My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

July 14, 2007

San Francisco Pride Parade

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things start off normal with Star Trek’s Sulu on the Google float waving like a Vulcan with a blue man in a computer behind him.

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things start to heat up when the girls with the great asses show up and every straight guy in the crowd takes their picture

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then the guys get their make up straight

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then all hell breaks loose and the parade goes wild

July 13, 2007

This is not about the browser war.

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There are no visible effects America is fighting a war. Not in the hearts and not in the minds of Americans. The yellow ribbon shows we support our troops, but they are in Afghanistan, Central America, Haiti, Rawanda, all over the place. The red ribbons show we support the fight against breast cancer. I doubt you’ve confused the two, but neither are an effect of war.
We have had citizens illegally wiretapped, but is that really an effect of the Iraqi war, or just a bonus bit of legislation that resulted from the neo-con rush post 9-11? Today, friday the 13th, the market place is breaking records. The dow broke its all time high, the s&p was five points shy of its record. So perhaps the only effect we are noticing of this current war is the fattening of IRA accounts.
I for one want an iPhone and have dreamed about that far more often than a stabilized democratic government in Iraq. I could really use an iPhone. But let’s take a moment today and think about the people who have had their country destroyed and thrown into a sectarian battleground because we went in to stop Saddam Hussien from developing weapons of mass destruction, which we can’t find and he couldn’t afford to develop.
Let’s not ignore the war.

July 11, 2007

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I used to make models, but I don’t recall having this stuff around. Here’s the straight dope on this stuff from a random model website

N: Mills Testor was from Rockwood, IL. That’s where the Swedish population was in Illinois. In Rockwood, if you look in the phone book, you aren’t going to find any Smiths. He really started in model cement. Testor was in the nail polish and shoe polish business originally, and he went bankrupt. He used to supply Woolworth’s and the 5 and 10’s eventually broke him because of the prices. When they did that, he got into the glue business for models and then paint right after that. He grew from there because he was a very energetic, hard working guy. He wasn’t going to let the fact that he had failed in one field put him down.

B: Didn’t they call glue and paint dope in those days?

N: Yes, they used to call any paint dope because in the beginning airplanes were covered with cloth. To get them stretched and to paint them, they had a paint that was called dope. In the real or prototype airplane field, the paint was also called dope. So, the model industry called it dope as well, because it would do to paper what it did to the cloth on the real airplane, it would shrink it. They didn’t call it dope because of the models, it was called dope on the real aircraft. The Berry Brothers in Detroit were the biggest manufacturers of paint for aircraft at that time – they were called Berry Loid. We used to get money from them to help sponsor model airplane contests.

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It would be a much more poetic life if everything was as eloquent as this pencil…instead of “Made in China” we had “made in the northern province in the factory alongside the river”.

headed west

this is a rough draft, that I’m putting up for now, will finish it tonight. If you can contain your enthusiasm, read the final version tomorrow. Otherwise, take a look at this one.

In January 2001 I realized I wasn’t gonna make it through another New Hampshire winter. The elderly were freezing solid on street corners, their blood thinners putting a dangerously high water content in their veins, so their pipes froze up like a summer camps plumbing. I was 28, using New Hampshire Liquor Store vodka for anti-freeze. I was a squirrel without enough nuts to get through the winter. Nuts in one of the more figurative senses. I couldn’t take the cold, and I didn’t like the darkness.

Up that far north its hard to tell the difference between a boy and girl. Everyone is under too many layers to show a curve, hats and scarves leave a four inch swatch of skin that turns pink. The boys might as well be wearing blush. Very confusing. Its dark from 4 pm until 9 am the next day. I was living in an apartment that had been boarded up after a fire, so I didn’t even see daylight those seven hours it was around. The kitchen was gone. Not a burn victim, that corner of the building had rotted away. The building dated back to the Industrial Revolution. Those cogs quit spinning 60 years ago, and the building started to settle back to organic matter. It moved fast.

So the kitchen was off limits, I could look in where the former appliance’s shadows sillouhetted the walls and look down into the dirt floor of the crawl space below where the plywood subfloor had crumbled in. A homeless guy started squatting underneath me, and he left food down there, so I boarded up the kitchen floor to keep rats and racoons from coming up.

There was a living room, but I didn’t do any entertaining there. It was jammed up with twenty foot lengths of sprinkler system pipe. The unit wouldn’t be up to code without that stuff installed. Long as they lay piled up on the floor it kept my occupancy illegal and rent manageable. The landlord was storing doors and windows in there as well, and his daughters couch, wrapped in plastic.

My kingdom consisted of the bedroom, with flame stains on the wall. It was just a futon on the floor and my entire collection of afghan quilts on top. 14 in all. The weight of that much yarn was like sleeping underneath a fat woman. I loved it. Still, I wore a knit cap. I’m one of those people who can’t sleep with his head under the covers.

The main entrance was nailed shut. The only way in and out was prying the wood off the windows and jumping or passing through the bathroom. A magical bathroom that had another door that opened into a tiny retail space. A ten by twenty five foot square corner unit. I was there because of that storefront. Right on State Street in downtown Portsmouth. Basil Richardson was my landlord, a local eccentric, who jogged while smoking a cigar. He ran a market, and prepared tuna sandwiches while smoking a cigar. He sold fifty cent cups of coffee right up to the end. I was one door down from the market, upstairs was a flop house.

I loved my little shop. The stores bathroom, underneath the angle of a staircase also opened into my condemned quarters. It was a bit like anne frank, living illegaly behind a secret door. I had to lean forward if I peed standing up, and my knees touched the wall when I sat down. The handbowl was large enough to rinse an apple off in. i could squeeze through and go through a door into my secret chambers. No windows there for me, just holes where they used to be, and weathered old plywood scraps nailed over that.

I was running a junk shop out of the storefront. nothing illegal, but the smells were awful. and the clientelle was often horrified bostonians coming up country to see a charming old sea port, and I was selling someones collection of Hustlers and poly vinyl iron-ons with parodys of outdated ad campaigns, like “the hell with mountains, show me your Busch”. I was the only shop in Portsmouth that carried smurfs and thundercats, and the colonial antiques shop’s with their wrought iron cookware and tri-corn hats must have felt betrayed by shabby storefront. I was a bit of blow to the cultural climate of this old nautical themed historic district. I’m not sure why the Preservation Society didn’t complain when I painted my storefront bright red, indigo blue and high temp silver.

The point of this little trip down memory lane, I should foreshadow, is I’m 34 now, and feeling like that birthday is a sad one, since it has shown me i had an overinflated sense of potential and/or capabilities. I took a quick look at my life as it is and how I thought it would be and had to go lay down with the lights out. But after a little bit of crying, I decided to take another, braver look. What did I really want for myself? Maybe I have reached some goals, and the problem is, that didn’t make me happy.

My goals in 2001.

move to california. The shop was named, “The Amazing Mystery Spot”. I had california on my mind, even then, taking the name from the Mystery Spot in santa Cruz, where due to optical illusion a roadside attraction sprung up in the mountains where round objects roll uphill and magnets don’t work. Moving to California was not going to be overcome simply by packing my grip and catching a plane. I was going to break away from a cult. I was going to leave friends and family behind, leave the sense of pride New Englanders instill in themselves because they survive brutal winters and hellacious summers, working hard and going to church through it all. I was heading to a godless country of sexual immorality and political liberalism of scandolous proportions. Banning styrofoam and plastic bags? Un-American! Decriminalizing Marijuana and sex work? Unethical! Holywood and San Francisco, the two hot spots of satanic influence, the two places I considered moving to. In the end San Francisco won out. The dream of being a cowboy was stronger than the dream of stardom. I had a job lined up working around horses, operating tractors and jackhammers, digging post holes by hand and hanging fences.

But let’s get back to New Hampshire. I was buying and selling items that borderlined on garbage. Often he thing was formerly garbage, and I just pulled it out of a trash can, picked it up off a curb, or brought it back from the dump. Then there were the flea markets. I would go as far north as Arundel Maine, far south as Todd Farm in Massachusetts. I had an eye for outrageous design patterns and color schemes, synthetic materials like mid centruy plastic and polyester cloth. In 1998, when I first opened the shop, I was collecting from the late 1980’s. These things hadn’t even become vintage. An eight year time lapse doesn’t put something in the collectable category, it makes it clutter then free box material at the yard sale. And I hit a lot of yard sales in the two years I had my shop.

The memories are flooding back, threatening to throw this reminiscing off course. Derek, my retarded 16 year old neighbor, who first got me started in the junk business…where is he? My girlfriend Lindsay, who watched the store move from our little barn to a real shop, she took Hank the cat and moved to Kansas City. There is a lot to tell, but these are other stories. The point is, in January of 2001, I took stock of my position. I had drank up all my profits at the 30 or so bars in walking distance to my shop. I was trading geegaws from the store shelves for pints of beer when a friendly barkeep was behind the tap. It was getting colder and the plywood on the windows wasn’t getting warmer. I couldn’t stay under the afghans all day. I had to get up and open the shop. But Portsmouth tourism died completely until Springtime, which was sometime in April or May, weather depending. Christmas was over, locals wouldn’t be spending money on anything but booze and pot. Those with electric heat wouldn’t even be able to afford that. The flea markets and yard sales were in hibernation like the maple leaves. What was I going to sell the next four months to make rent, and to who? I considered a grow operation, but my place wasn’t heated.

In the end I took a janitorial position at a theatre down the street. I mopped the stage and ironed Sweeney Todd’s costume. I was depressed. When a friend called and offered a place for me to crash on the peninsula of San Francisco, I decided my retail operation was folding. I opted for a train journey across the country, in keeping with my fear of flying and modern technology. What attracted me to garbage was the sense of age, my belief that the unwanted were my kin, the sense that what was made today had no sense of history compared to a pair of shoes with a worn out heel and Nixon era style. Something used had attained a sense of spirit that was missing in a brand new item. New was equal to soulless in my world. And a three day train trip across America had far more soul than a six hour flight. I envisioned I was a greenhorn from New Hampshire headed west in 1849 on the continental railroad (not completed until 1869, but whatever) to strike it rich in the new land of california.

At this point my ability to live in a romantic world was still not tarnished by the awful experiences of the Merchant Marines I had endured in 1996. The mysteries of the sea and the comraderie of a sailor’s life were both unexplained and unexperienced in my 8 months aboard a floating cage for mentally deranged monosyllabic loners and socially aggresive former killers/male rapists. The dream of the golden west was not in any way sullied with the reality of that other broken dream. I just blamed myself for not being open to adventure, and promised myself I would succeed this time in writing a great novel based on my new experiences.

Goal number two. Become a writer. become a cowboy and a writer.

Are we ready to come back to the present? I’m sitting in front of a computer at the junk mail factory waiting to get the okay to band up copies of the latest catalogue. So, I made it to california, but I’m no cowboy. Of course, cowboys don’t exist. Which makes it hard to realize that dream. For seven years I worked off and on with a couple old guys doing what felt like the next best thing to cowboying. Excavation/construction. Riding equipment rather than horses. Getting drunk on and off the job. hanging around bars and chasing women. I moved from that boarded up apartment in New Hampshire to a small trailer in Woodside California. Still no running water, still no kitchen. Taking baths after dark under a hose down the road. It was the writers life I imagined would propel me to literary stardom. I sat in that trailer with an old manual typerwriter and wrote page after page after page. It’s in boxes under my bed.

Any birthday after about 12 you start evaluating yourself. The first kiss, driving cars, drinking, all those milestones, until you hit 25. Then you start getting harsher on yourself. “Have you made any money yet?” “Are you prepared for accidents, injury, retirement?” “Have you found true love?” “Are you famous yet?”

It’s possible I had larger dreams of grandeur than most people. I was sure I would be an excellent musician, writer and actor upon maturity. Once the cable company arrived in Greenland NH, circa ’87, MTV started to work its magic on me. Being entertained was not as interesting as the possiblity of being an entertainer. I wanted people to look at me and the clothes I wore. So last year, when a friend invited me down to Hollywood to work on a pilot episode of a reality based sketch comedy show, it seemed like a natural course of events. Soon I would be on tv.

This friend of mine wanted the stardom too. Recognition. A lifestyle. One that I wanted, but also didn’t want. I had the cowboy/movie star dichotomy. One that isn’t as well known as the virgin/whore example. Briefly, to be a cowboy was someone who was a rugged unerpaid individual who worked with his hands for survival. a movie star is overpaid and relies on fans adoration for a sense of worth. The movie star might also be a musician, either way, he creates a non-essential commodity: entertainment.

I stayed in LA for eight months. There was an audition for a tv show that went horribly. The truth was, I’m not an acotr. Never trained, never tried. To be 32 before one realizes that he is fooling himself may be worse than never waking up to reality. Perhaps, had i stayed in NH, I could still wait for my big break with a happy heart. Instead I embarrassed myself in a small office at the top of a Hollywood complex on Sunset Boulevard.

And that was after the pilot tanked. At this point in my life I believe that my desire to be a writer led me to shut off my ability to related to others, in a misguided attempt to become an observer. I put myself in strange situations and then sat still and watched what happened to me and around me. Only a few times (out at sea when a man threatened to throw me over) did I realize that I wasn’t actually an observer. I was delusional.

So I’m 34 now. Also, aware I’m delusional. Also, disillusioned. I worry about making money, I fall asleep before I can get to work on my writing at night. i don’t laugh much anymore. I made it to the west coast and that’s all I can say. If life gets easier after 33 (pressures off – you aren’t going to beat Jesus’ accomplishments and he died at that age) then I look forward to this coming year. Perhaps disillusion will be the best gift I’ve gotten. Perhaps this will be my year to shine. On the inside. like my heart of coal finally has matured to diamond. No more tough guy poetry. I’m now the most sensitive man in SF.

July 10, 2007

psychedlic russians

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lately the urge to see everything as a psychedelic album from the sixties has been influencing the pictures on this blog. Imagine how happy these records make the universe. More happy than distortion pedals. summer of love, baby. san francisco.

skull fuck muni

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apparently I’m not the only one frustrated with san francisco’s public transportation.

S.F. Muni. Don’t bother.

why do we have tax funded baseball?

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This huge line of motorcycle cops was hanging around in front of the hotel where all the Major League Baseball players were staying, so they could escort the buses to the stadium. Why was that necessary?

July 8, 2007

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This hornbook is made of mahogany, paper and ink. The thin slice of horn that makes these gems eponymous is missing. Most likely to be replaced with an unused transparency. It is for Briar Moon MacDonald, my first niece.

The inspiration came here.

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The varityper was used to create newspaper headlines, or any other type for design. Type was produced onto 35 mm film. 90 seconds of exposure inside the machine was all it took. The film was then exposed onto photo plates and run through the printer.

July 7, 2007

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July 6, 2007

i get my news from the stickers on the box

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View Album

Get your own

July 5, 2007

He took a nose dive in ’03

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thanks K!

July 4, 2007

life is good here, and i for one love it.

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the smell of the 4th hangs around and cardboard cylinders of spent explosives scattered in the street do too. pick up trucks with folding chairs opened and facing the show, kids sitting on the roof of the SUV and the tail gate up and a cooler open on the ground. It’s a fireworks show in the town of sebastapol, california. kids are out with their parents and teenagers are in little groups with their haircuts and t shirts, they think we stare because we’ve never seen it, but it’s just us looking back for ourselves. They feel some power from our stares and shift uncomfortably.

the best part of a fireworks display is the thud of the explosion in your body, which comes moments behind the color. You could stay at home and rub your eyes to get those colors, but the kaboom is a rare charge in this peacetime economy. You climb on the shed roof, or lean against a chainlink fence at the schoolyard, your mother brings a blanket and you sit down on the grass and look up at the sky.

Matt Conway asks, as we stand in front of someone’s house listening to a live band do covers of the doors, “Is this why Al Quaeda hates us?” Then the big truck drove by, and we thought that might be what they hate us. Of course, it has more to do with us going into their neighborhoods and telling them how to live. That’s where the hate comes from. But let’s not get political on the fourth of july. it’s independence day, from a country that came into our neighborhoods and told us what to do. and we stood up! long live the gorilla war the minutemen fought!

July 3, 2007

I reckon it’s time I took the bridle off and told you folks a little story. You can shoot me for a horse thief if this ain’t the straight and narrow, but it’s gonna take some believin’, I understand. Quite a few liars are from around these parts, but if you get a few bad coconuts you don’t chop down the tree. So hear me out and ask yourself if it don’t make no sense. I think you’ll find it does.

It’s the story of about the best cowboy ever came up the trail from Texas. His name was Dallas, and he was from the Fort Worth area, but they say he was borned in all actuality among the eskeemoes up North.

What made him such a darn good cowboy was his quick thinking and able-to-make-do-ness. Jest fer example, one afternoon ol’ Dallas was riding across Indian land with a string of rabbit he’d shot when a couple of braves crossed his path. They saw that string of rabbit and a young cowboy on their huntin’ land and that’s all it took to convince them to draw their scalpin’ knives out of their buckskins.

“Hang on pardners, I ain’t poached this, I was riding out to give it to you, as way of an invitation to a fandango we’re havin’ on account of the new nickel my government’s made.” And with that Dallas pulled out a shiny Indian head nickel with the fat old buffalo on the back and showed it to the two braves.

That’s why there weren’t never no trouble with Indians in that part of the frying pan from that time on. Once folks got to dancing and showing off their Saturday night duds, there weren’t no reason for fighting.

Dallas didn’t always have perfect luck, that’s true. He was the only cowboy I knew with a wooden leg. It was a beautiful affair, don’t get me wrong, gilded with Spanish gold in a ranchero tradition. Of course that was his Saturday night leg, he did have a workaday limb. It was fashioned out of a hickory tree from back in the Maine woods. In fact it was from the same tree that took his leg away from him. A black bear chased him up it, the tree came down, killed the bear and crushed his leg. Dallas had no choice but take the bear claw and cut his leg off to get out from under it. Short one leg and stuck in the woods, he found a sturdy branch with an appropriate bend for a foot, strapped it on and walked 37 miles back to Bangor and decided New England had too many trees, so he headed west for the prairie country.

He came on across the United States, as few states as there were back then, and settled down in Texas to a real cowboy life where there weren’t no tall trees to fall on you.

Cuss the luck that day Dallas got caught in a prairie fire. That ain’t no weather for a wooden leg. Dallas and his gentle Indian pony were racing to the river trying to save their hides. Literally racing. Dallas loved his pony so much he didn’t want to burden her   with his weight so he hopped down and took off on foot and crook. He and his mare were neck and neck with the fire licking at their heels, which started the hickory one to burning, and by the time they were up to the river, Dallas just had to jump and hope he made it in ’cause he didn’t have no more hickory leg left. That wasn’t the only heartbreak that day. His gentle Indian pony was truly a smart chunk of horse flesh but she couldn’t swim. And Dallas, with only half a fin could just float himself, and he watched brokenhearted as his compadre drown. They both washed down river and up to the shore out of the fires reach.

Dallas didn’t lay there long before deciding he had to get up and give his trail partner a decent and fitting burial. Problem was, gettin’ up. There aint no hickory in texas. In fact, in prairie land their ain’t nothing firmer than the dirt. But what the good lord did provide was four strong pony legs within reachin’ distance.

Tired as Dallas was from the runnin’ and jumpin’, floatin’ and hopin’ for the best, he knew a cowboy could do his sleepin’ in the winter time, and right now he had to get back to the ranch or he’d be brushin’ the teeth of buzzards. Asking his old pony’s permission and forgiveness, he set to removing her good left rear leg.

Not more’n twelve paces, which is nothing but 24 good hops, Dallas was saddled up to a seven foot tall star thistle with purple flowers and white deadly needles. Just what he needed to sew the pony’s leg to his. Dallas found the biggest prick on the star thistle and broke that some bucket off and milked the poison out. Taking his pony’s reins he threaded the leg on with the good leather and found himself cantering back to the ranch dreamin’ about the North lands, where there ain’t no trees, and there ain’t no prairie fires. It wasn’t long after that the best cowboy in Texas moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. For the rest of his years his only complaint was the cost of mail order horse shoes and lack of a farrier.

welcome to california, in three images

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