Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ending on a Safe Note

 

I intended to tell another story today, this one about the only friend I had who finished high school, but I couldn't find the pictures to go along with it, so it will have to wait for another day.  I hope I can find them today, but as I've admitted, my cataloging of things is terrible. I find images, but only by accident.  

 I'm trying to write, but texts are coming in.  And some pretty clever ones, too.  I made a mistake that I have been avoiding recently.  I cut and paste headlines that seem ridiculous to me and sent them to friends.  As I've said before, I can only send certain things to certain people and nothing at all to others.  What I cut and send is very revealing and some don't appreciate my sarcasm.  But things such as CNNs reporting on Maxine Waters' remarks in Minnesota are too rich to let lay.  Their journalistic view gets progressively worse.  They can't simply report Waters' remarks.  They have to "but" the thing. . . you know. . . "but republicans have said worse."  It is like Fox News endorsing the idea that the shouting of the crowd is what killed George Floyd.  

And then there is the reporting on the Bronies.  The world keeps getting more absurd.  Why, I heard that one of my relatives and his wife participate in some strange sex thing where people run around naked in the woods wearing animal heads.  I am not familiar with the rules, but the idea is for one to catch another and. . . well, you know. . . perform the sex act.  The kid was always into porn, so the story is believable if indeed there are groups of people who do that.  If there are Bronies, though, everything else seems possible.  

There is much that I find funny that I can't share with you here on the blog.  I just can't take the chance.  I've already lost readers who I have unintentionally insulted with my insouciance.  There is much that one isn't supposed to say anymore.  Of course, as I learned while doing graduate work in anthropology, it is the driving of certain views underground that causes the most damage.  We've taught people to have two narratives, one they use in public and one they use with their friends.  We see the result of such censuring all the time now.  The world is more constructed by secret cabals than ever.  

Thank God for Dave Chapelle, but even he has been effected.  

I'm not up for the public beatings at present, at least not Brough on by my sarcastic humor.  And I am tired of trying to point out the failure of logic in the arguments presented to me by people I know.  It is too much effort to highlight errors for audiences of one.  Often it requires digging into their sources.  Doing it is too exhausting.  

Besides, they are never convinced anyway.  There is always the "yea, but. . . " argument in the end.  

To quote that quintessential sage, Groucho Marx, "Whatever it is, I'm against it."  

I just made the mistake of citing a few examples which took a while, but then, reading them here on the page, I realized what a mistake I was making and deleted them.  I probably should delete this entire post and go look for the photos to go with the story about my friend.  But I won't.  I am lazy and it matters little anyway.  

I'll end this by saying I love my new enameled cast iron pots.  They are wonderful, and right now you can get a set of two for $40 at Costco.  I may buy up a bunch and send them out to you at Christmas.  Probably not, though.  The postage on those things would be outrageous.  But I would encourage those of you who don't own such things to run out and get them and give them a try.  They are a marvel.  

Now there's a safe paragraph.  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Graduation

  

I've been going through old hard drives.  They are a mess of unnamed folders inside unnamed folders which are often inside a poorly named or misnamed folder.  I must organize them.  I can never find anything I am looking for.  

Often, however, I do find things I am not looking for but which bring me a moment of delight.  To wit: here is a photo of me on my high school graduation day.  It was quite something, really, that I made it through.  I had an assistant principal who agreed with some of the more egregious teachers who didn't like me.  When my hair got too long, they would send me to his office and he would, in turn, send me to get a haircut.  Once he told me to quit school.  I had no future, he said.  He actually said I was nothing but a "woolly bear" in front of the principal of the school.  The principal was an o.k. guy and told me to go back to class.  He was a well-known jazz music afficianodo and d.j. on weekend nights playing jazz from his own record collection.  But that is another story.  In order to make it through high school, I and several others took to wearing cheap wigs--hair hats, we called them--that looked like some Marx Brothers joke but met the school's guidelines for hair length.  I should remind you that my parents got divorced during this time and I lived in my car for awhile.  I finally moved in with my father some twenty miles from my high school and slept on a couch in an un-airconditioned duplex.  In my senior year, my father was in a terrible head-on automobile accident that put him in intensive care for months.  When he was released from the hospital, I took care of the cooking and cleaning and going to the laundromat until my aunt and uncle invited him to come stay with them until he could walk again.  I drove the two hours there and two hours back most weekends to visit.  

My father was still on crutches when he took this picture with a little Brownie camera.  

High school had not been the best of times for me, and I was thankful that it was over.  

Needless to say, given everything, I did not date during high school.  I couldn't.  I mean, it just was not a possibility.  I ran with a rough crowd of dropouts.  Only one of my friends, and by that I mean someone whose house I went to, finished high school, and had known him only part of my senior year.  We hooked up because we each wanted to take scuba lessons.  He became my diving buddy.  His father was a doctor and I would go to his house and hang out.  He never came to mine.  I don't think most people even knew where I lived, far away in a rural community that did not qualify, really, as a town.  

When I came across the photo, I stared for awhile.  Look at me, I thought.  I was actually smiling.  Our graduation ceremony was on a Friday night at a civic center after which, following tradition, we all went to the beach to spend the weekend.  

That night, I hooked up with some boys I knew.  They had a room they said I could stay in.  The beach was packed with kids from all the high schools in the county.  There was a sense of freedom, of course, but something else, too, something confused and dangerous.  The boys I was crashing with were drinking for what I took to be the first time.  They were downing liquor drinks mixed in Coca-Cola, and I warned them that they needed to slow down.  I knew that they were going to get sick.  Sure enough, within an hour they could barely stand up and not long after that the first of them began to puke.  I didn't want to room with them any longer.  

I went out to the night beach to think about what to do, and I ran into a girl I knew from school.  We had shared some classes and were friendly, but not much more than that.  We sat on the beach and talked awhile, and it turned out that she, too, didn't have a place to stay that night.  She was what we would now call a disadvantaged girl who lived with her mother and had to work to help support the family.  She was very pretty, but she, like me, was invisible when school let out having no time for after school clubs and activities.  I told her I was going to get a room if she wanted to stay with me.  

It was the first time I had ever slept overnight with a girl.  Indeed, it was the first time I had ever rented a hotel room.  The night is a sweet and vague memory--mostly I just remember the awkwardness of it.  We were not carnal that night, just sweet and shy, and neither of us had a good idea about what to do in the morning.  I don't remember her leaving, really, but I knew I had fallen immediately and irrevocably in love.  

I stayed at the beach after checking out of the room.  I stayed as everyone shook hands and said goodbye to one another swearing to stay in touch in a newly adult-ish way.  I stayed until they were all gone, until the last cars left the parking lots and the sun was beginning to set.  It was just me.  I had to see the thing through to the end.  

On my drive home, I felt that everything had changed.  My life, I thought, was taking a new direction and would never be the same again.  

The girl moved out of her mother's house as soon as she graduated.  She went to a small town about an hour away.  When I would call her, I had to pay long distance fees.  But I did it.  And I would make the long drive up to see her in her new place.  She was sharing a big apartment in an old wooden building with another girl.  The place was a hippie pad with pillows and posters and batik wall hangings.  It smelled of incense and something else.  I was still living with my father in our tiny duplex and the idea that she had transformed her life so quickly overwhelmed me.  I felt small and ridiculous, really, to try to court this woman, for that is what she had become.  She had already left everything behind.  She had moved, had gotten a job and new friends, and was now living her life on her own terms. Each time I drove there, each time I knocked on her door, I felt more foolish.  

I soon got a job.  My buddy's father was a union construction foreman at the new theme park that was being built outside of town, and he sponsored the two of us so that we, too, could become union members.  Within days, I was working one of the big hotels inside the park as a general laborer.  The money was good, as it was union wages, and the project was behind schedule, so everyone was working overtime which paid well.  I was driving thirty miles one way to work ten hour workdays seven days a week.  It was impossible to turn down the overtime for it paid double and we made more money in overtime pay than we made in our regular forty hour workweek.  With the extra hours, I was making more than my father did at his trade.  The workday started early, though, at six or seven--I can't remember, exactly.  What I do remember is that I had to get up at four-thirty in the morning and drive through the dark to pick up my buddy and give him a ride to work.  Since I was not getting home until after six, there was not much time to for much else.  I had to shower, eat dinner, make my lunch for the next day, and go to bed by nine.  

Of course, I no longer saw the girl.  I called her a few times, but you know how that goes.  It didn't take long for her to start seeing another fellow, older and more mature than I, and by summer's end, I had been on the wrong end of an industrial accident and on a whim decided to enroll in the local junior college.  

I never saw the girl again.  

Yesterday, remembering the story, I could not for the life of me recall the girl's name.  It was driving me crazy, and that is when I made a mistake.  I decided to find my high school yearbook and look her up. That meant going through the pictures and names one by one.  It was incredible.  I couldn't remember most of the people I had gone to school with, even the ones who had signed my yearbook.  I couldn't remember them, but I could.  It was just a giant atmospheric thing, a vast cloud.  Some of the kids I had gone to school with for twelve years and all the years melded into a single faded memory.  

Then. . . there she was.  Yup.  And there was her name.  Strange I hadn't remembered it.  Yes, yes, that was her.  

I took a photo of her yearbook picture with my phone and sent it to some friends proud now that I had retrieved her name.  Q said, "Don't go looking for her obituary."  

I hadn't thought of it, but of course. . . . 

She's still kicking and lives in Oklahoma.  She is a registered republican, though, so her early small town life in the near distant hick town must have changed her hippie ways.  Obviously something had.  But I was satisfied.  

"You should write her.  She's probably thinking about YOU right now."  

My friends are real quipsters, they are.  But who knows.  Surely at some small hour, she too must think back on graduation night and the strange evening she spent with an awkward boy.  We had shepherded one another across the threshold to a new world.  

That is how it felt for me, anyway, there on the beach that night, speaking our desires under a rich blanket of stars.  The romantic potential of life had taken shape.  


Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Ultimate Reality


My problems are my problems, I know, but I haven't spoken to anyone in two days, so I just want to share them with you.  That's fair, right?  You've had plenty of conversations and opportunities to relieve yourself verbally.  I have only this silent typing.  And so. . . . 

Yesterday my mother texted me a disturbing message.  Her friend, a woman with whom she had travelled much to many parts of the world, had called her.  Apparently, she had fallen and had been lying on the floor for two days before her son found her.  She must have been a mess, my mother said, since she now wears adult diapers.  She said the woman was fairly incoherent and was asking my mother, "You will feed me, won't you?"  The son wanted my mother to come over and bathe her she guessed.  He couldn't get his mother off the floor, he said, because she was too dizzy.  My mother said that he needed to call 911.  

I tried calling my mother when I read the message, but she was out with my cousin and didn't answer her phone.  

I have known the woman's son for a long time.  We went to the same gym for many years before it closed and we worked out at the same time almost every morning.  We were friendly.  It was by odd coincidence that my mother became friends with his mother.  The gym closed down, and after that, I didn't really see that fellow any more, but oddly, he is the one who saw me get hit on my scooter and go flying through the air.  That is what his mother had told mine.  I haven't seen or spoken to him for years.  

The woman and my mother had some parting of ways a few years ago, and my mother hasn't seen much of her since, so it was odd that she was calling my mother for help.  I think, however, that the woman hasn't so many friends any longer.  She has two daughters to whom she hasn't spoken in years, who she has completely cut out of her life.  She is a difficult person, I think.  

Throughout the rest of the day, the image of this woman lying on the floor as the sun set twice haunted me.  Of course it did.  It is certain, I think, to be my fate.  I feel I am dying often now.  I can simply feel life fleeing from me, leaving me behind.  It is what happens eventually, of course.  There comes a point when we can no longer keep up, when diet and exercise and a good attitude can no longer help.  We must choose whether to live with remorse or embrace our fates.  

I am fascinated by those who have chosen to snub the flame rather than simply watch the candle sputter and die.  

I am also fascinated with those once successful and beautiful who maintained their bravado with great aplomb as time stripped them first of their looks, then of the rest.  

Time is the only reality, I guess, and the greatest enigma.  The terrible irony of life is that as we slow down, our trajectories quicken.  

They lay Prince Phillip to rest yesterday.  He lived long and had many advantages.  I'm pretty sure it made a difference.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

I Need Some Goop

  

I'm in a weird place at the moment.  Not a physical place.  I'm at home.  "Place" may not be the correct term, just some lazy use of the common jargon.  State?  Yes, that would be more accurate.  And "weird" is not very useful a descriptive term, either.  Better to say that I'm in an uncomfortable state at the moment.  

That's not really any better.  And besides, who isn't?  Some horrible version of the world is brought into our homes on a daily basis.  People are a dangerous mess, we realize, whether they intend to be or not.  Just our very existence is a hazard.  Seen from a distance, which is how we see humanity now, we are hideous.  

Emotionally I'm worn out.  Physically I'm busted.  I am trying to keep the last part of me together.  I've become intellectually slack this past year.  And so I've begun to read more seriously than I have been, and my t.v. time has been spent, by and large, watching lectures and documentaries of significant nature.  Such things, however, even when profound, are rarely comforting.  

For instance, I watched a documentary on Jack Kerouac two nights ago.  The beats were a bunch of goofs and most of what they produced in art and literature is jejune swill, but Kerouac himself had a moment or two of clarity before he burned himself out.  And boy, did he.  He was a terrible mess by the time he hit his late 30s.  His great champion, Allen Ginsburg. . . well, he was all over the place, wasn't he.  He was a very generous mess himself.  But he did have some wonderful things to say from time to time, and he had the best line of the doc.

"Grief," he said, "is the realization of the ultimate condition of our existence."

Floored, I was.  

Last night, I watched some documentaries on 19th century French literature and one on painting of the same period.  Then I fell into one on Proust.  

None of this helped me in any way.  One of my former colleagues, now dead, once told me he thought modern literature was a source of mental anguish and illness.  He was older than I.  I am catching up, and I think I realize what he means.  

This morning I woke up from some irritating dreams in the dark.  They weren't terrible nightmares, exactly, just irritating thoughts and remembrances.  As I lay there in the dark, in between sleep and wakefulness, I found myself going over some of what I had been watching and thinking, and I was mulling over the Shakespearean and Proustian concepts of time, old age, death, and the pathos of it all.  I thought about the suicide of Thomas Chatterton and its influence on the Romantic writers of Europe and began wondering how most people committed suicide then.  Chatterton drank arsenic.  I then began to think about the chopping block and the executioner who was supplanted by the guillotine, and I thought about its invention and wondered about the person who came up with the idea and worked on its perfection.  I thought of people gathering to watch the execution and wondered about the psyche of the person who performed the act.  

It then occurred to me how horrible it is that we are willing to kill people who don't want to die but deny the right to people who do.  There are more pleasant and easy ways to go than arsenic or the chopping block, and when grief seizes one, that realization of our true condition and fate. . . . 

It was early, but I had to get up.  I could not continue to lie there in the dark with such ideas.  I put on the coffee and brought up the news.  Bringing up the news did not put me in a better state of mind, however.  Perhaps I could have chosen to begin reading Proust, but what horrors await us there?  

I'm thinking of signing on to the whole wellness/happiness gig.  You can make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow all you want, but she is surely happier than I.  She looks it, anyway.  Whatever the plan is, I want on.  If there was a happiness pill, I'd take it.  And I think Goop might be selling some version of it.  Happy happy, joy joy. . . . 

The sun is up now, and the day is grey.  I didn't need a grey day, but I'm not sure I could have stood a sunny, wonderful one, either.  I may take something to put me in a coma for a while, 24 hours or so, and see if I come out the other side better.  And perhaps I should give up on the serious reading and t.v. watching and go back to thoughtless entertainment.  More "Southern Charm" and "Below Deck."  More "Emily in Paris."  I'm not sure contemplating complex philosophies is what I need right now.  I may be coming to an understanding of the mindless, ecstasy-fueled, rhythmical music and  beat-driven madness of late night clubs and vast desert festivals.  And I'd consider it but for the aftermath.  

For now, I will try to meditate on positive things and perform some solitary tea ceremonies in an attempt to become one with the great being. . . or something.  Tie-dye and mandellas.  The soft chanting of om mani padme hum and finger cymbals.  

Or perhaps, I should simply join the crowd and try some therapy.  

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Buildings Whisper

  

I've been printing out some of my Covid era photos in large sizes.  Houses, buildings, objects.  They look nice.  There is something about seeing them big.  They are all light and shape and shadow and color.  They don't mean anything, but they do.  They are evidence of something.  You can argue either way on the moral complexities of them.  They represent in concrete form the cultural equities of our history.  In the photos, those mute structures strain to speak.  They comprise the extant galleries and museums of cultural tastes, norms, and necessities.  At first, when I began taking them a year ago, the photos were mere exercises.  Their blankness left me cold.  Recently, though, I have begun to warm to them.  I have enough of them that I feel good about to fill a gallery, I think.  I may frame a couple and hang them on a wall just to see if I feel that way in the long run.

Of course, if I had been serious, I would have shot large format cameras with tilt/shift lenses to reduce the optical distortions.  Selavy. 

I can't read the news any more, not thoroughly.  I mostly look at headlines now.  But one story caught my interest today.  The government is recognizing the existence of UFOs, though they have come up with a new moniker for them as if they are something new and not the old, crazy aunt version of the thing.  UAPs, they call them.  UFO abductions are a thing of the past.  All that putting you into a frozen state and placing probes in you--no longer relevant.  Talk to us when you've been abducted by a UAP.  THEN we'll start to listen.  

Do you think the Air Force will let us see what is in Hanger 13?

One other story interested me, too.  Bitcoin and digital currency people are making HUGE money.  It bugs me because I can't even say what those are.  How did this get to be a thing?  Not that any money is real, but internet money somehow seems ten degrees removed.  As readers of the blog know, I have made all the wrong market moves, so I am giving you fair warning.  You might want to get out 'cause I'm thinking of getting back in.  I've been a pretty good indicator so far, my smart money friends say.  Buy high, sell low seems to be my motto.  

But buddy, I'd like some money, too.  It just doesn't seem right to me that all those twenty-something internet geeks are hogging up the profits.  I'd like to be able to afford a week at the beach.  

Everything else is too dangerous to talk about.  Our world becomes dumb but loud.  

I am beginning to really prefer the whisper of houses.  


Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Hyacinths Bloom

 The day was shit.  It feels like today will be a repeat.  My horoscope hasn't even come close to reality.  But the hyacinths bloom.  It is the cruelest month.  

I decided to follow the constructs of yesterday's post.  I went to breakfast off the Boulevard at a small French bakery and ordered a croissant eggs Benedict.  I got coffee, too, but theirs was no better than the poison I had at home.  I got an outdoor table between two miserable women, one extremely fat and the other one older and unable to walk well, and a married couple who spoke in small town aristocratic tones about the church and some of the goings on in the community.  The two women were wondering how to travel the two blocks to the end of the street where it dead-ended at the lake.  They wished to join the famous boat tour there.  The fat one wanted to call a cab.  The older one just seemed a bit addled.  Somehow, I managed to get caught up in a conversation that went across my table between them and and the married couple who became interested in me.  They said they were longtime residents of the town to which I responded, "That doesn't mean much anymore."  

"Oh, have you lived here long?"

"Yes," I said.

They began asking me if I remembered some of the old businesses on and around the Boulevard.  Of course I did.  

"But you wouldn't be old enough to remember. . . . "

"How old would one have to be?" I queried.  

They gave a number of which I was far south (or is it north?).  They looked surprised.

"Really?  Are you retired?"

Now I found that a bit bold, but what the hell.  I told them, "Just."  

Then the husband spoke in a lower tone, leaned in, and got a little snarky.

"What did you do, surf?"

I smiled and leaned back a bit.  "Excuse me?  Did I what?"

"Were you a surfer?"

"Yessir," I smiled. " It paid darn well."  

I didn't get mad.  I am used to "these people."  I was amused and took their slurs as compliments.  After all, there I sat in a pair of long, hipster-looking shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops with mussed bleach blonde hair eating breakfast just off the Boulevard at the approach of noon.  And so I suffered their queries and listened to their tales of the workings of the small town inner circle, of who they knew and who owned what, with dismal aplomb, a social media smile plastered upon my implacable mug.  

But I didn't enjoy my meal.

Back home, too full and still exhausted, I stripped off my clothes and crawled back into bed.  It did little good, however.  I was too full and my slumber was no better than it had been the night before, troubled and haunted and fitful.  When I got out of bed, I felt no more rested and, perhaps, a little worse than I did before.  But the afternoon had slipped away and the thing I needed to do was to try repairing the big printer in the garage.  The printer head has a clog that I haven't been able to clear and it was scaring me.  It is not just that big printers are expensive but I have thousands of dollars invested in inks as well, and they will only work with this model.  So I grabbed me laptop and went out to give it a go.  

Much later, the head was still clogged.  

It was time to go to my mother's.  

When I got there, she was gone.  I guess I should have called even though this was my "regular" hour.  But with vaccines in our system, we are not in lockdown isolation any more. 

Frustrated but relieved, too, I returned home.  I poured a drink.  This had been a lousy and wasteful day, and I was thoroughly convinced that alcohol had prevented more suicides of creative and intelligent people than anything else in life.  For the bovine, I feel it is just a way to get fucked up, but for the thinking and creating class, it is surely an effective if dangerous medicine.  

Yea, yea. . . I'm just another small town prick, no less horrible than my two breakfast friends, but don't judge me just because you have sense enough not to say it.  I mean, even at breakfast, when I told the couple what I had done and where I had gone to school, the husband wanted to tell me about minoring in English in college.  What the fuck is that?  Minoring, I mean.  I wouldn't tell Einstein that I had read some books on physics.  

I'm certain the man didn't need to drink.  

Last night I took a nerve pill so I could sleep through the night, but I still don't feel rested.  Something is weighing on me that won't leave me alone, and I can't shake it.  But I didn't get to walk yesterday, and as I mentioned, walking is a wonderful therapy.  A walking man walks, right?  And a talking man talks.  

I've done enough of he latter.  I need to get out now and do the former.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Black Velvet

  

The day starts poorly.  I forgot to buy coffee.  I had some ground coffee in the cupboard that has been there for a couple years, I'd guess.  It tastes like poison.  I was up late last night texting.  I know better, but I wasn't looking at the clock.  Then nightmares blemished my sleep.  I managed to stay in bed nearly the requisite eight hours, but that never really works.  The body wants its rhythm.  Fuck with it, and it will fuck with you.  And so my brain is heavy and thick, my emotions low.  Real coffee might have helped.  

That after a nice day, too.  I did some things I wanted to do and a thing I needed to do.  The sun shone and the breezes blew and the bright blue of the sky invited happiness.  Later in the afternoon, I bought some champagne and some Guinness and went to my mother's to make Black Velvets.  My mother asked, "Wasn't that a movie?"  I laughed.  "I think you are combining 'National Velvet' with 'Black Beauty.'  They should make one called 'Black Velvet,' though.  It makes sense." 

You wouldn't think they would be good, but they were.  Well, my mother wasn't crazy for them and simply sipped the champs, but they were creamy and bitter sweet and I liked them fine. 

Then evening and dinner and some lovely mistakes, and now I must find a way to get my zen back on track.  Perhaps a good lunch somewhere and a nap, no?  

Since my return, the feral cat has been very attentive.  It is not just the food.  Well, maybe.  But she comes close when I eat on the deck and lays near and poses.  People walking by look for her now.  Little children point.  Some fear she is pregnant.  No, I tell them, she is just the fattest feral cat in existence, a bit of a sideshow performer, I say, an animal oddity.  I'm sure they think I'm the oddity.  Selavy. 

I have things on my mind this morning that require some oblique thinking.  I can't think about the thing head on.  I will walk until my mind works something out.  It always helps to walk.  You know, if there is nothing you can do about a situation. . . well. . . you can always change your mind.  


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

I'll Be a Genius

  

"Something bad has happened in the world.  You know we are heading toward something terrible.  People are angry and acting out.  Nations are at odds.  I'm just staying home until it blows."  

I wanted to tell him, "Yea, I'll tell you what happened.  We quit telling idiots they were idiots.  We told them they had good ideas, too."  But I didn't.  I just wrote in my notebook--Johnny was big and strong, but he was dumb.  He had a mean streak, though, so it didn't reveal itself to him as it might have.  People gave him a lot of leeway.  His parents put him into martial arts classes when he was young thinking it might help him.  It did.  Now, as a man, he could hurt you quickly and badly, and he knew it.  It showed in his dumb eyes.  His only reaction to things that confused him was to attack.  He had joined a militia group where he was revered.  He hated anyone who thought they were smart, who could quote facts and figures. He had learned that anyone could make up anything, that there were studies that proved whatever you wanted to prove, that science was contradictory.  Fuck them.  He knew what was right and what was wrong and he could fuck up anyone who didn't see it the proper way.  

After that, I wrote--Fucking liberals!

Of course, we could blame plastics and other chemicals, but a constant diet of superhero movies and Rambo could be blamed as well.  And then there are the Koch Brothers.  I could go on, but you have your own list.

And the Woke are tools of both ends of the spectrum.  They serve many masters.  

I watched two documentaries on people who have tried to escape society when I got home from my short trip the other night.  One was about the Van Life people.  Oh, it was a hippie idyll.  Nature, freedom, friendships.  Social media now helps them hook up in great numbers for weekends where they create instant communes, play guitars, swim naked, share food, and form "the bonds of a lifetime."  The other was about people who live underground in the old subway tunnels of NYC.  It turns out that the old myth is true.  There are underground people who cannot cope with society any longer.  Very strange and very weird.  

I can't remember the name of either doc, so I can't tell you.  But it was a weird combo to watch after coming back from an awful trip to the city.  One way or another, though, people want an escape.  For those who can't, there are therapists, life coaches, meds, etc.  Fear and anger are prevalent, and therapists are making a killing.  

Meanwhile, each tribe demonizes the other.  

O.K. O.K.  I'm just saying.  It got weird out there while I was gone. 

I wish I had made a lot more money.  I'd pull a Ted Turner and buy up what parts he hasn't in New Mexico and shield myself from the congested world.  

I am turning toward a more insular art.  I've lost much of my interest in people.  

And I've discovered something about writing, too.  Perhaps I can show you sometime if it works out for me.  If not, I'll just tell you.  Either way, I'll be a genius.  


Monday, April 12, 2021

A Little Bit of Rain

 The light is gray and soft.  Outside, storms rage and pass.  Big hail falls not far away.  The air is slightly cool.  I start the heater to counter the chill, the dampness.  I make a breakfast of sausage and eggs, coffee, milk, and then full, pour a small glass of wine.  I read in the living room to the sound of the rain.  Small things.  The soft yellow lamplight, the ancient cabinets.  I read a chapter at a time, short, sensual chapters.  Breathless.  It is cold and raining in the small towns of France.  I rise and step to the window, look through the dark rooms, light a candle.  More rain, another turn through the house as if searching for something lost.  The phone hums.  A message.  I pause before I read it.  When I do, the meaning of it is somehow lost upon me.  One can never know.  Is it simply confused or is it cryptic?  She might as well write in hieroglyphics. And then more.  The secrets of life want revealing or at least an audience.  I can picture the scene though, or imagine it.  The rain will not cease for a long time today.  Perhaps it will continue through the night.  It is a general rain, as they say, with storms.  The muted light like dusk.  The rugs, the art, the soft leather chairs, the polite shade of the reading lamp.  The messages cease, and then more storm.  

The rain is ceaseless and the cold.  I rise to set the thermostat again.  I search recipes for cocktails on a rainy day.  I have a bar but lack many ingredients needed for most of the recommendations.  I choose the Dark and Stormy.  I eat the last bit of sausage and read another chapter.  

"Solitude.  One knows instinctively it has benefits that must be more deeply satisfying than those of other conditions, but still it is difficult. And besides, how is one to distinguish between conditions which are valuable, which despite their hatefulness give us strength or impel us to great things and other we would be far better free of?  Which are precious and which are not?  Why is it so hated to be happy alone?  Why is it impossible?  Why, whenever I'm idle, sometimes even before, in the midst of doing something, do I slowly but inevitably become subject to the power of their [his friend and his friend's lover's] acts."

The narrator's lust makes me hungry.  I open a can of lentil soup.  It goes well with the Dark and Stormy.  Just then, the rain ceases, the sky lightens.  The day becomes less atmospheric, simply soggy and unappealing.  Excuses for my lovely moodiness evaporate.  

I nap and wake shortly before nightfall.  The rain lets up long enough for me to feed the cat and then returns.  I will read.  I will watch t.v.  Perhaps I will eat.  I prepare an avocado, chop some garlic. 

There are no more messages.  There is only rain.  I am home.



Sunday, April 11, 2021

Let's Never Speak of It Again

  

It was a mistake, a disaster.  I should not have gone.  I went for all the wrong reasons.  And if I were to go somewhere, it should not have been Miami.  It has been a nightmare.  

The trip down was fine, but I was anxious about finding a place to stay.  I had mapped the International that I had suggested yesterday.  The place was a wreck.  It looked like the cheap motels on the outskirts of town that serve as home for drug addicts and criminals on the run.  It didn't even look as if it were a functioning business.  And that is what I could have had for $150/night.  

I decided to try to find something in Coral Gables.  It was the wrong time to try to drive to Coral Gables.  The eight mile or so drive took an hour.  I creeped from stoplight to stoplight through some horrible parts of town.  7th St. I think it was.  This was the fastest route according to Siri.  I went past derelict buildings, and human cripples, past some of the worst living conditions I have ever imagined.  Tired, depressed, traffic at a standstill, I found a hotel recommended on Bookings.com as being highly rated.  It was just off a congested highway in a zero part of the county.  No go.  

I drove around some more, but I was tired and couldn't remember the layout of Coconut Grove.  The traffic was worse.  I pulled to the side of the road and looked at hotels again.  I chose the Marriott downtown.  It wasn't cheap, but it was the cheapest anywhere near anything.  It was late.  Slowly, through downtown after work traffic, every street one way, the wrong way.  I circled the hotel several times.  Finally, I could get to the entrance.  

I was beat.  I checked into what looked like a hospital room.  

And that was the start to a terrible night.  

I don't wish to continue with this tale.  Let's forget about this one.  I never wish to speak of it again.  It was the wrong place at the wrong time.  I spent a lot of money and had no fun.  I went on a whim.  It was an impulse.  I was torn about leaving and went against my instincts.  I was bored with my Covid life.  I was not prepared for the other. 

I am glad to be home.  

What if a bad thing happens, a terrible thing, and no one is there to see it?  Do you need to talk about it?  Can you just keep the secret and leave the thing alone?  

I indulged myself last night, an arugula salad, spaghetti carbonara, a moderately expensive bottle of wine. I went about the house lighting candles and carved marble oil burners from the East. The maids had come while I was gone.  I walked through the house touching various talismans--books, cameras, fabrics, odds and ends--and poured a glass of scotch.  The world I inhabit gets rarer and smaller.  The world around it is angry, terribly poor and wretched or disgustingly wealthy.  They live next to one another but the barriers are extensive and high.  In between, people are polarized and increasingly violent.  Did this all happen during lockdown while we were nestled safely in our quarantine?  I don't remember a world so harsh and ugly.  

I don't know.  It could possibly and simply be me.  As I've said, I've been more isolated than you.  I can't say that it was worse.  Perhaps this weekend was simply a lack of judgement, a wrong direction, a shock to the system, contrapuntal to my quiet life.  I am not done.  I will begin again.  In California, I hear, they drop off people released from mental hospitals and prison in downtown San Francisco.  This may be apoccryphal , but I believe it is true as much as it makes no sense.  

Like leaving a solitary existence for the apocalypse.  

Friday, April 9, 2021

Don't Judge Me

  

I spent a horrible night.  Anxieties and nightmares probably brought on by the thought of leaving the house and traveling.  In some ways, I'm feeling forced to do this, coerced by my own words of bravado.  Maybe I want to go.  Maybe I don't.  There are conditions.  I am comfortable in my house, my life.  But I want to go, too.  Maybe just not yet.  Or maybe I do.  It is not so far.  I could drive there and back between sunrise and sunset easily and have breakfast and lunch besides.  Sure.  Maybe today.  Maybe soon.  Just pack a bag.  Two days.  Three days.  You don't need much.  Where would I stay?  I've checked hotel prices.  Everything is expensive unless I stay far, far away from everything,  Even an airport hotel is expensive.  Cheap is out near the Monkey Jungle.  The place in this photo, maybe.  It is well-located and not all that expensive.  Almost cheap.  What's the deal with that?  I read reviews.  It is just a cheap motel with a big glass add on.  But it is on the waterway and not far from things.  Maybe.  I need more time.  What if I make a mistake?  When did I become like this?  I prefer a little luxury now, but I cannot sustain that if I want to travel.  The money river is hardly flowing and I've drained the account on house and car repairs and bad non-investments.  Still, a person needs to live, but my house is fine and I live in paradise of sorts.  

I must make up my mind now.  If I don't go, you'll judge me, but you don't know everything.  You might think you do, but there is much that I keep hidden.  But surely I should go.  I might feel better.  And it is not that far away.  I'll go.  I'll wait.  I don't know.  I don't know.  You go.  I don't care.  Just don't judge me. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

He Died and He Was Dead


"He died and then was dead."  

Hemingway died last night.  Blew his brains out.  He just couldn't stand it any more.  The point of Burns' documentary?  "Fame's a bitch, and then you die."  I guess.  They covered a lot of ground last night.  I kept wanting to jump in and add some things, but what can you do?  Hemingway's life could not be covered in six hours.  I think more is known about Hemingway than about any other human who lived and died prior to 1961.  

Mostly, I wanted to talk about me and what I know and where I was and what I experienced.  How Hemingwayesque of me, eh?  

I have probably told much of it here in the blog before.  Who knows, though?  That is a lot of writing to go through to try and find it, and I probably wrote it better back then than I would today.  Yes, I'm certain I have written it all before somewhere in the past.  I, too, know how to mythologize.  But it is all true.  Every last sentence.  

The enormity of what I might write here wears me out this morning.  I will simply move on and talk about something else.  

Did I tell you about what I did or what I am planning on doing?  

O.K., then, let me tell you about what I am not going to do.  I am not going to rent a miniature car for $1,500/week.  I am not going to pay $400/night for a hotel room on the beach.  I'm not even going to pay $80/night to sleep in my car at a KOA campground.  Those are all prices I found when researching travel yesterday.  





First Covid, now this.  Meanwhile, gas prices are going up.  At best, I will be sleeping in a Motel 6 by the interstate on the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas.  Maybe.  Retirement isn't turning out that well at all.  I may have to become a capitalist if I want to travel.  Only the corporate crowd can afford to go anywhere now.  They call it "sucking off the corporate tit," but really they are milking those of us not on it.  They say that college kids have no interest in becoming educators any longer.  Huh.  Go figure.  

I am, however, in all likelihood, going to go somewhere for some days in the coming week.  I have to.  I must.  I have become a paranoid shut-in and everything "out there" seems hostile to me in one way or another.  I have been taking small steps.  Yesterday, I spent the day "out."  I wasn't in my house much at all.  I went to lunch and ate at the bar.  There were only four other people there and the doors to the outside were open and nearby.  I went to a small--no, tiny--museum of folk art.  I walked for awhile taking photographs.  It was almost like learning to live again.  

I didn't even cook a meal yesterday.  Thai takeout called to me.  

The weather was splendid and my little home comfortable, and I wondered why I'd want to travel.  

Like Hemingway in Cuba, I will need to be Hectored into leaving town.  

Oh, but wait.  How'd that work out for him?  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

You Could Make a Killing

  

iPhone and easy apps

There is nothing that competes with habit
And I know it's neither deep nor tragic
It's simply that you have to have it

That first cocktail, a gentle way of transitioning the concerns of the day into the pleasures of the night.  The blessing.  The curse.  Why must such delightful indulgence have a negative attached?  I invoke such pleasures here for I know some enjoy singing in the church choir just as much.  They look forward to rehearsal with great anticipation, the camaraderie and piousness, and they never need suffer from it.  Everything I've chosen wants to cripple me.  A lifetime of playing basketball on hard courts has destroyed my knees, hips, and spine.  The gym has crippled my shoulders, elbows, and wrists.  My beloved Vespa the rest.  I should have been a gardener.  I should have been a devout Baptist.  And what was my sin?  

Vanity. 

I wish I was both young and stupid
Then I too could have the fun that you did
Till it was time to pony up what you bid

 I watched part two of the Hemingway trilogy last night.  What did I expect?  It is not made for Hemingway scholars.  It is made for the uninitiated or partially initiated audience.  Were I watching such a thing on many great and famous people, I would be happily fascinated.  The Hem doc is accurate and informative on that level.  Nothing to kick about.  Oh, but yesterday I forgot to mention one egregious mistake, made, probably, because Hemingway, by and large, is not the area of expertise for their onscreen scholars.  They said that Jake Barnes in "The Sun Also Rises" suffered from impotence.  That is not correct.  His wound is much worse than that.  Jake has been wounded in such a way that part of his penis has been blown away.  His testicles function fine.  When he stands before the mirror naked, a scene they highlight in the documentary, he thinks that of all the ways to be wounded, this is most absurd.  My own reading of the novel suggests that he is still capable of masturbation and orgasm, and that he and Lady Brett Ashley have tried making love, but that it was not satisfying to Brett.  Jake is a man with an itch he cannot scratch which is far more pathetic, his case being pathos and not tragedy.  I think some readers are led to believe he is impotent by the scene where he dines with the prostitute and takes her to meet his friends.  That is my take on it, anyway.  

Hemingway was a young man when he wrote that novel and was soon to suffer from impotence brought on by the guilt of leaving his wife Hadley for Pauline.  The follies of youth are often hard to recover from, and so we attempt instead to recover our youth.  Such was the case of a man who called himself "Papa."

I could follow you and search the rubble
Or stay right here and save myself some trouble
Or try to keep myself from seeing double

One of the hazards of reading too much when you are young is that your intellect is not fully formed and you pick up only on the pieces of literature that attract you.  Or so it seems to me now having suffered from the plague of literature. for so long.  You can end up making what you read your sacred texts that  serve as a moral roadmap. And it is, but often not to the places you intended to go.  Looking back, you can trace that crooked journey fairly well, but by then the roads are closed and as much as you would like, there is no returning to where you began.  So way leads to way, and curiosities become habit, and habits become routine, and all the things that you thought would build you up lead to your demise, and what you once thought no longer seems to hold water.  But you know, hindsight and all. . . .  

Oh I could make a killing
Yeah I could make a killing
I could make a killing

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

He Sure Could Write for a Kid

  

Just woke up.  Last night was bad juju for sleeping.  Rather, for not sleeping.  I've somehow damaged something on the right side of my rib cage midway down and slightly back.  I don't know how or when.  It just showed itself while I was showering after the gym.  When I lay in bed last night, every breath was a shooting pain.  At one this morning, I decided to take some Advil P.M.  I still have the pain but now I am dopey, too.  Hell of a combo.  

I watched the Hemingway documentary on PBS last night.  Two hours of biography.  Nothing new or surprising.  I enjoyed the old films and photos, of course.  Some of the report suffered sins of omission, but you can't do everything.  They said, for instance, that Hemingway's father killed himself because he suffered from depression, which was true, but they didn't mention that he was suffering terribly from diabetes in the time prior to synthesized insulin and, being a doctor, knew his circulation was so poor that he was going blind and would probably lose parts of his extremities.  I don't think Ernest Hemingway was aware of that, at least not the severity.  Ed Hemingway was a pious and savage Christian who did not drink or smoke and whose only "sinful pleasure" was his love of pie which he could no longer enjoy.

There you go. 

They did play up the gender fluidity in Hemingway's life and work, of course.  How can you not in these trans-times?  They also pointed to his regrettable racism as evidenced in "The Sun Also Rises" and in the short stories.  Kikes and niggers abound.  Yup.  But the doc didn't have the courage to tackle it in its complexity.  All I can say is to read the texts, kids, and you will see.  It is there in the mouths of the characters.  But if you want to find the prejudices of the author, you must go to the thousands of letters he wrote that have been preserved.  See what was social and what was personal.  Without that, the argument is speculation and without evidence.  

But. . . whatever.  

The best part of the doc is how well they highlight Hemingway's dramatic departure from all prior writing.  His style was sui generis; as they point out, it was as if he had never read the literature that had come before.  So radical and new was his style that even the greatest of modern authors were stunned. Hemingway ran against the grain of complexity that was the hallmark of writers from Joyce to Eliot.  Everyone could read Hemingway, yet as in the poems of Robert Frost, complexity was there below the surface of the still water if you chose to dive in.  If not, you could still enjoy the picnic from the shore.  

By the time he was thirty, Hemingway was the most famous writer in the Western world.  And the wealthiest. 

So, I have only picky complaints and a modicum of kudos.  I'll watch part two tonight,  

When that was over, I turned to the Baylor/Gonzaga game.  No game there.  Gonzaga looked terrified.  Those Baylor boys were much too strong and mean for the likes of them.  Too bad.  

I turned it off and went to bed.  

Regress to paragraph one. 

I couldn't wait to post today's picture.  The house is in the same neighborhood as the one I posted yesterday.  It is modest and beautiful and something along the lines I might afford.  Turns out my travel/art buddy knows the owner.  I said that I was going to call him "Art," but I can't.  I just don't like that name for him.  I will need something else.  However, he told me the house was struck by lightning and sustained extensive damage some years ago.  Perhaps that is when they added the dormer upstairs.  I'll have to ask.  But the post-processing of the image thrilled me as soon as I had done it.  It still does this morning.  

The day is beautiful and I am coming to myself following the second cup of coffee.  I need to be a little productive today.  Retirement and Covid have made me more than lazy.  I was going to take a long drive somewhere today, but the hours are slipping by.  I have wedged my life between this morning ritual, healthful physical fitness, lunch, and visiting my mother at four.  Habit isn't quite as awful as routine.  I'm afraid I've slipped into the latter.  I don't wish to break my mother's heart, but a change is in the offing.  It must be or I am done.  No excuses.

Except, gee, I got up so late this morning, and. . . . 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Butter

  

I saw this house on my walk to the auto shop the other day and was simply fascinated.  A suburban palace, I proclaimed.  Imagine the lives of the people within.  They are well-off but not wealthy.  Their tastes run to the "Leave It to Beaver" style of architecture.  The kids have straight teeth and go to private school.  They do well and take tennis lessons in the afternoon.  There are bookshelves with some books, some knick knacks, and a lot of framed pictures.  There is a living room, a family room, a dining room, lots of bathrooms, a master suite with a huge walk-in closet, a study, a guest bedroom, and 2.5 rooms for the children.  The kitchen is fit for a three star Michelin chef with all the greatest appliances.  There are a Range Rover and a Mercedes in the garage.  You choose the career paths of the mother and father.  Their ethnicity, too.  And, of course, their sexual preferences.  I can only be certain about the physical objects.  This isn't the 1950's, you know.  

But I am fascinated by the house, the yard, the vibe.  I don't think I could afford the utilities and the exterior upkeep on the place which depresses me.  I've always lived in small rather than grand quarters.  I would like to be freed from monetary constraints.  I would like to have inherited money like Peter Beard and the Paris Review crowd.  Private schools.  Ivy League.  A life of creative leisure.  

This is not the home of creative leisure, though.  These are not people tortured by such thing.  They may have a modicum of "art" on their walls, but nothing of significance.  These are not people to whom I could send my morning messages.  They are not Puritans, exactly, but you don't get to live this way by running amok.  There is wine and cheese and the occasional after dinner drink, and there is "the club" and their friends. . . vacations to Jeckyl Island and Hilton Head, ski trips in the winter and rooms at the Ahwanhee in summer.  

Theirs are lives to be complimented.  

I want to date their daughter.  

I am the product of my hillbilly upbringing.  Sorry that.  My folks always had to settle for "good enough." I haven't the luxury of disdaining such living.  My disdain would simply be ascribed to envy.  

Oh, I've dated their daughters.  And I've dated the scions of ultra-wealth.  What can I tell you about it?  

Everybody deals with shit.  Some of it is just prettier than others.  

But enough of that nonsense.  The picture's the thing.  I made it, and it enchants me.  I've been working on post-processing images again trying to find a look.  The hours go by with me lost in experiments and invention.  Of course, much of it doesn't work, and some does, sort of, but not in a spectacular way.  Occasionally, though, something will pop for me, and then I'm happy.  This photo is one.  I love the creaminess of the image, almost buttery.  Yes, that is it.  It is visual butter.  So much goes into such a subtle thing.  Most people would never notice or really care.  Why go to so much trouble.  There are apps that will do that.  My iPhone's various processors can transform work very quickly.  

Yes, yes. . . but you know, us coin and stamp collectors. . . we have a certain passion.  

Oh--Easter.  I charred some kabobs for my mother and cousin.  I did a bad job cooking the kale, too.  But the day was lovely and we ate on the deck.  My cousin smoked her medical marijuana and my mother drank wine.  I stuck with the Micheladas while I cooked.  The music was playing and we were chatting, an Easter gathering that could not occur last year.  I felt myself opening up a bit.  

Taken with my iPhone and processed with easy apps

They left before sunset, and I began the big cleanup.  When that was done, I fed the kitty, poured a scotch, lit a cheroot, and sat on the deck thinking about tomorrow.  I should go somewhere soon, I thought.  I decided to see if I could really sleep in the car.  I put down the seat and opened the hatch and climbed in.  Yup.  I fit.  I lay there for awhile meditating on how it would be.  Walkers passed and stared, then gave unsure smiles and waved uncertainly.  Ha!  There's the neighborhood nut again.  I got out and put up the seat and realized that my Xterra was made for hauling and camping.  The entire back seat came out with the lifting of two handles.  The back became enormous.  

Another scotch and more considering.  It was difficult getting in and out of the back, a combination of age and brokenness.  It would be good for me, though, I thought.  I could regain my youth.  

The sun was low and the air beginning to chill.  The cat lay in a ball keeping a careful eye on me.  Can you imagine, I wondered to her?  Me setting off on a car camping trip?  

The cat simply stared.  

Oh. . . I would like to regain my youth.  If only that were all it took.  


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Monday?

  

It is Easter, I know, but I decided not to post an Easter card.  Rather, I decided to post the rooster responsible for the hens who laid all those bunny eggs.  I'm not an idiot.  I know bunnies don't lay eggs.  They get the chickens to do it.  But you know. . . who's cock of the walk?  Yup, you guessed it.  It's your old buddy, C.S.  

Why?  'Cause I took this picture on my walk the other day.  It is the first time I've assaulted a person in a very long time.  It's O.K.  I'll get better at it.  I just didn't have the chutzpah to ask him to put on the mask. 

I have never liked Easter Sunday.  I've told you this before--every year for over a decade now.  It was a torture to me as a kid, all pastels and getting dressed for church and hard boiled eggs and cheap candy.  In the past half decade, it got me into trouble, too, as I was never able to provide the goods required for a certain someone.  

I was an Easter failure.  

And continue to be.  I am having my mother and cousin over for Easter lunch, but I have made no cards nor bought any little treats for them.  There is nothing to suggest the commercialism of the day.  I am going to make them kabobs.  You know, the traditional Easter brunch.  

Whatever.  

I was up later than usual last night.  I watched the Gonzaga/UCLA game, and oh, what a game it was.  Best ever game of all time.  I watched it with my college roommate remotely, texting comments on the action back and forth.  He and I won many b-ball tournaments over the years, two unlikely hippies, one of us with talent and the other. . . well, let's just say I was a "utility" man playing garbage ball, disrupting the other team, hustling, etc.  But we won two tournaments while in college and lost two others, one to the college AAU team made of grad students who played college basketball as undergrads (and we only lost by 4), and the other to a team staring a couple NFL players trying to finish up degrees during the summer (including Nat Moore who was originally signed at the university on a b-ball scholarship).  Over the years we won more trophies in other leagues and played with and against NBA and European League players, so we feel well qualified to comment on the talents and foils of these kids.  

They were great.  They were flawless.  By the fourth quarter I was sad that either team would have to lose.  It was a game of beauty and wonder and awe.  

But it has left me tired.  I didn't go to bed straight away.  I knew I was too jacked up to sleep, so I went to the computer and cooked up some images.  I didn't get to bed until way past midnight.  Laugh if you will, but I didn't stay up late in my youth, either.  Nothing good ever happens after midnight they say.  Well. . . some of them say.  But that's good enough for me.  The others all have STDs.  

The day started out with a breakfast off the Boulevard.  I was in a quandary about going for the longest time.  I was trying to get Sinatra's "The Best of Things" album from a secret source and chatting with Q about the meaning of life or something about which we disagreed.  By late morning, however, hunger drove me, and I'm glad it did.  It was marvelous.  I went to a little French bakery and got "The American," two eggs, bacon, and potatoes.  I asked for three eggs, but apparently they didn't understand my request.  The eggs there are small enough to be quail eggs.  I sat out on the sidewalk and wolfed down my petite dejeuner and drank cups of coffee before deciding to get more--a chocolate bread pudding croissant.  Life had gotten sweeter for awhile.  

The Boulevard was jammed with the cruise ship crowd walking about like they'd just been dropped off in some exotic foreign port for a few hours.  Jesus, they are loathsome, but they make me want to take pictures.  And I will.  I just can't do it in my own hometown.  

I came home after that and somehow ended up cooking pictures all afternoon until it was time to go to my mother's.  I hadn't gone grocery shopping for the Easter victuals.  Hell, I hadn't even showered.  No matter.  I looked fabulous with my newly blonded hair.  I fixed some computer issues at my mother's and tried to find "The Dancing Outlaw" on Amazon, Netflix, or anywhere for them to watch.  No luck.  I tried to find "Gummo" for them since we are from a town not far Xenia in which the movie is set.  No luck there, either.  I had to settle for "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia."  I told them my friends always ask if that is real or if it is made up.  My mother and cousin will be bored with it, I'm sure, because it is like watching home movies of our family.  That is exactly my heritage and my stock.  An old frenemy used to tell girls I took ten showers a day trying to wash the hillbilly off me.  He was a prep school boy who wanted to show off a bit.  I taught him not to talk that way any more.  He begged me to believe that he wouldn't.  I didn't feel bad about that one.  You just don't fuck with the Wild and Wonderful Whites.  

After mother's, I was off to get the fixin's for the next day.  I ended up buying myself a nice piece of steak for dinner, too, which I threw on the grill as soon as I got home.  Oh. . . I also stopped at the liquor store.  This was no time to diet.  It was Saturday and it would soon be Easter.  No. . . let the food and drink penury restart on Monday.  I poured a glass of wine and fed the feral cat who has decided she trusts me much more now and has fun dashing between my feet.  She likes to talk more now, too, and enjoys staring into my very blue eyes.  

I'm hoping something has changed in me now, and that I will overcome my pandemic life a bit.  I have some appointments in the coming week that will keep me home, but the CDC says the walking vaccinated can travel now, and so I will.  Surely I will.  I've always travelled.  And I have things I need to walk away from.  No, let's not think that way.  There are things I must travel toward.  Yesterday, perhaps, I turned a corner.  

But who will feed the kitty if I am gone?  

This just popped up on my computer screen.  Are you kidding?  WTF?  


Saturday, April 3, 2021

A Sad Song

 


Yesterday was one of those beautiful days that should have gone better.  In the end, however, it was just another disaster on the trail of disastrous days one must endure in the course of a lifetime.  It broke me, though, and I took myself like a baby to the bottle.  Not just the bottle, either.  I nibbled on a brownie that woke me up in the middle of the night.  I swear there is some bad voodoo hanging onto me.  I will give in and Google how to get rid of malicious spells today.  Now, like the Cowardly Lion, I chant in fear, "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks (link).  I pretend to be a tough guy, but I am not.  It has taken all my strength to maintain that pose.  

I spent the beautiful morning at the computer.  I was looking through a couple of old hard drives.  That way lies madness, as Lear warns, though he had no hard drives to plunder and I no daughters.  The memory of an external hard drive, though, can be a very dangerous thing.  

I got trapped in the past, and I decided to see if I could still cook up pictures in the old way.  I hadn't done if for a very long time and there was a lot to remember.  I improvised a bit and utilized some of the new tools that have been developed since I first began making those digital transformations, but in the end, I remembered almost perfectly and the results were so good, I decided to do more. 

Then the morning was gone and I had creeped into the early afternoon of what now would be a busy day.  First to the gym for a disappointing reminder of who I have become, and then a shower and a shave, for it was Beauty Day and I needed to present a clean face, a blank slate, for my color queen to work with.  Though rushed, I was fair happy and had the photo event to look forward to that evening.  I even put on a pair of jeans which buttoned up much to my relief, and my new pair of Birks, and threw on a light jacket against the coming coolness.  

Then, just as I got into the car, I got a text message.  Hmm.  It was a song.  I was late now, however.  I would have to listen to it later.  

There are always tales to tell between me and my beautician, and so we chatted--talk, talk, talk. . . talk, talk, talk--while she put on the foils and the magical elixir.  Then I was off to the couch to wait for the chemicals to do their job.  I decided to listen to the song.  

No need to go on about it, really.  Just farewell.  Nothing other than the very clear lyrics.  Well, now. . . I reckon it made the other feel better, even heroic, perhaps.  Advantage you.  

Fuck it, though.  That has been done for some time now.  All I need is. . . . 

. . . to stay in the present.  My hairdresser takes care.  She made me very blond.  She can do that, but there is much she can do nothing about.  

As the sun set, I drove straight into the angry orb.  I had to dodge my eyes most of the way or go blind.  I could not see the traffic lights and maneuvered the streets by intuition.  The drive was long as people came out for their Friday evening revelries, all of us trying to pretend that times are normal, trying to remember the rules of social interaction.  

I arrived.  It was a sizable hotel converted into art studios.  In the courtyard, a group of amplified acoustic musicians played.  People milled about walking in and out of the small spaces.  Food trucks offered small dinners for the hungry.  Somewhere, I had been told, there was beer.  I found the studio of the kids from the photo store and entered.  A few young hipsters sat on folding chairs and chatted in their excited way.  Then there was the Goth girl and her photos.  I said hello and complimented her on the presentation.  Her photos were professionally framed perfectly and expensively, I knew, for I use that exact framing.  After a brief chat, I said I would look around so that she could excuse herself.  She seemed nervous as one would be at an opening.  In truth, the photos were quite bad.  Naive, really, and uninformed.  She had black and white prints of the usual objects, some of them printed on aluminum which did not favor them at all.  I pretended interest for as long as I could, then said the photos were wonderful and that I was going to have a look around and I would see her later.  But the rest of the works I looked at interested me to just the same level, and I found myself simply meandering around the parking lot and courtyards watching the strained excitement of the masked up crowd.  The last glow of sunset was upon us, and I was hungry.  Not hungry enough for the food trucks, however.  I decided there was still time to order up some sushi and began walking toward my car.  

Just as I was leaving, the rest of the kids from the photo store were showing up.  They had just gotten off work and seemed anxious to enter the fray.  I stopped and talked to them for a moment, but they were in hurry to go be gallery owners, I guess, and most of them skipped off with a quick hop and jerk.  One of them, the oldest of the lot and the one I had known longest, lingered and offered me the space to shoot in any time I wanted, and I thought that I might take him up on that sometime soon, but it is a small space and not so conducive to what I do in the main.  But, perhaps, I thought. . . . . 

The Boulevard was lit when I parked in front of the sushi restaurant in one of the spaces the city has reserved for take-out in the Time of Corona.  When I walked in, the young girl at the counter said, "I remember you," and handed me my order in a heavy paper bag.  Big eye smile.  It is the blond hair, I am certain.  That and the mask. 

At home, the cat was waiting for dinner.  

"I'm sorry, honey.  I know I'm late.  You must be a hungry kitty.  Hold on, hold on."  

I felt bad for not being home on time.  Just me and the feral feline.  I might need to get a dog, I thought.  I am getting to be in bad need of company.  

I do not need a dating app.  All my life, I worked in a factory full of thousands of men and women.  I had never begged for attention.  I never realized how easy it was.  Now, I know.  All I need is to be among them, I thought.  It is this isolation that is making me lonely.  They just need to see me, that is all.  But now I knew how other men lived, the desperation and the loneliness they must have experienced going to offices and building sites.  Whatever they did.  What once was an abstraction had intruded upon my thoughtless ego.  

Yes, perhaps I need a dog.  

Another Friday night of sushi.  I did not bother to take pictures to send out hopelessly to the social void.  Nor did I have any sake.  This losing weight thing was suddenly tragic, a terrible mistake.  I opened a beer.  It was o.k., but it wasn't sake.  I sadly turned on the television while I ate.  I had ordered small, just a tuna roll and some miso soup.  It did not take long, and then I was in the liquor cabinet.  The whiskey was almost gone.  It was stupid not to buy any.  There were other liquors, but it is whiskey one wants to chase the sushi worms away.  I had enough for one drink.  I thought about running to the liquor store, but it seemed too desperate and sad.  I spied the bottle of Titos on the shelf.  That would have to do.  That and a little nibble on the brownie.  

I turned to YouTube.  There was a home movie of Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart on their yachts with friends sometime in the '50s.  The film was scored with this.  Just another sad end to a hollow night.  I remember dancing someone around the barroom floor to "A Summer Wind."  It had been marvelous.  


 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Isolation and the Great Unwashed

  

Not a picture to warm the cockles of your shriveled little heart, is it?  Just another Pomo snotty Eggleston-influenced image of things so obvious they go unseen.  I've been taking lots of them lately.  I think I am getting better at it.  There is a shabbiness to the modern landscape that must be glossed over if we are to continue the illusion of living well, so our brain reshapes it without recognition.  It is what I see either by training or by some immutable weakness, however, and I photograph them.  

I love these photos.  I hate them.  They are for that group who reject the unromantic Pictorialism of Lonesomevile.  Each, however, is making a similar statement about the nature of pleasure and beauty and the worldly condition we enjoy and suffer.  

I wonder, however, if the difference doesn't lie between subtle irony and outright sarcasm.  I mean, this picture does seem more than a little snotty.  

I had no idea of beginning with that.  I thought to write something descriptive and beautiful.  That is what I thought, at least, when I lay down in bed last night after reading Salter.  And it is what I tried to think when I woke multiple times during the night, but my mind was going to other, more disturbing places.  I struggled from midnight on.  You know how it is.  Without sleeping again after three, I got up at five.  I determined that I would not read the news first, that I would write or read Salter, but as I so often quote, there is nothing that competes with habit.  And so the morning began in deep darkness with me repeating the past.  

The news was not good.

One of the nice things about being isolated in the Time of Covid--and it is still The Time of Covid--is that I neither pranked nor was pranked by anyone on April Fool's Day.  Such childishness seems more so during the plague.  Had I been reporting to the factory, some token to the day might have been offered.  Isolation, I now feel,  has improved people somewhat.  Most have needed to learn how to spend time alone.  I knew that my ex-girlfriend could not spend time by herself, and I was right.  She ended up with Covid.  Some would rather share the internal demons than suffer them alone.  But many have benefitted from being away from the fray of the hoi-polloi.  

Now, being among "the great unwashed" gives me the heebe-jeebies.  I am determined, however, to wallow in the sour mash of humanity in an attempt to become a born-again creative.  It will just take time and a lot more vaccines.  

Predictions of coming zoonotic plagues make my plans both more urgent and less hopeful.  

To wit: tonight I am going to a little photography opening for the Goth girl from the camera store.  It will be a hipster event, I am certain, with lots of Budweiser and Pabst, and I do not plan to stay long among what is sure to be an unvaccinated mob.  Still, I must make my presence known.  

But the affair begins before I will be through getting beautified.  Somehow, I ended up with a late appointment on a Friday.  I will be blond or blonde.  I am like Dan Quayle spelling potato/potatoe sometimes.  And yes, I pronounce the "th" in clothes and the first "r" in February.

What an f'ing ramble.  It is still dark as dark can be.  I will have another cup of coffee and then determine if I want to go back to bed.  I can do that if I like, and coffee has no effect to that end upon me.  I think I will write a little more elsewhere now.  No. . . I think I will re-read more of Salter's salacious novel.  Literature requires it.  

I just must not forget to feed the feral cat.