20 October, 2011

I Hate Casinos

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com.
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I Hate Casinos

I think I know too many people. That’s not a bad thing so much as it is an irritating thing. I walked into the bookstore today and I’m shooting points, waves and goats in ninety different directions so that I don’t leave anyone out. Then when I sit down, I have the same conversation over and over again with different people. It’s not awful, but it is kind of irritating when I’m wearing headphones and writing and someone walks up to me and starts talking. I miss the first bit of what they’re saying and then I have to ask them to repeat it and it’s just pooptown. Pooptown is my new word, by the way. I’m going to try to use it as much as possible. Of course, if you my reader (whoever the you might be) wanted to chat, I’d love to talk to you.
I am lucky at my job that I can be pretty well modified and it doesn’t cause much of a problem. We all know that being heavily modded at most jobs (descent paying ones anyway) can be a trying argument with the people that sign our paychecks. On Saturday, I was gigging with my band at a casino. On the whole, I hate casinos and most of the people that go to them. Wretched places, they are, with a melancholy kind of dead skunk kind of depraved stink in the air. People sitting at video slot machines, bombarded with noises and flashing colors and lights hoping that the right little picture appears in the right little column so that the week’s pay that was fed into the machine can multiply. It makes me feel awkward. It makes me feel strange and curious that I am barely living gig to gig, busting my ass playing crappy pop and hip-hop music for drunk woo girls, and the folks at the slot machines being fed drinks and free rooms have the surplus to play games that cost money. Maybe it’s an awkward jealousy. Maybe I hate my job. Maybe I’m just a crabby asshole. Probably all of the above.
I bring this up because, even though the casino people and I have our similarities in our scumbagginess (I made that word up), there is a look about them that makes me uncomfortable, and I think it is directly related to my modifications. At this particular casino gig, we got food coupons. A nice little bonus since gigging at casinos blows like an overworked whore with outstanding bills and an over-drafted bank account. The coupon was good at this sandwich place across the game floor from the bar in which we were playing. Between sets, I walked across to get my well deserved sandwich.
This paragraph is about the sandwich: I ordered a roast beef and swiss hoagie with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. The place was designed like a Chipotle or a Moe’s where you talk to the one cat who puts some shit on a roll, then the next cat who puts more shit on top of the shit on the roll, then the last cat who guilts you into buying a soda and leaving a tip. This sandwich may have been the greatest sandwich I have ever eaten. The beef was rare and plentiful, the lettuce was crisp and cold, and the roll was soft and delicious. I was nearly late returning to the stage for the next set because I was in a hoagie induced acid trip of yumminess.
Enough about the sandwich. On my walk through the joint, the stares and points were uncanny. People dressed in sweatpants, stained shirts, and drinking brown liquor drinks with the same hand as their un-ashed, generic, 100 sized cigarettes as to not take their free hands off of the Wizard of Oz themed video slot machines. Staring accusingly. Pointing unabashedly. There were even a bunch of purse clutchers. (Those are my favorite. I sometimes want to bite the air at them as if I were Dr. Lecter.) Oddly, my first inclination is never ‘it must be my modifications.’ It’s usually, ‘stupid cane,’ or ‘stupid limp,’ or ‘stupid beard,’ or ‘stupid Dan making us wear suits at gigs.’ But after overhearing (read: eavesdropping) on some slot jockeys, it was my lobes and my septum that drew the silent inquisition. I even had a more brazen cat who clearly had already drunk his weight in happy hour booze tell me, “You ain’t gonna be no lawyer with that face, right?”
I don’t usually tell these stories because they serve very little purpose. We in the modded community will be confronted with whispers and stares and points and even some cutely colloquial questions. We know this, and we knew this going in so to bitch about it is absurd. But this casino thing stroked me a certain way. (No, not that way, you childish children.) And I know exactly what it is. That stroked me. At the casino. With stroking. Here’s the word stroke again.
I am judgmental. Somewhere in the cockles of my whatever (stop being childish), I think I am better than these gambling, drinking, social degenerates. And that’s not fair. Yes, at the core, their stares and points and whispers are irritating and probably wrong. But at my core, there is a judge who is pounding a gavel and screaming ‘guilty’ on  all of these slot sitters. Each side is wrong. The difference is that I recognize the rudeness of my internal accusations, whereas I’m not entirely sure that these gambling folks do of their own. That in itself is another judgement, but I think it’s a fair inference.
Nearly everyone I know who still has a job works hard, makes his money, pays his bills, enjoys what is left over. I try not to associate with people who don’t put forth (or ‘poot forth’ for you Zappa fans) one hundred and thirty percent all the time. I know I do. Come to a gig some night, and while on stage, you’ll think that I love what I do. And I’ll play all my parts perfectly, because that’s my job and there is no job worth doing less than perfectly every time. When I look on excessive gamblers or drinkers or drug abusers, I don’t see one hundred and thirty percent. I see excuses and entitlement and blame. That’s a judgement, and that is wrong of me. Still, spend some time in the places where I make my money, and your opinion may gravitate toward the planet of mine.
I preach (well, I wouldn’t say preach so much as write incessantly) that we’re all beautiful creatures. And we are. Inherently, we are born beautiful, and when we are put in the pine box, we will be beautiful. It’s the in between that mars our beauty, and it chiefly comes in our behavior and our treatment of others. I don’t care that you drink sometimes. I care that the drink as your god corrodes your beauty. I don’t care that you gamble sometimes. I care that the gambling as your god corrodes your beauty. It eats away at it, destroys it slowly until there comes a time when the mirror reflects something completely differently than you remember to, and suddenly you long for the image that was there before the drinking, the gambling, the other things like cheating and drugs and anger and gluttony and impatience. I suppose that I judge because I have a hope and a belief that these people, all people around me, are better than that; whatever the ‘that’ may be, and I grow sad at the notion. Who am I to assess what the ‘that’ is? No one. I’m no better than anyone walking on the face of this decrepit and stifled planet. But perhaps my perception is, or at least it tends to be. I ought to strive to allow that perception to be purer than it has been, and that’s the point. Each of us has the capacity to be clear and beautiful watchers of everything around us. Our own dyes can sometimes swirl in that water of perception, and then when we have a green glass of perception, we quietly judge all of the strangers’ perceptions when they are not green. In fact, each of our perceptions ought to be clear and pure. It’s a lot to ask, and probably ought only be asked of those with the willingness to do it. Which is not the unconsciously drunk guy itemizing a bill to the bartender demanding that he didn’t drink this or that, or the five hundred dollar down slot machine enthusiast convinced that the next pull is the lucky one. What frustrates me is that asking for clear perception of a stranger ought to include these people too, and that is where my perception is not clear and pure. I ought to work on that; it corrodes my beauty. Stay beautiful, kids.

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