Rust and a vacuum to clean time. A dog in the musty basement. Catching frogs by the stream, the smell of mud, patter of light through leaves and branches. Yelling into the phone at someone. Forts made out of cereal boxes, tunnels through the snow. Riding the subway to Coney Island. Smashing the toy train with the track that flipped over. Lego pyramids. Yellow Park. Big Boy's Park became The Moon. The loft where the heat turned off at night and cold seeped in off the East River. Someone yelling into the phone at the hospital. An apartment with a dying friend. Riding the subway holding a bigger hand. A million dollar fish tank. Telling your story to strangers. Ears just below the water in the bathtub. Firecrackers and all night diners. Kissing away tears. Lighting fires in the fallen leaves. Changing the settings on the washer. Television antenna on the roof. Falling backwards, breaking arm. Little league uniform. Getting lost at the Met. Getting lost at Toys R' Us.

Calamity, invention of the heart's green thorn. Bent avenues and thistle, sap and tendril. Wasp nest, the smell of a pulp mill town. Dashi, yuzu, hitchhiking in Canada and a nude beach on Crete. Sean walking shirtless down Fifth avenue, tripping on mushrooms and drunk. Cutting school at Joel's place for an entire year. An elevator that fit one person. Contract of past promises. Staring into the refrigerator. Pickled herring in cream sauce. Inhabitants of the spiral staircase, jumping up into the hurricane. Art galleries and pocket watches. Insulin and the eye gone bad. Decay, invisible reasons. A lathe and the fragrant wisp of ebony smoke.

A story in mimeograph, an archeological dig. Trikonasana. Click here. The Hill. Sko and his civil war cap and his fat fetish. Roanne coming home from stripping. A small cardboard box to store time. Walking on a road in New Hampshire during a thunderstorm. An affair with a lesbian. Going out to play after dinner. Fireflies. An empty gelatin capsule to store your apologies. Repetition compulsion. Dander. Conference rooms and the mute button. Turning away in confusion on Houston Street. Three day ride for a sick child to get to the hospital. Green coconut as a gift. Social outings and backs turned. Trips around New Jersey with an alien.
Roger, I had a very disturbing dream last night. In this dream I found myself making love to a strange man. Only I'm having trouble you see, because he's old... and dying... and he smells bad, and I find him repulsive. But then he tells me that everything is erotic, that everything is sexual. You know what I mean? He tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh. That disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other. That even dying is an act of eroticism. That talking is sexual. That breathing is sexual. That even to physically exist is sexual. And I believe him, and we make love beautifully.

- David Cronenberg. 1975. Shivers
Coastal areas of Brooklyn and Queens:

pics... )
Harris lost his ability to read after the accident and, from then on, only appreciated books by smell. He took long lung fulls of Hemingway, Faulkner and Cheever, breathing in the plot, the character development, the emotional shading and symbolism. Sometimes he'd come across a coffee stain on a page and it would bring back the morning he sat in the cafe, the colors vivid, the sounds almost too loud, when he sat there and spent the day reading.

Now there was no language in symbols. He could speak and listen, but all the words and letters on the page looked like the glyphs of a civilization lost to time.

His library took up three walls of his apartment, and he had spent considerable time cultivating and organizing it. One wall was organized by theme, another by color and the third by mood. The mood wall went from nihilism to sugary. The color wall went through the color wheel -- from white, interjected by declining grays, to a final black.

His friends secretly pitied him, that his olfactory method was just a rationalization, a coping mechanism. But unknown to them, and dawning on Harris, he was, through the accident, developing an evolved perception. The words came off the page in perfumed chains: strings, paragraphs, then chapters, and finally whole novels.

Once, he went into a book store and could only stay a few minutes, his head pounded and his nose bled. He nearly fainted and had to rush out. And when he did, he welcomed the silence of the city street. Even though it was thick with exhaust, bodies, restaurants and age, it had no words he could understand. It was, towards the end, only visual, unmoored, without memory, without meaning.
After my aunt died I received a small inheritance from her estate. I packed a few books and a week's change of clothing in a worn suitcase, and took the bus to an unremarkable city in the middle of the country. There, I planned to be unemployed, live in anonymity, and work on a novel.

Prior to my arrival, I'd made arrangements to purchase a house. It was in a desolate area, far away from other people. When I got there, the owner — a sixtyish, balding woman in a jumpsuit with dentures — met me out front. She had the face of a mackerel and her breath smelled like wintergreen. Along with the property, I also purchased her car — a metallic gold 1997 Nissan Stanza with a 'Don't Hate!' decal on the rear window. She handed me both sets of keys, said something about watching out for "the buggers from the retard house" and rode away on a child's bicycle.

Night was coming. There wasn't another soul on the street besides the shrinking image of the woman. The neighborhood seemed only composed of giant factories, warehouses, and vacant tracts of tall grasses and garbage. There weren't any other residential spaces, shops, or restaurants. I stared down at the house key — its end covered in a cracking pink ring. I ran my thumb around it for a few minutes, looking up at the sky.

Eventually, I walked to the front door and opened it. Inside, I was relieved to find it recently cleaned, with simple wood furniture and bare walls. The main and second floors had a faint lingering of Murphy's Oil Soap. When I opened the door to the basement, the musty smell of all subterranean places came up from the cold lower air. It took me a moment to find the light switch, walking carefully down a rickety wooden staircase. I was halfway when I found one of those metal bead cords hanging from the ceiling. When I pulled it, an unexpectedly bright light blinded me, and when I recovered I saw what I thought were a hundred dead bodies: the basement floor was four feet deep of department store manikin parts: torsos, arms, legs. There were no heads though. Somehow, it made no impression on me, and I pulled the cord again to shut off the light. I went back up stairs and forgot about it.

My novel concerned a main character — an autistic woman I copied almost wholesale from the likeness and personality of Temple Grandin — who inherits a pornography empire by a clerical error, and sets about making pornography for autistics. These movies would involve no touching and a lot of diagrams about genitals, and lots of mechanical devices to hug the actors naked bodies, but not in a sexual way. I had a vague idea that it would go very wrong, the woman's fate that is, but I wasn't sure how. And then at the end maybe she was saved from the jaws of disaster because her movies were misinterpreted as great works of art by the film curator at the MOMA.

That was about as far as I had worked out the plot, and I was sitting in front of my typewriter, dressed only in socks, at the kitchen table, when someone rang the doorbell.
I was with Lazy Eye Harrington over at the pub the other night. We were reminiscing about the old neighborhood. It was a good time until he had one too many whiskeys and smashed his shot glass over the head of Tommy the Dwarf. We had to hightail it out of there before the cops showed up.

Before he got too far into the sauce, Harrington reminded me of something: around Southbend, there was this weird dude that used hang around. His name was Excellent Anal Abramowicz. Nobody really knew if it was his real name or a nickname, but if it was a nickname he hadn't done anything to earn it in the ten years I knew him. I never saw the guy with a man or a woman, and, hand on a stack of bibles, the guy looked exactly like Hitler. It'd creep you out just to lay eyes on him. He always wore his pants up real high like that bald fucker from I Love Lucy. He was some kind of spinal case too; his back bent forward like the end of a cane.

Still, we were all teenagers then so we didn't know how to get straight on his moniker. Was he really good at giving or getting? Back then Harrington figured him for a queer, but I said he was probably slipping it to fat housewives during the day, when they were bored and lonely, and only had the soaps to watch. Our other friend Louis Belinski said — one-hundred and ten percent certain — it was because Abramowicz used to work at the zoo, in charge of bathing the elephants' and zebras' assholes, and mastered it so well he was given the honorary title by the U.S Department of Agriculture.

We finally ran into Abramowicz late one night back then and confronted him. He got real pissed and took out a birth certificate and showed us: it was his real name.

After that, we never saw him again until his obituary showed up, of all places, in the New York Times. Turns out, when he was just nineteen, he won a Fields Medal for solving a conjecture that had eluded mathematicians for centuries. He was shunned by Academia though, because he refused to change his name. He'd lived alone in an apartment over a slaughterhouse, and died without a quarter in his pocket.
That was the night Billy got shot just south of Union Square. He'd gone to cop and found himself in the middle of bust. Reaching for his wallet to get his money ready, a patrolman mistook it for a gun. Sarah called at three in the morning, her voice heavy and thick with tears. After she told me, I put down the phone and stared out my window, down twenty stories to an empty intersection. I watched the sign change from walk to don't walk, until the street turned to pale blue of morning.

It's years gone past, but that memory comes back so completely that I lose my place in the world until it's washed away. Billy used to talk about how everything we did was just currents of water — some lives are only an autumn leaf fallen ripple in a pond; others, a hundred year flood. People leave you and droughts begin, or someone new is cool rain of spring evenings, bringing life back to the land.

I never saw it that way. Billy became a vacuum. A place where everything possible never happened. It became a metaphor I lived by for years; one that made getting high and not caring a philosophy. A dead world, because all the people who were supposed to fix it were taken away. Being strung out, with a good enough reason to hate it all, had the danger and self-destruction I needed to keep the bad memories away.

Except at night, when the moon would pull me into in colorless dreams. We'd be ten years old and he'd take out his spiderman wallet to buy candy at the bodega; the owner would shoot him. We'd be at his family's Thanksgiving, the patrolman would be there, a guest. Sometimes Billy was a little kid like when I first knew him, and other times he was the age when he died. He'd reach for the knife to cut the turkey, and the patrolman would draw on him. Nobody at the table would react but me, and I'd wake up shouting No! in the dark.


May. 30th, 2014 08:03 pm
Now that I got every drop of moral relativism out of my system with my last post, I can list some notes.
Read more... )
My primary response to the Isla Vista incident is soul-deadening boredom. Is there a word for hatred of children? I didn't hear it much when Adam Lanza took out his narcissistic psychopaths Mad Libs and scribbled "elementary school kids" into the plural noun for who you're going to blame and then slaughter. Six people died in Santa Barbara. Six.

Twenty children died at Sandy Hook. Three thousand women and men fell from burning towers in the sky, when a spell cast from The Book of the Dead said "Americans". Huge, steel gears turned, and dusty pages of the Bardo Thodol rustled: someone wrote "Terrorists" in the margins and millions died. An angry child God stamped his foot somewhere off the coast of Indonesia and a great wave came and took a hundred thousand. Some had a cunt and some had a cock. There are no immortal genitals. All but the simplest organisms have gender.

Murder is a continuous function. I am writing this and I am going to die. You are reading this and you are going to die. Where is the hashtag for entropy? Violence is unacceptable, yet we pay our government to do unacceptable violence. We thank something in the sky for starting to disassemble us the moment we're born. What's the difference between a Nazi gas chamber and terminal pancreatic cancer? Thirty-six million people have died of AIDS because they wanted what nature had made both pleasure and disease.
Dreams of being in a bare room, lying on the floor, hiding from the view of the window, plotting murders on paper with a sharp pencil. Dreams of work: distancing myself from it, leaving, becoming irrelevant.

Before the dreams, Sunday night with H: she cried because I decided to go home. She's not petty; she knows it represented something much greater. I feel a basic rottenness in myself.

Today, a beautiful spring afternoon that's only left to fall through your grasping hands. The weather can only get you so far.

"You are guileless in your dreams" - Jenny Holzer
I want to get into a writer's workshop. I need someone to say this idea sucks, or that theme is cliche, or your sentence structure is clunky, and your grammar is ridiculous.

I need trusted critics and brutal honesty from other creative types. In person. I feel like I have enough raw material for good work, but my craft is inert in the vacuum. The craft, the technique, should be almost invisible, so a certain steady rhythm develops.
Carlyle was barely alive when we found him, stumbling up the path to the barn, face covered in earth, and his clothes speared by a hundred pine needles. He'd spent two weeks lost and wandering around the national forest that bordered our spread. The sheriff got the National Guard to do a couple of flyovers, but one person in two million acres of scrub and trees is just a dandelion seed on the wind. Ma was inconsolable, and my uncle Derrick could only stare out from the porch with his binoculars. He reminded her every so often that Carl was a tough kid, and that he could take care of himself. Out of earshot, he reminded me several times my brother'd probably been eaten by wolves.

At the end of the day before he found his way out, Carlyle said he rested on a giant cypress trunk by the side of a dry river bed, and closed his eyes figuring he'd be dead soon. He said he felt himself drifting off, the sun warm, and his body floating up to heaven like Reverend Ellis said so. Then he heard a voice like an angel singing, and turned to see an enormous black woman in a blue and white Baptist gown. He said she sang a gospel hymn; her voice was so clear and perfect he started to cry. When he did, she opened her arms and he went to her. She took him and placed the side of his face to her breast, which was warm and ample he said, and he fell asleep right away.

When he woke up again it was the next morning. He was still holding the woman, but she felt cold, sharp, and skinnier. He didn't understand why until he opened his eyes: he was hugging a prickly pear cactus. It was the first food he'd seen in ten days, aside from a few blueberries and an afternoon wasted throwing rocks at jack rabbits. The cactus was flush with six or seven fruits. He ate all of them, ravenous, and the juice stains were still splashed across his face and shirt as he told us the story. After his belly was full, he felt so good he walked straight towards the late day sun. In three or four hours, he came out along route 238, just short of five miles from the road back up to our place. He hitched a ride in the back of a hay truck, and stared up at the clouds going past.


May. 20th, 2014 07:59 pm
i took the day off and rode to an appointment with my pdoc. round trip, it was about 20 miles. my legs are catching on fast, but manhattan riding takes longer to acclimate. there are new bike lanes, but i'm of the opinion they're more dangerous than just riding in the middle of the avenues. if you can hold the average speed -- somewhere around 25mph -- it's safer to be in the middle, away from pedestrians, and the lurking chance of getting doored.

the bike lanes are a good idea, but they've been implemented in a robert moses sort of prosaic functionality. all up first avenue, the bike lane mysteriously disappears and then shows up in some odd area; near the united nations, it's briefly in the middle of the car lanes. at other places, construction reroutes it perilously into traffic. since it's usually on the left-most side, you get jammed up by a car making a turn in front of you and lose your precious kinetic energy. or the same, when an oblivious pedestrian stops to stare into his phone just as you're getting into a rhythm. it makes me agro, which i like as catharsis, and i get to yell at people for not giving cyclists their fair share. Around 70th street, in the bike lane, going the wrong direction, a forty-something dude riding a razor scooter (a sight disturbing enough on its own) got my best new york accented complaint, "are you fuckin' kidding me!?"

you've got to have the entirety of your visual and proprioceptive senses at full tilt all the time if you ride to commute. it's really quite a rush. and the whole business is an exercise in controlled, white-knuckle adrenaline-laced terror. it's kind of like a roller-coaster, except every once in a while the reality of hitting the pavement for real occurs to you. i don't wear a helmet either, which i find distracting, and everyone else who cares about me finds incredibly irresponsible and stupid.

after the appointment, i head down second ave. they've been building a new subway line there for a few years and, between 90th and 80th, the construction has turned the area into a dead zone, the pavement all gone and replaced by 4x8' concrete slabs, and the stores blocked off by construction fencing. in some half-hearted apology by the city, there are mauve banners on the fencing announcing the name and type of business of the store being blocked. something about them looks funereal.

past that, i catch up to a guy working a line through traffic in a way so effortless and balletic that at one stop light i almost compliment him but i don't really know what to say that's not corny. i follow him past the midtown tunnel and all of a sudden there are about twenty of us, like a current on the left side of the avenue. something in me shuts off and i just ride along allowing the presence of other riders to act as sensors. i realize this is dangerous but i can't stop and it's wonderful.

eventually the pack of cycles thins out and i make it down to the lower east side and onto the williamsburg bridge. there's that moment where you just crest the apex of the bridge's span and start to glide down the other side. into brooklyn, things quiet down, although the industrial edge of bushwick and ridgewood is the land of the white bicycles. there are no bike lanes there, just the occasional bicycle painted white: a memorial with a name saying a rider was killed at that spot.

cut up into quieter streets, sun is going down. come home, relax. nothing to do but enjoy cooling down. nothing to be done: lately, my favorite kind of evening.
"We are fascinated with maintaining familiar surroundings, familiar desires and longings, so as not to give into a spacious state of mind. We cling to our habitual patterns because confusion provides a tremendously familiar ground to sink into as well as a way of occupying ourselves. We are afraid give up this security and entertainment, afraid to step into open space, into a meditative state of mind. The prospect of an awakened state is very irritating because we are uncertain how to handle it, so we prefer to run back to our prison rather than release ourselves from it. Confusion and suffering become an occupation, often quite secure and delightful."

The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation - Chogyam Trungpa


Apr. 22nd, 2014 08:18 pm
"You ever see a dog go around pissing on things? Well, that's the deal with social media." Clayton was laying on my sofa, talking and staring up at the ceiling. "Jesus, look at tweeting. We're just leaving our scent, sending out messages and markers, putting our nose in other people's asses to see what they're about. So what if the information is language? It's not like a dog isn't getting a complex series of messages. They're just spelled-out olfactorily instead of textual. The human brain is adapting to technology faster than evolution can provide, so these adaptations are basically social. That's why every time you log into Facebook you see the same picture of someone's cat." He stopped for a while and took a long drag on a Pall Mall. I didn't know they still made Pall Malls. I didn't know anyone else that even smoked anymore.

I first met Clay when he moved to New York in '94. Those first few years were lean and he couldn't kick the only thing he brought from home: a dope habit as big as the Illinois corn farm where he grew up. He spent a lot of nights sleeping on the floor of my apartment back then, when I lived on East Broadway, coming up with schemes to make money and plans to get clean. He was your basic junky so nothing ever panned out, but he managed to quit H after he got busted copping in Bed-Stuy. He spent three months down at Rikers. After that, he got straight, started calling himself a writer and got a job at The Strand. He never wrote very much, but he was good-looking, tall and knew how to play the part. He always had one syrupy line or another memorized, from Rumi, Neruda or Khalil Gibran. Not that long after it seemed like he was sleeping with half the female grad students at NYU.

He finally settled down with a girlfriend and they moved in together. She was a professor of German literature at City College. I met her once at a dinner party and she was right out of a Third Reich eugenics program. She towered over me by a good half-foot, had a pour of lush blonde hair and the only breasts I've seen that could be described as threatening. Clay told me she'd fuck him wearing riding boots, beating his ass with a riding crop and shouting curses in German. After, she'd make him read Goethe out loud until she fell asleep, and she snored like a lumberjack.


Feb. 27th, 2014 02:57 pm
Thankfully, sanity had its moment in Arizona when the governor vetoed the antigay bill yesterday. SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT HOW HOMOSEXUALITY OFFENDS YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. Religion needs to be controlled like alcohol or cigarettes.

Also, the US should start filling C-130's with garbage we otherwise drop in the ocean and instead drop it on the African countries that are making homosexuality illegal. WHO THE FUCK CARES, DICK ASS OR VAGINA, XY and XX chromosomes?
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