Fear & Loathing in the New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant

I was looking through my old files and came across this piece I wrote one late night in November of 2013. It is a humorous but fully authentic review of my meal at a Chinese restaurant that is sadly no longer in business. I hope it brings you the same sensation of uneasy nostalgia it brings me.

 

Yesterday I felt like having a succulent Chinese meal, so I slid over to the “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant”, it was an experience I shan’t soon forget. The restaurant is situated off Burnside on 4th, bordering a homeless slum. Their menu offers a typical selection of Chinese-American cuisine. I was greeted at the entrance by a shaggy, smelly old tramp from the next door slum. As I moved to step over him he mumbled some sort of apology and quickly shuffled off. Inside the eatery I was met with the grim gaze of a short sultry chinaman seated behind a counter along the back wall, he refused to acknowledge my presence. I assumed this passive attitude implied I was to seat myself. I did so and took the opportunity to survey the establishment.

The first thing that struck me, besides the smell, was the total absence of any other customers. The empty dining room was decorated with the usual nonsense, cheap cardboard cutouts of chinese symbols, floral-pattern mildew streaked curtains, and damp pink tablecloths stained with the marks of countless unwashed spills. The brown felt carpet seemed to be saturated in a foul smelling liquid that made the entire building stank. Precariously situated behind the sultry man at the back was an enormous glass tank which was full of half dead fish. I realized the tank’s turgid water was slowly leaking from its poorly sealed edges and may have been the source of the carpet’s odorous moisture. I must admit I was not very impressed.

After a quarter of an hour or so waiting at my chosen seat, another leaner chinaman with a sour look on his face approached me from the kitchen. He took my order and slunk into the back where he, along with the other sultry man, stared at me for the duration of my meal. I selected the pork fried rice with a side of crispy shrimp and a mysterious dish identified only as “hot meat sauce on egg noodle”. I waited some great length of time before the food was finally placed before me. What I encountered on those plates will remain in my memory for the rest of my days. The shrimp was outwardly recognizable, yet when I bit into one I was surprised to find a profound absence of shrimp. Where the succulent sweet meat should have been there was only a wad of under-cooked bitter batter. This disappointing discovery was repeated with three more shrimp before I gave up. The illusive “hot meat sauce” turned out to be hamburger helper served over a small portion of cold noodles. The substance that claimed to be rice revealed itself to actually be a stale mound of brown vomit permeated by the occasional colored shape which I assumed where once vegetables. Oddly the rice was the best dish of the lot, it tasted vaguely of coconuts and had a scent reminiscent of pond scum that made me wonder if perhaps a sailor was operating the kitchen. I was also given a complimentary bowl of what I initially guessed was soup, however it was actually dishwater with a bit of onion tossed in.  

I could not bring myself to finish any of the food, still I paid the bill ($25, before tip). When I stood to leave the miserable experience, I looked back at the kitchen to thank the server and was met with his cold and suspicious glare, so I just made my way to the door in silence. As I stepped through the threshold back into the musty chinatown air, a woman from the restaurant called out to me. Apparently I had forgotten my umbrella. She held it out and said in broken English “you not get dis till you clean”. I promptly snatched the umbrella and ran. If I was to rate “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant” on a scale of Hitler to Reagan, I would give it an Obama (approximately Stalin+Hitler-Napoleon=Thatcher/Clinton). So when you walk the streets of chinatown looking for some good taste, think twice.

Zoo Hijinx: Hope for the Next Generation

I was standing at the small Ben & Jerry’s stand in the zoo that I work at. It was a hot day and the sun forced me to squint angrily at every zoo patron as they walked past the point where the road curves around my post and I’m forced to make involuntary eye contact with the parents and grandparents of all those little tykes trying to reel them into my sales area. Parents who probably secretly loathe me and my ice cream stand for what they’ll have to endure from their children, whether they deny them their crack or they ultimately accede to their demands and suffer the consequences. I don’t blame them.

One kid in particular stood out to me when he made a very poignant declaration about my career goals and Ben & Jerry’s mission statement. As this small child made his approach hand-in-hand with his father, they began a dialogue with each other:
“Daddy, what is that?”
“That’s a Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s.”
“What’s it doing here?”
“They’re selling ice cream to people.”

At this point, I look over past the massive sun glare in front of me and see the child walking with his family. The child calls out, “You’re just trying to take our money!” When his face comes into view, I see that he has on it a look of complete astonishment and disgust. In the moment I had to reply, all I could do was give him a sly smile and nod my head in confirmation. Nice work, kid, you’ve dismantled this company’s specious attempts to appear charitable and revealed us for what we truly are.

The Grand (and somewhat bland) Appearance

On the 9th of June, fellow writer Funky Mannequin and I left our home in La Grande, Oregon. The goal was to travel the length of the state and return to Portland (where we first met), and travel we did; through incredible heat, scrotal ticks, the corpses of decaying roadside house-cats, and the backs of vans owned by religious meth-head couples, we pressed onward. However, this story is about none of those things (though you can bet there will be more on such escapades later).

For now, let’s focus on The Grand (and somewhat bland) Appearance.

Upon reentering Portland, Funky and I were greeted by a typhoon of litter and profoundly retarded transit system. The destination was across town (the apartment of a dear friend Garrett), so we got change from a local barkeep and his transvestite girlfriend, seating ourselves at the nearest stop and checking the schedule. It read eight minutes – five minutes later, it read nine.

When the vehicle at last greeted us, it did so with an overweight woman screeching into a speaker-phone and a coughing man who would have shamed victims of the bubonic plague.

We were up to our taints in boozy broads and gutter condoms. We were home indeed.

Once freed of the public access vehicle, we promptly located Garrett’s building and illegally tailed a resident through the safety-locked doors. Instead of the stairs, we took a dangerous-looking elevator up a single story and reached the room in minutes, ushered in by a middle-eastern man bearing a plate of assorted fruits. “For you,” he spoke smoothly, presenting the organized dish of succulent offerings.

We took the juicy gift and rested upon a crimson sofa, breathing in the sheer emptiness of the apartment’s space. “Where’s Garrett?” we asked, slightly unnerved.

“He went to get you,” the man responded, producing a smoke and heading for the balcony.

“Of course.”

Eerie music filled the air. No, there is truly no joke or metaphor to be found here; there was suspenseful music quite literally flooding the room around us, echoing from somewhere within the walls (from which room we did not yet know).

On the coffee table before the couch, a sculpture of a pirate skull glowered at our knees (“I dug that out of the trash!” our friend would soon proclaim with an appropriately dramatic gesture).

When Garrett finally did arrive, he did so with a homeless companion named Jeremy (known to Garrett as “Gregory” for absolutely no reason at all). Jeremy talked about an ideal world on acid, grew offended when asked to play a love song, refused to shower, then gave everybody his filthy, filthy lice (they filled all of the hand towels, so cleaning oneself was deeply counter-productive). Levi cooked us delicious salmon to rectify these things.

That night, we watched a television of static. The channels wouldn’t change unless we were using the remote. When the remote eventually stopped working (no big deal, all of the channels were static anyway), Garrett opened the battery compartment and two small pieces of aluminum foil fell from the device. We were all dumbfounded.

On the television (or rather, within the static on the television), we saw intergalactic travel, spiraling serpents, parting seas, and a vigorously dancing man. The dancing man was so horrendously funny, we all laughed for a good five minutes (five minutes is an absurdly long and painful amount of time when you can only laugh). This television, like the pirate skull, was obtained from a dumpster.

The following day, Funky and Garrett made Jeremy the Louse King collect all of his shit and throw it into a sack, putting him on the bus and taking him to a tax-evading semi-cult otherwise known as The Boneyard (read: Road Trip Through PurgatoryMy Accidental Life As A Full-Time Meth Peddler: Part One, and Bags Of Flesh, Bottles Of Urine – all appropriately titled entries in the world of Boneyard lore).

“It’s a commune of artists,” they misinformed the Louse King.

He looked very worried, as he should have been. When they were traveling via the TriMet streetcar, he spent the ride face-down in his guitar. He knew they were stretching the truth.

When they reached the communal settlement of degenerate scum, the landowner was evicting a local junkie (Fini, Lord of Ice-Cold Milk). All of his greasy belongings had been tossed onto the lawn.

The Louse King was abandoned there, yet to be seen again.

So we made a safe return and lead normal lives, right?

Well, unbeknownst to my shitty little heart, this was but the beginning of a new breed of adventure – an adventure so lethargic, pasty, and unexciting that it would be a crime to shove it all into one post.

In stories to come: handguns, familial alienation, bloody intercourse, parolee sex-changes, cancer, long-lost siblings, and open relationships. Yeah, yeah, don’t get your hopes up.

Garrett, whose face is scribbled out because he doesn't want any photos on the internet because he's fucking insane.

Garrett, whose face is scribbled out because he doesn’t want any photos on the internet because he’s fucking insane.

Next Up: The Gland Incoherence
And Then: The Unplanned Interference
And Eventually Someday: Seven Sinks And The Bridge Of Despair
And Then Eventually Someday Somehow After All That: 260 Miles: The Borderline Homoerotic Tales Of Traveling Way Too Far On Foot And Getting Ticks On Your Nutsack

The Golden Child Strikes Again!

One time, when I was very young, my mother told me about True Love. Someone out there, upon the vast and twisting surface of this earth, was destined to stumble into my life and click against my body like a puzzle piece. I asked her if she loved my father and she told me “yes.”

When my parent’s later became lost in the trenches of a particularly violent argument, I had to hide beneath the kitchen table with my baby brother. The police arrived and began to guide my father away, but he got to leave on his own because he wasn’t causing any physical harm. My neighbor guided us to the car because my mom was real scared and we drove miles out of town, to my grandmother’s place. When we arrived, my mother cried in her mother’s arms and we got to pull out the inflatable mattress with my grandfather. That night, sleeping on the floor, I thought about how one day I would get to have all of this. I would get to have True Love.

This morning, I put my left shoe on my right foot. I looked down for a bit, then left it that way for the rest of the day. It felt about time to write another gripe, so I made this.

Longer stories coming, soon-ish maybe.

On stage with my dad. Who needs True Love when you've got real love in the first place?

On stage with my dad. Who needs True Love when you’ve got real love in the first place?

A Slice of Nazi at 5 AM

It’s 5 in the morning and this got me all sorts of fired up:

Jeremiah True screencap

Jeremiah True ended up being disrespectful and kind of an ass, but his initial thoughts/ideas were objective and absolutely necessary to bring up in, I don’t know, the thought-challenging environment that college is supposed to be. Who says only women can be raped? Who says men don’t ever get forced into unwanted sex? Who says rape is OK? I sincerely hope that it’s just a case of the negative people speaking the loudest, because it’s this kind of ignorance that is fucking us over. That and folks who don’t believe in vaccinating their kids. Go live on a remote island for a few hundred years and grow a shell and become old and lovable or something. You’re giving me forehead wrinkles.

In fact, I turned you into a Menkampf post. Congratulations; you’re all Nazis!

My first menkampf post!

Fuck Nyx Assassin

As a 1,000 max health Witch Doctor, I abhor you with every ounce of my being. I despise the fact that you will stalk me across the map and reveal yourself while I am amongst my team just to burst me down and then promptly be killed afterward. I loathe the way you brag about all of your kills, when all of them come from kamikaziing yourself onto me.

I hate your early-game.

I hate your mid-game.

I hate that late-game, you are supposed to fall off, but all you need to do to stay relevant is upgrade your Dagon and continue to kill me without issue.

Fuck you.

A Cautionary Ramble Concerning Scientology

Scientology is an elusive and bizarre “religion”. It has been the center of numerous controversies and scandals and is notable for its fervent and aggressive struggle to maintain its precarious public image. Most people who know of the “church” are aware it was founded by one L. Ron Hubbard and that it is followed by a great many celebrities, yet there is an unfortunate abundance of frankly horrifying and disturbing pieces to this confused organization that are important to be aware of.

Scientology has received a fair amount of attention in the media due to its outlandish propaganda and celebrity influence. Some of this coverage has been objective and some has been negative. Most media accounts are sensationalized and provide little information that actually protects people. This is why I feel it is worth my time to write this article, because people are being hurt by this organization and if I am able to inform anyone about things that can save them from any harm then I have done a worthy thing.

Scientology is centered around an intentionally vague and confusing spiritual belief system. It is not based on the explicit worship of a god, rather it is intent on the development of some abstract spiritual body and mind which all people possess. They claim all sorts of strange things about how our lives are affected by this spiritual body and offer means to achieve some twisted sort of enlightenment. They claim that their means of spiritual cultivation is based on legitimate scientific fact. Really it is based entirely on the pseudo psychological ramblings of L. Ron Hubbard as found in his many published books, essays and presentations. The foremost work in this ill-conceived collection is Dianetics. This book lays out Hubbard’s fundamental views of human nature and psychology. It suggests many farcical methods to improve oneself, of these the principal method is something called “auditing”.

Auditing is a warped form of religious confession, it involves the participant voicing things they are ashamed of or that are embarrassing or secret while connected to a device called and “e-meter”. These fanciful devices supposedly measure some sort of spiritual energy field. In all actuality it simply measures the electrical resistance between two low voltage conductors and the participant’s skin. The important thing to take note of with this auditing practice is the sensitive nature of the material is requires participants to discuss. It has been revealed by escaped members of the church that auditing sessions are secretly recorded and kept in a vast archive of individual’s most secret secrets. This is used to blackmail members who are uncooperative or who attempt to leave or expose the true nature of the church. This is only one of the more obvious measures the church takes to preserve itself and subjugate its members. This also stifles any legitimate information or insight being exposed from within the church.

It is easy enough to avoid directly involving oneself with the religious/spiritual aspects of scientology but that is only one facet of an immense extortionary establishment. There are countless scientology run operations claiming to offer all sorts of services from communication classes to financial accounting. All of these fronts will go to immense lengths to pressure you into turning over as much money as they can. If someone is offering a “free self help seminar” or some such similar program, class, session or group experience it is wise to question and act with caution especially before offering personal information and signing any documents or agreeing to any payments. Once you are in their space they will employ merciless psychological tactics to damage your judgement and create a sense of obligation and unworthiness. In another sense they will attempt to condition you to be predisposed to their bidding and will.

These claims may seem dramatic and unnecessarily condemnatory, I can only assure you of my conviction in all that I have said. I am not attempting to entertain, only to warn anyone who may come across this unfortunate cult. I encourage everyone to do some research and read the testimonies of those who have escaped scientology. One glance at  scientology’s official website and you should be able to appreciate the absurd nature of their organization. Please operate with sensible caution and protect others by warning them to stay clear of scientology and their related schemes. Let there be no more suffering at the hands of this delusional institution.

Stay the fuck away

Stay the fuck away.

Second Birthday, 3:50am With All The Lights Still On

Sometimes, when I’m hanging on the brink of a dream, I see her standing in the sliding glass doorway, her hand propped awkwardly against its frame and her small eyes digging into my soft belly, disentangling the seams of my flesh and spilling my innards out across my toes. She stands like she did before; one foot on the carpet, one foot outside of the house, as though she’s preparing to break into a sprint. I would ask her not to leave me alone, naked and cold in a massive house, but all of my teeth have fallen out. I am pitiful to look upon, embarrassing to touch. She says “I’ll be back tonight,” and she leaves. Of course, we both know that she’s lying.

However, last night, I did not hang on the edge of a dream. Last night, I fell in.

The dawn of February’s second day broke and I found myself awaking in a pool of lukewarm sweat, my feet wet and clammy, the blankets stuck to my greasy, hairless chest. In spite of myself, I cried, curling deeply into the armchair upon which I slept. I tried to recollect what had brought me to feel this way. I dug into my subconscious and I remembered.

In this reverie, my friends taunted me, laughed at me while I pulled at my collar and scratched at my throat. They told me, “She’ll be here soon.” Had it really been a whole year already? I didn’t want to see her ever again, to lock eyes with the girl who dragged me from the rushing puddles of blood and blaring music atop the dining room table. I didn’t want to thank her for anything. My jaw locked and I tried to smile, to pretend that I was a good person who worked hard with a successful career and overflowing charisma.  I pulled a digital camera from the ether, attempting to steal pictures with the people around me, to look friendly and smart and kind and social and popular. I wondered, “Does she look at pictures of me? Does she find pictures of me online and stare at them and wonder what I’ve become, how I’m doing inside? Does she read my writing?” I still want to impress her, or maybe frighten her, maybe push the love out of her like a blackened stalk of guilt that wraps around me and crushes the air from my lungs. I want to feel her soft hands wrapping my father’s favorite dish towels around my wrists and I want to tell her “these are my father’s favorite dish towels,” and I want her to look at me with that stunning expression of utter fucking disgust and confusion. I can see it now; her eyelids drawn back so far that her dilating pupils bore right into my skull, and all I want to do is scream until my chest tears open. My blood seeping through the cloth, trickling out over her tiny, white fingers.

Today (the third day of February, 2015) marks the one-year anniversary of my attempting to kill myself. I thought that it wasn’t going to bother me, but here I am, venting to strangers and struggling not to be crushed under my own fear of failure, of over-sensitivity and shamefulness. The scars are mostly white, now. I think often of how strange it is to still be alive, how incredible it was to be alive in the first place. Like a tired echo, perhaps a ghost, reverberating endlessly through the events that would have comprised the rest of my life.

At midnight, I received an email from my oldest friend. Throughout a lengthy letter, she wrote many wonderful and insightful things. At the end, she wrote, “I’m stuck feeling like you died that day. Like my head won’t accept that you’re still alive, or at least that you’ll stay that way. It’s a terrifying sensation and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to commit myself to the notion that you’re sticking around.”

 

And then she wrote, “Happy Birthday.”

 

I am truly blessed, to fear such a beautiful world.

 

 

This is the final time that I will ever write of my suicidal experiences or urges. I apologize for bogging down many of my posts with such tiresome material, but it’s been an incredibly difficult year for me. Thank you, all who have read my entries, for bearing with me on my journey of self-pitying bullshit. You’re the best.

Road Trip Through Purgatory (or, My Accidental Life As A Full-Time Meth Peddler: Part Two)

Behind “The Boneyard” (a tax evading semi-cult, named after the unearthing of animal bones from below their back lawn), there is a massive hole in the ground.

Levi and I sat at the edge of this ditch, kicking loose dirt from its edge, earth and rock tumbling down to the pit’s bottom. The sun was hot and blinding, searing our backs through tee-shirts and thin jackets, drying the mud beneath our worn shoes.

“This is gonna be an underground greenhouse,” Levi told me, sipping from the brim of a black coffee, his long hair dangling over his face. “I’ve been doing all the fucking work though. Ripped a hole right down the ass of my favorite striped pants.”

“It looks like a mass grave,” I told him.

Rotating to look at me, Levi squinted through the blaring sunlight and shrugged, then nodded thoughtfully. “Huh. Fini should be here soon.”

As though waiting on a cue, the infamous Fini emerged from the cluttered house behind us, jarringly slender with the stature of a retarded hunchback. His smelly jacket blew in the late springtime breeze, eyes sunken to the back of his rotten brain and peering through inflamed rings of sleepless drug abuse. Slight winds carried trash and dust across the inconceivably filthy property, blowing against the legs of his undersized jeans, tight and childlike on his sickening chicken legs. Taking a long drag of a hand-rolled cigarette, he blew smoke into his own face and grunted, “Alright kids, let’s hit the road. Just a couple hours, right? I’ll get you the camping gear and we’ll all be set.”

Complying without question, my companion and I signed ourselves onto the most nightmarish trek that would ever grace our shitty lives.

“Garrett keeps asking about camping gear,” Levi informed me as we approached a small car. “He gave me a list and shit. Like, a color-coded document that’s all bulleted and fancy and shit. I don’t know, this guy says he’ll hook us up for free. He seems good for it, long as we come along and help him bring stuff back.”

Opening the hind-passenger door, Fini reached in for a small cooler, then shut the vehicle before we could enter it.

“Oh, not this car,” he told us. “We’re taking that one.” Pointing a scummy fingernail down the driveway, he drew our sight to a white, nearly windowless van, screws and nails jutting from its chipping sides. “You dudes can sit in the back on the way out. I rigged up some seats and shelves and all that, so you’ll have an alright time.” Laughing lightly under his breath, he wiped his nose with the side of a greasy fist.

Upon entering this automobile, the unfamiliar fellow slammed his cooler down and removed the plastic lid, hunger brewing in his beady little pupils. With shaking hands, he dipped his palms into the small box and produced a single bottle of milk, covered in frost and chilled water. With but one fluid motion, he wrenched the cap from its container and latched his mouth over the brim, sucking with famished aggression. “God damn,” he hooted as the flagon unlatched from his nasty lips. “There’s nothing better than ice-cold milk!”

Tossing it at Levi, he juddered with uncontrollable passion. “Ice-cold milk,” he announced again. “Really, you have to try it.”

Shrugging with absolute apathy, Levi lifted the frothy beverage and sipped a bit down. “Yeah, it’s pretty good,” he said.

“Pretty good?” Fini retrieved it, passing the drink to me. “Ice-cold milk,” he said.

“It’s lactose,” the words slipped almost nervously through my teeth. “I can’t drink milk, man.”

Deeply offended, Fini pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, taking another hard swig before returning it to the cooler. “Whatever, dude.”

[Editor’s Addition: Mood Music for the ensuing smut-fest.]

Then, without warning, the world caved in on itself and we were cast into the proverbial fires of a very real Hell. It all happened so unbelievably fast – one moment, we were standing at the side of a crumbling-home-turned-cult-residence; the next moment, we were huddled down in the back of a strange junkie’s hazardous van, nail-riddled shelves lurching with every slight turn, tobacco smoke filling the airless space as we pressed a foam slate across the hind window to “prevent being seen.”

Emily (Fini’s girl) sat in the withered passenger seat, every inch and orifice of her body (visibly) perforated by some form of steel rod or ball, arguing with her partner over every line that oozed across his mindlessly flapping tongue. When we reached the toll-bridge into Washington, she had to take the wheel in his place, the crusty felon hiding in back with us because the entire state wanted him on charges of “avoiding a parking ticket” (widespread and repeated possession, production, and distribution of Class 1 Narcotics). Immediately after reaching our first destination (one of many, as we were soon to discover), we were forced to endure five hours in waiting while Fini dealt methamphetamines to a disabled woman and downloaded an unfathomably shitty phone application (“Asphalt 8” he boyishly chortled at us as he reentered the van, chucking his sticky smartphone into our laps). Emily had thrown us twenty bucks to spend on food, but not even delicious and pricey sandwiches could ease the discomfort of her boyfriend’s vile antics.

And as the North-Western rain came pouring down, my thoughts could only shift back to those frail few words, muttered so simply by Fini before we departed from The Boneyard. “A couple hours,” the putrid lie echoed like an ominous premonition through my aching head.

A couple hours. A couple hours. A couple hours.

A couple hours turned into five, which turned into eight, which turned into twelve-and-a-half. That’s right, over twelve fucking hours were we made to endure this travesty of a “road trip.”

And it only spiraled down from here.

Posing with one of Fini's hand-rolled cigarettes. Approximately two hours on the road.

Posing with one of Fini’s hand-rolled cigarettes. Approximately two hours on the road.

Next up: Seven Sinks And The Bridge Of Despair (My Accidental Life As A Full-Time Meth Peddler: Part Three)

Quid Est Ergo Tempus

The marking of time is a practical abstraction.

Classically ordered societies are easily set to benefit from a common standard of linear progression, with invented units to provide a measurement of change.

A few cultures take special appreciation in the passing of what are decided to be larger units of time.

It is a uniquely human characteristic to be so enraptured by an invisible creation which has no effect on the rhythms of the universe, but which merely provides a limited means of definition and confined measurement.

Though the measurement of time effects only our now narrow perception, its symbology can be powerful.

Indeed the marking of time in invented units is a symbol in and of itself, pure in intention and potentially profound.

As with all things, let us not be too taken and misled by a mistaken notion that our measurement of time is truth.

Let our understanding be well reasoned and implicately appreciated in honest conjunction to the perfection of our reality.