Good morning. Hello. How are you? #507

AT&T Customer Service Reps. The plight of sailors. Bill Gross. Archenemy Hootenany 20th anniversary. High school poetry.

Good morning! Hello! How’s it going? Friday! Once again, I have it off. This is a Timehop mental health day for the whole company: we have one once a month, as you may recall. It is particularly welcome in October, since, you know, depressing month, no holidays anymore. But I gotta tell you, best thing I did this year was in August take the remainder of my unused vacation time and take every Friday off. It has been lovely. Not sure how I am going to cope in January.

Yesterday I was taking a poop and Jane walked in and started moaning. I reminded her to use her words and not just start crying out of the blue. The worked great. She said “It looks like that I am so upset that mommy’s not here.” Then she walked off, with me still on the throne, and said “I’m so sorry” as she walked away.

Also yesterday I suffered on the phone with an AT&T rep for an hour — my second time, the fourth time for the family total since Emma took the first two rounds. They say they’re finally sending us a new modem now, they seem to believe that these intermittent outages are not, in fact, our fault, as they have been relentlessly implying for months now. It is supposed to arrive today. I am cautiously optimistic, but I suspect what is going to happen is that I am going to replace the modem and the outages will still happen because this is a line integrity issue and not a modem issue, but we will see, we will see. It's just so awful being on the phone with them that long, every call is like groundhog day. That the end of the previous call they swear up and down that they have put everything in the notes, and the next time you call (not that you’re going to have to call again because they’re so sure that they fixed the issue) you won’t have to wait on hold for twenty minutes while they run a bunch of tests. Yet the next time, every time, whatever rep you get this time clearly either doesn’t read the notes, doesn’t believe them, or there is just something in the animus spirit of a tech support rep that they absolutely must run the tests themselves, cannot trust the notes of their colleagues. This battery of tests takes twenty minutes, so if you lose this first round with your rep, your call is now going to be at least twenty minutes long, no matter what. I’ve taken to starting the calls by saying “hello, please read the notes on my account. I will wait. Once you have read them I can answer any questions.” It doesn’t help.

Important update on the plight of sailors. I kinda made that comment offhandedly the other day, but I’ve been thinking about them more and more of late. Coincidentally yesterday there was a long article in the Wall Street Journal about a single aspect of their plight: being stuck on abandoned freighter vessels for years as the freighters’ cases wind their way through the courts, or arbitration, or even just the extraordinarily slow process of getting a freighter sold. There are some sailors who have been squatting on their former vessels for more than four years, afraid to leave because if they leave, they won’t get paid. This isn’t, obviously, a circumstance of COVID, but rather the consolidation in the industry, the razor-thin margins, and the ease with which smaller, independent shipping companies can lose everything at the drop of a hat. When they do, they need to liquidate, and the only hope the sailors have of getting paid is to be actually sitting on the boat when it’s sold, so they can get a cut of the sales proceeds, so the owner can actually deliver the boat. It’s horrible.

More than 1,000 seafarers are currently abandoned on container ships and bulk carriers, according to estimates by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, a labor union. The true toll is likely higher because many crew members are reluctant to speak out for fear of being blacklisted, according to interviews with seafarers on abandoned vessels, shipowners, agents, maritime organizations and union officials.

Four years. Just sitting on a boat, doing nothing. Four years.

Yesterday I also learned about Bill Gross’s “Investment Outlook” newsletters. So this guy, Bill Gross, used to be a bigwig bond trader. One of America’s plutocrats. Real charmer. Also been involved in a ridiculous lawsuit with his neighbor about playing his music too loud and he sounds like a real dick. He retired from running Pimco in 2014, and he stopped trading bonds in 2019. I knew all that. Okay, well, not the exact dates of his retirement, but whatever. Details. But what I did not know was about his wonderful “Investment Outlook” newsletters, which he still writes, even though, you know, he’s not investing anymore. And even better, he still, like, runs these things through PR Newswire, to make sure people know about them. But the reason this is really a glorious thing is because the Investment Outlook newsletters are basically his version of Good Morning Hello How Are You. Like apparently even in the best of times back when he ran Pimco they were only about half about bond trading and the rest of whatever random shit went through his head. These things are fantastic! Like just the best. Here is one of his investment newsletters rambling on about the tattoos of his estranged son:

If my mother were still alive it would send her to her grave, but then she's there already and oblivious to the fact that her 31-year-old grandson has lots of tattoos. She swore that when I went into the Navy that if I came back with "Mom" plastered on either arm, that she'd disown me, but I wasn't into it – my mom or the tattoo.

Anyway, my son – her grandson – Nick, who's 31, now has one. As a matter of fact he has plenty. He's got a "sleeve" on his left arm, a term that basically implies there's no more room left in the inn, or the arm -- no vacancy – full up.

I haven't inspected them closely but I know at least they don't say "Dad" -- thank goodness -- because we're estranged for some odd reason and he'd want to have it removed now. But since his "sleeve", he has gone on to implant significant life philosophies on the other arm, ankles, back, and parts unknown. He even has the name "Gross" tattooed on the inside of his lip which drives my ex-wife Sue mad and was and is now the only tattoo that I truly enjoy, if only for that reason. Revenge by tattoo I suppose. I wonder though how anyone sees it and if it's supposed to be romantic.

I cynically envision the locking of lips, whenever it occurs, involving a mirror image, sort of like the one a dental assistant would use to discover cavities on his left molar. Kind of a weird makeout would be the result I suppose, but then millennials are a strange group and prior to the lip locking when connected on Tinder, the prospective young lady would swipe right on her phone in eager anticipation of locking on to that rather "Gross" thing on the inside of his lip.

So Nick would be quite a disappointment to Grandma and now is, as the reader can tell – to me. My two older kids Jeff and Jenn are relatively tattoo free. Jennifer has one on her leg and probably elsewhere – a Dad can't know these things -- and Jeff…Well as his mom and my first wife says at birthday parties, "he's perfect".

Guess there is always one tattooed (black) sheep in every family. Nick is mine.

Well the global economy has been tattooed in 2020 by an invisible virus….

I realize that is the longest block quote in the history of Good Morning Hello How Are You, and it is from an icky bond trader but is that not just fantastic? I wonder if his friends wake up every morning and read these things on his Facebook page. I wonder if he has a substack. I looked up his son Nick. He is in the band Goldfinger and another band called girlfriends (lower case G) with a guy named Travis Mills. I have not heard of any of these people but they are on major labels.

Yesterday Jussi (aka Liz Enthusiasm) texted me looking for a copy of a photo, since it is the 20th anniversary of that fantastic outing we all took to New Hampshire for the all-star Archenemy Hootenany. She texted me at 9:47 AM for a copy of this photo, which I took twenty years ago. I found it in my archives before it turned 9:48. Amongst 465,000 photos. My filing technique is unstoppable. Here it is it really is a great photo:

That was a great night, the chief surprise being that Dave Goolkasian remembered all the words to “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”

Jane is at Grammy’s this morning so I have the morning to myself and I am going to spend it taking the recycling to the collection center, going to Walmart for snow peas and then picking peppers in the garden. How exciting. I’ll probably spend the rest of the day mining cobalt in No Man’s Sky. Or maybe I’ll even, like, progress with the storyline. I should probably progress with the storyline, huh.

Nick posted a funny meme about the devil or someone making you read your high school poetry and so I decided mwahahaha you guys can read my high school poetry. Here is a poem from when I was 16 that made it into the esteemed West Valley High School literary magazine, The Mind’s Eye. You’re welcome.

RAIN FIXATION MARK XXII

Look out your window today
What do you see?
It’s not a sunny day
There’s a cool breeze
Rain is falling down
Slowly and softly
Like feathers of Down

Emotion is not spent
On warm summer days
Emotion is vent
Along with the rain and haze
Regrets and crying
Appear in time
With the lightning

It’s habit
It’s nature
You cannot smile
When the sun’s in exile

Let’s do a mix. I am working through my Release Radar playlist on Spotify but, like most weeks, it’s mostly a bunch of live versions and remixes and demos and old songs re-released. But there are a few gems on it — a good new Mirah and a good new Shamir so far. But none of that is on this mix, which is justa mix, of old and new. I like this mix, I like the oldies selections. I hadn’t heard that Robyn Hitchcock song in ages, or that Texas song, which I love love love. I once had “Palaces of Montezuma” in my head for three days straight, I remember vividly walking down Canal Street from my apartment on Howard to Barbarian on Beach trying to remember all the lyrics and really nailing “the spinal chord of JFK wrapped in Marilyn’s neglige” for the first time. And we got a back-to-back Lost Boys hommage on here, thanks to Willow. I still like The Call’s original version of “I Still Believe” better, but this version is worth it just for this amazing article about the shirtless sax man. A classic. Oh and Metric’s “Breathing Underwater” what a great song it might be their best song it is almost perfect. I love that album so much. Emma and I saw that tour, well, a few times, but the last time was at Radio City, where Lou Reed guested during the encore, since he guests on the great song “Wanderlust” on that album, which they played, and then they played “Pale Blue Eyes” with Lou and that was the last time Lou ever appeared on stage. What an honor.

Okay ta ta off to Walmart have a lovely weekend I will chat with you guys on Monday!