“Dood! Where were you?”
Warren slowly slinks under the couch.
Damn – now I feel bad. I know if I raise my voice to him Warren believes I’m going to smack his nose with a newspaper, put a boot to his ribs or some other god-awful behavior. I took him
away in years ago from his first owner -–now deceased– who treated him like dirt; much like humans, dogs get hard-wired by their earliest experiences. Also like people, they almost never overcome them.
Calmly then, I try again.
“Warren. Come out from under the sofa, dood. I only want to talk. I was just surprised when I got up and you were missing, that’s all.”
His sniffling snout pokes out from under the couch, tests the air for violence molecules.
“I didn’t think you were going to get out of bed,” his quiet voice quavers.
“Well, yeah,” defensive with just a touch of sarcasm. “You were so baked last night you were talking to the refrigerator before you stumbled upstairs.”
(Yesterday Nora gathered the Astas and had swept them all out toward the center of Kansas in an effort to find her grandparents’ birthplace. I know she had mentioned this to me at one point, as well as why she was doing it, but…I forgot. Sans conscience, I may have…overindulged last night.)
“I might have smoked more than usual,” I allowed.
“More than usual?” Warren’s positively barking now – a good sign. “More than usual!? Dood, you were so stoned that I thought you’d float right off the couch.”
“All right. Be that as it may,” trying for gravitas, “what’s up with the disappearing act?”
“Well, like I said, I didn’t think you were going to rise before 4 or 5 today and I needed to get down to Volker Park.”
“Warren, nobody calls it that any more.”
I have to think about that, which doesn’t go well as I’m a bit foggy. Hmm..my mouth’s a little dry, too. I amble into the kitchen and pull open the fridge door looking for…yes! I pull out an old fashioned, long neck orange soda bottle and look around the counter-tops for a church key. Nothing. Check the dining room and find it on a sideboard. Pop the top and take a long drink.
Out of the corner of my eye I see movement and realize I hadn’t closed the blinds last night on the sliding glass doors leading out to the patio; Jennifer from next door is smiling, waving and laughing while she’s cutting her grass. Great neighbor. I wave back.
I amble back into the living room and sit on the couch, idly scratching my nuts.
“Man, if you haven’t showered yet Nora’s gonna kill you,” Warren says.
“Dood, go get dressed – you’re disgusting.”
I check. Yep, he’s right – I’m bare assed. And if I mark Nora’s couch I’ll be in Warren’s house for a week while he lounges indoors. Still…
“Warren? I’m disgusting? Dood, have you ever seen me, at any point, lick my dick?”
“That’s only because you’re as limber as a wood plank. Go get dressed; humans look funny without any clothes. Hey! Is that the last of the ‘good’ sodas? ’cause if it is, I want some.”
I’ve a neighbor who, due to medical complications, has a script for legal smoke. The place where he picks it up also has THC infused soda – he always brings me by a 6 pack.
“There’s another one left in the fridge, help yourself.”
“Very funny, asshole.”
I find and don some clothes and return to the living room.
“Okay, so where did you go?”
Warren sighs. “I just told you, Volker Park. There was an AIDS walk starting there this morning that I promised to do with Butch, Fred and Seymour. All of their owners got up early and drove them down so I couldn’t catch a ride. When I saw you weren’t going to get up in time I just jumped the fence and walked; it’s only a couple miles down Oak.”
“Oh.” Now I do feel bad; Warren’s a committed do-gooder and I had promised I would get him to Volker early enough to meet his friends. “How was it?”
“Good. Good. I met everyone, we scarfed down a ton of trash and left-overs and then Fred got sick everywhere, which was cool ‘cause Seymour was still hungry…”
“Okay, okay, enough.”
“Anyhow, it was good. But what was better was when all the people went to march on the Plaza I cut across Oak and was messing around in the parking lot of KSHB when an intern stepped out for a smoke. She petted me for a good 10 minutes before her pager went off.”
“Cool – I know how you like that. Did she scratch behind your ears?”
“Oh, yeah! That was the best. You know how my back right leg gets to thumpin’ when it’s done just right? Like that…anyhow, she has to go back in and I slip in the door behind her, just because, you know? And I look around the building a little, it kind of reminds me of the last animation house you worked at in LA, remember? Tape room, sound-stage, floor, switcher room, yadda yadda yadda. I can smell doughnuts bagels n’ stuff so I sneak upstairs. Sure enough, in the first big room I find, there’s the food. I amble in, take a doughnut and settle in under a table to eat it and maybe take a nap when folks start to enter and take seats.”
My soda is almost gone and I’m considering drinking the last one. “So, staff meeting or what?”
“No, man, that’s the funny part. Bloggers.”
“What? Bloggers? In a TV studio? Why?”
“Okay, wait a minute…” I go into the kitchen, pour the rest of the orange soda in his dog dish and bring it out. Then I return to the kitchen and get the last good soda for myself.
“Okay, dog, give: what about the bloggers?”
He’s already lapped up all the soda and is snuffling around his dish, licking up any stay atom of moisture that might have escaped. Satisfied he’s got it all, he turns sits back on his haunch, half twists his body and lowers his head to lick…
“Dood, give it a rest!”
“sluuuurp…okay, okay. So it seems that the KC Press Club was hosting a seminar on the ethics of blogging at the studio. In fact the station manager – a Steve Kuat – was ‘moderating’ the event, though if you ask me it was just people talking.”
“Oh, yeah. I read about that.”
“Okay – so there was one guy; a Professor Pearlmutter from KU who spoke for about 10 minutes about a book he wrote called “Blogger Wars”. A few people from other media, oh, and Christa Dubill.”
“I forget, you’re too good for TV.”
“Don’t start with that shit. It’s just since The Sopranos went off the air there’s no reason to watch TV.”
“I’ve told you,” Warren says but he’s back to the compulsive lick lick lick lick oh how the double helix unspirals differently in all of us, “The Sopranos was NOT a documentary.”
“Prove it, dood.”
“ANYHOW, Christa is an anchor there and she showed up and sat at the end of the table I was under. She’s kinda cute n’ all but that well hell gal has much better bosoms…”
“Yeah yeah. So, also, there was a rather statuesque redhead named Sponge and a tall, older peacock who said he was XO.”
“Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s spring, don’t get me wrong, but this guy was feeling his oats. He swaggers in, rolls kinda like a sailor just off ship, unused to the land not moving, you know? Wearing this yellow, I mean to say YELLOW blazer over a black and white Hawaiian print shirt, diamond stud in his right ear. He’s probably around your age, maybe older. I can’t tell with you humans. He shaves his head, but I bet the fringe he owns would grow in as gray as his beard, so yeah, pretty old. Sponge and he sat together, though I don’t think she said one word the whole time.”
“Then there was a Russian: KC Meesha, that sound right? Guy named Forsythe and a lady who showed later, name of Toast? Odd names. Plus a college student turned blogger, an ad exec who also blogs and some writer sitting next to Christa taking note after note. In fact that jackass kicked me a couple times when I was trying to get a better sniff of Christa’s legs. All in all, I’d say there were about 20 people there. The station manager seemed pleased.”
“20? The Kansas City Press Club web site says 40.”
“What can I say: they may be literate, but they can’t count for shit. There were no more than 20-21 people there, only 9 of them bloggers.”
The second orange soda is gone and I’ve cleaned and filled a pipe while Warren’s talked. I light it now, take a slow pull and sit on it a minute. When I’m done, I squat over where Warren’s stretched out in front of the couch, reverse the pipe and shoot smoke up his snout. He takes it and gulps a few times, rolls over on his back and lets his paws loll.
The house is still.
Warren answers without opening his eyes or moving. “And what?”
“Did you guys have a good discussion on blogging and ethics?”
“Well, no, not so much. Funny, it was pretty obvious that the bloggers all hated this one other blogger, Tony? He has a blog that pretty much smears any and everyone, though he calls it a joke blog. I don’t think any of the other bloggers thought it was funny. I’m guessing he’s like an illiterate, small time drudge wanna-be, but without the wit or meat, you know? I looked at his stuff this afternoon when I got back and it’s all ‘oh, I’m so wonderful and the rest of you retards are so pathetic, come praise me.’ He’s very impressed with himself in the way a egotistical but bright pre-teen might be.”
“I’d heard that about him but have not met him so don’t really know.”
“Oh, and you’re linked up, too. Let me have another hit.”
I re-stoke the bowl and fill our lungs.
“Yeah,” after I can speak again. “Dan mentioned that Tony linked me some time back, though he also made some cute remarks about all the hot babes I’m sleeping with over at the Pitch.”
Have you ever heard a Rotty laugh? It’s hideous, believe me.
“What’s in this stuff?…you don’t even KNOW anyone at the Pitch, much less are ‘doing’ any of them. Anyway, all these bloggers obviously hate this guy’s guts but the overall conversation is kept at a mundane, polite surface level – what case law is vis a vis libel, and the slander bar for bloggers…”
“What is it?”
“Pretty much null, man. No one has seemed to nail a blogger for anything, legally. Some of it is the deep pockets thang –no blogger has any- and some of it is the targets bloggers choose, almost all of whom are public figures, fair game all. Some of it is the effort involved for a private citizen to go after someone who’s smearing them. My overall impression was it would be easier, and far cheaper, to just waylay the offending party and bust up one of his joints, maybe the fingers on his right hand. But that’s just me…”
I’m pulling up the ad guy’s site while Warren talks.
“Dood, says here you guys had “a lively event that examined the ethics of bloggers and the tremendous growth of bloggers and their impact on the news”. There’s also a picture of this Tony dood with Bill Grady – no other photos of the others? Weird…hey it also says there were about 30 of you, not 40.”
“Well, it’s the Internets, man. No Change Management – it said 40 earlier this afternoon.”
“Oh, I believe you. What about the ‘lively’ part?”
“Man, humans’ ideas on lively are somewhat different than mine. I think chasing down and disemboweling a rabbit is a lively time. I don’t think this little seminar counted.
“Fact of the matter is this Tony dude was sad. He’s almost talented, you know? But whatever his skills at ‘reporting’, he’s wasted them annoying the piss out of everyone, so much so that even if he wanted to play nice, no one would play with him. I’m not going to speculate on his upbringing –-though, dood: he’s in his early 30s and still lives at home for Pete’s sake– but he’s obviously emotionally stunted. It’s just sad. But, again: no one really called him out on being an asshat. Don’t get me wrong, all the other bloggers obviously think he’s an asshat, just none of them decided to tell him so while he was sitting right there.”
“Sounds like a waste of time.”
“Nah, I got to scarf down a buncha doughnuts, rested a bit before the walk back home, put some faces to names and got to smell Christa’s legs. Also, the station has some regulatory obligation to host around a half dozen of these public forums a years, so they asked the group for some ideas. I keep thinking a symposium on neutering/spaying might be nice. Though…”
“Kinda wish that Well Hell Gal had been there.”
“Dood, you are SUCH a dog. Another hit?”