Old Man Thoughts

Does it smell like Mung Beans in here?

Retail Therapy

These towns with their self-checkouts and thousand-square-foot warehouse stores sell the one thing what little money I have can actually buy. The one thing I’m actually in the market for. Anonymity.

When I wander the drug store, dropping scissors and razors into a branded-plastic push-cart, I’m just some old man. When I grabs a box of nitrile gloves and a roll of thirty-gallon, double-ply, drawstring trash bags, I’m just some guy. When I add an As-Seen-On-TV mini-vac and disposable rain poncho to my trolley, I’m just some geriatric kook. With each tear-here paper cube or ez-open plastic cylinder I collect, I’m nobody. Another guy with a cart full of brand-name nothing. Children, parents, and seniors. Men, women, and non-binaries. All colors, all sizes. They all have one thing in common: none look up from their phones to see me. None look away from their next gotta-have-it to notice the distinct curiosities in my basket.

Posted May 20 at 16:32 by Old Man

Happy Birthday, You Ungrateful Brat

One of the many reasons I don’t do birthdays and holidays any more is because of the whole pagentry that goes along with it. My memories of childhood gifts consist of each present being opened, and my mother would telling me to hold it up for the camera and show it around the room while she took notes on a yellow legal pad. Itchy sweaters and Disney movies and a children’s illustrated bible. I’d asked for video games or actual grown-up books. The kind with no pictures.

The other kids picked on me because of my clothes. If they’d given me a hoodie or something, I could blend in. I didn’t need more neon green t-shirts with cartoon sharks saying, “Gone Fishin’,” or screen prints of volleyballs branded “Bugle Boy”. I didn’t surf or play beach sports, so it didn’t make sense. I’d only even been to the beach a couple of times in my life at that point.

I’d try to act excited about the gifts. To lift them proudly and smile big and toothy. I’ve always hated the way my smile looks in pictures. Like, I can tell it’s fake. The same as I can tell it’s fake when other people smiled their big, toothy smiles. Not all the time, but most of the time. I had to look at the way they moved their neck and shoulders and the way their eyes squinted. That was the way I figured out to tell if someone was happy or pretending to be happy. It would have been fine if I knew how I was supposed to look. When I was in kindergarten, I’d asked my mom how to make my eyes smile and have my teeth show the right amount and have the corners of my lips move up and make points. It went about like this:

“What do you mean, ‘make your eyes smile’? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Look, you just do this.” Then she made the face from all of the photographs on the walls.

“But how do I make it look happy?”

“You have to be happy. Have a better attitude. Look at me, I’m happy!”
And after that, I didn’t ask adults how to do the things they all did. I would memorize what other people did and repeat it.

“How are you?” = “I’m good, how are you?”

“How was school?” = “It was good. I learned about [insert generic topic, but don’t get too specific. Just say math or history.]”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” = “I want to be a [keep it generic. Don’t get too specific and talk about how you could see yourself covered in mesoproterozoic dust at a paleontological dig site. Or elbow-deep in somebody’s thorax, searching for the missing piece of epiglottis or median cricothyroid tissue needed to complete your pathological examination. And definitely don’t talk about how there’s no way you’d know at this age what you want to do every day for the rest of your life. First, there’s college. And that’s after thirteen years of regular school. And paying to go to a university for all those years is out of the question. Okay, what can you do that doesn’t require education, but won’t induce follow-up questions. Just say police officer or firefighter.]”

Posted May 20 at 13:36 by Old Man


Remember being a kid and your parents would be of the opinion that you should go to school and come straight home? That adolescence should be about preparing for adulthood and nothing else? Concerts and video games and sports programs were all a “waste of time and money”. You would never ‘make it’ as a musician or athlete, they’d tell you. There’s no money in video games, they’d say.

However, once it was legal to get a work-permit at fourteen, they were all for it. What you should have been doing the whole time was working and going to school – then straight home. You weren’t old enough to understand before, that’s why they didn’t tell you. It was time to learn some “responsibility” by pacing miles of linoleum with a dust mop or holding barcodes over the one-square-foot of space in front of the cash register that wasn’t moved automatically by a belt. Your parents keep half of your minimum-wage paycheck for your ‘future’.

Posted May 20 at 10:19 by Old Man


Did you ever notice that school parking lots are apportioned like the tables in a cafeteria? Rich kids with sports cars and football players in lifted trucks park in the front. Stoners and burnouts to the back. A pocket of goths smoke clove cigarettes and lean against used sedans over here. Band geeks unloading instruments from carpool minivans over there. It’s not some stupid movie trope, this is how the parking spaces fill in before the first bell rings. This is one of those times when the movies are accurate, perhaps. Life imitating art imitating life.

 Posted May 20 at 07:50 by Old Man
No Trespassing

We were driving and at the top of a mountain that overlooks one of the countless tourist-locale-over-genocide town. I turned onto a “Notice: Private Road” road. The asphalt was smooth and thick with tar. Our car scooted along silently, in sharp contrast with the rumble of the county-maintained roads. On either side of the one-lane driveway, miles of Main-Street-USA, three-candle-menorah street lamps lit up the intended path. Rough-hewn, whitewashed beams arranged in a deliberately old-west-corral style, fencing either side of the property from the roadway. Contrived Americana. Or is that redundant? This continued like the backdrop of an underfunded cartoon for several miles, being interrupted midway by a monumental man-made tower, painted brown and adorned with die-cut metal ‘leaves’. The unnatural behemoth dwarfs the neighboring carbon-based vegetation, while the chain-link Property-of-Verizon-Wireless fence upsets the carefully manufactured pattern of plantation stockades and trident light posts. Eventually, our path was blocked by a bronze-plated gate centered around a long-disused cattle brand. The opulence of some people…

 Posted May 20 at 02:44 by Old Man
"The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell." -Confucius

Aside from several hundred bars and liquor stores, this city – the metropolitan center of the region, by the way – shuts down at nine o’clock. Diners who prefer to eat at a more European hour had better do it at home, else they’ll be stuck ordering greasy burgers from a speakerbox. The multitude of big-box stores and fast-casual chains don’t waste the opportunity to advertise to the seldom-passing overnight motorist. They leave their enormous signs lit day and night. In the summer, they’re locking the doors by the time the sky is dark enough to show off the glowing primary colors behind Best Buy and Target and AMC Cinemas logos. The city has a foreboding silence at night. Aside from the occasional train blowing its horn or the irregular whirr of freeway traffic, there are no crickets. No birds. When square miles of farmland were demolished to make way for Wal-Marts and Dollar Generals and Costcos, they didn’t bother saving any trees. The delineators in each roadway exhibit transplanted palm trees that were never meant for this climate. Token saplings are planted sparingly in unirrigated parking lots, a legal minimum specified in some ordnance. The rooftops and gaudy proclamations of corporate existence are lined with spikes to stop birds from shitting on their blaring visual-orchestras. It’s no wonder the nights are so quiet – without grass or trees, there’s nowhere for any non-humans to live. Without a way to close the blinds or turn out the lights, the scarce animal population has no way to manage their circadian rhythms.

Posted May 19 at 22:41 by Old Man

You Don't Have To Be Smart to Get Into Community College

As I was following the snaking line of tail lights down the single-lane road and under the railroad crossing. I was reminded of when they built that overpass. That year, six college students had been killed in separate incidents because they tried to run across the tracks so they wouldn’t be late for class. Instead of being like, “Hey, dumbasses, you’re adults, you should know how trains work,” they spent millions to divert the traffic from two main thoroughfares to this one road that ran through the center of the school. To be clear, the billions of tons in fossil-fuel emissions created by poor infrastructure choices like this are the result of a couple of idiots who think they’re stronger or faster than a train. It’s not just this one school. The whole damn country is built around car culture. In-N-Out drive-thrus with their idling engines. Private roads mowing down countless miles of wildlife habitats. Parking meters that make more per-hour than the average household. Louder. Bigger. Faster. Able to mow down whole crosswalks of small children in a single bound.

 A few blocks away, the eight-lane elevated roadway is nearly abandoned in the post-dusk hours. Another symptom of bad infrastructure. For ninety minutes, twice a day, the freeway becomes a virtual parking lot of commuters. The other twenty-one hours, it occupies thousands of acres of real estate in the middle of town. Homeless people will take shelter from rain or summer heat under the freeway until the police or highway patrol arrive to confiscate their meager possessions and chase them into the elements. Cops aren’t peace officers, they’re law enforcement. It’s nothing new. The US has been built on the philosophy of using the cops and military as thought police. Union busters and McCarthy Trials and ‘behavioral’ health. Like you need to behave a certain way in order to exist. People don’t live in America, they live under it.
Posted May 19 at 20:03 by Old Man
Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

What’s with these acres of sit-down fast-casual chain restaurants. The neighborhood has been packed with rabid consumers for months. The timing for the openings are spaced as such so that as soon as the novelty of P.F. Chang’s wears off, the Hooters will open. In a couple of weeks, that will become boring, so they’ll open the Texas Roadhouse. Then an Olive Garden, followed by Outback Steakhouse. Next, Cheesecake Factory. Mimi’s Cafe, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Famous Dave’s. TGI-Fridays. BWW. CPK. KFC. IHOP. BJ’s. Teppan-Yaki. Fifteen-dollar subs. Self-serve frozen yogurt. A second Starbucks – in the same shopping center. Most of these restaurants have locations in town already, but these are new. The new In-N-Out Burger has a line of thirty cars idling away, blocking driveways to other businesses and saturating the already-polluted air with exhaust. Meanwhile, the other three In-N-Outs in the city have a wait of less than five minutes. Dumbass conspicuous consumerists.

Posted May 19 at 17:57 by Old Man

Friends Forever

Remembering the old gang. If you could call it that. Five-hundredish drinkers who frequented the same half-dozen establishments on a given night. Most would end up being in bands together, starting businesses together, fucking each other, or fucking each other over over the years. It’s not like they were actual friends. Friendships of utility for most, pleasure for others, an Aristotelian might say. I know from experience that the majority are your best buddy as long as you kept feeding them drugs and alcohol or worked for free on their projects.

Posted May 19 at 00:20 by Old Man

Drink Local (?)

I was looking for someone at the local bar earlier today. Fuck that place. It’s one of those local microbrew places where the ‘artisan’ beers have melodies of hops, sweat, piss, and vomit. On the weekends, they’ll pay a shitty cover band in bitter drafts and overcooked burgers to blast the neighborhood with mediocre renditions of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Van Halen. Fifty-and-sixty-somethings will Elaine-dance and drink swill to a ‘Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’ or ‘The Unauthorized Foreigner’. Otherwise, nobody would be caught dead there. That extends beyond the bureaucrats and corporate parasites that I’d witnessed day-drinking around town so far. Not even the broke-ass musicians who play there would drink the beer if it weren’t ‘free’.

Posted May 18 at 13:38 by Old Man

Modern Americana

As we drove through town, the buildings got shorter and wider, not unlike their occupants. Parking lots spill from the entrances of attorney’s offices and mixed-use medical facilities. An occasional corner shopping-center with a liquor store, hair salon, payday loan place, and tattoo parlor. The old double-decker shopping mall, its parking lot vacant, like the others up and down this street. The four-screen, non-stadium-seating movie theater that the mall used to have. Its glass-fronted box office boarded up and marred with bullet holes.

Further north. Miles north from the train crossing and the anachronistic mall, Teslas and SUVs form fifteen-long queues in the drive-thrus of Starbucks or Dutch Brothers. Ford Expeditions and Cadillac Escalades fight for parking spots closest to twenty-four-hour fitness centers. Costco and Home Depot and Walgreens edge one side of the street like a civil-war infantry, divided by this battlefield, these eight lanes of pavement, from their sworn enemies: Sam’s Club, Lowes, and CVS.

Posted May 17 at 18:18 by Old Man

What Kind of Idiot Buys a Boat?!

I’ve given serious thought to money laundering in the past. The ways they showed laundry fronts on those streaming drama shows were not only glaringly obvious, but they were spending too much money operating the front business. Damn, you’d expect TV writers, with their mandatory ivy-league degrees, could come up with something even slightly clever.

If I’d had the contacts, I would have gotten into the business – money laundering, not TV writing – and made sure most of the profits funneled back to the client. It’s pretty simple, really. You start a fake business that is entirely – or mostly – service oriented. But it has to be an invisible service. Something that you can’t measure in cash-register receipts. This is why car washes and dry cleaners and Italian restaurants are witless tropes. The catch, of course, is you have to be able to provide the service you advertise. Not to the public, mind you, and you don’t have to be good at it, but you have to have some kind of inventory or portfolio or something that shows that you’re not just creating fake invoices and receipts – which you are. Some considerations are: graphic design, website design, art gallery, and recording studio. The two former can be done from a home office, the latter would require only a small rental space somewhere. Open by appointment only, of course. It’ll help if you have friends who are artists or musicians because then they’ll do the ‘work’ for you and you get to pay your friends to do what they’re passionate about. See, the thing about all these services is the prices charged in their industries vary wildly. Sure, my buddy might be able to do a logo design for $50, but how would the IRS know he’s not some in-demand pro who charges $400 an hour? It doesn’t matter anyway, you don’t have to hire either of these guys. You can, though – support the local artists. You will need some content, however you choose to source it. So once someone has a little portfolio of art or music or websites (They’re practically self-designing now), they can create a bunch of fake paperwork. They’d have to make sure that the total for each ‘client’ or ‘vendor’ is under the IRS minimum to require the creation of tax forms. Unless it’s the actual clients who want to show revenue – for the buying of boats and such. So this person with the “front” business, they basically make a small investment in something to support the arts community – allowing friends and creators to use the space or make the ‘products’. It’s about as low-overhead as one can get. Art galleries are even better – those prices can be inflated and reinflated exponentially. The same can be done with licensing intellectual property if a battery of physical art isn’t available.

Posted May 16 at 05:32 by Old Man

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Vast expanses set aside for ranchers to profit on the lives of animals. Meanwhile, millions of people starve in the streets. People who have passion in them. People who want to make a difference. People who could take a small parcel of land and make a life for themselves. That’s not immediately profitable, though, so fuck them, right?

Every fifteen or twenty miles, massive canopies of light pollute the night sky. Convenience stores are closed, but gas pumps are available for those who choose to, or are able to, use the banking system. Massive, blinding, halogen bulbs wash out the blackness, blinding you as drives past, squinting against them to see the lines on the asphalt.

Between these monuments to profit and pollution are nearly identical subdivisions. Don’t say that to the residents, though. In every third development, they have private security and a golf course and, gag me, an HOA. How dare you compare them to the next neighborhood, who don’t have, nor do they deserve, these amenities. There’s a defunct guard shack a mile down the road, a boom barrier on either side, permanently fixed in the upright position. Probably for the best. Word around the gossip mill is that the security guards are former cops who were busted for being pedophiles. They still let them patrol around in fake Sheriff’s cars. The rent-a-pedo hovel is supposedly where the development actually starts – at the former gate. So the people who live fifty feet on the other side are dirty slobs or something. Going into the politics and cattiness of homeowners associations is not worth my time to write, nor your time to read.

Posted May 15 at 23:05 by Old Man

Blood is Thicker Than a Brick

My family has always hidden away mental health issues, too. Never talking about them. Never acknowledging their existence. The more interesting cousins disappeared as they reached adulthood, having been made pariahs in their own homes due to depression or anxiety that was never to be talked about, lest it make the parents feel inadequate or embarrassed. It’s like the moms of autistic kids always posting online how hard their lives are. Bitch, you’re not the one who lives in a society – and a family – that tortures you every day with orders on how to think and behave. Degradation and vilification for having a mind that works in a different way. People fear what they don’t understand and they destroy what they fear. I stopped attending gatherings years ago; I’d long-since lost touch with my only family that had anything thoughtful to say. Anything to discuss except money and expensive purchases. One-upmanship. Destroying one another for the sake of their egos. Familia gratuitous.

Posted May 14 at 07:16 by Old Man

Live, Laugh, Call the Cops on Black People

Stopped by the old house today. Nothing but molded polypropylene and faux-carved wooden signs that say “Happiness” and “Love” and other solitary nouns that are supposed to mean something poetic. A substitution for real poetry. Real art replaced by meaningless, subjective phrases on display for all to judge you by. It’s gaslighting through art – well, not art, because there’s no soul in it, but you know what I mean. Kitchlighting. The shit they line the entrances of Target or Hobby Lobby with. These words and phrases that are supposed to show the world what a kind, caring, devout person you are. It’s too much work to exemplify these words and phrases so people, they hang them on a wall. They choose these subjective words on purpose, the wall-noun people. So when they aren’t loving, or happy, or kind, or whatever the wall is telling people they are, they can say that you just don’t understand the meaning of “family”, or everyone thinks of “kindness” as a different thing or some bullshit. They’d rather argue with you than spend that energy on something productive. e.g. kindness. What even the fuck is “To the Moon”?

Posted May 12 at 19:11 by Old Man

So This is Retirement?

What is it with these constant activities and social interactions for seniors, anyway? People spend their whole lives constantly trying to be busy and doing things. They kinda do things. Work, shopping, kids. I can’t dig the glamorization of the hustle culture. The idea that you have to be always busy. Nevermind the claims from these people that they are supposedly working their asses off so they can have relaxing ‘golden’ years. Regardless of the lives that the residents of this institution lived before, they couldn’t possibly have aspired to spending every waking hour moving around the semi-sterile hallways and talking to no end about grandkids and the half-off sales they used to have at Robinson’s or Montgomery-Ward. Completing mundane tasks like they’re huge accomplishments.

Posted May 10 at 09:53 by Old Man

Capitalist Robot Here, Nice to Meet You

I’ve never bought into the toxic ‘Father Knows Best’ mentality that was commonplace in my family. Growing up being told how to think and feel and being beaten and degraded if I didn’t comply (and also, when I did), I went the opposite direction. I try to speak openly and in earnest with children. To treated them with respect and humanity, instead of as subservient miniatures to be oppressed and molded into good little capitalist robots.

They treated animals with even less respect, my predecessors. Nevermind their proclivity for using them to make up ninety-percent of their diets and most of their wardrobe, but killing animals for sport. Not even deer-hunting or whatever, but shooting at squirrels or gophers who were only in search of water or their next meal. They didn’t have a garden or anything that the critters would damage; shooting them was a perk of living in the mountains. Treating an animal with humanity was out of the question.

Coming from a long line of merchants and resellers, the thickness of hypocrisy in my family I hilarious. Typical white, Christian ‘mericans. Trump-lovers. ‘Dubya’ before him. Generations of idiots, spending their entire lives in the pursuit of money so they can buy more stuff. Literally no contribution to society. I took a different path, dedicating my life to art and nature. Music and animals. My family always told my that I was a failure and a fool because I spent my time and money helping others, but rejected the need for a new genuine-leather sofa or granite countertops every few years – or in my case, ever. My family hates my spartan lifestyle.

Posted May 08 at 14:21 by Old Man 

Fucking Sunrise

I’m not old enough to be in this stupid home for stupid old people. Shitting myself has always been one of my worst fears. Of course, in my younger days, I’d had a few leaks after a night of heavy drinking, but I’m not here because I can’t control my bowels. No, my other worst fear has come true. Something is going on with my brain and I’ve begun losing my memory and having ‘episodes’ of dissociation. The doctors haven’t been able to determine what’s going on, exactly, but for the time being, I’ve gotta stay here. I’d hoped to die at my little sanctuary – preferably outside, where the coyotes and birds could get to me.

Posted May 07 at 11:04 by Old Man

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Patrimonious is a forget-and-forget revenge thriller where the mystery is figuring out who we are and what the hell we’re doing with our lives. It is a story about how even in the darkest of times, we can find the strength to fight back. About how even when we forget who we are, we can still remember what is important. A story that warrants a second read and will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

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This is a fiction-based site. Old Man thoughts are based on the character of the same name from the novel Patrimonious by Tweed Jefferson. Excerpts used and modified with permission. Standard disclaimer, blah blah blah.

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