Joe and Jack Watch the Baby

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Many years ago when my youngest child was barely two, I left the baby to be watched by his favorite people: His father, Joe, and his uncle, Jack, and went off to my work day teaching the youth of America.

Now Joe and Jack, are both punk rock legends and therefore considered symbols of “wild, reckless abandon” and RARELY tagged as “responsible, mature adults.”

Why?

Because let’s face it: in the punk rock world, sex, drugs, violence and three chord repetitive anthems sell. The only thing the title of “responsible, mature adult” might sell in that world, would be Activia yogurt and Depends adult briefs and I don’t know any hardcore punks looking for those products right at the moment.

Now, one of these men, in my opinion, looks like the devil and… the other one… I believe… IS the devil. But… I well never tell you which one is which… feel free to debate the topic among your companions and friends.

And you may be thinking right now, What type of woman leaves a baby with Lucifer and El Diablo?  Why would she do that?

And my response would be: despite public belief and my personal quarrels with each… they both loved and very competently protected and cared for the baby until one day… things went terribly awry.

Dylan, aka, “the baby” was toddling around the house, as usual, in a diaper, pudgy little feet and hands naked and free, big over-sized baby belly protruding over his diaper, long silky locks of lovely curls bouncing upon his shoulders: cherubic little man.

He was known for getting into trouble but doing it in complete silence. Yes… the baby rarely talked.

He loved to terrify us by striping stark naked, hiding in the neighbor’s bush next door, and watching quietly from the shadows, as we would run up and down the street screaming for him, horrified that we may have actually lost him.

This daily routine left each of us distraught and shaken but, every time we thought he was truly gone, he would somehow magically appear out of nowhere and stand in the middle of the grass staring at us until we noticed him.

It actually took us over six months to find his hiding place: Bad baby.

On this day though, Dylan wasn’t trying to terrorize his parents or his uncle for that matter. He was just running about, playing with his toys when he approached Joe, his father, and said, “Ow.”

According to Joe, his expression was deadpan. He wasn’t crying. His face in no way conveyed pain.

He just kept taking his tiny little dough ball of a finger, touching it gently to the side of his nose, and repeating the word, “Ow.”

At this point in time, Dylan’s uncle, Jack, came into the room to see what was wrong.

For awhile, both Joe and Jack stared at the baby, unsure of what to do until one of them, or both of them, got the bright idea to look up the baby’s nose and that is when all hell broke loose.

The baby had a large yellow, glossy wet, massive orb stuck up inside of his nasal canal.

They didn’t stop to ask questions.

They freaked out and called me.

I was in the middle of my teaching day when the office rang through to my room and said, “D.D. your husband needs to talk with you. He says it’s an emergency.”

I waited for Joe to break through the line and before he had a chance to speak said, “Is everyone alive?”

“Yes,” he answered and was immediately overpowered by the booming voice of my brother in the background shouting, “I’m sure it’s his brain!”

I tried to remain calm as Joe explained the situation.

The baby.

The pointing finger.

The repeated use of the word “Ow.”

And the protruding, glossy-wet mass of whatever was stuck up my baby’s nose.

“I think Jack’s right,” Joe whispered, as if the baby could understand him and he didn’t want to cause him concern. “I think it’s his brain.”

“BRAIN!” Jack shouted from the background, our family legendary in our ability to intensify any given situation by a magnitude of a hundred.

“It’s not his brain,” I said. “Jesus. You two.”

Joe yelled to Jack, “She doesn’t think it’s his brain.”

And for a moment… there was a peaceful silence on the line.

“Put the baby on the phone,” I demanded.

“She wants to talk to the baby,” Joe whispered to Jack.

“She wants to talk to the baby?” Jack repeated.

“Put the fucking baby on the phone,” I said, annoyed at the Heckle and Jeckle shenanigans I was trying to deal with.

I heard Jack pick up the baby, bring him to the phone, where Dylan’s soft gurgly baby breathing, his tiny little coo sounds, let me know that he was present and listening.

“Dylan,” I said. “Tell mommy what’s wrong.”

“Ow,” the baby whispered. “Ow.”

And I could picture his little finger pointing to his tiny baby nose.

Jack carried Dylan away and I waited for Joe to come back on the line.

“It’s not his brain,” I said. “He’s obviously stuck something up his nose and you two are going to have to pull it out.”

“Pull it out?” Joe sounded as if I asked him to diaper an old man’s ass. “How do you want us to pull it out?”

“Get some tweezers,” I said. “Have Jack hold the baby down, while you pull whatever it is out of his nose.”

Joe laid down the phone and I heard a ruckus in the background as he spoke to Jack.

“She wants us to do what?”

“Pull it out,” Joe said.

“Are you sure it’s not his brain?”

“I don’t think so.” Joe said, trying to remain calm.

A few moments later I heard the baby being held down: whiny, squirmy protests… a few baby sobs… then…

“Oh my God! Look at it!” Jack said followed by…

“Dude it’s a grape. Look it’s a fucking grape.” from Joe before I heard the baby cry with annoyance struggling to be let go.

There was another brief silence before I heard Dylan’s fat little baby feet toddling quickly away from the scene.

Joe returned to the phone out of breath, “It was a grape.”

“I heard,” I said as I hung up the phone, apologized to my students for interrupting their class time and my inappropriate use of the “F” word, and then finished out my work day.

When I arrived home that evening the boys were very excited to show me the grape which, I realized immediately, was not a grape, but one of the yellow, golden raisins I had given Dylan two days ago which he had obviously stuck up his nose.

“That’s disgusting,” Jack said. “So that thing was up there for like two days just juicing up.”

Joe looked at me as if I had been the one to cause all of this trouble.

“What?” I said, before grabbing the baby up, kicking open the front door, and sitting down on the swing.

I listened as Jack and Joe squabbled over the size of the object they had pulled from the baby’s nose, while I gently pushed the swing back and forth with one foot… Dylan cuddled close to me… his little head nuzzled upon my shoulder.

I wondered if he would grow up to be like his Father or his Uncle Jack?

“Bad baby.” I whispered, “Very bad baby.” before I kissed him on his forehead and waited for him to fall off to sleep.

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Getting in a Fight with Stephen, Somewhere in Kansas in Front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, While on a Cross-Country Road Trip

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me and stephen 64

I had been married to my X for almost twenty years and NEVER took him on a road trip.

Never.

The idea of bringing a man on a road trip seemed absolutely ridiculous to me.

My road trips were private matters.

I wanted to be completely alone.

If I wanted to listen to music… I did.

If I wanted it completely silent in the car for hours on end… it was.

This was my NO MAN’s land.

My best story ideas, song ideas, and big thoughts on life and spiritual matters came to me on my road trips.

Highway 10 from Long Beach to Santa Fe New Mexico… alone… silent… could solve a host of problems that couldn’t be solved by thinking about them at home.

And so… it was with great reluctance that I allowed Stephen to join me.

Stephen… summer of 2007… one year into our friendship.

And how… you must be wondering… did I allow myself to cave?

Well…he said, “I’ve never been on a road trip before.”

“Never?” I said. “Not even with your guy friends?”

“Nope,” and then his shoulders slumped and he made a little sad face. “Never.”

And since I cared for Stephen… and knew the value of a good road trip in a person’s life… my heart felt for him and so I invited  him to come along.

Of course, once I invited him… I immediately started saying things to get him to back out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let someone in… be close… give up my private experience.

“You know…” I told him. “I do what I want on the road. I don’t set a destination. I don’t go to any specific location. I drive as long as I want… I sleep in small motels in off beat towns. And I’ve NEVER taken a man with me before,” I paused here for emphasis. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He nodded his head… excited to be invited on a road trip and I knew this would be a turning point in our friendship… we would either survive this road trip together and be bonded for life, or we would burn out somewhere close to Albuquerque with Stephen shouting at me to “STOP THE CAR” before kicking the door shut, flipping me off, and hitching a ride to the closest airport where he would fly home, never to be seen again… Maybe even silently “wishing me the best” (the ultimate fuck you really) before boarding a plane and drinking as many cocktails allowed on the two and a half hour flight home to Los Angeles while praying that I would die in a fiery car crash somewhere outside of Nashville.

I sighed.

Weeks went by and Stephen excitedly planned for his big adventure. I saw him programming a GPS and I actually started to sweat. I NEVER used a GPS… that was cheating… I felt anxious… but I sucked it up each time I saw him pore over a map… his reading glasses high on his face… his eyes looming large… magnified through the glass as he fantasized about all of his future destinations and scribbled furiously… little notes and words in his mini notebook.

“What’s that?” I asked one day.

“I’m preparing,” he said with pure glee.

I looked at him as if he were a bad student in my class. “Don’t,” I said sternly, my face stone. “Just stop.”

He looked at me as if I was speaking some foreign language it almost seemed he was ignoring me…. before he went back to poring over his maps and scribbling furiously.

This is a mistake I thought. We’re going to be in a fight before we even get out of L.A. county.

But I held my tongue, shocking I know, but I did and when the day arrived for us to leave, Stephen was prepared.

It looked like I had the ultimate Boy Scout ready to set off with me… wait, strike that, let’s make him an Eagle Scout.

I have never seen anyone so organized for a trip. He even had his passport in case we decided to cross a border.

Jesus.

We left Long Beach at 4 am, stopped at a drive-thru Starbucks for coffee and were on the road and on our way to Maine.

California to Maine…. one of the best drives ever…

There is nothing like watching the sun come up from the highway. It is one of my all time favorite moments in life.

Me.

The car.

The road.

Complete silence as the skyline goes from jet black to a purple opaque with a hint of orange, before the sun bursts into bright yellow streaks and illuminates the blue sky.

Only… that’s not what happened.

What happened was TOOL was blasting from the speakers as Stephen bobbed his head to the music, tapped his foot against the dash, drank his coffee with gusto and I sat in silence, big headed baby, pouting… as I drove the car.

I was miffed. Distraught. But Stephen was so pleased to be on a road trip… I kept quiet.

I headed for highway 70… it is a beautiful path… not stark beauty like the 10… which is actually quite a lonely road… the 70 is America in all of it’s patch work glory.

Coming over the pass into Colorado… the river running along side it… boxed in by mountains… until you rise again and see the Great Plains laid out before you… it is a drive that makes the traveler a hopeless romantic.

And Stephen said, “I thought you were taking the 10?”

I tried not to make a face.

“I’ve programmed my GPS for the 10,” he said in a pitiful whine of a voice.

“Well,” I said. “Unprogram.”

I could see that he was bent.

Perturbed.

Annoyed.

And I thought… don’t you dare… don’t you dare…. who are you to be any of those things on my road trip?

We drove all the way to Vegas without a word… Stephen heavy metal thumping while I looked out the window and prayed for the audio system to fail.

By the time we hit the plateau above Grand Valley, Colorado… I wasn’t sure if we would make it through the next two weeks but then the road opened up, the view down was amazing, and Stephen turned off the music which left Colorado ahead of us, and a quiet car to take in the beauty.

The rest of the day was really uneventful… as was the next…. we discovered a common love of SIRIUS’s stand up comedy channel and laughed all the way to Kansas where things then took a turn for the worse.

We were tired from driving… hours and hours of travel… when we finally started looking for a hotel room around 10 o’clock at night.

This is when we heard two words that I never imagined could be so dreaded:

State Fair.

“What?” I asked.

Then there were three dreaded words:

Kansas State Fair.

Shit.

Every hotel within 100 miles of the Kansas State Fair was booked solid and Stephen and I were beyond exhausted.

It was the first time ever I felt myself falling asleep at the wheel. In fact, Stephen had already flopped over into the back seat and passed out. I was glad that he was quiet and resting but still totally annoyed that he was at that moment… no help.

I prayed that I would make it to a hotel before I nodded off and lost control of the car and thankfully, around mile 83, there was one room left available at a Best Western.

We pulled in, checked in, and passed out in a matter of minutes.

The next morning, I was “hungover” from such a long day of driving the day before, that I didn’t want to get up… but… Stephen wanted to get moving.

“Get up,” he said. “Come on get up.”

I was tired, angry that he was bossing me about, and pouting because I knew that if HE hadn’t been in the car with me… I would have found a hotel easily, I wouldn’t be getting up early right now, I would be following my OWN time frame and completely ALONE. I climbed out of the bed in a big baby fit threw on my clothes and shoes and reached to grab the keys and stomp to the car when Stephen reached out and grabbed them.

“I’m driving,” he said.

I gave him a look…. ready to kill him, but he just turned and walked out of the room and headed to the car… unwilling to give me my way.

I climbed into the passenger seat, slammed the door and sulked. We weren’t even out of the parking lot when I said, “Go through the KFC so at least we can get something to eat.”

Stephen rounded the corner for the drive-thru and thought for some reason that the lane he was in was not for the drive-up window.

“It is!” I shouted. “Trust me. Just go right there!” I pointed towards a loud speaker and watched as Stephen ignored me, passed the window and made a loop around the front of the KFC.

“No,” he said calmly. “I’m sure that was the wrong lane.”

I felt anger seething out of every pore… I set my jaw so firmly that it must have looked like it was wired shut and believe me… in just a matter of minutes… I was going to wish it had been wired shut…

Just as Stephen was making the turn to go back through the lane I originally told him to, a large white bus full of black Baptists rolled in front of us and I watched as the Minister ordered 15 buckets of chicken, obviously for his entire congregation, who I could see through the large rectangular glass bus windows… smiling and happy, seriously spiritually enlightened people, radiating  God’s joy as they waited patiently for their chicken and I actually went insane.

I don’t even remember what I said to Stephen, but it was every angry thing you say to someone when you “kick the cat”….

Why did I bring you?

What were you thinking?

Why couldn’t you listen to me?

Who the HELL do you think you are?

LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE GOD DAMN BAPTISTS EATING MY CHICKEN!

By the time we got to the window… I was spent… which often happens with us passionate HOT HEADS leaving our quiet introverted family, friends, and lovers, totally stunned by our outbursts and often feeling

MORTALLY wounded while we HOT HEADS just move on to the next big thing to be passionate and upset about…

Stephen however had, had enough.

He pulled up to the window to pay the KFC kid and wait for our chicken while I, now calm… said, “Could you please open the trunk so I can get something out of my bag?”

“Just wait,” he said… his tone one of intense loathing…

“Wait for what?” I snapped and popped out of the car and headed to the back of the trunk.

Stephen, by now, so TOTALLY pissed off at me took one look in the rear view mirror and floored the car. The wheels screeched as he took off and then laid a big skid and stopped about twenty feet from the window.

My mouth dropped open as I watched my door fly shut as he burned out… but the funniest moment was when I looked back at the drive-thru window and saw that the KFC kid had hung the food bag out for Stephen to grab right as he pulled away… so the teenager’s arm was just dangling out the window with a big bag of KFC floating in mid-air waiting for no one to take it.

I paused a moment… I really wanted to laugh but I was still just too angry.

I walked over and grabbed the bag from the kid, walked up to the car, opened the door and climbed inside where I threw the bag of chicken on the floor and shouted, “I’m not even hungry any more.”

Stephen could have given a shit. He burnt out and hit the Interstate at an alarming pace. Probably anxious to find the nearest airport and fulfill my earlier prophecy.

We both stewed in silent obstinance across the entire great state of Kansas before we finally just busted up laughing hysterically… barely able to breath… tears streaming down our faces, as we crossed the border into Ohio where I then picked up the bag, pulled a cold, hard biscuit from it, and handed it to Stephen as a peace offering.

It was the only fight we got in during the entire two weeks on the trip and I believe that it really was necessary for our bonding experience and that the event brought us closer together.

After that, we went on to see thousands of wild geese land on a secluded lake somewhere in Ohio, scare ourselves to death sleeping in Lizzie Borden’s house in Fall Rivers Massachusetts, nap on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lawn in Salem, and drive through the Bad Lands of South Dakota on our return trip, a place Stephen had never been, and was so thankful to see… the desert at dusk, the look of the sand and the cliffs, so alien and mystical… really something everyone should experience in a lifetime.

I will never regret that fight at the KFC… or letting someone in, and sharing my road trip.

What I find as I grow older, is that staying and building relationships, even when at times you want to run away… desert all… find security and safety in yourself… believing that it will be easier… somehow protect you from hurt… or build a wall so that people can’t get in…

Only makes you the person who is UNWILLING to take the road trip… to see what lays before you… what discoveries are out there to find… what common interests, ideas, spiritual moments you can share, even if it is only a ridiculously stupid fight behind a bus load of black Baptists somewhere in Kansas….

The beauty.. is in the shared story… our shared story…

My Very First Visit to Raji’s Night Club: Or… How I Survived Being Woolied and Molested by El Duce and Top Jimmy: Two Very Drunk and Disorderly Punk Rock Legends

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DUCE-1

It was 1985.

I was underage, barely 19, and sporting a fake I.D. the first time I went to Raji’s Night Club.

I was dating Joe Wood, who was already well-known as the lead singer of T.S.O.L. and I was new to the gig scene, just barely starting out with my own band: Gypsy Trash.

Joe was dead set on getting me to make the jump from gigs in Long Beach to L.A. but I was young, a bit unsure of the Los Angeles club scene, and really… a bit out of my element that night.

I had grown up under the watchful punk rock protection of legendary Long Beach and Orange County bands such as: Vicious Circle, T.S.O.L., The Adolescents, The Vandals and being baby sister to Jack Grisham, and then Joe Wood’s girlfriend, as well as a musician in my own right, I was used to being cocooned in even the most disgustingly seedy club environments throughout our “home” territory of L.B. and O.C. due to my connections to the notoriously violent boys of the scene but this… this was different.

It wasn’t that I was naive… I don’t think anyone in our punk rock crowd could have been considered naive… but the L.A. scene seemed harder, faster and I felt like a baby in their world.

I was withdrawn by the time we pulled into the back parking lot, trepidatious as we walked up to the Hastings Hotel, where Joe introduced me to Bernie the doorman, and down right disturbed as he lead me inside to the club.

The front of Raji’s was a thin dark corridor, smoky and dirty, with a long bar on one side, and there wasn’t a single familiar face for me to look to for comfort.

I felt like the perfect idiot 80’s girlfriend: scantily dressed, jet black cropped hair and large doll-like smile plastered across my face, as I waited for Joe to make the rounds of the room.

I didn’t want to seem like a downer or a drag so I tried to act cool. I think I even lit up a smoke, imagining at the time that it made me look mysterious and older, until Joe turned and pulled me close, kissed me hard on my forehead and whispered that he would be right back; he just wanted to find Dobbs, the promoter, and a bottle of Ten High.

He went off on his search, sure in the knowledge that his L.A. punk friends would keep me company until he got back but, being that I was an unknown outsider in their world, they all dissipated in a matter of seconds, moving off to the shady fringes of the room to snort coke, pop pills, chain smoke, or cop a grope while they waited for someone of notoriety and “interest” to walk their way and man… did they ever get it when El Duce and Top Jimmy came rolling out of the back room.

I knew both El Duce and Top Jimmy by reputation only and I swear when I saw those two together, stoned out of their minds, lumbering towards me, I actually felt my stomach drop and my hands turn cold.

I scanned the room for Joe, praying that he was close by but he was long gone.

I would have given anything to have my brother, Mike Roche, Ron Emory, any of my big Long Beach boys with me at that time.

I was trapped.

I looked down at what I was wearing: a tight white and black animal print dress, braless, bare legs, high heels.

I actually ran my hands down my sides in a panic just to make sure I was actually wearing panties that night; something we often went without during the 80’s so that the lines of our super tight dresses didn’t ruin the lines of our ultra thin figures and I was fearful that a small piece of black cotton cloth with strings would be my only defense against these Punk Rock marauders.

I looked at the door wondering if I could get out before they saw me.

It wasn’t an option… I wouldn’t make it in time.

I felt that my best defense was to hide in the shadows and so I backed up slowly against the wall, trying to be low key, but I knew I stood out like a debutante in a biker bar.

Everyone else was in black: black leather jackets, black leather docs, black leather pants, black lipstick, black eyeshadow and here I was, the Punk Rock Princess, with my large green eyes, my fair white skin, deep purple lips, looking like one of the girls from a Nagel painting or a naughty Punk Rock Barbie doll that those boys couldn’t wait to pick-up and play with.

Panic set in.

I side stepped and tried to hide myself in the dark corner but it was too late.

El Duce’s eyes locked on me; a brand new toy that he had never played with, and he stomped towards me, pants unzipped, sweaty large belly protruding from under his ripped black shirt, bald greasy head, glassed over eyes, God knows what drink in his hand, as he snatched me from my hiding spot like I was a rag doll.

He woolied me about and then held me tight until Top Jimmy, distracted by someone in the crowd, heard him calling to him to come across the room and meet his new baby trick.

Jimmy smiled: a big hill billy gap grin with numerous teeth missing from his mouth, and I thought to myself, Oh God… I’m about to be fucked by the punk rock men of Deliverance.

I looked back towards the door, hoping for help, but saw only Bernie who waved, gave me a big thumbs up and a happy nod, sure that I must like being woolied by two of the most notorious Punk Rock Legends of all time but I assure you… I did not.

El Duce and Top Jimmy had me pinned tight in that corner so fast that I was sure my initiation into the Los Angeles club scene was going to end with me being knocked up by El Duce: the most disgusting man I had ever met in the world or tag teamed by the both of them.

El Duce leaned in and laughed loudly in my face.

His eyes were crazy.

My mind reeled through the numerous stories I had heard about him: stories about El Duce and The Mentors sexual deviancy were legendary.

I felt like I was going to be sick.

I’d probably end up with crabs, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, just from him laying his dirty old fingers on my skin.

By this time, Top Jimmy was licking my neck and El Duce was up my skirt and trying to work off my underwear.

The amount of alcohol on their breath, and in the air around them was overwhelming.

I tell you… if I hadn’t been brought up with some of the hardest punks in L.B. and O.C. I probably would have fainted and woke up a victim of “big man” abuse.

Luckily… I kept my sense of humor, and my pretend calm demeanor, as I used my sass to keep El Duce’s hands from going “all the way” and Top Jimmy from covering my body with an enormous puddle of drool as I looked to reach for the nearest Budweiser bottle to clock those mother fucking clowns as soon as I could get a chance.

I felt my skirt being lifted higher.

I pushed El Duce’s face away as I turned to see what was going on with my skirt.

Top Jimmy was now pulling it up from his side and I knew if a miracle didn’t happen quick… I wouldn’t have much longer.

I scanned the room in a panic… praying someone would do something but everyone was completely oblivious to my plight or just accepted that when it came down to El Duce and Top Jimmy: You let them do what they liked.

Just as I was about to totally give up hope, Joe came strolling back into the room, one arm around a large, jolly man I could only assume was Dobbs, and his other hand firmly wrapped around a low ball glass, I could only assume was full of Ten High, acting like he was the God damn Punk Rock Frank Sinatra of the club scene.

I wanted to kill him.

I swear if I could have gotten a hand free from the lecherous grasp of El Duce, I would have clocked Joe with a Budweiser bottle first and then used the broken neck to ass torture El Duce in a night club.

Joe took one look at me being molested by the big men and rushed across the room and knocked El Duce away from me.

I will never forget the look on El Duce’s face: it was as if Joe had just pried raw red meat out of a wild bear’s mouth.

I thought El Duce was going to kill him.

But Top Jimmy loved Joe. He stepped in between Joe and El Duce, wrapping his arms around Joe, and soon… they both had El Duce calming down as Joe explained that I was his girl and that El Duce would have to move on to someone new.

I watched as El Duce clinked glasses with Joe, walked away, heading to the back room, but not before he turned around one more time, staring me down as if to say, Another time Princess, then pretended to jack himself off, flicking his tongue back in forth in a grotesquely sexually explicit gesture, as he disappeared.

I was furious.

Now that El Duce was away from me, I wanted to run back after him and slap his big fat greasy head as hard as I could but I was sure if I tried it, he would chase me all the way to the parking lot, all the way home for that matter, and make me sorry for doing it and so… I held my anger for another day.

Top Jimmy, was nothing more than a toadie. Without the likes of El Duce to egg him on he was soon happily entrenched at the bar with Joe, settled in for a long night of drinking, while Dobbs, who took an immediate fancy to me, babied me the entire night and made sure that I wasn’t left alone again.

I can’t say that it was an enjoyable experience, but it was of course, and infamous one… and a story worth telling.

It’s been thirty years since that night at Raji’s… Dobbs, El Duce, Top Jimmy all long gone now… and I’d like to think that Dobbs and Top Jimmy with his big goofy smile are somewhere off in a musical Heaven; Dobbs telling stories and Top Jimmy apologizing for his sins.

But El Duce?

I’m sure El Duce went down swinging.

Off in some Punk Rock Purgatory on the outskirts of Hell: wrecking havoc and mayhem and I imagine… still loving it.

Saturday July 13th through Saturday July 27th: Ms Wood will be on SUMMER VACATION!

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Enjoy one of your favorite posts from the past until I return to entertain you!

And thank you for your loyal following.

D.D. Wood

Yearbook Class creates a Special Show Flyer for Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic resulting in the Children being Visually Scarred for Life and Ms. Wood Rethinking her Postion on Internet Filters

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BEST QUALITY

This is Yearbook.

The class I am in charge of at Millikan High School.

They are a wild, spirited group and I love them dearly.

One day, excited by the fact that the school had finally turned off the internet filters and had left the viewing discretion up to the teachers, I offered the kids a chance to create a Photoshop flyer for my friend Steve Soto and his band Manic Hispanic, believing that I was giving my students a life experience that would be considered valuable.

Now, being that this is high school, it wasn’t as if everyone jumped up and down and raised their hands to participate but… they did however… begin googling the name Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic happy to finally be unfettered from their technological bonds.

“This is so bad ass, Ms. Wood,” one of my senior editors said. “We can go on Facebook. We can go on Google images. Now we can really get some great Yearbook work done.”

I had my doubts about this statement but they were so excited, so punch-drunk with their new found freedom, that I felt I was in no position to bring them down: that would be like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out that you had received zero presents and Santa had also shit in your stocking.

“Oh,” one of the kids said after looking Manic Hispanic up online, “They do some type of Mexican gangster thing right?”

Everyone looked at me waiting to see if it was okay for us to like a “Mexican gangster” thing in the classroom.

“Well, yeah..” I said. “But it’s like a parody. Can anyone tell me what a parody is?”

Ten hands jumped up.

If we were going to bend the rules a bit… I figured I better find a way to keep the California Content Standards firmly in place while we did it and cover my ass in case someone found our Yearbook curriculum to be lacking.

I listened as they all babbled on about parodies and then I told them what they were supposed to do.

“Steve told me he wants something like Blood In Blood Out for the flyer. Do you guys know what that is?”

But before I had a verbal answer to assure me that they knew exactly what Blood In Blood Out was, a Latino cult classic crime-drama film, I saw twenty little teenage hands hit the keyboards hard and type in the words: Blood In Blood Out and two seconds later, there was a deafening moment of complete and total silence before loud screeches began to echo across the tops of computer stations and fill the classroom.

“What?” I screamed from my desk. “What are you freaking out about?”

I stood up to look at the computer screens and found that each and everyone of them was inundated by photos, photos once highly banned at our school site, now prominently displayed, in full-color glory, on our classroom monitors.

“OH MY GOD!” I shouted as I rushed towards the computer stations.

It was horrific I tell you.

A teacher’s worst nightmare.

A total lack of control.

A total educational malfunction.

Who would have known that the words: Blood In and Blood Out would bring a flood of cancerous anal polyps up on each and every screen?

My students were screaming.

My students were gasping.

Some of them just sat there, so stunned by the visual assault on their senses, that they just stared, mouths agape, at what they were viewing and all I could think was Jesus Christ how the fuck am I going to explain this one?

I knew what I had to do.

I stood tall and put on my teacher voice and said firmly, “Stop what you are doing and take your hands away from the computers.”

Everyone pulled their hands back as we continued to stare… mesmerized by the anal polyps… unable to look away.

“That is so weird,” one of the editors finally said followed by, “Can we Instagram them to someone Ms. Wood?”

Oh my God… NO… I thought to myself but out loud, I knew that if I didn’t act cool about this, they were going to pull out their iphones and start clicking because… that is exactly what teenagers do… when they smell fear in their teacher.

So I pulled out my iphone, snapped a photo of the anal polyps and made a big deal about how funny it was going to be for all of us to send it to my friend Sharla Bafia who was a “real goody two-shoes” and would totally freak out.

They all loved being in on the joke so they sat giggling softly, as if she could hear us, as we waited for Sharla’s response, which of course was almost instantaneous and read:  “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?”

We all had a good chuckle as we shut the images of anal polyps down and tried to strike them permanently from our memory.

I kept my game face on but inside… I was beyond relieved that I got out of that situation without it turning into a total clusterfuck.

“Okay,” I said calmly. “Let’s try this again. But this time, please type in the words: Movie Blood In and Blood Out.”

Everyone did as I asked, with only a sly devious smile or giggle here or there, which I shut down immediately with my most vicious teacher stare.

How’s it going? Steve texted right then.

I didn’t want him concerned about the anal polyp incident, he needed this flyer posted within the next hour, so I just replied: Great!… and went back to watching the students.

And for about twenty minutes, everything was totally calm as they pulled film images off the internet, and all vied to created the best band flyer for my friend until someone shouted out, “What should we use for a background?”

I was typing away on my own computer, not really paying attention to what they were up to once things calmed down, and so I shouted out absentmindedly, “I don’t know… black and gold sounds good right?”

And I heard once again twenty little hands go to type words… this time… black and gold… into the computer… and once again there was a moment of complete silence followed by a series of sharp screams, which this time, was punctuated by a few solidly loud, OH MY GODS!

I jumped, startled, and saw on each screen a large black man, walking two naked white women who were chained and completely covered in gold dust.

“OH JESUS FUCK!” I screeched without thinking.

Each head turned.

Each mouth dropped.

Suddenly, the focus was directly on me.

“You said fuck,” one of the editors whispered.. shocked by the unfiltered internet but stunned by Ms. Wood loosing her cool.

“You said Jesus and fuck in the same sentence,” someone else said in a mocking tone.

“God damn it,” I shouted. “Everyone shut down Google image RIGHT NOW!”

They didn’t move.

“I said RIGHT NOW!” I screamed as I pointed my finger at them and stomped my little feet.

Not one student disobeyed.

Everyone shut off Google image and sat quietly.

Really… what was there to say after what we had all witnessed in the last thirty minutes of class?

I wasn’t even sure how to proceed with the entire situation.

I was firmly in the camp of open internet filters in our high school community but obviously… I hadn’t thought it entirely through.

“Liz,” I said to one of my senior editors. “Make the flyer for Steve. Everyone else. Go on Facebook and just relax for a few minutes.”

Facebook: the crack cocaine of the high school world.

Suddenly, caught up in their social networking addiction, the incidents of the class faded into the background.

I went back to my desk knowing that Liz, responsible and capable, would knock that flyer out in minutes and if once again assaulted with anal polyps or black men with naked gold women, would just shut it out of her mind and continue to get her work done: There was a reason she was the number one editor and had a A+ in Yearbook.

She was an educational bad ass.

Once again I settled down… I prayed to St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, and hoped that I wouldn’t have twenty parent phone calls by the end of the day.

And that was when my computer was taken over remotely… by our staff computer administrator: Mr. Rios… who had obviously been trolling for “inappropriate content” the first day of our unfiltered technology school existence.

Having fun with those unfiltered computers in there Ms. Wood? The message read.

I leaned my elbows on my desk and covered my face with my hands.

I had no response.

The jig was up.

He had witnessed everything from his secret post.

I wanted to type back: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Or just the numbers: 1984.

But instead, I just sat there… eyes covered… mentally taxed… and listened to the happy click of my students fingers in the background as they blissfully went on with their Facebook instant messaging… until I heard another beep to let me know he had messaged me again:

Okay, it said. Being that I’m Latino I get the whole Blood In Blood Out mishap and obviously… they are enjoying the whole Facebook freedom right now but…  how did you guys end up with the black man and the naked chained women covered in gold dust?

And right then my phone went off.

It was Steve of course asking about the flyer: Is it done yet? he asked innocently but already worked up from the entire event, caused by my need to please my friend, make my kids feel like big shots by having them create a hip band flyer, and show how totally cool Ms. Wood was in her “alter band world” I so wanted to respond from my flawed shadow self and text in all caps: SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE SOTO! YOU’LL GET YOUR GOD DAMN FLYER WHEN YOU GET IT!”

But instead… I wrote… Almost done… and covered my eyes again with my hands… hoping that it would all just go away.

There was another “beep” signaling once again a new message from my computer administrator.

Well Ms. Wood? It said.

I had to concede.

And I hated to concede but in this case…. I had to admit that I might be wrong.

I’m rethinking my whole opposition to the internet filters, I typed.

You bet your @ss you are!  He wrote back and then unlocked my screen and let me get back to work.

“Done,” Liz said from her station and I walked over to find that she had made a fantastic flyer for my friend.

“That looks great,” I said.

Manic Hispanic Yearbook Flyer

“You sure you wouldn’t like me to add an anal polyp or a black man with chained naked women covered in gold dust?” she asked.

I gave her the evil eye.

“Obviously not,” she said sarcastically. “So who am I sending this to?”

Five minutes later, Steve had his flyer and was posting it on Facebook, the bell rang and the kids left, and it seemed that maybe they were not permanently scarred after all… And I sat down for a moment to calm my mind and let go of the atrocities of the last hour, praying to God that I would never see an anal polyp, a black man with naked chained white women covered in gold dust, or a message from my computer administrator, in my classroom, ever, EVER again.

Dealing with the Olds: Or How I Barely Survived the “Panty” Incident… A Cautionary Tale in Two Acts

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BIG OLDS

I have been care-taking others my entire life:

My own children…

My school children…

Neighbors, friends, strays, and of course… “Olds.”

If you would have told me in high school… that my destiny was to be a caretaker… I wouldn’t have believed you.

I was sure that I would be the first of my friends to leave the country, and never to return, unless under extreme pressure to do so.

But it seems it is my lot in life, and like Jimmy Stewart’s iconic character, George Bailey… I guess it is my destiny, to leave my nomadic dream of independent traveling behind, and accept my fate: to take care of all the numerous jackasses that reside in my own personal “Bedford Falls.”

Don’t get me wrong… I love my people… my jackasses… but two inappropriate panty incidents with the “Olds” in one week was a bit too much for anyone.

It started with Ernie.

Ernie is one of my father’s Navy friends, circa World War II, who comes to visit us every year from New Zealand where he now lives.

I love Ernie for numerous reasons:

One, he tells me stories about my father, that make me feel like I really know the man that kept so much of his own wild life hidden from his children, as he raised us.

Two, he likes to drink a lot of beer and go out dancing and believe it or not, even at 85… he still seems to have the moves that make the ladies adore him.

And…

Three, Since my father passed away, my mom likes to lay all of her demands on me, but when Ernie is here to stay, she spends her time bossing him around which means… she isn’t bossing me about: it really takes the pressure off.

Ernie is a skinny guy, very tan, white hair, a pretty healthy old man, and he tends to favor those weird fashions of the “Oceania Region” where they are prone to wearing Birkenstock sandals and of course, you guessed it…. sassy black speedos, teeny-tiny little things, as he lays on the chaise, in the backyard by the pool reading one of his many Clive Cussler novels.

I have grown accustom to this sight, over the years, but it is still a bit unnerving at times to know that he’s out there… lurking… in his little panties.

Now, Ernie had just arrived at our house about three weeks before the incident occurred.

Everything had been going as smoothly as possible, considering I live in a house where not one, but now two, advanced elderly people lived.

I spent most of my time… making sure each morning… that they were still alive… and listening for loud thumps… each evening… hoping that it was one of the kids bouncing down the stairs and not an “Old” in the process of breaking a hip or having a stroke.

Basically, it’s like being on 24-hour alert “high watch.”

So when someone began banging heavily on the hall door at 11:30 pm on Thursday night, waking me from a “dead” sleep, chihuahuas barking, big dogs howling, pig squealing (yes we have a pig) I woke as if I were already in the early stages of a massive heart attack: dazed… confused…. unsettled…. my mind and heart racing at an alarming pace.

I jumped from my bed, sure that someone must be seriously injured or dead, ran into the hallway, and found Ernie, in his tight black speedo underwear, blood dripping down his arm, yelling my name.

I was about to totally freak out when he said, “You don’t have a band-aid do ya? I fell out of bed having a dream, about pulling my brother out of a porthole from a sinking ship, and pulled some of the skin off my arm.”

I swear, I almost throttled him to death right then and there.

I couldn’t believe that he had woke me up, by banging repeatedly on the hall door, at 11:30 at night, as if it were a LIFE OR DEATH situation for a fucking band-aid.”

But I held it together and in my kindest voice said, “Hang on Ernie, let me find you one.” And then I directed him to wait for me at the kitchen bar, because if I don’t give him specific directions, he follows me about which, is actually how he accidentally saw me completely naked the previous week, by following me into the bathroom before I realized he was doing so.

I closed the hall door and gathered my composure.

I called Dylan, my son on the phone and said, “Are you upstairs?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

“Well can you come down here please. Ernie just woke me up for a band aid.”

Silence.

“Why did he wake you up for a band aid? I was awake and up here. What was he thinking?” He asked.

“I don’t know!” I screamed; unfortunately verbally kicking Dylan since I was unable to take my wrath out on Ernie. “I don’t know why OLDS do what they fucking do. Just come down and bandage the old man so I can go back to bed. I’ve got work in the morning.”

Two seconds later, Dylan was downstairs bandaging the old man and I was back in my bed, trying to calm down enough to hopefully get a few hours sleep.

But I tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 6 am and so, still twisted and tired from my “late night fiasco,” grumpy and bitter, jumped up from the bed, put on my slippers and rushed to let the pig out into the yard for the morning and let my chicken out of her coop (yes, we also have a chicken) before I would have to get to school on time. But… as I opened the front door, I was assaulted, yes once again, by an OLD.

There… out in the bright morning light for all the neighbors to see was my 85-year-old mother, bra-less in a tank top, barefoot and leaning on her cane, bent WAY over low, in her GIANT silky grandma panties, butt crack CLEARLY visible through the silky fabric as she struggled to let my chicken out of her cage.

I tell you it was a once in a lifetime sight that no one should ever have to view.

I actually backed up and gasped.

“Jesus Christ!” I screeched. “What the hell are you doing?”

She didn’t even stand up. She just looked at me from between her legs.

“Letting the chicken out.”

“Mom!” I shouted. “Do you realize that you are out in public, basically naked. The neighbors are going to call Adult Protective Services and take me away!”

“Well, now wouldn’t that be funny!” she said.

I felt myself fuming.

I wanted to grab that cane, topple that old woman, and pop her in the coop.

Now, now, now… I thought to myself… wouldn’t THAT be funny old woman?

But instead, I backed away from the scene and turned around to find Ernie waving at me from the reclining chair. Looking chipper and perky with his morning coffee and his Clive Cussler novel and his little arm all bandaged up with our spiffy pop-culture red band-aid that said “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.”

“Mother Fucker,” I whispered to myself. “Sweet Jesus for the love of God somebody help me please.”

But no help arrived.

No one there to listen.

Just a pig.

Just a chicken.

Just an old skinny man.

Just an old woman.

And me.

Sweet Jesus, obviously smart enough to stay miles away from this scenario, enjoying the view from above.

Ms. Wood Goes on a Bike Ride Ending in an Unexpected Police Chase and a Sudden Realization for Mr. Warren Renfrow.

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COPKIDNEWWARREN

I am new to the world of cycling.

In fact, I have only been on my bike a couple of times.

But, it seems that most of the musician men friends I know, are all about riding bicycles these days: R. Scott, Darryl Mitchell, Mike Martt, Johnny Minguez, Steve Houston and Warren Renfrow, all former or current members of well-know bands, participate in cycling and though I haven’t seen them all in action yet… I have noted an alarming number of them wearing tight little spandex pants and helmets with strange points on the back.

Now, these are not men who look like the men from the Tour de France… who look like they should be wearing spandex swag… these are big burly tattooed men… blue collared Blutos… rough and tough … and to see them sporting their delicate little panties and day-glow race helmets is frankly… a bit disconcerting.

But having grown up with brothers and raised in a houseful of an endless parade of boys during the 1970’s… where I longed to be the girl version of Evil Knievel… in on all of their ramp jumping fiascos… I find myself drawn to ride with them… ride fast….. and really… if I’m truly to be honest… kick their fucking asses all over the bike trail.

It’s a competitive thing… a feminist thing… but I honestly never planned to get the Seal Beach Police Department involved in my Battle of the Sexes “vendetta.”

It was early Sunday morning when I met up on the bike path with Warren Renfrow and almost fell off my 10-speed with joy once I realized that I might actually have a friend to ride with; Stephen my man, unwilling to delve into the world of hot spandex… more comfortable on his Schwinn cruiser then a Bianchi 10-speed… and always looking for a chance to work on his 64 convertible Valiant, unfettered by my constant interruptions.

Warren had been riding for awhile and since it was my first time out, I was a bit trepidatious about the thinness of the tire… the downward position of the bars… the speed which I hit each downhill drop… as I followed behind him from El Dorado Park past the Power Plants. But by the time I was nearing Seal Beach, I was out in front, moving at a good solid pace and ready to ride farther.

Now, maybe he was just being nice and cutting me some slack… but I don’t think so: I was really getting the hang of it.

By the time we hit the beginning of Bolsa Chica I was hooked.

I was about to ride on when Warren shouted out, “D.D. come back!”

I pressed my hand breaks and turned around.

“What?” I said all sassy.

“You still have to ride home,” he said. “This was a good first trek for you but, I don’t think you should push it.”

Push it?

He’s lucky he didn’t lose an eye saying that to me.

I’m sure he was just being a good riding partner… concerned that I would be able to make the trip home… but all I heard in my demented mind was:

You’re a girl.

You can’t ride that far.

You weak-ass idiot.

You better go home now and leave the long ride to the big boys.

“Fine,” I said and took off at a fast pace as I cut back through the Sunset Beach housing.

Warren could have given a shit.

He lumbered about… totally ignoring me as he drank off of his stupid plastic sippy cup bottle that all of those bike guys have.

I stormed ahead: my chucks pushing hard on the pedals…. my Ramones shirt blowing in the breeze…. my big bun of hair bobbing up and down blissfully helmet free: I felt like a rebel.

He caught up to me at the red light off of Anderson, right next to Turc’s, and he was still in a nice glide when the light turned green. He gave me a smug nod and took off like a bat out of hell.

I was FURIOUS.

I started back from a total stop, downshifted and raced to catch up to him.

By the time I hit the first hill’s rise on PCH… in the Naval Weapons Station Wetlands… I had him.

I was beyond stoked.

I was gonna make him pay.

I couldn’t wait to be the rookie that pushed past the “Big Man” and road him into the ground.

And this is when I made the worst rookie move I could have ever made.

If there had been a video feed of this moment… cyclists everywhere would have thrown their arms up in exasperation, slapped their foreheads stunned and dismayed, and then turned to laugh at me with all of their little cycling friends.

I thought that the best way to conquer the hill was to shift into high gear and hit the pedals hard but my momentum slowed to almost a dead stop and by the time I adjusted my gears and looked up again, Warren was at the top of the second hill, drinking out of his stupid ass little sissy cup again, legs splayed wide, riding as if he was an old man on a Sunday joy ride through the park, casually enjoying the wetlands,  his demeanor.. pleased with the fact that he left me, the idiot, behind, without a second thought.

I was sure at that moment… that my head was actually going to explode.

I leaned forward, clenched my teeth and started barreling up the second hill.

Warren was almost across Seal Beach Boulevard when I came flying down towards him at an impressive pace.

I broke into a wide grin.

I saw him stop on the other side of Seal and wait at the curb for me.

Fuck that shit, I whispered to myself, You’re going down Mr. Crane Operator Man.

I pedaled harder.

I pedaled faster.

I didn’t give a shit that I had the red light.

I didn’t care that cars were driving through the intersection in front of me.

I would die beating Warren Renfrow’s ass.

I held fast to my grips, leaned forward aggressively and steeled myself to run the intersection.

I watched as Warren’s eyes suddenly grew large.

I ignored him as I zig-zagged between moving cars and stopped pedaling as if I had just won a lengthy race, knowing that my advanced momentum would carry me through the finish line, in front of him, and that’s… when I saw the cop: About half way down Seal Beach Boulevard, moving at a good clip between the police station and PCH.

I couldn’t see his eyes through the windshield, but I heard the cruiser accelerate and knew someone inside was ready to give a big ticket and hungry for a chase.

I hit the pedals hard again, and blew past Warren like a rocket.

I was off PCH and turning down the alley behind 17th Street to hide in the neighborhood when I heard Warren yell, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”

And then the police car skidded around the corner after me.

I was almost out of view from the main drag when I saw the cop race down Seventeenth hoping to catch me coming out the other side.

I hit the breaks, flipped the handle bars to the right and stopped in a hard skid.

A quick backpedal and I was back racing towards Warren at top speed.

“GO!” I shouted as I rushed past him. “GO!” I screamed as I blasted on by and rode hard towards 12th Street where I turned right into the neighborhood behind the Pavilions and followed, my head low, hidden behind the concrete wall, until I cut through the back parking lot of the Chase bank on Bolsa and pedaled the last one hundred yards of PCH to the bike path at a furious pace, only allowing my legs to slow as I cut the gate by the stone remains of the legendary Marina Palace and caught my breath; chubby tired and worn as I coasted down the bike trail towards home.

Warren raced up behind me.

“Jesus!” He shouted. “Sonny warned me about you. You fucking Grishams are crazy!”

I pictured Big Sonny’s face, our mutual friend, his dark glasses, greaser vato, long bushy gray goatee, shaking his head in disgust as he said to Warren, “Just remember one thing bro… she’s a Grisham” and my face flushed.

I could just imagine him cackling, crowing actually, about being right.

I road on in silence… part of me… glad to keep our family reputation for insanity alive… part of me sad that I probably would never be riding bikes with Warren Renfrow again.

We made it home, and Warren took a moment to stop and talk with my man about cars, and music, and whatever else.

I straddled my bike from a distance, an outsider, just an ear shot away from their conversation, when I heard something about me and the cops.

“I heard that!” I shouted.

They both turned and looked at me.

“Obviously you didn’t,” Stephen laughed, Warren joining him.

So I climbed on my bike, made my best pouty face and rode off, leaving the two of them deep in conversation, most likely about what a total jackass I was.

The next day, I decided I better call Sonny and come clean about my antics before Warren got a chance to tell him.

“I told him you were fucking crazy!” Sonny said. “All you mother fucking Grishams are!”

I felt deflated… ready to give in and concede defeat when Sonny added, “Hey… hey….”

“Yeah,” I said quietly.

“I’m really proud of you. I like that you still know how to get away from the fucking cops.”

And then he hung up.

But I didn’t mind.

In Sonny’s eyes I was still the winner of the race that day.

And that… was enough… for me.