invisibility cloak

The only thing I hate about going to a bar alone, is that it gives all the other creepy alone bar people the idea that they should come up and befriend you. It never fails if I get stuck by myself for a few minutes that some annoying person will come up to me. Occasionally one gets lucky and it will be some group of nubile young attractive girls, but 99% of the time it will be some weirdo guy that I would never talk to or some drunken worn out piece of leather who thinks they are doing me a favor by talking to me. The reason I don’t like to talk to these kinds of people is that I don’t want to have to say hi to them the next time I’m there and the next time etc.  Plus they usually are completely annoying in their approach. Like they will tell you that you remind them or look like someone and it will turn out to be someone who you think is super ugly or that is a completely different style then you because they are trying to fit you into their world, BUT I don’t live in that world so they have no concept of what I am and what I’m not. So when someone socializes with me in a way that leaves me with the impression that they don’t have a clue but presume they do, I check out. While they are talking to me I’m looking for an escape route. I know the type and I avoid them casually and try not to make eye contact but they come at me anyway like the bums on Mill ave that you try to walk by without interacting with and they still call out to you like the pests they are “Hey, Can I ask you a question?”

Tempe is where the art is*

*or once was, or may well be in one of many possible futures.

I’ve started blogging over at James B Hunt’s longtime site,
http://www.tempeart.com (though he hasn’t moved the blog to that url yet so it’s currently at http://tempeart.wordpress.com until it’s up and running. I haven’t lived in Tempe for several years but still spend quite a bit of time there wandering around and such. In fact, I’ve felt for some time that I was totally over Tempe until James convinced me otherwise. James B Hunt is one of the most unique and gifted artists in the valley, and I’m happy to be able to contribute to his new effort of reviving the art scene in Tempe.

Here was the first article I wrote for the site a few days ago:

Surviving Tempe
by Brandon Adamson

A post-apocalyptic ghost town. That’s what Mill Ave seems to resemble these days as I stroll down it, making my routine stops to the few remaining establishments that I have any remote interest in (Old Town Books, Slices, and Mojo Frozen Yogurt.) Vacant retail spaces once occupied by monolithic chain stores like The Gap, Borders, Abercrombie, and (most recently) American Apparel, remain dormant…waiting for the next sucker to brave the astronomical rent prices to get a piece of that coveted “college kid” demographic.

I don’t have quite the fond memories that others share of the so called “good old days of Mill Ave,” which may be because when I started hanging out there it was 1997 and 1998, and the area had already begun it’s decline. In fact, during those days, going to Mill Ave was a totally depressing experience for me. It was flooded with those annoying ghetto street racers, bumping Power 92.3 in their lowered Honda CRX’s and modified Mitsubishi Eclipses. Not that I don’t have an appreciation for automobile racing(I’m a bit a crazy driver myself,) but only if we’re talking about 60′s muscle cars, grand prix, or Steve McQueen. Indeed, not some quasi-horde of mid 90′s riff raff wearing those “Boss” T shirts(the ones with huge writing on them) or rocking Tommy Hilfiger jackets and speaking in ebonic tongues. Though I will confess to owning two pieces of Tommy Hilfiger clothing in 1997 which were purchased solely for the purpose of attracting normal girls and repelling the sort of mousy, alternative, train wreck chicks that would have mistaken me for one of their own at the time.

In the spring of 1998 I used to wander down mill ave nightly, handing out crappy 4 track cassette tapes to unsuspecting victims. I always hear people talk about Long Wongs, Gibson’s, Gin Blossoms and Dead Hot Workshop as the epitome of a lost golden era of Tempe. In my mind though, the Tempe I remember, while it certainly included those elements(I saw Buck O’ Nine at Gibson’s and MXPX at the Electric Ballroom in 1997) the ambiance was much more gangster, machismo, and hip hop oriented than what one would have expected on an episode of “Party of Five” or Melrose Place Soundtrack. I recall long lines of hoochies and thugs stretched outside Club 411. The scene was thriving though. And most importantly, the things you were looking for could be found if you knew where to go and could filter out all the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Speaking of negativity, when will they finally get around to doing something about the aggressive bums? Downtown Tempe has always seemed to be a magnet for the most ungrateful and obnoxious homeless people I have ever encountered. Avoiding eye contact, harassment, and annoying interaction with Mill Ave homeless people is an integral part of the Tempe experience. A friend of mine once joked that avoiding the bums on mill was likened to the game “Plinko” from The Price of Right. I occasionally entertain fantasies of “The Scoops” from Soylent Green coming and swooping them all up to be taken away to some waste management facility. Not that it’s cool to bag on the homeless, but let’s face it, the “Mill Ave Street kids” are not boat people from Cambodia or South Vietnam. They’re mostly lazy underachievers from suburban homes in the East Valley.

I did have some interesting times in Tempe. I used to play Tekken at Sweet Daddy’s Arcade(where Fascinations adult store is now?) on their big screen version. One time I played against a homeless dude who smelled so bad that I let him win and take over the machine just to get away from him. There is no denying that there used to be a plethora of live music clubs, and they were quite good. Electric Ballroom, Gibson’s and Nita’s Hideaway were my own personal favorites.

Tempe has been poised to make a comeback for a few years now, which seems to have been rudely interrupted by the real estate crash. The ruins of an unfinished condo tower loom high overhead, the developer of which committed suicide. Slowly, there have been interesting developments in Tempe. The Valley Art Theater is back in full swing, and the new Madcap Theaters venue replaced the old Harkins and shows cool vintage and campy films. The Fixx Coffee bar opened up where an internet cafe used to be. All the ghetto clubs have mostly been replaced by sexified pop music bars for the Sponge Bob Squarepants and Teletubbies generation. The college douchebags in their brodozers are still around, but as long as ASU is there, they will be too. Artists are slowly creeping back into the city, since word is getting out that you can sell on the street. I’m not into the whole “Tempe vs. Phoenix” rivalry. I love Phoenix and Downtown Scottsdale as well. It would be great to see Tempe complete its transformation from Mad Max style bartertown and 90′s Hippie wasteland to a 21st century, cosmopolitan art destination. Ready, set, go.

Never a lightning rod salesman around when you need one

Saturday afternoon, after grabbing a turkey burger from Johnny Rockets at Fashion Square in Scottsdale, I cruised over to Tempe to distribute promotional materials and stumbled into the gigantic arts and crafts festival on Mill ave…which reminded me of South By Southwest except with less hipsters and more old folks. Still, I love going to these and wish the arts and crafts festival went on every weekend even though that would just cheapen the coin of the realm and less people would go. It always seems like the artifacts one could pick up at these types of events could lead to some cliche
horror movie haunting along the lines of the clock in “Amityville 1992: It’s About Time” Speaking of which, Megan Ward was so hot in that! Whatever happened to her? Many of my most romantic sexual fantasies from the 90’s involved her and that scene where she is seduced by her own reflection. As a further digression, I had a talking PeeWee Herman doll when I was a kid..the one where you pull the string and PeeWee says one of his catch phrases like “I know you are but what am I” etc. And I swear that occasionally that thing would just somehow talk on its own, which scared the shit out of me. It creeped me out so much that I made my mom hide it in the
closet.

The night at Casey Moore’s brought to town a metaphoric carnival of sorts, with various sideshows of drama, suspense, bearded ladies, merry go rounds and mirror mazes(sorry I have been reading Something Wicked this Way Comes and have these things on the brain.) I drank more than usual, so I wasn’t myself. Yes, I’m a lightweight, and two full classes of wine gets me more inebriated than I need to be and sets me off into full on mischief mode. I was trying to protect a super drunk girl who epitomizes female perfection from some really ugly, wack and disgusting guys…although it sort of turned out the girl didn’t want to be protected and was semi-enthusiastic about said dudes….which triggered a sort of “Invasion of The Body Snatchers” moment where I’m Dr. Miles J. Bennell and just discover by way of passionless kiss that someone near and dear has been replaced by a pod. Anyhow, as I’ve mentioned I’m reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes” which, aside from being a great book title, sounds a lot like the type of prediction I’m likely mutter to myself at the start of each day. The last time I saw the film version starring Jason Robards was when it initially played a plethora of times on HBO back in 1984. It terrified me as a small boy, but for some reason I could never resist watching it whenever it came on, usually in the mornings. It affected me deeply..and “the most beautiful woman in the world” as an evil temptress sequences may have contributed to my misogyny later in life(as well as induced some premature stirrings of sexuality down there.) I remembered how frighteningly traumatizing the movie was for me, and so I never saw it again even when I got older…but I think I’m ready now.

I bought a snazzy black denim jacket from American Apparel, which fits right in with my new phase of only wearing combinations of the colors “black and white”

Time Machine Daydream

brandon adamson dawn batson

Dawn Batson dredged up this photo of me at Harlowe’s from when she came to visit in December of 2006.When I see it, all I can think is “such innocent times.” Dreary to see a photo like this really. I feel like I need to time travel back there to my diet depsi drinking, cream chipped beef on toast eating self and save him from the smirk on his face.

Dear December 29, 2006 Self,

“Young man, you have no sense of what hellish things awaiteth you these next couple years. You’re going to experience whirlwind romances, unconditional love and romantic tumultuity the likes of which you have not yet seen. You will finally win over the girl of your dreams, an astonishing achievement by 2006 standards. But if dreams can come true, then nightmares can too. I know what you’re thinking…but yes you still can and will feel pain from broken heartedness. You will discover there are other ways for relationships to go badly than what you are familiar with. Right now you think it’s so hard to find someone that you love who actually loves you back just as equally. Well, I got news for you, pal, it turns out that’s only the first step! There are so many other variables in the equation, that you are simply not prepared to deal with grasshopper.

If all that were not bad enough, you’re also going to have ultrasounds, CT scans, endless anxiety, and eventual scrotum surgery to deal with that mysterious third testicle you’ve always been worried about in the back of your mind and is probably giving you discomfort at this very moment.

Most of your friends will have gotten married or essentially vanished from the world as you know it, and having blown your own chance you’ll be flying on your own…one of the last to remain, like “Bear” from the 1978 movie “Big Wednesday.” You are going to experience many unpleasantries and suck ass things. You should just immortalize yourself forever in that pose and call it a day. Oh and after breakfast Dawn and Ferraby are going to ask you if you want to come back to L.A. with them for New Years Eve. You should do it because your new years eve is going to blow otherwise. You’re not going to get to makeout with anyone at midnight, and the one girl at the party who wants to is underage and not the one you want.”