Monday, February 28, 2005

Something to Sing while Lying on your Death Bed

Sung to the tune of Rose's turn from Stephen Sondheim's Gypsy:

ALL THOSE BRAN FLAKES, WHERE DID IT GET ME?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Midweek Party

Oh Yeah. They happen. I am one of the lucky ones, since I don't have to get up to go to work the next day. My cohorts, not so lucky.

Around five years ago, not long before 9/11, pot came back. All over LA. People gathering in parking garages after a wrap party to talk, smoke pot and basically tune out the hell that is competitive contemporary American life. It has been so funny to watch, to be a part of and to have meaningful druggy conversations again.

Hollywood really is decadent. It has to be. There is something about the excesses of the business and the neediness of the people that just lends itself to the need for a good slamming party.

The combination of 9/11 and the reign of Bushie 2 has made pot even more essential in these urban parts, as people are so anxious, their lives are so scary, and Allegra, the only allergy medecine that works, is not covered under insurance.

For the most part, I keep my drug use limited to the weekends when I can enjoy it with my recognized-by-Multnomah-County husband, talk about our life, life in general, the life of others, the life of dead others, etc. and then maybe, have some sex. For those who don't know, pot is good for sex. But one must be careful, as too much pot over time makes the wiener less willing. But pot limited to the weekends is a good prescription if one is drawn to the good green stuff at all.

I do try to stick with the weekend ethos of drug use, however, there are times when a good friend, usually Jeff, has the great idea, on a Wednesday or a Thursday night, to get together to have an impromptu dinner. What this usually means is, "Bring the weed, man." And of course, being a gay-at-home writer, I am thrilled for the chance to hang out with people, yack about anything and of course, get high. Oh, and there's always a goodly amount of wine and odd leftovers, too.

Last night, Jeff had Rebecca come over, too. She works with him and they are both bosses at their company in different departments. They are both awesome, smart, straight, organized, intelligent Jews. In fact, Rebecca is from my neck of the woods in suburban NY. I could have grown up with her. I have always been close with the Jews, because let's face it, they would have me. However, growing up, my closest friends, the ones I still keep in touch with are non-Catholic Catholics. I understand them completely, though in the understanding others department, the Jews are a super close second. And let's face it: they're almost all liberal, in their heads and they don't want to fist fight. But in all this, I am aware how annoying it is to see people, at all, as part of a group. I hate groups. A group of gay men annoys the hell out of me. All that dishing...so stupid. I don't understand Black culture, not really. A bunch of straight men trawling for V, I'm miffed. Happening women, I get, but they are, at the end of the day, a different sex. Out of all groups, if I have to handle a group, I can handle the Jews. They were the first Scientists...pushing together all the deities into one, figuring, "EH, let's just put all the unknowns into one God. This'll free us up. We can look at things without the clutter of there being a God behind each and every rock." Cultural anthropology is super interesting...including all the historical, philosophical, artistic and political movements of any period of time and how we behave today because of these different movements. I love this book:
From Dawn to Decadence

After Rebecca left and Jeff and I were still talking, I had to tell him how much I enjoyed all this college type conversation we were having (which all three of us made fun of while we were having it---"I have to go man, I have a paper due tomorrow.")-- not unlike my days back at Tufts. And I confessed how much I need the Juden, even though I tend not to like to think about people so much as being classified in any group. As I often say, "Jews, I hate them and they're the only people I can stand." Which is way better than, "Gays, I hate them, and these are my people."

These are all things I can live with. And in a way, it's kind of sweet. Life is beautiful. Look at the lovely unicorn. Now, the rough part: I got so drunk and stoned that I could barely get out of bed today. What is it about a midweek party? I mean, they are so decadent, but at times, they seem so necessary. And being able to stop the week and to spend a night doing nothing but eating, drinking, smoking pot and talking about every single interesting thing that comes into your mind, well, it's no wonder conservatives hate us. However, it seems necessary. With that being said, I must write a play called Midweek Party. Why it happens, what happens when it happens and the aftermath of its happening.

And, I must be careful with the substances. Because, let's face it, the human animal can get addicted quite easily. And a midweek party turns into a late week hangover...how can I enjoy the weekend party when the midweek party has slammed my old ass down? What am I thinking? I love that I have the ability to go out there into the land of excess. I love roller coasters and the idea of an orgy. I love manic smarty-pants types, slutty babes and Michel Houellebecq:

The Elementary Particles

But right now, I have to go check on the laundry and pick up my in-laws at LAX.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Voting for Mayor, Getting Rid of that Car

Friends, in The Los Angeles Times the election poll for mayor states there are two issues Angelenos are considering that are tied for first place among all the other issues. They are Education and Public Transportation. No other concerns come even close.

Yes, it's true. So, feel free, next Thursday, to dump your car and take the train or walk or use your hydrogen powered jet pack.

I know many of you live far and wee from your work place. But give it a try.
The rain has stopped. Get some fresh air.

Over Acting or Run to the Light, Carol Anne

Excerpt of an essay from Open Trench

There was someone else in my family who also had performing aspirations. And she was more organized, had better follow-through, a producer’s aggression and the corralling ability of a Border collie. This person was none other than my older sister. She was bright, articulate, cute, bossy, determined and not unlike Lucy Van Pelt in overall energy. It should be no surprise then that she mounted watered down versions of the Peanuts television specials in our backyard, on, of course, the deck. She would play Lucy. I was usually cast as Charlie Brown. And my poor brother, who had as much interest in these shenanigans as I had in playing cops and robbers, was forced into playing Linus. He never knew his lines. He did carry a blanket with no incident. Ruth Barrett from next door, ever accommodating, played all the other parts, or Peppermint Patty, I can’t remember. She looked like a young Anette Benning. I had a crush on her. She was a year older than me and one year younger than my sister and was also my sister’s best friend. When I was six and she was seven, we played the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” game. Her idea. It was also her idea to immediately pee all over each other as soon as our bald bits were exposed. This happened in the driveway in my front yard right in front of the garage door. After our thighs and calves were covered with urine she warned me in a tone that suggested unique knowledge, “We better go to the backyard and hose off, or we’ll get mildew.” We went to the backyard and hosed off. She must have been right because I never did get mildew. And we never did anything like that again. Which was fine with me. I didn’t like being peed on so much. Not that it revolted me, it just didn’t give me the zing I was looking for. If she had only kissed me! But she never did. Later in life she married a chef, got a bit chubs and ceased to resemble Anette Benning. But she maintained her easy going nature. I don’t know if she pees on her husband but if she asked me for another go ‘round, I’d probably do it all over again. Maybe this time I’d opt for the mildew?

Back to the show. So, we were performing my sister’s version of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! there on the deck, the same standard issue development deck that most of the neighborhood Jews would turn into harvest shacks during Succoth. Succoth is a wacky, old-timey holiday Jews celebrate. It’s all about the harvest, man. They eat in there to celebrate. I guess in historical times they set up these shacks while collecting around the desert. Cute shacks. The decks of suburbia had all sorts of things going on. The shacks seemed to say, “You can do whatever you want on these decks. It’s all fair game!” Okay, back to Charles Schulz’s and the little Christians with their Great Pumpkin. We got to the well known section where we would pretend to knock on people’s doors and say, “trick-or-treat.” Lucy got candy. Linus got candy. Ruth Barrett got candy. And of course, I got a rock. This went on twice. The audience of bully kids was bored to death. My sister looked panicked. The ring leader in the cheap seats, Peter Tosto, tall, thin, Italian-American, ever my tormentor and the oldest kid of the nasty bunch of me-haters, was ready to pounce. I sensed it and I needed to deflect the bullying. I felt bad for my sister because the show was going poorly, yet conversely, I wanted to let the audience know that I was cooler than the material I was forced to perform and with this profound awareness, perhaps they would like me. So we knocked for tricks-or-treat the third time. Lucy and Linus got candy. And I got an apple. I bit into the apple and per the script yelled, “Ugh, a worm!” It was then that I seized my moment. Feeling the raging boredom of the audience (hell, they could see this on television with better actors, who were cartoon people and eat Dolly Madison Sno Balls while their fathers smoked Lucky Strikes) and also sensing the ludicrous nature of staging this bad script up high on a suburban deck, after I said, “Ugh, a worm!” I threw the apple off the deck and tried to make it land in the stream that ran at the property line behind our house. So bad. So cool. Throwing like a girl, the apple didn’t make it but merely thudded off the edge of the railing, leaving a bit of apple there and then clunked onto the grass. This was so off script. And worse, it did not have the desired effect of making me appear cool but further solidified my clumsy fagosity. Though, the nasty kids did chuckle, a bit, but not so much for me but against the show in general. My sister was so embarrassed that her show was not being well received and that her own ranks were in dissent that she did the only thing she could under the circumstances to try to retain control and order. She walked across the deck in front of all the neighborhood kids that hated me and she resolutely slapped me across the face. I come from a hitting family and my sister hit real well. It was the slap that was heard halfway across Spring Valley. Local deer lowed. Rare birds fluttered their wings in sapling fruit trees that were still attached to tall stakes by red rubber covered wires in a figure eight twist for support. The show was tanking. I was humiliated, so was my sister and the audience took my sister’s slap as the cue that the show had fallen apart. They could say and do whatever they wanted to now. And they did. I don’t remember what they said and did because I was so busy nursing my wounded pride while also exalting in my ballsy theatrical risk taking. I do remember chairs and props being overturned and people leaving and my sister still trying to maintain order with her very red face and yelling at me to go down to the yard to get the apple. It was such a scene and we never finished the presentation. My sister and I never worked together after that. Though, I was able to eat lunch in that town again.


*8

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What's a Liberal to do?

So, I had a run-in with my writing.
How can I, as a liberal, white, priveleged male in this country write about racism honestly? And I mean, my own. I feel like, as they sing in Avenue Q that Everyone's a little bit racist. Not to any other point than we notice differences and we back off or judge or simply feel put off or alienated by the difference.

So, can't I not write that I noticed a whole gaggle of black people and I was like, look at all those black people? And if they are all working at the register at say, Target, and they're moving real slow with their big painted fingernails, can I have a reaction to that, an honest reaction, and write it down for publishing...my reaction being something like--"These black women are all moving very slowly and they all have very long nails. Perfect for moving even more slowly at the register. I'm so annoyed. I feel so superior to them, they are not my people, but at the same time I feel awful that they are imprisoned at a low-end corporate job." And with writing that and being honest about my racism while at the same time feeling very compassionate toward these people even though I feel superior and annoyed, isn't that the height of self awareness and ultimately the key to moving forward as a group of assorted nuts in one big bad box store? Don't I do a service by noticing my racism, writing about it, and moving on, loving these people? People subject to my racism feel the racism emenating from me, anyway, whether I mention it or not. And, when they also see that I quickly drop the judgment and try to love them, they feel that, too.
So I can write about it, right?

Or am I just a delusional prick?

Is it too sensitive a subject?

I find other Liberals to be so dogmatic in their color blind approach to life. But at the same time, I see their behavior and it is just as racist as everyone else's.

Please, feel free to comment here or comment big on your blog and add a link to your blog in the comment here.



*7

Note of Gratitude

To my super pal who helped me understand web logs, formatting and all things bloggy.

Read him, read the world.

POSTCARDS FROM HELL'S KITCHEN

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blogs, They're Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I was walking out of Barnes & Noble, exiting quickly, because even though I don't have a normal job, I am still over scheduled and always running late. As I was passing the last book stand near the front exit I saw a Royal Blue book with Big Orange letters. It said BLOG Understanding the Information Reformation that's changing Your World. I had no idea who Hugh Hewitt was. And frankly, how could I? He lives in such a different world than I do.

In any event, I snagged the book after reading just one random page and figured, hell, I'll read it on the plane to New York.
And though I did not have the time to finish it on the plane East, I did start it in New York, gasped in surprise and then finished it on my way back to Los Angeles.

The book poses as an understanding of why blogs are so very important in this day and age. The real message, however, is that the Right is taking over the United States and anyone who doesn't understand that is an idiot and if he is reading this book and doesn't understand this fundamental truth, then he should put the book down. Why in the world would you want to only speak to those who are already thinking like you? Also, there were some interesting points in the book about the history of publishing and the history of Martin Luther's shenanigans, so why not share that with everyone? And furthermore, I have some other things to ask Hugh Hewitt.

1) Why do you ask anyone who is leftward leaning to stop reading this book? Are you not then just telegraphing that this is going to be a tighty Righty diatribe?

2) Why is your opinion so completely steadfast, pretending to glean your understanding of the world with a large scope when obviously, you only listen to yourself and others like you? Why not admit that half this country and more than half of its writers and creators lean left? Are you terrified of that?

3) Why not just embrace the Right and the Left and see them as two halves of a whole that are necessary for a society to proceed in an orderly fashion? The Left, in this country, creates. The Right, in this country, preserves what the Left created over the centuries. Furthermore, understand that people on the Left are predisposed to Communalism which is obviously a scary thing to raging individualists.But Communalism won't kill you. It's really just an idea based on the biological urges of most mothers. Does the female thrust scare you?

4) Why all the attack metaphors throughout the book? Why all the, "We must Kill the competition?" Since the Right has gained such huge control of the government, why is the Right still screaming and fighting? Wasn't it enough to win? Why continue to beat up on little old lefties? Is it because beating people up is what you want to do more than anything else? And if you do, why not just admit it? We don't mind. You can take up boxing and get it out of your system. Is the Right still so threatened by the Left that the fighting and beating just cannot stop? Chances are, the Right is terrified, but why? We're all in this together. Why don't you just go beat someone up? I bet you can find someone who wants to be beaten on Craigs List.

5) The Right and the Left need to live together in peace. So, let's admit something here. First of all, the Left in this country and all across Europe is pretty much not so religious. This means when we have abortions we just don't think it's any big deal. Now, I'll admit that this might be a bad way to look at birthy things. (But until absolute birth control is available, it will be necessary). So, if we on the Left admit that killing the unborn might be a bit freaky, then can the Right admit that plundering the earth's resources for greed is completely indefensible?

6) Do You understand that Democrats are Not anti-American, we are just Pro-World?

7) Why do Christians want everyone to be Christian? Is it some sort of insecurity?
If Christianity is so great, why isn't it obvious? Make Christianity the obvious choice, people will flock to it in droves. Make it kind and generous. Make it soft and beautiful. They will all come running, don't you think?

8) Why do you insist that people in California are out of touch? California has, by far, the biggest economy of any state and also has a larger economy than every country on earth except for the top seven or eight. We must be doing something right. Yet, we are practically Socialists. What's up with that?

9) Why does the Right like guns so much? Do they help with killing the competition? Again, why all this talk about killing the competition?

10) We, on the left, are happy to give you a completely Libertarian land of free enterprise provided that you give us the following three things:
A country without guns. A country with free, and I mean completely free, healthcare, education and food. And guaranteed affordable housing. You on the right can charge anything you want for anything else. We won't buy it if we don't want it. Can you and yours do that?

11) Remember, the Democratic Party is not going anywhere. I know you'd love to think it is dead. But face it, that brilliant Rove and that limited Bush forged together a lot of factions to make the Republican Party what it is today, and you know it cannot hold. The Religious zealots want their day and the Republican Party is too rational to let them have it. The Jeezies won't stand for that sort of slap in the face. What in the world are you going to do about that?

12) Do you really think a system that was designed to be a two party system is ever really going to be anything less? Come on. Perhaps the Republican Party will split into Christian Libertarians and Conservatives and the Democrats will become the new majority. What will you do?

13) Europe is ahead of us in years when it comes to being civilized. Most of Europe has a Socialist leaning. Does that say anything to you?

14) Next time you write the title on a book and call it BLOG Understanding the Information Reformation that's Changing Your World and what you really want to write is BLOG Understanding how Hugh Hewitt really really really wants the United Sates to be a one party town of ass whooping right wing Christians looking for a slam down fight, then why don't you just put that on the jacket cover?


As Anita Bryant would say: "Blogs, they're not just for breakfast anymore."

But remember Hugh and Anita, all kinds of people eat breakfast and chances are, we need them all to be well fed.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Roza and her chair

*


My great, great grandmother, Roza Mingolelli, never owned a car.
And look, she lived for a long time.

No Car Thursdays. Just sit there and wait for someone to take a picture.
Or
Telecommute.
Or
Wear a skirt.
Or
Maybe just move to Italy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Let Me Eat Butter

*
Let Me Eat Butter
Excerpt of an essay from Open Trench


*6

“No matter how you try to sell it, no one at five feet, nine inches looks good at one-hundred and eighty-seven pounds.”
Janice is a cruel bitch. She always had an eating disorder. How dare she say that to me? Even if it is true?
“I just got back from France. What can I say? The butter did it to me. People think it’s the bread or the pastries. They don’t help, of course, but mostly, I have to say, it’s the butter. And Janice, I need more of that butter right now.”
Janice suggests we go up to The French Laundry this weekend. Touted as the best restaurant in the world, it is almost impossible to get a reservation. However, she knows the lover of the sommelier. She could get us in. I tell her to forget it. I am moving back to France permanently. I shut the door to the office because I know she’s going to hit the ceiling.
Janice shrieks, “You must be crazy! You aren’t moving to France. You’re a writer. You write in English. All that French will scramble your mind.”
I tell her that that may very well be true, however, the butter is calling me and I must go.
“Oh come on. You’re trying to sabotage your career. You’re just getting somewhere. Don’t you think you should wait at least until your book is published? Don’t you think you should stay in The New World at least until you read the reviews?”
“No. I need more butter.”
“Oh, you are so ridiculous. Clearly this is about something else. What’s going on?”
“Nothing at all,” I serenely state, “I came back to this country and wonderful as it is, the butter just doesn’t live up to my standards. I have to go where the good butter is. And Janice, the good butter is in France. I’m packing up my life. I’m inquiring about a teaching position at the University of Paris. If I can’t get a job teaching, I’ll just have to make sure my book is a huge success.”
“But how will you do that? You can’t promote it in France. Besides, you’ll be all greasy with all that butter. Plus, you’ll be so fat, no one will want to buy your book.”
She might have a point. However, I’ve thought a lot about this.
“Janice, listen, the reason I’m so chubsy right now is because when I was in France I imagined I would never get another chance to eat butter like that again. Every time I sat down to eat, no matter where I went- from Antibes to Uz├ęs to Paris, no matter how they served it, when it got to my mouth, that butter was the best, most creamy, most delicately sweet and natural thing I’d ever tasted. I had to eat as much of it as possible. I gained twelve pounds. I think eleven of them can be attributed to that dreamy creamy stuff. It’s true. But don’t you think Janice, I mean, don’t you think that if I had the butter available to me every day for the rest of my life that I would learn restraint while still getting my pearly American chompers on that amazing dairy product? Don’t you think I could have my butter and eat it too? Don’t you think the examined life filled with limitless, delicious French butter is better than the unexamined life filled with the yellow cubes of dread we are served in this country?”
Just then, Harlene walks into the room. She is hungover, her eyes rimmed with a purple pulsing displeasure. Harlene has the voice of a cello bowed with sandpaper.
“Man, they said you got fat, but I didn’t realize how much. What’s going on with you?”
“I ate a lot of butter in France.”
Harlene squawks, “Don’t say butter.”
“Why not?”
“I just can’t think about food right now.”
Janice vocally jumps on Harlene. “He says he’s moving back to France. He says he wants to live in the land of good butter.”
Harlene chokes back a little vomit. “Don’t say butter.”
Janice winces. “You okay?”
Harlene catches her breath after her mini vomit swallow. “Yeah. Yeah. I’m fine. I learned that trick from my dog.”
Janice goes on. “I think he’s running away from his career. I think he’s sabotaging it just like he sabotaged his collection of poetry.”
“No one buys poetry! It sabotaged itself,” I say in prose as my stomach starts to grumble.
Harlene takes my chin in her hand and with the look in her eyes of once being the valedictorian of Vassar who never lived up to her potential and had been beaten down with the disappointment such fate brings, she fog horned, “What are you running away from, really?”
“Nothing at all.”
Harlene takes my opened bottle of water and swigs three good gulps. “Oh come on. Janice got you this nice easy gig until your book comes out.”
“And I’ve thanked Janice many times. Thank you again, Janice. And it’s not so easy.” Janice sucks in her gut. Whenever she feels uncomfortable, she pulls her stomach in, and stretches her spine. This makes her feel even thinner than she is. And this thinness gives her a sense of safety. She imagines she is still twenty-six.
Harlene sees Janice is thinning out and barks, “Breathe, Janice. We won’t let him go.”
I look at Janice, “I’m going Janice.” Janice exhales.
Harlene commands, “Okay you gloomy bastard. This is about men. You were so depressed before you went on your trip. That, what’s his name? He broke up with you because you were too needy or too compulsive or both?”
“He did break up with me because I wanted more affection. But, I mean, it’s a cold world. I never got the affection I wanted. So I want affection. No big deal. It’s not why I’m moving.”
Janice jumps in, “It’s because of your mother, isn’t it? She went crazy again and you don’t want to deal with your feelings of guilt over not visiting her in the state run asylum.”
“No, that’s not it, though I don’t want to visit her in the state run asylum, this is true. And I do feel a bit guilty about it. But she’s never in the asylum for longer than a couple days. She checks herself in, so she can check herself out. Besides, you know she’s a liar. Who knows if she really is in the asylum.”
Harlene’s eyes well up. “At least you have a mother.”
“But, Harlene, you have one too.”
“She’s dead to me. DEAD TO ME! I buried her five years ago when she didn’t come to my wedding.”
I comfort, “She showed up for the divorce.”
“Of course. She only loves me when I’m miserable. God forbid I should be happy. She can’t take it.”
Janice says, “Look, we’ll talk about this tonight at dinner. Rocco is having a terrible birthday week.”
Harlene splats, “Just terrible.”
Janice harps, “You couldn’t leave Rocco behind. He’s so depressed. His chocolate flower business failed and he can’t find a boyfriend either.”
Harlene has a new eruption of vomit. Bigger this time. She chokes it back. “Dog really is man’s best friend.”
“You’re not moving to France. Butter or no butter.” Janice puts her foot down.
Harlene croaks, “Over our dead bodies. Which could be any time soon what with the cancer we’ll surely get from working here. But please, at least stay until we’re in remission.”

Friday, February 04, 2005

There's No Free Lunch

*
There’s No Free Lunch, Unless You’re Freddy Fishkin
Excerpt from essay to be published in OPEN TRENCH, by Don Cummings


Freddy Fishkin, as we all know, is the prototype retiree who lives in Florida after years of hard work. Freddy drove a cab in the Sixties, opened a pool hall with his brother in The Bronx in the Seventies which raked in cash into the eighties, was fiscally ransacked (read: secretly plundered) by both Freddy and his brother in the nineties (and probably in the eighties and seventies), sold to some other scrappy guys and still operates today with the occasional payout to Freddy. Freddy, who no longer speaks with his brother, took his cash which he worked so hard to earn and to steal, moved it from a few cold safety deposit drawers in New York to a couple warm safety deposit drawers in Florida and there he sits with his wife aging, eating, growing eye tags, playing golf and ultimately wallowing in bliss as his life comes to an unChristian end in an entertainment oriented housingplex along the alligator infested canals that feed into the Everglades.

At Christmastime, one can find oneself at their parent’s home in Florida. People arrive on the white tile. Their coats are put in the coat closet. They have a drink poured for them. They are all wretchedly ashamed of growing old. This group of Americans helped to make the world what it is today. They took the inconvenient swamps, deserts, woods, hills and plains and thankfully helped us all in our navigation by covering them over with asphalt, gas stations, theme parks, and fast food chains. So, instead of having to face nature and its hazards, we face greasy roads and their promise of access to anything we want to consume. Anything. It is not the fault of these people. It was the only game in town. My heart goes out to the destroyer as well as the destroyed. But what is great news is, Freddy destroyed nothing. He bought a pool hall, sold a pool hall, made cash while he owned the pool hall, lost his relationship to his brother while he stole from the pool hall, and has fond memories of being king, if only for three decades, of his own business. This is a great thing. He built nothing. Destroyed nothing. Was guardian to those who needed pool. He served alcohol. He employed people. Great news. Now listen. I don’t want to get all Babbit on you, but this guy, this Jew, who put cash above all else only did so because he had no other choice. Things cost money. And you work hard for those things. You steal hard for those things and if you are very lucky the prize at the end is Florida.

Freddy won. Freddy sent his kids to state schools and received enormous aid from the state as his children, on paper, were paupers. Freddy saved money on utilities because someone taught Freddy how to disconnect his meter. Freddy made deals with alcoholics with huge bar tabs, erasing their debt for hockey tickets. Freddy, poor little wall-eyed Freddy from the lower East Side of Manhattan, made good. And I can tell you this, Freddy was not the only one.

Just ten miles outside of Boca, heading east toward the gators, are large warehouses loaded with tractors, fertilizer, auto parts, plastic sheets and disposable diapers. In these warehouses are the workers that move these things from here to there, count them, pack them, carry them and send them to a shopping plex near you. They work hard and they are paid minimally yet livable wages. Just outside these warehouses are homes. Small shacks in little neighborhoods made of weeds poking out of sand and concrete held together by grids of tar roads that burn the feet of lizards and children. And just outside these grids is just sand and weeds and boxes with no tar at all. No workers. Just some hungry people who can’t get jobs or are too drunk to get jobs or too old to get jobs or just stupid enough to have never worked. These people, for their own reasons, are literally on the fringe of society, sitting in boxes or under old sheets until they are asked to move and they go to other vacant areas where they set up their boxes or sheets so they can stay out of the sun for the day.

Now, there are those without homes and those with small homes. Some live within the grid, some live outside the grid. And though the ones with homes are better off than the ones without, the two things they all have in common are:
1) They don’t have a safety deposit box filled with cash
2) They are hungry

And, luckily, because we do not live in a completely heartless society, there are missions of folks, both government funded and privately funded who offer the thing that so many people desire: They give a free lunch. And these hungry people, workers and non workers, home owners and non home owners walk over, at about noon, to the place they know where today’s mission will be. And they feel ashamed. And they are hot and sweaty from working or sitting. And they are scared that one day they will not be able to walk there or that the food won’t show up because of a bad tropical storm. But they go there every day for their free lunch. They go every day because if they can count on nothing else in this world, they can count on one thing and one thing only which puts them in a parallel universe to the rest of Americans. They are getting a free lunch.

Freddy found out about this free lunch one day while sitting at the country club. He had finished nine holes of golf. It was July and even though he started playing at 6AM, the golf course was unfit to be played upon by 9AM. The temperature ran into the hundreds and the golf carts weren’t charged properly the night before so they gave out by 8AM. Freddy abandoned his compatriots, took a flabby shower, went to the bar and ordered a gingerale. Freddy doesn’t expect to pay for gingerale since it is not alcohol and the bartender understands this and doesn’t ask for payment. The bartender is supposed to put it on his tab, according to the rules of the management, however, the bartender receives a decent tip each year in late December, not at all large, but decent from Freddy and that tip would be put in jeopardy if Freddy found gingerale on his printout at the end of the month. So, Freddy drinks free sodas and is justified since he also spends good money at the country club on food and golf. The gingerale is his birthright perk.

On this very hot day, when Freddy abandoned his nonworking cart on the green, he ordered his free gingerale, sat down, and noticed the local paper sitting on a table that had already been abandoned by some diners. He took the paper so he could turn to the stock pages. Having been able to slowly trickle his cash reserves into stocks as the years have worn on, Freddy was very interested in Intel, Cisco, Microsoft and Merck. Freddy peeled through sections of the paper. Freddy put the front section to the side. Something about Arabs. Something about fire. He put the local section to the side. Something about missing children. Something about a shooting. But then there were no more sections. Someone made off with the stock section. How? How does that happen? Freddy reached for the paper. Freddy acquired the paper. Freddy turned to the section to find how his stocks were doing and that section wasn’t there.

Freddy asked for a refill for his gingerale. The bartender glinted and agreed and took the soda hose and pressed G and Freddy’s glass was refilled. What to do now? Go home? Look at the paper? Why should he look at the paper? The section he wanted was gone. But he didn’t want to go home. It was too early and his wife was not yet back from her card game. What would he do now? While thinking about his dilemma, he noticed a familiar face in the room. Not living, but a photo, on the newspaper in grainy color. It was the face of an old friend, Harry Wermeyer, who was being indicted for heading a cartel of envelope manufacturers. In fact, Harry had moved to Florida just one year ago but was already back in New York at the hands of justice for his bad business ways. The article, stating the place, cause, time, money made and effect of the crime continued to the back page of the newspaper. Freddy finished reading the article, chortled over his good luck for never having been caught, and with unusual completion read to the last period of the article right down to the bottom of the page to a boxed square with simple type of no more than 16 pica font with the title: “Free Lunch” Now there’s something that caught his eye.

He looked around to make sure there was no one next to him or behind him as he tore the box from the rest of the paper, then tossed the paper into a bus tray making sure the paper landed in pancakes and coffee insuring a mess with no possible trace of Freddy’s involvement. Lunch started in a half hour. Freddy got one more refill of soda, the bartender, being tall and handsome and disappointed in his own life, thought about murder as Freddy went off to the bathroom to relieve himself of the first two glasses of gingerale.

Standing in the toilet stall, Freddy, who hadn’t peed at a urinal since 1959 when an odd gentleman pawed him in the Yonkers Raceway men’s room, finished his business, remembering how it takes longer than it did ten years ago due to age and will, and he stood there, unencumbered from his golf trousers, and stared at the address for the Free Lunch. It was only a fifteen minute drive and certainly it would be an adventure.

He peeked in the mirror to make sure his eyebrows weren’t tufted upward. He thinks that is the oldest look for a man. His left brow was starting to flip a bit, so he pushed it down with his right index finger, looked at only his eyes and the bridge of his nose, avoiding the lower nose, cheeks, mouth and chin. All those things had changed too much over the years. They took up more space and they moved south. His eyes were still clear, no signs of cataracts, but the edges of his irises were starting to leach into watery lines flowing outwardly into his sclera. No bother, there was still a spark there. And Freddy was hungry.

His Lexus, silver, sparkly, metallic, like a teenaged girl covered with glotion, sat there as a trophy to his life of hard work. It was only a year old and everyone knew it. And if someone didn’t know it, he told them. Just as he was about to slather into his luxury sedan, Mona Weidman pulled up, rolled down the window and put her foot on the brake long enough to say “Your wife’s a cunt. And I don’t want to talk about it.” Mona tore off in her Camry, hitting the edge of the arched pointed curb that was protecting the queen palms that held sway over the parking lot. The Camry, like Mona’s ass, could take a solid beating with nary a rim getting bent out of shape. The warranty insists upon it in both cases.

Losing Weight Getting Air

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Yesterday, on the second No Car Thursday since its inception, I walked eight miles.

In two weeks I have lost five pounds.

I also feel much more energetic.

Join me next Thursday.


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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Jingoism

jin·go·ism
Pronunciation: 'ji[ng]-(")gO-"i-z&m
Function: noun
: extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy

Example sentence:
Albert Einstein found German jingoism in the 1930s so objectionable that he left his homeland never to return.

Did you know?
"Jingoism" originated during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, when many British citizens were hostile toward Russia and felt Britain should intervene in the conflict. Supporters of the cause expressed their sentiments in a music-hall ditty with this refrain:

"We don't want to fight, yet by jingo if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men,
We've got the money, too!"

Someone holding the attitude implied in the song became known as a "jingo" or "jingoist," and the attitude itself was dubbed "jingoism." The "jingo" in the tune is probably a euphemism for "Jesus."



It's All Natural

Fish Vaginas smell like humans.

My Maya

The brown, burnt grass
And a dinner for the evening.
She lays on springs
And over a decaying white window.

Under the old shingle pile are snakes
So we stay far away
As the purple hero night sky
Brings us to the shelter tree.

Maya squats her brown butt
Into a hole in the brown earth
And lets a pure human stream begin
Almost pure for drinking.

And she takes my hand
To the kindest tree
With the bending boughs
And water freshets-

Lifting her lips,
Raising my arms.
There are no insects.
There are only drums of magma
Pulsing our world around the sun.

STATE OF THE UNION

State of the Union get you down?

Don’t sweat it too much. How long can something like this go on?

Park your car for the day and go take a walk. You’ll feel better.

NO CAR THURSDAYS. Improve your state of the union.


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