RL2 - White Leather Carpet

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Merv Griffin and Chuck Barris (Movies)
  • Merlin preparing topics for his phone calls with John (Podcasting)
  • Why guys should not wear hats (Style)
  • Tight jeans that accentuate a man’s crotch area, penises (Style)
  • Tattoos (Style)
  • Nicknames for Seattle and San Francisco (Geography)
  • Having one person sleep in the van (Career)
  • John being attacked by dead soldiers in the park near Merlin's house (Ghosts)
  • Being spooked in a house in Vermont (Ghosts)
  • Seeing an UFO when the brakes on the tour van failed in Death Valley (Career)
  • The Long Winters getting pulled from Morning Becomes Eclectic (The Long Winters)
  • Overpriced hotels (Travel)
  • People making strange faces during sex (Factoids)
  • Christina Aguilera (Music)
  • Yamaha DX7, gated snares, overusing your tricks (Music)
  • Scott McCaughey, The Young Fresh Fellows (Music)
  • Fake benefit shows, people wanting you to play shows for free (Career)
  • People wanting to waste Merlin's time with meetings (Merlin Mann)
  • Otto von Bismarck (History)
  • Rich people should have white leather carpets (Attitude and Opinion)
  • Chili (Food and Drink)

The problems:

  • topical storms; °
  • Wears-a-Hat guy (and the uniforms of his ruthless punishers); °
  • our touchy tattooed friends; °
  • an elegant Kanji solution; °
  • John’s numerous hauntings, visions, and visitations; °
  • Angelina Jolie’s insane bubble of insanity; °
  • the ubiquity of permanent sexface; °
  • why we’re not actually that fancy; °
  • the fakeness of fake benefits; °
  • the byzantine chili-canning fan and the art of earnest butchery;
  • why That’s Not Funny. It’s not. It’s not funny °

The show title refers to the fact that if you have an insane amount of money like for example Angelina Jolie, you should not pretend to be normal and spend it to help kids, but you should have a Maserati with white leather carpet!

Merlin just had a chili dog because he had limited time and had to approach that fork in the road: Go in hungry or go in chilied. John loves a chili dog.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Merv Griffin and Chuck Barris (RL2)

John is the star and Merlin is the sidekick of this show. John is Merv Griffin and Merlin is Arthur Treacher. Merv Griffin is a lesser Johnny Carson, but he is rich like Jesus. Chuck Barris produced The Dating Game (Merlin first said Merv Griffin did), who also was in the CIA. Merv Griffin was Chuck Barris’ mentor and he controlled 1970s television.

Merlin preparing topics for his phone calls with John (RL2)

Merlin tries not to prepare for these shows, but he has written down some ideas and he doesn’t want John to feel the need to respond to any of these. John knows how this goes because over the years they had many phone calls where Merlin had something very important to say, like he needed somebody to talk about The Beatles' album Revolver and he had used up all of his other friends. Why didn’t they put Paperback Writer on there?

  • Chili: Chili is like barbecue for white people: It differs a lot from place to place and people are very territorial about it, just like with sports teams and sexual intercourse: Cinnamon, mustard, beans / no beans. John uses cinnamon, mustard and beans in sexual intercourse.
  • Pedestrians: John was a pedestrian for many years and he is ready to talk about it.
  • Alaska
  • Problem with public restrooms: John went to a vintage guitar show yesterday and the public restrooms there…
  • Guitars
  • Women
  • Tattoos
  • People who wear hats
  • R.E.M.
  • Do other bands take a dump before a show?
  • Girls (added to the list later in the episode)

Merlin doesn’t want to steer the conversation too hard because it is John’s boat and John calls it Fitzcarraldo. They have to get it up the mountain where there is a German and everybody is sad (plot of the movie Fitzcarraldo). John is Loco, played by Klaus Kinski in that movie (Loco is a character in The Great Silence) and imagine if Rutger Hauer was in there?

Werner Herzog did that other movie Aguirre, the Wrath of God with Klaus Kinski where they are in a boat and he plays a flute and he got a helmet (talking about Fitzcarraldo again). It is not the one where a bottle falls on a guy and he looks at it for a while and takes it back to his tribe, that is The Gods Must Be Crazy, part I and it is a little bit fast. Merlin has a lot of questions about that movie.

In the Pacific Northwest there are literally dozens of women do wear hats, have tattoos, play guitar, and take a dump before a show. John knows more than a few of them. All of Merlin’s topics are gold and John can talk about any of them. Women wearing your clothes is great, but that is a different topic.

Why guys should not wear hats (RL2)

If you wear a hat to an event with a woman and once you get there you realize that you shouldn’t have worn a hat and that wearing a hat is stupid, you can give the hat to the woman. Then the woman is wearing a hat, which is super-cute, and you don’t look like a dink in a hat at an event where no other guy is wearing a hat. Merlin will just say: "Never wear the hat!" because now you are wears-a-hat-guy.

John has a collection of old Stetsons and he faces this conundrum every day when he walks past his hat rack that is covered like a fruit tree with vintage Stetson hats, some of them quite beautiful. His first thought is: ”I want to put on a hat!” and his second thought is: ”You look like an asshole in a hat!” This happens to him 30 days a day.

He brings the same circumspection to any of the fruit trees in his house, like his Elephant boots (by Lucchese), his costly hats or his Ralph Lauren shirts. You can’t wear more than three Ralph Lauren shirts at a time because you will start to look muscle bound and a little puffy like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, or like you have been taking Prednisol, and that is not appealing. Merlin remembers when people would wear two Ralph Lauren shirts with the collar up.

John sees people with hats all the time. Last time he went to South by Southwest, every person in the city was wearing a Snap Brim Fedora that they had bought at the airport and John wished he had a light saber so that he could go around and take the top 3 inches of everyone’s head off, but instead he went home and had a bath.

There should be armies of people with wrist-rockets and a handful of pebbles who literally do nothing but knock hats off of wears-a-hat-guys' heads. John has already designed the uniform for them: White unitards with bell-bottoms, which sounds like The DeFranco Family or the Bay City Rollers. Also camel-toe is a big part of the look for the men, which is called something else and is very unappealing, no matter how you look at it.

Tight jeans that accentuate a man’s crotch area, penises (RL2)

Eddie Van Halen gave an interview backstage at the stoner fest (Whisky A Go-Go 1977) where he was wearing 1970s jeans that hung like curtains from the knee down, but were tailored so they were the tightest right out your pee area.

Merlin has a feeling that David Lee Roth (singer of Van Halen) had some serious lumber going on. He could have killed some Spotted Owls with that thing. He is a Jewish guy and they have big penises. Merlin is sympathetic to that because the Jews have had a hard time and if anybody deserves a big penis it is a Jew. It is their time now! Merlin was thinking of the little World War I helmet effect, or maybe that was like a German Stormtrooper hat.

Your conception of penises has a lot to do with what you are sporting and the first time you see the opposite of the kind of penis you have, like if yours curves to the left and you see one that curves to the right. Merlin is pro circumcision because he thinks that everybody should look like him to the extend possible.

Tattoos (RL2)

Merlin despises tattoos as a thing, although he loves a lot of people who have tattoos. Like with religion, John loves a lot of religious people, but he is not a super-fan of religion. Especially with some of the ladies, tattoos are a matter of taste and some of them have some really beautiful tattoos, but almost never on the foot or the back. A foot tattoo is a shortcut to looking like a Juggalette. Many people in John’s culture have tattoos and the problem is that if you start talking shit about tattoos… He can talk shit about religion all day because the people who are offended by that are outside of his uptake.

People with tattoos are committed and can’t go back. John likes to make sweeping statements like: Any tattoo in your bikini area is gross! No matter what it is a picture of, no matter if it is a beautiful flower or a picture of Ronald McDonald where his nose is your clitoris, or a literally life-sized tattoo and his nose is your nose, but just the front and you are saving the back for Grimace (McDonalds). The Juggalos would welcome you with open arms.

A girl with a tattoo in the bikini area is like left-over Chinese food where somebody ate all the shrimp out and put a dead bird in there. That is not food anymore! Why would you mess up such a nice area? John’s next tattoo is going to be a container of Chinese food where clearly shrimp-shaped areas are empty, and a dead bird. An economical solution to that is Kanji because there is probably a symbol for it. That is why Japanese is so hard to learn!

People who like tattoos really like Sanskrit, which is what Angelina Jolie has (see all of her tattoos here). John gets irritated just by thinking of her tattoos, although he doesn’t even know what they are, but some of them are surely pissing him off right now. They need a 5th podcast just for Angelina Jolie!

Merlin has dear friends with tattoos and he has ran into this problem as well. He said on Twitter that it makes you look a little bit filthy and when you get old it is not going to be pretty and his friends think he is addressing them directly. Some of them have tattoos that are very meaningful to them, and some of them are awesome. A friend in college looked a lot like Sherman from Bullwinkle and he got a Sherman tattoo that was beautiful and funny. Another friend has a question mark with the word ”doubt” under it and that was nice.

John has a lot of friends who are tattooed from the bottoms of their ear lobes to the ends of their fucking toes and he dated a couple of girls who had tattoos all over their bodies. He was able to enjoy those people’s tattoos as a part of them, but he cannot say that he would not have preferred that they did not have all these tattoos.

To Merlin it communicates that they will work at the coffee shop, but you probably shouldn’t trust them with the keys. John can’t talk about tattoos on girls anymore because enough people are watching his Twitter feed who are going to send him a text that says: ”When did you see a girl’s bikini area?” - ”I was just thinking about it in the abstract” - ”Oh really? You were just thinking about tattoos in a girl’s bikini area?” People always think it is about them and will respond personally.

Nicknames for Seattle and San Francisco (RL2)

Merlin has been to John’s bikini area, which is Jet City or Emerald City. Jet City was Seattle’s nickname in the 1950s and 1960s because Boeing were making jets before anybody else. It is a fantastic name with a Tomorrowland quality and is muscular. It lasted up until some magic point in the late 1970s when some cabal of city fathers decided they were going to rebrand Seattle as the Emerald City, which is like a land of dwarfs and magical little green creatures. That is not a nickname! Nobody asked for that! The reason is that it is very green in Seattle, both in the bucolic and the verdant sense, but not in the phlegmatic sense, that would be Kansas City, Missouri.

San Francisco is thought about as bucolic and verdant, but in fact it is neither of those things and it is a parched desert. In 1980 they came up with: ”San Francisco - That is not funny!”, which is not even a nickname, but a statement, but whatever you say: ”That is not funny!” If people who live in San Francisco will hear you call it Frisco they will wilt like an orchid in a microwave. They are very touchy, not touchy/feely, but just touchy. You never call it Frisco, and - by the love of Christ - you never call it San Fran!

When Merlin moved there, his wife educated him on many things: They are never going to rollerblade and Golden Gate Park and they were never going to buy a big can of coffee in a red can. They can blame Emerald City for all the coffee now. They call it The City. The City by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that never stops, the city that was built on Rock’n’Roll and an overinflated mining industry.

Whenever John is in San Francisco he can always stay at Merlin’s place on the mattress that is shaped like a taco that looses air and you have to pump it up every night.

Having one person sleep in the van (RL2)

John always made one person sleep in the van when his band stayed at Merlin’s place. Merlin literally lives three blocks away from a police station in a very pastoral and phlegmatic area, much like R.E.M.’s Reckoning, and you are mostly going to be okay in that neighborhood, but John always made someone sleep in the van.

It was mostly Michael, out of spite, although Michael liked to sleep in the van because he is a loud and compulsive masturbator who is not comfortable sleeping around other people, but he likes to be in an enclosed area where he can steam up the windows.

John being attacked by dead soldiers in the park near Merlin's house (RL2)

One time John slept in the van in front of Merlin’s house and he had a terrifying experience. He had backed in so he was looking out over the park, and in the middle of the night he woke up with a start to a vision of an army of dead soldiers marching across the park toward him.

John sleeps au naturel and he shot out of the back bunk, across four bench seats in the van into the driver’s seat, turned on the van, put it in gear, and he pealed out of that parking space and didn’t stop for four blocks, bare-ass naked, driving in panic away from an army of dead soldiers coming at him.

It was terrible and John couldn't sleep for the rest of the night because he couldn’t sleep next to a park of dead soldiers in Western Garb. John has never had Stigmata, but periodically and very rarely he is sleeping in a strange house.

If you are too rigorous of debunking those emotional experiences in the middle of the night you do yourself a disservice. If you are woken up by an army of ghouls walking across a park and you are scared enough that you jump up naked and drive away, it doesn’t serve the magical aspects of the world to pish-posh yourself the following day.

Being spooked in a house in Vermont (RL2)

One time John slept in a house in Vermont and as he turned off the light he immediately felt like there was someone terrible in the room with him. He sat up, turned on the light, and spent the night sitting up, reading old Reader’s Digest. Every time he was not vigilant for just a second there was a terrible and malevolent presence there. In the morning he limped down to the breakfast and his hosts asked him how he slept. He told them that a really evil ghoul lived in the room they had put him in and they said: ”We were wondering if you would notice, that is why we put you in there!”

This house was built in 1740 and had a bad ghost. Of all the 4-5 people they put Roderick in there because if anybody would see the ghost, it would be him! Merlin would never put Eric in with the ghost. Eric would make common cause with the ghost and they would have a Hip Hop side project by the morning. Merlin thinks of John as a rational person and a post-enlightenment character, despite the extreme irrationality of most aspects of his personality. John doesn’t believe in ghosts, but something was going on in that house!

Seeing an UFO when the brakes on the tour van failed in Death Valley (RL2)

One time John and his band were on tour and their van caught on fire in Death Valley. There was no reason for them to be in Death Valley except that they had a day off and John suggested that instead of going to Las Vegas they would drive across Death Valley. He doesn’t remember whether the others agreed or if they acquiesced, but it is very hard to tell the difference and it doesn’t matter. They were probably struggling for breath as it was and they looked up from their interactive devices long enough to give John what he took as a nod.

Death Valley is very mountainous and sadly the brakes on their van failed. It is below sea level and you first go up a really big mountain before you go far down another mountain that is even further down than the place where you started. The van caught on fire because John had burned through the brakes and through it all. They jumped out and threw their bottles of water and their bottles of pee on it and then they were sitting there in the middle of a clear night in Death Valley. Their brakes were gone after they had overheated from metal on metal. There was not another living soul for miles in any direction.

In John’s peripheral vision appeared to be a giant radio transmission tower with red lights on it, but as he saw it move he realized there were no radio towers or hight voltage power lines out here because this was Death Valley in the middle of nowhere. This red light was moving across the sky at a walking pace and it was rotating and moving behind a mountain as John saw it.

Nabil was not with them because he had flown to some other show and Eric had walked away from the van and was out in the desert with a flash light, turning over rocks and looking for snakes and scorpions, so it was just John and Jonathan who saw it and neither of them was able to describe it in a way that sounded like the thing that the other person was describing.

If people ask John if he believes in UFOs, he will say: ”Ahh, could be, sure!” and he did see that UFO! Maybe it was a government experiment, a radio tower that had come unrooted and was being blown by the wind, or a zeppelin that had no skin on it and was tumbling end-over-end, hurdling like a poorly kicked football except really slow, all while the van was on fire. It sounds like a rejected David Lynch thing.

There was no cell phone service and nobody else was allowed to drive John’s van, not when Captain Burn-up-the-Brakes is in charge. John put it in low gear and drove without touching the brakes for 60 miles. Sometimes they were going really fast and sometimes they were going really slow, and they were just hurdling down this mountain and hoped and prayed that there were no hair-pin turns, which there weren't. After that they rolled through the flat desert for many miles until they arrived in a town, still without having touched the brakes.

They pulled into a Ford dealership right next to a Motel, got a room, and the next morning John had them fix the brakes which took all day because the brake fire had also burned some other important parts, but it was done by 3pm and they made it to Los Angeles by 5pm in time for sound check. That is how Rock’n’Roll plays out! The show might have been in the Space Place.

The Long Winters getting pulled from Morning Becomes Eclectic (RL2)

In Los Angeles a British guy named Nick Waterhouse had a taste-making Indie Rock show on KCRW called Morning Becomes Eclectic and everybody wanted to hear The Long Winters on there, but right before they got there something came up and the station had to pull their slot. Then they got a call from their openers, a band called What Made Milwaukee Famous, who told them that they had just been offered to play on Morning Becomes Eclectic and they had to drive all through the night to do it.

There are some insults, some perfidiousness, and some duplicitousness that John will not bear, but he knew that adopting such an attitude would only do himself a disservice because Morning Becomes Eclectic does not care if The Long Winters ever play on their show. They are a media juggernaut that will gobble up bands and chew them out. It is a buyer’s market and they will lord that over bands. John decided he will not ever appear on that stupid radio show, even if they would come to him on bended knee, because they have insulted him.

John took it with his internal tribunal, just steaming. He has a legislature in his head where different characters get up and make very impassioned speeches. Some of the other legislatures will go: ”Hurm Hurm Harm Harm!” and others are trying to shout him down, he has a quorum. John is the trinity of the room, the body, and the decision. In the beginning was the word and the word was John and then it is turtles all the way down.

Overpriced hotels (RL2)

Back in 1849 a gallon of milk in San Francisco cost $5. When you have a big boom from an overinflated mining industry it is not the suckers that get rich. If you wanted to sleep literally on a wooden bench in 1849 it was $10 a night in 1849-dollars and that is $298,28 in today’s money. John wouldn’t pay $10 to sleep on a wooden bench even right now.

John has stayed in hotels that cost more than that and they offered little more than a wooden board, like for example in New York City. Merlin once stayed on someone else’s dime near Times Square for literally $500 a night. They hadn't mentioned that they would be shutting off the water at 7am for renovations. Maybe it had been on a piece of paper somewhere. Everything in New York is constantly being renovated. It is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge: They are always painting the Golden Gate Bridge because by the time they are done it is time to start over and repaint the bridge (not actually true).

One time John stayed in Chicago on somebody else’s dime on the 24th floor of a very nice hotel on the lake on the Gold Coast, and at 7am he woke up to the sound of some guys standing right outside his window on a giant crane that was proceeding to swing a wrecking ball at the building next door. You could feed a Romanian village for a year with what this hotel room cost, but John felt like he was in a 50 gallon drum with bowling balls, going over the Niagara falls.

There are fake boutique hotels these days, and Merlin blames a lot of this on the W (W Hotels). He likes a W and has stayed at the W in Seattle, which is a nice place, but he doesn't like that a urine-soaked Hobo-hotel is charging $300 a night because they have black carpeting. Merlin doesn’t love this pattern and a lot of people are doing it more poorly. They make the room smaller and then there is disco all night. Merlin once stayed at a very costly place in New York where they had a white noise machine built into the room because the disco was so deafening. It was Italian disco, which is worse than regular disco.

It is like trying to sleep in the bathroom of a Virgin America flight. Merlin loved the room he had at the Ace Hotel in Seattle and the manager was just the best, but the Ace is an old flophouse and the walls are a little thin and Merlin could hear people having sex in the room next door. It was like they were in a High School play and it said: ”Now have sex for six hours!” with two people yelling for no particular reason. It is a Samuel French thing and very costly to license.

People making strange faces during sex (RL2)

Making fake noises and fake faces during sex is a common thing with young people because they have seen too much porn and have no concept of how to have sex without performing for an invisible camera. Merlin has been married for a long time and he had sex twice before he got married. It might have been more. He and John were raised properly, they were masturbating to magazines, and they understood that there was a certain level of artful artifice to this.

People on YouTube are just yelling. There is a lot of face-making, like when the bass player is making a bass-face. Merlin has guitar face, but John doesn’t have that. There is that sex-face that you see now.

Although John is not married he hasn’t encountered a tremendous cross-section of sex-faces, but he has seen a few. At a certain point in the act of sex, if you are doing it correctly, you lose your sense of self-awareness and then you are no longer aware of how you appear. You should both look stupid, otherwise you are doing it wrong.

As Merlin gets older, more and more things look like someone is trying to have a BM (Bowel Movement), that is his benchmark. You don’t get to pick your problems in life, they pick you! He recently said on a social media site that teenagers in his neighborhood, the mathletes or the rapid Chinese kids, are spitting through their teeth and their idea of looking tough looks a lot like they are trying to decide whether they are having a bowel movement.

("For many teens, "tough" reads as struggling to decide whether they're having a bowel movement. They do not know this. Like so many things.") It is not even a turtle, but 21 Jump Street gangster face, which is a 20-year old reference to a show from when he was in college. At the time it was perceived as being really street. Johnny Depp was in it, but they swapped him out for Richard Grieco.

John wonders if Richard Grieco is related to James Franco. All these people with ethnic names feel like they are the same. Merlin has mixed feelings about James Franco, although he is very interested in him. He looks too bored for John and his resumé looks like the resumé he was going to have when he was in High School. Seven Ivy League degrees, being obtained simultaneously, plus he is doing award shows and he eats his arm in a movie. When he is on a soap opera people think it is an art installation and when he goes to an art installation people think it is a sports opera. Rick Springfield did that a long time ago and he is from Australia.

Christina Aguilera (RL2)

Christina Aguilera is shiny like a door knob and Merlin hopes it is just Purell. John thought originally it was dew, now he thinks it is Plasticine. It is like entertainment bukkake and somebody needs to get a fucking squeechie and a hose on that lady because she is just getting shinier and shinier.

Yamaha DX7, gated snares, overusing your tricks (RL2)

Merlin thinks that James Franco’s face is a little bit James Dean via the smirky guy who did 90125 (album by Yes) with Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson, produced by Trevor Horn from The Buggles. 90210 is the TV show and 90125 is the Yes album.

It is a great Yes record, but Merlin wonders if it has aged well. It is impossible to tell because like the Don Henley records John can’t separate them from his teenage years. It has a Yamaha DX7, which is the panelling in the 1980s basement that can not be removed, that one stupid What’s Love Got To Do With It (song by Tina Turner) flutey harmonica-y thing!

The other day John was watching something and in the soundtrack they hadn’t even moved the faders in their DX7 sound, it was just some guy playing some chords on a DX7 and John wanted to throw the entire device into the ocean. It wasn’t intended to be funny, but the music supervisor must have been related to the director because there is no other way they would have gotten that job.

There are certain sounds that are never going to escape that era, and for the mid-1980s it was the DX7 and the fucking Phil Collins over-gated snares. John is not going to go on record being against gated snares because he lived through the anti-gated-snare wars where every time you walked into studio there was somebody looking at you smug and talking about gated snares.

Merlin suspects that this is because John is friends with Chris Walla who likes David Bowie. John came of age during a time when you were not supposed to use reverb on things and you were not supposed to gate your snares and John’s feeling then as now is that if you do it and it works, then good for you! Merlin thinks John is wrong.

David Bowie’s album Low is from 1977 and you are allowed to use gate on that. Merlin thinks that Chris Walla is an acolyte of the idea of ”Let’s put another mic over here and gate it!” Vanderslice does that, too! You get a snappy echo that only comes in after a certain amount of trigger. John says that Chris Walla doesn’t overuse anything. His principle is that if you have a trick, you use it once on a record.

According to Merlin the John-Vanderslice-ation of Indie Rock is when Vanderslice prints the track to tape, hands it to an intern, buys that intern a one-way ticket to Istanbul, and the kid is going to Istanbul where 50 people lay hands on it and then bring it back. John is not above that.

Scott McCaughey, The Young Fresh Fellows (RL2)

There is a track on John's first record where they had Scott McCaughey from The Young Fresh Fellows come in and stand in the room. They couldn’t find anything for him to do on that track because there was too much music on it already, so they just pointed a microphone at him and had him stand there for 3 minutes and as they were mixing it they brought the sound of Scott McCaughey standing in the room into the track. He is in there, it is just the sound of him perspiring.

He has a Boomerang pedal, a little sampler/looper device, and when they were recording John’s second album he started playing the harmonica into this thing while listening to the track Bride and Bridle go by without paying attention to the others in the room. He started looping it and they just tracked it as he did it and didn’t even monkey with it afterwards at all. He just laid that track down because he is an enormously creative individual.

Merlin likes Still There’s Hope by The Young Fresh Fellows from their album This One’s For The Ladies and he can listen to it over and over. John was a massive fan of the band. You couldn’t be from the Pacific Northwest during that era and not know every one of those songs. They played the first show Merlin saw when he moved to Tallahassee in 1991.

They are still able to come together and put on an amazing Rock show. Kurt Bloch brings the ruckus! He still jumps! The whole band is amazing, they all jump and they really have it all. John is going to play a benefit show with them tomorrow for a good cause. It is the good kind of benefit where you know the person and you care about them.

Fake benefit shows, people wanting you to play shows for free (RL2)

John has previously written about benefit shows where somebody cold-calls you and says: ”I got an event that I want you to donate your time and effort to that will do nothing for anybody except aggrandize me!” (see RL1)

The other day John got a message from a kid on Facebook who said he was putting together benefit shows for his charity called ”Charities for Benefits” John sees this all the time: Young people who think they want to do something good and help other people. Get a job! Habitat for Humanity! We don’t need another charity! Lose the hat, cover the tattoos and fucking grab a broom! Go wash a car! Pick up an old person off the ground!

They think they are too fucking important to work for somebody else’s charity!They went to college for two years and they are going to start a new charity that is going to be the thing that really helps people and they are going to earn money by asking their favorite bands to play for free.

Everybody knows that bands make millions of dollars, so your benefit show will earn $1 million and the band is not going to miss it because they will just go play another show and make another $1 million. You are also going to get a lot of exposure out of that, your payment is the exposure and the money is just gravy because you love to play music!

John is a hard-working man from Alaska and Washington. He has swung a hammer, and he has even swung a hatchet and it fell off a ladder and hit him on the head (see RW74). John is in a band, he does this for a living, and he is not getting laid anymore, look at him! He looks like Martin Brando, but the one with the heart attack in Apocalypse Now.

John is only going to play benefits for things he cares about, like when his pal’s house burns down he will happily play a benefit tomorrow, but there is a long way from that to a guy with a hat who figured out how to get something on Facebook and now it is a charity. There should be a way to vet this!

People wanting to waste Merlin's time with meetings (RL2)

In Merlin’s job where he talks about things people think he is fancy because when they ask him to schedule a phone call he wants to know why somebody wants an hour and a half long meeting with him. Fucking write down what you want to talk about if you want an hour and a half of his life! It does not make him fancy, but it makes you stupid! If you are not taking your time seriously, why would anybody else? But now you are the dick!

1.5 hours is a very long time for a phone call. A couple of years ago somebody wrote an essay about the difference between the hammer-swinging developers and the managers. The managers are used to slice up their day into 1-hour blocks of figuratively literal bullshit. Most of what passes as corporate business time is people improvising ways to kill hours of the day between when they have to be at work and when they get to go home.

They only have 1.5 hours worth of ”work” to do, but they have to be there for 8 hours, so for the remaining 6.5 hours of the day they are sending emails back and forth, having meetings, and walking from cubicle to cubicle, generating static electricity as a way of looking like they are working. Merlin is going to generate 6 hours of static electricity by humping his couch. If John is going to spend those 6 hours, he wants to spend it in the bathtub, not leaning on a water-cooler.

Otto von Bismarck (RL2)

John wanted to look up Bismarck, the former chancellor or Germany, and he put Bismarck into Google and the first name that came up was Biz Markie, a 20-year old rapper (actually 45 years old). Nobody cares about Bismarck anymore!

Rich people should have white leather carpets (RL2)

A Juggalo knows he is crazy and that is his deal, but people like Angelina Jolie probably don’t really know they are crazy. John thinks she has to know and she has to live in one of the craziest bubbles in the universe and inside the bubble it is relentlessly sane, which is what makes it crazy. She is in there, buttering toast with some lightly melted butter, thinking she is a normal person.

When you have unlimited money and unlimited power and your instinct is to help kids, you are a creep! You should be living in a castle where Moroccan boys are peeling grapes for you, or you should be like a mad scientist in a Jonathan Coulton song, you should literally live in a Jonathan Coulton song, you should not be living in an Upper Westside apartment and be married to Woody Allen and have 25 kids, walk around with a stroller and coffee and act like it is fucking normal! It is not normal!

Having that kind of dough and not spending it on something completely insane is a form of insanity! You should have a Maserati with white leather carpet. Merlin finds that because John can come up with something like that he should not be living in his farmhouse, but somewhere much more interesting and potentially terrifying. If John and James Franco switched places and John had James Franco’s power, he would have Franco's art credibility and his ability to walk into a room blasé and stoned and have everybody in the room think that he is the coolest person in the room.

If John had permanent sex face and was commuting between Newhaven, New York City, and fucking Budapest or whatever James Franco is doing this week, he would have fucking white leather carpet! Franco is probably living in a loft space where he has some ”friend” of his spray-paint a mural that has ASICs in it. He got a refrigerator with only Cristal Champagne and Pabst Blue Ribbon in it. He could have white leather carpet!

Merlin would love to get to the white leather carpeting level because then he would be an unholy combination of Robert Evans and Cthulhu and he would be causing so many problems for so many people. The line between Robert Evans and Cthulhu is not very thick, but Robert Evans has more phones.

John would have white leather carpeting, a white leather desk, and 30 phones on the desk, all of them programmed to just ring all the time. They are not even phone calls, like that scene in Boogie Nights where the kid is throwing fire crackers in the house, except all over the house there are just old-fashioned phones constantly ringing in random patterns. Even though he is literally dead for years, John will be thinking it is Charlie Bluhdorn. ”For God’s sake, pick up the phone!” - ”Was Frank Sinatra a fan of me?" - "He was not!” - ”Frank Sinatra, on this very bar, took a shit on my wife’s chest and it was a fucking honor!”

Chili (RL2)

John has six different kinds of canned chili downstairs and he doesn’t want any of them! One time Travis Morrison tried to eat one of John’s chilis, but John stood athwart the pantry door and said: ”Stop!” His band of Assburger Indie Rock Ding Dongs (The Dismemberment Plan) ended up doing an end-run and ate all of John’s pasta.

John is always trying to find the perfect canned chili and he realized you can’t put chili in a can. He wants super-good home-made chili because there are too many things that could go wrong between a cow in a field eating grass on a sunny day and a can of chili (see RL13). A lot of those beans are not treated like The Hope Diamond either.

John likes to watch cows and he wants to eat a cow that was having a nice day until somebody said: ”Hey cow, buddy! Come here! I want to show you something!” and that was the last thing the cow ever saw. He wants people to say: ”This cow gave his life for this meat and we should cherish it and treat it like the sacrament that it is and put it into this handcrafted chili that is so sacred and delicious that the cow is proud to have been a part of it!" Instead they shock the cows with electricity until they run into a fan blade and then they use push brooms to push all the stuff on the floor into a chili canner.

That sounds byzantine and extremely simplified, but it is what Merlin would expect the process of making chili to be, except he will put cinnamon in it and a little mustard, like they do in South Carolina barbecue. They run the cow into a fan blade and throw a jar of Hellmann’s (mayonnaise) and a can of cinnamon in there. With some really hot chili, some yoghurt on top sounds really nice! That is the chili a cow would be proud of. If you are going to make a chili, you are going to have to break some cows!

Instead of going the supermarket butcher John went to a local butcher shop called Bob’s Butchershop where the weird Jeffrey Dahmer-like son of the butcher talked his ear off about the meat past the point of him caring anymore. John brought the meat home and was glad that the guy who has sold him the meat had actually walked on the field where the cows lived and he was here to attest that it was a nice field. That is all John asks! It sounds like an episode of Portlandia, but it is probably true because this guy seemed incapable of lying. First of all he is a butcher and John doesn’t think of the butchering life as one with a lot of duplicity. They just have to mislead the cow, but that is not funny!

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