Weekly Roundup: For The Disturbing Love Of Tanya Edition

Is this the f—ing Bumblebees song?” It was barely eight in the morning and Danger Girl was in no mood to hear No Return (Main Title Theme) (Single from “Yellowjackets Showtime Original Series Soundtrack”) cranked up in my increasingly raggedy Accord Coupe. (My street car, mind you; the race Accord is no more raggedy than it was when it won me a regional championship in 2018, and it will be returning to the track in 2022 so I can take a run at my local Super Touring U title.)

The “Yellowjackets” show is a bit of an acquired taste, but the theme song is a masterful thing indeed, consciously created for the show as a “lost track” from the grunge-poppy year of 1996 by fifty-something never-was punk rockers Anna Waronker and Craig Wedren. (That’s not fair, really; Anna is still forty-nine and holding up just as well as your evergreen author, who predates her by eight months.) Ms. Waronker and Mr. Wedren are also responsible for assembling the show’s overall soundtrack, and they do a subtly brilliant job of it. What did teen girls listen to in 1996? Judging by the facility with which my wife can instantly sing along with anything played on the show, it was this stuff.

Pitchfork has a deeper dive into the soundtrack, but I want to talk about one song in particular: “Gepetto”, released in 1993 by the four-person band Belly. Call me a teenaged girl if you like, but I was way into Belly and its fascinating frontwoman, Tanya Donelly, back in 1993, despite being a 21-year-old pin-and-plate-shooter with a chip on my shoulder and a permanent grudge against the world. The conventional wisdom is that Star, the first of the band’s two albums, is the better one; it sold over a million copies, pummeled MTV audiences with its lead single “Feed The Tree” several times a day, and made Tanya a quite controversial figure in the self-loathing, crabs-in-a-bucket pop-punk world.

As is often (but not always) the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. King, Tanya’s follow-up, sold just 350k copies despite a massive promo effort from the label, and most people aren’t even aware it exists, but it is brilliant. If the old tale about wearing out a CD by playing it so much the laser flattens the pits in the aluminum could be true, it would surely apply to my old King CD, bought on release day and played constantly for years afterwards.

That being said, I haven’t touched either Belly album in well over a decade. What did I hear when I returned to King after all this time? Uh, some really disturbing stuff.

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Weekly Roundup: Guitar Shows In The Age Of Money Printers Edition

Here’s what I should have done with my $778 in 2012: bought 140 bitcoins, which would now be worth about six million dollars.

Here’s what I actually did: bought a Gibson Les Paul “BFG Gator”.

Today I sold it for $1,079 online. After fees and shipping that’s about $980. If you adjust for the official inflation rate I still made about sixty bucks — but if we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that all government statistics are at least partially fabricated, inflation rates most of all.

Why did I sell my Gibson today? Because I listed it on my Reverb store (available here!) and it lasted all of seventeen minutes before selling.

Why did I list it today? Because I just had the most depressing guitar show experience in my life.

Why was it depressing? Let me tell you…

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Weekly Roundup: A River Runs Through It Edition

For almost twenty-one years, I have lived my life in a space defined by iron pins.

The deed to my home in suburban Ohio doesn’t say anything about acreage — which is reasonable, because there isn’t much of it. Rather, it describes the lot as being made of straight lines between iron pins driven into the ground by the township surveyor. “The north bound of the property shall be a direct line between an iron pin driven into the northeast corner…” and so on. Shortly after the home was built and I moved in, on the first of April, 2001, I set out to find these iron pins, expecting them to be engraved or perhaps set into concrete. I thought there would be something to authenticate their placement. Imagine my surprise to find them as nothing but twelve-inch sections of rebar hammered into the ground at various angles. The larceny that is ever present in my heart surged to the fore of my brain: I could make my lot larger, simply by moving these. Not in any way that would be obvious via satellite, but just five or ten feet. Who would know?

Over time, however, I realized that I wanted no more of this land than I could legitimately claim. I wanted less of it, really. In fact, I saved several thousand dollars by refusing to clear out the dead trees on the other side of my iron-pin-bound line; the homeowners association felt I should pay for it, but the land in question didn’t actually belong to me. There was a moment in the process where I could have accepted the burden, maintained the land for twenty-one years, then filed claim to add that thousand square feet of dirt to my baronial holdings. Ohio has a law called adverse possession. Treat the land like it’s yours for long enough, and you get legal title to it. So I did none of that. Instead I cleared the trees down to my line, mulched that area, and planted eight blue spruces. Had I done this in 2001, I’d be looking at a wall of spruce now. Instead, I’m looking at five grand worth of trees that appear to have grown by about three inches in five years — referring, of course, to the 6/8ths of the spruces that haven’t just given up and shed their needles for all eternity.

Oh well. Goodbye to all that. At some point in the near future, I will be abandoning Pin-land and taking up residence on a particular plot of land too spacious for mere pins. Out here in the authentic hick country of rural Ohio, the lines are delineated by blaze-orange C-channel signposts cut off at waist height. Today was my first day to walk the lines between those posts, to figure out just exactly would be mine and what would belong to others. In the past month I’ve only visited the front part of the land, relying on satellite imagery to understand the tidy eight or nine acres of forest that sits within my orange posts but which is not visible from the road.

What a surprise to find things that were not suggested in Google’s satellite photography. What looks like the proverbial ragged wood from above, dead flat and uniform, has a bit of hill and dale to it. And there is a… creek? It’s ten to fifteen feet wide, so I’ll call it a river. A secret river, running across a forest floor, at the bottom of a five-story hill. I didn’t know it existed when I made the offer, nor was I told of it when the offer was accepted. But it is there, and real, and mine.

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Weekly Roundup: Beep Beep I’m (Not Quite) A Jeep Edition

There are so many things I don’t understand, and many of them are, in fact, Jeep things. The last time I drove a Wrangler I was far from impressed. It’s never occurred to me that I should own one.

Strictly speaking, nothing’s changed; the vehicle you see here is not mine, being the property of the infamous Danger Girl, and it’s also not a Jeep. Or is it?

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Weekly Roundup: Consensual Delusions And A Medicine Too Dangerous For Refugees Edition

220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. Anyone who’s responsible for not taking control — in fact, not saying, I take no responsibility, initially — anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America. — Joe Biden, final debate for the Presidential election, 2020

Well, we’re at 800k now and rising — or are we? Put on your most logical, bloodless, thoughtful hat, and let’s consider a dangerous question together: Why don’t Africans die of COVID-19? Fewer than 100,000 Africans have died from the virus since the beginning, even though there are more than 1.2 billion Africans and about 350 million… well, let’s not say “Americans”, let’s say “residents of the United States”.

Complain all you want about American health care, but it’s better than African health care, or at least that’s what I’m told by every African with whom I’ve ever spoken on the topic. On the whole, Africa is about seven percent vaccinated, compared to many places in America where the vaccination rate is eighty percent or higher. What about mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing, and all the repugnant COVID theater that provides the control freaks of the Western world such unprecedented opportunities to dictate how others live? Do you suppose they do more of that in Africa, or less?

Do they even have a Dr. Fauci, the American superhero who has saved so many of us?

Given that African-Americans are at statistically higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than their non-PoC counterparts, why are African-Africans so unaffected? After almost two years of taking the ostrich approach, the medical community is starting to really think about this. My Blue Tribe readers will no doubt be flabbergasted to learn that a coalition of African doctors thinks that the widespread use of ivermectin for other illnesses in Africa might have stymied COVID-19 infection vectors. Ivermectin? Isn’t that the Joe Rogan horse paste for stupid hicks in trailer parks?

Naturally, I have a theory of my own — but first, let’s talk about why international refugees, another group of people with a suspicious immunity to death-by-covid, aren’t getting their vaccines.

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Weekly Roundup: The (Dead) Ant And The (Dying) Grasshopper Edition

This is a true story; only the names have been changed. Let’s change them to… Bill and Rick. About forty-five years ago, give or take a few, Bill and Rick started a business. At first glance, they were quite different. Bill was lily-white, a farm-raised college basketball player with an Ivy League graduate degree; Rick was black, a self-made man and former Cleveland cop, working the worst streets and not always playing strictly by the rules. When asked how he paid for a customized Eldorado on a police salary, he said “You turn some people upside down and see what falls out of their pockets.” Their sole common denominator was size; these were 300-pound men who radiated menace even when they smiled.

Bill and Rick created their business out of nothing but some good will and laser-sharp instincts. It relied on public funding, and it was supposed to help people, although you’d have a hard time finding anyone who was ever truly helped in the process. Actually, that’s not quite true. Their business helped the doctors who worked there, most of whom had exhausted every legitimate opportunity and burned every bridge before joining the firm. It helped the woman who ran their public relations program, a fading but legitimate beauty whose inexhaustible appetite for trade-show hookups had scorched the industry before she settled down with a man ten years her junior who knew nothing of her past. Most of all, of course, it helped Bill and Rick.

If you looked at the disclosure statements filed by the company, neither man ever earned much more than $175,000 a year. But that was the tip of the iceberg. There was so much more money to be extracted. You just had to turn the operation upside down and see what fell out of its pockets.

This is the story of how those two men spent their money, and what happened next.

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Weekly Roundup: You Know I’d Love You If I Knew You’d Let Me Down Edition

Highly ironic that just as I sail into my sixth decade on this planet I have my first authentic experience of We Found Something Else during a talk with a doctor. Some of my older readers will know this phenomenon very well: you’re talking to a medical professional about a problem you’ve had and they explain that their testing uncovered another problem. In my case, I was in the middle of getting some bad news about my left wrist (Cliffs Notes: the bone isn’t going to heal correctly) when I was told that they also found some nerve damage in my arms.

Cue an early-morning appointment with a bunch of electrodes and needles. “You have some real problems at both inside elbows. Do you know if anything ever happened to you there?”

“Look at the texture of the skin in that area,” I replied, “because that’s what you get when you land on your inside elbows a hundred-plus times, following some sort of cycling mishap.” There’s some surgery that could fix it. Ninety-nine percent chance of improvement, I’m told. One percent chance of making it worse. Since we’ve shut down the whole country for something with a 99.9% survival rate, I’m thinking one percent sounds pretty scary. In any event I don’t have time for two nerve surgeries right now, so we will, ahem, continue to monitor the situation.

As of last night, however, I am back on my bike in earnest, having survived an evening with the kid at Ray’s indoor MTB park in Cleveland. The wrist worked pretty well. It is a little painful on each landing, but I’m not bothered by that. The problem would be if the pain was followed by weakness, the way it is when you have a bad tendon or ligament in a joint. And that’s barely the case. Truthfully, I’m hardly riding any worse than I would be if I took eight weeks off just at random.

Which leads me to a few thoughts about reliabilty. In people, in everything else.

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Weekly Roundup: Let’s Pick A Truck Edition

As dreams go, it’s not exactly a big one, but it was mine: Our 2017 Silverado was about sixteen months away from being paid off, so I’d planned to buy myself a Genesis G90 this summer while I could still get a new one with a V8. There’s a new G90 coming, and I’m sure it will be very nice, but it won’t have the five-liter. If I wanted a V-6 luxury car, I’d do the decent thing and find one of the 3,453 1982 Eldorados built with the Buick 4.1-liter, of course.

That dream came to a rather abrupt end when a six-point buck stepped out from behind a McDonald’s (I kid you not) and collected my Silverado in a manner that the insurance company deemed a total loss. End of truck. In theory I could replace it with another 2017-era truck, pay it off in a hurry, and still be in my G90 before my fifty-first birthday — but that’s a false economy, because I’d likely be buying someone else’s trouble and I have zero tolerance for problems while towing the race cars.

So it’s time to buy another truck and leave the Korean luxury-sedan game to my brother, who is in possession of a G80 and and a G70. Oh well. Bark was always the lucky kid in the family. After looking at my racing plans for the next few years, I’ve realized that I probably to swap my aluminum single-car open hauler and enclosed Radical trailer for a single big box that will carry both cars at a total rolling weight of around nine thousand pounds. While it’s possible for the stronger half-tons to pull such a rig, it’s smarter and easier to do with a diesel three-quarter-ton.

Which one?

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Weekly Roundup: He Was A Midwestern Boy On His Own Edition

Not guilty on all counts. Who saw that coming? Yes, Rittenhouse had a remarkably strong self-defense case, one further bolstered by every video, still photo, or personal detail that came out in the past year, but the media had laid on a full-court press since last August to demonize him as a “white supremacist” (who didn’t shoot any Black people), a “fascist” (who had volunteered to guard a car dealership owned by minorities) or a “murderer” (who ran from his attackers until he was knocked down). Thankfully for Kyle, the prosecutor was a confirmed moron who committed pretty much every error in the book, from pointing a gun at the jury with his finger on the trigger to describing Joseph Rosenbaum, who admitted to anally penetrating five boys between the ages of 9 and 11, as a “hero”.

If you want the official Riverside Green position on the case, here you go: I wish Kyle had stayed home with his mom that night. I don’t celebrate anyone’s death, even the death of pedophile rapists and serial abusers. That being said, a significant amount of recorded history centers around young men choosing to fight when they didn’t have to, whether we are talking about the “Flying Tigers” or Charles XII of Sweden. It’s a measure of the invisible distortions applied by society to our thinking that we are somehow less surprised by a young man volunteering to fight for Blackwater halfway around the world than we are by a young man who wants to clean up graffiti in his dad’s home town.

Some of my readers and friends are of the opinion that Kyle should have been put under the jail, so out of respect for them I don’t want to discuss the actual shootings any more. Rather, I want to concentrate on a remarkable perspective that circulated around Blue Tribe social media, allegedly from a “combat veteran”, regarding… insurgents. Oh, and let’s talk about the “mutual combat” rulings in Chicago while we’re at it, shall we?

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Weekly Roundup: The Vaccine They Don’t Want You To Get Edition

Good news: There’s a COVID-19 vaccine out there that:

  • Is more than 90% effective in clinical trials at actually preventing infection of all variants, rather than being merely palliative for Delta et al
  • Operates in almost identical fashion to a conventional vaccine, rather than using the mRNA pathway or other methods that reprogram living human cells
  • Doesn’t need to be cold stored
  • Results in fewer, and mild, side effects
  • Was lauded by The Atlantic four months ago as “The Best Vaccine”
  • Has not been linked to heart disorders or anaphylaxis
  • Costs less to produce than any other “vaccine” for COVID-19
  • Was developed in the United States by an American company

Sound good to you? Are you interested in this? Great! You can get it today… in Indonesia, and India. But not here. In fact, there’s no plan to make it available to American citizens — unless those citizens have already had two shots from Pfizer or Moderna.

Surely I’m making this up, right?

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