Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bliss: Fist pump

The crowd was firmly middle-class, mostly white and had nothing to lose. I mean that in the most obviously meaningless way possible. Nothing would be taken from them for showing up, for waving signs or listening to a handful of speakers, each with their own sort of vague agendas pinned to their sleeves, tell them exactly what they expected to hear.

It had been a while since I'd been to a political rally. I don't much consider myself political in the sense that I get too involved in the various ongoing debates. I have my views which tend to fall toward the "progressive," "lefty" side of things. I'm not a romantic about it and I don't get terribly upset.

A wise man once explained to me that popular American politics had essentially been reduced to being about property: what's mine and what's yours. The two major parties represented those interests, though he allowed that the Democrats were slightly more concerned about people. He described the whole process of election cycles and campaigns as being a bunch of fascinating noise. It was great to watch, but not worth actually getting involved with because nothing really changed.

George Carlin was a lot more jaded than I am, but I didn't vote in the last special election. I refused on the basis that the two clowns running for office were indistinguishable. I have no idea what I'm doing in another year. Mr. Obama isn't really doing it for me.

But I went to the rally because I'm trying to live a little kinder. I heard about the state workers in Wisconsin and thought it was a crock the governor, after getting the financial concessions he wanted for the state budget, decided it was also a good time to take their collective bargaining rights. It wasn't enough to get them to ask them to take a pay cut, they needed to be punished for being paid by tax dollars.

I do not have collective bargaining. I do not belong to a union, but I think people should have the power to negotiate for the collective betterment of themselves and I think it's wrong for the Governor of Wisconsin to try and stick it to his own people because he thinks he can get away with it.

At the capitol, people milled around the front steps wearing union shirts, Walmart American-wear and comfortable weekend clothes that seemed a little too clean to me. A few brought handmade signs. Some of them made very little sense and would make a junior high class president candidate cringe.

It was social. Friends from previous protests gathered to rabble rouse in three-part harmony. Everybody took pictures to document the occasion. I put a picture of my kid up on Facebook holding a sign I thought his grandparents and aunts would dig. He's a cute kid. I had to show him which end was up.

I doubt there were many Glen Beck fans in the bunch, though the clearly disturbed hovered on the fringes, staring and smiling at odd angles. The real crazies weren't toward the back. They stood up toward the front and when Jesses Johnston, the perennial token third party candidate, spoke of the armed revolt at Blair Mountain 90 years ago, a well-scrubbed assholes shouted out it might be time to do that again.

His wife gave him a hug.

We gave our time. We waved our signs and the organizer asked us to come back in two weeks. I made no promises. It sort of depends on what happens in Wisconsin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The line led from a pair of double doors at an unremarkable salt cracker building and snaked around the edge of the parking lot. Many of the people looked like they only came out of the holler when they got a new circular from Walmart or when it was time to cash a monthly check.

This was a hardscrabble, blue collar bunch. They were conservative in what they smiled about and muddled through the wait with annoyed resignation. Somebody was going to get something they didn't get and the opportunity to eat buffalo, elk or kangaroo only came around once a year.

About half the people brought cans. There was a canned food drive as part of the meal. Donations were encouraged, but not necessary. Plenty counted on that and they arrived with their families. Others gave what they felt they could get away with: off brand corn, green beans or bags of dusty pinto beans.

The man behind me said he didn't much care for the rabbit here.

"They don't do it up right," he said. "Me? I boil mine for 45 minutes then flour it, add salt and pepper then fry it. That's just the way you do rabbit."

I didn't tell him I was a little queasy about doing this. I've been trying to cut back on eating animals and animal products as a way to live a little kinder. Instead, I said, "I haven't eaten rabbit since I was probably 10 years old."

His wife, clearly his second or third, hung on his shoulder and asked him if it was going to take so long. She was about 30 years his junior and maybe only half a dozen years older than the man's granddaughter who was trying to keep up with a 3 year-old.

The little girl kept trying to pick my pocket.

"Katie, stop that," the granddaughter said. "You leave the man's wallet alone. It's not yours."

Then she apologized. She apologized too much, actually, kind of giggled and I swear, she batted her eyelashes and smiled.

My first thought, "You have to be fucking kidding me."

She might have been 16, but I have my doubts.

The old guy told me about his farm and how he'd sort of taken advantage of the hard year for the squirrels and deer the year before. He'd set out food for them and when the season came, he'd taken what he wanted.

"Within the law," he said, but getting a deer had been no trouble at all and his eyesight was shot.

He was glad to get the deer, but disappointed, too. It wasn't as much fun. The sport had been removed from the hunt and it gave him little pleasure.

He'd hunted for decades and some years it fed him better than others. Many times, it had been necessary.

"I've been on my own since I was 12," he told me.

Now, he had to rely on others --his ridiculously young wife, his jail-bait granddaughter and the rest of the family living with him on his farm. He was used to providing, to being in command, but his control was beginning to slip. He could drive and get around, but he had to watch his sugar. He had to take pills.

"I hope they get the smoked turkey right," he said finally. "The stuff made me sick last year."

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A disreputable aura hung over the building like a veil of low grade evil, but kept no one away.

Outside in the parking lot, a couple of teenage lesbians, dressed like skaterboys leaned into each other while they looked for a likely victim to buy them beer. The way they moved around each other I figured they'd be into each other's underwear about the time the evening news rolled credits and faded into a re-run, a game show, whatever.

They had that ridiculous puppy dog look; the old but always new gaze of fresh lust and brainless, unreasonable, irrepressible love. They couldn't keep their hands off each other and they were maybe 15; surely not much older. If they were older, they'd have a car or at least would have found someone dumb enough to drive them around.

They were just so besotted, drunk in their own company and so oblivious to everything around them.

They giggled and goofed and whispered little things to each other, but you could almost watch the second hand ticking down on them. Whatever this was for either of them or both of them, it would have its season then pass and never come again. This grubby, unremarkable parking lot on the edge of this grubby, unremarkable town was the scene of a golden moment where almost everything felt right, but it was fading fast and soon would be gone.

It was all so enviable and sad.

They watched the front of the building with something like curiosity, while a couple of part-time problem gamblers observed them from a safe distance, taking a break from their favorite loser arcade to suck down a bargain cigarette. Smoke, like gnats, hovered above them and clung to their ragged fingertips.

It occurred to me I'd never been inside one of these places. I believe in luck, but think gambling is for suckers and idiots. I never do more than hand a dollar over every now and then to the state to play the lottery, which is only slightly better than buying cans of tuna and tossing them into the sea with the hopes the fish will swim home.

Everybody needs to dream of something impossible. I dream of things I no longer talk about.

There was a record store. Inside, a couple of clerks talked with a pair of future meth addicts about a local politician's insatiable hunger for boys. At length, they discussed the times they'd seen the man in the company of smooth teenagers and thought he cruised local playgrounds for dates.

They were completely appalled by this. They told each other over and over how wrong this was.

"But the people of this town keep electing him," they said. "They know what kind of man he is and they still stand up for him every election."

They went on and on, somehow working in a bit about how one of the future meth-heads liked to watch women masturbate. His girlfriend standing next to him thought this was funny, though did not cop to providing the service. Eventually, one of the clerks realized there was a customer flipping through their stock and yelled back to see if I needed anything and also to announce I should not dwell on anything I hear.

I shrugged, while they continued on with their barbershop quartet damnation of sodomy and celebration of Cinemax-grade kink. I tried to detect some scent of dope underneath the dusty, uninspired aroma of cheap incense, but that was hopeless. They'd only burned it as a poor substitute for a neon sign proclaiming, "Counter culture, right here. Come get your counter culture."

There was nothing to detect, of course, just stale sandalwood, but they did have a fascinating collection of throwing knives and other weapons used in the far east by ninjas and other masters of the martial arts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


We go public on Thursday on the new Gazz blog. Shhh... Don't tell anybody.

Okay, seriously... a couple of weeks ago I sort of bull-in-the-China-shop told some people (and eventually the managing editor) that I had an idea on how to run an entertainment blog for the paper. This was right after I heard Hippie Killer was hanging up his wings and magic wand over at 5th column to do... something... my guess at the time was that he'd go work on his novel (which he might have) and maybe start another blog dedicated to cooking or music or knitting.

Anyway, I had this idea and God knows I couldn't make an entertainment blog work four years ago, but... I think I approached it completely wrong last time. Last time, it was sort of mandated and I listened waaay too much to people who have serious issues with Attention Deficit Disorder and a dislike for actual work. The blog tanked because I quit. I got tired of hearing about what I should do and what I should do and what I should do when really I just needed to do what needed to be done.

So, I'm going to do this little blog over at the Gazz. We launch officially on Thursday --probably.

I am not giving up my blog here. I like using profanity and subjecting myself to injury and psychological trauma. I like opening up my own bleeding heart and offering it up on a dirty dish. I like calling my shots and wandering off down whatever alley appeals to me (cliche, cliche, cliche).

Over there, I'll have to behave myself --well, mostly, but less than I did last time.

We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, you know first.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

bliss: Mumbo Jumbo

I wish magic worked.

I wish Tarot Cards and tea leaves and making your decisions based on Babylonian star charts worked. I wish crystals held in your hands and pointed at the sun somehow imbued us all with new vitality. I wish secret symbols, odd combinations of 11 herbs and spices, incantations and esoteric hand gestures called forth answers from the hidden pages of the mystic universe.

I wish there were answers to prayers. I wish that every day. Everybody needs someone to talk to, but it's tragic if the only person you can speak honestly to is yourself.

I wish there were demons, goblins, pixies, sprites, unicorns and angels. I wish gods walked the earth or at least rode the bus like one of us. I wish Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were duly deputized representatives of the divinity, with regular business hours and payrolls to meet.

I wish the spiritual commerce of sacrifices, be they by blood, money or breakfast, provided boons, rewards and special requests. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

I wish bliss was obtainable in a single lifetime. I wish enlightenment could be picked up like a lucky penny off the street.

I wish reincarnation operated on a stick shift, like a doorbell or a speed dial. It would be nice to order your next life like you order pizza.

I wish you could have fuck to religious music without feeling ridiculous, if not particularly dirty.

I wish holy scripture contained fewer parables and fables and more word searches and drink recipes.

I wish the stores weren't all sold out of heaven. Hell, of course, is always in stock and available in diet, caffeine-free and with lemon. You can also get it in cans, bottles and the convenient party ball.

I wish fortune contained actual winning lottery numbers and we all became millionaires after we had egg rolls.

I wish my spirit animal wasn't Wile E. Coyote.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blood: Stop

Of all the things I've done, regularly visiting the plasma center has been the least favorite among my family and friends. People hate it and I can't blame them. The process is inherently creepy and dehumanizing (something, I hope, I've accurately portrayed here). The money is lousy, especially when you consider the psychological trauma of what is being done and the fact that you're a commodity in a buyer's market. The company only pays what they have to for the plasma, not what it's worth. Bleeders in other parts of the country (even other parts of the state) are paid more, which also means there are some who are probably paid less.

Caveat Emptor or fuck you. Whatever.

Also, despite what they say about it being safe, they're not particularly concerned about anyone's overall well being. Otherwise, they'd do more than the obvious, legal minimum required for screening, would cast out the characters they can tell are drunk or high and maybe try to see a few more of the bleeders as people, not bags of blood to be drained.

Sure, they're clean. Everybody uses fresh gloves and fresh needles, but the process is an assembly line of disgruntled workers, some of whom are more interested in what's happening on this morning's episode of "Charmed" than what they're doing to your arm. How safe does that sound?

About three weeks ago, I stopped going. It's easy to fall into a routine, but I agreed not to go in. I opted to stay home and I just haven't been back. It was weird at first. I felt like I should go, that it was part of my routine. I kept saying, "You're going to need the cash. You're going to need it," but so far, I haven't.

Instead of watching the clock on Saturday morning, waiting for my wife to come home from her studies so I can go and "sell blood," I've mostly goofed off. I've read or cleaned house or if children permit, worked on my writing (the job is endless). On Tuesdays, when for the last six months I've had a standing date with the needle, I've been going to the gym.

Here's what I've noticed. My diet, for the first time in six months, is working again. The weight is quietly sliding off. The jeans I bought two weeks ago are already starting to feel loose. Following the same workout routine that I have for almost a year, my muscle tone has improved. I'm getting stronger, too. I've been asked about it and I can see it on the records I keep. I'm also recovering much faster from workouts, don't get as sore as I did a few weeks ago and don't stay as hurt for as long.

Is this because I stopped selling plasma?

I don't know, but it looks like it to me.

Mentally, emotionally, stopping is probably a good thing. Paying for cat litter or for a cell phone or even a biscuit with "blood money" is relentlessly demoralizing. You can't help but feel angry and resentful. It's easy not to feel appreciated --and that, folks, is the soft spot in my scales. It's the hammer that batters my ego and feeds the little revolutions of my life.

Will I go back?

It's been some laughs, but I don't know. I haven't gotten around to collecting my notes, printing out blog posts and writing up a book proposal, but it's coming. All of this, I'd like to think, should add up to more than just a few bucks and some weird memories.

But whatever is whatever. Some of you have stuck with me through this and my weird cinema verite view of the experience. You might be disappointed if it ends. Not to worry. I can't help but find things designed to cause me pain and distress. I need the punishment and I need to laugh about it as loudly as I can manage. Sometimes, I can't, but that's fine, too.

But maybe for now, it's time to let the scar inside my arm heal. The vein is closed.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cancer: flowers

Carla didn't come to the door and the house was eerily quiet: no babble from the television, no shrieks or cries from children, no voices on the other side speaking sharply at one another.

Silent and worry.

I was a couple of minutes early and already I'd made up my mind I was buying the lady flowers before I brought her home. Valentine's Day was coming up. It seemed like something nice to do for someone who could use it.

I waited then knocked again.


On the dead grass to the bottom step of the paint-chipped and battered front porch, a dark, rusty stain spread out in a disturbing pattern. It bled out onto the pebbled sidewalk.

The house was awfully quiet and I imagined Carla stepping down onto the walk and bleeding out suddenly, an awful hemorrhage brought on by a tumor bursting.

Then I heard children inside the house and I tried the door again.

"I'm coming," Carla called. "Just a second."

I smiled when she opened the door. Me and my fucking imagination.

"I had to change shirts three times," she said and shook her head.

She was in a pretty good mood. We drove on the interstate, which unnerved her some. Carla's vision isn't so great and each passing vehicle made her feel claustrophobic. She clutched the side of her seat and kept looking down at the floor, but we talked about the new place. She doesn't like it.

"There ain't no closets," she complained. "At least none you can do more than just turnaround in."

I got her to the doctor's office. They were waiting for her and ready to go, which was nice.

"We'll call you when she's ready to go home," the technician told me.

I went to the grocery store and bought flowers. I debated what to get. I didn't want to get something that suggested either romance or a funeral. I just wanted something to put a little color into her day --and I got the impression that it had been a long time since anyone had bought her flowers just because.

Two hours later, I got the call to come back. Carla was weak and dizzy when I picked her up. The doctor had given her two, liter containers of fruit flavored barium (yum), which wouldn't fit in her purse.

"You drink this stuff with a little coke and it just about ruins your day," Carla said. "The oily taste just sticks in the back of your throat. You don't want nothing to eat."

She hated it and also hated what it meant.

"They want to take some more pictures," she said. "I'm not doing too good." She managed to smile. "But you've got to stay positive, right? That's what they tell you: stay positive."

With the barium in her hands, whatever optimism she had was fading fast.

"I don't know if I'm going to make it to the spring," she told me.

As I let her out at the curb in front of her house, Carla stuffed the canisters in her pocket. I reached into the backseat then handed her the purple carnations: four bucks plus tax. The bundle, formerly wrapped in cellophane seemed pathetic and cheap. It was cheap.

Without smiling, she put the flowers to her face and told me they were beautiful.

"It's just nothing," I said, awkwardly. "Valentine's Day is next week and I thought..."

"I appreciate this." She didn't look at me. "I really appreciate what you do."

She started to leave.

"See you next month?"

She nodded quickly and scurried toward her door. It wasn't a promise.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cancer: Time

Gina's daughter answered the door while a baby wailed in the background. She looked like your typical new mother: tired and slightly depressed. Her clothes were the low-rent version of house-wear, a pair of cartoon pajama bottoms and an over-sized t-shirt. No bras. No socks.

The woman barely looked at me as I stood out on the porch, next to a smashed alarm clock and a couple of empty boxes leftover from the move. The boxes had been scrounged from her boyfriend's place of business. The company logo was printed on the side. The clock looked like it had been stomped to death.

"Mom, your ride is here," she yelled then disappeared back into the shallow gloom behind the door.

Gina crept out, still moving gingerly like her heels were made of glass.

"I was just getting ready to call you," she said and smiled. "We thought you might have gotten lost."

It would have been easy enough. The new place was in the labyrinthine bowels of the West Side, where roads lead nowhere and traffic signs are scattered along the grid much like dandelion seeds, but I told her I had it covered.

"And we've got plenty of time," I said.

We didn't talk much. Not a lot had happened since our last visit. They'd settled into the little house, which was an improvement from the hellish backyard apartment they'd been in before, but Carla talked about getting out. She wanted a space of her own.

"It's got a pretty big living room and the one bedroom is all right," she told me. "The rest is just too small. My daughter has all her stuff in storage. So, do I."

The place looked like it might be two bedrooms. If her daughter and boyfriend had a bedroom and the kids had a bedroom, where did that put her?

I didn't ask.

"Now, this is just a doctor's visit, right?" I asked. "It's just an office visit."

She nodded and told me she had a chemo treatment in a couple of days. This was just a visit to talk to the doctor, but she offered to check with the receptionist to see how long it would be. Neither of us wanted me to miss too much work, but I could hang out for a little while, if they were going to see her in the next hour or so.

The reception area was full with only a couple of seats available. On the television, Fox News was giving their fair and balanced interpretation of the news while a woman in a dark brown wig talked about how her treatment was interfering with her sleep.

"I'll get two or three good nights and then I can't sleep for days."

Her husband sat beside her, holding her hand, staring at the floor numbly. He looked shell-shocked and defeated.

Carla asked about the wait and the guy at the window frowned unhappily.

"It's going to be a long wait," he said.

Carla wanted me to go on and to be honest, I had to go, but I handed over one my business cards, the one with my name attached to the newspaper and told him to call the moment she was done.

Most of the time the card is useless, but every once in a great while, it helps... a little bit.

"I'll be back," I told Carla then went to work and wrote about bagpipe players, daredevils and guys who play guitar.

Hours ticked by. I stayed at my desk and watched the phone. When I went to the bathroom or refilled my coffee pot, I asked for someone to watch my phone. I didn't dare go more than a few paces.

It was after five when I finally heard back from the doctor's office. After just over four hours, she was ready to go.

Carla was waiting for me in a room full of sad, scared people who looked like they were at their own wakes. I took her home. I told her I couldn't believe how long they had kept her. She explained that the receptionist had said the doctor had needed to go over a surgery with a new patient.

It was a bullshit excuse.

I was baffled. It was after five p.m. and the waiting area was still full. Carla told me they'd run out of chairs and people had been sitting in their cars. The doctor was overbooked. He was double, maybe triple booked. The man's schedule would have to be obscene.

Four hours. Why would you do that to anyone?

With weary resignation Carla explained the doctor had surgeries and he taught. He was a busy man.

She'd ended up meeting with him for just a few minutes to go over her treatment and to let her ask questions.

"I only asked how much longer do I have to keep doing this?"

The doctor wouldn't say.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It was hard to get comfortable. I was out of place. The couple of guys and the girlfriend brought along for one of them were half drunk and working on another quarter when the usher kicked them out of our seats.

Apologies, apologies, they cried.

"Sorry man, we didn't mean to steal your seats."

"I thought he knew what he was doing."

The two men grinned and stumbled to their seats a row or so over.

We filed in. I guarded the aisle and handed out 29 cent earplugs. I'd never been to a monster truck rally and had little interest in attending this one, but I also have a five-year-old boy and all of the little boys in his daycare are interested in trucks. Because they are interested, so is Emmett --at least for now --though I doubt it will last.

We watched and he caught the attention of the two drunks in the row behind behind us. While I was trying to keep him from crippling the man in front of us with the toe of his rain boot, the boy was mugging and entertaining. They'd brought their own bunch of kids, but they thought my son was a riot. They liked him. So, when one of them went off to fetch another round of beer, he returned with a glowing fan.

"I hope you don't mind," the man said and handed it to Emmett. "Children are precious."

He seemed sincere and besides the fan was already in the boy's hands. I'd have had to have cut them off to get him to let loose, but it was a generous gesture. I thanked him and had my son do the same.

The drunk smiled. It made him happy, too.

We watched the trucks do their fascinating mechanical ballet until intermission, when Emmett announced he needed to go to the bathroom. So, shedding a pretty cumbersome package of licensed merchandise and candy, we went.

Everybody had the same idea at once, of course. Hey, the trucks aren't jumping over cars, time to take a piss. You had to navigate through the herd. You had to scan and look and move quickly like finding a parking space at the mall with a dozen voices yattering away in ever direction.

One caught my ear.

"The damned Jews," he said and I turned to see who said it. "The Jews, you know? The Jews."

It was a kid, probably 12, talking to another kid, probably 12. I couldn't make out why he was saying what he was saying, only that it seemed like the strangest thing coming out of the mouth of a 12 year-old.

I looked around. What was I supposed to do? I was trying to bring a small and precocious child through a crowd of men in a restroom, a child who needed to pee --now. Was I supposed to confront the kid, tell him to grow up or at least say, "Hey, that's not cool?"

Part of me wanted to. Part of me wanted to stop the moment and have a weird little discussion about race in a men's room at a monster truck rally. Sure, I could have opened up the floor for discussion. Instead, I pivoted around him with my kid and took the urinal he'd been moving toward.

I guess he could blame the fucking Irish if he wanted to.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So, people are asking me if I'm really going to do the polar plunge. It's funny. This makes number four but even people who know me forget I do this every year. I got involved with it because:

a) My daughter took part in the Special Olympics and while it didn't necessarily mean much to her, it meant a lot to me. I saw a lot of people raising kids under extraordinary circumstances, spending time together and having a good time in safe, kind environment where nobody is weird.

b) There's a t-shirt.

I almost didn't do it this year. Last year, I hurt my shoulder. I pulled a muscle, strained a tendon --I have no idea, but it hurt and continues to hurt every once in a while. Plus, last year, at the last minute, the Special Olympics people sprung a fireworks display on us and made us wait extra to basically feed the ego of an energy company who decided to donate fireworks.

In my mind, there really wasn't the kind of crowd to merit dropping a couple of grand on bottle rockets. It was sort of pretty, from what I could see, but most of us were under the shelter and the pyrotechnics were obscured.

But... It is for a cause I believe in. I don't write a lot about my kids or Autism or being a parent in a special needs family. Without dwelling too much on the obvious, it's hard. The hours are long, the pay sucks and sooner or later you question everything. It will make you bitter, if you let it.

I believe in the Special Olympics because they're there for people like me and my children.

So, fuck it, I'll keep jumping in the water as long as I'm able --even if Massey energy donates pole dancers and a mime for this thing.

Anyway, open invitation.

Saturday at Appalachian Power Park, 6 p.m. they'll line us up like a bunch of convicts waiting for the scaffold. Most of us will be dressed in swimsuits of one kind or another. There is always at least one cute girl in a string bikini and at least one old geezer in a pair of black briefs you wish his grandchildren would have hidden. Everyone will be pale. Everyone will be shivering and the smart ones will have a couple of drinks in them. The dumb ones will have a lot of drinks in them.

They'll line us up and we'll go two at a time into a big swimming pool that will feel like murder the second your skin touches the water. It's good fun --not for us, but for you. Come on out. Bring your checkbook.

But you can't have my t-shirt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fifth Column

It turns out one of the most venerated and reviled blogs in Charleston is about to go the way of the dodo. Hippie Killer over at the Fifth Column is hanging it up after about seven years, I guess.

I got into blogging --more or less-- because of the Fifth Column. I was a stupid freelancer --really, really dumb --and my editor at the time was keen on getting into the blogging game. He asked me if I knew anything about blogs. I lied and told him, sure. I read them all the time.

He didn't believe me, but he was putting together some new blogs for the Gazz and wondered if I was interested. I said sure. He told me there was little money involved, but I went along with it anyway --thinking that it might lead to bigger and better things.

Actually, it didn't. Nobody read my Gazz blog. Partly it failed because I became frustrated with the process, stopped updating content and there was almost no feedback. The paper also never really got behind the blogs and they tanked.

Still, because of the blogs I met some cool people. I met Karin Fuller, who turned out to be a pal. I also established myself in the local blogosphere, got to know some of the local bloggers --the few who remain, I still read --and when my old Gazz blog was gently murdered, I went ahead and struck out on my own.

I learned a lot about blogging from reading the Fifth Column. I think originally that's what my editor thought my blog should be --though not so much political, but a kind of savage let loose on the arts and entertainment scene. He liked the wit of the Fifth Column and he liked the viciousness. He thought I could copy it --sort of.

But I never did. I barely tried.

I've always tried to be honest, which sometimes gets brutal or uncomfortable and sure, I'm a bit of a bastard. I've got the legal bills to prove it --but I'm not really much of a blunt weapon. I'm just a single pair of eyes and ears attached to a moderately self-destructive personality. My interests, while broad, aren't necessarily the interests of a wide public and almost always, my blogging was more about me than Charleston.

Besides, when I did the Gazz blogs, I was often censored and edited down. Hence, the title of this blog. The only censor I have is someone I used to live with and her lawyer.

Anyway, I owe something of a debt to the Fifth Column. I'm sorry to see the blog go and hope whatever he does next is at least as interesting.