Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 
Sunday, November 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 47.0° F  Light Rain Fog/Mist
Collapse Photo Bar

I Was a Fish-killing Fool

Comments on the paper, the website, the mobile site and all other Isthmus-generated products go here.

Postby blunt » Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:40 pm

Love ya, need ya, gots to have ya.
But why this fish tale in this section?
Shouldn't it be in.......Catch All?
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 8246
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 6:19 pm
Location: Right behind you.

Postby Marvell » Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:37 pm

blunt wrote:Marvell.
Love ya, need ya, gots to have ya.
But why this fish tale in this section?
Shouldn't it be in.......Catch All?

Nyuck nyuck nyuck.

Well, whenever I feel like trying the Isthmus's patience I do it here.

I figure if only forons see it, I may remain beneath institutional scrutiny.

Which is my one and only goal in life.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 6989
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 11:28 pm
Location: At one with time and space

Postby fennel » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:09 pm

Marvell wrote:I figure if only forons see it, I may remain beneath institutional scrutiny.

Which is my one and only goal in life.

Say .... wasn't Joseph K a fisherman?

Please report to the Isthmus's Chamber of Review the first thing tomorrow morning.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 3215
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:24 pm
Location: Inside the Green Zone, Madison

Part Seven: Rock and Roll Unalaska Nights

Postby Marvell » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:37 pm

The morning after the first offload I slept in. When I finally woke up I was incredibly sore; I managed to creak my way up to the top deck and stumbled outside into the sunshine. It was a beautiful spring day on the island of Unalaska; the surreally-steep volcanic hillsides were carpeted with deep green grass and a riot of wildflowers, and every hundred yards or so a cataract, thick with snow melt, sprayed and sparkled. I stumbled around on the dock for a bit, my sea legs reacquainting themselves with the novel sensation of unyielding ground. Then I went back inside to see the Purser and pick up my $100 advance.

There are three options available if you want to get your drink on in Dutch Harbor; the first is of these is The Elbow Room. All you really need to know about The Elbow Room is that it consistently finds itself on lists of the Scariest Bars on Earth. I figured I was already getting all the adventure I could handle, so I never went - but my pal the Engineer's Assistant told me of the time he was there with a couple of the other Amfish crew and some jackass tried to start some shit with him. The Engineer's Assistant was a chill sort of dude, and was doing his best to extricate himself from the situation without resorting to violence, when all of a sudden he saw this blur of motion - Frankie, who had been lying passed out on a bench, had come to and, seeing what was going on, immediately attacked.

So what the Engineer's Assistant sees is this five-foot tall (maybe) Vietnamese guy flying across the table past him and bashing the jackass over the head with an empty beer pitcher, knocking him out cold.

The Engineer's Assistant smiled as he told me the story, and shook his head affectionately.

"Fucking Frankie," he laughed. "That guy is a monster."

The second option is the 'family bar' - The Unisea Inn. The third option is to go get some beer/booze from the Unisea store (same company as the Inn), and sit around on the dock drinking it until someone gets rowdy enough for the locals to complain to the cops; of course, 'rowdy' in Dutch Harbor implies the discharge of firearms and/or public fornication - and even that would probably get a pass on a Friday or Saturday night.

So that night I went to the Unisea. It was a big, long building and backed up on the harbor; you could literally tie your boat up in back and walk into the bar. The whole wall facing the harbor was glass, which in conjunction with the long Alaskan summer evenings made it the sunniest, lightest bar I think I've ever been in.

At the Unisea if you wanted beer you could have Rainier in a can or Rainier in a can; that was it. They had a full bar, and any kind of booze you wanted. I asked the bartender for some Jack Daniels with a couple of cubes of ice; she stared at me blankly for a second, then filled a manhattan glass with crushed ice and tossed a shot of Jack Daniels on top of it.

So while I ate my Jack Daniels snow cone I checked out the scene.

A lot of hairy guys. I mean, a lot of hairy guys. If I was into 'bears' I would have been in heaven.

There were more than a few women there - maybe 10 to 20 percent of the crowd - and apart from being amazingly popular they looked like the normal sort of women you would see in a tavern anywhere in the West. So any misconceptions you may have of Alaska being some kind of paradise for ugly women appears to be exactly that - at least based on my admittedly limited field work.

Everyone was remarkably well-behaved; in fact, the only fight I saw was in the men's room.

I needed to take a leak, so I navigated to the loo. Upon opening the door I was confronted by the site of two impressively mulleted and pencil-mustached rocker dudes with their hands wrapped around each other's necks.

"Fuck you!" gasped rocker one.

"Fuck you!" wheezed rocker two.

I was faced with a predicament; the mutual strangulation was between me and the pissoir.

So, I decided to brazen it out.

"Excuse me," I chirped brightly. And, to my astonished delight, they - without ever acknowledging me or ceasing their conjoined throttlings - edged aside and let me pass.

So I walked past them, dropped my fly and passed what had once been Rainier. I flushed, washed my hands, and headed back towards the door.

"Thanks, guys!" I said cheerily to the combatants, and left them there, locked in their deadly lavatorial embrace.

I came back out and found Daryl. He was watching the band, a term I apply loosely. It was a two-piece: a guitar player who looked as if he had borrowed his technique, attitude and physique from Charlie Daniels; and a blowsy blond singer of equally impressive heft and even more mediocre talent. A drum machine made time for them, rounding out their sound. And at one point the Man Who Would Be Charlie Daniels put down his guitar and picked up a fiddle.

As he scraped his gutbucket, the energy level of the room noticeably picked up; I saw beards split apart in grins, and lanky, down-parka clad frames lean back in booths with a palpable satisfaction.

Daryl turned to me and shook his head. " I don't know what it is with white people and fiddlin'" he said, with a tone of weary resignation.

"It's a honky thing," I said, laughing. "You wouldn't understand."

"Don't wanna understand," Daryl muttered.

After a while I was putting a pretty good dent in my Ben Franklin, while needless to say getting an epic buzz on in the process. As the dusk finally began to give way to night we noticed Endo-San walking past.

"Hey, Endo-San!" Daryl called.

Endo turned and looked our way. We waved at him, gestured for him to come join us. He ambled over and sat down.

I gave him what I'm sure was a painfully gaijin bow, and hailed a waitress. "Three beers," I said, and paid the lady. Little did I know that I had just made a terrible mistake.

I had cost Endo-San face. I, a lowly factory drone, had bought him a drink, putting him in my debt.

And Endo-San was going to pay. Oh yes he was.

We proceed to get incredibly drunk. I can't believe they kept serving us, even when Endo-San started teaching us how to say 'tits' and 'pussy' in Japanese.

I dimly remember the cab ride back to the boat; people were singing and screaming and jumping around, which the driver took all in stride - I'm sure she saw this kind of shit constantly.

Even then I was smart enough to drink a lot of water before I went to bed, so the hangover the next morning, while enormous, was bearable. But at one point I was walking by the open door to the Japanese mess, and there was Endo-San, passed out on the bench and looking very green.

But, as it turned out, I had missed all the real excitement.

Here's what happened, as best I could figure out from what people told me later:

The two skanky gals from Seattle had gone to The Elbow Room with the Yakima Okies, with not unpredictable results - i.e. they got macked on but good. The 'hot' one started making nice with some of the local talent, and got one of them to follow her back to the boat. This didn't sit so well with the larger, more golem-like of the Yakima nephews, and words were exchanged.

At this point The Captain comes out and orders the Yakimanians and the skanks back on board. And golem-boy, confirming my low opinion of his intelligence, took a swing at the skipper.

Well, not surprisingly The Captain tuned him up, as they used to say. And by the time I crawled, hung-over, from my bunk both the nephews and the skanks were no longer in the employ of Crystal Products.

[End part seven]
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 6989
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 11:28 pm
Location: At one with time and space

Postby O.J. » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:45 pm

"I saw beards split apart in grins." Are you fuckin' kiddin' me?! Quit your dayjob.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 3000
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:13 am

Postby lordofthecockrings » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:43 am

O.J. wrote:"I saw beards split apart in grins." Are you fuckin' kiddin' me?! Quit your dayjob.

It was "riot of wildflowers" that got me.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 1318
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2004 11:06 pm

Re: Part Four: I Stare Into the Jaws of Death

Postby One Eyed Jack » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:57 am

Marvell wrote:

It took four guys to haul the halibut away. I was later told that they estimated it weighed somewhere between 450 and 500 lbs.

[End Part Four]

That's a huge halibut. I think the state record for AK is 459lbs.

Quick story: the one time I went fishing for halibut (summer of '95 out of Homer) we caught about 20 that were in the 25-30lb. range, and THOSE fuckers were dangerous. The captain and firstmate of the boat didn't mess around; the second those fish were in the boat, they were immediately and violently clubbed with mini-baseball bats and kicked into storage.

I was barfing over the side of the boat for 10 hours straight. Catch fish, barf. Catch fish, barf.
One Eyed Jack
Senior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:24 pm

Postby massimo » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:30 am

tibor wrote:This is by far my favorite thread in my 1,310 registered days.

More, please.


With all the election season crap around here lately, this is the only thread I've been tuning into. A troll-free breath of fresh air.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Madison

Postby blunt » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:52 am

Not to take away from the genius wit that Marvell truly is, let's not lose our heads, people.
Marvell is simply standing on the shoulders of giants, referencing and nodding to those before him, etc.

[url=http://]A ghost of a smile split the man's dusty black beard. "Father?" He nodded. "Just as I thought. You're Prime Minister Naqueron's son. Just who I was looking for."
..noticed their faces.Their heavy beards were split by broad grins....

A riot of wild flowers are in bloom in the foreground of colors orange,yellow,blue, lavender,and a touch of red
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 8246
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 6:19 pm
Location: Right behind you.

Postby lordofthecockrings » Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:01 pm

Blunt, isn't all literature derivative to some extent at this point? Couldn't it be argued that the best writers are the ones who know what to borrow from whom and when?

Just sayin' ...
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 1318
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2004 11:06 pm

Postby blunt » Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:03 pm

lordofthecockrings wrote:Blunt, isn't all literature derivative to some extent at this point? Couldn't it be argued that the best writers are the ones who know what to borrow from whom and when?

Just sayin' ...

I do it on accidentally on purpose all the time.
I wasn't trying to keep Marvell honesst, I was trying to temper the sycophants rants.
Last edited by blunt on Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 8246
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 6:19 pm
Location: Right behind you.

Postby supaunknown » Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:38 pm

I'm pretty sure I invented the E chord ...
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 5577
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2002 3:22 pm

Postby blunt » Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:20 pm

Yeah, and I thought I invented the term lead zeppelin.
But dammit.
My intent was not to indict Marvell, or accuse anyone of plagiarism but to let some of our unwashed masses know they are flipping out over some dog-eared and time-worn phrases from posterity, though gracefully updated and weilded in an excellent tale.
Marvell knows I know he spins brilliantly original wit 24/7 and I have said and will say so.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 8246
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 6:19 pm
Location: Right behind you.

Part Eight: I Astonish and Scandalize The Warthog

Postby Marvell » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:30 pm

That night a palpable funk descended over the crew of the M/V Amfish.

A bunch of us chipped in on some beer, and we built a driftwood bonfire a ways down the road from the dock; we stood around, and drank the beer. Many kvetched; chief amongst the kvetchers was Old Joe, my cabinmate.

He kept pitching the idea of some kind of collective job action, to force the skipper's hand. "We'll wait until they sweeten the pot," Old Joe kept saying; it got to the point where if he had said 'sweeten the pot' one more time I would have grabbed him and slapped him senseless.

Fortunately it didn't come to that. But it did leave a dispirited, uncertain crew.

In the morning, there were more comings and goings. Old Joe, dramatically, had found a job on another boat - he moved out of our cabin, leaving only a biodynamically-fecund waste-basket full of shells in Bering Sea water that he thought would be a good idea to leave in the room, and which I only found out about when it began to emit a reek in my cabin that would rival the aftermath of any of history's greatest massacres.

The Vietnamese guys were also leaving, their contracts fulfilled.

At one point in that first tour I had gone down to the laundry room to check on some gloves I was washing, and found Duc, Dong and Phong hanging out and talking.

I was wearing a sweater that my mom had knit for me; it was a huge, extremely-warm turtleneck sweater that I nicknamed 'The Ãœber-Sweater."

Phong complemented me on it. "That looks very warm," he said.

"My mother made it," I said, shyly.

They all grinned. "My mother bought me these," said Dong, and showed me his gloves.

We talked; they told me about Vietnam - and about how they left, in twenty-foot boats out across the South China Sea. They told me about the families they left, and how they were working to save the money so that someday the family could be together, in a place that felt like home.

I realized that these guys were so much more bad-ass than I could ever hope to be. They had stared into the abyss, and came away with their humanity unshaken.

I could only hope for the same grace in dealing all the stupid, petty aggravations and injustices that life throws at you. To rise above it all - or drown in my own shit.

On the day that the Vietnamese guys were to leave they came, one by one, to my room, to give me things - things of theirs that they no longer needed, and didn't want to carry with them. Blankets, sweaters, a hotpot - they festooned me with gifts, then embraced me as they stepped to the gangplank and the rest of their and my lives.

Robin, the Cook, left - she was replaced by a gruff, grizzled bit of business that sniffed hugely to me of ex-con; his name was Bill, and he had a big Conway Twitty pompadour in the middle of his head - I don't know what the Amfish Aquanet bill was, but Bill was indubitably behind most if not all of it.

Especially since the Purser left, which reduced the number of women on board that I felt any sort of attraction towards to zero. She was replaced by this weird guy from Texas; he had pluses and minuses attached. On the plus side he had a huge personal video collection which he made available to the entire crew in the mess hall; on the minus many of the videos in his collection were porn, and if you talked to him for a while he started telling you about his intention to get a mail-order Filipina bride, someone who 'really appreciates a man.'


There was also a tiny, bearded honky; I don't remember his name, but he immediately set about ingratiating himself with Tom, Dan, Joe, Ben, Terry and the other now-veteran's of the Amfish.

I didn't like him. There was just something about him that rubbed me the wrong way.

But the chief among the new editions to the crew was Al C.

I first noticed Al C. the second day we were in Dutch; I had gone out to make a call to the girl I was in love with (she was mildly responsive to my tales of gnarly heroism), and when I returned I noticed a big, well-built black guy sitting in the mess. I noticed immediately that he was very quiet, but was clearly watching everything going on; I could see him studying the interactions between the crew, and I wondered what his deal was.

The third night much of the dead weight was gone - the Yakimaniacs; the skanks; Old Joe and his tedious pot sweetenings. I would miss the Vietnamese guys, but I was also happy for them; they got to move on to whatever it was they had planned on doing with all the money that now sat in their laps.

The rest of us had a party on the pier.

It was the two college boys from Florida who kicked it off, with their ultimate boombox. This thing was the size of a Yugo, and had the sheer wattage to make the very heavens shake.

At first they were playing shit like Bobby Brown - "My Prerogative" and crap like that. I had a wooden softball bat that I had taken from the boat; they had a whole box of them, which a previous Captain had bought to break ice off the boat during the winter fishing season. I started dancing around with the bat, goofing like I was Fred Astaire with a cane.

Sharkey came over; he was kind of wasted. Earlier he had shown me pictures of his daughter; she was a beautiful little girl, and his teenage face beamed as he let me gaze upon her photographic likeness.

Now he was different; less maudlin. Harder.

I gave him the bat.

Daryl was dancing around now; the kind of painfully deliberate groove one might associate with Gladys Knight and The Pips. The Florida kids were egging him on, but there was a geek show vibe to the enterprise that was made especially suspect by the racial dynamics involved.

Sharky provided momentary diversion by chasing a rat down the pier with the softball bat, but soon things settled grimly back on Daryl and his decidedly ungroovy thang.

I couldn't let him flounder like that; not my friend Daryl. It was unthinkable.

I staggered towards the Florida guys. "Got any Prince?" I asked.

Jason (the more doe-like of the two) smiled. "Oh, hell yeah. I got 1999 right here."

"Well, put it in, for the love of God!" I cried.

And that's when I danced.

I danced as if I had never heard of white man's burden; I danced as if I had never heard of white men at all.

My ass swang. My hips pivoted. Every salacious thought, every lubricious intention, every lascivious deed I had ever contemplated I let ooze out through my limbs in time to His Royal Badness.

Near the end of my Terpsichorean display the Chief Engineer emerged from the interior of the Amfish, and for a long moment he watched me groove and gyrate in the deepening Alaska night.

The music finally died. The Chief looked at me and shook his head. Leaning close, he said "Boy, if you danced in Luhsiana like that, you'd be arrested."

I looked at him, and then gave a little bow.

"That's the highest compliment I've ever been given," I said.

It still is.

On the fourth day we sailed.

[End Part Eight]
Last edited by Marvell on Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Forum God/Goddess
Posts: 6989
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 11:28 pm
Location: At one with time and space

Postby Miss Allison Fester Pith » Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:24 pm

Now that's class.
Mr. Blunt, why can't you be more like Marvell?
Miss Allison Fester Pith
Senior Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:40 am


Return to Comments on Isthmus &

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 1 guest

Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Created with flickr badge.

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar