Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Disappearance of Stagger Lee

My wifes cat is gone.

It was here, and then it wasn’t. It was here as late as Thursday, as best as we can reconstruct the timeline of events.

It was here, and then there was a period of time – perhaps as long as 12 hours – when everyone assumed it was here, but it probably wasn’t.

Then the time came when it was gone and we knew it was gone.

He was gone.

Stagger Lee is gone.

An advertisement for pet GPS I have seen on my television informs me that this means the chances are overwhelming – 4 in 5, they state in the commercial, and in a very matter-of-fact way, so I am inclined to believe them – that Stagger Lee will never be found.

At least never found by me. Nor by my wife. Nor by our kids. Nor by anyone who is likely to return Stagger Lee to me. To us.

But he’s grown so fat and so sleepy and so mean! How did he even manage to get out and away from the house?

Perhaps Stagger Lee decided – whilst lounging on his favorite recliner during one of his famous 20-hour lounging marathons – that life is too short to be spent inside of houses. Perhaps he heard me say it and he agreed!

I am inclined to doubt this theory, however.

Stagger Lee was not a very philosophical feline...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Addiction Auditions

I will never know the wonders to be found fiending for Smack.

DT’s will never find me in an unknown stranger’s bed. I’ll never sell my ass for Bath Salts on the wrong side of the tracks nor burgle houses in some desperate search for Xanax.

Mine is the curse of the stupidest addiction. An embarrassing dependency, really. Not this sort of grist for the mill of a legend of a slow, self-destructive death – you know, Burroughs in Tangiers, Hemingway in Cuba, Hendrix… wherever the hell Hendrix was when he did all that Acid.

I feel as though we have reached a point, you and I, where I really ought to say a few words about the Addiction Auditions. My words (understandably) might not carry much weight. But at least you’ll learn you don’t want to end up like me, so consider it a cautionary tale.

I am addicted to Benadryl & Cheap Wine, always taken together, always late in the evening. How is that for street? Hmm? How is that for glamorous? Does that make me a scary-scary, bad-bad girl?

But I’m stuck with it, you see. And it’s all on account of the Addiction Auditions.

So you can go ahead and laugh now. I can wait.

*           *           *

There are a number of simple things I’d do differently, if I had it to do over again. To do the Addiction Auditions over again, I mean. 

I would dress well, but not too well. This is serious: You do not want to give off a false impression of wealth. You could wind up being chosen by Money. There are few things in life worse than a poor man – or even a man of moderate means – being saddled with a great Money Addiction. Oh, you see them often enough: Floundering about, foolishly boastful, doomed to forever fritter away even the smallest pocket lint on pie-in-the-sky hopes for the Big Payday which never comes.On the other hand, if you should happen to arrive to the Auditions looking as though you’ve only just now come rolling out of your bed, you could have the misfortune of catching the eye of Hydrocodone. Or Percocet. Or – may heaven help us all! – Purple Drank (a Houston-area delicacy, I am told).

So, you know… comb your hair a bit. Brush your teeth, if you have them. Brush them well, but not too well. Flossing is optional, although a little mouthwash never hurt anyone.

*           *           *

Arrive at the Hall of the Addictions early – but not too early.

This flies in the face of conventional wisdom. More specifically, it flies in the face of Doctor Tyrone Slothrop, preeminent Addiction Auditions scholar and jack-of-all-frauds. As documented ad nauseum in my appendices, Doctor Slothrop is wrong, and here, in a nutshell (no pun intended, Doctor) is why:

Number One, arrive too early, and you could find yourself standing eye to bloodshot eye with Addictions still up from the night before. I’ve seen it happen, friend, and forewarned is forearmed! The All-Nighter Addictions are the ugliest, the cruelest, the most unrelenting of all Addictions there ever was or ever shall be.

Number Two (and this is just between you and me, you understand), the good Doctor Slothrop is a notorious Diethyl Ether Addict, and a Diethyl Ether Addict is not to be trusted.

No, you really ought to arrive not too early and not too late, just as you ought to dress not too well but not too shabbily. When it comes to Addictions, you see, the Middle Path is the best path.

*           *           *

Next, they take you to a room and they set you on a stage, and the Addictions are told to alright, come on in. Some will limp in, and some will crawl – some won’t make it in at all – but the bulk will storm on in in one great swirl. Like a tornado, they’re roaring and they’re roiling ‘round and ‘round to face you down. They test your mettle. They see what you are made of. One thumps you here while another slaps you there.

You start to feel like cows at auction. And in a sense, that is exactly what you are.

Coffee Addiction belches in your nose.  He does it every time, so there’s no need to act surprised. Be ready, friend, and don’t look him in the eyes. He’s a nasty habit – you don’t want him choosing you.  

Young Miss Sex Addiction, she sort of looks tempting at the start. But look closer – not too close now! – and cracks will start to show. She is rubbed raw and she’s rubbed bloody and that sort of looks infected, and by then Old Crack Addiction’s blocked your view.  

Whisky holds back at first, and he glares at you from back of the pack with his One Big Eye. And he glares and he pouts and if he’s interested, will sneak up and punch you squarely in the face – right there at that spot at the top of your nose that makes your eyes water. You see, Whisky’s an old fighter. And I really thought he’d choose me. But Whisky and his One Big Eye, they said, “No.”

*           *           *

And this, I am afraid, is the part at which, during my own Auditions, I committed the act which did become my great mistake.

I laughed.

More specifically, I laughed at an Addiction. I laughed in an Addiction’s addictive face.

Oh, but you would have agreed, it was the funniest-looking of Addictions! Cheap Wine & Benadryl? That’s an Addiction? And this pair was conjoined at the back of the head so that when Cheap Wine tried to go this way, well, Benadryl always wanted to go that way, and they wandered around in circles, neither gaining any ground.

They looked so foolish, there at the back of the Addiction line.

So I laughed. I did! Well, I snortled. And I guess they saw me do it.

I was dancing with Mary Juana and I tried to play it off as though what happened might have only been a sneeze. Who is there in this world who can really tell apart a stranger’s chuckle from a stranger’s sneeze?

Well, Cheap Wine & Benadryl can, for starters. That is who. Let this be a warning, friend, addictions are deceptive, and if someone seems too stupid, they might not be as awfully stupid as they might seem. Cheap Wine & Benadryl got pissed at me, and then they held me down right there and now they hold me right to now, down  to this very day.

I can’t admit it, normally. It’s just Cheap Wine & Benadryl! And I always get up for work so no one knows and no one cares. And I pay my taxes and I wash behind my ears (well but not too well!), so no one ever notices and those who do don’t care.

But I care... 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Things You Can Learn from a Kwik-E-Mart Clerk

So I’m here. I’m in my shop again. I am sitting on my stool again. And I’m typing on my blog again. Hello!

Today, I thought that we might play a game of Show & Tell so I could show and I could tell you just a pinch of what I know about from working here. You see, there are many things that a body tends to learn when it sits for long enough within one space. Things that soak into the brain like floor cleaner into bread. And there’s rarely been a person and there’s rarely been a space who has sat and which is sat in like me here.

I don’t know what you have heard, but if you heard, then it is true, that I have learned a thing or two – increased my prior knowing tenfold, I would guess – about a full range of human behaviors that I see every day. Like how long can one person – just your average breed of person, one who seeks a cup of coffee for yet another day of drudgery at the office – yes, how long can such a person stand in a line that goes to nowhere, that goes absolutely nowhere, before frustration overwhelms him and he leaves without his precious daily fix?

I know the answer to this.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shakespeare Can Haz Cheezburger?

I read a book by Nabokov recently and reading a book by Nabokov recently made me realize that I am not a writer. Or I am not a “real writer”, anyway.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Top Ten Albums of 2011

You should listen.

You should listen to astonishing, impossible musics. You should listen to sounds that no-one-but-no-one could ever possibly enjoy, and listen to these sounds often and engage them deeply so they become genetically infused into your synapses.

You should listen to black metal, to rantings of mad men, to rabid chimpanzees beating on a log with a still-bloody long bone. You should inflict upon your unwilling cochlea the wheezings of a phlegmatic old man with a collapsed lung and a sucking chest wound and by God, you should find the secret of life in there!

Music isn’t like other extreme manifestations of the sublime. It’s unlike taking drugs or racing motorcycles, not like mountain climbing or bullfighting. With music, there is no edge to fall off of to a painful doom if you venture too far out…

Albums are little aural puzzles. I work them out over a period of days and weeks and months. Maybe years. All that time, I’m subconsciously feeling around for connecting fabric between the songs. I’m listening for diamonds chiming deep in the mine. Remapping my brain in surprising ways.  And eventually – hopefully – when I’ve been at it with a particular album for long enough, I’m scaring the primordial shit out of myself.

In 2011, much of this scaring and primordial shitting was spent in the various metals: the black, the death, the heavy, the doom (and do try a bit of that folky post-metal over there, won’t you, dear?). Metal is great for a puzzle solver like me because it takes about ten thousand listens to transform it from white noise into unadulterated magick in my head. At least it ought to take that long if it’s worth a damn.

So I struck upon a lot of aural magick in 2011, and with no permanent injuries.

Here’s the best of what I found:

10.       The Ocean – Anthropocentric
Anthropocentric is the conceptual prog-metal masterpiece that Mastodon would be recording right now if they’d studied in school instead of staying up all night watching cartoons.  It’s Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Mastodon’s Hanna-Barbera. Is that a compliment or an insult? Probably both. But if you wanted to hear ruminations on Richard Dawkins, Epicurus, and Dostoyevsky set to a bi-polar metal beat, you could not do any better in 2011 than Anthropocentric.

09.       Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Tom Waits is a wad of old bubblegum stuck in the tread of a burned-out ’57 Buick. Just ask him; he’ll tell you. And he’s got some gravel squished into the soft parts, and a rusted nail, and maybe some hairs from a stray dog. Miracle is, if you’re willing to clean him off and give him a try, there’s a lot of flavor left after all these years. Still good for a bubble or two! Sure, Bad As Me is not as gloriously weird as 1993’s The Black Rider or as sinister as 2002’s Blood Money or as fresh as 2004’s Real Gone, but that’s because Bad As Me isn’t Tom’s best. It’s merely better than anyone else’s best.

08.       Disma – Towards the Megalith
I know there exists a reasonably good chance that Towards the Megalith is a straight rock record played at one-third the speed at which it was recorded. One day I might even test out this theory. But for the past four months now, I’ve had this old school death metal beast on repeat on my iPod. I’ve had it on repeat even though I know its only redeeming value is that I feel compelled to keep listening to it. And that’s enough.

07.       Joseph Arthur – The Graduation Ceremony
The less ambitious these Joseph Arthur albums get, the more I like them. The Graduation Ceremony is as close to a generic solo record as we’re ever likely to get out of Joe, and I think it’s my favorite one of his 15-year recording career. If he cut this album up and sold the songs for scrap, some real singers could get some hits out of it. Cruise control never sounded so troubled.

06.       Drudkh – Estrangement
Drudkh might be the best Nazi black metal band spouting 18th century Ukrainian poetry that’s out there right now. In fact, forget the “might”. I’m going to throw caution to the wind and say it: Drudkh is the best Nazi black metal band spouting 18th century Ukrainian poetry. Ever.

05.       Nick Cave & the Black Seeds – Henry’s Dream
Why aren’t you listening to Nick Cave already? I mean, right now, instead of reading this blog of mine, which isn’t half as delicious as a Nick Cave album. Any Nick Cave album. Look, if you’re intimidated and don’t know where to start on his discography – and you probably should be intimidated – might I humbly recommend Henry’s Dream from 1992? It’s a great collection of story-songs that leaves an impression of Cave as some sleazy bard cohort of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name, just tagging along for the ride. 

04.       Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit
Agalloch is atmospheric nature-worshipping black metal from the Pacific Northwest. It creates this chilling little movie inside my head every time I hear it. And even my wife can dig it, except for that one track where she says the “singer” sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait. If she hadn’t pointed that out to me, this album would probably have been higher on my list.

03.       Drudkh – Microcosmos
Imagine that there was a zombie attack during the recording sessions for My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless but the producer kept the tape running anyway. I like to pretend Microcosmos is the result of that massacre, except this is even better than Loveless, because it’s uglier and more beautiful at the same time. If listening to this doesn’t get you stoned, then buddy, you are a hopeless case indeed.

02.       Arrington de Dionyso – Suara Naga
A couple years back, Arrington de Dionyso broke up his band, Old Time Relijun, to focus on Tuvan throat singing and Indonesian lyrics. It turned out to be a grand move because blues riffs and English lyrics were the last two ropes holding this genius earthbound. This new alien mutant funk thing appeared this year, fully-formed, with no apparent precursor or context to help explain how the hell he came up with it. There is no description I can come up with – primitive, psilocybin-soaked, shamanic dance music, anyone? – that could do Suara Naga justice. Just try it, dude. Just a little taste won’t hurt you…

01.       Deathspell Omega – Paracletus 
The first couple times through Paracletus, I knew how little Regan must have felt in The Exorcist when the demons took hold and tossed her around the bed and twisted her head all the way around. There are patterns in the chaos here, though. You start to make out sonic fractals all around you. It’s a brutal apocalypse told in English, French and Latin, and – SPOILER ALERT! – the forces of heaven get creamed. Nothing else this year even came close.

So there. That’s it. That’s what I listened to in the year 2011. It’s what twisted my head into funny, funny shapes.

Now it’s your turn. What twisted your head into funny, funny shapes?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lost: Something. REWARD!!

craigslist, 11/05/2011
Lost & found

A curious ask: assistance requested for identification/location of unknown item of great subjective value. Substantial financial incentive!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When is My Brother Not My Brother?

I imagine that you would use the mattress I found as a mattress.

Is that a fair assumption?

That you’d use it to sleep on? For its stated purpose – a stated purpose maybe even appearing on that Do-Not-Remove-Under-Penalty-of-Law tag, if that Do-Not-Remove-Under-Penalty-of-Law tag had not been torn off this mattress I have blocking the entrance to my little closet?  

Yessir. Torn clean off and gone. Lost. It’s no wonder so many of the homeful view all of us homeless as criminals.

But I am not using the mattress as a mattress. It is doing me more good blocking the entrance to my little closet. And anyway, a mattress would only cramp my style. You cannot readily sustain a transient lifestyle if you have to worry about lugging around an enormous mattress from place to place to place.  

So I do not sleep on a mattress, in my little closet beneath downtown Houston, but that is okay by me. There is nobody here for me to try and impress.

I do not expect visitors.

I do not believe “MTV Cribs” will be popping by for a surprise visit.

Grunewald's "Temptation of Saint Anthony" (1516)
I am under no illusion that this is where the magic happens.

I do not intend to stay long, at any rate.

This little closet of mine beneath downtown Houston, I think maybe it was once a server room. Or maybe a place where they kept backup generators, back before the big flood of 2001, when they all realized that underground was a lousy place to keep server rooms and backup generators during a big flood.

When I push past this mattress, then I walk further up and I look out on an old elevator shaft. There is a truck hanging there – vertically – held aloft by something-or-other hooked to its rear axle.

This is how I gain entrance my little closet: I climb down through this truck. I bet the truck has been there since 2001, too, hanging. There’s gotta be a story behind how it came to be hanging like that. I do not know that story.

But what my point is is that it’s not all that easy to find my little closet, what with the elevator shaft and the truck and the mattress-that’s-not-a-mattress and whatnot. And that is why, roundabout noon this past Thursday, I was so surprised to hear someone on the other side of my mattress shouting my name.

“Katy! Katy? I know you are down here somewhere!”

The voice was correct. I was down here somewhere!

Now normally, a voice’s accuracy would not – in and of itself – convince me to allow the voicer entry. I mean, would you answer a late night knock upon your door merely because the knocker proclaimed, “The square root of 529 is 23!”?

I imagine you would not. Is that a fair assumption?

But this voicer who voiced the truth so unexpectedly outside my little closet was not just any voice. No, this voice was in fact that of my own twin brother, Anthony. Anthony, who also happens to be the husband of my husband, Aesop, and of my wife, Dana.

Salvator Rosa's
"Temptation of Saint Anthony" (1645)
This was an important voicer! So though my closet was not really set up for visitors, I pushed the mattress aside and I let Anthony in.

He had an enormous backpack packed upon his back.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” my visitor said. Then he handed me a carton of cigarettes. I do not smoke cigarettes.

“I know you don’t smoke cigarettes,” he said. “I thought maybe you might need them to, um, you know, trade for things or something.”

“Thank you,” I said because I am polite. I set the carton of cigarettes on a shelf.

Then I said, “But you know, I am not in prison.” This was demonstrably true. I looked around me. The Supreme Court would never have allowed the State to store its criminal humans in this manner.

“Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!” my visitor tried again. Then he reached into his backpack and he showed me some food.

“This is just like the first Thanksgiving,” I said. “White man goes out into the wild and shares food with those who do not believe in the concept of property. Bring on the smallpox-laden blankets!”

At this, Anthony looked sheepish. He pushed the blanket he had brought me further down into his backpack.

We ate food for a little while. I was moderately thankful.

After we had eaten most of the food, Anthony said this: “We found your blog.”

He meant him and Aesop and Dana. He meant this blog. He meant “Lesbians in My Soup.”

“In your blog, why do you call me ‘Anthony’?” said Anthony.

I shrugged. “It is a masculine pseudonym I use sometimes,” I said. “After Anthony of the desert? … The fourth century Egyptian monk?”

My visitor with the blog-name “Anthony” shook his head. It seemed my brother – who had lived in Nepal for a little while in order to meet Tibetan monks – was not familiar with Western monasticism!

Salvador Dali's
"Temptation of Saint Anthony" (1946)
I said, “Anthony of the desert lived for many decades in a hut on a mountain near the Nile. Other contemplatives fashioned their lives after his example.”

Anthony chewed a piece of bread. “Christian monk, though, was he?”

I ignored my brother’s question. I said, “In art, Saint Anthony is famous for the temptations. Demons came to his hut in the desert and they descended on him. People at the bottom of the mountain could hear Anthony screaming. But he withstood the demons’ temptations, people say, and he kept on living alone on only bread and on water and on contemplation.”

I said, “So ‘Saint Anthony’s Fire’ is a medieval term for hallucinations due to ergot poisoning.”

Then I was quiet. We ate a little bit more food.

My brother stared at the mattress, which was blocking the entrance to my little closet. The mattress was dirty. Probably, it was too dirty to sleep on.

Finally, my brother said, “So are you hallucinating demons, Katy?”

Then there was a long pause.

“There are no gods here,” I said to Anthony. “There are no gods here, and there are no spirits, and there are no temptations, and there are no demons here.”

This was correct. I had never slept so soundly in my life! Saint Anthony of the desert could not have hidden so well as me. I knew that nothing and nobody – no matter how long and how deep they searched and searched – could ever find me in my little closet behind my mattress below the hanging truck.   

I said, “Why, not even the Devil himself could ever find me down here! Not even –”

I looked around my little closet. I looked at my shelf.

There was no carton of cigarettes. There was no backpack. No smallpox-laden blanket.

No Anthony.

I lay down and I slept.

I imagine you would sleep, too.

Marten de Vos' "Temptation of St. Anthony" (1594)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New Experiment in Living

Dear Dana,

There’s a little monkey-man who lives out near our front gate, just under the mailbox. He is very little, very monkey-like.

He’s the one who told me I should go away and move to the underground.

Now, you might say this sounds crazy. And I admit that normally, I would be tempted to agree. But Dana, here’s the thing: That little monkey-man was right. I have to go. I must.

Life is too short to be spent inside of houses.

And yes, I know people will talk. Your people will talk and I know what your people will say. They will say that human beings live inside of houses, and if it should so happen that a human being does not live inside of a house or equivalent structure, then the aforementioned human being is crazy.

I have discussed this at length with the little monkey-man who lives out near our front gate.

Here is what the little monkey-man said about that. I pass it along to you now so that – when your people talk to you and say that I am a crazy human being – you will stand ready with an appropriate response.

*     *     *     *     *

1.  The response. Just last Thursday, the little monkey-man told me, while smoking his strange wooden neon pipe beneath our mailbox, that I cannot be crazy.

His logic was cogent. Irrefutable.

He started with this: “You say to me, Katy, that the act of going away and moving to the underground labels you a crazy person. Yet you would agree with me that crazy people – that is, those human beings whose minds work in a manner contemplated and recognized and classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – do not know they are crazy.”

Then he said this: “You would also agree with me that these so-called crazy human beings do not choose to leave their families and their houses and to move to the underground. They become ‘homeless’ – for lack of a better word – because they get lost and they get confused and they wander away without their medication.”

And the little monkey-man said this: “But you yourself, Katy, you are not lost. You are not confused. Unlike the crazy person, you know how crazy all this sounds, yet still voluntarily, proactively, and with much forethought, choose to move out of houses and go into the underground. The crazy person is incapable of such a decision. Ergo, you are not crazy.”

Then, his point having been made, the little monkey-man crushed out his pipe, rolled himself into a ball, and soaked back into the soil beneath our mailbox.

See? I’m not crazy after all.

*     *     *     *     *

2.  Deep Houston. Oh, Dana, I only wish you could see it! There is the downtown Houston that you see when you go to work. When you leave work. The one you see when you go to the courthouse or when you meet a client for lunch at a restaurant.

But then there is another Houston that exists only an inch – maybe less! – outside of your peripheral view.

First you turn right off of Travis, near the old Gulf Oil building. You let your mind wander, sort of floating free, like maybe you are looking at one of those deep 3D autostereogram paintings from the Nineties. You let your mind float free and you let yourself get lost.

Keep walking. Then you see it. You see the labyrinth of deep Houston. You see the place I am going.

Beneath, beside, betwixt or maybe between the downtown Houston stuff you know, there’s an older place. There’s the skeletons of the Enronoic Era. The powers behind the last war and the ones that will make the next one. There’s landmarks of the Golden Seventies, when Saudi princes flew in on Friday night to pick up Texas girls and snort away millions.

But there, deeper down and buried, there’s the Allen Brothers, washed up from the bayou, finding strange, not-quite-Spanish structures of unknown architectural origin.

And now Dana, you have to climb quite deep to get there. There, there are peoples who have not seen the bright downtown like you and your people know for generations.

But I can live there. And I am going to.

That does not make me crazy, Dana.

*     *     *     *     *

3.  Leaving houses. Your people will also say it is dangerous. Dangerous to leave houses behind. Dangerous to leave clocks and stoves and bug spray and central A/C. They will say it is dangerous, and especially so for women. They will say the streets are full of crazies and criminals and deadbeats and outcasts.

This time, your people will be right.

But I have my brain.

I have all that I learned last summer when I was there.

I have Captain Torus – that wise old anthropologist with his ankh staff and his sidearm and his knowledge of the Rules of the Streets and Side Tunnels – to protect me.

I have the confidence that leaving houses and moving into deep Houston is something I must do.

Maybe that makes me a little crazy. But only a little tiny bit.

*     *     *     *     *

4.  What I know. Dana, I know I love you. And I know I love our life. I love our family. That is a crazy thing for me to say, in light of this whole voluntary homelessness thing (see above).

I know it is a crazy thing, but it is a crazy thing that is true.

I know I would take you with me if I could take you with me. And we would find there is another way of living.

Tonight, I pack my things. I will place Saint Athanasius in his little box in my pocket. And it is then that the little monkey-man – the one who lives out near our front gate, just under the mailbox – will lead me down into the labyrinth where the crazies and the criminals and the deadbeats and outcasts go when they go away from houses and from clocks and stoves and from bug spray and central A/C.

Tonight, I am going. Going feral. Going stray. Going underground.

I don’t care what the little monkey-man says, I know that this makes me completely, fantastically crazy.

But I am going!

Google can't map where I'm going.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Defense of ‘Lulu’

Some music is hated.

There is music that is bad – meritless, unoriginal, unlistenable claptrap bad – but there exists much bad music that is beloved.

But some music is genuinely hated.

Like this “Lulu” album thing I’ve been reading about. It is a brand spanking new collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica. A concept album, no less. A double-length concept album about self-loathing, self-abuse, and assorted miseries.

For the past month or so, the internet has been abuzz about “Lulu.” “Lulu” is hated. It was hated before anyone’d heard a note of it. It is hated on principle. It is hated viscerally. When somebody gets indigestion or loses the big account at work, they blame “Lulu.” They blame “Lulu,” and then they come back home and they get on Amazon and they kick it in the teeth a few more times.

“Lulu” has transformed negative record reviewing into a full-contact competitive sport.

“Metallica finally found a way to keep people from illegally downloading their music,” someone over here says.

“Lulu is a complete failure on every tangible and intangible level of its existence,” says this review.

“Reed mutter[s] the title over and over as if he was rudely woken up and shoved in front of a live microphone,” says this one over here.

And Pitchfork – oh, dear hipster Pitchfork – says “Lulu” has one too many good moments to be the worst album of all time, thus failing even as a failure.

Yeah, I’ve listened to “Lulu.” I even bought “Lulu.” Paid money for it. Online, of course: There was no way I was going to be seen walking up to a cash register with that thing.

Now, I should tell you, I am a fan of Lou Reed. I have listened to Lou Reed all of my life.

I am a fan of how unlikable he is. How difficult. Inconsistent.

I am a fan of his ugly imagery.

I am even fan of his clunky lyrics. My favorite Lou Reed album ever begins with the line, “Life’s like a mayonnaise soda.” That’s pretty clunky!

But as best as I can discern, when it comes to “Lulu,” the criticism centers around only about four things:
     1.     The awkward mismatch between Lou Reed and Metallica;
     2.     The songs (both lyrics and melodies);
     3.     The musicianship; and
     4.     The vocals.

Other than that, there does not seem to be much trouble with “Lulu,” really. Just those four minor things.

Damn you to Hell, Hal Willner.
Me, I blame Hal Willner. He produced “Lulu.” Hal Willner is a terrible producer. Just awful.

For years now, Hal Willner has produced novelty projects that look great on paper but sound awful in execution.

Like this: The last time Hal Willner produced a Lou Reed album, it turned out to be a concept album about Edgar Allen Poe that included actor Steve Buscemi doing a sleazy lounge act. And it sounds even worse than what you’d imagine.

The typical Hal Willner production uses this sort of reasoning: “Hey! Wouldn’t it be weird if we released an album of Leonard Cohen singing Limp Bizkit songs?”

So Hal Willner projects are bad. They are bad, but they are not normally hated.

Hal Willner projects really ought to be hated. I mean, divine justice and all that jazz…

The thing is, on “Lulu,” Lou Reed himself does okay. I mean, he does as well as can be expected. Maybe even better than can be expected. The guy is one hundred and seventy-four years old. I have seen surprisingly compelling evidence that Lou Reed’s major organ systems dissolved back in 1971. It seems probable that he is a zombie.

But despite that, Lou Reed bolts past the starting gate on “Lulu” in full clunky Lou Reed mode, moaning, “I would cut my legs and tits off / When I think of Boris Karloff.”

That’s pretty clunky! That’s Lou Reed!

In other places, “Lulu” distinguishes itself as the queasy Beatnik feel-bad album of the season. Like on “Dragon,” where he keeps repeating something about a “Kotex jukebox.” Or on “Pumping Blood,” where he whines, “I will swallow your sharpest cutter / Like a colored man’s dick.”

Oh. Yeah. I forgot to mention before: “Lulu” is mostly sung in first person from the perspective of a woman. Awkward…

I would imagine all this makes “Lulu” look pretty awful to anyone who did not already think “Lulu” was pretty awful. And don’t get me wrong: “Lulu” is pretty awful. But what’s with all this hatred? Can’t we all just get along?

The real problem with “Lulu” – other than Hal Willner and the Kotex jukebox thing and Lou Reed’s zombie state and the first person feminine perspective and the aimless songs averaging about nine minutes a piece – is Metallica. And it’s not even Metallica so much as it is James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, specifically.

James and Lars are running around right now – even as I type these words – bragging to the music press that “Lulu” is chock full of first studio takes. I believe them. It sounds like first studio takes. Hetfield’s backing vocals on “Lulu” make Lou Reed’s voice sound like Pavarotti or Edith Piaf or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in comparison. And Lars Ulrich is in beginner-league drumfills-a-go-go mode every time the album lurches into ad-libbed abstractness, which is quite a lot.

Lou Reed at the age of 12. 
Mostly, though, it comes down to this: Lou Reed is not for everyone. In fact, Lou Reed might not be for anyone. His discography is best appreciated in theory and not actually experienced, like a secret Venus de Milo sculpted from bovine excrement.

But right now, we’re seeing Metallica fans – all 200 million of them – bitching about a Lou Reed collaboration.

And that is a bit like JK Rowling and William Burroughs writing a novel together and then unleashing Rowling fans to complain about how many ellipses there are… and erotic hangings… and Johnny waking up in Ali’s body… It’s like a hypothetical David Lynch-directed “Twilight” movie being attacked by 14-year old girls for having a non-linear plot.

So I stand alone. Over here.

Yes, me. Right here. When it comes to “Lulu,” I will stand alone. I will spit into the wind. I will defy your conventional wisdom.

I will read the reviews… Listen to the album again…

And I will remain defiant.

Against all odds and against all logic and against good taste and better judgment, I will defiantly award Lou Reed and Metallica’s “Lulu” album an insane TWO WHOLE STARS (out of a possible five).

And that’s a solid D grade.

Yeah, I said it.

Don’t be a hater.