

It reminded me how I think we all feel right now, being held captive on an isolated planet, while super-villains have their way with us. The only thing this picture doesn’t depict is how the survival of the super-villains is linked with that planet.

Abut anyway, it was a great poster.  Thank you anonymous for gracing our streets with your apt propaganda.

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Steampunk, the wholesome counterculture

I went to the Hand Car Regatta recently. From the description on their website, it is:

“The Great West End & Railroad Square Handcar Regatta & Exposition of Mechanical & Artistic Wonders!

A Splendid Celebration of Art, Science and Ingenuity, for the Delight and Edification of all who attend.”

But you can’t do better than watching their Flickr stream if you want to get a taste of it (other than being there, that is):

The Regatta, at it’s essence, is a race of home-built, people powered railroad cars. But it is far more than that. It is also a street fair with food and drink and music. But most of all, it is a gathering of that most eclectic and indefatigable phenomenon called Steam Punk.

Steampunk, for those in still living in the actual Victorian age, is an artistic movement comprised of art and literature that embellishes a more ornate and less technologically advanced era when steam technology was ubiquitous, and style heavily imbued upon person and machine.

Writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells did well to imagine from their own steam driven era (well OK, Wells was on the edge) a more fantastic future for technology. Long after these dreams were replaced by a world of plastic encased microchips, literature once again turned back to less sophisticated, more beautiful imaginings. In the 1980s the term steampunk was coined to describe this new sub-genre of fiction. In the last few decades, steampunk has grown further to incorporate fashion and sculpture as living embodiments of the artistic ideal.

But why call it counterculture?

After attending this year’s regatta, I wouldn’t call it anything but. Steampunk is not just subculture. It is stylistically embedded within a completely different paradigm of art and history, and longs to make those dreams reality. From steam powered bicycles to multi-ton mobile Victorian houses, steampunk embodies an essence of DIY through apocalyptic times. It is roguish and survivalist, and beautiful.

Beyond this though, steampunk is wholesome. In a family oriented sort of way. Despite its red-hot boiler chambers and dusty appearance, it is not exclusive in any way. Going to the Regatta is like mooring one’s airship to a world port, and jumping down to find kids and shops and analog music ringing through the air. There are dignitaries is splendid attire, and there are poor unfortunates clad only in t-shirts and tennis-shoes. But unlike the punk scene (as best I recall it), there is no aggression. Unlike the goth scene, there is no social anxiety driven piety. There are only people and works of art, both of which on many occasion are artifacts of particular pulchritude, neither of which stand in opposition to the lack luster world, other than, perhaps, in being far more appealing to the senses.

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Oh the Irony

Cars are now driving themselves. Stanford has an Audi that it is perfecting:

and apparently last Friday the car drove itself up Pikes peak.  The terrible irony is that the helicopter hired by Audi to film the stunt, the human piloted helicopter, crashed into the mountain.

An argument in favor of the matrix, I suppose.

Thankfully nobody died.

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Road Trip Report #3, Tetons and Wild Poppies

Our next stop on the road trip was the Tetons (pictured in background), the youngest range of the Rocky Mountains.

This was an absolutely beautiful stop on our voyage. Pictured above is a riverside patch of wild poppies that we found.

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Road Trip Report #2, Craters of the Moon

Our next landing was a National Monument called Craters of the Moon. Talk about terrific. (I am in this photo, sort of):

Craters is basically a huge flood plain of lava that poured out of a rift in the Earth.

From Wikipedia:

The Monument and Preserve encompass three major lava fields and about 400 square miles (1,036 km2) of sagebrush steppe grasslands to cover a total area of 1,117 square miles (2,893 km2). All three lava fields lie along the Great Rift of Idaho, with some of the best examples of open rift cracks in the world, including the deepest known on Earth at 800 feet (240 m). There are excellent examples of almost every variety of basaltic lava as well as tree molds (cavities left by lava-incinerated trees), lava tubes (a type of cave), and many other volcanic features.

Lava tubes turned out to be unbelievably beautiful. Basically they were vast rivers of lava of which the top cooled down and left a liquid tube underneath, like a river frozen over.  Then when the lava flow ceased, an enormous empty tube was left. Here is a picture of Juniper sitting on a pile of rubble that once was the ceiling of the tube we were in. Considering that the ceiling can fall, I found it humorous to think that she was in the safest place in the cave.

We explored numerous tubes while we were there. Some were totally dark and narrow. Some even had ice in them year round because volcanic rock is an excellent insulator.

All in all, this is a spectacular place to visit if you are ever in Idaho. The camp ground is pretty good. The preserve is just astounding. Well worth the time.

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Road Trip Report #1: Twin Falls (stupefying and stupid)

Juniper and I got back from a road trip a couple of weeks ago, that took me through Northern Idaho and Wyoming. The things I found were either stupefying, or stupid.

Our fist stop was Twin Falls. This is a city perched on the edge of a vast canyon carved by the Snake river. This canyon was stupefying:

But inside the town, it felt a little bit culturally sheltered. Enough so that I was able to snap the following shot. A used car dealership called “Practical” selling big SUVs and a few Mustangs. Maybe I have turned Northern California soft seeing all the Teslas, Smart cars, and Hybrids on the road these days and thinking of them as practical. But really, I’m not that soft, am I? In Idaho I guess I am.

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Disparate Items

I am on the road with work, being put up at a Holiday Western outside of Santa Cruz.

Two things caught my eye here.

#1: A fake tree

#2: A table magician

These things seem related in my mind somehow, here at the Best Inn. Perhaps I should watch some network television and get it all cleaned out of there. That’s the problem with thinking too much I guess.

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I once used a straight razor for an entire year. I got up in the morning and took a hot shower. I stropped my blade daily (stoned it every few days). I worked up a lather in front of the mirror, and in an elegant ritual of grooming and bloodletting, sculpted my face into a feminine masterpiece, only mildly punctuated by nicks and burns. At the end of that year, I was overjoyed to return to the ease of the disposable razor.

Well I was talking with my father–on my last visit to Colorado–about shaving. One of those father son “hey check it out we’re both men” kinda talks that came up randomly. Turns out he had some fascinating trivia about shaving, which is ironic, considering he has worn a beard for my entire life. But more on that later, First the trivia.

I think most people know that disposable razors evolved out of safety razors, which were clunky handled devices that held a double edged blade. But what you may not know (at least if you are my age or younger) is that good blades for these were at one time very hard to get.

Prior to the 1960s, high quality stainless steel razor blades didn’t exist, and blades rusted (and dulled) rapidly.

But then, totally on the down low, Wilkinson Sword in Sheffield England started sneaking packets of their brand new stainless steel razor blades in with orders of their gardening equipment. According to Dad, Americans coveted these awesome new blades, as they were far superior, and rather difficult to come by.

Read more »

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Vegas for Children

I went to see a movie the other night, and killing some time, I stopped in at a huge entertainment center that was filled entirely with dozens of these crane/claw games. The place was totally impressive. You could try your “skill” at numerous prizes ranging from a stuffed animal to a game system.

It was all rather intriguing until I actually saw a kid in the throws of desire failing desperately at wining the biggest bear, trying the blunt force attack by pouring in all her tokens.

Then it struck me for what it was. The whole place was nothing more than a giant casino for children.

These things are big, kid friendly slot machines really. Put money in in a daze of hope. Watch some mechanical jigery do something pseudo-random accompanied by lights and sounds. Almost always lose.

Now I haven’t actually formed my moral stance on all of this. Maybe teaching kids the disappointment of gambling at an early age is a good thing. Or then again, maybe there is actually nothing wrong with the occasional gambling spree, and so kids should be allowed to do it too. (?)

But regardless, let’s not pretend that this is anything other than what it is. These are slot machines  for children.

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Yellow street lines. Fight fire with fire – street art.

I caught these two pics in China Town. According to my friend Jozeph, they are appearing all over San Francisco.They are made of the same uberindustrial material that the yellow lines on the roads are made out of, and they are there to stay.

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Millennium Restaurant

Got a huge bonus yesterday that I wasn’t even vaguely expecting. (Thanks BBI! You guys Wraughk!!) So Juniper and I went to Millennium Restaurant for dinner.

I’ll just get it out of the way now. Millennium is a VEGAN gourmet restaurant. But holy cow, could anyone ever tell this blindfolded?

Not a chance.

Millennium serves one of the best dinners in San Francisco. Which indeed, for a city of foods and foodies, is saying a lot. All true. We had one of the best meals I have had since eating at Andre’s, in Las Vegas.

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The Wagon

It’s a heinous thing. You ride it with do-gooders and sober people, feeling like your life is on track and things are swell. I keep my writing desk on the wagon–a little corner I have carved out, large enough for my MacBook and a mug of green tea. I sit between the AAers (a manic bunch who swarm round chocolate and share a lot), and the triathletes (muscle-bound gods who regularly spring from the wagon wearing speedos and ride their racing bikes several laps around the wagon as if it isn’t moving). It may sound crowded, but somehow there is always room.

Then the wagon crosses into the carnival.  Enchanting music pumps forth from some organ grinder and the smell of cooked meat fills the air. The wagon sways and I feel myself teeter. The AAers dump sugar into their coffee and say the serenity prayer. The triathletes go on a buffalo spleen diet. We all cling to the wagon, grasping at things like savings accounts, wedding rings, healthy teeth. We hang on.

But then I look out and the beautiful people are assembling, dressed in silver and stripes, black capes and leather. They are impossibly strong. They are improbably virtuous. They look through the wagon like it isn’t even there, until one of them somehow sees me.  She is sexy, divine, in love with life, and she exists to consume. I try to ignore her and pound words furiously into my computer. I look up and she winks at me, beckons me, blows me a kiss. I am stoned upon the sweet tang of desire. I fall off the wagon.

I find myself on the mean and acrid carnival floor. Laughs are cheap, and all else expensive. I see the wagon rolling out the gate, into the picturesque countryside where all the stoops are swept and all the prayers are given. It rolls through that last grassy dale, and I can hear them singing, This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. I give them the finger and take my first hungry look around.

The beautiful woman is gone, but I don’t care. The carnival opens before me. Swindlers dressed as porters lean close in and whisper wonderful lies into my ear. My pockets are filled with heavy coins, and I am filled with sweet lust to spend–just a little. It is unchecked life and I am enamored by the power of it. I want to write about it, to capture it all and give it to the future, but my computer is on the wagon. I’ll find time tomorrow for writing.

I reach into my pocket and pull out some coins. They are gold and each is labeled “One Hour”. I buy a mug of ale. I gulp and I can feel the night winding up behind me. I walk down the main drag, swimming in the sensuality of the party. The music jabs out and the people are fat and happy.

I pass tent after tent with barkers trying to lure me in. I plunge my hand deep into my pocket and feel it engulfed in gold. I spot a show that looks enticing and throw a fistful of coins out as I enter.  I am shocked at what I see. It is a freak show. It is an erotic dance of mutants.I want to leave, but I am somehow fascinated.

Siamese twins are kissing and gyrating as the barker eggs them on. Four bare breasts, six arms, five legs, a well stuffed loin cloth, muscle and pale skin. The promise of so  much. I am disgusted, and yet I am stimulated. I am stupefied by this and I am incapable of walking away.

I emerge hours later wanting anything and nothing but more. Everything around me is raw and meaningful. The greed, the pollution, the feel. It is humanity at its most honest, and I want to soak in it. I think about writing it, about how wonderful it is going to be to read. How important the underside of life is. And then I hear the orchestra.

Music pours from a tent ahead of me. It is loud and boisterous and hypnotic. I catch a glimpse inside and people are dancing. Clothes are falling off exposing sweat and skin. Smiles, wicked smiles as men and women grind to the music. I pour money from my pocket at the man at the door. I see a hundred Hours issue forth from my hand and I don’t care. I want in.

I plunge in and lose myself. I start to dance and sweat and sway with the party. The orchestra keeps time executioner style, intentional, effective, indifferent. We tread upon each other’s need and trample it into the floor. Our minds switch off and our bodies are free. Oh to capture it all. To do my duty and pay it forward. To chronicle these seditious moments of pleasure in the wilderness. If only I had a keyboard. If only I can remember until tomorrow.

A week has passed when I emerge. I am sticky and dazed and content. It is still night and I sit on a bench and try to regain my mind. The people are loud and oblivious. They walk past me stepping on my toes. I look to see where the crowd is going. There is still another show. There is always another show.

I step in with the crowd….

One Month Later:

I have finally climbed back on the wagon. It found me asleep in a pile of mule dung, broken pinwheel in my hand. I am foul and exhausted, but I have climbed back on. I will shower soon, for there are showers on the wagon. I will brush my teeth, and deposit the single coin I have left into my piggy bank. I will pray with the AAers and I will do some push ups with the triathletes, but first, before anything distracts me, I am going to write in my blog.

Dear readers, I am sorry I have been away.

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