ARTS

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October 12, 2001

The government is lying to us about the drugs

When I was five, I said “fuck" for the first time. It happens. Everybody says it, sooner or later. The circumstances of my first f-bomb, however, were more graphic and personally demeaning than most. “Fuck," now such an indispensable part of my verbal retinue, made its jungfrau appearance at a family dinner. It was me, my parents, my sister, my maternal grandparents, and most of my mother's nuclear family, which is large. Dinner had concluded, and we were discussing the futures market over brandy and embargoed cheeses. (Embellishment. My sister was telling everyone about her Barbie dolls.)

I interrupted the genteel murmur that was and remains the calling card of the Beatty family dinner as I stood up, tore off my ascot, palmed the carcass of the savory game hen that had been the sup's main course, and chucked the recently dead fowl clear into the billiard room. It was at that point that I punched my sister in the teeth, and commandeered control of the Barbie dolls she was using to make a point about whatever it is seven-year-old girls make points about. She had been saying “This is Ken and Barbie dancing," and making the dolls do a little dance on the table.

It should be noted that the dolls were naked, presumably to make her point all the more trenchant.

I took the dolls and I mashed their crotches together and I said, in what has been since described as an outside voice, “This is Ken and Barbie fucking."

My father was not happy. If he would have hit me or disowned me or possibly impaled me on a fallen tree, it would have been better. It would have been better than the profound look of disappointment his face took on at that moment. That look has only recently begun to go away.

When I was nine, I threw a wad of did into a complete stranger's face. Unless you are from Northeastern Ohio and spend a lot of time in the lakes of Northeastern Ohio, you don't know what the did is. I had been playing with my cousins and sister in Lake Erie. I come from a place that has a lake. The lake is called Coe Lake. It used to be a quarry, so it's not really a lake. The only shared interest it has with a lake is that it is water-based. Coe Lake is a very bad lake. It has water moccasins. I don't know how they got there, but there are definitely water moccasins. Where most lakes have a bottom made out of sand or rocks, Coe Lake has a floor made out of a mysterious substance known as “did," which is neither mud nor rocks nor broken glass nor abandoned bicycles, but somehow combines the worst elements of all four. I thought the did was unique to Coe Lake, but one summer at Cedar Point, much to our delight, we found a second did patch. Since there were no water moccasins to worry about, we decided to have a did fight. It was a good did fight. My cousin pegged me with a pretty big chunk of did, and I needed to make her pay. So I went stealth, diving under the water. While I was down there, I found perhaps the greatest wad of did ever seen on this earth. I knew what to do. I came up, whirled around, and smashed the wad of did into the face of the first person I saw. However, it wasn't anyone I knew. It was a middle-aged guy with a beard. He said “What the fuck?" and then “Come here, you little piece of shit."

I went back under the water and swam very far away from the angry, did-covered beard that wanted to lecture me about did etiquette.

One Christmas, I got tired of waiting for my presents. I searched the house for them. I found them under the unused ping-pong table in the basement. I cut them open with an Xacto knife and played with them clandestinely for several weeks. Then I retaped and acted surprised as shit on Christmas morning.

Despite what I may have told you, I never beat Super Mario Brothers. I couldn't get by the Hammer Brothers on 8-3. I lied to you.

I broke one of my friend's Transformers. It was not an accident. There was resent.

I pissed the bed after drinking too much pop before I went to sleep once. This is not so bad. But I didn't tell anyone that I pissed the bed. And it wasn't my bed. It was someone else's sofa bed. I just folded the couch back up and let the piss sit there. I haven't been to that kid's house in a long time, but I am willing to bet that my piss is still there.

Most of the things I bought when I was a little kid were financed by stealing all the quarters from my sister's dresser.

I ate some of my roommate's pierogi the other day without asking.

I punched my friend A-Ray in the face once. There was no good reason to do it. We had been arguing about who would be the owner of the last Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and I escalated what needn't have been escalated. I was subsequently punched in the balls. The sad part is that I was 17 when this happened.

I routinely antagonized my dog Eloise. While it is true that the dog started it, I should have been the bigger person and just forgiven her. We remained estranged until her passing.

I stole more than a few packs of cigarettes when I was in seventh grade. I stole them from a small mom and pop grocery store that went out of business a few months later.

I stole a digital watch from Revco around that time also.

I smashed some guy's taillight in the parking lot at Hopkins Airport while getting out of a tight spot. I did not leave a note.

I fell down a cliff once while high.

I laugh at people who should not be laughed at.

I threw a medicine ball at my sister once. It broke a lamp.

I have driven drunk. To Taco Bell. Three times in one night.

My sister put the cat in the microwave once. She didn't turn it on. I tell you this so you understand that I was not the bad one. The others were the bad ones. I was merely following the example of the other bad children.

The Bible tells us that “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind." Well I've done my share of house-troubling, and I can safely say that I have no idea what the Bible is talking about.

But I do know one thing: I like cats. I saw one walking down Kimbark the other day. He was just walking down the street like that's something cats get to do, just sort of strut around like they own this place. I stopped and tried to pet him and may have also said something like “Hello Mr. Cat, how are you this afternoon?" but he just looked at me and continued on his way. I was kind of embarrassed. Not so much that the cat hadn't stopped to talk to me, but that the three people within earshot of me who heard me talking to the cat were now looking at me like I was some kind of retard, which I evidently am.

I am now sitting at a desk while the people I am sitting between are attempting to discuss something. Instead of facilitating, or at least not actively attempting to disrupt their conversation, I am just saying “nobagelnobagelnobagelnobagelnobagel" over and over again, like Kramer in the episode of “Seinfeld" where he goes on strike at the bagel shop.

I am a Retard.

But I do have what some have described as anywhere from “decent" to “slightly better than decent" taste in music. And as such, I feel that it is my duty to tell you about this band. They are from Wales. They used to have a tank they drove around to concerts. Then they sold it to Peter Gabriel. They are called the Super Furry Animals.

There are five SFAs, as the acronym-disposed hispter calls them. Their names are Gruff, Dafydd, Huw, Guto and Cian.

They have made the following albums: Fuzzy Logic, Radiator, Guerrilla, Mwng, and now Rings Around the World. They are disposed towards singing in Welsh, at times. Mwng is entirely in Welsh. They have a habit of name-checking Che Guavara. Which is not cool. But they also had a song called “Hanging with Howard Marks." Howard Marks was allegedly responsible for 95 percent of the marijuana in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That is cool.

One of their songs from Mwng is about beehives. That is not the point. The point is that they released a newish album in July. That would be Rings Around the World. It has yet to see stateside release. This is a shame.

Rings is the first album ever to be released simultaneously on CD and on DVD in 5.1 surround sound with short films commissioned for each track. Some critics seem to think Rings is something of a letdown. Everyone readily admits that it has a handful of dynamite singles. But a lot of people dismiss it as less than great, on account of two or three horrendously bloated, druggy songs that drag on past their welcome, and a couple of otherwise good songs that devolve into a nightmarish hell of screaming and grating IDM.

The people who say these things are fucking retarded, but not in a good way like me. SFA does not play a bad note on this album. Sure, small slices of Rings are kind of scary. The end of “No Sympathy" is actually frightening, with the buzzing and the atonality and the clanging and the “eeeeeeee." But these Welsh fuckers had the audacity to record a seven-minute ballad about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and the sex and the cigars. One, that happened like four years ago. But it's news to SFA, because they do tons and tons of expensive drugs that are better than anything your culture-grubbing suburban dog brain can understand. And any jackass can tell you, if you can afford good drugs, you will be much better off for spending that extra stack to get that much hiiiigher.

God I wish I were in the Super Furry Animals. Just for one day. That is all I want, God. But I'm not. The best I can do is to make believe and live through the magical plastic mirror that is their record. I don't feel obligated to actually criticize this record and tell you what it sounds like, and how you might like it if you like this and this and that and this one band from Norway with like, six guitars. Because it is better than all that. I said magic and I meant MAGIC. This record, as I see things, has magical powers.

I paid $30 for this record and I do not regret doing this, on account of its magical powers of healing. It not only heals my body, it heals my soul. It takes away all the pain of the bad things that I have done or enabled in my time. From this perspective, it was worth $30. You are not worth $30, but if you buy Rings Around the World, I am willing to reconsider.