Tuesday, August 31, 2004


The American Mastodon isn't entirely sure what this news article is saying, but it sounds an awful lot like the "Voodoo" version of "Raising Arizona".

A point of near-constant discussion in college between the Mastodon and his friends centered around which current African-American actors would portray the Mastodon and his group of friends in the "Voodoo" film version of their lives.

And, just in case you were wondering, the smart bet for the lead character of "The Mastodon" is still Usher.


Mornings are hard. Nights are difficult, too, but with nights there is no abruptness - there are enough diversions to keep your restless mind from seizing in fits. Nights can be extended, stretched thin, teased into gossamer and webs. You have your books, the Trinity Broadcastng Network, and sleeping pills. Nights are nights. But mornings are hell.

Waking up with a half-hour left until your alarm goes off and the emptiness in your bed is palpable to the point of painful. Sleeping with another person is not something that happens often, or a situation you've become accustomed to. In your life, the longest consistent stretch of time another person has granted you that pleasure was maybe two months, maybe less. And even then, most of it was spent hiking, sleeping in tents, hostels, couches; for three weeks your twin-sized mattress in a shared room in a city in a different country.

It is during those endless minutes in the morning that you wish the God you knew when you were younger would come back. A lapping comfort of platitudes and a directive to look ahead, not to the past. But you lost that God you knew and in His absence you filled your mind with worry and doubt. So you take more sleeping pills. Stumble down and push to find the point that will not push back. Get lost in the city where all the faces are familiar but none are family. Test yourself. Go to work and come home and try not to think that the next day you will wake up early and stare at your watch and try to catch the light, sneaking through the blinds, move effortlessly across your wall. How looking at the pattern of bars and spaces reminds you of looking at bars and spaces with a head that is not yours resting on your shoulder.

Monday, August 30, 2004


The American Mastodon, while occasionally a quick little whipper-snapper, is often quite dumbfounded, literally, by his constant obtuseness. For instance, only today did he realize that "Titleist", a word gracing the covers of golf balls the world over, was a play on the word, titlist, and is meant to impart in the mind of the golfer the idea that he or she could, by using this brand's ball, someday attain the status of one who wins a title, that is, a titlist, or rather, a "Titleist". Why they felt as though they had to add an "e" still perplexes the AM, but to each his own, and more than that, to him all others'.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


The American Mastodon once made a film about a young man who, after having his arm severed in an accident at a grain elevator, returned to his home town after a stint in the hospital only to find his lady philandering with another, not-armless man. Unable to express his emotions through the naturally restrictive limit of words, he did what anybody would do: he killed a deer, removed its head, and left it on the girl's doorstep.

Before you think the AM is a psycho who had intended the film he made to be his own severed deer's head to an old lover, he should inform you that the story was based on an actual event that happened in the AM's hometown. A boy aged about 13, infuriated that his unrequited decided to end their relationship, shot a deer in the woods behind his house, cut off its head, went to the girl's house and, when she opened the door, threw the head inside and ran away.

The AM is intrigued by that thin red (blue? green?) line of human expression where words fail and only actions can communicate to others how you feel.

For instance: The father then walked into the garage, picking up a propane tank, a can of gasoline and a lighting device, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van's window, got inside and set it ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Well, the AM was swamped last eve with work and chores, and was unable to finish his story. All the more lucky for you lovelies, to be sure. However, the night was not a complete failure, as the Mastodon was fortunate to stumble across this wonderful webpage, the home of the 2004 Asian Mustache Olympics.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


The AM is anticipating a slow and uneventful afternoon. To fill up the time, and to keep himself from going batty, he's planning on writing another little short story. Sure to be full of pomp, nostalgia, and purpley prose, and hopefully finished by 6:00.


In his ever-present quest to bore you all to tears with his quasi-obsession with Landscape Architecture, the American Mastodon directs you to this site, where professionals reveal the "secrets" of their trades.

Here's the entry for a LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT:

You will often have to create a large presentation for clients, and will spend hours coloring in landscape illustrations with markers. But if you say the drawings are “rendered” rather than “colored,” you can charge four times as much.

Something to keep in mind, don't you think? Hmmm. Yeah, I guess not.

Well, for what it's worth, here's the American Mastodon's:


Look busy. If someone is glaring at you or keeps walking by your desk, pick up a Variety and pretend to be poring over it. At lunch, talk about an actor that is currently in an awful movie. Ask your boss if he/she has any scripts that you can take home to read. The next day, return the script to your boss and tell him/her that the script was, "Really dramatic. I thought that the transition from the second to third act was amazing. It sort of felt like (Commonly known genre film) but with better dialogue. I could really see someone like Roger Donaldson taking this script and doing something fantastic.

"Need another mocha?"

Monday, August 23, 2004


Typing in "Oh no you didn't" produces this sassy image:

Oh yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I did!


Today the American Mastodon is working. First time in a few weeks. It makes him happy. He's not enthused, per se, but it's better than sitting behind his diminutive computer screen at home, cranking away at his industrial-strength wench, hoisting his despair higher and higher until, at that final moment of release, his apparatus catches on a snare and the whole edifice comes crashing down at his feet. Or his wrists.

Jesus, was that necessary?

What does the AM do at work, you ask? Well, lately, he enjoys Google-imaging random shit. For instance, typing in "What is your problem?" produces this image:

If he had to guess, the AM would say Alzheimer's.

Addendum: The AM just re-read this post and he had an idea. What if there were a website called "What is your problem?". In the same vein as "Are you hot or not," people with various terminal physical or mental problems could submit a photo and visitors could vote on which "problem" they think the person in the photograph has, i.e., maybe they have cancer, AIDS, chronic impotence, MS, schizophrenia, etc.

What's that? In bad taste? C'mon, mofo's: it's the internet.

Friday, August 20, 2004


The American Mastodon couldn't help but notice that Daily Refill Jen was asking for movie/book suggestions. Typically, the AM shies away from recommending movies, as he is one incredibly pretensious schmuck when it comes to films. As he has been known to say, "if it's not German, and it's not from the 70's, I probably won't like it."

However, when pressed hard enough, he unequivocally endorses the single greatest film of all time, Badlands which, funnily enough, fulfills half of his stipulations being, as it were, made in 1973. Watch it, then thank the AM later.

"I got my dog!"


Star Trek fans the world over are ecstatic over news that a form of rubber metal has been invented in a secret Virginia-based lab.

And to think that this entire time, the American Mastodon thought Jiffy Pop used rubber metal.

The American Mastodon like, totally understands this diagram.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Well, the AM is almost out the door to LArch class. He couldn't quite muster the resolve to do both of the drawings due for class for three reasons: 1.) The first drawing, the Enlargement, included much more detail than he had expected it to and, therefore, took much longer to finish. 2.) He's not quite sure how he's supposed to schematize the second drawing, the Section. It just seems like the scale is all jabberwocky. 3.) He's lazy and pitiful, and spent most of the day being a putz than working on his drawings.

But let's tell the teachers it was number two, shall we?

Also, here's a neat picture of a house in Minnesota, just in case anyone was wondering if there were cool houses in Minnesota:


The American Mastodon recently changed his IM icon. Previously, his image of choice was that of a Mizpah Shriner. In an effort to class it up a bit, the AM has utilized the painting skills of John Steuart Curry, one of the Mastodon's favorite painters and a true disciple of the American Middle West.

John Steuart Curry began his professional career as an illustrator. In this sense he resembles members of the Ashcan School of the early twentieth century, who likewise abandoned journalistic art to paint scenes of American life. A native of Kansas, Curry concentrated on midwestern themes, believing that art should grow out of daily experiences. Along with Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) and Grant Wood (1892-1942), Curry participated in regionalism or American scene painting. This grassroots art movement of the 1930s advocated painting local scenes in a realistic manner, reflecting the isolationism of America in the interwar period.

Remember Stand By Me?


Hey, remember when that al-Sadr guy said he was going to fight to the death? And then he compromised? Wasn't that, like, two months ago? And then he said he was going to fight to the death again? And then he compromised again, like, earlier today? The American Mastodon is just happy that it seems like America knows what it's doing over there in Iraq! Clearly, the coalition is on the same page and is moving forward in unity and clarity!!

The AM should be doing his drawings for his Landscape Architecture class right now, but he's lost interest in absolutely everything. Just lost it. It evaporated, disappeared, escaped into the ether. Yesterday he made pasta and put way too much balsamic vinegar in the sauce. What was he thinking? It tasted like mammoth ass. A little sprinkle of the balsamic spruces up a sauce, he's found, but too much ruins it. Isn't that true for life? For love? A little goes a long way. But throw on too much, and suddenly you're knee deep in a pile of horse manure, hands digging frantically, eyes squinted and focused, hoping to see the glimmer from that watch she gave you that doesn't even tell time anymore, but there's this engraving on the back that has her initials, which are also the intials for "Butt Fucker", but you've never said that to her, because maybe she's sensitive about that, God knows she never let you bring it up, let alone try it, which was fine with you, but isn't that sort of ironic, now that your new Diesel jeans are completely ruined from the cow shit you've been entrenched in for an hour or so, and maybe you think to yourself that there is some odd justification to all of this, not that you believe in karma or anything, just that the way you live your life can lead you down certain paths, and sometimes those paths lead to a farm in the southwestern corner of Montana, where a watch you really want to save is buried underneath a quarter ton of manure.

The American Mastodon knows, babies. He knows how it goes.

More later? Sure, why not.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Last weekend was wonderful. The American Mastodon found himself in the friendly confines of New York's famed Lower East Side, where he was lucky enough to catch up with good friends: some from his past and some from his very recent past. "SB" and the AM spent much of Friday driving through various parts of downtown on SB's gorgeous Hungarian moped. Zipping in and out of traffic, whizzing by pedestrians, and smelling the awful stench of raw fish and Asians in the bowels of Chinatown was enough to make the whole trip worth it. Luckily, that was only the first day. The second day saw the AM and "JC" attempting to, and eventually aborting, their long-discussed trip to Central Park, wherein JC and the AM got lost on the subway, ended up in the Bronx, and decided it was better to head back to the LES than deal with trying to connect with the correct train.

The rest of the weekend was spent drinking and crying, albeit rarely at the same time.

Saturday night the AM was invited to a party where, rumor had it, there would be in attendance a gaggle of those elusive and mysterious creatures known as "bloggers." Man, holy shit. Jesus. There's a reason they sit behind computer screens all day, people, and it's not because they're uploading images of themselves to Playboy.com. Geesh, the AM hasn't seen an uglier group of people since he attended his friend's interpretive dance concert in college. But who is the AM to judge, right? It's not like Snuffleupagus is getting any tail, or trunk for that matter. The American Mastodon only brings up this festival evening because of a conversation he had with one of the party's more refined webonalities. When asked what he was "into", the AM replied, "I've been getting into Landscape Architecture," to which the dapper young lad quipped, "That's the most boring thing I've ever heard."

As the AM said earlier, the weekend was filled with much drinking, and with many tears.

So, to all the haters out there who don't find Landscape Architecture to be quite the cat's meow, not exactly the kitten's crumpet, something just short of grandma's handbasket, the AM defies you to not enjoy these links:

Coen + Partners out of Minneapolis. Although the AM has said that he doesn't want to do residences, be sure to check out the "Emerson" and "Jones" lots. The AM would like to do stuff like this. He really would.

Pamela Burton Company out of Santa Monica. The AM is toying with the idea of calling up Pam and asking for some sort of job. From the company profile: "We consider landscape and architecture as two modes of the same visual and spatial continuum. Working with displacements within a rational order, we introduce metaphorical themes and the layering of history in order to create resonant spaces. The design of each place evolves from its cultural and physical environment and is informed by geography, ecology, and history."

James Turrell's Roden Crater. Turrell's not exactly a landscape architect, and this is not exactly a traditional landscape architecture project. But it's amazing and awesome, and the AM would love to visit his crater. Here's a good link that discusses Turrell the artist.

At the risk of "boring" to all those fast-paced, hifalutin New York City types, the AM will stop now, while he's still ahead. Also, he doesn't really have any more links. Maybe landscape architecture is boring? Let's hope VH1 does a special on the profession soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


The American Mastodon will be off on another adventure this weekend, visiting his favorite person in the world with the initials "JC". Yeah, you know who the AM is talking 'bout.

If he had a digital camera, he'd take a few pictures, then post them on this here blog for all the world to see. Well, guess what? He doesn't have one. So deal.

Mastodon OUT.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


The American Mastodon realizes that he promised to keep the random sputterings of prose to a minimum. Well, clearly, the AM is not an animal of his word, or he wouldn't have posted that previous monstrosity of treacle and confection. So, eff you all. The AM is an outlaw, a rebel, and he does what he pleases. If that means wearing black leather chaps to work, so be it. If it means buying an entire bag of snack-sized Milky Ways and eating them with a two-liter of Mountain Dew, so be it. If it means soliciting the company of children at the local school with promises of bumper pool and free pop, then, by God, so be it.

You can't cage him. You can't fence him in. He roams free.


Meg found Joel's ideas of fun honorable but outdated, and seeming to include an excess of walking. He had read all the travel books and then read them again, this time aloud and to her, selected passages meant to impart the sheer beauty of the country, beauty being a word not used lightly and something this world has little of, is losing rapidly, is hiding from view on remote islands thousands of miles away. Joel thought that the only way to see this beauty was to walk through it. To suffer through it. He believed pleasure had a cost.

So she went with him, because she believed she loved him.

But secretly Meg hoped that some accident would occur on the hike or that the immense physical exertion would cause a decipherable rift between them, a small rift, surmountable, some trivial calamity that she could blame on his arrogance. She wanted this because although she thought she loved Joel, she did not trust him. And it would be nice, she thought, to finally have an opportunity to tell hiim that one of his ideas was stupid, that it didn't work out the way he thought it would, that he should listen to her more often, that sitting at the beach and drinking was just as nice or maybe even better because there, people didn't get hurt. They didn't twist ankles and they didn't fight.

Meg had a litany of things she wanted to say to Joel but could never articulate, and when finally she ever summoned the courage to confront him, these rehearsed speeches failed her, the clarity of her dissent dissipating into a fog of frustration and resignation. During these moments she would sit quietly, trying earnestly not to cry, her mind racing with horrible things to say to him, things that would let Joel know how strong she really was and how little she depended on him. It was her failure to remember what to say exactly that made her sullen, the words in her head fidgety, restless, refusing to re-align long enough for a coherent thought to escape. Meg tried to put up a good front. She thought that if Joel knew what she feared, that she was going crazy, it would confirm in him the suspicions she had about herself, that she was timid and unstable. As the trip progressed, she talked less and less. Joel interpreted this quiet sorrow as a response to something he had done, or perhaps homesickness. He did not mind the long silences, though, and the two slowly became comfortable in their hushed sadness, more comfortable than they had been before the trip, just two lonely Americans studying in London, then always making small talk about films and music, always keeping the conversation going, always affirming the profundity and validity of the other's comments.

It was in this tenuous state of suspicion and confusion which, when love is very strong in young people, seems always to mature faster than the lovers themselves, that Joel and Meg found a rhythm to each other's discomforts and settled into a way of reacting and responding to each other. And it was during this time of stability and insecurity, of desire and disgust, of this strange lovely grief they wore like a shawl that, in the second week of December, they set out together, alone, unprotected from each other, on their hike.

Monday, August 09, 2004


The American Mastodon apologizes if he is boring you with his cut-n-paste prose postings. Like breadcrumbs, he is leaving in his wake a trail of thoughts and writings, of observations and impressions. Are you willing to follow along this unknown path? No? That's probably wise. It's been noted, and duly noted. He'll try to keep all that stuff to a minumum.

This past weekend the AM was back in Indiana for a friend's wedding. Surely this served as no small part in the posting of his previous entry, Mint Fields. Those few paragraph were amalgamated snippets from a story the AM wrote a few odd months back, and he hopes you didn't notice the heavy Herzog reference to ruby glass. Indiana is a funny place, but a beautiful place. Unlike some friends he knows, he doesn't begrudge Indiana anything - in a way, it will always be his home. He's just not sure he can ever go back, or if he wishes to. When he thinks of Indiana, and of Warsaw, and of Wabash, and the farms and the ponds and the creeks that make up his Eden, he also thinks of empty, open cages, lying in a pet store, rusting.

Can you not see that the AM is a tortured, sensitive man? Can you not see that he thirsts for you love? Can you not see that he should be in an emo band, or employed as an overly-earnest high school English teacher? Give the AM some time. He'll get through all this just fine.


Dad used to listen to Paul Harvey in the truck but I don't have a preference for one thing over another. Sometimes I'll listen to the country station but mostly I keep the window down and try to place the smells. There are some rows of mint between here and Bremen and it always seemed odd, mint in the middle of all this corn.

Jill and I had some mint in our garden, but mostly we had spices and tomatoes, and a little row of beans. Jill though you could make a pasta sauce without basil, but I showed her where she was wrong. We could have had a nice garden this year if somebody had planted it. The ground was getting good.

I pass by Messmore's place again and see that somebody must have carted that horse off. The Amish are good about cleaning things like that up. They're common sense people. That's what dad called them. I bet they think those mint fields are pretty odd, too. I remember Jill always called them Abrahams. "Look at those Abrahams," she'd say when we drove by. I never knew if she meant the Bible kind or the Lincoln kind. She could be funny sometimes, I guess.

I drive through town and look at the buildings. Most of the storefront windows are empty. The mayor says the economy's going to turn around soon, but I don't think anybody believes that stuff anymore. The glass factory closed down a couple of years ago and that took something out of everybody. They sat that Mangum - he's the one that built the place up - they say that when he died he didn't tell anybody the secret to making the glass. After he passed on they tried everything but the glass they made was a dark red, burgundy, like dried up blood, and not light and rosy like Mangum had made. You could see pretty well through his glass, and all the storefronts had at least one panel fitted with it - Mangum's Magic Ruby Glass. I slow down and look inside the old pet store, and all there is are open cages lying around and rusting. I wonder why he didn't tell anybody his secret.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Today the AM is taking a respite from his busy working schedule (tumbleweed...) in order to attend a Dodger's game with the ubiquitous "Funnsylvania Rob." Funnsylvania Rob and the American Mastodon have yet to meet in person, but this morning as they spoke on the phone there was an undeniable sexual tension - a tension just waiting to be released.

Should hijinks ensue, or tomfoolery come out to play, the AM will be sure to tell you all about it.

Be real.


The American Mastodon will stop posting inane shit for awhile to bring you this important announcement: he just got the most kickin-est apartment at the most kickin-est price and is going to be living the most kickin-est life for the next year in his kickin apartment. Or, for the next couple of months, at which point he breaks his lease and joins the Navy.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


It’s evening already, almost seven, and the sun drags the blue with it, plummeting. While he drives he keeps a keen eye for deer on the roads or waiting in the cornrows but there aren’t any, and he pulls safely into Brenda's driveway, puts the minivan in park and looks up, sees the small ranch house with the grey cellar doors and the pink boulder in the lawn. This strange, plain house that he grew up in and keeps returning to every Sunday. Well, actually, not the same house. The original burned to the ground when he was twelve and his father, a man undeterred, saw no reason not to build another house, an exact replica, on the same foundation. It is still the same shade of dirty white but since the house has not been painted in many years, it does not look like the one he knew and was raised in. When the sun is bright the house is more recognizable but still, it is like visiting a place he has only ever seen on television. Usually he comes on cloudy days because he does not have the heart to face his boyhood home in the sunlight of summer or dusk. When it is grey and the light is spread evenly through the clouds, the house looks like all the other houses on this strip of country road – hastily erected and lacking imagination, full of familiarity and Bibles. Unfortunately, it’s been one of those Julys where the weather stays beautiful for weeks and the house, gleaming, is like a huge sparrow’s house. He imagines that inside is full of twigs and trinkets found scattered in the lawn. These bright days are the ones to be avoided, but he has no choice; he hasn’t visited Brenda in weeks and this morning she called twice wondering where he's been. He pulls the key from the ignition and starts for the house, trudging. His shoulders slope as though carrying a large bundle. Once at the door, he knocks, and waits. He hears Brenda shuffling through the house and immediately feels a sinking in his chest. This is my sister, but I am not like her, I can choose to be different; this is my sister, she is more like me than anyone that has ever lived.


He could have acheived something in this world were he not so consumed by the ferocious unambition that had plagued his father, an affliction that had prevented his enrollment in a prestigious university and subsequently served as the catalyst in his leaving the one in which he had enrolled. In the mornings he would wake up and think to himself, Today will be a bridge to tomorrow. Let me cross this bridge, and return to sleep. At night he would sit up and wonder what his father was thinking, as he rested alone in his bed. Sometimes, he thought of his grandfather.

He could have gone down to the market and purchased some grapes for a snack, but rolled over onto his side and closed his eyes and thought about the raspberries he used to pick in his grandfather's woods. He was a very smart young man, and therefore could remember the scene very well. Once he pricked a finger on the thorns of the thicket, and the blood that came out was as red as the raspberries. Raspberries, he decided to himself, were very delicious, and worth the risk involved in their harvesting. He then turned over and fell asleep and when he awoke, it was dark outside. Wonderful, he thought, I am more than halfway across this bridge.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


How much are mobile homes? The AM is starting to think that purchasing one and carting it to some vacant lot near the 10/405 intersection may be a wiser investment, and easier to deal with, than finding a place amid the rental market of Los Angeles. Of course, if he weren't such a persnickity Priscilla, perhaps he and his roomie could have resolved all this by now. Is it too much to ask to desire housing that a) doesn't resemble Eastern-block concrete efficiency, b) is priced lower than your fucking mortgage for the entire complex, you fucking rat bastard management company, and c) doesn't have the interior design sense of a third-grader's sheet-and-pillow fort? Give the AM a lil' feng-shui, here, peeps, for the peace of his mind and the betterment of his life.

Is this all too much to ask? FLW had it right when he propogated the idea of cheap, organic architecture with good design sense and affordability to match. So,

Dear American architects:

Please keep the dream of Usonian living alive.

Thank you very much,

The American Mastodon.

Monday, August 02, 2004


The American Mastodon isn't quite sure what to make of the fairly recent news that an approximate 15,000 dogs will be gassed in Athens before the start of the Olympics. Of course the AM is an animal lover; being an animal himself, he is sympathetic to their plight.

However, in harder times, the idea of drowning a few pups, or putting an arthritic cur out of his misery through the declarative end of double-barreled shotgun, was an almost merciful act. How is gassing 15,000 stray dogs any different than shipping them off to the pound and putting them down with a quick injection? Before you snap to judgement, all you do-gooders and self-professed animal lovers, at the situation in Greece, think to yourself why you have not been in a tizzy that millions of animals are killed here in America all the time, whether for lameness, manginess, or dirty-rottedness. I would implore you all to look within yourself:

I'm looking at the man in the mirror / I'm asking him to chaayaange his ways

Also, as Analogcabin Jones heads off to the West Coast, I'll be taking over again at The Spoonbender, our nation's last bastion of truth, hope, and sacrifice.


Another day, another desk. The life of the permanent temporary is to be lamented and, on occasion, pitied. Pity the Mastodon, people. He begs for your contempt, for your sadness. For your thoughts. Do you not have a minute to just sit and contemplate the miserable situation the Mastodon finds himself in? Yes, yes, thank you. That wasn't so hard, now was it?

An observation from the week-end. Rent in Los Angeles is preposterously high for the availability of housing. Looking for a new apartment this weekend, the AM was struck by how consistently expensive apartments were, but also how profuse the vacancies. Understandably, the demand on places in dense, urban areas drives the price of relatively small, shitty apartments higher and higher. But when do renters start noticing that the vacancies are increasing, and decide that prices should start going down, not up? Is there some economical model for this? When the market meets or exceeds 10% vacancy? Does it merely take one management group to decrease their rent for the others to start following suit? Now, don't get the AM wrong - he's not saying that this is going to happen anytime soon in Los Angeles. By lowering the rent of an apartment, one would also, it seems, have to offer current tenants the same reduced rate. Which means that there would have to be quite a few vacancies in your buildings to start dropping prices.

Again, the AM is no economist. Thinking about this sort of thing makes his head hurt and, naturally, he would prefer to use his head for things other than hurting.