WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Morning Chronicles of a Bad Catholic.

Ash Wednesday 2020.
Markets are crashing.
The pandemic is brewing.
Snow is falling.

What's a Bad Catholic to do?

It's been eons since I had ashes thumbed onto my forehead. Catholic grade school. Our class shuffled from the school room to the Church for a long morning service. Waiting to get my ashes. So vivid. I can smell the incense, see the Priest lifting the golden chalice, everyone kneeling. Those memories from another time and place long gone. Although, I suppose not gone at all, etched into my being.

What was that all about? Death, guilt, resurrection, sin. Something to do with Jesus, a life-size plaster-cast of Jesus hung on the cross above us in church. Crown of thorns, chalk-like, plaster-flesh. A shabby loincloth. Wounds in his hands and abdomen. Artful dabs of red for the wounds. You would look up there once in awhile to check to see if maybe he moved, blinked, smiled, laughed. Nope.

I had a ventriloquist dummy at home named Jerry Mahoney who was more animated than that "plastic Jesus." Jerry's mouth moved. You could try to throw your voice and make that dummy talk. I was never very good at doing that Ventriloquist thing. Usually Jerry sat in a corner of my room, in his suit, white shirt & tie, glassy-eyed, frozen expression, silent, a bit creepy.

Jesus and Jerry seemed from the same clan.

I remember tossing Jerry off our bike rack (a little wooden house for bikes and tools my father built) near the driveway. I'd stand on the roof, and fight with Jerry, punch him, kick him, toss him into the air and watch him crash to the driveway. That was entertainment.

I was pretty much a little feral animal. Shuffled from room to room by the adults. I couldn't wait to be outside, by myself, on my bike, or maybe in my room reading "Treasure Island." Parrots and Pirates! I liked to get lost in my own head. I had no clue what was going on around me. The adults all seemed a bit scary, way too serious. They lived in a world I wasn't really interested in.

Ashes. A black thumb-print of ashes on my forehead. I had no idea. What did this all have to do with me, with Jesus, with Jerry? Something about death right?

The a.m. soundtrack - Dengue Fever's  "Venus on Earth" (2008) - I have out of control disease and global pandemic on my mind this morning. This album is a bit exotic. World music. A weird, fruitful hybrid. East meets West. A California band, fronted by a female Cambodian singer named Chhom Nimol. Kicky. Cool. A bit psychedelic. Trippy. Cheap electric guitars, horns, seductive vocals. I have no idea what the songs are about, I just love the vibe of the project. An outlier. Cambodian fever.

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