My friend Chris made another comic out of one of my dumb stories. This is it. I like it a lot. The other one is fun too, but I like this one more. It’s also based on a true story. I apologize for the formatting. I don’t know how to make it better, and quite frankly I don’t care enough to take the time to figure it out right now.
I had a crush on the same girl from kindergarten through 5th grade. In grade two a few of my friends and I would play this game at recess where some of the girls would snatch the hats off our heads (usually after a swift kick to the balls) and run, and we’d try to catch them. I should mention that the sole reason we wore hats outside at recess was so the girls would kick us in the balls and take them off our heads. Why were we into that? Who came up with the idea? Seriously, what the sincere, actual fuck?
Anyway, I always wanted Angie to take my hat, because I liked her, but when she did, I could never catch her, because she was easily the fastest girl in our class. She was probably the fastest person in our class, period. Fuck, could she run. I always wanted to do whatever Angie was doing, because I liked her, and that’s what I thought liking someone was all about. Doing the same things, together, all the time.
So when I found out Angie was gonna play trumpet in 5th grade band, I had no choice but to beg my parents to get me a trumpet. They finally relented, scoring me a used trumpet on payments at a local music store. This was gonna be the answer, I thought…all my Angie-related dreams were about to come true, and it would all begin with me sitting next to her in band practice.
I ended up being accidentally kinda good at the trumpet (or I was better than the other 5th graders, anyway), so I quickly earned the first chair position, which immediately made me nervous. I’ve never wanted to be in charge of anything, and I don’t much care for being looked at, but I accepted my new role with the all grace and aplomb that a 10-year-old boy can exhibit.
For our annual Christmas concert that December, the 5th and 6th grade bands were combined into a Super Band (not its real name), I assume with the purpose of shortening the overall concert time, since there were also choir performances slated for pretty much every grade, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Since the bands were combined, I was seated to the left of the 6th grade first chair trumpet, Jackie.
One of the songs we were performing that night was “Carol of the Bells”, and I was tasked with the heavy responsibility of beginning the song 100% solo. I was nervous, but at the same time, I was as confident as I’ve probably ever been in my life. The time came, the band director indicated that the floor was mine, and I began to blow a perfect rendition. She quickly waved me to a stop, did something with her hands that seemed to indicate that I should be playing louder, and started things up again. I once again played flawlessly, and as loud as I could possibly play, and she once again waved me to a stop, and did the same thing with her hands again.
I was sweating through my clothes at this point, beyond embarrassed, and wanting nothing more than to simply disappear forever. I was just about to start playing a third time, even louder this time (I don’t know if that would even have been possible), when Jackie leaned over to me and said “you’re in the wrong key”. Turns out while I was playing the notes correctly, I was indeed playing in the wrong key, and the band teacher’s hand motions didn’t mean that I should play louder, they meant that I should be playing an octave higher.
Angie quit the trumpet after 6th grade, but my parents wouldn’t let me quit, as they’d paid a small fortune, relatively speaking, to satisfy my schoolboy crush – a crush that by then didn’t even exist anymore. I played on through 7th grade, at basketball games, concerts and the occasional football game, constantly regretting my shortsighted decision to learn how to play the trumpet.
Thankfully, my parents got tired of having to drive me to concerts and games, and upon completion of my 7th grade year, I was allowed to stop playing the trumpet. The cursed instrument went into our attic, where it stayed for the next decade, until I sold it to a former co-worker, and now…
I even had to google “key vs octave”. I still feel a mild twinge of panic when I hear “Carol of the Bells”, though. I’ll never forget that.
My pal Collin mentioned yesterday that he’d been reading this esteemed blog, and really wanted to know more about the time I ate 22 pieces of pizza. That story is the first of a few different instances of me becoming what the missus semi-affectionately refers to as “The Pizza Monster”. I’ll probably share the rest of those stories eventually, because they’re pretty funny, but for now, here’s the origin story of my alter ego, The Pizza Monster.
Like all high-school-age boys, I was pretty gross. I never drank or smoked or did anything “wrong”, really, but I did have a vice: shoving foodstuffs down my big fat piehole like it was my job. I was a chonky boi, as the kids might say, and as such, I could put away some food, friends.
One night, about 30 minutes after finishing my supper (I don’t remember what we ate that night, but I can guarantee I ate seconds of everything, and probably thirds of some things), Travis called to see if I wanted to join him, his brother Tyler, and their mom on a trip to College Mall. I couldn’t turn down that offer – a chance to go to town on a school night? Fuck yeah that wide!
On the drive up, Travis told me we were also gonna go to Mr. Gatti’s after we were finished at the mall. At the time, I’d never been to a Mr. Gatti’s (or even heard of it), and said as much. Travis regaled me with tales of all-you-can-eat pizza, breadsticks, and cheesesticks, plus air hockey, Street Fighter II, skeeball, holy shit was I ever stoked! Travis mentioned that the last time he was there, he ate 20 slices of pizza. Before I even realized what was happening, I responded “I can eat more than that.”
Travis obviously accepted my challenge, and soon after – a mere 2 hours after I’d eaten essentially two full meals with my family – we began our contest. If you’ve ever been to Mr. Gatti’s, you know that not all their slices are cut evenly, so we placed no limitations on size, but we also didn’t purposely choose smaller pieces just to increase our count. We ate and ate and ate, and then we ate some more. When the final buzzer sounded, I’d eaten 22 slices, and Travis had eaten 23.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you that I’d eaten dinner not long before our journey began. We were also definitely guzzling root beers the entire time we ate. If I hadn’t begun the contest on a full stomach, who knows how much pizza I could’ve put away? I may still be there eating pizza to this day.
Travis, by the way, stands at least 6’5″, and can still destroy some pizza to this day. About five years ago, I saw him devour two New York-style slices (each bigger than my certified XL head) like they were a couple of potato chips, and as recently as three years ago, he ate a large pizza and an order of breadsticks by himself.
Those slices were very much like this.
As for me, I still wanna eat all the pizza in the world, and I still eat too much of it every single time I eat it (did I mention that I’m a Pizza Monster?), but I’ve never again come close to the glory of that day in 1993 when I consumed 2-3 days’ worth of calories in a mere 4 hours.
This blog is the natural extension of an old school cut and paste ‘zine I started working on when I still lived in Austin. My homeboy Jimmy, from back in the day, advised that I just do it online, because it would be cheaper and easier, and in standard Jimmy vs. Joel fashion, I ignored his arguments and instead spent the better part of 5 years putting together 2 issues of Doppelgänger! (A Zine With Some Stuff in It). I’m fairly pleased with the first issue (though some of it strikes me as a little embarassing now), and I’m mostly satisfied with Issue #2, but not long after I made that one, I started to get happier, and the need to cut and paste my troubles away began to dissipate. I started the layout for issue #3 about 7 or 8 years ago, and it remains unfinished to this day, in a box labelled “Zine Stuff”, stashed in my closet next to a box full of old VHS tapes that I simply cannot bear to part with.
Long story short, Jimmy was ultimately right, as he often is, but at the time, old school was the only way. I needed the tactile element of creation at that point. Twelve years later, I still enjoy the tactile element, but I’m much more aware of the necessity of getting it out there while there’s still time. It’s later than you think, friends.
At some point in the past week or so, it occurred to me that in addition to providing you with fresh, cutting-edge content (ha!), I could also use this space to reprint stuff from my old ‘zines/notebooks. If nothing else, it’ll keep the blog active. The title of this post, by the way, is stolen from a song by the Minutemen. You should listen to them.
You might be asking, Joel, what the hell is the point of all this? That’s almost always a fair question when you’re talking to me. The point is, here’s some shit from an old notebook (and Issue #2 of Doppelgänger!), edited slightly for clarity (date unknown, but sometime pre-2008):
Here’s something to think about: how fucking funny would it be if professional wrestling, circa 1980’s, was absolutely and totally real? Like, f’rinstance, what if Dusty Rhodes really wore that wristband, vest, tights, and kneeboot ensemble, all black with yellow polka-dots, all the time? What if the Ultimate Warrior, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage really talked like that, all the time? Just imagine if Koko B. Ware, George “The Animal” Steele, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, the Honky-Tonk Man, and the Bushwackers were all completely and utterly real…
One step further now: imagine if you regular life was like professional wrestling, circa 1980’s. Like if your actual life was in danger at all times because of a grudge between you and a guy who wears a mask and a gold sequined robe. Or if, for some reason, you and your cousin (each of you with a fondness for leather and spikes) had a feud with two pig-farming brothers who lived down the road, and your day were peppered with the risk of cheap shots from brass knuckles, handfuls of sand, and other “foreign objects”. Or if your life-long best friend suddenly took off his pink fringed vest to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of himself with his new best friend…
And of course: everyone would have their own theme song, and some people would have managers and/or bodyguards, but other than our running fueds, we’d live the lives that we normally lead. For example, “Dangerous Dave” Jackson of St. Louis, Missouri might drive to work every day at the Anheuser-Busch brewery every day while listening to a song about being a true American patriot. Meanwhile, his arch-nemesis, a filthy-rich trust fund socialite from Massachusetts named Phineas Vanderbilt, a.k.a. “Mr. Moneybags”, would sit at mahogany desk and count his money while listening to a song about how rich and powerful he is, his bodyguard Rufus ever vigilant over his left shoulder…
So to repeat my original question: how fucking funny would it be if professional wrestling, circa 1980’s, was absolutely and totally real? Now that I have these images in my mind, I can’t imagine anything funnier.
That’s that. For the record, I can imagine funnier things now, but this scenario still cracks me up. There’ll certainly be further installments of “Shit From an Old Notebook” in the days and weeks to come. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you’ll visit again soon. In the meantime, find me on facebook and instagram @clockwisecircle. And tell your friends, won’t you?