Tuesday, January 31

Why Hello ..Grandpa?

When you read books and magazines about fitness one of the things they always tell you to do if you're looking to get results in a hurry is to find ways to shock your system. Like lifting weights that are just a bit above your comfort level, adding extra sets to your repetitions, or even running cross-country instead of just working with flat roads.
But I don't think they meant this.
There's this gym I've been trying to join recently. A local YMCA chapter, actually. It's kind of expensive, but I might be able to get a fairly good deal on membership if some of this paperwork they've been asking for checks out. But here's the thing -- this YMCA has been in this part of town forever. It's an old school gym with an old school locker room and whoa boy:
Lets just say that I've unintentionally discovered where
all the old naked white guys in Jacksonville hang out.
It's weird, because throughout the years of my school career I've always somehow managed to avoid the "naked locker room" side of things (PE at my high school was a joke), but I never really felt like I was, you know - missing out on anything because of it.

But here I am now getting to experience the um ...ambience of it all, except instead of learning to accept my own body image with that of my peers, I'm faced with hanging out in an enclosed space with a bunch of butt naked 70 year-old men. And if that's not bad enough, it's a really small locker room, so it's like they're everywhere all at once. I swear to god, I felt like Han Solo dodging asteroids in there.

The only good part of all this is that maybe I won't have to pay all that money to join this gym after all.
I mean let's face it..
My system is already shocked.
[Listening to: Mindless Self Indulgence, "Bitches"]


Saturday, January 28

Ooooookra(p)

So I made this bet a week ago saying that I was soooo confident the Denver Broncos were going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers that I'd eat an entire bag of okra (which I absolutley can't stand) and post pictures of it on the web if they lost.
I blame you, Jake Plummer!
  Steelers 34 -- Broncos 17 (click for more)
[Listening to: The Used, "Noise and Kisses"]


Friday, January 27

Hey Jealousy

..Well, this sucks.
[Listening to: Dark New Day, "Pieces"]


Thursday, January 26

Klaxon

One of the first things I bought for my apartment was an alarm clock.

It's this small gray job with the blocky red numbers and that one wire that's supposed to act as a radio antennae. Like most clock radios it gives you the option of waking up to music or to some sort of alarm, which is nice -- because I've always had trouble waking up to music. If I'm deep in a dream-filled sleep and a song comes on the radio - no matter what type of station I choose -- it's almost automatic for me to work that song into the dream I'm having, almost like a soundtrack or something. And as nice as that can sometimes be, it's certainly no way to wake up.

So to fight this, I try to make sure that any alarm clocks I have are set to buzz or ring or beep or whatever it is the designer put in there as an alternative to music. And that's where I feel like the clock radio I bought truly shines.

See, my alarm clock beeps. But it's not just a beep. It's a horrid, screetching sound that seems to get louder and louder every time it chimes. If you need a better idea of what it sounds like - try to imagine the sound of someone repeatedly stabbing R2D2 in the eye with a rusty fork.

It's not so much a sound wakes you up in the morning as it's something you want to get as far away from as you can. And as such, it's probably one of the best alarm clocks I've ever had in my life.

I'm the guy who used to need like 3 alarm clocks placed strategically in different rooms set in staggered progressions so that I would physically have to hunt around the house to stop the noise that's keeping me from going back to sleep. And don't come to me with any of that "set the clock five minutes fast" nonsense either -- Five minutes on an alarm clock is not going to change anything in terms of me feeling like I've overslept and have to get a move on before I'm late to work. If I'm deep in a good dream there's no problem at all for me to ask Eva Longoria to wait a couple of minutes before resuming her ...activities with the whipped cream we've been enjoying. Besides, I can hit a snooze bar a hundred times in five minutes without even batting an eye. Five minutes is nothing.
My alarm clock is set half an hour ahead.
And not because that trick works on me better when it looks like that's what time it is (I mean honestly, does anyone ever fall for that?) -- but that after half an hour of smacking the snooze bar around, there's really nothing else to do but get out of bed.

But here's the strange thing. Somehow, I don't even know how -- I broke it. I touched some button, or hit it too hard, or choked it, ...something. Because for the last week or so it's not been going off at all. And the suckiest part of all is that I know it's not going off in the mornings because I'm waking up on my own now at the time it's supposed to be beeping wondering where the noise is.

This is one of those signs, one of those somber moments when I know I'm truly getting old. Because if there's one thing youth doesn't suffer from -- it's an internal alarm clock. Being young means you life life to the fullest, and then collapse into recouperation sleep. Waking up on your own before the alarm goes off is like the last warning sign on the road before becoming an utter slave to the morning hours, before that time in your life when your internal clock is directly linked to the need to take a whiz.

See, when women fret about getting older they worry about wrinkles, or gravity making their body sag, stuff like that. But men? Men worry that when they get older they'll turn into one of those guys. You know the ones. The dudes who gather at Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds at like four in the morning to drink coffee?
They're not there because the coffee's good.
They're there because they want to pee, but can't.
They're loading up on fluids. Trying to get something to actually answer the bell when they feel the urge. I mean, do you think old guys actually like hanging out at the Wal-Mart snack bar? No way, man -- they're the only ones that serve that lemonade that goes right through you! Hell if you hang out there long enough, they'll give you a job greeting people when they walk in!
Welcome to Wal-Mart, I haven't peed in weeks!
Before too long you meet other people with the same problem, you start making a few friends, hanging out with them at Elk lodges, maybe wearing funny hats, and the next thing you know you're driving some tiny car in a Shriner's parade.

I mean, if I'm waking up before the alarm goes off, how long is it going to be before I start going to bed three hours earlier? I need to start checking my vital signs -- measuring just how many episodes of Law and Order I take in during a given week, checking my sunglasses to make sure that they aren't getting bigger than my head, or that I can't actually wear them on top of another pair of glasses that I'm already wearing at the same time!

Where's that measuring tape? Where did that child hide it this time? Always messing with my things, not putting them back in the proper place.. It's a nightmare I tell you, a nightmare! Why if I had a nickel for every time I told him to put things back where they belong, I'd be a millionare. Then I wouldn't have to get up every morning and drag myself in to work. Speaking of, why isn't the alarm going off yet? It's already 6:30, it should have started beeping..
Oh God -- Eva wake up, It's happening again!!
[Listening to: Deftones, "Korea"]


Tuesday, January 24

Dai the Flu

Daughter of Phorcys, nymph among the Nereids. Cursed by Circe's scorn, only half changed. The monsters live below her waist, attack without her control, and keep her from ever going home again.

She lives on an outcropping, her only companion another monster similarly trapped on her own rocks across the channel. A monster that flooded her father's kingdom. An ungrateful child cursed and ruined by Zeus himself.
And if that's not bad enough, the bitch snores too.
Lately it feels like I'm living instant to instant. Emotional experience to emotional experience. There's a thrill to it. A feeling that comes from having to make each decision as it happens. An addictive feeling that an intensity junkie like me finds hard to resist.

But the thing about driving down the road this fast is that all too often you can see the roads you are supposed to take, but don't always have the time to make the turn.
And if that happens, what then?
You find yourself searching for offramps, unfolding maps before your steering wheel eyes, guessing at possible solutions. Trying to out-think the road. It gets you nowhere. It puts you in the middle of a South Carolina swamp, tearing through backroads looking for any roadsign shaped like the state of Georgia. Second-guessing. Hindsighting.
I always wondered what it takes
fifteen stitches and a soft parody
I'm doing things I probably shouldn't be doing. I'm considering things that may only lead to trouble. I'm putting things off and coming up with solutions that I think will work out just because that's the way it's happened before. It's a dangerous thing to sail these straits without knowing how close the rocks might be.

But when I ask Thetis for help, when I look to Circe herself to see which way to go, it seems like all they want to talk about is investment strategies or real estate deals.
Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions..
You need to know that sometimes I go with my instinct. You need to understand that sometimes even I'm not sure what I'm doing. Sometimes I wish I was, but more often than not I'm happy for the chance to hang my head out the window and follow the stars. To curl up against the rocks for a chance to make it home.
Even if I'm not sure where home really is.
[Listening to: The Faint, "Call Call"]


Sunday, January 22

Kokakukidotai

It's cold in here. The air outside a winter's breath. The feel of slurpee freeze running through your skin. It'll warm up soon enough (it is Florida after all) but early mornings here are like this a lot. The hardwood floors and paper-thin windows of this old apartment -- the air slices right through. You feel it under your toes and across your chest.
You feel it everywhere.
But the weird thing about it is that instead of going to the thermostat and pushing up the heat, I'm leaving it right where it is. I'm letting the ceiling fans run like propellors, letting the air swirl around me, standing up the skin on my arms and neck like rabbit fur scrunched up against the snow.

Weather like this calls out for bed blankets wrapped up tight around your feet. Sends me to the back of the closet for the clothes I hardly ever wear. Opposites attracting, extremes melting the ice. I walk around the floors in bare feet with a hooded sweater pulled close over my head.
Mornings like this, coffee tastes richer.
Mornings like this, shivers feel deeper.
The air before your breath filled with memories. Steam rises from the mug, writes names in the sky. You find yourself wishing someone was still there for you to curl up with under the sheets - not in a lonely sense where you lament the absence, but with a warmth that comes from simply embracing the feeling that this closeness brings, cupping your hands around your want for it - even if it is (and perhaps may always be) far, far away.

A jealous cat meddles with the keyboard while I type. Hunting for music heard last night at a club keeps me from focusing on the task at hand. I toy with the hood-strings on this sweater like a child standing at a school bus stop. One this way pulls the other closer. A quick pull in the opposite direction sounds like a turntable scratch against my ear. Little inventions. Games of all sorts. A little boy playing in his room alone.
You'd laugh if you saw me acting like this
But I love the sound, so I'll tell you anyway
Mindless. Kitten-curled. A little more hungover than I was expecting to be, but not minding the ache.
Not minding at all.
Yesterday was so weird. So empty, so hollow. Waking with a feeling like need. With a hole inside me that didn't have a bottom. I paced the floor, I paced the channels. I dressed and dressed and dressed to go out, to do laundry, to run, to escape.. but I didn't go. I circled this cage with a wild look in my eyes, but turned every time at the exact moment I needed to so I wouldn't collide with the bars that keep me here.

Yesterday I looked at photographs. Yesterday I couldn't. Yesterday I needed to get off my ass, but yesterday for whatever reason.. I didn't. Maybe sometimes we need to dissapear. To sleep like hibernation and get away from ourselves. To recharge and cleanse, to obsess and think too much, to let go and go and go. I ate leftovers. I played guitar. I watched James Coburn movies and suffered through English-language dubs of Doomed Megalopolis.

Then when the light was gone and the credits were rolling, I pulled myself together and opened up the door. Black boots and shirt -- a car stereo turned up way too loud, I headed out into the dark. What I find are fake trees and a lighted dance floor. A DJ stuck in the 80's, people smoking too much, and bartenders who look dissapointed when you order a beer made in America. Little inventions. Games of all sorts.

It's strange how oddly comfortable I am there. How much I find myself not looking for anything at all. Bring me another beer while I watch the faces all around. Joke with the pretty girls, make room for the folks behind me. Messages to a partner in crime half a state away. In the light of the cel phone screen a face appears. A hand beckons. Lights flash, music pumps. This is my friend, it's her birthday tonight.
Enjoy, evoke, evaporate.
It's over as soon as it starts. Maybe it meant something, it's cool if it didn't. Smile. Wink. Hug. Wave.

Is this the same guy who was staring out the window this morning? The same child playing alone in his room, fighting back emotions from a phone call that wasn't supposed to get that heavy, but somehow always does?

Drink two more, sign the bill. Turn the key, drive home alone.
Wrap tight in blankets,
a smile inside the cold.
[Listening to: The Smiths, "This Charming Man"]


Saturday, January 21

Actually Spoken (to me) During the Course of My Evening

"You're a fantastic dancer!"

Wow -- fooled somebody there, eh?
[Listening to: The Faint, "Erection"]


Thursday, January 19

Do You Wanna Make Tea at the BBC?

you are Joe Strummer!

Joe Strummer -- you've been through the cleansing fire of punk, only to pick up
a few venereal diseases along the way. You're more of an optimist when it comes
to fucked-up genius, but you can write wicked-deadly riffs and lyrics with ease.


Which fucked-up genius composer are you?
[Listening to: Black Uhuru, "Spongi Reggae"]


Wednesday, January 18

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"Naked-tagious!"
[Listening to: Prince, "Pussy Control"]


Tuesday, January 17

The Fruit Loop Meniscus

Late last night I grabbed a blanket from off the bed and brought it out to the couch - content after a full day to just kinda cocoon inside of it and let my mind drift away while watching Ghost in the Shell.

The only thing about it is that it's hard for me to ever get into that kind of TV watching mode without wanting something to eat or at least to pick at while I'm vegging out. And even though the consequences of it would come back to haunt me a morning later -- I found myself falling into some old familiar habits.

See, lazy makes you do weird things. For example - I love chowing down on cereal late at night, but I don't really want to put that much effort into it. Which is probably why I started this weird habit I have of drinking cereal out of coffee mugs.

Now before you start looking at me all weird, just think about it for a second. Think about the fact that this one simple modification turns the entire process into a one-handed, spoonless affair. There's an economy of motion involved, a cutback on the amount of dishes you have to wash afterwards, even automatic portion control as a result of the cup being smaller than the bowl.. it's brilliant!

The only problem is that you need a clean mug for it to work. Something a heavy coffee drinker like me can't always be counted on to have.

So you improvise. You flow. You invent. I mean sure I could just, oh I don't know.. use a bowl or something, but you have to understand how a guy's mind works. See, my whole plan here is based on the idea that my technique is better than a bowl. I've improved the whole process. Going back at this point would be a concession of defeat. Nevermind that I have a stack of clean bowls right there in the cabinet -- there's a principle at work here!
No, what I really need is a substitute mug.
These are the times when lazy people are truly frightening to watch. When you can actually see the wheels turning inside their heads. When they pick up a small pan that would normally be used to cook things on a stovetop and test it for weight and balance. Grown men scouring through their own kitchens like borg drones looking for extra arms to bolt onto themselves until at last they finally come across that one thing they've been searching for - that holy grail of laziness that enables them to complete their quest and return to Camelot the champion of the day.

Just like me, when I came across exactly what I needed
A measuring cup.
I can only imagine what I looked like sitting there in front of the television, literally pouring calories down my throat with the unique ability to measure (in standard and metric) just exactly how much of a slob I was being..
but I gotta tell you,
That was one kick-ass midnight snack.
[Listening to: Alana Davis, "Right There"]


Friday, January 13

Bobby Pin

Things I don't understand. Questions I can't answer. Nights I don't want to end, days that go on forever. All this week wishing I could be home instead of at work, only to find myself pacing the floor for most of the day today wondering what to do with myself.
There's a picture in my room
that moves from place to place.
I hide it away, and
then I bring it back
Lying on the bed, cat sleeping on my chest, turning you over and over in my hand. Forms and functions, a smooth that surprises. Alien familiar. An everyday convienence that I'll probably never know or need. A million of these and change have been where I've been, lived in my house, and curled against my toes. But did I ever really notice them the way that I'm seeing you today?

Amidst my fascination, a puzzled kitten look comes back at me, wondering what I'm staring at. Wondering just what it is that I see.

After all, it's just a small little thing
like a bobby pin on a dresser
[Listening to: Mugison, "Murr Murr"]


Wednesday, January 11

Rats and Rats and Rats for Candy

Yesterday afternoon I became completely invisible.
After work, time to kill before going to see my son in his karate class. Not wanting to go home just yet, not wanting to cross town two times in one afternoon, or waste the gasoline in the tank. And yet there was something else, too.
A restless feeling.
I thought about browsing a nearby bookstore but I really wasn't in a place to spend money, and if there's anyplace in town where money in my pocket is at risk, it's Borders. So instead I wandered over to a nearby shopping mall and decided to just have a walk around.

Most malls are deadzones on weeknights. Carpeted deserts of canned music and abandoned photo booths. All the people working at the carts or the stand-up kiosks are either surfing the web or talking to people leaning out the entryways of nearby stores. It's one of those times where having a customer come in is more of an annoyance than a welcomed change, because when you work a job like that those downtimes become precious. This is where you catch up with coworkers, this is where you recharge your batteries before the dinner rush, before all the hassle that comes with closing a store.

I think people who don't like malls get bothered by the scatter of it all. How you have to dodge and weave while you walk. How you find yourself accosted by salespeople whenever you duck into a place. How it seems like all there is are teenagers and people with baby carriages.
It's kind of like being on a big airplane when you think about it.
But I've always liked them. Back in the day I'd savor the moments to walk up and down the halls of Governor's Square, or even the Landing. Right before the stores opened, or even around five when all the shift changes are taking place. I don't know -- maybe it's one of those Kevin Smith sort of things where you seek out comfort zones that create environments around you. Like hanging out in front of a convenience store or going to a favorite bar night after night.

Walking through a mall is kinda like flipping through a book, each store revealing a different page. I find myself wondering about the stories behind the eyes of the people who are there. What draws people to work in those places, or to come in and shop the way they do.
I mean, has anyone ever bought anything from Brookstone.. ever?
Or is it (as I've long suspected) just a petting zoo for massage chairs and electric shoe polishers?

I browsed without really looking. I shopped without the desire to buy. I watched people watching me. I followed my curiosity wherever it decided to go - hoping to see something unique or inspiring.

And yet at the same time wishing quietly for the colors of my edges to fade. For the light to start passing through me a little bit, instead of being blocked out or left in relief as shadow. It's hard to explain, this wanting to dissapear. To become part of the painting, just a shape in the background -- even just for a little while.

You don't do that by standing in front of Seurat's masterpiece and staring until you see the individual points. You do that by looking for that one place, that one point in the canvas where the illusion starts. By relaxing your eyes and allowing the impression to become the reality. It can't happen if a perfume girl smiles at you, or if you have to excuse yourself to step past another person browsing a shelf.

It has to happen in a place where everything exists and breathes without you. That place your presence doesn't disturb. Like trying to stand in water without making ripples, or watching a deer eat in the early morning mist of a forest without letting him know you are there.

Somewhere in the middle of a department store called Belk's there is a piano that plays on its own. A performer-less concert given for an audience that isn't there. Racks of purses and necklaces hanging quietly next to perfume counters and escalator steps that climb quietly into infinity. From a loudspeaker above comes a rhythmic beeping, some code only security guards understand -- gone almost as soon as it begins. Lines of clothes like forest trees, textured carpet underbrush.

And yet regardless of any sort of internal pull to make it out to be Thoreau's lake or Japhy on the Matterhorn, it cannot be anything else than what it is.
Plastic.
Encapsulated.
Commercial.
The simple fact is that I'm not really sure I could dissapear into nature. I'm a middle class white kid from a suburban city. I love hiking in forests, swimming in the ocean, climbing across mountains.. but simply because of my habitat each of those experiences becomes singular. Every time I do something like that it's different. Special. Unique.
Somewhere in the middle of Belk's the weight seemed to wash away.
Somewhere in the center of the storm the light began to pass through.
and I didn't
have to worry
about how
I saw
myself.
[Listening to: The Ditty Bops, "Wishful Thinking"]


Monday, January 9

Chaji

The Japanese make a ceremony out of tea.
But I think in a lot of ways we do the same with coffee. Not so much in how the cup is held, or how it is turned slowly while supported underneath.. but in the way we stir, the way we swirl the cup as we get to the bottom and want to get just a little more flavor out of it. Some people will work a tall travel mug long after the warmth has gone out of the brew. Almost as if finishing the cup is the ceremony and the liquid is just a catalyst. There are those who prefer the handiwork of a barista, the machinations of froth and steam. It's as if people find their comfort in the cardboard they put around the cup to shield you from the heat. Gotten used to the push-top pump dispensers. The different-flavored syrups poured carefully before the mixing begins.

But more than that, these changes have changed us. In accepting the socialization of coffee, we've drawn ourselves more and more into the unwritten ceremony of it all. The sippy-cup tops are put there to help you avoid spills, but they change the way your mouth anticipates the taste. We don't sip anymore, we tilt.
It's not a bad thing; it's
just the way we've become.
It's not like it used to be. Thousand-hour old carafes at gas stations, waitresses like gate sentries armed with steaming pots waiting to "freshen you up." Of course there are flavors and textures now that one could never dream of in the past, along with the impression of gourmet worldliness distilled and reduced to mall and airport corner stores. Like the Romans retelling the Greeks; our ceremonies cannot be the same - but I'd like to think that they come from the same spirit. The same celebration. The same need.

That being said, I sometimes miss the sensation of holding both hands around a porcelain cup, risking what feels like the burning of skin as you let the warmth spread from your fingers to your wrists, deep into your arms and then silently into your chest. I miss having the time and opportunity to stir cream slowly and watch it storm just under the surface, density pushing against destiny.
There is a world of sky under the surface of your mug that
becomes part of your smile as it pours into your soul.
Maybe that's why I always liked to watch when you drank.
I like to gaze. To watch, to stare. I don't know why. It's like breathing in a scent, or taking a nap. It's a pleasure that maybe doesn't need an explanation. Something simply to be savored and enjoyed, without an eye for a clock.

The motion of coffee these days seems so much centered around drinking it on the go. Being able to hold and sip as you move from one point of interest to the other. Not having to miss out on a certain standard of flavor just because you don't have the time. I can understand it. Even smirk a little at its cleverness.

But perhaps that's where the link breaks the worst. The Japanese ceremony has a basis in time. It's about making something go slowly. It's about seeding the ground to grow moments to be shared. Forcing seconds to linger by making the most of every turn of the gear behind the watch face. The meal in three courses. The bell sounding the need to return. The passing and accepting of the cup. These things are all done deliberately, carefully, slowly. Time is taken, time is given. Time is accepted, savored for what it is.
The moments of the past cooling like liquid in a cup
A Sunday afternoon as delicious as it was timeless
...both long goodbyes.
And yet, so different.
[Listening to: Shirley Horn, "Why Don't You Do Right?"]


Friday, January 6

Sputnik, Sweetheart

Hit over the head
spread across the bed
another night instead
of lonely
music skips
a beat.
See yourself in the dark. Know what you did not.
Want.
Touch.
Hold.
Learn yourself again. Story without end.
Sigh and wonder when.
Wake
    up
alone.
[Listening to: Tourettes, "Rail"]


Wednesday, January 4

Does Everyone Stare the Way I Do

Brooks trickle streams that run the rivers. Water moving in neverending curves across the faces of land, trailing like makeup melted under the weight of a tear.
Streams pulse through me.
I am an ocean under myself.
I reign
I evaporate
I wave, and
I crash.
Strange how any disturbance to the surface creates circles and chaos, while the undeniable movements underneath go on forever, yet hardly ever make a ripple.

What is it you're searching for in this room where I constantly look for myself?

When I stare, you look away. But when I turn back, it's you that's watching me. There's more there than you're willing to say. But then again, it's never been easy for me to tell, either.

And so nervous like the tides, we ebb and flow under the pull of sister moons far away. Instincts driven by hunger and heat; reactions quick and sudden, like the shiver of unsuspecting skin against the touch of January's breath. I have the scent -- But am I the hunted
..or just haunted?
[Listening to: Goldfrapp, "Tiptoe"]


Tuesday, January 3

Fall and Burn the Garden Green

Stuck inside the harmonica break in a folk song, enjoying and yet wondering at the clarity in which I can hear it now, as opposed to any other time of the year when it's just notes and noise, disjointed memories of trying to balance green bullet microphones plugged into little combo guitar amps with the rest of the group.

The scene was always the same, there would be a blues band playing a midday set on some beach bar deck. There'd be three, maybe four guys. Well-tread from nights at local bars, and yet somehow always presenting the facade of being little more than an after-work hobby. Even on weekend gigs in flip-flop sandals and Corona t-shirts they gave the impression of guys who had driven to the gig straight from their desk at the bank. Submit the last report, remind the boss that it's Thursday, and then haul ass across town for the soundcheck at four.

It reads like a condemnation, some sort of marginalization. Like pointing out the guy with the nicest motorcycle as a weekend warrior (from the safety of your driver's side car seat) just so you can feel like you've somehow knocked him down a peg. The same way you're always the one that says the book is better than the movie, that the club used to be better before all the white people found it, that if kids these days had a chance to hear real punk rock instead of all this corporate-backed wardrobe-motivated drivel that's on the radio all day long (How can something be punk if you can hear it at the mall? How can you be anti-establishment and have a clothing endorsement deal?) Never mind the fact that you yourself were only like what, ..9 years old when The Clash, Pistols, Iggy, and the rest were unleashing themselves on the world. That's not really the point, is it? The point is that guy clearly isn't a biker in the purest stab-a-hippie-at-Altamont-while-the-Stones-were-playing-Under-My-Thumb sense. You might be able to fool the people down at the Harley shop, but not me pal.

The bands would come set up at the places you used to work. First Street Grill. The Crab Pot. Bukkets. There wasn't so much a stage as there was an area without tables. They'd do a set or two - cover the bases. The crowd wants to hear AC/DC and Thorogood, the regulars want to hear The Ballad of Curtis Loew. Instead they get endless approximations of Whipping Post and Cold Shot. But the beer is cold and it's better than being at work - so nobody really complains that much. Still, you can't shake the sense that there's something plastic and cellophane about it. A feeling like it's wrapped up in the right color paper, but that it's still somehow not right.

You're too hung up on authenticity. You're too in love with wielding the word soul. From surfers to fried chicken, the lack of 'the S' is an affront. A Han Solo shot first travesty of the first order.

Maybe it's a question of culture. I mean, did "The Blues Brothers" celebrate the best parts of R&B music, or forever condemn it to frat party camp? How come everyone who works in a corporate office loves the movie "Office Space?" -- isn't there something basically wrong with that? You don't hear highschool gym teachers continually quoting lines from "Porky's," do ya?
I read something recently where an art critic said "The first painting Jackson Pollock did was a revolution. The second was just repetition."
..How can you ever win against odds like that?

It's not really atrraction unless your heart flutters. It's not really a date if you don't end up paying the check, getting out of there and then ripping each others clothes off as soon as the doors close behind you. It's not really passion if you're both not gasping for breath on the floor beside the bed as the sun is coming up. It's not really love unless that happens every time you go out on the town, out to see a movie, or to the grocery store to pick up milk and bread...

Where did these expectations come from? How did I ever get myself into this circle? How could anybody in their right mind be dumb enough to continually want authenticity while living and breathing in a real world that actually exists all around you every single waking moment of your life?

About an hour into things, he appears. Dressed in tatters, with a dirty panama hat and a backpack or a briefcase by his side. Maybe he showed up on a bicycle, or walked by every bar on the strip until he heard something he liked. He stands in the front. Bobs his head to the sound of the band. Talks to the drummer between sets. Then he's up on stage with them. He's wearing a vest with pockets overflowing, or he's got his cadre of harps spread out in his free hand like playing cards. He brings his own microphone. He stomps his foot with the downbeats, watches the singer like a hawk; scanning for breaks, hunting for cues. He steals all the solos from the guitarist, but after two straight sets of Stevie Ray covers the crowd is thankful for the variety. He looks like a bum, but he plays like an angel. This guy that everyone wanted to avoid before they realized he was a player. The guy who tried to beg a cigarette off of you in the parking lot. The guy who very well may spend his days standing in the median by an off-ramp with a cardboard sign that says "God Bless."

And all of the sudden the moment is special. The crowd is lucky. The beer tastes colder, and everyone wants to buy one for everyone else. It might as well be a commercial or an Adam Sandler movie. Like the circle is completed, like coveted authenticity can only be verified by the very cliche that's robbed it of it's own relevance.
Funny how that works out.
I don't know what it's like to be a writer. It's just that I spend a lot of my time doing this. I'm not wearing a beret. I'm not using a typewriter. I won't be reading unfinished parts of this to Ferlinghetti at City Lights later on tonight. I'm just listening to a really great song on infinite repeat and hacking away at this laptop while I'm supposed to be working.

I need to appreciate it more. Stop looking at it from a distance like the guest stars on SNL who aren't used to working live TV and continually stare offstage to the guys holding cue cards. I need to use it more. Live it more. Not flip out every time I dance and it doesn't rain.

Because it's not every day that you get to dance.
That's what this is really all about.
That's what I need to learn how to do.
All that being said -- You're still not a fucking biker.
[Listening to: Dead Kennedys, "California Uber Alles"]


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