2011 – “There’s a phone on my butt…”

When, at sixteen years of age, I shot up to 6’3″ people started to ask me “How’s the weather up there?” Being a shy kid, I really did not know what to say then. Later, I would have all manner of answers after shooting up past 6’6″, but the best one was always “There’s a phone on my butt. Why don’t you call and find out?”

Okay, I used it rarely because I really hate slamming people. It was generally reserved for some real smart-ass who thought himself cute or clever when he noted that I was tallish.


It’s been “Butt Week”. All week-long my friend “Triple X” has been making “Mac has a Big Ass jokes”. He even envisions my bicycle complaining when I climb on. Why is he doing this all of a sudden? Well I publicly preyed upon Triple X in a very fun gag on the Shuttle one morning on the way up to the County offices.

Of course Triple X is not his name, but I call him that because he looks like a larger, more muscled black Vin Diesel (that’s right. You heard me correctly…MORE muscled). The man looks downright menacing but is, in fact, a sweetheart of a young man. We hit it off right away.

But that morning, on the crowded shuttle, none of the other 18 passengers except Young Thom knew that Triple X and I are good friends. So when I started fugging with him about his “gay shirt” (hey it had some kind of “queer gold piping/blink stuff laced through it”) and then, poking him with my finger across the shuttle aisle asking if it had “two guys kissing” on the front the whole bus froze with fear of a possible Royal Racial Rumble in the Shuttle!

Triple X glowered at me and hissed under his breath as I got off the bus “You will pay for that.”

“Understood” I said cleanly.

And I did…for days. MacButt jokes.


Then last week, after my Netbook was stolen by Tweakers I went back to my room and my phone was missing after just a few minutes.

(Note: Tweakers are like Alcoholics except it’s drugs and while an Alcoholic will borrow money and pay you back way late or never at all, a Tweaker will steal your stuff then help you look for it. That’s the basic difference.)

I freaked out and had a conniption in the Dining Room once I could not find it. It was the straw that broke the Mac’s back.

Now I say “conniption” because technically that is all it is. But when a guy 6’7″ with arms as long as Jordan’s starts waving them and booms his voice about something stolen it looks more like, well more like the beginnings of a Royal Rumble on a Shuttle. It scares everyone but close friends or bunkmates.

So Gregor, unfazed started to call my phone and told me so. “It doesn’t matter!” I yelled. “They make us keep it on vibrate!”

Gergor wisely ignored me and simply kept calling. Then my upper  bunk mate Ricky offered to help me look for it.

Suddenly in our dorm room we could hear thew “BRRRRR” of the phone! Frantically I clawed at the bedding searching. Nothing!! “BRRRRR, BRRRRR, BRRRR” “Dammit! It’s here somewhere!!”

I calmed down and sat on the bed knowing that it was inevitable we would find it.

Then I felt my Butt “BRRRRRR”.

There was a phone on my butt. Why didn’t I just call and find that out?


2011 – Drinking, Drugging, or Shopping…

schrodingerscat_fullpic_3667In the mornings at Mill Street (our communal compound) I always finds the usual suspects on the back patio. Gregor is smoking and pontificating on Liberal politics (and its current demise); Young Thom has his large sack out (of pills and supplements); the Apostle Paul (quiet in person but mighty in letters) is silently waiting to pounce with a witticism and I am slamming strong coffee and about to launch into a story that is far too long and convoluted for most (I will be chided several times for this in its course).

This morning though it was the Apostle Paul who piped up that quantum mechanics could be used as an argument to get out of running a red light.

AP: You can make the argument that rolling through the stoplight entails an intricate numbers of “stops” as it is happening

Mac: Too bad you cannot produce Heisenberg there in the courtroom…you know like Woody Allen produces Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall. That’s shut the judge up…case over!

AP: Yeah but Heisenberg is dead.

Mac: Okay, so instead you bring in Schrödinger’s cat.

AP: I’ve a better idea. How about Schrödinger’s cat in Heisenberg’s suit!?

Well it is just this sort of nonsense that goes on every morning in one form or another. Of course all homeless people are hopeless drunks (except those here) or uneducated…hmnnn.

Later, Astro Steve (he is a genius who has applied his mind to astrology) stops by and sees I am reading Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a book about the disenfranchised on Cannery Row after the Second WW. It is a funny, poignant, romantic witty tale that is both rich and sparse at the same time.

AS: Steinbeck eh? He writes a lot like Hemingway.

Mac: Yeah, but he is a lot funnier. Come to think of it Hemingway is never funny.

AS: No, he’s not. He’s self-absorbed, too serious and Steinbeck is warmer…that’s because he was a cancer.

We’ve both read a lot of both and we’re right. Steinbeck is hands down the better writer in almost every way. The other thing is (I think later) Hemingway became emblematic of the lost generation. Steinbeck actually found some answers, found some ways home.

That’s what a lot (not all) of these folk want. They want to find a way home. They want to belong; they want to feel affection and that their lives matter.

Don’t we all?


Granted, this was a shelter in Marin California, which only means that the people in the shelter were generally five to six times more interesting and conversationally literate than anyone I ever met in Marin who made any serious money. Those fobs wouldn’t know Steinbeck from a Steinway (“Oh, my neighbor has a lovely Steinbeck”).

There is perhaps a good reason for this actually.

“Mankind is drinking and drugging themselves out of awareness; or they go shopping, which is the same thing,” wrote Ernest Becker. They won’t let you stay in the shelter if you have been drinking and drugging; and if you had the money to do serious shopping you wouldn’t be homeless.

That leaves a lot of “awareness” time. I kinda like it, and them.