The Libtards Podcast has arrived!

That’s right fine citizens of the world, The Libtards Podcast has arrived.  Sit back, open a bottle of your favorite beverage and listen to a couple of aging Austin Progressives toss back a few and talk about politics.  Invite the entire family around your device of choice and join us each wednesday at 2pm for political commentary, debate, interviews and a story or two.

Our first episode is is called Dingo Baby, because if you think about it…A DINGO TOOK OUR BABY!  That is, if the Baby represents American Civil Liberties and the Dingo had an orange wispy toupe’.  This conversation is NOT a recap of the news, hardcore journalism or a screaming call to arms.  The hosts strive for in depth discussion based in history, philosophy, knowable facts, all sprinkled with snowflakes and bullshit.

Please enjoy episode One of The Libtards Podcast:  Dingo Baby



We’re baaaaa-aaack!


Some things never change, like that stupid expression.  But mostly things change all the time. I just changed my mind about that last sentence.  Life is change.  Two quarters and a penny are change.   We have changed.  You have changed.

We are bodhisattvas who died a million times on our spiritual quest, only to re-emerge smellier and covered with dirt.   Like Zombies, but smarter.  And with better skin.  We don’t really eat brains either, although that would mesh well with our current paleo diet.

But that’s enough about us.  Where have you been?  Wait.  We don’t give a shit.  

Let’s stick to the facts.

Fact:  We are both here now.

While we are tinkering under the hood, updating the live streams, playing with our noodles, whistling dixie–or is that now considered racist?– we thought we’d treat you to a little Austin way above ground:


AxA – Austin by Air: An Aerial Documentary from iMaerial on Vimeo.

You’re welcome.

Bob’s Town

Window Dressing

Looks like we survived another night fleeing normalcy and the usual la-dee-da.   Upright, but stumbling through back alleys fueled by raw energy, coffee, beer, adrenaline, existential fumes, greeted at each turn with a mixed bag of olfactory expressions– exotic spices, fried something-or-others, over-stuffed dumpsters, sweat and urine– and a cacophony of impromptu sidewalk bands with makeshift instruments braying for attention.  A million perfect moments, like glittering sun diamonds dancing across the waves of time.


The point being, SxSW is in full swing.  And I for one am already exhausted.  I’m not used to staying up til 3 am, dealing with some overly exuberant, insane, skizzing and geeking love beggar who decided he wanted to come home with me.   I don’t blame him.  I’m pretty cool in some circles.  But after he sprinted wildly into traffic on Congress Avenue and sat balls up in front of a moving pedicab, things got a little out of hand, and after some gentle persuasion from one of our crew he cast his swimming eyes in another direction.

But that was later.  The evening started with promise.  Despite the countless out-of-town acts, we decided to check in on local fav Bob Schneider playing an energetic set at Threadgills.


A couple of Fancy margaritas and Dale’s Ales later, we were swaying and stomping near the front, satisfied that this was as good as it gets.   How lucky are we to have this talented musician and songwriter with world class chops doing his thing here in A town?   Well, see for yourself in this unauthorized but conscientiously respectful video of Bob doing a new twist on a few of his pieces.  I mean, really, Bob, you don’t mind a little free promo do you?  We ain’t selling anything but love on this site and all that cost is attention.

In other words, it’s time to pay attention.  This is Bob’s Town, after all.

Click on this link to hear a small sampling….

Bob Schneider Live at Threadgills

See you out in it tomorrow night!





Tripping Over Hidden Treasures

Great Gilded Gift Horse, our beloved fellow Austinites sure do turn into a bunch of whiny diaper-munchers with half-empty sippy cups at this time of year.

“Ohhhh, it’s so crowded!”

“Traffic is terrible”

“Who are all these people?”

“My hemorrhoids are killing me!”

We’re here to change all that – well, you’re on your own with the hemorrhoids – and bring you guaranteed joy. That is assuming you are willing to open up your wobbly head and let some new ideas in.

What do people planning to see certain shows at SxSW sound like to us? waah wah waah wah wah waah. Charlie Brown’s teacher. It is the sound of people preparing to frustrate themselves by taking the completely wrong approach to having fun at SxSW.

Just go. Climb in your car, get as close as you can and still find a place to park, get out of your car, lock it, put your keys in your pocket, adjust your bra and walk into the middle of 6th street. Listen, smell, watch, just keep moving until something pulls you like a super magnet. If there are obstacles, get around them or move on.

Stumbling down the right path is the mantra.  No wristband?  No problem.  Trust that Austin will provide; she always does, if you are willing to float into her midst without pre-conceived notions of being entertained.

Stop and watch the bucket drummer down the block. Buy a breakfast taco after midnight from two girls set up in the lobby of a comedy venue. Then wander into the open door of Esther’s Follies . Good music coming from inside. Find out that it’s free and better yet; they serve beer! Sit down, Fat Tire in hand, as Colin Ferguson finishes up his set. Then clear your mind, because you have no idea what to expect when Donna walks out on the stage.Donna_SxSW2013

Here she is, singing



Non-Stop Beatbox


Mister Cupid

UPDATE: though they only identified themselves as Donna and Ken from Brooklyn, that was enough information to find them on the web:

Donna and Ken’s website

A Piss Perfect Evening

Chillaxing with old and new friends at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street, when Ree-chard shows up on an injured bicycle. “One of my pedals just fell off.”   He held up the severed bike wrist like a trophy.

We  settled into a chummy hubbub of patter-babble and fifteen minutes later Richard got up and left.

Naila held up a $20 bill and said:  “Richard just offered me $50 to pee in my shoe.  I told him I’d let him do it for $200.”

“What’s the $20 for?”

“It’s a deposit. Earnest money. He went to the ATM.”

Ree-chard is Chasing the Weird! 

When he returns, Naila balks at the offer.  “Breach of Contract,” is how Ree-chard described it later.  “I paid her escrow.  We had a verbal agreement.”

“I was just calling his Bluff,” countered Naila.


Fortunately for Ree-chard, AAG’s own KT inexplicably offered up one of his $75 pair of black gum-soled Converse skate shoes. He somehow agreed to let Richard soil the sneakers for $7.42. because…because… he wasn’t serious, was he?

“I definitely got the raw end of that deal.” Kevin declared later, gingerly walking back to the car in stocking feet.

Ree-chard took possession of the urine-free shoe and in true Cinderella fetish style, placed it on his left foot and proceeded to demonstrate that this was exactly the shoe he needed to work the broken pedal on his bicycle.

Then he threw the shoes on the roof.

Where they sit.

To this day.

It’s like a perfect evening.

Video has been removed to protect the identity of the guilty.  Too bad. If you were one of the 45 people who saw it before we pulled it, you’re welcome!







The Ghost of Ivory Ghost

The ghost of a ghost becomes alive again, right? Like multiplying two negative numbers?

There were no negative numbers on May 12, where the death of the Ghost was an all-the-way live experience at the Sahara Lounge *.

Some of those in the audience were seeing Ivory Ghost for the first time and unfortunately, the last time as well. IG’s Woody Russell has landed a featured spot on the television show Troubadour, TX  and will be dedicating his time to that effort as well as his surging solo career. But save the saline, dry the peepers; the band went out in joyous fashion Saturday night, and I am not talking about Marco’s hillbilly-chic cranium cover. The band kicked ass – tighter, punchier and yet smoother than ever. I have heard the band three times previous to the Sahara show and it was always fun from the get-go, but it all really came together for this funky finale.

Ivory Ghost

Ivory Ghost is … or rather was:

Marc Utter- acoustic guitar and vocals
Woody Russell- electric guitar
Doug Marcis- drums
Geoff Union- bass
Steve Marcum- percussion
Dez Desormeaux- sax
Steve Zirkel – trumpet

Ivory Ghost profiles

IG has been jamming at least once a week for over a year straight, closer to two in total, and in that time the group wrote almost of the tunes played at the final show, while still managing to cover some of Marco’s old gems and tossing in a terrific stylized cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” that would rock a reggae festival’s audience to dancing abandon. The entire group has put a lot into the writing and arranging of these songs, and have been busy getting all of that recorded. Those recent recordings are not yet available, but you can listen to some older live recordings on their FaceBook page.

And if you want to see more of IG … well, to borrow a line from their song “Mexico 5-0”: you can “pry a photo from a dead man’s hand” and check out more of Austin Above Ground’s exclusive photos from Saturday’s show.

Finally, before the mood gets too funereal, I wouldn’t bet on the Ghost staying dead … at least not all the way dead …

Drummer Doug Marcis put it like this: “Everyone’s individual personalities are a big part of the sound of that group – Woody in particular.  None of us are interested in trying to find a ‘replacement’ for him since that would be contrary to the spirit of what we’ve created – a group writing project.  So anything new is going to head in the direction that the new members take it.  Which could sound similar to what we currently have but most likely will take on a different flavor or substance altogether.  For me, I want to create something new with a life and personality all it’s own.”

We can’t wait to celebrate the resurrection.


*A word about the Sahara Lounge: I first knew Topaz McGarrigle as the Jazz Band Director at the Austin Waldorf School , but soon enough was catching him tearing’ it up with his band Mudphonic. Only recently did I learn that he is one of the owners of the Sahara Lounge. This funky club on the east side has Austin written all over it. From the odd-but-open layout adorned with hand-painted murals, Christmas-tree lights, framed pics, posters, etc. to the big backyard-style outdoor courtyard complete with fire pit and picnic tables; this place would be a contender for any Essence of Austin contest.  On this evening, there was even all-you-can-eat BBQ, beans and rice included with the $5 cover.

Film Review: Bernie

Poplin's Pix banner

Texas Black Humor.  I like it.  “Bernie” weaves the deep, sleepy, insular, self-observed culture of small-town East Texas with the drama of civility, self-promotion and manners and the ramp-up to a murder that united the town of Carthage, Texas around their beloved villain.  This is a town that embraced their inner killer.  While this kind of thing pops up from time to time everywhere in the world, this film, based on a true story, is firmly set in East Texas and the people raised there.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have lived most of my life in West Texas before settling in Austin—an island of blue liberalism in a sea of red.  I appreciate the attention to regional culture and detail laid out by Linklater illustrating how diverse Texas is after all these years as he sets the stage for the story. And East Texas is truly a world unto itself.

As I watched the film I initially wondered if it was over-the-top camp but then relaxed into all those collective memories from my past: the hymns from the church services, the wooden placard on the church wall with attendance and contribution numbers, the niceties.  It is an immersion you have to experience to understand the characters in the film fully at first, but wait for it, be open and their world will begin to make sense. All this comfort is countered by the chewing wit and wrath of Shirley MacLaine playing Marjorie Nugent, (talk about mean and direct) an extremely wealthy widow at the center of the story, soon to be deceased, thoroughly unliked by all.  Into her life comes Bernie,  an assistant funereal home director who has inserted himself in civic activities throughout the community, as leader of the church choir (Jack Black’s voice is given the free reign it deserves) and director of the community theater “seventy-six trombones in the big parade” (incredible display).  Everyone loves Bernie, especially the widows whom he comforts in their loss.  And the widow Marjorie Nugent becomes, after a period of time spent with Bernie, dismissive of her family and cuts them out of her will in favor of Bernie. So, why did Bernie kill his meal-ticket?  You will just have to go find out.  Picture yourself on the jury, with Matthew McConaughey as the camera-happy Danny Buck, the self-absorbed and self-aware prosecutor determined to put Bernie away.  Nice suit.

The interview approach of Director Linklater’s 1991 film “Slacker” is, in fundamental ways, carried forward in “Bernie”.  But instead of interviews with the characters frequenting spots such as the hipster café Les Amis in 1980’s Austin, “Bernie” travels behind the piney curtain of mid-1990’s East Texas to interview the participants in this real-life dark comedy.   Some of the interviewees and residents almost steal the film.  Who would not kill for such a story such as this: funeral home, propriety, class, family, church and murder in a small town?

My hope is that non-Texan viewers will understand these characters as representations of real people and not as caricatures.  The film is a hybrid, using real participants as documentarians and actors, an approach that harkens back to the classic Italian Neo-Realist practice of using ordinary citizens as actors.  They are the ones who know the events best and it is best to use them as the story-tellers.  “Bernie” is a dark tale and a fun ride, hosted by the small town where it all occurred.

[xrrgroup][xrr rating=4/5 label=”Rating:”][/xrrgroup]

Phillip Poplin is a painter, provocateur, historian, art and movie critic and a local Austin Attorney to boot.

Phillip Poplin

Bernie (2011)

Director: Richard Linklater

Writers: Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth

Producer: 20th Castle Rock Entertainment

Country: USA

Running time: 104 minutes

Starring: Jack Black, Shirlie MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey


below: Bernie Pre-Review from Austin Above Ground

What Fits In Your Vagina?

Puck Ferry

There were many signs that resonated with me at the Unite Against the War on Women rally on Saturday at the Texas State Capitol, but perhaps the most poignant one read: “I Can’t BELIEVE I’m STILL PROTESTING this SHIT!” As a child of the sixties who had always taken women’s equality for granted – a done deal – I too was stunned by the thought-diseased, white-bread, limp-dick Republicans lashing out with their dying political breaths against fundamental human rights that have already been won in this country. Not only did these women have a right to be angry, but we should all join them and run the mudsuckers out of town with pitchforks and torches.

The political party that is constantly bitching about how incompetent government is, and then gets themselves elected to go prove that theory correct, is continuing to push for small government. Stay away from any whiff of regulation for the decadently rich and the mega-corporations, but go ahead and prowl around inside women’s bodies. Government so small it fits in your vagina.

So why were there so many smiles along with the fiery rhetoric at this rally?

It is because the sisters will win, and in a sense, they have already won. There was an almost palpable sense of “This Will Not Stand” running through the crowd. This latest legislative misogyny is just like an adult pimple – they pop up from time to time but it is extremely unlikely that full-blown teenage acne will once again ravage the skin. To an adolescent, it appears to be the end of the world. To the mature, there is comfort in the experience of having seen these blemishes dry up and heal.

Gays 4 Vajays

Listen up, elephants in the room:

Women are equal.
Gays are equal.
All races are equal.
All religions will be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

You will ultimately fail in your attempts to legislate society in any other way.


Capitol Steps

Sissy Farenthold, the first woman ever to be seriously nominated for Vice President of the United States at a major party’s convention (there were two previous ‘honorary’ nominations), was called to the podium to honor her work for women’s rights over the last half-century. Now in her eighties, this legend may not be known to the younger members of the crowd, but many of us knew that she was entitled to the most disbelief around the fact that we are still protesting this shit.

JusticeIn 1973, Sissy was elected as the first chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus. From 1976 to 1980 she served as president of Wells College in Aurora, New York.

Though the topics covered by the speakers at the rally all focused on women’s rights, there was definitely some clear anger aimed at Republicans in particular. Let’s take a look at why, shall we?Small Government

The beady-eyed governor of Wisconsin repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act of 2009 (they only had it for three years!) and the main proponent of the repeal, Republican state senator Glenn Grothman, salts the wound by completely denying all empirical evidence and spinning his yarn that women make less because they choose to take time off to raise kids.

Probe PerryHouse Republicans in D.C. held a panel on women’s health issues and did not invite a single woman to testify.

Republicans have tried on several occasions to redefine rape in order to limit a woman’s access to remedy.

And the surest way to legislatively piss off a woman? GOP lawmakers are passing laws requiring women to undergo invasive medical procedures against their will. Those cocks think they can mandate a vaginal probe? This boy’s club is claiming rights they don’t have and denying women rights they do have.

But Republicans argue that there is no War on Women. This is just imaginary Democratic campaign rhetoric, they say. After all, the reason that 31 Republican Senators voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act was not because they disliked women, it was because that bill would have provided protection against violence to gays and Native Americans, too.

But it is hard to keep that argument up. Republicans, who know very well how hard it is to keep things up, put forth H.R. 358, which would allow a hospital to let a woman die rather than perform an abortion if it is needed to save her life. They may not want to call that a war, but then again, these geniuses thought it was patriotic to change the name of French Fries after 9/11. Head scratching in 3 … 2 … 1…

Your Testicles Are NextBut c’mon, says the GOP, you women can own property now – heck, you can even vote. Why do you have to get all greedy and say you have a right to privacy about your body? And ladies, please, don’t even joke about requiring a colonoscopy for every renewal of our Viagra prescriptions; that’s just not funny!

Indiana Republican Bob Morris, who looks like he could be Vincent D’Onofrio’s idiot brother, has lashed out at the Girl Scouts of America, calling them a “radicalized organization” and that their role models are “feminists, lesbians, or Communists”. One could only hope that is true, Bob. Otherwise their role models might be narrow-minded gits in positions of power like the guy you see in the mirror each morning.

Am I the only one that is sick to death of the playground tactic on the right to take a perfectly legitimate group description and turn it into a slander just by saying it with a sneer? Liberal. Socialist. Feminist. Insanity like “Feminism is a lie of the devil” needs to go the way of burning witches at the stake.

There are a bunch of us dudes that would like to see the ladies in charge for awhile. And I don’t mean women playing men’s games just to get on the court, but an entirely female approach to governing. What’s the downside? Do you think they will screw it up more than the patriarchy has? Not much chance of that. Unless of course, you put Ann Coulter in charge. Or Sarah Palin. Or Michele Bachmann. Come to think of it, ladies, you are rife with idiots, too. Stay vigilant.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund,  has been quoted as saying, “Unlike Lehman Brothers, Lehman Sisters might have avoided default.”

Consider me on board. Dicks for Chicks. No wait, that might not be the best name for a male-based female advocacy group. On the other hand, membership drives would be very interesting. Heh heh. He said ‘member-ship’. Holy crap, we’re simpletons.

WoW speaker Let’s check back in with Doorknob Bob, our favorite Indiana A-hole. He also wrote that “the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.” WoW speaker

Can we get off Planned Parenthood’s back? It has been around since before WWII and was funded in 1970 by none other than Richard Milhouse Nixon. This is a good organization and yes, the inflamed hemorrhoids on the right will scream at you that PP has services that deal with abortions. A whopping 3% of its services involve abortion and no federal money is used for abortion services. So, the anti-choice crowd is happy to throw out the baby with the 3% bathwater. I guess eliminating that 97% of mammograms, pap smears, cancer screening, abortion-preventing birth control, menopause treatments, STD testing and treatment … omigod, how is it that we are still protesting this shit?

One of the highlights of the rally was a passionate speech from a notable exception to the scrotum club in Congress. Rep. Lloyd Doggett whipped the crowd into a righteous fervor with tales of fights past and fights future.

Lloyd Doggett

Lloyd Doggett has been in Texas politics for the majority of my lifetime, beginning as a Texas State Senator in 1973. The Texas Commission on Human Rights was created by a bill that he authored, and he stands out from other career politicians in that he has been doggedly (sorry, couldn’t resist) consistent in his ideology over four decades. You have to admire the survival skills of a pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-immigrant, anti-war candidate in conservative old Texas. His major stumble in gay rights – voting for DOMA in 1996 – was mitigated by his voting against a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and also by his co-sponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act which would repeal DOMA. Rep. Doggett has been representing Texas in Congress since the mid-nineties, and continues to do so in spite of attempts to re-district him out of office.

No Pills No Pussy

Dudes, it is time to get on board with our sisters. I’ve got three good reasons for you. First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, if we don’t, they are going to kick our asses. There are more of them, they now have more college graduates than we do (even though they will only earn 70-80% as much) and – here is a shocker – women already have the majority of personal (private) wealth in the United States.

As for the third reason, well … um … the T-shirt that was being sold in front of the capitol on Saturday says it all.

Disguise is Falling

Hat Trick

First thing I did this morning was shine my shoes.  It set the tone for the entire day.  I remembered an old tin of Kiwi that had been sitting under the sink since forever and pulled a tattered poplin shirt off a hanger and went to town rubbing and buffing my black leather Birkenstocks.

Next I attacked my mop of hair with a tiny curved pair of grooming scissors.  I lopped off several erratic patches and stared down at the salt and pepper mess in the sink.  The pattern of hair in the bowl framed around the drain gave me an idea.   I dug around in the drawer and found a tube of makeup glue.  Dabbing a bit on my upper lip I fashioned a thin pastiche of a mustache.  It took a while to get all the hairs going in the same direction but it still ended up looking more like the frayed ends of the toothbrush I used to buff my shoes.

I pulled on a pair of baggy dress slacks and an oddly iridescent blue and gold sport coat picked up from a vintage shop that I’d never managed to wear–primarily because it looked ridiculous on me.   For good measure I knotted up a bright red bow tie and tossed on a gray fedora.  I slung my Nikon over my shoulder and slipped out of the house without saying goodbye to Egoyan–my temperamental tabby cat.  We were still feuding over a salisbury steak incident and I wasn’t ready to forgive her just yet.

February in Austin is as mercurial as a teenager.  You could get pelted with hail one day and later in the week temperatures could hit triple digits.  On this morning, a whispering fog settled over the green belt, red-breasted robins bobbed along the ground pecking for worms, a pair of cardinals belted out a persistent high pitched syncopated trill–a plaintive melody against the distant rumble of a freight train carrying goods from Laredo all the way up through Missouri.

I took the back way, through Mary Moore Searight park and made my way north towards downtown through the funky neighborhoods between Stassney and Ben White.  The neighborhoods in this part of town deserve to be walked through with their chaotic landscaping, funky yard art, huge arthritic live oaks and mailboxes with character.

south austin walking tour

After a solid hour and a half of walking, I stopped in at Hill’s Café  on south congress for breakfast.   Although I recognized no one in the cafe, I took delight in travelling in-cognito.   I was just somebody.  Anybody.  An awkwardly dressed freak with a ratty mustache.  Those furtive glances and bemused looks rolled off me as I reveled in the fearlessness of anonymity.

“Can I take your um…”  the waitress frowned and looked at my upper lip, “…order.”

I tilted my head like the Victrola dog and raised my eyebrows expectantly.

“It’s kind of obvious,” she continued, “your….” she pointed at her lip.   “Are you an actor?”

That’s it.  I’m an actor.  Studying for a part.

“I’m a Private Detective.  I mean, you know, that’s my role. “   Dammit.  I never could think straight around beautiful women.  “I’d like some coffee, a short stack of buttermilk pancakes and an order of home fries.”

She giggled.  “Ok.  But I don’t believe you.”

I winked at her.  My first real wink as far as I can remember.  Winking belongs to the 50’s and 60’s, when white males had all the power.  A wink was a power play, a subtle acknowledgement of benevolent superiority between the winker and the winkee, a gesture of intimacy, wisdom and sardonic wit.  I decided I was going to wink at everyone today.

By the time I made my way down to Magnolia Café on SoCo, the fog had burned off  and traffic was fairly heavy on the wide asphalt with a postcard view of the Capitol.   Four beverages flashed through my mind in quick succession: Coffee, Iced Coffee, White Russian, straight tequila.   This day was not going anywhere.  I’d been walking for 3 hours and only taken a handful of pictures, none of which had anything to do with the case.   My upper lip itched like a disease.   I felt uncomfortable in my clothing and I hadn’t had nearly enough human contact to justify the disguise.


The bar in Magnolia Cafe is terrible. Only 3 uncomfortable stools so close together you have to read the paper with your elbows tight against your ribs.  If you sit one way you’re looking into the kitchen.  Face the other way and you’re just in the way of the very busy wait staff.  I chose one of the “aisle” seats and swiveled half way around to look out across the pond of bobbing heads and made direct eye contact with Kristy The Screamer McGuffin.

Kristy and I’d had sex one time about 11 years ago.   Her face was rounder and her blond dreadlocks were gone.   But there she was sitting alone, arms folded over an army green file folder looking right back at me.

Kristy was a screamer.  And you never forget a screamer.   “OHFUCKMEFUCKMEFUCKMEYOUBASTARDYOUCOCKBOYSUCKMYTITSYOUTITSUCKER..YES…YES…YES!”  For about 15 minutes at full volume.  Surprised the hell out of me really.  I laughed all the way through it and I guess the convulsions gave her the idea that I was into it and it spurred her on to greater heights:  “YOUKNOWYOUWANTTHISPUSSYYOUTITSUCKERFUCKMEFUCKMEFUCKMEDEEPERHARDERFASTERWHATSWRONGWITHYOUFUCKMEHARDERHARDERHARDER!”  It was like being strapped to a mechanical bull with turrets syndrome.

We locked eyes, then her brows did a little dance and panic set in.    I imagine this sort of thing happened to her all the time.  Running into old one night stands.  Enduring the confused stares, shifting to recognition followed by that light bulb moment—eyes widening, grin spreading like wildfire and immediately the breaking of eye contact as the victim relived the vivid details in stereophonic memory surround sound.

So what I did was this.  I jumped off my stool, walked straight over to her table and began writhing and rubbing myself and screaming:   “OHFUCKMEFUCKMEFUCKMESUCKMYCOCKSUCKMYCOCKYOUCOCKSUCKINGCOCKSUCKERDEEPERSWALLOWMESWALLOWME…YES…YES…YES!”  When I had the full attention of everyone in the bar I tipped my fedora, winked at Kristy McGuffin and bolted for the door like I had the 20 second shits.   I hit the parking lot so fast I lost my hat. But I didn’t care–I was on an adrenaline high–free and wild– leather soles slapping the pavement, laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, winding through the backstreets of SOCO residential area, slowing down now, holding on to a street sign, bending over catching my breath, heartbeat pounding in my ears.

I found a nice patch of grass and laid out flat in someone’s front yard snow angel style, looking up through the twisted fingers of a live oak at patches of blue sky and wondered why on this day when I chose to conceal my identity to the world,  I had touched some raw nerve and discovered a bizarre and profound truth:  I belong here.  This is my life.  This is my town.

But the epiphany burst  just as quickly as it appeared.  My thigh began to vibrate and the theme from the twilight zone hummed in my pants.   I squirmed onto my side and dug the phone out of my trousers.

“Where are you?”  A woman’s voice.

Where am I?  Where am I?  What a great question.

“I’m right here.”

“No.   I’m here.“  She let that sit for a moment.   “You’re late.”

“Ms. Brondelbond?”


“Where are you?”

“I’m at the designated meeting place.  Waiting for you.”  She sucked in a small breath.  “Something really weird just happened in the restaurant.”


“No.  Magnolia Café.”

A pinprick of fear shot up from my taint.

“Magnolia?  We were supposed to meet at Fran’s.”

“I can’t stand the coffee at Fran’s.  I stopped at Magnolia first.”

“You went to Magnolia before going to Frans?”

“What difference does it make?”

“What are you wearing?


“Never mind.  I…I can’t make the meeting.”  I struggled to my feet and brushed the grass off of my coat.    ”Why would you go to a restaurant before going to a meeting at a restaurant?”

“I do it all the time.  What the fuck difference does it make? “

“I’m just saying…”

“Where are you?”

“I’m not dressed.  Did you bring the paperwork?”

“I thought you said you couldn’t make the meeting?”


“Then why do you care if I brought the papers?”

“Were they in a file folder?”

“Mr. Prince, I’m starting to have second thoughts about our contract.”

“Hold on.  It’s part of the job.  I’m just being cautious.  Give me thirty minutes.“

“I’ll order another milkshake.”

There was some commotion on the roof of Lucy in Disguise.  A rope was looped under the arm of the giant Carmen Miranda Zebra and some day-laborers were grunting and cursing in Spanish as they jostled it into position.  I wondered if they were replacing the zebra.  It was such on icon on SoCo.  Cleaning it maybe.  What do you do with a thing like that when a store goes out of business?

Lucy in Disguise

The costume shop was quiet and I knew exactly what I wanted.

“What’s going on with the Zebra?” I asked the raven-haired pincushion behind the counter as I was checking out.

“Some idiots tried to steal it.    All they did was cut it off the base and knock it over.  Probably didn’t think the whole thing through.”

Five minutes later I was hoofing it back up SoCo to Frans, decked out in a sky blue tuxedo and a pair of large white plastic sunglasses.     My reflection splintered into streaking blue tracers as I walked past the giant storefront windows.    Wait…wait… wait a second. I stopped in front of  Big Top Candy Store  and pressed my face close to  the window.  This mustache thingy had to go.    I began frantically plucking the stiff bristles from my upper lip.   A small child with big brown eyes inside the shop pointed up at me and tugged on her mom’s skirt.  Her mother swatted her hand away and mouthed: “No!”

“Well this is awkward.”  Kristin Brondelbond somehow looked straight through the shades into my eyes and loudly finished off her strawberry milkshake with three slurps.    “You still have some mustache on your upper lip.”

I picked up a spoon and stared at my inverted and elongated reflection.  Shit!  I flashed her my best hand caught in the cookie jar face.

“I hope your detective work is better than your…” She waggled her hand in my direction.  “…art of disguise.”

“I had no idea you were that Kristy.   We’d only ever talked on the phone.”

“I married the National Director of PETA.  Changed my last name.  You haven’t changed.”  No hint of sarcasm.

“I could use a drink.”

Kristy or Kirstin reached into a shaggy hemp purse and pulled out the tiniest envelope I had ever seen.  With a long shiny blue fingernail she slid the envelope across the table.   Someone pounded twice with both hands on the jukebox near the front and Beck’s Que Honda Guero started up.  A ceiling fan flickered in the reflection of her fingernail.  Funny I hadn’t noticed the fan outside of the fingernail.

“You’re going to need this where you’re going,”   She smiled and I saw the same seductive sparkle that attracted a decade ago.   Just as quickly I remembered the audio track that went with that date and looked down at the miniature envelope with a stern expression.

I had a hard time opening the damn thing.  I squeezed the sides gingerly between my thumb and index finger, turned it upside down and shook it several times.  A tiny square of paper fluttered to the table and landed picture side up.  There staring at me with his red sweater and dark glasses was Snoopy as Joe Cool.

I licked my finger, stabbed Snoopy and stuck him on the end of my tongue.

“Where exactly am I going?”


(To be continued)















White Hole Black Hole

Nobody can tell you exactly where that line is. You have to draw it yourself.

But I can tell you this …

You should probably forgive yourself about almost everything. You are likely a good person and you’re needlessly worried that you’re not. But you are. You are someone who would never go to those places you just can’t come back from.

Like the rape of a child. Or a murder that was in no way self defense. Or starting a war for all the wrong reasons. Sending sons of mothers … and daughters of fathers … off to the short miserable adventure of their life cut short.

You don’t just say a few Hail Marys and shake that shit off. You don’t simply pour yourself a glass of wine and tell your reflection that you’re okay, and then wait for the mirror to say you’re okay, too. You have to belch out a thick veil of denial just to keep from hurling yourself face-first into that coiled razor wire in the alley. No light from heaven is bright enough to illuminate the bottom of the black hole that is the depth of your depravity.

You are not that person. But then again, this story isn’t about you …

white hole black hole penguin fucker forgive yourself

I never intended to have sex with that penguin. It was only a laugh; a fanciful notion. I had never pictured myself as someone who could go there. But those guys had somehow trained this penguin to want  it – to really, really want it. Just the thought of it was so hilarious it gave me the shivers. And I was drunk. Very drunk. My world was spinning in several orbits at the same time and I was trying to hold on to any one of them.

Those guys were laughing with me. Who the hell were they? I had a foggy memory of the big one. I had been standing near the merch table at St. David’s and he had walked up to me and told me I had the biggest head in proportion to my body of any non-dwarf he had ever seen. I had no idea how to respond, but I was more impressed at being so easily stumped than I was offended. He then went on to tell he had heard that the starlet had dropped me because I couldn’t stay away from the needle. Now the big oaf had gone too far and I told him to fuck off. Wouldn’t you? I mean, I didn’t come here to confess my chemicals. I came here to try and shed some light on my bestiality.

The other one I had never met before. He had a crazy, monkey smile and he held his eyebrows up so high they were practically screaming “why not?” and those eyebrows made you feel like you could do anything. With no consequences whatsoever. Why not? It will be fun! He may have been actually talking to me as well, but it was those eyebrows that convinced me.

Of all the animals, who knew the penguin was the best lay? Oh, my god, who even sits around and ponders inter-special coitus preferences? Not me. Certainly not before that night. But there I was discussing exactly that with two complete idiots.

And they made it seem so harmless. Like it was just a little bit over the line. Like flipping the bird to a baby. Or like some jackass snorting hot sauce off another jackass’ ballsack or something. Wait. Is that a little over the line or a lot over the line? I don’t even know any more.

All I know is that I violated that penguin. It didn’t even seem surprised. As if it had done this a thousand times before. And we all laughed. Me, the big oaf, the little idiot, and the penguin. We all laughed. Like complete maniacs.

What the hell was I doing here? On any given night I was waist-deep in pearlescent poontang, shepherding a hottie from my sold-out show to my Tuesday caddy with the llama seat covers, sippin’ my Bacardi while my ass-kickin’ bodyguard drives. Was I that bored? Had that life become too predictable? Everything I was don’t mean nothing to me now. I don’t need your pity. Or your love.

I’m a penguin fucker. Get over it.