Monday, November 21, 2005

Finding the Philosopher's Stone

Words trickle down my arms into my fingertips and somehow make the inter-dimensional trip to the white screen. Like that scene in “Chariots of Fire” where the English chaps run along the beach. Except these words, with glimmering hope in their eyes, destination in sight, rush headlong toward death. A shiny obsidian cliff with an infinite drop. So here I am, playing God.

Without scruple I sentence these halting, insubstantial words. I shackle their feet and bind their hands and away they are whisked single file to the awaiting trains. These old lumbering trains whose wretched smoke fill the skies pitching the earth in shadow... perpetual shadow. Helios died a long time ago, or perhaps he hides, or perhaps he kneels before the golden calf of capitalism. Men no longer worship the sun, or his sister the moon, or the Gods of old who died before the arrival of Jesus. Fuck, they don't even worship the God Elohim, Jehovah, Jahveh, Yaweh, or Shem Hammephorash (if you like). Men worship idols made of gold, silicon, platinum, and celluloid. Men worship the quantity theory. Back-room alchemists laboriously study fluctuations and trends and through some magic known only unto them amass riches.

” Money, clothes, and ho's.” The new Hammurabi Code.

Words written in stone, bronze, parchment, paper, magnetic strips, compact discs, and now words written nowhere. Non-words. Words floating about, riding the fiber optic wave, from one isolated beach to another to another to another. There was a time to be literate, to understand the manipulation of words, to have the ability to create words, to create worlds – to translate them, to transmute them, to alchemize or alchemate or alchemulate words; to spin words out of air as the millers daughter spun straw into gold, was to understand power.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Foot will slide in due time

I awoke this morning feeling a little blue so I decided to read some Jonathan Edwards. His uplifting sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Originally delivered on a beautiful Sunday morning on July 8, 1741, it was given (as a gift would be given) by Edwards with impassioned enthusiasm and bored gusto. In Benjamin Turnbull's A Complete History of Conneticut (1797) we are told that Edwards read his sermon in a level voice with his sermon book in his left hand, and in spite of his calm demeanor “there was such breathing of distress, and weeping, that the preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence, so that he might be heard.” Sweet!

The fact of the matter is we are all equally worthless and God hates us all. So Edward states:

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: His wrath toward you burns like fire; He looks upon as you as worthy of nothing else but be cast into the fire; He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more then ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and it is nothing but His hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment.”

I love that passage... that passion. It oozes with hope and optimism doesn't it? As a boil, red and swollen, oozes out puss like a toothpaste tube being slowly squeezed from the bottom up.

Why does God hate us so? Same reason my own father hates me, or YOUR father probably hates you... because we have failed him in every conceivable way despite his generosity... despite the fact he has equipped us all with the means to succeed, to shine, to “lead the field.” He hates us because we are detestable, loathsome, gluttonous creatures, the lot of us, deserving of nothing more than being crushed like a disgusting, impuissant stink bug in the driveway when I back out my BMW.

“ If you cry to God to pity you, He will be so far from pitying in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard of favor, that instead of that, He will only tread you underfoot... He will crush out your blood, and make it fly and it shall be sprinkled on His garments, so as to stain all His raiment. He will not only hate you, but He will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be fit for you, but under His feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.”

Like a rotten carcass of a dead cat by the roadside with it's bones crushed to the point it no longer resembles a living animal, but a sticky, stained rug a hobo wouldn't even desire to keep in his cardboard box right Jon?

Remember God loves us, and he hates us. It's a bittersweet romance. If he didn't care about you or love you you'd wake up tomorrow and find yourself in Hell alongside Hitler and Vlad the Impaler and everyone else to be tortured and bound eternally facing your worst fears, covered in repugnant spiders and hissing cockroaches from Madagascar... and be served cold coffee like in that Gary Larson cartoon. Yes, they do think of everything.

So be sure to mind your P's and Q's. Don't worry be happy. Oh and Dad I did it, I am a fucking bum and a dismal failure. To quote good ol' Buk:

"You are a bum," he told me. "and you'll always be a bum!"

and I thought, if being a bum is to be the opposite of what this son of a bitch is, then that's what I'm going to be.

and it's too bad he's been dead so long for now he can't see how beautifully I've succeeded at that."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


His body reads like a page torn out of Rand McNally. Swirling lines span years, speak of pain and turmoil, heartbreak and brotherhood. Most of his work was done while he was locked away at Folsom with a single sewing needle and a busted black Bic ink-pen core melted over a Zippo. " Hell, there wasn't much else to do" he says. At night, by candlelight, his Aryan brother, who went by the moniker “Hound,” would laboriously spend hours hunched over his bunk as the dull needle threaded in and out of his skin, the whole while he’d simply lay still as a corpse laid out on an autopsy table, relishing the pain, with eyes fixed on the ceiling thinking about the open road, old ladies, and cold brews.

Each tat tells a story. His body is a book, a collection of shorts - different time periods, different characters, but all equally significant. All interwoven as the ink on a medieval tapestry are all interwoven. As ancient blood, shit, and plant pigment long ago dried on a cave wall tell tales of the hunt. They all contribute to what he later became. Autobiographical scribbling. The best way to describe it is in his own words. He’d often tell me the following:

“Kid, it ain't the destination but the journey. It’s the roads you choose and the sights you see. It’s the cow shit and hay you smell as you ride on by with the wind in your hair, chillin' your bones.”

A barely there, faded picture of a woman’s face. Below this are inscribed the words. “Dainty Deb.” With distant eyes he recollects, sifting through dusty drug addled memories kept under lock and key in the attic of his thoughts: " A shotgun wedding at the county courthouse circa 1976. A damned fine girl who could out-party anyone. Yep… she could hang with the big dogs.” He tells me with pride and a sparkle in his eye.

I ask him about the spider web on his right elbow - 1981, when he served time for cocaine possession. “ I was a courier. Ain’t nothing more, nothing less. But I never ratted. I ain’t no fuckin' rat.” I ask him what it means. His expression darkens. He tells me it symbolizes being trapped in a “god damned cage like a god damned dog.”

On his left pec, over his heart, is a profile pic of a skull. Sprouting out of the skull a set of ornate wings. Black and white, about the size of my hand. A truly awe-inspiring sight. Only a select few are permitted, or would even dare, to own this tattoo. “You KNOW what that is right boy?”

“Yeah… I definitely do.”

“It was 1988. The year I joined the club. I was riding a Harley dynaglide with an evo. A damned good bike.”

I’ve always found it interesting how guys like this keep track of time by the bikes they own or the tattoo’s they acquire. Time, to them, is a linear series of bikes, women, parties, and jail time.

“ Would you do it all again?”

He peers at me out of the corner of his eye, Budweiser raised to his lips.

“ Does a fat baby fart?”

Monday, November 14, 2005


Hey T____. Doubt you'll get this letter, but who knows? Just wanted to tell you something... I wanted to explain a few things I never really had the chance to explain. Hey, I cared about you, and I still do. In fact, I keep tabs on you, the occasional Google search or two, to see what you're up to. You were the little brother I never had. In you I saw myself, but a hard luck version. Oliver Twist except you weren't an orphan. A good kid with dreams and aspirations, who was unfortunately limited by money and circumstance. It was just you and your mom, and she didn't make much. Your dad was a distant memory, a stranger, who sent the occasional check every now and then. Of course there were your sisters, but they didn't come around that often. They had their own lives... their own shit... to contend with. They did what they could but in it was difficult for them to really be there for you, especially monetarily, if you know what I mean. But you and I clicked right from the get-go. It was scary how much like me you were. Awkwardly shy, attractive but at the same time almost geeky, so much POTENTIAL to become the very best at anything you chose. And I wanted to take you under my wing and be the big brother I myself never had, but had always wanted. I wanted to see you succeed, and make us all proud.

I remember even after your sis and I broke up, you and I still stayed in touch. We went to the movies and walked around downtown late bullshitting about this or that. You'd tell me about your life, crushes, dreams, and passions and I'd encourage you to pursue them all. You'd often tell me how much you'd one day love to play professional ball, but feared you were too small, even to play point. Perfectly in stride, playing the parent or mentor role, I told you the usual “you can do anything you want.” I gave you the anecdotal lip service everyone gives: “You know kid, there's an old Chinese proverb... if you do the things you love you won't work a day in your life.” It's funny how we readily dispense advice which we ourselves are unable to follow.

Then there was the time your sister and I got back together again to give it another try. Unfortunately things didn't work out between us, I guess it wasn't meant to be. I disappeared. Yes, that was fucked up but I didn't think it was my place, it wasn't the right thing, to stick around and maintain our friendship. I'm sure you didn't like me, hell I'm sure you fucking hated me, and you may probably still, as you probably felt as though I “fucked over” your sister yet again. You probably felt as though I used you, and our friendship, to weasel my way back into her life... this isn't true. Our friendship was completely separate from all of that. We were “us.” You were my friend, not my ex-girlfriends little brother.

Anyhow, I hope things are well for you kid. If you're feeling blue remember this: “Everyone feels down, there's no avoiding it, but you have to know that you are still luckier than most of the world's people. You have to learn to see the best in everything, although it sounds difficult, it is possible. You might as well have fun while you're alive, cause you won't get another chance. I'm not trying to dictate to anyone, I'm just telling you what I've come to feel and realize constantly.”

Just something I read somewhere along the way.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Toast

To satisfy silently. To weep. To dream. To speak. To tweak. To climbing desolation peak and reading Kerouac alone as you eat cold stew from a chipped bowl. To laying in the grass listening to Bob Dylan on the ipod. To God. To drunken nights in jail. To wise old men, and the stories they tell. To drink. To love. To raising a glass and honoring good friends we've lost. To pot. To pretty girls who went to our heads. To witty girls who went to our beds. To sitting in our car stuck in gridlock - singing butt-rock - at the top of our lungs. To rolling in the club. To disillusionment. To fun. To double shot mocha's in a to-go cup. To heartbreak. To pain. To passionate fucking while it rains. To Vegas - and a beautiful wedding in a little white chapel. To cigarettes. To cancer. To visiting the strip club to see our "tiny dancer." To clapping our hands to our favorite bands. To being a fan. To running barefoot in the sand. To holding my son's hand as I play dad. To write a passage or a poem. To kick-start the Harley and ride the dusty road with no direction home. To pray. To play. To happy endings where the prince slays the dragon. To ending up again right where we started. To melancholy rivers running their course, full circle, out to the sea... finally free. Mama, take this badge off of me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Etiquette lesson pt I

Vision blurs as I trudge, not walk, up and down each lane searching for a bottle of Coke, cigs, and some NyQuil in this labrynthian supermarket montrosity. One stop shopping has never been more convienent... or has it? I'm looking forward to downing 3 shots of this foul-tasting, green shit, and then sleeping the worry-free, deep sleep of the dead. No ephedrine or hit from the glass today or yesterday so my body isn't accustomed to being awake without help. Disorientation. Vertigo, fatique, and claustrophobia hit me from all angles as I try to stay balanced and keep my eyes straight ahead, as I seemingly float past the miles and miles of packaged, dehydrated, calorie laden CRAP. I try my best to ignore the queer glances and hushed laughing. Slept til 4 and I could have kept sleeping if it wasn't for this annoying sore throat, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, and inability to rest. The grocery store and it's blinking, red neon sign and magazine racks beckoned me out of my silken cave - as the sirens tempted Ulysses. Funny, I didn't even bother to throw on jeans, just a black t-shirt, my pajama bottoms and flip flops. Haven't shaved for days... or showered... I probably stink. My asshole probably stinks. I've had caustic runs. Yesterday I discovered blood in my stool. My sister said I should get this checked out as it could be something serious. I shrugged and nonchalantly told her it was just hemorroids.

As is usually the case, there are only two registers open and a mile of pissed off customers in each line. I only have two items so I take my place in the “20 items or less” line. I stand and patiently wait, watching the inept store manager scurry about eyeing the growing throng of consumers. After about five minutes he finally gets a clue and opens up another register, directly to my left. I'm one person away from ringing up my merchandise so I tell the guy in front of me that the other register is open now and he was here before I was so he should jump into the other line and ring up his stuff. Before he could even respond some fat fuck appears out of nowhere and impetuously shoves his cart past myself and the gentleman in front of me into the now open register. I guess his business, his time, was more important than anyone else's. I guess common courtesy and manners don't apply to him. I guess he's the god-damned king of the grocery store.

So I say to him, “ What the fuck? You think we've been standing here for our health?”

He ignores me. I take a place behind him fully intent to teach this asshole a lesson in etiquette. I slam my shit down on the sticky conveyor belt. “Hey you FUCK, I'm talking to you.” He continues to ignore me but he's moving quicker and his face is red and his brow is starting to get sweaty. Scared. Obviously he's not accustomed to sick-as-hell, delirious, incensed motherfuckers such as myself adressing his bullshit behavior.

“Listen prick, I'm going to give you three seconds to look at me and acknowledge I'm speaking to you before I dump the contents of this drink all over your coat.” Thoughts of provoking him into taking a swing at me so I can choke him out, here at register three, here at Smith's in front of everyone to see, swirl through my exhausted brain.

The guy in the other line interrupts, playing the peacemaker. “ Look man I appreciate what you're doing here but it's not really a big deal, it's not necess....”

“No, it IS FUCKING necessary. This piece of shit thinks he can butt his FAT ASS in front of us? I've been standing in line for over 5 minutes, you too, and this ASSHOLE just barely walked up. No. Hell no!”

I'd finish the story but I'm seriously too pissed off, and deliriously exhausted right now to continue. Maybe later.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Down and Out

Honkey tonk dive bar outside town,
corner booth wearin’ a raggedy frown,
Ashtray full of butts, stale nuts, bleeding cuts.
Melancholy organ grinder whoring out shitty covers
Of shitty songs for one-night lovers
Glances over at me with crooked teeth
And a knowing wink.

Old rockers and outlaw bikers
throwin back Budweisers and Whiskey Sours.
Telling tales of killer shows, dusty roads, vanquished foes,
and click-clackin', sweet-smellin', stiletto’d woe.

And here I sit, fucked up drunk, and lit,
Tastin’ the dry drip, snifflin’ like I’m sick.
Wishing for a time I’ll never get
to make amends, repay old debts.
And here I’ll remain even when
the table dips and the room spins.
Until I pass out cold on the floor.
And then I’ll wake up tomorrow alone,
Out on my own, like a rolling stone.

An old wino hands me his brown-bag bottle of moonshine,
A hearty tug, a raspy cough,
more snow-white lines, and some small-talk.
He speaks of life, servin' time, and long hard years.
I nod and order another round of beers.


No sound except the soft clink of a Zippo as I light my last Lucky Strike. The steam rises off the lake in the early morning half-light tranquility fall brings along with yellow leaves and layers of chilling frost known to kill crickets, crack heads, and frogs. What’s it been now… one year exactly without you? When soldiers return home from war missing an arm or a leg, they sometimes still feel the phantom limb moving, speaking, and breathing. Perhaps it’s denial. A subconscious refusal to admit it’s gone. A refusal to admit they’re half-there, half-empty, and half-lost with clipped wings, bound feet, and the tedious task of re-learning how to breathe. A sort of un-death, muffled acceptance one finds after surviving a gunfight, car crash, or bitch slap. An inability to ignore the crumpled, concerned brows and helping hands offered by compassionate family and friends as you struggle to pull yourself up. Wipe my ass. Tuck me in. Kill me please and put me out of my misery. Another tug from an old flask my cousin gave me back when we were young and sang foolish songs about heartbreak and love. It’s this forlorn, excruciating pain limbless soldiers feel that course through my veins and valves into my rotten heart as I sit by the lake outside town. Desolation. Except for perhaps the nameless corpses sleeping below that are never coming home.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a space odyssey

And here I sit in my shiny, tin-foil moon hat, an effective tool to keep out the uv, crisscrossing mind probes emitted by the silver, mouthless men who poke and prod and lodge strange objects into our rectums and guts intent to break, dominate, and inseminate. I feel like Harry Mudd resplendent in my oversized fur coat and gold loops, intergalactic peddler of poon and green skinned martian women who happen to know how to belly dance. Mysterious. Dark alluring eyes shining in half-light around the fire pit lodged there in blue cheese, cardboard moon rocks. Supersonic spaceflight once thought impossible achieved in waking dreams by brave men with feathered 70's disco hair and half-capes... High adventure. Awkward drive-in makeout sessions, hot and heavy and intense, 2 for 1 specials complete with popcorn, fogged windows, and premature ejaculations. In Dad's car, in the dark, dick sucked to flickering celluloid images of Jane Fonda in quasi-futuristic shimmering half-shirt, short skirt, and thigh-high go-go boots. Schlocking images of whirling twirling pie plates disintegrating Manhattan while people point and scatter, purses and fedora's in hand. Shock and awe late fifties pulp entertainment a reflection of the age's intense cold war belief in Roswell and zig-zagging, impossible fly-by's reported by honest air force test-pilots named Chuck, Buzz, or Charley. Strange lights. Queer sights. Jim, Bones, and Scotty, and an assortment of nameless, expendable red shirts beaming down to a parallel earth where Germany won cause they got the atom bomb before us.