Friday, October 2, 2009

"They Never See It Coming--Three mintues in my life as a telemarketer."

Should've known. After nearly 8 years of losing my hair at IPA, you'd think I'd have considered the odds on someone bringing you back a pen, lighter, or dollar you so kindly put into their hands. The odds-at least in the Business Coordination Dept.-are roughly 146,000-1.

As my old buddy & ex-roommate, "Metzy", came ambling toward me from across the sales floor-I don't recall feeling immediately threatened...but I should have. I look up at him-fumbling with his usually perfect full-Windsor tie knot, and raise my eyebrows for a moment or two, because I was on-call with an absolutely irate business owner. The sharply raised eyebrows are an age old sign for " I'M BUSY! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU NEED?"

Metzy cocked his head and squinted his eyebrows together as if to say, "Whatever do you mean? I need nothing-why the look?"

I extended my hand, palm up, signifying that I demanded an answer. All the while I continued with my angry client.
"Sir, if I had it MY way-all us telemarketers would be lined up against a wall and shot" I tell him sternly,
"But we don't always get what we want, so let's just be professional." I deeply needed to calm this guy down.

Metzy, just standing there laughing at my candor with this jackass on the other end of the line, gives me the "hang on a minute" symbol raising his pointer finger. Then he grabbed all the pens off my desk, gave me a filthy, shit-eating grin, and ran away. That dirty Italian bastard had done it again. Attacked while I was defenseless; trapped at my desk with the phone glued to my ear.

"You guys are a real pain in the ass." the enraged President of National Geotech, Inc. yelped into the phone at me. I could tell by looking at the information on my monitor that we really hadn't bothered him that much. This guy was apparently just some loser who wanted to put any telemarketer's head on a lance. I decided to fuck with him using the information I had in front of me.

"Sir," I interjected, "Let me get this right. This is National Geotech Inc., correct?"

"Ya," the owner proclaimed.

"And you guys are the ones with the shop over on Lincoln Ave.--the one across the street from WALMART, right?"

"Ya, uh huh" our angry engineer responded.

"Well sir...for a second I thought there was a mix up...but you are Bob Jeffries, right?" Strangely, the business owners in this type of situation never remember that I already verified who I was speaking to.

"Yes, yes-this is Bob!"

I increase the excitement in my voice in direct accordance with their rising frustration.
"Bob the owner, right sir"?

"Ya! So? I want you to take me off that list of yours, howa 'bout that?!" Bob yelled. They always act like when they say that I should suddenly double over in pain, beg for forgiveness; like Superman against a sack of kryptonite...

"But, sir..that's the problem." I say confidently.

"What's the problem? JUST TAKE ME OFF..." At this point I just cut him off.

"Well Bob, I've got all your information down correct here, and even one of your business cards, and well, you've already signed up for the program--are you trying to cancel on us before your contract expires?"

At this point Bob sounds like he's gonna pop,
"What the hell are you talking about?! What program!? I didn't sign up for anything" he screeched.

"Well sure you did!" I shoot back. "We've already received payment from you in full. So, Bob, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I CAN'T take you off the list--it would be a breach of contract."

Bob was utterly confused and about to reach terminal levels of frustration at this point, but was one of the weird ones that just won't hang up on you unless things went WAY too I decided then and there to end it before my boss figures out that I'm harassing a potential, or at least previously potential, client.

"Bob, do you sleep in the nude?" This one usually results in a swift hang up.

"Excuse me?!" the perplexed owner asks.

"Nevermind," I say sharply "Bob, are you a married man"?

"Well...ya...but what the..."
This one called for the big guns.

"Hang on, hang on there sir." I say tauntingly.
"All that really matters is this..." I take a deep, exaggerated sigh and continue, "... if worse came to worse would you rather have to tell your wife you slept with another man or a female sheep"?

"Why you son of a bitch!!!" he screams and then slams the phone down right in my ear.

Maybe it was something I said, but I think Bob just wasn't into opening up to strangers.

* * *

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Most humble appologies, Mrs. Stebbins!

The correct address of her great blog is:

I hope you all pay a visit. If you like a good blog from a real person, don't delay!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Turkey Talk: An Inside Look Into a Modern Writing Process"


Turkey Talk:

An inside look into a modern writing process.

Friday 8/12/06

7:50 pm.

Seeing as how busy I’ve been and how little free-time I have to work on my various works-in-progress-as soon as I received my cousin Kate’s out-of-town wedding invitation, I knew I’d have to fabricate an airtight line of bullshit to fed the whole family as to why my absence was unfortunate but inescapable. So I decided to experiment with some new material; that I had signed on as an understudy for the 2nd chair percussionist at Chicago’s Historic Civic Opera House and, regrettably, had gotten called in as an emergency backup for 3 performances of the Studs Terkel classic, “Working”. And am of course, legally obligated, given my contract, to fulfill. Whew…shameful! A lie so out there it had to pass on weirdness alone... So--After several reassurances that “Kate will understand” and not to feel bad about my “doing what has to be done” and sincere well-wishes on my upcoming performances--I started to feel a bit scum-baggy. But regrets be damned-because in reality I had other pressing engagements.

I’ve made plans with my good buddy and defacto assistant editor, Diego. All the writing I’ve done (particularly the stuff that hasn’t been proof-read or edited) needed some serious “once-overs” and organizational bandaging, that is,if I ever expected them to reach a printer. We’re looking to churn through about a thousand handwritten pages and make some cuts. For purposes of social lubrication; I’ve decided to employ a bottle of Wild Turkey-which will hopefully send us into some kind of wild editing frenzy. Alright…now prepare for “D’s” arrival. This means that certain items must be procured at once to meet his specifications-no compromise allowed. A few of which are: authentic imported Nag Champa incense, fresh (never, ever stale) Marlboro Reds, internet access, and at the very least an 8-lb. bag of ice.

Since the violent demise of my front door buzzer/intercom system (when I, in a Xanax-induced rage, ripped the entire unit out of the drywall in my living room with my bare hands and a drumstick), I’ve been forced to rely on cell phones, punctuality, and often pennies being pitched off the living room window-to gain my guests access into the building. Apparently Diego has just arrived-unless the loose change ricocheting off my 3rd floor window is coming from someone else. I suppose I’ll go let the poor bastard in-who doesn’t even know yet just how doomed his night is. But before we get to diving deep into a 4 ½ ft. pile of yet-to-be proofread writing, I figured the right thing to do is to toast the work at hand with a drink. This fine bottle of Wild Turkey should be just the thing, and I believe D has reached my lobby.

Saturday 8/13/06

10:45 am.

Note to self-Wild Turkey is not a social lubricant. I know this now-and so does my friend, Diego, who departed about an hour ago; a twisted grin on his face; waving goodbye and stumbling frantically away down some North Side back alley-with his one remaining shoe…never the less “klip-klopping” away with a sopping muddy sock at an incredible rate of spend. No doubt, he will make his bus.

My shirt is covered in a thick layer of cool mud with the light smell of Grey Flannel cologne still noticeable. More mud, now dried-on and clumpy, all over my right leg. My hands are scratched up and reek of the distinctive, gag-reflex worthy combination of vomit, whiskey, and cigarettes. One of the times you'd eat Colgate straight from the tube if only you had some. The lucoplacia on my tongue is ¾ of an inch thick and coming loose in chunks. My back and knees ache from a traumatic bout of drunken sprinting to evade two motorcycle cops, with which we succeeded…and I somehow cut my ear. Most likely snagged on branch 'cause their too damn big for my head, or so I was told in grade school…

We can’t be certain, but we believe Chicago’s Finest most likely wanted a word with us after seeing me stumble into the middle of the intersection at Lawrence & Western; and proceed to throw up all over a pizza delivery guy on his bike. A simple case of wrong place/ wrong time for the both of us. Unless I had a new pizza and a fresh change of clothes for this unfortunate fucker, a mere alcohol breath apology would be like pouring salt in a wound-so I decided to spare him the nonsense and just get the hell out of there before two peoples nights were ruined.

To the police, previously unnoticed a couple of cars back at the red light, it must have appeared to be a malicious and intentional act; from a possibly dangerous and deranged pedestrian. A pizza delivery guy, cautiously just crossing the street when some big stumbling freak runs out to greet him…and just pukes all over him-then just turns and runs away. No wonder they hit the sirens. We make a run for it.

“You call that editing?!” Diego screams as we make a mad dash for California Ave. We flee in accordance to D’s precise, seemingly premeditated escape route, through several small alleyways

“Fuck you, Spaniard!” I reply, panting in mid-flight; while we pass through a backyard. “What the fuck were…panting breaths…you doing over…panting breaths…there at the…panting breaths…Statue of Lincoln??”

“Nobody has a problem with me standing over there-the police are after you” D yells back at me.

“Well…panting breaths…fuck you then…panting breaths…because if you hadn’t insisted…panting breaths…on fucking around…panting breaths…on the other side of the street…panting breaths…for 10 minutes…panting , turning left..we would have been inside…still running…Garcia’s having Margaritas…panting breaths…and I could’ve made it…panting and running…to the bathroom…panting still…motherfucker!”

We hopped a fence-right on to the uncharted, dark muddy slope of a ravine--and nearly slid clear into the Chicago River. A close call indeed but we had lost the cops. After I spit out a mouthful of cold mud and wiped my eyes-I noticed Diego hunched over at the bank of the river reaching desperately for his shoe with a stick, but that fucker had already set sail. I didn’t notice much of a current at first, but after watching his show float away at about 10-ft per second- I had to speak my mind.

“You better not go after it, D-that fucking current will suck your drunken ass right down the river. Its pitch black around here and you’ll probably end up downstream in the bowels of some underground water processing dungeon, or hell you might just end up in Wisconsin. Either way-you’ll be in bad shape when they fish your bloated body out of wherever you surface”

D, from what little I could see was horrified, “Not Wisconsin!”, he cried.

“Oh yes sir…Wisconsin…better off that you let it go, huh?” I replied.

He sighed deeply and nodded his head in agreement. “Fine, fine. Gimme a cigarettes-I’m done working on this book for tonight.” He lit the cigarette, “You know your ear is bleeding…”

“FUCK” I mutter as my fingers probe for the source, “Can we just climb back up to the street now, please?”

We slowly make our ascent-still paranoid of cops on the prowl for some vomiting monster who, “disappeared right before our fucking eyes...him and another one-on foot; maybe a Mexican…”

“All this mud and bullshit for FREE, huh?! We should do this again tomorrow night” A visibly frustrated Diego shot out.

“Just chill out little me-ho; we’ll find you another shoe.” I replied.

“It’s not about the fucking shoe, man. Its just that I almost dies out there tonight twice-then nearly got arrested…for evading the police if nothing else.” At this point he starts to shake me violently-“If for nothing else, man!”

I break free, “It’s not my fault...blame the…you can charge all this to that monstrous demon-ale-of-a-whiskey…that’s your god-damned culprit” I say confidently.

“Fuck you and you…all this shit…I’m gonna be soo hung over…I need a bed.”

“We should probably suffer together,” I say “You wanna come by later to work on the book and have a drink?”

“Oh yeah…sure..” D grumbles “I’ll jump on that grenade twice- -at least not in the same day.”

“SEE!” I screech, “That’s what this is al about-TRUST-and it doesn’t seem like you trust my drive…or my work ethic”.

“It’s hard to trust the work ethic principles of a criminally insane, lazy, drug addict, with ADHD-I’ll call you later…I gotta run and catch the Western X49 Bus..see ya, (klip klop-klip klop-klip klop-klip klop….)” And away he goes.

“I’ll give this another shot…tomorrow.” I thought.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If This Is The World We Live In, I'd Like My Drano And Bleach Cocktail...NOW.

If This Is The World We Live In, I'd Like My Drano And Bleach Cocktail...NOW.

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by Stephanie Stebbins,

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Joseph at the National Affairs Desk!!

On Style

So I drank a full pot of coffee, things began to rumble, things were shaking down south. Off I whisked to the bathroom, my den of silence, the place where I get most of my best reading and for that matter thinking done.

What am I reading right now? I am reading Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahnuik. Truth be told I am not sure I like it. It's not the content, his premise is solid. It is a story about the fashion industry: super models, trannies, flashing cameras, oh my. No, I am digging the plot. It's his style. I am finding the whole damn thing too gimmicky. He is trying too hard, too many tricks. I wish he'd tell the story, I am already dizzy and I have read only 20 pages. So there, no offense Mr. Palahnuik, you're brilliant, I am a huge fan. It's just that the first 20 pages of Invisible Monsters had me reaching for the Gravol. Maybe that's the point. But what is my point? Is this a book review? Heavens no, this is a rant about style.

Style versus substance. I used to write raw, I abhorred the shackles of grammar and structure. I thought them false constraint; I believed my mind and my words were too wild to be caged. Blame Kerouac and his beats. Then thank them for the inspiration. I eventually began to blog, which meant that my words were being 'published' with the potential for all to read. The perfectionism sunk in. I was now playing a writer on the Internet. I had better buck up, edit, edit, spell check, worry. I took it one step further. I enrolled in journalism classes. British journalism classes at that. I wanted my words and the structure of them scrutinized like only the British could. I wanted to be as good as I could get. Style be damned.

Guess what? The words then stopped. It was no longer fun writing. It became a task, something too clean, more akin to washing the dishes than art. I was in a creative funk. The old me- raw, poetic, rebellious vs the new me- polite, structured, tight. I have been writing through that battle now for the last couple of years. The poet versus the journalist. Perhaps I am a new breed of poetic journalist. But I will let Matt comment about that- he is, of course the expert in all things gonzo.

So there. Not a book review, not an attack on Chuck Palahnuik, just some observations on literary style, from a guy still searching for the best belt to match with his literary hat. Now off I waddle to the bathroom on a quest for the next grand subject. Excuse me a moment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Friday Release 9/18/09

Sincerest of apologies for the 2 week delay on a new Friday Release, but my keyboard was giving me problems, so I had to "put it down"--like the rest of my malfunctioning electronics that have gone before the keyboard. Whether they are fixable or permanently damaged matters not...not to me at least; a kink in the hose is a kink in the hose.

My system, once the appliance or piece of equipment becomes troublesome, is to wish it well and hurl it Earth-bound from my 4th floor fire escape...and with an appreciative salute, looking down below at all the smashed bits and pieces, I give silent but sincere thanks for all the good times we once had together. Then I run back indoors before anyone can identify the "maniac" who almost regularly whips microwaves, stereo systems, remote controls, dvd players ( they are my favorite ones to put an end to) and various computer equipment from someplace high up on the side of the building. Onward...

It's Monday around 7 AM , 8/31 in this tiring year of 2009, and I can already feel the summer slipping out of the city. Just me and a few other half-asleep early morning commuters humming down Lawrence Ave. on the 81 bus, and I'm just trying to rationalize the madness that has ensued this last few weeks.
It was the last week of August, to boot, which has always been a king-hell loser of a month, and also the hands-down unluckiest page on the 12 month calendar.
My old band even wrote one of our most "popular" songs: "Unlucky August". I would surely be one of the first to sign a petition calling for the exile of August from the calendar year, and, for safety's sake, close all successful businesses during the time period that used to be August, close all schools, individually quarantine those involved in happy relationships as to avoid their impending blow-up argument or total demise-- due to the month, the cruel bastard August.
But the curse of August (and truly, no offense to those born in August), is too large a nut to crack here and now. I'll just say, that IF there were a particular time of year to avoid-- it would be August. Especially when you're like me... going through an eviction, scrambling to get enough cash together, looking to find a new apartment to let you in, while trying to get packed and moved while neither me or my girlfriend have any common days off work together--making scheduling an easy moving date im-fucking-possible.
For my relatively young age, 29, I've had a vast array of living arrangements--studio apartments, 1-4 bedroom apartments, and 2 condos. I've stayed with friends, lived alone, lived with 6 roommates. Lived in a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, lived in old swamp land in Florida. I've stayed in shacks and mansions of all types. I've lived on a farm. I've spent alot of time on the road traveling with bands as well, which, after awhile, the in and out of towns for weeks on end starts to feel like something similar to moving.

Anyways, Ashley and I think we found an apartment...luckily the judge in courtroom 106 downtown gave us a couple of weeks to, I figure I'll depart with writing a letter to my landlord--just to get some things out in the open since I'm leaving anyways.

To: Mary Burlsberg
bldg. mgr/landlord

I've never been the best tenant for landlords; as I am loud, constantly overpopulating my apartment with boisterous, chemically impaired guests, loudly sexually active, and, saving the best for last, typically broke and unable to always pay rent promptly.
But sweet Jesus--when I moved into your building, being a defunct 1930's era historically- ceftified Capone brothel, my first act after moving in was to trap one mouse in my bathroom, and cold-bloodily murder another with a dictionary.(I was calling myself a murderer for weeks, in shame). In addision, I also had to find a way to stop myself and my food supply from being decimated by the live-in battalion of both Red American and Asian cockroaches, so I thought for sure I'd get a little flexibility from the management.

Secondly, I surely didn't know about the buildings' geriatric mafia-like organization; 80+ year old citizens who lurk in the dark places of the building ready to ask personal questions or eyeball fuck my girlfriend at any time. For a moment, I was looking into group rates, with a discount of course, on castration procedures for the lot of them; but at their age not only don't they use "it", but it was simply out of my range of financial options.
You collect their rent (or do you?)...So you obviously know Fred. Fred (possibly the "GodFather"to the organization) actually demanded monthly extortion money out of me for "laundry room protection", claiming the he'd "hate to see anything go missing or happen to my clothes while they were in his "territory". To this I paid little attention until I went to get my clothes out of the dryer, and several of my left socks were gone. I noticed the laundry gangster starring at me so I went over and asked if he'd seen anyone near the dryer I was using.
"Sorry fella" he said, "never failed to surprise me just how much stuff disappears doing laundry..whats missing? Some socks?"
I wasn't buying his bullshit.
He continued, "Next thing you know a shirt or nice pair of slacks will up and grow legs on ya."
Although this was both humorous and worrisome--I decided to take action. For days I stalked those who I knew or believed to be involved. But as you can imagine, waiting to witness, in-person, a group of octogenarians committing a crime or planning a heist was truly like watching paint dry. So I decided to cut to the chase and go straight to the laundry terrorist himself--close to 90 years old with a voice box, rickety cane, and that uninviting odor of a nursing home. Which, inhind sight made me realize people don't smell like nursing homes--nursing homes stink like the people.
"So whats the racket?" I asked Fred.
The old bastard acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. Shit, I thought, is he trying to be clever or is this poor old fucker suffering from dementia?
A couple of days later ALL my damn socks vanished from my load of laundry. So, I grudgingly agreed to the steep $7/week protection payments he had originally offered-which really I suppose at $1 a day is a great deal to keep my undergarments safe. Fuck it, I thought. And since then, no other items have gone missing. Only i in Chicago, in an old ex-Capone operated building, could an elderly mob organization have the balls to extort for "laundry room protection" , but better to be safe than sorry in the windy city.
Oh and yeah, I don't like being asked if "I've been drinking". Firstly, because I work 15 hour days, and thats why I'm usually red-eyed and exhausted. But mainly because I don't drink. Never-the-less, you'd ask me on a semi-regular basis. No, god damn it, I have not been drinking... and even if I had told you what I had been doing, at your age you'd never understand anyways.
"No, ma'am, no booze," I'd cackle, "but I did just twist up a 'B' to bring back all the benzos I ate earlier, and in about 15 minutes I'll be rolling ( ROLLING BALLS! I think to myself)-and I'm no threat to you." Which I'd say calmly as I extend my arms for a hug.
Having to break it all down would've killed my damn roll so I decided to fuck the wordy explanation for your sake, not out of shame or embarrassment.

Then there was the burglary. Ahh... and a frosty rage creeps over me at the mere mention. Let's see. Anyone who lives in this building knows there are no less than 4 members of the said gorilla faction of old folks lounging the day away in the lobby at any given time between 7am and 6 pm. My apartment was broken into and robbed between 1 & 3pm-- so I would love to know, how exactly did none of the seniors I interrogated see a damn thing when they are, in fact, perched all day long in a semi circle around the only publicly accessible door to the entire building?
A hum- fucking-dinger, huh? The perpetrator had to get into the building, break into my place, and go in and out of the building at least two more times-even with a partner, to carry all the shit out. Even if it was a tenant of the building, wouldn't they have been spotted or asked where they were going with all their stuff? Maybe there was a studio apartment protection tax I was not aware of. Either way, all our things are gone.
Shit, at this point do we even need to get into the bed-bug incident(s)?! To which, in honesty you were helpful and sympathetic, but never the less a nightmare of a situation when they did happen. But since the bedbugs have been effectively driven from the land of apt. 204-- I guess I I'll drop it...nearly... teeny, horribly itchy, red bites mysteriously appearing all over me and my girlfriend, and blood marks on the sheets!! OK ...I'm done now for real.
I suppose I'll just wrap it up by saying: we quite possibly never should've crossed paths-or maybe it was twisted fate. And out of all the bullshit-- late rent, 5 day notices, and the never-ending cloud of pot smoke seeping out from under my door-I'm glad I had you for a landlord. You've been more than accommodating and above all, helped me keep my home in your building for the better part of 6 years. And, for that, you have my thanks...and I wont soon forget my years on Virginia Ave.
Sincerely-your worst tenant,
Matt Byron
National Affairs Desk, Chicago

Where the hell is Adam Dolin?

Why won't my editor, Adam Dolin, return my emails?

TO: Assistant Editor Adam Dolin
FROM: The Good Sir

Dear Mr. Adam Dolin, assistant editor, N.A.D.Chicago**

Good day to you sir. All apologies for writing to you in this state, but sweet jumping Jesus do I have good reason.
Due to a rent payment "disaster", the building management/ bastards have kindly asked me to vacate the building...including, of course, the National Affairs Desk HeadQuarters.
This indeed poses all of the "what the fuck am I going to do?" type of head-spinning worry, in addition to neatly packing up the National Affairs Desk for secure transport to a new HQ location.
Ist and foremost, I believe you have a good bulk of some of my earlier work and original "Friday Releases". And I need 'em...or at least copies OF them. I can't very well archive my work if you have a third of it in your bottom left desk drawer at the firm. I have NO idea where my copies are, but THAT my friend is utterly besides the point.
Please send word of their safety or disappearence. I won't be angry or anything if they ARE gone, I'd just have to realize that they may very well have gotten sucked into the very same VOID that stole 9 years of my life and most of my hair at that firm. If so, the material is gone...and for good.
I'm opening up several new blog sites and working with a couple others and will be shucking out copies of a few of my more "polished" stories over the www, and I for one know we'll need a level head to assist in the effort. If you can make time to help or have an interest on any level get in touch with me so i can fill you in. Either way I'll need a response before I feel the need to publicly post more emails you have failed to return. Don't fuck around on this one bud, now is the we need you.
Right-e-o...........................Matt (Hell-Dog, ect)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Welcome. This is a working effort to expand on my other under-developed blog sites. I hope my friend Joe at the national affairs desk blog knows my motivation behind this...