RW229 - The Head-Nod Moment

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to a girl at the Scott Hutchinson memorial concert that caught John's attention, but she had gages in her ears. They noticed each other, there was a head-nod moment from where it accelerated during the rest of the night.

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 Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first!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.

Dan worried about the air conditioning in his office breaking, weather in the South (RW229)

The air finally turned itself off so Dan can talk without the equivalent of a small hurricane in this tiny room in which he is forced to record. John doesn’t know about these problems up in his cool, temperate climate. Dan’s room is in the very top of the house, which is the hottest, and the air that comes out of the vent is incredibly loud and he can’t have air conditioning while he is recording, which means nine months out of the year it is at least in the 80s (26-32°C) in his room. Maybe there is a skeleton in the vent, but there is nothing he can see. Anything is possible.

There is the compressor and there is the fan and the compressor is usually in your attic or in a dedicated closet and that is doing the cooling, and then there is the fan unit outside which is what is pulling the air in and blowing it through the system and powering it. They work together and even after the air conditioner has sensed that it should turn off there is a delayed time where it has to tell the fan to also turn off, which usually happens right away, but today it ran for an extra like five minutes, which makes him worried because he doesn’t want it to break, which would be bad.

Every place in America has either a time of year where it is uncomfortably hot or uncomfortably cold. People have survived In Phoenix in the Southwest for example by building a little adobe thing and you go there in the summer and you lay down in a pit that you dug in the dirt and ladle a drop of precious water on yourself to try and dissipate the heat, but increasingly we are all as people much weaker than than we once were. How long could you live in Austin if there was no shield of technology that kept you cool in summer and warm in winter? Dan would only stay as long as it would take him to get the truck packed up and he would absolutely not stay in Austin if that were the case.

Dan was once on a business trip to Phenix and they were driving and picking up one of the other team members who lived a little bit more out of the way. It was maybe five minutes outside of Phenix and it was immediate Wile E. Coyote desert and Dan asked his then boss why he lived in a place that is clearly not meant for human beings to exist in. In Texas they have lakes and rivers and streams, there is natural vegetation, forests and animals surviving. It might suck when it gets really hot, but you could easily survive in the woods, there are so many creeks, rivers and lakes, not just desert with a cactus once every couple of miles. That would make Dan really nervous. It would be inconvenient if he had none of the modern amenities, but he could do it, but in Arizona? What do you do?

There are 14.5 million people in the Desert Southwest, which is a surprisingly limited range of the nose of Texas and the bottom third of New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada and a little bit of California that touches Nevada and Arizona. It says that that geographic area is defined by precipitation of less than 8” a year. In Austin you get some rainstorms where it is 8” in 24 hours.

Living in the Northwest, if everything breaks down it is just about the same as it is now. If the whole giant industry and power and even groceries and toilet paper all went away they would just go back to eating hazelnuts, it certainly would not be a case where within six hours they were in one hell or another. Growing up in Alaska you very much felt that feeling of standing on one side of a door and pulling everything tight around your face and going: ”Okay, everybody ready? Here we go!” and it is like stepping through an airlock when it was really cold. Most of the time it wasn't really cold. Even in the dead of winter, it is cold, but not really cold, but when it would get really cold, you are just like: ”How do I get from here to there in the shortest amount of time and please don't let there be any variable that introduces itself where I would have to go the long way or God forbid that something wouldn't work!”

During that whole time growing up from the time John got his driver's license until the time he moved away he drove a predictably varied selection of cars that barely ran and every time you turn the key in a car you go: ”Please start!”, he even has lyrics reflecting that because he spent so much time listening to a starter and saying: ”Please fucking come on! Come on! Come on, baby!” and then also cars where you are driving along and you say: ”Just keep running! I can see the end in sight! The lights of the city are just right over there. Just keep running, baby!” It is not like you are about to run out of gas, but the car is on its last legs and that is a bad way to live in a wackadoodle climate.

Events interrupting the march of progress of civilization (RW229)

John can't think of a time since Krakatoa where there has been a disaster of any magnitude that interrupted the inexorable march of progress of civilization. Once we put something to work, once a giant wheel starts turning, once the flywheel of something starts spinning, it is very hard… in specific instances: Sure! Factories close, but technology doesn't quit. There are dead ends that we don't pursue, but we have never encountered in living memory or before really a situation where a disaster came and we went back to first principles.

In the burning of the Library of Alexandria we lost geometry or whatever, but otherwise it has actually happened one time in history, Dan learned that at Disney World. There have been some terrible setbacks like the plague probably, and John is on record saying World War I really set us back quite a bit, those years 1915-1920, but nothing that would suggest that we would ever wake up one day and there would be no electricity, although it is a reoccurring theme in all of our popular media and we talk about it a lot.

Have we run out of things to be afraid of? (RW229)

Dan thinks we have run out of things to be afraid of. A lot of the things that used to plague and and terrify humanity, most of those are gone now. Most people don't have to worry about a bear eating them or being preyed upon by a beast. We have a limited number of natural disasters that cannot be predicted and planned for or adjusted around, they had the snowpocalypse in Texas earlier this year, but how many people were really miserable? How many people perished? Some did, but if you look at the population and the number of people who were affected by that compared to the number who may be perished in it, that is a relatively small number, it doesn't make it any better, people still lost their lives, but for as as big of a problem as it was, and for as many millions of people who were affected we made it out okay as a place.

The things that people worry about, not even hurricanes, because you might not know exactly where it is going to make landfall, but you know that it is on its way and you have time to get out of there. There is not a situation now where a hurricane can catch you by surprise and kill you, that doesn't happen anymore. There are very few places that do have to worry about things like earthquakes, tornadoes, things like that. Maybe with the exception of a big earthquake, tornadoes and things like that are very localized, they might destroy part of a small town or something like that, but it is not millions of people that are killed or displaced or something.

Would scientists keep it quiet if a global apocalypse was pending? (RW229)

The only things that we have to worry about now are these global apocalyptic events that affect millions of people. Dan is very sure that if our scientists knew that a giant meteor or something was headed toward us that they would try to keep it quiet as long as possible, they would not tell us about it! John didn't realize that Dan’s conspiratorial tendencies extended to a disaster realm in the sense that he is preparing for a disaster that he is also being lied to about. As a people would it do any good to tell people that there was a meteor coming?

The assumption there is that scientists a) are a unified group and b) are colluding with enough other people that there would be an awareness of an impending disaster and then that there is some group in charge of scientists that would say: ”Let's keep this quiet from the people to protect them from themselves!” John thinks that scientists are basically like hyperactive cats: No-one can tell them what to do, they don't even communicate with each other most of the time, and the first person to see a meteor would immediately start running down the hall with a clipboard, pounding on people's doors‚ going: ”My God, man! There is a Comet!” and then it would be in the newspapers. There is no central authority and that would be necessary for something to be kept quiet.

Was the moon landing fake? (RW229)

John’s principle about conspiracy is that there has to be a hard line between the people that know and the people that don't and if you can't see that line it is probably not there. If the moon landing was fake some of the people at Mission Control knew, but some of the people at Mission Control had to not know. It is a small enough room, you could throw a paper airplane from one side to the other, and some of those people knew and some didn't if the moon landing was faked.

You can't look at the room and see who they are, there are not some people at the back of the room that knew and some people at the front that didn't, and if there is no way to discern where that line is, then it probably doesn't exist. You can't have people sitting next to each other at two different desks and one knows that it is a completely faked moon landing and one is looking at their instruments, going: ”Everything looks great!” and they are peers, that is not going to work.

And not everybody in there could have been read in to the fact that the whole thing was being directed by Stanley Kubrick. That doesn't seem reasonable. There are some people wandering around that aren't privy to that. Unless Stanley Kubrick in addition to faking the moon landing also was able to fake the signal to all of those different instruments well enough to fool the fact that most of those people sitting there had actually developed the instrumentation, they weren't just some summer hires, but these were the people that were capable of building and rebuilding the actual equipment themselves, you would have to really have some good technology to fool them looking at the instruments that they know that intimately.

Today John did not walk in the door saying: ”You know what? I am going to bring up the moon landing to Dan and just get that ball rolling!” Dan is prepared to discuss it if John would enjoy that. If you look back at this time politically the space race was very real and we as a nation were humiliated by the Soviet Union who was able to get a human in orbit and we had to top that. There was no choice! We had to get people on the moon before the Russians did it under any circumstance, and we could not afford another humiliation, that was our stated policy.

We had to be successful, no matter what, and Dan believes that as a contingency plan we were going to make it to the moon and it is going to go fine. They were training for it, but they were still thinking: ”What if something happens? What if something goes wrong? We lose the guys, we get crashes, the technology doesn't work, they get stranded, there is a million things that could have gone wrong!” They could not allow any of those things to happen, so they created some footage that showed us what a successful moon mission would be like from start to finish.

They were still doing the real thing and were really still going in the moon, but they did what they needed to do to recreate as accurately as they believed possible the experience of the moon landing and Dan believes that what we as the American people and the world were shown is either a combination of real footage and this created footage or all the created footage for the first mission. On subsequent missions they knew what to do. For that first mission Dan is not positive that a lot of the media that came back from the moon was legit the stuff that happened on the moon when it was happening. He is pretty convinced that we did make it to the moon, he takes pride in the fact that we made to the moon as a nation, he does believe the moon is real, there are people that don't believe it is real, but some or all of what we were shown maybe wasn't real.

John was hoping that Dan had something kooky to say on the topic and he did. John can't get behind that. The American story is one of putting our public failures right out there on the table. One of the reasons that we that we felt like our humiliation was so unbearable and that we had to succeed was that all of the launch pad fires and all of the guys crashing their jets in the desert and all of that was front page news. It was the Russians that were concealing all of their failures and we still don't know how many cosmonauts there are still floating around, their frozen bodies, just like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

We were always up front about it and that was what made the stakes so high and that is why Richard Nixon had that letter all written to say: ”We lost our brave souls…” or whatever it was that he was going to say. Dan doesn’t think he would have known.
John doesn’t believe in those theories. It is what it seems. We launched the capsule if we dared, and they flew through space and they did the whole thing. That whole business about running out of fuel, all that stuff, John is 100% behind it. Dan very much wants that to be the truth, he wants to believe that everything that we were shown is exactly what happened, which sets him apart from a lot of the other conspiracy theorists: Some really want the conspiracy theory to be true.

Maybe John is a dupe, one of these assholes who just reads the newspaper and goes: ”Hmm, seems reasonable!” The United States has never shied away from being very humiliated in the world. We take our lumps, we look pretty bad and keep on plodding along. Looking back there are an awful lot of situations where we could have done a better job of covering up some of our disastrous foibles. We don't look at them now and think: ”Well, there is a missed opportunity to conceal your dumb proxy war in Central America!”

If we were going to go to the trouble to have a separate fake moon landing in the can, just in case, we probably also would have been a little bit better at not getting our signals intercepted, not just having randos reveal our secret about the El Salvadorian wars to the newspapers, that type of thing. We would have had a little bit better control over Noriega's banking. There is all this stuff that seems like if we had the power to do these big things, we also would have employed it to protect ourselves from the stupid things. How do you get some local yokels down in Colombia that end up controlling the economies of all of Central America by selling cocaine on the streets of Miami through a network of little planes.

All that hokey jokey drug stuff in the 1970s and 1980s where we had Coast Guard cutters running around out there trying to intercept these little speedboats that have bails of cocaine tied to the back. It is so goofy and yet so globally disastrous and we end up in that drug trade in order to pay for militias to overthrow leftist governments. If we had the power to do anything real and on a big scale, just to protect ourselves from embarrassment, we wouldn't have spent the last 40-50 years with egg constantly on our faces like a big, dumb, disorganized bunch of goofballs.

Building a wall at the border to Mexico (RW229)

The land commissioner of Texas was suing the Biden administration because the Biden administration stopped building the wall and they cannot abide it. He says it is illegal to stop building the wall because it was the law. ”Wow, yes,! Absolutely! What a wonderful collection of gerbils on LSD the United States is!” If you took 400 gerbils and you put varying degrees of LSD in their water and then you put them to work not just on a maze, but put them to work in a maze with a set of tinker toys and ask them to build a windmill, that is what it feels like the United States has been for a lot longer than John would have admitted.

The guy who is doing it is George P. Bush, who probably is just trying to get his name in the newspaper. His quote is: ”No man is above the law and that includes President Biden!” Meanwhile governor Greg Abbott is doing his own thing, trying to build a wall using $250 million of Texas money and private donations to do it. These are two different things that are going on at the same time. On one hand Dan gets why the wall is the most wrong thing for America to do, and then on the other hand he can understand the guys, the ranchers and the other people who live near the border, who are having people come illegally onto their private land that they can't possibly police because they are one person on 300 acres or something, but that is not the right way to address the issue. What do you do for the people who are legitimately concerned that people are camping out on their property that they don't want there? What do they do?

If you took all of the ranchers from Calexico all the way over to the Gulf of Mexico, every single landowner from the entire area, and you put them all in a high school gymnasium there would still be room for a basketball game because these aren't 300 acre ranches, these people own 3 million acres of chaparral, there is nothing there, it is one of these American things where it is like: ”I own a million acres!” - ”A million acres of what? A million acres of Gila monsters?” The cattle go through there once a year type of thing, if that. John doesn’t know what they are raising down there, they are raising dust devils!

This crowd would fit inside of a Mercedes sprinter has all this compassion for the people coming over the border and got no water and they have to build a $700 billion wall to keep the 25 people they see a year out. That is just as much security theater as making you take your shoes off at TSA! It is all baloney! People are so full of baloney. Everybody is so full of baloney!

John’s daughter at a swim meet (RW229)

John’s daughter had a swim meet yesterday. She has been doing swimming this summer and it has been great for her and great for the family. It is her first exposure to really any competition at all. She is a modern child, raised in a modern world where, unlike the world that John grew up in where parents and adults were constantly pitting their children against one another as little proxy wars against one another, like: ”Hey, my kid is better at this!” Parents used to stand on the sidelines and yell at their children, it was a much more competitive world. By the time John was 10 years old he had competed against other kids so much, although he was not competitive in that way.

Computerized tests giving kids harder questions (RW229)

John’s daughter at 10.5 had never been in competition, not physical competition or academic competition, because everything is geared to make them all equal. Everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. Everyone wins. The losing team is also the winning team because they tried. The tests are all in computers and are geared to find the child's limits. If you get a question right the next question is harder, and if you get a question wrong then the next question is easier. They are going to keep giving this kid harder questions until they figure out where they are. If a kid is in 4th grade and they can do 6th grade math, well: ”Let's figure that out!” and if the kid is in 4th grade and can only do 2nd grade math, they will figure that out by having this computer calibrated test. Everything is better with computers!

When John would take a test in 5th grade and he knew all the answers and he got done before all the other kids he put his pencil down and he was like: ”Huh, all right, great!” and he felt good, he had aced the test, and then the results came back and it said: ”Your child has aced the test!”, but these days no kid gets to ace the test because the test just keeps getting harder. Her personal experience of it is that she comes home and is not sure she did very well, and then the results come back and she did great, it is just that they keep throwing harder questions at her (see RL302).

John has asked a couple of educators about this. What the test seems designed to do is make every kid get to the end of the test, unsure how they did, and with no feeling of confidence. She would come home and say there are questions on that test of things she had never even heard of. If you were constantly given tests where you were questions that you felt confident about and then you got to this stuff that you had not been taught, you would feel gaslit or undermined. It is a panicky feeling! But that is the way that the world works.

John being the announcer at his daughter’s swim meet (RW229)

They put her in this swim club and she was apprehensive about competing, she didn't want to go to the swim meet, and they told her to just go and if she didn’t like she didn’t have to do it, if she didn't want to do it, we never have to do it again. They got to the swim meet, she was nervous, she was signed up for four events, and they encouraged her to do an event and if she didn’t like it they never have to come to a swimming pool again. She did the event and she won and it was like you gave speed to a capuchin monkey. All of a sudden she was like: ”Get me in the water! What are you doing? Get out of my way!”

She has been very excited about it, very successful at it. Although still every time there is a new challenge, like going to the big meet with the big team and they are not going to be so easy to beat, they are going to kick her butt, she is not so sure about that. She doesn't like having her butt kicked. It is a lot better to get first place, and she has had her butt kicked a couple of times, but she keeps going after it.

A couple of days ago the swim club sent out an email and they said they need volunteers, somebody to do the computers and someone to announce the meet. John’s daughter's mother is a computer person and said she will do the computers, and then she signed John up to announce the meet and told him after the fact. John gets paid a lot of money to do that stuff, he is not just here to give it away for free to some dumb swim team, but she told him to get over himself and she was right. When John showed up they told him that the normal guy who normally announces the meet is an on-air personality at KJR, which is the talk radio station where people talk about sports.

KJR did always play AM singles in the 1970s, that was where you heard Nights in White Satin or whatever KJR Seattle Channel 95.7, and now it is 950 AM, all sports. The guy is a dad here and he used to do the announcing, but his work schedule changed and he can't be here until halfway through the meet, so all they need John to do is announce the first half of the meet and then he is going to come in and take over. They told John what to do and to read this, but there is a patter to it, a style, whistles get blown, you introduce the thing and then you then you say: ”Mr. Starter!” and the starter is a different person who blows the whistle and hits the button and they start swimming. It is a little ritual.

John didn't know how it worked, but he got into it. The starter was doing it for a long time, a local dad, not a very friendly or helpful person who was very dubious of John. John didn't apply for this job. They needed somebody and he was volunteered for it. Give me some pointers! But he wasn't very into it. John announced it and had a good time, it was fun. At one point he made an error because there is a patter and John said: ”This is the girls eight and under 25 meter freestyle. All right, ladies, take your marks!” and what he should have said is anything but ”Take your marks” because that is actually something that the starter says right before hitting the buzzer.

The starter guy had a very loud coach's whistle that he blew right in John’s ear 16 times a minute blew his whistle because then he says: ”Take your marks!” and then he hits the little buzzer. But John said: ”Okay ladies, take your marks!” and then he goes ”tooooot!” and the little girls all jump in the water and start swimming and everybody at the pool is like: ”What happened? What are they doing? What is going on?” and then the starter said: ”You said: Take your marks! Don't say: Take your marks!”

The girls were swimming and everybody was standing on the side of the pool, like: ”Go back, go back, stop!” and finally they wave them all down and a couple of them swim all the way to the end before somebody grabs them and says: ”Stop!” They had to redo that race, which is tough on the little girls who have to swim the race again and John mea culpa to the swimming. He said: ”That was the announcer's error. I am very sorry about that! We are going to have to rerun that race. Sorry, ladies! Chalk it up to New Dad who doesn't know the job here!”

John feeling alienated in the suburbs (RW229)

John’s experience of the suburbs has been somewhat checkered and he is gradually experiencing more and more alienation from the other suburbanites. They are very humorless. The neighborhood he lives in, although on the surface affluent is not full of creative people, but people who have a different kind of experience of the world, an awful lot of people with baseball hats that have sunglasses on top of the baseball hat.

There are people listening to the program who either have sunglasses on top of their baseball hat right now or are looking at their sunglasses as John says this, thinking: ”Wait a minute, I was about to put these on top of my baseball hat. What is he talking about? Why is that a problem?” because he is always on this show saying something as simple as ”Cargo shorts are a problem!” and they are not and a lot of people listening are probably: ”Whatever! He is just a goofball and I am going to wear cargo shorts because I keep my hankies in them!” John hopes no one ever reevaluates their life as a result of him saying these things or that someone says: ”I am not listening to Road Work anymore because they denigrate the great cargo short!”

It is going to be a shibboleth for listeners of Road Work, if you could just not put your sunglasses on top of your baseball hat. Also: Don't put them on the back of your head backwards. Don't do those two things! John is not going to explain why, he doesn’t want to have to explain why, he is just begging the audience to take their sunglasses off, fold them, tuck them in your front pocket, maybe tuck them in the neck of your shirt, especially if they are wraparound plasticky sunglasses, on top of your baseball hat, John is just asking you not to do it and have faith in him when he says this.

John made the mistake to look around the pool and in a world of people that he would consider his peers, that he would think of as being people he would want to emulate, that he would think of as his community he would look across a giant swimming pool of parents and kids and there would be some sympathy for a brand new announcer who had made this small error, and then there would be other communities where, like the opposing team in The Bad News Bears type of situation, everybody is so cranked up about the rules and the league and the competitiveness that there would be a lack of sympathy, a frustration and anger: ”Who is this dope, this amateur, this Ding-Dong who walked in here to our this hall of champions!” and there wasn't really that either, but there were just looks of complete lack of comprehension, there was no feeling of camaraderie.

Then the guy from KJR walks up, and he looks exactly like Roger, the silver-haired guy on Mad Men (John Slattery), same exact silver hair, very similar face, handsome in a Regular Joe sort of way, but the silver hair really puts it over the top. Instead of wearing a tailored three piece silk suit he was wearing a University of Washington Huskies baseball hat, a University of Washington Huskies T-shirt in Under Armour brand, a University of Washington Huskies pair of athletic shorts, and some athletic shoes that if they aren't University of Washington Huskies branded John would be surprised. He may have taken a Sharpie and written UW on the side. Although he looks like Roger from Mad Men he also looks like a five year old because he is dressed like a five year old.

He comes over and the starter guy says: ”Oh my God! You are just in time, thank God!” and the guy takes the microphone from John without really saying anything, not like: ”Thanks!” or ”I got this!”, even. He didn’t push John out of the way, but he took over and he got a sports radio patter, he knows what he is doing, this is the thing he has done for many years, and John went from being the announcer of the swim meet to being a civilian again, a nobody, and he walked around, went to cheer on his daughter, and walked around the meet.

John comes from a culture of acknowledgment. Not everybody gets a medal, but when somebody has been doing a thing and then they walk through the room, you go: ”Hey, good job!”, or you acknowledge that they were doing a thing earlier and now they have transitioned to not doing that thing. You walk through a crowd and there is an acknowledgment of your presence, whether or not you were doing. If you see somebody that was standing over there and now they are over here, you go: ”Oh hello!” To contrast it against this experience: Here is a group of parents, all their kids are in the swimming pool with one another, swimming and racing in an intimate environment, and the kids all get along, they aren't even old enough really to feel angry about it. When they lose they are not sad and when they win they are not that happy. They are going to get a piece of pizza at the end anyway, there is no difference.

In walking around this pool no one made eye contact with John or spoke a word to him and it is not that he was looking for anything, he just noticed there wasn't anything. That feeling of estrangement and of being in a completely alien culture and looking around and going: ”Now, what is it? How is it different here than in a situation where I would walk around this pool and feel comfortable like I belonged here?” There are no friendly nods, there is no eye contact of any kind. One of the visual clues is a lot of sunglasses on top of baseball hats. Also all the men are dressed the same.

The other two swim meets John had been to did not have themes, but this one was themed and Aloha was the theme. It was on all the invitations, on the posters on the street, the streamers, it was the Aloha Meat and every single one of these dads was wearing the same sport-cut gray-colored Under Armour jogging underwear, baseball hat, sunglasses, some kind of shorts that looked like underpants. You don't even have to have a Hawaiian shirt, but a colorful shirt? A short sleeve shirt with a collar that is a color other than gray? No! John was of course decked out in his finest vintage Hawaiian shirt, but the only people that wore anything vaguely Aloha were a few moms that had Hawaiian sarongs and then someone was handing out plastic leis, necklaces made out of plastic flowers, and the kids were running around with these plastic leis and they weren't even plastic hibiscus flowers, it was the Mardi Gras bead of Aloha, the cheapest plastic lei you can make.

The fact that there wasn't another dad in the whole of the swim meet who had tried even a scintilla to be anything other than whatever this is, whatever the signaling that they are doing to one another because of course it is a social environment and the dads are signaling to one another and John doesn’t know whether it is that some of these wraparound sunglasses are more expensive than others, whether what they are signaling to one another is ”not status” Looking at the trucks in the parking lot, there is a ton of status being displayed, but all in the form of truck packages. John doesn’t understand the culture at all and he is so outside of it, and there is no-one that he can look at and exchange a knowing glance.

It has been so long since John was in a space where there were over 100 people and he couldn't find a simpatico soul, let alone 12 minutes from downtown Seattle, and he is weirdly unmoored by this. At the other swim meets he went to which were in two other neighborhoods in Seattle there were like-minded souls. John saw them walking around the pool. There was a guy over there and he made eye contact with him and tipped his hat or just was like: "Hello!” and wave of hand. Simple stuff!

John is not sure whether the dads out here are afraid that John is a homosexual because he wears pink shirts or something? He does wear pink shirts and he does cut his own hair, but that sends a complicated series of messages.

Dan’s experience in Austin is different. There are so many new people here now and the Austin that we have now is not like it was 4-5 years ago, but there is a vibe, a buzz, a thing that happens here where Dan didn’t feel completely alien like he did in Florida, for example, and he fits more here than he would if he tried to go back to Philadelphia or something. The vibe in Austin is still a good thing. He was talking to somebody earlier in the week and they said: ”This doesn't feel like my Austin anymore. I don't think I am going to stay!” - ”Oh, that is too bad! How long have you been here?” - ”I have been here six years and it is just not the same!” - ”I have been here 10 years and it still does feel the same to me and I don't think 10 years is really that long to have been here!” Dan doesn’t like hearing that, he doesn’t feel like a place can change just because there are new people.

For John is has nothing to do with Seattle. He is in a suburb that has a different vibe from other suburbs. He was talking to his mom about it. If he had moved to Bellevue, Washington across the lake, there would be affluent people there and they would be that kind of brittle snob, but in Bellevue the people would be very beautiful, that kind of forced smile beautiful rich people. John knows about the people in Bellevue. The people down here are not beautiful! If John were in north Seattle, in Edmons, the suburb would have a different quality, there would be a lot of den mothers and PTA busybodies.

What John didn't know was that the suburbs ringing Seattle had very different cultures. He doesn’t think of a suburb as having a culture other than just general suburban culture. What is outside of the city? Macaroni and cheese? Everybody is driving some kind of truck? John didn't know and now he is realizing he is in a suburb that has its own culture and it is more alien to him than just suburban culture. There are suburbs where people greet one another at a swim meet, where when somebody who has announced the first half of the swim meet stops announcing it and walks around the pool someone would go: ”Hey, good job!”, even in a sporty way.

None of the organizers, none of the people that while he was doing it were all standing around him and doing other things, shuffling papers and waving flags and blowing whistles, none of them ever said. ”Thanks for doing that!”, ”Hey, good job!” John is just looking for an atta boy, he didn't want a ribbon, they didn't have to make him a Kentucky colonel.

John’s daughter is good at swimming, which they didn’t know about. She likes to swim, she would join the swim team, most of the kids on the swim team have been swimming for many years, a lot of them were swimming together for many years, she is a new kid, she walked in, and she is getting second place in a lot of these big meets and the girl that is getting first place is a gifted swimmer who is 20 seconds ahead of John’s daughter who is 4 seconds ahead of third place and then 3rd, 4th, and 5th place are all within 2 seconds of each other. There are five girls who are all swimming basically at the same level and John’s kid is right at the top of that and then there is this girl that is on her way to the Olympics.

While John’s daughter is swimming there are dads and moms on the side of the pool yelling her name and cheering her on because they are all swimming against other swim teams and she is beating whoever the visiting team is and they are like: ”Go, John’s daughter! Come on!”, screaming in that excited parent voice, a thing John doesn’t actually do. First of all she is in a pool and she can't hear anything.

The fact that this crew knows John’s daughter's name and feels empowered to scream it at her as she is swimming, and they know John is her dad because when she gets out of the pool she comes over to him who is standing there with a towel and he goes: ”Good job!” - ”Thanks!” John’s inclination is to go over and say: ”Hey, your kid, good job! What is your name?”, but they don't do that and they don't even allow it. John tried to make eye contact because that is what he does. He is a flirtatious person.

Wearing gages in your ears, the concert in memory of Scott Hutchinson (RW229)

If there was one guy at any of these swim meets that was wearing a fedora or a porkpie hat or a Black Flag T-shirt! Typically in Seattle if a guy walks by with a Black Flag T-shirt John would not be going to be like: ”Hey brother!”, but if he is out in whatever Yeehaw County where he is living now and a guy in a Black Flag T-shirt comes by he would be like: ”Hey, cousin! What do you got to say?” There is one dad that has gages in his ear and 15-20 years ago it indicated that you were a member of a modern, primitive community that was into body modification and this symbolized a whole value system that was in line with every other little corner of alternative culture and it was not ever where John was headed, he was not going to ever get his penis pierced or his tongue split down the middle, but he was modern primitive curious.

All of that stuff kind veered away from what was a fringe and a universe that had a set of goal goals, values, ideas, and philosophies. Gages went into the world and became a signifier of something or other and John is not sure what and he lost track of what it means. 2019 he was at an event. The singer of Frightened Rabbit (Scott Hutchinson) threw himself off of a bridge and it really devastated a lot of people in the Indie Rock world because he was a wonderful songwriter and he connected personally with a lot of people. A lot of people die in their line of work, but this felt like one of those suicides that didn't have to happen that way and he was just going to be missed. It was an unusually emotional response from people.

They had a concert for him here at KEXP where a bunch of them got together and sang a few of his songs to commemorate him (see RL309), and it wasn't the only place that happened, there were concerts for him a lot of different places. His music was connected, and he and John connected personally and communicated and it was a loss. At the event John sang his songs and he got down off stage and was standing around watching the other musicians and there was a girl in the crowd who was about his age, in her 40s, and she is a striking woman who has charisma and is beautiful and is neither petite nor demure, but walks through the crowd and you are just like: ”My goodness, what is about to happen? Who is that?”

Although every other thing about her was very sophisticated and elevated, she had very large gages in her ears. She and John passed several times and it was clear that they had noticed each other and that they were continuing to notice each other, it went from head nods to shy smiles to smirks, eyebrow raises, over the course of a night. She reached out after the event and John knew that the gages were going to be a culture clash between them, even if all other things were the same. John’s relationship to them was established a long time ago and that relationship was that it was a different tribe. It is very much a tribal denotation, a profound way of establishing a tribe, and John is not somebody that sticks to his tribe, he is not somebody that really even has a clear tribe, and cross tribal relationships and bonding is one of his core principles.

Somehow the gages were an intrusion, a bridge too far, a thing that was going to keep John from being in the moment. He felt bad about it and shallow, he still thinks about it even because it was the rare occasion where he didn’t know if he could get past it, which is a strange animal.

John accidentally ghosting Vegas Mom (RW229)

There was one mom who is a real outlier in this crowd because she is foxy, but foxy in a way that is not suburban and not downtown either. She is Vegas foxy. She is an outlier in this community where there is no foxiness and no-one is trying here to be foxy, and she is really overachieving in the foxiness in terms of the Northwest. There are very few pockets of the Northwest where Vegas Foxy is what anybody is rolling out.

Because a) she is foxy and b) she is clearly from another orbit John wondered what the story was with that mom and then he caught her looking at him as happens, because although he is not the world's most handsome guy, he cuts his own hair and he wears pink, and she has got to be feeling like an outlier, she is looking around: ”Who else here isn't wearing Under Armour? Oh, that guy!” Her husband is wearing Under Armour and has big biceps and looks like he is overcompensating or in the closet or both, and so she and John over the course of a couple of swim meets were looking at each other.

This is dangerous because John is a danger addict and this is a whole other level of danger. Vegas mom! John’s sister noticed and was like: ”What is the deal?” - ”Beats me! It is interesting, though!” Susan and John would sit on a bench and watch the swim meet going on and Susan would say: ”Vegas Mom just looked over here!” - ”Yeah, I know!” She and John haven't yet nodded at each other, but John has been identified as potentially being in the right orbit, and being something else other than what everyone else is rocking, which is rocking zero. Being Vegas Foxy is something John is not sure that he can get all the way past, but in the context of the swim meet it was somewhere to put his attention, something else to look at besides all of these people in their sports underwear.

Then there was this moment where John’s daughter had just gotten done with a race and the race had ended on the opposite side of the pool from where he was standing because it was a relay and she was on the opposite side and he was going around the pool the long way because he wanted to talk to her after the race and check in with her, and congratulate her. He could tell that she was upset because in the race prior she had been victorious and in this race there were a lot of good swimmers from the opposite team and she had gotten schooled. She doesn't yet understand that you are racing against the timer because at this swim meet you are the best swimmer, at this swim meet you are number five, but your time improved and that is what at the end of the year you are going to be looking at. That is hard to explain to a 10 year old.

She got to the end of the swimming pool and she was not first to the wall and she was upset, so John was on his way over to talk to her and tell her that she had actually improved on her time and so it was a victory. Vegas Mom was coming the other way around the pool and this was going to be the first time that the two of them were going to pass and it would be impossible to avoid making the next step, which is not to look surreptitiously at one another from across the way in a way that his sister leans over and goes: ”Yep, she is doing it again!”, but actually: ”Here you were coming, here I am coming, and between 20 feet away and 5 feet away we are going to have to have a transaction!”

It would have represented the first time at any of these swim meets that some parent from John’s own team would have given him a gesture of acknowledgment, and it had to happen because they had already made eye contact multiple times. This was the head nod moment, except that John was anxious about his daughter who had gotten out of the pool and was slumped from defeat. He wanted to get to her, wrap her in a towel and say: ”It is not a defeat! This was the best time you ever swum that event! You are just up against some older more powerful girls!”

John did not want her to stand shivering at the end of the pool and his attention and his eyes were on her, and he was aware of Vegas Mom coming around the corner, here is what was going to be a moment of social engagement that is very important to the whole picture and John ghosted Vegas Mom. He walked past her and he didn't make eye contact. He could have focused on his daughter and just turned his attention to Vegas Mom for just a second and given her a friendly nod, and there was no way she was going to be like: ”Hey, let's stop and chat!”, but John didn’t, he ghosted her, and in doing so he effectively negged her, and from that moment she has never glanced at him again, no other acknowledgment of his existence, nothing.

John knew it as it happened, that he had done a terrible thing here, even in his focus on his daughter he alienated this person who clearly was also seeking someone else in the world, she is also in a desert of human contact, and on Aloha day she had a great Aloha dress and she does her eye makeup a lot more than is necessary for a swim meet and John admires that! Put on the paint! Put on the crazy hat! In downtown if you are wearing a crazy fedora he might be like: ”I don't know, man! That is an awful lot!”, but out here he craves a fedora, and he would clap you on the back and say: ”Wonderful hat!” Give me something, anything! Wear a ring that isn't either a class ring or a wedding ring. Wear a jewelry!

The teenage girls that help out at the swim team all wear fraternity sweatshirts, not sorority sweatshirts, which is the wrong message. Now Vegas Mom is out there somewhere. She is alone, her husband is not at her level. They are affectionate, they give one another pecks on the cheek and so forth, but John thinks she is a beard, frankly. She is very much a trophy beard. His truck is very overcompensating, but now John is all alone. Roger ghosts him, the timer’s name was Moses, but John kept calling him Amos.

It wasn't the worst day, his daughter did a great job at the swim meet and he was very proud of her, but the cold chill it put on him was the feeling that all suburbs are not created alike, all suburbanites are not alike. He moved out here and then there was a pandemic. He left Seattle and went into a bubble, and now he is coming out of the bubble, looking around, going: ”Where am I?” and he realizes that the suburbs are not going to be enough, this suburb is not going to be sufficient, and he doesn’t know where to look.


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