Wednesday, February 25, 2009

who what where when why

the rain like a mist was falling through the headlights of the pickup truck that had crashed into the mid-sized sedan in the middle of the intersection at Sutter and Kearney and the cop cars were parked all around and the cops were talking to the driver of the sedan who was still sitting in the driver’s seat where he was when the pickup truck came and walloped into the passenger’s side when the light had obviously been red for the pickup but it was raining and that explained things maybe and the back of the pickup was all loaded up with broken-down and flattened cardboard boxes that were stacked up way above the cab and were tied down with ropes and this giant stack of cardboard boxes was really sagging and leaning and it seemed like they were about to tip over to come crashing down into the rain-wet street where they’d turn into some kind of brown mash or mush like oatmeal and it would be a big mess not that the two vehicles blocking up the intersection weren’t some kind of big mess all wrecked and taking up space and not letting much traffic by so that even the 45-Stockton bus had to almost go on two wheels and up on the curb almost seeming to cringe and wheezing some too as it went by and the cops were all standing around and getting wet in the rain and there was glass all over the street there by the sedan from the broken window were the pickup had slammed into it and the pickup’s front bumper was caved in with the license plate hanging on by a thread and the driver of the pickup was nowhere in sight and the pickup was just sitting there looking sad with the rain falling in its headlights and a few rubberneckers were ogling it all from the street corners and probably watching the rain fall too as it was a hard thing to miss and was really starting to come down as the cops pulled the driver of the sedan from his car and put him on a gurney and the onlookers all held their breath because the guy was on a gurney and that seemed bad but there was no ambulance so it was strange and a rather hefty fellow in a velour jacket who was holding a very capacious umbrella asked what the hell they were going to do with the poor bastard shit it couldn’t be that bad if there ain’t even an ambulance around to take him away so what the hell and where the fuck did they get that gurney from there’s no way it could fit in one of them cop cars but then another gentleman who seemed a bit tipsy and was smoking a cigarette quipped maybe it’s one of them fold-up gurneys that you can like fold into a tiny little package that’d fit right in the trunk and the rotund man laughed and said yeah maybe that’s it and then they both laughed some more and walked away down the street away from the scene of the accident and by then the rain was really starting to come down and people were starting to run and duck for cover under bus shelters and under awnings and the overhanging cornices of large buildings trying not to get soaked and the cops were getting back in their cop cars and the somehow the guy on the gurney got wheeled away and a tow trucked pulled up with the tow truck driver darting around and getting pummeled by the downpour that was turning into quite the deluge by this point and the gutters were really flowing fast and filling up and the rain was splashing all over and crashing on top of the two crashed cars and it was getting harder to see what was going on and most everyone had left except for this tow truck driver who had a yellow raincoat on and who was hunched over and trying to get chains around the sedan’s undersides so he could hoist it up on the back of the tow truck and he didn’t seem to be at all pleased about any of it while the cops sat in their cops cars which were surrounding the accident sight and also almost completely blocking traffic in three directions and a lot of people driving were starting to honk their horns as it became increasingly difficult to see what the hell was going on because of the rain and because it was such slow going getting through the intersection but as the cars kept inching their way around things the drivers would slow down even more to try to catch a glimpse of the two ruined vehicles and all of that cardboard getting sopping wet and falling apart in the back of the pickup in that immense stack that kept leaning farther and farther over the side but not falling because it was still being held in by the ropes but not for long with all the rain coming down like that and the gutters were overflowing and the rain looked beautiful coming down in the headlights of the pickup truck.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Amphiboly of Concepts of Reflection

We were being careful. Not too careful, you see. Just careful enough to care. That’s about all. So, we were being careful, watching things, you see, you know, watching stuff happen, just in this careful way, just a hint you’d say if you were talking about a recipe for something, or no, how something tastes is more like it, yes, that’s it. So, yes, just a hint of careful. Not carefully hinting at something, no, you see? No. That’s not it. We were being careful. Careful damn it. That’s all. And the radio was playing. It was a song I knew. Nobody else knew it. It was a song, you know, that came on the radio a lot then. It wasn’t a good song, but a song you’d know if you heard it, though maybe you wouldn’t know the name, you’d know the song, you know? The radio was playing this song, this song I knew but didn’t know the name of, yes, this song that was playing and making me think certain things, certain peculiar things, you know like the things you think when you’re alone and you’re listening to a song that you know but that you don’t know the name of, and it’s not so good of a song, but you know it, and we were being careful, you know, real careful. I’m thinking those peculiar thoughts, and I’m being careful, and that song is playing, and I’m starting to want to sing along with the song, but I’m being so careful, you know, that I can’t really allow myself to start doing something like start singing along with a song that I know but don’t know the name of. There isn’t too much room for error. Not in a situation like this. No. There is not. That’s why we were being careful. That’s about all.

Shoot them in the toes.
Laughter is mostly authentic.

Halfway to the end. Almost there, but not there yet. Being somewhere is always better than being nowhere. No matter how careful you are, you know, you’ll always make the same mistakes. Okay, maybe not the same ones, not all the time, but sometimes you will make the same mistakes, mistakenly of course, but it could be, you know, that you might make them on purpose sometimes too, subconsciously of course. Well, maybe not “of course.” It just might be that sometimes it is on purpose that you might make the same mistakes twice, or more than twice too, without it being something that you’d have to assume would have to be done merely for some subconscious reason. But still, you know, mistakes happen. Accidents happen. Halfway isn’t close enough. Almost isn’t close enough. Being somewhere is never being nowhere, not even sometimes. No. Somewhere is somewhere, and nowhere is, well, nothing.

When we were being careful, and that song came on that I didn’t know the name of but that I knew the sound of, well, that was when I started thinking those peculiar thoughts. Like a thought about how “that” and “that” can sound different but look the same and sometimes when you read the word “that” you say the word “that” in your head, or rather the little voice in your head does, if a voice can be little, and it says, that voice that is very familiar to you, but that is not quite your own voice, that voice says “that” so that it sounds like “that” and it changes the whole meaning of what you are reading. It is a problem that there is no real help for. That there is no help for that is well known. Music might help. If you could read in music instead of words. But you can’t. Spelling “that” with an “e” so it looks like “thet” might help. But “thet” is not a word. So, I was being careful and thinking these types of peculiar things like that, that that is sometimes just that, that is, that’s that.

Being careful is not easy. Being careful is pretty damn hard when the radio is playing a song you can’t name but you can sing along with. A song that is familiar. A song that is making you think some pretty peculiar thoughts. And we were being as careful as we could. Our actions were flavored with a hint of careful. I found myself really wanting to sing this song that I didn’t know the name of, but I wouldn’t let myself sing because of how careful we were being. If something were to move, even make the slightest motion, like even say a rabbit shifting its paws around in the dirt, not that that would have happened there. No. Not like that. Not that. Not there. Not while we were being so careful. Okay. Maybe just a hint of careful, but careful enough, okay? No. There were not any rabbits around. There was no dirt. But, you know, just the slightest thing moving would have given us away. Okay. Say like me rubbing my nose. Scratching at an itch at the bottom of my nose, by the nostrils, where my nose often itches, that would be enough to give us away. Not like giving somebody away at a wedding. No. That would be different from this kind of giving away. Giving ourselves away by scratching at my nose was not something that I wanted to even think about. Not scratching my nose, but giving ourselves away that is. That is not what I wanted to think about. Though I didn’t want to think about scratching the itch on my nose either, because that would have definitely made it harder not to scratch my nose. Like, you know, when you think about doing something so much that it becomes hard not to do it. And the more you think about not doing the thing, like scratching an itch, the more you can’t resist doing it. Not doing the thing becomes harder and harder the more you try to think about not doing it, or think about doing it, you know, imagining yourself doing it, and then trying to not scratch, to not scratch that damn itch, that tingling feeling on the end of your nose, right by your nostrils, what some fancy people call nares, and the itching gets worse the more you don’t scratch. That’s what was happening to me when we were being careful and the radio was playing that song that I didn’t know the name of but that I wanted to sing along with. Singing along with the song was getting pretty hard to not do too. I wanted to sing the song that was playing on the radio, and I wanted to scratch my nose. Those two things were becoming more and more all I could think about. On top of that, I was also, you know, we were, being careful. Just a hint.

A casting call for the botched and bored and disenfranchised, the lonely and misanthropic, the misunderstood, the lame, the disillusioned, the carefree and whimsical and lost, the hardworking and moneyless, the custard walkers, the visionaries, the fearless, the brain-damaged, the dissidents and the immature and the grommet makers and the oglers and the hard-hearted and the bedwetters and the marooned and the sightseers and the jugglers and the bicycle riders and the spies and the careful.

So you get to be so careful, real careful you see, and we were being this kind of careful, all kinds of careful now, you see, really not as careful as we could have been, probably, but we were being pretty careful, probably more than just a hint of careful now, and I wasn’t scratching the itch on my nose, the itch in my nostrils, and I wasn’t singing the song I didn’t know the name of, the song I knew how to sing, I knew the words to the song, but we were being careful and I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t scratch an itch on my nose, and if any of us had made a move we would have been giving ourselves away, and I couldn’t stop thinking about scratching my nose, and the radio was playing that song, you know, and we were standing there being careful and just watching things happen, watching stuff, watching what happens when you stand there being careful, just stand there not moving, not even scratching your nose, not even making any motion at all, not singing, trying to not even breathe, trying, but, you know, you have to breathe, so just trying to do it without making any noise, you know, even though the radio was playing, but that radio was just playing in my head, don’t ask my how I figured this out, but I was being careful standing there and it just occurred to me that only I could hear that song playing on the radio, that song that I didn’t know the name of, and that I didn’t know the name of it because it didn’t have a name, it was just a song that maybe didn’t even exist except in place in my head where it played on the radio that was inside of my head also.

We were being so careful. So very careful. So careful that we didn’t forget to hammer in the nails. We hammered in the nails. The nails made noise when the hammer hit them. Where the hammer hit them on the head they made noise. The hammer made noise when it hit the tops of the nails. The hammers hit the nails on the head where the noise they made was made. We hammered the nails into the boards with the hammers that made noise where they hit the nails on their heads. All of our hammering of the nails made noise when we hammered the nails into the boards. The boards we hammered the nails into with the hammers were filled with nails in the end because of our hammering. We were being careful with our hammering. So careful. So very careful. It was pretty hard to be that careful while we were hammering. But we were. We were very careful.

Being cheerful is sometimes even harder than being careful.

A lot of noise we were making with our hammering. A lot of noise so it was hard to be careful about not giving ourselves away. We were hammering and making all that noise and it no longer seemed possible to not give ourselves away. I started singing. Nobody knew the song I was singing except for me. I knew the song I was singing because I heard it playing on the radio in my head. It was playing the whole time we were being careful about not giving ourselves away. I couldn’t resist the urge to sing the song anymore. The song didn’t have a name. I sang the song loud now. The song gave me away. The song wasn’t a song that anybody else could sing. I was singing the song alone. There was no we. I was alone. We were not hammering. We were not being careful. I was singing. I was hammering. I was alone. I was no longer being careful. I scratched the itch on my nose. I gave myself away. That was that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Made For TV Movie (Part III)

(a short advertisement)

We’ve got padlocks and booby traps and bow-legged ballerinas and cupcakes and bullhorns and masquerades and chasers and last place finishers and brown outs and grand old dilapidated mansions and crows and ewers and retreating armies and lockjaw and rose petals and Esperanto and closed umbrellas and graveyards and cops and creature comforts and Big League Chew and compromises and Lois Lane and movie popcorn and relay teams and bereavement and copouts and mutual exclusiveness and upbringing and wanted dead or alive and curses and clubs and crowbars and cowcatchers and God All Mighty and complaints and muster and musicals and folk lore and urbanity and cats who talk and cover bands. And everything must go.

...and now back to our feature presentation

the cue card reads, “Ra Ra Ra!”
the umbrellas dance in the sun
nothing changes
time goes by

the cue card reads, “Say the name ‘Phillip’ over and over again until your mind goes numb and then just react.”
the people make small talk
nothing changes
time goes by

the cue card reads, “Queue up.”
the horses plead the fifth
nothing changes
time goes by

the cue card reads, “Less is more than more than a little.”
the dogcatchers go for a swim
nothing changes
time goes by

the cue card reads, “Impersonate a James Dean impersonator while doing a James Dean impersonation.”
the dancers swoon and glance skyward
nothing changes
times goes by

the cue card reads, “Laugh more. Lie less.”
the beer-drinking clowns lose their smiles
nothing changes
times goes by

the cue card reads, “When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.”
the bathrooms and cemeteries are full
nothing changes
time goes by

the cue card reads, “X and Y were the best of friends until Z came along with an IOU.”
the curtains rise
nothing changes

the cue card reads, “Do something useful: nothing.”
the meadowlarks sing

the cue card reads, “Cue the mood music and the spotlight for a grand finale.”

the cue card reads, “The End.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Sorrows Of Eliezer Mission

I am not liked by members of the PTA
Young children do not smile at me
I scream out of windows at 3 a.m.
Trying to encourage the hookers on the corner to keep their voices down
Out there where the drunks howl and the buses blast by
A violin plays from an open window across the street

In here it is only cold
And I can never sleep

I am not kind and generous to all comers
People sometimes scowl at me in disgust
When I scuffle by with my six-pack of beer under my arm
My tattered and well-stained pants falling off my hips
Shirt riding up over my belly like a curtain drawing over a hairy white mound
But I give readily to strangers and hoodlums and junkies and bums
Any change that’s rattling around in my pockets
I leave a good tip when I can
Ask any bartender or cabbie or pizza delivery guy

The nights around here are never my friends
I look out my window and wait
For the windshield wipers on the cars going by to stop wiping
So I can go outside and not get wet

I am not on any committees
I do not sit on any councils of anything
There are no foundations started in my honor
I do not make donations to all worthy causes
I try to do my part to make this place a little better
But mostly I just sit around and throw golf balls at my walls

I am not liked by my neighbors
They don’t wave and say hi to me in the hall
Sometimes one of them will knock loudly on my door
If I am being too loud late at night
I apologize and turn my radio down
But there is nowhere for me to run to anymore

I am not a bad person
But it is becoming increasingly difficult
To imagine myself as good

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Made For TV Movie (Part II)

(Fade in. Bleak landscape. A few radios scattered around. Fade out. Fade in again, but not too close.)

Where does weight go when you lose it?
Skies like this, all shredded up with the meandering oxbow and peanut shapes of clouds, affect people’s moods. They tend to think about things differently, including the life they are living, their daily commute, pinwheels, monster truck shows, and the aerials on their cars.
Taxi drivers are strangers until you get into their cab, trusting them with things like your life. Tipping them well is probably a good idea.

(Close up of a man wearing sweat pants and a tank top. His hands are on his knees, and he is huffing and puffing, and his tongue is hanging out a bit, and he is shaking his head back and forth, and he is winded, and he is tired, and he is not running up any more hills anymore today. Pull back slowly. The man is not going anywhere just at the moment. Circle the camera around him, slowly at first, as he continues breathing heavily with his hands on his knees. Circle faster.)

When shyness is overcome, what happens to it?
Humans are just slabs of meat running around feeling things. Some of them have carpal tunnel syndrome which sends shooting pains down their arms and also sometimes makes their fingers tingle.
Out in the street it is cold. The wind is blowing hard. It has just rained. Rainwater still stains the street in puddles that reflect a little moonlight there too. Not much is happening. Out in the street it is cold.

A voice speaking from the radio: “The tree outside my window, its yellowing leaves flouncing around like golden drooping wings, was all strung up with x-mas lights, which coiled around its trunk and spread like stars through its branches. I looked at it out there. It wasn’t making me feel good. I looked at it again. I looked over and over again. I looked through the darkened pane of my window.”

(These words come up, flashing like subtitles in white on the bottom of the screen: “Everything was wrong. It was all a mistake. I am ordinary. I only take showers when it rains. I flush the toilet too, sometimes. I am not a good person. I keep forgetting how to live properly.”)

The television set can be vile enemy and a toothsome friend. It enchants and distracts one from the task at hand. It can make one say things like, “I have illusions that I try to make real to other people. They call me delusional. I’m a product of the mass media. It’s nothing to be proud of. Just the way it is.”

(Tilt camera on an angle, slowly tilting it over farther until it is sideways.)

When the streets are still a little wet after it rains, and the air still smells that way that it does after it rains, that scent of saturated pavement, that whiff of rain-soaked asphalt that makes you think of cool fall days when all the sidewalk’s trees’ leaves are gold and red and yellow, and there is green all over the place—a blinding, indomitable green that brings comfort to the way the wind blows—then, and only then, is one vulnerable to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the world.

(Quick cut to an empty stage where a play is about to be performed.)

Act II Scene ii
(A small dirty apartment, the kind of place with dust all over everything and stains all over the carpet and a perpetual pile of dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter top next to the sink. Three bay windows at one end let in some light through the blinds, but one of the windows is covered with a dark blanket which is nailed up at the corners above the pane. There is a television set that doesn’t work in one corner, old books cover most of the floor space, and the rotting husk of a former chair sits by the windows. It is ripped up and badly stained. The walls are bare except for a painting of a clown which is leaning against the wall on top of a bookcase in the corner. There are three book cases along the walls that are all in various stages of decay: paint peeling, warped wood, jam-packed tight with books, one almost buckling under the weight of the many books stacked on top of it. A bare mattress lies on the floor in the middle of the room. A silver art-deco style lamp illuminates the room poorly. On the floor is an old typewriter with ink-stained keys and a worn ribbon. A plastic yellow ashtray is filled with cigarette butts. The door to the small bathroom is closed.)

(A dirge of violin and piano music plays in the empty room as a disembodied voice speaks.)

The voice says: “The pink flowers on the small tree outside my window were starting to die and lose their petals to the wind. I hadn’t had anything to eat in three days. My eyes were sore because I hadn’t slept very well the night before. People outside my window looked like beetles or narwhals or cigarette butts smashed in the rain. For a while I’d been talking to myself and pacing back and forth across the dirty floor of my apartment. I spit at the windows and saw snails there crawling on the glass, leaving trails just like my mucus running down the pane in a slimy line. My overcoat was torn, ragged at the sleeves, and my socks had holes in the toes. The radio was playing opera. I was laughing a lot. Once in a while a car would roll by on the street below and I would think, there, there is another thing happening in the world, another person alive who is doing something, making something happen. Time does exist. But these were just empty thoughts. I knew that they didn’t mean anything to anyone besides myself. A dog would bark and I would jump high into the air. A small child would cry through the thin plaster walls and I would dive onto my mattress and roll and thrash about on it. The world was going around as it was supposed to be, and I was there on it going around too.”

(The camera pans across the stage slowly. It then focuses on a disheveled old man who has walked onto the stage. The camera follows him as he walks around in circles on the stage.)

The man says: “The world needs its expendable masses, people like me, to do the thankless, mundane tasks, to serve those who would rather not do such things, those who have wealth and power and take things for granted, who feel entitled to live their lives with a certain amount of unnecessary luxury and comfort. We clean the toilets and the gutters, cut the trees that majestically line the sidewalks, tear tickets into stubs, have staring matches with windows, and fall out of the back of pickup trucks. Sometimes we cry.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Made For TV Movie (Part I)

(Cue the saxophone. Fade in.)

Gargle tap water and go home hungry. Thousands of hands writing rent checks. Millions of mouths to feed. Four more hands tying knots in ties. Delinquently insolvent and busting at the seams. In the bight of life’s rope. This guy on the radio says, “I don’t want to tell you a story that you know already. I want to say something that will make a difference in who you are as a person. I want to sing. There is too much emptiness out there already. I don’t want to add to it. Sometimes I know that I am not fit for this world. That is okay.” There is a pause here. The pause ends. Then, on the 34-inch plasma screen of a hi-def television, a medium-to-small-sized elf, who has just finished chewing a Chips ahoy! chocolate chip cookie while nodding his football-shaped head to the song 88 Lines about 44 women, says, “So don’t send me away to a nuclear war. Don’t press my suits or darn my socks or mend the frayed ends of my days. Don’t tell me to just settle down.”

(Fade out. Drums. Banjo. Fade in. Then silence for a little bit.)

When the farms are all gone and the fields are bare and the creeks are all dry except that part right over there where the fish have all gone belly-up before the sun has even gone down and the world is a ball of twine.
Wake to an asphalt milling machine on a rampage grinding up the street outside my window.
Laughing House. Looney Bin. Luna. The moon. Selenology. Light shining in darkness.
Nuthouse. Bedlamite. Pandemonium. The capital of Milton’s hell.
Cracking up. Bats in the belfry. A few French fries short of a Happy Meal. Mad. Insane. Batty. Chiroptology.
Nut job. Wacko. Maniac.

(A little zither music. Julie Andrews spinning on a hilltop. Pan the skies.)

We stride through sanity with another Monday in our collective back pocket, lying their steady like a one-eyed jack, or maybe we’re all waiting for Friday’s ace in the hole to come by and sweep us away with a dusty broom towards the weekend, and, like a suicide king abdicating his lonely throne, we are unnerved, and lack the perseverance to chance a glimpse that far ahead at ourselves being the way we will be then.
Cutthroat delinquents, between episodes of spray painting and homicide, stave off boredom by smoking pot and watching old jazzercise videos from the 80s that they acquired dumpster diving.
Diaries are selfish. Dairies are selfishly galactopoietic.
Mood music doesn’t always help your mood. High strung and elusive and making a speedy getaway. Flutes help, but not the sound they make. Flossing with mint-flavored dental floss helps. Jumping over hurdles may not be helpful.
Golden Gate Street isn’t always as pretty as it sounds. Fashionable pessimism is almost as petty as fashionable melancholy, but not quite as seductive. Gutter water comes flowing in all colors. Sleeping in the gutter is rarely meant literally.

(Cut to a random fast-moving splice of unrelated images, like pigs farting and lawyers crying and waves crashing against large rocks. Play the second movement of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, but not too loud. In fact, just make it barely audible in the background. Cut to a cat sleeping all curled up on a couch.)

Romance is something that happens in movies.
Darts make a lot of holes in the wall where the dartboard, which is their target, hangs.
Making a living robbing banks is a risky business. Tom Cruise is a scientologist.
Technicolor is a cop out, but it is nice to look at.
I am stupid. Don’t believe me.
There is a crack at the end of the sidewalk. It trips people. They fall over the edge of the world. Some of them have bow ties on. Some are eating marigolds. Most are not willing to jump.
In the movies John Cassavetes punches Ronald Reagan, and Marlon Brando beats up and kills Timothy Carey.
A killdeer is a bird, not an abridged order.
I am fond of fronds but not always ponds, though lakes can be nice when not covered with ice, and oceans are wry compared to the sky, but the wind still hangs on a careless depend.
Homeostasis can seem unnatural at times. Lockjaw can be detected by a spatula test, and can be cured by a tetanus shot. Getting “back to normal” can often be quite an ordeal. My soul weighs less than a feather but more than a wink.
In the future sleep will no longer be necessary. Eating will be a luxury. Water will be expensive. The world will be as one.
Hoodlums still tend to “huddle up,” though they don’t shout, “huddle ‘em” anymore, which is how they got their name.
Giants would be uncomfortable on earth.
Pin monkeys are a dying breed. People used to win a turkey for getting three strikes in a row at bowling alleys during Thanksgiving. Four strikes in a row is called a hambone.
Soon the days will seem to be getting longer, but really they’ll just be starting earlier. Over the course of their lives it is probably safe to assume that people see more sunsets than sunrises.
Playing fetch is pretty farfetched for somebody who’s never owned a dog.
There are many different ways to say, “okay.”

(Fade out. Put the camera down, but leave it on. Record yourself falling on the floor and making cooing sounds while rubbing your head and patting your belly and kicking your legs up in the air as fast as you can, kind of like you’re riding a bicycle upside down. Do this for about 5 minutes. Get up and grab the camera. Fade back in.)

The middle-aged chain-smoking bookie with the red beret on sat hunched over his pot stickers at the counter of the Chinese café. Some steam was rising in a clumpy mist from the pot stickers and it was getting in his eyes, well, you know, because of the way his face was right over them, because of the way he was leaning over there, like I said, all hunched over on a barstool at the counter, and his dad was dead and his dad’s dad was dead, and his dad’s dad’s dad was dead too, but he was still alive, for now.
A clown named Mr. Lampshade was staring in the window of Bloomingdales when he noticed that his nose had turned red in the cold wind.
Things never seem quite as tempting in retrospect.
Mobile homes rarely ever go anywhere.
When you’re down for the count that means they’ve stopped counting. Science isn’t always so sweet as that.
Push can come to shove, but shoving rarely ever leads to pushing.
It is debatable whether whistling can be taught.
The first broom was called a besom. It was just some twigs tied to a handle. After using it, the floor wasn’t much cleaner than before.

Friday, February 6, 2009


The Decembrists were,

at random, 

(tall they stood) 

shot at     &

--God--    they stood still 


handsome        (taller still)






,            always caring           .




                         somehow still 



                           to dance …)


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Halo Sims' Late Night King Kong Radio Hour (PART 4)

Yeah, that’s right Steve, there’s a halo around the moon. Steve Earle there clawing away at you. And there’s a halo around here too, around whatever it is you might be thinking about right now. A halo to make you suddenly realize that you’ve got better things to do with your life than rot away in that shithole where you were, up until now, so gainfully employed. Walk on the phone lines like they’re high wires. Spit on a rat, and break a cop’s back. Become the mascot of a minor league team. Walk to the beach and sit in the sand watching the waves splash and crash around out there in the soupy, foam-filled, viridian sea. There are more somersaults to turn and more garbage cans to empty and there will always be one more dish in the sink. Futzing around can become a ritualized habit, an inveterate necessity in this world of things, and nothing stays clean forever. So don’t go scrunching up your mashed countenance, fretting over the thousands of insignificant movements you make every day of the week. Halo’s got you covered. Disco dancing is against the law. The nights keep starting earlier and earlier. I’m making my way haphazardly through an obstacle course of distractions, but I’m jumping and thumping along to my own internal rhythms, keeping my poise too, because like Walter Taylor says, I’ve been all around this whole round world and anywhere I hang my head is home sweet home to me. Whisky town is never more than a hop, skip, and a leap away. Come roll your bones with Halo. It’s going to be a long nights dudes and dudettes. But when it’s all over it’ll be just as long as last night was, and all the other nights before that one too. Somebody called up and said that I’m just a cheap motel with a burnt out sign. Not sure who. Hung up without giving their name. The sounds we make when we try to keep quiet. It’s all a cop-out folks. It’s all a forgery. It’s more plastic than protean, more of the same changes made for the same reasons leading back to the same changes that were already never going to really change in the first place. Roy Orbison says dreaming is the thing to do, you know, watch the smoke rings rise in the air and all that. Dream when the day is through, etcetera, etcetera. Dream. Dream. Dream. You know the drill. Line up. Put your back to the wall. Head up, chin out, eyes staring blankly straight ahead. Dream. But don’t go losing your head over it. How about playing a harmonica instead? Huh? How about teaching a thousand pigeons how to dance the polka? Never mind. Nothing that won’t keep you up all night. But, hey, you’re up all night anyway, right? Keep it on. Keep Halo blasting as loud as that radio of yours will go. Keep those demons at bay. Keep those nightmares away. Stay safe in the womb, in the rich, oil-slick timbre of my bellowing voice, this clarion call ringing in your ears to not give up, to not just lie down and let the world do with you what it will, because it will, it most surely will. There must be some fight left down in you somewhere. Maybe Halo can give you a hint as to where the map you might use to find it is. Sure, from the dirty old mess hall you still might march to the brick wall. But it’ll be a different wall every time. Here’s one from a guy who used to go by Zimmerman. He called it Walls of Red Wing, but you can call it whatever you want, whatever keeps you alive and free tonight, whatever you need…

Ah. That’s right. Don’t let those blues run the game. That was a few kids named Paul and Art sending out for room service to bring a little whisky and gin. Can’t say I don’t envy that. Morally and gracefully living that life of sin. Decadence and bravery. A little gained and a whole lot to lose. And those blues always, always on the gain. Oh. But there might be another way around the block than just this stumbling we’ve all been doing around here for so long. Mr. Van Zandt once told me that everything is not enough, and nothing is too much to bear; and that where you been is good and gone, all you keep is the getting there. Hope he’s still shaking the dust off his wings somewhere up there above us. As I sit here blabbering on and running my fingers over the Braille of my existence, well, who really knows what may be happening out there tonight. A pool sharp might be drunk in a bathroom stall wishing he were in the back of car with his girl again, off the highway under the stars, far away from the bright lights of the city. A bank teller might be up wandering the streets looking for a way to tell his wife that he no longer has a bank to go to every day. Lot’s of folks might be up and up to no good, like some kid rummaging through a garbage bin in search of a clarinet, or a cabbie honking his horn at a peanut vendor. But most people are trying to do something helpful, something good, trying to make an honest buck, looking out for each other, making the world spin around a little more smoothly. I sometimes even find myself scuttling around, scratching at my scruff with a mangy, nail-begrimed paw, checking out the dives that open up at 6 a.m.—nothing but cops and drunks and youngsters who’ve been up all night sucking up white powder through their nares. And the bartender is all surly and looks like a sleep-deprived Jackie Mason, and he’s got the last half of a week-old cigar sticking out from his blubbery lips like the thick, stubby tail of some mutated rodent that he’s just swallowed hole. Yeah, Halo sticks his head in joints like that sometimes. Sometimes I stay in places like that for days, listening to the jukebox kick music around and slowly getting drunk while the sun comes up, and the traffic going by sounds like a river, and the newspapers start walking around and selling themselves cheap to anybody with a couple of quarters they’re looking to get rid of, and the subway rumbles to life, and jackhammers come out to tear up the street making the ceiling fan kind of tremble, and the barstools all do a short rumba, and I’ve got to hold onto my glass to save it from tipping over and spilling somewhere that isn’t my mouth. Ah. To go outside to smoke a cigarette in that early morning hush, in that special way the sunrise has of blasting away the shadows and the fog, the way it streaks like golden lava and gets all over the buildings, painting them all highlighter-yellow and silvery. The way those thousands of windows in the skyscrapers downtown opalesce all together and reflect your delirious and misconstrued drunken misconceptions about the way it feels to be alive in this so precarious position that you find yourself holding up in. Holding on. Holding out. Getting older every day. Sometimes you’ve just got to plant yourself on that barstool for a little while and get some perspective, some real gen-you-wine self-reflection, and maybe do a little retrofitting of your soul there too while you’re at it. Ah. To de drunk in the afternoon. As that sorrowful sap Bow-Dee-Lar once put it, “Be always drunken. Nothing else matters.” Ah, to be drunk in the afternoon. To be surrounded by roseate hues and bottles glinting specks of sunlight, beholden to nothing, and to nobody. A beer stein holding your anticipation back like a dam. Waiting to flow free in a nut-brown river of nonattachment. A rising fist bringing drink to mouth. Life standing tall and good at last. A little generosity in the end. With just a beer-bottle lighter and a beer sweating by your side. With a cigarette smoldering on the sidewalk, the smoke curling up in long lazy circles like a caduceus, like an old friend come back to bring comfort. As I am wasted and wounded too. Just like you. Just like you. But for a moment there, just maybe, you can be free. Don’t worry about wearing a Mae West out into the world’s churning rapids tonight. You’ll stay afloat. Halo will keep your head above water. And so will this. Johnny Cash doing The Cocaine Blues. Feel free to scream along and run for your life…

Quick as a wink. Lingering like a bad case of hemorrhoids. And many suppositories later we have lift off. Breaker. Breaker. Come in. I am lost. I am far from home. Come in. Are you out there? Is anybody listening? So, it’s the movements of lesser-known symphonies written by a clown sitting in an outhouse. It’s handcuffed kids getting dragged through the streets by taser-wielding cops in riot gear. It’s crowds forming and dispersing. It is sweet sweetback’s baadasssss song. It’s a croissant going stale in a dumpster. It’s a rodeo of broken hearts. It’s the cacophony of a million butterflies caught in a circus tent-sized net. It’s that crushing low-down way you feel when you’ve been hacked away at for so long by the treacherous knives of the world that it just seems normal to go to bed bloody and sore. It’s grape jelly. It’s moon pies. It’s the ache in your gut and the pain in your head and the snap of the whip across your back. It’s just a passing fad. It’s a stertorous tussis caught deep down in some place at the back of your throat. It’s an itch you can’t scratch. It’s a pause, a rose, something on paper. It’s the shy trilling of a lark in a leafless tree. It’s a hydrogen bomb lost in the Wassaw Sound. It is H.R. Giger’s birthday. And now it is time to send you all off to bed, or off to wherever it is this early morning fog is taking you away to. So, it’s sayonara sucker and see you later alligator and bye bye birdie and adieu to you Mr. Magoo and fare thee well and arrivederci and au revoir and auf Wiedersehen and adios muchachos and that’s all folks and so long and goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, at long last, but not least, this is Halo Sims signing off and saying goodbye to you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Halo Sims' Late Night King Kong Radio Hour (PART 3)

Hello. Hello again. Hello. Halo Sims back again to keep sharing part of the night with you. Hugo Junker’s Sheetmetal Donkey is flying low in the sky, humming just above the rooftops. And the rooftops are all smoking in the buildings downtown, and the mayor just gave himself a raise. Verily the day will come to an end, so we can start all of this all over again. Well it looks like swell weather up ahead. Remember what good old Leo Tolstoy said, “All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.” Keep the vultures at bay. I know I’d rather not die today. No. It’s not such a grand night to die out there on the moon-drenched concrete. You’ve got to keep moving. You’ve got to keep that blood circulating. Dance. Throw a fit. Hail down a taxi in your underwear. What the hell’s a taxi doing in your underwear? I surely do not know. No way, no how. And my raspy cluttering gasps for breath, like an angry sea lion choking on a cough drop, come out in a cranium-splitting roar over your speakers. While the flies enjoy a sumptuous feast dining on the remains of your last couple of meals and the trash scattered all over your living room. You maybe start to think about the best times you almost never had, and you also, just maybe, start wondering if they’re ever coming back. It’s okay. There’ll be world enough and time to do all those things you’re always telling yourself you’re dreaming of doing. Lie back. Take a load off. Everyday it’s a getting closer, going faster than a rollercoaster. Yep. It’s not like you can do anything about the deracination of culture, the vapid, mood-swinging histrionics of television shows, the less than stalwart condition of your soul, or people who for the life of them cannot parallel park waking you up with the conniption fit of their automobiles at three in the morning. These are things that you’re just going to have to try to overlook and ignore and get beyond, because the only life you have is the life of your mind. It’s yours. It’s all you’ve got. So go ahead and lose it. It’ll be good for you. Anything worth having is worth giving away. Speaking of that, let’s put on some more music to get that mind of yours concatenating, to stir around all the goo and muck that’s stuck up there like melted gummy bears. This here is the oldest of the old, Robert Johnson, doing Come On In My Kitchen.

Ah. All right. That was The Orange Juice Blues from Bd and The Band's Basement Tapes, and I’m looking forward to some OJ myself sometime soon when I finally get around to eating some breakfast. Before that I played you some John Hammond singing about how free a little bird can be. And right after Mr. Johnson who started it all off was Mattie May Thomas bellowing out Workhouse Blues. There’s a gal who could really belt out a tune. What a pair of lungs she must’ve had. Wouldn’t want to be around when she sneezed. No boy. Well, now, I got something here stuck in my craw. Now don’t go beg, borrowing, or stealing away my thoughts before I think them. Let ‘em germinate, let those weaselly suckers come to a ripe fruition before putting any kind of crimped preconceptions about what you think those selfsame thoughts just might be. All in due time my brethren. Let us take a rather circuitous route in our trot across the landscape of my mentation. Maybe we’ll start out with a few police sirens wailing away down in Chinatown, and then mosey our way down some soot-stained brick alleys, climb the rusted rungs of a few fire escapes, while car alarms blare like castratos and chimneys blow gray smoke and old men in fusty suits stumble around lost in a daze. Let’s get our bearings straight here. Let me get down off of this soapbox for a bit and spell it right out for you. It doesn’t get any lonelier than this. Being up late at night, so late it’s early. Watching the street lights blink out and the sun starting to inch its way up over the other side of the world. Bluer than any of you’ll ever know. As the sky twists from purple into a bruised kind of blue, a muddled and murky way to shape the way you’re going to end up feeling today. It all ends up the same my friends. From the duskiest roseate hues of sunrise to the plunging bowling-ball black of midnight. Day in and day out. Scooping up your cereal with a spoonful of dreams. Sticking a fork in the over-cooked steak of your pride. Slicing the discontent of your soul into bit-sized pieces with a dull butter knife. And you’re screaming like Moses Mason preaching a whirlwind sermon, out of breath, wheezing, ecstatic, alive. You’re a bell pepper roasting on a stovetop, smoking with the windows closed. Everything is foreign. We are all one. Get up and down, up and down off of that cross, because there’s a city built of mansions, and nobody is ever going to clip your damn wings. Listen. Fall down. You don’t have to pray, but it might give you something to do while you’re down there…Hey there, let’s let the plucking guitar strings of Bayless Rose take it away…

Louis Armstrong suckerpunching you there and knocking your block off I’m sure with Weary Blues. Got to love that tuba thumping in the background. Had a bit of a thump on this old head of mine here too while you were gone. Halo’s got a few odd ideas splashing around in his lopsided head. Summer’s an ocean away, and the cold is already receding faster than your hairline, like a lost soldier trying to find his way back home too soon. Keep counting up the change in your pocket at the end of the day so you can make it last, so you can give a little to every beggar you pass by. Take that old ragged, dog-eared copy of the King James bible down off the shelf. Pour a little whiskey in your coffee. Shove your fists a little farther down into your coat pockets. Yawn and make believe you’re a prince. I’m going to spin you a dusty tune called Last Kind Word Blues sung by a little lady named Geeshie Wiley. Listen closely. She knew a few things about living, and dying too…

Monday, February 2, 2009

Halo Sims' Late Night King Kong Radio Hour (PART 2)

All gristle and gumption, the sky was shedding its black skin as day burned it blue, cattle prattling, counting streetlights, and then there is that way the fog finally burns off and leaves you wearing a jacket and suddenly not shivering so much. Yes, as you walk off and worry about keeping your job, ‘cept it ain’t up to me, you see? Well, see here. It isn’t always all too much. Take a swipe at your brow, kick off your shoes, make a wish and trip on a dream. Get it all over with. Halo knows what it’s like. Say, maybe you walk on down to Tommy’s Joynt, without any pigeons attacking your head even, and you get some beef brisket, think about that old sycamore across the street from your now repossessed house, and you think about the house you grew up in, and what it really means to be home. I’ve got a tall glass of dandelion wine. This is Halo Sims. Halo Sims coming at you with the purring softness of a kitten. Around here where the trees are all bare and the fortune tellers have all lost their marbles and the moon don’t quite shine the way it used to. I know your pockets are a getting bare. I know the world is pounding away at you, and time is most definitely not on your side anymore, because, you know, you’ve got so damn much of it nowadays. Got a dime, got a quarter, got a dollar and thirty-five cents? Then you maybe get a parking ticket, and you’re thinking, damn, how do things keep going down and out like this? How much worse can this get? But if you yearn to turn up that there drooping chin of yours, well, Halo Sims has just the thing for you. This here is the rollicking rolling paino keys of one mister Thelonious Monk plunking and pounding away, sent here by way of a tugboat to reengage and scramble up your brains and take those mediocre and miserable thoughts away from your so woebegone head. So, listen up. Straight, No Chaser...

The streets are bone-dry. No rain clouds in sight. Things are getting pretty damn friable and dust is settling in for the long haul. Feel that scratch in your throat? Don’t flush your toilet too much. Let it mellow and stew. Walk the streets. Walk the streets. Walk the streets. In the streets are the heartbroken outcasts, the miserable, the losers, the lost, the rambling gun-toting poets, mastiffs that have been put out of business running amok, beat cops with bad mustaches, bored ex-businessmen, old ladies with no teeth, the battered remains of a few drunks, flat basketballs, goons without guns, jaywalking jesters without any gestures left in the their tattered bag of tricks, bullies, doughboys, failed dissidents, dour malignant creatures of unknown origin, the sound of words without any breath behind them. And your standing there staring into the fogged-up bathroom mirror, trying to squeeze the last of the toothpaste out of the flattened tube. I’m gargling turpentine. I’m breathing kerosene. I am the last lees of whiskey in the bottle, and I sure as hell ain’t housebroken. So, walk the streets. Walk these arid streets with a knife of disenchantment. Hold up traffic by blowing your nose in a crosswalk. Halo Sims here. Cops bust heads; I blow minds. If I sound like I’m shouting myself hoarse then, well, maybe that’s just the way I talk when I don’t even got the water to wash my hands. Let’s see. Here. Yes. We are in a drought. They say it’ll rain someday. Nobody’s sure when. Could be before my grandkids are in retirement homes. Can’t really say for sure just when. But for now things aren’t precipitating any precipitation, if you catch my drift. Lo and behold my faithful compatriots, this thing’s only going to get worse before we get any succor to ameliorate our current desiccated and perilous situation. This is just to say. Walk the streets. Walk them at night with a head full of dreams and a pocketful of plugged nickels. Use parking meters as walking sticks. Make small talk with fire hydrants. Catch a few dollops of moonlight in your eye. Cry in the gutter. Stare up at that big old obelisk that is the Transamerica Pyramid until you get dizzy and fall over and dive out into the street screaming, “The horror. The horror.” It’ll be good for your constitution. Trust me. Would I steer you wrong? Nah. Not Halo Sims. I am here for you, most magnanimously and irrevocably generous as could be, to give you the chutzpah to do whatever it is that you have to do. The battle is raging. We have nothing to lose but our minds. Walk the streets. Take them back. Take them back from those who would rather you stayed inside and watched TV, from those who think in terms of profit margins and building codes and cheap labor, from those who would rather you didn’t make any waves in their pool of moneymaking, form those who want you to be just like everybody else and to be a good little soldier and to wag your tail and fall in line and follow along with the herd and consume and finally to be consumed. Life is more in all of its myriad jewel boxes than any corporation’s pipsqueak, tiny, clean cut, box-of-a-mind could ever imagine. Rage on against the dying of the light. Put on your walking shoes, and get yourself out into the bathtub of the world. But just for now, I’m going to get your blood a boiling with Mister Howling Wolf pining away You’ll Be Mine. Oh yes you will…

Downcast, defeated, draining the last small change from your savings account, scratching your initials into the façade of a brick building while you smoke the last drag from a cigarette nub you found in the crack in the sidewalk, and some guy’s blinding you with his headlights, idling there at the curb down the street, making you kind of, well, suspicious of his intentions sitting there for some reason shining his damn headlights in your eyes. Life is absurd. Don’t worry about it. Things tend to work out in the end. Those bacteria swimming around in your gut don’t give a damn about your personality. Move on. It’ll be okay. Now Halo’s going to give you the inimitable and shrieking bark of Alfred Lewis screeching out the Mississippi Swamp Moan. Feel free to moan along…