Vampires. I’m a huge fan of horror movies, but I’ve really began to loathe vampires.
To be clear, there are some great vampire films out there spanning decades, and occasionally a really good new one will appear.
So what’s my beef with undead blood suckers? It’s really my disgust with how all things “Vampire” have evolved in pop culture over the last thirty or so years, but especially over the last twenty.
Vampires are a great classic monster. Almost every culture has at least one creepy vampire myth, and the film and literature versions were mostly scary, until 1976 when “Interview With the Vampire” was published. Now, by that time vampires probably needed a dose of originality to keep them frightening for newer audiences, but keeping them as monsters would’ve been preferable to turning them into bisexual immortal super heroes, which is how Anne Rice’s vampires have always struck me.
I’m not the hugest Stephen King fan, but 1975’s “Salem’s Lot” managed to keep the vampires a lot spookier than Lestat and company. If a dead blood sucker isn’t at least spooky then something has been lost along the way.
Yes, the movie vampires have almost always had powers of seduction. It is part of the myth’s appeal, but when the undead begin to resemble gothic club pickup artists more than hell-spawned creatures of darkness, that’s going to get in the way of my enjoyment.
About that gothic club thing…
I’ve been around the gothic music scene since the 80’s, and while I don’t presently claim any sort of membership in the gothic subculture, I am fond of some of the music and associated culture. I own an old Cadillac hearse, I collect horror movie props, my house looks like a horror museum of sorts, and my old bands played gothic and industrial music clubs all over a North America. I have some considerable experience around that scene.
The gothic subculture is a lively one strangely enough, and has mutated and continues to mutate as the years roll on. One of the weirder developments in that subculture was the introduction of vampire role playing games into the mix. Way back in 1991, the “Vampire the Masquerade” game was released, and fangtards everywhere were suddenly born. People that probably never would’ve set foot inside a gothic dance club before were donning leather trench coats and top hats, and snapping in a set of fake fangs for a night out on the town.
This was not a good development in preserving the inherent scariness of vampires. Encountering goofy vinyl wrapped fanboys and girls wearing fake teeth and in some cases expecting others to take their vampirism seriously made vampires seem dumber than ever before.
Yeah, a few of these costumed nerds actually expected the rest of us to believe that they were REALLY vampires. Made me want to drive a fucking stake through the lot of them.
Look, I fully support anyone’s right to shape their reality in any way they see fit, but don’t expect me to believe your patently absurd bullshit. There are even a few of these nouveau vamps that see their fake undead status as a “religion” of sorts, and who see it as some sort of energy transfer..
I would be fine with people absorbing certain aspects of Vampirism into their state of being, but so much of this stuff just looks like a sad cry for attention. Someone who actually possessed certain vampiric qualities probably wouldn’t need to go to some “Vampire Night” at the local goth club wearing a fricking cape.
So there has been a silly convergence of comic book and role playing game style fandom, combined with gothic club culture and vampire fiction.
Somehow this combining of elements has managed to make all of those things worse. Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, some stuff just doesn’t go well together, and gothic culture and vampire wannabes are one of those things.
The Internet has created and organized all sorts of subcultures, and in the case of “real vampires” this has drawn more people to “embrace” the goofiness.
Probably as an attempt to market to these types of vampire fans, a new generation of shitty vampire movies came into being. Films like the “Underworld” series, or the “Blade” films look like they’re tailor made for the fake fang and top hat crowd. Unfortunately, this “Clubification” of the vampire myth has made them less scary. Now they’re just sexually seductive anti-heroes, and might as well be a new kind of super hero. That’s fucking stupid to me.
Vampires are supposed to be dead, and the real myths are fairly gruesome, not sexy. Most film and book depictions up until Anne Rice shat all over the myth preserved the central monstrosity of vampires even when they were shown to have powers of seduction.
Somewhere along the line, a specific kind of nerd fan base was born, and when vampire role playing games came along, many of those folks started integrating some sort of fake vampirism into their public life.
Movies inevitably came along, and suck followed. Not blood sucking either, just sucking in general. I guess it goes without saying that that I’m not a fan of these types of films, and would like to see the vampire preserved as a scary monster, not the greasy dude wearing ill-fitting vinyl pants in the corner of some dance club, trying to pick up chicks.
Oh yes, the role playing connection has also created an equally stupid “werewolf” subculture. It’s like the vampires except hairier. Also like the vampires, some of these folks expect you to believe their status as a magical being, despite them being unable to demonstrate any supernatural powers at all.
I’ll leave you with this image. Once, many years ago, my roommate and I were working at a comic book convention as part of our job. We accidentally walked through the wrong door into a huge banquet hall filled with mostly obese “werewolf” people in the middle of some sort of live action role playing game. They were all howling in unison, as if the Ramada Inn had been transformed into a Transylvanian Forest.
Roommate and I exchanged a glance and backed the fuck out of that place.
On some level a lot of us understand that reality television is both not real and mostly awful.
It’s a popular format for good reason. Viewers seem to have an insatiable appetite for the manufactured and random drama being fed to us, and we get to live vicariously through the real life cartoon characters that populate most reality television. In some cases, almost anyone gets the happy thrill of being “better than” the people they see in these shows. That’s an appealing idea to many folks.
It’s a popular format with the people that manufacture these mostly shitty shows because it’s a fairly inexpensive format to produce, and often results in a runaway hit show. Who knew that so many of us would enjoy watching wealthy “rednecks” or alligator hunters in Louisiana?
Who would’ve thought that we’d be so captivated by goofy, living stereotypes of New Jersey Guidos, or “American Gypsies”?
Yeah, so quite a few of us realize this stuff is trash – the television equivalent of making fun of the retarded kid at school, or the poor kids that live in the trailer park on the bad side of town. But unlike those scenarios, these garbage shows let us feel superior in private, and not many people will criticize you for making fun of Honey Boo Boo’s mother.
I work a skilled labor kind of job. Most of the people I work with are crude and a few are pretty abrasive. When I get off work the last thing I want to watch is a bunch of yelling lumberjacks or crab fishermen acting like total assholes to each other. It’s like putting in extra hours at my job.
So there are lots of horrible reality shows out there. Pick your poison, I guess. But the shows that get my goat the most celebrate bottom feeder jobs and the people that work them.
Like something out of a John Waters film, we have elevated pawn shop owners, tow truck drivers, people that go to abandoned storage auctions, and “Pickers” into celebrities. What. The. Fuck?
There’s nothing noble about running a pawn shop. Let’s strip away the bullshit, that is not a particularly nice way to make a living. I’ve seen people argue about how pawn shops fill a “necessary function,” but do we need to celebrate that shit? I’m a musician, and have had gear stolen on two occasions. On both, my stuff was almost immediately sold to scummy pawn shops, and no, the owners were not helpful when they discovered they’d bought stolen goods.
And let’s face it, they prey on desperate people. Yeah, I guess it’s marginally better that pawn shops exist so those folks don’t have to go to some criminal loan shark, but anyone that can make their living as a pawn broker is not someone I’d rank highly on the compassion scale.
Yet there are multiple pawn shop reality shows. I guess the “classiest” is Pawn Stars, since they try hard to act like that store’s bread and butter is museum piece rarities. From what I understand, the guys from the show don’t really work there, most of the walk-ins with interesting items are set ups, and there’s nothing much real about any of it. I’ve heard the pawn shop was the kind of place where junkies would hock gold fillings for 3 AM drug money prior to the show, and that’s not surprising.
I get that people like seeing rare items, and probably enjoy the fake haggling and deal making, but why the hell would anyone like the Harrisons or Chumlee? Can’t we find enough greedy slimeballs and stoners in real life to sate our appetite for people like that?
Then there are shows like “American Pickers”, proving that two guys from Iowa can hop in a van and take advantage of elderly hoarders. It seems to have a similar appeal to the pawn shows. The idea that hidden treasures are out there is one that a lot of people enjoy, and the Pickers are less assholish in general, even though they still manage to come off like exploitative weasels from time to time. They may or may not be nice enough people in real life, but their business model is finding people with cool stuff, and then talking people into selling said stuff for about a third of what the Pickers think they can flip it for.
That’s not necessarily exploitative in itself. People sell things to antique stores or shops that specialize in collectibles all the time. The people running those businesses have to buy stuff at a price that allows them to make a profit, but what’s troubling is that many of the people the American Pickers find who are extremely old. If you listen to the way they haggle, they get pretty cut throat too, or resort to manipulative tactics to convince those folks to sell to them.
I collect the kinds of weird stuff that those two dudes seem to like buying, and I would love the opportunity to tell them to get lost and pound sand if they ever showed up at my front door.
Finally, there are the “Storage Wars” shows. Let’s not fool ourselves. People rent storage lockers, and occasionally lose them because they’re too broke to pay the storage rent. Then the storage facility has a public auction. That’s when the parasites that are the main characters in “Storage Wars” come in.
So we have a show that begins with the premise that someone else’s life has gone to shit, and that they’ve had to abandon what might be their only material possessions. Of course, that reality isn’t brought into this reality show, as that’s just a bummer to consider. I’ve seen an interview where the shows producers say just that. Exploring the locker’s history and backstory wouldn’t set the mood they want to sell.
This show does manage to make most of it’s primary characters look like the scummy bastards they probably really are, and I guess that’s something. Whenever I’ve caught an episode, I see these slimeballs sifting through the locker contents, probably skipping over irreplaceable family photos in the scramble to find something that they can sell at the local flea market, and I think “these people are total garbage. They should be killed and the Earth cleansed of their presence.”
And I’m probably right about that.
Good going, America. We’ve embraced a format of television show that really is a race to the bottom of the worst that human nature has to offer. We can now vicariously experience loathsome individuals of all sorts fighting each other or trying to take advantage of other people for financial gain. We should be very proud of ourselves.
I’m always a little amazed and disgusted when I discover that someone I know is a lousy tipper, or expects some ridiculous level of service in order to extract a meager single dollar bill from their miserly pocketbook.
It’s not usually a case of that person simply being a cold and cheap individual, although it’s obvious that some of those people exist, and like to eat out. It seems to me that a lot of otherwise nice and generous folks just have strange attitudes in regard to the people that serve them their food.
I’ve worked in and around various food oriented jobs for decades. Although I’ve never been a server, I’ve known a bunch of them, and observed the shitty treatment they often get, along with other people in food service jobs. There’s a stupid perception by some that servers must have ended up in those jobs because they “didn’t stay in school” or had low ambition (which is a ridiculous thing to think). I’d love to see the people I know with a Bachelors degree and an office job try to work a busy lunch or dinner service, remembering often picky patron’s orders, managing several tables, and also appearing friendly while doing it. It’s a grace under pressure job, and requires a lot of quick thinking and a heavy skill set. Most people simply can’t do it.
Unfortunately, here in the USA, someone decided that servers should be paid a very nominal hourly wage, and have to depend on tips to really make their money. Who the fuck came up with this system, and how would people in other vocations like to depend on the optional generosity of strangers, sometimes total dickheads, to make ends meet?
I can’t even fathom a situation where say, the local auto mechanic only made $5.00 an hour, and had to rely on tips to get by. Or a company’s I.T. Department? Yep, reroute the servers, and if we like what you do, we’ll tip you. I’m sure that would go over well.
But some people will gladly mistreat their waiters, and tip them less than they should, or will forego the tip entirely if given the chance.
There seem to be different types of lousy tippers too.
You get the “True Assholes”, which are just that. They’re bullying pricks or cheapskates that will abuse someone they temporarily have power over just because they’re miserable pricks. I’d prefer to just see these types of individuals humiliated or murdered when they’re discovered, but that’s not a popular position. These fucks sometimes seem to just have an antagonistic attitude towards servers in general. They might consider them “losers” or less than human. They should look in the mirror.
Then you get the “Super Picky Performance Analysts.” These are probably the most common under-tippers I’ve seen. They’ll “tip” a server, but only if their ridiculous high standards are met. And I’m sorry, but there is a difference in the dining experience depending on the type of restaurant you’re eating at. It’s unrealistic and harsh to expect the server at a Denny’s to lavish the type of attention some diva might require to match his or her expectations of perfection.
As long as the service is competent and friendly, what more does a person want for a $10 meal? If you’re the type of person that routinely goes radically “off menu” and is so picky that your requests veer towards Stupidville, then just do everyone a favor and eat at home.
As much as I hate to bring up this inconvenient observation, there are also certain minority groups that are famously bad tippers. I have to think that this is based in some real phenomena, as almost every waiter or waitress I’ve known has remarked on it, but for some reason it’s not culturally taught that decent tipping is the right thing to do.
Oddly, that seems to be limited to restaurants, as I’ve seen that tipping is happily provided at other venues, for other services.
I guess I’ll also have to throw in the observation that old people are often crappy tippers, even the ones that are comfortably well off. I’m not sure why that is, perhaps it’s just some cultural artifact from the days when $1.00 was a generous tip for a big meal, maybe the elderly just like to hold onto that cash for bingo night, but it is a thing.
I’ve heard some people argue that a restaurant is just too expensive, and use miserly tipping as some way to punish the place. The logical disconnect is astounding, as all they’re doing is punishing the person serving them. The restaurant doesn’t care. To put it simply, if you don’t have enough money to tip at least 15% you don’t have enough money to eat out at that place.
Waiter friends of mine have also mentioned that church groups eating out after services on Sunday often suck at tipping. A few have even received ridiculous religious tracts instead of a real tip. Trust me, your server working on a Sunday lunch service can use the cash more than Joel “I’m a Money Demon” Osteen. Congrats cheapskate religious people, you’ve made Baby Jesus cry. See you in the Lake of Fire.
Honestly, I think there is a sad cultural perception by too many people that the folks in service industries, particularly those that prepare and serve them food, are somehow “less” than them, which is as ridiculous as it is asinine. If you seriously or casually think like that, I’d like to see your face introduced to concrete. Might be a humbling experience. If anything, the people serving others should be looked up to and respected, not treated like abused servants.
My ideal scenario would be for America to change towards a more European model in regards to how we pay servers. Do away with tipping entirely. There’s no reason that a person serving food should have to give a patron a complimentary blowjob just to “earn” a meager wage from super picky pricks that like their power trip.
In France tipping isn’t expected, and the service remains just fine. How is this possible? Just the same way it is in every other business. When a waiter provides consistently bad service, the manager is alerted, and that person doesn’t keep their job for long. If anything, this system weeds out the truly incompetent or unpleasant servers, and provides the patron with a better dining experience.
Restaurants are marginally more expensive there because they pay their servers instead of forcing them to rely on tips, but they’re not THAT much more expensive. Maybe a cheapskate that’s grown accustomed to eating out ten times a week would have to cut down their eating out a little, but that’s a fair thing to do if it eliminates the power they have over another person’s wages.
I’m sure some people reading this won’t like what I have to say. That’s fine, but look in the mirror. Maybe you’re one of the cheapskates that should reconsider how they treat their servers.
I remember the first time I ever set foot inside The Studio. My friend Renee took me there. She was a concert promotor at the time, and was friends with an intense local band named Bozo Porno Circus. They had a very cool studio that was located in the heart of the Montrose neighborhood. Soon after that introduction to the place, I was asked to join the band, a decision that would radically change the direction of my life for several years. Possibly forever.
The Studio was located right next to a nondescript mom-and-pop convenience store about a block from the major intersection of Montrose Boulevard and Richmond Avenue. I’d probably passed the place without noticing a hundred times in the past. To the left of the convenience store’s entrance was a blacked out door and display window. A location that spawned so much Houston music was hidden in plain sight.
“The Studio” was Bozo Porno Circus’s home base, and was a nice set up. It was big enough for a large band like BPC to comfortably practice, was a good storage place for the numerous props and gear that we needed to perform, and was also set up as a recording studio. It was decidedly not fancy but it was one of the better practice rooms I’d ever seen, definitely nicer than any of the band rehearsal complexes that I’d been in prior to that.
As that band became a second family to me, the studio became a second home, and I spent almost every day there for several years. The studio had a benefactor and “System Administrator” named Al that kept the technical end of things running smoothly, while also paying a lot of the bills.
I wouldn’t know it at the time, but Al would go on to become a very good friend of mine over the years.
Without getting into the history of the bands that played in the studio back then, eventually BPC moved on and Asmodeus X became the main client. Even though my band had left, I liked the space enough to want to keep my foot in the door. Spaces like that one were not something I ran across often, and I’d grown quite fond of it over the few years I’d been there.
So I made a deal with Al, and my catch-all music project Pitchforque moved in. By then, the studio was known as Fjardeson Studios and other bands had found homes there.
Honestly, the place meant more to me as a gathering place for creative types and a club house as much as anything else, but it also was the location of a lot of great music over the years.
I became a much less frequent visitor over the last three or four years. There were many reasons for that, primarily a demanding work schedule out in the real world, and I sort of lost touch with the newer bands filtering through the place. Most of those people seemed to view the place as just another practice facility, and a lot of the comradeship that had made The Studio such an important part of my world seemed to taper off. Things change. Places change too. That might be one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in life. Change is inevitable, and it’s probably best to accept that reality rather than to attempt to hold on to something forever.
The Montrose has been gentrifying for the last twenty years at least, and recently it seems like that process has accelerated. It’s sapped away a lot of what made the neighborhood interesting to me, and it’s also made rents skyrocket.
The seemingly inevitable cycle of a neighborhood becoming desirable because of its local color, and then driving out the creative types that gave it its specialness is in high gear. The owners of The Studio property, the family owning the convenience store next door, doubled the rent. Taking it steadily from a “great deal” into “almost a mortgage payment” territory.
Al couldn’t really hang on anymore, and no one else could afford it either. The Studio was going to go away. I actually teared up when I heard the news. Places become a big part of our lives, and like a seemingly eternal family home, it was a shock to realize that the source of so many good times would soon be gone, replaced by a stupid nail salon or flower shop, something ordinary and lame.
But that’s life. I realized that with the loss of the actual place, a location I’d been a part of for over fifteen years, that the friendships I’d made there were the really important things, and that those will last forever.
The Studio will always be part of who I am, and its memory will last the rest of my life. I imagine some of the other people that were a part of that place feel the same way.
801 Richmond Avenue. I will always remember that place.
I work as the manager of a grocery store meat department. This was not some life passion I pursued. I fell into it out of a mix of desperation and luck, and it pays my bills.
My vocation also gives me ample opportunities to consider the weird attitudes that people have about the foods they choose to eat, but that weirdness is particularly remarkable when it comes to their choice to eat meat. I regularly encounter folks that want to eat the “best” meat they can. They throw around words like “grass-fed” and “organic”, but most of them don’t really know what that stuff means. They just know it’s supposed to be “better” in some vague fashion.
Occasionally some customer will ask me how fresh a cut is, and I tell them the “Kill Date,” since that would be the most accurate gauge of freshness. They’ll act repulsed or even sad, because they are so far removed from what meat actually is that they don’t want to think of it having been a living creature at one point. That’s my guess anyway. It’s easier for them to look at the pink and red carefully trimmed cuts, which don’t necessarily look like they were from a creature that was living and breathing a week previously. I don’t mention the kill date to be an asshole, but so they know what meat is. People shouldn’t forget the reality of what they eat.
Meat may be delicious, but people that eat it are eating the flesh of a corpse, so the idea of “quality” and “freshness” do give me a little dark laugh.
Weird thing about meat is how polarizing the question of eating it is. I would guess that a majority of Americans are omniivores, and it’s amazing to me that so many of them will ridicule or harass vegetarians, as if that’s an insane lifestyle choice. I know people that would criticize a person for showing intolerance of any kind, but who still take weird jabs at vegetarians, for choosing to not eat meat.
Or they’ll act as if the concept of not eating dead animals is completely crazy and abhorrent to their sensibilities. Some of them will throw examples of the worst, most offensive vegans they can find as “proof” that people are crazy unless they eat meat. This is about the same ill-conceived argument as the people that act as if the majority of feminists are ugly man-hating lesbians. Both are bad examples attempting to sway opinions by vilifying the opposing point of view.
I think I understand both camps for the most part. Nobody enjoys being told that the lifestyle choices they’ve made are wrong. I don’t blame them. Especially when it comes to something as personal as what they choose to eat.
My own feeling is not that eating meat is necessarily evil, but the way most Americans get that meat sure is. The factory farm system that allows people in this country to eat meat with every meal is seriously fucked up. It’s cruel, and not healthy for the animals that it produces, or the people that eat them.
But here’s the thing.
People in the USA are almost entirely insulated from the reality behind the goods they’re eating. That applies to almost all food, but is especially troubling when it comes to the meat industry. Almost no one raises livestock to kill and eat anymore. To the average urban dweller, meat is just something they pop out of a package to cook and eat. Most of them wouldn’t eat meat if they had to actually kill some creature to get it. I base that conclusion on the hypocritical repulsion so many voracious carnivores that fancy themselves somehow “enlightened” become whenever the concept of topic comes up. And let’s face it, even if they are OK with hunting on some basic level, very few of them are prepared to leave the cocoon of their comfortable homes with giant televisions and the Internet, to tromp on down to some wooded area and hope they get a good shot at some sort of edible creature. It’s just not likely to ever happen. Too much work.
What’s not much work is buying a bunch of hamburger from the grocery store, and never asking how that blob of ground creature got to them.
I am a hypocrite myself. I’m an animal lover, I have five dogs. Love them all. I DO think about the reality of what meat really is on a daily basis, since my job makes that impossible to avoid. And yet I still eat meat. It’s an addiction of sorts, and I don’t use that term as an excuse. But in this culture, most of us are raised eating meat. People that don’t are treated like freaks, and it seems like that’s the standard.
I realize that not everyone is going to become a vegetarian, but is it really such a crazy thing to consider? I love my dogs. All dogs really. Cats, too. I feel like they’re easily as sentient as I am, they seem to show forms of emotion, especially affection, and have distinct personalities. They would be on the menu in some parts of the world.
How can I reconcile that love for my pets with the weirdly taught desire to eat other animals? How can I work at the vocation I do? It’s hard to be forced to consider these kinds of questions daily, but I do. I think most people simply avoid considering them, or they have tried and true rationalizations for why they show affection to some animals, and will allow others to be raised in an immoral and abusive factory farm system, so they can enjoy eating them.
And for the record, I’m not against people that choose to eat meat. But if they’re going to make that choice, then they should at least try to do it in a way that’s not contributing to widespread systemic abusive practices.
Yeah, bacon tastes great. Human baby probably does too. We draw the line there though. Shouldn’t more of us draw the line at eating the meat produced from a system that makes animals suffer from birth until they are slaughtered for our consumption?
Several months ago I bought a used chopper from it’s original owner. Great bike, but it had a ridiculous looking “Tribal tattoo” paint job… Pretty much the exact opposite of anything I would consider cool.
I entertained getting a professional repaint done, figuring maybe a budget for a solid color might be around $600 – $800. I was wrong. Both places I contacted quoted me around $2,700, enough to buy another bike.
Was not going to happen.
So I did some research on various custom motorcycle forums, and there are lots of people doing great paint jobs with cans of automotive spray paint. The stuff you can buy at any auto supply store.
You’ll read scary warnings about how shitty spray can paint jobs will look, don’t believe that, those rumors are probably started by guys that paint motorcycles for a living. Any person willing to spend a few days doing prep work and taking their time can get great results.
A few tips:
Warm your spray cans with hot water. It makes the paint flow more evenly. Buy one of those little spray can trigger/handle rigs. they’re inexpensive and make it a lot nicer to spray.
Almost all spray paint is lacquer. Lacquer paints have solvents in them, and they dry as the solvents evaporate. they dry really quickly, and are easy to work with. The downside to them, is that if you rush things, the final product will look like crap, and any solvents that land on that paint will mess them up. Gasoline being a solvent, makes a lacquer painted motorcycle tank… Risky. Lacquer paints also tend to chip easily, and generally don’t last a long time.
These unfortunate properties extend to most if not all of the straight out of the can clear coats that you can get at an auto supply or home improvement store.
Fortunately, a few years ago new “2K” spray paint clear coats were developed. These are just like the stuff a pro would mix up and use to paint a vehicle, the two part chemical process is set up so a person can trigger it in the can, and then has around 48 hours to spray before the stuff hardens too much.
I got great results with using the SprayMax 2K glossy clear coat over standard Rustoleum and Duplicolor rattlecan paint.
I would do it again anytime before spending almost 3K on some pro job.
Is it perfect? No. But for a custom cycle with lots of personal touches and small imperfections already, it looks great.