An Otherwise Eventful Sunday Pt. I: Mike the Pharmacist

I went to bed Saturday night as Paul the Jack of Some Trades, and woke up Sunday morning Mike the Pharmacist. (the latter has a better ring to it)

Let me explain.

While scanning the infinite wonders of Craigslist, namely the gigs section, I saw something in the Creative category that caught my eye. The title was along the lines of, “Help me win back my girlfriend.” Naturally I clicked on this.

Long story short, this desperate 30 year-old man paid me one hundred dollars, yes $100, to visit the diner where his kind-of girlfriend worked, and simply introduce myself as Mike the Pharmacist, say I’m a friend of his, and casually slip in positive things about him and nice things he’s said about her. That was all.

Of course I initially thought this was a bogus post, but when I requested an initial deposit, he did it gladly. The dude was legit.

I completely took this as a great opportunity to showcase my acting abilities, and put another feather in the cap, if you will.

I went to the downtown multi-level diner, rode the elevator to the 4th floor, and chatted with Courtney, the hostess, for all of 45 seconds. I expected her to say they weren’t together, but she was happy and chipper and made it sound like all was well. She did mention some misunderstandings and them “projecting their insecurities on each other”, but that was it. Of course it’s only logical this girl wouldn’t want to open up in grand detail to a complete stranger about her love life while she’s working.

She brought me to a table where I drank a crisp ice water pretending to wait on friends, before I told the waitress I had my times mixed up. I was sure to leave a few bucks for the water and shenanigans. I texted him and let him know the painstaking job was complete, and to let me know if there’s anything else I could do. I gave him ten minutes to respond, which he didn’t. Out to the bustling city streets I went, back in the thick of CMA Fest, only to hit the road to Bonnaroo for the next order of business.

I would find out later I, somehow, was of immeasurable assistance, and I’d never know how much I helped. He happily paid me. Mike the Pharmacist proved to be a smashing success. And then it was time to be Paul the Book Peddler.

 

No Shame in Second Hand Recycling

A majority of people might feel funny about second hand recycling, or as it’s more commonly referred to, dumpster diving, but the truth is it can be a frickin’ treasure hunt with a bounty of (mostly) conventional rewards. Of course I’m not talking any old dumpster in any old part of town, no. The gold mine comes around this time of year, and the locale is college campuses. Those college kids love to throw shit out.

Printers, mini-refrigerators, cameras, computers, wet suits, pesos, bongs, and all kinds of gear can be obtained simply by looking in and around college campus dumpsters. Then you have things like totes, bags, racks, and furniture of all kinds. Now I’m not advocating one to grab a shovel and start digging to the bottom of an industrial dumpster. Heck you can, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. Most kids leave their useful “trash” to the side of the dumpster even, or you can likely get a good view of things just right on the top.

And to hell with feeling uncomfortable like it affects some false sense of pride, like one is too good to collect perfectly useful items once operated by another. Or you can’t be seen by a dumpster cause girls or guys won’t go out with you or something. You can and should avoid the TV covered in coffee grounds and condoms, but there’s plenty of reasonably clean gear in easy reach. That is to assume it hasn’t been sitting long, and hasn’t endured harsh weather conditions. Of course plenty of things can withstand the elements for a short period and be okay. Textbooks are another find which can prove to be easy cash, assuming the condition is adequate. You won’t break the bank but it’s some good spending money.

I like to think most people recycle in their daily life, though I’m probably wrong. Those who do, toss their La Croix cans, beer bottles, and milk jugs etc. in the environmentally kind blue bin, to then be picked up and taken off to the magical recycling factories where they re-spawn and begin anew in one form or another. Undoubtedly a very positive thing to do for the earth and environment.

So why not recycle like this?

The benefits and possibilities are abundant. Mother Earth will smile upon you and you’ll hold a temporary slot on her scroll of the environmentally savvy. You could even start a little pawn style business with the treasures you find. Or even put on a dumpster art show. Nobody is stopping you from letting “trash” be your creative outlet.

Food is another, though far more questionable, commodity to be retrieved from dumpsters. This isn’t so much college campuses (though it can be) as it is grocery chains and markets, which obviously comes as no surprise. While I gravitate more towards household items, there certainly are people who find perfectly fine packaged food out back, other than your run of the mill hobo. In fact, I recently saw an American Ninja Warrior episode (I was in a Chicago hotel room with limited channels get off my back) and the dude who won the challenge was an avid dumpster diver from California, primarily for food. If an American Ninja Warrior advocates it, you know it’s legit.

Not only does dumpster diving serve a useful purpose by saving you money on daily products, you make that much of a difference at the dumps and landfills for things that work perfectly fine. If you’re creative and willing you could even salvage and utilized broken items for other purposes. Knowing so much working “trash” is tossed out by the tons at the end of every school year is a shame. But there’s no shame in being in the thick of the recycling hustle, and doing good for you and for Spaceship Earth.

 

Gonzo Fest Revisited

This past weekend marked the 7th annual Gonzo Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, which celebrated the life of literary renegade and local hero Hunter S. Thompson. It was held at the Louisville Public Library, as opposed to the Big Four Lawn of Waterfront Park like previous years. It was another strange affair, as anticipated, though not as strange as last year.

Upon learning of this festival dedicated to one of my literary idols, I knew I had to go. My co-pilot then was Oregon Neal, one of my first roommates upon moving to Nashville a few years back. For clarification sake, I lived with two Neal’s/Neil’s, the other being Wisconsin Neil. I found this to be the easiest way to refer to them. Two very different but very chill Neal’s/Neil’s.

A few things stand out from last year’s Gonzo Fest. One being the moment I got crushed in the head with a football immediately after purchasing an $8 beer, spilling half of it on myself. Things got off to a rocky start despite the beautiful day and scenery of the Ohio River and bridges abound. The day progressed with the usual activities of live music, spoken word, and tales of Hunter via his son Juan F. Thompson, Ron Whitehead, and others that knew and worked with him. People gallivanted through the park in their finest Gonzo apparel, clown makeup, dinosaur costumes, and other freakshow attire. It was a fine day.

But the most disturbing and memorable moment would come when Oregon Neal and I decided to take a stroll across the bridge and over the river.

As we soaked in the aesthetics of the Louisville skyline, we noticed an obese woman on a motorized scooter slowly but surely cresting up the incline as we descended. Unfortunate, I thought. As our paths began to cross, we noticed a young girl, maybe 9 or 10, clutching to the back of the scooter, riding up with what seemed to be her mother. This poor girl’s face was terribly, terribly disfigured. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Her face looked to be swollen 10 times over, with her eyes sunk deep into her head, and what looked like a face incapable of expression. Her incredibly large face was pockmarked and misshapen, and all I thought of was The Elephant Man. It was truly a disheartening sight.

But the worst was yet to come.

When we exited the bridge, we noticed a small ice cream shop littered with folks inside and out, so we decided to make like school children and indulge. We relaxed for a bit, and then decided to hoof back to the festival. As we were about halfway across, we both looked at each other with a “you gotta be kidding me face.” At one end of the width of the bridge was the obese woman staring blankly at the other end, in which the poor disfigured girl danced to some modern pop music with a little bucket with a $ symbol on it. Oregon Neal and I were greatly disturbed at this sad exploitation. The girl waved her arms in the air, put her hands on her hips, twirled around and so on in her little polka dot dress.

This was the defining moment of the festival, and it was fitting given the nature of the event. Luckily this past year was void of unfortunate incidents.

I drove north on I-65 from Nashville with the warm southern air swirling through the cracks in my windows as I sipped Private Selection coffee from my Grassroots ’15 mug. With a head full of wonder and ears full of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I sped past exit signs for Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Horse Cave, and other obscure Kentucky towns. Massive billboard signs for chicken, gas, whiskey, fireworks, and casinos scattered among the rolling hill landscape, penetrating the sky with its enticing and inevitable offers.

They moved the festival to the Louisville Library this year, which was far less scenic and far less spacious. It was a bit more watered down, but still an interesting endeavor. I found a parking lot nearby that costed $1.50 for all day parking. I thought for sure I drove into a time warp.

As an author greatly influenced by Hunter, it was exceptionally enjoyable, especially hearing from people who knew him and worked with him. The most intriguing I found to be was his son Juan, whom I met and got an autographed copy of his book, Stories I Tell Myself, about his life growing up as Thompson’s one and only child. Juan seemed to be the polar opposite of Hunter: meek, mild, respectful, kind, balanced- normal.

Another interesting character was Ron Whitehead, another local Louisville hero who has published books, poetry, and music of all kinds. He was a friend of Hunter, and just one look at Ron and you could see why they were comrades. His appearance demanded attention what with his whitish-grayish long hair, bejeweled white braids hanging from his chin, custom designed denim jackets, and overall funky attire. He spoke loudly and passionately, with a fierce southern twang in his voice.

Gonzo Fest is an interesting and intriguing festival for fans of Hunter S. Thompson, and though it’s a moderate affair, I would recommend it for his fans that may not know about it. There are all kinds of nifty Gonzo crafts being sold at little vendor booths, all kinds of food and drink, and good bands setting the tone. But to reiterate, the discussion panels with those akin to him are likely to be the meat and potatoes to true HST heads.

Football season is never over with the existence of Gonzo Fest.