RL406 - December to Remember

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: The third time, it really kicked in, referring to smoking marijuana where you don’t notice much the first two times you are doing it, but by the third time it will really kick in.

The show title refers to John and Merlin having missed the window for no-nut November where they were supposed to not jack off, so maybe they could make it a December to Remember and jack off more.

Merlin’s pre-PC is a mess and he has to work on the mix in his cans of how much of himself and the other person he hears, which he ends up changing for every show and it is making him crazy because everybody’s volume is different.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Events in November (RL406)

It is a little bit early, although not super-early. Tomorrow is December 1st and Merlin is not loving that. John knows some people for whom November was a fasting month where they didn’t do any cake or whatever and John had been looking forward to November being over on their behalf. Merlin finds it very interesting when certain periods of time become event times. He knows of three November things: NaNoWriMo where you try to write a novel, there is Movember where you grow a mustache (every day is Movember for Rob Delaney, he can grow a mustache in an hour and a half), and the third is No-Nut-November where you decide not to visit the self-service pump for the month of November. John thinks that anything that tests you is good. Scald my balls!

John thinks that a thing like No-Nut-November has to be a reaction to something, either you are feeling guilty or scared or you have hidden cameras everywhere or you are getting calluses and you decide that something has to change. If there are some boys out there who have managed to keep their nut in the jar for the last 30 days, then tomorrow is going to be an extremely very productive day.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind (quote from 1 Corinthians 13:4). Love is blue (song from the album Love Is Blue (Anniversary Collection) by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra). All white people own that album, but not John. His has Take Five //(album by Paul Desmond, recorded for the Dave Brubeck Quartet), he does have some Brubeck. Also the Steely Dan album Aja is in there somewhere. Merlin got the gold pressing of this. Science is not blue!

John starts playing random notes on a Recorder that he says was his attempt of Kind of Blue (by Miles Davis). Merlin didn’t know if that was an Ocarina or a Recorder because it seemed to have a limited number of holes, speaking of Movember. It is the Klaxon that will let you know that at 12:01am December 1st you can spill your seed upon the ground.

Merlin smoking weed in High School (RL406)

Merlin was a pot smoker in High School with the crappy shake weed that they would get, but not regularly, mostly for financial reasons, but in college he could get a quarter bag for $45, which was okay good bud, but it wasn’t crusty orange purple buds, it was like some Oregano and might have well have been a jar that said McCormick. Merlin and his pals would go through periods where they would have a large amount of marijuana, which wasn’t great for him, although he enjoyed it, but he would get tired and a little lazy and he would get stress bumps because he has immune problems. Today there are edibles, but Merlin doesn’t do those.

The two times Merlin ever ate something with Marijuana in it in previous ages both times he passed out. One time was at a The Kids in the Hall show, which is a shame because Merlin loves them, and the other time his boss made brownies which probably means you get a very uneven amount per brownie and they are also very delicious which makes you want to eat many of them. This is why an alcoholic drink shouldn’t taste too good.

Merlin did pass out in the bathroom while he was urinating, but he got up and found his way out of the bathroom that started to feel like a maze. Then he woke up on the floor in the family room / lounge with his head bleeding and his wife screaming bloody murder in his face. It was sanctioned, they both had it earlier, but Merlin can drink all day, just like that Posies song (called Dream All Day). They will even deliver a modern edible to your house, you can order it online, and it is very controlled and it is science. Merlin likes the watermelon ones.

John starting to smoke pot (RL406)

John was a late adopter of drugs, he did not start with it in High School, but was very suspicious and judgmental of drugs and people who did drugs.

Merlin thinks the same. The summer he stayed with his cousins and his aunt and uncles and they introduced him to The Beatles and Yes and the James Gang he discovered that both his cousins, one 5 years older, the other 10 years older, did marijuana and his 5-year older one was a daily smoker, it broke his heart. No wonder he liked the White Album. ”What are you doing with your life, Dave?”

Until John was 17 he was very judgmental about drugs and premarital sex. He didn’t want anything to do with these things and he din’t want his friends to have anything to do with them and he was suspicious of anybody who did. In that aspect of life Merlin was a prude. He didn’t want to go to a strip club even to see his friend dance because it was debasing women. His girlfriend wanted to go and she was getting paid and that is how she got through college.

They both had a wonderful experience in the foyer of a strip club when they both didn’t want to go (see RL44, 217, 306), while their friends were in there already with their jeans off. It was so dark and costly! Bu they went in and were real guys! They didn’t have any drugs, but Merlin probably had a Seabreeze, vodka with cranberry juice, for probably $40. John might have had a cranberry and soda, not a Fruity Pleaser.

In the spring of his senior year when he was 17.5 years old John finally smoked pot for the first time. It was Alaska in the 1980s and everybody had been smoking pot since Junior High, they had the Thunder Fuck (Alaskan Thunder Fuck, ATF), but John thought that if you started smoking pot, then pretty soon you would be driving a VW Bus and after that you are going to have a tapestry for a door.

When John first smoked pot it was fine, he did it a second and third time and he was laughing, but it wasn’t until the third time when it really kicked in. It should be a magical occasion in your life, something that is really wonderful and you do in a temple or on a beach, but John did it at a pot dealer’s apartment, a guy he knew from High School who had moved out of his parents’ house before he graduated and he was already living on his own as a Senior in a one bedroom ground floor apartment in a two-story apartment building.

Merlin’s friend Alan had a place like that and Merlin was so envious of his 1-2 year older friends who had already moved out. It looked like a motel, you drive up right in front of your door, it is $250 a month, but it is total freedom and you could watch TV whenever you wanted.

John got stoned and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and laughed and then the drug dealer guy was laughing at him and telling him not to look at yourself in the mirror when you are high. They ordered pizza and five minutes before they came there he called again and cancelled and when the delivery dude came he offered him to buy them for half price. John didn’t know about that, he was sitting on the couch with his knees up to his chest and going: ”What is happening? There is someone at the door!” These pizzas were so good!

One time Merlin ate a large Domino’s pizza by himself because of marijuana. John used to do that a long time before he smoked Marijuana because he was a husky kid. His sister is still mad about it and two days ago she was reminding him when he was in High School and ordered a large pizza and their mom would make him give her one slice and he was acting like she was taking a piece out of his… of course he was 16 years old, he was a grown boy!

John didn’t get into habitual pot smoking for a while, initially mostly because of the expense, but for a long time he kept a bag of weed and a pipe in the garage and he would go out there and take two hits and he was baked. Those were the great days where you didn’t need any more than that. Alaska weed was the kind where you would take one hit and you were basically in the rolling stones, but later John became a wake-and-bake smoker and reached over and got high even before he opened his eyes because he was going to be high all day, so why not start now?

This was long before John worked at the news stand and by the time he got a job he was sober.

During that whole period when he was drinking, smoking weed and got into other drugs and started taking all the drugs, he was still trying to maintain a foothold by saying: ”I am not going to do any of X for the month of Y!”, like he decided he was smoking too much weed and he was going to cut out weed for November. He would then of course fill the weed-shaped hole in his life with whatever else and it was a constant feeling of: ”Habit is my enemy!”

Habit is a dependency and a weakness and he is still very suspicious of habit and when he catches himself in a habit it is a struggle because it is a habit. John always tried to short-circuit those things because he doesn’t want to be a creature of habit. It worked in the drug years, not that any of those attempts to solve his drug use worked as solutions, but he was always conscious of the fact that none of this was stable and he was never going to be somebody who buys 1/8th from the same dude the same day every week, smokes it from the same pipe and watches his same shows.

John had one pipe that he kept forever and it is probably still in a box somewhere. It was a gift from someone, a total great 1970s brass pipe with wood, a classic small pipe with a brass bowl and a little wood shaped like an almond and a section of brass and another wood shaped like an almond and maybe a wood mount. It had been painted, but it had been used for many years, so it was worn away like an old Telecaster, red and green. As they were smoking the other guy said he wanted John to have this pipe because it had been his mom’s.

Of all the things John lost, he had 600 pipes and bongs, but this one was like his Cowichan hat. He lost so much great stuff over the years, just picked off of him by vultures, but this pipe and this hat he still has. It was the vultures of time and the vultures of girlfriends who were like: ”I like that shirt!” That still happens and where is the girlfriend even coming from? Why did this shirt get…

Merlin’s daughter has appropriated pretty much all of his clothes. She got a lifestyle and a look and Merlin dresses like the lifestyle she is becoming. First she wanted to look like Merlin’s friend Alex Cox and she would steal all his plaid shirts with patterns, but today she was wearing Merlin’s Ben Sherman cool green Glenn Plaid shirt with his Ben Sherman cool green Glenn Plaid shirt with his narrow Ganxxet beer jacket with the Wolverine pin on it. Merlin’s closet is now her closet, but at least it is still around, it didn’t disappear in a Filson bag (like Millennial Girlfriend took some of John’s underwear and coffee and one of his Filson bags when she left him).

John having never shoplifted (RL406)

John always felt like pushing against his habits and for instance there have been times where he was not going to do something bad for a month and see what it is like. John has never shoplifted, he was never a stealer. He has definitely stolen a couple of cars, but he always brought them back. He did use to go into the supermarket with friends, go into the back, do whippits, empty the Reddi Wip of Nitrous Oxide, and put the can back. At 2:30am in an all-night grocery store, if two dudes with really red eyes come in and say: ”We just need some Half & Half!” and they go back into the walk-in.

One time Cal McKarl (?) and John went into a grocery store wearing blue worker dude jackets, saying that they were from the freezer company at 2:30am and there was some 20 year old girl working the cash register who looked up from her finger nails and was like: ”Whatever!”, so they went into the cooler and sat and did whippits until their minds were fried, which technically is stealing, but all John was left with was the memories.

One time John and Cal McKarl were in Stanwood Washington, they were very poor and they went to a supermarket. John had $2 and he was going to do that thing where he spent 4 hours in the supermarket, trying to maximize his $2. He could get one bag of Fritos and a stick of gum, or… a jar of grape jelly and a loaf of Wonderbread would get him further than… They were walking around the grocery store and John had never seen a thing like this, but Cal took a thing of chocolate milk, opened it, and started walking around the grocery store drinking it and then putting it down on a shelf. What the fuck was happening?

He was stealing from the store while they were in the store and John was super-appalled. Cal took a Kielbasa (meat sausage) and put it in his coat and John left the store with him without reporting him, he was an accomplice, but John was never a stealer.

John not wanting to be depended on pharmacy (RL406)

John can’t quit Merlin or his baby, but he can quit almost anything else for a month. He has a hard time thinking of anything in life that he hasn’t quit for a period, just to test whether or not he could do it. Merlin finds John’s testing protocol really interesting, where he was going to disrupt the regularity of what he is doing in order to find out who he really is and what he can tolerate and he will end up undertaking something that will cause him discomfort, like a hair shirting, but not just to punish himself, but to train.

Merlin remembers John refusing to take Ephedrine that he had offered, and Merlin was pushing his grocery cart around, not wanting to run out of his Loratadin or the Lamictol, the Lamotrigine. Now they got him on the drugs and John is taking Lamictol and he is taking blood pressure medicine, which makes him feel very uncomfortable being tied to pharmacies, which is the last thing he wanted in life. Also, they won’t just sell you a big bottle of it that will last you a year, but they get you on a cycle.

At some point John wants to live under the ocean, but now he can’t because there aren’t any pharmacies there. One of the reasons Merlin got off of all of that stuff, including Aderal, which is the greatest thing he has ever taken in his life, is because he didn’t want to be a 70-something year old and still get a physical prescription from a doctor to every single fucking month get 30 pills. There has been a little movement on this, the stuff he takes for ADD now is not nearly as fun, although it is still on one of these schedules, but his doctor can phone it to a pharmacy and tell them that Merlin is allowed to have this.

Eugenics, the movie Gattaca (RL406)

John is surprised how much the movie Gattaca influenced him, not because it was that great, it was fine. It is with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, the guy who looks like Matt Damon. Sometimes you see a Science Fiction movie and they are throwing so much science and fiction at you that you walk out and are: ”Meh!”, but other times you see a Blade Runner and that is all you think about now.

Merlin likes a lot of different kinds of SciFi and Fantasy. The most bracing are the ones that spins out of a big basic difference of what is possible, especially time travel movies. He loves the movie Predestination so much, movies where there is a big concept. His kid is reading Fahrenheit 451 (by Ray Bradbury) right now. But when you try to put a hat on a hat it gets too cute. The big concept is what John loved about Harlan Ellison, and it is what makes Black Mirror such a great show. All the did was tweak one thing, but it sure tweaked it hard! The one episode Merlin still thinks about all the time is the one with Bryce Dallas Howard called Nosedive (S03E01) where you rate and review everything and everybody rates and reviews you.

Every time he goes to his Instacart app they ask him to rate and review his last order. How many stars would you give a person bringing Seltzer? They did it, it is Seltzer, how many stars do you need? Every single time it steals focus from what he is trying to do because they have decided that the most important thing is to rate and review.

From the moment the concept of Eugenics has been introduced to John when he was an early teen it has been a bugbear in his mind, and all of the vaguely eugenical programs. There are always going to be people who want to trend that way, there are always going to be political formulations where if you scratch the surface it is not hard to see that it is creeping eugenicism. It is not all Nazis, but many people think: ”This is the way!” with a lot of small incremental stuff, and that was behind Gattaca, too.

Merlin is obsessed with TV shows about British royalty right now and at one point several members of Queen Elizabeth’s fairly close family were in an asylum for defective persons. One of Merlin’s best friends’ aunt came to the house twice a year because the rest of the year she was in a facility and she did not fit into the plan for that family. Some people in the 1960s wanted to sterilize people with developmental problems.

John was first exposed to this by reading some 1960s anthology of all the science fiction writers who wanted to explore the incest taboo. Just the concept that you could approach human breeding like animal breeding and all of a sudden you are into a whole different way of thinking about government and our whole society. We are right on the cusp and for the last 20 years or more we have been hard-charging at the human genome with the scientific motivation to eliminate disease and cure problems, but like so many things in life: Just because we are focusing on the nice application doesn’t mean that the sinister application isn’t shadowing it the whole time.

When gene manipulation tools become more widely disseminated, which they will, you can’t keep that stuff in a box, although somehow the 20th century managed to keep nuclear bombs in a box enough that we can still count the nation states that can manufacture them, but it won’t be that difficult to manipulate genes going forward. Just like with surveillance, drones and the fucking web, we have the best intentions, but no-one really considers what the most sinister application or even just a slightly sinister application would be, but that is going to end up being the thing that changes our lives.

With Eugenics and that way of thinking there is a pretty thin line between eradicating disease and alcoholism and genetically manipulating so that people don’t have depression until ultimately genetically manipulating so that people don’t have bad thoughts.

How Seattle matured, the need for a music commission (RL406)

What was interesting about seeing Seattle mature and then become over-ripe, particularly from inside the music community and then that period of 8-10 years… The other day John was standing in front of his house with a rake in his hand, talking to a neighbor, all wearing masks, when a young woman came by who turned out to be somebody John knew from the Music Commission, and she had decided that day to bring him a package that had been sitting on her desk for a year and a half. Inside was a beautifully framed gold record with John’s name on it, saying: ”Thank you for being on the Music Commission for 8 years”

John had to explain to his neighbor that he had this weird job and he wanted to know what the hell that meant. In the course in trying to describe to him why there was a Music Commission and what it did, because his neighbor thought of Seattle as being a real arts center and why would you even need a government music commission. John and the young woman were describing it to him together.

They were thinking about the Seattle ecosystem in its most basic form as a village and the period before the big music explosion there where art and music didn’t really intrude into the community and didn’t cause any problems. Seattle was a dingy city where kids put their show posters up on phone poles and played in rec centers, but it did not interfere with traffic or anything and nobody cared.

Then there was a period of concentrated art making and the city all of a sudden got really paternalistic about it. You couldn’t have all these kids in this unlicensed space! What about the fire code? You couldn’t put up flyers on phone poles anymore because it was a safety issue for the linemen that needed to climb the poles. They made it really hard to have all-ages shows, they really cracked down on the music scene, and they had to organize to fight back.

Now we are in the late stage where the city just prices out art, removing old warehouse buildings full of practice spaces and 50 bands that made up a whole scene are gone at once. It might even be past the point of no return. But if you are inside of it, you see that no-one is exactly responsible for it, nobody takes responsibility, it is not intentional, but in any one given situation the cost/benefit analysis never lands on the musician or the artist because you never are fully crediting the benefit side of them versus the cost side.

One time John was doing a show in San Francisco and he talked to a band leader in one of the 50 incredible small-to-medium sized clubs and theaters that are in San Francisco, and the guy was from Los Angeles and said that there was no place to play there, but there are 1000 bands, while in San Francisco there are 1000 great places to play and no bands, which was why he would book shows up there all the time.

In Seattle they were always trying to make the economic benefit case, that Seattle was the city it was because of music and art and they could show that it was an industry that brought $1 billion of revenue into the city. It is just like tug boats or like software, it is an industry.

Genetically modifying your kids so they won’t be sad and the impact on art (RL406)

John thinks about the way that they are going to be using medical science to eliminate non-optimal personality traits in the same way that the city gradually eliminates abandoned warehouses and replaces them with nice apartments, not being conscious of the fact that those are the places where people when they are young they need a dirty cold space where they can start painting and start making Rock music. From the standpoint of a city planner their benefit is invisible and this abandoned warehouse has no tax benefit, but if they replace it with a condo it will increase their tax base and they could use that money to fund the schools, there is always an altruistic motive.

But those are the incubators of all the things that 25 years from now people will look back and say: ”Those were the Halcyon Days!” If we didn’t have the music of The Doors, then what would the 1960s have been? And the only reason The Doors could have made that music was that they had a cheap practice space somewhere. You take that away snd the entire 1960s goes away. Who is going to dare to dance the Shaman Dance?

It is very hard to explain in the conversation on the public square that there are benefits to depression, anxiety and bipolar. Art is not made by happy well-adjusted people in general. You don’t want to keep someone in pain and suffering, you don’t want to encourage drug abuse, you don’t want keep depression, bipolar and schizophrenia untreated, but those are the people who make art.

It does feel like a Black Mirror future scape, particularly if it is possible to genetically tweak your kids so that they are not sad, then they are probably also not going to need music made by sad dopes and they are going to be able to appreciate music made by algorithms and it will end up that sadness is a class determiner. It is about making people manageable, whether that is an employee or a pre-adult, if we can keep people in a certain mood.

John has always pushed back when musicians come to him and say: ”If I quit doing drugs I am not going to be a good artist anymore!” and called bullshit on that. He had a kid tell him a few years ago all of his heroes and those were the Rock stars that had died young, and John told him: ”Why are you coming to me for help? If you want to die young, I don’t want to hold your hand through that! Go die young if that is your thing! Live it up! I hope you make a great record between now and then!”

Maybe it is our ultimate evolution and maybe sadness and depression really are the tuberculosis of the mind and we should really just be a happy little hive of eco bugs that eat their own poo and live in the sun. We might be the last generation that is nostalgic for a time when youth were sad.

Maybe this November John and Merlin should not jack off, but they missed their window. Maybe they should instead jack off more in December, have do-it-December, like Honda days or the December to Remember (ad campaign by Lexus). ”What happened to all my good towels?” - ”Mom! I am studying!”

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