Sunday, March 19, 2023

Hoping for a Barbarian


Yesterday was Q's ex-wife's birthday.  He sent me a photo of her tying on the earrings he bought her.  She looks just about like the day I met her.  Q is trying to get down to his original weight right now, too.  He wants to rock the world, make music.  Do it while you can, I say.  I'm all for trying.  

I think, perhaps, I'm not trying enough.  I'm sick for sure, but I should have managed an hour at yesterday's party.  I was right,  it is usually on Saturday night, but the host moved it forward at the last minute to avoid the rain that was predicted to come.  Travis, my art/travel buddy sent me a video of the thing.  Not the same trio, but a good one, it seems.  Travis said the crowd was reduced by the move but that he spoke to old friends and some new ones, too.  It is great party with nice people.  I am sick for having missed it.  

I am sick.

I'm going to need to change my attitude if I am ever to garner material for anything visual or written.  The time is nigh.  I looked back in my emails.  It has been three weeks on Tuesday since I got the injection in my knee, and it has improved, though not drastically, but I still have hope.  A week to go.  Perhaps there will be a breakthrough.  Perhaps I will have a leg to stand on, so to speak, and, like ALL of my friends, I will go back out to see the world.  

* * *

That was yesterday sometime in the afternoon.  I called my mother to tell her I would not be over.  I was not feeling well at all.  I had no energy and I was afraid the sickness was moving to my lungs.  I sat on the couch and turned on the t.v.  Maybe I would watch a little of the NCAA tournament that I used to be so mad for but which now I cannot stand for all the commercial hype and concessions to progressive demands.  I switched over to watch a documentary about Max Beckman's paintings on YouTube, but I couldn't keep my eyes open.  I slept through an hour of the ninety minute program while sitting up.  When I woke up choking, I turned off the t.v. and made some leftover cabbage and corned beef.  It was no better than the night before.  I was ill enough to not even desire a drink.  I made some herbal tea.  And again.  I sat outside in the late afternoon.  The cats were there.  For once, Felix, the neighbor's cat, was very affectionate toward the little feral without ending in aggressiveness.  He licked her head with tender affection again and again.  She lay down at his feet.  It choked me up.  I have only known the affection of one woman in the past many years.  Sick, feeling desperate, really, thinking dire thoughts, without the succor of tenderness, without the numbing of alcohol, with only nearly ineffective drugs to counter my ills, I became deeply dismayed.  I wanted companionship.  I wanted someone in whose lap I desired to lie, someone who had concern and would succor for me.  

Now wait.  This is a setup for the very next thing.  Don't think I have become to morose.  Hold on.  I'll be more so. 

When I went back into the house, I decided to watch a movie.  I looked at what I had saved in my Amazon account.  I didn't remember putting some of them on the list.  "Waiting for the Barbarians."  Hmm.  Johnny Depp.  Adapted from a book by J.M. Coetzee.  Screenplay also by him.  Set in an outpost of an unnamed empire in the wayback.  Sounded promising, the sort of film I used to watch, movies like "Mountains of the Moon" and "The Man Who Would Be King."  The ratings were mediocre, but so was I.  I put it on.  

Well. . . that was pretty much a bad choice.  Not the movie.  It was beautiful if dour.  But holy hell, the lead character, the magistrate played by Mark Rylance, is an aging, caring, lonely man in an outpost who has been isolated so long he feels he'd feel himself a foreigner if he went back to the capital.  He occupies his time looking for the ruins of ancient cultures.  Unfortunately and irresistibly due to his kind passion, he falls for a "barbarian" woman, Gana Bayarsaikhan, who has been tortured and crippled by a Colonel (played by Depp) who has been sent to the frontier to gain knowledge of the surrounding tribes in preparation for territorial expansion.  The magistrate is tender and kind, but per the barbarian woman's request, and counter to his own desire, he takes a treacherous journey to return her to her tribe.  He is heartsick and worse, and when he returns, he is arrested and beaten for abandoning his post and plotting with the enemy.  The film goes from bad to worse.  There was not a moment of happiness in this entire film about a quiet, solitary, tortured man.  

I felt I was dying when I went to bed.  

This morning, I feel little better.  The sky is dark and the damp air cold as we wait for rain that doesn't fall.  Such are the times.  

I will need to move at some point.  I must force the issue--get well or die.  

I too, sometimes, seem to be waiting on a barbarian.  

Saturday, March 18, 2023


  I am laid low by something.  I thought it was allergies, but a few of my mother's neighbors have been sick for a week with symptoms similar to my own.  I've been sneezing and blowing and now it feels as if it is moving into my chest.  I woke in the middle of the night and took some NyQuil.  Slept fitfully but late.  Now, a combination of germs and drugs has dragged me down.  The big art festival is going on downtown.  It used to be something, but now it is nothing.  There is no art.  I would go like everyone else to see the crowd.  But I won't.  I can't walk that far and I am sick enough to have missed my favorite party of the year last night, a royal affair at a friend's house, a bachelor attorney who has turned his home into a wonderful palace of art.  He usually has a Django Reinhardt band playing gypsy swing and a pretty good bar.  The catering is usually barbecue.  I hadn't enough energy in me to go.  I've waited for the report from my travel/art buddy who said he and his wife were going.  I haven't gotten one yet.  

Q suggested I name my friend Pseudonym, but since everyone on the blog is that, I thought it a no. Eudonym--I think that has legs.  Sounds like a character in a Beckett play.  His partner in a play would be Anondyne.  Clever, I think, but not right.  Let's call him Travis since he is a traveller.  

Maybe. We'll see.  

The biggest problem facing us is overpopulation, right?  Too many people using up too many resources.  People cause pollution.  The planet is becoming toxic.  So. . . it seems you can't win.  Here is the top stories in CNN today.  

Yeegads!  Who knew?  I should have been making babies and saving the world after all!!!!  Apparently, an aging population is not good for business.  We need more youthful drug addicts to save us with TikTok videos and a certain ideology.  One of my friends who I must keep secret for his or her own good says that "Brave New World" has the solution.  Another says "Soylent Green."  Whatever you are planning to do today, though, take out a little time for reproduction.  Just make a baby and save the planet.  

I guess Republicans have the right idea on this.  No birth control, no abortion.  

And I guess the next president of the United States had some good ideas when he was last president, too--about the Western Allies military dependency on the U.S. and about the inefficacy of the U.N.  Even a blind pig can find truffles.  

Wow.  This is what sickness does to me, I guess.  I was going to say something about the beautiful outfit this woman wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, but I seem to have forgotten what.  It had something to do with contradicting ideas on beauty and/or gender identity. . . .  

I'll have to wait for another day to tackle anything pseudo-intellectual.  I just felt the need for a picture, and since I have none of my own at present, I used this.  How many arguments can this one image spark?

O.K. peeps, this was a silly ramble through the bramble of germs and chemicals.  I do have one theory to tout before I go, though.  Every time they send a rocket into space here, people get sick.  Once again I ask what chemicals are they releasing into the atmosphere?  They won't say.  But if you live anywhere near me, I'd suggest putting tin foil in your hat.  

Friday, March 17, 2023

A Dandy Fool

I have a lot of enviable photo gear.  "Photo gear"?  Are you shitting me?  Did I just use that phrase?  

Yea, I did.  On purpose.  Look at this bag.  It an "enviable piece of gear," the fops might say, or if they were worse, they might call it "kit."  This is an expensive Billingham bag made in England.  It is the kind of thing I get sucked into because is looks "vintage."  I mean, it does look like something from an old Banana Republic catalog before they were a retail clothing store.  Later, it might have been sold by J. Peterman.  There is a certain kind of photographer who might want this bag.  I thought it might be nice.  

In my weak defense, I didn't buy it.  Enough said about that.  I didn't buy it, but I wanted it, I guess, the way I wanted the Fedora.  And the two things would look well put walking through an international airport, I guess, a man in an expensive Fedora carrying his expensive Billingham camera bag that surely held a Leica M.  Just like something in an old Ghurka poster.  

Yea, yea. . . fuck you. . . that's mine, too.  It's big.  I liked it.  And I still like it.  But, you know. . . I'm embarrassed by it, too.  See that bag in the gentleman's hand.  Oh. . . I have that.  It was made by Bison, an Italian leather company.  The leather feels like butter.  I think my very expensive girlfriend bought it for me in Florence.  I think so, because there were only two Bison shops in the U.S.--NYC and SF.  I had other things, too.  A pen fetish.  Fountain pens.  One year, overlapping girlfriends bought me two very nice ones, a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck and a Waterman something or other.  Have you ever used fountain pens?  They are shit.  I also had many pens to dip into ink wells.  Oh, yes. . . those came from Italy as well.  Beautiful things. Have you ever tried to write with those?  Thank god, I never had a quill pen.  

I could go on.  Ridiculous expensive shit.  

That Billingham bag is almost useless unless you are hoping to have it stolen.  

As the song goes. . . "What the Fuck Was I Thinking?"

Subsequently, I began reading Luc Sante's "Low Life" the other day.  In his preface, he drills nostalgia.  That is nothing new, of course.  Nostalgia is easily dismissed in art and literature.  I know all this,  I studied for years and years.  Still. . . I fly in the face of intellect.  


And listen to me.  If I wanted to, if I took the time, I could make the photo of the Billingham bag look just like the Ghurka poster.  Trust me.  

Oh, before I leave it alone, I always wanted a camel hair trench coat like the one in the poster.  True that.  

Shit.  And porters.  

But the most practical photo bags I have are the cheapest.  They are made of synthetics and are lightweight and rugged.  They are less than ugly.  Or more, whichever way the scale goes.  They are padded and provide much better protection.  

Gear is meant to be utilized not paraded.  

To wit: I have no idea what photography is any longer.  It all seems stupid now.  Everything is off-limits or has been done to death.  And all the attempts at "the new" look like David Byrne's performance at the Oscars.  Silly hideousness.  

I may just begin photographing the world with my plastic Holga camera again.  

Can you imagine waking up one day and realizing that you are Jimmy Kimmel?  You'd jump out of bed and run to the bathroom mirror in terror to see if it was true!

Maybe that's what it is like, these trappings of the bourgeoisie.  

But then again. . . what isn't?  You'd better take a good, hard look at your own affectations before you go guffawing at mine.  As Howard Stern might have once said, "Yea, I'm an idiot. Let's talk about you." 

The blunders of a lifetime.  

Hell, even Paris Hilton has done some stupid things.  Ha!

Still, that Meisterstuck is a marvel of modern design.  As is the Leica camera.  They are as nicely conceived as anything extant.  They are pleasures to view, pleasures to hold.  There is really no need to own either of them in terms of function any longer.  I use cheap gel pens to write with now, and any modern camera is more useful than a Leica M.  

Oh, hell. . . I could go on.  But I'm not always the goof.  

The VP for Patagonia Marketing was at my house a long time ago, back when I was married.  My friends owned a major outdoor company and my wife was their chief buyer, so when the fellow was in town, we entertained him.  I knew their local rep, but I had never met him before.  After dinner, everyone came back to the house for drinks and casual conversation.  The VP began talking about diversity.  He touted Patagonia on this issue.  It was, you know, the liberal thing to do, and there was hardly a more liberal corporation than Patagonia.  Being the type of fellow I am, I picked up a Patagonia catalog off the table and began paging through.  I was being very deliberate.  Then I stopped and turned the catalog to him.  

"All I see in here are white people.  Where's the diversity?  Let me guess.  I'll bet they are in the warehouse."

Oh, that was a real party stopper.  But, you know. . . look what I accomplished!

You can call me an aware fop if nothing else.  

"Oh, look daddy. . . isn't that dandy diverse!"

That's right.  We've evolved since the old "hoods in the woods" days.  

That ex went on to greater heights.  She now owns a clothing store that is a must for the Racket Club Crowd.  And the expensive girlfriend now designs jewelry for the Oscars.  

You want to hear the end of the joke?  They are now friends.  Oh. . . what a tangled web. . . . 

Don't judge me.  I know how you are about your various ethnic restaurants and your African doodads.  

At least none of us goes to Disney.  

Today is St. Patrick's Day, another nostalgic nothing.  It isn't even a real day.  We'll dine on corned beef and cabbage as tribute to the potato eaters for whom that was a special meal.  And we'll drink Guinness, by God.  

There is no end to it, is there?

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Skinny Drippin'

S'up doggs?  Snoop wine.  I can't believe my New Old Friend hasn't tried it.  She loves everything Snoop. Old sloe-eyed, dope-smokin' Snoopy.  The Children's Album. 

Oh. . . she's gonna kill me for that.  Ha!

I grilled a NY Strip with asparagus and chopped small yellow potatoes after a Campari and soda and a fresh spring salad with garlic and avocado.  All that after I got the "Skinny Drip" infusion.  I went to one of those hydration and wellness stations where you can get a Myer's Cocktail, the thing I have been touting for so long.  It was invented in the '60s by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to treat the onset of old age dementia, but once the drug companies developed pills for that, the cocktail fell out of fashion.  It is a combo of magnesium, B vitamins, and whatever else you want to put into it.  In the '90s, however, the drip made its way back into rotation for people with Epstein-Barr, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia.  It seemed to help.  It took a long time, however, for someone like me to be able to get one.  

Brando introduced me to a man in the wayback who sold a computer company for millions of dollars. 

"He doesn't even know how to turn on a computer!" Brando blustered in his usual fashion.  The man told me he was getting the Myer's Cocktail once a month.  A nurse would come to his house and hook him up. 

"I've never felt better in my life," he exclaimed.  He was an older fellow, or at least he seemed so to me at the time.  I got intrigued and did some research.  Then I went in search of a place.  There weren't any around me until the twenty-teens when a doctor started one of those life extension clinics in my own hometown.  But you had to get a complete physical, bloodwork, etc, before you could eve begin.  Insurance wouldn't cover it and it cost WAY too much money for me.  I wouldn't be able to afford to extend my life for awhile.  

The lady hooking me up kept jabbing around my arm missing the vein.  "Is your other arm better?" she asked.  "Sometimes it is difficult when the vein is deep."  

What?  I used to have great veins, envious veins.  Now I'm so fat they can't find one?

"This Skinny Drip better work fast," I told her.  

Once I she finally, painfully, had the IV going, I sat and listened to two ladies talk.  And talk and talk.  They irritated me.  Actually only one of the ladies talked.  The other simply commented.  The talky one was a pretty, dark women of Indian descent with a Paris Hilton speech pattern.  The IV lady was of Indian descent, too, but with that pleasant British tv Indian accent.  They were talking about somebody's divorce. They couldn't believe she had stayed married to her husband as long as she had.  The woman's family had never accepted him.  


"Because he was white." 

Ha!  There I was, a minority Whitey among racist, far left Indians.  Wealthy ones.  Society ones.  Subltle bling, flashy manicured, white Mercedes ones.  

My art/travel buddy texted me while they rattled on.  

"26th wedding anniversary today. Heading out to ___________ for fried oysters, bread, and martinis in the piano bar."

Wow.  26th!  I still think of him as a new friend, but I've known him for decades.  I met him through Brando after his first divorce.  I've known him through two marriages and two children since, both grown, one in college and one in law school.  I texted back a congratulations and told him I had an IV in my arm. 

"What happened to you?"

"Nothing.  I just got old." 

I was no thinner when I left the hydration place.  Pity, that.  

I was just getting ready to plate my grilled steak when the phone rang.  It was my Tennessee buddy.  He'd asked me at the gym what I was doing that day.  I said I was heading out to rent a pressure washer to do my deck.  He said he'd leave his out for me and I could pick it up.  He was leaving for a month to finish up the 12 houses he was building in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  He was calling to tell me where he was leaving it.  But he had other things to say, too, gossip about the "boy's club." I plated while he was on the phone and drank my wine 'til he was finished.  Then I sat back and ate a most delicious meal in the cool evening air.  

Sky texted me, and once again I was embarrassed that I was always on my deck eating alone.  Why, I wondered?  There I was, a life-extension man with a beautiful meal for one as the neighborhood parade of walkers passed by.  It seemed atrocious.  I made a note to self: "I began life too late."

I've begun to have Siri take notes on my phone, using it as a recorder.  It works, but now well. She doesn't punctuate, and if I pause for a moment, she quits and I have to start over.  I once used a small cassette recorder, then I bought a digital recorder that I still have in the car, but I have my phone with me more often, so. . . . 

"A beautiful woman walks by with three stair-step children, probably aged 4,6 and 9.  She wears running shorts and a crop top, and she is slender and incredibly beautiful.  As she passes,  I think maybe she's their older sister but I know that's not true, and just as she turns the corner she looks back at me over her shoulder and smiles.  She is not smiling at me, of course, but the image of herself that I am seeing at that very moment.  Like everyone else she just wants to check the rearview mirror."

That was one of my phone notes.  I'd never remember that moment if I didn't record it.  I'd never seen her before and I probably will never see her again, but as soon as I read it, I remember her and the children, and I am extremely proud of those last two lines.  

The one who writes it, keeps it.  

She, of course, will never remember me.  

I need to name some of the recurring characters here.  They are all fictional, of course as is the incredibly unreliable narrator C.S.  Q and C.C. are nom de plumes.  Brando and Ili and Sky are experiential inventions as is Tennessee.  But I need a name for my travel/art buddy.  I'll need to work on that.  It has to be right.  

I rise late these DST days, and the day recedes too quickly.  I must get to the gym and use my Skinny Drip.  I want visible veins the next time I go to the clinic.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Wail

Fucking Aronofsky. Why do I keep watching movies by him? "Requiem for a Dream." "The Wrestler." And now. . . "The Whale."

Because I know these people. Because his films are so atrociously true.

Because, you know. . . I am Quasimodo.  

I wasn't right for about a year after watching "The Elephant Man."  I couldn't shake it.  In my classrooms at the factory, I announced, "I am the Elephant Man.  How many of you?  You don't need to raise your hands.  But think about it.  How many of you feel that the person you are is betrayed by your physicality?"

You are correct if you think this was an indecent thing to do.  People need their illusions.  Just watch "The Iceman Cometh" if you need convincing.  People are destroyed without their illusions to sustain them.  

Charlie is a man who has been stripped of his illusions, and their absence is killing him.  

"I'm sorry," is his constant refrain.  

Of course I watched the movie.  Everyone was pulling for Brendan Fraser.  And he won. Just like Mickey Rourke.  Maybe he deserved it.  I don't know.  I haven't watched any of the other movies whose actors were nominated for "Best Actor."  I just looked that up. Yes I did.  I saw "Banshees."  Fraser was better than Farrell.  But without seeing any other films at all, I can say without reservation that Sadie Sink was robbed.  She didn't even get a nomination.  WTF?  She should have gotten an Oscar.  I don't need to see any of the other movies to know that.  She was unbelievable.  

O.K.  That was not much of a critical review.  Here's my recommendation.  Do not watch the film.  I am not recommending it.  It will not make you feel good.  It will do worse than that.  It is not a tragic film.  It is hardly pathetic.  It is something much worse than that. It is in a category alone.  

I will not be right for a long, long while.  

Maybe I should watch "Everything Everywhere" now just to put things in perspective.  As I have opined, I don't think I would like the movie, but I could be wrong.  I might feel something for the characters.  I don't know.  I am, though, a feeling sort of person, and I need to feel something other than what I have been left with after "The Whale."  Oh. . . I cried three times during the film.  Three times in three lines.  Maybe there is something wrong with me. 

I'd prefer to feel something other than what I am feeling now.  Too many sad things.  Too many tears.  

Can you recommend a good comedy?  The Greeks knew.  What was the formula? Three tragedies to one comedy?  Or was it 2:1?  C.C. will inform me.  But the ancients knew that the emotions must be reordered and restored, returned to something bearable.  Tragedies are supposed to be cathartic.  There was no catharsis for me in "The Whale."  It just dragged me down. 

"Comedy is a representation of laughable people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness which does not cause pain or disaster."

That is what I need now.  Something that does not cause pain or disaster.  Yes.  Hurry me to that one.  

But it seems that is not the world in which I live at present.  I want to sit and watch something inane, a romcom, with My Own True Love.  In lieu of that, I may, perhaps, turn to whatever popular magazines that are left.  You know--Vanity Fair style.  Which reminds me--when is Season Three of "White Lotus"?  that would be good.  It is a Vanity Fair style comedy, right?  Light and bright and shiny?  A disaster of the un-relatable?  Yes, that would be good, something blithely mindless.  

As our world collapses, we are ready to people space.  I hate that.  Space is what the oceans once were.  We have already polluted it.  It had always been a wonderfully empty mystery devoid of petty human emotion, a blanket of existential void.  The moon, once melancholy, has been desecrated.  Now Mars.  We've put cameras beyond our solar system, or nearly.  We're sure to fuck up what was once "The Last Frontier."

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Save Something From. . . Save Nothing

This is the salvia in my garden.  Sage.  It goes by both names, I think.  When I was talking to a young biology prof at the gym yesterday, one of the fellows who goes drinking with the gymroids, he wanted to know how I spent my weekend.  He was one of the Spring Breakers adding to the barrage of group texts.  I told him it was a quiet weekend of gardening.  He wanted to know what I had planted having just made his young daughter a vegetable garden.  I said no, mine was for butterflies and hummingbirds.  

"Milkweed?" he asked. 

"Yes, three varieties, and pentas both small and large, and salvia."

"Do you smoke it?

"I have always wondered if it was the same salvia that Miley Cyrus smoked when she was a kid."

So I tried to look it up.  Some salvia is hallucinogenic and some is not.  As you can see, my salvia has big leaves.  Sage.  I don't know.  

I got to the gym late yesterday.  DST, I guess.  But when I got there, I was not motivated.  I saw my Tennessee Boyfriend (I need to quit saying that) in the back room when I entered.  He was ready to chat.  

"Man, your girlfriend was all over me the minute I came in.  I was chatting you up.  You're all set, dude."  

"Yea. . . I'll bet you were helping me out." 

"I was.  I told her your dance card was filling up, that she better hurry.  I told her she ought to hook you up with her sister."

The boys have all gone crazy for her sister who has just recently come back to the gym after a year or so of absence.  There are three sisters, all striking with athletic bodies, one particularly beautiful.  She has not been in for a very long time.  Her sister says she got a full sleeve and has dropped to ninety some pounds.  It is hard to believe.  She looked like the happy one.  The other sisters look as troubled as their mother.  Only recently has the eldest of the three begun talking to me.  It is a result of my newfound "friendship" with the rich, rowdy boys.  I never allow myself illusions about such things.  But the gymroids, they seem to be all self-esteem and little shame.  

I'm all wallflower.  

Somehow our conversation turned to fighting.  Tennessee grew up with the MMA and has bee fighting in tournaments since he was a kid.  MMA really took shape when I was already too old for such things.  Still. . . I headed to the Muay Thai gyms to learn a bit about kickboxing.  What I learned was that those guys could kick my ass.  Having grown up with boxing, flying feet and knees was all new to me.  So I don't know how I ended up in a small room learning the "tricks of the trade" at my expense.  Tennessee was determined to illustrate some "skills" to me.  

"You've got good hand skills," he said.  

"I can box, but when you start throwing kicks. . . ."

He demonstrated a few.  He was quick.  I was doing everything wrong.  And, of course, I could barely move on my bad knee.  It was disarming.  

"I don't think I need to learn any more today," I said.  "I don't really need new fighting skills.  I don't think I am going to be fighting."  

I felt my age and disabilities.  It didn't make me happy.  

"Man, it's after noon.  I got to go," he said.  

I didn't feel like working out when I came in.  I didn't feel any more motivated now, but I began.  It was afternoon by the time I got home and ate.  It wasn't long after I showered that it was time to go to my mother's.  The day had gotten past me weirdly.  DST.  The change always f's me up.  

When I got back home, I made a drink and sat out on the deck to watch my garden grow. It had rained much of the day.  I thought the plants had grown an inch or so.  The cardinals came, and, I think, a catbird.  Scar came for dinner.  I heated up some left over seafood stew and poured a glass of wine.  The cat left abruptly without a glance.  Stew finished, I went inside.  A scotch and the end of "The Years."  There is so much there.  It is overwhelming.  

"Her need to have a lover. . . The young man she sees on other weekends often bores her. . . . But if she gave him up, she would cease to communicate the insignificant acts and incidents of her day.  She would no longer put daily life into words. . . . She'd feel cast out of an entire world of caresses, desire, and fatigue, bereft of a future. . . . just to imagine it, the sense of deprivation violently attaches her to the boy as to a 'last love'. . . . In her diary she writes: 'He wrenches me away from my generation.  But I am not part of his.  I'm nowhere in time.  He's the angel who brings the past back to life, who immortalizes."

I read more slowly, trying to put off the inevitable end.  The images envelope me, but then. . . there it is, the final page. . . the beautiful and terrible last line. 

"Save something from the time where we will never be again."

Overwhelmed, I wept, nose and lips swollen, cheeks moist, chest convulsing.

 Salter meant the same thing when he said "Save nothing."  He meant what she means. . . the one who writes it, keeps it.  Nothing else lasts.  

* * *

I can't help it.  I'll keep writing.  

Monday, March 13, 2023

Quiet and Waiting

Mysteries.  The birds are coming back to the feeders.  It took awhile.  The squirrels have found them, too. And the Monarchs have found the flower garden.  One Monarch, anyway--little Chrissy.  I sat out yesterday and watched them all.  I've been feeling off for a few days and so have rested and not exercised one iota.  I've sat more in the last two days than I have in weeks prior.  Sometimes, I guess, you just have to sit and watch the birds and squirrels and butterflies.  

Watching birds is not as easy as it sounds.  They don't do a lot.  It takes them a long time to decide to do anything.  They look to see if the bird feeders are a trap.  The male cardinal comes first.  Then he flies back and tells the female.  It is true.  I don't know the language of birds very well, but I am fairly certain about this.  It happened with the bird bath that is low to the ground.  The male came and drank then flew back to the bush.  In a few whispered chirps, the female came, too.  The male always sits high as a watchman ready to send the signal to bolt.  It is slow and time consuming watching birds, but there is something to it.  

I am also watching the plants grow.  They grew overnight.  As I have given up on even news headlines now for the most part, I took my coffee outside this morning rather than sitting down to the computer.  Rain is coming.  You could smell it in the air.  The air reminded me of wet sea breezes early in the morning before the day truly begins.  Sitting outside in the dusky gray light with the first cup of coffee eyeballing the overnight growth of the pentas and the impatiens and the catnip and the tall purple/blue flowering plants whose names I don't recall just now as the birds strike up their sunrise chatter and begin stretching their legs and wings. . . such things.  

My big project yesterday was making a seafood stew.  With the changing of the clocks, it doesn't get dark here until 7:30 now, so I asked my mother if she felt like driving to my house for dinner.  She hasn't been here for awhile.  And so. . . I will spill just the facts.  In the enamel covered cast iron dutch oven, I poured a good amount of olive oil.  While it was heating, I quickly chopped a white onion.  Diced.  It went into the heated oil while I chopped garlic.  It, too, went into the pan.  I continued chopping carrot and celery and potatoes.  They went into the pan as well.  I added 32 ounces of vegetable broth and a bottle of clam juice.  Kosher salt, course ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  A half handful--maybe less--of chopped parsley.  Some white wine.  Some tomato sauce and a big can of chopped tomatoes.  I brought it all to a boil and then turned the burner to low, put on the lid, and left it alone for hours.  When my mother arrived at five, I turned up the heat and dropped in half a pound of peeled shrimp, half a pound of scallops, and then a bit later, a pound of cod.  I poured my mother some sweet Vouvray wine and we sat at the table on the deck.  I dished up big, deep bowls of the most delicious seafood stew I've ever made.  Big chunks of crusty bread.  The birds and butterfly and cat.  The air was perfect.  

When my mother was gone (with a big container of stew for later) I cleaned up the kitchen and poured a whiskey.  I went to the leather reading chair, turned on the lamp, and picked "The Years" from the side table.  It was later than I was used to, of course, and when I wearied of reading and looked at the clock, I thought to watch a little television.  America, I guessed would be watching the Oscars.  I was pretty sure there would be no Black men fighting on stage this year, and even if there were, I could watch it later in the highlight reel.  I had no real interest in watching the Oscars.  It would be much slower and less interesting than watching birds, so. . . I decided to watch one of the Oscar nominated films.  I watched the trailer for "Everything Everywhere," and was certain that I would not enjoy that.  Americans are addicted to fantasy--werewolves and vampires and aliens and superheroes, or anything set in space or in the future.  The only thing that can compete with that is horror.  Americans love horror.  I say Americans, but it could be everyone.  I just have more experience here.  Having watched the three minute trailer, I was certain it would win everything the Oscars had to offer.  

I decided to watch "To Leslie."  

Holy smokes!  There it was, "Leaving Las Vegas" meets Sam Shepard, all with a happy ending.  That may disappoint some, but there are only two endings--happy and sad.  There are indeterminate endings, they say, but all endings are indeterminate, aren't they?  I mean, there is always something that happens after the story ends.  So there are two.  I didn't mind.  It was sweet.  

Andrea Riseborough was as good in this film as Kate Blanchet was in "Tar."  She was awesome.  If she had won "Best Actress," I would have been gleeful.  I think the entire cast should have been awarded, truly.  I mean, if you like realistic acting and not the thing that Keanu Reeves does--you know.  Every time I see him on a screen, I think, "Look--he's acting!"  Only one character in the entire film "To Leslie" made me think, "acting."  The goddamned thing seriously engulfed me.  

I think the film made something ridiculous like $39,000 in theaters.  That's my America, the land that I love.  What's "trending" now? 

I have almost finished "The Years."  I am probably going to start over and read it again when I finish.  I may do it on a Kindle so that I can save passages easily.  Why?  Oh. . . to text them to friends, of course, so that I can look intelligent.  But also so I can study what she does and how she does it.  The thing you can't mimic through study, though, is how perceptive she is.  It is a perceptive work more than anything else.  I have two favorite authors this decade.  Both are French, so I can only read them in translation.  And they are opposite sides of the coin.  Ernaux mentions Houellebecq.  It is clear she does not appreciate his aesthetics.  I'm certain Houellebecq would feel quite the same about her's.  And yet. . . they are both writers of perceptions--one with an emotional investment, one without.  They are, each, I think, marvelous.  I don't believe, however, that Houellebecq will ever be awarded a Nobel Prize.  

The forecast is for rain today.  That is good for my fresh garden.  It is O.K. for me, too.  I am still feeling quiet and hushed.  I will prepare myself for the work around here that must be done.  I will order the mulch and buy the deck paint.  That is what I think to do, anyway.  

But such things are always a question.  

Sunday, March 12, 2023

It's Still Winter!

Everywhere people are having fun all at once. If you didn't know Covid was over, you haven't been to my own home state. It is a haven for Spring Break Madness. People are everywhere. They send photos. It is the Season of Mirth!  You need to be there!

Or so it would seem.  

Which, if you are not, can be quite daunting.   

"How'd I get left out?"

I didn't.  I've had many invitations to "have fun."  I guess I've self-selected the quiet life.  I've grown quite used to it, I suppose, having never been tempted by a crowd.  But the photos and images pour in.  People at the beach, on boats, eating, drinking, in bathing suits, ripped, young. . . . 

I decided to garden.  Jesus Christ. . . really?  Might as well have gone bowling, right?  Gone to Bingo?  

I got up early and went to a nursery.  Came home and laid the plants out in the garden.  I realized I needed more, so I went to another nursery.  Back home and ready, I dug, threw cow manure into the hole, turned the dry hole into a mucky swamp with the hose, broke open the root bunch, dropped the plant into the hole, and swept the unearthed dirt back to fill.  Except, the neighbor has planted some tropical thing that has monstrous roots that have run through my garden soil.  I couldn't cut through them with the shovel I was using.  I had to get the big, heavy roofing shovel to chop through the thick roots and then strain to dig them out.  I was dirty, sweaty, and sick with fatigue.  I'd run dry of swear words.  What might have taken me an hour took me half the day.  When it was all done and pretty, I stood admiring the work, misting the garden with the hose.  Sweet.  

I needed to pot the catnip I bought the week before.  I wondered if the cats would take to it.  I started to fill a pot, but I hadn't enough potting soil, so I took a run to the hardware store up the street to get more.  Once I got the catnip that was looking pretty done for into the pots and watered them well, they began to perk up. 

Things were looking pretty good. I remembered that I wanted to fill the hummingbird feeder that has not been filled for years.  I boiled water and mixed in sugar one part to three.  I almost used honey, but fortunately I Googled it.  DO NOT USE HONEY!  That is the way to kill a bird for some reason.  Doesn't seem to make sense to me, but I'm glad I looked it up.  

That was the last thing.  Tired but satisfied, I made a gin and tonic and sat on the deck in sad admiration.  

Sad?  Yea.  My phone was blowing up.  Beaches, boats, and bikinis.  

"Where's the Shaman?"

I thought about sending a photo of the garden, but decided to stay aloof.  The gin and tonic was hitting the right spot.  Fuck it.  I wouldn't be having fun on a boat with a bunch of dumb drunks anyway.  The short video clips were noisy, loud.  That has never been me, not as a teen, not in my twenties.  Not.  I've always preferred the secret hideaways, cafes in the high mountain villages of Peru or nearly deserted Mexican beaches.  My idea of a crowd are the ones in museums and museum cafes.  

So why was I so. . . something.  

I remembered making the first garden with Ili.  Filling the bird feeders.  She always grew potted herbs.  She'd paint the clay pots.  She couldn't keep a plant alive for long, but she loved gardening.  

"You got a brown thumb," I'd laugh.  She'd laugh, too. But she liked muddling herbs and making drinks.  We'd sit on the deck and watch the birds and drink and laugh.  

Fuck yea.  That's Spring Break.  

I showered and went to my mother's.  I took over some plants I'd bought for her garden.  She was not outside when I got there, so I went to the garden to set the plants down.  I would plant them later.  I was feeling clean after a day of cutting roots.  Even my fingernails were clean.  But the plants looked like they were wilting, so I showered them for a bit.  When I had done, I knocked on my mother's door.  She was on her computer.

"Wait a minute, my son just walked in.  I'm going to let you talk to him."

She was sitting with her laptop waving the phone at me.

"Here. . . here. . . . "

"What are you doing?"

"Something popped up on my computer screen.  Everything was locked.  I couldn't do anything.  It said to call this number."

What the fuck!  I sat down at the computer.  My mother was typing in a password to download something.  I took the phone.

"I'm sorry.  Who am I speaking with?"

A woman with a heavy Indian accent said, "I'm with Apple.  We are trying to help unlock the computer."

I put the phone on the table and stood up.  "I don't know what you are doing.  This is a scam.  Do what you want."

I was pissed.  How many times have I told her. . . . 

I walked outside.  Why do I buy my mother computers, iPads, iPhones?  All she does is fuck them up.  

She came outside.  She'd hung up the phone.  I got the laptop and restarted it.  I checked for downloads.  I looked through her apps.  Everything seemed to be fine.  My mother was shook.  I was pissed.  The two attitudes didn't mesh well.  My mother is slowing down in every way now.  She does not deal well with everyday problems.  She is beginning to feel lost, I think.  There is little I can do.  I stayed longer than I wanted just talking.  It was not the best ending to the day.  

Back home it was time for another G&T.  I'd made a Greek salad earlier and there was plenty left over.  Just add tuna.  There would be no cooking tonight.  

As I sat in the last light, the feral cat came.  I'd already fed her twice.  Still, she went to her bowl.  I went inside and readied some of the salad.  I opened a can of tuna and put most of it on top, but I left some in the can for the feral cat.  Kosher salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  A chunk of fresh sourdough French bread.  A glass of wine.  The cat and I ate as the air began to cool.  The first birds came to the bird feeders.  A peaceful, pastoral scene right here in the heart of the village.  

Night would fall, my mother alone in her house.  Couples were heading to dinner.  The rowdy Spring Breakers were dancing on table tops throwing back hideous shots.  I would go inside to read, maybe listen to music, perhaps watch something on television.  I could go out.  Nothing is very far away.  I would not, however.  I do not have the right companion.  There were years without lovers, but I had interesting, unattached friends.  They were good company.  Life was always an adventure.  What happened to all the interesting people?  Where did they go?  

I know where they aren't.  

I was going to quit this continuous complaint.  I thought it might be affecting me in a deleterious way.  I wasn't going to become suddenly chirpy.  I just thought not to write at all.  But without this purging, I found quickly, I fell deeper into the hole.  I can't quit writing and ride on boats, drink by swimming pools, cram into popular bars.  

"We should hang out."

Oh, honey. . . you have no idea what you are asking.  

Friday, March 10, 2023

Keep That Hibachi Burning

The World’s Happiest Country Is All About Reading, Coffee, and Saunas

For five years in a row, Finland has ranked No. 1 as the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. 

Finnish people are by nature introverted and they love silence. They do not show off their emotions and are known for their stoicism and resilience. They also do not enjoy small talk or talking casually to strangers and are known to be blunt when they communicate. They are sincere, honest, and modest.

Finns enjoy many outdoor activities in their free time. Some typical hobbies include cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, Nordic walking, camping, and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms.
The Finnish people have gathered a reputation for being reserved, non-talkative, and shy of the physical contact many take for granted in Western culture. Some believe the nature and vastness of Finland make the Finns seem remote.

The consumption of alcohol in Finland is the second highest in the Nordic countries. Since the early 1960s the total consumption of alcohol has quadrupled and negative effects of alcohol have increased. In Finnish culture, the state of alcohol intoxication has not been seen as shameful.

I Googled "Who are the happiest people" this morning.  Finns.  Than the rest of the Northern European countries. So I wanted to know what makes them so goddamned happy.  It turns out, I'm Finnish.  Or Finished.  I mean, for awhile now, I've not been so happy.  

I went out with the gymroids last night.  I can't do that anymore.  I don't know why, really.  I can't figure it out.  I just get sad somewhere along the line.  Last night when I came home, I thought about it for awhile.  Not for long.  I was tired and went to bed.  Not before watching this, though. 

That album, "Kind of Blue," is the apogee of music, I think.  What do I know?  But it is.  Remember the first time you heard it?  Everything changed, right?  With roots in orchestral jazz like Duke Ellington, it stripped everything to bare emotion.  Unbelievably, everything on the album is one take.  Just straight out of the box.  It is still the best selling jazz album of all time and even now sells around 5,000 copies every week.  Here is a YouTube link to the album if you don't have your record player handy (link).  

I think I've always been kind of blue.  

What I think I have come to realize about going out with the gymroids is that there is too much talk.  I can't react to all that talking.  You can't try more than five syllables at a time because someone will interrupt you.  Bam! Bam! Bam!  

I don't enjoy employing my wit as a defensive/offensive tool.  

Maybe that's it.  Or maybe it is the money thing.  They ALL have money.  Tennessee is building twelve houses in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the North Carolina border.  The fellow who just bought the McLaren said he would like to have a house up there.  Tennessee said he had thirty adjacent acres he didn't need and he could sell him that and build him a house there.  McLaren said he was thinking of buying an airplane so he could fly around to his four properties.  Here, the mountain home, the island home, and. . . where was the other?  I can't remember.  They all had four homes.  They talked of St. Lucia and Portugal were buying a $200,000 property would get you a passport from that country.  

I guess I wanted to cry if I remember correctly.  

They like me.  It's not that.  They invite me to go places.  

"I've got a condo on the beach you can stay in." 

"You can stay in one of the A-frames in the mountains."

"Come out on the boat."  

Last night's bill came to $300.  I threw down fifty.  When I got home, I despaired.  I should have picked up the whole tab.  I could have.  I missed the opportunity.  It made me angry.  It made me sad.  

I am silly.  Everyone had fun.  The waitress wanted to date me.  I don't know why.  Maybe that's not what she meant when she told me, "We should hang out."  It was nice, but I didn't love her.  

I felt more Quasimodo than ever.  Is it a spiritual deformity? 

I want to learn to Zen dance.  I don't know if that is a "thing."  It is just what came to mind.  I'll probably Google it later.  I want to move to the Life Force, to let it flow gently through me.  

O.K. I Googled it.  This is not exactly what I had in mind. 

I don't know what I have in mind, and maybe that is the problem.  Maybe I no longer know my own mind.  I'll have to call my Life Coach and my Spirit Guide.  I'll take lessons in Happiness and Glee.  

Or, I'll climb back in my bell tower and wait for darkness.  

I should have picked up the bill.  

I should be a Finn. 

Music changed after the 1959 release of "Kind of Blue."  I imagine it is a large reason why I like the show "Peter Gunn."  The music. . . and the fact that in the face of everything, he had his own true love.  

"Keep that hibachi burning."  

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Look What I Can Do with an Early Start (and No Nap)

Obviously Cafe Selavy and Cafe Selah are not the only cafes available to desiring folks (but they are the two best).  There is, or once was, Cafe Leibniz, a stellar joint for the disaffected.  Most of us were probably introduced to the cafe initially when we bought Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs" album.  Recently, however, a book of photos by Anders Peterson was released.  When I saw a few of the images, I YouTubed up a video of the book.  You can do that.  They page through the entire thing so you can know if you want to buy it or not.  I sent the video to Q.  He immediately bought two copies, one for each of us. Mine arrived two days ago.  

"What do you think?" he asked.  

"It looks just like the video." 


The book has an essay by Waits, but I haven't read it yet.  I'm still slowly reading my way through the Ernaux book.  My art/travel buddy wrote yesterday that he loves the book, too.  It is something truly grand.  I told Sky that all the boys were in love with her.  

"For my book selection?" she asked. 

"No. . . your legs," I said.  "Ha!"

Both, however.  Who doesn't like a true beauty with brains?  

Answer:  Many. 

And so it goes.  

Q's been nagging me to send him back more of the gifts he has provided me over the years.  This time it is an ancient cassette recorder that has been in my attic for years.  Being the loyal fellow I am (or fearfully obedient), I walked up the steep, rail-less ladder to the attic to fetch it.  Coming back down with the f'er in my hands with a bad knee was treacherous.  I'm still walking down that ladder facing forward into the void the way I always have to show my physical prowess and mental toughness, but yesterday I wondered on the efficacy of this decision.  Safely down, I took the dinosaur to the light and saw the dust that had settled on it, so I took it out to the yard and hosed it down.  I still had to scrub it a bit, but I didn't even try to get between all the knobs.  I left it in the sun the rest of the day to dry out.  It should be fine.  

But let me back up, 'cause it was a hell of a day. I was all Spring Cowboy once again.  

I woke up before five.  I read and wrote and had coffee.  Usually I would go back to bed, but for whatever reason, I was not tired.  I decided to go to the gym early and get the day started.  

"You're here early," said the stunned, pretty woman at the check in desk.

"Yes, I have to stay away from the gymroids if I want to work out."


Without the horseshit that usually takes place, I was done pretty quickly.  I headed over to my mother's house to plant her garden.  Dig a hole, make it swampy, tear the root bed apart, plant the plant. . . repeat.  Then throw big bags of mulch.  In another part of the yard, drop zinnia seeds and mulch.  Water everything.  Pick up the remnants and throw it all in the garbage.  That's how you make a garden.  

Repeat.  I went home and did my own.  

Then I washed out the old bird feeders and let them dry in the sun.  They had become clogged. so I've lost the birds.  The feeders are filled now, but the birds don't know it yet.  The butterflies, however, have found the garden.  I'm waiting on the hummingbirds now, tiny things the size of your thumb.  

Shower.  Lunch.  Take the dinosaur to FedEx to send to Q.  $125 in shipping!!!!  WTF?  I called Q.  

"How much can you buy one of those for?"

"About $500.00," he said.  

He was going to spend another $150 on having it cleaned up since I was such a bad custodian.  

I sure hope he enjoys the thing.  Well--I hope it still works.  

But I had fun kibitzing with the fellow at the FedEx office.  He was talking about going to a climbing gym.  There is a new one I'd never heard of in Gotham.  I told him I used to be a famous climber.  


"Yup.  Until they opened up a gym in town and we found out every kid who came in could out climb me." 

He laughed.  

I told him all the Classic Climbs I had made with my buddy like I was a real stud.  

"There are no colored handholds on real rock," I said trying to get him to look at my big balls.  "It's a whole different deal." 

Now I had him on the hook.  

"Yup.  The paper ran a big article on me.  Huge picture of me climbing a building here in town.  Took up half of the front page of the B section."

I had him drooling.  

None of it was lies, of course, but it was all bullshit, too.  It was as true as anything in the past, you know. Whenever you use binoculars to see a thing, it looks huge.  

I left FedEx and went to the store to get paper towels and toilet paper and chicken for the evening meal.  When I got home, it was only three o'clock.  WTF?  I had told my mother I probably wouldn't be over in the afternoon, but it was too early to start drinking and I didn't want to just sit down, so I drove to her house and watered the newly planted garden.  We sat and talked.  The 97 year old widow next door had come over.  Her legs were swollen and hard.  My mother had called the doctor for her.  They are seeing her this morning.  The 89 year old road up on her tricycle.  My mother told her about the neighbor.  This is tough talk for them, of course, resignation in their voices.  It was terrifying for me.  

One of the nameless gymroids just gave me thirty narcotic tablets including methadone and several kinds of oxys.  Ernaux writes of her group talking about how they would end their lives, most with sleeping pills in sleeping bags in the mountains.  That is what we all think, I guess.  

Except Hemingway. . . Bourdain. . . . 

As Sherwood Anderson writes, "One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant. . . one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes."  

It is one of the best lines I've ever read. 

Back home, the chicken was cooking in the InstaPot.  I put on some brown jasmine rice and broccoli and poured a glass of wine.  God, it was still early.  I wandered about the grounds admiring my handiwork and lamenting all that needs to be done. 

It had been a big day.  I'm sure I left out some if not much of what I accomplished.  I planned my next thing.  I would fertilize the trees and shrubs and get on my hands and knees and pull the insidious vines that grow up to strangle everything they can.  

I ate dinner on the deck throwing the chicken skin and thigh bone with chunks of good stuff to the cat.  She doesn't run when I throw things any longer.  A neighbor stopped by with his big dog, Ace, and we talked about the bubble in which we live here in my own hometown.  It is like that everywhere now, we agreed.  You need to be in the bubble.  

It was getting dark.  I cleaned up the kitchen, poured a whiskey, and sat down to read more of "The Years."  There was a knock at the door.  I am letting some neighbors park their cars in my driveway while their roof is re-shingled.  They act like I deserve a Nobel for this.  I tell them it is nothing, but they brought me a loaf of pumpkin bread they made.  Organic, they said.  They listed the healthy ingredients.  

"Oh, my. . . I love this sort of bread.  I will enjoy this immensely." 

I am eating it this morning with my coffee and trying to figure out how to get them to put me on a subscription.  Golly the thing is good!

The sun is bright and the day is pleasant.  I need to get a start on my Cowboy day.  

You'll learn how it went tomorrow, I can assure you.  Yippee-ki-yay!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

A Flurry

 I know, I know. . . it looks like all the other full moon pictures I've posted.  I'm not proud.  I needed something

I continued playing Spring Cowboy yesterday.  Took my mother and cousin to the big nursery across town to buy butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants and bags and bags of mulch. The maids were cleaning house.  Took my car for a wash, wax, vacuuming, etc.  Spread fertilizer on the yard.  Watered the palms, ligustrums, and the grass torn up by the city.  Did an hour of cardio at the gym.  Then, because I needn't go to my mother's for a second time in the afternoon, I took a hot Epsom salts soak.  Showered.  Made a Campari and soda.  Wrote a longish text to my New Old Friend who is going on Spring Break with the college kids in the Keys.  She objected to my depiction of her trip.  Then I went to a place quite near my house that I had forgotten about during the Covid years. All they make are poke bowls.  Being out and about at a time I would usually be sitting in a rocker at my mother's was quite. . . liberating.  I could feel my spirit rising.  Rain Man, my friend wrote.  A prison of my own choosing.  I know, I know. . . but what can you do?  By god, though, if I had my days back and the time to structure as I wanted. . . . 

We all need excuses.  

After dinner, I decided on a whiskey and a cheroot.  It was the last cheroot in the box.  I won't be buying more for a long time.  I've cut down on my consumption of alcohol, too.  It is spring.  I need my beach body back.  


As I sat on the deck, an old friend walked by with another fellow.  He was always in terrific shape--swam, ran--but is no longer.  

"Trying to lose my beer belly," he laughed.  

"Won't happen," I yelled back.  "Once you have it. . . ."

Of course, there are drugs that will help.  He has done them before.  

Group texts from the gymroids.  Happy hour plans.  Too many boys.  It wears me out.  I'd rather go with the girls.  I must have been really lonesome to get caught up in this.  

The girls are trying to get me to come to Miami with them.  Not all girls, but a majority.  I've already declined, but they persist.  I don't know.  Maybe.  

Sun setting, I went inside to read.  Goddamn, this Annie Ernaux can write.  It seems breezy, but there is more to unpack in one paragraph than is possible if you want to keep reading.  I hesitate to recommend it to many, though.  It is devastating. 

A bit later, Q writes to tell me that he loves the Ernaux book.  

The evening wears on and I'm worn out.  I turn on the television to watch the first episode of the new season of "Perry Mason."  Initial reviews were not good.  I've only seen this first episode, but they seem mistaken.  The thing is a tone poem of voice and mood.  Perhaps, however, it is not contemporary enough for a young critic.  The past is bad.  We all know that now.  We're better off with "Wolverine."  

As you all know by now, though, I can be quite enamored of flawed things.  I'm with Shakespeare on this.  I'll leave you to work your way through that one.  

I could barely keep my eyes open through the entire hour.  I was tired and quite anxious to curl up in bed and head to dreamland.  Which I did.  

Full moon.  Disturbing dreams.  Up at four.  

WTF do I do now?  

I believe I'd like someone to hold me the whole night through.  Or at least initially.  Then, you know, touch toes or something.  Then, waking from a bad dream, spoon again until sleep overtakes me.  

There is nothing like your Own True Love.  

The sun is far from rising.  I am not sleepy, though, and will not return to bed.  There is the Ernaux book to finish, or I could work on a couple of projects.  Maybe I should walk in the dark and see if I get arrested.  Limp, I should say.  Yesterday, my knee was not so good.  Still. . . hope.  I will make it stronger. 

And that, my friends, is today's Emotional Weather Report.  Clear days, cloudy nights.  Wild swings in the passing of a day.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Warning: Those Easily Offended By Stupidity. . . .

Joel Sternfeld

There was a time.  How in the world can one make photos like this now?  That is what I want to know.  That is what I want to do.  

Is it awful?  Isn't it awful?  I should have put up a trigger warning first.  


The past seems wrong now, doesn't it.  I mean all of it.  People were truly horrible.  They listened to country music and shit.  We're in the process of fixing that.  

Sorry.  I didn't have a picture worth sharing today. I haven't most of the time now, but I do anyway.  Share, I mean.  Nothing like this, of course.  I've put that stuff away in the vault.  

I wish I had someone who wanted to be photographed relentlessly, ceaselessly.  At my beck and call.  All of the time.  That is what I'd do.  And one day that person would look back and say. . . ?  

"Jesus. . . look at my shorts!"

Do you assume this man to be a father or a pedophile?  Do you assume a gender role for the smaller person in the photograph?  Do you wonder how the relationship turned out?  Where they are now?  

I not only haven't a photo to post today, I apparently have nothing to say.  Just gibberish.  Nonsense.  I can't even come up with a long guarded, secret revelation to spill.  Surely I have something hideous I could confess.  

Can't think of one.  My life has become pretty bland.  Another day, another selfie.  

I've quit watching television news.  I think I'll quit reading the news as well.  All the headlines are the same, it seems. 

"The Future Is Disastrous.  Can We Prevent It?"

How do you prevent the future?  We have to invent a Time Machine, of course, and go back into the past.  That's what people do.  They give way to nostalgic remembrances.  Still, it doesn't prevent what hasn't happened yet.  If we could only kill the little baby Hitler. . . and his ilk.  

But you know, even Anthony Bourdain couldn't prevent the future.  

I should heed my friend Tommy's step-father's advice.  Old Rex was sly as a fox.  

"If you're stupid, keep your mouth shut and nobody will know it." 

Old Rex.  He even laughed with his mouth closed.  

Monday, March 6, 2023


I guess I made a mistake yesterday.  I got a flyer on the front door from the city telling me the the water was now safe to drink.  I believed them.  I did.  And I got sick once again.  

"Did you flush your lines," my neighbor asked.  


"You should run the water in the bathtub for a long time," he said.  

Oops.  There was nothing in the flyer telling me to flush my lines, but I guess I should have known.  I had another bad day.  

"Are you kidding?" wrote my former college roommate, band member, and factory worker.  "We're the ones who wrote the song, 'You Can't Trust the Government!'" 

"Word to that," I responded.  

And so I spent much of my day in bed.  

I called my mother to tell her that I would not be up for coming to dinner.  That seemed O.K.  It didn't look like they were making anything formal anyway.  But I guess I'm still in line for my inheritance.  My mother was mad at my two female cousins.  

"I'm over them," she said.  "They just talk to one another and not to me.  They talk in low tones when I am out of the room and stop when I enter.  I'm sure they are saying all sorts of things about me.  That's the way they are."

"Well, mom. . . I don't say anything because they are your relatives, but, you know, I just tolerate them because of you."

It is the hillbilly way.  Don't leave your purse sitting out unattended.  

At one point during the day, I decided I needed to try out my knee.  Here's the report so far.  I walk much better from room to room without as much pain but without total mobility.  Walking any distance, though, still causes pain at a not to distant point.  I would say it is better, but I am certainly not in walking shape.  I will continue to work my knee in the gym a little more each day.  

After a lifetime of running--away from trouble, away from mental stress, toward a clear mind and tremendous beauty--it is depressing to think I will never run again.  I guess I still don't truly believe it, but I should.  I ought to be happy-ish, I guess.  I've been shot, gassed, and blown up by bombs, and I can still sit in a cafe.  I'm a tough son of a bitch.  

And a big crybaby.  That's what makes me special. 

And I'm a thinker.  I've been thinking lately about love.  I love madly, deeply, incredibly.  I've been told that nobody loves the way I do.  I've also been told I haven't loved enough.  Probably neither of those things are true.  Probably both are.  Who knows?  There isn't really a universal scale for measuring this.  But what I've been thinking lately is that it is really stupid to resent someone for not loving you the way you want to be loved.  Just dumber than mud.  Because people are going to love you the way they are going to love you, and there is not changing that.  And if they fall out of love with you or if they begin to fall in love with something else, there is nothing to be done about it.  I've always been really good at letting go the moment things change.  I've been great at walking away.  To outward appearances. . . no, I don't know what it appeared to be.  I wanted it to be clear that I was not madman stalker nor an Ophelia who would drown himself at the loss of love.  I've always been easy to catch.  

"What type of girl do you like." 

"The type that likes me, mostly."  

But I'm also easy to lose.  I don't need to be hit in the nose.  I can take a subtle hint.  

But. . . and here you may identify with me more than you might have in the last pathetic paragraph. . . I have been guilty of resentment.  I mean, "How could they not love me the way I want to be loved?"

You know how good you felt in the beginning?  That's how bad you will feel in the end.  But I learned an important lesson when I got divorced that I forget from time to time.  I felt my wife. . . well. . . I was starting to hate her.  She had cheated me out of money and then wanted more.  But, by and large, the law was on her side.  

Later, when people asked me why my wife left, I would blithely say, "I think she quit liking me."  Which had to be true.  It didn't matter why.  I didn't want to go into analysis.  

What was true, though, is that when I told the story, I told the truth.  I never lied.  And when my wife told the story, she told the truth, too.  She never lied.  

But they were two different stories.  You don't have to lie to be wrong, you see.  You just have to leave things out.  And that is what happens all the time.  People don't have to lie. 

What I learned then and should have remembered is that it is fruitless to be angry at someone when their emotions toward you change.  It is, in general, pointless and probably wrong.  

But people do it all the time.  It is painful, you know, not to get what you want, and we all feel we deserve what we are suddenly lacking.  

But as Will Munny says in "Unforgiven," "Deserve's got nothing to do with it. . . . If we got what we deserve, we'd all starve to death."  

Hard to remember sometimes.  

I'm trying to remember that now.  

I saw that Banksy stencil on a wall in an alleyway when I went to pick up my fish tacos the other night.  How many Banskys are there?  Banksy has to be a corporate entity.  I had just watched a documentary on Banksy the night before I saw this in the alleyway.  I had to go back to get the photo.  

I made my coffee with bottled water this morning.  I brushed my teeth with bottled water, too.  I even washed my dishes in it.  I won't be drinking the tap water for days to come.  I want to focus on some things.  Projects, maybe.  I'll just need to be able to walk a little bit.  And if I do something good, you know. . . maybe I'll get what I deserve.  

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Cowboy Up

 Sitting on the deck, lately, from time to time, I catch wafts of some far away death, some decomposing dead thing. It is not immediate but something in the near distance. Yesterday, the vultures were circling overhead. They are gone now. The thing must have been devoured.  

Feeling better yesterday morning, I decided to begin my spring chores.  It is winter still, if you can believe the calendar, but the heat has already arrived.  It is not humid yet which is the saving grace.  But there are things that must be done before it gets too brutally hot to work outside.  I mean, if you have a choice.  I have a choice.  

Shovels, hoes, rakes. . . tools I don't know what to call.  I tore out the old, ruined garden.  Two hurricanes did it in.  That is where the wooden fence collapsed and fell completely covering my little patch of sunlit land.  My yard is shaded by giant oak and camphor trees.  There is not enough sunlight in most of it to grow flowers.  My garden is for butterflies and hummingbirds and lies in that one sunny spot.  Semi-sunny.  Enough, at least.  I dug up big, tough rooted plants that spread over from my neighbor's yard.  I used a small hoe to pull up most of the weedy garden then used the flat, triangular thing for which I haven't a name to dig beneath the soil and sever roots, then took the claw rake to disturb the soil more.  I could feel the work in my shoulders and ribs, both the broken and unbroken ones, and it felt invigorating.  For awhile.  Then it was tiring.  But by then, the work was done.  I sat in a deck chair for a moment then and thought.  There were pots filled with weeds or pots that were empty sitting 'round the deck.  I picked them all up, emptied them, and put them in neat rows on the deck's edge.  Then I sat again to think about what plants I would buy to fill them.  I did not do so great a job.  My mind kept wandering back to the vultures overhead.  

It was mid-afternoon when I finished.  The phone rang.  It was my mother checking on me.  She wanted to know how I felt, but I knew it was to see if I was coming over to visit with my cousin who drove over from the coast.  I would, of course.  It is what I do.  

I showered.  I had not eaten since I had coffee in the morning accompanied by two slices of strawberry bread.  Yes, that is correct.  I'd never heard of it, either, but how could I refuse after my trip to Strawberry City a few. . . a few what?  Weeks, months?  How long ago?  

I decided to redo last evening's meal.  I chopped garlic and put it into a ramekin, poured olive oil and Balsamic vinegar over it, added some Kosher salt, tore off a chunk of bread, and poured a glass of wine.  

Feeling like an Italian farmer, I was.  

I went to see my mother and cousins.  The cousins had been working in my mother's yard all day.  They told me all about it.  I think they believe my mother will cut me out of the will and leave all her money and worldly possessions to them.  Maybe she will.  Her attitude toward me changes when they are around.  They are more her "type," hillbilly stock that never finished high school but think that they are crafty and have some innate nobility the way many hillbillies do.  They talk nonstop.  It is all noise.  The one who drove over from the coast sits with her phone and reads out loud things people have posted on her FaceBook page.  She laughs with faux vigor and shows me pictures of people's children and confronts me with, "Isn't that cute?"  

It is all I can do to nod my head.  Why?  Why do people do such things.  

Noise.  They just love noise.  T.V.s that are never off.  Constant chatter.  Shopping.  Eating out at cheap restaurants.  Nothing is ever quiet.  

They are going to eat at a restaurant called "The Roadhouse."  They want me to come, but I decline claiming my belly isn't up to it yet.  

When I get home, I make a Margarita because my friend has said she wanted one to combat the tribulations of her day.  A tribute.  

As I slowly consumed the cocktail, I called in an order for fish tacos from the local Fish Co.  

They sucked.  

The gymroids all talk about the show "Yellowstone."  It is a favorite.  I've never watched it as it is on commercial t.v.  Commercials, yes, but the censorship that comes with advertisers and advertising and government regulations makes it unappealing.  But I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it for other reasons, too.  

I rented the first two episodes from Netflix or Amazon--can't remember.  Oh, man. . . I was right.  The show plays on every hackneyed stereotype known to man and beast.  I could hardly stand looking at Kevin Costner.  The whole thing was made for "that" crowd.  Cowboys.  Corruption.  Money.  Cultures and Ideologies in collision.  

MAGA nutrition.  

I turned it off and went to bed.  As much as I'd cowboyed up that afternoon, the entire day afterwards had been a big draining disappointment.  

Many more disturbing dreams.  Old loves.  Vultures.  

I had the gel injection a week ago today.  I am going to test the knee a bit today.  I run in my dreams.  I jump.  I pull myself over walls.  I am pre-broken in my dreams for much of the time, then I become Quasimodo again.  

"What do you make of that, Dr. Freud?"  

I don't trust Freud, of course, but he was awfully creative.  More so than say Maslow or that certified therapist my girlfriends all enjoyed talking to.  I guess I'm a little cowboy when it comes to that.  Maybe I should give "Yellowstone" a second chance.