Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ode to a fried pork steak

Goddess of grease
You are perfect

The most real of all the cooked meats
Much like your creator, Obi-Wan
There's no hidden agenda
No falseness
No flim-flam
No back-stabbing


Goddess of grease
We are perfect together

Sunday, February 24, 2008

evang-e-droppings #012

The weather was perfect for collecting evangelical trash this weekend. And I had a rare opportunity to be accompanied by my wife and kids. The day before I worked two different jobs totaling 15 hours, so since we didn’t get to see each other much that day, we made this a family affair.

We netted an above average of 39 tracts. My 19-month old girl brought a little basket with her and collected tracts like easter eggs. It was funny.

Last week when I was alone, I found about 59. But I was out sick the previous two weekends, so I’m sure most of those have been stacking up over my absence.

I have a confession. I am addicted to evangelical porn.

Seriously. Since the initiation of this Evang-e-Dropping Eradication Operation, I have done research and tried to crack into the mind of the evangelicals who pass out tracts and employ the often abusive tool of witnessing with words on a proverbial soap box.

One of the things I stumbled across in my research was a blog written by one such individual on behalf of a small group of tract-passers and “witnesses”. They reside and operate in a nearby West Texas town. So obviously I lurked and paid attention as we live near each other.

Their blog is written in a similar agent format to mine, calling posts “reports” and such on various “witness” outings. But our similarities end there. This troupe does not employ the Matt 6:1-4 mantra as they are proud to post amateur video of themselves “preaching” the gospel to unsuspecting random passers and/or captive audiences.

Also, the tone of their writing often belittles those who are different from them in any way.

One recent video shows the writer of this blog standing on a small step ladder and yelling across the street to a crowd. There was a mass of people waiting outside to hear visiting President Clinton who was in their town campaigning for his wife. The writer/yeller often used various subtle debate tactics and mildly demeaned the handful of crowd members who politely challenged his method, not his message. The rest of the crowd simply looked embarrassed for the poor yeller.

I know this example is extreme, but I can’t seem to alter my current opinion:

Evangelicals are assholes.

I assume this yeller fantasizes that he/she are like John the Baptist or perhaps Jesus himself by calling on the masses to repent and change their ways for the end is near and very real.

But these folks seem to lack some sort of credibility. Or maybe it’s lack of respect for the people they address. People wanted to hear John. They inconvenienced themselves and traveled to the desert to hear him.

People wanted to hear Jesus. 5000+ followed him to a remote hillside on various occasions. I don’t think people today are going out of their way to hear evangelicals like this YouTube yeller.

But none the less, I can’t seem to stop lurking on this person’s blog. It’s fake and alluring like porn. Perhaps I should delete it cold turkey from my blog reader.

I need help.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The other day on the pruning boy: orkin man edition gig, I stumbled upon a brief moment involving my true calling. Yet the shackles of my momentary position in life kept me from following through.

My true calling: befriending, listening, and being real with the undesirables.

My current shackle: being an employee of Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc.

This really wasn’t a big deal, but I later reflected on it while in my bathroom shaving.

We are currently on the job during yet another routine tree spray ordeal. This time I think it’s something about dormant season pest spraying. I swear, I think my boss makes these things up, just to make more business.

There’s this one customer we hit every spray session. I think she’s a very old lady, but she is aided by her grandson who apparently lives with her. We’ve never seen the lady, but the grandson comes out every time we show up.

And he’s a talker. You know, the kind most average educated people avoid. Like maybe he doesn’t get to see anyone all day, and here we are on his porch. The guy knows what we’re working with because he always talks about how he once had a chemical license. But now he’s disabled and taking care of grandma, etc.

My boss was in the back yard working while I went to the front porch to hand him the bill. Like usual, he started chatting away. And I’m OK with that. I just snapped back into the mode I was in at the old *izzy ministry days when we ran an open food pantry to the public. Guys like this dude were the norm.

And normally, I’m totally comfortable just listening to the ramble. Except here I had a job to do. But at the moment I didn’t have anything going on, so I just shot the bull and listened.

When it was time to leave, my boss politely interjected into the rambling in order to end it so we could leave. He’s good at that. I’ve never been a fan of that shutting people up tactic that upper-class educated people use when mingling with each other or those lesser than them. I think it’s fake, shallow, and rude. But I wasn’t in charge here.

I guess if I were in charge, we’d never get any work done. We’d be listening and conversing with every crazy in the fair mother city.

Damn. I really miss those crazies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

don’t bite the social club that feeds you*

*yes, this is a blatant rip-off of this similar report exactly one year ago

As mentioned earlier, I recently played a decent paying gig. That gig was a private function at a local church.

I work fairly hard at promoting my act as “unique music for your wedding, reception, dinner party, or art opening”. Instead, I mostly end up entertaining church people at their private, quirky functions. Yes, this is kind of funny, mostly because my music isn’t particularly churchy in the least.

But, this was a good paying gig despite it being part of a youth group fund-raiser. That has to be a huge irony. I keep thinking that all of their proceeds went to pay me. I’m not the one who set the price, by the way.

So after setting up early, I took the opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the church culture from within the bowels of their own operation. I gave myself a tour of their facility, reading all the corkboard messages and other signs.

Which brings me to the conclusion I came to over five years ago: church is a social club.

I know, I know. “Church is us – the body of believers”. Yeah, well bullshit.

This particular social club in the fair mother city is probably the least popular of all the denominations (you know, the one that has no hang-ups on alcohol). And I’m guessing their membership probably was 150 at best (that’s about average around here, but fairly small for being one of about two of their denomination in town).

Yet everything I observed pointed inwardly: the fine facility, its minimal uses throughout the week, its location in the city, the playground inside the security fence, and their brochures promoting various social services for the social club. All of this pointed to maintaining the club and keeping this ship afloat.

This social club didn’t appear to be struggling. This was a less than five-year old facility built directly in the path of the fair mother city’s version of white flight. It had the aura of “we’re a community building” with its day-care and gym and all. But they were located far out of reach from most people who might benefit from such a place.

In keeping with the mantra of the agent b files, this report is merely a discovery, observation, and/or confession. But I would like to prod this particular report in the direction of discussion: someone out there PLEASE prove to me that churches are not social clubs for an elite gathering of well-to-do’s. I want to believe that there’s hope in this trend being reversed, even though I have no desire to join their ranks ever again.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

testimony #039

From within my secret identity persona of a musician...I recently played the local monthly art-gig.

This is far from anything that would be categorized under "big deal". Art-gig is a monthly fare where the museum district makes everything free for a night and thus gives excuse for scores of locals to hit the town on a weeknight. And I've played it on and off for 10 years.

I call it cheap-ass night. Playing there is sometimes great exposure, but nobody is in the spend-money mood. The venues rarely pay, and CD sales are usually at an all-time low. Or maybe it's because my CD is like 9-years old and boring.

Anyway, in my 10 years of art-gigging, never in my experience have I scored a huge paying gig out of it like I did this time. A vague acquaintance pops up and offers me this big-pay gig at a private affair coming real soon.

The pay will easily make up for lost wages I've suffered over the last two weeks due to illness and lack of available work.

Thank you CEO.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

five years of obi-wan

I celebrated wellness today by getting out of the house. Ten days is way too long to be stuck indoors.

One of my many agendas was to visit my dear friend, neighbor, mentor, and Fred Sanford stunt double Obi-Wan. He kept me fed with fried catfish nuggets and fried pork steaks during my illness. An in-person thank-you was due. And besides, I just miss him.

Next month makes five years that my family has lived at this undisclosed location we call home. And thus, this spring makes five years that we met Obi-Wan on his front porch as we walked our (then) new dog.

I remember back then thinking that this old man probably wouldn’t be around much longer. He was 86 years old then, his most recent wife had just passed, and he appeared to need much assistance getting around.

Well, I was indeed wrong. Obi-Wan could withstand a nuclear bomb. And he practically has: he lived through third degree burns when a gas station he was employed at in the 1950’s blew up, sending him to the special “colored” wing of the local hospital for several months.

And last year I was convinced that he was on his way into eternity when his diabetes turned the pains in his leg for the worse. Instead, amputation was the cure. He’s never been better.

He was so happy to see me today. It’s nice to feel wanted. My recent marathon quarantine has given me newfound insight to Obi-Wan’s sequestered existence. It must suck.

I mean, I kind of assumed that sitting in the same house day in and day out can’t be all that bad. He’s got a phone, a TV, a few friends, and a nurse that comes daily. Boy, was I wrong. Now I know how lonely he feels. I don’t know about Obi-Wan, but I can get insanely depressed living like that.

But as we talked today, the winter is growing old on both of us. It was fun to plot and scheme spring plans together. Like how we both want gardens again. And how we might get the engine replaced on our old tiller, or perhaps buy a new tiller. And all the lawn equipment we’d like to get...

As always CEO, thanks for Obi-Wan.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

greetings from flu land

As of today I have quarantined in our house for nine days. I don't get sick too often. So when I do, the toughest battle is avoiding insanity. I haven't been winning.

Thankfully, I really haven't been that ill. My kids are now sick and they aren't fairing as well. Hopefully, this will all be over soon.

Prayers on our behalf are coveted.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

coach k

Recently, I received another birthday phone call from Coach K. When it comes to dates and other trivia involving numbers, he is freaking rain-man. Every year on my birthday, it never fails. I get a call from mom, dad, and Coach K.

Excluding my parents and family, I have known Coach K longer than any other person on earth.

We met at a christian camp in the summer of 1986. K was a new high school graduate. I had just finished my freshman year of high school. Back then I could tell he was kind of different from the other kids. But I didn’t care because he was one of the few older kids who didn’t mind hanging out with me.

After that summer we wrote a few letters to each other. His were mostly disturbing pleas for help that involved psycho-drama and being kicked out of his parents house with virtually no life skills. We soon lost touch but found each other again a few years later here in the fair mother city. We were both enrolled at ACU. The brother of my long-time roommate helped get K enrolled.

Unfortunately for Coach K, he was and never will be college material. That’s one of the reasons I’m not too fond of my alumni university. They’ll take anybody as long as their bill is paid. And if that means guiding someone into gobs of student loan debt, regardless of their dismal grades, so be it.

One of the many ironies of christian education.

After four years of college and never finishing, Coach K became somewhat of a 300+ pound parasite to the ACU hill. He was often homeless, sleeping on people’s couches and floors – mostly the ACU crowd. K was a house guest of me and my roommates many times over. Too many times actually.

After a few years of hell, Coach K arrived with his dream job at a TV station (he’s a TV nut). And a few years ago he moved to Waco to work for a TV station. I never thought he’d leave the fair mother city before me.

Over the years I figured out some of his issues. He is more or less stunted emotionally as a five-year old. At least, that’s the age he was when his step dad nearly killed him by throwing him down some stairs. And I think he witnessed a lot of incest and crazy stuff as a kid. To this day, his high-pitched-voiced, rotund frame finds peace and comfort in TV and junk food. He is not too smart, being guided by emotion and sentiment rather than reason or common sense. But he’s memorized every sports stat ever thrown at him. So, he's got a some brain power up there.

Nearly half of the fair mother city and the entire ACU campus had helped Coach K at one time or another. He’s doing well now. He had a rough go for many years. It’s good to see him be somewhat self-sufficient and giving to others now.

I’ve always thought that the CEO put Coach K on this earth just to see what everybody else is going to do about it.

Several years ago during my early years as a secret agent, I realized how the CEO put certain people in my life to train me where I am today. Coach K is one of the main chapters of my agent training.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

the agent b book club

It’s against my religion to push books on people. I’m sure this is throwing the baby out with the bath water over years of feeling obligated to read every fashionable book the charismatic church world dumped on me. Maybe I should just get over that.

If you’re looking for a book to read next, my five star suggestion is Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore.

A real-life tale of a black homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton as a modern-day slave (as late as the 1960’s) and a wealthy white art dealer who become friends. Their friendship is bonded through love, tragedy, and faith.

My friend Grandma Nelly gave me an autographed copy for my birthday. Both of the authors (who are the two men described above) are speaking in San Angelo this week. If I can make that happen, I'd love to go.

The book was an easy read for me. It's told from both men’s perspectives. Since the majority of this tale’s background happened in and around Ft. Worth during my years with the izzy group, and it often reflects aspects of my relationship with Obi-Wan, this book was all too familiar in several areas.

Otherwise, go back to your harry potters, osteens and such.

Friday, February 01, 2008

return of hair cut lady

Recently I made my once-every-16-month trip to the hair cut lady. She seems to be doing ok. She's still the same bitter critic of this religious town that is the fair mother city. No wonder I like her.

Hair cut lady goes against the grain of the religious culture in West Texas. And I think she goes against the grain of her bouffant-hair doo'ed counterparts at the salon. And I guess my appearance of late is going against that same grain as those counterparts all gave me that sneer that said "you must be Hair Cut Lady's client". Ha.

Last time I visited her, she and her tattoo artist/shop owner husband had opened up a bar. They no longer own that bar. She didn't offer an explanation so I didn't ask.

And one of her husband's former employees opened up his own tattoo shop next door to the salon, which is down the sidewalk from her husband's shop. How nice.

Other than losing the bar, cutting hair for church ladies, and dealing with an over-crowded local tattoo competition, she's still trying to raise teen daughters. She seems to fret about them a lot.

CEO - show the real you to Hair Cut Lady. Please be gentle, loving, and real to her.