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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

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

February 29, 2008


I was too drunk to vote back in that primary, but as a white man, I would have to vote for McCain.

February 27, 2008

no no parking


February 26, 2008

it’s not mine, i swear


The morning started with Big Jim offering me an Ensure. He buys them by the case from a friend on disability. By noon I’m at Home Depot Pro to help Ian the English Contractor. He was considering tying a sliding door to the roof of his Volvo when I arrived. He had the 3×6 window already up there. Since I’m on crutches he asks me to watch his baby while he goes back for the door. So I’m suddenly holding this bottle and Ian is taking a long time. It, or I should say she, is too little to hold the bottle herself. And she cries when it falls out of her mouth. So I’m rounding up coffee cups from the floor and some stuffed animals trying to build a bottle platform on top of her so I don’t have to stand there. Guys are wandering through the parking lot calling out “painter, labor, handyman!” in a Spanish accent. I consider for a moment hiring a guy to nanny. Then I realize I’m not ready for children. I’m not sure Ian is either, and this is his fourth.

in the back of the truck

I took this cool old door home from the dump. Can’t remember why.

February 25, 2008

slow runner


i hear they call lobster that are almost dead slow runners. can’t sell ’em. maybe they make cider out of them. We should ask this fellah’. He comes from a long line of lobstermen…Ken Hawkins told me so…
“Mike Sanders is Jim Sanders son, part of the Sanders lobster dynasty, a tall strapping buck, here is a picture of him, he is my neighbor, notice his lobster trap triceps, he knows all about it. Slow runners…mud bugs…bottom feeders…”

Is it true Mike? Are they called slow runners?

February 24, 2008

cost of rock and roll

the electrician had to leave early, he had a gig

Glenn, Big Jim and me. We work construction together. A lot of guys are in construction not because they want to be, but because it’s a last chance. Ask around, you’ll find an awful lot of “electric guitarists” on a site. I suppose since that first generation of MTV kids is now in their 30’s there are electric guitarists in all professions. It put a spell on us. But the construction trades are full of “gigging” guitarists and bass players and drummers who have to miss work to “jam” or “practice”. The amount of lost days due to rock and roll dreams..well… it’s a heavy price on our nation’s homebuilding and remodeling deadlines.

You have to understand how a band gets started to understand why so many guys fall off roofs and cut off fingers with saws and somehow bury the sidewheel grinder into their thigh. When a guy decides he is gonna commit himself to the guitar and really get good, he looks for a public place to play. That’s the guy in front of Goodwill banging out some random “chords”. Throw a buck in the shoebox, he needs it. Eventually someone comes by and say, “I play guitar too, wanna come by and jam?”

Now you have the beginning of what is known in the industry as a “lineup”. The better guitarist gets to play “lead” and the other guy plays “rhythm”. They’ll work out some “covers” and a few “originals” and play together at a coffee shop “open mic” on a sunday afternoon. So far this is harmless to our nations economy which relies so heavily on home building.

After their coffee shop gig they will excitedly hang up a “flyer” saying they are a guitar “duo” looking for a “sick” bassist and a “steady” drummer. This will fill out the “lineup”. Now things are really starting to come together and they can call themselves a “band”. “Band” is a general taxonomic class. This band will need a specific name. They will look for something from their daily lives. “Hammerdriver? That thing that bores holes in cement?” “Compressor? Like air compressor?” “How about toolbag?” “Okay.” Now these guys have found a tough sounding name.

Toolbag will start playing “gigs”. They “open up” for the interior painter’s band who is playing a tuesday night at a shitty bar the painter’s brother manages two towns away. Bands always start out “opening” for other bands on monday or tuesday nights. Friday and Saturday night shows are the best, because then you will have an audience to play for. The earlier in the week you play the more ridiculous you will feel. The same is true for how early in the “lineup” you appear. (lineup in this case means order of appearance on a given night, not the members of the band and their respective instruments)

But Todd, the rythm guitarist for Toolbag is gonna get incredibly drunk after his first “gig” Tuesday night in Colma. When he shows up for work Wednesday when most of the world is not hungover, he is gonna grab a power tool like nothing is wrong. He is going to forget to keep a tight grip on it and when it hits metal its gonna buck right out of his hand and kick back into his face. Luckily today the blade side doesn’t make the contact. This is an important moment in Todd’s career. If he decides this is dangerous and calls it quits another office worker has been born. The world has lost another guitarist. It’s not like we’re running out of them. If Todd goes out back and throws up in the debris pile and says, “whoa dude. That was gnarly” and goes back to work then the rock and roll dream lives on one more day. The trades have absorbed another self destructive idiot.

It is important to note Todd is a laborer. Laborers are the equivalent of guys playing guitar on a street corner. There is the most minimal of skill required. These types of workers are looked down on by the high end guys. High end guys usually play high end acoustic guitars hand crafted by luthiers in Vermont out of exotic woods recovered from Egyptian shipwrecks. A finish carpenter doesn’t bash out “power chords”. He has developed a “syncopated” right hand finger picking style reminiscent of ragtime greats from the turn of the last century.

Finish carpenters, master electricians, custom cabinet makers, these are the saturday night “headliners”. Apprentice electricians, journeymen plumbers, guys who’ve been roofing for ten years, these guys play the wednesdays, the thursdays, maybe even opening for someone, first in the “lineup”, on at 9 pm Friday night.

Glenn is our finish carpenter. Big Jim has the “chops” to play a Saturday night, but certain choices have left him out of the “majors”. He is an “unsigned” talent, capable of rewiring a house, plumbing a bathroom in the addition, and general roofing, drywall and framing. It’s like he “headlines” Friday night, but at some weird club not on a bus route down where they unload ships. I’m the laborer. I have nothing to brag about.

I had to explain that whole division of labor and talent through a rock and roll paradigm so you will have some foreshadowing for tomorrow’s story.

February 23, 2008

mystery solved


i’ve been with fifty or sixty women and they’re never in my experience morning people. not on a saturday. oh, women. i get excited just looking at their shoes. ever wonder about that? i guess it’s like a dog hearing a bell ring. there was a guy Pavlov who rang a bell every time he fed his dogs. Got to a point where they’d drool just hearin’ the ding ding ding. i’m like that when i hear heels clickin’.

i was talkin’ bout saturday mornin’s…why do you figure they don’t want to get up? we’re animals, i know that. so i’m thinkin’ they’re like momma deers who want to stay hid in the bushes and watch their young. it’s my nature to get up and prowl around.

“let’s sleep in tomorrow,” they say. they need to plan it. build the day around stayin’ under the covers. maybe it’s because they’re so cold all the time. cold to start too, if you catch me. you gotta rub all over ’em for twenty or thirty minutes and then you kiss them and start rubbing in earnest like some ritual that was involved with gettin’ an old fly wheel driven John Deere to fire. but women aren’t machines. they’re a type of animal.

usually if i want to catch an animal i lie real still till it gets close and i shoot it. again, that’s not how you operate with women. so i don’t know how to explain it. you’re lying in bed and never sure if they are gonna slap your hand away. so you move real slow and that makes you feel like maybe they’re asleep and you’re doing something wrong. for me it could be a done deal in about three minutes but to get a woman involved is an exercise in patience. could be that’s why saturday morning lasts so long.

i’ve heard it said they are forward thinkers, they plan two or three moves ahead where a man thinks things are happenin’ spontaneously. in plain english i’m saying they are committin’ you to an extended time in bed without risk of you fallin’ asleep. they want to go at it like rabbits four or five times in a row. i’m glad we talked this out, because now i’m startin’ to understand why no woman is a morning person on saturday. here i was thinkin’ they were lazy. they wanna bone.

they dump big piles of salt around new england


new england is a place not a state, north of the south, east of the west and it gets cold in the winter and snow freezes on the road so crews spread salt to help it melt.

drunks are friends with drunks and none of them will listen

photo by K. Hawkins

Glenn is a drinker. He is a great carpenter as well. His friend (we’ll call him Brad) came to town to DJ a party and decided it was time to dry out. I’m down with a bumb wing, so Brad showed up to work in my place but couldn’t even hold a shovel he was shaking so bad.

“Take me back to your place,” Brad said to Glenn. “And go up and hide all your booze.”

“No way,” Glenn said. “I’m not trying to quit. Lay down in the car till I’m done working.”

Later as Glenn told me the story he said, “Brad’s the kind of guy you’d find chugging the bottle of blueberry liqueur at 9 in the morning if that was all he could get. I have too much alcohol to hide anyway. So he stayed in the car.”

For most of my life I’ve hung around people who drank a lot more than I did so I could always point to them when people told me I drank too much. An interesting bit of psychology. One of the first people I knew who could drink more than anyone was Ken Hawkins. They say that’s an early sign of alcoholism. Ken sent me the photo above.

It tells a complex story. The Holy Sacrament of alcohol, a human ritual of bonding that is also bullet, part of the liturgy that will kill. Then there is the little plastic chip that is the Eucharist of a new church. The congregation at the bar on Friday night has always felt the oppression of the congregation that gathers in Church on Sunday. A black covered book that says we can’t control anything but demands we control ourselves. There’s a lot going on in that picture.

I don’t know what to say. I could have done a lot of things if I wasn’t drunk so much. But I enjoyed the hell out of being drunk so much. So there it is. We’re monsters.

art on the wall at California College of Art

slave labor

An old pal sent in a photo of an artist who used bees to create a honeycomb vase. Thought I’d share it with the rest of you too. Thanks Z!

domestics and oriental

This place is in a row of houses and I always admired the amount of signage they were compelled to use. If I get a ladder tall enough I too will have this many messages on the front of my house.

get on your good foot

After four days of people saying, “you’d know if you broke it” and not having any idea if I did or didn’t, I went to a doctor. I didn’t break it. It just looks gross. Bruised the bone, damaged the tendons. Crutches for two weeks. $175. Thanks.


big and dumb and banging its head

This is the pacific ocean, all pissed off. I’m on a cliff eating at a little restaurant that pretends better than most to be stuck in time. The floor is fake brick Congoleum with squares of ’60’s hued green yellow and orange scattered in. Brown vinyl booth seats. Ten dollar ham and cheese and a blond waitress acting in a local theater production of Steel Magnolias. She’s talking to an older couple at the counter as she buses tables and takes orders. It’s a small place with windows on two walls that show Marin, the ruins of Sutro Bath and the open ocean with white caps out on the horizon. Sometimes you think your life is a mess and you come watch the ocean. It’s big and dumb and banging its head against rocks but you don’t have to.

February 21, 2008

illustrated email


My old pal mr. ravioli, aka Konks, sent me an interesting email that begged to be illustrated. I’m working on a story right now about how my friends and I spend more time than most looking for ways to get rich. This is going to be a reference point.

February 20, 2008

Got the newest Dadant catalog. Thought I’d share a fun page with you all.

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