Keep It Simple, Stupid

Know what most do-gooders’ problem is? They don’t understand the phrase above. They look out their apartment window, read a post on Facebook, and go into uneducated-activist mode, raising their fist, screeching to their cat, “Enough!” And set about writing up a manifesto demanding their city/town finds $400 million dollars to spend on ‘Rooftop Greenvigorating” or some such nonsense. Is it a bad concept? No. Is it actually a great sounding idea? Yes. Is it doomed to fail? Hell yes. 

But why? you ask. That’s so noble, right? And, I wouldn’t disagree. But, here’s the problem. Activist-cat-lady will, inevitably, find some supporters. She’ll start going to council meetings and banging the podium. She will use any tactic whatsoever to embarrass responsible council members without having any clue how to implement this plan. Someone will take her up on it. And then… Then the misery starts. Companies will be hired at taxpayer expense to research what dirt will be best to use. Soil suppliers will put in bids to sell the city dirt. An arborist will be appointed (more tax dollars) to write up a 200 page proposal detailing the best 4 plants/shrubs to fill the planters. Oh! The planters! The city will put it out for bid to contracters to decide who gets paid to build what could have been bought for next-to-nothing at a local small business. And so on, and so on, and so on. In the end, five years is likely to pass before the first planter is built, there will be a big photo opp for the mayor, an overpriced non-native shrub will be planted that’ll die in a week, and when the planter is filled with soil and the first rain hits, it will be too heavy, and crash through the building roof, requiring tens of thousands of dollars to fix, as the money pit grows “dig to China” deep.

Instead, what Activist-cat-lady should do is, get off your high horse, idiot, and start with your own building. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your landlord. Write up a 1 page Talking Points flyer to pass around and see if people would like to have a rooftop garden, like in old romance movies. See who would be interested in throwing in a couple bucks for cheap, low profile planters. See who has any gardening experience and might be willing to come on board. Tell the landlord, “Listen, Jim, we don’t want a dime. We want some roof access keys, we want to put a coupla plastic chairs up there, plant some shrubs, see if anything happens. It works? In five years your building will look great and people will want to move here. If not? Ehh, you can write off the keys on your taxes.”

Boom. Now you can put out some cheap planters with just enough soil to keep shrubs/hedges alive, and watch for rain, supplying some water when necessary. Now, you’ve got something going. Very small scale. Couple hundred  bucks, total. But…should your rooftop start getting green? Now, you post pics. You get your first rooftop wine and beer BBQ going, and a good amt of residents show up and have a good time. You make your neighbor buildings jealous. You get other cat ladies to pound their keyboards and scream to their felines, “Enough! If they can do it on Center Street we can do it on Valbrook Avenue!”

Girl playing guitar amidst a rooftop garden.

Now, those activists start something. Suddenly, the local beat reporter who’s desperate for something to cover besides the Parks Dept sponsoring a Pee-Wee level non-binary soccer tournament says, “Hey, rooftop with a BBQ grill and beer cooler? I’m there” and shows up to do a profile. You have more shrubs growing. They’re native, so they don’t require anything but keeping my Mom away (b/c my Mom can kill plastic plants just by looking at them), and now we’re talking. The network news wants to send someone over. An apartment building across town that has bigger shrubs is sharing pics on Instagram, and with it becoming trendy, many apartment buildings want the same. No hundreds of millions of dollars. No insiders reaching into taxpayers’ pockets by bribing the council to accept their inflated bid.  No, just you and your idea, catching on if it works. Maybe you talk to your vegan neighbors, see if they’re willing to bring their peels up top and see who’ll donate a cheap grinder, so you can just toss apple cores and orange skins and banana peels into the planters to keep the soil rich. You know how easy it is, almost nationwide, to grow a juniper? A boxwood? You’re not talking about turning your rooftop into a forest, you’re talking about making a bit of an environmental impact, cleaning up a little air, making it appealing to go up top at night and sit with some friends and neighbors and watch the meteor shower or play mahjong. 

What kills things like this is… getting the government involved. Now someone is going to introduce idiocy, like what if a child is allergic to the shrubs? What if a person with epilepsy has a seizure and falls out of their chair, rolls through the hedges and falls to the ground? What if the hedges grow too tall and a thunderstorm blows one out of its planter and it falls eight stories?!

Stupidity and hand-wringers kill everything. Sad truth. If one of your garden savvy vegans ground up peanut shells to put in the soil, some city-inspector with a badge would show up to demand you fenced off the offending planter lest a child with a peanut allergy come upstairs, get roof access, and begin eating dirt. You must post signs of a certain height. You must have a fence yay high. You must do this or you will be fined $5,000 dollars for breaking the Child Protective Peanut Disposal Act. And, if you do all that? The next bureaucrat in line will still fine you for not having a sign that included the warning in Serbo-Croatian.

So. Want the gov’t out of your bedroom and out of your business and out of your bakery and out of your hair? Don’t go to them to implement your idea(s). Start tiny, in your own space, and grow. If the idea is good? Trust me, it’ll do better in your hands than some bureaucrats. These are people, keep in mind, who will bypass a perfectly good foster home in an emergency situation while trying to place an abused kid, because the room you just threw together doesn’t have a dresser. I am not kidding. Kid could still be sore from getting stitched up at the hospital, but, lawdy! Threaten to put him in a safe place with hot food and running water and a full pantry? Not if you don’t have a dresser! These are slaves to paper, folks, not anyone’s best interest.

If everyone would kick the gov’t out of their way and make their own, small space better? We’d get *so* much farther, really we would. You just gotta be willing to do it, instead of relying on them. Hope that truth is enspiring…whether you have a cat or not.  ; )

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Not really a fan of Throwback Thursday, think like most rap songs if anything can be rhymed or has the same opening few letters, it’s ‘a thing’, but oh well, eventually the 17th century will drag me into it, even if kicking and screaming. Here’s a vid of yours truly on stage with Lemongrass, the full band over at Rusty’s Raw Bar in Cape Coral from 2018. Not exactly a throwback to the Mesozoic Era, but unless you were there, what do you care? May as well be. I could say Hendrix was in the john and have Pam age the pic, half the internet would believe it.

That said, brings me around to this. Nick, the lead singer of this talented crew (minus me, of course), is performing live tonight via video.

Guaranteed to be a good time. Here’s his FB link, he’ll post about the time tonight (think it’ll be around 7pm EST), and check in. Sure, not having me there with him will take away from it, like, taking away the occasional squashed chord, but, just like with this C19 crap, you’ll get through it. Enjoy!

Check Nick’s Facebook here

Incense sample

As some of my FB friends will recall, got an incense shipment right before the nation’s wheels came off, and the timing couldn’t’ve been better. I was running low on sticks, had a full bag of bunk cones from a 3rd party seller, and this was coming right from Wild Berry, the only brand I’ll burn.  You may also know that the new pineapple scent is some kinda strong, and I teased potential coconut-scent-reviews-as-given-by-Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway should those not be a little more in line with what I’m used to. But, Tom sorta is a castaway, so gonna let that slide.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Tucked in one of the glassine bags was a sample pack of 5 sticks. Not sure who at Wild Berry is in charge of this, but, sir or ma’am, how ‘bout labeling these next time, huh? The blind guy does not like guesswork when he’s about to set fire to something in his home office, okay? (Flip side? Nice gesture).

Package of incense sticks with no labeling.

Last night, I finally open the things. The pineapple smell, though, is still overwhelming the package, so I can’t even begin to guess at what this might be. Pull one out, put it to my nose, and…worry strikes. It kinda smells floral, and I do not do floral. But, the pineapple is strong with this one, and I think to myself: Self, all we ever order is black cherry, black cherry-vanilla, and more black cherry-vanilla. This time, we ordered—surprise surprise—black cherry-vanilla, pineapple and coconut. That screams fruit-flavors as the overwhelming majority, correct? 

Giving the folks at WB the benefit of the doubt, I lit one. Within 2 minutes, I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. It smells like Easter Sunday morning at the front of the grocery store where they’ve set out all those bouquets for people who didn’t remember their moms until that morning. Nasally-horrified, I decide to put it out.

Oh, but wait! My brain suggests, not wanting to waste the thing. It’s still Wild Berry. Why not just take it into the bathroom? Who cares if that smells flowery? Which, at the moment, made sense. I am in single-guy mode at the moment. I’ve unplugged virtually everything in the house Pam uses, I don’t turn on the lights unless I’m throwing a toy to Mouse in the living room, just trying my best not to expend anything unnecessarily. Which, as my fellow Floridians know in times of hurricane, you don’t flush if you just take a leak. Which brings things around to my burning floral TNT stick. “Can’t be worse than a day of unflushed piss, right?”

Wrong. Not only did I go into the can twenty minutes later only to be molested via sinus, I wet a tissue, killed this thing with the tissue in my bare hand, and wished to return to the hour of yore, when it simply smelled like the Men’s room in a NYC subway station. Didn’t occur to me until I’d taken the remainder of the offending olfactory terrorist out to hurl into the empty lot that I had finally placed it. Not the exact scent, but where I knew it from: Upscale hotel.

Now, on the occasions where I’ve been fortunate enough to have been put up at an upscale hotel, this is one of the few drawbacks. They spray something abhorrent in the full-featured bathroom, it’s always floral, and it’s stomach-churning. You’ve got to turn on the exhaust fan and hope Chuck Yeager’s team installed that bitch, because leaving it on while you go get dinner or use the pool or do an entire day of conventioning will not free the john of the scent. But…but then I realized. No, Joe. You’ve made a mistake. This wasn’t just overdone hotel-piss-and-shower-sex-hiding-fragrance. It was far, far worse. It was: Funeral Home. 

Hopefully, that’s not an omen.

Wild Berry is lucky I can’t review this. My judgment on this would be something like: Ever been in a pricey hotel room bathroom and inhale and the scent is so reprehensibly phony and overpowering that when the Kodiak bear in the next room taps on your door, offering to claw your nose off, you don’t just allow him to, you tip him??? Well, this is worse.

Smell is still lingering in the 2 foot hallway between my office and the bathroom. Chuck Yeager’s team had nothing to do with the construction of my home. I’ve considered giving Billy a Ziploc bag to bring back some dog shit—hell, doesn’t even have to be Mouse’s! to rub on the walls, but I think Pam would be bothered when she gets back.

Still, given travel bans and the shape of the world…could be August by the time she gets back. 

Billy and I could paint by then…

To Think, I Remember Actual Film…

Ok, I don’t usually do these things, but, there are so many going around, thought I’d join in. 

Post the 3rd picture on your roll and the results of a GOOGLE search for ‘Art’ with only the first letter of your last name.

Polaroid with a blacked out picture

Here’s a shot I took of me and the Mona Lisa from my trip to Paris, where I got thrown out of the Louvre a couple years ago. Hey, I’m blind, how was I supposed to know you can’t walk up and touch the Venus de Milo? And, that police report is false—I was not trying to cop a feel! Anyway, never liked the Mona Lisa and have zero appreciation for it, which is why I look unimpressed and the sorta-kinda chick in the painting can only smirk.

On to another one. “Please Brighten Our Day With the 7th Pic In Your Camera Roll—No Description!”

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Okay, sorry this one’s a little suggestive and NSFW, but…no one’s working anyway, so figured why not?

Next up… Now, this one’s a little strange, but, ehh… “Post the 7th picture in your favorite gallery, and the first letter of your first name and the food that begins with it! That’s your survival food for quarrantine, Go!”

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Well, this is me hanging out with John F. Kennedy, about half an hour before he told me he hadda run, he had a limo to catch. Why this goes along with ‘Jenny McCarthy’, I don’t know, but toldja, I don’t usually participate in these things. And finally:

Share the 2nd pic in your roll, Google your initials and ‘Apocalypse Costume’ and the street you lived on when you were born!”

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Pic of me running behind an alligator, chasing it off my property. He’s small, maybe a 9 footer, but you don’t want to let ‘em hang around and get comfortable. And, if you’re wondering, yes, all I’m doing is singing to it (Luckily I wasn’t arrested for animal abuse. With the new laws, I’d’ve been facing felony charges.)  My Apocalypse Costume is the mask from Friday the 13th (Jason’s Mask) and 130th. So, I guess somehow this gibberish translates into me having some sort of innate ability to chase gators using a horror movie mask until the 130th Armored Division shows up in these COVIDisastrous times. And, now that I’m in on this…For next time, am I supposed to take my phone out of it’s holster before snapping away?