having a quiet snuck long pull of tequila at about 6:30 this evening i was struck by a realization. in the times when i try and recollect and gather that which, as a writer, i am condemned to labor at, i am always stumbling at nostalgia. there are scenes which, without my choosing have become ingrained, but as with any artistic endeavour, that which sneaks in without notice is that which really is worth accolades, because what is art but the worship of the manifestation of the unconscious? whatever... being male and prone to alcoholism does nothing but feed this unfortunate combination of circumstance and personal weakness. i feel like i invest so much energy in being hyper observant, enshrining trivial details and living as presently as my own analytical mind and roving eyes can manage that i don't ever really have a decent grasp of what being truly wistful and nostalgic entails. perhaps i am still too young. i don't know if it is true at all, but i have my suspicions that using my mind this way has kept me alive in the face of what has definitely been a potentially fatal incident strewn life, but there is little comfort taken from this when i realize that 65 percent of what i actually commit to memory is simply fodder for future masturbation. basically, what am i using this brain for if not to prove people wrong, pat myself on the back and fuck?
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it's a shame the only reasons to gather large groups of distant friends and acquaintances together are marriage and wakes, it's easier to retain things when so many others can record it too..
for the past two weeks i've been hearing thunder nearly everywhere. it didn't start out as strange, i was in new york for ten days and it was raining for seven of them on and off, with dreamily gross humidity in between the showers. it has continued though, now that i am back in california, i heard it earlier today, a completely wonderful day out too. it's always while i am inside that i hear it and the sound itself is disembodied and far away, as thunder normally is, that, in fact, is what is so strange about it. it doesn't have the metallic and quickly cut off nature of metal crashing or smashing together of parts on a truck, but it also doesn't seem to roll along through the sky like thunder really does. perhaps it's a warning or a unfulfilled desire to be way out in the desert on a mesa watching all the weather collapse and swallow up the earth in successive waves, closer and closer, thin denim jacket pulled in to my body as i lay down and let it overtake everything.
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i had a long involved discussion once with a girl whom i am sure someone i know must know.
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it was years and years ago, before i moved out of my hometown.
it was at a show at one of the dirty shithole house venues hometowns always have.
it was centered on a band, as most random encounters at shithole venues are.
for a long time we talked about the band, it probably amounted to about 20 minutes in real time, but in the meantime a hundred thousand things happened, a PA failed and a band launched into their first song prematurely and without amplification (i've never done anything with rock and roll, if it's as closely intertwined with sex there have to be hundreds of false starts). the whole time, she sat on the washer in the room in the back and i think i was convinced to show interest when she disrupted me, lurking about the fridge, waiting for a handout, by commenting on my shirt. it is my absolute favorite shirt, and i know having announced that aloud, it will burn tomorrow. anyways, it's a replacements shirt with the cover for the "let it be" album on the front. the band looks like most of my friends with their bullshit meaningless in-jokes and propensity for alcoholism and she told me a long adorable story about having been into the replacements when she was 13 and having been dragged to vegas by her folks and quasi-stalking a guy who looked exactly like paul westerberg as he wandered in and out of arcades, most likely as bored as she was. i had no story to compare, i only fed her interest and desire with nods and short spoken assents. i was sure we'd make out fairly soon and continued on my quest for beers to stuff my pockets with. i don't remember why i left or whom i was supposed to meet, most likely it was a good friend made better through drunken cameraderie, but i remember her asking me if i wanted to go for a walk, and me saying i had to take off.
now, i feel like i might be one to overburden certain moments with a meaning they may not have ever been meant to convey but it's not too often that someone decides to commiserate with me when it comes to the replacements. one ex girlfriend, a longtime regret, had a soft spot for them, especially the "tim" album. the only other true conversation struck over the band itself was one that i had with a woman who came into the bookshop that i used to work at in palo alto. it was in the stanford mall next to a linen store that sold thousand dollar sheets and i felt as out of place as a 24 year old can. she had the look of a woman who, to her great relief, had bagged a rich one. somewhat beat up as she neared the good side of her 30's , but still in expensive enough clothes to give one pause. after i had rang her up and she gave a glance at my shirt she looked me square in the eyes, as an equal (age-wise) in her eyes, it was worthwhile to get a sound opinion from me.
"you like the replacements"
"yeah, yeah i do"
(here is where i figured out that she had a good 6-8 years on me)
"do you ever still listen to them?"
i didn't know what to say, truly. it was a ridiculous question from my standpoint, i had only just heard half of their songs, of course i still...
but what would it have been like to have been a fan in the 80's, when they were still around? this is a band that made it huge, despite their best attempts to remain otherwise, their saturday night live appearance is still talked about for their absolute shit-facedneess. now that is something to be proud of, if snl thinks you are too fucked up to go on, that's a new level.
but back to the girl i never made out with. or not. i spend too much time thinking about when the next time someone will recognize my favorite shirt in the world, and not enough thinking about what i'm going to do in the next six months. fuck.
the only two times that i've run naked in sprinklers i felt, well, cold afterwards.
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oftentimes while driving around at 1 or 2 in the morning in my late teen years i'd see sprinklers on and attempt to mark the spot in my mind in order to perhaps convince people to go run through them some night. probably not naked. i was able to gallivant around late at night because i had told my parents that i was going to be sleeping at my friend will's house. often enough this was true. let me preface with saying that for a brief period i was a hot commodity amongst the girls at my catholic high school. perhaps because i'd just recently (at the end of my junior year) noticed their existence, well more concisely noticed the existence of their shapely legs under plaid skirts, but just as likely was the theory that since one had taken a liking to me, i had received some sort of stamp of approval.
so, on some nights it would be a drive out to riverside to kill time, once i was hanging around a parking garage around midnight, taking pictures from the top floor and a security guard came driving up and grilled me on what i was doing there. since it was fairly obvious i wasn't out to vandalize, we started talking for a bit and he revealed that he was a photographer too, we talked shop for a few minutes and he gave me a few rolls of film as i left. it was an interesting way to have ended an encounter i was sure would land me a hefty fine. after a few hours of aimless wandering and coffee drinking i'd then get a text telling me that it was safe to drive over and park around the corner from maria's house and creep up the steps and quietly knock on the door. usually she would open it quickly and we'd pad through her dark dark blue living room on the way to her room. i don't know if i would have the devil may car attitude i had then, she had an older brother who was a marine and i was actually not her boyfriend, no he was away at college.
that tended to complicate things, so when she said we had to cool things down, i wasn't surprised. but the stamp on my forehead must have still shown, another girl soon sent me a note through an intermediary, it simply had a meticulous drawing of a penguin on it and a few lines telling me that the penguins name was sprinkles. a good two hours of new years eve 1999 was spent at this girls house, watching episodes of "queer as folk" and wondering if i should kiss her at some convenient break between them. i left to drive to a friends party at around 11:30 pm and so celebrated the first few moments of 2000 driving on the 215 freeway past march air force base. it was astonishing really, there wasn't a car on the freeway for as far ahead or behind me as i could see.
later on it was back to maria and that was when the first naked sprinkler run happened. we had gone out on a date and i had driven out to a housing tract that had not been completed yet and we parked and walked along a perimeter road for a ways. it was completely deserted, most of the houses were mere skeletons still, so we took the beatles suggestion and did it in the road. we got back and, being teenagers, weren't satisfied yet, so i put on music and we fooled around in the car. when we had finished and we were both completely naked and panting, the sprinklers came on. i quickly opened the door and slid head first through the grass, already soaked with nighttime dew, she put her panties and a shirt on and stood leaning against my green honda civic, arms crossed, giggling at the sight.
i found grass in my car for weeks afterwards, and would just laugh and laugh.
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it is sometimes heard
'mongst cries to heal the lame
and banish the shit smell from my hands
a stark crowed cry
accusing lack of faith
from a sleek volvo clad massif
that doth move and accuse
in one motion
klaxon like if anything
pleading that we
cease our guttering
pointless appeals to nothingness
though proud of attempting
moving then away
to dream of smothering children
i'm afraid to leave her warm exceptions
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she has vertiginous walls and truculent speeches
laying bare my overcritical eye and hypersensitive tongue
valence shells of prefixes and suffixes
compound the problems of bi-lingual hopefuls
and banish my dreams to library bookshelves
marked Pynchon and Kerouac and Hemingway
i'm afraid to desert her indecent bastardization
she has illiterate demagogues and willful pariahs
manipulated by my insensitive pen and marker
to reach a sort of linguistic catatonia where
self flagellation means spouting beautiful poetry
to unhearing masses and screaming like a porn star
I'M EE CUMMINS!"
i'm afraid because i'll be the one you'll
laugh at when i ask what Lorca is
talking about or what all those deliberately
elongated beautifully prismatic words that
Marquez strung together possibly have to do
with that simple girl erendira
i'm afraid to learn another language because
my english has gotten just haughty enough
gold striped walls and alexander
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sick and delirious in bed at 2 in the afternoon
less great than the night before, did rant on
"when the time comes the poetry will die
as all things must go
pictured from minds cleaned, azure and adjective-less
we have heaved and trembled in
giving birth to this destruction
it's visage is horrible and it suffers none to live"
late on in the night
hypnos did creep into the tent of alexander
luxuries unseen and extravagances unimagined
he did ignore
to plant a solitary seed of dream
in the ear of the king
a dream of smog, of slavery, of ignorance.
a dream of ipods, overabundance and of slow sad decline.
a dream he did not wake from.
scene from aforementioned film outline where boyfriend character has to flee scene of (coordinated) robbery, show interspersed POV cuts of the character jumping over a fence and rolling an ankle, he collapses in pain and clearly cannot put weight on the foot and therefore, his original mode of escape, motorcycle, is out. he finds a dumpster in front of a large house that is being renovated and hides the bag containing stolen jewelry under a mass of discarded trash. he flags down a cab and gets in, the cabbie flies down dimly lit one way street towards the fog in the north, asking the character where to and being vaguely solicitous of what is a clearly injured leg, he fails to notice a car joining traffic while he accelerates through green lights, character begins to shout a warning and they glance off the much slower car, careening to the left across the two lanes of empty street, the cabbie is good and recovers fairly quickly, steering away from the oncoming curb on the left, but the backend skids and the tire strikes the curb, popping the left rear and making the car fishtail perpendicular to the lane and flip twice, character and driver have their belts on and they sustain mostly minor injuries, ambulance arrives and takes the two to general, show this scene and scenes of the characters bus ride early in the morning to where he had hid it, shot in a much more deliberately shot, calming, narcotic sort of haze, the character has been released from the hospital with his a face full of small cuts from the glass, his ankle wrapped, a few stitches closing a two inch long cut down his left cheek and a headfull of decent painkillers and is appreciating the escape they allow him, the bus he takes is not busy and he arrives at the street after a few minutes and retrieves the bag, not bothering to take a bus now, he flags down a cab, gets home and collapses in bed. (music i was picturing for this scene was brian eno "an ending (ascent)")
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i might have lost the screenplay that i was writing on my computer, because i'm dumb and didn't back it up, although there is still hope that i can recover it. so now, i'm writing on another computer...annnnnd came up with something that i think i should put down online so it won't happen again. i'm fairly certain there's all the copyright stuff for these websites, but i'll just say, don't be an asshole and steal my idea, if you want to contribute etc. that's awesome.
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-disenchanted late 20's couple living in san francisco gets married in december for tax break when they file (i've got a great story to use for this part, involving a nigerian toll both attendant and a 4 am wedding), guy gets fired and looks for a new job in vain, after 3-4 weeks turns to petty theft and is arrested, girl uses savings to bail him out. even further in the hole now, they start asking family for help, girls mother suggests babysitting for an old family friend in pacific heights. she works the two jobs, but still barely making ends meet, the idea comes around for the guy to rob the house and make it appear random, they plan it and one night, wearing a ski mask and gloves the guy gets in through a window, has to hit the girl and tie her up, begins to ransack bedroom for valuables when little boy who's being babysat appears in door, panicking, the guy takes off with what he has already, little boy unties the girl while she is freaking out as to whether there were any clues that the boy picked up on, any little gestures of affection between the two, etc. from this point on, chronicle the next few hours from both main characters viewpoints, girl calls police while desperately trying to refine the kids view of things, has to deal with police and telling the family friend of the break-in, guy breaks an ankle jumping from the window he came in, has to figure what to do with the stolen goods, how to get to the hospital (sf general at 5-6 am is a hell of a place to end up), whether to just run with whatever he has, crisis of conscience.-
so that's where i am now, i'm liking the possibilities so far.
ps if you have never heard the dead hensons "rainbown connection" you should do so.
i had this dream when i was just getting towards puberty about what and how love would find me. of course i had the idea that it would happen in the next fifteen minutes, especially when i was staying at my nana's house in el toro, which is kind of like a beach town but twenty minutes away from the beach.
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-it would be a girl next door scenario, the grass would be a mat of spiky uniform crab grass. there would be an alley between our houses that would lead five or six blocks to the beach. we would skateboard there and spend summer days going miles up or down the beach. i never knew what she would look like, it was less about that and more about the scenario, one that i realize must have happened, must have been transmitted to me somehow. there would be some dramatics, something teenage. there'd be the first time, still with sweat and sand from the beach, awkward and the raising of goosebumps at the touch of a cold post-coital wind. the thing that i most remember, and seems the most silly is the two of us riding longboards and jumping onto each others at exactly the right time, looking at her and smiling.-
|Subject:||buy a gun|
there are many degrees and flavors to desperation, as there are to any human emotion. in every language alternate incarnations of this so apt of words fill gaps left by our incomplete understandings of ourselves; ennui, telling of quiet fading desperation, decanted over decades, alongside it's cousin, addiction, illustrate one such example. however, the word itself speaks such volumes that everyone able to comprehend verbal language attributes to it a certain scenario, wrought by experience or description. where, though is this scenario kept in our minds, when it is not called forth by images, words or even desperate situations we ourselves must endure? as with every other emotion, we have within us a version of our own personal desperation being nurtured daily by the smallest of things. why then do we choose to view the open desperation of others so wantonly? is it because we are reassured that there are depths to this experience, this emotion, that we have not, and perhaps never will plumb? or conversely, is it a belief that a desperation shared and publicized is one less lonely, one less bereft of connection? have we, this generation of glazed eyes and knowing detachment, become so bereft of feeling, period, that we desire the desperation of others as much as we are unable to feel it ourselves. is the constant numbing tide of self improvement via sports drinks prodding you to watch someone pour their blood out for a cause you'd scoff at while attending a cocktail party? i, personally hope that a genocide involving a large majority of united states citizens occurs at some point within my lifetime, if europe is states governed by history and the united states governed by philosophy, the time is ripe for a sweeping revisionist crusade.
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put a torch to some books, i'm saving my tips to buy bullets, motherfucker.
i feel like i haven't been out of my head on enough things.
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that and no one goes out anymore.
those two things seem to deprive me of worthwhile clientele to populate the shit i make up in my head. because even if and when i do happen to stumble around outside in this city at 5 am, the dead empty of the streets seems fit enough to conjure whatever i'd need to fill in the blanks. really, that's all it is, probably why nobody writes and most have stopped reading, all it is old stories with new bullshit shot into it, it's embarrassing really. but there's nobody fucking out there, i'd tell a story of everything dead, of riding a bike aimlessly eastward, drunk off my ass, some invisible plan coalescing ten or twenty miles further on, of 5 AM phone calls, but it would ring too true for those who can remember well enough.
i've taken it upon myself to publish...myself. and by that i mean, i write thirty second diatribes while at work and tape them to the back of buses. hmm, i should go to the greyhound depot and put them on new york bound buses, so far it's only been muni.
i need to write a scene at a party where two lovers argue and end up in the prototypical yelling and screaming fit, and i feel remiss, because i know i've been an observer to many such scenes, probably took part in a few, and i guess i've written a scene or two about it, actually the one i'm thinking about was more the quiet alternative, which i suppose i'm more likely to be a party to, the long long stares, the wobbling drunk, the rational girl's (or guy, damn rick, why'd you think yelling about how irrational i am would make a fuck of a difference to me, cmon) rational discussion of my irrationality, the impetuous decision. so what i need is some recollections to jog my memory, maybe something dreamt, since few enough who read this i've been to parties with, anyways, some recollections, something that will stick well enough, did they yell for half an hour straight and end up fucking on the roof? did a third person get involved? were there things thrown at each other?
are you on my side?
there's a girl i coulda loved and another i coulda cursed for never being earnest
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all i did today was drink and work a job no one really needs to do. we stopped because 5 streets down on polk and somethin there was a hotel on fire, the engine had its ladder out to get somebody and i had a salami and burnt sourdourgh sandwich, yesterday was similar, there was a woman who came in to tell whoever was smoking on the balcony of her apartment they should stop, because it was illegal and dangerous, i think it was the last thing on her mind, she came in with her mother, who looked delighted the whole time, she looked like she needed to get fucked, her mother looked smug in her daughters lack of being fucked-ness. she must have known.
i've no idea what i'm doing.
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desperate that no one find out, i run from one of you to the next, a bouquet and my better judgment held before me as dowry. and it's as if every one of you can see my dry eyes and even stare when it's made clear i can't make you love me.
i'll just straighten my tie and leave then
theres a bit of lint on it from some that jumped up off your sweater when i sat down, spinning and pirouetting with a deadly accurate aim. because i wanted something or nothing, or too much or too little, there was no choice on your part, i know, simply put the end on softly, press slowly harder when placing the period, avoid the overused ellipsis. i've come to postulate that it's time to remove chance from our love life. reinstitute the arranged marriage, remind us what it is to come to love someone, to bear a circumstance for no reason at all. why? because it sounds so crazy to say, but fuck if i could bear with patience a life of pointless searching amongst the detritus of these stilted cities to settle, short of where i was 8 or 6 or 4 or 2 years ago with you.
for the longest time i thought it was a good idea to be honest with you all
everyone has an opinion on where i found you, how bad an idea it seems, why it won't work, reprimands for my lack of endeavour, replaying old songs and habits that've always gone along. yet none with an idea of where to go from here. none outside of a decade long relationship, locked in to the fixed rate, kids and high blood pressure, forgetting rimbaud and neutral milk hotel, pity on me.
you and your thighs have got a communication problem
because you look at me that way, and the bruises your thighs carry have trouble making themselves heard over the sound of your itch. believe me, diving in will let you forget for a while, back arched with a 4th scream of the day. twenty years from now that moment will birth an inconsolable fit i'm honor bound to throw.
all the things you've now learned will be used against me
on that day twenty years hence, the long lost letter arrives, a polaroid inside, only my eyes and lips can be seen, you sit on the chair in the dining room of your tudor style 4 bedroom, fingering your wedding ring as you listen to the last thing i'll ever say to you.
"look me in the eyes and tell me, that i'm satisfied."
"...i could have remained the same altruistic bastard i used to be, contented and alone with my dribblings of ink and paint onto paper. none of it actually relevant, pointless really...since i couldn't even figure out what i was attempting to say..." i took a drink of my second gin and tonic, pausing long enough to remember where i was going with all of this anyways. "lonely and drunk late at night in self imposed exile from friends and lovers in order to pound on a keyboard. complacent with needless hunger, willing to accept my destitute standing in life til the very end were it not for you."
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she seemed less than pleased with this particular revelation. in fact, i thought i could spy tears in the corners of her barely-green eyes. i bought her another drink and realized that somewhere in her mind, swirling around with countless other half truths was the idea that i was merely trying to get her into bed. i thought of what i was wearing the last time we had sex, nearly four years ago. brown pants and a dark blue button up shirt, 100 percent polyester and that sort of fake satiny soft that begs to be touched.
"i dunno...i just think it takes a degree of mental instability to...not even to tolerate the shitty up-and-down of it...but to get it to work out right. you need to be just out of your head enough to throw every single thing, beautiful or otherwise, that inhabits your mind at a blank canvas or page or empty billboard and hope that something legible remains afterwards. i used to pretend i was able to get there, that point of religious ecstasy, unable to do any wrong...and...and, and whenever i look at any sort of truly striking piece of art, i think about those times when i sat crying, and you or countless other people would ask why i was so upset...and so often i wouldn't even know. it's clear enough now though...the whole burden of having to pretend i was what i truly was not. to pretend that i felt this orgasm of creation when all it was was drunkeness and self-deception. i wanted to be able to let it all fucking go." i leaned back in my chair and knew, or calculated, or divined, or whatever, that this was the idea i needed made clear to her, and that it beared repeating. "i KNEW that i had to let it all go. i had to. there wasn't any other way. and i did whatever i could to make that stubborn light of reality and cynicism disappear. and it almost killed me...but in the end maybe i was too much of a coward, maybe i was too rational, too willing to weigh pros and cons to let anything like that happen to me. maybe subconsciously i knew what i was doing, but i don't think that's what's important-"
"how the hell is that not important?! that may be the only fucking thing that matters!" she sighed and shook her head slowly "was it all just for attention? or was it just a cop-out to explain to all the people who loved you why you never speak to them anymore?"
i leaned back in my chair as her eyes burned into me.
"you still want to make everything black and white...did you hear what i was saying? all of that bullshit, the writing, the paint stained slacks, fucking polaroids...all of it was a front...i mean, really...how do you tell everyone you know that everything they think you are isn't true-"
"fuck you..." she shuddered with a deep intake of breath, then stood, throwing her napkin down on the table, "just...FUCK YOU...if that's true then all i ever really loved...was a fucking facade"
i would've broken down and wept a year ago to hear her say that. now, all i could manage was a slightly stand-offish statement.
"me too...but all in all, i hated him more than i loved him"
she squinted a bit, her eyes still moist, but set and unwavering, looking directly into my own plain brown eyes.
i think about what i should have learned, sometimes. but it seems a counterproductive exercise. were i to learn somehow (is it possible even?) how to function as society deems and do so, death would only become more imminent. the ideal of criminal rehabilitation...hah. when the prison is run by the criminals is when this statement finally gains a bit of sense. criminals return society to its base, reduce the meaningless interactions of a day to a point where every one is eliminated and every conversation crucial to keeping oneself alive and well. it is life on a battlefield, asleep in beirut or showering in c block. all the pointless banter of the bullpen, the weight room hiding the commerce and politics of a very visceral business, this pound of flesh for that one, and when there is a problem to be resolved, the criminal rejoices in the relative dearth of bureaucracy. ritual replaces tact, vendetta replaces law and therein lies the draw for those who won't and wouldn't ever try to escape this place. when you arrive the repugnance is overwhelming, it resonates off of the walls and wakes you earlier than the stentorian clang of the AM wakeup bells. it gathers on your clothes and sticks in your throat, til, to spite your attempts to remain otherwise, you become it.
"i think you should leave..."
she was naked, wrapped in a bedsheet, pointing at the door and getting more and more adamant with each passing second.
i was too drunk to stand without swaying, but perhaps powered solely by gall and a slowly strengthening desire to see this night end in the total solace of blacking out, i slowly made my way to the door and walked out. finding my bike on the side of the house i got on and the realization must have hit me at some point how terrible an idea it was to attempt, in my current state, the steep unlit street that led down from her house.
five hours earlier we had gone to karaoke at the only good bar in the city, there was a contingent of friends who were due to depart the next afternoon and we closed the place down. pitchers three at a time at the bar and everyone was a friend, not even in the drunken reveling sense, it was the till you die truth. the bar tab closed at the end of the night read two hundred sixty nine dollars and i left a thirty dollar tip. i didn't have the money to freely spend that way, but it was indeed, already spent. i carried the last pitcher of boddington's back to her place. she was crying and i didn't know why. for some reason i held on to the pitcher, four years later it still sat among all the martini glasses and myriad wine glasses, tumblers and collins glasses in the cupboard, mismatched with the post-something decor, the tasteful lighting and the thick expensive carpet.
"-because that, in effect is what we're looking at, a massively fragmented target audience. and that's what makes advertising in this country, specifically this part of the country, so difficult. the barriers of widely varying languages, quality of life, ambitions, disposable income, etc. make this an especially intricate campaign to organize. and with that intricacy comes increased cost, not only the physical cost of running what, in effect, will be the micro-targeting of certain influential tastemakers throughout the country coupled with a somewhat restrained mass media campaign appealing to the more discerning customer you are looking to cater to, but also the research and increased amount of headaches i'm going to be dealing with in walking that fine line between gross commercialism and complete lack of exposure. however, this investment, i guarantee you gentlemen, will be worth ten times what you have put into it-"
i reached over a linen suited shoulder and tapped the spacebar once to stop the playback of the recording i had made of the earlier meeting with the board of sambayunaco llc. the face of my current partner, james carrasco, turned toward me with an expectant smile, "so how much is this intricacy gonna cost those clueless fucks?" i took a sip from a cup of water to mask my smile for a few seconds. "fifty eight mil...six mil on top of that for us to split for the year long campaign" "three million fucking dollars each?", i couldn't hold it back any longer, i was grinning like a hyena. "that's...yeah, that's about accurate"
there are days and moments in your life that you consider seminal. there are also days and moments in your life that you hold up as being pivotal or important, yet were, in truth, meaningless: the day you quit smoking, even if you still hide a pack in the glovebox, the night you met your wife, even if you ignored her and fucked her friend that night. it's these sort of things that tend to take over your life if you let the lies they are based on freely multiply. similarly, when you pile up trinkets to remember days long past on which nothing remarkable, nothing memorable, nothing beautiful happened, then you find yourself mired in these sub-par memories, these uninspired days. all in the pursuit, in the hope that preserving them will, in some way, preserve you.
after i was finally able to get ahold of her on the phone and plead forgiveness, it became clear that she was holding something back, some revelation had hit her and she was reluctant to make it known, i pressed for a while and she conceded to write me when she got some free time, while i conceded to wait for her letter before replying. i wasn't sure what to do with my time in those four or five days after that conversation, i went about my cashiering job at a local bowling alley with an even more automated demeanor, feeling the resignation settle, but never really accepting it and holding out with that one stupid fraction that always will cling to a forlorn hope.
she came by my work on friday, a week after our fight. i was standing at the desk staring aimlessly down the nearly empty lanes with my head propped up on my hands. she walked over and asked what i was looking at before i even had a chance to register that it was her. while turning my head to look at her my chin slipped from where it was resting on the heel of my hand. she gave a funny beautiful smile for a mere second and then began rooting through her bag for something. i caught a glimpse, or more accurately had a fleeting bit of jamais vu; her smiling at me was a frequent occurrence, but there was an odd sticking strangeness to this smile. she quickly found what it was she had been sifting through her bag for and handed it to me, a sealed envelope with my name on it.
i felt the coming cold nights without her as i looked down at the stupid, ugly pattern on the top of the counter and the neat white intrusion of the envelope. fuck.
i stammered something to her as she began to walk away, then followed her towards the door. everything i had regretted doing or failing to do for her came at me at once as i got to the door and something clicked far far down in my mind, some ingrained and archaic switch was activated. i called her name and she stopped and walked back to where i was standing, i reached for her hand and she crossed her arms and continued looking at me.
"can i kiss you?"
she sighed softly and told me to read the letter, leaned in, kissed my cheek and turned on her heel and continued out through the small patio dining area. i watched her for a while, the street was empty and it was windy, her scarf blew around her as she continued on towards market street and finally disappeared around the corner.
the first time i had really good coke was somewhat of an anomaly, i was three months into my first marketing job, assistant to the assistant type of shit, when a good friend invited me to his cousins place. thinking that it would soon degenerate into family reunion memory lane, i had planned to leave within an hour or so, claiming that i had to work the next day. instead there was an abrupt tutorial on high grade cocaine, it's uses and the ways it is discerned from ajax floor cleaner. the night took it's own damn time in ending, 8 am was a bell rung somewhere announcing nap time, curled onto the six thousand dollar leather sofa that ringed the too small living room. we all fell asleep with the ounce high pile sitting on the kitchen counter drifting through our dreams, one curled between a girlfriends thighs, one halfway up the stairs, completely asleep on the tenth step, and me with a good idea of where this was headed, but with a fuck it all curl of smile that one can only manage at age 21.
it was an abrupt introduction to a different strata of life, the next day, after waking in the mid-afternoon and going down the street for fast food, we were sent to the grocery store with the task of stocking up on alcohol for a party that night. after being given five hundred dollars as we were leaving and instructions to get a lot of grey goose and crown royal, it hit me how steep and high a plateau these people live on. once the decision is made to start making money off of cocaine, there isn't any going back down, only straight up, and at the end, you're either dead, in jail or inscrutably rich. but damn, five hundred dollars on a whim. to a 21 year old making less than that in a week, it was as much a shock as the first fat rail had been the night before.
she had a tattoo on the small of her back, a jaguar, solid black, curled up as if sleeping.
i woke fairly early that day, her flight was at 10 am. opening my eyes i saw her tanned shoulders moving slowly in the deep breaths of sleep. i began to kiss her neck with pursed lips, blowing on the skin that soon reacted to my touch with goosebumps. she slowly turned her head as i bit her earlobe, her face turning towards me, eyes still sealed softly closed with sleep. touching the back of her head with my hand, i moved my cheek's six days worth of facial hair against her skin, my mouth slightly open, hearing every one of her breaths as they slowly quickened.
she murmured something in the soft throaty cadence of the barely awake. i smiled and asked her what she said.
"let's take a shower"
i noticed as we moved to the shower, her turning the water on as i stepped out of my boxer shorts...i noticed the shadows jumping around on the walls, the outlines almost cartoonish, exaggerated with the south american sun slowly clambering into the room as she reached into the shower, testing the water. i moved behind her, kissing her neck again, her hand moving to my cock hardening slowly against her thigh. she turned as the steam began to rise in the room, kissing me a few times then kneeling and taking me in her mouth. the shadows told a story in a language as old as fire, stark contrasts as my eyes rolled back. she stopped after a minute or so and we stepped into the shower.
i see that morning all the time now, in this place, dreams recur only because the bulk of daily life inside could only be material for nightmares. but i'll have a night when the only part i see is the two of us walking from one terminal to the next, every face, every turn of every persons head, her hair up, sunglasses hiding her eyes from the sun now out of the morning mist. just fifty yards walking, happening so slowly as to seem like we were underwater. god
all the fed up sounds i made years ago give out in time to echo here
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the hastily made appointments decades to decant
and the slow stirring that would have driven me insane
lazes the same way it always has
in standing facing little but upturned eyes and three water heaters
the cold brushes and arranges smallest hairs
the small fainting nausea from too many beers and too many hills
legs felt broken off swollen thighs
pingpong near gridlock traffic
homebrew and the silhouettes
play variable and well enough
to crest even your smile
cigar chewin charly
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ah it's stupid how the lights look when its sprinkled out that way
sneezes over and over from the bike tired clunk with its missed spoke
the stuttered weaving and labored breathing to keep from the bus path
night tugging my beard
but least it stayed clear through the whole ride
not a hint or sniff of rain
only stunted shit and mixed death smell at the islais inlet
gagged for two blocks
and nobody chucked handfuls of gravel
stayed damn silent most of the way
tires sucking and spraying
at jamestown i stood up with legs burning
last lines are the poor mans titles
when it comes around to lights
shot down on pool halls
and a round won off of a
proud methadone habit
i'd rather fill in her
whites with a pen that
spills off stuttering in blue
spelling out in slow prose
explaining exactly what it is i would do
if she laid her sloped hips
on the soft grassy hill overseeing
this fucking view
death writes bad poetry
It would be funny to say that death opened his epic poem with the timorous squeak of a trapped mouse, but it was, in truth, the knell of every creatures end which opened deaths belabored poetic invective. Every screech, scream and rattle into one, as if drawing breath from the lungs of all the deceased multitudes to prepare for the recitation. And then, pausing for only a second, he began.
The minds and useless eyes of those chosen to spectate the underground debacle of deaths poetry reading reeled in the first few minutes, the images flew fast and thick, a necks arterial channel seeming to cover those in the front rows with the ponderous weight of spurious adjectives and sentence fragments. For several minutes those beholden to deaths diatribe shifted in their seats uncomfortably, wondering when the next poet would have a go, when this parade of dilettantish wordplay would finally end. Death, sticking to his guns, was unswayed by human entreaties, indeed, death only trumpteted louder his painful rhyme schemes and heavy handed preachiness into the hundredth stanza and onward as the morass grew deeper. The throng gathered winced further as the five and six hundredth stanza plodded past. The more foolhardy amongst them began to heckle, yet death remained imperturbable, mispronouncing not a one of his badly situated two dollar words.
The truth began to dawn as the first wails and gnashing of teeth was heard, at this death cocked his head and an eponymous smile fractured his morbid countenance from ear to ear.
the words prompted by those dreadful pauses in conversation which seem to suck up all the air around two people spilled from her mouth. they were among the last things i expected to hear from her. "you know that don mclean song 'american pie'? it makes me sadder than any other song i can think of..."
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we were crossing the bridge, coming from a free concert a couple blocks away at the boardwalk.
this girl, in the frame of my nineteen year olds perception, couldn't say that, nothing so hokey could make her sad. she was the artist with amazing talent, beauty and a sodden drunk, blonde, nihilistic 27 year old biker boyfriend. it couldn't add up.
she was silent as the two of us stopped midway across the bridge, at one of the half circle shaped breaks in the railing, waiting for mari and billy.
she seemed on the verge of launching into an half-hearted explanation when the two of them rejoined us. i must have said something to get the last word in as she stifled whatever she was about to say, something to convey some of the weight of what she'd said, to her and to mari and billy. i'm sure it did nothing of the sort, though.
"yeah, that song is pretty sad."
One of the only benefits of growing up in Vegas hotels is that you acquire the ability to discern AM from PM off of the slimmest of clues. When both of my eyes manage to open, I see that the two meals we’d ordered still lay skeletally on the top of the roomservice cart. Definitely AM. Then I look at the vibrating phone on the the thin resonant wood of the bedside bureau. 2:48.
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Whether the decidedly witty banter I managed to spout at 2:48 AM or the steadfast fire of her drunk horniness was to blame I doubt I’ll ever fucking know. What I remember more than the desperate stumbling fuck it must have been is the strangely calmed conversation afterwards.
“The times I realize I miss you seem the most wrong...or not wrong, but inappropriate times to call you.”
“I’m sure if I did call you I wouldn’t have a thing to fucking say. I mean, I don’t now, either.”
“What..” I can’t see this question in my mind. “Er, fuck...why do this?”
“I made a decision, I had to prove to myself that I could fucking do that.”
“This is me second guessing myself, like I always do, I’m sorry but that’s it. Whatever you feel for me, or whatever you think you feel for me, it isn't love.”
In the minutes leading up til noon we both wake again like hotel checkout alarm clocks are ringing loudly. We get out of bed seperately and I leave after a shower and a quickly scribbled note that curls up in the humidity of the bathroom.
I get into LA that night, with the rehersal dinner two days away. The night before the rehersal dinner I can’t fall asleep and instead sleep most of the day through. I wake as a cellphone rings on a similarly resonant bedside table in his guest room in North Hollywood.
“Shit man, the rehersal is in an hour...were you sleeping?”
“I’m picking up some food, can you get some bottles of decent wine and meet me at the church as soon as you get dressed.”
“Aright, gimme a half an hour.”
I get changed quickly, jumping into the same pants i was wearing four days ago. I make my way into the bathroom to wash my face, vaguely recalling the demise of my glasses the night I fucked Colleen as I notice their crumpled state on the bathroom counter. Going downstairs I grab four decent bottles and put them in a Christmas gift bag he had in the closet. Seconds before I close and lock the front door I realize champagne would probably be appreciated and run back inside remembering the Veuve in the refrigerator.
Colleen runs late to the rehersal and arrives looking harried and anxious. I’m melting into the background as I compare hangovers with a kid cousin of hers I met once four years ago.
Both Colleen and her fiancee Oliver leave as soon as the rehersal ends. A few people drift around for ten or fifteen minutes afterwards but it’s pretty much just me and Roland left to clean up, putting away tables and stacking chairs. The Veuve Cliquot sits unopened amongst the other bottles gone missing, knocked over, or drained.
“You know that shit was fucked up, waking me up and telling me the dinner was in an hour.”
“I didn’t expect you to get moving unless the time was fucking short. You know that’s what you do.”
“Shit I would have gotten moving if you said an hour and a half. Fuck, I didn’t even eat anything.”
“All you have in your refrigerator is months old chinese takeout boxes, condiments and bottles of Stella” I grab a few tortilla chips and dig into the seven layer dip. With my mouth half full of chips and dip I point out what Roland must have already noticed.
“Nobody even touched the food, just downed wine and split.”
“Fuck, well Colleen and Oliver disappeared right away, why the fuck would everybody else hang out for a rehersal dinner?”
We finish putting away the mess from the party a couple minutes before ten. “Hey you wanna wait here for a bit, I’m gonna go upstairs and have a cigarette, I'll be back in a minute.” I sit down facing the piano in the corner and say that’s fine, I’ll chill here.
I’m barely managing a decent rendition of the piano melody in the middle of “Perfect Day” when he gets back.
“What do you wanna do tonight?”
I turn to see him collecting and hanging wine glasses on their racks in the corner of the banquet room, and know for some odd reason that it has to be now, sitting at the piano, plucking random keys.
“I fucked Colleen last weekend in Vegas.”
A wine glass explodes as it hits the bare wall five feet to my right.
“What the fuck man! For fucks sake, WHY?”
I turn around and stand up as his voice rises.
“Fuck man, it wasn’t my idea, she called me drunk at three in the morning!”
His face screws up quickly with his eyes on the ground then abruptly looks at me.
He walks towards me grabbing the bottle of Veuve as I push the piano bench out of the way and make for the door, tripping as the leg of the bench catches my pant leg. I fall hard onto my elbows and forearms, instant pain shooting through my arms and a strange mist of champagne and glass shards blanketing me.
The next day, the day of the wedding, I have my arm in a sling and a nasty looking black eye, Roland pulls up to the tux shop where I’ve picked up both our suits and writes me a check for his half of the seven hundred dollars we are charged by the church for destroying their piano.
“I can’t believe they tried to charge a grand for that fucking piano, it was a piece of shit" he says as I get into the car.
I buckle my seatbelt as he pulls off down the street. We get on the Hollywood freeway and traffic is fairly light as he shifts into fifth gear. He looks over at me for a brief moment and says, “If you can believe it, it wasn’t even the fact that you fucked her that made me do that...” A black BMW doing a steady sixty five passes by my window as he cruises by at eighty, two matronly looking women glare at me. “My parents decided she oughta know she was adopted before she got married.” I turn back from gazing out the passenger window. “Her party-” “Wasn’t planned, she bolted the night my parents told her, called friends and told them she was on the way to Vegas and for them to meet her there.”
I could have told him I didn’t know she had just found out when I fucked her, he could have forgiven me, but everything that needed saying was said. We get off the freeway on Gower and park five minutes later at the church.
Standing up for the procession as the mass begins, I ruffle my pockets looking for my sunglasses to avoid the inevitable questions as to where I got the black eye and smile at her mother going by, looking somehow uptight even with tears in her eyes. When the priest reaches the part about forever holding my peace, I'm going to hope I'm the only one with a knowing smile on my face.