Archive for August, 2010

Composite Metal

August 31, 2010

It was 10:30 on a Tuesday night, and all but a few of the Denver bars had closed up shop for the night. (Don’t get Mary started. Let’s just say that she and I often differ on the wonders of Denver … and we’ll leave it at that.) She’d picked up a copy of Westword, the local independent publication that has become a whole lot more slick since Mary and Shop Boy left town, perhaps riding a high brought on by page after page after page of ads for all of the, cough, legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Now, don’t you go calling them “head shops,” you sassy thing. You need a prescription to score your doobies.

Giggling aside, Shop Boy and Mary believe in the legalization of marijuana for a bunch of health reasons. It can help fight nausea in those undergoing chemo. It can help fight pain and, OK, stimulate an appetite in those who’ve been through similar medical hell. Look, if Granny’s hurting and scared, and smoking a joint would help ease her suffering, I’m buying. But it’s still a bit trippy to see ads for delicious-looking pot brownies and chocolates. Swear to god.

Here’s the kicker: Since the state law on medical marijuana passed, the taxes on the stuff have been puffing up local budgets. That will make it a bit tougher to pull the hemp out from under the law. Either way, it’s a fascinating social experiment.

So, in the midst of these pot ads, the straight and the dopey, Mary stumbled across a listing for a book-signing at the legendary Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver.

Mary: “Isn’t this that Megadeth guy?”

Shop Boy: “What, Dave Mustaine? He’s written his autobiography? That should be some story.”

Sex & drugs & drugs & drugs & drugs & drugs & sex & drugs & drugs … and rock & roll.

Shop Boy’s been a huge fan of the rock & roll part of Mustaine & Megadeth for a long time. Mary? Ooh. Shop Boy had this running joke, using words to Mary’s favorite songs and singing them like Mustaine does in “Sweating Bullets.” (Mary’s classic response: “Isn’t he a little old to be talking like the devil?”) Mustaine’s snarling version:

Hello, Me.
Meet the real Me
And my misfit’s way of life
A dark black past is my
Most valued possession
Hindsight is always 20/20
Looking back it’s still a bit fuzzy
Speak of mutually assured destruction
Nice story …
Tell It to Reader’s Digest!

Shop Boy’s:

Billie Jean is
Not my lover
She’s just a girl who
Claims that I am the one …

You get the idea.

Mary: “Too bad you missed him. He was here the 25th. Oh, wait. That’s tomorrow.”

Alas, he was scheduled to sign books at 12:30 p.m. or something (although you could line up at 6:30 a.m. if you wanted). Shop Boy and Mary’s dad, Wayne, would be in our seats at the blessed cathedral known as Coors Field for a baseball game by then. He’d planned the journey months in advance.

Mary: “I’m going to go.”


Let me tell you, I’ve whined in this space about Mary sending me to makeup stores on my own to stumble blindly (and choke on the fumes) while looking for the Kevin Aucoin mascara or the “porcelain delicate” shade of this foundation or that. Shop Boy clearly had no idea how much she appreciated my sacrifice.

She asked me to tell her again why I like Megadeth so much. Well, it’s speed metal, of course. I mean breakneck speed metal. Yet oddly melodic. Somehow it all sounds like a classical composition, not simply a song. Very tight. And, as you might have guessed, Shop Boy loves to play around with words. Ditto for old Dave here.

Mary wanted to hear a different song by Megadeth to remind her of what it sounded like. Cue the air guitar: Dun-da-da-da-dadada-naa-naaa! Shop Boy let loose on a few bars of “Almost Honest,” a slow song by Megadeth standards, but a big favorite.

I was nearly pure
When I said I loved you
You were semi-sincere
You said, “I’d bleed for you”
We were kinda candid
Now you’ve gone away
We were almost honest … almost

“Oh, I like that one,” Mary chirped.

(Who needs bars when you got this kind of entertainment handy, am I right?)

Thus Mary declared herself primed and ready to meet The Man.

And so she did. Mary and the metalheads.

To hear her tell it, she was unimpressed. At least at first. Shop Boy’s never written a book or been approached for his autograph — yet — so I can’t imagine how difficult a book tour is on a guy. But “Mr. Mustaine” had apparently woken up on the wrong side of the bed this afternoon. When one young chap offered that he’d met the rock star a while back in a show in Small Town X, suggesting that he and the guitarist were now old buddies, Mr. Mustaine snarled, “We do a lot of those events. I don’t remember you.”


A few moments later, a young mother approached, with toddler in tow, announcing that she planned to raise her child on heavy metal, and indeed rocked the child to sleep accompanied by Megadeth. That really got to the author, who took off his sunglasses — for just a second — to wipe … a tear? “F-ing kids … always get to me,” he said to no one in particular.

Now it was Mary’s turn. She’d bought the book downstairs, where a fastidious librarian type had attached a Post-it note clearly alerting Mr. Mustaine as to whom he was signing for. In this case, he was thrown.

“Who’s Steve?” he snapped.

Not the woman who stood before him, dressed prettily in a skirt and a designer black blouse. She’d removed her little green-patterned sweater so as to better color-coordinate with the jeans and black T-shirt crowd. A bicep tattoo might have helped there.

Uncowed, she told Mr. Mustaine that “Steve” was Shop Boy (a.k.a. her husband), relaying basically what I’d told her about his music and lyrics as he went about the business of applying his John Hancock to the book. Behind his dark glasses she wasn’t sure if he was listening or not. She didn’t much care. “Well, I need to shake your hand,” she said matter-of-factly, “so that I can tell him I shook Dave Mustaine’s hand.” (She said later that she wasn’t going to wash the hand so that I could shake it later and touch the master’s essence or whatever. But then she remembered all the horror stories Shop Boy’s told her about men not washing after using the bathroom, and she quickly headed off to freshen up.)

“Hey,” he called to her. She stopped and turned. “Those are good words, man. I appreciate it.”

Apparently …

Makeup counter, here I come.

Defying Description

August 2, 2010

Typecast Press, chasing off potential customers since …

Well, last weekend.

The weather was perfect as Shop Boy arrived at the studio from an errand. Mary had been inside all week scrambling to finish a couple of wedding invites and also dodging the heat, so I figured she could use a micro break on the loading dock. Somehow I talked her into it.

As we stood in the sunshine and cool breeze — in August! in Baltimore! — an unfamiliar pickup truck turned into the lot and drove behind the building. When this happens after normal workday hours or on the weekend, it usually means one of two things: hooker hook-up or illegal dumping. It’s kind of secluded back there, and there’s a dumpster for building tenants — a magnet for trash haulers looking to make their load someone else’s problem. Either way, it kind of makes Mary angry.

“Will you remember the license plate number when they come out?” she asked me.


True story: We were visiting Mary’s mom and dad in Colorado Springs a few years back when there was a knock on the door. Wayne was out running errands, Mary was in the shower, and Mama was doing laundry, so I answered it. On the stoop was a bleeding young man who said he’d just crashed his car and wondered if he could use the phone to call his mother. What can you say?

I called Mama in and she set about nursing the wounds on his face and arms, telling me to get the young man something cold to drink — southern hospitality and all that. The young man called his mom and we figured we’d wait a few minutes with the kid, send him on his way and that was that. Good deed done.

In the meantime, Mary had dressed and come downstairs, acting all weird and stuff about the presence of a bandaged stranger in the living room. Gosh, she’s so suspicious. To be honest, in looking back at it now, he was perhaps pacing a bit, maybe sneaking looks out between the living room blinds, which might have been odd. But his brother came soon enough, dispatched by his mom when she couldn’t get away from work. And, all right, maybe, in retrospect, it was kind of funky that his brother would ask him angrily, “What have you gotten yourself into now?” and he would answer, “Let’s just get out of here.”

And that probably would have been the end of it, had Wayne Mashburn not arrived at that very moment and smelled something very fishy about the whole deal. Our quick explanation had him darting out the door to see where the brother’s car went. Oddly enough, it was still just up the street. And when Wayne saw our young accident victim duck down in the seat as a police car passed … well, Shop Boy won’t tell you what he said. But he wasn’t impressed. He noted the brother’s license plate number as it left the scene and flagged down the cop car.

Well, golly. You’d have thought Shop Boy and Mama were the criminals the way they grilled us back in the house. The cop was almost as bad.

It turned out that the kid was a fairly well-known burglar who had made the mistake of breaking into a nearby home with a dog that immediately attacked him, leaving no escape but straight through a locked glass patio door. (The kid didn’t lie … that’s a car wreck, am I right?)

“Do you mean to tell me I’ve been hopping fences and running down alleys the past half-hour looking for this guy and you’re feeding him lemonade and cookies?!?!

Yes, Shop Boy found that a bit of a rude way of putting it, too. But the officer was sweating and breathing hard, and he’d sprained his ankle or torn his hamstring or something, so I just chalked it up to a bad mood when he became even meaner about my lack of recollection of what the young perp was wearing.

The topper was when he asked Shop Boy, for the police report, what I do for a living.

“Journalist!” he half spit. “Some journalist …”

I quickly demanded a lawyer. That was all this copper was getting out of Shop Boy.

He did manage to get a full description of the dude from Mary, and Wayne of course had the license plate for the “wheel man.” So the kid was behind bars before long. And a few weeks after the fact, Mama got a commendation from the police chief for her crime-fighting efforts, giving us all a good laugh. (Shop Boy got squat, and I’m still a little sore about that, to be honest.)

Anyhow, so rather than count on my memory to save the license plate number on this weekend’s illegal dumper/hooker hook-upper, I ran to get my phone with the camera. Mary was super suspicious, so I hurried. Really, I was gone all of 20 seconds.

And just like that, a gentleman with long, grayish hair who’d explained through his rolled-down truck window that he’d read about Typecast Press, might have even mentioned this blog, had worked in letterpress shops all over Baltimore and thought he’d come say hello …

High-tailed it out of the parking lot as though Mary’d begun unloading a shotgun at him from the loading dock. Shop Boy showed up just as he was hitting the accelerator.

He hadn’t given his name, which I guess is where the New Yorker in Mary kicked in. Still, the remorse hit immediately. “Oh, my god. That was so mean,” she said. In her suspicion, she hadn’t really bothered to listen to the guy’s explanation. All she saw was someone who shouldn’t be there. And she felt horrible, running through in her mind who it might have been. Perhaps the man who’d e-mailed her from time to time asking her to read his life story of a Baltimore printer. What was his name?

“This is why I always ask people to make appointments,” she said. “How was I supposed to know if he was legit? Put that in your blog: Please make an appointment. God, I’m so mean.”

(Sir, if you are reading this, give us a call. She doesn’t bite that often. Really.)

I rummaged my memory banks, too. And I was sure that he was the guy who’d stopped by once before while we were cleaning galley trays on the loading dock, covered with grime and sweat and not really prepared to “talk shop” with unannounced visitors. But Shop Boy did chat with him just a few minutes and told him he could read more about us at the website before saying I had to get back to cleaning.

“I think it’s the same guy, Mary. Looked just like him to me.”

“Shop Boy, that other man was African-American, with close-cropped hair.”

Oh … um … uh …

And she laughed.

And laughed.

And patted Shop Boy on his silly old head.

Well, la-dee-dah. Just give her a commendation or something.