Amoeblog

One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 2

Posted by Whitmore, April 30, 2008 09:44pm | Post a Comment

At one time in my life I thought of myself as one helluva talented dumpster diver and a professional son of a bitch with an eye for detail who, in a micro-second, could spot a rare trashed treasure at a hundred paces. Since I have some history and knowledge on this subject, and since these are tough economic times when many of us need to find ways to cut corners and you may be tempted to take up the hobby of dumpster diving, I thought I’d suggest some rules of etiquette and some safety measures that novices may not have considered. Here are some tips:

#2- Never climb into a dumpster at a hospital; you don’t  mess with medical or hazardous waste. That’s a job for HAZMAT. Between sick sheets, icky crap and errant needles, it's not a good place to hang… besides, I’m pretty sure you would find nothing worthwhile. If there was any good stuff to be had, like furniture or books, it’s already been pilfered by hospital employees, that’s why they work there.

#14- Beware of dumpster lids, they’re heavier than you think and lids have a tendency to slam down suddenly and unrepentantly in windy or even slightly breezy conditions. As with many aspects of the dive, shit happens quickly, and when you least expect it. I’ve always blamed accidents on the "garbage ghost," that nasty invisible demon that lurks in many a dumpster, protecting its secrets, seeking revenge for all its stolen and landfill-destined artifacts.

#11- Wear protective clothing that covers your legs and arms. Gloves are always a good idea, if for no other reason than you won’t leave any fingerprints. Wear good shoes or boots with solid soles:  sharp objects are not a lot of fun and are inevitably hidden.

#77- If something smells dead, and I don’t mean just bad, but dead, don’t go a diving! Then again if you do go in and lose your lunch, a dumpster is good place to heave.

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One man's basura is another man's trash,

Posted by Whitmore, April 22, 2008 09:48am | Post a Comment

Ever since I was a kid learning, practicing and mastering the sophisticated skill of dumpster diving, I’ve always been kind of fascinated by all things garbage. I think that’s why I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young, to unearth and study ancient crap, and then take it home and put it under my bed.

Rubbish, trash, junk, waste, debris, rubble, crap or whatever pithy expression best suits the smell, garbage has always been one of civilizations greatest, never ending problems. I thought I’d occasionally dig into the tricky world of rubbish and blog some numbers, pictures, anecdotes or whatever gushes from my filthy, litter packed desk. For example, a 2004 study conducted by the University of Arizona points out that perhaps as much as forty to fifty per cent of edible food in the United States never gets eaten, an estimated $43 billion worth of edible food is tossed out every year. And here is something for Earth Day: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex in the North Pacific Gyre has plastic floating debris covering an area thought to be at least the size of Texas, or possibly twice the size of the continental United States. There is an estimated 100 million tons of flotsam in the North Pacific Gyre region alone.
 
Here is my favorite favorite song that's sort of about trash.

TOM LEHRER - HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY

Posted by Whitmore, April 9, 2008 08:42am | Post a Comment


When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pretty good record collection. She owned all the albums you’d expect from a former party girl-Hollywood starlet-blonde bombshell who liked her mixed tropical drinks: Yma Sumac, Chaino, Esquivel, Julie London and of course every Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Les Baxter you could find at the May Company on Wilshire and Fairfax. And when I got little older, I dug a little deeper and conveniently found all her stag party albums on Fax Records featuring cover art of lovely and beautifully naked women, and at age eight discovered the musical charms of Terri “Cupcakes’ O’Mason! … but I digress! The best records she owned, that for me have stood the test of time, were the Tom Lehrer Albums.

Today the great man turns 80. Happy Birthday Tom Lehrer!

Music historian, record geek and novelty song guru, Dr Demento, has called Tom Lehrer “the best musical satirist of the 20th Century”. Even Mr. Lehrer, a Harvard Graduate, who taught mathematics at UC Santa Cruz until retiring in 2001, has been somewhat amused by the longevity and impact of his music career, though he retired from that vocation back in the Sixties. He’ll be the first to point out that his ‘career’ consisted of 109 live shows and the writing of 37 songs in a twenty years span! But these aren’t just any old songs! Songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”,  “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, “The Masochism Tango” and “The Vatican Rag” are all timelessly classic, (at least in my interpretation of the construct called the space-time continuum, being three-dimensional and timelessness plays the role of the fourth dimension-- actually I should just ask a mathematician about that…)

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REMEMBERING LORD BUCKLEY 1906 - 1960

Posted by Whitmore, April 7, 2008 09:45am | Post a Comment


Here’s the deal. As it was happening -- nothing happened, and when it happened it wasn’t happening anymore – I have to knock out this note before the day wiggles away. Lately, living has been bent from the front, so next go round I’m pinning this date on my wall, whip it around my prehensile wits; flip the switch that says stick. So done, so be it, now shout yeah! All the what’s and who’s and why’s jump out from everywhere and serenade the guru of gone! Happy Birthday! Belated or not, to the original gasser, the original hipster saint, the most far-out cat that ever stomped on this Sweet Green Sphere, who’s wailin', groovy hipsemantic orations tramped through the wiggage in our graciously affluent playground: the wordland we call the English language! The man, the years, the most flip embodiment of a life lived cool … none other than His Majesty, His Hipness, Lord Buckley! Birthday 102 …and though he found “the theme of the beam of the invisible edge” back in ‘60, they’re still digging his scrabble and his mad heart, looting strange truths from the head, all truths, even the feral truths, scribbling, splattering jive laid down to his bop ... as his Royal Flipness’ once said - “they supersede and carry on beyond the parallel of your practiced credulity.”

Though Lord Buckley is known for his "hip-semantic" interpretation of history, literature, and culture, sporting a waxed mustache, dressed to the nines and expounding on life in the manner befit of British aristocracy, intoned by way of Jazz riffs versed by hemp-headed hepcats, Lord Buckley was actually born in a coal-mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on an Indian reservation in Tuolumne, California, in 1906. Richard Myrle Buckley worked as a lumberjack as a kid and entered the world of showbiz by way of the medicine, carnival, and tent show circuit, eventually gigging in the speakeasies of Chicago during the 1920s, emceeing dance marathons and vaudeville shows, even playing on Broadway during the Depression. By the 1940’s he was working steadily in Jazz clubs, befriending many of the greatest musicians of the era. During the Second World War Buckley toured with the USO Shows and became close friends with, of all people, Ed Sullivan. By the 1950’s the unclassifiable Lord Buckley was cast as a comedian, his humor combined his incredible detailed knowledge of the language and culture; his true hepcat persona became one part stump preacher, one part raconteur, another part grifter and huckster, producing one of the strangest comedic personas ever invented.

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Art Aragon 1927 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, March 29, 2008 12:38pm | Post a Comment


Several years back I was a dedicated MTA bus rider. I spent countless hours wandering back and forth from Silverlake to my job in Century City where, believe it or not, I worked for a law firm. One afternoon I was sitting in the back staring out into space when someone leaned over past me and tapped the knee of an older man sitting next to me. Hey, this guy told the old man, you’re Art Aragon. Sure enough sitting next to me was none other then LA’s original "Golden Boy,” the legendary and flamboyant Hall of Fame Boxer. This past week Art Aragon died at the age of 80 from the effects of a stroke. And though he never won the world title he was one of boxing’s biggest draws during the 40’s and 50’s.

Born in Belen, New Mexico in 1927, Aragon grew up in East Los Angeles and began boxing in 1942. His first professional fight was in May 1944, against Frenchy Rene at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. He ended his career with a 90-20-6 record, including 61 wins by knockout. He fought many of the stars of the era like Tommy Campbell, Jesse Flores, Carmen Basilio, Don Jordan, Billy Graham, Chuck Davey and Chico Vejarand. Sadly, Aragon had only one title shot in his career, losing to lightweight champion James Carter in November 1951. Aragon, who often struggled to make his weight class, said afterward that he was weak from having to lose seven pounds in the few days before the bout.


Though he was never a world champ, in 1990 Aragon was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. And while he had a great fight career, it was marred by allegations that he fixed a few of his fights. In February 1957, Aragon was convicted of offering a $500 bribe to welterweight Dick Goldstein to take a dive in their scheduled San Antonio bout the previous December. The fight was called off at the last moment when Aragon became ill. Eventually though, the conviction was overturned on appeal.  

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