Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?


Ha, yeah it's tough luck. Sometimes you don't even know what you want, but when the possibility is taken away from you, you get all mad and frustrated and you want to give the finger to all of Nashville because let's face it, they never understood the true depth of your art anyway.

I was all set to seriously get all up in one of those 5MP digi cameras from Radio Shack that I'd seen on TV on Thanksgiving, as my cousin rambled on about the bathtub in his new house. I don't remember the details of the commercial because I was drunk and tripping on acid, of course--I mean its fucking Thanksgiving--but I distinctly remembered a one-eyed manatee with a glowing red heart pulsating in his forehead saying that the cameras were $89 and something about how my third grade teacher knew I was a liar. Now, that all could have been the low-grade angel dust talking, but I decided to check it out, in a big way, as soon as I could.

Friday I had stuff to do. I'm not gonna lie to you, I spent most of the day over at Kiehl's on Columbus Ave, spraying different kinds of musk in the air and walking through. When I found one that passed muster I'd proclaim, "Manly, yes--but I like it, too!" with a delighted look on my face, like a mischeivous little kinkajou on the day the kinkajous have their picnic.

Today I'm fine. Today I went out to see the world. I took the bus all the way down to 5th Ave. and watched the busybodies shop hell out of the holidays. I don't mind them, I like them. In fact, I really wanted to document the occasion.

The other day I saw a garbage can on fire. Bam--precious moment. Now today, I see one of our most treasured sitcom actors, Ray something or other from that TV show where everybody digs Raymond. Dammit! Where the hell is my camera? Why aren't I recording this whole thing, the whole situation? Soon I'll be dead, and all of my precious, pure golden moments have not been recorded, captioned, filed, fondled, pored over, deeply respected, and reverently understood for what they are--priceless gold flakes of a brilliant life spent wandering around the city alone and aimlessly while periodically weeping, swearing, and laughing till it hurts. Ha ha ha! Seriously, it hurts.

Soon, before anyone knows it, I will be gone from this place. It occurs to me often. I have wasted my life. Another awesome exercise in self-esteem. But what to do, what to do. My mind is furious with worry and doubt. I have no time, no time. I'm writing a novel. It won't be a work of genius. I'll be very lucky to finish it and get it published. It's called, "Something Has to Make You Run." It's about a teenager who runs away from home and gets murdered. It's also about a man who realizes that the mechanism that makes him run has broken down. It's about one of those days that turns into one of those weeks, and then doesn't stop, and what to do when the mechanism breaks down.

I went to Radio Shack to collect my $89 dollar camera. The clerk said, "That was yesterday." Yesterday? Are you kidding me? Radio Shack has one-day sales now. What happened to the days when they concentrated on selling eighteen different kinds of transistors that old men buy to solder onto their ham radio sets so they can look for ET? Now Radio Shack is like Macy's, where everything is a big glamorous event. I missed the fucking extravaganza. Story of my life. Actually, yeah--not a bad title for my autobiography.

So now I gotta spend $200 or more for a decent camera. I can't back down now. It's too late to back down. I back down now and the kinkajous will be running wild, without a care in the world, aimless and without any kind of structure all year round. Someone's gotta be in control here. It's like, the mystery of the missing camera. And its up to me and a one-eyed manatee to track it down.

Yeah, maybe that's reason enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Shit's Retarded


You have to cradle the microphone in a way that shows that its an extension of your body... like, its an extension of, like, your fucking soul. And I'm totally doing that. It's like my raw, unadulterated emotions stick. And its time to just get it on, like, really make it happen.

I've only had a couple of beers, but it's enough to get into the feel... see I need a good "feel" if I'm gonna really DO the karoake. When the lights are on me and the big screen is flashing lyrics, I need to know that I'm gonna get some good soulflow and really emote the shit out of a song. So, the good thing is that this particular Chinatown bar has this great, cinema-like screen and as the lyrics come up on it there are also actors who do a kind of interpretive scene based on the song. As I begin the song, a mid-eighties masterpiece, I am slightly thrown by what I see on the screen, above the lyrics. It's an overweight man in a cowboy outfit who takes his shirt off and leans up against a tree. It looks a lot like soft-core porn, but the acting is much worse. What the effin' ess? This is Phil Collins--it's British Douchebag music, not Gay Cowboy music.

I can see that I'm going to have to shoulder the full emotional weight of this act myself. So much for the big screen--and thanks a lot, Hopalong Fancypants.

Goddamnit, tonight I just have to get a lot of stuff out. I've been not quite right lately--shit hasn't been going my way lately. I'm that guy who comes home from work, sits in front of the TV, but forgets to turn it on. And I'm sitting there for like ten minutes, and then I'm like, "Why is shit so damn boring?" How did I become that guy? What the hell is wrong with me? My life is just passing me by! But tonight, that's when I grab hold of the mike, slur out some overly sentimental lyrics, and really get to the bottom of the matter.

I wrap it up: "One more night... cause I can't wait foreveeeer..." and it kills. The girls at the front table are weeping, wolf-whistling, and standing at attention. I do my classic "Yesss!" move, which is when I make a fist and pull it in, like I'm um... pulling something, I guess. It's way manly and it impresses the shit out of people. And I do an air kick, just to show people that not only can I "grab hold of their emotions" with the fist pull, but I also "kick ass". It's an elegant pantomime.

I basically sign myself up for every spot on the list, because people need to hear what I have to sing. When the elderly chinese lady puts the wrong laserdisk in the machine, I don't even care. The song is "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and I don't know how it's supposed to go. And its in chinese. And I fucking sing the shit out of it anyway. More applause. More fist pulls, more air kicks, more general swaggering.

But I'm not done... I need to take care of my old friend "Sister Golden Hair" by a little band called AMERICA first, followed by a scorching rendition of "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by none other than the Dukes of Douchebag Cool, CHICAGO. Unfortunately there is no BOSTON to choose from, and KANSAS is just too heavy and depressing for karaoke. But I've said what I needed to say, and proved a few pretty important points about rockin' along the way.

Later on in the week, I go out with my friend and his girlfriend, and we spend about $250 on drinks in the Meatpacking District. By the end of the evening, I realize I'm at a loss... how can I communicate now? How can I sing my heart to these people?

On the way home, I notice a WET PAINT sign that's been ripped in half and flipped around, and the P is missing. Now the sign says AINT WET.

In my dream, I flip the mike from one hand to the other as I gear up to tear the roof off the place. I begin, and immediately I realize that what I’m singing has very little relation to the actual lyrics that I’m reading. The lyrics I am reading are nowhere near as good as the ones that I am singing. All along, I’ve misunderstood the lyrics in a very beautiful way.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The New Chinese Fiction

Poor brethren, do you have any good prose yet?

They'd set up a network for tracking down dissidents and political prisoners. The hero of the story is a detective who is after a defector with vital information.

The fugitive has managed to evade the network so adroitly that the detective is left with only an innate ken for detection as guide. Beginning with close friends and relatives, the detective is able to put together a composite of the man. He extrapolates an identity from the stories he hears of the fugitive's life. The detective pieces together a profile, based on the elements of the fugitive's personality. Even more, he is able to note similarities in demeanor, certain common qualities in spirit, between himself and the fugitive.

The detective's intent is to understand the fugitive from the inside out. His theory is this: The more he understands the fugitive, the more he will be able to feel the same feelings, have the same thoughts, make the same choices. He will meet and speak with the same people the fugitive has had contact with, including the mother, the teachers, the friends, and he will begin to follow the same fugitive path.

Meanwhile the fugitive strives to eliminate the chance of capture by negating any and all indicative personal qualities. The fugitive's goal is not only to become faceless, but to virtually disappear from existence, as well as collective memory. He meditates all day long in his secluded woodland area, among the trees. He sleeps only at dusk, between darkness and daylight.

Each day the fugitive regrets the day before, noting mistakes of tangibility, determining to slip further away from the mundane. Through a process of starvation and meditation, each day the fugitive takes up less space and further minimizes his activity.

Each day the detective's search gains mass, even as viable leads grow scarcer. He has spoken to everyone the fugitive has ever known, even the paperboy, the grocer, the garbagemen. The detective learns to see the imprint of the fugitive in an eye, a gesture, a part in the hair. Even if a person has only met the fugitive for a brief moment, or possibly even bumped into him on the street, the detective can tell. From this information, he is able to make his way ever so slightly, ever more confidently toward his prey.

Though still only at twilight and dusk, the fugitive is almost always asleep.

For the fugitive, days and nights blur between the middling hours; they barely exist. The fugitive makes very few movements, he has very few thoughts. He can barely see, hear, or feel. He exists solely to not exist.

He notices a parting of the horizon in the distance, and feels pushed toward it. He is propelling himself into the distance. He is a man looking for a way out. The world continues to rush past him as he propels himself forward. He is aware of only the faint echo of time, ticking away behind him. He is waiting for it to stop.

Wrenchingly, he slips through.

The detective is absorbing qualities of the fugitive; he is hungry for more qualities. Though he has long since ceased questioning people, tracking the fugitive to this town is easy. Tracking the fugitive has become his prime nature.

It's just a matter of time. The detective has successfully shed every remnant of his life before. He does not recall the elements of his life before. He has no interest in his life before. When he looks in the mirror, he sees only the face of the fugitive. It is a face he has no feelings for, no opinion on. He is aware of his existence, for which he feels nothing.

Arriving at the tree, the detective probes remnants of the fugitive: eyeglasses, dingy worker's overalls, sandals, a few strands of hair.

The detective contacts the network. "I have located the fugitive" is the message. He gives them directions, indicating the province, the town, and the tree.

The government's operatives converge to arrest the man they find sitting quietly, unmoving, beneath the tree indicated by the detective.

At the trial, the defendant shows no remorse. In fact, there is a sense of satisfaction in his manner--the glint of triumph. The judge makes a point of mentioning that he finds this rather unbecoming in someone who is about to be executed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Best Part of Waking Up... Is Knowing You're Not Dead


In my dream, the town is on fire. We know the town is on fire, but there's nothing we can do.

I wake up. It's six in the morning, still dark. I put on my sneakers and take my morning run. As I'm running I play my morning game, which goes like this: Every time a car passes me, I have to start counting. If I count to 100 before the next car passes, I can let my mind drift freely, thinking of whatever I wish. But, if a car passes me before I reach 100, I have to count however many things I can find of the particular number that I was on when the car passed... meaning, if the car passed me when I was on 62, then I must choose something from my surroundings to count 62 of. It could be trees. It could be birds. It could be rocks larger than a baseball but smaller than a basketball. It could be bags of trash, mailboxes, bottle caps, signs, squirrels, fence posts, whatever. Once I'm done counting, I can resume my game when the next car passes. Only phase two is different: This time, instead of counting to 100, I count to 500... then, same deal.

When I get back home, after cataloging the morning's array of potholes, telephone poles, and/or cigarette butts, I take a fifteen minute shower, followed by two hours of sitting and staring at nothing. From my brain, a fizzly trickle of energy streams upward, creating a dense cloud that rains a bewildered feeling of forboding down upon me, and follows me around throughout the day. I have my regular 9:30 nosebleed, wipe up, and then head out the door.

I am walking down the street with my briefcase in one hand, umbrella in the other. In still another hand I am carrying a banana, and in another a bag of balloons for making balloon animals. I have a tremendous number of hands, each holding something strange and useful, in its own way. I reach out with one of my hands, and out sprouts many more hands, each grabbing something and putting it to use. My legs are a blurred wheel as I breeze by quickly, blowing up the skirts of women who walk beside me. I am a factory of simultaneous gestures, actions, and expressions. I am a teetering, gangly, spindly machine that runs on ultra-specific and precise micro-emotions.

If you can hear my heart beating, you are too close. If you want to hear my heart beating, you must find a metal can, poke a hole in it, and put it to your ear. My heart can be harmful if listened to directly. My heart produces love at an ultrasonic frequency that could be compared to whale song, if whales were the approximate size and temperature of the sun. The sound is capable of opening garage doors, confusing bats, and locating submarines. The sound has broken up the kidney stones of astronauts in space stations orbiting planets in other galaxies.

In another galaxy, a young planet with a fragile, struggling atmosphere has fallen in love with me, it's molten core of metal and lava pulsing with recognition. It believes that our hearts are the same, made of the same energy. It is longing for the day, many trillions of years from now, when the universe will collapse upon itself, because then we'll finally be together.

I sometimes feel tremendously sad. I sometimes have dreams in which everything is on fire. I sometimes stay up late at night and stare at nothing until early in the morning.

The big, warm, sonic waves that emanate from my heart can be seen in infrared and ultraviolet. I sometimes wear an infrared or ultraviolet t-shirt, which appears to be moving as it magnifies the waves emanating from my chest. The ripples that you see in my t-shirt have blown through clouds as if they were smoke rings. Atomic clocks have been set to the frequency of my heartbeat.

I am tracing my path on a map of my town. The map has a different color for each second of the day, so that I can locate myself according to where I am at what time. But that's not all. The map also shows where I'm located in relation to where I was located one second ago, and one second before that, and so on. And so, the map is alive; constantly moving and changing colors to represent my location, and my location's location, and so on. My location, moving through time.

In my dream, we know the town is on fire. But we are resigned to the fact. We will simply have to walk around this way, on fire, until things are all sorted out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Story of My Life, Part 2

We hoisted The Monolith up and tried cramming it into the back seat of the cab to no avail. It wouldn't fit through the door.

"To the trunk," I said. To his credit, the eldery, bone-thin cabbie didn't argue, he just lugged the TV with me and plopped it down into the trunk. It wasn't a snug fit, by any means. In fact, it didn't really fit at all. It was simply the biggest TV set ever made--like, bigger than a coffin. And heavier.

But I was on a mission. A mission to make $100. All we would need to do would be to get The Thing a little bit more into the trunk... just enough so that we could tie down the trunk door with some rope. The old man was worried. He didn't think we'd fit it.

"Just put your weight on it, man," I urged him. We gave the box a couple of atomic pile drivers and even threw it in a headlock, but it wouldn't budge. But I knew that this crazed, unhappy father in Atlantic City was my only hope for getting rid of it. I'd either get it to him, or... well, at this point it was either The Coffin or me. I slammed the thing on its ass one more time, and heard a tiny cracking, tinkling sound, followed by a whoosh of air. Me and the old man looked at each other. We knew The Bitch had bought it.

"What do we do?" he asked me. This was a fine cabbie--loyal and true. "Do you still want to take it to AC?" he asked.

"No, she's dead," I said. "Let her go."

He offered to help me carry it back into the house, but I was done. We left it on the curb for the garbage men.

A couple of weeks went by.

Rick and Blake began wondering out loud (with the implied threat of impending violence) why the hell Big Bertha was still out in front of the house. I had to admit I was a little curious myself as to why the garbage men wouldn't take her. I mean, she was a big lady, but even she should have gotten an invite to the dance. The town dump social, that is. But I couldn't bring myself back into the matter. It was still too painful, the wound still raw. She'd betrayed me, and I couldn't face her again.

Another week or so passed, until finally The Dead Weight disappeared. At last, I could breathe a sigh of relief and wallow in my closure.

Or so I thought.

After I had allowed myself to forget about The Big Ugly and move on to getting fired from my next minimum-wage job, I received a letter from the City. The first thing I saw was a picture of my house, with none other than The Filthy Giant lazing about slothfully by the curb.

The next thing I saw was a Summons. The City was taking me to court for putting out The Big One on a day other than the bulk garbage pick-up day.

The next week, I was in court. I explained my case to the judge. Next to the guy who went before me, the morbidly obese guy being sued for not returning hundreds of videos to the local movie rental store, I figured I was looking pretty good. But the judge wasn't cool with it.

So I ended up having to pay the fine. Since I had gotten all dressed up and shown up to court, they reduced it a bit...

... to $100.