60 is the new 47

Linette and I just got back from Kentucky. We drove down yesterday morning for my dads 60th birthday. Actually, he thinks his birthday is today, February 29, but hes always celebrated it on the 28th. I dont know how wed prove it now, but he seems to recall that his mother told him that he was born just a few hours into 1944s Leap Day, but that the doctor had suggest they alter the records. So, we celebrated my dads 60th yesterday, but I suppose we could have celebrated his 15th today.

My father was 24 when I was born. I will be 36 when my first kid is born. It took me a dozen years longer than my father to get started. There are good and bad things about that. I consider them often. One of the good things, I think, is that my dad, my baby and I will all have been born in the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese calendar. Every 12 years it recycles and 1944, 1968 and 2004 are all Monkey years. I wonder if my kid will be 48 when he or she decides to have a kid. Its like an SAT problem.

Tonights post may be a bit erratic. Ive decided not to proofread it. I dont have time. Linette and I are expected at a friends

Before I go any farther into the mathematics of Maynard procreation, I want to post links to two great satire sites. One is called God Hates Shrimp and the other is called 12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society. Both do a great job, in my opinion, of skewering the religious right, especially the shrimp-eating religious right, on their hypocrisy when it comes to gay rights. Neither of these links really belongs in a post about my dad turning 60, but I had to mention them before I forgot.

I just posted some photos that we took yesterday, but I should have probably put them in context first.

A few days ago, I was thinking about my beard and how this baby of ours, when he or she is born, might not like it. I began to worry that the baby might not bond with me because of the beard, or that, if it did bond with me, that I could never shave again for fear of losing that connection See, these are the kinds of things I spend my nights worrying about when the rest of you are just enjoying reruns of The Golden Girls.

So, I got a little panicky thinking about the ramifications of my facial hair, and thinking about how I could perhaps save this baby from a lifetime of addiction and misery by just shaving. (I was worried that if I didnt establish an immediate, smooth-faced bond, that our child could grow up disengaged and thus susceptible to the influences of organized religion, drugs, etc.) So, I decided to shave by the first of July, right before our due date. But then I started to think that I should just do it now, before I got any more attached to my facial hair Ultimately, I just decided to go ahead and to it. That was Friday afternoon.

Maybe its another OCD thing, or maybe everyone does it, but I cant shave a beard without making a few stops along the way. Usually, Ill try a Van Dyke on the way to a handlebar moustache, on the way to a Chaplin, on the way to a Hitler. (The last step is always the Hitler moustache, unless you go the horizontal route, in which case the last stop in the John Waters.) This time I thought that Id try a long moustache, one where the ends cascade down past the corners of my mouth like the lines on a ventriloquist dummys chin.

I tried it, I kind of liked it, and, since we were going to be heading to my parents place the next morning, I decided to keep it around for a while, at least until they could see it.

First, when I came downstairs to show Linette my new look, she didnt notice it. I just stood there in front of her for about five minutes and it didnt register. Shed probably deny it now, but she said that I looked tall and handsome. I asked why, and she said that maybe it was the pajamas that I was wearing. Finally, I pointed it out to her and she couldnt stop laughing. She said that I looked like a gay porn star playing a motorcycle cop circa 1971. (Im still not quite sure what to make of the fact that she said I looked really handsome before this supposedly hilarious facial hair registered on a conscience level.)

I began to wonder how long it would take my parents to notice the next morning.

So, we drove to Kentucky, where, I was embarrassed to find my grandmother and my aunt Carol waiting in my parents driveway. I was mortified. I hadnt minded looking like a gay traffic cop in front of my folks, but I didnt want to disappoint my grandma. (Once I showed her a videotape of one of my bands performing and she asked me something to the effect of, How does it feel to get up there on stage and make an asshole out of yourself? I didnt want to relive that moment.)

I asked Linette to get out of the car first, as I turned my head and pretended to be dealing with the dog in the backseat. I was hoping that she would distract them with her pregnant belly and that they might not notice. I had my razor in my bag and I thought that I might be able to just head in and shave.

As it worked out, they saw me and my grandmother liked the thing. My mother, however, didnt. My dad did. I think he used to have one like it. My aunt Carol didnt comment one way or the other Most importantly, no one called me an asshole. I wore the moustache for another six hours and then shaved.

Before shaving, my dad and I got to talk quite a bit about parenting and growing older.

My dad told the story about my great-grandfather that I hadnt heard before. Apparently, my great-grandfather and great-grandmother were still living together on their farm in Kentucky. They must have been in their late 70s or early 80s. My great-grandfather, who I knew as Pa Florian, had been going downhill pretty fast, but he had been refusing to move in with another family member or seek assistance from anyone other than Ma Florian, my great-grandmother. She would take care of him and the big, old farmhouse. Finally, my dad said to him, This is killing Ma. You need to sell this place. He responded that hed never move. And, that night, he died

Linette just got home, saying that its time for us to go. Ill have to finish this later Linette also said that she had the realization today, as she shopped for maternity clothes at Value Village, that she was dressed like executed female serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

OK, we have to go now. Enjoy the Oscars.

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the blogging of the maynard

Me, my pregnant wife, my moustache, my grandmother and my belly.

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get the lead out

Linette and I had a crew of guys come over today to test this old house of ours for lead contamination. Our friend Steve, whos a contractor, was over the other day and he pointed out that the stuff that we thought was dust on our windowsills could in fact be fine particles of lead. With the baby coming in a few months we thought that we should have it checked out.

I had always thought that the lead paint they used on old houses like this one wasnt a problem unless it was chipping and pealing. I knew that you didnt want kids sucking on chips of lead paint, but I thought that was about the extent of it. It didnt occur to me that every time you raised or lowered one of these turn of the century windows that you were essentially rubbing multiple pieces of poison-coated wood together. The pieces grind against one another, causing little clouds of poison to plume up into the air. Then, these particles settle on the sill, just waiting for a good gust of wind.

So thats what we were thinking about when we called in this Ghost Busters-like anti-lead squad with all of their high-powered particle accelerators and such. I wasnt here for the test, but Linette said that the equipment looked impressive. Id like to think that it was all a scam, that the devices were just constructed from shoeboxes, garden hoses and couple coats of silver paint, but one of the guys on the crew was a friend of a friend and weve heard that their company is the best in the business.

Anyway, they tested a few places around the house. Apparently, a score of 40 is the dividing line between whats acceptable and whats not. Im not sure what that number denotes, but Im guessing something like parts per million. So, guess what we had?

Twenty-five thousand!

Apparently, weve been sloshing around in huge drifts of lead shavings for the past four years.

Does anyone know the signs of lead poisoning? And might this explain my faltering memory, depression and ghostlike coloration?

(note: Linette just read this and she had a correction to make. Apparently it was one of the lead chips off of our porch that came back with the 25,000 reading. It wasnt just a random swab from the living room floor.)

Oh, and they made Linette go and hide in the basement while they were conducting some of the tests. I think it had something to do with x-rays and the fact that shes pregnant. Of course, I, being somewhat paranoid, think that they might have just sent her down there so that they could copy down our bank account numbers. (I expect our retirement accounts are being drained as I type this.)

On a completely unrelated note, I got letter from the Utne Reader today. They want to include Jeff Kays Sleep is Creepy article (Crimewave #15) in their next issue. Its nice to know that the folks at Utne read Crimewave and that the work of our friends is appreciated.

Congratulations, Jeff.

I’m going to go put a plastic bag over my head and scrub windowsills now. There’s not much time before little baby Lead Sponge moves into this cozy Superfund site we call a home.

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stay free!

If you didnt pick up a copy of Crimewave #15, you missed our interview with Carrie McLaren, the woman behind Stay Free! magazine. That makes us sad because we really like Carrie and we think that the interview turned out well. So, with that in mind, weve decided to put the interview on-line at the Crimewave site. So, if you havent read it, go read it Its especially appropriate today, as we all just celebrated Grey Tuesday yesterday So, enjoy.

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and the shoes keep dropping

The new LA Weekly has an interesting interview with retired U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a former analyst for the Defense Department with over 20 years of experience who has decided to come out publicly and talk about what she saw happening in the Pentagon during the run-up to the war in Iraq. Much like the recent insider account of fellow conservative, former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul ONeil, her statements are particularly stinging because of her credibility on the right. This is a woman who voted Republican and wanted to support the President, only to become disillusioned after witnessing the hijacking of the Pentagon by the neoconservative staff of the newly formed Office of Special Plans, the group created for the purpose of building a case for war against Iraq. Here are a few quotes from Cloonel Kwiathowski:

Like most people, Ive always thought there should be honesty in government. Working 20 years in the military, Im sure I saw some things that were less than honest or accountable. But nothing to the degree that I saw when I joined (the) Near East South Asia (department).

This was creatively produced propaganda spread not only through the Pentagon, but across a network of policymakers the State Department, with John Bolton; the Vice Presidents Office, the very close relationship the OSP had with that office. That is not normal, that is a bypassing of normal processes. Then there was the National Security Council, with certain people who had neoconservative views; Scooter Libby, the vice presidents chief of staff; a network of think tanks who advocated neoconservative views the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy with Frank Gaffney, the columnist Charles Krauthammer was very reliable. So there was just not a process inside the Pentagon that should have developed good honest policy, but it was instead pushing a particular agenda; this group worked in a coordinated manner, across media and parts of the government, with their neoconservative compadres.

The discussions were ones of this sort of inevitability. The concerns were only that some policymakers still had to get onboard with this agenda. Not that this agenda was right or wrong but that we needed to convince the remaining holdovers. Colin Powell, for example. There was a lot of frustration with Powell; they said a lot of bad things about him in the office. They got very angry with him when he convinced Bush to go back to the U.N. and forced a four-month delay in their invasion plans.

General Tony Zinni is another one. Zinni, the combatant commander of Central Command, Tommy Franks predecessor a very well-qualified guy who knows the Middle East inside out, knows the military inside out, a Marine, a great guy. He spoke out publicly as President Bushs Middle East envoy about some of the things he saw. Before he was removed by Bush, I heard Zinni called a traitor in a staff meeting. They were very anti-anybody who might provide information that affected their paradigm. They were the spin enforcers.

Dont worry though its not all bad news today. Ive just received word from my sources in England that the US military has begun building a Second Earth, a beautiful Eden where we can start all over without weapons of mass destruction and war!

OK, I just did a little poking around and apparently this Second Earth project isnt exactly what I had imagined. More than being a utopia for mankind, its kind of global video game that will allow our military commanders to better track the American troops that are spreading over the globe. Its being built by a video game company and, my guess is, it will allow us to blow things up by pushing buttons in some underground facility. Not exactly utopia, but still pretty fucking cool, right?

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