Monday, March 4, 2024

Don't Worry Baby, Everything Will Work Out Fine

"This is what I need to get."

"Yes you do!"

"I've never seen a more perfect vehicle for you.  Even the stickers."

"You should leave an offer on the windshield right now."

Those were the responses I got to the VW camper pic I sent around to friends when I went to breakfast yesterday.  This was kind of what I had in mind when I retired, but Covid hit at the same time and the price of campers of any kind skyrocketed.  If you have never watched online videos of camper life. . . well, you could pretty much do that with any kind of camping vehicle forever (link).  It seems a very romantic life, especially when you are sitting in the comfort of your own home watching the videos.  

Still, a small camper like this one has its own appeal.  

It began to rain just as I stepped into my favorite breakfast restaurant.  I took a seat at the counter and ordered a real heart-clogger.  I go to this place once every couple weeks and now the waitresses have come to recognize me.  There are a lot of them.  It is a busy place on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  

"Where's your partner in crime?"  

I guess they really have been paying attention.  I've gone a couple times with Tennessee during the week when it isn't so busy.  

Just as my waitress finished taking my order, the entire wait and cooking staff broke out into what was seemingly a spontaneous a capella  performance.  It was short lived, and then they all were laughing.  

"Wow.  That was pretty good."

"We're trying to get the boss to let us form a singing group."

"I think the customers would enjoy that."

"Looks like a lot of rain." 

Etc.  

I watch the waitresses.  They are the kind of working girls I grew up with.  In youth, they are pretty and handsome as is the rule.  There are boys and parties and shopping with friends.  But then there are children and maybe a marriage, and there is always the work, and year by year their smiles grow harder and their jawlines begin to soften as their waistlines start to thicken.  Older cars and recapped tires, apartments or sometimes moving back in with relatives.  There's Gladys, all made up, eyes still bright.  She's forty now and she has settled into life.  She's a favorite with the working men sitting at the counter.  She enjoys the attention.  Most of the girls have tattoos now, a growing number of messy ink stains on arms which are visible and maybe elsewhere, too.  Juanita has added a few in the time I have been coming here.  She's gaining weight now which is showing in her upper arms.  They are all sweet but repetitiveness of their lives visibly weighs on them.  Some add blue or pink highlights to their hair.  At slow times, they stand in groups and talk in low voices.  I look past them to the men working the kitchen, cooks and dishwashers.  They hustle and talk trash to the girls.  The last orders are in by two.  By three they've bussed the last of the dishes, cleaned the tables and counters, and are ready to go home.  

It's the world I grew up in, the one I tried to leave.  Now I live among women who can stay on a Stair Master for half an hour with barely a sweat before they step onto the gym floor, who get beauty treatments and botox and have hair, jewelry, and clothing from the pages of Vogue.  Their bellies are flat and their jawlines are sharp and their husbands are builders or developers or attorneys and doctors.  They drive new BMWs and Benzs and spend months of the year at their beach condos and mountain homes.  They live in big houses with clinical interiors.  It is only the passing years that begins to bring them sorrow and therapists.  

That, at least, is what ran through my mind as Juanita chatted me up.  I might have thought about the lives of men as well, but I didn't want to.  I was focussed on what was standing right in front of me.  

My conservative friend has two sons who graduated from Ivy League schools and one who is a senior at Vanderbilt.  His older sons already have bright futures after joining the corporate culture.  Like their father.  He and I could not be less likely friends, but I enjoy his company above almost any.  He was one of my first corporate buddies when I moved to this little enclaved village.  I watched him climb the corporate ladder.  Like most of my conservative friends, he can be liberal about some things, but never about money.  They all believe they worked hard for it.  

"Yea, like Manny at the Coca-Cola bottling plant where I used to work.  You don't work hard.  You couldn't stand it."

Such comments never faze them.  If one of them were to win the lottery, they would just think it the wisdom of the cosmos favoring them over those with less moxie.  The cosmos is just until a democrat gets in.  To the man, they all hated the best president in my lifetime.  

Well. . . I've gone far afield from my contemplation of the Vanogon.  But you see, if I had money, I would have one.  Not that one, but a nice one.  My friends on both sides of the ideological fence can't seem to understand why I don't just get one.  WTF?  But I'm cutting expenses left and right now, everything from cable to car washes.  

I wanted to watch "The Bear," a series that can be streamed on Hulu.  People tell me it is the best show on t.v.  But Hulu is $18/month, and that is the only show they own that I want to watch.  So last night I signed up for the 30 free trial, same as I did with Paramount in order to watch the Super Bowl.  I will binge it for the next few weeks, then cancel my subscription.  I'm still the same hillbilly who used to steal cable.  Yea. . . I did that.  

The morning is thick with fog.  The sun is not predicted to show itself today.  Monday of the new month.  The yardmen must be paid.  The maids come tomorrow.  You see what I'm saying?  A foot in both worlds.  I'm sure it is the root of many of my. . . sorrows.  

I heard a song the other day that wasn't one I would recommend, but the lyrics were poignant.  

"I'd rather live in solitude than spend another lonely night with you."

To hell with that.  Let's just wrap ourselves up in the old adolescent dream.  I'm a sucker for it.  


Sunday, March 3, 2024

One Extreme


I was up late last night and slept late this morning.  Very, very late for me.  But it's all O.K.  I sustained no physical and only slight emotional damage on my evening with the boys.  The worst of it was that I was out of most liquors including good whiskeys when the fellows came over.  I had forgotten that I had finished off the scotch the night before after sushi, and I didn't know we were meeting at my house until a few minutes beforehand.  I was drinking a Campari and soda when they came over, so I got a razzing then.  But not having whiskey to offer. . . I felt like the trailer park hillbilly I am.  

Whatever.  

We went to dinner at the good Mexican place.  Our favorite barmaid was mixing our drinks.  The boys had opted for tequila at my house, so we stuck with that.  The first spicy skinny Margarita was good.  Then the barmaid bought us a round of tequila shots.  I was good with that, but Tennessee ordered another round of Margaritas.  Emily makes them especially strong.  I've watched her make them double tequilas and then drop in an extra shot just for us.  But what was to be done.  The boys were ready to bounce but I still hadn't finished my drink.  Ridicule ensued, but Emily, to save the day, put my drink in a go cup.  You can't do that here.  It is illegal.  She's a hell of a gal. 

"Bring your sippy cup, sissy boy.  Let's go!"

I had never been to this arena before.  It is much bigger than the last one.  Fancier, too.  We had a box with our own waiter.  We were not among the throng.  We sat in office chairs in front of desks.  We were above and far away from the ring.  We would not be splattered with blood nor catch any flying teeth.  We wouldn't hear the gnashing of bone nor the wailing of injured gladiators.  When the fights began, I tried to look down upon the action, but the better way was to watch the giant screen in front of us.  It didn't matter to me, really.  The fights were just like UFC fights.  It was bare knuckle, but it didn't make much of a difference.  They kicked.  They grappled.  And these were not premiere fighters.  The boys, ADHD as they are, were locked into their phones half the time.  This morning, I saw that they were on a group text.  Kids and their toys, I guess.  

The final fight of the night was for the 1st "World Champion."  I laughed.  The two fighters were each 40 yrs. old, well past their UFC prime.  Still, it was the most competitive fight of the night.  

"Stop at the liquor store on the way home so I can get some scotch."

"What time do they close?"

"What time is it?"

"11:30."

"Are you shitting me?  They're closed."

But there was an old package store that had been renovated after the owner died and his family sold the place.  I hadn't been in the old place more than a few times and never the new one, but I knew that I would be paying double the price for a bottle. 

When we pulled up, the place was packed.  It was a young crowd, nothing like the old one which was made up of shaky alcoholics.  

"Just drop me off here and I'll run in," I told Tennessee.  Car guy jumped out to go with me.  In the old days, you had to sit on crates and boxes of liquor if you couldn't get to the bar.  Not now.  It was definitely a hipster bar.  We bumped our way to the bartender.  

"Can I get a bottle of Glen Fiddich?"

She pointed to a shelf.  

"This is what. . . ."  

I couldn't hear the rest of what she said, but a shelf full of bottles didn't have any scotches.  Car guy was pissed.  

"C'mon," he hissed.  "Let's go."  

He was fairly steaming.  He was truly hot.  I thought something I hadn't seen had happened, and maybe it did, but I know he couldn't stand the crowd.  It looked pretty fun to me.  Hmm.  I guess it was outside his comfort zone.  

We were back to my house by midnight.  I was in bed by one.  

Hell of a tale, right?  The night was O.K. but there was little to nil that was memorable.  

This week I have to switch gears.  There is a big factory crowd party and I have to get Woke.  I have to change languages, smile passively rather than grin with menace.  I am going to the schizophrenic extreme.  

Such is my so-called life.  Raging capitalists and sulking socialists.  I know them well.  I know them both.  There is no middle ground, no place where they will find common cause.  

Where do I belong?  I'll tell you what I think.  Were I to choose my social life, it would be among the museum and gallery crowd, cocktails in the lobby, cocktails on the roof.  A small jazz trio.  Or maybe a night in the loft offices of The Paris Review in Plimpton's time, or maybe an actual Paris cafe scene.  Books, art, music, and all that loveliness.  But hiking and skiing in Schruns and bullfights in Madrid, too.  And maybe a night at the fights.

I guess I am a bit schizophrenic at that.  

The morning is slipping away quickly.  I need to post and look to the day.  But how?  I haven't thought it through yet.  I haven't really thought much at all.  

Let's put on some music and get this day started.  Let's get this day begun.  


Saturday, March 2, 2024

Fight Night

"Should I bring brass knuckles or will the switchblade do?"

"Bring the brass knuckles.  I want to see you throw that right hook."

"I have hard plastic knuckles to get past the metal detector.  I'll bring them."

That was the three way conversation last night.  Mr. Car bought three tickets to the bare knuckle fighting thing.  

"I got us loge seating.  I've secured V.I.P. parking.  We're set."

I guess I'm locked in, God knows what cost.  First dinner and drinks.  Cha-ching.  Then we will watch grown men hit one another with bare fists.  Teeth will fly.  It could turn stomachs.  Why am I going, you ask?  Well. . . you know. . . what could I say?  What I want most out of the night is not to get beaten up.  This is sure to be a bonehead crowd, jacked up on 'roids and meth, big, brutal meatheads that I have spent a lot of time and energy getting away from.  But here I am, stepping right back into the shit.  

My buddies are both fighters, though, so I will push them in front of me.  I think, however, they are both very curious to see if I can still throw a punch.  

I don't think I can.  Not like I used to be able to, anyway.  Throwing punches, though, has never been a crowd pleaser.  I've never met a girl I liked who thought tough guys were "the thing."  All those years I spent in the old steroid fighter gym taught me a thing or two.  Blue eyeshadow to match the blue Camaro--those are the girls who date fighting boys.  Big hair and chewing gum.  This may be an exaggerated stereotype I'm throwing out there, but I have a larger sample study than most people do.  

The girls I know like slim, financially buff boys.  

It has always been a struggle.  

Blame my father.  Oh, hell, blame WWII and the times.  John Wayne and all that.  I've done stupid things, as you know, decompression dives into deep, underwater caves, climbing high altitude mountains and famous rock faces. . . driving a Vespa!  My uncle was a boxing promoter.  My father was a boxer and a trainer who was renowned for his feats of strength.  I did it all to prove I could.  '

"Look, dad, look at me.  See?  I climbed a mountain.  I ran a marathon."

Etc.  

As I told my Yosemite mountain buddy's wife just last week, "the difference between me and your hubby was always that he liked doing it and I just wanted to have done it.  I always wanted to get it over so I could go home and tell people I did it.  He actually liked the process."

And that is the essential truth.  

"Jump, buddy, jump. . . the water's deep."

And so, what are you going to do?  There is no choice, really, is there?  What?  Oh. . . there is?  

So tonight I'll show I'm one of the men, and I will go watch guys beat on one another for a few bucks and the pleasure of the crowd.  I'll try to feel like a Roman watching the gladiators which is essentially what this is.  

"Spartacus!  Spartacus!"

And all the meatheads in the crowd will get an adrenaline dump and heads will jerk and bodies tremble and men will feel that they could get in that ring and do it, too.  Surely there will be fights in the parking lot.  There will be no backing down.  Then people will pile into their pickup trucks or tricked out muscle cars and, heads full of alcohol and hormones, go back to their trailers and smoke some crack.  

Did I tell you I'm sitting in the loge?  VIP parking?  Dinner and drinks at a Michelin restaurant?  Yea. . . they are fighters, but not like that.  

It should be weird.  And weirdness has its own allure.  Right?  

But don't get me wrong.  Most of my friends have probably never been in a fistfight, not, at least, since elementary school.  Most of my younger friends are way too woke for violence.  Even my college roommate.  They'd rather write a strong letter to the editor.  They are aggressive in their own ways, I promise you.  They'll cancel you in a heartbeat.  They can snub you with the best of them.  And they will right to your face. . . unless they think you will hit them.  

"Whatever.  I will not have anything to do with that man again.  Brutish!" 

Some of them like sports like soccer or cricket, you know, and some of them will even drive a car fast or become aerobatics champions (true), or they will go on long hikes, run 10K races, and even kayak down wilderness rivers.  Don't get me wrong.  Some are highly competitive.  They may go to those box gyms  and run around the block with tires on their shoulders.  I'm just saying. . . .  

"If I'm the shorter one, which is often the case, I'll be swinging for the body to get the head lower so that I can throw the famously deadly Marciano/Tyson uppercut. "

I just had to show off my boxing knowledge, you know.  I can always point to my nose.  I wasn't born with it.  It has been "adjusted." That chip on my tooth?  The thing is, try not to get hit.  That is the first rule.  Hit them and don't let them hit you.  See?  It's a science.  If you want to learn about it, read "The Sweet Science" by A.J. Liebling, though you may prefer his gastronomical writings, "Between Meals."  Both are good.  Each is?  

Q would like tonight, I think.  So would my mountain buddy.  So would my dead, ex-friend Brando.  Maybe one or two others.  Fine food and drink followed by VIP parking and the comfort of the loge, to be among the throng but not of the throng.  

I wouldn't be going on my own, you know, and I am fairly uncertain still. . . but I can't stay home alone EVERY night.  

A different kind of company would have been nice last night.  I went to sushi alone.  

"I'll sit at the bar."

"For one?" asked the very pretty hostess.

"Yes.  Sad isn't it."

"Oh, no, no. . . not at all." 

But she was being kind.  All around the restaurant were tables with seated couples or pairs of couples.  It was Friday night.  There would be sushi and sake and then a walk around the shops down to the lake, and then they would go home to nightcaps and movies and maybe a little love.  

I came home to whiskey and a phone call.  At least there was that.  Half an hour's conversation.  A phone date.  There you go.  

It may rain today.  Yesterday I got down the palm and bush fertilizers.  I will have to wait until after the rains to spray insecticide.  Two of my cousins are staying with my mother this weekend, so I will have to do that for a bit.  Sweeping the deck.  Laundry.  But what I think I will do is go to a hippie store and buy some essential oils for the oil lamps.  Aromatherapy, you know?  And maybe take some photos.  Did I tell you I like the new stuff?  Yea. . . I know I did.  I'm just saying don't hate me for going to the fights.  I'm a sweet boy who loves cut flowers in vases around the house, pretty pictures and sweet smelling oils, and lots of weepy music.  

But sometimes, you know. . . you have to look the other world right in the proverbial kisser.  Just like Old Blue Eyes.  




Friday, March 1, 2024

An Oyster Tequila Shot--Just to See

It was not quite the heathy hippie day I had wanted, but it was much better than the previous two nights.  My blowing and sniffling had ceased by the time I got to my beautician's, but my head was still muzzy.  I sat in her chair for three hours mostly listening to the troubles of our times.  She is a social gal, and I'm guessing that she is missing being in the salon and kibitzing with clients.  I didn't need to say much.  I mostly sat trying not to look in the mirror, though I must say, I looked better than I could have guessed.  I think it was the tan.  Don't think George Hamilton.  It is nothing like that.  I spent twenty minutes a day poolside after working out, ten on my front, ten on my back, for two days.  It's just color, really, not tan.  But with the blonde hair and blue eyes and a very white shirt, if I squinted and looked sideways, I was almost acceptable.  

For awhile we talked about my breakthrough trip to Miami.  She knows Miami.  

"You should stay with Gary's friend in South Beach," she said.  "You'd like him.  You guys are similar.  He's laid back and mellow.  He bought an old hotel on 9th and Collins many, many years ago.  He built a penthouse on the top floor where he lives.  He's constantly renovating the place.  Gary can set you up.  We always stay there."

This was intriguing.  Gary and I have known one another for decades.  He owns a couple hippie shops in town and a small organic wine place in Gotham.  I think Gary has been to every Burning Man since its inception.  He travels the world and goes to the most amazing places through India, Thailand, Bali, the Seychelles, and even in the mountains of Afghanistan, a lone Jews among Moslems.  I would feel strange, though, asking him to set me up with his friend.  The fellow doesn't run the hotel as a business, my beautician said, but he lets friends stay there when they come.  He is wealthy and is on the city council, but he is a hippie, too.  At night he goes to the beach near the inlet where locals gather for sunset and plays his saxophone.  It is quite chill, she said.  

"You could get some great photos."

With only the two of us there, a lot of conversation passed between us in three hours.  For a semi-recluse like myself, that is a lot.   By two-thirty, however, I was looking like a beach god once again, or so I say.  Her baby is scheduled for delivery a month from now.  She will see me in two.  

"God willing."

I hadn't eaten.  I'd had the morning coffee and nothing else.  We had talked about food, particularly about a sushi place we both like.  She said she has been longing for an oyster tequila shot they make her there.  She can't wait to have one, she said.  And now that is all I could think of.  Oh, my. . . that sounded delicious to me now.  

"He Siri. . . what time does Seito open?"

"Seito is open from five p.m. until ten p.m. Monday through Friday. . . ."

I passed a Popeye's chicken joint.  I was tempted.  

I got to my mother's house around three.  Some of her friends were sitting in the garage "porch" with her.  They ooed and ahhed over my fresh blonde locks.  The woman from across the street with whom we had Christmas dinner came over and began stroking my head.  

"I need to get my hair this color," she said.  

As always, I entertained the girls.  Then I sat back and listened to them talk about doctors and appointments.  For awhile.  But I was weary and wanted to get something to eat, so in a little while, I was on my way home.  

I don't buy many groceries at a time.  I go to the grocers almost every day.  Consequently, I don't often have food I can just pick up and eat.  I was tired, though, and didn't want to go to the store.  I opened a bottle of wine.  I had some hummus and some corn chips for dipping.  I took it all to the deck.  The air was nice.  The cats came.  I fed the feral and gave a few kibble bits to the neighbor's cat.  "I shouldn't be drinking wine," I thought.  "I was going to stick with tea."  God, I was hungry.  I had the remains of my steak dinner in the fridge.  It was four o'clock.  Too early for dinner, I thought, so I made a salad.  A little more wine.  It was good, but it was salad, and when it was done, I no longer cared about the time.  I heated  my leftovers.  More wine.  There was not as much food as I thought, most of the leftover Porterhouse being bone, and it was gone in a flash.  I poured a scotch and turned on the television.  It was barely five.  The sushi place was open now.  I could go and have that oyster tequila shot, but I wasn't moving.  

"It's a shame," I thought.  "People should see me. . . freshly blonde and all." 

But I was pooped.  My eyes began to close as I lay back on the big leather couch.  I drifted and then dozed.  But I fought it.  I couldn't fall asleep yet.  The sun was still up.  I turned on the television and watched some camera porn.  I thought about another drink.  No, I decided.  Make the tea.  

I have been buying loose leaf Oolong Milk Tea and little cotton pouches to brew it in.  I have it down now, the amount of tea and water, and it is delicious.  I looked at the clock. The sun was beginning to set.  Maybe I would watch a movie.  I could go to bed at nine.  That would be fine.  

I surfed Amazon Prime and Netflix looking for something to watch.  "Apocolypto."  I had never watched that.  I put it on.  

That film is not one to watch before going to bed.  It is all brutal, anxiety inducing stuff.  Still, I watched.  And then, come bedtime, my dreams were disturbing.  I don't remember them, but I woke many times, and finally, before sunrise, I put on the coffee.  

I had a text last night from Tennessee. He and the car guy are going to a bare knuckle fighting thing on Saturday.  They bought me a ticket.  I am going with them, he said.  

"I'll pay for my ticket in case I decide to bail," I replied.  I'm not sure about that one.  

I need to get back to my domestic duties.  The pre-emergent is down.  Now I need to fertilize the palms and other shrubs and bushes.  I have seen some carpenter ants, so I need to spray the yard and around the house with pesticide.  The flowers in the overgrown and weedy garden are already growing and beginning to bloom.  I need to make it fresh and new.  I need to trim the crepe myrtle.  I'll need to pressure wash and paint the deck soon.  Mulching.  Then there is the repairs that need to be made to the house.  I will begin buying bags of granite to replenish the drives at the house and the apartment.  Spring is always a busy time.  

 

I mentioned my old surfer series of photos, "A Few Days One Summer," to a biology prof whose brother was in town from Wisconsin.  They were going surfing at the place I shot all the photos.  He asked me to show him some.  I went digging and found them (link).  I, for the thousandth time, have decided I need to make a website of my stuff.  I'll set it up in categories--out of country, city, Lonesomeville, Liberator, and this Gothic thing I am doing now.  I'm still feeling pretty crazy about the way the photos look.  I want to print them up 8"x10" and frame them and hang them somewhere all together just to see.  I would if I had a printer.  I need a printer.  Desperately.  

Water.  Protein.  Fruits and vegetables.  Fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Fill my body up with healthy things.  I'll be natural. . . once again.  

But maybe one oyster and tequila shot with hot sauce. . . just to see.  


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Too Much

Two late nights.  Liquor included.  I'm done.  I'm out.  I'm ready to do a Dry March.  I'm hurting this morning.  It feels I'm on the verge of coming down with something.  Probably.  I was out with the gymroids last night.  Should have been an easy, early night, but people kept showing up.  Not gymroids.  Friends and friends of friends.  I've gained some reputation among these people.  I don't know why or how, but the exaggerations and storybook tales keep growing.  The film prof sitting next to me kept saying, "You're a legend."  He was contributing to it.  He saw me on The Boulevard one day with "the most beautiful woman, and he looked like. . . I don't know. . . European royalty or something."  

"You mean she made me look good?"

"Yea, but you know, you were looking all confident."

"Well, she is a true beauty." 

Maybe it is just that I have lived here for so long and am intertwined with some very juicy gossipy stuff.  Tales grow like wildflowers when fertilized.  There is a lot of fertilizer in this town.  There was plenty of it right there at the table. 

I should have gone home.  When people showed up, so did more drinks.  Someone ordered me a double scotch that I didn't need.  Later, more people.  The wayward son of the giant restaurant chain and his buddy showed up.  They ordered some rum that, I was told, is impossible to get.  Rare, expensive shit.  The investment banker brought his glass over.  

"Taste it."

I did. 

"Nice," I said.  

In a minute, I had one in front of me.  I knew I shouldn't drink it, but there was nothing else to do.  The bar and beer garden were closed now but for us.  The server told us to stay as long as we liked.  The bartender came out with a drink and handed it to me.  

It's nice to see you again," he told me.  

"Yea, brother. . . ."  I had no idea where I had ever seen him before, but he acted as if we were familiars.  

The banter, though. . . it kept me in place.  The best storytellers are often louts.  Good stories rarely come from careful living.  And so the night went.  

Home at midnight.  We'd started at five.  Fuck me.  Not again.  I'm looking forward to locking the doors, making some tea, and turning on the television.  I need some hippie stuff, charms, amulets, healing herbs. . . . 

I didn't get out of bed until 8:30.  I have an appointment with my very pregnant beautician at eleven.  I need to walk myself out of this fog before I leave on the long journey to the other side of town.  She is seeing me in her home.  I need to move my bones and shower very quickly now.  

Oh, shit. . . the garbage truck.  I hear it.  I have to get my can to the curb.  

Man. . . I need to quit hanging out with dudes.  Where's the one to save me?  Where is. . . . 



Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Maintenance


I have just deleted a long and boring description of my long and boring day.  You're welcome.  Such things go "first, then this, then I. . . ."  It is like reading a recipe or shopping list.  But that is what the lazy mind comes up with in the duller moments of life.  Many people's lives are recipes and shopping lists, I think.  I know that I am in danger of being part of that throng.  

My real concern is not spring maintenance, though that is a BIG concern.  Indeed, what I erased detailed the HVAC maintenance and the spreading of the pre-emergent among other of yesterday's chores.  And, of course, you were probably breathlessly waiting to see if I went over to see my mother.  

But those things are not what plague me, not completely.  They are a plague, of course.  I am in large part a paranoid and lazy man.  Still, I have always, in the past, at least, risen to the occasion.  Reluctantly, sure, but, you know. . . I can be "manly."  That's how I view that even though I am probably going to hire the woman who built my deck to repair some wood rot on the house.  She is unbelievable.  

What I've been wondering lately is if I will ever meet another woman who interests me, someone with whom I feel compatible.  It is complicated.  I'm like a smart child.  I know a lot of things.  Shut up.  You don't know me.  I do.  But I am a goofy fucker, too.  It's a hard combo, I think, to put up with.  And I used to be better looking.  Shut the fuck up.  I did.  My mother will tell you.  

So, you know. . . those are things I am drawn to.  Smart, goofy, and all the things I used to be--young and pretty.  

"Get the fuck out of here.  You're a whiner.  Put that in there.  You're like a child, alright, a whiny little baby."

O.K. 

I'm just saying. 

I got a text from Red.  A bunch of them, really. . . after I got back from Miami.  Oh. . . why hadn't she seen these texts before, she exclaimed.  Was I still in town?  She would come right over.  

Yea, yea.  Whatever.  

Maybe I'll meet someone at the hardware store.  

Every relationship is a compromise.  Just be careful of what you have to give up on.  Don't give up on the things you really can't do without.  

Oh, people do, and they do fine.  

"Maybe we should do couple's therapy.  Marge and Don go and they say it helps.  We need to work through some of our issues.  Should we go?"

"Sure, honey. . . if that's what you want."

"All the magazines say it's important.  No relationships are without, you know. . . some bumps in the road.  Look what it did for Ben Affleck."  

I heard this song yesterday.  It made me think of some people who left their own hometown to live in NYC.  Then they decided to leave the city and raise families.  They left New York, but you know they will always have that.  

I have never felt provincial.  I travelled more than most people long before they started going to the Instagram spots.  But you know. . . my friends will always have New York.  

For that they are to be envied.  For good or ill.  For better or for worse.  Until. . . .


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Quiet Life

It is not often that I wake up this dull.  Ideas pass across my brain, but nothing sticks.  Politics?  Nope.  Should I whine a bit?  Nope.  I can't think of anything.  Wait.  I'll tell you something I like.  My YouTube feed has been giving me a lot of Japanese life-style videos.  There is no spoken dialog.  There is music in some, but the narrative is in captions.  Last night I watched one that didn't even have music, just natural sound.  It was a guy in a camper van that was done up in a very cozy and efficient Japanese way.  I'd have to go to my t.v. to find it for you, but I am not going to do that right now.  All of them, however, are very peaceful.  They make me want to sip tea and sit quietly.  

Nothing else comes to mind.  Nothing from Miami.  Nothing from Grit City.  Nothing from yesterday.  

What happened?  Maybe I'm crashing from last week's mania.  I've been amped, I guess, going places, staying up late and working on pictures.  Beats me, but I haven't any words today.  

"Why do you take pictures like these?"

Right?



Monday, February 26, 2024

"Thar Be Monsters"


I've always thought of Bradly Cooper as a male Jennifer Aniston.  I watched "Maestro" last night.  Boy was I wrong.  He wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the film.  I was moved.  There are basically two actors in the film, Cooper and Carey Mulligan, and each plays many different characters, that is, their characters at different stages of life, young, old, and in between.  And they nailed it.  Both of them.  I haven't read any reviews of the film, but I saw the complaints against Cooper playing a Jew, or something about his prosthetic nose. . . .  Whatever the complaint was, I didn't see the foul.  

I never liked Bernstein.   He was a pop star figure not to be taken seriously by and large.  He just never "spoke" to me.  The movie brings that out in subtle ways.  In the film, and maybe in life (I don't know), he succeeds in public but fails in private.  He'd rather be a figure than an artist, or so it seems.  Cooper is good at the one scene where Bernstein, in an interview, suggests that the one side of his life overtook the other.  Creation takes place in solitude.  "I love people," he says, but it is not that.  He can't be alone with himself.  He is an existential infidel.  

Mulligan, however, has the line of the movie.  After Bernstein's homosexual affairs become too much for her to bear, she stops blaming him.  "I knew what he was.  I thought I could live with it.  Who has been fooling themself?  Who was deluded?"

Just one more thing, though, that struck me in the kisser.  As she is dying and he holds her in bed, his big, gold Rolex seems the largest thing in the room.  Nice touch, Cooper.  

Life is hard.  Or it gets that way.  Huh.  But boy did Cooper make a good movie.  

And I thought he was all eyes.  

I saw this scene when I was leaving the Grit City Music Festival on Saturday.  I sent the pic to my factory group with the message, "Poor kids.  I'm sure they will be fine."  That got hoots and howls.  But who knows?  They could be republicans who love tradition and sacrifice, who won't desire to be creative or have tawdry lives, who will raise their children in the Christian tradition and live as a family solving all problems as an integrated unit just like the movie version in Steve Martin films.  Other than "Shopgirl," I mean.  

That was the movie I loved, though.   

I am trying to achieve a balance of social and alone time, of home and not home.  Being with others makes the alone time so much better.  I've been more productive in the past few weeks than I have been for a very long time.  

"Productive, you say?  What do you mean?"

Oh, you know. . . just doing stuff.  I guess I mean I like the pictures.  Maybe that's productive in some way.  I'll do some yard work this week.  Will that make you happy?  Will you consider that "productive"?  I have a lot of that to do and mulching time is coming up, too.  Not just here, either.  I have to do my mom's yard as well.  So yea. . . there is that, but anyone can do that.  Who do you know who can make these pictures, though?  

"Oh, yea. . . they are nice. . . I guess.  What are you going to do with them?"

"Who's your favorite photographer?"

"We liked the lady who did our family portraits a lot.  She's really talented." 

"Nothing." 

I don't know.  They just make me happy, I guess. . . like those wooden ducks that fellow carves in his garage.  It is a little stupid, isn't it?  

"You're like a child."

"Exactly!!!  Look at me!  Hey, ma. . . look, look. . . look."

"Oh, honey, that's great."

I like when people tell me I'm great.  Have I said that before?  They should do that all the time.  I guess that is maybe why people have friends.  Mutual admiration.  I'm looking for the admiration of strangers, too, I guess, people to whom I needn't respond in kind.  

Ah. . . there it is!  Just like in the movie, Bernstein.  

Well, I can quit there.  I've figured out how to bring this all back around.  It's freaking magic.  I'm not just a picture maker, you know.  I can tell things, too.  

Let's not go pokin' around in there too much, though.  There be monsters.  


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Porch Fest

I love it when people tell me I'm great, don't you?  Me, I mean.  They should do that more.  They should do that all the time, really.  

Unwashed, uncombed, unshaven, and unfed, I went to Porch Fest yesterday to meet a group of friends.  It was a gorgeous day, the kind you can never forget, the kind that lives on in perpetuity.  How could I not go?  I almost didn't.  I was sitting at my computer working on Miami images and suddenly it was afternoon.  I had to make a decision.  I grabbed my camera bag, put on my flip-flops, and headed out the door.  

"Look at me, going places," I thought on the highway to Grit City.  Yea. . . look at me.  I checked the rearview mirror.  Yup.  Look at me.  Maybe I should have brought a hat, I thought.  

When I got to town, I looked for a place to park.  Cars were lining the neighborhood streets for blocks.  I could find no paid parking, so I drove to the edge of things and parked my car on a shady street.  I don't mean it had overhanging trees.  But if others were doing it. . . .  

I took out my phone and texted my friend but the text wouldn't go through.  I texted again.  Nope.  WTF?  Had she blocked me?  I tried again.  Then I tried a friend.  Then I tried myself.  Nope.  Not going through.  I went into my phone settings.  I turned off WiFi.  Maybe that was it for some strange reason.  Nope.  It was as if my phone had died.  I called my friend.  She didn't answer, so I left a message and started walking toward town.  In a few minutes my phone rang.  I tried talking, but she said I was breaking up.  All I got from her was two cross streets.  I was near.  I headed that way.  I thought.  Then I wasn't sure.  I stopped a couple near me.  

"Which way is Park Avenue, this way or this way?" 

They didn't know.  Nor the next guy, nor the next couple.  Finally I saw a guy with a festival map.  After orienting himself with North, he pointed.  

"It should be one block that way."

I got to said corner.  I walked around slowly looking, but I didn't see anybody I knew in the crowd.  I did this for ten minutes then decided fuck it, it was better this way.  I would just wander about for awhile and head home.  And, of course, at just that moment, there they were.  They were at a tent serving greasy things with cheese, chicken, and bacon on pita bread.  The stand belonged to their friend.  This is where they were keeping their cooler of beer.  Unbelievably, this was supposed to be a dry festival.  There were no beer stands to be seen.  Everybody had cups though.  This was the most alcoholic town I had ever been to, so I was fair stunned that it wasn't called Drunk Fest on People's Porches.  That is what it would turn out to be.  

Now I was with a group.  They sat and stood and talked and drank.  That is what people do.  And take selfies.  I wanted to take pictures, but that was obviously going to be impossible with people.  I took a few snaps of the group.  There was a woman with them, a friend, or so I thought.  I liked her.  She was skinny and blonde and probably crazy, just enough to be interesting until it got to be too much work.  Not a real blonde.  Probably on meds to help control the other.  I can't help myself even when the alarms go off.  I guess I'm just attracted to the flashing colored lights.  

She looked at me and smiled.  Good.  We'd talk later, I thought.  And then she and the woman she was with wandered away.  

"Who is that?" I asked one of the gang.  

"Who?"

"That blonde."

"I don't know."

"You don't know her?"

"No."

Well shit.  What was there to do?  I ordered one of the greasy chicken, cheese, and bacon things.  Oh, yes. . . it was really good.  

The woman who asked me to come had been talking to a couple but now she wandered over.  She said hello without much energy.  Maybe it is just her personality.  I don't know.  But she pretty much ignored for the rest of the day.  

One of my former employees, a colleague of the group, lived a couple blocks away.  "Let's go see A.  We can use her bathroom."  And so we began the group march.  

A's house is a three story old wooden affair with a giant porch.  I headed straight to the porch swing while A showed people where the bathroom was.  I drank a little beer.  Mingling.  Talking.  It's what people do.  The sun was brilliant, the air cool, the play of light and shadow from the big oaks that line the streets of Grit City amazing. . . and I was making talk with my friends.  

"That's what you do," one of them said to me.  "You get with friends and drink and talk."  

I guess that's right.  

After some drinking and talking, the group was ready for the next thing.  A and her son joined us.  We wandered a few blocks to where another band was playing on another porch.  Someone asked me something about the music.  I said I didn't listen to this kind of stuff.  She thought I was joking.  

"What do you listen to?"

"Jazz, hillbilly music, you know, bluegrass and the like, and some stuff for feeling emo, you know, all soft and moody."

A knows things.  She was married to a musician most of her life.  Only recently they broke up.  

"Jazz and bluegrass are kind of similar," she said.  

"YES!  That is what I keep telling people.  Improvisational, great scales. . . bluegrass is just hillbilly jazz!"

More talking.  People kept offering me drinks which I declined.  

"I'm not much of a day drinker," I said.  "I'm happy when the sun is out.  It's when the sun sets that I feel like a drink."

"Oh. . . I love day drinking."

"But what do you do after?"

"Go to bed."

"When?  At six?"

"Sure."

"Then you are awake at two?"

"I like it. I get things done."

"O.K."

I'll have a glass of wine with lunch if I can go home and take a nap.  One glass, one hour.  Two, two hours.  I don't mind that.  But not on a day like this one.  Holy smokes, no.  Why wasn't I taking photos?  I tried.  I'd hang back from the group, but A and her son hung on me so that I couldn't get away.  I thought they would follow the gang, but nope.  If I stopped and turned away, they watched me and waited.  I tried to ignore them, but it was impossible.  A had a lot to say.  So did her son.  O.K.  Forget about making photographs.  

I wandered with my friends to another porch, another band.  

"What time is it?" I wondered.  I was reaching to get my phone out of my bag, but one of the gals had a watch on.  

"O.K. kids, I need to wander back to my car and head out to see my mother."

Heads nodded.  Everyone knows that I go every day to see my mother.  And so I said goodbyes and headed off into the sunset.  I would photograph now, I thought, but the sun was low and the shadows deep.  I wandered alone a bit.  I came to a porch with a smaller crowd in front.  I stopped for a minute.  The music was country.  It was good.  It was a Dwight Yoakum song.  They had it down, every beat, every note.  A skinny woman in a cowboy hat was on the Roland keyboards singing harmony.  Another skinny blonde.  I stayed for the next song, then the next.  I stayed for awhile.  I knew it would be too late to go to my mother's house, but I couldn't call her.  It was the AT&T outage.  I was lucky to have gotten through to my friend the one time.  Now I could neither call nor text.  I had an excuse.  I had other friends at the festival, gymroids.  I could not text them, either, as I said I would.  But I was happy now, happy alone in the crowd.  I was the happiest I had been all day.  It was getting cooler now and the crowd was swelling fast.  The festival would go on late into the night.  Old Grit City ain't all that bad.  It's a pretty town, really.  

And there I was, out in it.  "Isn't that something," I thought.  "Look at me."  

"You're great," I said.  I like hearing that.  


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Could Be Fun

Traveling and eating.  One has to make choices.  All the good, healthy shit at home is gone.  Sure, you can buy an apple or a banana, but meals are going to be cooked by someone else.  I like the travel shows.  They always know where to eat, and it is always good no matter if it is in the streets of Viet Nam or a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris.  I don't remember Rick Steves ever saying, "Well, that was just about the shittiest meal I've ever eaten."  

For the rest of us, though, without a crew and on our own. . . .  It can be an expensive crapshoot.  I am not one to spend much of his travel dollars on expensive meals alone.  It's too risky.  

I left Miami with an empty gas tank and had to stop at the first service plaza available to buy the country's most expensive gas.  I was going to get some coffee, but the line for Dunkin' Donuts was out the door.  Nobody was at the Wendy's counter.  So. . . I got coffee. . . AND. . . a Wendy's Breakfast Sandwich.  My god, how do they do it?  How do they take the cheapest food sources they can get and turn them into something so delicious?  This was the best breakfast sandwich I have ever eaten.  O.K.  I never eat them.  But it was good enough that I was considering stopping at the next service plaza for another.  

Oh what a way to start a new day!

This, of course, after dissing Q for the Sandwicherie.  I should say that the sandwich there was about the cheapest thing you could eat on S. Beach.  I should thank him.  I was just tired, I guess, and really disappointed that I couldn't get a beer.  

I could turn my drive home into an Odyssey, a Homeric epic drive against the brutal forces of Aeolus, the God of Wind, and Chaos, the Greek God of. . . well. . . chaos.  But I won't.  I'll just say that Miami is like all the big cities in Florida, completely unplanned, and the highway system is far too small to handle the influx of meatheads.  Florida rose from the swamps and wetlands to become a morass of haphazard shopping centers and retail outlets.  That's what the highways are for.  

Home, I unpacked, changed, and went to the gym for a sweat.  I needed to stretch my legs.  Then mid-afternoon, I went to my mother's.  And there it hit me--my so-called life.  My mother and cousin were sitting inside the darkened house, my mother watching television, my cousin looking at her computer.  There was no lilt in their voices.  I tried to tell them about Miami, but they wanted to talk about the financial lunch they had gone to.  My spirit sunk.  This is what I do.  Every day.  Just a minute away and. . . you begin to see again.  

So, even before showering, when I got home, I made a drink.  

This was not routine, I told myself. . . it was ritual.  I waited for the cat, but she never came.  The neighbor's cat did, though, and he was unusually glad to see me.  Well, I thought. . . it is good to be missed.  

After the Campari, I took a hot Epsom salts soak.  O.K.  I freshened my drink, too.  I lay in the tub, drink at hand, and slipped into dreamland.  I lay there with a head full of pixies and sprites.  The cooling water, however, made me move.  Shower.  Beard trimmer.  Unguents.  Nail clippers.  A check in the mirror.  Did I lose weight?  

A dinner of cut carrots and cabbage, avocado, chick peas, garlic, and chicken in a deep bowl.  A citrusy New Zealand Blanc.  Then the rain.  Texts.  T.V.  No. . . I couldn't do t.v.  I picked up a new photo book that came while I was gone, works from 1972-73 shot in a fishing village in Newfoundland by a graduate student in art on a big 8x10 camera.  Fairly fascinating.  I was bushed by Epsom salt, hot water, food and drink, but it was far too early for bed.  I struggled out of my chair, cleaned the kitchen, and grabbed the card out of one of my cameras.  I would just download the images and see.  I was feeling glum, though.  I wasn't sure if I did anything good.  I wasn't up, really for a big disappointment.  

The files were large and took a long time to show up.  Then. . . oh, no. . . shit. . . wait. . . oh!  And another.  I'm not sure, but maybe. . . there might be one or two good ones in here.  I put on some music and decided to do the first, preliminary adjustments to the files.  I would just go through, rank the ones I would look at again, and get them ready for processing.  

Text.  "Meet us at the Porch Festival in Grit City tomorrow.  We have a golf cart for six."  

It was the girl who almost asked me out.  She was going with two other women from the factory, part of my crowd.  

"I'll text you if I go.  I'll be the fellow with the cameras." 

Grit City.  The music festival takes place on the deep front porches of the old houses all over town.  It has been called the best music festival in the sate.  It is not my kind of thing. . . but. . . you know. . . a more active life.  Next week there is a Strawberry Festival in a distant town, too.  Yea. . . I need to get out.  

The music. . . the images. . . I thought I'd just try cooking one up to see what it would look like.  

Oh, yes. . . I liked it fine.  Maybe another.  

I looked at the clock.  It was almost one.  I was cranked.  This was like the old days when I had the studio and would work at the computer with music playing far too late into the night.  Jacked.  It is something.  

The cat was waiting for me when I got up way after sunrise.  I had asked the tenant to feed her while I was gone, but she said she never saw her.  Well. . . the cat is fed now.  And the sun is bright and the sky is blue and the day is like an oyster with a hidden pearl.  I must eschew my old ways, must not fall back into the pattern.  Maybe I'll go to breakfast now.  Hell--there's a Wendy's not far away!  But maybe an omelet at my favorite breakfast joint.  

Yea. . . let's get ready for the pickathon.  Who knows?  Just got a text confirming my friends will pick me up wherever I park.  Yeehaw!  Who knows?  It could be fun.  



Friday, February 23, 2024

Get Down


Sunshine and blue skies.  And traffic.  Lots and lots of traffic.  Miami is a beautiful city, one of the most beautiful you will find in the U.S.A.  No doubt.  And a car is both mandatory and useless to get around.  Interstates are parking lots.  Downtown is a whack a mole of wondering which streets will be open and which will be shut down.  Everything creeps along until it comes to a dead stop.  But you have never seen so many exotic, expensive cars.  Beamers and Benzs are like Toyotas here.  Lambos, Ferraris, McLarens. . . .  All only to sit in traffic.  I've talked to locals.  They say it has gotten much worse in the last few years.  "My" bartender at the hotel said she is looking to move after living here for the past twelve years because of the changes.  I told her that I used to come to Miami long ago and zip around town between neighborhoods like nothing.  Yesterday it took me over an hour to go from S. Beach to Coral Gables, and that was traveling on the interstate, the quickest route.  I miss old Miami.  

But still, it is a most wondrous and beautiful city.  Too bad you can't see it.  

If you come, don't bother with a car.  Just Uber.  That's what the locals do.  That's what they say.  And if you come, just plan on visiting one neighborhood and vicinity.  Trying to take in "Miami" in one trip will be madness.  I plan on coming back.  Don't misunderstand me.  This has been an informative trip.  Next time, I'll have a better strategy.  I've been having a wonderful time.  I'm not complaining. . . just informing.  The last time I was here some years ago, my gal put us up at the Four Seasons.  Now that was lovely.  I would suggest spending the money to stay in a place that is relaxing and resort-like.  It will cost more, but it will be worth it.  You can't have so much fun in Miami on the cheap.  Once we booked Air B&B in Wynwood.  I've been told it is like Hollywood there now, full of shops and expensive restaurants.  We stayed in a huge condo for cheap.  I looked at staying there this trip, and it is still much less expensive than staying in hotels.  There are lots of B&B places in Miami.  I just wasn't ready for "that" this trip.  We were able to drive around the city "back then" without a lot of trouble.  But as "my" bartender said, a lot has changed in a very few years.  

But yea. . . I'll come back.  I've had fun.  I've learned to walk again.  My walking muscles are barking.  And I've done the whole thing in flip-flops.  I still limp like Quasimodo, but I'm ready for longer hauls.  NYC in the spring?  I think so.  

Yesterday I did South Beach.  I thought going early on a Thursday morning would be a breeze.  Ha!  Traffic creeped.  The streets were packed with people for miles.  I crawled along in traffic looking for a parking garage, but I got super lucky and found a good street side parking spot.  I grabbed a camera bag and began my stroll.  Of course I was going to do Ocean Drive, but I was strolling Collins Avenue, too, looking for the funky shops of old.  I eschew places like Lincoln Road with its "Global Brand Stores" that attract tourists, of course, but the funky shops of old have been replaced by swimsuit and shitty apparel shops.  Selavy.  The world changes.  What can you do?  

I walked for hours.  Q called to tell me I needed to eat at a sandwich place that he loved.  The Sandwicherie.  So, just before heading back to my car, I went there for lunch.  And. . . you have to be shitting me!  It was a stand, not a restaurant or even a shop, but an open air stall with a couple of stools, no beer, and cold cuts on buns.  

"Best sandwich you'll ever eat," he said.  O.K.  Maybe looks deceive.  I'll try it.  

This was their premiere sandwich.  O.K.  Q was having his way with me.  This was a joke, a trick. . . some kind of story to tell his friends.  I'd passed up beautiful restaurants for a deli sub.  I owe Q one.  So I texted him.  

"Wait 'til I write this up."

"Post it on Yelp," he chuckled.  

Just before I sat down at the dirty, sticky counter there, a fellow was yelling to me in the street.  

"Hold that spot!  Hold that spot!"

He was a big black guy and was serious. 

"How am I supposed to do that?" I queried.  The Korean tourists standing there were happy he was talking to me.  

He jumped in a car and started backing down the street against traffic.  I directed him in, but he was not looking at me but to his thug buddy across the way.  When he got in the spot and got out of the car I asked him, "How'd I do?"  He was about 6'5" and tatted up.  He barely glanced at me and said to no one in particular, "Fine."

"You owe me five dollars," I said.  He didn't look my way, but he gave a single chuckle.  

"O.K., then," I said.  You just leave your car here.  I'll take care of it.  Don't you worry.  It will be fine." 

He didn't even look back.  He crossed the street to his thug buddy and they went into what I assumed was one of Q's favorite South Beach clubs.  Why else would he send me to the sub shack across the street?

Fucking Q.  

After scratching Q's phone number on the hood of the car, I headed to my own for the torturous drive to Coral Gables.  I wanted to go to one of the few good bookstores left in America, Books & Books.  There was a Leica store just a couple blocks away from the bookstore, too.  Cameras and books.  What fun. 

The Leica store sucked.  Books & Books?  It's not what it used to be, but maybe that is just the publishing industry.  But the place just didn't seem as "magical" as it used to.  They've expanded, though, and have a big indoor/outdoor cafe.  I was beat, so I took a seat and ordered a beer, the beer I couldn't get at Q's sub shop.  

By the time I was finished, it was traffic hour.  I thought I would go to a couple other places including a walk through the Biltmore and a pass by the Venetian Pool.  Coral Gables is a lovely place shaded by overhanging Banyan trees, but it, too, has become choked with traffic.  Miracle Mile is no miracle any longer, just a street full of half-assed shops and crummy restaurants.  I'd wanted to take photos in the Cuban neighborhood surrounding Calle Ocho which is nearby, but the day was ending.  There would be no time.  

Long ago in Miami on a visit with Brando who grew up in Coral Gables, we went to the races at Haileah Race Track.  Holy shit was that something.  But it was closed years ago.  As I say, things change.  Before "Miami Vice" reformed Miami, I used to go to the News Cafe at the far end of Ocean Drive.  They always remembered me there and when the place became hip, they would still gave me a good table overlooking the street.  I looked for the cafe yesterday, but it was gone, or so I thought.  It did close, I read, in 2021, but they have reopened further down the street.  It is not the same, just another tourist joint like the rest of them.  

You Can't Go Home Again.  There is no use trying.  That is true, of course, but not for the young.  For them, everything is perpetually new.  The Yotel is full of them, excited to be in the city, to sit in the bar, to anticipate their night out.  There is no sense in not being young.  No good comes to you from rejecting the present.  I don't.  

But man. . . once long ago. . . .  Ha!!!

Some things don't change.  This is what we were dancing to in the Club Deuce last night.  Get down, get down!  Some things are just too. . . something. . . to die.  Know what I'm sayin'?  Word.  




Thursday, February 22, 2024

Field Notes of a Nerd

I did it.  I made the leap.  I am writing from my bed in the Miami Yotel Hotel drinking shitty 7-11 coffee because I am up before the restaurant begins serving at seven.  The bed isn't bad, one of those adjustable things that raises the head but not the knees so that if you have a computer sitting in your lap with your legs straight, as I do, it is something of a yoga stretch, at least for my short tendons and ligaments.  I would sit at the desk to write, but there is no chair and there is no desk, just a bedside stand with a--I don't know what it is called--a low backless stool.  The room is spartan but not uncomfortable. . . other than that.  I slept well in the bed.  The room is very high tech.  I am used to staying in older hotels, I guess, where you end up crawling around looking under tables and chairs to find an outlet where you can plug in a charger.  Not here.  There is an outlet in every wall and table and even in the headboard.  The bathroom light comes on automatically when I step out of bed.  I'm still not certain about the lighting, but there are panels that, by moving your finger up and down from top to bottom and bottom to top, allow you to change the color of the lighting from red to blue.  The lighting is indirect.  You see no bulbs.  I still haven't figured out how to turn on the reading lights above the bed.  

Last night, I Chromecast shows from my laptop to the fifty inch screen mounted on the wall across from my bed.  WTF?  I guess I haven't been around for a very long time.  The room is small, but not as small as the Pod hotels in NYC.  The shower is nice with a rain shower head and a hand held nozzle controlled by touch buttons.  

It has all that and stark white walls barren of anything.  That is a bit disorienting like being in a hospital madhouse.  But I am downtown, a few minutes walk from the Bay and Bayside shopping.  It is not located badly at all.  It is only a block or two from a more respectable neighborhood.  And the damn thing is big, like forty floors.  The elevators are smart, working from your room key.  The lobby is spartan but there is a bar/restaurant when you walk in.  Most of the guests I have seen are younger.  Younger than what?  Just younger.  Lots of kids in their twenties.  

The drive here was pretty quick until I hit Miami traffic.  Getting from the toll highway to the interstate and then off that into downtown traffic took forty minutes or more, and extended my drive to four hours.  Check in was quick and my room was ready early.  I was in my room by two.  I decided to go for a walk downtown, around the Bayfront then up to Brickell.  I haven't walked that much in a very long time.  Problem was. . . I forgot to pack socks, so I was walking in my flip-flops.  Five miles in flip-flops on a bad knee.  I did fine.  I was pleased.  

I took two cameras, my Leica M10 R and my Canon with the cheap plastic lens.  I shot a lot of photos, but I can't download them as I forgot to pack my card reader, too.  Again, it has been a long minute since I travelled, so I will have to wait until I get home to show you MY MIAMI!  It is not the Miami most people have, I'm relatively certain.  Like most big cities, mine is a daytime place.  I was back in my room by nightfall, showered, and getting sleepy.  You can say it is because I'm old, but you can ask anyone who has known me, I've been like that since childhood.  I'm not a nighttime person.  I like daylight and sunshine.  I am well aware, though, that the city starts to come to life long after the sun goes down.  That part is infamous.  It's OK. That has never appealed to me.  

I started writing this before sunrise, got sleepy, closed the laptop, lay down and closed my eyes, and drifted right off to dreamland.  Then something happened that hardly ever happens.  My phone rang.  Loud.  It was my mother.  

"Did you just call me?"

WTF?!?!

I feel I could sleep more, but now it is time to pack up and start my day.  Good old mom.  Maybe I will come back for a nap this afternoon.  Split the day in two.  Now, though, I'm off to make some pictures.  Fingers crossed.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I have to make up my mind in a minute or two whether or not I am going south for a few days.  I think the deciding fucked me up last night.  I woke at one in a panic.  I tried to go back to sleep, but it was useless.  I got up and took a Xanax.  I lay back down and waited.  When it hit me, my body relaxed and the anxiety subsided.  Mostly.  I still didn't sleep.  I lay in my poorly made bed (more on that in a minute, perhaps) and thought, "Is there something wrong with me?  Have I developed some psychological illness?  Have I become afraid to leave the house? " 

And the answer was an unimpeachable, "Yes."  At least that is the conclusion I drew.  I have become housebound.  Not the house, actually.  But in the main, I guess I take some solace there.  This morning, as I sit here at sunrise, I tell myself I should pack and go.  

"It will be fun."  

"Maybe."

"What do you mean?"

"It's expensive.  There will be a lot of traffic.  It will be hard to get around to do what you want to do.  You'll be alone and there will be a very little chance of romance."

And that is true, I think, for a number of reasons.  Travel and romance were once synonymous.  I knew.  Later, traveling with my girl, I was content.  Now, traveling alone. . . I don't know.  So many places have become homogenized clones of one another.  I don't want to go to the mall.  That's what places have become whether literally or figuratively.  They all look the same, whatever "they" are.  

It is the expense that is killing me.  I used to go lay up in some little mom and pop place on the beach and walk on the beach, sit by the pool, go for excursions, all for very little.  This weekend, a cheap room in Miami--and I'm talking about a Yotel--is just shy of $300/night.  Plus $60/night to house the car.  I could buy a new Fuji X100VI for less than a three night stay.  

Whatever.  Consider it therapy money, right?  Unless, of course, I fall apart.  Come undone.  Unravel at the frayed edges.  

Travis is raging at this and will send me caustic texts when he reads this.  But he now travels in the main with his wife.  Q travels, but never alone.  He doesn't even stay in hotels.  He's always bedding down on some family's couch.  C.C. now travels with his wife.  My mountain boy has an entire family with him most of the time.  Tennessee either goes with family or friends or goes to where he has friends.  Sky travels for work or with the fam.  

These are the people telling me to go.  

The thing is, I have travelled alone most of my life.  It started after college when I hitched the country for three months on a Kerouac-style adventure.  But as I have said, travel and romance were inextricably combined.  Now. . . "Hey lady, can you help me up these steps?"

You know what I mean.  

I swore I wouldn't put this in the blog, but I am unable not to confess.  Crack my head open and watch the writhing snakes.  A quarter a shot.  Step right up.  One single quarter and see for yourself.  

Nah.  You get it for free.  

I probably won't go.  It's cold.  It's expensive.  It's far.  

O.K. The poorly made bed.  I was a mess yesterday.  I woke up late but felt funky.  By the time I did my usual and then cleaned up the house for the maids, I started sorting camera gear, packing it into bags, trying to evaluate what I could and should take.  The morning was gone.  I'd go to the gym in a bit.  I made avocado toast with eggs.  Full, I needed to wait.  I sat down and wrote and answered texts.  Suddenly it was three.  I wasn't going to the gym.  At three-thirty, I decided to take a shower and go to my mother's.  It was 4:30 when I left the house for the first time that day.  

I left my phone in the car when I went into my mother's house.  The maids were on their way when I left, so I thought to stay awhile.  When I got to my car to leave, I had a message from Lamine.  

"The sheets were wet.  We couldn't put them on the bed.  Sorry." 

Shit, fuck, piss, goddamn!  I had forgotten to put them in the drier.  My favorite part of having the maids is having them change the sheets.  

I didn't go home.  I went to the good Mexican restaurant instead.  I ordered Carnitas, big chunks of pork that have soaked in beer for over a day.  There is nothing so tender as those great chunks of pork.  

And two spicy skinny margaritas.  I could have been sitting in a restaurant on Calle Ocho, but I couldn't have eaten or drunk any better.  

Back home, belly swollen with food and drink, I had to put the sheets and pillow cases and blankets on the bed.  First the fitted sheet.  Once.  Nope.  The other way.  Again.  Nope. What the fuck is wrong?  I saw a tag.  The sheet was inside out.  Start over.  Nope.  Turn it.  It didn't seem to fit any way I turned it.  I stretched it as best I could and said it would have to do.  It didn't lay flat, though.  I lay out the pillow cases, different sizes for pillows of different lengths.  How in the hell do you get the King Size pillow cases on the long King Size pillows?  I tuck one end of the pillow under my chin, but my arms aren't long enough to reach the bottom. And why do I have three of them?  Two new pillows that I can't sleep on.  Three regular sized pillows.  I throw them toward the headboard and grab the top sheet and then the heavy comforter.  I am sweating.  My shoulder muscles are burning.  I'm breathing heavy.  

I try tucking the bottom in the way the maids do so I am swaddled when I sleep.  When I am done, though. . . I would have been kicked out of the service if I had been drafted.  I can't make a bed.  

And, indeed, the sheets and covers were all pulled into a ball when I got up this morning.  I was not swaddled.  Maybe that is why I slept so poorly.  

I've not decided to go.  Remember, as the hillbilly song goes, I'm more to be pitied than scolded.  I need support, not criticism.  I'm a sweet boy.  Love me.  

What do want from the liquor store?

Something sour or something sweet?

I'll buy all that your belly can hold.

You can be sure you won't suffer no more.