My friend turned 30 on Saturday and reserved some lanes at a cool bar/restaurant/pool hall/bowling alley. So naturally I bowled, and as usual I did poorly to moderately bad with moments of inspiration.
Photo my friend Owen took when we visited Cougar Mountain. It was a weird place, no sounds, as in no birds or animals. Couldn’t even find droppings, it was like a dead forest except for slugs and millipedes.
When I wear proper dress shirts I absolutely hate to wear them without suspenders or a vest, I look like shit…wait…everyone looks like shit in a dress shirt, unless it is specifically tailored for them. They are baggy, they don’t fold in flattering places.
Suspenders only minimally help this problem, they at least hold in some of the shirt bag, and remind people that my figure is not the equivalent of a soggy paper bag.
Vests are really the only acceptable way to make a dress shirt work, they make the sleeves kind of billowy, fit the body firmly, and preferably are literally skin tight so they provide at least a reminder of how the person who is wearing these clothes is shaped. I like my vests to literally be like fancy button up corsets, they keep my already straight posture extra stiff.
When I work somewhere that demands dress shirts I automatically ask about vests, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to look like shit in some baggy ass dress shirt, all drooping over my waist line because I can’t afford to have blind artisans from Venice hand craft me a spider silk shirt delicately crafted to my exact measurements.
So Percival and I have been having a blast the past two days, being lazy, talkin’ about chicks, watching each other eat. He told me I needed a cool album cover for when I become big in Germany, so we did a few photos.
Percival, bad little duded, or raddest little dude?
Shudup, Steph. I’m not that old. Or rather…I am, but I don’t…shudup. I’m actually a bit sensitive about my age to be honest. Everyone calls me old now, but since I don’t have any of the trappings of age (a career, a wife, a future that goes further than a day and a half) it kind of makes me feel like crap. Hell, I was at a bar just yesterday with my friends doing Karaoke and this girl who had to have been like 23 tops was suggesting that I take out a mortgage on a house so that I can settle into life out here…like that was just something a dude dressed like Adam Ant with a depression beard would have done. It was just weird, and it made me feel more unsuccessful in life than I already feel. Currently my long term hope is that my friends get the farm in northern California they’ve always wanted and I can go and live there, tending the animals and taking care of repairs and things around the property, because otherwise I am way too big a dope to survive.
Good lord, I have a bright future as Mickey from The Screaming Skull (if you are a MST3K fan that may make sense, and will make me look really sad…and completely insane).
Here’s my kilt, and some other crap I have with it. My family is the Nicholsons, their motto is ‘generosity,’ apparently way back when the MacLeods and the MacDonald’s would get into arguments it was my family that would usually calm them down and invite them to their castle to negotiate peace and the like.
Some ruffian attempted to deceive one of my grandmothers into thinking I had been in a terrible accident and was injured. Sadly for this fellow he made the mistake of contacting my non blood related grandmother, who I refer to as Grandma Loretta, and in his attempt to seem endearing referred to her simply as grandma. The poor sap of course did not realize that in trying to pass himself off as me he was dealing with a character who has gained serious notoriety amongst his family and relations for not just eccentricity but extreme isolation from traditional family circles. As such her first reaction to this fellow was ‘What’s your last name?’ which the rogue was unable to immediately express, insisting that it was unnecessary and that his nose was broken and he needed aid. So inevitably he gave up on the trick and hung up, which still lead to a panicked call from my mother inquiring as to whether I had been horribly maimed in any recent accidents. Naturally when suffering from terrible injuries my first reaction is to call someone who lives less than a thousand miles away, and secondly to make my peace with the cosmos because I can’t afford to go to a hospital.
Anyway, this is the third time something like this has occurred to my knowledge, always to my friends however, some extended relation gets a call saying that their nephew or grandson has been arrested in Canada or was in a car accident half way across the globe and that money needs to be wired. It has yet to work to my knowledge.
I am in Alfred, New York, visiting ilivedtoo, and I’ve just finished taking a stroll around what I guess is the town. Rather a small part of it, but not so small as to be unable to gather a proper image of the place. Now though I am at a coffee shop, Terracotta, which is warm enough, full of comfortable chairs, it has internet and faux Tiffany chandeliers. Where I sit there is a partition of sorts, opened up by two support beams, which are painted in terracotta red. Twined around the tops of these beams is a length of cloth, gray-green and a transparent white. Looking at them again I have the view that this is perhaps a very apt analogy of how it felt to walk around here.
I have traveled, not too much, in fact far too little for my liking, but in the few places I’ve gotten to wander around in at my discretion Alfred seems to stand apart in a number of peculiar ways. The town itself exists largely for the sake of the university and State College which skirts the little hamlet on the East and West sides respectively. The town itself is dated back to 1807, and is only roughly a mile in length any direction. Where I sit now must be quite literally in the middle of the town, as to the West within a blocks length is an old Baptist Church, and the town hall, all colonial revival in style, and undoubtedly at least a hundred years old.
In leaving the seclusion of Terracotta, which is a feeling I will no doubt get into later, I made my way South, down the main thoroughfare towards the Alfred public library. It’s small, white, built in 1987, matching the town well, wooden walls, and full of outdated science and history books. I spent some three minutes in the building, it being roughly two rooms large, and at my back was the librarians assistant, looking dolefully at her computer screen. I’ve never seen a librarians assistant so miserable at the prospect of nothing to do but sit. Because I am uncomfortable enough in situations like that I quickly turned and left knowing that I did not want to just grab a Thomas Friedman book, sit down on a stack of old childcare magazines and cry at the state of popular political writing in America.
Back outside I wheeled towards the West and began walking up to what was effectively the village’s police station/center of government. It was right around this point that I felt something peculiar. Standing in front of the stations (the fire department was affixed just behind this first building) I gave a long look up, tracing a straight shot from beside the stairwell leading to the front door, up to the spire which looked flat due to how close I was to it. So there I stood staring at this building, a brownish red brick cast against roiling gray skies, its own color seeming to seep away as I looked longer at it, and I felt this wave of ill come over me. It was as though a creeping unhappiness had passed just under me, down in the earth and it regarded my sensitive vibrations from above.
I regained momentum and continued down the road, heading towards what I thought was the State College, in truth I had gone a street too far and was meandering down a road that likely simply headed out of town and off to points unknown. Then it was quiet, the sound of crickets, a few birds and leaves were all that could be heard. Each house I passed looked abandoned, except each had a single car, a curtain, a deck chair, a sign of habitation, but no movement, no lights, no murmuring tv’s, it was dead. Then came another uneasy wave. I walked and looked at the mountains around the town, the trees a mottle of reds, yellows and evergreen, looming over every direction, when between two buildings the horizon could be discerned it was again hills.
Paint flecked from house after house, occasionally a business would stand out, like ‘Traditional Acupuncture’, a low brick house, modern, unlike most of its neighbors. It stood out thanks to the forest green sign, gilded in bright gold, like old trolley cars that used to ferry passengers up and down the mountains outside San Francisco near Mt. Tamalpais. Besides the bold golden letters there were two sheaves of wheat, also cast in a sunny gold. I wondered for a bit who the clientele was, and why of all the businesses there they would have a sign like all the official town signs. I walked on.
Continuing down the lane I could distinctly see the state college through a line of trees, but I was unable to reach it by any means, choosing not to trespass on the property of one of these seemingly abandoned buildings. Ahead the trees seemed for a moment thicker and I tried to espy what was down this road, hoping to see a turn that would direct me back towards my goal. Instead I caught a glimpse of a large terracotta red and hunter green wall. The wall I glimpsed climbed higher into a bay window, to my left, as I edged closer, I could see the front door, then with a tilt of my head I gazed at a classic American Victorian home, the windows bare, the interiors empty, except here too sat a car, as if waiting for the occupants to leap out and do something like a family, which would never happen because there isn’t anything to do. I noted the grocery store was a literal market some 400 feet behind me, replete with unidentifiable baskets hangings from the windows. So here was this towering victorian home, a ghost, hollowed out and alive in some strange way. Here the feeling of unease grew, I had now become dogged by a hard to define sorrow, like the whole universe was an almighty joke.
I have walked through neighborhoods like this before, in Portland, in Santa Cruz, I’ve traipsed about small towns and green woods and so often I feel a kind of restiveness that comes with them. It’s like I am a part of nature and the world and all is in its place. Alfred is different, nature isn’t a comfort, the sounds of leaves are disquieting, the empty roads and houses are like tombs, not in manner but in sensation, inviting in a cryptic way. So a feeling sepulchral had settled over me, this town didn’t feel right, a warning that ilivedtoo had offered me before I ever came. As it turns out the town rests in a valley whose original name was Kanakadea, Valley of the Insane, the reasons for this are at this time unclear, but frankly this horrible weight gave credence to the title.
In due course, struggling through the otherworldliness of this area I found a road that curved left and entered the rear of the state college. At this time I gave a glance to another of the silent homes and there, amongst the bushes, no more than 100 feet away stood four deer. They ate, watched me, and generally kept to themselves. I recalled in the past moments where deer would suddenly attack people who had stumbled upon them, or in one scenario leapt into the bedroom of a young woman forcing the girls father to rescue her by physically subduing the animal. I moved by with all speed, admiring the animal that could tolerate it here, while thinking of Antichrist, waiting for a fox to groan 'chaos reigns!’ at me.
Once inside the college there came a change of mood, from the uncomfortable to the lonely, there wasn’t a soul around, cars again were scattered about, but all the buildings were dark, there was no one to populate these buildings, seemingly no students, but the sounds of labor could be heard echoing off the nearby mountains. I quickly headed towards the highest hill, overlooking the town, seeing the baptist church spire, trying to decipher the road that I could have come here on. Finally, fixing my eyes on a small bridge I briskly strode down the hill and over the creek that separated the state college from the town. As I approached Terracotta again I noted the decorations on the adjoining buildings upper ledge, winged heads, looking sadly upon the street, ornaments that seemed fit for a larger more metropolitan town, here giving the feeling of an old secret left buried in secret meetings between town elders.
Now, earlier I mentioned the feeling of seclusion in Terracotta, when you’re in it you feel quite alone, shielded really. Not in the normal way a building will protect you from the elements, and not so joyous as to imagine that when inside the shop you suddenly feel a plethora of beautiful emotions to wipe away the taint of the creeping disquiet outside. No, you feel shielded and aware, as though looking out a window would provide you a view of black void where hardly discernible shapes move to and fro. You feel like you’re sitting in a place that will only hold together long enough for you to attempt to formulate a plan of action in response to whatever is going on outside.
Alfred then is eldritch, through and through. It is Lovecraftian, just outside of you field of vision there always lurks something, even as you stare directly at it you can’t see whatever resides on the edge of this dimension, through a thin pane of glass called reality. The only leavings of this otherworld are emotions, the sensations of ill and sorrow that just cling to a body, and pervade everything around a person. I think I could go quite mad here, a peculiar thing to say, because the people seem largely normal, but then again perhaps they all simply play a part, maintaining a false normalcy for tourists.