July 16, 2018

Toro



Ah, the memories of Spain...in a previous life many years ago, I don’t care to admit how many...I began going to the bullfights with Orson Welles who loved the 'sport' of bullfighting, as did Hemingway of course...the whole atmosphere was intoxicating to be around; the sheer drama, the incredible bravery, the spectacular colors...Orson had been going for many years and he knew most of the toreros on a first name basis...these men who were cut from a different cloth were revered as national heroes by the adoring crowd...they came from different schools and each had their own individual style...it wasn’t enough to defeat the bull...the toreros would stamp their form of artistic flair on the event; like Picasso signing one of his paintings...it was an overload to the senses and the crowds loved it.
I fell in love with Spain immediately...nothing could be better than rising in the late morning and eating some fresh bread and butter purchased from the old man who ran the bodega on the corner, not far from my friends’ house...we’d enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the best, richest coffee I ever drank bar none...my native friends would regale me with their wonderful stories...then there was the incredible light; a light so pure and spectacular that artists have tried to capture it in their paintings for thousands of years although I’m not sure any of them have been successful...we would meet Orson and his friends over at the arena in the afternoon hours before the bullfighting was scheduled to start...we would go ‘backstage’ and would mingle with them before the matches would commence...
Once it was time to begin, we’d take our place on the weather beaten wooden seats and light up our cigars and wait for the pageantry to begin...the crowd would be buzzing with anticipation as we sat under the hot sun...the afternoon would progress and the patrons would react enthusiastically with every daring move by the toreros...after the event was over, we’d retire to the local restaurant for Spanish delicacies and plenty of sangria, and yes, more cigars and even more sangria...
We made it a point to rendezvous here for many years...one year though, Orson said that he was going to take a pass on it...I thought that perhaps he was committed to a film project or trying to raise money for one and couldn’t get away...however this was not the case at all...he told me that he had seen enough animal deaths and regretted it...he also felt that he had wasted too much time at the bullfights, living vicariously through the toreros and that it had also been a mistake on his part...he still went occasionally on his own, unable to completely give up his fascination for it.

(This originally was published in Gravel magazine)

July 14, 2018

Por Favor Mantengase Alejado de las Puertas

I just got back from a famous theme park, at least they tell me it is...don’t judge me...the only reason I was at this park was that there is a buddy who works there and he got me in for free...I figured it was an ok way to kill a day so why not?...people who I owe money to wouldn’t think of looking for me here...I’m not one much for themes but evidently a lot of people are...I think the biggest theme is spending copious amounts of money on crap...people paid a lot of money to get in and keep spending like drunken sailors...$12 hamburgers, $30 t-shirts and more overpriced junk...the stuff that ends up at the curbside for the trash man to take it bye-bye or the stuff that enlists in the Salvation Army before long...and then it goes MIA or AWOL...I  know about that...I’ve been there a few times myself...MIA or AWOL from life itself...now I don’t live in that kind of high rent district...and my stomach don’t agree with upside down rides and corporate manufactured ‘family fun’...but, I like to see how the other half lives so to speak, so I can see what I’m missing out on...or not missing at all...I swear some people must take out second mortgages on their houses to afford being there...taking little kids there that two or three years from now, won’t even remember they were there...kind of like being at Woodstock...I have friends who had to read a book or watch a movie to find out what happened...I knew that the drinks would be too thick for my thin wallet, so I filled up a couple of water bottles with vodka and slipped it by the minimum wage security officers who are content just to look the part and pretend they’re important...inside there’s families with screaming kids and after paying that much, they were going to have a goddamn good time no matter what...I sure as hell couldn’t afford to buy much...I just sat around sipping my bottle and getting plastered little by little which made the whole afternoon more palatable...I was walking around some and looking for shady spots to sit...I kept thinking somebody was going to catch on to me and test my ‘water’ bottle, but nobody did...and I kept making for the gift shops...not to buy anything, but to get in the air conditioning and keep my brain from melting...what with the vodka and all, I was actually starting to enjoy myself...especially when it began to rain...I just sat there with my bottle and enjoyed the cool raindrops and eventually the pouring rain while it ruined other people’s afternoons...after awhile, I grew tired of the strollers, and the screaming kids, and the parents who figured if they yelled loud enough, their darling kiddies a.k.a. the little beasts would listen...I took the shuttle back to the parking lot and listened to it giving all the instructions such as the doors would be closing and the shuttle would be departing momentarily...actually, the shuttle was the best part of the day...I rode it back and forth a few times for the hell of it…”por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas...please stand clear of the doors”...I could swear the departing announcement also said “Please put all remaining money in the receptacles provided”...it wouldn’t surprise me if it did...I put any remaining vodka in a receptacle, and that amounted to a couple of drops...of course by this time I think I had a case of heatstroke and vodkastroke and I may not have been hearing too well...I know I wasn’t seeing too well by then.

July 12, 2018

Psychosis and Spilling Coca-Cola On Your Keyboard

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind according to the standard definition in one of those fancy books with the expensive binding in the library, but I think it’s more normal than not...it’s a condition that results in a startling difficulty in telling what is real and what is not...by that definition we all have psychosis...the real is blurred and whirred, and folded, spindled, and mutilated until it blends into the unreal...it’s life inside of a blender, becoming a banana for a smoothie that changes forms and comes out entirely different than how it went in...life becomes like being drunk and being tipsy as you’re trying to make your way to the bathroom or back to your chair in a bar...with the carnival music playing and swaying and all twisted...the room swirling and spinning like you’re inside of a cement mixer...sometimes one believes in things that are not true, and seeing or hearing things that others can’t see or hear…it might include rambling on and on and on and…...on...and having a pattern of incoherent speech, incomplete sentences and thought processes that add 2+2 and come up with 7 1/2...the best one can do is smirk or laugh or say two words here or there just for their amusement or satisfaction...or maybe it all comes from bemusement at the craziness of it all...the whole damn world is crazy...one afflicted might be displaying behavior that is shockingly inappropriate for the situation...hahahahahaha…

a person with psychosis also may have difficulty sleeping...the ghosts keep appearing and then fading away and reappearing again making sleep impossible...social withdrawal, the motivation to do anything...even daily activities might become difficult...my god, we’re practically all psychotic by these definitions...psychosis can have different causes...the obvious reason would be having a type of mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but sometimes it can be from a total disorgan-i-zation of the psyche...and that can cause intrusions and contusions and anarchy to get inside and spill Coca-Cola all over that precious keyboard in that little mind of ours and cause us to shorten out...oncoming psychosis is like a freight train coming down the tracks...it just keeps beating down on you like a sledgehammer pounding and pounding until your brain fractures and you go off the deep end or the shallow end...and it’s like the end of it all...you just want it to end...reality just twists and bends and everything is like looking in those funhouse mirrors...all of reality is all distorted...except it isn’t fun...and it’s like life is in some cubist painting that you can’t figure out...they say about 3% of people in the U.S.A. develop some type of psychosis at some point in their life say the experts…god, only 3%?...I’d say the people who say that are the ones hallucinating and have no grip on reality and need some heavy duty drugs to try to straighten it all out.

July 10, 2018

Doctor, Doctor

I feel good most days and I’m of the mindset that what you don’t know may not hurt you...but, I went to the doctor begrudgingly the other day because I felt like I ought to...not to mention that  it was close to a bar I wanted to go to and shoot some pool and check in with some old friends...so I thought I’d stop in, at the doctor’s that is...and after a quick checkup he said I should exercise and I told him I have been...hell, my whole life has been has been one long exercise in futility...if anything can go wrong, it does...if 99 times out of a hundred something good happens, I’m the unlucky bastard who gets the one time it doesn’t...I stole...er, borrowed one of those Fitbits that tracks your steps...I figured since I always seem to be running in circles, I must be able to wear one of those damn things out...yesterday, it said that I took 10,001 steps...yet day after day I never get any closer to where I want to go...just going in circles man...the doctor nodded his head knowingly...he’s seen me and my kind before and often...I like my doctor though even though he’s gruff and usually full of bad news and warnings when I see him...he’s an old school doctor who I’m not sure actually went to any old schools but seems to know what he’s doing...his office is in some hole in the wall between two abandoned buildings and when you go in, the place smells like cigar smoke and there he is chomping on some cheap stogie...it’s tough to make an appointment with him...not because he’s busy, but because his receptionist quit some time ago and he’s never gotten around to hiring another...so he answers the phone when he can...almost all of his patients are long time neighborhood people who just drop in anyway, appointment or not...nobody new in their right mind would ever consider going there...my old man went to him for years and the doc would always tell him he’d better quit smoking...in between his own coughs…he looks at me and says ”I’d tell you to stop drinking but I’d be wasting my goddamn time, you wouldn’t listen any more than your old man did about smoking.” I laugh and say “You’re right”...he says “Too bad about your father, I heard he passed on a couple of months ago.”...I said yeah, that he had a heart attack playing golf and died on the 17th hole after making a birdie…very similar to how Bing Crosby died...”Well hell, there’s worse ways to go out” he roared...so we sat around and shot the bull for a while...he said he was thinking about retiring but he didn’t fish or play golf…”I don’t know what the hell I would do” he said in his raspy voice...I said he could come drinking with me and chase women, but he said he was too old for that kind of shit...another person came into the office and it was time to go so I wished him well and said I’d be back next year...he said “Ok, I hope to god I’m still here...good to see you, and by the way...quit drinking!”

July 8, 2018

The Grey Goose

I like all kinds of animals...I like dogs...especially dogs...they love you even if you’ve had a bad day...they’re always happy to see you...I like bears even though sometimes they don’t like you...bears got a good life...eat and drink all summer and then sleep in a cave all winter without being bothered...I could get into that...I like giraffes...I don’t care for riff-raff, but giraffes are ok with me...even though some might say that’s where I fit in...riff-raff that is...I don’t like cats...but all the rest of the animals are fine...but a grey goose is my favorite...it always makes me feel good...takes away my problems for a while...I like it late at night...hell, I like it anytime...I don’t apologize for drinking any time of the day... people eat at all times of the day, so what’s wrong with drinking at all times of the day?...some think like it’s OK after five or six in the evening and it’s not earlier...that’s what some people think and I don’t like the way they think...sometimes, you need it earlier...sometimes, you need it as soon as you get up after you got no sleep...or sometimes, you sleep good and you need it anyway...it’s not like life is so great that you don’t need some help once in awhile...you need something to make you smile...you might have a bad day or two or three or thirty...so, you let it go...who cares?...just go that extra mile...as long as you’re not hurting nobody...maybe my life just ain’t as great as yours is...I know the grey goose don’t care what time it is and he don’t care whether my life sucks or not...it isn’t giving me the evil eye because it’s 3 a.m. and he wants to go home but you don’t...or looking at you suspiciously because it doesn’t think you have two copecs to rub together to pay the bill...I invite it over and it’s welcome anytime at my house...it’s always there except when it isn’t and I gotta make a run to the grimy liquor store to get some more...I don’t have to worry about it flying or migrating or whatever birds of that ilk do...you can’t count on them birds....sometimes you’re enjoying a nice crisp fall day just before winter if you live up north, and then you see the geese in formation leaving town...how the hell does that make you feel?...how exactly do they decide who flys in what position...I mean, do they have like some kind of vote or something?...does Russia meddle in that election too?...they’re flying south I think to warmer climates...geese are sleek animals soaring through the blue sky and among the clouds...not a bad idea...now some people, they might say “You’re not responsible”, but you know what?...responsibility and maturity and all that other crap is overrated...all it does is get you agitated...hey, whatever gets you through the night...or the day...I don’t think we’re born to be noble human beings...some people think just because they get up and go to work five days a week, that they’re to be admired or respected...maybe some do, but not me...it just means you’re stuck in a rut...you probably hate your job, but can’t leave...you get up and go to work everyday...big deal...do you think they really care?...you’ll leave one day and be replaced by somebody else doing the same dumb shit as you...you think anybody cares?...don’t fool yourself...speaking of leave, just leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone, and I won’t be alone because I’ll have my grey goose to keep me company, and right now he’s asking you if you have to get up early and go to work tomorrow...hint, hint.

July 6, 2018

The Old Red Boxcar

So I was wandering around the woods like I like to do when I need a break from the city...or I’m half-drunk or half-lost, and on one particular afternoon I took a right turn at the big oak...it was unfamiliar land...no man’s land...lucky for me, it was all quiet on the western front that day...I crawled out of the trenches and went over the top and made my way through the forest and down a path...I stumbled across a rail line that seemed to be abandoned long ago...being the curious guy I am, I followed it and it led me to an old red boxcar that was sitting by itself amongst the trees...it was a little battered and beat-up and had definitely seen better days, but hey who hasn’t?...I asked him how he was doing...I have a lot of conversations with inanimate objects...usually beats the hell out of talking to people...he said he was doing all right, just enjoying himself in the forest...he said it had been an active rail line back in the 30’s and 40’s...but when the businesses dried up along the line, so did the need for rail service...so him and his friends were ‘retired’...all of them eventually moved somewhere...he said he hadn’t been in touch, he kept meaning to write but you know how that goes...I asked him why he was still there by himself...he shrugged his shoulders, or at least I think he did...he had heard some rich guy was going to buy him and put him in his backyard, but evidently it fell through or something...I said that was too bad, but he didn’t seem upset much…”I’d rather be working. I still had a lot to give when they exiled me...I could still kick any new boxcars ass”and he rambled on and on...he started to sound like an old man yelling at the clouds…”I looked a little better but I’ve been sitting out here for so long and the weather takes its toll on your bones.”...I could identify with that...he continued…”Besides, I’ve gotten used to being by myself out here...nobody comes out this far much...I was surprised when I saw you stumbling along towards me...have you been drinking or something?”...I admitted I’d had a touch, just to keep warm of course...I hadn’t gotten to the best part of the day yet...I asked him what he used to carry...he said he had hauled dry goods, lumber, food...just about anything...from Montreal to El Paso, and from Miami to Seattle...like Johnny Cash, he’d been everywhere man...I asked him if he could haul ass, but he didn’t get the joke...he was pretty generic looking and I asked him who he had worked for...his memory, like mine was starting to fade and he couldn’t remember the last company he did work for...but he said he had been used by many companies in the past...The Milwaukee Road, Canadian Pacific, Soo Line, among others…”I didn’t have no loyalty to anybody...whoever wanted me is where I went...one day they parked me here and never came back...they came and took some of my friends though”...his voice trailed off...I thought he might have been a little hurt that they hadn’t come to get him, but maybe that was just my one semester of psychology doing the thinking...I told him I had to get back before it got dark and I got lost trying to get back to town...he asked me if I saw a lot of his associates these days...I shook my head, and said that no, they were tearing up most of the railroad tracks these days, and you just didn’t find his kind very often...at least in this part of the country...he looked disappointed...we both agreed this country started to go downhill once the trains started disappearing from the ever darkening American landscape as somebody once called it.

July 4, 2018

On Our Way To Becoming A Bodhisattva (Maybe)

So if you believe in the Buddhist idea of linear existence...you know that the flame of one dying candle lights a new one...and new life begins with the rising sun...and the flame remains the same...one life after another life after another life and I would like to think that we move to a higher existence with each passing so to speak... I would hate to think that we would go from relatively highly evolved human being to a damned blade of grass for example...I can’t imagine there’s much reward in being a blade of grass...just standing around waiting for somebody to cut you in half...or some dog to come by and use you as a toilet...but I guess you’d at least be outside and not stuck in some stuffy office...you’d feel the sun and the rain, relax under the moonlight, take shelter under a quiet blanket of snow...and some grass can live for a very long time, so there’s that...but I would hope that with each existence we learn a little and we carry it forward instead of starting with a clean slate and making the same dumbass mistakes again...once again I would guess that some of us are relatively new to this and that others have lived many existences and perhaps that’s why they are more advanced than others...perhaps those are the ones who do great things in this time period...they have a reservoir of past experiences that perhaps they’re not totally cognizant of, but is some kind of subconscious guide they can channel forward any ideas or thoughts or whatever...maybe that means each existence gets better and better...who knows?...it's nice to think your soul your spirit or whatever you want to call it would not die...this seems so final like the lights on and then it's off but if you think of it the Buddhist way or the Daoist way, things don't end that abruptly...it’s nice to have that idea tucked away in your trench coat and then you can take solace in that if this existence ends, another one is coming up...hopefully a better one, one where you don’t make so many goddamned screwups...but in reality, you probably do for the most part...thinking about it, it sounds kind of like another version of heaven...you know, you don’t die...you go to heaven and are reunited with loved ones...that sounds hokey, and maybe this linear existence thing is the same...but if you do believe in this one existence after another thing, look around and see how many people are living near perfect lives...not very many...if any...so if your goal is to become a bodhisattva, you most likely have a long wait to get there...it takes meditation, and a healthy dose of frustration, some aggravation, and maybe a little medication...some of us are like at base camp and becoming a bodhisattva is at the peak of mt. everest...it’s a long climb sahib...better call the sherpas...and we ain’t got the tools to do it right...footwear, and harnesses, and ice picks, and clampons or whatever the hell they’re called...those things you wear over your boots...oh, it’s crampons...clampons sounds like some kind of sex toy...of course it’s all theoretical, or theatrical, or maybe the idea is so crazy that it’s actually the truth...so much of life is theoretical because we think zig and life zags...so all those plans and golden notions don’t count for anything because we never get to use them anyway...life has a way of making us react...react to this, react to that...always reacting to things we didn’t expect...you know so expect the unexpected, there’s always the unexpected...we seldom dictate the terms...so read the fine print baby.