A: There was an academic snafu in my junior or senior year of college that kept me out of class for a semester, so I took a job in a call center. It was customer service for a cable company, troubleshooting and helping people with billing issues. Pure misery always just sorta hangs over places like that. This was no different. Management treated everyone like they were serving detention. The break room was the size of a broom closet. The computer system we were working with had been constructed some time during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
And, of course, every other call that came in was some idiot who hadn’t paid his/her cable bill in fifteen months but was still apoplectic that their service was being (or had been) disconnected. Once I had to mediate a physical altercation between a customer and a field technician who was attempting to shut off her cable. Obscenities, punches, and handheld items were being thrown. Meanwhile, my “team lead” was more concerned with my tone or how long I was taking to resolve the issue.
The whole endeavor was just a smoldering wasteland of negative energy. The paychecks barely qualified as justification. On the other hand, when I was a bus boy at Perkins they made me dig unused jelly packets out of the trash, rinse off the gunk, and put them back on the tables, and I suppose that’s a more finite version of complete fucking hell. I got free soda at Perkins, though. Nothing was free at the call center except pain.
- this past weekend marked my first excursion to Athens, Georgia, home of R.E.M. and the B-52s and Jeff Daniels for the first six weeks of his life; it’s not the type of town I expected to have multiple Zaxby’s, but in fact they do (Zaxby’s was actually founded in nearby Statesboro, which helps to explain the proliferation)
- Athens is also not the type of town I expected to lack gazebos, and as you can see from the photo above at least one was very easy to find in the four-to-six block radius I traversed
- I visited the homeland of Stipe for a wedding; ’twas a lovely affair on all counts (yes, they played some R.E.M. during the reception per some local statute I’m sure)
- the day after the wedding a couple friends and I attempted to visit the grave of B-52s guitarist Ricky Wilson, but the Oconee Hill Cemetery office was closed and there were no maps tucked away by the door so we didn’t find jack; this is just further evidence all graveyards should be alphabetized or arranged by birth/death year
- the Last Resort serves up a pretty good cup of joe, and I hear the black bean soup is awesome
- in general Athens offers pretty hilly terrain, so keep that in mind when you look at a map and decide, “Oh, the Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t too far away from this hotel, I’ll just walk there for a treat in long pants and what feels like a thin sweatshirt in this eighty degree weather”
- the guy at Weaver D’s really does say “automatic!” all the time
I have a friend who hates guacamole. I asked him why and he tells me: one summer when he was a child growing up in Pennsylvania he begged his mom to take him to Florida for vacation. The mom said they couldn’t afford it or didn’t have the time or whatever, but my friend just kept on bugging her. Eventually the mom says, “If you can find a way to get to Florida this summer, you can go.” This was meant as a bluff, but my friend took it at face value. He asked every teacher he knew at school if they were planning a trip to Florida for that summer. When he finally found one who was, a twenty-something female driving down for a college reunion, he asked for a ride.
Amazingly, she said yes.
So they go in this station wagon, and along the way the woman picks up a friend. They drop off my buddy with his family for a week or two and then they reconvene to head back to Pennsylvania. Well, at some point teacher and her friend had gone avocado picking (I know, right? Who does that?) and they had filled the entire car with avocados. I mean that in the literal sense—these avocados weren’t in boxes, they were just piled into the car like munitions. There was no room for my friend to sit, so they carved out a body-sized space in the rear bed of the wagon amongst the largest amount of loose avocados and he had to just lay there like this was a completely normal occurrence.
A side trip to Chattanooga (again, what?) provided enough time for all the avocados to go bad. At some point during the return to Pennsylvania, the teacher driving took a really hard turn, and my friend who was lying next to all these rotten avocados was thrown into them face-first. In the blink of an eye he found himself covered in rotten avocado junk. What’s even more messed up is the two so-called adults in charge did not take him to a hotel or a YMCA to shower off. He had to wipe himself down with a towel.
I know this sounds like the subplot from an episode of “Leave It To Beaver” but my friend swears it to be true, an honest tale of horror from our modern era. I guess I’d be scarred too.
Somehow no lawsuits were filed in the wake of this incident.
This Music Leaves Stains is the first book I’ve had published but it is far from the first book I’ve tried to get published, or thought about trying to get published. Here now, an annotated history of never realized JG2 works.
Untitled Dead Kennedys Biography (2002) – Stalled during the research period thanks to several factors (college course load, punk rock politics, my debilitating lack of experience). I covered the nuts and bolts of this failure for Crawdaddy! in a feature called “Give Me Convenience, Give Me Death, Just Tell Me Your Real Damn Name.” The most interesting aspect may be that I put a letter in the mail addressed “East Bay Ray, San Francisco” and it actually reached the correct guy. Your tax dollars at work.
Star Wars Ruined My Life (2005) – Ten chapter essay collection covering the weirder aspects of Star Wars fandom, including my own struggles with George Lucas’s intergalactic money printing machine (#firstworldproblems). Hired a literary agent but no publisher on Earth was interested. I didn’t have a “built-in audience,” which meant my blog statistics were not impressive enough to warrant anything. This era was the beginning of “co-opt every popular thing from the Internet to stave print’s death!” I’m sure my medium talent was also an issue (I know the manuscript lacked punch/direction). I absolutely cannot remember why but for some reason I e-mailed Jay Mohr about this book; he sent a very encouraging reply peppered with some of his theories on Boba Fett, which justified my struggle.
Untitled Oral History Of My Middle School Experience (2005) – An interesting twist on the adolescent memoir (I think): interview a bunch of people I grew up with to see how their worldview around that time differed from mine, turning the whole thing into an oral history with several narrative tracks. My lit agent loved this idea and really ramped me up about it, but then Star Wars Ruined My Life didn’t go anywhere. Representation cut me loose and without a cheerleader I cooled on the concept. Compiled about a chapter and a half, though, and several people I hadn’t spoken to since 1994 taught me a lot about where we grew up and life in general.
Untitled Field Guide To Discontinued Soft Drinks (2007-08) – New Coke, Pepsi AM, OK, DnL…I thought the world needed a comprehensive encyclopedia of every soda that’s ever fallen off the figurative/literal map. Unfortunately, the stories behind these drinks are all more or less the same (they failed because they were bad and nobody bought them), and when it came down to pitching this book few people understood what exactly what I was talking about. “Oh, like a coffee table book with pictures of the sodas?” No, a field guide. Like for birds. Maybe this idea is terminally flawed.
Untitled “Gong Show” Episode Guide (2006) – An excuse to track down average weirdos and hear about their experiences on the greatest televised competition of all-time. I think I concluded too many former “Gong Show” contestants/employees would be dead, and I also worried about the book’s marketability. Chuck Barris was hot in ’06, but how long would that last?
Untitled “Simpsons” History (2009) – At the time a lot of rumors were swirling about “The Simpsons” finally coming to an end. That didn’t happen, but I abandoned this idea mainly because I heard Morgan Spurlock was making a “Simpsons” documentary. Had I known his end product would be some gimmicky forty-five minute nonsense instead of the in-depth feature length “Simpsons” doc we deserve maybe I wouldn’t have jumped ship.
My Life Is A Screenplay! (2010) – The high school teacher who semi-successfully sued 20th Century Fox for plagiarizing his Christmas comedy script read my post about Jingle All The Way being a cursed property and e-mailed me with an offer to co-write a book about his life. I had just started work on This Music Leaves Stains so I had to turn him down. There also didn’t seem to be much else in his life aside from “I sued a movie studio and won but then they took the money back.” Also, that title. Woof.
Naturally I reserve the right to resurrect any of these properties at a future juncture. You never know when Chuck Barris might be hot again.
Another lean year, but hey, it was the first. I had no idea what was going on. Nobody did. It was 2008! Justin Bieber hadn’t even been invented yet!
Restricted Words, Phrases, & Names During Meal Time
Crazy-Ass Dream: Curly Audition
Unsolicited Review of The Nine Leaked Guns N’ Roses Songs
Corey Feldman Has Issues (With Michael Jackson)
Fake George McFly Speaks!
Unsolicited Dark Knight Review
Steak & Ale: 1966-2008
Four Very Useless Photoshops
“I Want Him To Sound Like Truman Capote.”
Crazy-Ass Dream: Nirvana Kiddie Concert
Memorable Customers I Encountered During My 2 Year Stint At Taco Bell
Indiana Jones & The Oh Man, They Taste Like Old Cocoa Puffs
Sarah Palin Shoots Chewbacca’s Father Just To Watch Him Die
Uncensored Pictures Of Hot Steamy Greasers
Halloween ’92: Epic Fail
Commenting Upon Various Time Magazine Covers
“Speak Of This Not.”
Plenty of stone cold classics here. If you get bored then you just ain’t readin’ this stuff right.
An Open Letter To Kathy The Hungry Business Lady
Casting The Live Action “Futurama” Movie That Will Inevitably Be Made
Episode I Story Conference
New Haven, CT: Birthplace Of The Hamburger?
The Curse Of The 9:30 “TGIF” Time Slot
What The Fuck Is So Random About Kelsey Grammer?
Sabbath Gaudy Sabbath
A Glossary Of Terms My Friends & I Used In Middle School
Six Deaths That Altered The Course Of “Simpsons” History
A Conversation With The Upper Crust’s Lord Bendover
Blanket’s Dad Buys The Farm
Jacko’s Wacko Grape-Throwing On Captain EO Set
More On The Richard Nixon / Robocop Summit
Fifteen Years On, Woodstock ’94 Still Something That Definitely Happened
Ten Embarrassing Incidents Involving Baseball Mascots
Rambo 5 Just Got Way Better
Unsolicited Th’ Inbred Review
Q: Did Black Flag Reunite With A Robot Playing Bass?
Recent Trends Indicate Juggalos Stronger, More Resilient Than Economy
Seven Ridiculous-Ass Sequels Hollywood Almost Foisted Upon Us
Stuff White People Like To Complain About
Would You Pay $130 For Career Advice From Andy Richter?
Haikus About Ex-Girlfriends
Examining Kid Rock’s Common Sense Ideas
Is Gonzo A Hipster?
In Memoriam 2009
The Best Bad Movies Of The Decade