Tornado, even-number nostalgia, Commodore, etc.

That tornado last week hit the south side of South Bend. I think it was an F-2, and touched down right across the street from Ray’s old apartment at Irish Hills, which is just a touch east of where Scottsdale Mall used to be. It hit a daycare center dead-on, completely destroyed it. Luckily it was a Sunday, and nobody was there. No other real damage, except a few people with uprooted trees and broken lawn furniture and whatnot. Lots of idiots recording the funnel clouds from a hundred yards away for Facebook likes.

It’s weird because I very specifically remember that exact location. I used to drive from IUSB to Scottsdale mall every payday (I’ve told this story a million times) and that drive involves going straight down Ironwood from the school, then hanging a right on Ireland, and driving about a mile to the mall. Said tornado was just to the left of that Ironwood/Ireland intersection. The entire route of that drive is crystal clear in my head — not just the landmarks and the scenery of the drive, but how it felt to make that drive on a Friday morning. I remember very specifically listening to a Helloween live album one morning, and I have no idea why that specific trip stuck in my mind. But when I made the same trip last December, I instantly remembered that morning, for some damn reason.

I’m starting to have a lot of stupid even-number nostalgia lately. Luckily, I have no concept of time and can’t remember at any given point if it’s April or June or May or what. I passed my 30th anniversary of graduating high school. I don’t remember the specific day; I could look it up, but whatever. It was in May, I guess. So there’s a bunch of 30-year marks that hit in the next few months, none of them worth celebrating, but all of them being an annoying little itch in the back of my brain I can’t really scratch.

(I don’t know if my class had a reunion or not. I would not have been able to attend, but I wonder if I’ve moved enough times that I’ve fallen off their list, or they’ve all banned me on Facebook, or everyone’s too busy with their grandkids or posting speculation on a new Chick-fil-A location in Elkhart.)

There’s also a lot of 20-year things coming up, because that’s when I left Seattle and took my big extended trip across the country. I wrote a book (more or less) about this trip, and I often think that it needs to be unfucked and put into context and heavily edited. I just re-read the Chuck Klosterman book Killing Yourself to Live, which is ostensibly about visiting the death sites of rock stars, but is 80% about his own shit knocking around his head during the deep introspection that happens when you take weeks stuck in a car alone to drive across the country. This made me go back and read my trip book (which used to be online, but I pulled it down long ago) and it’s so wooden and horrible and so far off-brand there’s no fucking way I could publish it without a complete rewrite.

Someone is supposedly coming out with a new Commodore 64 for Christmas. This company had a mini-64 which looked cute and played all the games on a modern TV set, but the keyboard was fake, and you had to plug in a USB one. And although I did play a lot of C-64 games, I think the main reason I would want one is to screw around with programming it. The thing is, I can run an emulator on my computer, and this re-release is nothing more than some system-on-a-chip Linux computer that’s running the same emulator, most likely. It will be neat and cool, for like fifteen minutes, and then I’ll get bored of it. And not only do I have that emulator on my computer, and a Raspberry Pi that has that emulator, but I have a real C-64 in storage.

I think one of the reasons that doesn’t interest me as much anymore is the time constraint issue. When I think back to 1985 when I first got a Commodore, I must have spent hundreds of hours a month fucking around on it, playing the same four games over and over, typing in programs from Compute’s Gazette, and trying to write my own games in BASIC. Now, it takes me a major scheduling coup to get more than an hour to waste time on something. That’s why I tell anyone I know under the age of 18 the same thing: either get a $100 guitar and practice scales and modes until your fingers bleed, or memorize every programming book you can find, while you still can remember things. Burn that shit in, because there’s no goddamn way you’re going to memorize anything once you hit 40.

I took the next week off, because the last two months have severely burned me out. No plans or trips, just trying to write and not work. We’ll see how that goes.


New Coke Failed for a Reason

Apropos of nothing… I can’t believe they rebooted New Coke because of a TV show. They’re rebooting everything, but owning the biggest marketing disaster of the century proves we now have the collective memory of a goldfish. Ford will be bringing back the Pinto next year, I’m guessing. If you really want New Coke, open a Pepsi and leave it on the counter for a week.

I thought for sure I’d already blogged about it, but I do have a weird tie to the Ford Pinto. On August 8, 1978, a trio of teenagers were killed about a mile from my house in Elkhart when their Ford Pinto was rear-ended by a van and exploded. They could not escape from the car because the bent-up frame pinned the doors shut. The fuel tank also had a defect which later got the cars recalled; the girls’ parents would get a recall notice six months after their kids died. Elkhart County would sue Ford for homicide; they lawyered up with James F. Neal, Watergate prosecutor who was later known for defending John Landis in his helicopter issue trial and Exxon after their Valdez problems. Anyway, Ford got off. I don’t remember any of this (I was in the second grade) but one legacy is that there are a series of emergency pull-offs on the side of US-33 near Concord Mall. (The accident was caused when the girls stopped in the right lane to check if their gas cap was still on. The van driver had dropped their cigarette and was trying to find it on the floor.)

I used to walk the side of that road occasionally, especially when I worked at the Taco Bell there. That stretch of road had incredibly high concrete curbs on the shoulder, and no sidewalk to speak of. Occasionally, there would be a dirt trail, or maybe four or five concrete squares, none of them anywhere near level. The shoulder was always filled with debris: pieces of exhaust, flat tires, nuts and bolts, and rough gravel that looked like landscaping rock. I remember trying to ride a bike on the shoulder to a doctor’s appointment in the summer of 1993 when I was home. I had a flat tire within the first mile, had to turn around and push the bike home.

…Fell down a horrible Rush k-hole while Sarah was in Japan last week. Watched the 2010 documentary for the tenth time (or whatever) and then the new one, Time Stand Still, which was problematic for me. It’s a good documentary, but it’s so sad. And it makes Neil look like a bit of an asshole for wanting to quit, and maybe that’s true, but it’s bittersweet. Part of me thinks they should have hung it up after Test for Echo, after Peart lost his wife and daughter. I personally didn’t like the studio albums after that point, and although the live albums are interesting, they’ve released so damn many of them this century. (Seven, for those keeping track, plus various live sets and tracks on reiussues and box sets and whatever else.) Anyway.

Was thinking about this, and an odd factoid: I’ve seen Rush live three times, in three different states, in three different decades. (1988: Chicago; 1994: Indianapolis; 2002: New York). So I haven’t seen them 167 times like some of the people in the documentary, but that is an oddity.

I think I mentioned I was insanely busy with work, and that was true – I think I had to work like 20 days in a row, usually a dozen hours at a time. I know this because my work VPN cuts out and makes you log back in after twelve hours. Anyway, that’s done, so I’m back to average busy for a minute, and I take off the first week of July, but have no plans. It depends on the weather; maybe I will go hike somewhere, or maybe I will just sleep.

The weather got super hot for a week (in the 90s, which is very unusual here) and then it dropped back down to normal, 60s/70s and no rain. I’ve been walking outdoors pretty much exclusively and have cut out the mall stuff for the time being, which is good, because it’s been getting incredibly depressing. I should be taking pictures, but I haven’t. I have the same roll of film in my Vivitar that I put in there while away on vacation (and come to think of it, I brought it through security a couple of times, so it might be fogged now) and my digital cameras haven’t been out since Vegas. I keep thinking about buying a new DSLR, but then I remember I’m not using the one I have.

Went walking around Alameda today, the old location of the Navy base, which is all either abandoned or in the middle of redevelopment. Today I walked an area just above Seaplane Lagoon, a flat paved rectangle on the water, maybe half a mile long and a quarter-mile deep, nothing but cracked asphalt and seagulls smashing oysters on the concrete piers. There’s a large open area just east of where the airfields were. The airfield is fenced off completely, a “nature preserve” that is slowly melting back into the environment. I saw a parade of import tuner Fast and Furious types in lowered Hondas with blacked-out windows and those farty-sounding mufflers driving circles on the square miles of pavement at the edge of the base. There’s also a bunch of distilleries and wineries using old hangers and airplane maintenance buildings, and their parking lots were filled with people out for a Sunday of relaxation and tastings. At some point, I should formally research all of this, where things were, what’s zoned for what, what’s under construction. And bring a real camera. Maybe a project for my week off.

I was listening to Van Halen’s greatest hits on the way home, and let it play too long, and now I have the Van Hagar song “Poundcake” stuck in my head, so I need to go work on getting that unlodged.