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The Sternal Journal

Et tamen nescit agmine farciminis
Sternal Journalists,

Those of you who have been around for a bit will know that the unequivocal greatest thing I've written on here is the  Ode to a Hot Dog on a Train. Those of you just joining (there are a number of you this week thanks to The Weed + Grub podcast, my dear friend Ben, and my #1 fan Barry whose anonymity I will preserve but know that I appreciate you) can read it here.

Don't wanna read it? You should, but the gist is that I always run past a billboard that is comprised of a hot dog photoshopped such that it is sitting on a heavy-duty cargo train, and it is underlined by the words "YOU AIN'T HEAD NOTHING YET" in a font that is probably called Rejected Mission Impossible Font.

Below is a beautiful gotdamn picture I took of it. 
Ugh beautiful. So I keep running by this sign over the past six months and I start to feel like it's taunting me.

COVID. YOU AIN'T HAD NOTHING YET. Police literally getting away with murder. YOU. AIN'T. HAD. NOTHING. YET. Election ramping up to be an undesirable and generational experience (terrible combination, undesirable and generational is). YOOOUUU AINNN'T HAAAD NOTHINGYET.

Because, and I'm still rehashing the original story here so I shouldn't have told you to read it, but all of this bares repeating:

Specifically what or which nothing ain't I yet had, hot dog on a train? A hot dog?! I've had a hot dog. 

Nothing about this billboard makes sense other than my theory that it is some weather vane of doom there to tell me and only me how much cosmic bullcrud we have yet to endure. 

While my belief that only I could see the Hot Dog On a Train was swift and disappointingly debunked, I could not shake the feeling that, were it to come down, something would happen. Something would change.

So now you're all caught up and I think it took me a little longer than the first time I said it. But so it goes, neither here nor there, etc.

ANYWAY, what you now need to know is, despite fearing it, I grew to love the Hot Dog on a Train billboard. I made it a part of my constantly morphing and never effective brand. And almost as importantly, I would go take walks in the morning to see it.

Seriously. I poured a coffee, popped in a podcast, and walked to just go look at this billboard. I am a crazy person. But I also am effectively mind-meld talking to a billboard so you know this, 

BUT GUYS THEY TOOK DOWN THE BILLBOARD. Yes, on one of these walks just a few weeks ago, I looked up to where the billboard should be and found a billboard for a SKIN CARE BRAND.

Nothing could be more opposite to the hot dog on a train than a skin care brand. What's worse (and please go all the way with me on this), the skin care brand advertises itself as "CLEAN."

I learned, from feverishly texting a lot of people in my life who use skin care that clean skin care products are basically a sham and there was a whole lot of people pushing back on the ambiguity like:

SKIN CARE BRAND: We are so clean.
ANYONE ELSE: Oh, cool. No bad chemicals?
SCB: We're clean!
AE: Clean how?
AE: So it's eco-fried--
SCB: Do not say. Another word. Unless it is "CLEAN."
AE: What does that--
SCB: Clean. You were gonna say, "What does that clean." Great question.

So when I heard that, I had to check the instagram of the woman who started the clean skin care brand and I found, I fuck you not, a video on instagram of her yelling at her husband to give the Ferrari more "Gas, gas, gas, give it more gas! He loves gas!" because their toddler son. Well. He loves gas.  

This was a blow.

Not only had I lost my locomotive frankfurter coffee companion, it was replaced by some hypocritical bullshit that was cryptic in a sleek corporate way instead of a batshit, manic way. 

I was nonplussed, but if I had learned anything from the Hot Dog, it is that when I think I've had something, I actually, at this point, ain't had nothing. 

But and then I realized "Hang on now. The whole deal I had with myself was that if this hot dog on a train stops telling me I ain't had nothing yet, then perhaps at that point, I and we have actually had something! Perhaps it was time for the universe to stop lobbing worse and worse horrors upon us-

And then the billboard changed again. After only two weeks of visiting the billboard of the cleanest skin care brand owned by a woman who loves to rev a parked sports car for her child who has yet to develop long term memory, THE BILLBOARD WAS REPLACED.

I regularly wondered if I might see the Hot Dog replaced, but in those scenarios, I always imagined his successor would have as robust a reign as him. Because billboards tend to stay up for a LONG time in LA.

(Seriously: There's a small one on Hollywood Boulevard that, I once again fuck you not, is for Harry Potter and the HALF BLOOD PRINCE. That movie is from 2009!)

But not clean skin care brands apparently. Just s few days ago, I looked up as I was running east on Beverly again, hoping to come around on this clean skin care brand, but to my surprise, I was staring into the beautiful blue of BIG SKY, the upcoming Montana police procedural from David E. Kelley.

So what does this all mean? I don't know. It means that I don't know anything. But I am not going to pretend that, if something happens in Montana election-wise on Tuesday, I won't be telling this story (a more concise version hopefully)for years to come.

But I hope that story will include that the Hot Dog Train was to be trusted, and when he went away, it was a very real sign that we had had something yet, and now it was time to start to not have that something anymore. 

Vote if you haven't. Drink lots of water. Do something nice for yourself and someone else every day. And hopefully, hopefully, we will start to not have that something anymore. Maybe more than one something. If you catch my drift.

I'm saying thee are some somethings we have right now that we could do away with (one very big) and a way to do that would be the upcoming democratic process, and let's hope our cleanest biggest sky hopes that those things we had to have had something of don't stop democracy from taking place. Because without democracy, we really ain't had nothing yet. 

2 quick recommendations and the things I was listening to while writing this:

Jazz in Silhouette by Sun Ra (Godfather of Afrofuturism)
Put Your Records On by Ritt Momney (Cover that was recently very hot on TikTok)

And of course, check out the Weed + Grub podcast hosted by my good friends Mike and MaryJane. We talked about where to wipe your hands on your pants (I forced this topic) and I regaled them with mat Maxim stories which are sweet if you haven't heard em. They also recently interviewed Jim Belushi if you think he's more entertaining than me (fat chance!).

I love you all very much! Reach out if you need anything!


Copyright © 2020 Julian M. Stern, All rights reserved.

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