Saturday, March 30, 2013

The True Story of a Fake Political Campaign: Peppermint Andersen Reavealed! (Part 2)

Being by nature man of sloth and slovenly dress, it is always more fun to imagine writing a story while engaging in various lecherous behaviors. That said, the story of Peppermint Andersen's latter day escapades has occupying my mind, and for what it's worth, I am not getting up from this table (even for bowel movements) until it is purged from my conscious and subconscious thoughts. Here is how it all went down:

To say that my second year in Ellensburg was a whirl-wind of activities would be fitting, given the ever present north wind that blew through the Kititas valley between 3-6 pm daily, all year round. The visual arts activities in Randal hall were exploding. Somehow I managed to skip from Painting 1 to Panting 4 without any introductory drawing or other boring (but useful), which allowed my co-conspirators and I to go absolutely berzerkoid bonkers in the studio; painting all night on weekends with contraband beer (Rainier cans are delectable when cooled in a bucket of freshly fallen snow), and spending our free time making up rhymes and stupid songs about topics we were studying in art history. You may scoff, but we all got A's and I still remember the rap about Chinese painter Tao Shih "Gettin' deep on a Dragons back! Ching Ching!" Which tells you that Tao Shih (Dao Sure) painted his landscapes with a deep perspective, with rocks that looked/represented a dragons back, Qing (Ching) dynasty. OK, Peppermint Andersen people, keep me on topic!

Qing Qing!

I had managed to score a sweet job as program director at KCWU, the college station, and my weekly schedule consisted of two three hour on-air shifts, conducting noon hour interviews. My office hours were usually between noon and 4 or 5, during which I would write scripts for all the production,and pretend not to be working on scripts instead of doing mundane horseshit like organizing shifts. Overall, though I sucked at some parts of my job, I was way better than the person I replaced and the person who replaced me. And the couple of guys who were fired prior to the person before me. Don't believe me? You can read it and weep when you listen to the tracks on my Sound Cloud page!

Now, with all that out of the way, back to Peppermint Andersen. It was springtime again and the student elections were up again. This time it was between two idiots, one of whom I had lived next to the previous year. For the sake of the story I will call them Seth and Marla. Now of course I don't know for sure if they are actually idiots (medium talent would probably suffice to describe their skills), but the way they went about their campaigns was juvenile enough that it was a logical conclusion. It seemed like everywhere I looked was a shoddily made poster telling me to vote for either Seth or Marla, but never giving me any concrete or compelling reason why I should.

During the past year I had grown increasingly annoyed about the fact that various boobs from the student government would pop over to my office through the shared door we had and waste my time and energy on various idiotic projects. As far as I was concerned anyone who wanted to get involved in the university "political game" had to be a hubris filled half wit hack. So when these two dummies started coming around trying to set up radio advertising I hit my limit. I made the call to Mr Andersen. He readily agreed to throw his hat in the ring one more time and we were off to the races!

He said he would have his kids help make campaign posters!
Of course, since Peppermint Andersen is a fake guy, what really ended up happening was that I started using my office hours to make his posters. I did this using Microsoft word. My main concern when making his campaign materials was that it never take more than five minutes to do it. If I am going to squander tax payers money at least I try to keep it limited to just a few bucks. Tell that to the student government! Pretty much I would take a picture of a foal or a calf and write a simple slogan telling people to vote for Peppermint Andersen instead of one of the two candidates. I made equal amounts for both Marla and Seth. Of course they were black and white, to save taxpayers money!

These pictures should give you an idea of what I was doing. Just imagine the caption printed on the picture if you can, you sexy individual!


True confession, I am sitting in the bookstore writing this and trying not to laugh so loud at the absurdity of this whole thing. I honestly can't believe I was spending my office hours making these sweet ass fliers! Oh, and the story gets even more ridiculous, so we have that going for us.

It's hard to say how long the campaign went on, my contribution was so half assed that I really didn't need to know anything except that it wasn't election day yet. So I printed my flyers and snuck around campus hanging them in various buildings on my way to classes. Not much of a stretch since we were heavily involved in sticker graffiti at the time. Of course I never really expected anyone to take this obvious joke seriously! Wow, was I in for a surprise!

One day I was sitting with my friend Casey's production office working on recording a PSA or sponsor commercial when there was a sudden knock at the door. This was odd because usually when the door was shut people left us alone, assuming we were recording. Well we opened the door to see our boss Chris (mustache, short shorts and flat top) and a older bald gentleman we had seen around and knew to work for the University. The conversation went as follows:

"I'm Jim Blankenship; Campus building manager. I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Peppermint Andersen!"


"Are you making these fliers? Because they are being posted without permission and both our candidates have complained!"


"Yeah, Seth Fosgate views it as a personal attack!"

"Alright, I promise I won't make anymore."

"Good. I don't think we need to press charges or anything. But we can't have derogatory posters of any kind. Thank you."

In fact the real conversation was probably even dumber. One thing I do know is that Casey recorded the whole thing, the little rascal! If I ever get the chance I will post the original transcript, but for now you get a hazy version; though the "Seth Fosgate views it as a personal attack" was pretty much what he said. OK sheeple, that is all I have on Mr Peppermint Andersen, except that he used to call my radio shows on occasion, and a fine guest he was!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The True Story of a Fake Political Campaign: Peppermint Andersen revealed! (part one)

Names are a big deal. For instance if you name your kid Penis Smith, no matter how well intended it may have been, your child is going to "stick out" in places such as school and everywhere else. My obsession with names has been going strong for at least 20 years, and probably longer. Aside from being a renowned nick namer I am also hell on wheels when it comes to creating various handles which I have been known to operate under. Lately I have been turning into Mike Jones and producing podcasts which brought my thoughts back through the dusty halls of my brain to the topic at hand. THE Peppermint Andersen.

The year was 2003 I believe. When he first appeared.

This is not how exactly how I envisioned him but damn it, I wish it was!
 When I started attending Central Warshington University (r was added for my dad) it was my full and honest intention to graduate with a degree in Tech Ed and get a job teaching high school shop class. As you may have gathered by now, this did not happen. Somewhere along the way (my second quarter) I decided to take a course in jewelry/metal smithing through the art department. The reason I took it in the first place was that the courses I was taking in tech ed were bullshit as far as actual technical training. We learned how to write lesson plans instead of actually do anything. I envisioned graduating and going to teach a class and being showed up by farm kids who had learned how to disassemble engines at age two. Another and more selfish reason is that the mark up on jewelry is incredibly high, and I figured if I were good at making it I could save a shit load of money when I did have a lady friend to gift. The sad reality is that many of the things I do such as cook, write and play music stem from the fact that I am deep down a cheap cheap bastard.

Among the things I learned during that jewelry course (other than the fact that only I and the flaming gay professor knew how Isadora Duncan died which I learned via a hilarious joke during his lesson called "how not to use a buffing wheel" at which only I laughed) was that art could be funny. It was a good lesson. A valuable one. Especially for me because when it comes to drawing and painting I am certainly no more than a medium talent. But when I start adding in words I suddenly found one of my niches (I am also apparently good at starting art movements).

The teacher of the aforementioned art/humor lesson was a Mr Chris Duren, who was as wildly talented as he was morbidly hilarious. For his final piece in class he made a thumb ring that was a hollow human penis and scrotum. It was hinged and slipped over the old opposable digit; so when you gave a "thumbs up" it would become erect! It was astounding. I had no idea that you could be an artist by simply being a craftsman and a smart ass bastard! As birds of a feather often do, we flocked together. We also worked our asses off so that on the last night before our final projects were due, we went out to the bars while the rest of the students pulled an all nighter. On the day of the final we had agreed to meet in the art building to make sure our loose ends were tied up, then go to his house and get high as balls on weed and get dressed up in some crazy outfits and go to class. Typical moves right?

In addition to the metal smithing (about 40 hours of studio work per week) my course load included a graduate level industrial design course which was near lethal, a class taught by a lunatic and an electrical course taught by a lovable drunk. Needless to say I was unaware of the activities taking place on the rest of the campus. But on this day I was done. It was my last final and I was confident I was getting an A. So I took the time to stroll down to the student union building and get a coffee prior to our meet up. Not much could have prepared me for the scene which would assail me on the way!

At this point of the journey I had no idea I was about to get yelled at by 50 people in less than two minutes time!

As we were just finishing winter quarter, the spring had arrived and I was also emerging from my self imposed cocoon of academia. As I walked blissfully through the lovely campus I heard a growing din which sounded like some kind of pep rally and/or yelling contest. As I grew closer I began processing the fact that it was sort of a combination of both that the people animals were holding.

For my my last three months of human contact had been limited to those deranged enough to enroll in the same classes, and was tempered by various stresses related to coursework and unrequited love. Free range humans were most definitely not on my radar, let alone loud, obnoxious, banner waving, bubble letter sign painting, boom box blasting, goatee wearing, bleached hair having, Bud Light Lime drinking, Central Washington University student body candidates!

Holy damn! My blissful walk through campus became a blur as at least 14 different people thrust tootsie pops and Worthers at me in hopes of influencing me to cast my vote for their own personally endorsed neophyte wanna be frat boy fuck (one reason I chose CWU was that there is no Greek system; also there were probably women candidates). The experience was jarring on a soul searing level. The best thing I can do to illustrate my feelings is to show you this clip from What About Bob? Go ahead and skip to 3 minutes in. And after you read this watch the whole movie.

Somehow I managed to get inside the building and get my coffee. I threw the first cup in my face and bought another (I presume). The wheels in my head were turning fast and I knew I needed to mock the process which allowed university students to operate in a joke "political system" in which they acted like really stupid high school students in order to garner votes for their pointless student jobs. What I needed to do was create a fake candidate and jump into the fray myself. I hurried back to the art building (sneaking out the side to avoid getting sprayed with silly string or hearing Eye of The Tiger and We Are The Champions playing simultaneously from speakers turned far past the optimum volume). By the time I reached Randall Hall, I had it. A vision had appeared fully formed.

Peppermint Andersen. Andersen with an e not an o. He was a redhead of course; and he was all about community. So much so that his radical platform included such reforms as replacing all computer labs with ice cream parlors (at this time I was such a Luddite that my email was at and turning the library into a multilevel roller skating rink with sweet ass ramps in between levels! Essentially Peppermint Andersen was full of pep and a firm believer in good wholesome family friendly fun! When I found Chris I quickly outlined his assignment: get online and whip up some bullshit fliers for our man so we could get in the ring and see if he had what it took to punch above his class!

Peppermint Andersen has awesome dreams!

In a matter of minutes Chris had created an epic flier with a couple of old time kids eating Klondike bars that read: "Vote For Peppermint Andersen!" We printed about 200 and headed back through the mayhem to get higher than a $3 kite and try and wrangle up some really terrible snacks to give out as bribes! Of course we already had our costumes picked out since we had meant to dress crazy for the final anyway. Chris was hell bent for leather to wear a gas mask he had, and I had managed to scrounge up a black Gandalf style hat and some over sized black pants I could hike up to my chest.In costume I had also switched to a lurching gait and was keeping my shoulders far back with my chest stuck out. It was truly a spectacle.


It didn't take too terribly long to smoke enough weed to feel ready for the task ahead of us. We went to the Albertsons grocery store across from his house and started strolling around looking for something terrible enough that it would mock the process while at the same time not break the bank. Also Chris had brought an ice chest that looked like a mayonnaise jar; in case you were wondering.

We wanted to add a hint of normalcy to the situation!
 Though the movies make it seem like pot  heads are super slow at making decisions, we were simply hard working students with a mission; who just happened to be blazed out of our minds. So it was not long before we settled on celery and the Albertson's brand version of Diet Sprite. Diet Duo. Warm. In the mayo cooler. With a gas mask and Gandalf hat. So costumes, snacks and fliers in tow; it was show time!

The scene of the ruckus was only a short walk away from the store, so in minutes we were right up in that!I hadn't given out three fliers before the actual candidates started to get quite upset! It might have been on account of Chris' gas mask, or my aggressive style of campaigning but we were unfazed. Like a I true soldier I continued campaigning unabated. My preferred method of piss take was by trying to give out my bribes in the worst possible way while keeping a deadly serious poker face. I hate to brag (just kidding I love it) but I think I was able to do it masterfully!

Whenever I was approached, I would tighten my grip on the bunch of celery (I had broken some of the stalks which were flapping from the main group) and thrust it white knuckled into the face area of my potential voter. People For Peppermint Andersen. Ice Cream Parlors. Roller Skates! I rattled off my talking points and ignored angry questions. Chris was standing tall, thin and gas masked attempting to hand out fliers and warm cans of one of the worst beverages ever. After a bit I grabbed some of the Diet Duo. My style of passing out drinks was unique because I would open the can; then noisily slurp at it prior shoving it in the face of my bewildered and disgusted constituent. Shockingly, the actual candidates really didn't know they were being mocked; they actually thought we were trying to steal votes. Bizarre yet true. Mercifully time came for us to leave and go to class. So Peppermint Andersen campaign number one was complete! I know he got a couple votes and made an impression. More importantly, a certain Mr Peppermint G Andersen had caught the politicking bug in a big way!

Friday, March 15, 2013

10 Harmonica Greats who make Bob Dylan look like a clown (part 2 of 10)

It must have been more than a year ago when I set out to write about ten of my very favorite harmonica players in an effort to show the misinformed that Bob Dylan has the harmonica aptitude of an asthmatic 8 year old with ADHD. In short, he doesn't actually play, he makes the noises which would be emitted if you jammed a harmonica into the mouth of a heavy smoker having sex. His playing has the musical quality of a cat getting stabbed. At best his playing is OK. If you think different, you would be wrong. Dead wrong. Anyway, without further ado I better get started with Mickey Raphael or this will turn into the ravings of a future homeless man...

 [Full Disclosure: Mickey says here that he is a huge fan of Dylan's harmonica playing, so I guess you could say that makes me look like an idiot, but... it's actually him that is wrong in this case...and Willie has great weed, so maybe he was high.]

He actually looks like my dad at the same age. Of course my dad probably did not have that bitchin' shirt!

Mickey Raphael. The first time I heard him play was on Willie Nelson's classic 1975 album, Redheaded Stranger. I bought it at age 19 because I had decided to learn country harmonica.Since I didn't know what I was doing I picked up a book by John Gondick about beginning country and blues harmonica. It had various lessons which I started working on. At the back of the book though was a treasure trove in the pre-internet (and for me pre-knowing how to play guitar) days. Gondick had taken a bunch of classic albums and listed the tracks along with the keys of the songs so you could play along! The Red Headed Stranger was among them. The album floored me. Both as a song cycle and with the sparse musical production combined with the feeling and virtuosity with which the instruments were played.

One thing I can tell you about Mickeys playing is that he has impeccable tone. He can make a harp rise and swell like a violin. Not only that but he can chop his chords and make it sound like a damn mandolin. The guy is amazing. What would have really blown my mind had I known (and possibly inspired me to quit playing) was that he had been jamming with Willie since the age of 22! They cut The Stranger he was only 24! Well at 19 I was locking myself in various rooms and playing those songs too, and it was killing me! Mickey could make a harmonica sound just like an accordion, and I could not figure it out! I worked on my chords until I could get them as smooth as I could manage, but still the sound eluded me! It wasn't until years later that I figured out that he was playing a tremolo harmonica to get that sound...well enough about my struggles!

Mickey started playing harmonica in Dallas during his teenage years. He had tried with guitar but could never quiet seem to get his fingers working the way he needed them to. So he made the fateful switch. In the early days (high school?) he played in the Dallas folk scene wherever there was a jam. Eventually he joined BW Stevenson's band, though when old BW got into the cocaine too hard Mickey Jumped ship. Luckily, the University of Texas' football coach Darrel Royal had somehow become a huge fan of his. One night in 1973 he invited Mickey to a hotel party and told him to bring his harps. Willie and Charlie Pride were both there. After they had jammed all night Willie invited Mickey to play with him sometime, which he did.

At the time, Willie Nelson was playing in Austin Texas in a duo that consisted of himself and Paul English his longtime drummer. Now what you should know is that not only was Paul English a former Dallas thug, but he was playing all the shows wearing a cape and sporting a sinister goatee. Legendary songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker stated in his autobiography that Paul English "looked like the devil." Another interesting element of the story was that Willie and Paul were both over forty. They had already seen it all. Mickey was just a young kid with an afro trying to play all the harmonica all the time!

Willie's fans have some good weed too it seems...

Well they played a few shows, then a few more. Then they went to New York and played. Then they kept playing. One day Willie looked at Paul and asked:

"How much are we paying this kid?"
"Double it."

I could write more, but I think you should probably listen to the man himself:

Postscript: I could not check the sound quality of the video because I was listening to a concert while writing this. If you trust me, go look for yourself. Mickey has played with Willie for 40 years, and he is featured on all the albums. Peace!

ipadio: Intro to Central PA

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Hoboe Finds Home...

I had never in my life considered visiting Pennsylvania, let alone moving here. The way my life has been in the past few years it sort of felt like I would just turn into a tumbleweed and blow off into the dust. Since May 2010 I have been riding the river of life wherever it took me, from the Washington coast, down to Baton Rouge, up and down the west coast to California, a few layovers in Portland, a year in South 'stralia, picking apples for a couple days in Yakima, New York City for a long week, and then suddenly I found it. Or maybe I just got sucked in. Instead of taking the train across the country back to Seattle (which I did NOT want to do), I rolled the dice again. A lady friend in Chattanooga said I could stay with her as long as I wanted (brave since we have never actually met outside the confines of the internet), and another lady friend invited me to visit her in Harrisburg PA. The clincher was when she told me she had work the very next day painting. At the time I had around $39 so it was a no-brainer. I changed my reservation and boarded the train at Penn Station. Bound for the land of Will. I. Am. Penn.

I can see Will.I.Am Penn running down this street with a no nonsense suit made of glow sticks

On the train I had no idea what to expect. It didn't matter because I was moving. The clickety clack of the railroad train was calling. The land was all ripped apart with factories and canals through New Jersey, but it was something to be seen. When we got to Philly the houses changed into brick townhouses, the graffiti came back onto the periphery and again the old factory buildings I love loomed like the ghosts of great railroad and steel magnates shaking their fists at the sky and the ravages of time. But the road wound on.

On the road we always pack it in and pack it out.

I had been helping an older gentleman figure out how to use his computer and log in to his email, and throughout the trip he narrated to me the history of the area, from his perspective. The one piece of his perspective that stuck out was how the Germans and Mennonites refuse to learn. According to him (he was a professor and small town journalist) they simply would not read anything or study anything except The Farmers Almanac and the bible. Funny that I forgot that until right now.

If the Germans encounter any books they throw them off this ledge. Devils Pulpit, Lehigh Gap.

We pulled in to the old brick train station and I got off the train and went to inspect my surroundings. It was cloudy and cold, but I could see some architecture I liked. The dome of the capitol (or some damn dome) was rising above us into the chalky gray sky. Since I was waiting for a friend to pick me up, I considered running around the corner to buy a six pack of beer to kill the time. Lucky for me I didn't, the state of Pennsylvania has to be the most difficult place in the union to buy beer. Let me tell you a little about the arcane liquor laws...

No reason for this picture, but if it makes you want to drink beer, you are in for a few surprises...

The first time I visited a grocery store I took a stroll around to "check the prices" of the beer. It was nowhere to be found. Was the store owned by the Amish? The were using electric light and such, so that was unlikely, unless the whole power grid was attached to a giant treadmill in the basement, but that seemed a bit of a stretch. Finally I asked my friend who told me non-plussed that you had to go to a beer store. Now this was beginning to sound disturbingly similar to Amarillo TX, a place I had the misfortune to visit in November 2010. Things were getting desperate.

The next day I worked helping a friend of a friend move, afterwards I got the chance to pick the brain of a fellow beer drinking, whom I will refer to as Beer Drinkin' Bobby Bryant. What I learned was somewhat strange. he told me that you had two options for beer buyin' in PA. Option one was the beer store, which obviously had beer. option two was at bars. Of course I have encountered bars that sell beer to go before in Ellensburg WA and in 'stralia. What I hadn't encountered was the crazy ass law which limits your purchases to two six packs. Of course Beer Drinkin' Bobby Bryant said that as long as you left and came back in and made a "different" purchase, there was no limit. In Pennsylvania you can buy as much beer to go as you want as long as you go in and out of the bar a bunch of times. It sounded like something which predated prohibition. Well, I was OK. I was alright. I was working and stuff. But a couple weeks later I was really jonesing for beer. It was time to go to the beer store...

I think it was a Saturday. It didn't matter. I was getting beer. Probably a 12 pack and maybe a couple of nice IPA's in 24 ounce bottles. Yes. That was exactly what I was after. This was going to be awesome. So into to the beer store I went. Of course I must inform you that the beer store was also a butcher shop, though the beeves and stuff were in another part of the building. OK. Hold it together. It's about to be beer time...sort of.

Walking through the door I found myself being funneled through a sort of maze made out of different kinds of beer. Stacks and stacks! Cases and cases! It was amazing really. They had so many kinds of beer it was silly. It was also quite nice and a bit out of my price range. I realized that they were all in cases, and cases of IPA is in the $30-40 range, so I moved on through the beer fort (it was like a cross between a maze and a fort, so maybe I will call it a "mort"). Finally I found something up my alley, cans of Yuengling lager, the local brew. I figured I could get a 12 pack and then find my IPA's...I figured dead damn wrong! It took me about 20 minutes of wandering through the mort to realize that they ONLY SOLD IN INCREMENTS OF 24!!! That means, no IPA bottles unless I am going to pony up for the whole deal. It was surreal to finally understand that in PA the only way to get less than 24 beers was in a bar, but you can not buy 18 beers anywhere, unless you go to a bar, leave and come back! As much as I strove to find reason within this madness I couldn't get past the idea that it was actually just a really dumb law.

This is what everyone does here when they finally actually get beer (I was actually dead sober).

 That said, my liver has been doing well since I moved here. The town is beautiful, the people are kind of crazy (which works for me), and the Susquehanna river flows on past. Maybe I didn't provide you with any actual reasons I am staying here, but hell, I never signed a contract, you get what you get!