Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slurs and souful burrs in the FOH world

 Folks and epithets

It occurs to me now, following this first snowstorm of this Fall, when we first became acquainted and sensitive to each other’s needs and throbs—in the wee morning, as is often the case between new lovers—that the way I began to write to you, in that long, epic facebook correspondence we still engage in, was a mannerism of that correspondence; one I cannot, even willing it valiantly, incant elsewhere than in a facebook message box to you. And so, it becomes that everything my angular discipline required here has been copied from such a box.
Something, here, is now always for you, and seeing as you’ve never been to our privately endowed Centre for the performing arts—said Centre where I, heralded Prince of Ushering, work for bacon-and-egg money—I will tell you now its heating system is a jokester hellion, a carbuncular fiend from an ancient forlorn and ailing plain for which our ancient patrons would undoubtedly fit the old-as-Depression prerequisite required to have witnessed the birthing of its mischievous magic in the smithy of mid-century industry—should they have been occupied with something else than ledgers, law, medicine or the arts at the time. It, let us call it the Volcano Corps, is an unassailable, sensorless, irreparably complicated network of valves and requires a Doctor of Fire, certified demonic insight into aptly earthly sensitivities regarding levels of toastiness, to operate in such a way as to keep folks comfortable in the early, unpredictable months of winter. Yesterday’s snow, combined with the glass the Centre is almost entirely made of, gave the air in the place a sudden, wonderland crispness—one no old creeper, retired salesman, Florida-wintering podiatrist or Matzo-scarfing walker user would tolerate or, it pains me to tell you, avoid complaining about to me. The Volcano Corps had struck again and so I refused to peel off my coat when I arrived. I consulted the box office staff, all neck deep in sweaters and scarves, who provided predictable notions when I exclaimed:
“Pray tell, has it been this damn cold all day?”
“Is Lloyd, the man with the theoretical skills required to do something, anything, around?”
“Is Mariano, the custodial guru with whom I would have the opportunity to engage in a plaintive duologue on the matter, on shift?”
On that note, Frank—my old friend, the King of Ushering and all around Centre go-for—came out of his office with, of all things, a turtleneck on. I bowed upon seeing him and followed him outside, down the back ramp, for a cigarette. Paul was already out there, looking soiled and cussing his significant other, “Bitty” out on the phone. Frank and I just listened. The word “fucker” came up often, doused in that familial southern Ontarian lilt we were all so very tolerant of. When he finally hung up, Frank shot a look my way and said “You’re late, Paul.” Paul’s response, in his habitual London-dried haze—the very same brand of haze that had, a season or so ago, conveniently erased from his accessible memory the night he called me a “10,” lauding my “hidden muscles in places you can’t see,” and invoked certain puzzling, walk-in-closeted leanings of his that convinced me to avoid consulting the urinals at the same time as him in the future—was a burped up something that smelled suspiciously like a hot Karl might. He right palm up, clutched his right tit with the other hand, sighed and said:
“Ugh. Gotta leave early tonight, Frank,” staring beadily. He then tapped me weakly on the shoulder and hobbled by us and into the Centre. Frank, lighting my cigarette, said:
“I think I still hate my job,” to which I smiled the real smile.
And thus, I assumed the crux of my shift would be proficiently mitigating, though failing to solve, the bone-frosting watershed of the sticky valved Volcano predicament, one which Paul would most certainly not be helpful in tackling. Frank, meekly, and looking so very tired, seemed to concur. Let it be noted, however: pain or no pain in the backside, I would, yet again, be surprised, and I was wrong.


Such is often the case at the Centre, with regards to surprise. It’s expected, and is mostly recounted with ambivalence, which vacillates moodily from indifferent bemusement to gloomy glee. That being said, surprise is of interest here and worth exemplifying—if only for the sake of anecdote, the relating of which I know you love dearly, filing them away Dewey-style, like a grand, hermitic pooka at the library. Surprise will tickle your proverbial pickle like Sherazadian chimera feathers here (I know how coyly you are prone to giggle at mixed metaphors, especially those based in scripture); it is the ever-growing subtext of unforeseen lows our patrons can, seemingly on a whim, stoop to. Parenthetically, I will illustrate the following in line with the general intention of this story—i.e. to laud and keep your learned attentions on my acerbic hoodratteries and their auteur.

Beloved full-time groper of mine very exclusive biscuit: in the beginning, I bartended. I stood behind the ArtLounge bar on the lower level and stirred perfected juniper swill for sound techs in frumpy bottom drawer blazers. I peddled Boylan cherry fizz to amply mid-rifted and sweet-toothed production managers. I served bland, healthy soup and answered “No” to upwardly mobile community theatre ingénues’ questions regarding potential gratuities. I ignored whole lots of perfectly ignoble platitudes and smiled what we both consider an inappropriately high number of times I should have spat, though my boss-lady at the time would not have concurred. I worked the bar and the InterCoffeeMission café, the combo of which mostly consisted of an in-house cafeteria service for the artistically inclined and cheap, a decaf brew hub for the young at heart and titanium-hipped. I was not partial, but broke—and Frank was nice enough to put in a kind word—and so it was.
One of my later shifts, perhaps a month or so before moving on to recreational Usherdom and brighter vocational opportunities, something you may hardly believe occurred. It had, arguably, been an unpleasant shift already. I had been cussed out by my less than meningeally fortified boss-lady (a woman who says “somewheres” and refused to serve our diabetes-ridden patrons diet Coke for “health reasons”) for refusing to open the bar back up a day earlier, after it had been closed for the better part of an hour, so that a certain rotund head of production could get their fizzed-up fix. A woman called me “black boy” and offered to smack me for asking her to kindly excuse herself momentarily while I finished serving another patron. And a stocky little man, who begrudgingly accepted a water bottle from me after I informed him no other drinks were allowed in the theatre and subsequently cussed out the water bottle, said “Mind that mouth, asshole?” when I told him the show was going to start up again in a moment or two, should he be interested in viewing its remainder. All in all, none of that was all too fun, but surely no surprise. Colourful, but business as usual—the predictable settings of that workplace’s mood. What was a surprise, however, was this:
All five feet of a woman had just dragged herself up to me. I was wiping down the café bar following the second intermission and she had that low haunch which always precludes acceptance of a total lack of manners. She waved me down and I played along, with a smile—assuming she needed a strong, young gentleman’s arm— following which she pulled my left hand up, put a tissue, an entirely used one, in it, closed it, showed some fake teeth, and slumped away. All the while I just kept smiling, privately mortified. I discarded the thing and got a head start on forgetting the whole occurrence when a sateen-rapped lady, who had somehow witnessed the whole exchange, if such is what you can deem it to be, huddled on over, chuckling, and said:
“Dirty job, eh?” I couldn’t help but agree, and gave a nice fake laugh in appreciation of her volunteered pity. “My name is Gale,” she said, reaching her hand out. I shook it and gave her mine. She had a cold, soft excuse for a shake (classy stuff), which felt like expensive veggie cream and too much Purel. She went on:
“I noticed you at intermission. You are a very good looking young man.”
“Oh, thank you.” I smiled warmly, bored, but flattered. I started to turn back, but then she added:
“And I’ve got a daughter!” I paused.
“Oh that’s nice,” I said.
“You’d love her!”
“I believe it.”
“A nice Jewish girl, right?!”
“Excuse me?” I said. And that’s when she asked.
“You’re Jewish, right?”
“Oh, no, sorry, I’m not.” She looked vexed. She asked, hopeful:
“Oh. Well, where are you from, then?”
“I’m Canadian.” She rolled her eyes.
“But I mean, you know, what are you?”
“I’m dual.” She rolled her eyes some more.
“But I mean, you know, WHAT are you? Where are you FROM?
And at her insistence I let her know. Told her something I’ve kept out of every discussion I could, something nearly everyone I’ve ever met has tried to bring into conversation, and which I’ve kept out of every piece of writing I’ve thus far written, with the exception of this very one. I told her my mother was French Canadian and my father was black, to which she insisted on knowing from where, to which I said Philadelphia, to which she insisted, you know, like, from where, to which I said he was Jamaican on my grandmother’s side and half Mic Mac and African-Canadian on my somewhat anonymous and mostly abstracted grandfather’s side—a man who, I specified, was a soldier passing through on his way to Korea from our very own culturally complicated New Brunswick, the last man my queer, child-battering grandmother ever slept with. And then she looked vexed—personally, unjustifiably vexed—glazed over and concluded:
“Oh. So you’re a mongrel?” rhetorically, turned on her abhorrent Chaneel heals and strode away up the stairs and back into the darkness of the theatre.

And so, once more, Surprise—temperamental hell-breather or not.
Once its doors were opened, the theatre nearly made one long for the comforting, dependable temperature of a fridge. The din of ensuing misgivings was deafening, but that was alright. Paul just watched the stage, chewing gum and nail, but Frank and I kept it all at bay, smiling and processing with the crowd and getting the emergency blankets out for those who would not be silenced. At some point, a man with the most expensive looking hanky I have ever seen demanded to speak to the Artistic Director, but was quieted with some free coffee and a stern hand. Everything, for a while, was going smoothly enough.
One very old woman changed that. Yapping away with an old acquaintance, she had huddled down in a fort she had confectioned out of her Canada Goose, right in the middle of the aisle on row D, and she was not budging. She had to move. I asked, I pleaded, but, with two minutes till showtime, the octogenarian said:
“Oh hush, little man. Do you not see how cold it is in here?” The mixed metaphor was not lost on me. Her face smiled a smile that insinuated nuisance, both implying mine and confirming hers. I wondered, looking at her, how hard her head had managed to remain under all those years and furrows—how easily it might crack. Needless to say, I maintained my usual alacrity and answered:
“Oh yes, but we just can’t have anyone sitting in the aisles like this.” She sighed. I smiled a little harder.
“But it’s even colder down there!” she said, pointing her ever-burgeoning nose a couple of rows down. “Don’t you know how old I am?” I assumed the query rhetorical, but played platonically along anyway.
“Oh, I couldn’t say miss.” She squeezed my pant leg with her sterling, twiggish hand.
“87 in March!” I vaguely smoothed my pants.
“Oh my,” I said.
“Yes, ‘Oh my’ is right. Now leave me be, yes?!”
By now Frank was staring and coming over.
“What’s the problem here?”
“She wants to sit in the aisle.”
He turned to her briskly and said:
“That’s a fire hazard.” She said:
“So??? Nothing’s burning!” He turned back to me, bit his lip, and walked away. She turned back to me, smiling her real smile, this time. Again:
“So we can’t have you keeping burning folks from leaving the building.” Then someone, whom I assume is her son, came up from his seat.  Which got Paul interested, who then came up from his post on the stage, which now no one was guarding, however badly, to fake the semblance of support and eavesdrop. I sighed. The son involved himself.
“What’s the problem?” he sighed.
“She can’t sit here, it’s a fire hazard.”
“So?” I almost closed my eyes.
“So in the event of a fire people may trample her in their attempt to get out and away from harm,” I said, “or simply in a panic.” He smirked and broadened his eyes for effect:
“Is there a fire planned?” My mouth may have been conceitedly gaping. I mused privately about suggesting I set her on fire to demonstrate the general state of panic someone sitting in the aisle would most certainly add to. I said:
“No, of course not, but there is a fire code, which is in place at all times and must be adhered to. This, according with that very reasonable code, is beyond hazardous. So I’m gonna have to put her in her seat, or ask her to leave.” He did not look happy. He said:
“Oh yeah?” I said:
“Yes.” He said:
“Really?” I said:
“Yep.” Then he took what I can only vaguely gather was a feigned stalemate-appropriate pause, and finally said:
“And what if I sit here?” The game-changer. I blinked a deliberately long time. I said:
“Then that’d be a fire hazard with more girth and, consequently, more hazard.”
Now, by now, even his mother had somehow conceived that I wouldn’t take any kind of guff. Upon the queue of my tight-faced silence, she got up, headed for B and tucked herself down in her seat. In a matter of seconds, she was talking to someone else, pinching away at another thigh, forgetting. Her son, however, was not done. He pulled his very nice, wrinkled, white-after-labor-day slacks up and sat down very slowly. He nodded. I took a breath. He was a big, rotund man.
I could see Frank giving the thumbs-up a few stairs up, giving the house, then looking down at me. He mouthed “now.” I breathed it all out calmly, got my hands up, and told the son:
“The show’s starting right right now, so we have to either put you in B11, your seat, immediately, or take this outside, permanently.”
He was pinching his lip like it was neck, glaring. He rose, slowly, and started down towards me, till his face was close enough to smell egg on. And I’ll tell you he said something I will not repeat here, and told us plainly apart. Then he started walking down towards B. I gave Frank a look. He was horrified. He’d been close enough to hear. I turned and started after him. I said:
“What?” He kept walking down and I followed. I got closer. I said:
“What?” He stepped into the row and sat down. Pretended. He wouldn’t look at me, now. I looked around. Everyone else was staring. I made a fist. I saw Frank and Paul, staring. I started walking back up. And kept walking till I was up top.
Then Paul, that Ontarian hick of the last order, that oily-haired, trailer-trash abusing, homophobic and so very lacking-in-use douche, somehow derived something indeed implied in my eyes, and construed from what he had overheard, and touched me, touched me on the shoulder, lingered, smirked and said:
These fucking people, eh?”
I looked at him. And low or no low, I hated myself for wholly, privately agreeing, even momentarily as I did, with his gist; and hated them, no inference at all, for somehow impregnating me with the dull wit to stoop and pick up what he put down. His hand just stayed on my shoulder. I looked at him in such a way as to suggest he had just made it required of him to permanently stop breathing and he laughed. Which made me want him alone to disappear. I said:
“Paulie, I will hate-fuck your hick skull with that hand till I can see it.”
And like magic, he removed his hand, backed up, and disappeared behind the velvet curtain I drew. The houselights, meanwhile, went down, the crowd went silent, and the show went up.  I remember I shut my eyes a long, long time. And when it was all over, I went home and wrote to you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Abuse

The Abuser
So I just did Ritalin and I get it now. I’m considering the irony of my new used black wingtip brogues and the fact that their construction and look is closest in style, for the whole 3.50 I spent on them, to the timeless and brawnishly delicate style of my 500$ John Fluevog boots and I’m simultaneously considering the post-modern incarnation of learned gothic stylings which is Christian Death, all while purchasing a couple of Unknown Pleasure pinnable buttons on Ebay. There is one button for me and one for the girlfriend, yes, the GF, shut up. Anyhow, I get it now. I am its relevance. I’m doing all this and I look over at the cat and it seems undeniable, in all his (current) stillness and quietness, he is irreversibly huge. I mean if my cat was a man, he’d live in Bucks county PA and drive a 2008 Chevy Suburban, a car he’d’ve bought only after his 15 year old Steel Blue Ford AeroStar finally died on him. He’d eat breakfast at the Red Lion Diner, three eggs, runny, grits, ten strips of bacon, brown toast. He’d have a mug behind the counter. He’d listen to Johnny Cash almost exclusively. He’d think Bruce Springsteen was silly, and a faggot. He’d have no children. He’d have eleven godchildren. He’d be a taxidermy hobbyist. His drink would be, aside from coffee with 18% cream and 3 sugars a cup, from wake-up to byebye, virgin Caesars with extra Tabasco sauce, licking all the celery salt off the edge, sweating. He’d’ve played full back in College on a free ride, even though he wears the biggest size at the Big and Tall shop and he’d still be called Jesco, although everyone would call him Big Jesco, even though there wouldn’t be another Jesco within a 27 mile radius. He’d love, a good man; a seldom, but earnest and honest, laugher. He’d be loved for being big, and he’d secretly hate this. My cat, Jesco Crazy Thing “The Truth” King of Lions White, is huge, everyone knows it, and I love him to pieces. Thirteen inches of tail and twenty of body. Still growing. Again I understand and you too who now is staring, in the sense your biffing parents meant all those years ago, staring, must understand he is like a cow, a black one, a wily mountain goat baby (what do they call those, I will look it up and fill you in later), a lion and a golden retriever all in one, if the said combo thereof (with perhaps a little Easter rabbit thrown flatteringly into the mix) would be the size of something which could conceivably, though awkwardly, fall asleep in your lap and could be lifted, albeit hardly, by one hand by the scruff and promptly rapped repeatedly with the index finger of the other hand. Beloved chimera. He is big. He is loveable. He is crazy.

Now when I say ‘crazy’ (and also, I now am forced to emphasize, when I say ‘rapped’) I mean he, at some point in the interval between which I left the house and serendipitously pressured a good friend into hooking me up with Ritalin and subsequently returned to the house, chewed through the power cord of my external hard drive. This is not, sadly, an isolated incidence. Almost every cord in the house is covered with Tabasco sauce. Most of those cords have bite marks on them. Every other cord has been chewed through. I am at this very moment rubbing Tabasco sauce on Jesco’s tongue and watching him foam at the mouth like an English bulldog. This is harsh, but, again, he is crazy. And now, as I finalize my purchase of a set of eight Sonic Youth buttons, I am letting the Ritalin bedazzle my mind with the nightmare this animal animates in me. I ask: what if said gigantic feline, Jesco White, my unique companion of many names, were to, in all actuality, go crazy? What if the current verifiable evidence of possible self-destructiveness and definite compulsive wire-chewing were in fact the first symptoms in a long list of foreseeable symptoms, symptoms for which we and, at this lopsided moment in my own personal history, I, especially, are to encounter the multiplication of and the need to deal with more and more on a daily basis? What if one night I am woken by Jesco meowing the intro to Bela Lugosi’s Dead in the dead night din, an event solely illuminated by his all-staring all-knowing kooked-the-fuck-out kitty-thing eyes in the dark? Do not answer. What if he starts trying, with bitter efficiency, to drown his catnip-laced toy in the all-too-capsizable bowl of water he eventually begins to stay away from, for want of keeping murder and survival separate? What if my cat begins to chew on himself? What if he wakes me at night, after having, with considerable and, till this eventual darkly foreshadowed time in time, impossible force of will, opened the bedroom door we lock every night with the help of two and sometimes three well stacked and full hampers of clean clothes (the girlfriend and I have, it seems, a combined and nearly lethal inability to fold and put away our panoply of t-shirts, pants, skirts (hers) and leggings (mine), despite my near disgust with the clothes-and-hamper situation, a situation only aggravated, of course, by the lack of sufficient space for the sheer bulk of clothing we own) and then sits on me, a thing he oddly does very seldom for such an affectionate and truly dog-like, follow-you-to-the-bathroom-to-nuzzle-your-leg-while-you-defecate-or-shave type of cat, and then whispers to me that the main message behind Lou Reed’s The Gun is the insinuation of the deep-seeded desire for a display of power through rape (huh?)? This from a fixed animal? With sense memory?

I digress. The point is I am trying to coincide my most inner-self with the punk aesthetic, the anarchistocracy I feel has pioneered the perfection which is the band-themed jacket armor, pins and studs and back patches (note to self: contact AJ regarding silk-screening opportunities and the future wet-dream come true of a back-sized Darondo patch; I bleed with desire). They make one a gleaming and dark protagon in a solipsistic panopticon of style and substance, and as I attempt intentional convergence with this my $3.50 cap-toe brogues are pinning down the fiend Jesco’s thick neck as I scream NO JESCO NO JESCO NONONONONO JESCO, all whilst using the brand new, freshly discovered weapon which is the clap, the hand-on-hand, manly ringing clapi.e. pet ownership / insanity is interfering with everything at this moment. This animal is bonkers, and, same as a florar print Doc Marten on a panthers neck, my shoe cannot contain him eternally, i.e. what am I to do, i.e. my keyboard now seems further and farther away from my eyes due to my recent ingestion of methylphenidate, my hands now dismembered in that way best described by Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep in the scene recounting the protagonist’s childhood woes with waking up covered in vomit and believing his hands are about 10 times their real size. Again, what do you do with a tiny black lion who may psychotically devolve into having the ability to wield with horrible dexterity a rock glass like a bar-fight knife. A hepcatastrophy. My hands are big and faraway at once and I can’t help but feel they may work better and I may be a sounder-minded fellow if I just locked Jesco in the bathroom and returned to the backlit keyboard with closed eyes to better see them, my hands, and pronounce myself on this and that, like a prayer with rosaries made out of multi-colored sour candies. This, This, is going very well. Jesco is crazy and I am flexing my ankle, removing and applying pressure in a way he cannot learn to cope with presently, presently reminding myself of something that makes this whole interlocution with my Macbook meaningful. This is the problem with solutions you take with glasses of water, listen:

I am reminded of being on the metro with this stuff kicking in and having had the writing kick in and wanting it to come out, going home to be near the cat and pet him and make this happen and having my shoes up on the seat in front of me. I remember contemplating the flawlessness of my manly albeit everyday, elegant and, I reveal, old school mid-thirties and also male rockabillyish new-to-me footwear and feeling self-satisfied with the purchase of them on the past Monday at the Value Village, though of course in this province the Village is in fact des Valeurs, a place which a friend from Qualicum, a town on Vancouver Island, BC, which I have no idea how to spell the name of, told me acquaintances of bad taste back home like to call it Valeux Village, as if with a French accent they’ve decided is theirs to use, which is funny and stupid we both agreed laughingly hahaha (Jesco is now biting through my Salt and Pepper American Apparel hoody’s draw string and looking smaller by the minute; I wonder if I could find any Minnie Ripperton buttons on Ebay (?)), shoes that were 50% off and as I look at them on the metro and think about the giant and beloved fluff that is my cat I notice a man in a trench coat with a slight comb-over and an all around unhappy demeanor staring at me. I start thinking he either a) notices my self-satisfaction and decides he is in a moral and intellectual place that allows him to disapprove of it or b) he sees me chewing on my spit and maw. (Jesco knocks a glass over, again, I clap, spit like lime rind and a drip.) He thinks I’m high and/or stupid and he is not staring away. And I remember wanting to chew his face off, I am not angry, I want to blind him with a shotgun shot full of rock salt to the face. I want to destroy the color of his eyes and write a sestina about it, the color, and it, the absence of his eyes after said shot, when I get home to my aforementioned insane and cuddly zoomorphically complicated pet. This is a nice feeling and merely stepping away made me feel A-OK and me not wanting to bury these thoughts and thinking they are, altogether, the type of thought I wish to entertain like sail boats on the surface of my soul's blue sea makes me wonder if taking Ritalin recreationally and constructively is perhaps everything it should be and reminds me of why writers and, I guess, artists in general, are a little overly prone to turning into The Abuser. Consider: The stuff we do makes us happy=the stuff we do to do the stuff that makes us happy makes us happy=give me the stuff=give me the problem=the problem is myself. This is a thought to consider.

I think Flaming Lips buttons are next, a slight and underrated acquisition from my stoner days, and, soon thereafter, the purchase of a button-making machine to manufacture my own creative and quirky buttons seems the logical step. I want a Howlin’ Wolf pin. I think every drinker does. I will make things to make pins for in reminiscence. I am a collector, but I am also an idiosyncrat. That is not a word. That should be a word. Carry on. Fear not. Jesco finds heaven in my lap and my hands more than he finds his maker. All is well. The familiar cold tingle of psychostimulation is upon us. Like mdma. Like cocaine. Now methylphenidate. The heart wants what the heart wants. A Baby Mountain Goat is a Kid. Hello. Moving on.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Sickness.

Chuck here says reading is kind of a neutral reactive way to spend an evening. I’m reading it right here off the page. It’s 1:33 in my last proper night away from home and I disagree with Chuck. I’m awake and smiling. I’m basking immobile in the Cotard’s syndrome Chuck describes and I imagine I am enjoy it. Cotard’s syndrome, Chuck tells me, is when one revels (sometimes unintentionally, somewhat) in the belief that one is dead. I am trying to do this while feeding my soul a soul’s satiation of perfectly imagined violence. I am feeding it alabaster ash like an evening desert, burning. I am sitting right up against my room’s white tiled coal stove. Neutral and reactive are useless. My feet are warmly up on the iron door, I am reading Chuck and making, making, like a psychopath. I am method radiating like radon-laced floors. I am the dubstep pulsing through the floor from the bar below, a fever. I am killing the plants on the desk with a thought. I am dreaming like the dead and I am cooking up a world where I use a woman in a way she wishes to be used, in the Korova bathroom, which is a tricky bathroom to ‘use’ in. In this world I return to a booth and a gorgeous girlfriend, and I tell her we should go back home and make love. This world agrees with me and we go home, and in this world we have mice, little grey mice, and we stare at a mouse in a bucket trap when we get in and my girlfriend gives me a look that says she knows something. She smiles. She puts on my Van Morrison It’s Too Late to Stop Now, Disc 2, Side 1, Track 4. Listen to the Lion. She then straightens the blade of my brand new Bertoldi hatchet and tapes it to her hand with blue duct tape.  She kills the mouse. She then yells “Let’s fuck.” The hatchet is dripping. And I ask her if everything is as per usual, if things are kosher and my girlfriend let’s me know I am acting unusual. So we have very full and energy-depleting sex, and in this world I remember nothing after that. Except for the review I get post-humously. I don’t know what that means, but it’s there and I made it. I don’t care if that’s a good thing. Reading is dreaming for writers. Reading is insomnia. These are my habits.

The phone rings. I am not in Europe anymore. I am back in town. I am reading Chuck’s words again, after leaving a friend’s copy of his book in Europe. I got a new copy a few hours ago. Now things are back to normal. Chuck is still wrong about reading. I’ve been reading since I got this copy. Now the phone is ringing. And now I’m answering, and as a result of a recent book I’ve been reading, not Chuck’s, I say,
“Mmmyellow?” into the receiver.
It’s her. She says,
“Where the hell are you?”
I’m reading and holding our cat hostage in the air by the scruff of his neck. I say,
“I am reading and petting the cat.” There’s a silence. She then says,
“Well, aren’t you coming down?” I say,
“I kind of lost track of time. I don’t know that I can catch the last 124 now. Plus I don’t want to see her” I’m still reading. The cat is meowing at me. The cat is meowing and letting me know that whatever I am attempting right now is at his direct disadvantage. You win, the cat says sadly. I can hear her breathing on the other end. She says,
“Her? Her who?”
“You know, her, ‘that cunt’. That loose whore of a child.”
“She’s twenty.”
“And a horrible lovemeloveme girl. I want her dead.”
“Why do you say these things?”
“I’m not leaving the house.”
“Well, fine, whatever.”
“Don’t whatever me.”
“Fine, whatever.”
I drop the cat.
“Tata my love.”
She hangs up abruptly. I keep on reading.

Ten minutes later I get a text saying “I’m sorry.”
I don’t answer.
Ten pages later I leave the house.

I go to the bar down the street. I meet people I’m supposed to meet there. We talk. A girl I don’t know is sitting with the people I meet. She looks like Parker Posey, if Parker Posey never smiled. She is chewing gum like it’s the sickness, the spider, the addiction. I look at her and she looks back and I put my hand out like a woman, palm down and I say,
She barely shakes my hand with two of her fingers. I say,
“Who are you?” She says,
“Carly.” Pretty girls often have names like white trash. I say,
“OK.” I order four whiskey shots. I down two, give her one, order a root beer, ask for more ice, and, after the ice comes, I drink exactly an ounce and a quarter of root beer and I pour the last shot into the rootbeer. She stares at me. She thinks this is unusual. I am a dubstep concert. I squirm in my seat. My phone tells me I have a text message. I read it. It’s very sweet. I don’t answer. Then Carly says,
“Who are you?” and I say,
“It’s nice to meet you Grace!”
She orders us more shots. We do them. Then she says,
“What’s your name?”
And I say something trenchant and confusing about something relating to reading. She smiles. I tell her I read this in a dream. I arm wrestle a friend and loose. I say to her,
“Do you like to dance?”
“Yeah, I like to dance, you?”
“Oh, I dance.”
“Do you want to dance?” I gyrate uncontrollably in my seat with a stone cold look. I am a clever sample of Mario Bros. fireballs. She is amused. I say,
“Oh, I want to dance.”
We ask the guys and everyone wants to dance. We hop on the last 124 and head to Copacabana. When we arrive we have two drinks and a shot and go upstairs to Korova. When we get there we dance. I dance well. She dances surprisingly well. We kiss on the dance floor. We hump like teenagers. The teenagers around us laugh, but we’re not laughing. We’re humping like teenagers.

She pulls me towards the bar. We do a shot. I imagine the base being louder. The music sucks. I dance around her minimally like I should be sampled. I say something oblique about the obliteration of words in the dub era. I have no idea what I’m talking about. She pulls me into the bathroom.

She tells me she wants to be used. She says “used” like it preceeds “needle.” I think I’ve had too much to drink. I can’t get hard. So I tell her maybe I shouldn’t use her. She says,
“You fucking suck man.” I say,
“That’s not getting me any harder.” She says,
“Sorry.” She smiles. She spits in her hand.

I use her the way she wants me to.

She exits first. I wash up. A friend of a friend comes into the bathroom. He’s older. They’re all older. He looks unhappy. He says,
“She’s got a boyfriend you know.” He’s wearing a piano key belt buckle. I say,
“I don’t.” He says,
“Why do you do these things?” I don’t answer. I assume the question’s rhetorical. He says,
“What’s wrong with you?” I punch him in the belt buckle. His face is fat. He leaves the bathroom. I finish cleaning up.

I exit and see my girlfriend sitting at the bar. She looks drunk. She’s not smiling. My drunk girlfriend Claire is at the bar. I walk over to her and ask her when she got here. She says,
“Oh, just now.” I say,
“Harry cabbed us out here.” She says,
“Uh hun.” I kiss her cheek and stick two cans of beer in my coat pockets. I put my lips on her warm neck. I say,
“Let’s go home and fuck.” She says,
“Sure.” She says it the way she says,
“Sure” sometimes. Says like she says
“Whatever” sometimes.
We leave.
I never see Carly again.

We get home and there’s a mouse in the bucket trap. The cat’s in the bucket trap with it. The mouse is dead. The cat looks confused like this was done to it. Like a live hooker and a dead hooker in a trunk. Like magic. Claire takes him into the bathroom to clean him, but I say I’ll do it. I grab the cat. She says,
“Sure.” I do it.

When I come out again she’s naked and straightening the big knife. She swivels her head slowly and looks at me. She says,
“DO YOU WANT A SAND WITCH?” I smile. She smiles back like she’s asking me to never smile again. I smile anyway. She stabs a can of pineapples. I stop smiling.
She walks past me like a beautiful woman on the street hating you for even looking and goes over to the record player. She puts on, with some difficulty, ‘Somewhere Along the Line’ off of Side 2 of Billy Joel’s Piano Man. She comes over and unbuckles my pants, crouches down and stares me in the crotch. She screams, “LET’S FUCK”, looks up, spits in her hand and smacks my crotch. She does this to hurt me. She looks back down and straight ahead. I can hear her breathing. I can hear her nostrils flare. This is someone I hurt. She then asks my crotch if I want a sandwich with an Ontarian accent. I wait. Then I say,
She gets back up without looking at me and walks into the bedroom. She shuts the door behind her.
I get the blow dryer out of the bathroom. I blow dry the cat.
Then I read some more and I write a story.
I sleep a dreamless sleep.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Poesy Wino vol. IV, crappy boxing day special: Waiting


It occurs to me I’ve never been in a church on Xmas before. It’s cold. There’s singing. There’s singing like we know something others don’t. Like it’s dark and our singing will illuminate, like illumination will come from music. Like our voices together will make music like the voice of God. Like his music will be the sound of our souls. Like our souls will be heard by the others in dark. Like we will hear those souls laugh. Like there’s a woman in front of me waiting and looking back at the entrance like she expects somebody. Like she is waiting. She has a baby carriage. Like the wait is for her man, her husband, her father. Like she is waiting for something that will never come, in the house of god, in a broke down church in full renovation mode, on xmas eve. Like our Lord and his father. Like Atheism. She’s a looker. And when she looks back and saddens with some penultimate finality, when a woman with a red fur coat and two little dogs clamors in instead of the one she’s waiting for, she more or less breaks beautifully. I can see her lips loosely sticking to the words. I can tell everyone in here is waiting for someone who has yet to arrive.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Uses for memory; fictionalized accounts and casualties thereof...

Useless Talent Number One
Planet Terror, and I’ll say this before moving on to the actual occurrences and this and that, was great, and I liked it a lot, and I didn’t like it in a “Har-har, I’m so clever cause I like quirky b-movies let me pretend I’ve seen a few from the 70s” kind of way; no. I liked it because I liked it, because it showed me something I had never noticed, because yes, there is some kind of formula it adheres to, but also it is, no kidding, a weave of multiple intricate narratives all stringed together better than any chick flick piece of shit ever could. Effortlessly. And that’s where I got it from, I latched on, remembered and put the “Useless Talent Number” (with whatever random somewhat high number you want on the end of it) thing into my own mouth; and I ain’t ashamed to say it. It’s saying “I’m beautiful and it is in vain.” And says it in a particularly beautiful way—unnoticeable self-cruelty, cracking fingers in the dark. Props.
I can’t stop now. I got my fair share of Useless Talents. This flat, which is live-in drinking buddies and a staff price beer waiting for you in the downstairs bar anytime of day, rarely calls for the Talents, but still from time to time, they get their moments. I’m down there now, looking for Doreen, wondering about this show she was talking about, and as usual, I find her behind the booth, talking to the cassette guy selling for the band. She’s always talking so very keenly with one of these guys, and nicely too. Doreen’s tall and not blond and looks nothing like most of these girls over here. I mean these girls are tall, but even The Reen looks pretty tall by their standards. The Reen, that’s what her husband, Barnie, the napper still upstairs, calls her. He says it’s his name for the coxing and the tide she washes over you without even knowing it. It’s also his name for the four cents she tends to put into any conversation in the household. So I ask her what the hell she’s doing behind that booth. The place is looking properly hipster filled at this point. Though somehow, and this is a local thing, the German one’s tend to lack a certain flare in their sarcasm, which tends to play in favor of lack of apparent airs of pretention. Nice people really. Sometimes cold and often boring, but nice. The Reen does not fit them at all. She’s pure Pittsburgh, she’s taught me. Actually that’s a lie, that’s my imagination; I like to think she is. I throw in a Pittsburgh reference here and there in everyday conversation. I’ve always been good with that, which has managed to make me seem nicer than I actually am. Although I guess that’s a nice thing to do for people, let them know your tuned in to their radio station, so to speak, if you were gonna talk like that. Useless talent number 56 I ‘ve decided. Unfortunately, I was not doing the useless-talent-number-whatever thing when I first did this with Doreen. I was still saying “cool beans” a lot. I go through phases where I have these little phrases. I pick them up from other people and melt into them, till they’re more mine than theirs. I miss the “cool beans” era. I like to think it ain’t over yet. Still, props. The Reen says,
‘What the fuck’s it look like short stuff?’ At first, when she hasn’t warmed up to you, The Reen looks way too hard out of the way of coming up with something endearing like “short stuff”, but she’s not. I ware it proudly. Doreen’s a riot, a keeper, a corker, a pal. She’s also drunker than I’ve seen her.
‘F-Bomb on you, Claudel.’ I says, and I can see the appreciation, and I ask her for a fiver, cause I’m out of money, and I get her to come up to the bar and point me out to the curly-haired little lesbian behind there, so that I may get me a one buck beer and a little piece of mind without tipping, which is OK here. I know, it’s weird, but it’s A-OK, trust me. By the time I get done looking over the crowd and getting back to The Reen I can tell she’s talking to that little American thang I was told about earlier. I was sitting around in the kitchen trying to get warm by the gas oven’s flame when The Reen walked in and told me, when I asked if Dwayne, the other roomy, had finally gotten out to the Christmas market downstairs to sell his damn Salsa, well she clued me in to no under-explicit T that he was, but that that was a cover, that he was actually macking on this vegan cupcake-selling little American chick. I’ll let you know I might not have buzzed my hair and trimmed my beard down to Rugged Handsome Albeit Sophisticated if I had not had that piece of info thrown at me. I could imagine that damn Dwayne (well, I like Dwayne, I’m being facetious) bringing her up to listen to some tunes he’d be DJ-ing tonight in Kreuzberg and having her listen to some mad-hot Joker beats and telling her he just came across the stuff in his free time. ‘Oh ya! I know. Just some kid from Bristol, Like 19’ I imagine he’d say, when in fact I was playing it and he fussed around for 10 minutes looking for a USB stick to have me pass the wealth along. Me and music. We have our moments. Dwayne knows his shit, but me and music, we have our moments. Useless talent number 35. Anyhow, the thought of him unloading that dub-step wealth of a savvy little find on some hot little American totty at my expense got me revved up to get the engine’s moving and in fact leave the house and go down to the bar and be like presentable and an all-around F-BOMB of a Mac. I was right too. He did come up and play her some tunes. I heard them while I was in buzzing my hair. No Joker though. Dwayne’s too fair for that. I tried real hard to get done soon enough to go out there, shirtless, freshly buzzed, six-packish, non-chalant and vibrant, while she was still around. But it took me too long. She was gone by the time I came out. Whatever. Fair enough. Props Dwayne.
So there she is. The American girl. I can see the cute factor, but to be honest I am just not sure off the bat that I would fuck her. She’s tiny and definitely cute indie and vegan and cardigan-wearing homely stuff, but you know, she is 29 and it shows. That sounds awful. What I mean is she is 29 and she almost immediately reminded me of Mona, this crazy-eyed 28-year-old I dated very briefly a few years ago. Mona was fucking crazy. If they are truly crazy, this is the time it starts to show properly. Every one has these girls they date and point  out as crazy afterwards, I am aware of this, but Mona was certifiable. Institutionalized at some point. Had eyes like a catatonic schizophrenic on a hayride. The happy kind. She had a big fat old crazy heart. She shone that girl, in her own way. And she had the crazy in her melt every bit of fat off her beautiful body and make her tits the firmest tits I’ve ever had in my mouth, and my mouth still remembers a 19-year-old’s breasts. I once saw Mona wrestle a homeless man. Had to pull her off too. Mona once blew me three times in twenty minutes, out of her own volition. Bats. Beautiful. Absolute. Bats. The type of girl that looks so crazy that you can only see how beautiful she is in a picture if she doesn’t smile. This girl, and now that I think about it I can’t for the life of me size this girl up to the semblance of anything like Mona, but still, this girl reminds me of Mona. Or maybe just of a memory of Mona. Something about her mouth. Or her skin. She doesn’t have the body though. Nice body, but still, I don’t know. Maybe she just reminds me of Canadian girls. Yeah, boring older Canadian grad student girls. The type that doesn’t TA. The type that works at People’s Potato, for those in the know, but never toughens up as a result. Anyhow, there she is. And her smile is nice, so I don’t mind, I take it one step at a time, I say
“Hey Pal!” and she guffaws. We shake hands and her name is Trudy, not Gertrude, and everyone is happy and a la la la. We’re talking about Trudy’s hair and how she’s growing it out. How she’ll never let it be blond again. I discuss my past curls and she discusses her past dreadlocks. The Reen’s growing her hair out too and we compliment it. We then have a variety of comparing America to Europe little conversations and I can tell this is exactly what The Reen was talking about when she described the American’s Sticking Together Out of Desperation thing, but she doesn’t seem to mind right now seeing as she’s around a gal her own age and all. We get some other beers and the whole thing is soft and light and that’s fine. And then we find out that the band, these dude’s that Doreen has mad crushes on, aren’t even playing tonight. And then we find out there’s karaoke in the back bar. I didn’t even know there was a back bar.

So after a refreshing little skater punk all-girls band from around the neighborhood, and after like a trio of 15 post-post-punk little kids with sweeping bangs and WESC tees from the suburbs, we decide karaoke sounds pretty good. If you think karaoke is owned by Asians with hearts of jade then you’ve never been to a backyard bar in Berlin because This Is Karaoke. We come in to Gunter, the local who told us about the karaoke, belting out some sweet high notes to George Michael’s Last Christmas. This guy is Uselessly Talented. And then some other guy with glasses and what looks like way too much time to practice at home does London Calling and Sweet Child of Mine back to back. He’s Uselessly Genius. It’s all kinds of terrifyingly satiating. And we start browsing the songbooks, and they got, just on the fly like this, a better selection than La Boite a Karaoke, which, for yous in the know, has a dozy of a selection. Not to mention dirt-cheap four liter pitchers you have to pour with two hands. I suck at karaoke. I’m looking for any other song than the one I can do, or have done once, perfectly. I choked on Tiny Dancer right after doing it, once, perfectly. It was an unpretty sight made livable solely by the tumescent perfection of the one song I did before, said song which gave me the moxy to get up there and try and pull off Tiny Fucking Dancer. But then The Reen goes right ahead and finds Nuthin’ But A G Thang and I’m thinking fuck it, I’m the Blackest Person on the Block, so we write the number down and get it up to the KJ and then, right after Smells Like Teen Spirit, done by the three jovial skater punk little lesbianos, it’s our turn. I get about three verses in before the whole thing falls apart. I blame Doreen. She fucks up real good. We mostly just stand up there mumbling and doing Snoop-style stepping. We scream “City of Compton” at the right moment. It’s a hoot and that’s the point. But still, at this point, I’m thinking keep your doors open buoyoboy and I’m feeling there’s no way around it anymore so I tell Trudy Fuck It
‘let’s do With a Little Help from Friends cupcake.’ And she digs.
‘I ain’t sure if I’m drunk enough man!’ she says and I think about getting her upstairs and keeping the door open with some Jameson and getting a few shots in her, but I can tell she’s already convinced, she’s just fronting, she’s just being kind of awkwardly coy like any proper Mcgill female grad student would be. It’s endearing. She’s all in with a little coxing. And I just hope I can turn it on.
We all get another beer and discuss vegan baking and baking soda in Europe. We talk about the job she just landed, as a sous-chef. I pat the inner-voice on the shoulder. We watch the London Calling guy do I kid you not Red House Painters’ Katy Song, and someone doing that Tom Jones Christmas song with the name I can’t spell. Barnie comes down from his pre-flight-to-Sweden nap and it’s good to him. He looks happy. Things are looking good. Then out of nowhere there’s some guy with a mustache sitting beside Trudy with an innocent gooey smile on his face. She tells me he’s coming up there with us. For the song. I decide it’s no sweat though. I don’t get threatened too easily in these situations. I’ve got the Useless Talents to lean on. After Gunter does Space Oddity wonderfully well, that ol’ Chinaman, we get up there and I decide to essentially, nicely, bogart the mike. I get my own mike and they get one for the two of them. Trudy tells me to start it off and the 48 second intro kicks in and I can feel that gyration in that Woodstock footage kick in and I think Useless Talent Number 69 and I mean it. I wave and I wrangle. I do The Reen proud. And when I start in on ‘What would you do / if I sang outta tune? / Would you stand up / and walk on me?’ it’s like I’m home again and a miracle is occurring. Youtube the Woodstock Joe Cocker video. That’s what I’m like right now. In a tiny back courtyard bar, at Rosenthaler Platz, on the 20th of December, Joe Cocker, the skinny one, appears. And I see Doreen and Barnie laughing their ass off in Vain and Wooping loudly I can tell everyone, including these two on stage, are thinking what I’m thinking, they’re thinking You’re Beautiful and it is in Vain and we are at one. The woops are a-many. Friendo over here with the mustache tries in on the second verse and he’s OK, but he’s still like ground beef to my cracked cocaine. And then she tries a bit, but she just kind of sucks and is shy and they push me forward laughingly and want me back on it, and I believe I can tell from their looks that they are having way too orgasmic a time watching me carry this to Joe Cocker Heaven to even try and take any of it away from me. And when I hit that screaming beautiful “YYEEAAHH / LOVE” it’s like Ecstasy, only actually it’s like pure MDMA, and a baby Jesus statue weeps somewhere in NY state because of what I am doing right now. I rock it.
When I’m done she looks a little amazed. Useless Talent Number 69. I coolly tell her I gotta check on the stove upstairs, move some coal around write a poem down and I just bounce into the friscalating sunset like I got brass ones, like I just landed a blow and there’s a booming countdown in the background. I let him slump there a bit.

A half hour later the whole in Vain part crystallizes. We go back to the main bar for some supposedly bitchin’ dance party breaking out. Trudy and Mustachio Hugo talk on the bench, sitting closely together. The guy told me he has a name, but I can’t seem to remember it. Something like Bongo or Fjord. They play a bunch of 80s jive and a bunch of white kids flail around. I’m a hella good dancer, I mean dancing is like Talent Numero Dos on the list and it comes in handy, though one cannot overdue it cause most chicks like to flail around with someone not too overly more adept than them at the said flailing, i.e. just better flailers than the other johnos. But I dance and this jive ain’t showcasing my abilities to a tee, but still, I’m sharing the goods and these two over here don’t give a damn. After a while and some boredom and a little staring at the one good dancer and cute girl in the room and considering going over there, but feeling so awkward about it, seeing as she’s like Safe With her Girls, and finally deciding against it, Barnie comes in and asks for my credit card in order to buy his bus ticket from the airport to outer Stockholm. He says
‘Give me da Platinum modafucka?’ Barnie is like this.
And at first I’m like
‘Huh?’ but I’m already reaching for my wallet cause I know doing this gets him to buy me some beers and fetch his cigarettes for me, both of which he does. We talk about the chick with the gray shirt, the one cutie, and her dancing, her possibly Not So Useless Talents.
And then I swear I can hear Mustachio Ray say
‘We should just spend the night together.’ Yup. Fuck. I get her to roll me a cigarette and I call it quits. I head out of there. Props.

I get up there and you know how it is; I want to eat. I want to make it all feel better. There’s all these vegan cupcakes around Dwayne let her bring up and I tare into a few angrily. She’s right, they aren’t too great. But I still have two and a half. I throw out the leftover half. And then I rip into some cheese and I get a frying pan on the stove and I’m slicing bread and spreading red pesto on the inside and mayo and chipotle Tabasco sauce on the outside. We’ve been tearing through this bottle of chipotle Tabasco sauce. Then I’m getting this second cheese out, this fancy sliced stuff with pieces of cured meat here and there. The married kids walk in. Doreen says
‘Mayo? on the OUTSIDE?! You fancy, crazy, turd.’ And I can’t lie but a smile comes on my face. That homely glorious bitch, and I ask
“Does Carnegie-Mellan want one?’ and she says
‘Nah.’ and I say
‘You’z missin’ out. Useless Talent Number 47.’ And she’s like
“Shut the Fuck Up Brotha!’ And I can’t help but abide.
Barnie asks if I can make him one and I tell him to make your own and give me my damn credit card and he does. I fry that sucker up good in the frying pan and they ask where Myrtle Turtle is and I say
‘Fucked if I know mama!’ and they give me an Amen and I love those fuckers for that. Barnie says
‘But really, where’s the lady?’
And The Reen tells him. She tells him she’s with that other guy. Tells him that little dicksucker hooked up with some drummer down in the bar a few weeks ago. She also tells him she’s a damn slut. Bless her. And we all laugh and pour shots of Jameson around. Eat our sandwiches. Eat some of Dwayne’s Texas DEPT. of Kick-Ass Salsa salsa. Pour Chipotle Heaven all over everything. I pull on a gooey bite whilst hollering
‘Wook Ween Wook Ween!’ and she’s like
‘Mah, short stuff,’ like she were a gangster from the thirties, ‘you are talented my buddy.’
We comfort. We chat. We listen to Micranots. We talk music. We bond. That girl pops in to get her cupcakes and invites me to some Christmas party she doesn’t want to go to alone and then promptly leaves, leaving three brownies. Closing the door behind her, I say
‘Who would a thunk about funking with that?’ like I don’t even care if she hears and we all high five and crank the music and pour some more shots around.

Later we’re back in the bar rounding up all that salsa Dwayne left down there earlier and Barnie is getting a little over excited about the kicker table in the back. I’ve refused to play kicker here, everywhere. Barnie wants to be a famous writer and director, but also gets really excited about UFC and kicker. And The Reen just doesn’t. You can see her cowering. So I butt in and say
‘Well there’s that,’ I give a shifty side to side glance like I want to make sure no cops are around before I lay this all out, ‘OR WE COULD WATCH AN EPISODE OF IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA!’ Yous in the know know exactly what we do. We pump our fist in the air like Power Rangers and head back to the Jameson and the coal stoves upstairs.

It’s a dozy. We watch the one with the film script and the full-penetration Dolph Lundgren shtick and they keep arguing season five is Downhill, Over-Produced, and I keep having none of it, all Gitouttahere about it and we laugh silly laughs and work up to sleepy time and polish off the rest of the whiskey. We watch the Night Man episode and I pack it in. I say
‘Good Night’ and I mean it and they say
And I guffaw. They head to their room and I to mine. The room is nice and warm from a properly tended to coal stove, and I can’t help but feel peaceful. I pass out with my scarf still tight around my neck and my Pleasure Palace T-Shirt on. There’s a cup cake in my hand and I note the detail for later and it seems suitable.
And it must be no more than 10 minutes later that I hear a knock at the door. It’s her, oh yes, it’s Trudy, and I know what she wants so I just smile. Her jacket is already off, and there’s no more cardigan and her hair is blond again. And she comes in and I swear on Mona’s lovely, bobbing, fucked up head, she blows me and it feels like her, singularly like singular Mona, like hot crazy honey. Like memory. Like it's made up to be mine. And I can’t help but feel it’s a gently made thing.