Well, well, well. Last night, the Mrs. carefully scrutinized our schedules, activities, and whereabouts for twenty-thirteen’s October. This might be a bit of TMI, but yes ladies and gentleman, with a near one-hundred percent certainty, we are finally comfortable with proclaiming: Twas my alter ego Joey Jo Jo who finally managed to sneak his evil seed past the proverbial goalie. On the eve of Halloween no less! If you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of meeting that maniac, you are likely shaking your head like I did saying, “Of course it was him, that makes perfect sense.” Voodoo, black magic, warlockery and witchcraft—I’m a big fan of it all when it works out in my favor. Prior to unleashing Joey Jo Jo back into the world, I think we’d been trying to get pregnant for five months (not the longest of times, sure, but roll with this farce, friends). After nearly a year and a half of imprisonment in my gray matter—one night, that’s all he needed. Like all padres to be, I’ve put a lot of time against the speculation of who exactly, what exactly, this soon-to-be-born child of ours will be like. Now we have a more Windexed window into the possibilities, so watch out world, in two to three to six (who can say when the little demon will choose to exit) the first born of the maddest man to ever shred an axe in lower Manhattan is gonna drop on this rock like a tiny megaton boom. I’m excited. Maybe I’ll let Joey Jo Jo out at the birthing center too, I mean after all… Oh, by the by, his name ain’t gonna be Luke.
“The image of a grown married man dressed in khaki shorts, a corporate logo polo, deck shoes with no socks, complete with braided belt turns my stomach. The image of that same gent leaning his body from a seated position as far over the nicked brass railing of a stripper’s stage, with his tongue protruding as far out of his mouth as possible, in—I don’t know—the hopes that the all-nude stripper in front of him will “accidentally” back her ass into it… well, is one I’d pay big money to eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind-style-remove.”
These are words from a back-burner book slowly being written as I pen others that details some of my adventures in the business of advertising. And maybe a warning of sorts.
The other day my wife was kind enough to regale me with a David Sedaris’ interview in which the author recalled some embarrassing experiences while living in Paris, France. The gist of it was this: when he is the victim of his own incompetency or the accidental fating of some awkward and absurd moment, the feeling sticks with him well after. He can’t help but think that those around him not only noticed, but took note, and are maybe carrying around his befuddlement as a story to tell. Not because he is famous, mind you. But because this is what he does; he observes people. All writers do.
I’m not here to lump myself in with Sedaris’. Honestly, I’m not even comfortable with referring to myself as a writer most days. I wonder if I ever will be. But, fair warning, I do observe. I do take it all in, and I use what I see when crafting characters, situations and the mayhem. Any fictitious character I create is likely some mighty amalgamation of personalities, quirks, sayings, that are thrust upon me, if not sought out, especially when I’m extra bored in a public setting.
Funny enough, as I’ve always done this, it’d never occurred to me that my own shortcomings, blow-ups, missteps, foot-in-mouth-events, short-fuse moments, and even the NSFW moments of my life might be working their way into some other author’s book or books. In a way, maybe books have long been making people famous without them even knowing it. At the very least, some part of that person. Some tiny little thing you often do, or some monumental mistake you once made, right now, could be making its way into another’s prose. And with the huge surge in self-publishing, I suspect it’s happening far more frequently than ever.
But worry not, nobody reads anymore. Right?
This Level 9 Paranoia Children's Song (the first of what I hope might be many) and accompanying video is exactly what happens when a guy–a guy with more than just a few issues–gets up at three-thirty in the morning one too many days in a row while his wife is out of town. That said, I think it might be the best thing I have ever done. Amir, I'm ecstatic. Take me away boys.
Above this text you will see a quick screen shot of some of the most recent searches that have led fine folks like yourself to my blog. I don’t pay much attention to this little blurb, and when I do, most days I find phrases along the lines of, “new fiction, paranoid thoughts, sober this or that” and the occasional long string of words that clearly indicates someone has Level 9 Paranoia way worse than this guy. Yesterday though, I was initially amused to see, “peter rosch dui.” I’m an open book, and while I sincerely regret having ever put myself in the position to get a DUI, I have no issues with people knowing about it–in fact, I should probably regale everyone with the fine tale of my night’s stay in a Bronx jail cell at some point. That was a real treat, let me tell you. After a quick trip down my own memory lane though, I started to wonder, “Who could it be digitally knocking at my door?” Why would anyone be on the hunt for that information? Who is trying to dig up dirt on this lowly private citizen, and what exactly do they intend on doing with that information when they find it? The little sliver of my brain that produces happy thoughts suggested, “Hey, maybe someone is doing an article/review on My Dead Friend Sarah.” Of course, this was a short lived notion, and it wasn’t even seconds before my brain started to fabricate as many other possible scenarios in which someone out there was doing a slow and methodical hunt for dirt on yours truly. It was a situation that I carried with me quietly, and shared with some friends, throughout the day. In retelling the story to my family last night–and only then–did I remember to myself, “Douchebag. You are not the only Peter Rosch on the planet. There are in fact a couple more famous than you, not to mention the man who co-created you, you egotistical sack of baloney.”
So, Dad, is there something I should know?
A quick glance at the morning paper would suggest that New Yorkers have–as I’m almost positive had been hoped for by Bloomberg and his cronies–soundly rejected the notion of a full-on ban of sugary beverages over sixteen ounces. I submit here, and I’m sure I’m not the first, that this had likely been the desired effect of the overly bold declaration that your sweet sugar water in mass would be removed from shelves. Has it occurred to you that perhaps the first step in getting people to accept a tax on the very same nectar beverages would be to craft a scenario in which we all started to see a soda-tax as a reasonable concession by Bloomberg and the city, in the face of our pained cries against a full-on ban?
Will we be reading about this for months, watching as they make it appear they are listening to the fine soda junkies of this fair city, while they are secretly galvanizing support for at least a small tax to be bestowed upon our vats of liquid glee? I can’t say. But I’ll be the first to say I told you so, when and if this particular bout of Friday morning Level 9 Paranoia proves to be prophetic. I’ve no skin in this particular game, as my own brand of canned/bottled happiness is of the chemical variety. D.C. for-evuh.
I’m sure many of you are amped up, out of your minds, and ready for a three day weekend to fill your bellies and souls with food, drink, and good times. I too am looking forward to a break from the insanity that the everyday tends to load punishingly upon our shoulders. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, and so I’ll be keeping my own busy as I plow ahead on my next book in between gorging myself with the many delectable meats, cheeses, and chocolates I suspect will find their way to my mouth regardless of my own attempts at keeping them minimal, manageable, and at bay. Have a great time out there, be safe, and keep an eye out for some or all of the following possible scenarios that might make for a less-than-stellar weekend.
Poison Drinking Straws at Movie Theaters, Cement Trucks, Bar-b-que’d Meats Discarded from Tall Buildings, Children’s Birthday Party Scams, and don’t be so nice to someone that they decide to follow you home and kill you.
I’ll be back next week with my own observations from what I’m sure will be a weekend that lends itself to a countrified slant on my own brand of sweet, sweet Level 9 Paranoia. Until then, enjoy my silence.
On any given normal day, my own delicious blend of paranoia and internal struggle to believe that only good things are coming my way prevent me from doing some of society’s most mundane tasks. I might skip a subway ride into the city if I don’t particularly care for the aura of the souls already inside the train’s cars – or especially if someone I only believe to be capable of unspeakable acts of crazy is boarding right before me. If a stranger is looking to gain entry into my apartment building, most likely you will catch me going into the back entrance as to not have to be the one who lets them in to see a friend – in fact, I’ve been known to just go sit across the street and wait them out, because we both know they just want to gain access to go rape and rob some poor soul who lives a floor below me. Even a trip to the bank can seem like an insurmountable task, just because I’ve become convinced the police officer who guards mine has it out for me and is looking for the slightest indication that I’m up to no good to gun me down. I know these things are unlikely, but I can’t shake the thoughts completely – even when there are no tangible pieces of evidence to suggest that any of these types of things occur with any kind of frequency.
So, when I say that I am heading to Mexico for a little rest and relaxation, you’d be right to snort or chuckle – is it really possible for this guy to head to a place that the media routinely showcases as the closest worst decision a traveler can currently make? Will the crystal blue waters be enough to distract me from the idea that at any moment a character straight out of a Robert Rodriguez shoot-em-up will come take me and the Mrs. for the type of ride no one wants to take – and that our heads will become his trophies, as some cartel finally looks to step across that supposedly firm line in the sand that says they won’t touch the tourists in their conquest to be Mexico’s most notorious organization? And of course, there is always the possibility that what little Spanish we picked up in Costa Rica, coupled with our good-looks, will only lead to a small misunderstanding that ends up seeing us as permanent drug mules due to the belief that border patrol agents turn a blinder eye to a couple of skinnies who can carry a convo. Why, oh why, are we headed to the very country my own black-ops friend suggested we steer clear of for our honeymoon just a short year and a half ago when there are so many other beautiful beaches in the world?
I have no answers. Sometimes, even when you live with permanent level 9 paranoia, ego plots the course and the denial that it wields fills you up all comfy with the idea that if you’ve given adequate thought to every worse case scenario, none of it will come to fruition. Unless of course you mention it in some blog post, then it’s some sort of double negative as they pertain to jinxes – and well… you still go, because you already done paid for it. Wish us luck!
First and foremost, the title of this post would make a helluva band name. Noted. I was just walking to work through Washington Square Park, moments removed from a very fine breakfast with an old friend. I left feeling invigorated as we had spent a good deal of time talking about our future plans, both personal and professional. Having just made it from Los Angeles yet one more time, I find myself growing uncomfortably comfortable with flying as a mode of transportation – this is relevant, as is the good-times feelings I had laughing and scheming about the future with my wife last night. The cherry on top, in the form of a ‘whit whirr’ sound, came as I strutted across that park – two gentleman callers! Kisses were blown my way, and my first thought was, “Hellz yeah fellas, the kid has arrived!” This was immediately replaced with the following notion: it’s all going too good, I must be mere moments from a heart attack. Dick Clark on the mind? Perhaps. Then again, I’m not 82. Another friend and I were just recently discussing our mutual discomfort for good news, great achievements, and grand times – has something to do with preferring the chemicals in the brain that occur when feeling low, bad news, and self doubt I believe. My saunter turned into a speed walk, as i decided I could probably use a few extra pumps to the ol’ chest engine – and that speed walk had me crossing streets at a furious clip, one block after another, driven by a desire to live dammit – a desire that then found me in the middle of a crosswalk, crossing against the light, and surprise surprise – near Death by Cement Truck! There is only one solution my friends, I’ll simply have to let myself go a bit, grow a little rougher around the edges, put on a few pounds perhaps – all in order to prevent those pesky cat calls of doom.
“Ahhhh, how sweet,” you might say. “You have adorable neighbors, and there will probably be cake too.” Perhaps, perhaps. But if you are living with level 9 paranoia, like myself, a more accurate reaction to this carefully crafted apartment elevator invitation would be, “Oh sure, let me come up to the roof around four so you can know that I’m no longer in my apartment, and can then signal a friend on the street, letting them know my unit is currently ripe for the cat-burglaring.” Or you might wonder aloud to yourself, as I did, if Pri, Tati, and this Goldy person are actually assembling everyone on the roof for a mass cult suicide jump – there might still be a party, and maybe the roof jump isn’t scheduled for this Saturday, but pulling all the neighbors together with cake and ice cream to discuss their Heaven’s Gate style plan isn’t the worst ploy. A lesser thought, let’s call it level 7, might simply be, “Hmm, what a great way to get a bunch of free toys for this Goldy character.” It could just be they are the neighborly sort, but my money is on poisoned Kool-Aid.
I think a lot of things about people, specifically strangers. Some good, the majority not-so-swell. If you are standing next to me on a train, walking a few feet in front or beside me, and i don’t know you – there’s a good chance my brain is working overtime judging you, building a story about you, taking what little information your appearance, your personal effects, stance and saunter might reveal.
I suspect a lot of what I think is very far from the bull’s-eye my ego would like it to be. I’ve probably not ‘pegged’ anyone, and that’s fine – I’m not writing to boast about my abilities, I’m writing to reveal the part of this daily ritual that concerns me which is: occasionally it occurs to me that the person who’s persona my brain is so un-lovingly assembling in what it believes to be the for-my-ears-only space between my ears, might – just might – be able to read my mind. And so quite often, up there in that crooked gray matter, it goes a little something like this:
“Wow, this person has really got some issues – bodies-in-basement type issues – and could really stand to drop a few pounds. She/He would definitely be the second to last person I’d save if this train careened off the bridge right now – very last if it weren’t for that holier-than-thou dipshit over there. Wait a minute! She/He just looked at me like they knew exactly what I’m thinking.”
Then my brain attempts to undo the damage it has most assuredly inflicted. It takes a long pause, trying to empty itself of all the vile, insulting, and unflattering thoughts it made in the previous two to three minutes. This is followed by some in-brain-only whistling of Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to do With it. At which point I can only hope that my new mind-reading victim is a fan.