L.A. Noir: The Donut Man

“I was driving for a tow company in L.A. We had official police tow contracts for three cities and it was busy, with lots of freeway work. Towing stuff for cops, AAA stuff, and crashes. You know, the crashes can get gory as hell.”

“There was this one driver named Ralphie Bermudez. Ralphie liked crashes, gory ones. The gorier the better, stuff that nobody wanted to see. He loved that shit.”

“So he’d show up at just about every really splattery gross crash, but he’d stop on the way. And he’d get a dozen jelly donuts and bring them to the scene.”

“He’d walk up eating one, try to hand them out, kinda squeeze them at people. ‘Who wants a jelly donut? Jelly donuts for everyone!’ People would get grossed out, like, c’mon Ralphie. That’s not cool. He’d just keep chuckling.”

“Yeah, that was Ralphie. Jelly donut Ralphie.”

What does this “toy” require of us?

Give me back my filet-o-ghost

The mechanical fish wants us to return the fast-food meal consisting of dismembered and reconstituted real fish that has been fried and then frozen and then reheated and sold at a McDonalds. How are we to respond? Is this a Scrooge/Marley scenario? Is the mechanical fish a vengeful ghost? Can we “give back” this item to the mechanical revenge ghost fish in any way that is meaningful? Why won’t it shut up? How did we get to this place? SHIELD ME FROM THE FISH


Hi everybody!

I see a lot of weird stuff in the news lately about Death Panels and Death Books. I don’t know a lot about those but they sound bad. However, I know a lot about Death Trucks because I see them on the freeway every day. The Death Trucks must have the same schedule as I because the same ones always show up. They are:

THE MOLTEN SULFUR TRUCK. These may come from Hell. They are en route from south to north, anyway. I see at least one every day. I don’t know who uses entire tanker truckloads of molten sulfur but I don’t want to work there. I also don’t like being right next to that truck. I figure a molten sulfur truck crash would be final in an unpleasant way.

THE ODORLESS PRESSURIZED NATURAL GAS TRUCK. You know the gas in the stove? When it leaks you smell it which means you can run like hell and call the fire department before you are 1) asphyxiated or 2) blasted into liverwurst or 3) both. This truck has a truck-sized cylinder of the stuff, at high pressure, without the smelly stuff. So I’ll be clueless and/or asphyxiated and/or liverwurst all at once when the small hole in the cylinder is going FSSSSHT and I’m behind it.

THE VERY HOT ASPHALT TRUCK. It looks like the other two but with a sign indicating that it’s entirely full of the street, except the street when it’s 1000 degrees and bubbly. I have a vivid imagination and I immediately close my window when I see the Very Hot Asphalt Truck. I don’t want to be the street.

THE STAKE BED TRUCK WITH POISON CYLINDERS. This is your basic big pickup with a wooden stake bed in it, driven by tired and beery working men. There is all kinds of pump and spray and goop splatter equipment in the back, and then there are ten or so big gas cylinders which are PRETTY MUCH secured with chains. The truck and the cylinders are all marked with skulls and crossbones, or the hand with the caustic substance burning it, and the fire symbol, and maybe a devil’s head. The guys in the truck are beyond caring. You know, if a cylinder like that falls over and breaks its valve, it becomes a high speed doom torpedo spraying poison out the back. That would rule!

THE TRUCK WITH THE BIG SHARP HEAVY BUT BOUNCY ITEM ON IT. You know this one. It’s a flat bed with a huge metal item on it. The item is pointy and protrudes from the back of the truck a few feet, and is thick and heavy also. It usually looks like a poorly sharpened rail for a train. It bumps up and down cheerfully in the back of the truck, straining at the slender chains and ropes that are draped lightly on it. It’s almost always at eye level.

and last but not least

THE AMATEUR MOVING TRUCK. You know how old WW II ships on the History Channel try to blow up submarines? They have this thing on the back of the ship that dumps oil barrel sized bombs every half second or so, so they burble down into the water and blow up and mess up the submarine. These do that with sofas.

And that’s my death trucks.

And this just in from the Messed-Up Dead Things Desk

mendel : This is neat but morbid:

mendel : There is a cemetery in WA which has a bell: http://flickr.com/photos/travels_of_a_taphophile/494278720/in/photostream/

mendel : Inside the bell this person found a jar: http://flickr.com/photos/travels_of_a_taphophile/494279440/in/photostream/

mendel : Which was stuck on with magnets and uhm well http://flickr.com/photos/travels_of_a_taphophile/494279180/in/photostream/

(I also hope that every time they get a "customer" at the cemetery they ring the bell, like when they make a sale at a car dealership. –Ed.)

in memoriam

Thomas Disch apparently died a suicide on the 4th.

He was a fine writer and a fascinating man. It was a privilege to talk with him on Livejournal after years of reading him, back to my childhood.

He’d been through a lot in his last years and was often a terribly bitter and angry man. It’s not surprising that he left this way, just very sad.

On Dying in Southern California

My great-uncle Lee spent his last few months in a well-run County hospital in the California high desert.

At least once a week we’d make the drive there to see him. The hospital was a few miles out of town, next door to a prison. Lee was in the quietest part of a quiet hospital, both inside and outside his room. Gardeners worked on the landscaping outside, but that’s all the activity I saw. The grounds were very well-kept.

After I talked to Lee, I’d go outside and wait for the others. Nothing ever happened at that place, so I have no idea how long I’d been there. It was just me, the constant desert wind, and some plants and flowers flopping gently around. I could hear the lines clanking on the flag pole. Periodically there would be an engine noise, or a gardener would go by with some machine or tool.

This week i’ve spent some time ill. Because my back and shoulder went out on me, I am in a different bed and bedroom than usual to get the big flat bed. It’s a quieter and darker end of the house, and the big window opens onto the back yard. The weather has been very warm. My neighborhood is quiet, and not much at all happens there. I found myself flat on my back, not wanting to move, and listening to the clink and clank of hanging plants, wind chimes at near dead stop, rustling leaves, and distant suburban background noises like lawnmowers and pool parties.

I felt as though Death Himself had arrived. Time to sit up, stand up, move into the other room, and hurt more. I know what happens if you get stuck in a slow, warm, quiet, breezy Southern California day full of manicured plants and long silences. YOU DIE, THAT’S WHAT.