I Am a Bad Person

We need to talk. It’s about this goddamn cell phone jammer that I have allowed into my life.

When I took delivery on this thing, I made a commitment to only use it in an emergency. I was going to allow brief message-oriented calls and extended conversations that were conducted in hushed, respectful tones. That seemed fair. Well, I’m sorry to report that my good intentions have turned to dust. I have morphed into a horrible, selfish monster. I find knocking people off of their cell phone calls so dastardly and satisfying that I tend to do it whether they deserve it or not. And I don’t just turn on my jammer and leave it on. That would be too easy. I like to torment my prey. I’ll activate my disruptor ray to terminate the call, enjoy their reaction, turn it off, allow them to reestablish the connection and give them the juice again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Awful.

I’ve noticed that there’s a definite correlation between the type of person calling and their reaction to repeated dropped calls. Guys with BlackBerrys? They get the angriest. They are Masters of the Universe and they are being deprived of their Divine Right to use a cell phone for as long and as loud as they see fit. Their sense of entitlement is being compromised and they don’t take it very well. It’s not dissimilar to snatching a blankee away from a two year old.

Yappy sorority chippies are, like, you know, the most persistent? They’ll dial over and over and over again hoping that the connection improves. It never does. (I swear to you, as I was writing this, I hear from two rows behind me, “So, like, are you going shopping with us?” She’ll get hers in a minute.)

The elderly are the best. It takes them a long, long time to finally realize that their call has been terminated. They compensate for the silence on the other end of the line by speaking louder and louder until they’re practically screaming into their phone. I feel kinda bad about them.

I don’t want to get caught walking around town with this thing because I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not be entirely legal to own but I can’t seem to stop myself. I should cool it. Instant karma’s gonna get you. Gonna knock you right on the head.

Free Tips from the Buddha 2

Not by matted hair,
by clan, or by birth,
is one a brahmin.
Whoever has truth
& rectitude:
he is a pure one,
he, a brahmin.

What’s the use of your matted hair,
you dullard?
What’s the use of your deerskin cloak?
The tangle’s inside you.
You comb the outside.

-Dhammapada, 26, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon is one of the best and most underappreciated lyricists that this country has ever spit out. To wit: (Stick with this. It starts off good and it achieves greatness.)

Mr. Bad Example

I started as an altar boy, working at the church
Learning all my holy moves, doing some research
Which led me to a cash box, labeled “Children’s Fund”
I’d leave the change, and tuck the bills inside my cummerbund

I got a part-time job at my father’s carpet store
Laying tackless stripping, and housewives by the score
I loaded up their furniture, and took it to Spokane
And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan

I’m very well acquainted with the seven deadly sins
I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
I’m proud to be a glutton, and I don’t have time for sloth
I’m greedy, and I’m angry, and I don’t care who I cross

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt
I like to have a good time, and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me
I’ll live to be a hundred, and go down in infamy

Of course I went to law school and took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
Then worked in hair replacement, swindling the bald
Where very few are chosen, and fewer still are called

Then on to Monte Carlo to play chemin de fer
I threw away the fortune I made transplanting hair
I put my last few francs down on a prostitute
Who took me up to her room to perform the flag salute

Whereupon I stole her passport and her wig
And headed for the airport and the midnight flight, you dig?
And fourteen hours later I was down in Adelaide
Looking through the want ads sipping Fosters in the shade

I opened up an agency somewhere down the line
To hire Aboriginals to work the opal mines
But I attached their wages and took a whopping cut
And whisked away their workman’s comp and pauperized the lot

I’m Mr. Bad Example (etc.)

I bought a first class ticket on Malaysian Air

And landed in Sri Lanka none the worse for wear
I’m thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals
I’ll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals

My God! That contains more plot and imagery than a typical Michael Bay film. He even worked in a clever rhyme for chemin de fer, for cryin’ out loud! The song has no bridge. He just keeps slamming you with one great chorus after another and throws in two refrains. Nothing is more refreshing than a great song about something other than heartache. The last thing this world needs is yet another weepy ballad from a Sensitive Singer Songwriter. Barf. They are almost always dull and disappointing.

As long as I’m holding class today, if you really want to treat yourself to a big, satisfying slice of 60’s pop pie, go into iTunes and grab a copy of “Five O’Clock World” by The Vogues. The disjointed note sequence played on an acoustic guitar in the song’s intro will stay with you for the rest of the day. Every time I hear it, I wonder how they were able to come out of it and craft a song, but they did. The tune itself borrows from Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang,” which fits in perfectly with the theme of having to survive the 9 to 5 grind. Class dismissed.

My Absolute Worst Nightmare. Well…One of Them

I was making the bed and minding 2-year old daughter who was on the other side of the room when I heard a thump and something being dragged across the rug. I thought it prudent to investigate. I turned a corner and saw that she had reached up, pulled my first edition of “Ask The Dust” by John Fante—the one that’s inscribed by Fante in 1939—the year of publication—to the book reviewer of the L.A. Times and is worth, quite literally, thousands of dollars—off my bookshelf, opened the custom made leather clamshell box, took the book out, removed the protective mylar covering from the pristine dust jacket, opened the book and was playing with the black and white publicity photo of Fante that’s laid into it. I got woozy. My knees started to buckle and everything turned white. I dived. There was a puff of smoke where I once stood. I grabbed the book and photo out of her hand with such velocity and force that I startled her. Her face went blank, then flush, then she let out a wail. I didn’t mean to scare her. I should probably take a more Zen approach to life and not be so attached to material things, but when it comes to my books, I have the serenity of an infant. She’d better watch herself. Next time I might lose control.


Take a look at this Jersey Shore citadel of culture and dining.

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It’s the fabulous Circus Drive-In. This is one of—if not the—last working drive-in diners with curb service left in the U.S. You can sit inside the restaurant and be awash in its tackiness or stay in your car and a car hop will take your order, put a tray on your car, and bring your food to you. No, they’re not on roller skates.

This place was opened in 1954 and is much the same today as it was then. The diner is round. Like a circus tent. Get it? And take a look at this interior.


My goodness! Isn’t that just beautiful! I had a grilled pork roll and cheese on rye with fries. Don’t know what pork roll is? Well, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll just have to drive/fly/crawl to the Jersey Shore and find out for yourself. This place is pure Americana and even a cynical old curmudgeon like myself is susceptible to its charm. Now, where’d I pack my bong?