Saturday, April 29, 2017

Southern Rot



Phone picture (again) of Tennessee William's New Orleans house on the border between the French Quarter and Treme.  It is a rundown looking place now, but maybe it always was.  I don't know if it was touched by flooding.  But this is what the south does to all things, believe me.  I know.  That is a Trump go-to, as is his place in Palm Beach.  But don't believe that the south is like Mar-a-Lago.  It takes a Trumpian effort to keep things in shape.  The deep south wants to take things back into the jungle.  There is a heat that is exotic, of course, and there is one that is wet and wants to turn everything to mold.  There are weeds and bugs beyond your imagination.  Anything can go wrong, and it will.  If life in the north is a struggle to stay warm, life in the south is a struggle against rot.  It is not a matter of letting things go.  It is a simple matter of not being able to keep up.  You need plantation workers and servants to make a shiny, glittery south.  Look at Disney.  Tens of thousands of wage slaves are required to keep it going, to make it sparkle.  It takes magic chemicals to keep the mosquitos and bugs from driving the customers mad.  But if you don't have a plantation or plantation money. . . . Go to New Orleans and have a look.  Then come further south.  Go to Miami and snoop around the projects in the summer.  Do.  I dare you.

It is April and it is 95 degrees.  My air conditioner cannot keep up.  There has not been rain and the trees and shrubs and grass are dying.  Other things come to take their places.  They are unbelievably gorgeous if you like such things.  I grew up here and remember the place when there was still wilderness.  You did not go into that wilderness as much as look at it.  It was not pretty in the classical sense.  It was a marvel, but it was not pretty.  It was something else.

For all our efforts, the jungle wants to reclaim its territory.  The weeds, the bugs, the rot. . . .

The drought will try, then the severe rains and hurricanes, too.  The mold, the mildew, the rot.  Tennessee Williams wrote the way he did because he was from the south.  Southern beauty and charm takes tremendous and unrelenting effort.  Southerners love a new thing with its suppleness and unmarked loveliness more than most because they know how brief that beauty lasts and the effort it will take to retain some remnant of that.

I met Tennessee twice.  I mean, we conversed.  I was young.  He had just published his memoir, and then a couple years after.  When I met him, I knew who he was, of course, but I did not know how great his works truly were.

The works remain.  But standing before his old home, one can only wonder.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Rub




Still phone camera images.  The rest of the photos will have to wait.  But yesterday, I finished up a big project at work, so I may be able to breath this weekend in between getting ready for my trip on Wednesday.

Just saying.

My personal project right now is trying to remember what it was like to be a poor kid, one who grew up with cheap food, black and white t.v., no a.c., a record player, and library books.  Walking everywhere or riding a bike.  Sweating.  Thinking about romance.

No sex.  No drugs.  No drink.

Did I feel ennui?  There certainly had to be hours of boredom.  How did I counter that?

I'm not there yet.  Still trying to figure it out.

There was one big advantage--nothing hurt.  I could sit on the floor for hours playing games.  Trying to kneel to play marbles now would take every bit of effort.

Playing marbles.  There's a clue.  Sharpening the old motor skills, I think.

And the lack of responsibility.  Therein lies the rub.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Art of Living



Here is the ferry and the city and the Mighty Mississip.  I'm back from one trip and preparing for another.  In between, the factory takes the flesh from my back.  I am only posting now because people want to know if I'm O.K.

No.  But who is?  Like the man in the grocery store said, "Everybody's got something."

The photo is from my phone.  I have pictures from three cameras that I haven't even had time to look at yet.  A vacation will cost you at work, of course.  Everything must always be done.

I haven't time to tell you much right now, but I will tell you this.  I am out of love with most contemporary things.  Even in far away cities, I mostly want to curl up in bed and read.  I haven't read enough in the recent past, and it shows.  Last night I curled up in bed early and read until it was time to turn off the light.  It quieted my otherwise fragmented and fidgety mind.  That mind needs much quieting right now.  It will require much reading.

To read beautiful things leads to thinking beautiful things, and ultimately, if we are lucky, to living beautifully, too.

I read a version of that last night in a classic novel.  I'd be impressed if you can name which one.  Hint: it was not American.

I don't know how much I'll be able to show up here for the next week or two.  My bowels have tightened for stealing this much time.  Don't worry.  I'll be replenished sooner or later.  I just have to start all over and learn the art of living again.  Just look around you and you will see that it is not as easy as they would have you believe.  There are not so many who do it well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I'll Show You Mine If. . . .



This is another of Ili's photos.  We were riding down the Boulevard on the scooter, and she said she saw a photo I should take.  I wasn't interested, but she told me to turn around.  So I stopped the little scooter and let her go.  It turned out to be a kid who we saw taking our picture on the street while we were riding the Vespa at Christmas time.  Later, while we were sitting with friends at a sidewalk table, he strolled by.  We talked a bit.  He showed me his camera, one I wasn't familiar with.  I showered him my Leicas.  He was enamored, of course.  So when Ili went back, she recognized him. She said he wanted to know if I remembered him.  Sure, kid.  I'm envious.  Here he is being all cool with a young woman.  She's playing dress up and he gets to be a photographer.  What could be more fun?

Oh. . . I did the post processing on the pic.  Teamwork.  I drive the scooter and do the computer work.  This is how it goes.

I'm headed out of town for the rest of the week tomorrow.  There will be a bit of dead air here for the next few days.  Maybe I'll have tales when I return.  Maybe I won't.  Perhaps I'll have a bunch of Ili's photographs to show.  I am beat to death right now and think I may not leave the hotel room much.  Just to get away and not have to do anything is appealing.  I will be in a good town, but the weather is supposed to be shitty.  I don't even care.  I'll make the next few days as easy as possible on myself.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Eggs and Tie-Dyed Shirts



Ili's the photographer now.  I just drive the scooter.  She sits on the back with the camera and I try to get close to things.  This is her photograph with my post processing.

Easter came and went with mimosas and Bellinis and frittatas and baked rolls with fig preserves.  That put me to sleep for a couple hours mid-afternoon.

Ili and my mother and I dyed Easter eggs.  There was a lot of dye left over, and I suggested Ili make a tie-dyed shirt.  It turned out great, but the colors will wash out in the first laundry, I think.


That's all I've got.  Easter eggs and tie-dyed shirts.  I am not even a cypher any longer.  I'm just.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pastels



It is Easter.  It is something I haven't celebrated since I was a kid, something the family did with relatives.  I never liked it.  Repeat.  Never.  Sometimes there was church.  I didn't like going to church.  At all.  The entire thing creeped me out.  And I didn't like pastels.  I'm a primary color kind of person.  I never liked the candy in my cheap Easter basket, not the fake plastic green grass nor the big hollow waxy centerpiece chocolate Easter bunny.  I didn't like the jelly beans and I never enjoyed chocolate wrapped in foil.

As an adult, I have never done a thing for Easter.  Nothing.  Ever.  I've been an adult for a long time.  So I may be in trouble today, for Ili is an Easter kind of girl.  She's used to getting expensive baskets with a Tiffany centerpiece, I think.  I don't have the money for the one thing and don't have the desire for the other.

Yes, there will be trouble.

I did watch "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with her Friday night.  I realized that I had only seen it in bits and pieces and had never watched it from start to finish.  I went to bed with "Moon River" in my head.

Saturday morning, we got up and spread twelve yards of cypress mulch in the driveway and beds.  I've done this once a year for twenty years, I guess.  That's how long I've owned this house.  I've usually done it alone.  And it used to be worse.  I had three driveways to mulch.  That took me two full days usually.  But a couple years ago, I made two of them rock drives, so now there is only the one.  The last time I did this, alone, it took me about five hours.  But yesterday, with Ili's help--we set a World's Record!  We finished the entire project in exactly two hours.

This morning, my hands are sore from wielding the giant pitchfork.

Yesterday, though, I felt like a real cowboy.  There is nothing like working in the yard to get the neighbors to stop and talk.  They love to see you working in the yard.  And so, I used my standard line over and over again: "Yup, this is what makes cowboys so tough."

As I look out over the driveway this morning, it is lovely.

My mother is coming for Easter brunch.  Ili is going to have me dye eggs this morning.  She's already boiled them.  I know they will be pastel in color.

I have finished up two stressful weeks at work and have met all the deadlines I didn't think I could meet.  And I am exhausted.  All I want to do is sit and meditate, drink herbal teas and read.

But there is Easter, and that won't happen.


Friday, April 14, 2017

A Living Beckett Vision



Jesus.  Look at this photograph.  A big old medium format camera with a flash attachment.  And film.  Makes you want to just get an old film camera and go out and shoot, doesn't it?  Well, you can't photograph the past.

But Jesus.  Life can be so bad, and then something like this comes along, and suddenly you want to live.  A vodka and tonic in the last hour of daylight after a long and terrible day.  The promise of a quiet evening and a good meal.

Once again. . . you've escaped.

*   *   *   *   *   


Morning comes again, though, and the world comes rushing back.  There are cows to milk and beans to grind and all the trappings of the living, working day.

Bombs away!

Drink the coffee.  Eat some bran.  Take your vitamins and milk thistle.  They deliver the mulch for the driveway today.  It is a Good Friday.  The obligatory Easter weekend.

I never wanted to live like a Beckett character.  I barely liked reading that stuff.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cheer Up



If you are a man, if you are manly, you handle stress.  You deal with it.  Pain, anxiety, whatever.  That is the model I was raised on, anyway.  My generation rejected that to some extent.  We were allowed to talk about our feelings.  Encouraged to, really.  And perhaps that was the floodgate to the present. Perhaps I should go on t.v. and cry for everyone to see.  Perhaps I would feel better.  It would please many.  I'd get plenty of support, even kudos.

Cry it all away, man, cry it all away.

But that is not how I am built.  I'd rather whine a bit here and there and suffer the most terrible things silently.

Yea, the death of my cat made me cry, but that is just part of a jumbled mix of stressful life denying things that are going on right now.  And I can feel the results of it in my body and in my mind.

And I am ashamed.

I think about people who live in places like South Sudan or Syria, and I can't imagine how they go on.  They do, I know, but at what terrible cost?

But their suffering is abstract, and mine is personal.  For me.  Just as my suffering here is meant to be illuminating but is at best merely entertainment.

There is suffering and there is desire, and sometimes the two commingle.  And like the pain, a man suffers his desire silently.

Except my generation rejected that as well.  We opened the porn store on Main Street.  And now, for (almost) any desire you may harbor, you can get support, even kudos.

Almost.

I need to get away.  I need a real vacation, not an adventure.  I need enough money to make my troubles go away.  It would take lots and lots.

But I'd settle for a month in the mountains in a pretty stilted house with tremendous views.

Just like the people of South Sudan and Syria.

Yea, it is shameful all this bellyaching we do.  I do.

"Cheer up," a friend said.  "Things could be worse."

So I took his advice.  And he was right.

Things got worse.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spiritualize



I forgot to look at the full moon last night.  I was exhausted.  I remembered it in bed when I woke in the night, so when I got up at six, I went out on the deck to take a look.  It was still dark, the moon in the other part of the sky, backwards, shining.

I am not a believer in things, but I once had an argument with a professor I knew who adamantly taught the logical fallacies of the Bible in his literature classes.  I had another friend who was also a professor who took frequent trips to Mexico.  She believed in spirits.  The two of them argued in front of me one day, so I thought I'd weigh in.

I didn't believe in spirits per se, I said, but I believed people can spiritualize a place.  It is about perception.  For instance, I said, when someone's father dies and they put him into the ground and a big blast of wind blows the leaves of the trees on an otherwise still day, they say that it was their father's spirit flying away.  They wouldn't have remarked the breeze otherwise, but at that time and psychological state. . . . .

Neither of them agreed with me, of course, and they stayed their individual courses.

Standing on the deck in the dark under the morning's full moon, I noticed things.  Maybe just remembering.  I am haunted by a little cat now in not so mysterious ways.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

R.I.P.



I don't want to be literal.  This is the last picture I'll post of my cat, I reckon.  In my mind, I'm still just saying goodbye.

I have/had a vet who makes house calls.  That is all she does.  She is the same one who came to this house to take care of my dog, mostly just to check her out and to give her her vaccines.  Over eighteen years ago, we put her to rest on my kitchen floor.  My dog was seventeen and had been diabetic for five years.  For five years, I gave her insulin shots twice a day at eight a.m. and p.m.  She ate twenty minutes later.  She went blind from cataracts, but I had an operation to have her lenses removed.  I was told that the lens in a dog did not function as much as it does in a human, and that they can see fairly well after the surgery.  I asked that vet specialists about making goggles with lenses in them for my dog.  He acted like I was nuts.  In the end, he was only able to remove one lens.  The other, he said, had become too hard.  My dog and I had run every day from the time I got her.  For those five diabetic years, we still did two walks a day, usually over two miles.  She trusted me to keep her safe, and she looked forward to going very much.

After she died, the little cat showed up in my yard.  She was about six months old, I think.  I had gotten my dog at about the same age.  She had followed me home at the end of one of my runs, starved, looking like death.  So when the cat showed up, I figured it was a bodhisattva, a spirit form of some kind, maybe my dog reincarnate.  But she wouldn't come to me.  She would sit and stare at me, but when I tried to approach her, she would move away.

A few days later, my tenant told me she got a new cat.  It was Bella.

My tenant moved a while later and left the cat.  Somehow, she became mine.  The tenant was never able to house train the cat, so she was fairly feral when I got her.  She lived outdoors and would only stand for me to pet her for a minute before she would turn on me and try to bite and scratch my hand. She succeeded in getting me a few times.  But over the weeks and months, she wanted to be around me more and more and would jump up to my windowsill to look in and meow to me.

One day, I came home and she was lying on the deck near death.  She had been in a cat fight, apparently, which couldn't have been fair as she was a tiny little thing, skinny and nervous.  I lay down on the deck with her and petted her for a long time and talked to her softly.  She could barely move, but her eyes locked onto mine.  So I called the vet who came over and put in an i.v. and hydrated her and gave her something for the high fever she had.  The cat bite had given her a bad infection, and so she got antibiotics.  I was to give her a pill twice a day.  The kicker was that she needed to stay inside.  Something would get her, the vet said, if I left her out.  I wasn't about to try opening the cats mouth and shoving an pill onto the back of her tongue and then hold her mouth shut until she swallowed it.  I could do that with my dog, but I wasn't going to try that with this feral cat.  So I crushed the pills up mortar and pestle style and mixed it with a can of wet food.  She had never had wet food before.

That was it.  She was now in love.  She became an indoor/outdoor cat, but her feral ways were slow to leave.  At first, I was allowed to pet her on the head, but if I went to far down her back or anywhere near her belly, I would get bitten.

One day, she came and bumped my leg with her head.  She wanted me to pet her.  I was terribly allergic to her and she was not a lap cat, so she took to lying on my feet.  She did this wherever I went.  In the mornings as I sat on the toilet, she would push the door open and come in and lie on them.

She was a loving, irritating shit.

As she got older, she got more dependent and would let me pet her belly.  She would jump up on the couch when I was watching television and lie against my legs.  She would purr and look at me the way cats do, but she wasn't like other cats I'd known.  She was a little strange.

For a very long time, I lived in my house alone.  There was no one to help me care for her, and I have never been the kind to put out food and water and leave the cat.  I was with her, and she with me, every morning, every night.  It was just the two of us for a very, very long time.

When Ili showed up two years ago, Bella took right to her.  They had a strange relationship, I think.  She fed the cat wet food and treats and gave her the water out of the cans of tuna.  I had always given her some of the tuna, but she liked the water a thousand times more.  Crazy, I thought.  And so the two of them were a team against me and also rivals for my attention.  The cat loved her but was jealous, too.  Funny how things work.

This past weekend was just macabre, Bella leaving to die, then more than a day later changing her mind, coming back like something that had dug its way out of a grave.  She decided she didn't want to die alone.  And so.  We cleaned her and loved her, and she purred weakly at out touch.  She had suffered enough, though, and so yesterday morning, I called the vet.

The cat was weak and sleeping on a towel in the kitchen by the door, and then she cried out and tried to get up.  For the next couple of hours, Ili and I sat on the floor and held her and talked to her.  We opened the door so that she could hear the birds and smell the fresh air right where she always lived.  That deck was her deck, her home and territory.  We put on the jazz we alway listen to and let it play softly for her.  Everything was as it always was and she snuggled against me.  It is silly and stupid to say, but she would move her head against me and I could feel how much she loved me.  She didn't want to go.

When the vet came, she looked Bella over and said she was terribly dehydrated.  I described what had been going on and she said that her kidneys had shut down.  She talked about how fiesta Bella had always been and talked about what a beautiful life she had had.

She pulled out her records and said Bella was eighteen years old.  She had lived a good long while.

She shot her with a valium and ketamine concoction, and Bella began to relax and fall asleep.  It took awhile, but all the pain was gone, I think.

And then the vet shaved her legs, put on a tourniquet, and put Bella to rest.  There were no cages, no car trip to the vet's office, no stress and anxiety about what would happen.  We just lay on the floor just where she had always lived, lived an entire lifetime.  Just before the end, with incredible effort, she reached up and grabbed me with her paw.  She wanted to live so badly, wanted to get well and keep breathing, but there was nothing to do.  And so I held her head and whispered to her in her sleep.

And then she was gone.

My vet is a woman I met socially.  She has been a friend, though I don't see her any more.  But she is a kind woman, a woman who has never married, a person with troubles like all of us who has suffered like all of us, too.  She has put down a cat and a dog for me on my kitchen floor.  It is strange to think about.

After it was over, Ili and I took a long walk.  The day was beautiful, but each of us felt as if we were walking in a weird dream.  We decided to have lunch at a pretty little Thai restaurant on the Boulevard.  We sat at a sidewalk table and drank beer and shared plates of food.  Afterwards, we went to my friend's little hippie store across the street and bought some incense and smudge sticks, then rode the scooter home.

There was a smell I couldn't get out of my nostrils, the smell of my suffering, dying cat.  And so we took up the rug where she had gotten sick and took up her bowls and the big jar that had always held her five pound bag of food as it had my dog's food before, and we took it all out.  Then we mopped the kitchen floor and lit the smudge stick, and though I am not that sort, I walked through the house waving it about to clear out the smell but also to give some spiritual peace as well.  And when that was done, I poured a glass of whiskey and Ili came over and I said that we had to make an offering to the earth and to Bella, and I dipped my fingers in the glass and sprinkled whiskey over the kitchen.  We each took a sip and left to buy new rugs.

Last night we cooked spaghetti, and Ili said things felt empty.  We both kept looking for Bella, of course, and when we were finished eating, it was strange not to share what was left.  The cat was strange and was crazy for spaghetti sauce.

In bed, we were sad, of course, and I slept fitfully for what seemed most of the night.  When I looked at the clock, I had been in bed for less than an hour.  I got up and got a Xanax and went back to bed.  I managed to sleep until five.

I kissed Ili and got up in the dark and went to the kitchen to make coffee.  Reflexively, I looked out the windows of the kitchen door to see my little cat.  Something moved.  I jumped a bit.  It was a possum.  When I turned on the outside light, it scurried away in slow motion the way that possums do.

I am surprised to think that for thirty-five years, I have been a pet owner.  I have been a most dedicated and conscientious and loving of pet owners.  I never thought to have a pet, never said I wanted one, never went to get one.  My pets have found and needed me.

Thirty-five years is a long time.  I guess it might take me a minute or two to come to grips with not having to come home every night to feed and love an animal.  I am free to not come home now.  I can stay overnight at Ili's or I can leave town without making arrangements.  But I have many, many habits to break, and it will take some time.

I was never a fawning pet owner.  I never talked about my animals to others.  Probably many who know me never have thought of me as having pets.  But I have.  And now I feel a little hollow, a little empty.  We never know ourselves I realize.  We are not who we think we are at all.  We try, but it is impossible.  I knew without knowing what that cat and I were to one another.  This morning, though, there is no doubting it.  Now I can do nothing about it.  Now. . . I know.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Return



I am waiting on the vet to come to the house.

Last night, Ili and I were having a drink on the deck after dinner.  We were talking about Bella the cat and how the deck had been hers, how she hardly left this part of the yard.  Then I turned and saw her walking around the side of the house, not walking, really, but dragging herself to where we sat, caked in dirt, eyes downcast.  I got down on the deck with her and held her.  She put her head against mine. Ili got a wet rag and we cleaned her up, then wrapped her in a blanket and took her inside.  I couldn't believe it, but we were glad for the chance to say goodbye.

We tried to give her food and water.  She put her nose to the water but couldn't drink, wouldn't try.  We swaddled her and held her but in a while she began to move.  We lay her down in the towel on the floor where she looked to be passing, but after an hour, she got up and struggled to the water bowl.  She did not drink.  Ili got up and held her again and then lay her out on the towel more comfortably.  She went to sleep.

I was certain she would be gone in the morning, passing, as things seem to do, after midnight.  But when I got up at four, she was sitting up, head hanging down.  I pet her and she purred, but she was in bad distress.  We have made her comfortable again, but she gave out a painful, mournful cry.

That is when I called the vet.  She is a friend and comes to the house to treat animals.  She is the one who put my dog down when she was so sick many years ago.

This has been a bizarre twist, and I have many, many conflicted and confused thoughts and feelings.

Now, in the morning, I have put on some jazz to calm the cat and me, and I wait.  I don't know how to do this, but who does?


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bella



Bella the cat passed away last night.  She was pretty old and had been feeling pretty bad for awhile.  I thought I was ready for the inevitable, but we are never ready for the inevitable.  She wanted to hang around with me yesterday morning.  She was sweet and sad.  In the afternoon, she lay on the porch.  Ili came home from a business trip late in the afternoon, and Bella was gone.  We sat on the deck and called for her.  Finally, she came around the corner of the house and looked at us with sad and tired eyes, then lay down in the jasmine where she stayed.  It did not look as if she would make it through the night.  We went to dinner and when we came home, she wasn't around.  She had done that thing that everyone has said to me that cats do.  She had gone away to die.

I stood on the deck and cried for about an hour, maybe longer, big giant waves of convulsions.  I just thought about her remembering everything.

When I got up this morning, of course, I went out to look for her, but she is really gone.  It saddens me to think of her lying on the ground somewhere.  I will look for her this morning, but from what I'm told, I probably won't find her.

The house seems different today, not as alive, just an inanimate structure.

I am different this morning, something more than sad.  It is beautiful outside.  I keep looking for her to walk onto the deck with that shithead look she had.

Fuck me.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Failure to Communicate



I read today that the women who settled sexual harassment suits with Bill O'Reilly have all been approached by Playboy to help relaunch the company's post-porn nudity magazine.  The dollar amount they agreed to be paid has not been revealed.

No I didn't.  I didn't read that anywhere.  But I could have.  Each of those women worked to help make the Fake Fox News.  They could be working for another fake news organization now.  I mean, a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do.  Like the t-shirt says, twenty bucks is twenty bucks.

As Q says, "No, I kid."  Or is it, "I have a kid"?  Either way, I am certain they thought they were going to be producing legitimate news.

I liked Q's piece about wrestling Kendall Jenner.  I think he should rename the blog that.  Or maybe I will.  "Wrestling Kendall Jenner."  I didn't know who she was until I saw an article about her photography.  Ili told me she is somehow related to the Kardashians.  "But her butt?" I cried.  That got me the stink eye.

I need therapy.  I cannot transform on my own.  I think it will take some sort of boot camp or a re-education camp of the old Chinese kind.  Even then, I will need twice a week sessions.  It is nothing more than retraining the mind to think a different way.  It can be done.  That's what prison is for.  Once you've got your mind right, your free.

I keep hearing the words in my head over and over again: "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."



Friday, April 7, 2017

Trumpster Diplomacy



I was alone last night watching some camera porn on YouTube when Ili texted me that the U.S. had just bombed Syria.  Trump Diplomacy.  Now he is a Statesman.

Was this an impulsive decision?  What is the next step?

You'll know when you need to know.  For now, Trump is being tight-lipped.

I'm pretty sure the Viagra crowd watching Sports Center got woodies last night when the news bulletin interrupted the NASCAR show.  "Fuck yea!  High five!  The Trumpster is a MAN, not like that boy Obama.  Tired of all the pussies running things.  That McMaster. . . have you seen his eyes, his countenance.  That mofo never blinks.  No, man, these guys ain't taking shit from nobody."  

I'm sure bombing the airbase last night will stop the atrocities in Syria.  But I'm not sure whose side we are on there.  I've heard something about the non-Isis rebels.  All fifteen or twenty of them.  Nobody has been able to figure this shit out ever, but Trump can.  These are the New Negotiations.

The Art of the Deal.  Another Victory.




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Agency



This is from a wedding photo shoot in Havana.  I just wanted to post a color picture today.  Fewer heterosexuals in America are getting married every year.  I figure that one day pictures such as this will be a relic.

This week is kicking my ass.  Factory work is too much with me.  I have no time for me.  Have I told you about me?

I need to quit that.

Or so I am told.

Postmodern Agency.  Discuss among yourselves.  There will be an exam on Monday.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yoga



Ili got a kick out of this photo.  Why don't people trust men with cameras?  I'm sure this image will be on the cover of Yoga Today.  Shoot, the photographer even had an assistant.

I'm glum.  I am not sleeping well and my attitude is ugly.  I think it is the early arrival of summer.  It is hot, already in the 90s, and humid.  The rains have already begun.  I may break.

But there are other things.  The cat.  My mother.  Expensive house repairs and replacements.  The fall from a lofty branch at work.

It doesn't make me creative.  I decided in my almost sleep last night that I will just have to do things.  I will just have to work.  There is plenty of that to do.  I'll just keep moving, doing.

Or maybe I'll go back to yoga.  It looks like more fun that it used to.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Newman or Brando



Sorry.  I just love photos like this one.  I don't know why, really, except it is a way our eyes never see.  It is like coming back to consciousness after sleep or getting knocked out.  I guess most people have never been knocked out, though, which is an odd thought in itself.  People may have been anesthetized or passed out due to chemical ingestion, but that is not the same.  Taking a blow to the head and then coming to is different.  I don't recommend it, of course.  But this photo reminds me of that.

Enjoy the virtual experience.

Things are beginning to settle down as we get used to the New Normal.  Trump is winning, clearly.  All the media hype has produced little.  Whatever Trump does is how things are done now.  We have made a clean break with the past.  We now live in a post-historic era.  This is the result, I think, of teaching alt.history for so long.  There was history, then there was alt.history.  What kids learned from this is that the past was bad, that America has always been a truly awful place where misogyny and racism ruled a truly black-hearted population.  Until America finds its new multiracial transgender superhero, fascism will rule.

For the last couple of months, my t.v. watching trends have shifted.  I have been watching the evening news shows again.  I couldn't help myself.  It was like watching bodies being pulled from a train wreck.  It was horrible, but I couldn't make myself look away.

But I am sickened by it all now.  I can't watch it any longer.  All the wet panty reports exhorting the downfall of the Trump presidency are coming up empty.  Trump will prevail.

Humans are vile and disgusting things.  It is best to keep to yourself.  If literature is to teach us anything. . . .

Ili and I were talking about Paul Newman and Marlon Brando the other night.  She is gaining a new appreciation for Newman, she said.  Yes, I said, he was something.  It is difficult to tell Newman and Brando apart in photographs when they were young.  Of course Newman eventually won in the looks department.  But Newman was boring, I said.  Yes! Ili agreed vehemently.  That was the difference.  The difference between them was akin to looking at a two dimensional thing and then seeing it in 3D.  Brando was just more extreme.

Cane and Abel.

I like Newman, just as I like Jimmy Carter.  Carter is a good man, I think.  But he puts me to sleep.  I sure as shittin' ain't going to read his biography.  Nor Newman's.

Brando was a fuck.  You wouldn't leave him alone in the room with your mother or your sister if you are anything like I am.  But I also have never been interested in the petting zoo.  We all know which of the animals is most fascinating.

Yes, Jimmy Carter reminds me of the petting zoo.  He was a great man and a great liberal and he was unable to do much as president.

Trump is an awful person.  All the good people will tell you so.

Still, Newman was pretty good when he played Hud.  I think I'll watch that film again to make certain.

I'll let you know.


Monday, April 3, 2017

The Picture At Least



I have watched my first episodes of "South Park" in the last week.  I've never been interested in it.  As a matter of fact, I have been against it.  Now that I've watched it. . . O.K.  I don't feel as if I have missed anything, but it has moments.

Like the one I watched about the little kids addiction to social media.  Social media is life and to quit is akin to suicide.  There are interventions.  

Whatever.  I don't understand how people can subject themselves to it.  I joined a little group devoted to the Fuji X100F because I wanted to see what other people's experiences were like.  I wanted to know about accessories and other equipment.  I wanted to know about the new camera's issues.  Even there, though, on what should be an informative platform, I feel as if I have joined a fraternity.  It is hierarchical and opinionated with attitude.  What the fuck is wrong with people?

I'm checking out of that site.

I'd like to check out of a lot of things.  This morning, C.C. sent me an article (link).  After that, every other news story I read had something to do with millennial values and the Culture of Complaint.  So. . . I sent them on to all my friends.  I mean, what else are you going to do with things like that?  You can't just keep it to yourself.

I will have even fewer friends soon if that's possible.

I have no ending to this.  I didn't get enough sleep last night and am already dull so early in the day.  If I didn't have to go to the factory, I'd take a pill and go to sleep.  But that is not the way of things.

Maybe tomorrow.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saturday's Ego



I was left alone yesterday to my own devices.  What does one do?  I mean, I have become pretty out of practice for such a thing.  Where once I was a roamer, I have become a homebody.

But what do you need?  I got my stuff together.  A Vespa with a couple dollars worth of gas.  A pretty canvas bag.  A notebook and a pen.  A pair of (tortoise shell) reading glasses.  A cool-ass camera.

A perfect Saturday, bright and clear and blue.  There are still nice shadows, good bas-relief.

I get ahead of myself, however.  Before this, I went to the gym, did a brief workout, then lay in the mid-morning sun for half an hour or so.  I had been beautified the night before.  And almost unbelievably, I have lost some of my girth.

But on my way home I got into a "thing."  A traffic thing with a woman who decided to stop in the middle of the road.  And even though she was wrong, she decided to lecture me.  Thirty-something, upper middle class, probably medicated, an entitled woman with a voice to make you want to commit atrocities.  I drove off, but then I thought of something I forgot to tell her.  Yea, I know, but sometimes people need to be told things, so I did a u-turn and pulled into the parking lot she had gone into.  I pulled up beside her Land Rover, rolled down my window, and let her know she was the one breaking the law.  Maybe I told her something else, too.  Then a fellow comes around from the far side of her car.  "Yes!" I thought.  "Yes!"  And he was coming at me aggressively, yelling at me like a soldier or a cop, and I was grinning ear to ear and I heard myself say, "Really!  You want this?" as I was turning off the engine and getting out of the car, and oh, he was still yelling but I closed the distance between us quicker than he was closing the distance to me and I really, really wanted to hit him, maybe not him, but something and I know it was this mouthy, smug woman who really needed to know the dangers of life but he was there and I was happy, and when I got to punching distance, his attitude changed so suddenly that he lost his breath and his face was drained of blood so that he was corpse white, and he took a step back.  He had an accent that I couldn't quite place--Polish, Czech, Ukrainian--and he, too, was thirty-something and taller than I, and I couldn't believe that he had lost the moment so badly, and then I heard the woman yelling in that still-medicated agonizing voice, "Call 911, Call 911," and the newly minted pussy began pulling his phone from his pocket saying, "I'm calling 911," and I was just grinning maniacally at him wanting to hit him with all my strength but realizing that I would not look like a victim when the cops showed up, so I said, "Fuck yea, call 911, you're the fucking criminal," and then I said, "Better, I'll call them," and I stepped to my car as if to get my phone, but when I opened my door, I slipped in behind the wheel and started the car, backing out so they couldn't see my license tag, and I drove away making a clean escape.

Now I know what you are thinking and I know what you would say if you were sitting across from me while I told you that story.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?"

But after feeling like a leaf on a tree that begins to blur into the background the day before, at my considerably advanced age, I enjoyed feeling rage and power come back to me in some form.  Am I an asshole?  Yes, probably, but that woman voted for Trump for sure and has never worked a day of her life and she and her ilk sit in this smug, contemptuous place where everything is built to protect her sick little assumptions and values.

I don't think our little exchange changed anything for her, though.  She was just as much of a shit when I left as she was before.  The fellow changed quite a bit, I think, but I failed to instruct him on how to deal with her, so I didn't really do much good at all.  In truth, I am glad that I got away without the interference of the proper authorities.

It took me a while to calm down afterwards as you might imagine, but when the adrenaline was gone, I was hungry, so I showered and got my little bag and climbed onto my Vespa and went to lunch feeling righteous and something else.  I went to the Boulevard and had a fish sandwich and two glasses of Sangria.  Whatever, dude.  I can drink Sangria if I want.

Back on the scooter, I headed away from my little village toward the big city, and with no passenger to worry, I took the quicker streets that I rarely travel, sun in my face, wind in my hair.  The town seemed virtually trafficless.

I drove the main street through the downtown area searching for something interesting, but there was hardly anyone about.  Then, as I was sitting at a red light, a group of five African American gentlemen came around the corner screaming at traffic and waving what looked to be a wrestling championship belt, holding it high in the air, but the gentlemen weren't the size of professional wrestlers, and I wondered what was going on.  As they approached me where I sat manly on my little scooter with my expensive canvas bag and Ralph Lauren sunglasses, I raised my black power fist in the air and let out a cracker, "Yea!"  They screamed and shook the belt toward me as they walked by, and I thought, "Jesus, man, take a picture."  I thought to circle the block, but when I got to the next street, it was blocked off by barricades.  I pulled past the "No Thru Traffic" sign and stopped at the metal blockades in the middle of the road.  Above the street, I saw a big WWE banner announcing tomorrow night's bouts, so I pulled my Vespa up close to the metal barriers to park.  As I did, a fellow urged me to pull onto the sidewalk.  Seemed that maybe he was drunk.  I cut the engine and grabbed my bag and followed him into the crowd.

It was nothing, really, just a bunch of street vendors and beer carts and commercial radio station tents, working class men and women walking around with beers in their hands looking around like they had lost their dogs or misplaced a t-shirt, but I walked through taking a few pictures here and there, up the street and back.  Then, from behind me, I heard a voice ask, "What camera is that?"  A tall, black man stepped up beside me.  I saw that he had a little Sony a7ii in his hand.  We chatted about cameras for a bit, and then he asked me if I had an instagram account.  Nope, I said, but he did, so I pulled out my phone and told Siri to take a memo.  I told him I would look up his work and said I'd probably see him again.  And he said, "Yea, I've seen you on your scooter before."

My scooter wasn't in sight, and I realized that I was cutting a higher profile than maybe I'd like.  When strangers on the street in a big city tell you they've seen you before. . . .

Back on the Vespa, I crawled through downtown and stopped at a Saturday street fair that went around the famous downtown lake, and I tried to take more pictures of people who don't know what else to do on a most beautiful Saturday afternoon, then, beginning to get bored, I made my way back to my scooter and took the long, slow way home.

I poured a drink and put the SD card into the computer and watched the afternoon images download.  When they were done, I picked a couple to process and had another drink.

It was somewhere between late afternoon and early evening, but I was hungry and thought of the great Ramen noodle restaurant I'd been to the week before.  I waited a bit so that I would not seem as old as I am eating so early, but with the new time, I would have had to wait too long, so I swallowed my pride, grabbed my bag, and got back on the scooter.

You know a restaurant is good when they remember you.  The hostess said "Hello again," and seated me in the same spot at the bar.  The waitress brought the menu and said, "Welcome back."  I'd only been there once.

After last week, though, this was what I needed.  My ego needed succoring.  And holy smokes, those noodle soups are delicious.  I sat at the bar thinking of a couple interviews I read with the writer Lawrence Osborne, thinking what a fop he is and that as good as his writing is, it is flawed, and I wished that I could live his life and be as foppish wearing white linen suits and writing sort of wonderfully and wishing to be paid to do that, but he made some life choices that I didn't and took the more dangerous path.

He says he was a “teenage fuck-up” and didn’t show much academic interest until his late teens, when he decided to learn Greek with the help of “this courtly gay guy teaching at a prep school up the road”. Cambridge was sufficiently impressed to offer him a place to study English, and he went on to a Masters at Harvard but didn’t like the look of academia. “It attracts weak personalities, and I couldn’t see myself playing politics on campus.” Instead he moved to Paris (source).  

I should have gone to Paris.  Or somewhere.  Rather. . . .  

But there was the day, a pretty Saturday, and there was more weekend left.  And there would be other weekends, with luck, and there might still be time to do something.  

And with that. . . I poured an evening scotch and settled onto the couch to read a bit in the eventual darkness under the electric light.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Leaf on a Tree



This photo comes from a friend in Paris.  He is not a photographer.  He took this with his phone.  He is also no longer in Paris.  This is a vacation photo.  When he sent it to me, I thought it was a photo by some photographer he found and liked on the internet.  I envy this photo.

I give up.

I haven't taken a photo this good in years.  I really haven't taken any good photos for a long, long time.  That part of my life has been repressed.  I have cameras, but that is all.  I don't know if I can make a good picture any longer.

That is the way things go.  Such is life.

I truly believe that I have lost my talent for almost everything.  I can't think of a single area where I feel confidence any longer.  I am drifting into the background, a leaf on a tree in a picture of a forest.

He wasn't even trying.  He was simply sitting at a cafe table having coffee.

Rather, a leaf on a tree in a movie frame.  The camera pulls out, the leaves becoming indistinct until a single figure comes into focus in the foreground.

A new hero.