A month ago I started keeping a journal, but I’ve decided to make it a blog because I figure a blog is safer. . . .

The way I see it, Andy Warhol’s future is already here. Reality TV, social networking, and personal websites have given us our 15 minutes and then some. Everyone is a celebrity. Everyone has a band. This could be the beginning of the end of fame. We’re killing our idols by stealing their spotlight. And if everyone is in the spotlight, then no one is in the audience.

Sure blogging is exhibitionist, but as more join the exhibit, your personal stage shrinks. Like a box of Lucky Charms in the cereal aisle, you're on display for everyone to see, but that doesn't mean you'll be seen. There's a good chance the white noise of sugary cereal advertising will swallow you whole, while shoppers reach above you for some quiet Quaker Oats.

Likewise, no one will bother reading what I have to say because I'm just another sorry sap writing about the hot shorty from Applebees that I ran into on the beach over Spring Break, hoping, praying, that one of my friendsters will read it, tell one of their friendsters who will tell Kevin Bacon, who will email the Applebees shorty, who will then read the sap’s blog and, yeah, but no. No that is never going to happen ‘cause Applebees shorty is writing in her blog about this totally life-changing epiphany she had when she saved a starfish by throwing it back in the ocean, and nobody gives a damn because no one actually reads these friggin’ things. They just write them.

... and searched for a line linking "Cheney" and "traffic jam" while I rand down the sidewalk.

“Cheney, Cheney, he’s our man. He’ll get you stuck in a traffic jam. With a wham, bam, and a thank you, mam. He’ll screw civil liberties if he can.” Or “Cheney, Cheney, he’s Halliburtan’s man. He’ll hide in a bunker if he can. With a wham, bam and a thank you, mam. He’ll bomb Iraq and Afghanistan.”

I sang in my head, matching the beats with my breathing and my feet landing on pavement. As I approached and surveyed the scene, my enthusiasm quickly dispersed, pushed aside by a familiar dread. That same dread of preparing for an argument with my Uncle Stan over a Thanksgiving dinner, which is inevitably sparked by his limited stock of wise cracks at my vegetarianism. One of those arguments that runs in circles and convinces no one of anything but of how right we believe ourselves to be. Only this argument was with Uncle Sam, who was preaching to his Yes Men inside the Convention Center, and making sure the opposition expressed their freedom of speech properly: off the street and keeping the sidewalk open for pedestrians. This, of course, required a troop of armed cops, a cavalry of ten, an officer video taping us, and snipers on top of the buildings. I wondered if they were just patronizing us, or if we were actually that much of a threat. Looking at my side of the battle lines made patronizing seem much more plausible.

But that did not stop me from pumping the gas into my car.

Why is it that I continue to live and participate in a way of life that I know is destroying the planet? I am an informed and willing participant in an empire that enjoys diagnosing people or dropping bombs on them. ‘Cognitive dissonance’ I believe is the term for it.

So why do I continue to play along? Why don’t I join the BRYCC House or LAVA House anarchists in resisting by refusing to participate in this evil empire? Why don’t I focus my energies on working with the bohemians and progressives in developing a sustainable, democratic economy and a cooperative way of life?

I know very well why. I know the logic and path of this internal argument as well as I know my drive to work, which, incidentally, both end up at the same place. If I drop out now, I’ll be a fugitive, with an enormous debt that can be used to harass me and keep me down. On the other hand, if I pay off my debt, and get licensed in my field, then I’ll have the freedom and power to resist effectively. I’ll have also proven that I can survive this system before fighting against it. Which leaves me in the parking lot at my office. Before I can step out of my car and walk in, I have to deal with the rebuttal.

“So after you’ve paid off your student loans, and after you’re a licensed social worker, you’ll probably have taken out a car loan, ‘cause I sure ain’t gonna keep trucking your ass back and forth across the river,” says the odometer of my 91’ Volvo sedan.

“Ah, come on. You’ve taken me 230 thousand miles. You can carry me another 70 thou,” I reply. “Ha! On your salary it’ll take more than 70 thousand miles to get yourself out of debt. And you won’t stop with a car loan neither. You’ll have to get yourself a house, ‘cause it makes too much sense to pay on a mortgage rather than throw money away on rent. And at some point you’re bound to fall in love again and wind up married with kids. Factor in health insurance, college funds, and retirement funds. Face it, dude. You're stuck.”

At that point I get out of the car, knowing it is pointless trying to reason with the odometer. “Just get the student loans paid, and then you can quit,” I tell myself as I walk into the building, with a satchel of paperwork and a travel mug full of coffee. I ignore the fact that on my salary it will take far more than the four years I envision it taking, to finally break even.

And so I proceed to work each day, consuming more gas and more coffee. In fact, all that I consume is basically a fuel to propel me through my days toward some far away freedom. But the products and services that comprise this fuel have a secret. Their origin is so distant from me that I can only imagine the truth of the food I buy, the clothes I wear, the electric and gas power I require. It’s like a giant pyramid scheme. At any given moment, I can look around me and find more manufactured stuff than I would have time to count. 90% of it is probably crap. If I just consider the 10% that actually sustains my life force, I’m still left wondering where the people are who produce that 10%. Who are the people making my underwear? Where was my coffee mug made? What about my microwave, or my bedsprings? Or the croutons in my salad? And where the hell is the stop light factory?

It just doesn’t add up. My friends go junking on Mayor’s Big Trash Day, and always return home with some really tacky but perfectly good loot. How can it be that there is so much abundance and so much unemployment? How is it that we have time for jobs like yoga instructor, or for that matter, therapist? Judging by the amount of shit we consume, it seems like there should be a factory on every corner. What do I produce? Sure, I provide a valuable service, but what do I produce that is tangible or functional? I produce waste. I consume plenty, but all I produce is waste. The rest of the pyramid is hidden and forgotten. To maintain the structure of this pyramid, the life force of the environment, and the workers in invisible factories, is drilled like oil. The more I consume this toxic fuel, the further I'm removed from the freedom I’m seeking. That is the secret, and if anyone dares to let it out, they are ridiculed, laughed at, or given a diagnosis.

But driving while dictating reports is his most extraordinary skill.

On the car trips to and from my parents’ homes, Dad would write reports on his clients by reading through their files and dictating into a hand-held recorder. In fact, the car was his third office. Serving as such, the car allowed him to span the distance between his Hazard and Danville offices without actually leaving the “office.” On those drives, he became so accustomed to dictating reports that on one occasion in which he had to testify in court, he accidentally slipped into dictation speech. “Your Honor, comma the client’s history of childhood abuse and the post traumatic stress from Viet Nam are sufficient conditions for a flashback to be triggered when he heard the gun shot period.”

there is no intersection between the Professional Porch Sitters and the crowd I ran with in college

Now wait. I take that back. Sadie has been to several of Paul’s parties. Sadie was best friends with Tiffany in high school; and Tiffany was my girlfriend during my sophomore and junior year at Guilford. I had caught her laughing at the foolishness of the English Hall guys on several occasions, though I don’t think she appreciated their humor as I did. Anyhow, she definitely knew of Chicken Man. But it couldn’t be more than a footnote in her Guilford experience. Besides, our break-up was pretty brutal. Sending knowledge of Chicken Man down that line of connections would be like trying to recite from memory the stock prices from a random date in ‘95; and relaying that information to a deaf man; who passes it on to a zebra; who tells it to your artsy-fartsy friend, who’s closest encounter with the stock market was playing the game Pit at an eighth grade slumber party. Add to that scenario a bad phone connection and the use of the Elvish language for communicating. Now think back to the last time you did all that, and remember how hard it was. So if Paul is the guilty party, it is highly unlikely he received knowledge of Chicken Man via the Sadie-Tiffany channel.

I will formally introduce Paul ...

From his Friendster profile:

INTERESTS: Light bulb and hairball collecting, Shoeshine racing, Frog breeding, Homing Pigeon Portraitures, I like chocolate milk, I am interested in writing for Encyclopedia Britannica but only for subjects that start with the letter X or M, Flamenco Dancing, Hula

ABOUT ME: I baked a pie with four and twenty blackbirds in it one time. The crust was a little burnt on the edge where I crimped it with a fork but I blame that on an oven that gets hotter than the dial says. Every now and again I get the urge to slick back my hair with jello. I am building a tree house. I wish you wouldn't flick your butts in my yard. I guess that pretty much sums it up. Oh yeah... I almost forgot... I am the bartender at the Rat Hole Lounge.

My Friendster testimonial for Paul:

How to make your very own Paul: Mix a teaspoon of ingenuity from the Professor on Gilligan’s Island; half cup of Howard Finster’s mojo; two tablespoons of a pack rat’s obsession; some assorted paints; a bucket o’ anecdotes; collard greens and beets; some vinyl full of old country tunes; a bottle of spirits; and some dice. Stir ingredients together, bake in a dutch oven until the next blue moon, and turn it loose in an alley on Trash Day for an hour. Vuoa la!

Paul’s bungalow is the best spot to hang out in Louisville.

He owns the duplex, and lives on the left side. The front yard is a short, but steep hill that is climbed by about five concrete steps. Typically the front door is wide open, even when Paul is not home. (He claims an open door gives the impression that someone is home. Furthermore, he doesn’t own any expensive equipment such as a fancy tv or computer, that would be worth stealing.)

So let me take you on a tour. From the front porch we enter into the living room. If you have a cell phone, you’ll be asked to check it at the door. Just leave it in the sink. No, the sink does not work. Do not ask why there’s a sink in the living room. Next is the bedroom, then hallway and bathroom, den, kitchen and stairway to the rat hole lounge (basement). Whichever room you are in, you will be inundated by Paul’s voodoo art. His house, like a geode, encapsulates a collage of junk-treasure that grows inward like crystals.