The Heart of the City Farmer’s Market: Stand Aside and Let the Pros Work

Best Lil’ Farmer’s Market in San Francisco

This Wednesday was a special day  in my weekly ritual of going to the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market:  it was the top of the glorious summer months in which every summer goodie is present and in gorgeous abundance.  And since this is HotC, CHEAP!!!  I was like a stealth bomber, smooth, quiet and dead on target as I made my rounds and decided on what to purchase.  There was so much to choose from and I only had so much space and so much brute strength for the MUNI ride home, so only the genetic and aesthetic superstar elite of the fruit and vegetable races were allowed a resting place in my re-usable cloth shopping bags.  Farmer’s Markets are one rare instance in which eugenics, practiced with a cold, hard Machiavellian intensity, are A-OK.  What follows is a little travelogue from the HotC Shopping Ninja.

“one bag one dollah one bag one dollah”

Ahh, the tomatoes.  And the Armenian cucumbers.  What summer would be complete without some good old-fashioned ripe tomatoes trucked up from most likely just outside my hometown of Sacratomato, I ask you.  If you are anywhere close to Sacto when the tomatoes are ripe, you’ll experience the fun, uniquely Sacramentan experience of encountering the chock-full tomato truck hurtling down the freeway at top speed on it’s way to the cannery.  Tomato trucks are just trucks with some rickety railings there to purportedly keep the tomatoes inside the truck bed.  But at 70 mph, some of those tomatoes are going to want to learn how to fly.  SPLAT!! they hit your windshield, allowing you admission to the tomato pock-marked windshield club; you’ll see legions of your fellow members driving along with glorious red splats all over their automobiles.  Since these tomatoes are destined for the cannery, they are picked ripe (what a concept!), something that never happens to the supermarket’s selection of hard green baseballs that get gassed with CO2 for fake but red ‘ripeness’.  And because they are ripe, they really explode with juiciness when they hit your car.  It’s disturbingly fleshy sounding; it’s a sight and sound this valley girl will never forget.

Tomatoes are one of those foods with passionate, devoted fans.   Every tomato fan has their favorite varietal and method of preparation, and they will defend these to the point of death.  My favorite are the deep purple varietal of beefstakes called Brandywines, and I like to make a smooth, olive oil-rich gazpacho to highlight their greatness.  These are best if you grow them yourself, as they can really only handle transport from your garden to your kitchen when they are truly and perfectly ripe.  I’ve found Brandywines at HotC as well as Green Zebras, golden Kellogg’s Breakfast and many other esoteric heirlooms.  but the largely Asian tomato growers at HotC favor the thin-skinned round, intensely red golf-ball-sized Early Girls, which have a nicely balanced acid level along with a sock-it-to-me hit of umami–the “yummy” savory taste.  Around 2:00 or so, each tomato vendor will begin to bag their goods up in 2 pound or so bags and start loudly hawking their wares for “one bag one dollah one bag one dollah”.  Compare this to the freaking $6/lb that the sucker yuppies pay at the Ferry Building’s Farmers Market–you’ll get that warm, tingly feeling of Schadenfreude every time.

Cucumbers are in abundance at HotC; nubbly yellow-skinned and round Armenian cucumbers with their firm, almost sweet flesh and lack of excess seeds are a bit harder to suss out.  It seems that a good amount of HotC customers make pickles, because  most of the cukes available are the small, green pickling variety.  I like these too; in fact, I’ll take pretty much any cuke that is not the standard waxy green, mushy and seedy-as-hell American supermarket type.  Why this particular varietal was annointed as the mass production queen escapes me as there is nothing good about these cucumbers except that they are blandly pretty–in a boring stock-photo kind of way.  They must be easy to ship; this is the sad, capitalist reason that Americans have been trained to eat truly repulsive tomatoes, cucumbers, and stone fruits.

I like to chop my Armenian cukes in a fine dice, and stir them into thick whole milk Greek yogurt along with a paste made from minced garlic and salt mashed with the side of your knife, and handfuls of finely chopped mint and parsley to make a yummy dip.  I like to eat “dip meals”, and this dip is great with crudites, especially julienned raw fennel and sweet peppers, and whole wheat pita chips.  And it’s so good for you…

Freakin’ ABBONDANZA!!

This glorious bowl of vegetable loveliness and perfection, along with the tomatoes discussed above, are going into a free-form vaguely North African stew called “Vegetable CousCous”.  What have we here?  Well…starting at the top:  baby yellow zukes, round gray-green Mexican squash, Romano beans, kolhrabi, deep yellow cauliflower, tiny elfin purple and white/purple striped Japanese eggplants, and in the center, deep orange heirloom carrots.  To make the Vegetable CousCous, first slice the eggplants in half, salt and let them weep for about 15 minutes, then brush with olive oil and grill on a grill pan, and cut the tomatoes in half, and roast in a slow oven for a couple of hours to intensify flavour and texture.  Then, cut the rest of the veggies in large chunks.  Sweat a mirepoix of very finely diced celery, onion, carrot and fennel, then add your veggies, the eggplant and tomato, chicken stock (or veggie stock if you are meat-avoidant), tomato paste, orange zest and about 1/2 cup of freshly squoze OJ, and spice it up with Ras el Hanout (Moroccan spice mix with coriander, cinnamon, cumin, lavender, fennel, cayenne, cloves and cardomon) and a zing of red chili flakes.  Cook until just fork tender, and serve in a bowl on top of couscous made with stock, not water.  Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a splash of olive oil and chopped mint and parsley.  Summertime perfection.  And it’s so good for you…

That rarest of rare beasts, the Orange Honeydew

This is a picture of some chunks of melon in a bowl and not the melon in its entirety because I could not keep my greedy paws off of the ethereal perfection that is the elusive Orange Honeydew.  I stumbled across this Queen of All Melons last summer, at precisely the same time, as I walked past an orchard vendor who always has really enthusiastic young girls and guys hawking their peaches, nectarines, plums, almonds and etc with plates of free samples.  For about a month during the summer, they have tables of melons:  yellow ridged Crenshaws and creamy light yellow round melons that look like your normal green-fleshed honeydew, but are actually the satori of melon perfection:  the Orange Honeydew.  I remember a girl handing me a chunk of the sweetest, juiciest, ripest heavenly tasting melon as I was walking by, and I literally stopped in my tracks, grabbed another sample, and immediately purchased two of the rather heavy melons.  Some advice:  save your melon buying until the very end of your HotC spree.  But I was in a fructose trance, so my actions can be forgiven.

When I got those babies home, I put them in the fridge to chill the still-warm-from-the-fields orbs of melon majesty.  When thoroughly chilled, I cut them into bite-sized chunks free of rind or anything else to get between you and your melon.  What I had was (sadly or awesomely) a day’s supply of greedy melon orgy, with enough for a bowl of melon and cottage cheese for breakfast the next day. Regular green honeydews had never really hooked me; they tended to be a bit dilute and one-note.  There was something magical about this orange varietal.  Alas, I happened upon these on the last week of their existence and when I came back the next Wednesday, the vendor informed me that they’d harvested the last of their Orange Honeydew, and that they really only come into perfect ripeness during a very short and precise window, requiring an expert hand with planting schedules.  I cruised other Farmers Markets in search of the elusive melon, but to no avail.

I’ve spent the last month or so in greedy anticipation of Orange Honeydew’s arrival, pestering the vendor until they recognized me on sight, and this last week was it!  I’m eating the last of the melon as I type this very blog, and I’m both sad and enraptured at once.  And it’s so good for you…

She wore a Raaaaspberry Beret

As a rule, the raspberries I buy at HotC are about a third again as large and sweet as the best organic berries I can find at, say, Whole Foods.  We’re talking raspberries so yummy that I have to always buy one more basket than I need because I will eat the whole thing on the way home.  It will be gone sometimes even before I board the train at the Civic Center MUNI station.

I am not a chocolate fan.  I realize that this is heresy in 95% of the population’s books, but instead I am drawn to vanilla and then fruit-flavoured sweet things.  These raspberries will be part of a Raspberry and Lemon Dacquoise.  Dacquoise are one of my all-time favorite desserts; layers of crisp meringues, pastry cream or buttercream, whipped cream and fruit or ganache depending on what kind you’re making.  I love meringue desserts like œufs á la neige and Baked Alaska because of the contrast of textures of crispy, chewy meringues and creamy stuff.

A Dacquoise is kind of the crowning glory of all meringue desserts. My Dacquoise replaces the pastry cream with a tart Meyer lemon curd lightened by folding in whipped cream; the whipped cream layer features whole raspberries stirred into vanilla whipped cream.  The whole shebang is garnished with an artfully strewn handful of fresh berries.  That, my friends, is the shizz-nitt.

Posted in Cooking, Food, The City | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paul Ryan vs. Rage Against the Machine

FUCK YOU!  I Won’t Do What They Tell Me!

HuffPost had a great article about Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine’s peeved response to smarmy Ree-Pub Veep candidate Paul Ryan gushing that RATM was “his favorite band”.  I mean, sheeeeet:  can a dude be more clueless??

Paul, here’s the deal.  Rock-n-roll just ain’t for you.  And neither is hip hop or pretty much any black music.  As far as popular culture goes, this does leave you Country & Western–specifically the “Western” part of the equation, so as not to confuse the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willy Nelson, Buck Owens, etc with your ilk.  But hey, it does mean that you get to blast all the Toby Keith you want; you know Toby–he does that, umm, really wicked cool “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue (Angry Amurrican)” song that is making me cringe even as I type these words.

Why is it that Ree-pubs insist on chasing after rock-n-roll when rock-n-roll clearly wants no part of them?  In the past, there was always Lawrence Welk and Pat Boone to take up musical campaign duties, and like I previously mentioned, they now have the entire genre of mainstream modern-day C&W (not the good old stuff!! not the good old stuff!!).  But you still have these upright, rigid tighty whitey Ree-pubs trying to Get Down and Dirrty with that rock-n-roll business that the kids like.  Give me a Ree-pub campaign and I’ll show you an awkward clip of the tighty whitey candidate trying desperately to look “cool” and “with it” as he “dances” and air-guitars to whatever music clip his advisors/PR hacks have deemed “hip and now” enough to blare at a rally.   Then, as RATM’s Morello so eloquently did, cue the really pissed off musician cease-and-desisting the motherfucker out of the dumbass Ree-pub.

Guys.  Ree-pubs.  Do I really have to explain rock’s legacy of rebellion, Dionysian fury and all-around iconoclastic coolness that simply is not available to you all now that you’ve gone to the Dark Side?  Every once and awhile, you’ll score one for the home team when a really cool rocker like Johnny Ramone turns out to be scorchingly conservative.  And you can have Ted Nugent; he’s all yours.  But one of the benefits of not being a conservative hate-bound Ree-pub arsehole is that all of the cool rock, blues, soul, r&b, reggae and hip hop artists are on “our” side.  

So guys; Ree-pubs; here’s “your boy” Toby Keith:  

This big dog will fight 
When you rattle his cage 
And you’ll be sorry that you messed with 
The U.S. of A. 
‘Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass 
It’s the American way

 Git down wid yo bad selves!

Posted in Election 2012, Ree-pubs | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Aurora, CO Batman Shooting

Another proud American assault rifle owner

Nothing else need be said.

Ugh.  Another one.  Huffington Post is going nuts, with a minority of NRA/gun rights fanatics trying to sound “reasonable”.  It’s chilling how ultra-violent the gun rights crowd always sounds when they try to defend one of their own letting loose with an assault weapon.

One of the comments suggested that things would have been more like an action movie in which all the Bad Guys die and the Good Guys get a fade out scene with triumphant music and the Amurrikan flag waving in the background–if a bunch of armed dudes were in the packed-full, darkened theater in which a fully body-armoured madman had released a smoky pepper gas grenade.  Uh huh.  Right-o.

So I couldn’t resist replying.  Here’s the thread:

James Holmes Identified As Alleged Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooter That Left 12 Dead (PHOTOS, LIVEBLOG)

1 hour ago ( 2:09 PM)

So after reading the hysterical posts by you libs, I am to believe if any of you were in this theater you wouldn’t want 5 armed citizens watching the movie with you.

You would rather no one be armed. And drop the point about him having guns, because we already established he had them.

Would you want 5 armed and proficient citizens in the theater with you?

34 minutes ago ( 2:30 PM)

No, I certainly would not. Because no matter how “proficient” these 5 armed citizens might be, when the adrenalin is rushing and the fear reaction is flooding the brain, things don’t go down like they do at the shooting range or like the action movie you’ve played and replayed in your head. 5 more gunman would likely have caused even more chaos and “friendly fire”–I don’t care how “proficient” they might be. I think too many gun rights folk think of themselves as the protagonists of a very dramatic action thriller, just itching for a situation in which they can pull out their arsenal and let fire rain, ignoring the sad fact that life does not go down like it does in the movies.

Ask any policeman or SWAT team member if THEY would want “5 armed and proficient citizens in the theater”?

UPDATE:  23 July, 2012

The NRA and gun industry folk have been going nutso bonkers puffing up their chests claiming that more armed non-professional citizens is the sure cure for mass shootings, and they’re saying this without the least bit of shame!  For shame.  For shame, you cretins.  I will admit that the NRA is very skilled at avoiding any responsibility for atrocious acts of violence in the very midst of the time of horrific tragedy for the victims of those wonderful gun owners.  Their lack of civility is astounding.

KQED’s radio call-in show, Forum, hosted by the awesome Michael Krasny, had a show today about the shooting in Aurora, with a representative of the GOA–Gun Owners Association–spouting the official NRA party line that all of the gun assholes seem to know by heart.  There were lots of comments on their website, and I really loved this one:

“Forget killing Hitler; if I get access to a time machine, I’m going back to demonstrate an AK on semi-auto to the Founders, getting their reaction, and making sure that Scalia saw it clearly (he must have been there and known them all very well, otherwise his rulings would be partisan boiler-plate dressed-up as their will).

I’d wait until after Shays’ Rebellion convinced them that militia must be well-regulated, and after the Whisky Rebellion as well.”    –Adolophus Brown

And yours truly just had to chime in:

“There is a fundamental problem with arming citizens and expecting them to be able to hold down the law on the streets with their guns, and that problem is that no matter how much experience they may think they have, they simply do not have the training of a professional law officer.  The adrenalin that courses  through the veins during a crime produces unpredictable reactions in the non-professional producing the problem of friendly fire or fatally bad judgement.  I suspect that too many gun enthusiasts of the type who would carry guns on their person have too many action movie reels running through their heads a la George Zimmerman, just waiting for the “right” situation to present itself for them to be a hero.”

The NRA needs to grow a conscience, but I somehow doubt that will ever happen.  So, the Official siegfrieddarling Solution is to arm the entire citizenry minus current gun owners who are ‘overly enthusiastic’; stick up all of those NRA gun nutsos and take all of their guns–even the ones buried in the survivalist shelter in the back 40, then have everybody burn all of the damn firearms at big gun burning parties all across the nation, complete with some nice legalized herbal products and some Really Good DJs.   For those gun owners feeling particularly put out, we’ll make easily available loads of free ice cream cones, and for the severely bereft, a gift certificate for a fee-free kitty or doggy from the local SPCA.  Now, wouldn’t that make things a whole lot better?

Posted in Conservative Nutbags, Human Behavior, Thuggery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Hero: the Creepy Violent Murderous Pedophile Pimp STILL the Muni Shooting Activists’ Darling

No, no, FUCKING NO!!!!

While I’m sensitive to police relations with SF’s black community, activists picked THE WORST POSSIBLE martyr to put on a pedestal in Kenneth Harding Jr. This “man” was simply not a good guy. He was convicted for armed robbery, and during his period of home detention, forced a 13 year old girl–that’s 13 years old folks, to have oral sex with him, then forced her to drive out with him to Seattle’s prostitution strip where he ordered her to prostitute herself. She contacted the police and he was arrested and convicted for this, not his first pimp conviction.

When he jumped the MUNI faregate in Bayview, he was on the lam from murdering a 19 year-old girl in a shootout that killed four others–he was the central “person of interest” His brother, arrested for also participating in that violent shootout, confirmed Harding’s involvement. This Seattle shooting had occurred less than a week before Harding, when confronted by SF transit cops, drew the SAME gun that was used in the Seattle shooting, so it’s pretty simple to deduce Harding’s state of mind:  he saw the police after him, figured that if detained, his warrants would come up, guaranteeing a return to prison for a likely lifetime term, and decided to go down shooting, and so drew down on the officers.  I’m no fan of macho cop gun violence, but given the extreme amounts of civilian gun violence that does go down on the streets, policemen are entirely justified in shooting to kill a subject who is drawing a lethal weapon on them.

The activist community was all over the racial profiling element. When this was all going down, I Googled my way to the Indymedia site and found a raging discussion about the injustice, with some commentors even saying that this was the event they’d been waiting for to kick off a summer of protest.  I foolishly made a few comments questioning the activist view that put forth that Kenneth Harding was a completely innocent soul not at all in the throes of running across state lines from the law, and that he had no weapon–he was mysteriously shot out of the blue for the crime of jumping a faregate.  I brought up his violent, sexually predatory background, the timing of the crime from which he was fleeing, and the discovery of ballistics that tied bullets shot from his gun to the bullets that slew four people in Seattle.  The unified, pat response from like 100 angry activists was that the police lie about everything, if Harding had been a white guy drawing a gun while running from the cops he would have been left to escape with a hearty fare-thee-well, and absolutely nothing negative about Kenneth Harding could possibly be true.  Predictably, I was called a racist, Nazi, and many other inflammatory assumptions about both my race and my politics.

When Kenneth Harding was held up as an angel–they actually circulated a stencil (above) of a grinning Harding with angel wings–angel wings! for guerilla street art–thousands of progressive people like myself lost all faith in the activist community.  It made me wonder what was really behind all the outrage, who was steering this train, and for what reason.

Where is the black community’s outrage for the scores of young black girls’ lives he ruined and the 19 year-old black girl he killed? Too many times, when young black men commit unspeakable crimes, often with ultra-violent sexual predation on black women, the black community refuses to hang their villain out to dry, and show up en masse at their darling’s trial with crocodile tears for their dear little sociopath while the unspoken message to black women is “you don’t matter”.  There is often pressure from within the black community on women victims to not testify or press charges, and there is a disturbing number of cases in which witnesses have been removed from the land of the living right before a trial.  The whole “Don’t Snitch” culture victimizes the huge numbers of black victims of black-on-black crime while it lionizes the gangster thugs and their disgusting lifestyles of violence and sexual predation.

This creep is absolutely NOT the right guy to lionize, and his intensely violent and sexually predatory history puts the MUNI shooting in a entirely different light. I find myself quoting the once-radical Public Enemy, whose members have largely since descended into the underworld of thuglife:  “Don’t believe the hype!”

Posted in Human Behavior, Thuggery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Worst Roommate Ever: The Troika: MD

Milquetoast Doormat; the Smelly One

And so we return to the saga of The Worst Roommate Ever, where I, your gentle yet vengeful narrator introduces you to MD, Milquetoast Doormat, friend of B3 (Blonde Bitch Bomber), master of the passive aggressive “nicey nice”, keeper of a dismally smelly room right next to mine, and the masochist to GS’s (Gay Sadist) sadist.

MD came to our lovely flat through the sketchy ministrations of B3, who had finally decided to move in with her boyfriend and then subleted her room.  Since B3 had moved in, we’d had three separate vacancies in our four-bedroom abode.  Each time, B3, with her huge web of casual scenester/hipster acquaintances, would almost instantaneously come up with a person in need of shelter and would simply offer them the room without consulting the rest of the house–so typical of her Mean Girl BS.  These potential roommates tended to be very much like her in that they were of that strata of the hipster “Nightworld” that were the consumers, not the creators of the music, clubs, art and fashion that defined their hipsterdom.  They also tended to be the sort that extended their teenagerhood long into their late 20s–but not in a good way.  These were the self-professed “kids” who were perennially in their first or second semester of community college, the Art Institute, beauty school, or no school at all.  They just floated from party to party, expertly looking the part and heartily partaking of the drugs, hook-ups and late nights like nobody’s business, but completely without any interest in music, art, or the work that went into promoting and running the club nights they attended.  Many of them didn’t work–this was the domain of a great number of trustafarians and student loan abusers always one failed class away from loan repayment, and those that did work could be found almost exclusively in retail, salon reception, and spectacularly inept cocaine dealing.

Up until MD, every single one of B3’s hipster wonders, all of them early 20s gay fashion bois that B3 had found to move in, had failed financially in one way or another, and we were left to pick up the wreckage of unpaid bills, partially paid rents, and horribly messy rooms that were abruptly vacated without warning.  I was the sole remaining leaseholder left from the dude-house days before B3 and her retinue of unreliable renters–B3 was renting month-to-month from me, the master renter, the only tenant with a relationship with our landlord.  Although I collected the rent and bills each month and administered the various deposits and last months’ rents, (there was no way in hell I was going to leave any of those tasks to B3 or any of the bois that she moved in to our flat), B3 had the annoying and usually financially ruinous habit of arranging under-the-table deals without my consent for her buddies to pay the security deposits and last-months rents in payments “over time”.  This resulted in ridiculously irresponsible terms for supposed adults like paying $50 a month towards the due deposit and last months rent that was the very reasonable sum of around $1,000, an amount that any adult should have on hand anyways after they move out of their previous situation.

As the master renter, I put my foot down many times, insisting that if B3 was going to choose the new roommates without any of the rest of the flat’s input, she had to leave the finances to me and only me, and I provided standard credit check forms and renter’s contracts.  But B3, again with that with typical Mean Girl “forgetfulness” simply ignored me and the rest of the flat and steamrolled her buddies into each vacancy, “informing” me as to whatever inane terms she’d worked out for payment of move-in costs.  It wasn’t uncommon to wake up to the sounds of someone known only to B3 moving in, and then professing ignorance about the rent and deposits, mumbling that B3 said they could pay it “whenever”.  Our flat is amazingly inexpensive for how nice it is and it’s amazing location in the heart of the Lower Haight and none of the rooms rented for over $675, so the financial wonders disasters that B3 miraculously unearthed time after time were truly bottom of the barrel, and MD unfortunately proved to be no exception.

MD, at 23, was one of those “kids” who worked in retail, downtown at a faux-upscale women’s apparel and lifestyle store that targeted the same faux-sophisticated ladies who shopped at Pottery Barn, Bebe, Crate and Barrel and Barney’s.  He didn’t have any particular passion for fashion, but like almost every other hipster retail worker I’ve encountered, he did have the larcenous knack for employee-based shrinkage.  He and GS had both been given their marching orders multiple times at various previous establishments and had relied on their hipster network connections and the laziness of hiring managers to secure yet another opportunity to fatten up their ebay accounts.

MD was gay, but a new kind of gay I’d not encountered before:  the best I can categorize MD is a twee indie-rock bear cub.  Weird, right?  If you asked MD, and I did, he called himself a “bear cub”, and affected the look with a kind of icky and bushy/pubic long beard, unkempt mustache and sideburns coupled with a crop-1 shaved head that only partially hid his prematurely receding hairline, along with plaid flannels, jeans and boots.

But MD’s bear”skins” were far more trendy than your average bear:  his flannels were of the tapered and fitted vintage-y style plaids favoured by hipsters; his jeans of the skinny variety and his boots decidedly not bearish work boots.  MD was also extremely thin, unlike the typical bear tub-o-lard manly-men, and he affected a fey manner of speech and posture that was much more in keeping with the twee indie-boy flavour of hipster.  Of course, like so many of his type of hipster comrades, he didn’t actually listen to twee music–or really any music for that matter, but he and twee Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian shared the same uniquely gay/twee lilt to their voices; MD’s minus the Scottish burr.

MD was not a particularly attractive man, with a narrow, pointy head that did not take its buzzcut well, small, close-set eyes, a weak chin and a too-long nose that, together with his cringy poor posture defined the “M” in “Milquetoast”.   I was always reminded of Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener character–that should resonate to all you American Lit majors.  Also in the milquetoast mode was MD’s personality.  Upon first meeting MD, I actually quite liked his quiet, seemingly polite twee manner, and he had what at first resembled a dry sense of humour about the superficial topics that were of interest to him and B3; chiefly fashion, going out, and gossip gossip gossip.

MD occupied B3’s sublet room, and she had left her gothy black-painted furniture and blood red walls clean enough, and since she didn’t smoke in the room and left the three huge bay windows open, the room was clean-smelling.  Alas, this cleanliness did not last.  For MD smelled.  I’ve read that it is part of bear culture to bathe irregularly in order to celebrate the male odor au naturel.  Perhaps in a house full of bears this might be a wonderful thing.  But it was anything but wonderful living in the room that shared a wall with Mr. Stinky.  Just passing him in the hall or sharing the kitchen with MD filled your sinuses with a musty combination of old sweat, scalpy smell and that unique odor of unwashed crotch.  This funk was strong enough to penetrate his clothing and follow him around like a hipster version of Pig-Pen from Peanuts.  Imagine then, the concentrated power of stink that emanated  from his door, which he, of course, would leave wide open.  I surreptitiously snuck a Febreze plug-in behind a dresser only to have him discover it, remove it and wordlessly put it outside of his door.  Curious about his hygiene, I would sometimes clock his handwashing after using the toilet and–you guessed it–he never even once did the deed during all the times I monitored.  (And yes, I’ll admit that checking up on your roommate’s handwashing habits is kind of OCD, but I’d never encountered someone with such vile hygiene, and Enquiring Minds Want To Know!!!)

MD was one of those lemming types who was so easily led by the nose that it had long ago reached the point where it had become a character flaw, and he was just waiting for a charismatic sadist like GS to come round and enslave him.  Without the influence of a controlling sadist, MD was very anodyne and practically devoid of opinion.  He wasn’t overtly rude but neither was he particularly polite; he was just kind of ‘blah’.  An example of a common behavior that he exhibited time and time again was his feigned interest in polite conversation.

For example, we’d both be in the kitchen, and I, not having an iota of anything of interest in common with MD, would attempt polite, utterly inconsequential smalltalk, the sort in which all polite adults  engage from time to time when they don’t want to experience awkward silence.  MD would paste a very stiff and exceedingly false smile on his face as he, with much intentionally obvious effort, kept up his end of the conversation with brittle, robotic sentences that quickly devolved into painful one-word answers.  We’re talking about standing in the kitchen and perhaps discussing avocado recipes, a MUNI horror story or observations about the new ice cream shop down the street–all rather shallow topics but the kind of things that two people who share a household should be able to politely discuss rather than occupying the kitchen for 20 minutes without saying one word–that would be the height of social awkwardness.

MD would develop a pained yet snarky smirk on his face, as if he would rather be doing anything else than engaging in conversation with moi, the peon.  This crappy little manœuvre shot me right back to those junior high days when the Mean Girl decreed who was and was not “OK”, and would make her pathetic harem of attending girlfriend slave-lets behave appallingly to the unlucky odd girl out.  Only I was having “it” done to me by none other than MD the lemming, with GS, who despised me with a passion I’d never before encountered, pulling the strings.

MD’s personal hygiene proved to be an excellent model for his household cleanliness–slovenly.  MD and GS shared a bathroom, as we had two in the flat.  Their bathroom was a sensory experience I hope to never encounter again in my lifetime.  Imagine the unique MD funk accented with mold, urine and turd wafting over a tableaux of a grimy room almost entirely coated with the leavings of MDs electric shaver with which he shaved his receding hair.  Toilet paper had become a luxury too dear for MD or GS to purchase, and I’d taken to hiding the TP used in my shared bathroom after nearly constant pilfering, so exactly what they used for their, um, ministrations remains a mystery to me.

MD cooked a lot, and was always frying up stuff in a too-hot pan, leaving burnt oil spattered everywhere and ruined pots and pans.  GS and B3 were also great ruiners of kitchen equipment, and cooking is one of my real passions, so I put my “good stuff” out of easy reach, and left them to a cupboard full of truly awful cookware leftover from the dude house days.  We had a dishwasher, and thank the lord for that appliance, otherwise dishes would have been a major issue.  MD would throw his greasy, burnt pots and pans directly into the dishwasher without the benefit of a rinse in the sink, and as a result, all of “their” kitchenware was in a permanent state of crusty ick.

MD also never wrapped up food before putting in the refrigerator, resulting in quickly spoiling plates and bowls (never tupperware–resulting in a constant shortage of tableware) of his fried crap in great numbers.  As an avid cook, the state of our refrigerator was important to me, and his large amounts of decaying food were unacceptable, so I would periodically make a clean sweep of things.  In classic passive/aggressive style, MD would actually remove the rotten food from the trash, put it back on a plate, and place it once again in the refrigerator, unwrapped of course.  The first time he did this little stunt, I asked him if he was really going to eat the spoiled food he’d rescued from the trash.  In his wispy, prickly voice, he replied that maybe he would–he wasn’t sure if the food was bad or not.  I was left speechless.  I should also mention that the spoiling food that made it into the refrigerator was only a fraction of the treasure trove of rotting victuals he hoarded in his smelly bedroom.

Bills and rent were another irritation.  MD worked part-time, and was fond of calling in sick after partying around the clock, further curtailing his hours.  Although he nicked a fair amount of merchandise from his retail job, he wasn’t very organized about turning his ill-gotten gains into cash, and like so many childish hipster/scenesters, he spent an inordinate amount of money on partying that he couldn’t really afford.  All three of the Troika had this little trick of paying their rent and bills well past bedtime on the day that the bill or rent was supposed to be in the hands of the account receivable.  I’d hear the swish of an envelope sliding under my door after my lights had gone out and they thought I’d gone to sleep.  And this tricky stuff actually represented a “good month”.  Bills in my name regularly went partially unpaid well into 60 days, and I had to keep scrupulous records of who paid, how much they paid, and how much each A-hole owed instead of simply having paid-up, current bills each month–like normal adults.  Rent was sometimes not paid until the 10th–and this meant that our landlord was calling ME every day dunning me for his due.  I started to corner MD each month with the specific date that I needed each bill and remind him that rent was due on the first, like it was some surprising new bit of information.  No matter–MD was horribly bad at finances and caused me no small amount of stress each month.

So this is the stinky, passive/aggressive, unsanitary, late-paying slice of milquetoast that was MD.  As I mentioned before, he was a classic masochist, just waiting for the perfect sadist to get things going.  And that, gentle reader, was where GS came in, and the whole psychological nightmare that was my household situation began.  Stay tuned for an introduction to GS…

Bartleby the Scrivener: MD’s literary doppleganger
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Vegans vs. the Real World

I love you.

But I love you too!

I used to be a vegan. For 6 years. It all started when I began dating E, my university-and-afterwards boyfriend who was one of the major loves of my life. He had survived testicular cancer at the young age of 20, and in response to what he saw as a dietary imbalance, he became a vegan and an adherent of macrobiotic cuisine as part of a holistic attempt to heal and rebuild his body. Before cancer, E had been an amateur bodybuilder who had gone all the way in when it came to the weight-gaining aspect of the sport, eating huge meat and egg-laden protein meals that had very little to do with taste or aesthetic pleasure and everything to do with ingesting as many high-protein calories as possible.

E had gone way too far towards one end of the dietary pendulum, and when he became a macrobiotic vegan, he swung too far the other way. When I met him, he was still utilizing food as mere fuel, and a means to filling out a sort of food “prescription” for holistic healing. His meals were beyond spartan, and he was constantly anxious about having access to enough food that met his strict diet. We lived in Santa Cruz, one of the best places in North America–heck–the entire Western World–to source vegan and macrobiotic foods. Little Santa Cruz had as many health food stores as San Francisco does now, and had a weekly farmer’s market that put almost every farmer’s market other than SF’s Heart of the City to shame.

When I met E, I was settling into an off-campus life that allowed me to cook to my heart’s content, something I’d sorely missed in the dorms. I should mention that I grew up in a household where my mum cooked totally made-from-scratch meals 3 times a day plus after-school snacks that made me the envy of my classmates. She was an early health food adherent, but was of the sort who believed in whole food cooking and the elimination of processed crap, not the demonization of things like fat and sugar, as is so common in today’s American food “science”. Mum baked bread and made homemade granola for our breakfasts, as well as including liberal portions of fruits and veggies with our meals, which taught me, as a child, to love things like spinach and broccoli that kids weren’t supposed to like. (Of course, I should mention that this veggie love was encouraged at first by the promise of one of mum’s desserts!)

Mum never made us clean our plates. Instead, she raised us to eat as much as we wanted until we were full. It was this natural way of self-regulation along with her very balanced and homemade cooking that produced our thin and healthy family in a nation of hugely obese food illiterates. And it’s not genetics–my sister and I are adopted and my brother is not, yet all of us have remained thin and healthy well into middle age, and my parents in their early 70s, who are admittedly very good-looking people, are trim, look 20 years younger, and have no health problems whatsoever. So there’s something to be said about the way my mum brought us up.

She also instilled in me the love of cooking. I started helping her out in the kitchen at a very young age; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t spend long afternoons hanging about the kitchen, watching and helping her with kid-sized tasks. As a result, I can cook just about anything, and I love doing so, a real rarity amongst my generation and those younger than me. For me, cooking is as much a way of life as a fun thing to do. People are often surprised that I don’t love the new “food porn” of food TV shows and websites. A combination of being raised in my mum’s kitchen and working 20+ years in restaurants has made cooking an inextricable part of my life, not a luxury hobby, although I do understand the appeal of those glamorous cooking shows to those who are new to the game.

So when I met E, I was intrigued by his diet, but rather disappointed by his approach to eating. E was like me in that he loved to do research, and together, we learned everything we could about the diet he’d taken on. Besides the house music and raves that had brought us together, cooking and eating was the glue that made our young relationship strong. I immediately began to cook for E, and he LOVED it. His cooking skills were actually pretty decent for a typical dude of his age, but he knew very little of technique and the building block skills that I’d been taught/absorbed in my mum’s kitchen “laboratory”. Together, we began to shop and go to farmer’s markets, and I learned how to use the bounty of produce and health food store staples like whole grains and fresh tofu to make vegan meals that were healthy, but more important, were lavishly tasty and aesthetically pleasing.

I started to collect cookbooks of ethnic cuisines that were “naturally” already vegan, mainly those countries that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea, especially Italy, Morocco/Tunisia and the Levant; Japan, India and Thailand. Certainly these cuisines utilized meat and dairy, but they also all have long traditions of celebrating the flavors and aesthetic beauty of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. There was such a huge variety of cooking traditions and techniques to match the bounty of amazing produce found around Santa Cruz on California’s Central Coast that I found myself having a great time learning to cook a seemingly endless parade of new dishes–and E was in vegan heaven.

I’ve never been much of a fan of the weird world of faux meat. Tofu I love–and that’s pretty much the only fake meat product I like, and it can be argued that tofu–fresh soybean curd–isn’t really a meat analogue but a protein source in its own category. Tofu is very minimally processed soybeans, in contrast to the massive amounts of processing and questionable lab-derived flavorings along with loads of sodium that goes into the production of wheat meats, textured vegetable protein, Quorn and the whole range of Morningstar products and the like. None of those faux products really taste or feel like quality meat, and they are so processed and fractional that they are horrible sources of nutrition and often cause digestive distress.

But faux meat (and faux dairy) has good marketing–I guess it has to in order to convince supposedly health-oriented consumers that they should buy an ultra-processed, nutritionally barren product that is essentially meat and dairy-free junk food, and also tastes inferior to the item it’s trying to replace–when there’s a whole world of delicious and gorgeous alternatives in the produce section just waiting for vegans to notice them.

When E and I would talk with other vegans we knew, the latest faux meat that “tasted almost like the real thing” was always a big topic of discussion. I was always shocked to learn how many vegans didn’t really know how to cook past heating up pre-made stuff. In order to maintain a healthy and interesting vegan diet, you really haveto cook. But that’s just it: a great number of vegans we met were eating unhealthy, unbalanced diets full of over-processed vegan junk food, resulting in the odd phenomenon of the chubby vegan. The chubby vegan also exists because vegans are continuously anxious about finding and getting enough vegan food in what they see as a hostile meat and dairy-eating world. Finding and getting enough “pure” vegan food becomes an righteous obsession, resulting in overeating and extra pounds.

From what I gathered, a good percentage of vegans had a somewhat strange attitude towards food, bordering on an eating disorder. Meat and dairy were labeled “bad” for various reasons like animal rights and health reasons stemming from swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction of unhealthy American/Western diets full of huge quantities of cheaply produced and poor quality meat and dairy. But things stopped at “bad” and there never was any “good”. This sort of attitude leads quickly to the “churchmarm syndrome”, where the vegan becomes a negative scold, focusing on the preachy aspects of becoming vegan rather than the sensual pleasures of discovering all that that nature has to offer with gorgeous, amazing vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. If the vegan doesn’t have the liberating background of cooking skills, he or she remains stuck in the “bad”, and becomes sadly focused upon meat and dairy, perhaps also leading to the obsession with meat and dairy analogues.

Most vegan restaurants are focused on presenting vegan versions of junky foods like mac’n’cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, breakfast meats, buffalo wings, and the like instead of focusing on cuisines that make the most of healthy, natural vegan ingredients. Veganism becomes more of an exercise of holier-than-thou denials that produces the expected fiending for junk food binging on “treats”, very much like a yo-yo dieter on the lam. Which begs the question: if the vegan craves meat and dairy products so much that they’ll gorge on way over-processed junk, why not then eat high-quality, humanely and sustainably produced meat and dairy IN MODERATION?

After 6 years of veganism with E, I finally admitted that I still loved fine cheeses, a really good steak with sauce Bearnaise, the wonderful world of European cured meats, and real ice cream, to say nothing of buttery pastry, oysters, BLTs and eggs Benedict. The same forces that drove me to kick out the jams cooking soulful vegan meals brought me back to meat and dairy. But one thing my mum taught us whilst growing up was moderation in almost every aspect of life, but certainly with food.

My diet as a child featured a great deal less meat and dairy–especially junky meat and dairy–than most of my peers, so it wasn’t too hard to revert to this style as an adult making my own dietary choices. For an aesthete and food lover like myself, sticking to a purely vegan diet was leaving out too many luscious delicacies. And I’ve never had any trouble moderating food or drink. Besides the limitations of a vegan diet, I was ultimately troubled by the rigidity and dogma in vegan culture that seemed way too similar to pleasure-denying Fundamentalist religions. Humane and sustainable animal husbandry negates the vegan concerns of animal cruelty and environmental degradation, and moderation alleviates dietary worries as well as it keeps the meat and dairy industries at a sustainable level of existence.

I’m 100% certain that a strict vegan would argue till Kingdom come that I’m a hypocrite. And I sincerely doubt that this essay will convince any vegan to change their ways. But this was my journey, and cooking and eating are two of my dearest loves, and are an important part of who I am. And so, as I finish this marathon of typing, I shall retire to the kitchen to fix myself a tasty slice of my homemade blueberry-raspberry pie made with a butter and lard pastry, and a nice scoop of French vanilla bean ice cream. Yum!

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The Worst Roommate Ever: The Troika: B3

B3: Blonde Bitch Bomber

NOTE: The Worst Roommate Ever series is drawn nearly verbatim from the sprawling, stream-of-consciousness-esque notes I recorded during the events of the WRE saga. I wrote these notes primarily as a form of cleansing therapy, and they are exhaustive in their length and detail. So if you are the type of reader who goes for the “TL:DR”, this series is not for you.

Allow me to introduce the first character study of the three irritants and assholes that comprised The Troika, whose machinations produced the spectre of The Worst Roommate Ever. Here, we meet B3, who was more of an irritant than an asshole. Of the three members of The Troika, B3 was by far the most innocuous. This, however, does not suggest that she was all hearts and flowers, or that she was anything even remotely close to being a decent, kind human being. She was less of a daily, direct part of the various shenanigans, and a large part of this was due to her not being around, having sublet her room to MD, Milquetoast Doormat.

I first became aware of B3 because she was friends with a girl I knew, but wasn’t particularly close with, from the “Nightworld” of DJs, promoters, and bands. Although I’d often been in the same bar, club, and house party as B3, she was extremely aloof and cliquish, with the air of someone who wanted you to know that she was choosing not to engage you.

Physically, B3 was like that awesome quote from Clueless, “like a Monet: from far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” With severely bleached platinum hair styled like a mix of Jean Harlow and Kim Novak, and heavy heavy 50s style makeup of thick pale pancake foundation, heavy black eyeliner with dramatic wings at the corners, and red red lips, B3 certainly stood out from a crowd. She favored a fashion style that was a cross between 50s Betty Page pinup and 90s Goth Girl. All of this would have been quite fetching, if very artificial, on someone without the party-wrecked complexion and the lumpy, slack figure of one who never ever exercised, and sloshed her liver on a nightly basis with buckets of red wine and vodka.

B3 worked as a receptionist at a downtown salon, and during her time living at our flat, spent more than 3 years lackadaisically attempting to finish Beauty School, after deciding that Community College was too demanding. As I’ve mentioned before, there was a steep divide in the Nightworld scene between the well-educated smarty-pants aesthetes who held fancy tech jobs and were the over-achiever DJs, promoters, and band members in their “spare” time, and the largely uneducated party monsters who were the consumers of said DJs, clubs and bands, (though most of this crowd were far more interested in looking the part rather than any actual interest in music/film/art), who stretched out their getting their A.A. degrees indefinitely as they partied their way with druggy abandon through a succession of low-level retail jobs. These aging “kids” were the type who saw becoming a terrible bottom-feeder coke dealer as a cool career advancement, despite the fact that many of them got rolled up by vice, then mysteriously got out of jail “free” by welshing on their friends and suppliers. Lots of unsavory stuff went on amongst the dull and the partied-out, and B3, along with MD and GS were firmly in this strata of the Nightworld.

B3’s biggest failing was her phenomenal snottiness. If you weren’t someone she could use or exploit to her advantage, or a brand name personality like a popular DJ, promoter or band member, B3 was summarily dismissive in an almost amusingly Machiavellian manner. She had a put-on haughty tone of voice that, combined with her ability to judge people based solely on their fashion, looks and popularity, made her an aged–not grown-up–Mean Girl of the sort that everyone dreaded in high school.

B3, like MD and GS, and many of the rest of that hipster strata, was utterly uninterested in literature and music, and possessed no books whatsoever, and no stereo or even boombox to listen to her nonexistent music collection. For people so wrapped up in the nightclub party scene, it always amazed me how little B3 and her buddies cared about music. So essentially, B3 was an uneducated, shockingly unworldly (hailing from backwater Salt Lake City, she’d never left the country), one-dimensional snotty snob. All of this would have been merely annoying if she didn’t also have a mean streak coupled with a weak moral character.

B3, like MD and GS spent the majority of her time on the phone or out at night viciously gossiping about everyone around her. She was perennially at war with this or that unlucky target, and sometimes whole groups of people, and was constantly creating drama out of the smallest of situations. She also wasn’t above spreading utter fabrications about her “enemies” in her constant live warfare.

As an example, I caught her in a really mean lie. A girl known to both of us had abruptly left SF, leaving behind a job, apartment and boyfriend, to care for her mother who had been in a nearly fatal car accident and was in need of round-the-clock care–a tragic tale. But somehow I wasn’t surprised to hear B3 on the phone one day, calling up numerous friends and telling them that G (the girl) had a heroin habit, had been arrested, and went to rehab in an effort to avoid jail time. I’m not sure why B3 started this nasty rumour other than that she was bored and loved being at the center of intrigue.

She told this story to each person with obvious pleasure that you could hear in her haughty voice, and she punctuated her load of bullshit with lots of mean laughter. B3 shared a complete and utter lack of a sense of humour with GS and numerous others in her set of lazy uneducated fashion clones, but you’d hear B3 and GS cackling away with gales of fake-ish over-the-top laughter always at the expense of others. It was yet another facet of her Mean Girl persona.

When I first became aware of B3 and she of me, I was dating a member of a well-known band, which passed as “cool” in her book, and thus was initially immune to her intrigues. She moved into our flat because the Scene Queen DJ/promoter who occupied the room next to me was abruptly leaving, and had to find a replacement on short notice. She put the word out, and eventually found B3 to move in. Unfortunately, I didn’t yet know enough about B3 to say no. As I began to get to know her close-up, I found her haughtiness and endless nasty gossiping irritating, but not to the point of complete toxicity. That is until she showed her true colors in an unfortunate event involving another roommate left over from the days of the all-dude household that occupied our flat when I first moved in.

This dude, whom I’ll call “Cokey” for obvious reasons, was grumpy and unpleasant whilst sober, and wildy moody and nasty coked up. Cokey also had a stupid crush on B3, and was eye-rollingly decorous and chivalrous around her. One evening around the holidays, Cokey was in a rare state even for him, bustling and twitching around the flat in a fit of speedy cleaning before some out-of-town friends arrived to party and crash in our living room for 3 days in and around Christmas. I was recovering from a major, painful surgery performed 2 weeks prior, during which my left ovary was removed and my abdomen was sliced open into a deep 8-inch long incision that left me barely able to stand upright, and with a long 8 week recovery.

Cokey loudly banged on my door at around 1:00am, then burst in and started railing on about how he was the only one cleaning and I’d better get my lazy ass out of bed and into gear and clean the goddamned bathroom. Pissed off, I reminded him that I was in the early stages of surgical recovery, but this only served to enrage him, now yelling that he wasn’t going to take any of my goddamned excuses.

B3, to whom he magically gave a pass for the housecleaning, heard the commotion and came out of her room to stand in my doorway and watch the action unfold. I thought that maybe she was there to help me. I stared Cokey down, and in a quiet monotone, told him to fuck off out of my room. He lost it completely and lunged towards my bed and actually grabbed my arm and started to pull me upright. I then screamed at him to FUCK OFF and feebly tried kicking at him as I looked up into the doorway hopefully at B3, thinking that she’d at least attempt to talk Cokey down. But B3 merely stood in my doorway and continued to take in the scene, now with an amused smirk on her face.

I was livid–at both of them. I quietly and firmly told Cokey to get the fuck out of my room and leave me the fuck alone, and something in my voice and manner made him do just that–leave. Then, as he left, I coldly told B3 to close my door, as she was still standing there, waiting for the next “entertaining” scene. The next morning, Cokey had left the house to go to the store, and I had a chance to address B3 about the night before. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, a mistake on my part. While making coffee in the kitchen as she ate breakfast at the kitchen table, I commented, “I can’t believe what an asshole Cokey was last night”, expecting perhaps a nod of commiseration. Silly me. Instead, B3, with glacial coolness, replied in the most dismissive tone possible, “Whatever”.

Whatever indeed!

That incident pretty much sums up B3’s inner moral workings. But what was B3 like as a roommate? As mentioned before, B3 was aloof and snotty, and while she didn’t actively taunt me like GS later would, she created a tension that made her unpleasant to be around. I rarely engaged her in conversation as past attempts had produced one word answers along with meaningful stares of boredom. Again, kind of like dealing with a high school Mean Girl.

Unpleasant day-to-day personality aside, B3 was chronically late with both rent and bills. Every month, she’d stretch out the due-on-the-1st date sometimes as far as the 10th. She was also extremely late on bills, and it wasn’t unusual for her to pay me, as I was in charge of most of the household bills, every other month. When I asked her to pay, she’d respond with scathing attitude, and didn’t appear to feel the least bit guilty about putting her fellow roommates out.

With this history, I should have known better than allow her to take over the PG&E bill. When Cokey left, someone needed to take over the PG&E bill. B3 volunteered with uncharacteristic eagerness. I soon found out why. Each month, she’d collect cash from the rest of us roommates as payment towards the bill. But unbeknownst to us, B3 was pulling one of the oldest tricks in the scammer book, and was taking the cash without ever paying the bill. She had been able to make off with a fairly large amount of loot, because when she took over the account, her spectacularly horrid credit made it necessary for a sizeable deposit to be paid on the account, a sanction we’d avoided in the past.

She was at work the day when S (the 4th roommate and the only really nice and decent person living there) and I were treated with a loud “click” as all of the appliances simultaneously switched off. After PG&E curtly told us that we had been disconnected due to non-payment, I called B3 at her work, only to have her respond in the usual snotty and put-out manner that she couldn’t do anything about it. With some heroic scrambling on S’s part, we got the power turned back on. But when B3 got home, I was stupidly amazed that she didn’t offer the least bit of an apology, and left S and I to figure out what was owed on the delinquent account. We ended up putting the bill in S’s name and leaving the delinquent amount under B3’s name to follow her into perpetuity. S, being the nice person she was, chalked this cock-up up to B3’s “forgetfulness”. But I’d had more than enough of B3’s crappy attitude, and I saw her “forgetfulness” as out-and-out thievery. Besides that, there was the matter of the numerous reminders that PG&E sends you before they get to the extreme point of turning off your power; B3 had been stealthily removing any trace of their existence which might alert the other roommates to her little scheme.

B3, true to form, surrounded herself with an entourage of equally intellectually and morally lightweight “friends”. (I use the term ‘friends’ in quotations because B3, along with MD and GS specialized in acquiring gangs of look-alike fashion clones who were really merely acquaintances rather than actual friends, and were eminently replaceable. But B3, MD and GS were all so obsessed with image and the appearance of popularity that they all constantly bragged about all of their “friends”, treating them like status symbols. My lack of a huge entourage of these “friends” and my act of leaving behind the Nightworld and its denizens was seen as the ultimate personal failing by The Troika, and was a popular subject of their gossip. GS in particular was convinced that taunting me about my lack of “friends” would surely hurt me deep down inside, so he taunted me regularly.)

B3 was 100% responsible for MD and GS’s occupation of two rooms in our flat. GS came along to replace yet another financially flaky party boi twink that B3 had unilaterally chosen to live in our flat–and who’d skipped on last month’s rent and bills, leaving his room a squalid mess. (He’d left a disgusting mattress that had recent, as in still wet, pee stains, and his carpet sported numerous poorly-cleaned puke stains that, combined with the pee, filled his room with the odor of a particularly nasty men’s room.) MD arrived 8 months later when B3 decided that she was going to move in with her boyfriend, but wanted to keep her interest in her room in our flat alive, and so she sublet her room. At the time, I was happy to have B3 leave, thinking I would enjoy a respite from her tension-producing aloof snottiness. Little did I know that by filling the vacant rooms with MD and GS, B3 had set into motion the makings of a personal chemistry between those two that would create tension and general havoc in the flat on an unimaginable level.

Whatever.

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