Saturday, October 6, 2018

One of My Most Confused Posts Ever



I still haven't worked on the trip photos yet, but I will today.  I don't have much enthusiasm for that, though, for they are the end of summer photos and I have returned to the beginning of autumn.  That was marked yesterday by changing the quilted comforter on the bed.  I have two of the same that I bought from Pottery Barn from decades ago.  The green one I put on for spring and summer.  That was put away yesterday as the burgundy one emerged.  I'm a sucker for such simple traditions.  It was almost momentous.

I had a long but successful day at the factory, and after work, I wanted to celebrate, so I stopped at the chi-chi bar for an Old Fashioned.  I was celebrating alone, but it was still a celebration.  The day was pretty, the temperatures a bit cooler and the air a bit drier, and I decided I would grill myself a steak, so after one cocktail, I went marketing, upbeat and looking forward to the weekend.

Back home, I got out of my work uniform and into my "soft clothes," a t-shirt and loose harem pants. Laugh if you will, but the goddamned things are cool.  I've worn them out to get groceries and to the liquor store and even to see my beautician who was mad about them, and yesterday when I went to the garage to run my printer, the tenant went mad for them, too.  Putting them on changes the way I think.  They are dangerous, though, as they have an elastic drawstring waist.  I could get very, very fat wearing them, but of course that is why I like them.  It is in keeping with my new philosophy of being kind to myself and taking "the gentle path."

So, elastic waistband in place, I was ready to grill.  I opened a bottle of wine, chopped the potatoes and slathered them in olive oil, salt, black pepper and red pepper, and wrapped them in aluminum foil (I prefer tin), and then did the same with the asparagus.  Then, grill preheated to about 500 degrees, I put everything on.  It didn't take long to sear the steak on both sides, then I set the temperature down and sat at the dinner table on the deck to smoke a Cuban cigar and drink my wine and think.  I was still happy.  It had been many months since the weather encouraged sitting outside, and it was fun again to wave to those on their evening strolls.  This was to be the first outdoor meal of the season.

Alone.

Everything was delicious, and clean up was easy.  It was time for a whiskey on the deck, and everything was wonderful and good as the sky went from light to dark, shade by shade, until it was almost night.  I decided it was time to go inside.

I looked at my phone.  Nothing there.  And that is when I began to hear the house.  There was no music.  There was no laughter.  There was nothing to distract me from the empty sound of the quiet rooms.  I thought to read.  I thought to do some writing or to sit down at the computer with the trip's pictures, but suddenly my energy had waned.  I sat down on the couch and turned on the t.v.  I looked at the clock to see how long before bed, then put on a documentary about a Conde Nast photographer I had never heard of.

Sometime later, I woke up.

And that is how I celebrated the changing of the comforter.  The end.

I'm looking forward to some things today, a scooter ride, lunch, a nap.  When I write it down, it looks pitiful.  Still.  And tonight is the big fight.  I am considering purchasing the pay per view for $67, but I am afraid I'll fall asleep before the main event.  I would really like to see it, though.  You know. . . "the fighter still remains. . . ."  Conor McGregor, who I keep mistakenly calling as Gregory O'Connor, is the Donald Trump of MMA.  And indeed, the people watching the fight will be overwhelmingly Trump supporters just like a NASCAR race or a country music concert.  And in the other corner is the Russian Muslim, Khabib Nurmagomedov.  It is a classic professional wrestling card except for the fact that these guys are going to really beat the shit out of one another.  And who doesn't enjoy that?

See, that is the trouble with lefties.  They enjoy a good debate more than a good fight, and that is why they and I are losing.  I keep telling my lefty friends to quit using academic jargon and to go to a Tim McGraw concert once in awhile or go see some professional car racing or just get into a fight.  It will change the way they relate to the world.  Watching soccer isn't enough.  But they don't want to hear it, and every time I open my mouth any more, somebody gets mad and people start crying and leaving the room, and I'm not exaggerating.  My lefty friends are all a bunch of whiny babies who get pissed off if you don't agree with every inch of their intersectional/plant based platform, even if you are on their side.

Oh, I don't want to get started.  They've all resigned themselves to a Kavanaugh Supreme Court without taking responsibility.  Unless liberal values become more inclusive, the right will keep winning.

Yea, I think I better watch the fight tonight. . . if I can stay up.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Reasonable Man



I slept better last night and feel more "myself" this morning.  Maybe I didn't drink as much last night.  I think that might be true.  I went to my mother's house and made her dinner since I hadn't seen her for about ten days or so.  I put on the news, CNN, and she began calling the commentators liars when they talked about Kavanaugh.  Oh, mom.  What can you do?  There are so many truths, and people get to choose the ones they want.  But I have to say, I am tired of hearing CNN talk about what "college educated women" think.  They say that out loud in front of my mother who lived in rural Ohio and graduated high school in 1949.  She had no chance to go to college, but now she is being disempowered because of it.  Sorry, but that sort of rhetoric is not going to get dems elected.  Besides, college ain't what it used to be.  Everybody has an online degree from somewhere now.  The nature of academia has changed radically.  That is why I so much love this story that appeared in the New York Times today (link).

"Something has gone wrong in the university — especially in certain fields within the humanities,” the three authors of the fake papers wrote in an article in the online journal Aero explaining what they had done. “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields.”


Here is my favorite part.

In “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Ore.,” by “Helen Wilson,” one of their made-up researcher names, the study purported to observe dogs having sex, and how their owners reacted, to draw conclusions about humans’ sexual attitudes.

Humans intervened 97 percent of the time when male dogs were “raping/humping” other male dogs, the paper said. But when a male dog was mating with a female, humans intervened only 32 percent of the time and actually laughed out loud 18 percent of the time.

The paper’s author cautioned: “Because of my own situatedness as a human, rather than as a dog, I recognize my limitations in being able to determine when an incidence of dog humping qualifies as rape.”

My own "situatedness" is that we are all fucked, and I feel that in my circumstance, it qualifies as rape.

But enough of that.  I don't want to have to use the leeches today.

I downloaded all of my photos from the Cali trip, and I have to say I have lost my eye.  I am heartily disappointed in the results.  I haven't had time to work with the images yet, and something might come from nothing, but I wish I hadn't used up all my cell phone pics now.


See that kid between the two girls?  That is what I was going to change my life to look like.  That is what I decided while I was out there.  Different diet, no drinking, a vigorous workout schedule.  Here at home now, though, I have different ideas.  I got up this morning and decided to be kind to myself.  My body wanted to be lazy and not work out.  It wanted a sticky bun with coffee.  I decided on the gentle way and yielded without resistance.  I will be a jolly fat man today.

I've taken to asking people if they ever have pc sexual fantasies where all power is shared and everything is equal.  No one, not even the male feminists, has said yes.  That will change, I'm sure, and maybe I'm just asking the wrong people.  I have included college educated females in my query, but I should ask more young, privileged white males.  I think that I might get different results.  Right?  Sex is so wrong, I am deciding to give it up.  Nothing good ever comes from it.  You'll see.  The Japanese started it, but it will spread.  People will decide that it is just too complicated.  At least democrats.  Republicans will continue unabashed and unabated.  But the rest of us who have any sense will give it up for ideological reasons.  Or, maybe, because we eat too many sticky buns and don't exercise enough.  I know what you are thinking.  But my case is truly ideological.  It has just become too dangerous.

I will even give up photography, at least outside the house.  That is dangerous, too.  I will only photograph objects and maybe some Cindy Sherman style self portraits.  Or I will buy some mannequins.  That could be fun.

How did this post take such a weird, cynical turn?  I really am in a good mood, and I am looking forward to some weekend fun.  God knows what goes on inside the mind of even a reasonable man.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Too Tired



Nope.  Life doesn't change just because you go on a vacation and have time to think about "things."  All you did before and all you must do remain.  I was going to change my life, I swear, but I was so tired after work that instead of changing my life, I came home and opened a bottle of wine.  I went to the garage and worked with the printer which hadn't been run for over a week.  I was going to pump up the tires on my bike, but I was too tired to do that, so I came back into the house and sat down.  I called my mother.  She thinks it is a pity what "they" have done to that poor Kavanaugh.

"What have they done?" I asked.

"They've ruined his life."

"Oh."

She's back to watching Fox news.

I decided that I didn't have it in me to go to the grocery store and get the ingredients for one of those "bowls" that were on the menu in the cool Venice restaurant with the twenty-nine year old bartender, so I went to a place that makes poke bowls and ordered a Hawaiian.  I ordered it, but I couldn't pay.  I had to go back home to get the wallet that I took out of my pants pocket after work.

A little later, I sat on my couch with my poke bowl and turned on the news.  I wasn't going to do this any more, but maybe I didn't mention that I was beat after working.  I just didn't have the energy to do something different.  But the news was still saying the same things that the news said when I left for California, so I turned the t.v. over to YouTube where I watched a lot of short videos that matched my worn attention span.  I watched some videos about the upcoming MMA fight between the loudmouthed Irishman and the quiet Muslim.  I am tempted to watch it pay-per-view on Saturday, since it is in NYC.  I mean, maybe I'd be able to stay awake long enough to see the fight.

Some of that, then some camera-porn, but I'd seen most of that, so I scrolled down to music.  YouTube recommended this for me, so I clicked on it.


Oh, fuck man, why'd they have to go and do that.  I was too tired to resist.

After that, I watched a new Mark Knopfler release.  What happens to people.  It is sad.  The next video popped up.  It was Tom Petty singing about my old college town with all the same film images I took when I was in school there, same time as Petty (who used to try to hang out with my roommate and I and wanted to play in our band, but we told him to beat it), so I sent the video to my old college roommate.  As I did that, the next thing popped up.  It was a Tom Petty concert from the same town in 2006.  It was hideous.  He looked EXACTLY like Hillary Clinton.

What happens to people.  It is sad.

What the hell, I thought, as I clicked Paul Simon playing "The Boxer"live from Hyde Park.  I often play that song on my guitar when I am alone and sad and drunk as I was by the time I hit "play" last night.  And when Simon sang, "But the fighter still remains," I was in tears.  It just happened, suddenly and violently.

What the f'ing f?"  Where did that come from?  I was surprised and dismayed.

Lying in bed last night somewhere between midnight and morning, I started thinking, not a good thing to do at that time, but it couldn't be helped, and the past started flickering behind the lids of my eyes, things I never think of, sad things, and I thought about all the people I'd known who didn't know one another and never would yet who were conjoined in my memories, and the intersectionality of life, the way crossroads meet in an individual, and the profound weight of that which one must bear and which grows greater with time began to overwhelm me, and the dam burst again.

Then I thought/dreamt of an old girlfriend who has taken broken things to be her own, and I imagined  her having broken animals for her own, too, birds, one with a single wing and another with one leg.  And then there was one with a broken beak and a blind bird, and the number of birds and the circumstances of their disabilities grew until it was a grotesque manifestation of her inner state. . . .

Jesus Christ!

I got up.  It was not yet five, but I couldn't lie there and take that shit any more.

I dumped some of the camera cards into the computer and began to download, and as the images appeared, I was bitterly disappointed.

Now what I want to do is change my life, but I am thinking I have neither the energy nor the time to do that.  What I really need is a playmate, someone to distract me from whatever weird shit is happening in my head.  But who knows where the playmates are and how far I would have to go and how much time it would take to find one who liked me and who I liked?  And I'm so tired.  Did I mention that?

So the day has come and it is time to slip back into the hideous old comfortable routine.  My friend texted me last night that I should never have given up the studio, and I said that doing so was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  I wish I had one now, and maybe that is what I should invest my time in, finding a new one.  I have ideas that require a studio space to manage, and a studio is a nice place to go when songs and dreams are too overwhelming.  But right now, I don't have the time.  As I say, the day is calling, the same one that called me yesterday and the same one that will call me tomorrow, and I wonder what will happen when someday soon that day does not beckon any more?  Into what will I be released?  Will I be revealed to myself in the day as I am in the night?  Will the existential void that I've always recognized come to swallow me at last?

I'd better change my life.  I mean to.  I really do.  It's just that I get so tired.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Return



Everything went smooth as silk coming home yesterday.  I got selected for pre-check again, so arriving two hours early was silly.  With so much time, what was I to do?  Q said to drink, but I wasn't ready for that.  No, a big juicy cheeseburger was just the thing, a $20 LAX cheeseburger.

It was good, too.  It was nearly worth the money.

When I got back, there was no one to greet me at the airport.  I'd forgotten that.  The taxi ride back to my house was a little lonely, but my Vietnamese driver was entertaining.  He was 65, never married, a lifetime bachelor.  He explained it all to me, that and his family's history.  Him and me, going it alone.

When we into my driveway, I realized I didn't even have a cat to greet me for the first time in over sixteen years.  You get the life you choose, I guess.  The point was driven home.

One of the things I'd forgotten about, having not gone anywhere for so long, is just how hard it is to come back home.  Everything is as you left it--or worse.  All the things you were going to do to change your life meets reality.  So you spend an hour readjusting, putting dirty clothes from the trip into the wash, putting away the other things as best you can but really leaving much sitting out to be dealt with later.  You are lost in a familiar place.  It is good to be home.  It is terrible.

Which is the more difficult, I can't remember--going west or returning east?  I've always thought it was harder returning east, but I didn't sleep well at all last night.  I am feeling the hours this morning. A three hour jet lag is hardly jet lag, but it is something, maybe jet blur.

Getting back into the groove is more like falling into a rut.  I got up and hit the coffee maker button.  The familiar grrr and whine.  I poured a cup and opened the milk I had gotten from Whole Foods last night.  I poured it into the coffee, and it chunked up yellow.  I smelled the milk and it didn't smell bad, so I tasted it.  Why in the fuck someone would do that after looking at the big, yellow chunks is a mystery, but one did.  O.K.  California chill.  No big deal.  I got into the car and went to the little market up the street.  I only go in emergencies.  The terrorist who owns the dirty little crack supply shop doesn't keep the refrigeration cold enough, so everything is suspect.  But I needed milk.

When I got it home, I poured a fresh cup of coffee, opened the new milk, and poured it into the cup.  It chunked up in pieces.  I smelled the milk and it didn't smell bad, so I tasted it.  That's right.  Same result.  No shit.

Now my belly is churning.

I went for a third half gallon of milk, this time to a 7-11.  Ahh, yes, the third time was a charm.

No matter what I do, though, I can't seem to get the taste of spoiled milk out of my mouth and brain.

It is a work day.  I am late, but that is to be expected.  I'm always late and now I have an excuse.  But when I leave the house today, no one will come to make the bed and wash out the bathtub and to clean the sink and vacuum and straighten up.  That will all remain for me to do.  And everything else.

Where do all the epiphanies go?  They go to the factory where they are shown to be what they are, fantasies of those who need do nothing but walk and look and see.  It is easy to forget what life is really like.  It only takes a few days.

So now to shower.  I will go to work with a mouth and belly tainted by bad milk.  Today, rather than walking and looking and seeing, I will be sitting and talking and doing.  There I was, for a moment, a flaneur, if you will.  And now. . . .

There is still a chance that I might change some things, a slim but possible chance.  Just let go, I say, don't hold on so tight.  Drift a bit.  Float.  You'll be good.

We'll see what a day at the factory does to that.  Yup.  We will see.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Beautiful Day



Mondays are Mondays everywhere, no doubt.  They feel the same, have the same sameness about them.  Monday nights out of town feel the same, too.  Places are empty.  Places are dead.  And so, here am I, packing for my Tuesday morning flight.  And writing this now, as I know I will not have time to do shit in the morning.  Well, I'll do a shit, but. . . . .

When I got up this morning, the sun was shining and the air was cool, a perfect SoCal day.  So I packed my cameras and headed out for Santa Barbara on the long route.  I thought that there was a Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco.  I would have sworn to you I have driven it before.  But I hadn't.  And I was wrong.  There is no PCH in L.A. or anywhere north for many miles.  I tried.  I swear I tried, but roads kept ending and turns kept turning, and then I was in some oil field and cabbage patch in the middle of nowhere.  Thank god I had the presence of mind to grab my camera and make a record of the moment.  I did not think to use my phone camera, though, so for now you will have to take my word. 

I did manage to stop at some of the famous beaches along the way, though: Topanga Canyon and Ventura.  I stopped at the old Chouinard Iron Works building where everything started that became the travel accoutrement business.  The shed was there, but nothing more.  Next door was a Patagonia store, but it was no different from any other you might wander into, young kids selling stuff to old people who remember when it was cool to wander into the wild.  I drove by the compound where Chouinard lives now with his billion dollars, I think, a colony on the beach made up of high rollers and movie stars, walled to keep the peasants out.  But hey. . . he still does god's work. 



Finally, somehow, I ended up in Santa Barbara.  Oh, my!  I hadn't been there before, and I was knocked out.  It is truly the most beautiful city in America.  If you haven't been, go.  See State Street, but don't stop there.  Wander around.  Get lost.  End up at the most gentle beach in California.  I did, and I am happy and glad.  The light in Santa Barbara is the most perfect light in the world.  Take it from someone who would like to be a photographer.  Gimme, gimme, gimme. 

But you need God's money to live there. 

I realized today that since I've been here, I've eaten nothing but fish tacos.  It's alright.  I don't spend money on dinners eating out alone, and fish tacos are good.  I had three of them for lunch today with a cold Modelo draft.  Fish is good for you, and the tacos have all been good.  I feel like a Mexican fisherman now, getting lean and strong and hard.  I don't look that way, but maybe a bit more than when I came.  But everyone looks better on vacation. 

I went to the pier and I went to the beaches, and then it was late afternoon, and it was time to go.  I took Highway 101 back as it was the quickest, but it was also beautiful, more so than I would have thought.  The mountains and golden hills were on fire with the sun, and that morning, when I plugged my phone into the USB port, I found that all my music was up for play, so there was that.  All my life, I have come to California and driven its mountains and coasts listening to music and clearing my head.  Today, I found that there was much to clear in the old pumpkin, but driving and listening and looking and singing along was cathartic for me.  Many of the songs were from old California trips, and the emotions that raged within me were strong and they were wild.  Driving with music is a universal therapy, I think.  Nobody who does it is ever the worse for wear.  The swerving road, the steep canyon walls, the golden grass, the fire of the sun, and music.  I was Jesus beautifully mad with it all and wished it would always be like this and never, ever end. 

The sun was setting just as I got back to L.A.  And I wondered--should I eat?  I was still full from the late lunch, but I did not want to go to bed hungry.  I thought about where I could dine.  But it was Monday, and nobody was out, and the food would all be old and bad no matter where I would go, so I got. . . this.




A romantic dinner for one in a New York Pizza at a dirty table under bright, fluorescent lights, alone.  Just me and the guy who ran the place.  We talked.  It was O.K.  It didn't last long. 

Now I am facing reality again, an early morning wake up, returning the rental car at an offsite facility and making it to the gate on time.  And then tomorrow night, I will be back to my home, back in my bed, and I will forget every epiphany I have had this week.  I know enough to know that.  That is how it always works.  Oh, one or two things will be remembered, but not for long.  Not for very long.  I have already had a call from the tenant complaining about the electrical wiring in the apartment, and an old girlfriend has been sending me mean texts trying to spoil my trip.  When I get home, it will only be worse.  But I will have had this, and it will do until the next trip which I don't plan to be very far away.  Since I came out with no bar, I had to buy all the bottles I drank, so know how much I I've consumed.  It is shocking.  There will be that to contend with and an exercise regime that I will not reveal to you now.  As always, my plan is to be fit and lithe and handsomer than others, but that is a dangerous if not disastrous bet.  Still, it is that or bust. 

I am a dreamer in a realists world.  It doesn't work so well very often, but when it does. . . fuck off, you idiots, look who has come to town! 

Until then. . . .

Monday, October 1, 2018

ALWAYS Have a Camera



Sunday in L.A.  I spent most of the last day of September at the Getty Museum.  Now that might have been a mistake, but it was an unavoidable one as far as I can tell.  I did not consider the days well when I booked this trip, and as a result, I've missed some things.  You see, you can not drive in L.A. most of the time.  You will eat up half your day--literally--driving across town and back, so I have had to plan my visit according to traffic.  On the other hand, some of the things I wanted to visit are closed the days I wanted to visit them.  In some cases, I didn't know that until too late.  Selavy.

That is not to say that a visit to the Getty is a mistake.  It wasn't.  The Getty is a beautiful structure in a beautiful place with fantastic views all around.  I looked at the paintings on the top floors of the two main buildings which was fun, especially noticing the 16th century European inability to capture the human form correctly.  In order to account for perspective, arms were often improbably long or short, and elbows and wrists would bend at anatomically impossible angles.




But the main exhibit was "Icons of Fashion Photography,"which was important to me, but the crowd was interesting, too.  A large proportion were Asian, and they were the most fashionably dressed.  Of course, I had decided to leave my cameras in the car, tired of lugging them around every day, so all I had was my phone.  Phones, no matter what the ads say, are poor substitutes for cameras, and I regretted not bringing at least one.



The Getty took most of the afternoon.  I looked to visit some other galleries, but I found out that most of the remaining ones I wanted to see were closed on Sundays.  Frustrated, I decided to head to Beverly Hills.  

Rodeo Drive.  What can I say.  It was the brightest, clearest day I've ever seen.  I thought I'd feel out of place as I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but I was wrong.  The sidewalks were filled with hillbillies taking selfies.  I took some pictures, too, but didn't stay long.  It was late afternoon and I wanted to get back "home."  

The traffic had gotten worse.  It took over and hour to cover the seven or so miles.  

Driving back, I realized that Sunday was the day to have stayed on the beach.  The crowds were crazy.  This is where the real photographic opportunities lay.  I pulled over and miraculously found a parking spot overlooking the Santa Monica Pier.  No phone pictures of that, but my cameras were popping.  

Back to the car, and a slooooowwwww crawl the next three miles back to Venice.  There were jumping everywhere.  Bands were playing, people were crazy.  I sat in the car, dying.  I had chosen the museum.  Had to.  It wouldn't be open again before I left.  But man, did I choose the wrong day to leave the beach.  

Venice is young and pretty.  Nothing has more ego than a 29 year old bartender here, male of female. They are cool.  They are certain.  I was lucky to get a drink.  

Regrets.  

L.A. would be a lovely place to make pictures if you had a long time to get to know the place and the patience to get around.  It is not a town to pop into for a few days with a camera.  Everything here is timing as far as I can tell.  L.A. is a beautiful deception, too often held at an arm's reach.  

I ended my night at the same crummy Mexican restaurant just down from my hotel drinking a couple margaritas and eating a chicken tamale.  

Somehow, I had missed the opportunity.  No, not somehow.  I had missed it.  

Today is another picture perfect day.  Monday.  The crowds will be back to work and on the highways.  I plan a drive up the coast along the Pacific Coast Highway.  North.  Malibu, then whatever.  Mondays are always Mondays no matter where you are.  

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Beautiful Day in L.A.



O.K.  I am recovering from the whiny little bitch phase I had in my last post.  I am toughening up, learning to live on my own on the road without the comforts of home or my cozy 1930's Palm Springs hotel.  The weather changed, and when I got up yesterday morning, the sky was clear and blue.  My mood is overly effected by weather.  After acidic coffee and a bagel from the lobby, I showered and hit the highways.  Saturday is a good day to drive in L.A., at least the mornings.  I wanted to see some photo galleries that were miles apart.  Google Maps took me on a tour of the city. 

The first gallery I went to was the best.  Peter Fetterman Gallery had an exhibit called "The Fashion Show."  I fell down.  The first giant photos when you walked in were by Irving Penn.  But just beyond that was a wall lined with giant Sara Moon photos, color Fresson prints that are hardly ever done. 


That was just the beginning.  There were William Kleins and Lillian Bassmans and Jerry Schatzburgs and Norman Parkinsons. . . .  I was thrilled, but the prices were out of range.  The big Moon's went for $30,000.  In bins, they had other prints for sale.  I could buy a Klein for $8,000, for instance, an 11"x14" signed black and white archival print. 

My knees were shaking. 

The gallery was in a group of converted warehouses that were now home to many other wonderful galleries.  I popped into one where the walls were lined with the paintings of Harlan Miller. 


I've been a fan but had never actually seen one of the paintings. 

Then another exhibiting the works of Elena May Siff's homage to Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities," small 3D fabrications that are too difficult to explain.  From there to another gallery full of photographs by a woman whose name I can't remember (the gallery card is in the car).  In toto, I was there for hours. 

Then into my car and off to the Annenberg Space for Photography.  Long drive, and it was closed for a new installation.  Off againto the Kopeikin Gallery and more photography. 

By now the traffic was picking up and traveling was slow, so I decided to go to the Taschen bookstore that was not far away.  I didn't know, but it was located in some big Beverly Hills outdoor, upscale mall.  I had to park in a lot, and afraid that I wouldn't find my car. . . .


There was a lot going on in this place, kids wanting to be 90210 all dolled up in that rich California way.  As I walked across the plaza looking for the bookstore, I suddenly felt that I was wasting my day.  I hadn't taken any pictures except to mark my car's location, and now here I was in Shinola looking at a two hundred dollar billfold.  Oh. . . don't think I didn't want it.  It was a beaut.  When I left, the clerk stared at me as if I had just stolen something.  I guess I wasn't looking like a Beverly Hills shopper. 

When I got back to my car, the day was waning and traffic had swollen.  The ten miles back to my hotel took an hour, I-10 a solid parking lot. 

I was back to my hotel just a bit after five, and I realized I hadn't eaten anything but a bagel all day, so I picked up one of those little scooters off the sidewalk and buzzed my way down to the upscale bohemian street for dinner at a place called GreenLeaf, an organic, sustainable food restaurant that served killer cocktails.  It makes no sense, perhaps, but it was cool. 



I've decided to eat this way back home, bowls full of healthy, fun things.  Right?  That's what you do on a trip, change your life.  

I must get going now.  I want to get to the Getty Museum when it opens so that I can avoid traffic and get parking which I read is very limited.  So a quick shower and off into what is another gorgeous SoCal day.  

I don't feel so empty.  I don't feel so blue.  I am building up rather than falling apart, inspired rather than tired.  

And so. . . until then. . . . 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Don't Be Negative


I've turned into a traveling wuss, I guess.  That place in Palm Springs ruined me.  I drove to L.A. in the morning and got to my hotel just after noon.  When I got here, they told me my room would not be ready until four, so I put on my walking shoes, grabbed my camera(s), and set off.

L.A. is a dirty city, at least the parts I've seen so far which have been downtown from the highway and walking though Venice Beach and environs.  A sea haze hung over the town yesterday, warm and wet, which did nothing to make me wish I hadn't stayed in Palm Springs longer.  But I was here, and I was out.  I walked to the Venice Pier which was absolutely nothing, then down the beach toward Santa Monica.  Characters and tourists.  Being crazy and poor does not make one photogenic, and to that end, my photo walk was uninspiring.  A crowd was gathered around the famous Muscle Beach Gym, an outdoor facility with rusted equipment and rusted bars that has inspired prisons everywhere.  You can get a pass to work out there for $10/day.  I wasn't interested.  What attracted the crowd was three tatted brothers who were performing some handstands on one another.  I took a few pictures and moved on.

Further down the boardwalk, I came upon another crowd and went to investigate.  It was a skateboard park.  In my head, I picture SoCal as blonde headed white kids on skateboards, but that is not the case.  Asians, Mexicans, and African-Americans.  Well, I haven't been here for a long, long time.



I wandered further until the crowd had thinned, and as I was tired, I turned away from the beach and walked toward a street chi-chi of shops.  I stopped at the first restaurant I came to that had customers, a Mexican place where I ate two fish tacos and drank a cold Corona.  I knew the beer would make me sleepy, but I was already feeling beat.  I texted a friend and told her that I smelled marijuana everywhere but had not yet seen a dispensary.  Weird, I said.  There must be more to it than we think.

Within a block, however. . . .


Well. . . I walked in.  The shop was full of guys in red shirts, the security squad, just about one per customer.  Prices must be high to pay for them, I thought.  To get in, you had to set up an account.  I gave them my drivers license and became, I assume, part of the FBIs permanent record.  The place smelled like a grow house and was overwhelming.  Hundreds of products, it seemed, cookies, gummies, oils, vapes, and just plain bud, all ranked and rated for what they did or could do.  I thought about the kids in my own home state who pay tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees for getting popped for a joint.  It just ain't NORML.

After walking the streets all day, I was pooped and didn't want to walk any more, so I picked up one of the scooters that line the streets everywhere.  Pretty cool.  You download the app, then scan the code on the scooter, and away you go.  I am not sure how much it costs per block or mile.  I just put twenty dollars on my account and will see how far that takes me.  But the damn things are squirrely.  At least for a man my age.  I took off all stiff and rigid waiting for my tumble.  Weren't people getting killed on these?  No helmet, nothing?  But it was cool.  When I got to my hotel, I just leaned it against a wall and left it.  I hope that was the right thing to do.

I got my key and took my bags to my room.  And I was depressed.  My place isn't a dive, but it used to be.  My room is very large and has cathedral ceilings, but that is all.  The carpet is hotel carpet, the furnishing are hotel furnishings.  I am on the fourth floor and have a balcony, but it looks out over a parking lot.  In the gloomy distance, I can see the mountains surrounding the bay.  The isolation and the furnishings and the view and the gloom here are a stark contrast to the cheery Palm Springs room that overlooked the pool.  My heart sunk at the thought of four nights.

I did some quick Google maps routes to places I want to go.  Ten miles.  1hr 30 min.  Everything.  Everywhere.  It felt like lockdown.

I decided to Uber to the Santa Monica Pier.


I missed sunset which I thought would have been beautiful with both natural and artificial light, but that is what I got for moping around my hotel room.  But I am a sucker and a sap for these old sights, and the Santa Monica Pier revived me in some primitive way.  It is nothing.  It is something.  The pier is lined with happy hoi-poloi taking selfies and eating carnival food and lining up in front of the End of Route 66 sign in order to have their pictures taken.  I tried to photograph, but it was dark.  Occasionally, if someone was standing in the light, I got a photo that wasn't blurred and smeared, but mostly I was stuck with photographing the lighted rides.


I was tempted to have Zoltar tell me my future, but I was afraid of how that would turn out.

By nine, I was wiped, so I got another Uber back to the old hotel.  I hadn't eaten and knew I should, but I was too tired to go looking for restaurants, so I went to the crowded Mexican place next door.  Yep, fish tacos and a beer.  The place was like any TGI Friday kind of place you could go.  I sat at a sticky bar with three t.v.s showing the UCLA/Colorado game, staring into a bright beer sign listening to loud music I couldn't begin to identify other than it is the kind of stuff these people listen to.  It was pretty miserable.

I came back to the room and had a couple scotches.  I had lost my bliss somewhere.  I felt lost.  I lay in bed and remembered vividly my trip around the country after college.  I remembered being alone on the road staying in dumps, eating bad food.  But I was looking for adventure, and there was a girl back home.  Last night, I was looking for something nice, and back home there was only home.

This morning I have lingered not wanting to begin the day, but the sun has come out and the day is, in some way, beckoning.  I will go into it and see.  As my one-time-friend said, "Don't be negative.  Make the most of it."

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Zombie Apocolypse



Poolside with coffee in the silent dawn, the hotel guests still sleeping.  Fingers crossed as I pushed the button on the coffeemaker.  The owner is so nice.  It is all set up.  It brews.  

Yesterday after writing, I ate a yogurt.  But wait, there was more.  I had two freshly cooked, still hot, hard boiled eggs and a toasted bagel.  I want to live here in this hotel.  It is awesome.  

Michael is the owner.  He is here day and night.  He bought the hotel last year.  It wasn't for sale, he said, but he made an offer.  When was this built, I asked him last night.  1936.  That is why he can have this lovely pool without a fence, he says.  He was grandfathered in, but that is also why the hotel is 21 and up.  Originally, this was built by the El Mirador resort to accommodate overflow as the resort gained popularity.  But when WWII began, it was converted into a hospital and so it remained (link). With its arches, I knew this was Philip Marlowe era.  

After breakfast, I headed off to peruse the town.  I walked the Canyon shopping strip, but it was essentially nothing.  It was already hot and there were only a handful of people moving on the streets.  I took a few pictures, but nothing of circumstance, and after an hour, I got back into the car and headed for the Ace Hotel.  I almost stayed there.  I'm glad I didn't.  It is a place to get puked on by someone who heard it was a good party place.  The architecture is blah, and the people a rag-tag collection from Instagram.  I walked up and down the street and took a few snaps.  I have to say, the Days Inn looked as appealing as the Ace.  Everything did.  

At noon, I decided to head for the Salton Sea.  My destination was Bombay Beach in particular.  The Salton Sea is a manmade catastrophe that gave hope to entrepreneurs looking to make a buck.  But the lake was not sustainable after its flow of water was cut off and so it became brackish and began to shrink.  The numerous resort businesses built on its shores were vacated.  Today, what is left is terrifying.  I had to take a look.  

I stopped along the way to make photographs, but everywhere I stopped, I expected to be confronted by ghouls.  I was in the lowest region of the U.S., some 260 feet below sea level, and it was 110 degrees.  I would stop at some abandoned building and get out to make a photograph, but I always left the car running.  I was worried that it would overheat and I would be stuck, but I more, I wanted to be able to jump into the car and make a heroic getaway when attacked.  The air was putrid with the small of brine and death, the landscape gaunt.  Why was I here, I wondered?  Why was I here alone?  


I came upon a functioning structure, the "famous" Banana Museum.  I have no idea what went on there.  A lone car sat in the parking lot.  I did not go inside.  I wanted to go.  Further.  I drove along the the shore of the lake, a road leading to a "park" of some sort.  I turned to go in only to find an entrance fee.  What?!?  People paid 6$ to drive along the nothingness.  There was no one at the guard gate to collect the money.  It was self pay.  It didn't seem worth it, though in retrospect I regret the decision.  How could I turn down an opportunity to experience God's destruction?  Maybe I couldn't face it.  I don't know.  I just did.  



The Bombay Beach sign appeared like the apparition of Gatsby's Eyes of Dr. T. J. Ecklburg, garish advertising for the apocalypse to come.  It beckoned the innocent, the foolish, the easily deceived.  It beckoned me. 


I turned down the road leading to "the community."  Another sign welcomed me.  "The Last Stop for the Bombay Beach Resort."  Beyond it was the town's commercial district, a restaurant/bar, a bar/grill, and a market.  One flew a black pirates flag, the Jolly Roger.  Two cars were parked outside. I wondered.  

I creeped along the unpaved roads past abandoned trailers and lots filled with every sort of junk imaginable.  Rusted cars sat in the driveways of trailers with busted windows and busted doors.  I stopped and got out.  There was no sound, just the terrible smell of salty death.  Looking around, I crawled through a fence entered one of the ruins.  I didn't breathe.  I wanted to hear the attack whether it was from some crazed criminal biker, his pit bull, or a mass of undead zombies.  I am not easily spooked, but this place got inside me.  It was as I imagine Chernobyl to be, abandoned in an instant, preserved in some historic moment.  

I got back into the car and creeped along.  I guess I imagined at this point that I was in some weird museum, for I stopped and walked into lots again and again.  Then I heard someone in a trailer next door.  I realized that an air conditioner was running.  Jesus Christ!  Who the fuck lived here?  This couldn't be good.  I was nowhere.  There were only these people.  When the shit came crashing down, there would be no one to help me.  They could easily make my car disappear.  The motor was running, the keys inside.  


I tiptoed back to the car and got in closing the door with a whisper.  It was true.  People lived here.  It was not the museum I believed.  I drove on, still stopping to make pictures but from the road rather than in what apparently were people's homes.  I saw no one.  Then, a lone bicyclist came toward me.  I drove by.  It was a young woman, a hippie in a midriff.  Don't be a pussy, I thought.  Take her picture.  It is too good to pass up.  So I turned the car around and drove up beside her.  I asked her if she minded if I used her riding her bike in a photograph.  "What's it for?" she asked with sleepy eyes and a drowsy smile.  "Just my vacation photos," I said realizing right away that sounded stupid.  "You from here?" she asked.  "No. Are you?"  "Yes. . . well, my parents live here."  I tried to picture them.  Was she here on vacation?  Nothing was making sense to me and I was getting nervous that some Zombie Police were going to arrive any moment.  "I don't really like having my picture taken," she said, and I said O.K. with both disappointment and relief.  "It's really hot," she said, and I agreed.  So why was she riding her bicycle around in the hottest part of the afternoon?  Nothing made sense here.  Nothing.  

Eventually I left with a feeling of relief.  I've never been spooked like that, and I left haunted.  I wanted to go back, though, wanted to go have a drink at the bar, wanted to find out why people lived in such a forsaken spot, why they made such strange things, such odd objects of art.  I wanted to, but knew the chances were slim.  But maybe, I thought.  Maybe.  

It was late afternoon.  I had to make a decision.  Did I want to go on another tour or did I want to return to the hotel?  I was hungry, having eaten nothing since I left the hotel that morning.  I was heat worn, and I was parched.  The idea of a drink beside the pool was too inviting.  The hotel it was.  


I was not wrong.  It was a capital idea.  Mathew brought me a glass of rose and some petite bites on a tray.  It was hot, and after my wine, I put on my trunks and entered the pool.  Yes, I affirmed.  I am older and smarter now.  I know to enjoy what I pay for.  I know better than to run myself ragged while luxury beckons.  A dip, a shower, and a scotch.  the sun began to set, and the other guests began to prepare for dinners.  I sat and wrote and drank and thought.  I cooked up these phone pictures and texted them to friends so they'd know I was living a large life.  I deserved it, they kindly responded.  I had a rough summer, a rough year.  That's what friends say.  That's what friends do.  

And I sat longer.  All the guests were gone now, and Michael came out make a picture of the beautiful end of the day.  Yes.  So would I. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Xanadu at the End of a Long, Hard Road



I have checked into a perfect Raymond Chandler hotel in Palm Springs, twelve rooms surrounding a pool and cocktail bar, retro-everything done in perfect style.  The road here was a long, hard one that began early yesterday morning, but sitting here now. . . well, oo-la-la as they used to say.  This place is dandy.

I took my first Uber yesterday.  Yea, I know, but I haven't gone anywhere for a long time and when I was traveling these past few years, Ili always got the rides.  But now I'm a millennial.  The ride to the airport was easy and half the usual price of a taxi.  It is a fabulous new world.

I got to the airport two hours early as I have not purchased the pre-tsa pass that lets you skip the line, and I knew that that line could take hours.  I, however, got the pre-tsa pass anyway thanks to my conservative good looks, I guess, so I was at my boarding gate in a couple minutes.  Sitting in a chair was better than standing in line, so I was in a good mood.

My seat was in the back of the plane, but I had purchased a cheap ticket, so that's what I get, but as luck would have it, the center seat was unoccupied, so I and the young girl on the aisle got to spread out a bit.  She was Chinese and a champion sleeper.  Me, not so much.  The five hour flight took all of that, and when we landed, our gate was occupied, so we had to sit on the runway for forty-five minutes.  I was chill about it, but they kept the cabin at about 100 degrees just to wear us out.  Still, no problem.  I got my luggage and headed to the Avis site to pick up my rental car.

As luck would have it, I got an Asian agent who had yet to boot up his computer.  Oh, he was a real pip.  He loved to talk, telling me all about the computer and why it was so slow.  The company was cheap, he said, yada, yada, yada.  Twenty minutes of this chatter passed before I was able to scan my credit card.  Then he began to upset me.  I called him on it with humor, but he said that was his job and he kept on with the entire spiel.  After half an hour, though, I was in my Chevrolet Omnivore, a cross between a minivan and an SUV.  I don't remember what it is really called, but it drives like a piece of shit Chevrolet, slow to respond to everything except the brake which loves to grab.  Still, the windows are large so the view is nice.

The view.  Getting out of L.A. was a nightmare.  Los Angeles County is a piece of shit dirty asshole of a place.  Apple maps planned out my route.  "Palm Springs," I said, and it said the drive would be over three hours.  This was not what was promised me by all the research I'd done prior to coming, but I thought maybe they hadn't calculated how fast I drive.  Turns out, it had calculated how fast I wouldn't.  Mile after torturous mile, I creeped along, first from light to light, then from one shit highway to another, every intersection clogged by a standstill of vehicles.  Fifteen miles an hour was a good speed.  So I creeped through L.A. County getting to view the sites, the Lowes and the Home Depots and the Shakeys Pizzas and the Pollo Locos, all dirty, worn. . . scenic if I were walking with my camera, but ultimately sad.  People have flocked to L.A. with no money apparently, for everything is cheap and broken.  But hey--it's L.A.

There is a diamond lane here for shared ride vehicles, and it was moving along where I wasn't, so I figured what the fuck and joined them.  Ah, now we were moving.  Thirty, thirty-five, even forty miles per hour.  I figure ever driver here must have an outstanding warrant.  I never did figure out why they drive so slowly.  That is the only conclusion I can draw.  I kept a wary eye for cops thinking to duck over into the standstill lane if I saw one.  It kept me awake and a little alive.  Then things opened up.  I saw confusing signs about a toll road.  There was an express lane with a sign that I am sure meant that you had an electronic payment on the car.  I took it.  Fuck yea, now we were getting somewhere.  As I drove, the parking lot beside me creeped along.  I was going to have to pay something somewhere along the line, I knew, and I hoped it would be like home where you get one free pass a month without being ticketed.  Still, I never saw a booth of any kind.  If they have sensors, they must be in the road.  The signs were cryptic, written in Arabic or Hebrew or Martian.  I drove on.

This went well for miles, but eventually, I was part of the parking lot again.  By now my eyes were getting blurry.  I hadn't eaten on the plane except for a Kind bar and some nuts I'd bought in the airport, and now I was beginning to drop.  Dear God, where was I?  There never was a sign that said "Palm Springs" and the map voice only told me to merge or join, never saying anything about my destination, either.  What if I ended up in Barstow or someplace?  The only road sign I ever saw said Riverside.

And then, like that, only three and a half hours later, I was there.  And that is when my phone said it was dying.  Shit.  I pulled over and looked up the email confirmation of the hotel where I was staying.  Then I remembered I had texted directions to myself.  On the last percent of battery, I was there.  No idea where I was, really.  Some neighborhood.  I certainly wasn't in the main part of Palm Springs.  What mistake have I made, I wondered.  When I walked in, though, I knew I hadn't.  I was greeted by a friendly little fellow and offered a vodka cocktail.  And I, of course, took it.  What I needed was food and water, but a cocktail would do.  He chatted and told me things that I couldn't make out and certainly couldn't maintain, but I got my bags into the room and sat down by the pool.  As with all the  other rooms, it was fifteen feet from my door.  A couple sat by the pool.  I had stepped back into the 1940s.  It was a movie set with open kitchen and bar at my disposal.  I could eat and drink what I wanted.  The refrigerator was stocked.  There was a wine cooler.  I was muddled and the drink was knocking me on my ass.  Did I want another?  Oh, no, I need to eat.  He told me of the best local restaurants and told me that he had Dewars if I wanted scotch, but Albertsons had the best prices on whiskey in town.

I left looking for the restaurants.  I was dizzy and lost.  I didn't find them, but I saw the Albertsons' sign down the street, so I went in to get a bottle of scotch.  I was blind with fatigue, and I knew going to dinner was a bad idea.  I went to the deli and got two chicken thighs and two legs and a small container of cucumber and tomato salad with feta and olive oil.  Within minutes I was poolside eating off real plates and drinking a nice white wine the fellow brought to me.  He showed me where there was more.

The sun was going down now, and the food was bringing me back to consciousness.  I got up and took some pictures of the 1940s shadows on the 1940s walls.  I used my phone to make pictures I could text.  I wasn't leaving the hotel that night.  Maybe never.

After dinner and after scotch, I changed into my swimming trunks and entered the pool.  The German couple I had spoken to as I ate and drank had gone to their room.  No one was around except the owner who was working at his computer at the indoor/outdoor office.  I stroked my way across the pool and back washing away the day.  The air was filled with music of the most incredible kind, song after song that made me want to cry.  Romantic as I am, the owner might be more so.  Astrud Gilberto sang as I floated in the blueness of the night.  The sky was ink, first blue, then black.  The desert stars show brightly above.

After a romantic, solitary sit in the little hot tub pool set among chaises and cocktail tables, I showered and changed.  Another scotch.  Some texts.  I was feeling better.  I was in Magic Land.

The owner said he would have the coffee brewing at seven-thirty, but I told him I would prepare it for him at five, for I knew that I would be up.  I woke at 3:30, six-thirty at home, and knew I was in trouble, so I took half a Xanax and went back to sleep.  Still, I was up at six-thirty.  I went to the coffee machine.  There was a note for me.  Everything was ready.  Just push the button.

So I sit here with a second cup of coffee.  There is yogurt awaiting me.  I will wander off in a little while to see what there is to see.  I think I am refreshed if not new.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Time to Go



I leave for L.A. this morning.  Anxious, of course.  What have I forgotten?  What have I forgotten to do?  It won't matter in a few minutes.  It is what it is, I hear.  I have a long travel day before I get to my room in Palm Springs, but perhaps the trivia of existence will fall away with the miles. 

Now it is time to shower.  I will be on the road for the next week.  I'll try to keep you informed. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I Need Help



I should probably write tonight as I have to be at the factory at the crack of dawn to watch the new CEO give a presentation.  Hideous.  But such are the wages of sin.  Then, as the rest of the workers attend breakout meetings, I shall make a quick exit to take care of business before I leave for Cali.  I have to sign my tax form and give a big check to my tax guy.  I will need to see my mother.  I guess I should have dinner with her since I won't see her for a week and will have to eat anyway.  But there is little to do to get ready now.  I packed my bags, both camera and clothing, so all I have to do is get up, get a ride, and go.  I am sick with nerves, but so it goes.  It is time to get internal, to slow down, to think only about what I want to do.  It should be a glorious time.  That is what I keep telling myself, anyway.

It is morning now.  I didn't get far with this post last night.  I didn't sleep well, either.  Pre-trip nerves, I guess.  How, when, and why did I become such a baby?  I've always been this way, so I guess the answer would have to be, "at birth."  It is part and parcel of who I am, overly-sensitive and like my father, a real worrier.  I come by it genetically.  Don't picture him as a frail fellow wringing his hands.  He was a big, manly guy who just thought it his duty to control the variables of the world.  It all came to rest on his shoulders.  Same here.  The worry stops here. 

I'm such a putz. 

Give you an example.  I've packed practically every small camera I have.  Here's the list:

Leica M10
Leica Monochrom
Leica M7
Sony A7 RII
Sony A7 SII
Olympus XA
Olympus XA-4
Fuji X-100f
Rollieflex
Ricoh GR

Lenses?

Leica 35mm
Leica 50mm
Leica 28mm
Voigtlander 21mm
Sony 28mm
Sony 35mm
Sony 50mm
Sony 85mm
Sony 24-70 zoom

It all fits into one medium-sized camera backpack.  I packed my Canon 5D iii and its lenses in there and it filled the whole thing.  But I am stupid to take all those cameras with me.  I need to make some choices.  That, however, is not my strong suit.  Jesus--that's 10 cameras! 

I only packed one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts though and a t-shirt for every day.  I am really packed light. 

This must fascinate you.  Seriously, why would I tell you this?  I'm not.  I'm journaling, making a record for myself.  Why?  Just proving I once existed, I guess.  Who knows what future archeologists will be interested in. 

I'll probably take most of my pictures with my phone.  If I were brave, I'd put the Fuji, the Ricoh, and the two Olympus cameras into a teeny tiny bag and go with just that.  They would fit in half a small purse.  But I don't have the nerve. 

I have nothing interesting to say.  I am writing to fill the void, but I am only increasing its volume, so I will stop.  I have much to do at work before I leave. 

Nice picture, though.

Selavy. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Getting Ready



I just wrote a long piece about sex being the one place where we are all fantasy criminals, but I deleted it.  I sounded like a right wing nut.  Dildos and Japanese sex dolls. . . you get the idea.  But it is not the time for that kind of talk.  It is a time of Fear and Loathing, and as the good Doctor said, "I'm not like the others.  I'm your friend." 

I tried to pack for my L.A. trip yesterday.  I am the worst packer in the world.  It begins with making decisions.  That is where I am weakest.  I think of too many possibilities, too many scenarios.  It is why I quit doing my own lawn.  I would stand and look at the yard and think about all the things I could or should or would do.  My man Henry just does the lawn.  I need him to pack for me, too. 

But I've decided to be minimal.  One pair of jeans, two pairs of shorts, six plain t-shirts, two cotton poplin button ups, enough underwear and socks for a week, a pair of walking shoes and flip-flops.  Done.  I packed a camera bag and put almost all of them in it, but I am thinking of taking only one camera and five lenses, all of which will fit into a small shoulder bag.  One charger.  That is harder, though, than going without clothing.  I still am not sure. 

I looked at the weather for Palm Springs.  The day I get there the high will be 107.  Jesus.  That's pretty hot.  I guess I might pack a hat, too. 

I haven't been out of town for about a year and a half, and that was for a workshop.  It has been a long time since I have gone somewhere simply to wander and see.  I hope I still have it in me.  I am beginning to think that it is not only the knees and hips that time damages. 

I woke up very late this morning, too late for anything.  Now I must rush to get out the door.  Everything is waiting. 

Oh--the picture.  I took this in the Miami arts district last time I was there.  It was illustration for the writing I deleted.  Feel free to fill in the blanks. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Nocturnal Revelations



Booked my room in L.A.  I chose to stay in Venice Beach.  I looked at a bunch of hotels and this one seemed o.k.  What do I know.  It'll be fine.  I cooked dinner for my mother last night (good boy that I am) and made her watch YouTube videos of my coming trip with me.  We watched several on the hotel.  I am going for the pictures, and Beverly Hills did not look like the place for that. 

I still have to book my Palm Springs room.  I have left too little time for Palm Springs, I think.  We watched many videos of the town last night.  I had no idea.  I think it might be more fun that L.A.  I will call the airline today and see if I can fly out a day early.  Palm Springs just looks like mad fun. 

I say so, but I sit in a stupor.  I am unable to get anything I need to do done.  Is it depression, anxiety, or a physical malady?  I can't tell.  I keep wanting to crawl into a hole.  My entire body hurts and my vision is blurry, so maybe I have something.  Or maybe I'm dying.  That is always my first guess, and of course it is accurate. 

I got beautified yesterday.  She did what she could do.  We spoke of surgical options, but I said that a woman should never pay for her own breast enhancement and a man should never pay for his own facelift.  In truth, nobody should ever pay for those things.  However. . . .

I haven't suffered in a good way for a very long time.  I need to.  I need to deprive myself of food and drink until I look. . . well, until I don't look like a fat man.  I need to focus on physical and mental aspects of healthy living for a good long while.  I need to get hungry until I am not hungry any more, until hunger is not a thing.  I need to forego alcohol in all its forms.  That is what I think in the night when I wake in despair.  Perhaps if I were skinny my life would feel better. 

Then I get up for the day and forget what I thought in the night.  My refrigerator is not prepared for my nocturnal revelations.  It looks like something out of a Philip Marlowe movie, "The Long Goodbye."  Raymond Chandler was a raging alcoholic. 

I will become an expert in mineral waters.  I will learn to identify them by taste, without looking.  I will become a precious, skinny asshole. 

As the good Doctor used to say, "Enough of that.  Don't make me use the leeches." 

The first full day of autumn has broken.  The sun is up.  There is much to do.  I hope that I can be the man to do it. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Harvest Disease



Autumn has arrived, and here in my own hometown, you can feel it.  Well, you can if you are from here and have lived with the intense hothouse heat we have had for months.  Last night, after a cocktail and a very expensive bleu cheese hamburger and truffle fries, I sat on my deck with a Cuban cheroot and a scotch.  First time that I could stand to do that in months.  That is how I ended the work week. 

I sat alone in the chi-chi bar that I have avoided for quite awhile, favoring the cheaper hipster Cafe Strange.  I sat between two couples who were also eating dinner at the bar.  I don't want to generalize, but I will--the relationships between people is very, very bizarre.  It is strange and wondrous to watch the power dynamics and the emotional haptics that make a couple.  On my right sat a maniac baby boy and his mother-aged girlfriend.  They were apparently very well-off and talked nonstop about flying to all the best places in the world.  He was an asshole to her in the most idiotic male, domineering way, and she danced between his barbs with placating tones, cooing sweet words through a troubled lover's grin.  She kept glancing my way perhaps looking for my reaction, but I could tell she was used to taking the public abuse. 

To my left was a woman showing her big fake ta-tas and talking nonstop in an annoyingly seductive manner to a little tatted macho hispanic fellow with a hipster fuck-you haircut close on the sides, bushy on top.  He didn't need to talk.  She was non-stop.  He sat there sullenly as she leaned heavily against him draping her arm around him from time to time. 

Both couples kept the bartender busy ordering cocktails then food, more cocktails, then more food.  Having spent the last half year at my mother's house cooking and drinking at home, I was having sticker shock at my $15 cocktails and $20 burger.  I thought about the money Ili and I spent in these sort of gin joints.  Maybe I am simply preparing myself for the reduced income I will have soon.  Pabst and salted nuts and sardines out of the can.  Whatever it was, watching these two couples gave me pause. 

I have been lachrymose lately.  Maybe its my man cycle.  Sitting here now, though, with a cup of coffee, the light falling through the windows forming autumn patterns on the wall, spilling onto the couch and rug, I feel it all.  Fall is always a mopey time, memories flowing in melancholic streams, filling autumnal pools where on quiet evenings I catch reflections of the moon.  Harvest disease.  A sad madness.  A quiet dismantling. 

That was silly, sloppy, and bad writing, but I'll leave it. . . for shame. 

I get beautified this morning.  I never do this on Saturdays but I had to move my scheduled appointment because of the L.A. trip.  It is O.K.  I feel lazy today.  A few hours in the beauty salon, a mimosa, and a nap.  That is how I plan to spend my Saturday.  Then as the late afternoon gives way to purple sky, I will cook something on the grill and have another cigar and scotch on the deck while mentally preparing for my solo trip.  Cameras are ready.  Plane tickets and car rental done.  I must book hotels today and pack.  One pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, t-shirts and two white poplin button ups.  Not much more.  I am going only to wander and look.  Everything else will take care of itself.  I am going simply to see. 

I have bungled my way through this morning's writing.  Now it is time to go.  I know the day will not go the way I've planned. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Confession of a Privileged White Male



I went to bed fairly happy last night, I thought.  Or so it seemed.  What could happen during the night to bring me to such despair in the morning?  What goes on inside the pumpkin as I lay there in a semi-sleep?  Can I call it "my" mind if I am unable to control it?  I will have to work all morning at putting on the mask so I can go to work.  One mustn't let other's know his troubles. 

I am a lion.  I am a-lyin'. 

But there is nothing other people can do for you, and it only puts them in a helpless predicament.  They can't save you.  No one can. 

This morning is one of those mornings when I just want to quit because I am overwhelmed by the least thing.  I don't seem to be able to gather the documents and do the calculations I need to for my tax guy.  I have been trying for days.  Why, I ask myself, why can people tell me to do these things?  I can't keep my house clean and now I can't manage to get it ready for the maids.  Every movement hurts me.  My back is a dilapidated mess.  My shoulders are shot.  I injured my right thumb in a scuffle about eight months ago and still can't use it to pick up anything remotely heavy.  I can't see for shit any more and my ears ring constantly since I took the combination of antibiotics I was given by the dumbshit at the emergency room a year ago. 

This morning, I thought to just lie down and tell everyone I quit.  I am only going to lie here and nothing more.  As Malone or Malloy or The Unnamable said, I can't go on.  I wish I had never read that trilogy. 

Ever feel like that? 

But it gets worse. 

I wonder if Beckett was ever happy? 

I know, I know.  This is just a "privileged white male" moan.  I hear about it every day, the privileged white male.  They are bad.  The worst.  It would be a better world if they were gone. 

Do you ever watch Chris Matthews?  The poor fucker looks scared to death every night now.  Remember how he used to bark?  His tone sounds as if he is constantly apologizing to everyone.  Ari what's-his-name has tied himself to black rappers to make himself less a white male.  He is oh-so hip-hop.  Until every white man has been accused and has had to face his public, there will be no justice.  It is time to rid ourselves of them. 

Cisgendered, that is. 

You can't say this shit without sounding like Trump on Fox News or at one of his pep rallies.  This is what Trump has given us.  The muzzle.

My friend, the Liberal Privileged White Male Political Scientist, says that there are always innocent casualties in any revolution.  It is the cost of war. 

Viva la guerre.  

I don't want to go to L.A.  I don't want to take pictures.  I don't want to make hotel and car reservations.  I don't want to pack.  I don't want to do anything.  I just want to lie down.  The least thing overwhelms me. 

Maybe it is just the flu shot that has put me off.  Perhaps those dead bugs pulsing through my system have brought me this low.  Or maybe I've just had enough.  Maybe I have had enough and I don't need any more.  I have had more than my share.  I'm sure of that.  Perhaps that's a confession. 

Yes, it probably is.