Thursday, March 11, 2010

the age of misinformation

“When you think about it, we’re not allotted much time here on earth to make lives for ourselves: I mean, to scrape something together, get married, wait for death.” –Roberto Bolano

At this party there are all types of situations happening at once. I am sitting here on a small couch by myself, on some couch cushions, which seem to be made of either Naugahyde or some other synthetic leather-like (some would prefer to say pleather) substance. It’s not something I’d want to sit on with shorts on, as I fear there would be some skin stickage upon getting up, especially on a hot day, which this is not. In fact this is night, late in the night, but due to the fact that there are quite more than a few bodies in close proximity, well, it creates a similar situation as far as the overall temp. of the room goes; and, yes, it goes without saying that sweat is being secreted by these bodies too. Luckily, I don’t ever wear shorts, so I don’t have to worry about such things. The floor lamp next to me has its bulb tilted towards the ceiling, casting an ominous glowing spot up there that kind of ripples outward in concentric circles on the beige paint. I don’t feel like mingling or gabbing with strangers about TV shows. I am much content to stay here sitting, mulling over the inconsistencies in the patterns of wallpaper, and the strange liquid dynamic between the sodium yellow of the streetlight’s pools and the ubiquitous coating of moonlight draped all over the appurtenances of the night. I have a blue plastic cup in my left hand which is resting on my knee. The cup is filled with frothy keg-beer, and it's dewy with condensation on the outside. There will probably be a wet mark on my pants when I heft up the cup to drink, which I have not done for some time. A table is set with all types of hors d’oeuvre-type stuff. I can see it pretty clearly from where I am sitting. Chips and dip are there: Ruffles in a green bowl, French Onion dip next to it, also a brown party-size bag of Tostitos (with a plastic window in it) and some too-green guacamole with a few pits thrown in so it’ll stay that way. There are also a few bottles of soda: generic cola, Sprite, and Mr. Pibb for the daring. A bucket of quickly melting ice sits next to them, and then there’s this giant double stack of half-opened blue plastic cups. I don’t see any napkins. I hate when people don’t put napkins out. Also, there are some veggies on a tray, your usual assortment of baby carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, and dill veggie dip’s plopped in a small tray in the middle, and somebody’s cut up some fruit on a large plate. I love when people cut up mangos into tiny squares that are still connected to the skin. In general I like mangos. Mango juice is often quite delicious, though not always. I prefer the Boathouse Farms mango juice to the Odwalla or Jumex mango nectar or even the Naked Juice versions. Some people are allergic to mangos, and in fact even the tiniest amount of mango will make their cheeks swell like a puffer fish, or light up their face like a cuttlefish on the attack. That reminds me: cuttlefish are not fish; they are mollusks, and are highly intelligent. In fact, they are probably smarter, on average, in their own way (the way of invertebrates), than most people at this party— yours truly included.

There was that guy who always slept on the sidewalk, on that giant sloping hill, and I’d hobble and stutter-step my way down past him in the morning on my way to work, and he’d be sleeping there with his shoes on, sometimes his face straight down into the cement, and a teddy bear lying there next to him staring right up at the sun. I liked the stuffed bear more than I liked him. The bear never asked me for cigarettes.

I kept borrowing cars from strangers without them knowing and then not returning them. Couldn’t keep doing that forever.

So I get this call on the phone, and it’s the principal at my kid’s elementary school. This guy’s a nut. He’s really giving it to me, like really trying to like impress upon me that my kid’s like really up to something no good, or that my kid’s no good, or that he’s always doing bad things. I don’t know. This guy was a real screamer though. And I’m like, calm down man. Get a grip. You know? And I’m talking to this garrulous shouting bastard on the phone there, and at the same time there is this like chainsaw blaring in the fucking lobby of our building. I know. Weird fucking shit. So I go on out there, and the whole while still listening to this gabbing s.o.b. on the other end of the horn go on about what an asshole my kid is. I get outside finally, into the lobby there, and I see some dude with a chainsaw going full-on ballistic on this couch that’s out there. And this couch has been out there for a week or so, and everybody’s complaining about it, but, you know, what’re you going do? Well, I guess this surly bastard just decided to take matters into his own hands, and he’s chopping the thing up into pieces with this chainsaw, I assume to get the thing out the front door, and it’s really fucking loud of course, what with all the slicing he’s doing with that rumbling beast of a contraption howling, and stuffing is flying everywhere, and parts are like snapping off and wood is splintering, and when he gets all the way through with a section it breaks off and bounds and tumbles away down the stairs there. You know we’ve got the stairs to get into the place right there by where he was cutting up the couch, just like a few flights. And this was really most fucking unfortunate timing, because somebody happened to be coming up the stairs at that point.

The news is all bad. The newspaper comes wrapped in cellophane.

A child stutters. He wants to have many friends. It is hard for a stutterer to make friends. He gets made fun of on the playground. He wants to be liked by everyone, but nobody likes him. He stutters. Nobody likes a kid who stutters. Being around other kids makes him nervous, and that makes his stutter worse. He spends a lot of time alone. He listens to Billie Holiday records. He is almost happy only when it rains. One day at recess, apropos of nothing, as he’s sitting by himself counting ants underneath a willow tree in the corner of the schoolyard, a girl comes up and kisses him on the cheek. He starts to feel dizzy. The world starts to squeeze into a ball. He faints. When he wakes up he is in the nurse’s office. He is offered a glass of water by the nurse. He takes the glass and drinks a good amount of water. The nurse bends down and brushes his hair away from his forehead. The nurse then kisses him on the forehead. He feels as happy as he’s ever felt before.

Like me. Like me. Please. Please like me.

It’s fucking gradual goddamnit! Like waiting for the fucking sun to come up! Don’t mind it, though, you know. It’s just another motherfucking miracle. Whatever.

I was in the bathroom, and the lights were out, so I was in the dark, and I was trying to put my eyebrow liner on but used my pink lipstick instead, you know, because I couldn’t see what I was doing, so now I’m like walking around with pink eyebrows.

The TV screens get bigger as our attention spans get shorter.
In the middle of the night, in the middle of the night I call your name: At&T, Taco Bell, Bud Light.
People were busy growing hair and whistling TV theme songs.
Modifying your behavior to suit the room.
The pivot of the world is wobbling.

He asked her if she ever listened to the music he’d given her.
She said no. Not really. Not anymore.
He played cards and lost.
She made pancakes.
He told her he missed the way she stood in the shower.
She didn’t say anything.
He made paper airplanes out of his unsent love letters.
She prayed for rain.
He asked her if she ever thought of him.
She said no. Not anymore.
He stopped showering. He stopped shaving. He stopped eating. He stopped sleeping.
She made pies.

enduring the weakest of the worst of the unwilling and the whimpering and the wounded while the wrestling for worms goes wheeling on.

A basketball game was on. Nobody was watching it. People were commenting on the commercials though. We all started singing Little Sadie. A banjo was being strummed. People danced too. Then the power went out. We sat in the dark and one by one we all fell asleep.

Fernando Valenzuela hit .304 in 1990.

A curse was averse to a care.
A monk was drunk but debonair.

a game of mud dominoes striking matches on tombstones and the gravel from the path sticks to the bottom of your shoes where they don’t have any rest stops anymore like ants invading a pantry like sweaty fingertips like the all encompassing spatter of loneliness that is an affliction like no other not like solitude which is a choice something one picks like the winner of the kentucky derby yes that is where these torpedoes go desperate yet alluring too in a spell of indecision while the channels change while monty clift dines on spare tires with plastic utensils we fill up on dessert and nobody is there to offer any help

Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good To Me So Far was playing at the sandwich place. It came to that part where he says, “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do.” I was just standing around waiting for the fat guy behind the counter to make my roast beef sandwich. And then I thought about how being lazy really was taking all my time.

a girl whose name was Erika Strada sat behind me in 7th grade Language Arts class
she was born the same year that CHiPs made its debut
I never saw her ride a motorcycle
or arrest anybody
but one time
she did trade me some sour apple Jolly Ranchers
for a bag of Fritos

I wasn’t answering my phone during that period in my life. I was going through a phase. I was self-centered as hell. I wasn’t eating or sleeping much. I had a lot of time to myself. I wasn’t just twiddling my thumbs. I was making exits constantly from things.

A doorman was tying his shoes. It was a difficult day to be a doorman. One of those days. A headache waiting to happen. People came and went. There was always a smile there. There was a nod. There were hellos and other things. A dappling of sun. Somebody’s hand waving in the distance. Mailboxes snapping shut. Trips in circles. The way the door hinges squeaked. The doorman was relishing this moment of shoe-tying. There were no currents of air. A wash of convection. A curvilinear descent. An aglet squished between two fingers. Things made out of paper and glue. There are no gumshoes here. We have clean clothes and dirty minds. We lease the farm with an option to buy. Barely treading-water cusps of light gouge through eyelets with a clear purpose, with intent. Kept apart. Defeated at birth. Gloriously made into nothing faster than something that is wherever anything will go. The doorman closed his eyes and dreamed black-and-white daydreams.

My heart is having a Going Out Of Business Sale.
Everything must go.
The left ventricle is half-off.
You’ve never seen an aorta like this one.
In fact, if you buy the aortic valve I’ll throw in the mitral valve for free.
And the pulmonary veins are two-for-one.
You’ve never seen prices like this.
Get an atrium while supplies last.
A tricuspid valve slashed to ¼ of its actual value won’t be around long, so act fast.
Too good to be true?
Come see for yourself.
Bargains on Purkinje fibers that you will not believe.
A sinoatrial node that’ll keep pace with the best of them.
And cardiac muscle going like hotcakes.
I will not be undersold.
All inventory must be gone by tomorrow.
Don’t miss out.
Buy now. Pay later.
All major credit cards accepted.
Take it all. Give it all away.
It’s of no use to me anymore.

I see you on a Saturday night with moonlight peppering your hair with a glass of wine in one hand with a hard-as-nails nose for the moment I see you on and off again pals with barstools I see the hem of your ways tattering I see you less furious than a pledge drive that’s not making a cent I see you less often than I should with regret kicking at my knees with a horrifying malaise with puppy love with a handicapped hurt with unassailable smiles I see you waiting on a habit I see you on Mondays of rain I see you in the way only I can see you like I see you like this every day

He sings Marlene Dietrich songs.
He lives in such exasperating times.

a wonder at a trim weight now she was living that way then a couple of years went by maybe it was three and she had to get her tonsils out and mishandling herself and counseling herself through things and she was less well than she showed

it was a question of whether she should wear the brown dress, and he told her, yes, she should wear the brown dress, since she was asking, and he was being very serious about it too, that she should wear the brown dress, he liked her in the brown dress, but she said, really, do you understand the ramifications of the brown dress, and he said, the brown dress, you are asking if I understand ramifications when it come to me liking you wearing the brown dress, and she said, yes, the brown dress, when it comes to me wearing or possibly not wearing the brown dress, that's what I mean when I am talking here about the current situation with the brown dress, which you might or might not like me wearing, and he said, what, really, the brown dress, I have already told you that when it comes to the brown dress I am to be trusted, I want you to wear it, so she said, that is what I'm saying, this is the real problem with the brown dress, the dilemma of the dress here, that's what I am saying, and he said, no, that is what I am saying, and they both agreed that she should wear a green dress instead

(Stolen From the Love Letters of Barney Fife)
fall is something better than windy
like breathing leaves
something lush like a chill rushing through you
sweaters happening and cedar or wood smoking
curves and a sort of branching out like empty but more so
room to move and stand or lie down in
staring upended
loopy into the fading dusky distance
opening to smaller things than your shape
lengthwise and hardly ever enough
to match the wild forever of your eyes
or to sleep in the deep tingling comfort of your hair

The rents came down and the rents went up and the rents stayed the same and the hands that feed you are the hands that you keep feeding the rents are too high the rents are too stable the rents don’t go the rents just keep on and the feet you walk on are the feet you walk with the rents make you write checks the rents make up themselves all the time and the head you use to confuse is the head you wear so well

speak into the microphone. throw in the towel. grant a wish. take a dip in a tide pool. upset the balance of a cartwheeler. enjoy a cushion. drill a hole through a grape. huddle under a doorframe. tackle a traffic cop. frame a suspect. get a grip. upend a sewing machine. pare a pear. peel car tires. land headfirst in a pile of hot embers.

Winston Churchill planted an apple tree and chopped it down and then lied about it to his father.

He’s not much of wrestler. He’s more of a tulip connoisseur. Calendar’s flip their pages while he thinks of things to do with his time. He’s not much of a risk taker. He’s more of a intermittent goofball. He’s hardly leaving fingerprints. He’s retching on the cosmopolitan duds of clover. He’s rarely on time. He’s heisting all the cereal. He’s cooking with electricity. He’s not a collector of crocus or a foxglove hoarder. He’s in the midst of a mild nervous breakdown.

I just need people to like me. When I find out somebody likes me I immediately feel better about myself. I don’t like myself, and I guess I just need other people to help me compensate for this. It is a very selfish desire. I realize this. I want attention. I want eyes on me. I’m like that little kid who screams, “Look at me! Look at me mommy!” I want to be noticed and appreciated. I want others to like me.

anyone could tell
Pearl was hawking lugies at the dolphins
trying to get back at the bikers
trying to hold her head like a daffodil does
and Pearl was walking like a cartoon
and Pearl had vim like a goldfish
anyone who knows what anything means could tell
Pearl was happily enraged
Pearl was smarting
Pearl was coming up empty
there is not this
there is only that
Pearl was chapsticking the carpet
Pearl wouldn’t keep
the television is too loud the television is too loud the television is too loud
Pearl was hassling the boys in bowties
Pearl was having a conversation with a toothbrush
the radio is on mute
instead of up-to-date she was out of time
Pearl was behaving normally
anyone knows it
just ask

Thinking about the difference between cuts of meat. Thinking about ratchets, pawls, and winches. Thinking about being down and out. Tiredly trudging up a mountain of indifference. Making my getaway. Glorious is the pall of winter. Empty woodsheds and grapevines loaded with wrath. Whimpers that bang out death on eyelids. Thinking about dates and deep seas. Horses are not always healthy. Robustness eliminates the need for circumspection. Wringing my hands, and there’s this ringing in my ears, and my phone never rings, and rings are circling and circling.

I was killing time, sitting on a bench outside a café, watching people parallel park cars, thinking about things in a way that I can only describe as being sofa-shaped. My spirit seemed indomitable.

I’m nervous and I don’t want people looking at me. I’m anxious. I’m not relaxed one bit. There is a finch waiting to hound me. I am being strong-armed by serfs. Little do I know what I do or do not know. Spit and pretend to whistle. I’m riddled with fear. I’m having hamburgers for breakfast. Lowdown dirty needs of a notwithstanding care. I’m on edge. Withhold all my earnings or give me a paycheck of forgiveness. I’m earnest enough about my mendacity. I’m overly intense. I’m keyed up. I’m tired. I’m blue but not black. I’m old with envy. I’m just a cracker crumb from good enough. There is no recourse in future events. I pine. I dwell. I get absolutely nowhere.

If you get railroaded into doing it, then, yeah, well, that’s something else completely. Or if you get buffaloed by a dentist into brushing three times a day. Well, let me tell you, nervous breakdowns were a dime a dozen that summer. Nice people play nice too. Mean people in general can’t fake empathy as well as lonely out-of-work cartoonists. Up is the side of down you never see when you’re falling. But, yeah, if your goat gets gotten, if your knees tremble, then maybe you can know a thing or two about nothing at all. We pray to horoscopes and run from beat cops. Will it last this time? It’s all an act. Everything is an act. Faking it is what people do to get by. Strap on a watch. Tweak the weather report. Mistake cops for angels. It’s all a gamble anyway. Everything is.

Dreamt of Andre-Agassi signed tennis rackets being auctioned off by a high school gym teacher. Some guy paid 90 grand for one.

high heels clattering white cement…you hear things…there is not enough commitment from the fire chiefs…more of a scramble…more like scarfing down condiments…it was there in the mornings of coffee that was always a little too hot at first and before it was finished too cold to drink…long times come as well as any other while we walk under ladders and lose our heads in wet cement…pleased at first something wiggles towards plunk…unleash the unicorns…breed the hamsters…that guy who would come into the deli to collect aluminum cans and point at people and talk high-pitched and real loud… to swing is to slump…pandering to the will of the people…we collect dust in our pockets…there are no more phone booths…the scrunchy side of things is raftered and bowing like an old ceiling…he chewed nails and spit rust…we were helpless in the arcade of our existence…

Getting along with others is not always easy. There are many tests. You will become envious at times. You will bristle at petty annoyances. Things will not gently meld or fall into place. Free time creates obstacles with its dismissal of the necessary. Pitted against somebody who has done you wrong, it will be your place to keep peace in your soul. But the quickening of anger, like the struggles of flies becoming stuck to flypaper, is relentless and hard to keep at bay. You must order takeout whenever possible. Strangers will be jovial if your facial expression suits their conception of others, and keeping up the charade of contentment will be more important than actually being content. Contrived satisfaction is no less satisfying than disappointment. Give yourself a grade. And then there are those sweeps of fortune that land pillaged ruffians in the sea salt. Squalls will come and go. Interiors will be mended by boredom. Aftershocks of bad news are often times worse than the bad news itself.

George fell in love with a Jeopardy! contestant. Her name was Doris Doze. She was on a run. It started on a Thursday, and by the weekend George was sure that he was in love. Over 17 grand in two days. It was true love. There was no doubt about it. He thought about her all day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday too. Doris was an elementary school teacher. She was clumsy. Always running into things. Had broken her nose twice. She was slight. George admired her face immensely. He felt his life was lacking in richness of experience. Doris was something out in the world, something shining out there in the dreary happenings of life, something that was more than his little frame of reference. She knew things. Her button pushing skills were excellent, thumbing her buzzer just as Alex finished reading the clue. She knew what she was doing. George wanted to feel like that, to feel like he knew what he was doing. He rarely ever felt like he knew what he was doing. Doris Doze was something more rich than any experience he’d ever known. He wanted to know her. He clung rabidly to her every question-framed answer. There was something flawless in her personality. It drove George crazy with anticipation. Monday couldn’t come soon enough.

hello there creep with your paper-doll arms
hello there enmity and sure-fire irascible doubt
hello there short night’s trip away from day
hello there imitation of life
hello there out-of-order retractable roof
hello there reader’s digest and TV guide
hello there spilt leaves crumbling to ash on the dented chrome hood of a parked car

The highway has durable potential. The billboards sing in harmony with the surroundings and choose a perfect mate by performing their inconsiderate music. Gall spills forthwith in a testy whisper. Concrete is bored out of its mind. Being between things is making the market stable. Community organizers sweat profusely at all times. Lessons in geophysics were being lost on the cut-rate bluefin tuna buyers. Shifting cold creeping colorless over zestless used car lots. Bananas going gold in the trees. The strange scent of others. The temperate shores of bloody westerns. Zeniths were hard to come by that week. Serenity was being shuttered because of fear’s budget crisis. Shoes were running. Life was sapped of all potential. Things were cheery.

That’s a very autumnal outfit you’ve got on.
You can’t talk to me like that assface. I’ve got my rights, you know?
Get the fuck away from me. Now!
Sorry. Okay. Easy. Okay?

Thatches of weeds were greening the lot some, but still I didn’t see much reason to stare. Countries age. Worms get a bellyful. Curtains hung to block out blight. Deflated and deplorable with a denting crush of tinfoil, and the breaks are set, and moods are squeaking. Humdrumly heaving ho. The census was coming around, and the census was all we were thinking about. And I was trying to think of a four-letter word for the prettiest girl in town. The landlords made earthquakes of rent while turning in their sleep. I spilled marbles when I sneezed. Nobody watches You Can’t Do That On Television anymore. Thirst is abating. The wildest of my hangnails is cutting up the sky. Funnels take in whatever is left.

do not mark my words they are unremarkable and I never became a machinist or a dentist or a file clerk or a coat salesman but I came pretty close to being a Little League batting instructor and the way of all things is changing all the time