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Like, Moooo, Man
posted: 03/27/07

Lately I've been drinking organic milk. The organic milk I've been drinking makes the following claims on the business end of its pale green and white carton skin:

  • Produced without pesticides or antibiotics.
  • Organic milk is wholesome and delicious, naturally.

And, 'round back, the promises continue. I include them in their entirety.

  • Healthy cows give quality milk: The dairy cows that produce This Brand Here's Organic Milk enjoy a healthy mix of fresh air, plenty of exercise, clean drinking water and a wholesome, 100% certified organic diet, all contributing to the high quality of their milk.
  • No chemicals are ever used: They eat only organic corn and grains grown without pesticides or chemicals. They never receive antibiotics and, since healthy, content cows produce milk plentifully, growth hormones are never needed.
  • Oraganic farms are safe for the environment: To preserve the soil and control pests, organic farmers manage the land carefully and naturally. No chemicals are used that could damage the biodiversity of the land or run off into water supplies.


I am struck, as I would be (wouldn't I?), by a few things. Yes, I am of course going to tell you these few things.

1) The sentence construction and grammar on these cows pretty much blows. A dozen copies of Strunk & White to the farm, please.

2) These cows sound far happier, significantly less stressed and potentially infinitely more healthy than I. Certainly at the moment.

3) When I think of these wonderful, magical organic cows, images of lithe, giddy and giggling, shiny-coated Elsies grazing and chewing upon "naturally occurring" fields of reefer come to mind. Once or twice a day a game of frisbee is called. Sing-alongs break out as the mood strikes. The Man does not hassle. Bovine Love abounds.

Like, Mooooo, maaaan.

And I'm sure it's only, say, 8 hours a day that these groovy cows are hooked up to an automated milker. These cows don't need their buzz harshed.

Around these parts we have a couple of organic grocery store/market types of places (granola-crunchy cow juice above is available at Safeway, should you have a craving - it's really quite tasty), mostly in upper-scale neighborhoods, so far anyway. I only recently started going to them, for a few things I can't find anywhere else, mostly (sweet almond oil... which I'll sheepishly admit I use for nail care, and I really never in my life thought I'd be concerned about nail care). In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you that I feel awfully bourgeois going into these stores. I suppose the general marketing idea and the vibe these uppity, insanely priced shops try to convey is a sort of "you're treating yourself specially, healthfully/you're being responsible in buying product that lacks an overabundant quantity of surplus sinfulness present in other product stocked at other, fatefully immoral venues/you're doing it for the cows, aren't you, you cow-loving muffin of goodness."

But really, when I go to a Freshfield's or Whole Foods, as I walk down the aisles and my eyes wash over the specially harvested tamarind almonds and the brightly-hued hydroponic vegetables and the specially grown blue tortilla chips in the smart and slightly superior-looking little packaging and the endless array of FDA-abhored dietary supplements in the "drug" bins... it really feels like more of a value judgement than anything.

I can feel the eyes on me as I walk from display to display, looking, looking. Never finding. Because all I really want is some extra-crunchy Jif. Do you have it in bulk? And Chips Ahoy! (?) Reduced fat, if you stock it, please. And all I get is scorn. I am so very inorganic. I do not belong here. I am an aberration. I guess it's back to Safeway with me.

Those Paul Newman chocolate-chocolate chip cookies are freakin' ecstasy, aren't they? "Organic" aisle, Safeway, though they've been out for weeks. All they have are orange-flavored. Which reminds me - in terms of flavor - too much of vanilla sugar cookies and punch after school in the third grade.

So anyway. I think earlier this week, maybe Tuesday or so, was the first time I really felt decent again since I got sick on New Year's Day, in the Oh Three. I finally got out this last weekend and skied and hiked. It was cold, yo. I think it was what I needed to continue to blow out the curdling remnants of death that were still inside me, as I felt as if I had vital organs filled to overflowing with a pre-apocalyptic store of battery acid and rat poison throughout my period of heavy chunder. (Men at Work, c. 1982.)

Early this morning, around 4:57am according to my digital cable box with 3 million candlepower LED display, I woke from a particularly disturbing dream. Occasionally I remember my dreams these days. More often than not, I don't, but this one left a more or less indelible mark. Part of the... fun, I guess it is, is linking various real-life events to dreams one has. Some are quite obvious, for me at least. A lot of my dreams are highly visual, and many of them are somewhat contextual, but almost always related to real-world images I've experienced in some form or another. Sort of. I think.

At any rate.

I am in New York City. It's funny. I used to call it Manhattan when I lived there. To call Manhattan "New York City," I remember reading somewhere, is sort of low-class. People who live in Manhattan know where they are. It's an island. It's called Manhattan. That's where you are. "People from New Jersey call it 'New York City.'" I remember being told by a lifetime New Yorker. But I don't live there anymore, so I was in New York City.

I'm on some kind of orienteering outing. This is very odd. I don't really orienteer. Frequently I have a hard enough time finding a place to park. But there I am. I'm with a few other folks. Most of them are Latino and/or Asian. This is because I watched Crazy/Beautiful earlier that night. I suppose, realistically, we must have been in Central Park, as this is the only place in Manhattan with sufficient tree cover, but then again, folks generally don't venture into the woods in Central Park unless they're looking for trouble. But anyway, we're finishing up on the orienteering for the day, and for some reason I have a car - which I totally would not and did not have when I lived in Manhattan, because it's wrong to drive in Manhattan, and it's particularly wrong, and grossly expensive, to park a car in Manhattan - and a few of the guys I'm orienteering with need a ride home, so I offer. Which is also what happened in Crazy/Beautiful, except I'm not nearly so perky and pixieish as Kirsten Dunst [a woman whom no bra shall tame, evidently], and I'm not really into Latino or Asian guys. But hey, whatever. It's just a dream. I'm not responsible.

We're heading uptown, and the Latino guy I'm giving a lift says he lives up in the Bronx. And I say cool, that I'd been to the Bronx and had looked for an apartment there once. Which is b.s. I did, before I moved to Manhattan, look at some listings in The Village Voice and very, very briefly considered looking in Washington Heights, which is up way high in the Bronx, but I never did, and I really never went any higher than 135th and Malcolm X Blvd. in Harlem (which is a really, really funny story in itself, but, as my stories generally are, it's long and ponderous and possibly anecdotally inferior and I don't have the energy at the moment), except via train. And the Latino guy - I'm sorry, I didn't get a name - asks me where in the Bronx I looked for an apartment and I say something like 121st Street. And the guy says, "Oh. Cool." And one of or both of us is full of crap, because 121st Street isn't even in the Bronx.

So we get up to the guy's neighborhood, and we're making a left, and another left, and we're driving south now and there are huge, huge, huge buildings to either side and directly in front of us. Which is a result of my looking at one of the absolute top photo sites I've seen out there - - which is updated weekly with some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and frequently moving photos of New York I've ever seen (please check out the Coney Island photo series - make sure you click on the gallery, and while you're doing that, you should listen to this.). The buildings have a cathedral-like quality to them in terms of architectural detail. In my dream. They are not necessarily in the shape of a cathedral, with spires and a nave or anything like that, but there is ornamentation to these buildings that is similar to some of the gothic dressing you find on some of the more ornately built grand houses of worship and various God-typery here and there and everywhere. It was absolutely stunning and overwhelming.

We make a third left, and now we are headed west, and I think we're on 120-something street, though the neighborhood is in reality, as in the real-world, all wrong, and suddenly, and you have to remember that this is a dream, the car is gone. So now I'm walking west with... I'm gonna call him Luis, if that's okay with you. So Luis and I are walking west on 120-something, and now I'm really just interested in knowing where the train is, and though I know rationally that there's one at 116th, like, right across the street from Columbia, where there's a great Chinese place called Ollie's and it's only three blocks from where I used to live, but for some reason in the dream 120-something street was way the heck up in the Bronx, and were talking like I'd have to get on Metro North or something up there and then transfer at 196th - what would in semi-reality be something like 196th... or 225th... now I'm getting confused.

In the dream I was way up here and needed to get way down there. How's that? Things were not as they are. I was far from home.

So Luis says no problem, just walk up a few blocks with Ol' Luis and I'd find the big train station of transferitude. So we walk west on 120-something and we're doing that, we're walking, and then on the left this store appears. It's sort of boutiquey. And Luis wants to go in. It has this long, sort of covered walkway that leads to the main door, it's kind of dark in this walkway, and there's a very nice, upholstered bench sitting outside.

Before we go any further into this shop, I should tell you that the name of this shop, according to the sign, was Barry Linville's. I have no idea. The shop's name was in sort of blocky, raised-white-on-gold cursive on a blue, textured background that seemed to be manufactured to look like velvet but wasn't, on account of weather resistance. I don't know why the name, or why I remember it so vividly. I can only think that it's part 'Barry Lyndon,' as in the film, and part 'Larry Linville,' who played Frank Burns on "M*A*S*H," the TV series. Yeah... I know. I'm a freak.

So I follow Luis into this walkway, and I feel the fabric on the upholstered bench ouside, and it's a sort of, again, very weather-resistant velvet. Except it really is: velvet, in a sort of coarsely cut pattern. I used this kind of very quick brushing motion, like the bench was hot, or shouldn't really be touched, like it was in a museum. The interior of the shop is very smartly done up, and there is furniture all around, mostly 17th and 18th century French with some Colonial mixed in. I don't know how I know this, but I do. A woman comes up out of the back room to greet us and says, "Well hello. Are you two good and successful men?"

Which was, yes, odd. And not a very nice thing to say.

And I responded, feeling very much like Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie making a single, solitary point in the face of assured ruin, "Let me tell you something. We're both good people, which..."

And then I couldn't think of anything to say.

I saw a nice table and chair set for which the woman - who was the woman who answers the phones at the main entrance of the building where I work, in the real - wanted a mere $200. Luis and I agreed this was a very fair price, if not an outright steal. Then we left.

We continued walking west and crossed under an overpass (in real life I suppose this could have conceivably been the Hudson Parkway). Luis assured me that the train station was just up a slight hill. We were crossing a service road and starting up a slight rise to an intersection when Luis pointed up to the sky.

"What's the Channel 9 chopper doing up there?" Luis asks. I couldn't see that it was Channel Anything, and I didn't have an answer. I could, however, see a chopper hovering between two apartment buildings. A tree stood just up the hill, slightly obstructing the view (there are no trees, but whatever). The sky was blue, but there were some patchy clouds hanging low. I thought I heard something above. We are still walking.

In the next several seconds, we would find out why the chopper was hovering. A flash of metal appeared to the right, and several hundred or perhaps even thousand feet above the us, in the air. It was a plane. It was circling. Violently. Possibly planted in my head following the hi-jacked Cessna menacing Frankfurt recently. It was a big plane. We saw it turn, then disappear into cloud. Then turn again. And now it was diving. Nosefirst. Right at us.

There are other people on the street. Everyone starts to run. Luis and I begin running up a grass embankment (there is no grass). It's only a few seconds now. I can see into the cockpit that is coming right at us. It's a United jet. A big one. Dark blue bird. White letters.

It is milliseconds before impact and people are running and screaming. The jet crashes about 200 feet behind us next to the freeway. I had seen the aftermath of a horrible SUV crash through a guardrail into a culvert over the weekend. I am still running up this hill and getting nowhere.

The sound I hear is not unlike a soda can being opened. Pppzziiit. It is not loud. It is subtle. And now everything goes very orange and very, very hot. I do not know where Luis is.

I wake myself up.

When I was much, much younger, I used to have a recurring nightmare. I learned to wake myself up from it at a specific point, and it wasn't a fake-o wakeup, where you dream you wake up but you're really asleep, and you've pissed yourself or something. I could really do it: I could really wake up. As I've gotten older, I've lost the ability somewhat, but occasionally I still have it. I'm glad I had it this morning.

There is a part of me that is scared to return to New York. But I will.

Well, that was depressing.

I still don't have my Stuff To Do In The Oh Three list done. So gimme a little more time, there.

The record will be out early-April. Thanks for asking. I've already started to put together some things for the followup and I'm looking at recording system upgrades and things. Remember when there was a stock market? Wasn't that cool?

Oh, and no, not that it needs to be said, but I'm not gay. I don't think the fact that I was carting a Latino guy around in my car and looking at very nice home furnishings means anything. At the moment, anyway.

I'll leave you with this small bit of advice. Not that you asked.

If you should find yourself in search of a soulmate, and it occurs to you that the best place to find that soulmate is on national television, in competition with 30 other people of your gender, who also seek that one special person, and that one special person you all seek is on national television with the rest of your tong, and your special someone's worth in any department is questionable, here's what I think you should do.

You should recognize, right now, that you are screwed, and that you will never be happy with anyone. That's step one: acceptance.

Step two is easy, once you know how. And here's the plan. Next, just pick a random someone to whom you'll start paying alimony, immediately. Go ahead and get that ball rolling, so you can get used to it. Don't bother easing in. Just get those checks in the mail to the recipient of your choosing straightaway. Because you're going to be paying for this the rest of your life, you silly bag of freshly-squeezed loaf.

I think I need to get organic.


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Last updated, fixified, or otherwise jiggered: 03/27/07.