Monday, June 23, 2008

location: craughwell, ireland
statistics: 2 (pig murders i am aiding and abetting, per year)
1 (tons of giant stones i moved my hand the other day because the farmer made me)
1 (chicks i killed today because i thought it was a fresh egg and i stole it from under the hen and brought it to the fridge)


Soooooo.... For these two weeks I've been living on a small, organic family farm near Galway, Ireland. It's been lovely, soul-building, sometimes back-breaking, but it always feels like God's work. I'm going to write a long piece about this (in the same vein/voice as my hitching story from last year). But, for those that have been asking what I'm up to here, what follows are some rough thoughts from my notes:

- conversation between two local farmers:
'who'd you hire?'
'a brazilian.'
'which one?'
'the one that's been shot.'
'oh, he's good.'
'i asked him what happened to the other guy... 'oh, he's dead now.''

- the little girl dips her pink-socked foot into the chicken's water. 'want to swim with the chickens?' long, enthusiastic nod. 'uh huh!'

- i spend a lot of my time blasting the render off the cottage with a mini-jack hammer. underneath is the original stone work, some 200-years-old. today we found the archway from the old stables. 'holy shit, this is awesome,' the farmer told me. the stones are too good for a common farm. the farmer says the original owners did the stone work for the railway, and that they probably stole these stones during their lunch hours.

- me: strawberries don't really have any self defense mechanism, do they?
farmer: that's the idea, isn't it? they're so sweet you can't resist them, and that's how their seeds get spreads. sometimes seeds get spread through you.

- i'm helping to build a pig sty. in fact, i kind of pressured the farmer into getting pigs. i am horrible, horrible vegetarian. 

- the old bull from the next farm watches me pee through the window. when he sees me flossing i swear he thinks, 'oh god, what's that asshole doing now?'

- my first morning a baby dove was born. two days ago there were chicks. tonight tommy down the road is killing his cockerel. 

- YET, tommy wants to be a cock in his next life. he says this after the farmer's wife mentions how their cock has been raping the feathers off the hen all week. 

- the wife grew up in a thatched house. 'when it stormed we'd all lie on our bellies in the kitchen and say rosaries, hoping the roof wouldn't blow in.'

- i'm here because, essentially, i didn't want to be an Italian club promotor. i love this life. for years i've talked about wanting a farm, and 4-5 foster boys to help me with it. i feel like i'm getting closer and closer with each bit of knowledge i take in, with each strawberry i pick from the vine and eat straight away, with each walk i take where the momma cow next door growls at me, chews her cud, and blinks slowly as her baby takes in the milk that was made for her. 

more to come... 

Feeling like a man, blogging like a woman











Sooooo... 
As you all know, at one point I had a relationship with a beautiful South African ballerina/aristocrat. I chased her across the world more than once, her family threatened to kill me, and the like. Real Romeo and Juliet kind of stuff. Anyway. It's been a long, hard process for me to (gulp) accept that it's over. I'm a fighter, you see, and I like to consider myself a winner... so unhappy endings are never easy for your boy Jesu to accept.

But that's not the point of this blog. In the past few weeks I've had dreams that I was going to marry Winona Ryder and Tina Fey (separate dreams). In both cases I thought (in the dream), "Well, at least I get to marry Winona Ryder/Tina Fey. That's pretty cool."

Why would I have such ornery dreams? Maybe...
a) I'm a retard. 
b) I believe that when people go through hard times they are repaid with good times (see: Even Steven). 
c) Being a vegetarian has turned me into a woman who actually dreams about getting married. 

This is all very troubling. I'm staying on this family farm right now, and they've got a tiny-ass baby. I love the little guy. He's a real sweetheart. Every time I hold him I think about having one of my own. Once when I was holding him I even looked at myself in the mirror. This kind of thing isn't supposed to happen to men. Men aren't supposed to pretend other people's babies are their own, and at age 29 they're not supposed to dream about the girl they had a flame for WHEN THEY WERE 10, and, in general, I should probably care more about kicking people's asses and maybe even NASCAR. 

Go Jeff Gordon. I love you Rainbow Warrior!!!!?!!! 

Shit. That's not really any better. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Letter from Eindhoven Airport... And some new laws for society

location  Eindhoven Airport, Holland

statistics

1 (nightly gay forest orgies)
1 (boisterous Buckies)
1 (airport policemen who clearly learned English from Nick at Night)

My Dear Fellow Clergymen,

While confined here at the Eindhoven Airport, I came across your recent statement calling my activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas, but since my flight doesn't leave for 30 hours, and it is raining outside, and since the buses are on strike so I'm stuck here, and since the mean policeman won't let me sleep in peace behind the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines desk, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. 

What follows are my ideas while confined here at the airport. I am here because the injustices of being fired as a sailor and rejecting a job as an Italian club promoter have brought me here. My brothers, here are some new laws for worldwide society: 

IF cops are going to be assholes, they should at least use ridiculous phrasing with a straight face
When I was trying to get some sleep by the KLM desk, all comfy on the blow-up camping mattress I carry around with me, the craggly old airport cop nudged me awake. 
'Can't sleep here.'
'Where can I sleep?' I asked.
'Outside,' he said.
'Really? Right over there?' I asked, pointing out the window.
'Not unless you want to get arrested for vagrancy,' he said. 
Did he learn English from the Andy Griffith Show? Vagrancy? The only way he could have done better is if he had threatened to to take me to the county line where I'd be Jessamine County's trouble.

THE accommodation of napping should be enforced by a general societal will, like the way a herd of buffalo will risk death by rallying together to save a baby buffalo from a lion. 
Aren't we all on the same page that napping is good for man and beast? We're all still babies, anyway. When we're upset most likely its just that we're hungry or tired. Facilitating napping is, like, a half step away from buying malaria nets for poor Africans. 

I decree that there should a simple code to make things easier. The Napper should approach the other person who has a reasonable napping space in their midst with large, saddish eyes, hands pressed in prayer against one cheek, and engage in a wary, gypsy nod. Each type of person has rote responses. 
Older woman: Sure thing, hon. 
Older man: It's a friend world, kid. 
Younger woman: Totally!
Younger man: Go for it, dude.

But let's not ask children if we can nap with them. Unless they are are child beauty pageant contestants and are dressed anything like hookers. In that case, we should sex them to teach them a lesson about dressin' decent. New rule:

LET'S all agree to get sexy with the child beauty pageant kids to teach them a lesson they'll never forget
This rule is kind of obvious, like how we should all return a dollar that we see fall out of somebody's pocket, so I don't even need to talk about it. 

MARKETERS should never use common nouns in their jingles
In my endless hours at the airport I heard their theme song over and over. The tune was nearly exactly the music that would come on when Job from Arrested Development did magic. Except with one twist. Every few seconds somebody would shout 'Airport!' Now this is just asinine. They didn't even say Eindhoven Airport. Just bloody 'Airport!' That's like Nike making a commercial where they just yell 'Sneakers!' over and over. Stupid.

MOMS should have come up with better ways of criticizing their kids
While sitting around drafting an email (in my mind) to my ex-girlfriend (which I guess is something that happens when you're doing nothing for so long), I considered using the phrase 'You pushed and you pushed and you pushed too far.' This is something my mom used to scold me with when I was little. This got me thinking of other things she'd say. 'I don't think you're cute and I don't think you're funny' was one of her favorites. When I got a little older she used to call me 'Little Hitler.' 

Shit. No wonder I'm a secret cutting, trying too hard, self-hating Jew that is afraid of push-pops. 

UNRULY, PAINFUL CAMPING BAGS SHOULD ALL BE THROWN IN THE RIVER
Who am I kidding? Where am I going where there's not flat ground for suitcase wheels?What, I was planning on climbing trees in Europe and needing all my stuff to make a life in the upper boughs? Honestly. 

THE SELFISH gays of Eindhoven should not have their sex orgies in the woods by the airport
So not having money I was going to put my bags in a locker and sleep in the woods. When I mentioned this to the nice girl at the information desk she shook her head.

'That's where the gays go at night to do their thing. Sometimes we drive by and flash our high beams at them and watch them scatter,' she said, giggling. 'You'd be in for a very interesting night.' 

So I had to find a way to town and get an ornery hostel where a straight couple kept me up half the night having completely unabashed sex on the top of a squeaky bunk. And I didn't even catch a flash of skin! Ornery.

IF YOU'RE going to have sex with your girlfriend in a hostel room full of dudes (and only dudes), please have your girlfriend be louder than you. Please. Please, fella. 
Seriously.

MORE PEOPLE should be like R. Buckminister Fuller
I read about him in the New Yorker. He's an excerpt: 
"Bucky was a boisterous but hopelessly nearsighted child; until he was fitted with glasses, he refused to believe that the world was not blurry. Like all Fuller men, he was sent off to Harvard. Halfway through his freshman year, he withdrew his tuition money from the bank to entertain some chorus girls in Manhattan."
Bucky also invented a dome that didn't really work. He wore three watches at all times. He was one of the original proponents of tiny cars. And that's about all I have to say from this stupid airport. 

Yours for the cause of peace and brotherhood,

Jesse Moses Scaccia

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My career as an Italian club promoter ends before it begins.


location (theoretically) Rimini, Italia

statistics

1 (Fabrizios)

1 (souls to lose)

3 (afternoons off per week, but no nights off)

Sooooo, in light of my untimely death as a sailor (picture a big, bony, seaweed covered hand reaching up from the sea and grabbing me from the front deck), I had to find a new European job/home/life and fast. My former boss (and friend) Konrad's new guests were arriving in five days and I would be kicked out onto the streets. The romance of being down and out in Hoorn and The Hague notwithstanding, I was eager to find someplace to be. 

Of course, there's a place (I think) I can always go back to: Momma's house in St. Louis. But oooooh, Doggie! might that make me feel like some sort of pooch with its tail between its legs. Upon entering the living room at 9 Bon Price Terrace I'd fully expect my step-dad, Jerry, to rub my fleshy ears and say, 'It's okay, Puppers,' like he says to the German Shepherd when he's spooked from the rain and embarrassed about it. 

Bad scene, best to be avoided. 

I started with looking for fruit picking jobs. I emailed grape farms in France, strawberry farms in Ireland, and even a potato hatchery in England. Somehow, hidden among the list of picking jobs was an offer to work as a club promotor in Rimini, Italy. It was like finding a tab of ecstasy and a DOPE silver crucifix in the middle of a Cobb salad. Who was I to not email "Fabrizio"?

(Fabrizio's real name is Thomas, and by all evidence in his emails he's pretty normal. Please disregard this past sentence and picture the above man in the picture, know that his name is Fabrizio, and know that he bangs so many 19-year-old Americans that he just calls them all Jenny, and all the Jennies love it anyway because, Holy shit, Fabrizio is fucking hot, y'all.)

So Fabrizio tells me that the disco is called "Life." Instantly I'm taken in by the club's modesty of purpose. Just a club? No no no. I read on. "At LIFE, we offer a unique way to live the Summertime," Fabrizio tells me. I stop reading and immediately start to write him back:

Dear Fabrizio,

Ciao, bello!!!

Job sounds great, but it turns out that "summertime" shouldn't be capitalized because its not a proper noun, and I'm not even sure its a proper conjun... 

Then, BAM!, it hits me: Fabrizio gets it. I mean, he gets it. I don't get it. I don't get anything. I look down and I have received the stigmata as penance. I keep reading. 

I'll have to "promote" from 3-5pm and 9-12am, and then be club atmosphere (dancing, looking hot, the usual) from 12am to closing at 3am. I will get paid 65 euro a week. I will life in a house with the DJs. "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU GO TO ANY OTHER CLUB IN RIMINI!" Fabrizio writes that the party can't go on forever. 

"I do not recommend staying longer than 1 month, usually after 4/5 weeks you will begin to feel tired," he warns.

Of all the jobs in the world, (and those of you who know me will agree), this sounds like the perfect job for me. I write Fabrizio back saying Yes Sir! I'll take it if you'll have me! And I book a flight that costs half my salary for the month.  

Two days later I go to the airport. If my mother had been with me I would have thrown myself on the floor, pounded my fists and feet, and cried, 'I don't want to be an Italian club promoter." So instead I bought a ticket to Dublin and here I am.

German Riot Cops Attack!


statistics

2 (minimum number, German riot police pretending to be hookers, from time to time, living with us)

1 (picture of Jesu at German anti-film dubbing protest, as seen right)

countless (beautiful fish, wasted, due, in a roundabout way, to dutch hash)

5 (paragraphs at the beginning you may as well just skip)

 

Trying to get over your father’s death is like attempting alchemy after the practice has been proven scientific heresy.

You try any number of senseless things. You quit your job. You take up running. You go to a psychologist, as if a PhD has anything to do with how much you miss the man who taught you to throw a baseball. You break up with a girlfriend. Or you marry her, either one, as long as it feels like a difference large enough to rebalance your life into a stable, sane place.

The problem is, losing a parent is just so tiring. Every day is an emotional marathon of digesting what they gave you and what they took with them. Every day you are forced to re-define your identity now that you have lost one of your creators.

As Konrad and I are waiting for the next set of guests to arrive, I try coffee.

I load up on it. Cup after cup, quick swallows to take the heat. Anything to get the juice back.

It’s 8 p.m., and Konrad and I are watching Oude Doelenkade for cars with German plates. The peaks of the buildings cast a row of pyramid shadows on the streets. The buildings all teeter forward at tipping points, or lean together like drunks in love, or, as if proving that even stones can find life untenable, they lean apart, making alleyways darkened caves. Slowly, the sea is taking back the land the Dutch have ‘reclaimed’ with their windmills. Quickly a big yellow van comes to a stop near our ship.

A man with short-cropped hair hops out, walkie-talkie pressed to his lips as he scans the area. He gives the impression of a thrift store version of Collin Farrell, except with eyebrows like someone might have glued rodents to his face as a practical joke on the long drive from Frankfurt as he drooled against the child safe windows. 

I follow his line of sight to a tall, chinless man wearing Ray Ban Aviators. They frown, nod at each other. With no words I can hear spoken they form a perfectly spaced line from their cars to the gangplanks. Bags are passed with optimal efficiency. Knuckles flex white. I stand on the back deck ready to help but I’m just in the way. Konrad sulks over to me after consulting with Hamster Farrell.

‘They’re cops,’ he tells me. ‘They’re fucking German cops.’

‘That’s not necessarily a bad thing…’

He interrupts mid his sentence, or at least the one I assume he’s screaming against the inside of his skull.

‘’Just doing my job.’ It’s the most bullshit sentence of all time. It’s a choice to want to control people,’ Konrad informs me, saying the C words like they are two thirds of an unholy trinity along with his favorite word, well, you can guess it.

It makes sense that Konrad would hate cops. If Konrad’s world was an SAT analogy, sailor is to police as, say, beer is to a mouthful of shit.

There’s ten of them. Eight men, and two oddly alluring women. Once their gear has been appropriated to the assigned bunks, they ask us to show them to a restaurant in town. Turns out they’re not just cops, they’re riot cops. When they’re not busting up soccer hooligans they’re taking down drug dealers and prostitutes.

Hamster Farrell pulls me aside as we near Hoorn’s killing stone. Of course this is what he asks me:

‘Is there a coffee shop around here?’ He comes back five minutes later with a half-smoked joint hanging from his lips and a piece of hash as big as my thumb wrapped in white wax paper.

‘Don’t tell the chef,’ he says, cryptically.

‘You got it,’ I say.

They buy pizzas and eat them out of the boxes. Konrad is upset like Curly from the Three Stooges, the kind of furious mania that can only be subdued by Moe and Larry feeding him cheese.

‘They’re on vacation, for God’s sake. At least use plates. Wouldn’t you at least use plates? You’d think one of them would care enough to make a salad. Fucking cops.’

He stews for a minute. ‘Remember how I told you that you weren’t allowed to mess around with the guests?’

‘Sure.’ It was one of the cardinal rules he repeated over and over.

‘I want you to fuck them both. Sleep with both of the girls. Anything that will upset these fucking cops.’

Does Konrad think the job is called fuckingcops? I’ll have to ask him later. He’s too upset right now. He soon falls into a deep hatesleep, but is woken up at 11 by our guests talking and drinking in the cabin. He lets a deep, pained, self-righteous sigh, as if he has to be up to perform cleffed lip surgery on Indonesian orphans in the morning. He violently slides open the hatch.

‘The harbor police are patrolling. You need to be quiet or we can lose our docking license,’ he tells them with all the consternation he can muster.

I laugh out loud. He was up until five a.m. with the last group, in this very spot, hooting and yelping as he taught them how to lasso pint glasses.

‘I’m a fucking hypocrite. Good night.’


***

All of the German riot police have nicknames. Bond. Chuck Norris. Brokeback. They’re especially proud of that one. ‘Do you get it?’ they ask me with their very German giggles, like all their bellies are suddenly full of delicious chocolate.

As the cops are untying the sail covers other crews stop to chat, as they often do. Konrad tells them about our guests. Jeffrey, a lifer who scares me even when he’s talking about being in love with his girlfriend, says, ‘It wouldn’t be the first time I kicked the shit out of a cop,’ a statement that is apropos of absolutely nothing. Parked next to us is Guy. I tell him they cops are planning a raid in 20 minutes, but he didn’t hear it from me. Guy looks a little like Paulie Shore, if you get what I mean. His eyes go wide and he urgently turns toward his cabin.

‘Just kidding, Guy.’

He found my joke so unfunny that I’m not even worthy of a ‘Go fuck yourself.’

It’s pouring rain as I throw loose the headline and the spring. The wind is heavy, 6 knots, just a couple knots from being too heavy for our little girl to sail through. But these German riot police, man are they ready. They all have boots, gloves with the fingers cut off, rain gear, and a seeming hatred for all things ‘rope,’ as they pull our halyards and sheets harder than I’ve ever seen them pulled. They raise our giant sun-blotting mainsail in the time it takes most groups to figure out how to untie the 8-8-9 knot that keeps the ropes on the pegs.

But there’s trouble with the jib. One of the hooks is stuck on a bolt of the cliverboom, the 15-foot-long telephone pole emerging from the nose of the ship. ‘Fall back!’ I yell to the German police as I climb out there. With the mainsail raised without the jib we’re too back-balanced, the wind rocks us side to side. I climb farther, my grip on the heavily lacquered wood tenuous at best. I shake the bottom of the sail. I sqeeze the steal. Finally, whoosh! And we’re sailing.

I have never had human follow my directions more closely or with more energy. I ask Jon to hold our largest fender, the big blue one that’s almost as fat as him, over the nose, and he reacts like I just told him to tackle that crack smoking prostitute with the Chelsea jersey on. I consider asking Jon to do my laundry, a request I’m positive he would fulfill, and that I know Konrad would approve of.

The weather keeps getting worse. Waves as tall as short men are crashing over the guard rails. When the wind changes quickly the jib flaps with enough violence to knock me over as I try to steady it. To keep us from tipping the top of our swords into the water we have to tack, or change the sail direction and point the nose through the dead zone of head-on wind, at a moment’s notice. I jump and slide across the cabin to save time. We lose the water stay, a thick steel cable that reinforces the cliverboom.

‘If the water stay gets tangled with the rudder, we’re fucked,’ Konrad tells me.  

A German named Christian and Hamster Farrell hold me over the front as I stretch down. ‘A little more!’ They lower me farther, literally each of them gripping one of my balls to keep me from falling into the water. A big hot wave catches us all in the face and the Hamster grips me tighter.

‘Pull me up!’ I say, because, really, enough is enough.

Some of our guests are vomiting from the ride, so we pull into a town called Merken. Ever the little devil, Heir Hamster spikes the hot chocolate with hash. Chuck Norris, the oldest of the group and a drug virgin, drinks three cups before anyone notices. The group wanders Merken for a good lunch spot, but Chuck Norris takes off. Konrad and I find him at the 1 euro fish sandwich stand.

‘Where are the others?’ we ask him.

‘I’m not sure. All I know about is this fish, and how delicious it is, and how I’m going to eat all of it,’ he tells us.

I get to know some of our guests. They love pepper spray in an odd, eyes-lighting-up, re-crossing-legs-to-hide-hard-ons kind of way. When the hooligans are fighting each other in great enough numbers the cops just watch, let them get it out of their systems. Sometimes they make the prettier girl walk the streets like a hooker so she can get intel on the prostitutes, who are committing an illegal act, unlike the johns- the grandpas, men with child seats in the back, even one of the team’s father, once- who are doing nothing wrong by German law. Our guests are desperate to have tazers added to their belts. They are embarrassed when the chief tells them to pull back from a fight. Anything not to look soft.

The weather is more calm as we pull away from Merken. Konrad steers us directly into the waves. The stoned cops take turns sitting at the nose, getting splashed like they’re at a water park. Chuck Norris pukes the afternoon away.

‘My beautiful fish!’ it is reported to me he wailed between wretches. ‘My beautiful fish… and that lovely sauce! All wasted.’

The wind all but dies. Rather than turn the engine on, first Konrad forces the cops to do a long, strenuous, and utterly unnecessary tack. He even forces Hamster and Arnie to drag buckets on either sides as bush-league oars.

The best part for me is, I’m finally getting it. For the first time I understand how sails use the wind to propel us forward with the same principles airplane wings find lift. I know what Konrad means when he yells that we’re falling or climbing the wind. I can see the difference between dancing and killing in the jib. I feel like planting a god-damn flag on the front deck. My territory. Mine mine mine.

In Enkhuizen we run into the crew of the Northstar. Their mate, a kid we call Face, had a rough day. There’s no bathroom in his room, so he pees into a bucket. The rough seas spilled his personal refuge over his floor and bed.

‘Guess he’s PeeFace now,’ Konrad says with a shrug.

I come to kind of love the cops, their energy and their predictable thought patterns. Konrad stays up all night arguing with a few of them about immigration reform and culture mixing, of all things, while I make out with the one who pretends to be a hooker for a living.

Like I said in the beginning, its alchemy. For some it’s melting down horseshoes and frying pans. For others, you use Azrael to help capture Smurfs to make gold. For me, my alchemy of finding myself after losing my dad, today at least, its all about coffee, calling someone PeeFace, mastering the wind, and having a German riot cop look at me all doe-eyed.

Whatever works.