Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Take me back to the days of grunge. Before J-lo and those limp bizkit bastads. When flannel was cool. before the dot-com wars and resultant fallout. When I was in my late teens and early 20s. I'm listening to a best of Alice in Chains collection. And as I sit in my living room looking out on a gray Rockford world, I remember that article I read in Rolling Stone about the last days of Layne Staley, his sinking into the depths of heroin addiction. They found his body almost two weeks or something after he died. He lived in a windowless world and only ventured out to go to an ATM for more money. Lived off the hits from the past. Died a scabrous fool. Well, we are all dying. No pity. Just sadness. Grunge is dead. Everybody got haircuts or started inserting samples into their music. At least we still got Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder rules.

An old, what I thought was a friend, John Panek, blew me off for the second time in a row last night. Last Thursday we were supposed to get together, but he calls me after 10 p.m., said he had to go to Elgin to pick something up. I say, cool, but could you at least call? Last night another blow off, and I'm steamed, so I call him and leave a nasty message on his machine. Then I think it is too short and call back to explain my position. Told him I didn't like getting the blow off Thursday and last night and that each time I've called him he's cut me short to go eat (dinner once, ice cream the second). And I'm just getting this vibe since I've returned from the trip he doesn't want to associate with me. I'm disappointed. I like(d) John. He and his wife Julie are a cool couple. He's well-read, intelligent, kind, courteous. We have the ol' competition rivalry, partly because our friendship started with tennis, but I didn't think the jibes got too personal. He gave as much as he took. And now I come back from the hike and get this blow off.

Message to you, John. I can respect if a person doesn't want to associate with me. I don't ever want to impose myself on anyone. But you're an inconsiderate clod and a coward for planning get-togethers and blowing me off. My buddy Shawn called last night, wanted to get together, and I told him no because we were getting together. You could have just said, hey, I'm busy, a bunch of times, and I would get the message and fade into the background. But you took a different tact, and pissed me off something royal. All I know is I have NEVER blown off get-togethers with friends. If a planned get together doesn't work out, I show COURTESY and RESPECT and call them. And I expect the same in return. That's what it means to be THE MAN. Live by the golden rule, fool. Instant karma's gonna getcha.

Instead, I went over to my parent's house and watched the New York Yankees pull off another late-inning post-season rally, this time against the Anaheim Angels (for the record, I do not have a television set, my parent's have two, and recliners to sit and enjoy them in). You know, I agree that baseball's financial structure is skewed, and that teams like the Yankees have an unfair competitive advantage because of higher payroll. But from a pure fan's perspective, the Yankees are a joy to watch. Jeter, Bernie Williams, Alfonso Soriano, Roger Clemens, and company manage to win year after year. Jeter has never played for a losing club since his rookie 1996 season. I'm still rooting for the Twins or A's or Anaheim, because fresh faces are fun to see. I love post-season ball. Hope the Twins get the AL crown. Young scrappers who've been together since the low minors. Arbitration in a couple years will tear that tight-knit group apart. On the National League side I think the Atlanta Braves will probably take the NL crown, but hope the Giants can get it. Hothead prima donna Barry Bonds, although personally repugnant, deserves to add a World Series title to his many other Hall of Fame achievements. This year has been magical for him, coming off his record homerun year last season.

Well, if the rain holds off, I'm going to check out the Pecatonica Prairie Trail on my bike. I found the trailhead on a bike ride last week. That was the ride where, coming back on Pierpont Ave. I almost ran over a drunk guy standing in the middle of the road. A rheumy-eyed rail thin black man wearing tattered dirty peasant clothes and stumbling three feet off the curb with a bottle of Wild Irish Rose in his hand. I noticed him well beforehand, but he stumbled into my path again. I could smell his breath as I passed. He was within sight of a huge concrete water storage tank, covered in moss and flanked by weeping willow trees which look small and bushlike against the tank. And then there was the middle-aged lady wearing a pink tank top on the swing set in the city park right near Central and Auburn. I rode past her and noted, hmmm., that's interesting. Not everyday you see an adult, alone, on a swing set in a park, much less wearing a pink tank top. I come back an hour later and she's still at, still swinging in the same metronomic precision as before.

Esther gets home and I tell her about almost hitting a drunk and the crazy swing set lady. "I guess she had a lot on her mind," Esther said. "No, she's got to be crazy." Then I think again. Maybe Esther's right. She could have been perfectly sane. Just working out some issues in her head. Or crazy, and swinging her way to sanity.

Only other news in the gray, gray, blown off world of Greg is that I got a phone call from my former editor, Clint Wolf, asking me to go on a tour of the Winnebago County Jail and write about it for the Beloit Daily News. They pay $25 a story. I won't get rich doing this, but it's something to do. Now that my journals are done, I can finally focus on getting this freelance writing gig off the ground. Did some research on catfish noodling, a story idea I had, and am disappointed to see there are a lot of stories done about it. I'm going to look through my own articles archive and come up with some story ideas. And then pursue them. Too much wasting time figuring out how to pirate music off the Internet and transcribing journals. Gotta fill the time. Gotta make some money. Gonna be a literati rock star and muito famoso someday. Or a hack impresario forever in a gray squalor nether existence, but still have many exciting adventures.

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