Monday, June 29, 2015

AN HONEST QUESTION


AN HONEST QUESTION

By Joe Amero

 
Do you know that dream that everybody always has?  You know the one where you suddenly find yourself in an unfamiliar grocery store and you are completely naked except for all the colored ribbons in support of various different causes safety pinned to your bare chest.  It’s late into the night but the store is surprisingly busy and buzzing with activity while the loud speaker plays muzak versions of game show theme songs from the 70’s.  Even though nobody seems to care, or even notice you are nude, you still panic and run up and down the aisles looking for cover to hide your shame.  In panicked desperation you build a little make shift display fort from different brands of colourful children’s cereal boxes where you can hide.  You try to calm yourself but you keep wheezing and it sounds like a tiny yappy dog trapped in your chest cavity.  You sit in there for what seems like hours, nervous and sweating, until other shoppers start to notice you and make kissing noises as they smile on their way past.  They start bringing you little snacks and rubbing your head like at a petting zoo.  Every time you try to ask a shopper to get you some clothes they just laugh and think it’s cute when you speak and feed you another handful selected from the bulk section.  You start to get full from all the offerings and you’re frustrated because nobody will listen to you and you’re sweating and you start to cry.

You know the one.  You keep trying to wake up at first to escape the humiliation but then you think it’s real when the cramps and gas start.  You’re trapped in your little breakfast cereal cell and now your stomach starts expanding with gas from the force-fed treats and you start to run a fever from all the viruses you’ve contracted from the shoppers’ hands.  You can feel yourself getting weaker by the minute as your body tries to fight the infection but, at the same time, keeps expanding with gas.  You start to leak and fart out the gas but it sounds like a rock drum kit and everybody cheers each time a new sound squeaks or dumps out in perfect 4/4 rhythm like bass, snares and hi-hat cymbals.  People start to gather around in a crowd like at a concert and you slowly begin to split at the sides.  With rushes of hot air, a steady stream of guitar chords begin to seep from the openings in your rib cage, lead guitar on the left and bass on the right.  The shoppers all start grooving and nodding their heads at each other in silent agreement that you are pretty good.  Then to everyone’s but your own amusement, an unbelievably small Cuban band leader rises out of your belly button on a circular hydraulic stage and starts blowing a tenner saxophone like a miniature sexy explosion highlighted by little helium balloons shaped like music notes drifting from his horn. 

Everybody remembers this old classic, right?  You just roll back and forth on the cold tile floor while the virus grows and multiplies inside you until finally escaping contained in fat painful beads of sweat, each holding an identical back-up singer with a tambourine made of dried plasma like hard red plastic and shiny white blood cell cymbals, popping from your pours and dancing in place to the infectious beat.  You’re so embarrassed because your entire immediate family shows up with backstage passes and joins you inside the fort.  Your mom flashes you her tits and your dead step father forces you to take hold of a black Sharpie marker and sign your autograph on one of them.  Then your little sister immediately begins to tattoo your name on your mother’s breast with a machine made of Lego bricks and a mixture of crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate milk for ink.  Then just when you absolutely cannot take it for another second, the song reaches its’ peak and you finally burst into a million Lucky Charms marshmallows and the crowd scurries to devour them like as many Mexican children after the successful contact with a birthday piñata.  Except nobody is happy about the marshmallows because they’ve become immediately addicted and desperately search them out like crack heads looking for imaginary crumbs, purposely scratching each other’s hands with long yellowish fingernails made of corn chips as they crawl around on all fours.  Then it fades to black and there are two straight hours of credits written in a language you don’t understand.

You know; that dream.  What is that supposed to mean again?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BUGS


BUGS

By: Joe Amero


 
 
Talking with a friend last night before a show we somehow got onto the topic of bugs.  Later I thought about how much I must have grossed her out, and how much more I could have if she knew the whole story.

When I was a little boy I woke one morning to discover I had an itchy bum.  I couldn’t stop scratching even after my mother noticed and insisted that I did.  We went to the doctor who gave me medicine that tasted like chemicals and bananas and the very next day there were worms in my poop!  Actual living worms poking out and squirming around in my poop!  This blew my little mind and must have been mildly traumatic as the image has been burned into my brain like a Seinfeld rerun.  I don’t know how the pin worms came to be inside my body or where one contracts whatever causes them.  Could it be from consuming undercooked meat or doing regular kid stuff like maybe licking a dirty rock in the park that a dog pooped on?  Who cares, it was gross and scary and it was my first experience with parasites.  Unfortunately, it was not to be my last.

A couple years later there was a letter sent home with all the kids in my school notifying parents about cases of head lice that had been detected.  My mom literally checked my head with a fine tooth comb and I was clean.  She warned me to stay the hell away from everybody, signed the letter and sent me back to class.  The next day, I could feel them crawling on my scalp as we made our way home on the bus.  I told my mom when she got home from work and she was so pissed off when she discovered the little eggs in my hair that she shaved my head right there on the spot.  She then bagged up every last item of cloth in the entire house; dirty clothes, clean clothes, blankets, sheets, pillows, pillow cases, tea towels, even the curtains, and we drove to the laundry mat like we were fleeing from the police in a high speed chase.  After she got all of our worldly possessions into the machines she sent me to the pharmacy to buy the lice shampoo, by myself!  I thought I knew what embarrassment was when I had to ask the pharmacist for the treatment until I brought it back to my mom and she washed my head right there in the sink at the laundry mat.  As soon as I went back to school with my short hair, everybody knew I had lice, even though I got it from someone else, the whole thing became my fault and even the teachers shook their heads and looked at me with disgust.  I don’t know who gave it to me in the first place and escaped the blame and ridicule, but you’re welcome.

We stayed with friends of my mom during my parents’ separation/divorce to hide from my father, who was threatening to kidnap me.  My mom’s friend sent me into the kitchen one evening to grab a big bag of cheddar popcorn out of the cupboard to enjoy with a late great movie we were about to watch.  I ran through her apartment like a flash to the kitchen cupboards and stopped when I realized that I didn’t know which one held the treat.  I whipped open the first door and sent a gang of strange bugs that lived inside scurrying out of sight, seemingly as surprised as me.  I opened another and another, each time discovering new batches of these weird critters until I found the popcorn in its already opened bag.  I retrieved it and walked back to join mom and her friend on the couch.  They started throwing back fistfuls of the cheesy treat and licking their fingers clean but all I could think about was the fast little bugs that must’ve enjoyed this feast before us.  This was the first time I saw cockroaches and the last time I ate cheddar popcorn.  Later that night I felt one run across my face as I lay awake in the dark on that couch. 

When I was a teenager I hung around dirty places with dirty people for a dirty period of time.  We would sometimes break into abandoned houses and live there, rent free!  One day I was hanging out in one of these squats with some friends sitting around and partaking in some libations.  One guy was telling a detailed story and casually took off his shoe, then his sock and began scratching around what can only be described as the hole in the top of his foot.  I was shocked by the sight of it and more so by the lack of reaction from the others.  I had to ask him what in the name of Christ was wrong with him.  This was the day I discovered what scabies are, and that I was infested with them along with all the other dirty people in this dirty place.  These things live under your skin and weave in and out forming lines of dots on the surface.  They are itchy as all get out and the more you scratch the worse they get until, eventually, you get nice big craters like the one in buddy’s foot.  You have to wash everything, a skill I was lucky enough to learn early in life from my mother.  You also have to treat your body with an extremely toxic shampoo that is so strong and bad for you it can only be used a maximum of twice a year.  I left this squat immediately and ran into my little brother and his friend on my way to the laundry mat.  They were living in a bank machine and picking body lice off of themselves and forcing them to fight to the death in a bottle cap on the floor like some sick and twisted miniature prize fight of filth.  I never had body lice, thankfully I didn’t hang around my brother too much at the time; his friend was weird.  Scabies are horrifying; they infest your entire body except your face and genitalia.  I think they’re from outer space. 

Years later I got my life together and used my lived experience to become a Social Worker.  My job title is Community Mental Health Worker and I work with consumer survivors living with mental health issues, on the street they call these people “bugs”.  One day when I got to work my boss handed me a haz-mat suit and told me to go and clean out a tenants’ room in our supportive housing unit.  I went up and bagged all of his clothes and bedding to once again do the old marathon laundry service.  When I got to his mattress, which I was asked to put on the curb with the garbage, I was introduced to the infamous bed beg.  These suckers are nocturnal, they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale and feed on your blood while you sleep.  Bed bugs are a nasty bit of business and difficult to get rid of with steam treatments and extreme heat.  I put my own mattress at home in a protective cover and lived in fear of bringing these pests home with me for the last 5 years.  I never have, but I see them all the time crawling on people and in peoples’ units.  The next time you see a mattress on the curb look for black stains made of tiny spots and blood markings, that’s the evidence of this epidemic.  It’s not only poor and dirty people who get them either, these things don’t know prejudice and even public movie theatres have had to be closed down and treated.  The dogs that are specially trained to detect them are in such high demand they get paid more than you and I.  ‘Night, night, don’t let the bed bugs bite’?  It’s more like ‘you won’t sleep because of the anxiety and they will feed from you like hundreds of tiny babies drinking their mother’s milk and life force’.

Fast forward a bit and I’m doing pretty good thinking the bugs were all behind me.  My girlfriend was very pregnant so I put a new air conditioner in our bedroom window to battle that summers’ brutal heat wave. The next morning my girlfriend wakes up and has some strange tiny bites on her arms.  I didn’t have any evidence on me so I assumed it was mosquitos or a spider and didn’t give it a second thought.  A couple days later and she awakens to fresh bites, still I have none and she is convinced I had brought bed bugs home from work.  I checked and had not.  She was uncomfortable already and now she was going insane from these mysterious bites.  We were lying in bed googling images of different bug bites and not having any luck matching her tiny, pin prick markings.  Just as we came to bird mites, a tiny grain of salt walked across the glowing screen of her iPhone.  Once we knew what we were looking for, closer examination of the window sill revealed millions of almost microscopic white mites, everywhere!  We quickly checked the bed and it was covered!  The walls, the floor, everything was crawling with barely visible bird mites.  Bird mites go into your eyeballs and eat your brain, that’s where the expression ‘bird brain’ comes from.  I knew the drill, first thing was bag and wash everything cloth.  Next it was showers, I removed the brand new air conditioner, threw it away and sealed the bedroom window with thick plastic and duct tape while my girlfriend scrubbed up.  When I put the unit in it scared away the infested pigeons roosting there and the mites went straight through the a.c. and onto my girlfriend.  I was bypassed in favour of her delicious pregnant pheromone and blood-filled body.  Next it was my turn in the shower then we leashed up the dogs and were out of there.  We called our landlord from the park while we washed the dogs with a hose.  The cheap prick tried to bargain basement some DDT and said we could be home in 4 hours.  I had already talked to the tele-health professionals and knew what pregnancy-safe pesticide to request and there was no way we were going back in less than 48 hours from extermination.  I made him show me the stuff and read the label but he refused to clean the front of the building and the eavestroughs which was the source so we moved out.  I left a secret note for the new tenants not to open the windows and the address to a disturbing site called birdmites.org.

 We live in a nice little house far away from all of this now.  We got married and our baby is doing great, sometimes there is a moth that flies against the light on the back porch.  We never worry about any infestations, or dirty people and we sleep soundly in our brand new bed.  It took some time to recall all of these incidents as they now seem like a bad dream.  I never worry about bugs anymore, not the organic type anyways.  Sometimes I do get the sneaking suspicion that some unknown government agency has somehow managed to implant a small microchip transmitter/recording device in my brain; but that’s a different story.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

KANYE WEST IS THE WORST PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD


KANYE WEST IS THE WORST PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD

By: Joe Amero


“I still think I’m the greatest”.  - Kanye West
 

You heard me; Kanye West is the worst person in the history of the world.  The fact that he is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time doesn’t change anything.  This only proves what bad taste the people of earth have, and we already knew that.  He truly sucks. If you don’t believe me just listen to his music.  You can’t, can you?  No you can’t, because it is an awful assault on the senses.  Personally, it makes me poop a little bit even if I hear it for one second coming from a passing car.  Admit it; it is garbage, it’s ok, he can’t hurt you anymore.  It’s time to free our selves, and our bowels, from the clutches of the evil Kanye West.
What’s that you say?  Being responsible for the worst music in recorded history doesn’t make you a bad person, let alone the worst person in the history of the world.  If only this monster stopped at what he considers music.  Never mind the fact that he’s a self-centered, loud mouth, know-it-all egotist.  Forget about the countless crashed award show receptions and racist, anti-Semitic remarks.  I can even forgive his shameless self-promotion and tireless, big-ass public show biz marriage and clothing lines.  Even without any of the crap outside of his “music” Kanye is known for, he still remains the worst person in the history of the world. 
Is it proof of my claim that you’re after?  Well then it’s proof you shall have.  You should be warned at this point, however, you will not like what I have to say.  Many of you do not believe in fairy tales, but Kanye does.  Ever since that fateful day back in 1987, when a 10 year old Kanye moved with his mother to Nanjing China.  It was there he, quite literally, stumbled upon and captured the legendary Xian of Enlightenment (an extremely rare type of genie).  A young Kanye ordered the Xian to grant him three wishes, and despite the request being a culturally insensitive interpretation of the Xian’s spiritual power, it agreed to Kanye’s demands on the condition of its’ immediate release.  Kanye made the deal and only then did the frightened Xian agree to the selfish request.   
This particular Xian had not been captured by man for exactly one hundred years to the day, prior to Kanye’s accidental windfall.  The last time was while the Xian was vacationing in sunny Ethiopia and trapped by a cunning young Ras Aluta Engida.  Engida was a General in the Ethiopian Armed Guard fresh off a brutal defeat by Italian forces while attempting to reclaim the occupied town of Sahati when he tracked and captured the Xian.  Engida was granted his customary one wish, not like Kanye and his greedy three.  The Xian magically multiplied Engida’s armed forces to an unbeatable 7,000 men and he was able to defeat Colonel Tommaso De Cristofori and his 500 Italian soldiers at Dogali, thus creating a tremendous victory that lifted all of Africa’s spirits and is still celebrated today.
Ras Aluta Engida’s wish was for the survival of his people and all ancestral bloodlines to follow down through history.  Kanye West on the other hand is a selfish bastard the same today as he was at ten years old when he found the Xian.  Kanye could have asked for anything three times over and still managed to drop the ball.  For his first wish, without even thinking he said he wanted to be bigger than Eric B and Rakim, the DJ and MC duo who held the #1 spot in the hip hop charts at the time.  Kanye reached the average height of 5ft 8in on his 17th birthday making him “bigger” than both Eric B (5ft 7) and Rakim (5ft 5in).  Next he demanded the ability to always be able to steal the spotlight, which he has managed to do on several occasions so far with no sign of stopping in the near future.  Lastly, in what could only be imagined to be an entrepreneurial attempt to become rich quick with the latest craze sweeping the ghettos of his home nation of America, Kanye asked for a lifetime supply of crack.  In April 2012, he was married to Kim Cardasian.  Kanye could have asked for world peace or to end hunger, but he didn’t, because he sucks.  Well Kanye, I hope you’re happy that all your wishes came true and earned you my vote for the worst person in the history of the world.

 

I WANT AN ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY


I WANT AN ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

By: Joe Amero

 

 There’s an old adage that says ignorance is bliss, I think it’s true.  I have a lot on my plate these days with school, work, a mortgage, bills, sick old dogs, kids and car payments.  I have zero free time in any given day and the same amount of extra money to enjoy it if I did.  I’ve spent plenty of time budgeting and planning for the future, making savings projections and misappropriating my own funds to make ends meet.  I worry a lot about the future and have fears of failure and a lack of perseverance to keep treading water long enough to finally be able to enjoy the swim one day if I, somehow, manage not to drown.   I’m always stressed out and the pressure has given me ulcers, anxiety and even a quick bout with the shingles.  Through my work in the field of front line social service work I meet many people every day, each with their own set of unique trials and tribulations.  There is one particular type of client I come across from time to time that never fails to amaze me and leaves me envious of their disposition.  These lucky souls have acquired brain injuries (ABI) and they make me jealous.

I don’t mean to be insensitive to the plight of those who have suffered severe head trauma and survived.  The road to recovery can be paved with struggle for these individuals and their resilience and determination is a true testament to the human spirit.  That being said; it’s not their strength that I’m impressed with so much as their ability to be so easily amused and the joy they take from the little things in life we all too often take for granted.   They’re always smiling and giving off a slow drawn out chuckle at the most seemingly insignificant things.  A fresh banana will do if I’m hungry and in a hurry or too lazy to make a sandwich.  Give a fresh banana to one of these folks and they’re going to smile at the sight of it, enjoy peeling it and giggle at every bite of the full ten minutes it might take them to finish it.

I’ve spoken to people with ABI and the conversations are marvelous.  These are not deep and stimulating philosophical ponderings and musings into the human condition, that is why I like them.  These conversations go nowhere; they barely start or even exist in the first place.  They never ask questions because they know it doesn’t matter.  Some of them can only nod or smile or grunt and others are with limited speech.  When they’re asked a question they sometimes won’t even answer, and they’re not expected to.  When they do have something to say it’s usually one random word or a sentence or phrase not pertaining to anything in particular.  How great would this be if the only thing on your mind was “cowboy” or “I like potatoes”?!  People take care of them and, from what I’ve seen; they don’t have a care in the world.

Would I want my wife and family to be sad?  No.  Would I care or even know?  Also, no.  This would be a devastating tragedy and I would need some pudding.  My wife could leave me at a boarding home and my only concern would be my daily trip down to the drop-in centre for a fresh banana and some quick conversation.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, most people die, so it’s kind of like winning the lottery.   No more stress and pressure, no more responsibility and interest rates, just retarded thought patterns and smooth sailing.  I’m not planning on giving up and I will always fight for my family until the day I die, don’t get me wrong.  All I’m saying is if I did fall victim to some horrific accident and survive with ABI, you wouldn’t hear me complaining. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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