Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 6

5 full posts... are we still here? you should have left this train wreck ages ago, like some horrible fucking one man show where our hero is up there doing god knows fucking what and calling it profound when it all looks and smells and probably tastes like a hot and lovely turd... and yet here we are, nowhere fast as they say, still wandering the same small town streets and listening to the click of the streetlights and hum of old electric signs... and yet i've conveyed nothing of the madness i felt, nothing of the mind spinning and sputtering, the way i'd pace that first floor room like a caged panther and even when the cage door was left unopened and i'd wander out there was nothing to hunt or kill or chase, just the click of the streetlights and shit bars with shitty classic rock from burnt speakers and flat beer and i'd willingly walk back into my cage so i could at least pace in relative peace behind the locked brown wooden doors, as the days wound down i'd sit in my cage eating mushrooms or acid, laying on my bed and letting the boring small town breeze flutter past me, i'd watch the alley cats fight and fuck, sometimes i would sit in the dim light of the kitchen, staring at the sink full of dishes and overflowing ashtrays, i'd suck on 40oz. bottles of cheap and strong malt liquor or i'd spend my night running with a complete maniac, an ex-ironworker with a serious drinking problem, did i forget to mention him? did i forget to mention my headlining gig at the coffee shop where i got drunk and read shit poesy to the pre-hipster small town kids and old hippies? well i better get on with it now and keep this show on the road...

I had spent the better part of the year running with Sammy Hagar Man dubbed so because when he first showed up he had a mop that resembled early era Van Hagar, we'll just call him Sam and Sam was a good fucking guy when we wasn't shit-faced and the problem was that when Sam decided to drink it would go and keep going until Sam finally just passed out wherever he was, much to everyones relief and then a few hours later he would wake in a fog and wander home, it was actually quite an amazing thing to behold, he'd smoke two or three packs of cigarettes in a night, recite poetry and passages from books (Blood Meridian being one of his favorites) at will all while being black-out fucking loaded, he was 13 years older than me and had spent his youth as an army paratrooper then raising hell and hanging iron, the stories he would tell made all my wanna be gangsta shit and rooming house blues sound like the laments of a nancy-boy, he was a different animal than i was used to, he had an immense intellect and yet still had a bit of backwoods naivete when it came to certain things... mainly he couldn't handle his liquor and when he was drunk no one could handle him, he was ironworker strong, he'd make a joke and punch or shove your shoulder and you'd end up on the floor, Sam hovering above you slurring and laughing and offering a hand up, a great guy but not someone you'd want to tangle with especially when he was out of his mind...

He'd always been around but i had never talked to him until a friend of mine had me meet him in the bar one afternoon at the end of my last year of undergrad, back then i was running the apartment poesy scene at Podunk U., organizing readings, having people show up and read their stuff and drink and hangout, back then the local dive used to refer to us as the Art Crowd, we were living the beatnik undergrad dream of self-pretension and self-deception and self-importance, running down to the bar for quick 7 &7s that you'd have to choke down and quarter beers, our high-minded bullshit being interwoven with the local's tales of gutting deer and secret fishing holes, then racing back to apartments to smoke tons of grass and eat acid or mushrooms, to woo women as Mr. Keating would say, among all this i got Sam to come down and read, he was the only one of us who wrote with rhyme or meter, i was nothing more than a Bukowski rip-off who read a little to much Robinson Jeffers, he was the order in a world of free-verse and i can honestly say his stuff was good, and back then i was the most arrogant of pricks when it came to art, real po-ems had no rules... ah but the days and nights were living, breathing entities unto themselves, a few of us carving out a scene on our small campus in the middle of nowhere, the wine of youth as they say and here was Sam, a good deal older than us and after that first night i could tell he was living his dream, reading his stuff and hearing the response, he damn near floated out the door he was that elated...

When i returned for grad school Sam was in his last year of undergrad and had accepted a full teaching assistantship to attend grad school at a well known university, the readings didn't start back up but Sam and i still spent a fair amount of time getting shit-faced and trading poems, running shit back and forth, bouncing ideas... but mainly we got fucked up... one friday i had to shoot down to the city to score, it was one of the rare times i stayed for the night and went to the old stomping grounds, when i returned early the next afternoon my place was destroyed, i went looking for the my roommates, all female, to find out what the fuck was going on, the girl i was with came and told me how Sam had shown up blind drunk and destroyed the place, at the time another of my roomies was dating an impotent late forty-something alcoholic who lived a tent, he had been sitting around smoking homegrown when a super drunk Sam showed up with what was left of a pint and a 12 pack, when the girls got back Camper John as he was known, tried to warn them that Sammy was fucked and out of his mind by sing-songing not so cryptic messages, Sam sat and slurred and snarled at Camper John and basically threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn't scram and so Camper John did just that, his girlfriend coming with him and leaving mine at the house alone with Sam...

Now i had only known Sam to ever date one girl while he was at Podunk U., Ariel Williamson was her name and she was a beautiful girl, built like the proverbial brick house, her family owned an electronics store and were one of the more affluent families in town, when they found out the heiress was dating a guy close to 15 years her senior they freaked and she was forced to break off the relationship and a bit of Sammy's old heart with it cuz though he was a tough motherfucker on the outside he was a teddy bear on the inside when sober and sane, the reality was that Ariel got her kicks dating the grizzled older man who was a star in the English dept., her doe eyes glistening with fool's gold when she spoke about him, her concern and sadness rang a bit untrue... besides within days she had taken up with a guy somewhat closer in age though maybe an even  less appropriate companion for an heiress, a well-known stoner and musician who was on the 7 year graduation plan, even a year or two later and just uttering the name Ariel in his presence could about make the mountain man crumble...

That night Sam roamed the halls of my creaky, old house and terrorized anything and everything, tossing cats out doors and following my girl up to her room where he stood frozen at the door's precipice, slurring away at how beautiful she was and how he wished she was available, she told him he needed to leave and that she had to get up early for work and that i'd be back first thing, trying to placate and tell him to fuck off all in a soothing yet stern manner and when he stumbled back down the stairs she locked the door and attempted to bar it, of course the phone was downstairs back in the pre-cell phone era and so she was trapped, she sat by the window and hoped a neighbor would come home so she could call for help, Sammy began tipping over chairs and eating uncooked frozen pizza which he then tossed on the floor, he attempted to make some pasta, tossed that and then passed out for an hour or so, woke-up, grabbed the rest of his booze and stumbled out the door...

That was what i walked into the next day, quarter pound of shitty weed stuffed in a duffel bag and the memories of a fine night in the city, now complete chaos when my mind was already in complete chaos, when my roommates told me the story i was livid and scared shitless, i had to talk to him but i also didn't know what to expect, if it kicked off i'd have to hit him with a god damn brick and hope i knocked him out otherwise, the long and the short, i was proper fucked... but here were the three fair maidens i lived with all incensed and upset and so i did my best macho strut as i paced the worn green carpet of the kitchen and cracked a beer, somewhere in my head i heard Theo G. whispering "and when you step/ step with care and great tact/ and remember that life's a balancing act", a razor's edge between setting things right or being pulverized beyond recognition... and so i drained the beer and cracked another, stashed the gear in my room, took a deep breath and dialed the phone...

He picked up, i got straight to the point, i asked if he remembered anything from last night, he laughed and i heard the lighter click as he lit a cigarette, naw man he said, tied one on why?... he was my friend, even then i knew that this was it, that all the good times were over, hanging out and talking shit and reading the stuff we wrote and boozing, it was done, i told him what had happened and what he had said and done, i couldn't have hit him harder if i'd have used a brick, his voice going low and sad, he apologized to me and my roommates, i told him that though i wasn't thrilled with his antics that in the end him and i were cool, i knew he was a good guy he just needed to learn when to stop boozing, when to call it a night and head home, the roomies though, they didn't want him anywhere near the house, didn't want to speak to him, he begged to let him buy and cook them dinner but they wanted no part, it was their right and from what i'd seen and heard there was nothing to say, in their shoes i'd have felt the same... there was only a month or so left of the semester and then i'd head to the beach and he to that big university, Sam started going to AA meetings and i kept running further down the rabbit hole, we hung out one or two more times before we headed different directions, but the balance was off, he was sober and i was a fucking wastoid, at the time i needed every fucking substance i could find or afford, he just needed to straighten out...

The last time i saw him i was at his place, school was about to end and we sat around his place and shot the shit, i asked how his meetings were going and told him to keep it up, that he was to fucking smart and talented to piss it all away, we drank some coffee and had a cigarette, it was a good talk and as i got up and walked out the screen door i stopped on his porch and wished him good luck, he smiled and let out his fucking wild man laugh, it was the first time i had heard it since the night he murdered the frozen pizza, you better keep that luck motherfucker he laughed, you're gonna need it more than me, i smiled, gave a final wave and made my way up the sunlit, gravel street...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Olde Gayng Sign

I'm drunk... and stoned... i used to hang out in bars where you could walk in to the men's room to take a piss and bask in the glow of bum-shit, while said bum shit in a door-less stall on a metal jailhouse toilet cuz the bum shit used to break all the porcelain ones, today i drank at a suburban brew pub, it was the whitest place i've ever been, the beer was good but the ambiance was like the food court of a shopping mall, i've been the only white guy in a bar full of African-Americans and today i was the only black guy in a quasi bar full of Wonder Bread, they smell nice and talk nice and are fucking nice and i don't fucking do nice, i do menace though... and so i sat with my back to them all and stared out the window and pondered the uselessness of it all, pondered the inane shit that was being spewed from the pie-holes of the comfortable, pondered the phrase "he was like in the poverty", uttered by some asshat who most likely lost his virginity well into his twenties and most likely had to pay to do so... but that is life in the lily white... but the beer was fucking good and i had fun digging into my coat pocket for a stray smoke, just cuz a bunch of lily white assholes decided to pile all their coats on top of mine and then look appalled at me while it looked like i was rifling through their pockets, i smiled at them, none of the beards had the balls and i was hoping to point out that their etiquette was quite fucking lacking when it came to where they hung their expensive and aromatic jackets, i could have informed that they were perched upon the cloak of the lumpen-prole whose jacket smelled of smoke and tacos and beer and puke and snot (if snot smells)... and then i wandered home and listened to this tune and thought how fitting it was to the state of mind i most often occupy, part Pavement part Fall part Norwegian novelist part me sleeping on the sofa in the soft glow of the yuletide tree cuz i am the asshole of the world and i am here to give you light... because as the song goes, i am the bonfire of human bones... i am the bonfire of human bones...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peace on Earth... or The Milk of Human (Un)kindness

Dumb and dumber, shit luck, bad luck, no luck at all, the holidays are a strange animal, on the one side there is the overwhelming joy i feel while hanging out with the boyos, doing X-mas type shit and laughing at the man i was and am no more, the one who spent large portions of X-mas's past crawling out of the gutter and loving every minute of it... but mainly just enjoying the moments i have now before the dissipate into the timelessness of memory... and then of course there are the never-ending reminders that humanity is a house occupied by countless fucking shitbags hell bent on being the most fucked up species on the planet and doing their damnedest to prove we are a detriment to civilization and the universe and each other...

And so it was that i went to get a pizza... an innocuous event in and of itself until of course i came pulling down the pitch black street to see Dumb Criminal walking up my neighbors front yard and towards his car with a couple of packages, Eddie you ain't okay as the headlights washed across him, i exited my car and watched as he just kept walking fully aware he'd been seen... you see there is a houseful of transients living out here in the lily white, a bunch of guys working for a captain of industry who decided it would be a good idea to cram 16 or so people into a house and let them stay there, a few families of the workers, single guys and their visiting or live-in girlfriends, it's all rent free so the more the fucking merrier right? Except of course if you live next to it and you catch one of them lifting shit off the neighbors porch...  undeterred Dumb Criminal tossed the stuff in his SUV and drove off... i shook my head in amazement and went inside...

About an hour later my neighbor who is a dead ringer for Frank Stallone came driving up and began looking all over his porch, i walked out and asked if he was looking for some packages, he said yes what do you know about it, and i took a step back cuz this motherfucker is a tad unhinged, he reeks of ex-cop, think undercover narc squad, and for a minute i thought he was gonna punch me, so i told him what had happened and he went steaming to the White Trash Motel and pounded on the door and i went back inside... a few minutes later i could hear his wife screaming at the top of her lungs to "get that asshole back here now or i'm calling the cops", who pulled up within minutes surprise surprise, of course the back story here is that the denizens of the White Trash Motel used to let their kids run amok over the neighborhood, i'm talking 3 and 4 year old kids and unsupervised, one fine day one of them (Dumb Criminal's daughter) ran their bicycle down the side of Frank's brand spanking new, shiny black truck, so there's a bit of history between them to say the least...

I sat waiting for the knock and fretting that in my front room was a cabinet that smells something like an Amsterdam coffee shop and debating in my mind what to do, opening the cabinet would definitely not be a good idea but the fact is now and then you can catch the beautiful scent of Jah's good herb and the last thing i wanted was suburban five-O getting a whiff, i began doing shit to confuse the olfactory system just in case, you know make things a bit less defined when it came to what the nose knows and not minutes later came the knock and the officers came in and we went over what happened and then Dumb Criminal came driving up and out went the Fuzz and i got my ID which they had requested when asking if i had a problem testifying, not that they thought i would have to but just in case...

Now let me say i'm not a huge fan of law enforcement, i spent a huge part of the Wilderness Years actively avoiding them, i also felt a bit of a moral dilemma about my actions, was i ratting Dumb Criminal out? no one likes a rat especially someone who spent as much time in the game as i did, a rat is someone who sings to save his own skin at the expense of his fuck-up but i figured i just alerted Frank Stallone and he took it from there, part of me also knew that i live in this community and if some moron was walking off the porch with my shit i'd want my neighbors to say something, maybe i'm just justifying my actions in my head, maybe i'm the shitheel that Dumb Criminal and his wife accuse me of being, of course Dumb Criminal claimed that he was just holding them for Frank Stallone, a guy who wasn't his friend and didn't know his name, and felt the need to drive away with them instead of leaving them next door at White Trash Motel and leaving a note saying as much (a fact the fuzz pointed out to him), of course Dumb Criminal and his lady felt the need to look inside the packages hence his free ride to the station to be booked on petty theft while his young daughter danced around the car and it dawned on me then that this wasn't the first time she had seen daddy taken for a ride in the shiny police cruiser...

I won't even go into the conversation i had with the police about the Megan's Law web site and the fact that he told me to punch in the address next door, something i did and about hit the ceiling but it seems as if our local sex offender is/has already moved out...  a guy living with a bunch of children which apparently is perfectly legal and where Dumb Criminal and wife willingly left their children because apparently it was to much of a hassle to take care of the kids themselves...

And so the next night i needed a beer... among other things and so i shuffled off to the local when everything at the shack had quieted down, i sat and chatted with the usual crew of punk rock kids and yuppie lawyers, it's an eclectic place to say the least, i drank some fine and strong stout, a couple of PBRs and called it an early night, i walked out and headed for the corner when i heard the shouts of a man screaming from his car "call the police, call the police, she needs a PFA!", a guy on the corner was frantically pulling out his cell phone and i rounded the corner and saw a woman sitting on the ground and a guy hovering over her who began walking away when he saw me heading his way, he began to soliloquize, "she's fine, i'm the one who's been abused for 14 years!!! the fucking whore has been abusing me, she's fine with all the strange dick she gets", he was headed for the apartment building above the boozer and when i got to the woman i asked if she was okay, of course she said yes and began running down the street in her heels screaming "i love you baby, i love you, i didn't screw anyone", all the while choking back sobs, i could hear the sirens and had just left the boozer and figured it best to make myself scarce, i know how this story ends, i'd seen it to many times in the city and i was quite sure they'd both end up in a clean suburban cell when she attacked the cops for trying to take her man away... joy to the world indeed...

So the world of my quiet little cul-de-sac has been thrown asunder by the White Trash Motel and it's denizens, it's brought a new found solidarity to the peaceful little hood and has got this big lug out talking with his neighbors more than he has since he moved in... so i was talking to one of my neighbors, she lives across the street in the biggest house on the block, her husband and her are from South America and he's a doctor with a few offices and they own 30 some odd rental properties, the boyos are friends with their son (they also have two older daughters) who's a grade ahead of the I-mac and they often play futbol or basketball or whatever catches their fancy on the given day, i was discussing how the hot shit Zoning Enforcement Officer had suddenly become the world's biggest pussy, one minute talking much shit about what he could do when i was in front of him and then bailing on being able to do anything when i contacted him later, basically putting on a show and then basically being called out on it, i should really post my email stating unequivocally that he was full of shit and that i didn't appreciate the asshat wasting my time, it was then that she looked at her son and then asked if i noticed that his father had not been around, i said i had but that i knew he worked a lot and figured i just hadn't seen him, then she told me that he had bailed, fucked off back down below the equator and didn't plan on coming back...

Later that night while i sat talking with the I-mac about what had happened i explained to him that sometimes money and success and power don't amount to fucking jack shit, or something along those lines... i asked my neighbor if is she was alright and she said she was okay, she was more worried about her children and had them in counseling cuz as i knew this wasn't just a marriage breaking up, i'm a child of divorce, i know it sucks but i was fucking 20 or so when that shit dropped on me but this was more, this wasn't dad moving out and getting an apartment, this was dad fucking off to another continent and seemingly not giving a shit about anything but his money and what i could only imagine was his new, young plaything, i understand that marriages break-up but what kind of fucking scumbag abandons his fucking kids? fuck that asshole, i looked at his son and how his mother had just told me how freaked out he was by what had happened in the hood and now i learned his old man had fucked off to La Paz or Lima or somewhere and all i could see was the fear in the kid's eyes, i went over and talked to him and told him that this was his neighborhood, our neighborhood, and that if anybody from the WTM fucked with the boyos or him or any other kid who lives on the street that they were to come get me and i'd handle it, that there was no reason to be scared on your own street and that i'd see to it that they weren't, i wanted to hug the poor kid... while i was talking with the I-mac that night i told him to be cool to his buddy, the I-mac looked at me and said he never got to say goodbye to his dad, i looked at my son and said what? he said that he didn't know that when he saw him over the summer for what he thought was a vacation that that would be the last time he'd see his dad and that he didn't even get to say goodbye... goodwill towards men, what a fucking laugh...

It was a strange and draining 72 hours or so, i sat and explained to the boyos that the human race as a whole was a bunch of flawed and selfish individuals, then i stated that it was my job to make sure that they were less flawed and more unselfish than most, i told them we are not a perfect species and that their old man was as flawed as they come but that i tried real fucking hard to do the right thing by them cuz they were the two most important people on the planet to him, that didn't mean i disregarded the rest of the opposable thumb crowd, i didn't want to tell them that i did my best to avoid most people and that the skeptic and cynic in me still didn't keep me from seeing the beauty and unbridled joy that i have for my one go round on this ride but that those traits did help me to weed out the bullshit artists, fuckheads, drama queens, asshats, selfish pricks and general all around assholes that one comes in contact with on a daily basis, hell i'm sure i fall into all those categories some days... but the last few days had driven the point home even more, i told them they were to young for Vonnegut and Twain and Celine but that i had a few primers for them to read when it was time, but as it said way up there it will say down here, i don't have much faith in humanity, somewhere out there i like to think there is a higher intelligence, you know, fucking aliens, and they laugh at this shithouse and the folly of our silly lives.. and now back to our regularly scheduled program...


(Up With People- live)



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 5

It's been said that bad luck is better than no luck at all, and had i still been in class i'm sure i could have attempted to get my fellow professional students to debate the merits of such a statement except i had given up on even bothering to attend class anymore, it was a strange feeling, i had failed, at times i'd sit and wonder what the fuck i was thinking about when i hatched this plan but there was also a part of me that felt that shit was just about to get interesting, of course at the time those were fleeting hallucinations and harder to grasp hold of than water but sometimes as i slumped stoned and drunk and out of my mind on controlled substances it was like Robert Nesta Marley was across the room laughing and singing "eveyting's gonna be allll-right", then i'd walk over and run head first into the fucking wall but for a few seconds anyway, well maybe it was gonna be all right, the rest of the time i wanted to fight the moon and sky...

And again there was the kindness of women... now that i was an official drop-out i kept a low profile, i stopped going to the university library for fear of human contact with the future of academia i had attended class with, worse yet contact with the virus that was the Piled Higher and Deeper, it was time to hide in plain sight... or at least attempt to, i spent hours wandering and studying the patterns of the little worker ants known as students and figured out the least used and therefore best entrance for me to sneak relatively unseen into the cafeteria, it was a back door and the middle-aged woman who worked the register by the door took a shine to me, after i had paid in crumpled ones and change a few times she began to say good morning, i would mumble back but try not to say to much, at this point i needed the student price whether i was officially one or not, i wondered if she hadn't seen my type before, sheepishly creeping in at the off times and then using the back line and hiding away in the corner, slumped but facing out in case i needed to make a quick getaway, soon she would ask how i was doing, she would smile, and then one day she told me to just go ahead, she began letting me in for free, i began to talk a little more, i thanked her and she told me to wait around for when no one is at the entrance and then come in, stop and say hello, pretend as if i paid or hand her a small bit of change and then go on in, i never asked why, our conversations never lasted more than a minute, two minutes tops, did i remind her of a son or an old ex-boyfriend? i'll never know... i do know if not for her kindness i would have been a lot hungrier...

So a few times a week i would wander up and look for my Guardian Angel, she was usually always there and even told me when she would be taking off, on the days i did go i'd go around 10 am and get breakfast, i'd bring a backpack with books and my notebook, i'd sit and read and write, i'd stare out the window, i watched the days turn from snowy to breezy to wet to warm, i'd sit through the end of breakfast at 10:45 and then daydream my way into lunch, a typical day was a few hours all told, a couple of free meals, then a good walk through the backstreets of town, then it'd be either a few hours washing dishes or sitting at home and hustling, though i was with one of the girls at the house i still had my own room on the ground floor, it was right off the kitchen which meant people could come in the back door and right into my room, like most businesses it's about location but in this business and it helped to be in a non-descript high traffic area, i was in a row with a couple houses all occupied by students and always bustling, i was not about to get nabbed by small town cops, a bust of a few ounces would have these mall guards on the front page of the local weekly looking all serious with their shiny boots and boners, to these clowns it would be like nabbing El Chapo or some shit, still that was no excuse to get sloppy or stupid or lazy and so i kept a close watch and tried to keep traffic spaced and to a minimum... but of course nothing can ever be fucking easy...

It shouda coulda woulda been a iron tight grip on the fucking market, a quarter pound shoulda grown to a half woulda been an elbow if the gear had been decent, it should have been the snowball effect, an effect that would have caused more than a bit of paranoia in a town this size but it would have been a short run, a 3 month stint, a stop gap for the stoners and their hero but alas it was a disaster... In the beginning the Guido Frat Finance boy swore up and down that he always had good shit, usually a few different grades, in theory, there's that fucking word again, it should have been gravy, instead it was shit, if it was his connection really going south or him pawning off the shit no else wanted on me cuz i had no other choice i'm not sure, i'd take what i could get but i knew if one other sidewhow showed up anywhere in Podunk i was fucked, i'd sit on this garbage and be out $400 or so, and to me at that point $400 was more like 40K, even better Guido Frat boy began moaning about his costs rising which would have to be passed on down the line, the price went up 25 bucks eating into the margin even more, how the price of dogshit could rise i'm not sure but it did, it got so bad that even the biggest potheads were bitching, i remember one girl, a sexy brunette and textbook stoner telling me that the shit did nothing more than give you a 10 minute buzz and a headache, to call it crap would've been a compliment, still it was the only game in town, but the three bills was now more like a buck twenty-five, that's what the net was when it was said and done, crime fucking pays huh?

There were a few good weeks, time to put enough money away for a deposit at the beach, a deposit on a place that would be condemned a month or so after i arrived but i've been over that, meanwhile i slid deeper in the muck, i began chasing around a wealthy Indian princess, the kind of untouchable, unattainable, and doomed endeavour that only the Don Quixotes of the world will even fathom... and yet there was that glimmer, she had an interest, we'd sit at the bar and talk , she'd ask if i wanted to stop by her place and have a drink, it was slow but i could feel it, she'd sit on the couch next to me with her silky black hair falling around her shoulders and brushing up against me, her leg wrapped in expensive jeans rubbing up against mine, i'd sit trying to hide raging hard-ons, trying to calm down enough to make some definitive move and yet every time i thought the time had arrived it was like a Bollywood movie, we didn't get up and do a dance number but we might as well have, a roommate would show up or a phone call from home, she'd sit in a chair across from me speaking a foreign tongue and i'd be mesmerized by those beautiful white teeth, the hypnotic sound of her voice... but there was no luck or not enough lust and the protocols of a culture i knew nothing about and one fine day someone sat there and asked if i was the guy who sold gear and lived with 3 girls, i nodded as i watched the smile fade from her face, within 15 minutes i was politely yet icily told that something had come up, it was the last i'd ever sit on the couch or admire the smile... and yet i had a girl who claimed to love me waiting just blocks away, a girl who fed me and tried to look after me knowing full well it was a hopeless cause, when one makes up their mind to slide into cesspool you must go all the way in, i was staring up through the muddy water, deep and getting deeper, toss the gas around then flick the match on all of it, hear the crackle but feel no warmth, then slide out the back door and into the darkness...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 4

And so Mother Midnight wrapped her deliciously sweet arms around me, nibbled on my ear lobe and then kneed me in the groin... and then she kneed me again... and again, i wanted to puke, i wanted to stick my fuzzy tongue in her throat but every time i reached out for her she wasn't there, and that was alright, the days had rolled away and one foggy morning i heard the door creak open and the voice of the girl, she released the cats from their cages and i walked out of my room in my wool socks and long johns and smiled...

Within a week the smile had faded, new classes had started, my attempt to manipulate the system, to get the money i needed failed, oh they still gave me the money but i was still the man without a state, so before i knew it most of it was gone, i paid the rent and began picking up hours at the coffee shop but soon i noticed a gap in the local market, seems that the town of Podunk U. had gone dry, and what was the future of the American service sector going to do without their weed? how would they study or hook-up randomly at parties if they didn't have an excuse, of course for some of us the weirdness just kept on rolling for while the weed was gone there was other stuff around, i had the choice of buying books for my new classes or eating and so i choose a bit of both, not buying all of them cuz in the back of my nappy head i knew i was bolting, i just had to make sure the lupine dominus of the banking world would not hunt me down before my time and demand the money or my blood, so i played along, i knew i was shit at the academics game, i'm sure my new profs knew it too, sure the faculty had talked about the wild man who didn't seem to take it all that seriously, of course my papers had barely made the grade, Dr. Rockstar gave me the highest grade and stated that had the grammar and punctuation been a bit cleaned up i would have aced it, stated that when cleaned up it was conference worthy material but at this point i didn't hear a word he said, i wanted to cackle in his face and state the obvious that i should have flunked out first semester but you Piled Higher and Deepers needed me like virus needs the host,  but i had checked out, but that's been covered, back to the new semester...

There was a market to be exploited, one just had to have the means and know-how to do so and with that knowledge i took my cue and began working on a way to get whatever i could to the little house near the corner of 4th Ave and Main St., first i had to find the product and then i had to procure a means of transportation... and for the what seemed like the first time in months i caught a break, they arrived in the form of the same guy, a friend of mine who's childhood buddy was a guido, frat boy who just happened to be in the game down at the big uni in the city, funny enough  was he had graduated and was trying to break into the financial sector but as we all know nothing can supplement or provide an income like contraband and so while he wore cheap suits and drove a half-assed sports car he stayed in the game, i got my first ride down and we met in a parking lot off a shit state route highway, the neon restaurant sign flashing behind us, it was $425 a quarter pound for shitty brown Mexican brick... the early 90's were a seller's fucking market, one just had to find a spot somewhere on the seller's line... and like most things the higher up that line the better the view, i was one step from the fucking bottom...

Now if we have studied our lounge, and i'm quite confident we have not, there was a post a while back entitled Cowboy Dan, see Cowboy Dan had the grass market at Podunk cornered for years, a one man monopoly and the way Cowboy did business was there was no break down, it was $25 a cut and 200 a zip, no if's no but's no motherfucking coconuts, so the drug using segment of the student body was quite accustomed to the shit end of the stick, i figured that after i took out the head stash there was at least 3 bills to be made off each one and in the beginning it worked out fine, it was fucking Mojave dry and the stoners just wanted what ever they could get their hands on, what it afforded me was some time to build up a little cash, of course when you've been flat fucking broke and scraping by a little dosh in the pocket automatically means getting ripped up at the bar, other extravagances like a large pizza piled with sausage and pepperoni and bacon, maybe a trip to the diner and a plate of hot roast beef and fries with gravy, it means scoring some gear as a back-up too in case the money dried up, any way you chopped out the gear a lot more money got spent then originally intended...

And the classes were slowly receding into the winter sun, i attended, i feigned an interest, i can't even remember what they were except for linguistics, Prof. Herb might have been the most boring motherfucker on the planet, he may have known his shit, one of those guys who is so smart and knowledgeable in his field yet has no hope of effectively communicating it to anyone other than those in his field, or maybe he was just a shit teacher, i have no idea cuz i couldn't make heads or fucking tails of it, Noam Chomsky i was fucking not... ah memory, there was a drama class? i remember something about reading plays with a tall goober with wispy brown hair in bowl cut, he fancied himself as the young heir apparent to Dr. Rockstar but that wasn't gonna fucking happen, this fucking geek didn't have the charisma or the intellect and to my 24 yr. old eye had zero chance at pulling a Brazilian Bombshell, maybe he could finagle one of the co-eds and even that would have been a stretch, he seemed to think that everyone in the class loved the theatre as much as he did, years later i would come to appreciate it but at the time Mamet and Beckett and the lot could kiss my dirty, hairy ass, of course having some budding play writes in the class didn't help, nor having the queen of fourth rate drama, (affect English accent now) Oh how they couldn't help but stay in character, cupatea? Wink wink, where art thou Coolio?, dare i say i almost bonded with a few individuals over just how annoying these twats could be and with Bowl Cut joining in at times it was a wonder i didn't bring a pint of cheap bourbon in a 7-11 cup, but the time for paper proposals was coming and by this time i had no intention of proposing anything other than another beer or toke or trip... in short, fuck academia.

Of course the psychedelics helped expedite the process, in particular acid and MDMA, the kind the kids couldn't really get way back in the early 90's unless you lucked out or knew someone who made it, i never bothered to ask which it was but it was all the rage with a select few back then, oh how i hated it, i mean i kept taking it just to be a bit more social, i'd take it and then spend the night talking to people who when sober would fucking annoy the piss out of me, i called it the Asshole's Best Friend, just happy and smiley and fuck if the next day i wouldn't wake up and want to punch myself in the face thinking about what a friendly fucking wanker i had been to everyone all night, you could have banged my mom, my dog and every girlfriend i'd ever had and i'd have still been your best friend while i was on it... the acid on the other hand kept me steady and insane, a symbiotic relationship of light and dark with the dark slowly pushing harder and harder, don't get me wrong now they weren't bad experiences, i'd call them something akin to a cleansing, it was making me come to terms with the mistake i had made and it also made me wander and in a small town like Podunk wandering inevitably led to bumping into people and Profs i didn't want to see... hell after avoiding Dr. Rockstar on a number of occasions, either mumbling greetings and quickly exiting or just completely about facing i just said to him one night outside the coffee shop that he just always seemed catch me when i was on acid, he just smiled and said something in Portuguese to his bride and wished me luck... it was the last time i ever saw him...

16 weeks, that's all that was left when it started, of course when you feel like you've been caged, when it feels that time is being stolen and fucked away it will make you mad, it will have you talking non-sense to yourself, cuz you're young and self important, cuz there is a need to be in the action and because the classroom you're looking for is not anywhere near a library or science lab, it's out there, it's just not here now and like young Skywalker i had not the patience nor the discipline to go rationally about my business... the wheels keep spinning... the stomach rumbles... the days crawl...






Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 3

Small towns can drive you mad, they can turn you into a raving lunatic with their boredom and sleepy streets, one begins to understand how old women get murdered and their trunks plundered for trinkets and gold and anything that might be hocked for a hot meal... the walls had closed in and i was fucked, being destitute is never as romantic as they make it out to be in those dusty old novels, of course put a couple of decades between the hunger pains and the memory and it's a  most beautiful thing, like one of those lovely ancient paintings that hang in the cold and sterile halls of some foreign museum, just the thought of it can keep you warm but at the time there was nothing but a drafty old house and the approaching winter, the mind spinning and slipping, the days dragging by, when just a year before all i had to do was step out my door and i could get mugged, shot, drunk, fucked, score any number of drugs, fall into any sort of caper, hang at the bar with the brothers and the hoods and listen to Motown as Mustache Mary would dance and slur her way around the bar after seven to many whiskey sours... but now i was trapped, not the money or means to get out and with my education slowly taking the form it always had, of me studying my own curriculum, not those of the masters of higher ed, not one supplied by the Doctors of Philosophy, one supplied by myself in order to make sense of this nightmare, of knowing full well i was going to quit, of trying to stay above the rising tide just enough to pay a few more months rent and get what was left of the next check, the second semester loan, enough to keep a roof over my head for the time being, but knowing i'd drop out when the time came... but even as i stared down my wit's end i needed to keep my wits about me, there was no net to catch my fall, only the concrete and it's gray indifference...

If there was one constant at this time it was the kindness of women and their enabling myself to get by, at the time i lived with three, one who would make many an appearance in my life over the years, a couple other who were bat shit crazy, one dating a semi-homeless man who lived in a tent and the other convinced that someday she would look into my eyes and we would fall head over heels in love and live happily ever after, she actually stated this one day, i laughed hysterically and went to the bar... of course i was a young and petulant sort, as faithful and loyal as a stray dog... i was not what you'd want your daughter to bring home and yet somehow many daughters wanted to bring me home, it never seemed to be a problem, it seemed my motherless ways made any number of women want to mother me, as if i gave off a scent of being a lost boy... that girl i lived with worked at a coffee house, the first one to come to the town of Podunk U., it was only a decade or so after they started popping up in all the hip city hoods but Podunk finally had it's own, she went to school during the day and worked the nights and when i'd walk home from class she would motion me in if the boss had left, which was usually the case, she'd feed me chili and cornbread and i'd drink coffee, she'd slip me $10 so i could go to the bar, my hangout was dirt cheap and served strong drinks, sometimes after wandering around, sitting in one apartment or the other, drinking and smoking dope, i'd wander in like that stray dog and there would be a pizza on the table...

It was through this girl that i began to pick up the stray shifts washing dishes at the coffee house to make an extra 20-30 bucks here and there, i'd smoke my one hitter and listen to a lot of Miles or 'Trane or Bird, i'd drink the wine the owner kept in the walk-in for when she came in, she was old money and had spent years partying and now needed a semi-respectable gig so she opened this place, it was shady and quite possibly a front, seemed to be a preponderance of powder available to the employees in the know, never for sale of course, just there... the owner wanted me to pick out some music for the place, she said she liked my taste, she asked who it was and i sheepishly told her, i didn't like her vibe and she made me nervous for some reason, there was a time when the wealthy had that effect on me, being broke i needed whatever scraps i could pick up, she told me she didn't want to hire me cuz she didn't feel like doing the paperwork, she handed me money and got me a ride to the mall, i picked out what i could find at a national record chain in a shit mall, basically best of CD's, the town of Podunk U. was what one might politely call a cultural backwater, she told me to keep the change and still paid me at the end of the night, some shifts i'd barely wash a dish, it was an old building with those intricate tin ceilings, old hardwood floors, a back porch with two big white pillars that faced an alley where i'd smoke a stray cigarette, every now and then the Barney Fife would roll by thinking they were slick, as soon as they were out of sight they'd get the finger, it was a few bucks in my pocket, sometimes it'd be gone by the next morning, sometimes i'd stretch it for days, the only downside was that it gave me even more time to think...

And think i did, i was sliding down, it wasn't depression or anxiety, more a darkness, a general madness, i was coming to terms with a beautiful meaninglessness, what did it matter, these fucking knobs all writing papers and prancing and preening, like fucking show ponies, and for what? a job? a chance to sit in the same halls and classrooms that they studied in but this time they get the ruler? they get to hand down the verdicts? maybe it was a defense mechanism, maybe i needed to lie to myself because i couldn't cut it... or could i? it didn't matter anymore, now there was nothing but time and the wait, to make it until my sentence was up, to get back to the water and sand and pull myself up out of this hole i had dug, dug willingly and smilingly in the beginning, and the shorter the days became the more the madness increased, consciously or not i looked for ways to destroy the things around me, i began to hide, to play the invisible man, walking backstreets and avoiding daylight, hiding for hours in the dim corners of the library, scribbling notes and threats and pictures for no one, day in day out, each sunrise another struggle to eat and get fucked up...

Somehow, somewhere along the way, i managed to finish all my papers, over 50 fucking pages in a little over a week, it was a fucking joke and a nightmare, banged out on a word processor, i had picked the topics eight weeks earlier, gathered some information and never gave it another thought, i heard my classmates making plans for study groups while i talked to myself in the corner, i heard them reading and critiquing papers, they were fretting and sweating, they looked at me with curious disdain and a bit of envy, why didn't i fucking care? their guess was as good as mine, maybe i should tell them that Dr. Rockstar told me i didn't need this shit, maybe i should pick up that desk and toss it across the room as i envisioned, pull out my cock and balls and shout they'd never have a set like these, for 7 weeks they met and talked, one or two may have even fucked but i didn't care, when it was time i locked myself in my room and went to work, roughly 2 and a half days a paper for three papers, from early morning until the wee hours, sometimes the madness can work for you, you have to make it work for you, so make it work i did, i didn't know if the papers were any good, i thought they were shit to be quite honest, i gave them exactly what I wanted, original thinking, i gave them references because i had too...

And with a roaring whimper it was over, the dorms and the shit apartments all emptied out, the snow came in cocaine white and shimmering strange rainbows in the winter sun, i could hear the hum of the electric sign above the laundromat on the corner, there would be 20 some odd days spent walking small town lonely streets, to the bar, to the coffee shop to pick up the hours of the students gone on break, the ones unlike myself who had somewhere to go, to the Golden Dawn Supermarket where i would survive off beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and the occasional shoplifted steak, alone in a creaky, old house... even the cats had somewhere to go, sometimes i'd sit in the living room in complete silence, a second hand ticking endlessly on and the rare sound of a car rumbling down Main St., i jerked off twice maybe three times a day, i talked to shadows, i paced my room, i had 20 some odd days on my own to dwell on this wreck, the lone light being i had passed all my classes, barely passed them but passed nonetheless, it was a fucking joke, this place was a racket not a university, the madcap laughed and laughed...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Wilderness Years - Raskolnikov's Blues Pt. 2

One studies a lot of theory in grad school... and you know in theory this all sounded like a brilliant idea as i sat in my tiny apartment in North Oakland, oh yeah i had it all sussed out, fucking genius that i was, i'd breeze through this shit on my brilliance and big balls... but those fucking theories man, seems that one needs to actually test them out and testing this one out i was slowly finding myself in a steaming pile of shit, it started at about my ankles but was now slowly creeping closer to my waist, the money thing was gonna be a fucking nightmare and so i set upon a plan to get more, not much of a plan but something, there were no jobs at Podunk U., the town was a sleepy little hamlet set on a dirty river in the middle of a forest, there was a glass plant, a university and fuck all, a Main St. with a bunch of mom and pop joints that only took kind to student money not the students themselves, if my mood had begun turning from sky blue at the outset of the semester to slightly cloudy once i experienced the classes then it was now gray and getting darker, there wasn't much to smile about...

Class became a bit of an afterthought, i was still going and the Victorians were still boring me senseless but the other two were brilliant, i enjoyed writing theory and battling my classmates and my other class was Cultural Theory and taught by the department superstar, a guy in his late 40's who was married to a twenty-something Brazilian bombshell, i laughed at the rumors of how he only worked with good looking female grad students, you don't trade the superstar for a fourth stringer and if any of the lovelies in my classes thought he was making a play for them they were shitting themselves, in fact he did take a shine to one student in the department though, see this was the class that John had gotten to do his paper on William Burroughs, he had borrowed a bunch of my stuff and the was showing it to Dr. Rockstar, he inquired to where John had gotten a few items because he had a friend out west getting his PHD and his dissertation was on one William S., seems he had mentioned some of these things to his friend and the guy had never heard of some of it, now how you do a dissertation on the guy and not know about this stuff was a bit mind blowing to myself, it wasn't like the shit was some ultra-rare bootlegged tape or prized mimeo from back in the day, it was out there, but alas the soon to be crowned Doc was in the dark, so when Dr. Rockstar asked John just smiled and said, Kono, the dreadlocked guy in class, (because i really did wonder if Dr. Rockstar bothered to learn anyones name) and John told me he shook his head and let out a "ah, i shoulda known"...

Now what's surprising about all this is that said class sometimes broke down into conversations between Dr. Rockstar and myself, he often seemed quite amused and intrigued by my fucked-up worldview and it was the one class where i truly did dust the competition and so one day he asked me to stop by his office, he told me the lights wouldn't be on and he'd be hiding so he wouldn't have to deal with students but he said he needed to talk about my paper and some other things and so i said sure and on the appointed day and time i ambled through the department and wound my way deep into a web of halls, seemed Dr. Rockstar wanted to make his office as inaccessible as possible and so hid up and down stairs and around corners and didn't bother with things like his name on the door, i knocked softly and said my name and i heard some rustling of papers and a slight cough and then the door unlocked and he welcomed me in...

The office was filled with books stacked here and there and file folders with student papers sticking out, on the window ledge behind him were bins that looked to hold whatever article or book he was working on at the time, he was wearing a sweater that zipped over his shirt, a sweater that looked very similar to the one i had on except i scored mine at the thrift store and his looked to be a tad more expensive, i sat down and he looked around and for a moment there was a strange silence, you could tell he didn't do this much or just didn't like people, in a way i could relate, i didn't much like them either these days and so he finally looked at me and asked about the Burroughs stuff, i explained to him how i had found it and he asked if it would be alright to make some copies to send to his friend and i said sure why not, we both began to loosen up a bit and he asked what i read, of course at the time i was a young and angry existential/nihilist and started ticking off the names, Sartre-Camus-Genet, Henry Miller and Bukowski, Hunter Thompson, Burroughs and Algren and Celine, Dostoevsky and Lermontov and Tolstoy, he eased back in his chair and laughed asking what i read for fun and i replied that is what i read for fun, it was also the first time i would hear the name Thomas Pynchon, it was the first time i'd discuss indie-rock with a prof as we gushed about the band Morphine and their brilliance, soon we were sitting there bullshitting like a couple of old friends, he asked me what i wrote and i told him poetry and short stories, to which he replied that he could care less about the poesy but wouldn't mind seeing the stories, i told him i'd see what i could do, told him about my friend's collage project that he was doing using porno ads and he said he wouldn't mind seeing them, then we got down to business...

Dr. Rockstar carried himself with an aloofness and arrogance that one might describe as abrasively charming, he reminded me a bit of Donald Sutherland for some reason, possibly because he physically resembled him in a way but also it was as if he was a combination of certain characters Sutherland had played, a mash-up of Animal House, MASH and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, we began discussing my paper, me casually tossing out doing it on Bukowski and him politely telling me no, that he expected something more from me for some reason, he then asked why i wrote? i grinned at him and replied seriously? of course he said, why? and i leaned in a bit and conspiratorially growled, and i quote, "for the pussy man, for the pussy..." Now if Dr. Rockstar was expecting me to a lay out some intellectual pontification upon the reasons and motivations for my scrivening i will never know because he let out such a laugh i could do nothing but sit there and grin, i mean the man was married to a woman at least 20 years his junior so though he may never had admitted it out loud he knew what the fuck i was talking about, in fact he kept laughing to the point he needed to wipe tears from his eyes and when he finally composed himself he looked at me and said you don't need this, don't take it the wrong way, in fact take it as a compliment, which is something i rarely give out and i don't really care what you do one way or the other but the other students need this, you don't, i've been waiting for 20 years for a student like you to walk through those doors and i can tell you now get out, go write and do whatever you're going to do, he was shaking his head and giggling, for the pussy he said, the man was used to the kids kissing his ass and saying what they thought he wanted to hear, it may have been the first time in 20 years he got an honest answer to a question...

And that paper? Well i settled on the commodification of punk rock, basically predicting Hot Topic before it existed and pointing an accusing finger at one Perry Farrell and his festival and how that was the beginning of then end for alternative culture, that the once dark and dangerous sub-culture would be homogenized and sanitized and spiffed up for suburban consumption, slowly to be made acceptable and absorbed into the festering and moldy loaf of Wonder Bread that was Merkin mass culture... my favorite part was that most of my original thinking references came Maximum Rock'n Roll, good old Lester Bangs never had it so good cozying up with Foucault and Derrida, it was nothing more than the art of spinning bullshit...

Of course none of this helped me eat and eating and drinking and drugging were an essential part of my existence, it was more than just a bank balance that hung, well, in the balance, my sanity or lack thereof, my bright and brilliant future, my masterplan, all of it was cracking up, like standing in the middle of an ice-covered lake, every move bringing more creaks and groans, knowing full well that if you take off you're fucked and if you don't move you're fucked, the only certainty is the taste of that icy cold water and the burning of lung and limbs, standing and watching the breath shoot from the nose and mouth and the surrealness of that winter sun and it's lack of warmth, and still there were no jobs, in a shit town the competition for shit jobs was intense and so like a taller Josef K. i diverted my energy for the time being to finding the exit to the labyrinth known as the student loan/ banking industry, to find a cure for what had ailed me, a loophole in the air tight walls of the bureaucracy, hours spent reading forms and making calls and wandering in and out of administrative offices where the qualities of humanity and compassion were akin to myth, i was trying to sell snake oil to the master snake oil salesman, it wasn't going to happen, it was dawning on me that the options were slowly turning to nil... and that once bright blue sky had now almost gone completely black...