Friday, April 21, 2017

Kurt - 4/11

Today i sat in my car while the rain beat steadily down and read The Sirens of Titan while the eldest boyo got soaked at his futbol practice... if that isn't nice i don't know what is... it was the tenth anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death, a thing Kurt himself would have found funny or at least the fact that people who never knew him were somehow honoring his memory, you see i took enough online surveys to earn a gift card from the world's biggest garbage dump and found a good copy of his early work all bound up in a nice hardback with a swanky piece of ribbon for a bookmark, a dust jacket, the whole nine yards, those kids at the Library of America sure do make some fine books and a modern day robber baron provides me the means to find a good copy at a price i can afford, yeah i know i could go to the library, sometimes i do, sometimes i just need shit on hand to satisfy some silly question that pops up in my stoned head, there was also this article on the importance of bookshelves and their contents and more importantly the contents of said bookshelf that had not been read, somehow the article made me smile and might have reaffirmed a tiny nugget of my sanity...

I came to Mr. Vonnegut late and in my usual stubborn and roundabout fashion having been told for years to read him by various friends who i'd say had excellent and disparate tastes in books but all seemed certain i would enjoy this Kurt character, and so one day about five years ago i got a copy of his book of letters published after he had died, not one his novels or a short story collection but letters, and in those letters i saw a guy i could relate to and so one fine day i went to that library and checked out a book called God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and never laughed so hard in my life, it was all downhill from their and his work now gets devoured on a regular basis and soon i'll be close to having read all his novels...

They say Kurt Vonnegut wrote science fiction and i'd laugh and say that Kurt Vonnegut wrote nothing close to science fiction, that what he wrote was life, was humanity in all it's folly and glory and arrogance and beauty, you can't classify it and there are times when i'm sitting around doing whatever i do and i wonder what the hell it is? then i remind myself not to worry about it, the reward is in the doing and not the buying, selling or consuming of it, by the modern world's standards i don't do much, yes i cook and clean and mow the lawn and wash clothes but the real men don't call that work, i don't earn any money, i about earn my keep and nothing more, of course Kurt would say i actually do quite a bit and what he'd most like is that in those spare hours not spent cooking and cleaning and mowing i type out pages of my life, i type out stories and ideas and half-assed philosophical babble, and so in my own half-assed way and without ever really knowing it, i went into art.. the art of living...

"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something." -KV.... let it be stated that i spend a good portion of my day singing and dancing around my humble abode, i also spend a good portion of it conversing with cats...

And he's right, it's no damn way to make a living, selling weed or shining shoes is a much more effective means of supporting oneself and he's right about that reward, i always seem to be in a better mood when i get things done, things that might sit in a folder or file (digitized and otherwise), there is a satisfaction in the doing that i simply do not get from anything else, yes when i demo'ed the bathroom or pulled apart and fixed the toilet, that was all well and good and there was a modicum of accomplishment in figuring out how to do something i hadn't done before but it was nothing like the simple act of staring at the page and typing away, even when it goes badly, which it often does, there is nothing like pissing away the hours, the same goes for the paints, i have no talent or ability but i still i fritter about, making things, for no one and for no reason other than i want to, and so while i may be failing wonderfully at earning money or advancing a career i have gotten quite good and doing nothing at all, a man can work up a mean thirst after a hard day of that, Paul Westerberg said that not Kurt, but thanks Mr. Vonnegut, for helping an aging slacker stay the course...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Old Man




Today as i was dragged through the aisles of multiple Big Box Stores, the type of which let you improve upon that most cherished of all things American known as "the home", the dream foisted and sold and fucking shoved down our throats as if once that purchase of said property has been made you have fucking made it!! as if there is nothing left to do with your life? but there is one thing left to do... and the thing to do apparently is to improve that dwelling and make it the domicile of your gawd damned dreams i tell you, whole industries are there to enhance this process, there are television networks dedicated to helping you bring your dreams to fruition, there are people whose whole career is predicated on selling you shit to do this, D-list celebrities i guess, people who look vaguely familiar on the front of some Murdoch-like gossip rag adorning the front end checkout of the local supermarket usually occupying a small space on the lower left cover, and i stood in these aisles of toilets and chainsaws and washer/dryer combo sets, the dutiful soldier, the faithful and solid sounding board for the Breadwinner's thoughts and dreams, i had not a clue what i was fucking doing there, having been forewarned of Breadwinner's plan i spent the early morning sneaking to the garage and ripping clandestine hits of Jamaican Dream, Leafly said it was good for stress and made one happy and energetic, (i might beg to differ on the latter trait but the first two were pretty spot on), i spent a lot of time nodding and looking serious, i listened to a man prattle on about grout and glass tile, the whole conversation could have been in Mandarin Chinese for all i fucking knew, i was thinking about the weird yellow lights and the sounds of birds coming from the rafters, but i'm a good nodder and have mastered the art of masking stoned confusion with the look of utmost interest...

When i was a kid these behemoth Box Stores were just coming into existence and they weren't that one stop cash grab they are now and i remember being dragged along to multiple stores and the look on my old man's face as he nodded and looked serious, the dutiful soldier, that faithful and solid sounding board, of course the difference between my old man and me is that when my parents did this it was his/their money being spent and when Corporal Kono is dragged along there are no doubts left as to whose money is being spent, it is the Breadwinner's and though i may have some suggestions on how this money could be put to better use, legit uses too, like investments and shit, i am not so stupid as to offer my suggestions, i'm like the gawky and nerdy assistant in some female-centric rom-com, my duty is to compliment the star, of course in the American television sit-com scheme of things my old man could at least expect a piece of tail out of the deal (just like the commercials sell us) while i could expect to unload the car and lug stuff into the house... so it goes...

And what started this little reverie was a song i've been hearing on the satellite radio, a small perk thrown my way at least until it's discovered the free trial is over, it came on this morning in the drizzle and i sat and listened as i drove my way towards the stores and i thought about my old man, about how i was doing all the same shit he had done and for what?  to make someone happy? to please? was that the fucking theory? i couldn't really figure it out, maybe i could blame the Jamaican Dream or maybe i just don't really want to figure it out for various reasons though i'm pretty sure i got it sorted but those are the rambling and circular thoughts of the stoned and this isn't about that...

Since the old guy gracefully took leave of the house he paid for he's lived in an apartment on the West Side of Cleveland, first in Lakewood for 8 years and then two blocks over into the city for the last 16 or so, the apartments are like a time capsule, they are also the antithesis of the whole aforementioned industry and television networks, he has the old table that adorned his ex-wife's beloved dining room, it's covered with junk mail, a newspaper, books, a six pack of Pepsi, various coats or jackets hang on the chairs, i'm quite sure he hasn't sat at it in years, the same two couches he's had for ages though i think one may have been replaced with a newer model in the last decade, an old stereo with a tape deck, glasses and dishes salvaged from the divorce that until said divorce were probably being stored in boxes in the basement, but what the fuck does he care?  it's just stuff, why would he spend his time worrying about stuff? the old man reads too much and thinks too much, he goes to work (for something to do) he talks to his lady friend, he converses with his brothers and his son and doesn't really give a shit if he talks to anyone else, and that's enough for him, he's a self-contained kinda guy...

So i guess as the apple i didn't really fall that far, if i was in my old man's shoes i'm sure my place would look exactly the same as his (except i'd have an old turntable and a milk crate of records), i wouldn't give a rat's ass about the furniture other than that there were a few pieces to drop my ass on when the need arose, to this day i can honestly say i've never bought a bed of my own, it's never crossed my mind, and if i'm being perfectly honest the odds are probably pretty good  at some point i'll be in that same boat, i'll have my stack of books and the newspaper, instead of cigarettes i'll have the bong or better yet a plate of ganja cookies to go with my coffee, i'll watch the footie and the hoops, i'll talk to the boyos and laugh and listen to all the things they're doing, i won't sweat my old couch or the fact my few dishes and glasses are as old as the boyos, because the more i go sliding along the more i see how much i'm like my old man, and that's not a bad thing at all, at least not in my eyes, there are ways in which we are completely different and there are unmistakable traits that leave no doubt i am his son, he's a cool cat, i'm surprised his wallet doesn't say Bad Motherfucker on it, so as i walked the hard concrete aisles of the American home improvement dream, i just sat back and grinned, i nodded and looked serious, that faithful sounding board, just like my old man used to be...


Friday, April 7, 2017

Suburbia - Riders on the Storm

To call the clubhouse a colorful place would be like calling a church holy, its colorful alright and sometimes it's downright batshit, you see some of the characters that frequent the place and your protagonist here have been drifting in and out of each other's orbits for the last 25 years or so, some of course are brand new characters in this ever changing novel cum memoir cum bullshit-fest cum gospel according to Kono but the fact is that some of us have been attempting to melt what's (left) inside our skulls for close to three fucking decades, some admittedly with more success than others...

For a few years now there's been a story making the rounds about a guy and his devout belief that Jim Morrison is not dead.  Not only is James Douglas Morrison not dead but he's been living on the outskirts of Las Vegas and is an ex-biker now just a sweet old man with long gray hair and a big old gray beard. I know this because he's showed me the picture he has of him.  It is a subject that most people will do anything to avoid bringing up in front of our boy for if you do you will be subjected to a matter of fact presentation of evidence based on facts and first hand knowledge of Jim's current whereabouts, it's a sublime look into the mind of an acid casualty... who also happens to be fucking the adult daughter of said supposedly deceased singer, at least that's his story...

In the little town of Podunk U. there was little tavern where the locals hung out and a few of us student types, the townies called us the Art Crowd and for all intents and purposes we were, at least in that shit backwoods town, we were sculptors, writers, painters, poets, typical self righteous college asshats, my last two years at school i held an exalted place in the hierarchy of the Art Crowd, i'm sure this is covered somewhere here on the lounge but this shit's been going on so long i couldn't tell you where, now among this crowd i was the writer, a fucking poet maaaaaaan, with my thrift store sweater and flannel shirts i dressed the part, i took huge amounts of hallucinogenic drugs and had a grand time and though most people never read or heard a fucking thing i wrote i had a reputation of being a budding genius, the cult and myth of personality, there's the fucking title of the post and not the shit that's on the by-line... Raymond was a year or two behind me and would buy grass off me and was always talking to me about Dylan and the Doors, through the years it stuck with him that i was a poet maaaaaan, and so one night as i pulled my tenth tube at the clubhouse i decided to take the plunge, though i don't have a degree in it, like Vonnegut, i sorta fancy myself an anthropologist, of the cultural and crazy variety, i mean life's fucking grand is it not?

So i broached the subject... and his eyes lit up, a grin crept across his face, his voice picked up a notch, the casket man it's too small right? he said.  He had a new audience to espouse not just his theory but his proof, it's too small... too small, it's obvious it's not him he stated, he then began to wind this intricate tale, like he'd been reading too much Umberto Eco and doing too much DMT, being quite stoned myself i couldn't even begin to follow it, not so much because i was stoned but because it was downright lunatic asylum batshit... and it was in this tale that he had met this girl on a message board, a message board where he was talking about his theory of small caskets and not dead rock stars, and as the gods and fate and Ray Manzarek would have it this woman just so happened to not only know where Mr. Morrison was living but she also happened to know him personally and not just personally but more than that she was his damn daughter, Wanda...  now all of this is told to you in the most matter of fact and confident way, Raymond should've been a trial lawyer or a cult leader, his gaze pure and intense and friendly, he's telling you these things as coolly and confidently as the weatherman tells you yesterday's fucking weather, all i could do was sit there enthralled and nodding...

And so through the power of the Internet true love was born, how often does that happen? hardly ever according to Raymond, not like this and so they met and talked and fucked and he told her how he needed to meet her dad, she said she'd see about it, that her dad was a very guarded and private person but that she'd talk to him and explain how shamanic they both were and how they'd enjoy each other's company, that Raymond was okay and not just some crazy asshole wanting to meet the long dead lead singer of the Doors, who of course wasn't dead... and i'll be damned if  Wanda's love for her new man and her father didn't bring to fruition a meeting of the minds...

Raymond showed me pictures of this meeting, he had gone out west to meet the man, of course nothing was ever implicitly said as to the old guy's identity, it was just understood, in fact Raymond told me that at one point the old man and him just stood across the room and conversed telepathically, that they were placing their thoughts in each other's mind, it was all explained in glowing generalities with a lot of "youknowhatimsayin'", nods and winks and serious looks, as an old poet myself (Raymond's words) i knew, what i knew i had no fucking idea but i think i was supposed to know how to talk to fucking dolphins or something, i thought of broaching the theory that maybe this old man was just that, his new Internet woman's old man, a guy named Kevin who much like himself may have eaten the brown acid back in the Summer of Love, but far be it from me to piss on this man's reality, it was all getting very Carlos Castaneda, i took a rip and watched the smoke hang in the air above the coffee table and slowly slunk back into the other conversations taking place, Raymond gave me a knowing nod, it was as normal as talking about mowing the lawn or fucking golf, and i wondered what are we doing in this Hyacinth House? to please the lions? in this day... (more to come...)



Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Night in the Red Light (pt. 2)


Bridgette stood and watched as i took a seat at the bar and ordered a minty fresh Heineken, what the fuck i was in the 'Dam, she said what song American? i grinned at her and said Papa Don't Take No Mess what the fuck else, a few stools down a pair of regulars nodded approvingly, good one!! Bridgette screamed, i like you American... she proceeded to light a cigarette and and ask the usual questions, i answered and then pointed towards a door in the back, do i get my grass back there? she laughed and explained the deal, there was a coffee shop two doors down, a local one she said and not a tourist trap, i could go and get whatever i wanted and come back and do it in the bar, as long as i wasn't an asshole, i shook my head and smiled, fair enough i said, she took my beer and put it behind the bar, go ahead and get yourself sorted she said, i'll keep your beer cold...

Upon entering my first coffee shop i wanted to fall to my knees and kiss the floor, raise my hands to the ceiling and yell Jah Rastafari!! basically be a total knob because i was overwhelmed to be standing in a place like this, i got the menu rundown, quality ran top to bottom with the bottom being pretty damn good and top being mind melting, it was 1998 and the White Widow had just won the Cannabis Cup, it was the shit us American stoners would drool over as we perused the latest issue of High Times, and now it was right here in front of me, i was going to have the Widow, i bought a few grams and some papers and went back to the bar, Bridgette set me a fresh beer down and winked and one of the regulars came and sat down near me, whaddya get? he asked, White Widow i said, good choice he said and we began a most pleasant conversation as i ground up my weed and began rolling a king size joint...

I took my time grinding and rolling and while i was at it the Regular watched, he asked if i was going to put any tobacco in the joint and i laughed and said why would i do that? it'd ruin it in my book, besides we septics like it straight to the head i laughed, little did i know...my king sized joint finished i lit up... Regular and i had been talking for a bit and he was a good sort, Bridgette seemed to know him well and would sit in on the conversation when she wasn't busy, i was about halfway through the joint when it hit, like running straight into a brick wall named panic and anxiety, this was the strongest weed i had ever smoked at the time and i was fucking scoobied, Regular asked if i wanted to shoot some pool, my reply was i don't shoot pool when i'm stoned, i knew my whole demeanor had changed, it hit me that i was 4 or 5 thousand miles from my hood, fucked-up and having no idea where my room was let alone how to get back to it, and here this guy wants to shoot fucking pool? he looked and laughed, you alright? a game of pool? i suddenly thought he was hitting on me, he wasn't of course it was just i was so far gone i didn't know whether to shit or blow bubbles, i politely excused myself and ran out into the beautiful September night...

The night air helped and i immediately went to the Beer Cart and bought three Heineken's, one of which i had the Cart Guy help me shotgun, my logic being a quick influx of alcohol to dull the weed, solid thinking right? i took a deep breath and cracked one beer and stuck the other in my pocket and took a look around, i needed to chill and what better way to do that than peruse the lovely alleyways of the Red Light District...  and so i began walking...

I walked the narrow alleys and looked at the girls, i sauntered by the corners where women in huge windows stood blankly gazing out at the passersby, i wandered this way and that and past the Office of Prostitution where the girls records were kept on file, just past that i came by a doorway to a house where a beautiful Jamaican girl stood smoking, she motioned me over and she said i should come in, i put up my hands and said no no not today, from behind her another rather large woman stepped out, she grinned at me, what's the matter boy you don't like the black girls? i smiled, no no nothing like that it's just my first night here, they both stepped back and laughed, the big one squeezed her breasts together and cackled, c'mon boy we give you first one free, i smiled and walked quickly away as their laughter rang out across the way...

By now i had come somewhat back down to Earth, the panic had left and i stood shaking my head at what an idiot i must have looked like at the bar, i had finished my beers and hands in pockets i began walking the alleys again, i was sort of half daydreaming when i saw her but when i did i think my mouth actually fell open, she was in mid-alley on one of the narrower ones, she had jet black hair that was tied in big braids, she was blue-eyed and creme-skinned, the dimensions of her body flawless, i was fucking floored, i walked past and couldn't get her out of my mind, the imagination went wild, i circled the block and went down that alley again to sheepishly glimpse at her, i thought of Henry Miller, was it possible to see the most beautiful girl you've ever seen working a stall in the red light of Amsterdam? was it possible to fall in love? was it possible to go all in and throw everything you had at her to win her heart? were you fucking insane? no this was all perfectly rational and as i walked down the same alley again i couldn't get the thought out of my mind, stoned and half drunk and walking those old streets it was the most tragic, comic, romantic fucking thought i felt i'd ever had... and then on about my ninth trip down that alley, where my pathetic cruising had seen me smile at her repeatedly as if i was at a junior high school dance, she stepped out of he stall and stood in the alley blocking my path, her smile sexy and her hands were on her hips, she cocked her head and said, American, you gonna fuck me or just look at me all night?  I turned and practically ran the other way...

Epilogue- The next night for some reason i went back to my seedy little bar, i felt the need to redeem myself or something, maybe just to say thanks for being so damn cool, of course part of me was hoping no one i knew was there but as soon as i opened the door Bridgette turned around and laughing shouted, Our American! he made it!! a round of applause went up and the Regular from the night before walked up and bought me a beer, they didn't get many travelers in here and i had been nothing but top notch entertainment, we pulled up seats at the bar and Bridgette turned again and asked if i liked James Brown, you choose i said, and then she turned around, ashtray in hand, my half smoked joint still sitting in it, i think you forgot this she said, fuck that i laughed, you can have it, anyone can have it, the Widow kicked my ass!... there was much laughter and i couldn't seem to buy a beer, there was singing and pool playing and James Brown...


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Night in the Red Light

Shortly after the 28th anniversary of my birth and the 3rd anniversary of setting up shop in North Oakland i took a vacation, of the European variety, it was roughly a month and i went on my own and it was a calculated gamble because the weed buyers of the world can be a fickle lot and packing up and leaving for a month could have found me coming home to a clientele list that had shrunk dramatically, and the honest truth was slinging was my main gig, it was how i got by, the warehouse job was for show, i had managed to squirrel some cash away and set myself a budget and did all the research and booked some cheap rooms and had a free place to flop in South London, this was done by placing phone calls and using actual travel guides because back then the internet was not the wondrous wasteland it is now... i would dub this trip the Booze and Drugs tour and it would involve stops in, besides London, Amsterdam, Brussels, gay Paree and then back to London before heading home and back to the grind...

And so it was one Friday London morning i arose early and walked to the train station, took a train to the main station and caught the Chunnel train to Paris where i realized that i'd fucked up and added 3 hours to my trip and that i should have caught the train to Brussels but what the hell? i'm a septic on a walkabout there was no need to rush... and so i caught another "fast" train from Paris to Brussels and then a slow one from Brussels to Amsterdam which was spent sipping Amstel and staring at the tulip fields, sometime around late afternoon, after spending roughly 9 hours on trains, i wandered out of the Amsterdam Central Station and began walking towards my little hotel, the whole time like some wide-eyed, wild-haired child, in awe of all that i saw, of the the language and street signs and bicycles and canals, i skirted the Red Light district as i saw my first coffee shop but resisted the urge to grab some gear until i had checked in and gotten settled and grabbed a bite to eat...

My little room was up a flight of steps with the toilet and shower down the hall and a bakery right next door, (how that would come in handy), i looked out the little window that faced onto a little square where the workers of the nearby shops took their breaks, i discovered that Dutch toilets had no water but a little shelf which amused me to know fucking end, the water rushing out after and pushing your turds over the "falls" and out to the lovely canals (or i could only assume)... i unpacked and took a short nap and then headed out to get something to eat, it was still early but after a long day i told myself that i would wait until tomorrow to hit the Red Light, no need to rush as i had a few days and in the back of my mind i knew i couldn't run amok but also knew that there was a distinct possibility i would run completely fucking amok and run the risk of Brussels and Paris going by the wayside and heading back to Souf Londin to drink Tennant's Super for the next two weeks while awaiting my flight home...

So into the late afternoon sunshine i went, i wandered a bit and saw Ajax's stadium and stood admiring the first professional home of Dennis Bergkamp, then found a little place and ate some lasagna and drank a few Amstels, i watched the bicycles and traffic and people all moving about, i watched the sun slowly fade and pulled out my little map and figured what the fuck? couldn't hurt just to find the Red Light tonight so that i would know where i was going in the morning right? and so off i went in search of the Red Light District of Amsterdam, a tall septic in a flannel shirt, like Coronado searching for his city of gold, in less than 10 minutes i was at the gates of Eden to a 28yr old half ass American hoodlum, i was stopped at the gates and told that if i wanted the best "coke, hash or ecstasy", to come see this man in a black leather jacket, "i'm here every night, marycan."  I nodded and took it under advisement.

There's a reason for districts like this being beacons for the petty criminal, my first fifteen minutes wandering through i must have looked like a first class mark, a bumpkin right off the bus, you didn't have to lift my wallet you could have stolen my pants right off me and i wouldn't have known it, my grin was Cheshire cat wide as i looked around, i told myself as i walked through that if there was a so-called heaven i hoped it looked just like this, yes it may be a warped view of things but it was my 28yr old view, the thought of a good night sleep dissolved like acid on the tongue, fucking gone, it was time to get down to business and so get down to business i would...

Now a good friend of mine who had come to Holland, squatted a house near the Belgian border, set up a grow room and plied his trade by peddling his crop to a Belgian who would ride his bike across the border and put the gear in a backpack and ride back, told me i would absolutely hate the music, he told me this while sitting in my room and buying gear off me when he came back after 18 months because his mother missed him, he was a good guy but leaned towards the hippy jam band scene and so i shrugged and took it under advisement, there was a couple years where my life was all about the club and doing drugs and dancing until the sun came up, but the reality was that i was mellow enough to get on anywhere and so i wasn't too concerned...

I walked around a bit and noticed this hole in the wall sorta place, dark except for the light that hung over the pool table, there was strange track lighting that ran around the doors and above the bar and it seemed reasonably seedy enough at first glance and so in i strolled, of course everyone sorta of turned and took a glance at the stranger walking in, the bartender looked like a bull dyke Bridgette Nielsen, she was close to six feet tall with a space between her front teeth, a mullet with bangs and shaved sides, she turned from the CD player behind the bar, took one look at me laughed and yelled, Hey American! you like James Brown? i grinned slightly and with my best smart ass said, I fuckin' love James Brown, she broke into a smile and yelled, then sit down and get yourself a drink... (to be continued)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sunny Afternoon

To quote Brian Johnson, the neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie from the film The Breakfast Club, "my home life is unsatisfying", it's a very business-like environment and i know my fucking place, being the plus one has it's advantages and disadvantages and while it's landed me in some funny and wonderful places it also can land me in shit like the other day when i was required to tag along with the girl and her father to the casino for what was ostensibly his X-mas gift, to spend some time with one of his kids and his favorite plus one, how i earned that spot i do not know but believe me when i tell you it ain't no blessing but a fucking curse... scribbled somewhere on the bathroom walls of the lounge is a little story about a trip to Costa Rica and how i almost killed this motherfucker for his actions while on that trip and yet what my old man taught me is to be a decent human being even to the fuckers you'd like to throttle and so i grit my teeth and force a smile now and then and luckily for me the Posa, as he was dubbed, is always blissfully unaware...

At 73 my old man is cool as fuck, a card carrying member of the left he can converse on any number of topics from politics to sports to history to philosophy to the great singer-songwriters of the 70's, he's a smart bastard and our normal phone conversation runs 2 hours, the Posa on the other hand voted for Cheeto and gets all his information from Fox News, the trick is to not converse with him on any topic because it's like talking to a stone, a stone who likes to yell and scream and argue but who hates things like facts and logic, he spends most of his time telling you about what he's eaten, his bowel movements and his favorite grandchild, (not on of my boyos thankfully), for most of her life he's treated the girl like shit but for all the world other than me she is empathetic and kind to a fault, hence she feels bad for the fucking clown...

And so for X-mas she got him a train ticket to the burgh in order to spend the day with her and the plus one (me)... and by spend the day it meant his three favorite things, a trip to Costco, then the Casino and it's buffet and gambling.  There are two casinos near where i live, one downtown and one about 15 miles south, downtown might be physically closer but it's quicker to the other and so that's where i usually take him and so we parked and made our way to the buffet where at the ripe old age of 46 i was easily the youngest person there by 20 years, i watched as the Posa gobbled down three or four plates of grub before getting his desert and then heading out onto the floor to gamble... the first thing i noticed is that for a Wednesday at noon the place was packed, it was a herd of walkers and canes and wheelchairs, there were oxygen tanks and cigarette smoke, it was social security checks and retirement funds and reverse mortgages all being plowed into a bleeping blur of neon clicks and clacks, bright flashing lights and buzzers and bells and the most beautiful shades of silver-blue hair...

Now the business of my domestic situation breaks down like this, i get room and board and a car, i'm a bit like built in childcare and that's cool cuz it's me boyos and i like that part of the gig, of course when it comes to what i call pocket money i gotta come up with my own and since i've always been the resourceful type i get by, a bit hand to mouth but not really cuz i'm not fucking homeless (not yet), it's what i call my sanity cash, the ability to buy a record or see a rock show or get my gear without having to answer to anyone about the cheddar, of course it usually doesn't leave extra money for things like gambling and since i'm not averse to the roulette wheel or the blackjack table i'll do my time for a little free dosh but alas i was handed $50 and asked if that was okay? what the fuck was i gonna say no? and so since i didn't really have enough bankroll to hit the blackjack table or the roulette wheel i found the video roulette and promptly lost $20 of my $50 and said fuck it, i refuse to play slot machines and so i spent the time wandering and debating on if i should just pocket the other $30 and say i lost it and then i remembered... Post Time, 1pm...

Thanks to humanity doing it's best to fuck up the planet i sat outside in the grandstand on a February day in a t-shirt and jeans, one of the reasons i liked this casino over the downtown casino was it had a track, a harness track mind you but a track nonetheless and as we know i like the fucking track... there is a marked difference between the track crowd and the casino crowd, the slots players were suckers, out here it took skill and guile, you needed an eye... at least that's what horse players told themselves, and so i thought back to what the teacher of my horse playing class had said about the trotters, that you could eye the standard-breds, you could see which ones were ready to go and that there was money to be made, i had never played standard-breds before but it beat wandering around in the blinking neon and so i sat down and watched the tote board, didn't even fuck with a program just watched the tote and listened to the track announcer and eyed the ponies...

And so it was on this day that i would place my first ever wager on the trotters, i knew fuck all about gait but everything else was the same as thoroughbreds and so i listened intently to the track announcer and watched the tote as they flashed the expert picks, mainly i eyed the horses as they warmed up, i watched their demeanor and their eyes, watched their movements and alertness, some you could see were going through the motions and some looked more ready than the others, now to figure out which one was most ready, and so i gave myself a whopping $4 budget and set to work trying to score a winner, a real horse player is never one for the favorites, sure they come in one out of three races but it's the public that sets the odds at the track and the public is known to be stupid, with the form you crunch numbers and look for an angle, with no form it was eye and gut, and so my four bones would be laid down with a win bet and an $1exacta box, sometimes a cheap part wheel...

The first race i won fuck all, my exacta finished place/show instead of win/place and my winner finished second, but in the second race there was a horse looked like it was ready to pop, the tote board said 12-1, i hit the auto-tote and placed my win bet, i went back out the grandstand and took my seat, i watched my big white horse drift up to 15-1, the race went off and he settled in and on the backstretch he made his move, i was already grinning, my pony was sailing by and when he hit the stretch i knew i had the winner, $32.80 on my $2, i should have played a wheel like my gambling guru taught me but i was trying to be disciplined with my limited funds, since the Posa was sinking his retirement into slot machines and a stud poker table who knew how many races i'd get to play, plus the card just started and if i won nothing i had cash for 7 races, of course i only got through three, the third bringing in a cheap dollar exacta with a favorite on top but it was another $9 and change, i had made my fifty back...

The text came in and it was time to leave after the third but man did i miss the track, the itch was back, my uncle who once had a gambling problem (football games) told me how dangerous the track was, the fact that a new race went off every twenty minutes, sometimes less, being well acquainted with the addicts mentality i understood where he was coming from, like most vices there needs to be a discipline involved, but what i really missed was the atmosphere, there is the lovely solitude in the sparse crowd at the track, especially on weekdays, it's mainly lone men all staring at their forms, some you can tell cut out work, some probably schedule certain days off to make it, there are the occasional couples and sometimes a group of guys fucking off and getting drunk, you can sit there all day and the only person you talk to is the lady at the ticket cashing window, there's the smooth voice of the announcer and track expert, the crack of the whip and calls of the drivers, i could have sat there all day, i'm hoping to get back out soon, maybe even spend the two bucks and get the local program, and while picking winners is fun i'll admit it's not about that at all, it's about something else and you either know what that something else is or you don't...



















Thursday, March 2, 2017

Suburbia - Pill Crusher

The Clubhouse really deserves it own proper post but some old master somewhere said something about keeping the reader in suspense or some shit, i don't really know, in short the Clubhouse is my sanity in the sea of the vanilla suburban cesspool, the place i go to fucking relax and drink beers and pull tubes and have anywhere from inane conversations about the minutiae of the spotted frog to in depth philosophical debates on the artistic merits of footballers, to musings on Russian short stories and music and outer space and everything in between, i love this fucking place because it's a haven for weirdos and misfits hidden among the polished facade of normalcy that is suburban living, no one here aspires to be anything more than what they are, stoners and drinkers and lovers of drugs and debauchery of all shapes and sizes...

And so it was recently that a girl was sitting at the kitchen counter, away from the telly and the talking and staring rather perplexedly at little lime green square, a Xanax, she had whispered to someone that she was having a bit of a problem crushing said pill when someone told her to ask Kono, he'd know what to do, i was quite fucking stoned and concentrating intently on opening my bottle of beer when i kindly looked up and said what's the problem? she was a brunette with large brown eyes and red streaks dyed through her hair which was pulled up haphazardly behind a black headband, oddly enough i'd been smoking some Headband not long before, i gazed down at the scene like an aging MacGuyver...

She said she couldn't seem to crush it and i asked her if there was a coating on it, she looked at me blankly, and i said a coating, a time release thing to keep you from doing exactly what you're trying to do with it, she smiled blankly and i examined the pill, i told her it seemed as if there might be one on there but i couldn't tell for sure but if there was there were ways around it involving a damp paper towel, a plate, a microwave, it could be done but i also said if there was no coating that this method would dissolve the damn thing and so i scored the pill a bit and then took the Snapple bottle she was using and Presto! it crushed right up. Unfortunately though neither of us made sure the bottle was empty or the lid securely fashioned and before we knew it the dregs of Snapple were dissolving the pill, i told her to quickly dab it on her finger and she did and went one better by using her little straw to slurp up the few drops that had almost caused catastrophe, she winced at the taste and took a drink of water and then moved back into the living room...

It took all of 20 minutes for her to ask me to crush up the other half and of course i obliged, i went to work crushing and chopping and spreading, then putting it back into a pile and chopping some more, a ritual i was once well-versed in, i handed her back her Ralph's card and noticed she was dividing the gear in two lines, what a polite kid i thought and headed back to the sofa, as i walked away she asked if i was gonna do one and i thanked her, smiled, and politely declined, the dozen or so bingers having done more than their trick i was quite pleased with my display of self control, she offered the rest of the room the same and then proceeded to zoot both little green lines and then take up a seat on the couch...

Before long that Xanax had loosened her tongue proficiently enough to get her gabbing away and telling us how just last week her friends and her had bought a whole bunch of ecstasy and Xanax and proceeded to go on a 4 day bender of which she could remember very little other than that it was a swell time, a wave of nostalgia washed over me thinking about the days when i used to do those things, a week or two or three of anything and everything, days upon days of acid and weed and booze, the kids are alright i thought, of course i was going to tell her to be careful but instead began telling a story about getting pure MDMA back in 1994 and how we used to mix it in with the Kool-Aid and slug it down, the dregs always bitter but always the most important part and she looked at me and said, 1994? that was a year before i was born which brought howls of laughter from a couple of us as she smiled and thought about drinking a beer...

It was then that we began debating the fine line of Xanax and booze and i for one offered up how many nights of Xany bars and booze had led me to piss myself more times than i'd care to mention, of course the call went up for me to mention and i listed a number of places of when i pissed and what i pissed on, of waking up at noon and wondering why i was naked from the waist down and why my jeans were balled up on the floor and wet, the wine of youth i believe it's called and it was then that the young lady decided to wax philosophical and slag of the straight world and higher education, that she was gonna be an artist and shit and man if the grin didn't spread across my face, it was a fucking load of bollocks, it sounded an awful lot like this kid i used to know except that guy was a bit more eloquent and demonstrative when he spoke, i catch quick glimpses of him occasionally...

Now years ago i was reading an interview with Mike Watt of the Minutemen (and the re-formed Stooges for a time), and what Watt said was that you shouldn't be a dick and judge the kids cause none of us control when we're born and so it's no fault of your own if you miss some musical or cultural movement and that we should give the kids credit for doing their own thing and digging into the past and learning... when it's all broken down the hippies and the punks were not that far apart in their world view and so i've always taken Mike's words to heart, i like to hear what the kids are digging, what they're reading, who they're listening to, (Bowie was another shining example of keeping tabs on youth culture), it's being curious, on the other hand i was always keen to hear what those who went before me were into and in the process learned lots 'O shit, her lines were nothing i hadn't heard or even said before except i was never one to bad mouth the halls of higher education and so when she stopped i asked if i could give her a different perspective? sure she said...

I explained that college was one of the best things i ever did, sure i owed money when i got out but the real question was what are you going to school for? to get a job? or are you going to get an education? i said the purpose was to get an education, there's all kinds of shit to study that doesn't involve the business of making money i told her and in your spare time you sit in the library and read books and educate yourself, it affords you one of the last times of your life to spend hours upon hours of fucking about all in the name of learning something, and hell it's not like you need to go to Harvard, i'd find the cheapest place and make sure it's nothing like where i was from, thus making you learn even more shit, i've never actually used my degree in my life and yet i used what i learned during those years everyday... of course i also told her she could say fuck it and travel the world or better yet go to school overseas for free and that roughly 30% of the population has a bachelor's degree and before she slagged it off she should realized it's not like you just show up and they hand you some fancy paper with your name written in calligraphy but in the end you'll have to work and deal with people and things far outside your comfort zone, in short it's a fucking right laugh and i also recommended taking copious amounts of drugs and having as much sex as possible but did add that was just my personal opinion... lastly i stated that whatever she did she shouldn't go to school for art cuz that was the one damn thing you can learn on your own... it's just a thought i said as i drained my beer...

She sat slightly nodding her head and dwelling upon my little soliloquy, i got up off the couch and walked my bottle to the recycle bin, stretched and grabbed my coat, shook hands and bumped fists and said my goodbyes. my Xanax'd up friend looked at me and smiled and said that was pretty cool, that she had never thought of shit that way, i told her us old-timers have our moments...  and then it was out to drive the loop, that wonderful little route home, the stereo humming comfortably, the houses mostly dark, the streets mostly empty,  raccoon eyes glinting yellow in the headlights...