Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Piss Ants

To: The Queen
From: The General

Our colony was approached by a human infant sometime around dusk as workers were finishing up with foraging and construction duties. Forward security units were alerted and two teams were dispatched to defend our perimeter. Biters began their assault on the human baby and it was determined that the mission was successful when the child began shrieking, quickly retreating from the colony’s perimeter.

Although a few biters were able to survive the attack, having fallen from the infant’s flesh after attacking with stinging bits, the majority of soldiers from both assault teams were crushed between the fingers of an adult human who picked up the baby and moved it well out of range from the colony.

All of the dead soldiers have been accounted for, collected, and eaten. They will need to be replaced soon, depending on your reproductive schedule.

To: The General
From: The Queen

Yes, you did say that, by locating our colony here, we’d be risking some contact with humans. And you did say that we’d be safer here than in some vacant lot or along the street and I believe you’ve been right about that. In fact, I’d say your leadership and wisdom has been spot on, so I trust your judgment and experience.

Please send some workers and biters to my chamber, it’s time for a royal gangbang. I’ll serve them some of my sweet nectar, if you know what I mean. BTW, please accompany them to my private sweet nectar stash and have them bring up a few cases; nothing fancy and not the good stuff. Also, have one of them grab a box of cheroots. They’re going to want one after getting a romp with the Queen, and I’m going to need the rest. Ha ha, that could go both ways, “the rest,” and just there, “both ways.” I crack myself up.

Now, be a good General and get on this. Send those boys up for some hot queen ant pussy and I’ll have your replacements to you right away.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stop. Just stop.

As Hunter S. Thompson used to say, “Big darkness, soon come.” As I type this, tribes are applying body paint, preparing to draw lines and snort them up. Among those tribes, the two who will be transporting warriors deep into the kill zone, there are those loading up on fuel, dash cams and mace. More on that momentarily, I need to sweep some items into a neat little pile.

Light posting here? Things came up, running a house, dealing online poker. Plus, I created this site as an outlet for creative writing rather than rants. For the last few weeks, fiction has taken the driver’s seat. Those pieces will arrive soon, if you’re keeping score at home.

In the interim, chronicles from the mean streets of Phoenix will undoubtedly land here. It’s ASU homecoming this weekend which means, I’ll be staying out of Tempe, turning my apps off if I land there. Instead, I’ll be capturing the valley’s overflow of smartly-dressed meatbags. The last thing I want in my car is a bunch of juiced-up Sun Devil fans, especially if the Huskies upset ASU at home.

We’ll see how it goes, I haven’t driven for Lyft or Uber (Lou) in almost a month. FB chatter has been that the picking are slim. If someone reports that they averaged $20/hour, the thread gets a couple of WTGs but most comments give a poor accounting of their own night. The worst I see is $4/hour for ten hours on the road or rather, a few minutes on the road and 9 ½ hours sitting in a convenience store parking lot.

Personally, I don’t know anyone who would drag themselves out of bed for $4/hour but for Lyftees (those Moonie-eyed drivers who get a tingle down below from the thought of a pink moustache), pennies an hour for Lyft brings more happiness than a handjob in church.

On FB, I’ve ribbed the Lyftees and the insipid “Lyft culture” which assumes that the other ridesharing company is a concern of complete douchebaggery. Lyft, OTOH, is “wacky” and “oh-so-hip” and somehow, a much more compassionate service. Brainwashed by the fistbump (the meaningless accolade Lyft awards drivers who do things like drop off food boxes to Wal-Mart employees), the Lyftees did cartwheels when it was announced that the company had some kind of promotion with Justin Bieber.

I’m not joking. Justin Fucking Bieber. If Lyft was trying to develop hip cred, the Beebs pretty much shot that notion in the face and then tumbled its faceless corpse down the side of a mountain to a band of hungry bears. Apparently, racing your car down a crowded street after you’ve had a couple of cocktails gets you a fistbump.

What Lyft calls a fistbump, most everyone else calls fisting and really, Uber’s fist fits just as far up one’s ass. The only difference is, Lyft tries to tickle your colon while they’re up there, using drivers from its phony-assed “community” to do the finger wriggling.

Not everyone buys that bullshit, however, and from what I can tell, most drivers who swing both ways do so with the understanding that the services are nothing more than a vehicle for making some extra cash (puns are extra, though). At least, that’s what I get from most of the FB posts or chatting me up out front of a QT.

Lou is a pisspoor way of making money – the earnings are nothing like what either company promises. The pink moustache is just evidence that someone drank the Kool-Aid. Although I might take a few Lyft calls this weekend, I’m keeping a Monster in my console. And, if anyone requests Justin Bieber, they’re getting a face full of pepper spray.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Walking Dull

It was either this or a Philip Glass video with hamsters.

As they say, a day late (or more) and a dollar (or more) short…

Demonstrating a firm command of the obvious, the strategic minds at Lyft and Uber Operations have been incessantly texting me the past couple of weeks to remind me that Halloween weekend will be busy. That and the sky gets darker after sunset so remember to use those headlights.

In addition, I’ve been reminded that, by providing candy, a mix of Halloween music and a couple of masks for the nitrous oxide tank, I’ll not only clean up in tips (Lyft, of course) but I’ll compete with the Top Drivers, money wise (Uber).

As I write this, Lyft sent me another text, less than a half hour later than the last one. Just in case I’d forgotten that it’s Halloween Weekend or hadn’t yet learned to use a calendar.
Lyft advised drivers to get into the spirit of things by wearing a costume. I’m wearing jeans and a Hawaiian shirt, going as a “clueless Lyft driver”:

“Wow, it’s really busy tonight. What, it’s Halloween? Really? Come to think of it, I have seen a lot of costumes out there. Well, shoot, I should have provided some candy. There’s a couple of mints from Carl’s Jr. in the console, if you want to dig around in there. Bottled Blonde? I don’t think they’re open right now, salons usually close by 10 at the latest. You might have to wait until tomorrow to get your hair cut.”

Then, I’ll speed the wrong way up a highway exit ramp. In the spirit of the season, I’ll scare the hell out of them.

Although I recently said I was going to go all Jason Voorhees on my riders and keep a bloody machete on the dash, previous experience has taught me that people are reluctant to get into my car if I’m wearing a hockey mask.

So yeah, Halloween is kind of ad hoc for me, what with Lyft and Uber being so tight lipped about the whole thing. Who knew?

A friend of mine, who worked in one of those Everything Halloween stores that pop up in empty retail spaces every year during the last full moon in July, said that it wasn’t until October 31 that the place became absolutely insane. He said that they hired off-duty police on Halloween to make sure people don’t think they’re modeling cop costumes but there to prevent crowds from going zombie apocalypse on the clerks.

There’s always those last minute shoppers who opt for the Fairy Rat Queen or perverted food item or the countless other WTF costumes offered up as options for those of us with no talent with duct tape or crayons. However, it seems that the people who’ve suddenly decided that dressing up and going out beats staying at home and pretending to be a Jehovah’s Witness hardly account for the insanity my friend describes.

We can only conclude that there are actually people who have their day interrupted by the horrific realization that it’s Halloween. Bins of candy blocking store aisles since August suddenly became salient when a clerk, dressed as a Dominatrix Rachel Ray says, “Happy Halloween!” and hands over the receipt with a Jack-o-lantern printed on it. Then shoehorn their way into the Halloween store with the hope that the Slutty Elephant Stormtrooper costumes haven’t been picked clean.

Obviously, that was written before Halloween, you know, the one everyone had a few days ago. At around midnight, Lyft alerted me to the fact that, “There are more calls for rides than drivers! It’s Saturday night, you loser, why are you wasting your time at a real cool party or having sex?!? Get on the road and get puked on!”

I was on the road when I got the text, picking Frank up from a really cool party. The LomL and I stayed in to watch the World Series. She handed out the candy, a beacon of sweetness even to the teenagers who didn’t bother with anything other than a look of, “It’s my last year at this, I’m tired.” When it was my turn to hand out candy, I did so with the horrified look of someone who couldn’t believe someone was standing at the door.

I hope it went well for those intrepid drivers out on Halloween. I hope it was worth the hassle, that the money was good and that there was a minimum of mayhem and emesis.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

An ovary can't kill an elk

All the Republicans have is Rand Paul playing air guitar to Rush.

Most people say, “The NRA” but I pronounce it, “Ner-raw.” It sounds kind of primal, a growl and a sneer at the same time. I say it all the time, sometimes to scare my wife’s cats, “Ner-raw,” as I round a corner, reminding them that I have the constitutional right to own as many guns as I can fit into my house, car, and pants. Having seen me in action with a squirt gun, the cats are probably happy that there’s only just enough money for cat food. After the latest hairball incident, they don’t want me roaming around the house with a loaded Desert Eagle.

In the days following yet another twisted loner pumping bullets into a large group of people, the folks with armed pants (yes, clothes made for chimpanzees) are not asking, “How do we stop these tragedies?” but “How do we stop Obama’s Muslim buddies from taking our guns?” Ner-rah, committed as they are to turning teachers into paramilitary commandoes, manages to steer the conversation towards mental health, apparently unaware of the irony, the insanity of denying that these bloodbaths are the result of people firing weapons at human targets.

Pick at Ner-raw’s skin long enough and what will be revealed is their own insane fantasy of being a “super patriot” insurrectionist warrior, the defender of frontier values. In less time than it takes to load Pez dispensers with shiny bullets, Ner-raw’s Basement Brigade begins warning of the made-up people who will be coming for everyone’s guns and decides that the most logical response is to declare war against the US.

Yes, despite the US having drones and hundreds of other things that rain death from the sky, millions of really, really big guns that require teams to move and fire, a navy, and millions of people who go to work every day for the sole purpose of waging war at any moment (as opposed to waiting until the Hot Pockets have been nuked in the RV before starting the Saturday shoot-a-thon), the Basement Brigade believes that the Tree of Liberty will be watered with blood, presumably the blood of the people who own almost all the serious war shit and train 24/7 to use it. Mental health issues, indeed.

Given that their fantastic war is premised on the guh-mint breaking down a door to take a perfectly legal stash, you’d think that DEA raids on medical marijuana clinics would get the gun crowd losing their collective shit over federal powers and individual rights. Oddly enough, you’d be wrong.  Since marijuana dispensaries aren’t usually fronts for weapons warehouses, the Second Amendment holy rollers must have shot all the fucks they had to give when it came to hippies and sick people. There’s zero chance that we’ll see Ner-raw’s flapping jaws on Fox spraying outrage over a bunch of shut down medical marijuana clinics.

Despite their seeming concern with everyone’s mental health, Neh-raw seems curiously ambivalent towards law enforcement shutting down any kind of clinic. In fact, it wouldn’t be overly wacky to assume that the average phone contact list, of those state officials and law enforcement who raided Planned Parenthood offices in Texas, contained a veritable Who’s Who of the local Ner-raw. Indeed, why own a gun if you can’t poke it in someone’s face after kicking down their door? With any grasp of self-awareness and irony dropped in favor of a bony gun grip, the Ner-raw members raiding the clinics saw themselves as Pro-Life patriots, doing God’s work while brandishing guns, protecting Texans from lawful health care services.

Perhaps it’s just a question of priorities – an ovary won’t kill an elk – but my guess is that Ner-raw and its hardcore members are really only interested in arms bearing with the rest of the Bill of Rights being either partial or total bullshit. They’re willing to throw their country into war against itself if there’s a hint that they can’t have whatever gun is necessary to shoot at toy spiders but when it comes to their country abridging other rights, they’re off spray painting their lawns or reprogramming the fake fish on the wall to sing “The Ballad of the Green Beret.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Feel the butt Bern

Making this post as funky as I can get it...

Earlier, I tried to get my daughters to create a Facebook group against people with butts.
When they argued that everyone has a butt, I waved off their objections, arguing that we’ve all had it with those people doing their butt things (I shuddered to emphasize my disgust), what with the, “Oh God. REALLY?” and the, “Goatse? Isn’t that that graffiti artist?” crap.

“They should be shipped off to Antarctica and forced to live in butt-shaped huts that remind them of their sins. Only after they freeze their butts off can they return to us-without-butts,” I said, picturing the potential excellence of such a Facebook group. I added that, if the president of Antarctica wasn’t down with this mass migration of butt people – really, there’s no one else there but penguins and people taking pictures of penguins – then we could ship them all off to Costa Rica. For some reason, that country has been pissing me off lately.

EC asked, “Are there any other reasons why you want us to make this page, aside from disgusting butt stuff?”

“You can say on the page that they don’t like bunnies. In fact, you can say that they hate all cute, furry things because it reminds them that they’re going about the whole wiping thing wrong. Also, say that they hate us for our freedoms, specifically, our freedom to be intolerant of butts and butt culture. “They hate us for our freedoms” is a phrase that seems to get a lot of likes on Facebook.”

“I mean, are there other reasons you want us to do this, as in, is this just Dad Busy Work to kill the joy of us having a week off from school?” Frank was fiddling with her earbuds while EC’s eyes clicked clockwise, calculating the amount of time of hers that Dad would waste.

“The, it’s settled,” I said to two faces worn blank from me passing countless schemes by them. “Same time tomorrow, I expect a rough draft of what you’ve come up with for this Facebook vilification of people with butts –wise. Frank, you get Fall Out Boy on board with this, convince them it’s a thing and that they’d damned well better write a song for it. EC can Google anti-butt links. I’ll wager there’s a video out there of a wolverine or a bear attacking someone’s butt.”

I believe it was at the point where I said, “You know what this family needs? Less pasta, more rice,” and then walked outside to wave at passing traffic that my daughters switched me off in their minds and went back to whatever was bouncing around in Tumblr, pigs on skateboards or babies being shot of cannons.

For me, there was no escaping butts, especially what was getting pulled out of them by pundits and polititwits. Of course, Mike Huckabee went full-on racist – expecting anything less from Gomer is like forgetting your free Snow Ball with the purchase of a two-liter Diet Coke – and CNN scrubbed a poll showing a Sanders advantage so they could announce a Clinton win, we’re just a couple months into the Silly Season and there’s bound to be more stories about cheese eating and corrective shoes over the next year. However, if Clinton gets the nomination, Republicans and cable news yackers will be leaping in on every soundstage to scream, “Benghazi!” like some gas-huffing ninja, throwing punches in the air and doing the moon walk in their socks.

If they’re howling “Benghazi! Benghazi!” with the perseveration of a hobo rain dancer, no one can hear that climate change and income inequality are objectively destroying the world or that continuing to sacrifice innocent lives at the altar of the Second Amendment is absolute insanity.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying anything about Clinton’s culpability in the matter (indeed, it’s a non-issue) but it’s out there, bouncing around like a puppy that got a hold of a roll of Adderall. There’s no stopping that.

That’s just another reason why I’m backing Sanders. No matter how bogus the skeletons are in Hillary’s tastefully stocked closet (prepare for the appearance of a zombie Vince Foster in some Twilight-like Hillary fanfic), Bernie carries none of that baggage, not even enough to mix metaphors. About as bad as it gets with him is, “He’s, um, like, a democratic SOCIALIST, like, um, in those northern European countries that are totally kicking our ass in about everything…”

Not even a dog shitting itself with terror while riding on the roof of a station wagon. With Bernie, the media will be forced to focus on the real issues instead of  scouring the pages of the Weekly World News to search for Batboy’s parents.

EC will vote in her first presidential election next year, turning 18 about a month before ballots are cast and millions are disenfranchised. Not willing to say who won the debate (she didn’t see it as some moronic “America’s Got Sound Bites” competition), she nonetheless felt the Bern, that Sanders spoke best about the things that concern her. Perhaps she’s na├»ve in that, rejecting the “electability” palaver the Beltway binds up the conversation with, but she’s clear that among all the candidates on last night’s stage, Sanders will be the one least likely to pit special interests against her own.

As for me, Sanders is the candidate who’s least likely to be tainted by butt stuff.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On Any Given Sunday

Turn it up.If you're at work, invite everyone around you to watch the video. Except, don't invite Sarah,
just to, you know, let her know that she's not invited. Just because.

Cue any NFL theme song

Sometimes driving are a crap shoot meaning, crap wants to get into your car and you have to shoot it. I’ve had people think they were going to get a ride with me – after all, they did request it and I arrived – only to hear me say, “Oh good! Uber is paying me $150 to drop off at detox!” Then I shoot them.

Actually, Uber doesn’t allow drivers to carry guns, something about not wanting riders to able to start a running gun battle while dropping at the airport. Instead, I carry a hammer and wave it around while screaming about my rights and freedoms.

The name that appeared on the call was “NPC Competitor Steven” (really, I’m not shitting you) and I wondered what NPC was and why it had contests. Given that I was picking up in the pit of Scottsdale’s club Hell, I hoped NPC didn’t mean Never Purchase Crabs because they’re usually free with a night of screaming in someone’s ear and blowing money on drinks.

When I Googled NPC just now, I learned that it’s the National Physique Committee, a group of marginally serious people who judge the bulges on men. To be fair, women are also featured but if people are judging girl bulges that gets into a whole different level of fetish.

In fact, there’s some guy running his own competition (which makes me wonder how legit this whole NPC thing is), the pics on his site of male body builders doing their “You call this an arm, I call it my dick” pose. That and lots of photos of the kinds of girls who are, like, totally into guys with arm dicks. It looked as though Jersey Shore had been hit by a nuclear hormone explosion, the Pauly D aftermath being mutations of hideous proportions.

There’s a clan of cop cars when I pull up, lights flashing, a Sheriff’s black SUV, everyone flashing their lights and doing cop things; I should have brought donuts. I pull behind an empty unit and send a text to announce, “It’s time to go, children.” I wait, roll a cigarette, turn up the Buzzcocks. Cops are shouting but not at me, so there's that. I’m watching the timer on my phone, thinking of shaving 45 seconds off the wait time.

My thumb was ready to tap “Rider no show” in order to send me rolling when NPC Competitor Steven texted me back:

My first indication that Uber had instituted a rolling liquor store policy.

I texted back, “LOL, that’ll be extra,” and watched as the seconds neared GTG, hoping to send KTHXBAI. Suddenly, appearing at the car, a couple of roided-out meatheads with biceps the size of pitbulls escorting three stiletto-shod porn bots. It was as if the skies of Scottsdale shat latex, body enhancements, breast implants and dance stank onto the sidewalk. I roll down the window so NPC Competitor Steve won’t break it with his huge, hormone-enhanced head.

“I can only take four unless you want to stuff one of the girls back there. I don’t think either of you guys will fit back there.” Before I could say that there was already a body in my trunk and I didn’t want to dump it in front of the cops, they began climbing into my car.

“We can do it,” NPC Competitor Steve said as he got in the front, “The guy who brought us here did it.”

“Then that guy’s car must have had a seat extension, an option that didn’t come with this car. I’m not carrying an unbelted passenger through the middle of a cop parade.”

“I’ll tip you. Twenty bucks, we’re not going far.”

The cops seem to be seriously occupied with whatever went down with late-night pizza so I considered the Jackson. I could say I was delivering collagen and two sides of beef if I got pulled over. Calculating the best exit, I held out my hand and said, “Pay me now.”

“I just did, on the app.”

“No. You didn’t. You tipped someone else for something if you did anything but you didn’t tip me. The Uber app doesn’t take tips.”

“Bullshit! The Uber app does take tips, they just started it. They did it to keep drivers from taking cash from customers and then also charging their cards!”

It became immediately apparent that steroids had eaten this guy’s brain, leaving just a kernel that allowed him to remember his own name and jump around excitedly when someone offered to take him for a walk. Not satisfied with the outrageous stupidity of the lie he’d just told, NPC Competitor Steve continued to tap the final nail on the Scottsdale clubhead stereotype coffin:

“I should know, Uber sponsors me and they keep me up to date on everything they do. They give me stocks in the company. They just started this in a few cities to see how this works.”

“Oh. Uber sponsors whatever you do because they feel they don’t look ridiculous enough to UFC fans. And Oh, their defining policy of discouraging tips, the one that is screamed loudly on their website and app form, was reversed in an act of corporate whimsy and done some time after I started driving tonight. Get the fuck out of my car.”

NPC Competitor Steve looked as though he wanted to paint the upholstery with me, he was not used to people talking back to him. He was probably confused by the other mouth that had words in it and could think only to crush my little car with me in it then bounce the ball of metal and bloody flesh down the street.

“Really?” whined Bambi or Muffin or Nipples, as the tanned heap untangled from the backseat and oozed onto the sidewalk. The Roid Boyz also got out, defeated, their Uber sponsorship an impossible dream at this point. NPC Competitor Steve’s eyes clenched up like two commas that marked an eternal pause.

I blazed out of there, cancelling the call and hoping I’d never have to go back. A few minutes out, my app dinged, the location about a block from where I’d been. There’s a rule that the distance from best lane you need to turn to take a call is determined by the amount of shit you have left to give. Having just witnessed the horrors of modern body enhancement science, I was curious to see if the freak show still offered specimens of genetic atrocity to cart around.

The rider called as soon as his app dinged. asking where I was. He’d chosen the unfortunate location of a parking lot to meet me at, thinking that among the dozens of cars there, mine would be the one with the glittering Uber icon hovering above it. Judging by the number of phones to faces and traffic all around, it was obvious that a game of Where’s Waldo is quite popular in Scottsdale at 3 am.
“My lights are on. A cop just passed behind me and is now turning into the parking lot.”

After waving them in, I saw that I’d be driving two bangers to Tempe. The riders friend got in and then asked if I’d move my seat up.

“I’m a giant man and I need room to drive us safely. Sorry. You can sit up front if you’d like.”

The rider told his friend to chill, implying it was best to just ignore the old white guy and get home. The two of them barely spoke as I sped south, Jimmy McGriff jamming out organ blues and Muddy Waters wailingabout his mojo working but just not on you.

The energy shifted immediately as Birdman (feat. Lil Wayne) “Neckof the Woods” came on.

You like this?”

“It’s on my iPod.” I looked back with a nod, assuring him that it wasn’t on there by mistake.

The pair’s attitude towards me flipped like the U-turn I’d taken to pick them up. Suddenly, I was kind of dope for an old guy.

The song ended and I passed over Chris Isaak and John Mellencamp, landing on The Five Heartbeats, “A Heart is a House for Love.

“You’re not from here, are you?” the friend asked.

“Colorado. What makes you say that?”

“The music you listen to. You’re not like people in Arizona.”

“I just can’t listen to one thing all night when I’m driving, you know?”

“It gets boring.”

“Without my music, I couldn’t do this job.”

I dropped the rider just as the song was ending. We did the bro shake as he indicated that I was all right, after all, “You like Bloodhound Gang,” he said, not asking me if I was into the band but making a comparison, that I was like those dudes.

Sometimes, I’m surprised by my passengers as well, the business executive who asks if it’s The Shins on my pod (it was Deer Tick) or the CEO chick who corrected me, that the Beastie Boys recorded “Ill Communication” after “Paul’s Boutique” (I was confused with “License to Ill”), the sweet granny who was tickled by The Cramps, “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?”

Yes, I need my music to through a night of driving, if only to bring me moments like that, the ones that redeem an attempt by DuPont products to commandeer my car with arm dicks.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Death cab for cuties

Bowie still looks this good. Drinking the blood of young virgins has its benefits.

There were little cupcakes with pink mustaches, trays of them, actual employees of Lyft handing them out to sugar-starved drivers. By the time I arrived, about a half hour late, most of the buffet had been picked clean but I managed to scrape together three beef tacos and a Coke. Some attendees were carrying around plushy Lyft mustaches, like kids with stuffed animals.

I wondered if the Nazis served cupcakes with little red and black swastikas on them. Probably no one was passing out little Hitler doll pillows but they would have had beer.

Rush hour was over by the time I left, the sun almost set. From the parking lot across the street, I watched the room drain while I smoked a cigarette, AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” pounding on my pod. Then, I got in my car and drove, apps on and sipping an energy drink.

I probably should have skipped the party and taken advantage of fewer drivers working the streets. God knows, the rest of the night sucked. For instance:

“Where are you at?”

“Where you asked to be picked up at, on the west side of O.H.S.O.”

“No, I’m at 39th and Camelback, I don’t know why you’re there.”

“I’m there because that’s what you punched into the app.”

I cancelled the call and then let his new request time out when it came. I’d taken a new call in the interim, a rider much closer than he. He’d messed up and he looked like one of those “Can I play my music?” whiners with shitty taste.

Many times (Tempe, mostly), I don’t indulge that, you’re not going far enough for me to care. It’s the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band or stick your head out the window.

Once, I picked up a car load of servers who had been on a field trip to their west side store. It seemed like they initially thought they were going to Water World or someplace else fun because none of them seemed happy with having been taken across town to their own damned job in a bus that broke down and made them even more late for whatever teen gathering they had on their agenda.

We were on I-10 and Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was on, not the most upbeat tune in the world but enough to drown out the puerile prattle bubbling in the backseat.

“Do we have to listen to this elevator music?” some girl said in a voice as pleasant as a cat being strangled.

“What do you want to hear?” some obsequious seat sitter asked. I hadn’t said anything, wondering how anyone could consider Bauhaus elevator music. My mind was on the road, traffic still heavy on the 10, me flying down the HOV lane like a seasoned smuggler pilot looking to drop his load as quickly as possible.

“Ummm, I dunno,” the voice crinkled like a sheet of tin, “Maybe some Country?”

I wanted to cross five lanes of traffic, stop the ride and scream, “Get out! Now! No one asks for Country in this car!”

The last guy I let put on his own music provided some pretty good stuff from a DJ I’d heard of but not heard. I’m pretty good about picking the right people to allow monkeying around with my music. Mostly though, passengers are really good with what’s playing or it’s good enough for them to get through the ride. And, if I’m driving Miss Daisy, I’m going to skip through the Geto Boys. More often than not though, my passengers say they like what’s playing.

Back in the day before You Tube, a common blog meme was “random shuffle” post of 10 songs they’d heard. It was pretty self-indulgent and a lot of people cheated so that no one would know that they had “We’re an American Band” on their pod. With that aside, I’m going to revive that meme corpse in order to illustrate what riders of mine might experience:

Yes - I've Seen All Good People
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Hairspray Heart
Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
Burning Spear - Walk
Machine Head - Aesthetics of Hate
Half Japanese - Gift
Share - Empathy For the Devil
Elton John - Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Tom Waits - Clap Hands

The other night, an older couple was stoked when an aria from “Aida” came up. Last night, some doctor I picked up at the VA downtown remarked, “Good song,” when Miles Davis appeared with “So What?” At times, my pod seems to get stuck in a Stax/Volt groove and it’s occurred to me that I loaded way more Zydeco into iTunes than I’d thought.

Obviously, I’m passionate about music and making me drive people around without my tunes would be a good way to get me to set my car on fire.

Setting your car on fire close to gas pumps ensures that you get the job done right.

Good music takes the edge off of driving around the city, dodging amateurs and dealing with drunks. Asking me to play some crotch-punchingly bad song on your iPhone is a safety issue, so don’t do it. It’s better for everyone in the car if I remain sane and my ears aren’t bleeding as we careen our way to your destination.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Augustus Sol Invictus

Play this really, really loud for riders and then tell them you'll turn it down a notch for every
dollar they tip you.

I’ve been thinking about making this space to pimp for Florida’s Libertarian Party candidate for the US Senate. Augustus Sol Invictus, my new hero. I’m not throwing around my altar boy Latin, that’s the guy’s name, the one running for the Senate (his name should run for most sounding like the title of a Death Metal song). It means the Sun God will eat you in August or something. He walked from Florida to Arizona, apparently to find out why our news has become weirder than what’s happening in his festering bucket of batshit insanity.

Oh, he also sacrificed a goat and drank its blood. I assume he had God jerk the goat meat for him then kicked back with some Red Stripe and reggae. The goat must have been good with it and they called it assisted suicide (that being legal for goats in Florida) because he was never charged with anything. So, who wouldn’t vote for a guy with balls enough to kill a goddamned goat in his yard? It’s been too long since the US Capitol has seen a Senator strip naked and pour hot wax on himself.

Due to a couple of nights off during “Hot” times (high demand Friday/Saturday, not the weather, which has been civilized and nice enough to have riders request I keep the windows down), I ended up with my apps open for more than 14 hours on Sunday night. Drove my ass off I did, a couple of times needing to pull into a QT to gather back what ass I have to give. My behind carries enough cushioning to fill a ping pong ball so a few hours of back-to-back rides can get to be excruciating.
Quik Trip is popular with drivers and cabbies. As any driver will tell you, QT has it dialed in with a uniform store set up and serviceable, accessible bathrooms. Knowing a place to pee is important, day or night. Carrying around a piss jug is bound to deflate a driver’s ratings.

At about two hours before bar closing time, several of us were interspersed among the panhandlers in front of the QT, shaking out our sore asses, grabbing coffee and snacks, taking a piss stop. I had just lit up the cigarette I’d twisted when Tammy approached me, a driver from way back. After the usual “Slow tonight?” and other driver small talk, she had me befriending her on Facebook in order to get invites for a couple of ride-share driver groups.

Yet another grabass Internet jabberthon, I thought, as entertaining as the drag queen and her weird friend at four in the morning, dragging mud into the car and asking to stop at Jack’s 24-hour box, prattling on about rolling in the rain, the E she did still kicking in, while the weird friend remains stony, silent, sitting in the dark.

Like most groups it had the standard personality-type dynamic but there were some posts that were helpful, somewhat informative. No hacks for doubling fare amounts, no lurid Penthouse Forum exploits, no high-speed chases and flipping cars, unfortunately. I clicked a few likes and left after about five minutes, not terribly interested in app idiosyncrasies or the finer points of barf bags.
Some of the drivers posting there struck me as gung-ho to the degree of Kool-Aid drinkers. They say they’re making good money, good for them. I’m not hosting freaking High Tea in my car, they’re not getting free snacks and a baw-baw of water. There are only so many fucks I have to give during the day and a hungry, thirsty passenger isn't in the list I make for where those fucks are given.

One of the groups informed me that Lyft is hosting a pep rally tonight, the Kool-Aid served up in pink moustache cups.  Cash bar though, so it’s not like I’ll be showing up to slam a few shots and then hit the road to tell all my passengers how awesome it is to drive drunk for Lyft.

For Halloween, I might fill an empty Jack Daniels handle with tea and then swig on it while telling passengers, “You might have paid for the ride but the fun’s on me!” Have a toy pistol on the dash along with some ripped wanted posters with my picture on them.

Maybe have a goat in the car.

Tell them how about my new hero, how he, “renounced his citizenship in one paper, and in another he prophesied a great war, saying he would wander into the wilderness and return bearing revolution.” Then, offer them some Lyft Kool-Aid.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Even a baby understands the Second Amendment!

Jimi's guitar sounds like Lee Greenwood after getting kicked in the balls.

When developing a list of the most inefficient ways to kill someone (something that’s bound to happen while driving college kids around allnight), subjecting someone to random shark attacks on the beach or infants rank pretty high. I’m not talking about bashing someone to death with a baby (in no time in history have marauding hoards swooped in with bundles of joy) but just the little fuckers themselves, all big-eyed and adorable.

Breeding pestilence wherever they go, toddlers also cause home accidents at an alarming rate, what with people tripping over them when they could have been falling to their deaths attempting a selfie on the steps of the Taj Mahal. I have a theory babies cause old people to wander out in traffic by whispering suggestions in a frequency perceptible only to aged ears.

A crib is not for keeping them safe but is the little prison they’re sent to for plying with a lighter while hitting you with a blast of hair spray.

Put a gun in their hands (because handing a toddler a loaded weapon is always a fun way to pep up a family gathering) and our little angels of death are more lethal than terrorists. Unfortunately, banning infants is not the best strategy for the survival of our species.

Although terrorist must be pretty bummed at being bested by American babies (“USA! USA!”), they’re probably ecstatic knowing how awesome Americans are at killing each other. As President Obama pointed out in yesterday’s address on the UCCS mass killing, the number of Americans killed by guns this year towers over how many have been killed by terrorists.

Not even war can match the sheer American-killing power of gun ownership. As Nicholas Kristof wrote about in August, since 1968 more Americans have been killed by guns than in all the country’s wars. That includes the Civil War, the one in which Americans killing Americans was pretty much the point of the whole war thing. So, terrorists can feel a little better about themselves knowing that even war can’t compete with our propensity for shooting fellow citizens.

Basically, all terrorists have to do is wait until enough of us have been killed by American guns and then saunter in to show us how to really ban Planned Parenthood.

Hang tight, terrorists. Even with people like the Oregon shooter not exactly making the point for Second Amendment fetishists that, “Isn’t it great that we can have as many of whatever kinds of guns we want?” it’s just another existential moment in this country, one in a very long line, wherein “These crazy gun laws leads to appalling numbers of deaths,” soon becomes, “These crazy gun laws leads to the conclusion that there aren’t enough guns in America.” Trust me, it happens every time.

In the meantime, terrorists, you might want to switch tactics and advocate arming more babies.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Loving 21 Pilots makes me a whore

Yes, I'm a whore and this song is infectious. So, don't sleep with anyone until you get it cleared up.

On those morning when I drive the girls to school, we usually listen to the local indie station (KWSS stream) for the Rockin’ Royale, playing a little game wherein listeners vote for songs that the station might put into rotation. Not that they have a rotation per se, other than anything that might be spinning when I tune in – Tito Puente, 80s New Wave, Rockabilly, I even heard Aerosmith, one night – none of which has ever made me punch a button and say, “Oh, that’s total shit!”

When it’s time for Rockin’ Royale, I’m usually jockeying lanes from the HOV to the exit. No small task, the number of moronic maneuvers I encounter usually determines how I’m going to feel about the first song. If it seriously rocks, it usually gets my vote. If it sounds like Tove Lo, I’ll give the next song a chance. Even if that song sucks much less, I’ll still go for the notorious reset (enough reset votes and neither song repeats the next day), saving my thumbs up for no less than tear the shit up.

Too cool for school, EC sits in back, always (as if she’s one of my Uber passengers), “I wasn’t listening,” she’ll usually mumble or, if she’s feeling social, “I dunno, they both were lame,” then sulk because I pulled her from her vacation in EC Land. Frank, my gender-fluid younger daughter (she wants to go by a make’s name), always rides shotgun and casts a vote. Once she’s decided, I tell the phone to call the station, see if we called it when Rockin’ Royale returns in the morning. If we get on the air, we get to hear a few seconds of what everyone else is hearing due to the delay that protects listeners from foul mouths and feral minds.

Beef Vegan, the MC of the TMI morning show and joined by a bunch of random people joining him in the booth, takes the calls and gabs it up with the voters. When we get to talk to him, we’re known as “Hipster Dad and Hipster Daughter” (I haven’t asked Frank how she feels about that, since becoming a she-male… um, probably not that). Sometimes it’s her on the air, confident, laconic, not there to chit chat with Beef but to place the votes, the clipped diction of Tumblr. Frank doesn’t so much laugh as LOL a lot.

Fair enough. I WTF quite a bit.

Yesterday, I seriously thought Frank had been bitten by a spider. There was an eruption of shrieking, screaming and crying, someone jumping around and bumping into furniture. By the time I stumbled to the scene, Frank was on EC’s bed, showing off her phone. Apparently Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy had tweeted her. Frank’s world had suddenly become complete, free Cheez-Its and Dr. Pepper for life.

Frank is at that age where she needs to develop an almost obsessive attachment to something that annoys me. The thing is, that thing is mostly inoffensive, I don’t hate FOB (“Uma Thurman” was actually kind of clever and catchy). In fact, I’ve been to no less than two FOB shows this year and at no time did it feel like people were holding me down and jamming screwdrivers into my ears. With that aside, she hasn’t asked for any weird pets or started a meth lab in her closet.

Frank will have to step up this rebellion thing if she intends to drive me crazy.

In the meantime, one thing we all agree on (except LoML, whose taste in music is not to be trusted) is that we all like 21 Pilots. Both EC and Frank will pull up the 21 Pilots folder when I’m not in charge. And when I pick up the pod to find that folder playing, I’m inclined to keep the jams going (as the kids say).

I thought raising teenage girls was supposed to be harder than this.