Recent Work By Greg Boose

Like a Hollywood producer watching the heroin mix with his smoky blood, I often wonder what the future holds.

Will there be rocket socks?

Will there be sock rockets?

Will there be someone around financially irresponsible enough to help me get some of my patented sock-related inventions off the ground?

Pun.

Intended.

Classified Ad — Week One

FOR SALE: Old safe on wheels. Locked but no combination. Leaving the country and can’t take it with me. Buyer owns whatever is inside. Could be a pile of diamonds or could be nothing. Maybe gold bars. Sorry, no refunds. $10,000. Call Rob X3324.

LEAD GUITARIST WANTED for local Land O Lakes rawk band. Male or female, 18 – 50. MUST BE NUDE. All original music, which means the vocalist would have to be able to collaborate and work out their vocal harmonies. Looking to add keys, and eventually horns and other nude people down the road. Contact Lenny V. at X1113

“Have it say, ‘To a fellow writer.'”

That’s what I said to Harvey Pekar as his black Sharpie hovered over a shiny American Splendor poster in 2003.

He sat in an unbalanced plastic folding chair, his plaid belly smashed against the card table, his hair a dry mess of brown grass, the bags under his eyes so heavy they would have required an extra $25 each to be loaded onto a United Airlines plane.

The 24-year-old actress sported a colorful manicure in court Tuesday that included obscene messages on each of her middle fingers. Close-up photos taken by a courtroom photographer revealed the tiny letters, which made worldwide news Wednesday on entertainment websites. – By SANDY COHEN, Associated Press

“Fuck U,” each middle finger read.

Mr. Proffitt, I’m going to stop you right there. When I thank you for your time, I believe I speak for all of us here tonight sitting around this very long picnic-like table in this drafty back room. I never thought I would set foot in a restaurant named Crabs ‘R’ Us, a place with sawdust on the floor and no mirror in the Men’s room, but here we are. I also never thought that my partner, Mr. Robinson down there at the end, would stretch the truth to get me to leave my family up in Portland this morning for a pestilent hell-hole like Elk Cove, but again, here we are. There are firsts for everything, I suppose. And Mr. Robinson, you sir, are in for quite the car ride home.

Business has been absolutely booming this summer at Greg Boose’s Personalized Swimming Pool Signs, Inc. Below are a few recent orders that we’ve completed.

Pool Rules for Zombies

01/02/2009

Dearest Francine,

Hello and Happy New Year! First, I must apologize for placing this letter on your conveyor belt and then disappearing into the soup and rice aisle. I hope these words have successfully made their three-foot journey into your delicate fingers, and I hope that you have the time to read this letter in its entirety before scanning another item for another customer. I purposefully picked a slow time at the store for this. There are so many things I’ve wanted to say to you over the past ten months I’ve been shopping at this grocery store, and I hope you can soon understand why I am approaching you in the form of a letter.

Helen: I’m really going to let him have it.

Susan: Oh, Helen, you’re too much.

Soldier One: What did he say about honor?

Soldier Two: I’m not sure. His horse twisted him around a couple times.

Farming: The occupation of choice for dudes and chicks who want to raise their own food, work out in the sun, be their own boss and slave 18 hours a day so some mustached hipster at a farmer’s market with an iPad under his arm can bruise the shit out of the plums.

On second thought, how are your peaches this year?

“On second thought, how are your peaches this year?”

 

I come from a long line of farmers myself, and I can tell you that not all farmers are grass stalk-chewing old cats who run makeshift booths with half-tan arms and 12 strapping youngins who speak with respect.

There are all kinds of farmers.

Beef farmers.

Christmas tree farmers.

Wind farmers.

Rabbit farmers.

Hookworm farmers.

Solar farmers.

Baby farmers.

That last one is exactly how it sounds.

Salmon farmers.

There were alpaca farmers, but that pyramid scheme has pretty much gone belly up.

“My wool is worth gold and gems.”


And farmers nowadays can be the slick office-y types, like those who use special retina-scanning sunglasses from their Manhattan penthouses to run armies of thresher robots in Minnesotan fields.

But that could have been from a dream.

Farmers can also be the factory farm mogul types who buy 10 city blocks and go onto treat their cows, chickens and pigs like soccer balls and ashtrays.

Fucking assholes.



There are hair farmers.

Sugar beet farmers.

Butterfly farmers.

Coffee bean farmers.

And there are the small family produce farmers, like my father and his father.

A dying breed.

Like the brown pelican battling a blanket of sweet Louisiana crude.

My father and his father (plus my uncles and cousins and other relatives) toiled away in the fields and barns from sun up to sun down. They drove tractors in one direction and sat feeding seeds and saplings into planters in the other. They shipped produce to Cleveland in beat up pickups and shiny semis. They could identify every leaf on every sapling on the horizon. They wore John Deer hats without irony.

Good old boys.

Hard-working-smeared-eye-glasses-wearing-4am-rising-and-shaving-large-brood-supporting farmers.

If you had a question about strawberry season or how far apart to plant pumpkin seeds, my father could hook you up.

If you wanted to know which tomato varietal was best to grow on your half-shaded deck, he was your man.

He could trim 50 heads of lettuce in under 10 minutes.

Could tell you the national price average for corn, plus the going price in any of town’s supermarkets.

Could parallel park a forklift carrying a six-foot pallet of peppers without looking over his shoulder.

He was that kind of farmer.

And he didn’t boast.

 

 

A woman at a dinner party recently asked me about my family and I told her I grew up on a large produce farm in Northeast Ohio.

It’s one of the fun facts about myself I tend to throw out to people.

(Another one — and this is usually told while swimming — is that I used to pee in the pool with my trunks pulled down to my thighs like I was standing at a urinal until I was 10 years old and realized I could just pee right through them.)

“I didn’t know you were a farmer,” she said.

“Yup. I’m a farmer.”

“So you were a farmer?”

“Totally. I was a farmer,” I said, crossing my arms.

“How cool! You have cows?”

“Nah, just produce.”

“You have chickens?”

“We just grew fruits and vegetables. Yeah.”

“So no animals at all? Not, like, pigs?”

“Nope. We grew, oh, cabbage, corn, strawberries, all kinds of peppers and all kinds of squash, collard greens, kale, uh green beans, pumpkin, the occasional patch of kohlrabi. We used to have an apple orchard and a peach orchard, but that was a long time ago. It was a pretty big operation, actually. Twelve hundred acres. It was in the family for like 76 years or something. But we sold it all like 10 years ago. We had hundreds of migrant workers, too.”

“I can’t believe you’re a farmer.”

“Yup. That’s me.”


But holy shit, here’s the thing: I was no farmer.

I’ve been letting people all my life believe that I was a farmer, I do it all the time — Did I tell you I grew up on a farm? — but the truth is I was way more of a factory worker than a farmer.

My father, he was farmer.

My grandfather and uncles and aunts, they were farmers.

Laboring for a dozen years in a series of sweltering, interlocking barns did not make me a farmer.

“Don’t forget to punch in, ‘Farmer Greg.'”


I’ve never driven a tractor in my life.

Never hoed a field.

Never worried about the lack of rain.

Never put on a yellow slicker and grabbed my kale knife.

But no one ever needed me to do those things. With two older brothers, several older cousins, gritty year-round employees and a hundred or so migrant workers, I was kept out of the fields and delegated to the barns. To their loading docks. To their clanging machinery. To their mountains of ready-to-be constructed corn crates and wax boxes.

My jobs included walking around the corn wagon and heaving just-packed wooden crates onto my chest so I could toss them into the hydrocooler, standing at the end of a belt to pack thousands of peppers, zucchini and yellow squash into wax boxes, running up and down a conveyor belt slapping stickers on each piece of squash that bounced past, stacking boxes and crates of produce six feet high onto pallets, disposing rotten produce by the bucket load back into the fields, cleaning the equipment, constructing boxes and complaining, complaining, complaining, blah, blah, blah.

I could show you how to fold together a strawberry box in under five seconds.

Could tell you how many corn crates could fit horizontally or vertically on the freezing lip of the hydrocooler.

Could tell you the best spot and job at the rotating green bean table. (You want to be the last sorter before the first packer. Claim six-seven o’clock at the circular table and you should be golden.)

I was way more of a factory worker than a farmer.

But that’s not really that fun of a fact to tell people.

It’s depressing, to tell you the truth.

Makes everyone feel guilty.

Makes them confess that they spent their summers getting high at the lake house.

Or waking at noon to play video games in the air-conditioned basement.

I then defend my childhood, they say, “Oh, I’m sure it was a good experience,” and I agree that it was and then we both seem a little let down.

So for that reason, I continue on with the charade.


On Friday we checked out a roof-top organic garden growing on top of a favorite Chicago restaurant, and as we walked around the beds of saplings my friend pointed to a row and asked what they were.

I froze, knowing my farming history was once again going to be put to the test.

They could have been watermelon, for all I knew.

They could have been weeds.

Luckily her husband took one look at them and claimed they were peas.

“Yeah,” I jumped in. “Those are definitely peas. I grew up on a farm, you know.”

“Yeah, Greg,” my wife said. “We know.”



I’ve dated my fair share of crazy women, or rather women who do crazy things.

I’ve been with a bulimic, an anorexic, a cutter, a girl who went on to smuggle drugs from Mexico into Texas and who went to jail for it.

I’ve dated poets, artists, hippies, Johnson & Johnson reps.

All crazy.

And when I moved to Fargo for grad school, I told myself I was done dating girls who I thought needed saving from their craziness.

But, of course, I found this to be impossible.


I should have known from our first encounter that Emma was not the girl I should have asked out for coffee.

We stood next to each other in the back room of a Moorhead bar, she was this tiny little blond hipster girl wearing a tight track jacket, and we watched a local band fizzle through a set. Emma and I flirted between songs, and before she left for the night I asked for her number so we could do the coffee-date thing.

And then she was gone and I felt all warm inside and the band played on.

But Emma reappeared 15 minutes later, tapping my shoulder.

And when I whipped around I saw there was mascara or eyeliner (all the same to me) all over her temples.

Not in a pattern that made me think Emma had been crying and wiping it onto her forehead, but more in a pattern that made me think she tried to apply her mascara/eyeliner without a mirror and someone kept bumping her elbow.

She craned her neck up at me and I recoiled at the black lines on her head, and in a squeaky valley-girl voice that I would soon come to hate, she asked: “Um, do you have any gum?”

So to recap: Emma left the bar, came back 15 minutes later with shit all over her face, and then asked me as if she had been standing there the whole time if I had any gum.

I didn’t have any gum.

And somehow I didn’t have the intelligence to call off our coffee date.


We went out twice before I told her that I think we should just be friends, and oddly enough she took me up on that friendship offering.

But like any opposite-sex friendship where there had been kissing and heavy petting at one point, there was always the possibility that it could happen again.

And it did.

Friends with benefits, I guess.

All this is to say that I spent a couple months hanging out with Emma, learning more about her family and friends, learning that her deceased father had left her a lot of money.

Like, a lot of money.

Which isn’t a big deal, except that I was pretty damn broke and she always made me pay for our friendly dinners, drinks, anything.

And this isn’t what made her crazy; this is what made her totally frustrating.

What made her a bit crazy to me is that she saw a therapist regularly and that she didn’t seem to change the things she was working on.

At all.

And there I’d be, home working on a paper and she’d call from her therapist’s office asking for me to pick her up.

And she’d say, “Pleeeeeeease. I’ll buy you some ice cream.”

Feeling guilty, feeling the need to help this girl like I’ve felt the need to help all these girls from their craziness, I’d go pick her up and drive us to the ice cream stand… and, much to the dismay of the moths in my wallet, she wouldn’t have any cash on her and I’d have to pay.


Emma often offered to buy me something, or offered to pay me back, but it never transpired.

And my resentment grew.

One night she called me saying that she was sick, that she had thrown up all over her bed and bathroom floor, and she asked me to go to the store for several items (that added up to nearly $35) that would help her clean up and and several items (that added up to $20) to make her feel better.

“I’ll pay you back,” she squeaked into the phone.

She never fucking did.


Near the end of that summer session, I tried hard to avoid Emma.

Didn’t return calls.

Didn’t answer the door.

Didn’t back down from the just wanting to be friends label I pressed upon our shoulders.

But one summer night I answered her call. She wanted to know what I was doing the next day, and I told her I was going to the Moorhead public pool. I had been spending a lot of time there since A) we were in the middle of a brutal heat wave and I didn’t have air conditioning, B) it was right around the corner from my apartment and C) it only cost a dollar to get in.

“If you want to come with me,” I said, “that’s cool. It only costs a dollar so you only have to bring a dollar.”

I mentioned that it only cost a dollar three times in our three minute phone conversation:

“It only costs a dollar so you only have to bring a dollar.”

“The great thing is that it only costs a dollar to get in.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow with your towel and the dollar you need to get in.”

I told myself that if she didn’t bring that fucking dollar, then she would be watching me enter that fucking pool without her.

Emma arrived the next day, we walked to the pool and I waited for her to approach the window first.

But she stayed back.

“Go ahead,” I said, ready to pounce.

“Um, I don’t have any money on me,” she said.

And pounce, I did: “Emma, what the fuck? How do you not have a dollar on you after I told you to bring a fucking dollar? Come on. It’s one fucking dollar that I asked you to bring for yourself because I’m done buying you shit all the time when I’m broke and eating Totino’s frozen pizza and drinking water every night.”

She stared at me on the verge of tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I guess I’ll go home.”

I slapped down two bucks and met her poolside, finding a way to relax, finding a way to not be annoyed by her voice.

We went for a dip, and I did what I do every time I leave my belongings unprotected: I kept one eye on my shit and one eye squinting into the sun.


Emma and I made it to the deep end, a couple of dolphins somersaulting and snipping at each other’s tails.

I made a regular belongings check and shook water from my hair like a dog and made another check on our stuff and… holy shit, two little kids were rifling through our bags.

“Some kids are going through our stuff!” I gurgled at Emma.

I splashed and dove underwater, resurfacing only when I had to.

I got to the shallow end of the pool where the two little kids were still digging around in our belongings, and I’m moving as fast as I can.

As fast as one can run through waist-deep water.

My arms, swinging wildly at my sides.

A teenage lifeguard up on her ladder saw me, we made eye contact, and I pointed to the kids and blurted “They’re stealing our stuff!”


I emerged from the pool like a cat who had fallen into a bathtub: claws out, scrambling for footing, hissing.

The little girl, Indian and cute and thin and maybe eight years old, was wrist-deep in the pocket of Emma’s jeans.

I grabbed her elbow and put my face inches from hers and tried to ask her what the fuck she thought she was doing, but all I could manage was “Blaaaaaargh!”

Batman, I am not.

She jumped out of her skin.

Eyes bigger than the red and white life preserver hanging on the fence.

The boy who had been searching my bag froze.

The lifeguard closed in, every sun-bather and swimmer at the pool turned to watch.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I finally managed to ask the girl.

She opened her hand to give me what she had stolen from Emma’s jeans, and that’s when I had this surprising moment of gratitude.

I was about to see how much money Emma actually had.

I was about to see how much of a dupe I had actually been those last couple months, paying for her top-shelf medicine and extra-large slushies with added strawberries.

I was about to see who was crazier, her or me.

Tell me she found a crumpled up dollar bill.

A mobster’s roll of hundreds.

A couple of twenties sandwiched between unopened packs of gum.

The little girl opened her palm over mine, tipped it, and out fell two pennies.

Two pennies.

Clink.

I laughed right into her tiny scared face.

The lifeguard grabbed the shoulders of the little boy and we had our thieves.

The lifeguard wanted to call the police.

Apparently these two were part of a larger group of kids who had been causing trouble the whole summer.

(An hour earlier I had seen a few of them with their arms shoved up inside a Coke machine, hoping to get a paw on a loose can.)

I said that calling the police wasn’t necessary, but she called them anyhow.


When the male cop walked into the pool area ten minutes later and interviewed me from my beach chair–everyone watching, quiet, trying to hear–the cop ended by asking “And how much did she get?”

“How much money? Two cents. The little girl only found two pennies.”

He laughed and repeated, “Two pennies. Nice.”

And I felt sad for everyone involved, including myself, and I said, “The poor thing couldn’t have picked a worse person in the city to steal from. This chick I’m with is totally crazy.”

If you’re a nudist, then you probably already know that the state of Oregon doesn’t ban nudity or have a crime of indecent exposure.

If you’re not a nudist, then you’re now either changing your airline tickets so you can spend a few extra days in Oregon, or you’re changing them so you can land in the state of Washington, because in your mind it’s practically the same thing.


But even without this state ban of public nudity, there aren’t herds of naked people grazing along the Oregon highways.

There aren’t basketball games of Shirts vs. Pants happening in the local park.

And there aren’t naked families chilling at the Drive-In, taking in double features in the bed of a reversed pick-up, arguing when it’s still safe to eat dropped popcorn.

Off of Mom, yes.

Off of Dad, judgment call.

Off of Adolescent Ned, not unless you like your popcorn topped with gym sweat and happy trail hair.


It should be noted that many cities and towns in Oregon have local laws banning public nudity in parks and in their downtown areas.

And that’s how it is in the town of Ashland, population of about 20,000. You can’t strut your stuff down Main Street and you can’t sunbathe without tan lines in one of their parks, but if you happen to slip off to a secluded area of Ashland Creek and do a bit of skinny dipping, no one is going to call the cops.

They may call their friends and they may call you names based on your physical haves or have-nots, but they’re not going to call the cops.

(Stick with the interview below for a link to some naked Oregonians.)


It’s been going on like this for a century or so.

But then a guy from the Bay Area, Tony Cooper, vacationed in Ashland this past summer in not much else than some sneakers and fanny pack.

The town’s folk were a little annoyed by the 66-year-old guy walking their streets in the nude, but then attitudes changed substantially when he unknowingly entered a school zone.

You know what they say: “It’s one thing if I catch a glimpse of your bobbing bird, but it’s another thing if my grade-school daughter sees it, comes home and draws its likeness all over her bedroom wallpaper, and then goes on to draw a big old penis on our favorite photograph of Grandma.”

They do say that.

Look it up.

Might be in Deuteronomy.


In response to Cooper’s school-side jaunts, Ashland thought it was time to legally ban nudity within 1,000 feet of a school, but the mayor sided with three of the six members of the City Council, asking that the people vote on the initiative themselves in the future.

See, this was just one instance of a nude dude around a school in however-long, and this nude dude has since gone on record apologizing for being near a school and promised the next time he visited he’d only go outside au naturale after 10 pm.

No reason to overreact, the mayor thought.

It’ll all blow over, many said.


Two years ago, if you remember, the small town of Brattleboro, Vermont, faced an eerily similar situation.

They were lax on their views of public nudity until, according to a Reuters story:

“The weather grew hot and a couple of dozen teens took to holding hula hoop contests, riding bikes and parading past stores wearing only their birthday suits. The disrobing has resumed this summer.

But many locals say it has gone too far. Some cite a case in which a senior citizen from Arizona strolled through the center of town wearing only a waist pack and sandals.

A fanny-pack wearing old man was fucking it up for everyone.

Just like this summer in Ashland, Oregon.

Brattleboro went on to ban public nudity altogether for 30 days, but the national attention of being called an intolerant town seemed to sway them into letting the ban lapse and letting the free-wheelin’ to continue on.


Ashland’s story continues up in the Pacific Northwest.

With yet another fanny pack.

Because the town did not go on to ban public nudity in school areas, a man from Minnesota went to Ashland to be purposefully be naked in front of their schools.

Seriously.

According to the Ashland Police Chief, the man intentionally walked around the high school naked, save for his fanny pack, while students were present, and then was later hanging around the school’s parking lot wearing clothes.

And now, tomorrow, the City Council is voting on banning nudity across the board.

No more skinny dipping in Ashland Creek.

No more sunbathing topless in the backyard.

No more carefree walks from the shower to the bedroom, because if the ban passes, Eric Navickas, City Council member, says that you could be arrested for indecent exposure in your own home.


I interviewed Navickas via email:

GB: Are you naked right now?

EN: Bare naked; ask what you want.

GB: Good. Glad to know you’re taking advantage of the opportunity while it’s still legal in Ashland. Aside from Ashland Creek and in front of their computers, where else have citizens of Ashland been getting naked that hasn’t caused a public outcry?

EN: There have been several events associated with nudity that have been generally popular. The first that comes to mind was the “Buns not Bombs” protest at the outbreak of the war in Iraq. About ten people marched through downtown with body paint on their bare bodies. Another protest around that time entailed about thirty nudes forming a large peace symbol out of their bodies in the front lawn of our downtown park. We’ve also had citizens celebrate the World Naked Bike Ride event; an international event to raise awareness to fossil fuel consumption. I’ve seen other events associated with the First Friday Art Walk that included nudity; usually again with body paint. All of these events seemed well received and resulted in little or no public outcry.

As well, we have many people who just enjoy nude sunbathing in their yards or hot tubs that would be affected by the proposed ban if they are visible from a public place.

GB: So no more nude hot tubbing in your backyard if this thing passes. Ashland would be going from naked peace signs in the park and naked bike parades to having to worry about getting arrested for walking in front of their front window on their way to the shower. Do you blame this guy from Minnesota for this, or do you blame the citizens of Ashland?

EN: I believe the Council is to blame for responding with a knee-jerk reaction to an unusual circumstance. We really don’t have naked people walking around schools every day. I believe it is important for legislators to maintain a level head in these circumstances and not immediately jump to passing another restrictive law that may have broader implications. More than likely we’ll never see another naked person walking around a school.

I’m disappointed this guy from Minnesota provoked the Council into responding in this manner.

GB: Have the discussions been civil or heated in city hall? I’m imagining something dramatic where someone arrives to a meeting in the nude and yells: “Look at me! I said, ‘Look at me!’ Am I a monster, or am I human? And could somebody check out this mole on my lower back? I think it’s gotten bigger but my wife says I’m crazy.”

EN: This round of discussions have been fairly civil and, unfortunately, Council has heard more from those with fearful attitudes toward their bodies who wish to associate nudity with sexual predation or indecency.

I found these old pictures, however, from the previous time the Council discussed this some years ago when they limited the ban to the downtown and parks. This protest was staged on the front lawn of the Council Chambers (NSFW): http://rogueimc.org/en/2004/07/2970.shtml

GB: You voted against the proposed ban around schools and you plan on voting against the city-wide nudity ban that’s coming up on Tuesday. What’s your biggest personal worry here? That the slope is as slippery as they say? Did you have a nude production of “Annie Get Your Gun” coming up and you’ve already sold out, and the thought of having to pay everyone back would be a major headache? Or are you worried that Ashland would look lame in the eyes of other Oregonians? Is Oregonians a word, or did I make that up?

EN: I will be voting against the proposed ban. I believe the healthiest society is one that is very disciplined in protecting civil liberties. Nudity in itself is entirely harmless and I’m proud to live in a community that to this point has been able to tolerate and even celebrate occasional eccentric behavior. Ashland is an artist community that is suffering from rapid gentrification. To myself, this is in many ways a symbolic death of our community as anything unique; we’ll now be another Fox News, Big Mac, fully dressed, all-American, normal town.

There is no damage to anyone, including children, in seeing a nude person. In fact, studies show that societies that have a healthy attitude toward accepting public nudity have many fewer social problems with unhealthy sexual behavior. I believe the establishment clause of the First Amendment that defines us as a secular state and restricts the establishment of religion limits our right to legislate morals. This moral legislation that has no place in a secular state.

In practice this law will simply be another tool to harass the counter-culture of our community. Conservatives and many of the business establishment in this town have a nasty history of finding insidious ways to “clean things up.” A couple of hippies playing guitar, the aging crystal toting neighbor with saggy boobs who likes to sunbathe, a couple of bike punks bumming change, or the single mom with tattoos going for a soothing skinny-dip; these are undesirable victims of this growing intolerant attitude in Ashland.

Also, Oregonian is a word; how about Chicagonian?

GB: It’s Chicagoan. You got a little ‘N’ and ‘I’ happy there, like me when I watch “Wheel of Fortune” by myself. Now the part that interests me the most about this story is this guy from Minnesota who came directly to Ashland to get naked in front of school children. I’ve gone back and forth on who this guy is. He is either 1.) Some dude who saw the opportunity to live out his perverse dream of letting little Sally and Timmy see his wang without getting arrested, or 2.) He’s some rogue conservative who is taking one for the team, showing you what happens when you purposefully don’t ban nudity around schools. I believe it was the latter. A guy was teaching you all a lesson so that you had no choice but to bring the idea of banning nudity back to a vote. What do you think?

EN: I’ve tried not to speculate as to what motive this individual had but the facts of the story are so unusual it leads one to speculate. The most conservative member of the Council brought forward the initial proposal to ban nudity within school zones. Most on the council felt that there was really no need to put this type of law on the books as we really haven’t had a problem with lots of nudes around schools. It seemed to be a means of framing the argument to build support for his personal issues and prudish attitude. We’ve seen similar tactics with some of the anti-homosexual legislation conservatives have brought forward here in Oregon that attempt to frame the discussion around “protecting children;” perverting their intolerance into an interest social good.

Anyway, several days after a majority of Council refused to support this proposal, a nudist claiming to be from Minnesota arrived and began walking around various schools. This lasted about two days and then he was gone. The action was so specific to the Council decision that it was hard not to think it was specifically contrived to provoke the city into banning nudity. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the individual was paid, but that would be very difficult to prove; we are left discussing this in the context of having a real problem with nudists around schools. Perhaps our own miniature version of the Reichstag fire that we’ll never know the facts on.

GB: I wish you luck with your crusade to keep the town of Ashland liberal, free, and unique. Any final argument for someone who thinks public nudity is a one-way ticket to hell?

EN: I see it as nothing less than degrading to humanity as a whole to legally define the human body as something that is inherently le or indecent. I personally subscribe to the Platonic/Vitruvian view that there is something sacred to our form that we should celebrate not condemn.



The Ashland City Council votes tomorrow.

And from what Navickas has told me, it sounds like it’s going to be 4-2 in favor to ban public nudity.

But we shall see.

Check the comments on this post tomorrow evening, or follow along on their newspaper:  The Ashland Daily Tidings.


While I wait, I’m left with my conspiracy theory. I’m still trying to put the Arizona guy who almost ruined public nudity for Brattleboro, VT, in the same fanny pack as the guy from Minnesota who might have ruined public nudity for Ashland, OR.

If it’s the same person – if it’s one man who flies around the country on a mission to make small liberal towns fearful of the naked human body by getting naked himself, if it’s one conservative man who stares at the mirror and tells himself he’s a star, a big bright shining star, before he snaps that fanny pack on and terrorizes mothers and the Christian Book Store employees with his old penis – then I am in awe.

Then I want to make that documentary.

Then I want to write his book.

Then I want to recruit him to help me fight my causes, those who parade around with infanticide posters and those who use text/instant messaging shorthand.

We’ll fight them at the same time.

We’ll join the maniacs at a popular university intersection and wear white shirts and black ties, and we’ll attach blown up photographs of toddlers eating Big Macs and drinking Pepsi to long sticks, and at the bottom they’ll read: “MERICA 2 FAT 🙁 :P” and “I DID HAZ Cheezburger LOL!1!”

And we can store our fliers in our fanny packs until it’s time to pass them out.

Hey Jeff Maybe,

So I wanted to say sorry for ruining our conversation the other night at that thing where people were performing and I don’t know if it was a dance thing or it was a really weird play, but it was intermission.

Basements, by nature, are dark and scary.

Searching for the light upon entering one can instantly become the most important thing in the world, your fingers nervous not to touch anything at all but the tiny plastic rectangular protuberance sticking out of the wall or the thin chain that hangs blindly a few steps in.

We hold our breaths no matter how many times we’ve descended the stairs that week to retrieve holiday decorations or to do our laundry; we are in the safety of our own locked homes, yet somehow there is always the possibility there’s a knife-wielding intruder or a hungry coyote taking a short breather under the stairs.

Or there’s the possibility that a face-sized spider has descended to face level, swaying gently in front of the chain you seek.

We wish someone would go into the basement for us every time.


There was a daylight basement on my family’s farm, meaning that the building the basement rested under was constructed into the side of a hill.

There were no windows in the basement.

Just a huge metal door facing a small sliver of woods.

This particular building was built in 1924 – one of the very first structures on the 1,200-acre farm – and the basement served as the farm’s first walk-in cooler, used for storing Boose apples until 1975.

After that, after the farm had expanded greatly and several drive-in electric coolers were built up over the hill, the basement was used for packing peaches and tomatoes into crates by my teenage aunts and uncles, readying shipments that were to head off to Cleveland.

And then after that, it was abandoned of manual labor and retired to being a dark, damp, fucking scary storage space for thousands of cardboard boxes my dad used intermittently at his next-door farm market.


My father often asked my brothers and me to retrieve boxes from “The Basement.”

His customers used the sturdy tops and bottoms to carry their groceries to their car, to their kitchen counters.

And every time we were asked to get boxes, I’d ask to stay back and sweep the backroom instead.

Or wrap lettuce heads.

Or take some scrap cardboard to the burn pile.

Or go see what needed refilling on the vegetable rack out front.

Because like any 10-year-old emotional boy who had two older brothers, I was freaked the fuck out by spiders.

And whenever I went to the basement to get my dad those boxes, I saw several real and imaginary spiders.

On the cement walls.

Skittering across the cement floor.

Chilling in the cement-meets-cement corners.

Some tiny.

Some average.

Some big enough to make you do a cursing, neck-slapping pogo dance that would go instantly viral on YouTube, possibly landing my father and me on a couple of overstuffed chairs on the Today Show.


In order to open up the basement door – which alone was the height of a school bus – I’d often hook the toe of my one sneaker under the handle and then bounce backward on the heel of the other.

A black and worn rubber flap was stapled above the door’s handle, hiding it or protecting it for a reason I never knew, making it hard for me to get my foot in there.

Now, if my father joined us on one of these box-retrieving missions, he’d haphazardly grab the handle and storm inside without concern, just trying to get back to the market because there were lettuce heads to trim, orders for restaurants to put together.

I’d follow behind him with my forearms over my head, grabbing the boxes nearest to the door.

“Just get in here and stop being such a wuss, for crying out loud,” he’d say.

“There’s spiders,” I’d respond, chucking a stack of banana boxes into the back of the running pickup.

(A tip when grabbing a stack of boxes that you honestly believe are the homes of dozens of arachnids, mice droppings and the devil herself: Cup your arms around the bottom box instead of sticking your fingers into its cutout handles. Disembodied fingers were instant bait for spiders in my mind, like hotdog bits for catfish.)

“For crying out loud,” my father would say. “Who cares? They’re not gonna get ya.”


Inside the farm’s basement, the floor measured 40′ x 60′.

I didn’t have to search for the light when I entered because I knew the switch was exactly four feet high on the interior left door frame.

Every time I entered I held my breath, ducked, and believed I would catch some terrible basement disease that would start with convulsions and end with a bout of uncontrollable self-mutilation through the wrong end of a rake.

Every time I exited I held my boxes high in front of me as a shield, and after chucking them into the bed of the pickup, I’d compulsively wipe my hands on my shorts.

Over 15 years, I was never once bitten by a spider.