August – You Bastard – You Killed Jerry Garcia and Made My Dog Sad [California Seething]
Jerry Garcia died the day I left Albany for good, August 9, 1995. In an apparent murder-suicide, he took my childhood with him. (NOTE TO MILLENNIAL FUCKWADS: I don’t want to hear how old you were in 1995. Whether you were in Middle School, Elementary School or Diapers, I don’t want to know about it. And wipe that patronizing “listening to Grampa Simpson tell his Lollapalooza Mosh-Pit Stories for the 10,000th Time” smirk off your soul-patched, hipster side-burned, weasely little face. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the suckers who showed up too late to the Great Global House Party of cheap gas, music videos and nuclear anxiety that was the 20th Century and arrived just in time to mop up the puke, save the polar bears, and recycle our empties to pay for healthcare. Have fun with that, kids. Hey- if you’re lucky, maybe you can scrape out a little resin ball of Contentment from the huge bowl of Prosperity we smoked last century. That was some gooooood shit.)
Anyhow, I always felt like by dying right as I left my hometown for the Big City, that Jerry was looking out for me, protecting me from myself. It’s like he was saying: “Hey man, I know you’re moving to New York to follow your dreams and that’s groovy and all, but it’s going to suck major dog-balls for the first few years, so, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to go ahead and die That way, while you’re telemarketing credit cards to old people who can barely afford the minimum payment, or cleaning toilets in comedy clubs for stage time and tips, or getting turned down for that sweet job at Brookstone (fucking personality test- I was this close before they made me take that thing. Angry and anti-social my fucking balls, you ass-face corporate novelty electronics retail Nazi pigs!) you won’t be kicking yourself the whole time for not dropping out of life instead and following me around in a beat up purple school bus called the 420 Express (next stop- Terrapin Station) playing bongos and selling Super Kind Veggie Burritos in the parking lot outside Giants Stadium before scoring that miracle ticket and catching your 10,000th show. Nope, I’m just gonna die and take this happy, hairy, hippy fantasy down to the grave with me so that you can just keep grinding away in miserable under-employment until you make something halfway useful out of yourself. I mean, what’s the alternative- follow Phish? Phuck that.”
Anyhow, if he was looking out for me, it’s kind of amazing to think that he would sacrifice his life to keep me from using patchouli in lieu of showering. I mean, it was kind of a dick move to his band, employees, family, friends and millions of dedicated fans who counted on him to bring meaning to their otherwise dreary lives, but still, nice of him to think of me. What a mensch.
Of course, there’s another way to look at it: Killing Jerry Garcia is just the sort of dirty, underhanded trick that a yellow-toothed, joyless little sniveling tax auditor of a month like August would come up with. Soooo typical.
After all, August is all about saying goodbye to things that are good and bracing yourself for a long stretch of suck. It’s like one long Sunday afternoon- still technically the weekend, but the game is over, you’ve got a Mimosa hangover from brunch and the twitchy lump of cold dread starts to build in your stomach as you anticipate the long week of PowerPoint slides and “Reply All’s” to come. For those of you out there that still bother with “seasons” August is all about that one last hotdog from the road-side shack before it closes for the season, one last cannonball into the town pool, one last topless make-out session on a field full of fireflies – one last taste of the good life before you’re back to slogging through slush and snow. (Hey, Smug East Coasters- how’d you like that itty-bitty Earthquake. Fun, right? Like God put a quarter in the motel bed and you can’t make it stop. So much for “We might have snow, but at least we don’t have earthquakes” HA! Say hi to IRENE for me, suckaz! My thoughts and prayers go out to all disaster victims everywhere.)
Not even us typically reliable Jews can find a holiday to liven up this dreary month. That’s really saying something, considering we observe a narrowly thwarted genocide at the hands of a crazed Persian Megalomaniac with costumes, booze and cookies. Leave it up to the Jews and in a few hundred years, we could be observing 9/11 with Bin Ladin-tashen (apricot jam stuffed turban shaped cookies - yumtastic! Who’s with me? It’s funny cause he’s dead!) The best we can muster in August is a second rate fast day to commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temple, both of which took place on the 9th of Av- now widely regarded as the worst day in Jewish Real Estate history- second only, perhaps, to that unfortunate day when God sold Abraham the only little plot of dessert in the whole Middle East with no fucking oil. ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ my ass. They can buy all the fucking Milk and Honey they want in Kuwait with limitless petro-dollars, and still put up an indoor mall with a ski slope. What have we got in Israel? A big salty lake full of mud-covered Germans and terrorism. What a gyp.
There are really only two redeeming things about August:
- Going back to school
Back to School
The best thing about going Back to School is that I don’t have to do it EVER again. For those unlucky souls that do have to go Back to School, it’s a miserable slog through hell. For me, it’s a pleasant validation of all the life choices I’ve made that have led to me having nothing to do with the educational system- most notably getting older and not teaching. This is a time for me to reflect about how great it is that I never again have to smell the wax on the floors, hear the clanging of lockers of feel the soul crushing weight of a book-bag bulging with meaningless crap I’m going to have to shove in my brain like an endless cafeteria meal of pointless knowledge. At this time of year, I am elated that I don’t have to worry about tests, study for tests, write tests, take tests, grade tests or fail tests and that the only homework I do involves working on my home, and if I don’t get it done, I’m the only one who knows that I Need Improvement. Well, and my wife and dog also know. That dog is particularly judgmental. He’s looking at me right now wondering why I’m not fixing up the kitchen. Maybe he’s wondering why I’m not making bacon for him in the kitchen. Maybe he just wants to go for a walk. Maybe he sees a squirrel. I don’t know. He’s a dog for Christsake- how the hell am I supposed to what he wants? Why won’t he talk to me?? How am I failing you, Lenny??? OK, I’m back. He’s barking at a baby outside. A-Dorable.
Anyhow, for me, Back to School equals Back to Schadenfreude. Sure, I may resent being stuck in an office all day while kids and teachers are frolicking by the beach on their summer vacations, but come the end of August, all you suckers are suffocating together in the stultifying air of the classroom while I’m still napping at my desk and checking Facebook all day in the air conditioning. By the way, you should all check out the great deals on all of my Back to Schadenfreude merchandise at Target- including book covers that say “If you were in Japan, you’d already know this” with a little picture of an out-of-shape Uncle Sam losing a race with the rest of the world; plastic backpacks that say “It only feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders because you’ll need to fix the planet which we’ve ravaged to make these backpacks” and inspirational posters that say “Stay in School! There’s no jobs out there, anyhow” and has an adorable picture of a kitten choking to death on a bowl full of Ramen. For teachers- I’ve got my Rotten Apple line of puffy paint sweatshirts with slogans like “It’s possible you haven’t wasted your life”, “You’re still fine- they’ve gotten dumber”, “With any luck you’ll be dead before one of them is President” and “If you can read this, thank a teacher! If you can’t- thank the Republicans.”
Don’t get me wrong- I have huge respect for teachers. They do an incredibly difficult job and maintain a level of pep unimaginable to the rest of us without fistfuls of anti-depressants washed down with gallons of 5 Hour Energy. It’s a selfless, noble calling- like being a nurse, a firefighter or a fluffer- and, as with all these occupations, it’s a dirty job but somebody else has got to do it.
Let’s be very clear here. August is hands down, no holds barred, unquestionably the WORST month of the year for sports. The only championship of any kind is the Little League World Series, a three week tournament sure to delight fans of aluminum bats, heart-warming stories of small town kids overcoming adversity and homoerotic pedophilia- like a Bad News Bears franchise reboot directed by Gus Van Sant. As far as Major League Baseball goes- it’s even more boring than usual- the Red Sox and Yankees are playing each other for the 9000th time, Dodger fans are passing the hat to cover payroll and Pirates fans are in the basement pondering suicide, again. Really, the only sport even remotely worth watching in August is pre-season football- and, let’s be honest that’s only barely worth watching. While it’s true that the Lockout sharpened our collective appetites for pre-season football the way a low carb diet sharpens your appetite for a stale hot-dog bun, it’s still pretty dry and flavorless once you try and choke it down. The only really good thing about pre-season football is that the games are replayed over and over again, pretty much 24 hours a day on NFL Network, so I can easily avoid any of the other really horrible shit going on this August. Economic collapse, environmental catastrophe, the rise of the American Tea-liban. I don’t know shit about any of it because I’m watching the Giants beat the Bears in Week 2 of the pre-season for the 4000th time. Ahh, sweet sports, is there any unpleasant reality you can’t insulate me from? (By the way, I simply must get my hands new version of the Bible that the Tea Party uncovered. You know, the one that leaves out all of that helping out poor and sick people crap. I always thought the New Testament was way too pussy.)
Even though I use pre-season games like packing peanuts to protect my consciousness from any bumps or potholes it may accidentally encounter on the information highway – like the fact that Rick Perry might be our next president or Long Island is under water (actually, that’s not so bad. Probably the best thing that could happen to Long Island is that it would sink into the ocean and someday be spoken of in hushed tones like a 21st Century Atlantis with fake tans and Jews who can’t keep their hands off Italians. What’s up with that? Is it the pizza?) I can’t actually say that any of these games are really worth watching. They do, however, bring hope. And hope is in short supply in August, especially this August. I’m not talking about that bullshit Obama hope we all got jacked up on three years ago before we found out he was just a Republican patsy who knew how to use Facebook (that may be unfair to Obama, but fuck him for making me believe in stuff in the first place. I would have been perfectly happy voting for an “America’s a shithole but at least I’m not Bush” ticket, but, nooooo, he had to go and make me believe that this god-awful country was actually worth saving. Well, the joke’s on all of us, cause apparently, we’re fucked! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Where’d all my money go?)
I’m talking about Real Hope. The hope that we’ll have soon some REAL distraction back in our lives – NFL, NBA (hopefully), College Basketball, even Hockey if that’s the sort of kinky shit you’re into. Soon- we’ll be able to hope for better highlights on SportsCenter than some pudgy hick catching a foul ball or some other hick driving a car in a circle. Soon there will be Touchdowns and Tackles, Quarterback Sneaks and Quarterback Sacks, big First Down plays and big First Round busts. Soon, we will be asked if we are ready for some football – and we, as a nation, will joyfully respond that YES, YES we most certainly are. Now turn off the news- Michelle Bachman is talking shit about the Renaissance again. Crazy bitch.
So there you have it. Maybe August isn’t so bad after all. As long as you can grit your teeth and suffer through it, there’s bound to be better stuff to come on the other side (unless you’re a teacher.) Besides, what choice do you have? It’s not like you can drop out of life and go follow the Dead. Noooo, Jerry Garcia made damn sure that couldn’t happen. Selfish hippy fuck. At least he could have waited to die until after I turned 40. By then, I would have outgrown my dirty bohemian, Deadhead fantasies for sure. Maybe. I don’t know. My dog certainly thinks otherwise, and it’s making him sad. Or maybe that’s the lack of bacon. Who the hell knows? Maybe he wants to watch the re-play of the Eagles game again with me. Yeah, that must be it. If you need either of us, we’ll be hiding out on the couch until September.
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featured image credit: zooomabooma