Monday, September 21, 2009

behold, indeed

I discovered this classic billboard along a rural Missouri highway while heading to the Lake of the Ozarks in 2007. Surprisingly, it didn't appear to be near a church - rural Missouri is filled with miles of winding roads, deciduous trees, porn, and Jesus - so I like to think some nearby gas station owner put it up to spread the good word, and ended up spreading the - er - slightly disappointing word instead.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

growth for the sake of growth

Like many kids who came of age in the suburbs during the era of sprawling strip malls, big box stores and chain restaurants, I did not have an idyllic setting to explore during my childhood.

The Stilwell, Kansas, neighborhood where I grew up was built in the mid-70s, and it wasn't as cookie-cutter as some of the newer neighborhoods, the ones with names like Cedar Crest, Parkwood Hills, or Deer Creek; in fact, the house where my parents still live sits on a two-acre yard in which my dad plants a vegetable garden, my mom plants flowers, and my brother and I used to spend hot summer days running through the sprinklers, playing volleyball and basketball, and splashing on the slip 'n' slide. And, in the backyard, my dad still keeps homing pigeons, which he races competitively against other pigeon breeders in the KC area. These aren't your mangy, garbage-pecking street pigeons; they are big, muscular and graceful. They're kind of like if Kid Rock were a pigeon vs. if James Bond were a pigeon, or a Courtney Love pigeon vs. an Angelina Jolie pigeon. Anyway, you get the idea.

When I was a kid, Stilwell was still relatively rural, but by the time I was 16 and able to drive, big corporations had gobbled up much of the open space and filled it with strip malls, Wal-Marts, Super Targets, Taco Bells, Starbucks, etc. - you name it, and if it's a corporate franchise, you can probably find it within a 15-minute drive of my parents' home. Having such a homogeneous setting in which to do my first large-scale independent exploration (because you can't get around Kansas City, especially the suburbs, without a car) might have stifled my personal development (and led to my repeated decisions, once I turned 18 and moved out on my own, to throw myself, head first and unprepared, into unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous situations), but at the time it was all I knew. When you're 16, you're still just a kid with a drivers' license, and you'll find mystery and excitement in even the most sterile, oppressively-mauve shopping center, or the neon-lit aisles of a 24-hour Wal-Mart. You'll find it even if it's not there.

My friend E. and I would occasionally hang out in a small, wooden gazebo located in the middle of an office park called Corporate Woods. We called it "gazebo time," which meant little more than sitting on the bench smoking cigarettes and talking about boys, whining about our parents, and growing nervous about the future, maybe having a quick dash through the lawn sprinklers if they were on. There was something almost romantic about gazebo time, even if, twelve hours later, corporate drones who decided to brown-bag it would be chowing their wonderbread sandwiches in our very seats.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

kind of a drunken superhero

I spent a good part of my early 20s getting hammered at Buzzard Beach, the dive bar that more closely resembles my imagination of a pirate ship than any other place I've been. I was kind of a drunken superhero - I could fall down repeatedly without getting hurt, drink upwards of eight shots without throwing up, and do really dumb shit without going to jail.

Here are some of my favorite shenanigans (the ones that aren't too embarrassing to repeat):

1. I came home hungry from the bar one night, so I cooked a frozen pizza. On my way to the living room, I dropped it face down on the carpeted kitchen floor. Without thinking twice, I grabbed a fork and plopped down next to my snack, scraping the pepperoni and melted cheese right off the carpet and into my mouth.

2. For a year I lived in a house in Westport that my former roommate and I still only call the "death house." While my previous apartment had a particularly nasty carpeted kitchen (see shenanigan number one), this house had a particularly nasty carpeted bathroom. Because it was already so nasty I decided to revel in it, and I would often invite my friends to come hang out in the bathtub to drink and smoke* with me. I passed out there on more than one occasion, oftentimes still clutching a half-empty can of PBR.

3. I used to steal from Quik Trip all the time: hot dogs, Slim Jims, Doritos, those processed beef and cheese combo packs that don't contain any actual beef or cheese. Hot dog thievery was almost too easy: you just put two (or even three) in the same container. The cashiers never question it, and five minutes later you're scarfing a free hot dog on the porch and chasing it with Crown Royal. Brilliant.

4. It was Halloween in the death house, and my friend K. showed up after hours with fake blood all over her face and chest. Deciding I wanted to look dead too, I dumped it all over my head. Then, deciding I wanted the whole "vampire" effect, I dumped at least a half ounce of the stuff in my mouth and accidentally swallowed. I immediately vomited on the kitchen floor. The next morning when my roommate got home from work, she came into my room and said, "Someone bled everywhere last night." There wasn't a hint of surprise in her voice.

5. In a nearly superhuman feat of drunken athleticism, I walked almost ten miles home from a friend's house at 7 a.m. because they were still sleeping and I felt bad waking them after drinking literally all of their beer the night before.

By Halloween of 2008, I had figured out how to apply fake blood correctly.

*I have since quit smoking, and I'm worried I'm becoming one of those awful, self-righteous former smokers, mainly because I just deleted the sentence "smoking is bad, bad, bad, and if you do it, you will die, die, die" and replaced it with this one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

from the great minds of my midtown apartment

...comes this fucking blog.

Meet the contributors:

(pictured during one of his many apparitions of the Virgin Mary)

Likes: salmon-flavored kitty treats, satire and irony, stout beer, long naps in the sunlight

Dislikes: being fucked with, running out of kitty treats, skank-ass bitches, complacency

Brings to the table: a misspent youth on the mean streets of KCMO


(pictured after being disturbed from a pretty serious nap on the windowsill)

Likes: being the center of attention, new toys, the nostalgia of early fall, playing fetch with skill and tenacity most dogs would envy

Dislikes: loud noises, religious zealots, douchebags, water guns

Brings to the table: relentless vanity and narcissism


(pictured exploring Lava River Cave in Bend, Ore.)

Likes: singing loudly when alone, organic food, swear words, traveling anywhere, anytime

Dislikes: loud, tactless people, boredom, hangovers, corporate greed

Brings to the table: mad typing skills