Saturday, May 17, 2008

More drama

I've been trying to get Dolores to use Craigslist to drum up so scratch but the only web access she had was in cleaning along the ceiling of the bathroom stalls in back of the laundry room. The showers there leave you just about as damp as the clothes coming out of the dryers.  But I did get a woman I was dating (dumped for dissing the park) to gift her and Willy a free laptop that had had a dead battery and no longer picked up wireless signals. But that was before Dolores cast some spell on it and her witchy words soon got it working like a champ and stealing wireless signals fresh out of the ether. Soon enough it had her and Willy scrunched up on the bed watching bootlegged movies from overseas servers pretty much all day long. Then it started making this mysterious sound like some angry gear was trying to break out of its innards. Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist but would put down twenty bucks easy that Willy knocked it over and didn’t own up to it. Considering how tenuous his living situation is, and having very little in the way of a backup plan, this is smart thinking.

I stopped by their unit the other morning to apologize for the noise I'd made the previous evening by raising my voice in the yard but apparently they hadn't heard the commotion.  The lady-who-hates-me got my goat again and I was feeling a bit embarrassed about it.  I felt much better after Dolores mentioned the time Willy chased the lady-who-hates-me across the yard with a shovel.  "I shouldn't a done it", he allowed. We all agreed their are certain qualities about the window-peeker and park curmudgeon that could be considered certifiably evil in certain locals.  This lady-who-hates-me is better known at Dolores's place as Mrs. Kravitz, in homage to the busybody neighbor on the old Bewitched show, who just may have been the one to do in the first Darren.  And not to go spreading rumors about anyone but she is one raging, drunken, nutcase.  Just to give you fair warning.

It's been called the "Greatest Song ever written".  I don't know about that but Scott Blaney and I sure loved singing all the parts over and over again in the rear of some poor guy's math class back in the seventh grade. We sounded pretty good too.
Supposedly, Bohemian Rhapsody is about a young man who killed someone and, for some reason, sold his soul to the devil. On the night before his execution he calls for Allah, "Bismillah", and gets it back from Shaitan.
Rock on...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trailer blogs

I posted to host a blog carnival just as I’m making moves to skedaddle out the trailer park and relocate into downtown, which wouldn’t be so bad if the carnival wasn’t about alternative living. I can just pretend I’m cooped in here still and who would know, right? But I be trippin’ because, first off, I have no money and, secondly, I have no job, comprende? Well, I have a little business but my tax statements are unlikely to impress any landlords enough for them to give me anything but some loose change. Roommates are still out because not only does Thelonius refuse to die but he won’t even age in any discernible way. There must be an decrepit photo of him hidden away somewhere, or else the little killer’s been sucking my blood in the night. I suppose that would make me some kind of felis-desmodus-sapien mutation, and upon quick reflection I have no real problem with that.

I went to Blog Carnival dot com and filled out the hosting form a few fields short of capacity but enough to defeat the pop-up protester from reemerging on screen. I have no idea if anyone will post. You sort of have to go looking on the carnival site to find something so you have to be a little desperate and attention starved in the first place. When I was directed by our professor to submit to a carnival earlier in the semester I couldn’t find anything to do with urban living, never mind trailers. That reminds me; maybe I should go back and add urban living to the tags. That might be too broad a category and could offend park residents in leafier sections of the lithosphere. I’m already have my eye on a couple of interesting ladies like Trailer Park Girl, out of Austin, and Trailer Park Feminist, and will probably invite others especially if nobody submits. Got to get some Brazilian dancers festooned in feathers involved somehow too. But no drunken frat-boys puking on the streets of my trailer park are welcome and, believe me, we got ways of dealing with those fellas in these parts, I can assure you. It’s called prayer. And cursing.

This post is being preempted by an important announcement: I have tried to make this blog one of general interest to trailer enthusiasts, and such, who are drawn in droves to the site for the lowdown on park living and updates on the neighbors. I promise to bring it back up to established levels of depth and insight as soon as the semester ends and I won’t be forced write more than I actually have to say. You see, there are certain exigencies that may surpass the casual reader’s grasp, notably the pursuit of the grade I am trying to get in order to graduate from the Broadcasting and Electronic Communications Department (BECA) at San Francisco State University.
Anyhoo, got to write 750, make that seven-hundred and fifty, words in this post so be patient while I come up with something to say…

Lots to do in school as the semester winds down in a few weeks and my ass will be graduated and once more underemployed, this time with debt I might actually be able to pay off – eventually, and down the line, real slow like. BART all but promised to hire me as a train operator, in fact they offered me the job in the middle of last semester but I was too deep into my classes to accept the position back then. I brought a big box of Krispy-Kremes to the human resources department a couple of months back and, while making friends and acquaintances, I was told the new hiring period was tentatively scheduled for June. The fetching Asian woman who came out of back to talk to me said I would definitely be “in the pool”. This could mean a hiring pool like a hat it might be pure chance I get picked out of. Or it could mean they definitely want me and there is some mandatory safety exercise in which you have to swim for it if the train ever conks out under the bay and the tunnel starts to get soggier and soggier still, likely due to some seismic utterance from Kisin, Mayan earthquake god, ruler of the underworld, and deity of death. (Maybe that’s where they came up with the “kiss of death” thing.)

The trailer park is close to where I would start work in the morning but the proximity of Wendy’s and Walgreens, and all the cultural stature that implies has become a wear on my wheels. The thing is, I have to go all the way into the Mission District to find a suitable cafĂ© from which to do my work. I can’t take my motorcycle because I’m can’t afford to have a spill while carrying my new laptop and my truck is a pain to park and expensive to run. I’m looking for an apartment within walking distance of a BART station and some kind of urban throng. This will cost me, but I can sell the truck and trailer and maybe have a life. Plus, I took on this stage managing position for a friend’s play, mainly to force me to leave the house once school is over. The theater is downtown and so is a Krav-Maga place I want to re-attend. Downtown is getting more interesting and the crowd in the Mission keeps getting younger and whiter, so there’s that. And there's this:

Mario Del Monaco kills it on Nessun Dorma, the great tenor aria from Puccini's Turandot. The man is hoping to wed a princess who would prefer to chop off his head. I can relate.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trailer talk

Here are some links and background info on the trailer park phenomenon that's going to sweep the nation just as soon as I move the hell out of here and it becomes cool. By the way, the salute to Idaho photo links to a t-shirt site I found through one of the websites below except I have no idea which one it is anymore and am far too busy in school right now to find it. If any of you readers can figure this out for me you may be eligible for a free tour of my secret trailer location along with one complimentary beverage and an audience with my cat - if he's awake, or in the mood to see visitors.

Some history for students out there approaching deadline (copy and paste).
The Trailer 'Problem': With the Great Depression - an oxymoron, of sorts - home foreclosures began happening at a rate our society would never allow today because we learned back then that unregulated financial markets would be overtaken by greedy investors who would screw the working poor and middle class for the good of the all mighty quarterly return. Anyway, back in those brutally unsophisticated days newly homeless Americans began living year round in what were once nothing more than hardened, domesticated, tents made for vacations out into the country's endless supply of pristine wilderness. These “trailerites" didn't pay real estate taxes and many were considered vagrants, as there were no permanent trailer lots where they could park legally. Within a few years the first trailer parks began to spring up and become an appealing alternative to the dilapidated shacks found within Hoovervilles. Because those trailers were so small, the families would spend a great deal of time outdoors, weather permitting, and violated notions of propriety like a motherfucker. They probably drank,  got loud, and likely included some distant relatives of yours, truly.
Trailer park folks have been taking it on the chin since, even from within. Eminem is one example of a native son who "made it", went on to slander its indigenous culture, then left the old homestead for good not sticking around to offer his sullen example to vulnerable park youths.  Instead, he became a role model for wannabe wiggas across the globe. 

In the news:
Troubled park in legal stew on SoCal rez. 
Conditions of neglect and a plethora of complaints brought Judge Stephen G. Larson himself out to have a look-see at the Duroville park, owned by Cahuilla Indian tribal elder, Harvey Duro. It is mainly inhabited by immigrant farm workers and is in such a sorry state the Judge considered shutting it down but that would only leave the poor park residents homeless, so he is working with Mr. Duro to get him to do the right thing.

Here is an excellent article from a small San Diego county newspaper on efforts to relocate some local park residents into low-income government housing. In the online comment section following the piece, one person writes: "You know who else lives in Orange Grove? There's Rick, the navy vet, who is completely blind and lives off Social Security. There are also Mike and Doris, two formerly homeless people, who finally have a roof over their heads. Doris is on dialysis while Mike just got laid off from his job at a local factory. Then there's Debbie and her two teen age boys she's raising alone. Debbie works for the VUSD in the lunch room. The trailer park holds alot of nice, hard-working people. I know its not much to look at and doesn't fit into Vista's future plans (white suburban tract housing but its home to some great folks. Leave it alone."

This is a brief synopsis of a study on Katrina/FEMA trailer parks by the Urban Institute that exposes the dangers of concentrating the underclass in isolated communities.

Cal State Long Beach's own Dig Magazine has a write-up on a nice park right along Seal Beach. Get your applications in early!

Blog reflections on a trailer park boyhood in west Texas.

Green and expensive trailer like "mini homes" are being made in Canada. Hey, did you know trailer parks are called Caravan Parks in most Commonwealth countries? Well I don't care either.

Making fun of poor folks:
Ugly ones especially get mocked and abused here.

Columbus, Miss., gets a whole page of the treatment on this screed of scorn.

Uneducated fundamentalist types haven't gotten it this bad since H.L. Mencken stalked the plains on "Why Does God Hate Trailer Trash?"

I wouldn't be surprised if this Jolene Baker fella lives somewhere off upper Market. YouTube home-ec trailer tips with a big old wiggy bouffant.

This is the where I got the picture of the Red Neck Mansion photo and I would have liked to have made it into a link but don't believe blogger wants that to happen, not by the likes of me anyway. Click the pic for a bigger version and you can set it up as a down-home desktop.

And finally, American Sexuality traces the origin of the term "white trash" back to Baltimore blacks in the 1820s. Who knew?

This is a scene from the romantic 1981 French film, Diva. The setup is a famous singer who refuses to let her voice be recorded. A young fan sneaks in a mini-studio while some bad guys from a devious record label keep tabs on his efforts. A great bicycle chase ensues, but for the that you have to rent the DVD.
The aria is called Ebben? Ne andrò lontana, from the opera La Wally by Alfredo Catalani, and is sung as Wally prepares to leave home forever. According the the Wikipedia entry, "The opera also features one of the most memorable of operatic deaths, in which the heroine throws herself into a passing avalanche. It is seldom performed because of the difficulty of staging this scene." Yeah, I guess so. Maria Callas does an unbelievable version too but YouTube only offers a slide show. This one will certainly do. Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez performs.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

White trash? My ass!!!

The culture of the trailer park is akin to the live aboard crowd in that it is comprised primarily of divorced and separated men. The marina people are decidedly white-collar, middle class, tech guys and insurance agents intermixed with a handful of groovy types preparing for ocean voyages and long stays in ex-pat exotica. Trailer parks tend to be blue collar and passport free; the only parts of the world any of these guys has seen came as a low paid emissaries of the military-industrial complex.

The first time I stopped at a park to do some used-unit shopping, I found people there were anything but trash; these were folks. While this old white dude was giving me the lowdown on a couple of twenty-six footers his Mexican son-in-law was out barbecuing oysters nearby in the tented space between his plot of pavement and the next. Suddenly an adorable little girl appeared and handed up to me a paper plate upon which rested a prodigious example of a formerly offshore mollusk complete with my own fork, a little salsa on top, and a wee wedge of lime on the side. This is not the way we serve ‘em up in New England and it might be a shame considering the scrumptious culinary achievement this was. Granddad told me to be wary of the on-site super who was trying to put a lean on one of the trailers and aimed to stop any prospective buyer from taking it out of the yard. The longer it took to sell the more in arrears the unit's owner would be to the park on his monthly fees and the more the super could make claim, however dubious, on some poor fellow’s property. It had worked in the past for super-man who everyone seemed a bit afraid of and spoke about in hushed tones. As we chatted the granddaughter reappeared to take back my empty plate. Then mister super wheeled up in a golf cart with an American flag on it like some visiting raj and proceeded to ignore me when I walked up to his rolling throne and introduced myself. By the time he bothered to scowl me up and down after learning of my interest in purchasing a trailer and possibly becoming a resident his attitude turned upwards in arrogance and the main thing keeping me from flipping his super-cart over sideways was the reappearance of the little brown-eyed angel handing me a second plateful of bivalve and a smile. I had not even spoken to her daddy yet.

The cheaper place I eventually moved into is a lot smaller and lower key. The youngish woman next door introduced herself after I’d been there a few days and demanded an inspection of my place just as I was getting ready to drive away on a job. She said she wanted to check on her mother who she maintained was being held hostage inside and simply wanted to see if she needed anything. Very calm and pleasant about the whole thing she was even as I tried to explain the place was empty as we stood outside in the sun that morning getting to know one another. It didn’t seem wise to let her think she could push me around by capitulating to her unscheduled prisoner visitation request being as I was new and all and had to establish protocols and boundaries. In the rapid, free verse, soliloquy of non-sequiturs she worked up to I caught some kind of reference to “sexual” and later the landlord said it was fortunate she never made it inside because she could then proceed with all manner of accusations against me.
Sometimes she jumps out of the shadows at night as I’m heading to the laundry room but otherwise her mother, since liberated, was brought in to dissuade her from causing trouble. Although this morning she threw a cup at Willy from across the yard, which isn’t like her, but maybe Willy made fun of her or something, at least that’s what Dolores says and she’s Willy’s girlfriend. They live together with a cat named Shazam and a restraining order she got against Willy a while back when they were fighting more. When he gets out of line again she just has to wave it in his face and reach for the phone and he vanishes like the exhaust pouring out of his beloved Harley. Willy’s a good guy but one thing you might notice about him right on the quick, if you have an eye for this sort of thing, is Willy has done time. But he sure has taught me all kinds of interesting things like different ways to pick combinations and break into my trailer, hot-wire my car, and undo the steering lock on my motorcycle. These adventures make him uncharacteristically enthusiastic.
Dolores is a sweetheart who runs the yard on a daily basis and is into Neil Diamond and witchcraft. Willy is totally devoted to her and told me he didn’t even want to pet my cat out of loyalty to Shazam except that the Thelonius made him. I believe it too. It’s the same with me and the little kitty next door that’s always purring around, rubbing up against my legs, and jumping up so I have to stroke the top of her head or look like some cold fish. And even though Tom, her owner, swore he’d had her spayed she’s looking awfully pregnant again, the little slut. But what male could possibly resist her? Thelonius can, and in the hissiest possible fashion. But that’s just because I paid the vet to do the unthinkable back when the he still trusted me, the poor little muffin...I mean bastard.

This duet, from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers, includes an intro section most recordings leave out. Listen as two old buddies, both fisherman in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), discuss the thing that drove them apart. Guess what that could have been.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

tiny house dreaming

Before I made the move from beautiful Rockridge to trailer life in cemetery territory, I engaged in a rigorous process of elimination. I didn't really want to pay the costs of taking over a lease in the city, partly because of the inevitable roommate problems, but mainly due to how school and part-time work tended to keep me in a more modest tax bracket than many landlords believe ideal. With that option out of the way for the time, I embarked on an extensive investigation of the live-aboard option but came up with nothing workable, however I promise to thrill readers with those particulars later on.

At about this juncture, I was taking this great environmentalism class taught by a real life eco-Nazi, tree huggin’ and a kissin’, activist type dude who calls himself Andy Peri. In the course text they had a section on alternative living that featured a sidebar on “tiny homes”. I did a bit of research and fell hook-line-and-sinker in love with the concept, much the way I had become smitten with the notion of living on a boat, living in a converted bus, living in a clay fired dwelling of my own making, and any number of other inspirations that formerly fell to the wayside, but not the way wayside; they’re still floating around out there along the perimeter of my mindscape and on recurrent, if unscheduled, patrols they get tossed the sporadic morsel to keep them sustained as back-up in case the current plot de jour flies off the bandwagon as well.

I came up with a way to swing a purchase of one those little dream castles with enough space for a middleweight bachelor and an eleven-pound assemblage of fur, tooth, claw and attitude. But where to put the thing? I figured it would fit snugly into one of San Francisco’s many charming rear gardens and look no more intrusive than some stately tool shed. It would require no more than a basic utility hookup and some fortunate party could have a fussless tenant, on-site security, and a wee cash cow chomping quietly in the backyard. I posted my offer on Craigslist with photos and links concerning the coming tiny house revolution but it was just another sorrowful instance of a dude a tad too ahead of his time.
There were no takers, but the offer still stands. Yo.

With all this manly marina/construction talk it seems as good a time as any to hear something in the lower ranges. Ramon Vargas sings "Una Furtiva Lagrima" (A Secret Tear) from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of love).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The road to the park began many years ago in old New England, twisting slowly to the Barbary Coast then backward toward the Big Apple. Compelled by a masochistic streak and a inkling for warm weather, I decided to navigate the entirety of the Devil's Triangle and drove to the City of Angels three days before 9/11. I made home in a little K-town studio that was glamor free, and none too cheap on a working man’s wages, but it was a logistical upgrade from my previous place along South Central. Muscle from the Latino drug gang down the hall at first seemed poised to step to me for returning their leader’s stares in kind but el jefe seemed to admire my pluck and periodic hallway confrontations with the big, crazy, Mexican dude just below me who kept blasting his horrendous music every payday in howling reverie. While his tweeters didn’t make it through the floorboards so good, the bass shook liquids in my room like he was down there doing the Macarena with T-Rex. It was so loud the cops could barely hear me on the phone but - bless his heart - he was as crazy and aggressive with them as he was with me. Either he had memory issues or took a fondness to the beatings because I always gave him plenty of notice the LAPD would be invited thusly. Plenty. Management and law enforcement eventually tried to talk me into starting eviction proceedings against the man but he was a pretty decent fellow except on those bi-monthly Fridays when homesickness, alcohol, and the big city lonesomes abducted his soul.

Having conquered Hollywood, and getting word on a cheap pad in the East Bay, I packed up my kitty and shot up the 5. My old buddy, let’s call him Lech, was living in a cheap house for years and the main tenant was moving out so I moved right in with him, his daughter, and the other woman roommate who was soon gone herself. The whole house rented for eleven hundred dollars so we could have managed expenses quite nicely ourselves but Lech is a scheming Irishman and started thinking. Then he started holding constant roommate auditions for the most desirable Berkeley co-eds and hippy chicks Craigslist could muster up and began filling every nook and corner of the house the biggest fools among them. We even had one over-aged, mid-western, runaway renting out a closet she thought it was the best place she’d ever lived.
Lech built himself a yurt in the backyard and moved into it, renting out his own room and followed this experiment by concocting and leasing out an igloo thingy right next to it. While my rent got cheaper, the house got messier and turned into a crash pad and party spot for the benefit of Lech and his insatiable, cradle-robbing, desires. It was a fine little business he was running. There were about seven adult sized humans living there when I moved out after coming home repeatedly to find all the lights on and the doors open and nobody home or maybe just some passed out indie-boy curled up on the floor amidst beers cans and dried up food particles stuck in creative assemblages throughout the compound.

It’s hard enough finding a room if you’re a guy but if you have a cat as well the classifieds are virtually useless. If they don’t have a cat they don’t want one. If they do have a cat the cat doesn’t want one. You must control the lease or find a big old mess of a place with tons of young roommates who couldn’t care less about anything, which is one situation I have permanently and resolutely outgrown. Studios in San Francisco were too expensive. The ones down the peninsula were too small and depressing. Of course I looked into moving onto a boat again like I had in LA but the nearest available live-aboard slip was in Richmond. I even considered buying a cheap motor home and parking it. Slim, my homeless-guy, graduated from SFSU last year living by sleeping on BART so I figured living in a converted bus would be interesting, money saving, and excessively luxurious compared to old Slimbo’s collegiate digs. But the alpha-kitty is not fond of moving vehicles and wouldn’t have it. I discovered a couple of trailer parks close to campus and the rest is mystery - at least for today.

Here's a little Cecilia (cha-cheelia) Bartoli for you, singing Sposa son Disprezzata,
Vivaldi's song about a very wounded wife.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why? You may ask.

“You live in a trailer? Really?” No, I’m just saying that to impress you, freak. I actually own a loft in the state of Bardo, just south of the border between Deva and Asura. It’s got a hot tub with a skylight and the best bands ever practice in the warehouse on the other side of the interior courtyard. You can drink the most amazing, dark-roasted, fair-trade blends under shaded colonnades while soaking in their jams. Cats curl in splayed bundles catching flecks of sun spray while lithe groupies cloister like fluttering muses and children giggle in guileless bliss. But the commutes a bitch so while I’m going to school and avoiding hordes of inconsiderate roommates it’s a trailer life for me.

Now, in light of recent comments questioning the coherency of my links and blurbs, it has become incumbent upon me to lay down some ground rules and shore up the agenda for this little blog of mine. Obviously, there will be stuff about trailers, trailer parks, citizens living within them or lurking about the premises and, obviously, occasional operatic dealings to boot. While information will aim toward one side or the other of this natural chasm, the divide also sets up a framework for so much material fated to fall so inevitably between them. In these postmodernist postings, high culture and low will seek to find common ground in whatever whimsical fashion suits me at the moment. I seek inclusivity with the multiplicitous manifestations of chaos and control hurling our remarkable species ever onward through the continuum and, considering how numerically inconsequential the demographic for double-wide dwelling bel canto enthusiasts is from an advertising standpoint, I believe this makes good business sense.

That’s enough blather for the day. Here’s Renee Fleming singing Song to the Moon from Rusalka by Dvorak, the last opera I performed in. Observe a water sprite, fallen for a prince, asking the moon to give him the good news.