Starbucks Girl

Starbucks girl: “So is it Brendan or Brandon?”

Me: “Brandon…like in 90210”

Starbucks girl: “What do you mean?”

…Getting  old  sucks!

The Gleaming Crest

Purchase “The Gleaming Crest” on Amazon

“The Gleaming Crest,” a recently unearthed book of poems I wrote in 1995, is now available on Amazon. At only about 35 pages, its fairly short. Basically it’s a chapbook. The book was written mostly in the summer after my junior year in high school, partially through my senior year in the fall/winter. However, these weren’t for any kind of class. I actually wrote poetry on my own and would constantly send it out to magazines for publication, with some success. Several of the poems in this book appeared in magazines and literary journals (PLAZM Magazine, The San Fernando Poetry Journal, and Tight Magazine Literary Quarterly.) Comically, I used to shamelessly send poems such as The Gleaming Crest to (then) prestigious magazines like The Atlantic Monthly and Cosmopolitan. I should also mention that this book features some early artwork (the cover and a couple of interior illustrations) by Los Angeles based artist, Mark Schoenecker. More than two decades ago in my final year of high school, he was my partner in crime. We also reunited a few years later to have many precarious adventures in Los Angeles.

Many of my early poems were hamstrung by my attempts to basically LARP as a “sensitive poet” (though as was the case with Birthday Boy, this was done with some self awareness and a subtle irony.) I would use grandiose language and titles that sounded like how I imagined poets to sound. Poems like The Lonely Beach and Otters in the Sea are some of the most egregious examples of this, though I guarantee you I was quietly smirking to myself at the time I wrote them. When I was 17 I wore a teal turtleneck and thought of myself as a 90’s poet / theater kid. My senior year of high school I had prominent roles in four plays (A Few Good Men, The Second Shepherd’s Play, Choices, and The Dining Room.) In fact, the kid who played the main lead in our stage production of A Few Good Men actually went on to become a fairly well known television actor: Joel Johnstone (though he appears to have at some point creatively revised his date of birth to appear several years younger.)

Anyway, so I was an angsty, nauseatingly romantic teenage creep with a flair for theatrics and lot of megalomaniacal dreams. Not much has changed I guess, aside for the fact that I’m much older and demonstrably less romantic. “The Gleaming Crest” interests me now because of what it represents. When I wrote it, I was a young adventurer just beginning his RPG quest, about to head up the mountain toward some shiny, sparkling dream. So even though it’s a just an amateurish teenage poem, it represents something I can still relate to. I’m further along the “journey” now, which seems as pointless as ever. Yet, I am still drawn to that gleaming crest and still plodding along just the same.

I don’t really hold very many of these poems in any kind of high regard. This book is really of interest to “completists” who have been familiar with much of my writing and would like to get a glimpse of some of my early, formative work. One can even detect in this book where I started to escape the cliche trappings and develop my own voice. The poems are not in chronological order, but readers of my other books should be able to tell that poems like A Fearless Stare and The Lonely Beach don’t resemble my style at all, while Computer Animated Glass Sphere and Cereal Boy seem like something I could have written just last week, (both in form and subject matter.) Yes, the same old familiar themes of nostalgic futurism could be found in my writing even in 1995. In addition to “completists,” this book may also appeal to anyone with a passing interest in 90’s underground lit and zine culture. This was made in the days of golden age of Kinko’s copy machines, and I recently had to retype the entire book because it was so old that it was in a manilla file folder and had never even existed as a digital document. The Gleaming Crest also features painfully dated references to things like “Caller ID” and even an Aptiva commercial.

The poem in the book I’m most proud of is Cereal Boy (which appeared in PLAZM Magazine in 1996.) The concept of running into an old friend who blows you off or has otherwise changed and acts differently toward you is something which still resonates with me today. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve experienced this in my life, and I don’t think I could ever convey it more sincerely or more creatively than I did in that one brief poem.

There’s not much else to say except that The Gleaming Crest is an obscure 90’s literary “gem.” It deals with cliche themes of adolescent angst, grandiose dreams, romance and coming of age…all of which are briefly addressed with a combination of immaturity, nostalgia (yes I was already nostalgic for 1993 as early in 1995) and precocious grandstanding.

“The Gleaming Crest” is available in paperback from Amazon

Also available in PDF format here

Shazam! Man

The other day I was having a flashback to the time I met this annoying wanna be gangster dude who would say “Shazam!” after just about every sentence. It was really awkward just how often he’d say it, like 20 times within the span of a 3 minute convo. He said it in a very obnoxious way too, emphasizing the two syllables with a slight pause… “shuh-zam!” He maintained an unintentionally stupid look on his face (even sporting an unironic, “teenage mustache”) the entire time. Very little of what came out of his mouth was worthy of a “Shazam” in my opinion. I’d like to think that young shazam man has since done the right thing for society and undergone a vasectomy, but I sincerely doubt it. He’s prolly a father of four now.

The moral of the story:

You’ve gotta save your shazams for when they really count. It’s like using a Call Bead in Secret of Evermore. Don’t waste that shit on a wimpy flower or a bone buzzard. Save it for a boss battle.

Apparently there’s a dumb movie coming out in 2019 called “Shazam!” which is going to be yet another lame comic book flick. I’m not going to see it, because it doesn’t interest me at all. If I find myself in a situation where I’m forced to overhear people talking about the movie, or if I see an ad for it while watching old Clarissa Explains It All and Sweet Valley High intro vids on youtube….it pains me to know that I’m going to be reminded of that shazam spewing subhuman every time. Shuh-zam!

Cyber Monday – Then and Now

What a typical “Cyber Monday” used to be:

Going on AOL chat to flirt with some girl whom you have no idea what she looks like and basing her attractiveness entirely on the cuteness of her screen name and/or a single, low resolution webcam pic (which may or may not actually be of her.)

[Yes, if you think the risk of catfishing is high now, just imagine that there was a time in the 1990’s when almost nobody on the internet had photos of themselves, and all you had to go by was the person’s written description of their own appearance (“People tell me I look like Sandra Bullock…”) and the equivalent of name, rank and serial number in the form of an a/s/l.]

Phase II is when you exchange phone numbers and begin to talk on the phone for a while after one of you works up the nerve to call. This can result in brief awkward conversations which end abruptly. Alternately, this period can last for several weeks, sometimes even months or years and feature lengthy, deep, personal, romantic and occasionally sexually explicit discussions about life, love, and the cosmos.

The third phase is the high stakes moment of truth when you agree to meet up in a high profile public place, such as a Walmart parking lot, a Denny’s or the patio of a Baskin Robbins/Dunkin’ Donuts dual function establishment. As you eagerly but tepidly pull up to the location, if you suspect you notice the person and they have a blob-like appearance or are otherwise much less attractive than you expected, you pretend not to recognize or know them and immediately drive away…never to speak to them again. If on the other hand, the person is at least okay looking and semi-bangable, you approach nervously, suddenly wondering whether your physical appearance is going to live up to their expectations or appear disappointingly goblinesque to them (“hey I thought this guy said he had frosted tips and looked like an Abercrombie model.”)

If the stars are aligned and both of you aren’t physically disgusted by the sight of each other, then “Cyber Monday” can culminate in a hot and heavy make-out or dry humping session…once sufficient trust has been established to relocate the rendezvous to a more intimate place, like her/your parents’ bedroom since they’re conveniently out of town (assuming you’re both 100% consenting adults that just so happen to lead directionless lives and still at home.) In those days, every dad online had the potential to be Cyber Monday. Like a trip to Zombocom, a log in to a flooded Foxy Chat meant anything was possible. The net was the limit! …but that was 1997, and we didn’t yet realize how good we had it. Well, maybe some of us did, but the pre-9/11, flirtatious screen name play, Geocities homepage and auto-playing midi age of web romance was fleeting nonetheless.

What Cyber Monday is now:

People buying consumer products online at heavily discounted prices for one day out of the year (though occasionally these sales are extended for multiple days.)

Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere

Desert Dolphins

I would like to befriend a dolphin. Admittedly, it’s kind of tough to do in the desert though. With its tumbleweeds and strip malls, this isn’t exactly the ideal habitat to cultivate such an aquatically barriered companionship, but at least there are no sharks to turn up any wild cards. Where could my hypothetical dolfriend live? The wave pool at Big Surf waterpark might provide an acceptable level of oceanic ambiance, but the chlorinated water would not at all be accommodating and would ultimately kill the vibe. I wonder how long a dolphin could survive in Tempe Town Lake. It may not be Marina Del Rey or the coast of Catalina, (or even salt water for that matter) but hey at least it’s wet (insert that’s what she said joke here.)

Would a dolphin be willing to trade the tropical treasures and wide open freedom of the briny deep for the opportunity to have a fair weather good buddy like me? How would I be ever able to live with the guilt of knowing that I was depriving my dolfriend of realizing his full mammalian potential, simply because I wanted to have someone around to play Sega Genesis and send sonar catcalls with? Selfish as I am, I don’t think I could go through with it. It’s time to come to terms with the realization that I will never find my desert dolphin.