by DANIEL TAYLOR
An Unoriginal Origin: Hot flashes, as you may or may not know, are an unpleasant affliction suffered by women of a certain age. And though you could certainly say the same thing about me, my own misfortune with the fairer sex was not the reason I penned a column titled “Hot Flashes” for more than seven years in this here publication. In fact, I have no idea what the origin of the name “Hot Flashes” was because I didn’t come up with it. I was, as far as I know, at least the the third person to have gave a go at writing “Hot Flashes” when I took it over in 2002. But I imagine the name had something to do with the fact that my predecessors were women and the column space itself was intended to be filled with the latest music news—“flashes” if you will—back when people still had to read that kind of shit in real life and not just on the internet. And that’s what it continued to be with me at the controls. At least for a couple of weeks.
If No News is Good News, Then All News is Bad News: As I started getting the hang of the whole writing thing, I began poking at the perimeter of my subject matter. After all, there’s only so much music news that most people really give a shit about, not to mention that you had to go look for it and actually think about it. Far easier, I found, was just talking about myself: how hungover I was, what I had for dinner, the crummy people I associated with. Initially, these personal anecdotes were just filler for when I was having a hard time coming up with enough fodder to fill the space. But unscientific surveys of my fellow bar patrons revealed that these trivial, almost laughably mundane personal tales were somehow resonating with the citizenry. So—much to the chagrin of my girlfriends, parents, bosses, and anyone else who mattered—I started writing exclusively about my misadventures. Long before Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al allowed every minor tragedy or pyrrhic victory of an average Joe’s stupid life to be broadcast to the masses, my own tales of woe were dropped on the doorstep of businesses throughout Chico every week.
I’d Strike the Sun If It Insulted Me: Over the ensuing years, I harnessed the power of the written word mostly for my own benefit. Free drinks, the adoration of moderately attractive women, the hushed reverence of my tight-panted peers at emo shows; the fringe benefits were numerous. Occasionally, however, I would use my column space for more nefarious purposes, namely as a public method of retribution against those who had wronged me. These scathing rebukes never failed to excite the sympathies of the masses. The targets of these missives were as varied as they were numerous: the dude who fucked my girlfriend (who added insult to injury by threatening to sue me for slander), the bouncer at Normal St. who explained in detail, exactly how far and how fast I could fuck off with my “funny little hat” (which was in fact a very tasteful Goorin Bros. headpiece) the up-and-coming pop punk band that had been rude to me during an interview (who were shamed into apologizing by their record label, but later did so far more sincerely of their own accord after a chance meeting at The Warped Tour).
Perhaps the most infamous of these public campaigns came after I was ejected from the Downtown Starbucks, which at the time served as both my second office and the nexus of my downtown information gathering. The manager of that store had grown weary of me, personally no doubt, but also professionally on account of an elaborate method of ordering by which I was able to save a couple of dollars a day in coffee overhead. The apparent last straw was a column in which I named that Starbucks the “Best Place to Take a Shit” in all of downtown (which it was, and still is). Soon after this, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was banished. But several severely worded columns later, the offending party was forced by the powers that be to welcome me back with open arms (or at least arm). This coffee dust-up soon attained almost mythological stature, further bolstering my already grotesque ego and emboldening me to new heights of narcissistic excess and vulgarity.
The Walking Cred: But even Narcissus needs a haircut every once in awhile. For fear of wearing out the welcome I probably never really had, I decided to hang it up a few years back and move on to so-called “real life.” I’ve since become the miserable pile of human garbage everyone (including myself) always expected I’d be. But every once in awhile, some depraved lunatic on the street will accost me. “Weren’t you that guy, who used to write?” Indeed, I was. I was “that guy.” And I guess I’ll always be.
And so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.