Bouncing Back

I scored 100.5º F on the thermometer Friday night. That seems to have been the worst of it. Xy made some awesome chicken soup, and my fever broke that night.

Saturday I felt better, but by no means well. A dose of Maximum Strength Thera-Flu helped me sleep both nights, and I took some Mucinex during the day.

On Easter Sunday I felt almost healthy, but weak and easily fatigued. I went to Paul & Helen’s party, but left after a very short stay. I just didn’t have the energy.

On Monday I went to work, but still felt drained. Xy & I went to get oysters after I got home, because it was Xy’s last day off; I continued to abstain from alcohol, even though Lent was over, in hopes of speeding my recovery.

This thing was weird. I had thought it was a cold, but the fever makes me think it was flu. Whatever it was, it had four or five very distinct phases.

Today I’m feeling better than ever. I’m still blowing snot, but it doesn’t seem to have moved into my chest as some predicted. Maybe it was the cough suppressant. Maybe it was the chicken soup. Maybe it’s all this clean living. Maybe I just got lucky. Or maybe I’ll relapse tomorrow.

One thing for sure: The dextromethorphan in my fever-baked brain produced some interesting mental states. When I closed my eyes, I found myself reading from imaginary books, and mouthing the words. It’s awakened an old interest of mine.

Grokster

I’m rooting for Grokster, of course, in the case being argued at Ye Olde Supreme Court today. I mention this mainly because I make use of the peer-to-peer Gnutella network for a “substantial noninfringing use” — namely, to distribute ROX videos.

I keep Acquistion running most of the time on my home computer. But I never share copyrighted files with the network. I share only the eight or so gigabytes of audio and video data that are also available via rox.com. And every day a small number of these files are downloaded by other users on the network.

Granted, no one is getting on the darknet looking for ROX videos. When someone downloads a video of J mixing a Fat Albert, for example, they’re probably expecting something else. And they may well be mystified by what they get. And except for the full-length episodes, most of these videos give no indication of who we are or what ROX is. You can’t find the rox.com site from the video. So it isn’t really effective self-promotion.

But I don’t care. I like getting our stuff out there any way possible. It’s my way of injecting a little more chaos and madness into the world.

Of course, if ROX had a higher profile and people started trading our videos via peer-to-peer, that would be fine with me. And I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure there are plenty of oddball marginal artists distributing their work this way.

I’m sure the Supreme Court will keep this in mind.

Miserably Happy

Since Holy Thursday and Good Friday are staff holidays at the University, I decided to take Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days and make a week of it. I figured I’d use the time to wrap up production of ROX #91. Plus Xy & I planned a brief, one-night excursion to the Gulf Coast, perhaps Pass Christian or Bay St. Louis or Gulfport.

On Monday night I felt a vague tickle in the back of my throat, but I didn’t think much of it.

On Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat, and so I gargled with salt water a couple times, drank lots of fluids, and took it pretty easy, except for one extended bike ride to scout shooting locations in the neighborhood. I was convinced that the sore throat would go away and amount to nothing more than that.

On Wednesday the sore throat was still there, but no other symptoms. I got my hair cut. I worked on scripting. I felt pretty much fine — until that night. That’s when the snot started to flow.

Thursday was weird. There were times when I barely felt sick at all. Still, I took it easy, hanging around the house and videotaping a couple of transitional segments for the show. While I was taping in the kitchen, just as I finished a take, the phone rang. It was Ms. Emaan Halim of Free Speech TV. She had reviewed our program submission, sent in late January, and she said they were interested in airing ROX on their satellite channel if we could scrape together 13-26 episodes with more or less political themes.

Well, this was great news, and it lifted my spirits considerably. But a couple hours later my physical situation began to deteriorate. Any hopes that I would be better by Friday for our beach outing were dashed as I descended into a maelstrom of severe sinus congestion, and chills, and aches and pains.

Today — Friday — is just as beautiful as predicted. Could be the most beautiful day of the year. And I feel like a complete wreck. Being sick on holiday really sucks.

But I’m happy in my misery. I’d just about given up hope on Free Speech TV, and that in turn was giving me cause to wonder about the direction of the ROX project. The fact that FSTV is interested, and that we may have venue for ROX that could provide wider exposure than a couple of public access stations, a “real” television venue beyond the Web — well, that’s just awesome.

High Myo

I went to see an eye doctor this afternoon. I wasn’t having any particular problems, but it’s been four of five years since my last exam, so I went out of general principle.

I made an appoinment at Canal Vision, a place that is around the corner from where we live. From the outside, it looks like an old yellow house, and from the inside it looks much the same way, except there’s eye exam equipment all over. It seems to be a one-man operation — no receptionist, no clerk, no assistant. The doc was answering the phone himself, doing all the paperwork himself, etc. He said he’s been there for twenty-odd years, but frankly the place looks as if it hasn’t been redecorated for longer than that. I needn’t have made an appointment. He takes walk-ins. The whole vibe was just plain funky, in a good way.

Remarkable. All of this made me realize that I have never had an eye exam that wasn’t in a shopping mall or strip mall.

But what really freaks me out the most is that I am now, at this moment, even as I type this, wearing contact lens.

I tried contact lens back in high school (over twenty years ago) and had a bad experience; I’ve worn glasses ever since. But as the doctor explained to me, the parameters have expanded, and the astigmatism in my left eye is no longer quite the problem it was. That means I can wear soft contacts, which wasn’t a possibility for me in the early 80s.

The pair of lenses I’m wearing now are just what he happened to have on hand. They aren’t a perfect match, and so things aren’t quite as sharp as they should be. But just walking home without glasses on seemed kind of like a minor miracle. I’ve been wearing glasses from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed for most of my life.

Two things I’ve noticed which are really cool:

  1. I now have peripheral vision.
  2. Everything’s bigger. One side effect of glasses, especially strong prescriptions like mine, is they make everything look smaller, not to mention distorted. The brain compensates. I’m amazed at how large the keys on my keyboard look.

The doctor said “high myo” patients like myself (extremely near-sighted) have the most to benefit from contact lenses, and he expressed mild surprise that I didn’t have contacts already.

Now to see how long it takes Xy to notice I’m not wearing glasses…

Protest

Today there was a march in New Orleans as part of the global day of protest against the war in Iraq. It’s been two years since the United States invaded. Over 1,500 US soldiers are dead and countless civilians — maybe as many as 100,000. It’s time for this madness to end.

So we marched through the Central Business District and the French Quarter. It was a beautiful day. There were a couple hundred people there. Protests in New Orleans tend to take on the appearence of parades, with brass bands and outlandish costumes. Daiquiri-sipping tourists get caught up in the festive atmosphere before they even realize it’s a protest. Well, not really, but I can dream…

I was disappointed to see a number of anti-Bush signs at the march. It makes it seem like we’re a bunch of sore loser Democrats. The fact is, we’d still have been marching today even if Kerry was in office. A protest like this needs to send a focused message of opposition to the war. Many Americans, even Republicans, may oppose the war, but they will be turned off by any disrespect to the commander-in-chief. Anti-Bush rhetoric is like burning the American flag. It tramples on a symbol that some people hold dear, which only further divides us, and doesn’t help build an anti-war movement. I wish people would give a little more thought to such things.

Farmhouse

Xy & I inherited the Seddelmeyer family farmhouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We promptly moved in. It was huge, much bigger than I remembered, covering acres. We bedded down in a small room early in the evening, but I was restless, and soon we ventured forth to explore the house. From a window I saw the Klotzes, friends of my family from Indianapolis, approaching the door. Xy didn’t want to talk to anyone, so we crouched down and tried to hide beneath the window. But they knew we were there, and they wouldn’t go away until they’d delivered their housewarming fruitcake. So I got up and greeted them, and before I knew it I was playing host to a large party on the front porch. My parents were there. An uncle of mine was poking my dad’s stomach and making fun of his hemorrhoids. He had astonishingly thick fingers.

Captive

Xy and I were captured by radical Islamic terrorists and held in a large empty cloak room. We were there for hours and hours. We bickered. I was scared. It was very cold. We had a yellow sleeping bag, which we wrapped around ourselves to keep warm. I remember thinking that if our captors chose to take away the sleeping bag, I’d be psychologically devastated.

When I woke up, it was indeed quite cold in our bedroom, and Xy and I were curled up together under a pair of quilts.

Electrical

I had some electrical work done on our house today. I hired a friend, Mike Kaplan, to do the work. He in turn employs two guys named Josh, both of whom play in a local band, and one of whom is also a friend of mine. They spent the day here, and installed two new home runs, so that our dishwasher and my computer are both on independent circuits. They also put new light fixtures in the bathroom, fixed up a half-finished receptacle downstairs, and corrected an improperly wired GFI in the attic, which restored power to a pair of defunct outlets in the kitchen.

Hopefully the new home runs will result in fewer blown circuits. We’ve had a problem with overloading the circuits in this old house.

I made them red beans and rice for dinner.

Malted

News Flash: A scientific study indicates that malt liquor is the drink of choice for homeless and jobless people.

Who knew?

On a related note, I had my first non-alcoholic visit to a bar last night when Xy and I went to Tyler’s for oysters and beer. I had an O’Doul’s. What the hell, I felt reckless and had two.

And once again, I was astonished to discover that my enjoyment of the experience was not noticeably diminished.

Brooks on New Orleans

David Brooks has written a fine and funny commentary on the spirit of New Orleans.

Now we lead lives in which everything is a pallid parody of itself: fat-free yogurt, salt-free pretzels, milk-free milk…

But at least we have New Orleans.

Actually, he writes not so much about the city itself as what New Orleans might stand for “in the age of the lily-livered.” It’s the stuff that tourist dreams are made of. But I love living in a city invested with such mythic qualities.

St. Patrick’s Parade

I had a new experience today: I went to a parade in New Orleans and I didn’t have anything to drink. I thought that might make a difference; I thought maybe I would be more bored or feel more awkward. But it didn’t seem to make any difference at all, and I was just as bored and awkward as ever.

Actually I had a good time. But it was truly surprising to me that not consuming alcohol just didn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Xy got pretty drunk, though. Many thanks to our host in the Irish Channel, David Bryan, for keeping her upright as we walked through the streets.

I’d never seen the St. Patrick’s parade before, and I was amazed that it was as big as a Mardi Gras parade. I’m not sure when I’ve seen so many white people in one place in New Orleans. Oktoberfest, maybe.

Christian Math

I’ve always been under the impression that Lent lasted exactly 40 days.

Looking at the calendar the other day, I noticed the count from Ash Wednesday to Easter was more like 46.

Turns out that Sundays in Lent don’t count. There are exactly 40 non-Sundays in there. Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection, so I guess it doesn’t fit in with the pain and suffering of the Lenten season.

Hmmm. That means an extra week of not drinking. I thought I was signing on for 40 days!

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Fecal Flotation

This is kind of gross, so don’t read just before dinner.

This morning I entered the men’s room near my office to find the toilet was backed up. I flushed it and it started overflowing. So I asked Michelle to call maintenance, and then headed downstairs to use the men’s room on the fourth floor. The need was pressing.

There was graffiti of the wall of the stall:

Where the cute niggaz who get down?

and other stuff in the same vein.

When I was finished, I stood up, turned to flush, and was surprised to see the Official University Seal floating in the bowl. What the hell? Had someone thrown a brochure in the toilet and I hadn’t noticed when I came in? And wasn’t this a flagrant violation of the Official University Policy regarding the use of the seal?

Then I recognized it and realized what had happened. Somehow, as I pulled my pants up, my little calendar book must have flipped out of my hip pocket and landed in the toilet bowl.

This might seem like a quandary, but really I had no choice. I have a lot of valuable information in that little book — appointments and phone numbers and the like. I’d be lost without it.

So I retrieved it and rinsed it off. It took several rinses before all the fecal matter was off. (Does “fecal matter” sound more or less gross than “pieces of shit”?) Then I laid it out to dry on some paper towels on the floor of my office.

Needless to say I washed my hands repeatedly with lots of soap and hot water. Michelle directed me to the rubber gloves and disinfectant in our first aid kit.

Luckily I have a spare calendar book somewhere. I plan to copy the relevant information into it tomorrow and throw this thing away.

Is it just me, or does shit like this happen to other people?

Found

Geraldine’s car was found, somewhere in the Quarter. It was banged up and the radio was stolen… again.

Actually I got the news last night when Donika (Geraldine’s granddaughter) called. We were already in bed, so we let the answering machine pick it up. Donika promptly hung up and called again, got the answering achine, hung up, called again, got the answering machine — on the fourth or fifth attempt I intercepted the call.

“Donika, when you get the answering machine, you need to leave a message. You can’t just keep calling back again and again.”

We’ve explained this to her several times but she just doesn’t get it.

Stolen

Our neighbor Geraldine’s car was stolen last night — again.

She suspects the people in the blue house two over from us. Everybody says they’re drug dealers, and Geraldine says she’s about ready to call the police on them, “selling drugs right out of the house like that.”

Last time Geraldine’s car was stolen, Xy found it a few days later, just around the corner. So she and Crystal have gone for a drive around the neighborhood to see if they can find it again.

Revolution Everywhere

I met Sunfrog and Viva, two members of the editorial collective for the Fifth Estate, which is the longest-running radical publication in the country. They were in New Orleans as part of their “Revolution Everywhere” tour, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the magazine.

I read the last four issues of the Fifth Estate after participating in the anarchist study-group last year. Fascinating and inspiring stuff: anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and refreshingly free of the dogmatic attitude that often dogs radical writing. It bills itself as an “unincorporated, antiprofit, cooperative magazine,” an “expression of resistance to an unjust and destructive society,” with “no copyright” and “no paid staff,” which I think is pretty interesting in its own right.

There was a small party at John Clark’s house Friday night, and a multimedia presentation about the history of the Fifth Estate at the Iron Rail Saturday night. Sunfrog’s reading of his essay, “On Having Something to Do,” was particularly moving and disarmingly passionate.

Given the age of the magazine, I expected someone older, but I was surprised to learn that Sunfrog is a year or two younger than me.

The Fifth Estate website is just a place holder — not much to see — but poking around a little on the web, I found Sunfrog’s blog, and some of his writing on subjects such as communes, polyamory, some poetry and an interview with Hakim Bey.

I gave him a DVD of ROX #90.

5397

Alone in a dark room with just a mattress on the floor and a pay phone on the wall. I’m making a call. I’m scared . I’m trying to speak into the receiver. I’m trying to say a PIN number — 5397 — but I’m literally paralyzed with fear, so terrified that I can’t even open my mouth. I summon all my strength and scream the numbers between clenched teeth: 5! 3! 9! 7!

Then Xy wakes me up. She could hear my “screams” in the form of heavy breathing.