Tuesday, October 25, 2005

dEAD uMBRELLAS eVERYWHERE

The best part about the horrible, pneumonia-inducing weather patterns we receive here in New York City is that whenever it rains you can be sure the rain will be accompanied by a cold, lashing wind. And what do you get with this delightful, frothy combination?



Almost always found on corners, which is where one gets really surprised by a big perpendicular gust, there they are without fail. In groups or singly, stuffed into trash cans already overflowing, they all have the same story to tell: bought for $7 at Duane Reade because you lost your last $7 umbrella the evening after the last rainstorm when you went out drinking at that fake-Irish pub across the street from whatever job it is about which you are currently complaining; there is no reason for you to believe that this umbrella is even going to survive the two block walk to the subway without getting turned inside-out and shredded, and yet you buy one anyway, perhaps just to marvel at the astounding shoddiness of its design.

They almost beg to be destroyed; like pop stars, they're so much more interesting to look at after they've met their demise at the hands of the very thing upon which their existence depends. Just walk anywhere in the city today and open your eyes. At every street corner it looks as if a massacre has occured; as if Steven Spielberg finally put to good use his "child-like sense of wonder" and deployed his close personal menagerie of favorite animatronic Spider-Sentries to the streets of Manhattan and ordered them to destroy each other in a frenzied, robotic cockfight.

O hail the rain god and the goddess of wind too.
Spare us the flu of the chest and the hot brain;
And spare us also the flu of the pigeon (god's own rat);
But leave to us the dead umbrellas,
For they give us pleasure to look upon
And allow us a moment's pause, in wonder
Before your power and crooked destruction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

ART FOUND INSPIRING


There is a chap at the SJBB who is, I believe, homeless in Philadelphia. He seems to post at the library and every once in a while updates on homeless life. He drew the above and posted yesterday, on the day the new Tanglewood Numbers came out. He also reports that a number of his posessions were stolen from his encampment last night, including a live Replacements bootleg.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Oracle of Wales

Has anyone ever heard the Tom Jones song "I (Who Have Nothing)?" This track was introduced to me this weekend by the Welshman playing Malvolio in Actors Theatre of Louisville's current production of "Twelfth Night." After seeing this gleeful production, the cast, including Jessi, and I had repaired to one of Louisville's most precious drinking establishments, Freddie's. It is places like Freddie's that restore my faith in drinking. Contrary to the link I provide for Freddie's, you CAN listen to the jukebox there, and I'd recommend you do so if you feel that the vibe is right. The jukebox is full of 45s featuring George Jones, Elvis Presley, Tom Petty (Girl on LSD), Reba McEntire and Tony Bennett, just to name a few. This jukebox is not so much a jukebox as it is an oracle. At 25 cents a play you can simply insert your quarters and blindly let your fingers punch in a few numbers and you will receive a stunningly revelatory answer to whatever questions may be plaguing your tired head.

After several bottles of Miller Lite and much conversation/slow cheek-to-cheek dancing, the Welshman and I found ourselves once again staring through the plexiglass at the bounty of analog wisdom that this sphinxian jukebox was dangling before us. Breaking the deafening silence he said to me, in his inimitable burring Welsh brogue, "do you want to hear the worst Tom Jones song ever recorded?" And even as he posed it I could feel this question suddenly begin to weigh on my mind with the force of ten thousand endless revisions. Do I really want to hear the worst song Tom Jones ever recorded? I asked myself, but no answer seemed forthcoming. It seemed more like a threat or a dare. I began to doubt this Welshman's intentions. But quite suddenly I remembered that Tom Jones himself was born among the heather-choked and vowel-light country of Wales (the greatest theatrical production I've ever seen was of George Eliot's "The Mill on the Floss" at Wales' own Theatr Clwyd), so perhaps this grizzled Welshman knew something I did not. So before I knew quite what was happening the coin was dropped, the buttons were pressed, and in an instant I had my answer: Yes.

I, I who have nothing
I, I who have no one
Adore you, and want you so
I'm just a no one,
With nothing to give you but Oh
I Love You


And truly, every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin' coal. Of course I, I do not have nothing. In fact I have so much, so many things to be thankful for. I will not go into listing these things here for that would be a terrific breach of my carefully calculated air of flippancy, and what is a blog if not a place to conceal one's earnest feelings? At any rate suffice it to say that the denizens of this nicotine palace we call Freddie's were reduced to so much condensation wanly soaking the beer mats that lined the bar by the time this track mercifully wrapped itself up.

I could go on about the musical characteristics of this song; the unchecked, desperate, booming vocal quality; the cavernous reverb applied wholesale to every tea-soaked twitch of the hire-by-the-measure session string players; the shudder I felt as each cataclysmic drum fill telegraphed the beginning of another soul-crushing chorus. But in deference to my own delicate constitution I will go no further.

But what each of us (and by "us" I mean myself and the cast/crew of "Twelfth Night" - the other patrons, numbering 3, were otherwise engaged with either catching a quick forty winks in a booth or refusing to heed the honks of the cab outside that they themselves had just called) realized upon hearing this song was not only the essentially cruel, destitute nature of our lives here on earth. No, what we realized is that this is the song that should have been used as the cornerstone of the production of "Twelfth Night" in which we had all just taken part, they as actors and myself as audience.

"Twelfth Night" is, by my account, Shakespeare's greatest story of love finally requited, against all odds. The production in Louisville injected many ironically "bad" love songs, written by the adaptor and director, to various effect. But few of them ever even approached the heights of depravity that "I (Who Have Nothing)" so endlessly and effortlessly scales. The director of this production seemed to have been entirely unwilling to allow any of this play's darkest moments to flourish. Had he done so, the glorious, loving unions that end the play would only have been made all the more glorious with the acknowledgement of their antitheses.

He can take you anyplace he wants
To fancy clubs and restaurants
But I can only watch you with
My nose pressed up against the window pane
I, I who have nothing
I, I who have no one
Must watch you, go dancing by
Wrapped in the arms of somebody else
When darling it's I
Who Loves you


Of all the characters in "Twelfth Night," all of whom, throughout the play, undergo rather brutal reckonings with themselves and their deepest desires, it is Malvolio, portrayed that evening by this Welshman, who is the most cruelly betrayed, for it is he alone who leaves the play literally defrocked, alone and betrayed. Somehow this Welshman was able to wrest a few singularly heart-slicing moments out of this production - against, as Jessi tells me, the director's wishes. When I spoke to him of this at Freddie's, he silently and knowingly nodded his head a few times and said, looking away, "I hate this fucking play."

At this, a crackly 45 of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" began purring out of Freddie's jukebox, the crowd resumed their conversations, and I asked Jessi if she wouldn't mind sticking around for one more round. A wonderfully illuminating evening of theatre, by all accounts.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Notable Occasions

The Sack has been linked by the venerable ABC Electric Journal, which is like Gawker, except for thoughtful people in McLean, VA. A landmark occasion that needed noting.

And thank you to the Tropic Of Food for a birthday recollection. Off to Louisville tonight, ring me if you're there.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Violence/Delusions of Inferiority

The other night I went to see the new movie "A History of Violence." I enjoyed it very much; ergo, Jim did not.

Post-movie, walk through Union Square to "see what kind of bullshit is going on," (my phrase) studying a display of poster-ized early-eighties NY Times front pages featuring enormous-point headlines re: Polish Solidarity strikes. I went home via subway.

Thinking about "what the movie was about" on the way home. Perhaps it is that violence is something that, once you allow it into your life, you will not be able to get rid of it. Like lying, like the herpetic keratitis in my right eye.

Aboveground, it was after midnight and I was slightly afraid of walking from the subway back to my apartment. It's a bit of a long walk and is alongside a dark park. (and recently someone had fired a gun across the street from my apartment) Also, I was spooked by this effective movie. I walked about 30 yards behind someone else making the same walk, strength in numbers.

I'm not long into my walk when I realize that someone is running full-bore at me from behind. I turn and see a figure hurl something hard and round at my head. I cower in protection and it hits my left shoulder. After impact I turn again and see this youth turn tail and run back to his friends, who I see are 20 yards behind him. I thought, "was that a crabapple?" It had seemed to splat when it hit the ground, yet no mark was made on my clothing.

All this happened in silence, save for footsteps and breathing. The assailant made no noise, nor did his friends behind him. I said not a word and barely even altered the pace of my walking - an effort to act as if, essentially, nothing had happened; that this little incident meant nothing to me, therefore no further action could be taken by the assailant.

This turn-the-other-cheek method of conflict resolution is often propped up by the phrase "don't even give them the satisfaction" -of a response, of rattling you, etc. This even passed through my mind. "Don't respond. Act like you couldn't care less." I suppose this worked, though these kids didn't seem to be out for any more than making good on a random dare.

But moments later it became very obvious to me, I did care. Hours afterward I still wasn't finished thinking about it, how I could have turned around and at least verbally abused this kid (insulting adolescents, of course, makes an adult feel so good). Why should I act as though I am un-fazed? For my own good? But instead I bottled it up and took it home with me. I've never been in a fight. Is this how violence enters your life, through these kinds of decisions? Is this how wars are won? Pres. Bush says anything but complete victory is unacceptable. I completely disagree. But I am all too familiar with cutting my own losses. I'm not going to be taking any cues from Bernard Goetz but sometimes my self-protection mechanism is completely unacceptable.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

New Born Off Hell

new born off hell

#1
Cry from the womb:
Fuck dammit apocalypse!
Stuptified way to begin
solid statement
not hidden in some
chamber of dark brass,
romance words or gloss.
Grit, dank, siren of shit!
no good feelin' shakes,
my dreams are t.v. style,
but too much to remember
in the morning.
Every step can be gruesome.
Clutch on to different takes
to accept the realization
that I will have the same eyes.
Life taker, faith healer,
bib maker, truth stealer,
comes in my mouth
and tells me to swallow
tomorrow.

#2
things are different now.
and i wondered
if i needed to change things
up
even more.

6p til 2a
and that energy was not needed.
keep on forgetting what
she told me in that office,
if caffeine was a good idea
if my sleeping patterns would change
if i could reach ejaculation as quickly
if i would feel nausea
if i would use the bathroom more often
or less
if the whole idea behind this was even
going to amount to anything
real at all.

i want to scratch my skull
with my own nails but i don't
think i can do it right now.

i'm in a car and entitled to
drive


but i don't know how.

a friend bummed on me
when i told her,
i knew i shouldn't have.

the plan was to not tell anyone,
but it seemed such a huge ordeal
that i should share.

but didn't i make a promise once
to not go out this far and nude?

is this still not me
did i not make this decision
on my very own
am i aware that one day i will leave it
behind
when i am able to sit still
and open the door alone
for
what goes through me

was it better to calm with devils
or gods or whatever the fuck people
choose to call being controlled?
these lines could turn into a trilogy of awful
coffee talk and ritual condolences
but i didn't take it there
i am not taking it there
because it is here
with me.

i never threw myself into a doctors arms
and begged.

i believe in
science and make up
and cranks and bolts
and bones and veins
and blood and memory
and spirits and visions
and living and dying
and picutres and black
covering light
and being left alone
then picked up to be
thrown down again and again and again.
no one has done this to me now
so why should i do this to them?

what i have inside
that science and make up
those cranks and bolts
those bones and veins
that blood and memory
those spirits and visions
those living and dying
and pictures and black
covering light
taught me to drop silent
and destroy.

i will do what i will to do to break this in half
and then that half in half
and then that half in half
and so on

#3
Knife Chase

"eat my shit and die
you piece of worthless fuck,
bought come product, give me attention
and stop tugging on your mother so much.
you're taking her away from me
and im too fat to get off my ass
to stop you.
the war fucked me up and so
did my father.
beat me straight into how
i'm killing you."
telephone down stairs
trunk through bathroom door
knife chase in Ashland district
hand on chil'd breast (switch to)
child's hand on man's back
nasty, oily, sweaty skin
don't know whether it was my
hand or hers
did he/me?
i'm blank
roll my head at night to find out

#4
Your mother's funeral
Remember we played hide and seek
1983 I think.
State St. haunted house.
Couldn't sleep with my legs
stretched out. Screamed into the dark.
Scared the demon would eat them.
I saw it a year earlier
in Louisville
Town house
big room
half tiger
half devil
blue
yellow
red
orange
vapor trail
floated around the bed
then I screamed for my mother
slept with her
then on her floor
until I was sixteen
years old.
afraid of satan
afraid of my father
Michael Jackson poster
on fire
in the pastor's attic.
work of natas
Natas
Eater of souls:
Soul eater.
i spent the 1980s
drawing pentagrams
and thinking of the
movie Witchboard
then blinking,
apologizing,
hoping it wouldn't come
to bite me back.
Your mother's funeral,
I told you god had a reason
but I was lying
because I don't know that.
Inside I believe you don't
know either.
The talk of the savior
was appealing for like a second.
Our old pastor
standing by the coffin.
Don't want to think abot
fucking christian bullshit.
Instead, us running around
in the yard that connected
ours and C's.
C and I fighting over who was your best
friend.
Me
best friend.
I won god dammit.
C's family was fucking nuts.
Jesus, they freaked me out.
He was at the funeral
and I handed him the crown
because C's dad didn't pull
some creepy shit on you.
Your mother's funeral.
Rode in the procession
with my mom nad her mom.
Daydream went through fifty-thousand
nightmares
as I pictured that fucking bitch
telling the other pricks during
easter play paractice that my
dad fucked around with you.
What
in
the
world
?
I
was
only
a
child.
Why
this
?
Why now and how am I
supposed to take this and make
it okay again> Fucking take it
and erase it all. What am I even
talking to?
Clear void
no angel/demon chaser
no screams or waster
no chairs toegether crying
just my hands clutching the birdneck
and demanding to be flown
back full circle. Won't take
no for an answer. Let tears
come and accept it. Know I am
of pure birth. feel that I must
forge a different kingdom.

Don't die from this
Leave the world by Living.

I will.

#5
blue/green friend

come out with
electric guitars
and tell me
to get this out
forget translation
get it out
throw corpses
into the crowd
no...
throw a crowd
into the corpse
bring life
into the fucking dead
whether
they know it
or
not

#6
trying to come
to grips with
everyone being
into various ways
of handling themselves.
does that shit you do
help you live better?
was i just a weakling
or are you hiding from something?
maybe it's just me

#7

back on raw.
thrift eraser,
poor scum:
never fixing
what i've spent.
same ol'
demon jaw
and an old
sack
of tears