Monday, October 11, 2004


In honor of the American Mastodon's 100th post (or so the folks at Blogger say), a small fictional piece of literature has been drafted for this very website. It describes a day in the life of an ordinary Joe, who's name, remarkably, is not Joe.

He was a board-certified romantic and a self-diagnosed diabetic. He held an advanced degree in despair from the university in Manitoba, and at night sketched proofs on a chalkboard which always sought to find an explanation for the presence of sculpture. It was a cold, grey Tuesday morning when the man stepped outside for a cigarette and to watch the garbage truck pass by. He enjoyed watching the men work the truck and wrangle the cans that lined the street. Such coordination they had: hopping off the truck and grabbing a can, swinging it with the greatest of ease and letting its contents spill into the truck, throwing the empty can to a partner, flipping the empty can over and letting the cycle repeat, all the while watching as the truck crept along gingerly, only ever a few feet at a time, devouring waste and grinding it in its huge metal jaws.

The man was envious of the clearly defined and necessary work of these men. To have such purpose in life - go, rid this world of trash - seemed to him honorable and comforting. His own occupation as a youth minister often left him feeling empty and shallow. Most days were spent playing foosball with incurious children or working on finishing the new youth sanctuary - the "functuary" - in the church. As he painted the beams that held the structure together and kept it from falling, he thought about the men whose job it was to collect the trash. At night, popping popcorn and watching Disney movies with high schoolers, he longed for the satisfaction of knowing that at a day's end, he had given more to the world than taken away. He was a steward of little things, to be sure, and chief among them was making sure the young people he knew did not enjoy themselves too much.

You see, the man had developed during his tenure at Sleepy Sisters Pentecostal Church many theories on both religion and youth. Of these myriad theories came what he referred to as his "Unified Understanding of Us". This hypothesis stated, roughly, that there was little point in dissuading young people from acting inappropriately because of the disapproving glare of a benevolent creator. Rather, young people would do better to work hard, sleep early, and avoid a young life of indiscretion and large appetites that is nearly always met by an adult world not willing to concede such entitlements. The man's goal was not to teach them the joy of God but rather the drudgery of life, with the hope that somewhere in between, a fragment of meaning could be found.

The man pulled the last drag from his cigarette as the garbage truck rounded the corner and inched out of sight. He smelled the air and looked at his watch, and went inside to put on a pot of tea.


King Koopa said...

This is a non blog related music alert for all of you 70's-California-soul fans who read The American Mastodon and listen to Shuggie Otis: Shuggie has resurfaced and his guitar work is featured on a new track on Mos Def's new album. Besides this being the best album of the year, it's got Shuggie: unfrontable, unfadeable cred.

And, while I'm off-topic and posting inappropriate non blog related music items, if you like your music a bit "whiter" sounding, do your ears a friggin' favor and pick up The Earlies. They'll thank you for it.

King Koopa said...

Geez, I wrote this like a week ago and it's finally showing up on here. needs to get their hamsters back on the wheels and keep this thing going.

Speaking of keepings things going, where's the AM been since his centennial posting? The blogger rumor mill is churning with the rumor that the AM is retiring from the bloggin' game, ala Jay-Z. In the words of the master songwriting wordsmith, James Taylor, "I've seen fire and I've seen rain/But, I always thought I'd see you blog one more time again..."