I don’t celebrate the New Year. I don’t make resolutions or entertain ambitions about “renewal” or, “new beginnings” or, “dry January”—fuck off. To me it’s “just another day,” as the Oingo Boingo song goes. There’s really no difference between December 31 and January 1 except that we begin our arbitrary human calendar again. New Year’s Day could be any one of the 365 days we’ve decided make a year. If it were up to me, I would choose December 21, the Winter Solstice, to be New Year’s Day because something cosmic actually occurs on that day that does in fact signal renewal: our planet’s northern pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun making 12/21 the shortest day and longest night of the year. Thus the next day, 12/22, marks the rebirth of the sun and daylight hours grow longer thereafter. My mother always loved the Winter Solstice because, as she would say, “The days start getting longer again.” I rejoiced with her because that meant we could skate the ramp longer every day. Hooray.
This should have posted closer to New Years, but we have had supply-chain issues with the “Happy New Year” image above and we just received it the other day. We apologize for any inconvenience.
I’m of the opinion that the changing of the year on the calendar doesn’t really mean anything. Remember December 31, 2020? Everyone was like, “Fuck 2020, 2021 is going to be so much better! WOOOO!” but 2021 was more of the same, if not worse. Do you think 2022 is going to be any different?
My friend Tom had an experience near the end of 2021 that I find to be sort of a condensed summary of the last two years combined—or maybe it’s an overture of the calamities destined for the year ahead, who knows? Either way, I’d like to recount his adventure for you because it feels like everybody’s adventure in this bizarro universe we now inhabit—or inhabits us, I’m not sure?
A little background first: Tom was part of our small crew of dummies who grew up skating together in Cupertino. We were still in middle school when we befriended Mark Waters, from neighboring Saratoga, who introduced us to the San Jose scene and “real” skateboarding—Mark was a huge mentor and influence in our lives. So when the Mark Waters Memorial event was held last November, all those old friends, who are now scattered about the Bay Area, made the trek to the Etnies Skatepark in Lake Forest to pay their respects. It was a lovely event and we all enjoyed our brief reunion. That night we relived old memories over drinks and dinner before retiring to our respective rooms at a cheap motel in Costa Mesa. While we slept, however, a massive storm made landfall in Northern California that began dropping record amounts of rain and causing major havoc throughout the region. When we awoke the next morning we learned that all flights to Northern California were either cancelled or soon would be.
Miki Vukovich was one of the many speakers at the Mark Waters Memorial.
Here begins Tom’s tale:
While Tom stood outside his hotel room to get better reception to deal with the airlines, along came a man carrying two suitcases and a Frisbee. After exchanging greetings, the man asked Tom, “Hey man, I’m freezing out here, can I use your room for a minute to warm up?”
It was early, Tom was hung over, and so his faculty of deduction probably wasn’t operating properly. Tom later admitted that he sensed something wrong in this request and that the correct response should have been a polite, yet firm, NO, but Tom was also under the influence of Mark Waters. If there were a common theme at the memorial the day before, it was Mark’s generosity, which was extolled by every person who picked up the microphone. “Mark was soooo generous…” He was.
Plus, according to Tom, the dude looked “normal”—he was about 50, white t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and “he looked clean.” So after briefly considering, “What would Mark Waters do?” Tom replied, yes, you can warm up in my room for a minute and invited the man in with a wave of his arm.
(Note: You know who else requires an invitation before they can enter? Vampires.)
Since there are no images documenting Tom’s story, I’ve decided to employ some of the pictures Tania took at the annual Christmas tree burn that occurs the first week of every new year in the fake Danish town of Solvang, CA. Everyone brings their old, dead Xmas tree to a field on the outskirts of town and throws it onto a pile. At sunset, the fire department lights the pile, it goes up in a massive wall of flames, and everybody dances around the bonfire chanting Satanic verses. It’s a peculiar, yet fitting ritual for the end of the Holiday Season and it sorta kinda relates to the theme of this story, which is: fuck you, last year.
As soon as the man entered Tom’s hotel room, he made another request. “Can I get into your bed?”
At this point Tom was acutely aware that he had made a critical error, but the man was in his room and there was no turning back. Of course Tom could, at any time, have simply said, “You know what? I’ve changed my mind. Get out.” But Tom, much like Mark, is too nice and so he said with a sigh, “Sure. Knock yourself out.”
(This scene represents the moment when each of us had the realization that Covid had become an unwanted, and possibly permanent, guest in our lives—“Fuck, you mean we’re stuck with this shit?”)
And, much like Covid, the man did knock himself out and made himself at home. When Tom next looked up from his phone, his guest was completely nude and crawling into Tom’s bed—now Tom’s ex-bed. Once situated and all cozy under the covers, the visitor introduced himself. HE was not the MAN that Tom had originally assumed HE was.
“Hi! My name is, Chrissy Lee,” Chrissy Lee said.
“Tom?” Tom said confused.
“Do you mind if I get high?” Chrissy Lee asked.
“Uhhh,” Tom stammered. Things were moving fast. Tom eventually granted Chrissy Lee permission to get high, but under the condition that no needles would be involved.
A funny thing happens every time we’ve attended the Xmas tree burn: when we arrive, we always set up our lawn chairs at the very back of the crowd because we learned the hard way that when they light that pile of tinder, it goes up in flames real quick, and it gets really HOT. So we start in the back and then, next thing you know, we’re in the front row! This picture, for instance, was taken from the exact same location as the first picture. (Those two dumb girls combusted—poof—seconds after Tania shot the photo.)
Delighted like a child on Christmas morning, Chrissy Lee jumped out of bed with the sheets wrapped around their nude body and danced over to the dresser where the TV rests. Chrissy Lee dumped a bindle of white powder on the surface that Tom described as “a pile bath salts”—meth?—separated a line from the pile, and, with a straw that appeared out of nowhere (keister?), greedily horked it up their nose. Chrissy Lee then proffered the straw to Tom. Want some? Tom declined. Suit yourself, Chrissy Lee’s body language said before snorting another gigantic line. (I keep saying “lines,” but according to Tom, Chrissy had no formalities and snorted piles. Lines are for amateurs.)
“Is there any porn on that TV?” Chrissy Lee asked. “Do you like porn?”
Again, Tom was incapable of responding to Chrissy Lee’s line of questioning, which had gotten dark and dirty real quick, and thus he not only lost control of his room, but also the conversation. (Covid, as you know, is similarly aggressive and dominating.)
“Have you ever let a man suck your dick?” Chrissy Lee asked coyly.
Tom was, again, a little taken aback by how serious his relationship with his new guest had become and decided to slow things down a little. He chose to play hard-to-get and politely declined Chrissy Lee’s generous blowjob offer.
“Oh, you’re a conservative,” Chrissy Lee said scornfully, like, “Oh, you’re one of those squares who won’t stick their dick in a complete stranger’s mouth?”
(This part of the exchange represents all the debates we’ve had about how to deal with Covid. Chrissy, playing the part of Covid, seems to be asking here: “Are you going to be a nerd and wear a mask and get a fake vaccine, or are you going to be an idiot and let me suck the life right out of you?”)
As the bonfire diminished and the crowd began to leave, I noticed a most curious thing in front of me: a toad was hopping around in the dirt. It looked like a game of Frogger and I had to push people out of the way to save the creature from getting stepped on (“run over”). I swooped up the toad, put it in my pocket where I keep my slingshot and my marbles, and proudly presented the toad to Tania who reacted the way anyone would when a toad is thrust in their face, “AAAGGGHHH!”
Tom tried to explain that he wasn’t a conservative, but had difficulty convincing Chrissy Lee with this self-portrayal with his pants still firmly around his waist. Tom explained that he has principles, one of which is he doesn’t put out on the first date. Fair. Tom also mentioned that he’s been married for over 20 years and was pretty sure his wife would not appreciate him putting himself inside anyone else’s orifice, mouth or otherwise.
“Oh!” Chrissy squealed. “What does your wife look like?”
“A man,” Tom replied jokingly. (Tom’s beautiful wife does not look like a man, although she drinks and cusses like a sailor, and I’m pretty sure she can kick all our asses.)
This response delighted Chrissy. “A MAAAAAN!” Chrissy squealed.
I heard this story on the drive back to LA where Tom hoped to get a flight home (nope). There’s a lot more to it—Chrissy Lee is a 5-color printing press operator, for instance—but you got the gist of Tom’s morning: suitcase, Frisbee, full-frontal male nudity, meth, blowjobs, etc.
Interestingly, this year there was a PA at the Xmas tree burn and we eventually realized the playlist was (mostly) “fire” themed songs: “Burning Down The House” by Talking Heads, “Fire” by Hendrix, “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple, for instance. It was delightful, but they tainted the mix with a bunch of stupid songs like “Jump Around” by House Of Pain and Tania and I immediately took to correcting this problem for next year’s burn (continued next caption beneath a photo where I’m trying to communicate with the Fire Toad by channeling my inner Kermit)…
Tom had to stay the night at my house and miss work and his family. The storm not only cancelled all flights, but it also flooded his basement at home, which, of course, was his fault. Tom had had a very long day so in hindsight I feel bad for badgering him about his encounter with Chrissy Lee, but I couldn’t help asking (repeatedly), “So, wait—she offered you free meth and free blowjobs and you said, NO? Are you conservative?” The encounter flustered Tom so much that he couldn’t bring himself to tell his wife about it for almost a week after he returned home. (She laughed her ass off, by the way.)
When Tom finally landed at the Santa Rosa Airport late Monday night and went to retrieve his car in the parking lot he could see that his driver-side window was missing. “Fuck,” Tom thought as he quickened his pace to his car, “someone broke into my car.”
NOPE. Tom had left the window down. And, as I’ve mentioned a few times, there was record rainfall while he was gone. His car was a bog.
My first entry for next year’s Xmas tree burn playlist was, “Anything by Firehose!” Tania said, “Who?” To which I replied, “Oh yeah: ‘Fire,’ by The Who. Good one.” (There really is an obscure Who song called, “Fire.”) But Tania is really good at this and here are some of our selections for next year: “Light My Fire” by The Doors, “Fire Starter” by The Prodigy, “I’m Burning For You” by BOC, “Jump In The Fire” and “Fight Fire With Fire” by Metallica, “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil, “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lewis, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel, “Fire On The Mountain” by The Grateful Dead, “Catch A Fire” by Bob Marley, “Born Of Fire” by Slayer, etc. (Note: I did not venture into black metal because pretty much every black metal song is about fire and that’s too easy.)
As Tom was driving home in his new bog he ran over “one of Petaluma’s famous potholes” (Tom lives in Petaluma) and apparently they have some serious potholes in Petaluma because this particular pothole fucked up Tom’s car so good that it popped the tire, twisted the rim, and required a tow truck.
Tom called a tow truck.
While waiting on the side of the road for the tow truck, Tom farted.
It was not a fart, however. It was a shart, as they say, but as I’ve explained before, a shart is just a shit in disguise. Thus Tom shit his pants on the side of the road while waiting for a tow truck.
The image created here presents what I feel is an excellent summary of our entire Covid experience: every one of us has suddenly found ourselves stranded on the side of an empty road in the middle of the night waiting for help that will never arrive while wearing a diaper full of our own excrement.
New Year! —Dave Carnie