Thursday, February 16, 2012


Ambient noise.
Background sounds.
Unheard mostly. The soundtrack of life.
Every place has its own flavor of noise, its own potpourri of sound. Stay there long enough and you wont even hear it anymore. Every Gym has its own. They all have things in common. The clank of weights, the whir of machines, the low drone of earphones playing muscle pumping metal directly into the brain stem. All have a common effluvium of distraction.

It can depend on the time of day.
The early morning is the whir and mumble of the before work crowd.
Morning to new afternoon is the high chirping of mommies and wives escaping the children and house for a while.
Lunch to evening is a businesslike clank of men who refuse to give in to the specter of old age, Of obsolescence.
Evening to night is the hormone infested buzz of the mating game. The meat market. The flirting and posturing mind numbing to a casual observer.
Its all there.
A life in a day.
I go in the before any of this time. The before morning crowd. The in between times when humans sleep.
Mostly I am alone.
Sometimes I have the company of a few swing shift humans, sometimes some other oddness.
One gym, a long time ago, had a crowd of centenarians.

4am they would hobble in, sit at their exercise bikes and talk. Wheeze back and forth secrets known only to those that have seen more summers then I have desire to behold. Lives these men had lived. Wars they had fought. They had undoubtedly dreamed dreams and told tales, tried as hard and as fast as they were able. Now they sat, they pedaled. The murmured amongst themselves. Their voices, gradually merged with the whir of the wheels, the maze of sound faded to a sibilant hiss of white noise.
They faded into the background. Such is the fate of us all.
To fade.
I walked around them. Moving in my own patterns among them. Heavy things and sweating things.
Running a long road to everywhere.
Every day for months, perhaps a year or two. These men.
Became ambient.
One time. Night a memory and morning not yet a dream, I was disturbed at the gym. By silence.
The background had stopped. So used to it I had become that its absence startled me into immobility.
I looked.
They were all there. Alive, sitting still, rapt attention focused on the machines in front of them.
Two women.

On elliptical machines, the hum and chirp of their motions covering the silence of the men.
I looked closer, to see what had drawn these fossils from their reverie.
Then, I saw.
The girl on the right, the prettier of the two. Her pants had fallen down.
Sports bra to the bottom of her bottom.
I could see the smiles now.
The seamed faces split in joyous wonder.
I made no sound. Just watched.
As the two noticed, or felt the intensive silence behind them, they turned to look. In turning she must have felt a breeze. She seemed to float then, for a split second, off of the machine and into the air. Gravity released just long enough for her to pull her pants up and tie them. I could see her blush travel to her face from where I was.
The men.
As all men now, no longer old, no longer seamed and cracked by time, but split faces in smiling joy.
Laughed and cheered and lived again.
The girls ran away, as girls do.
The music of the men's laughter faded in my mind.
Much slower then their murmurs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


 The gym.
Its one of those places that has its own rules, its own culture.
After New Year's Day gyms are crowded.
For two weeks.
I belonged to a gym once, wow. Read that again.
I belonged.
Interesting thought that.
To rephrase.
I once paid a nominal fee to use equipment that I felt I needed to improve my physical appearance and strength in ways that I felt were unavailable to me anywhere else.
They also had a sauna.
I never spoke to anyone. I just played on the machines and became a student of the science of Weight Lifting.
To say, I lifted up heavy things and put them down again.
I watched people.
I saw things I never in my wildest dreams, or nightmares, thought that I would see.
Three naked female instructors leaving the Sauna early one morning.
A treadmill that ate a walk-man. (how dated)
Pants falling off a girl on an elliptical machine.  (
A hirsute naked man doing yogic stretches in the dance room.
Three nipples on a man in the coed hot tub.
A very very heavy man wedge himself inside the shower, who had to be cut out.
So many things. SO many shapes. Big people and little humans. The people that changed shape. Big to little and back again. Skinny to Muscle and more muscle and acne.
I started to notice things.
Over time.
People who did the exact same thing every day.
They stayed exactly the same.
I don't know what their lives outside of the gym were like.
But in the gym.
They stayed the same.
Some of the women would get flotation devices implanted.
Some of the men would get balder.
Overall body shapes, of the patterned people.
Stayed the same.
I still go to the Gym.
Still see things that stretch my brain.
Watching the people.
The humans.
Its a microcosm.
Everything is really. If you experience it deeply enough.
I learn a lot.
Doing the same thing, gets the same results.
We all pick up heavy things from time to time.
The trick, is remembering that we can put them down.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So what do you do when you steal something you don't need?
When you steal food, it could be because you or someone you feel responsible for is hungry.
When you steal a coat it could possibly be because you are cold.
So when you steal something you don't need? Something you cant use?
What do you do?
The hardest thing about stealing odds and ends is turning them into money.
 I would guess.
So what do the maggots who steal things do?
In ye olde days they would go to a "fence"
Someone who specilised in moving stolen goods along. Finding buyers for them. The fence was well known in the community of criminals. He was the go-to guy.
Lets say (for example) that I stole a Gold Chamber pot.

Its worth a LOT of florins, but it has the family crest of the former owners boldly emblazoned on the bottom.
So I would take it to the fence.
He would ascertain its value, and offer me much less.
Say, knowing that he could sell the gold to a reputable goldsmith for 600 florins, he would offer me 60.
We would haggle, and in the end I would walk away happy with the 50 florins clinking in my pocket.
The fence would then approach his friend the goldsmith, the man who asks no questions, and offer the poo-pot to him.
The goldsmith, knowing that he could easily convert this polished toilet into 2000 florins worth of jewelry offers the fence 400 florins.
They haggle, and in the end the fence walks home happy with the 750 florins jingling happily in his money pouch.
Twenty days later, Jewelry done, A man and His wife come into the shop. 
She is depressed because recently her fathers family crested chamber pot was stolen and insurance (not being invented yet) obviously refused to cover it.
So the husband, being a wise man, takes his wife to the local goldsmith. An upstanding member of the community, well known to all. Once there he buys her three beautiful pieces of gold jewelry purchased at the "friend" price of 2200 florins.

Little does she know, that 20 days previously she was pooping in the pot she now wears happily around her neck.
Its a win win.
In a word, no.
There is one really really unhappy party. Party being a word I am using to describe an entity, or group of people rather then where you go to hit pinatas.
This unhappy Party is, of course, the government.
Especially when the goldsmith is elected Mayor.
Knowing full well where the poo-pots were originating from he invites his friend the fence over to dinner.
Over the clams he mentions offhand that he wants a piece of the action.
After choking on his clam, the fence asks the Mayor if he has gone soft in the head.
The Mayor smiles and twirls his Grotesque mustache. Which is really gross cause its covered in clam juice.

This is actually a sign for the local watch to come in.
6 burly chaps with clubs that work for the Mayor. 
They stand behind the fence and make growly sounds and hit their clubs against their meaty palms.
All is clear.
So the fence and The Mayor haggle. In the end it is decided that the fence only has to pay the Mayor a small percentage of everything he sells. 6.5 percent to be precise.
As the fence leaves, nervously stepping wide of the brute squad the mayor, slurping down a few more clams calls out "HEY! we will just call it a sales tax" his grotesque mustache bobs obscenely as he laughs.
So everyone is happy.
The thief gets to steal, the fence gets to fence and the Government gets to make a little on the side.
The Mayor laughs. 
He collects taxes from the people who pay the Mayor to protect them from the thieves who steal from the people, the theives sell it to the fence who sells the stuff to other normal people and some criminal types at a higher markup to cover the sales tax which he pays to the mayor to protect the fence from the brute squad who protect the Mayor from the criminal types and other normal people who could perhaps threaten his position, The Mayor pays the brute squad with the money he gets from the fence to protect the people.

Make perfect sense.
Good thing it is all a fantasy.
Do I need to spell it out?
Plain English?
Okey Dokey.
Pawn Shops are fences. They can buy "loan" on anything of value. The person selling the object does not have to prove that they own it. Possession is enough for the LAW and the Pawnshop.
They pay "loan" very little compared to the real value.
The Police force is funded primarily on taxes, in my town, the Majority of which is sales Tax. The Police are essentially paid by the pawn shops. (greatly simplified, I realize)
Now lets say you are an enterprising active property owner, a payer of taxes and a (fairly) good citizen. All your stuff gets stolen.
You go to the Police, they tell you that their hands are tied.
So, you venture forth and find your stuff, some of it, at a local pawn shop.
You know its yours cause it has your name written on it.
So in triumph you call the police, who arrive at the Pawnshop.
Well, no.
You see. According to the law, since the pawnshop has now paid for your stuff, they own it. You now have to "prove" that it is yours.
Receipts and serial numbers are good. Pictures of you holding said objects will work in a pinch.
Your name being on it? Not good enough. Pictures of you and your family on the film in the camera and on the tapes? Not good enough.
So then you go to a city council meeting and yell at the Mayor.
Who then sends the brute squad round about your house to remind you that if you do ANYTHING wrong at all. They will arrest you.
Or is it?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


It was 3am, 30 degrees and we were 230 miles from home.
On our motorcycles.
In Panguitch UT. Which for those of you not familiar with the bass ackward state of Deseret, is nowhere.
Adventures are rarely fun when you are in the middle of one. It's a well known fact among adventurers around the world. They are usually miserable.
We were on a self imposed deadline to get home.
Not completely self imposed, we both, The Shane and I, had to be at work in a few hours.
We had already been on the road for ten hours.
It was cold. We had planned this trip in the middle of winter, trusting in the groundhog and past experience to give us good weather.
That false furry faker.
We were chased out of Utah two days before in a snowstorm.

We were headed home now, we had passed the uncontrollable shivering stage and were now just numb.
Full body numbness is not recommended.
I am positive the surgeon general warns against it.
We would stop for gas and try and get warm, leather gets very stiff in the cold. It holds its shape remarkably well. Walking in to a truck stop at midnight with your arms held stiff straight out in front of you is more than slightly embarrassing.
Trust me.
Sliding into Panguitch, the ass end of no-place special, was a relief. More so was the open sign on a gas station. Its times like these that you appreciate the simple things in life. Fluorescent light, heaters, Hot chocolate, heaters, bathrooms with heat. Heaters.
We woke up the vigilant owner of the store clattering inside in a frozen blast of air. She seemed less then pleased to see us. At her advanced age I was betting she thought she had seen everything the world and the road could throw at her. Until now. She watched us with glazed eyes. It seemed like she was having a bit of trouble believing we were real.
In retrospect, a six foot tall Mexican and a long haired white(ish) guy wearing three cows worth of black leather between them, could be a little alarming.
Shane had to go and make everything stereotypical by buying a Mexican horse blanket. Seriously.
He wrapped it around himself under his jacket and zipped up.
I laughed so hard my frozen face cracked in three places.
We were headed out the door when the antique jerked awake.
Fully. Bright rheumy eyes looked at us and then swung to our bikes.
I wish I could somehow allow you to hear her, the southern Utah accent is a cultural anomaly, a mystery. My personal theory as to its origin is simple. When you have six (or more) mothers all trying to teach you how to speak, each with a different accent, you can get a bit confused.
Hence, the south Utah trawl. (you know, Twang-Drawl)
Enough of that.
The suddenly wide awake oldster was putting in her teeth. As soon as they were in and she had test clacked them together a few times she croaked at us....
"You boys are on those motorcycles?"
"You Boys headed out?"
"You boys are crazy!"
Shrugs and nods
"Headed to Salt Lake?"
I sat back down. She obviously thought she needed to talk. I shut my brain down and just watched the following exchange.
Shane (The Six Foot Mexican) "Yes, we are headed up over the pass to get back on i-15 then to Salt Lake"
Shane(TSFTM) "Excuse me?"
"Oh, you boys need to watch out for the elk at mile marker 13"
TSFTM "The Elk?"
"Oh yeeeah, the elk  all winter at mile marker 13, right at the top of the pass"
TSFTM "Really?"
I was sitting there listening to this, incredulous. What is it with these people? Locals. They think that just because they live in area they can make oracular pronouncements about a herd, a large heard of very large animals.  A foretelling of where a herd of Very large, VERY mobile animals are going to be at any given time?  Elk are not cows, they are not Sheep, they are free range wild animals. I have Hunted Elk my entire life and the one thing I have learned in 27 years of chasing the damn things is that they are NEVER where you think or expect them to be.
Never ever.
This ol local had worn out the three brain cells I had that were not frozen.
I walked out the door, pulling TSFTM after me. As the door swung shut she warbled "mile marker 13"
Can you believe this shit? I am a weird magnet, but put me and Shane together and suddenly Idiots the world over are falling over themselves to talk at us.
Gods very own comedy team.
We headed out. Frozen solid within 2 miles.
Up and up we went, on a road that would have been fun.
In the day time.
At midsummer.
At 3:30 am and -30 windchill. Just starting to snow. On motorcycles.
Not fun.
The concentration required to ride a motorcycle increases for everything you add to a normal road. Sadly, I was noticing that my concentration was decreasing the colder I got.
Headlights on bright only light up the road, leaving the sides of the world more of a hint then anything else. Shapes move in the corner of your vision. After ten hours in the saddle your brain gets used to it.
Not really.
I could see these shapes now. Nearing the top of the pass. Snow falling, swirling in visions of the future across the road. Smoke over water. Dreamlike.Cold becomes comfort, the roar of the engine fades into the distance and the road merges up ahead with infinity.
Oh shit!
I jerked my head up, shook it and slowed down. Shane (TSFTM) took the lead and I followed his brake-light.
Mile marker thirteen.
Here it is.
Exactly at the marker.

An Elk steps out into the road. Steam shooting from nostrils that seemed twenty feet high.
Shane dodged.
We rode on.
I looked back, hundreds of elk, the shapes on the edge of the world.
Exactly at mile marker 13.
I hate locals.