Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rex the Trapper

Here is an interview I did with Rex the Trapper a couple months back. My parents hired him to trap some moles at their house in Olympia. Rex is quite a guy, I hope you enjoy it.

ME: Thanks for coming out Rex. Did you get him?

REX: Yeah, I got one. Little guy was pretty tricky. I’m guessing you got about two or three more moles in your yard, judging by the look of things.

ME: How can you tell?

REX: Just a feeling, I guess. You got a lot of molehills on your property. Moles are territorial, but you got enough room out here for a couple of guys to get around. Maybe your parents will hire me to catch the other ones.

How does a guy like you get into trapping moles?

Funny story. I took one of those tests in high school. What are they called? One of those tests that tell you what you should do with your life.

Aptitude tests?

Yeah. I took an aptitude test. The test was hundred and hundred of math problems. I hated math. I didn’t do so well on the test I guess, so one of the suggestions was that I be a hunter-gatherer. It thought I should hunt and gather for a living. I was kinda mad and I threw the sheet away. But after a couple days I started to think about it and thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. I liked to be outside, you know? 6 years later, here I am.

Rex with his catch

Me and you are the same age. I can safely say we’ve lived a completely different life.

To each his own, I guess.

Do you specialize in moles, or do you trap other animals too?

Moles, mostly. I do some live trapping of small pests; like possums or raccoons. Some of those bitches get ornery, so I got to wear gloves. One time a raccoon pissed all over me from the live trap. Piss sprayed everywhere. He was a real mean son of a bitch, doing it just to screw with me. You gotta wear thick overalls, too.

Live trapping? What do you do with the animal once you’ve trapped them?

Drive um up into the forest and dump um off. You gotta drive deep, or else they find their way back. Hell, they probably find their way back no matter what.

Repeat business.

Ha. I guess, I never thought of it like that.

The enemy

Do you ever get hired by any kooks?

Not really. Most people are pretty normal. A couple times people try to haggle over the cost and I have to threaten to call the cops on them. But that has only happened a couple of times.

I noticed you said a little prayer before you threw the mole carcass into the forest. What was that about? Are you a spiritual guy?

Not really. Well, maybe I guess. I say I’m sorry to the mole, and make my amends with the mother earth sprit before I dispose of the animal. You gotta make amends. Poor little moles don’t do nothing to nobody. People hire me to kill them because they screw up the look of their yard. Shallow shit to kill another living creature. I have guilt for all that killing. I guess I just say I’m sorry to the mole and I wish I didn’t have to take their life. They’re blind and small, you know? A little prayer to the earth spirit, too, asking her to keep everything in harmony and keep producing moles so I don’t wipe um out of Washington. I feel bad for the suckers, I really do. I wanted to make a coat so all these moles didn’t have to go to waste, but I don’t know if I have it in me to skin an animal. I could take them to a taxidermist, I guess.

Earth spirit, huh? Some might say you’re a little crazy, Rex.

You gotta be a little crazy with what you do to be any good at it. All the great ones were a little crazy. Babe Ruth, Winston Churchill, Dennis Rodman, all dominated what they did but ain’t no one gonna argue with me that they weren’t crazy. I gotta be a little crazy to be any good at trappin.

Well said, my man. Hope to see you again. Good luck with the earth spirit and all that.

Thanks man. Hope your parents hire me again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr. Newspaper

I wrote this last night, fully intending to send it to a newspaper today. What was I thinking?

Dear Mr. Newspaper,

In the name of the Good and the Holy, Mr. Newspaper, I suggest you print this article as soon as possible, tomorrow in fact, before time runs out and I blog this instead. See, I request no payment for my writing, only the dwindling notoriety of seeing my name in print. To witness the ink from my name rub off on my thumb, you know, the stuff dreams are all about. The stuff dreams used to be about, at least. Now my brain is filled with, and a Tumbler with a Google Analytics reading of more than one hundred hits a day. What dreams are these Mr. Newspaper?

But look who I’m talking to. You, Mr. Newspaper, you know pain more than anyone. You watched your sturdy stature shrink to nothing. You watched colored pages and investigative reports disappear. You watched your insides poisoned with fluff hardly worthy of high school quarterlies. You heard talk of advertisements on your front page. You sir, know the disease of the internet all too well. How can I complain about the lack of newsprint on my thumb when you, Mr. Newspaper, are the new California Condor? Wait, no, that’s not right, their population is on the rise.

You have fought a valiant battle. Your odds were slim; slimmer with passing days, but you fought anyway. And now it’s over. It’s clear who has one. Let us not forget the better times. When Dial-up was the norm and domain names were still ripe for the taking. The Lewinski days, Mr. Newspaper. The better times. When people sat in a chair to read, not behind an electric box.

So print this while you can, Mr. Newspaper. For I want to see my name rub off on my thumb.

Always yours,


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thumbs Up

Most travel guidebooks I’ve read maintain the same disclaimer:

The writers of this here guidebook urge you to consider the risks involved with hitchhiking. You put yourself at risk for assault, theft, and unsafe driving. Us writers never recommend hitchhiking as a safe means of transportation. Besides, it’s hardly done in this country anyways.

For the reasons mentioned I avoid hitchhiking. It’s dangerous right? All sorts of chi-mo psychopath killers cruising the roads waiting for a mark like me to come along. Nope, I’ll take the bus.

But that’s not to say that I don’t frequently romanticize on hitching a ride. Imagine me, trail-beaten and musky, golden locks flowing at my neck and a dirtied thumb pointed to the sky.

A gorgeous blond driving a red F-150 pulls over. I throw my bag in the back and hop in.

“Where you headin’?”

Me: “No place in particular. Just away from here I guess.”

“Sounds to me like you’re running from something.”

“Nope. If I was running I wouldn’t be thumbin’ a ride, would I? I’d be running instead.”

My wit would undoubtedly be more refined if this fantastical situation ever became a reality, but you get the picture. The rough nature of hitchhiking has always appealed to me. I’m torn between my rational mind and my adventurous self. Usually my rational side ekes out the victory.

Until the other day. Our car broke down and I was faced with a long hike into town. My feet were tired from three days of walking. The mid-afternoon sun burned my shoulders and a small hole wore fuller in my sneakers.

You know what, let’s give my adventurous side a chance, I thought. I felt my thumb drift out to my side.

A handful of cars passed me by before a Toyota 4-runner pulled to the side and motioned for me to hop in. My heart leapt. Jogging to the car, a myriad of problems raced to my mind.

What if they don’t speak English (a high probability since I’m in Puerto Rico)? What if they are waiting to kick the shit out of me (my face, my beautiful face)? What if they take me on some crazy, drug fueled adventure to San Juan (I told Molly I’d be back in a couple hours)? And finally, what if they try to rape me (Being raped is an odd fear of mine, stemming from the ultra-p.c. fear mongering 90’s that I grew up in)?

Suddenly my gorgeous blond ride-giver fantasy shot out the window. I opened the passenger side door, hardly able to face my attacker.

“Hey man, what’s up.” A single, tanned 30 something surfer dude asked.

“Nothing,” I responded, happy he looked like one of my own. I scanned him up and down and immediately noticed, with quite a bit of delight, he is just as scared as I am. I sighed.

Remembering back to all the times I picked up hitchhikers, I’m always the scared one. I’ve fumbled with the keys, my voice has cracked, and I’ve had any number of near misses while a hitchhiker has sat in the passenger seat. Like the surfer dude, I figure it’s the hitcher, not the ride-giver, who is the crazy one. The hitchhiker has an aura of hardened badass. The ride-giver is nothing more than a nerd with a car.

The hitchhiker is the one in the driver’s seat.

“Town,” I mumbled, brushing my golden locks back behind my ears.

For the entirety of the ride, he did most of the talking. A family man who owned a business in town. I didn’t say much, hoping to add to my enormous badass persona. When he pulled over to let me out, I shook his hand coolly, said ‘gracias,’ and hopped out as casually as I possible could, headed to wherever the wind took me (the skatepark).

It’s nice to be a badass for once- the Brett I fantasize about. The romantic wanderer without fear or reservation.

How long will this feeling last? Probably until a creeper in a Jeeper pulls over the next time my thumb floats into the air. But until then: Badass Out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Not far from where I live rests a local watering hole where I occasionally sit for a mid-day drink. The bar is called Club Nautica. Translated roughly: Boat Club. But the last place any of Club Nautica’s clientele have ventured lately is onto the deck of a yacht.

Club Nautica is where dreams go to die. Or where dreams long dead have washed up onto the shore of the Black Marina, picked their pockets, and moseyed into the open-air Club for a Dewar’s and coconut juice.

About once every week I walk the two blocks to the Club. I stroll in with a book. The idea that I can read in a bar is as ridiculous to me as it is to the clientele of Club Nautica, who stare at my book with wonderment. See, I need the book to justify getting a beer at 3:30 in the afternoon. Going to get some reading done, I tell myself. I never open the book in the bar, but it’s a perfect beard. I’m out of place at the Club with a book in my hand. Just a stranger to them. Perhaps a studious youngin’ who is studying barflies for his latest academic pursuits.

“One Heineken please.” I say to the ancient Puerto Rican bartender. Two dollars are exchanged. I leave silver for a tip.

Taking a seat in the corner, book situated under my arm, I proceed with my true reason for coming to Club Nautica: the people watching. Like no other bar I’ve ever been, this place stinks of despair. A handful of expats circle the lone pool table. Others line the bar ordering drinks in thick mid-western accents. All wear shorts and sleeveless shirts. Some don’t don shoes. They talk, but none have a conversation. I listen closer.

“Hell of a stick you got there kid,” a grayed, grizzly-voiced man says to one of the bar’s younger patrons playing pool.

Another patron quickly jumps in:

“John, you ain’t an Idaho tatter or even a California tatter. John, You’re a COMMON-TATER!”

Nobody laughs. The pool balls knock against the rail.

The younger player looks at the lone TV in the bar. “Is this shit CSI or something,” he wonders aloud. Again, nobody answers.

It’s Law and Order, I think to myself.

The afternoon continues like this. I sip through two Heinekens and listen to a skinny, leathered man talk about leaving his wife. The man at the stool next to him nods often but doesn’t take his eyes off the pool game. The Puerto Rican bartender stands in the corner of the bar and surveys the scene from a chair.

There’s a line in Nelson Algren’s, “The Man with the Golden Arm” that talks about a cat that lives in a bar. The owner knows that once the cat has purred around someone, that someone is gone, no longer a part time drinker but a full-blown booze junkie, their life lost to the drink.

“’N when you hear that one purr you’re through,” the bartender explains. “That one keeps track of how many shots you put down every day. So long as you’re just a sociable drinker he don’t purr. But when you take the one that puts you on the lush for keeps, then he knows you’ll never get off the bottle your whole life. N’ he purrs once. And he purred at me and he will purr at you.”

“When I was twelve my stepmom took me in the shower and started workin’ real fast,” the grizzly-voiced common-tater jokes. “And I said, ‘Damn mommy, slow down and romance it a bit.’” He chuckles heavily and looks around. People laugh, but not at his joke.

The cat purred in Club Nautica years ago. They all know it. And they probably know there’s no use in fighting the cat’s purr. Who’s to blame um’? We’ll all hear a cat purr someday, and the warm, drunken air of Club Nautica seems as good a place as any. What makes our cat’s purr any holier than theirs?

Another one, I say to the bartender. At least that’s what I wanted to say, but left the Club instead. I can't exactly remember what happened. My memory's a little fuzzy in this heat.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Gifts


For years I'd respond to my parents query of "What do you want for Christmas" with one word: money. That's what I wanted. That's what I needed. Money for gas, skateboards, dates, beer, and whatever else. Money made my world go round. Extra skrilla in my pocket meant less time at work. And besides, why leave something as important as what I got for Christmas up to chance. Couldn't go wrong with a fat check at Christmas time, right? No. Wrong. Opening up a single envelope with your name on it while your brother tries on a fresh t-shirt and shuffles new Pokemon cards is enough to make a boy's blood boil. Where were my mounds of gifts? You asked for money, remember, my mom would always remind me, noticing the disappointment on my face. Every Christmas morning left me feeling, I don't know, unsatisfied.

So this year I skipped the annual envelope under the tree and left the gift giving process up to Santa. Santa and Molly. Because one of the perks of a relationship is that extra Christmas gift coming to you with a big kiss from the girlfriend. Coincidently, I asked for a swap like situation so that kiss came from Molly and some Puerto Rican hoochie mama we picked up in the bar.... Just kidding. Molly kisses well enough that we never need to spice things up.

What lay under the tree (and handed from Molly) this year? Books. Two of them. Two fantastic books of unbelievable quality. One of them alone has enough material to keep a man like myself mentally occupied for a lifetime. But two? On top of the already impossible pile of reading material I'm confident I won't finish in this lifetime? Well people, I got some reading to do.

Book 1 from the parents: Carl Jung's Red Book

I know absolutely nothing about psychology, even less about the history of the field. And I went around for six months calling the author of my first gorgeous Christmas gift by the wrong name. It's 'young', some fellow corrected me, not 'Ju-ng'. Sounds like a 'Y'. Why then, would I want the definitive work of Jung's career, the essence of his oeuvre, especially if Jung scholars can't even fully comprehend the recently published work? I must like a challenge? Yes, but that's not why I hinted heavily at my dad while shopping in Powell's Bookstore that the heavy book would be a perfect gift for his favorite son. I wanted to own the Red Book because I consider Mr. Jung something of a compadre. A comrade, actually.

A New York Times Article several months ago piqued my interest on the Red Book. This book, this long held private book, is all about Dr. Jung's purposeful, calculated descent into madness. He believed he could further his psychological understanding by inducing dream-like hallucinations that unveiled his unconscious mind. Nightly for sixteen years he gave in to anxiety, to fear, and to otherworldliness, in hopes of achieving a deeper knowledge of himself. To wade through the horrible swamp and to come out the other side with all its riches. All joking in this blog aside, this is what interests me. To know oneself and one's psyche is of the upmost importance.

Have I positioned myself in my living room, induced psychosis, and woken up 3 hours later, all the much better like Jung did? No. But maybe something in this book will speak to me.

On a lighter note, this book wasn't casually placed under the xmas tree for me to unwrap with glee. This puppy was hauled in. At 20 pounds, its the largest book I've ever seen. This book has a psyche of its own.

Book 2 from Molly: Autographed Copy of John Cheever's Short Stories

This book taunted me from behind a glass case for the entirety of my time in NYC. Should I purchase the simply autographed book (by the hand of a God, albeit) for an almost palatable price. Or, should I wait to start my fancy book collection until I have one of the following: money, career, permanent residence, bookcase? Molly answered that question for me. Now I have Mr. Cheever's shaky penmanship to stare at for inspiration whenever I need it. Sweet. Too bad the autographs from after he sobered up and not pre-Alcoholics Anonymous Cheever, where the real crazy was still in him (Bullet Park). But I guess then his autograph would have been too shaky to be read or authenticated.

Another plus, I get to wonder about Iva Bowes. Who was this woman who sought out the autograph of Cheever? Was she smart, funny, pretty? I smell a short storrrryyyyy.

That's it. I got other things, but these were two of the sweetest xmas gifts ever. What a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The 1st

Hey ho, let's go.

Is he back? Is he fo' real? What's the deal yo? Only time will tell my little buddies. Only time will tell. Before we discuss anything juicy (like what I got for Xmas), let me answer some FAQs.

Why don't you post anymore?
Over it. So over it. Blogging took time away from my true passion: writing 3 pages of a short story, telling myself I'm the next Chekhov, and then never-ever touching the story again. That's what I do. That's why I stopped blogging. Well, kinda. Blogging is hard. You think genius like this just flows? No. For the oh so few of you privileged individuals who have seen my stand-up routine, you know how much time and work goes into my um... creative, uh... projects. I didn't want to put in the time. And the subject matter bores me. That Brett guy is a doofus.

What are you up to, brah?
I currently live in Rincon, Puerto Rico. But chances are if you check this blog (i.e. a member of my immediate family), you already knew that. Just in case you didn't know: I live on da beach man.

What do you, like, do there?
The short answer is nothing. The longer, more uppity kind of answer is I'm trying to write a book. Yes, a novel. With a protagonist, a setting, a conflict, and all that. Really though, I just ponder how great this book is going to be without ever actually writing much. I have about 30,000 words(brag), but they don't work. They're useless. You couldn't make sense of them if you tried. And it's stressing me out. How will I ever win that Pulitzer with a book that starts with the line, "Throw the ball. Pussy." Yep, that's the first line. The all-important intro. Some real "Call me Ishmael" type shit.

What is the book about?
I already said: it has a protagonist, a setting, and some sort of conflict. Outside of that your guess is as good as mine. Well, that's not totally true. It's about a teenage boy. Frankly I don't know if I want to talk about it. I can't decide if blogging about my writing takes away from it somehow. But I've also learned I can't take this book thing too seriously. You see, it seems like every time I think I've written some great lines, some real gems, I get sections like this, where the main character talks about going to college:

"I take some advanced classes and think about college but more for the girls and the parties than anything else. I can't think much past getting laid in my dorm room. This is, of course, after we listen to two-thirds of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band- or some shit like that-and smoke pounds of pot. And people in this town say it's very adult of me to want to go to college."

Actually, damn. That is a gem. Keep it up kid. By the way, the main character has absolutely nothing to do with me. Nothing. I went to college for the courses.

Can I visit you in Puerto Rico?
Pssh, I'll believe it when I see it mom, dad, Ana, Lindsey, Liv, Tripp, Aaron etc....

What'd you get for Xmas?
I think I will write about this tomorrow. Bottom line is I'm back. Maybe. Get sum.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Swimmer

The Swimmer is one of the best short stories I have ever read. Here is a trailer for a movie made in 1968 based on the story. The movie has a haunting feel, much like the story. When you talk about The Swimmer, will you talk about yourself?