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Ever read Cervantes, bud? It's good shit. Depressing, perhaps, but we all need to hear it occasionally. When we get the idea that romantic gusto alone is going to be good for anything but a cheap pratfall. When we're convinced that we're right, it doesn't excuse us from foolishness. And whoever said that any lonely cause was better than nothing must not have allowed himself to decompress and think it through. When we want what we ain't ever getting, perhaps what we truly want is another reason to complain. Or we're delusional. That's more funny than it is romantic, bud.
A forgotten demon steps back into the light. And the flavor washes out your fresh cuts. Your grapes dry into raisins. The sun only illuminates the dust floating around your room. Even the gris gris and firewater don't do much for you. And you've had that envelope sitting by your door for a month. Go ‘head. Open it. It's more dangerous, at this juncture, not to. It could be a death threat, packaged with glitter or confetti. Or a reprieve from the governor, unusually thin because he'll explain the rest later. Right now, you don't know. Open it. Protect it.
The more dopamine there is in circulation, the more automatically it happens. The mind draws connections between independent objects, crafting explanations for its own makeshift conspiracy theories. If it's taken for what it is, it can be fun. When skepticism and intellectual asceticism have sucked away the lust for intangible joy, enough mental rigor becomes too much, and the mind weakens. Opportunity is neglected. Infertility and impotence set in. This species is dying away one cell at a time. Making it too hard on yourself makes you vulnerable. Losing your soul isn't excusable because you think you surrendered it voluntarily.
A man clearly needs a better goal than HAPPINESS. As long as we're racking smiley faces across the great abacus, religious fanatics will always have the greatest bargaining leverage. Putting the ultimate premium on happiness is like lusting after fullness while subordinating the quest for food. Something has been lost as the currency of well-being has inflated. Where are the fighters, the dreamers and the players? Where are those that will do worthwhile things, even if those things make them temporarily miserable, in the interest of upping the ante for the general populace? We've lost our drive, fire and dignity.
Ease up on the kids, lady. Keep barking orders, and they're going to want to put your paper-thin veneer of authority to the test. Treat them like troublemakers no matter WHAT they do, and you'll see them pursue the fleeting glory of actually MAKING SOME TROUBLE. Now, I'm no man to be doling out parenting tips, but I know that a good leader doesn't need to make threats. And I know that, if these shadows remain unchanged, your brood will turn out to be either obsequious apple-polishers or annoying hellraisers, both of which are already in overabundance. So lay off.
A blonde Sunset Strip denizen sizes up the new bitch on the street, enviously admiring her leather ensemble. Click. A girl with her nose studded and her hair dyed purple slobs a burly, tattooed troglodyte’s knob. She slurps lovingly around the head, whimpering submissively. Click. The muscular black dude has something tattooed on his back in Old English. As he slides his dick into a sassy black mama’s gash, the mama smirks and slaps her belly in cynical glee. Click. A man humps up and down on his co-star, looking more epileptic than horny. Shit. Must be a cushy gig.
I saw bars of light. Carousels. Ferris Wheels. Machines. Spinning cages. Tilting around and speeding up and slowing down, but never changing focus or direction. All the ORDER got to me after awhile. How can I BREATHE FREE with all this structure that was here before I arrived? I willed the machines to come apart. And, slowly, they did: Beams of light came unscrewed from the constructs and melted into splotches. The floating eyeball returned. And a black suckhole emerged, claiming all the displaced light and stashing it in a subterranean reservoir of energy. I called the light back out.
Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey. Time to get up, angel. Time to rub the encrusted sleep from those peepers. Time to unchain the metaphysical fantasies. Time to let the beautiful delusions float on into the bulbous sun. Today is a good day for a good dream to die. Take with you what was of value, and throw the rest out like a used rubber. Don't let the past shit in your mouth. Let it fertilize your character. She's not coming back. They're not calling back. The next big scheme won't have much in common with the last one. Keep moving.
Bunch of carefree, irresponsible FUCKERS up there in heaven. Worse than goddamn frat boys. They don't realize the floorboards are rotting through. They keep bouncing around like they're on goddamn pogo sticks. Meanwhile, those of us stuck down here wait for heaven to cave in. What are we supposed to do when the bottom falls out? Where are we supposed to go? Do those arrogant fucks think they don't effect the rest of the world anymore now that they've made it? Dues paid, no more worries? I hope, for the REST of our sakes, that they don't fuck it up.
Casey put away one dollar a day. It wasn't much, but she stuck to it, and grew proud of her resolve. If she had to scare up the jingling kind of money, she'd switch it out for a folding frogskin at the next opportunity. After 10 days, she swapped 10 ones out for a sawbuck. Ones were better walking-around cash; 10s were more easily concealed. She didn't tell anyone about this fund. Couldn't think of an emergency that would justify breaking it open. It served its purpose simply by existing. It was one of her few investments in growing possibility.
The smoke cleared. The bullet just missed your left temple. Then, suddenly—IMMEDIATELY, you might say—there's another gun to your head. You don't sleep well. You don't sleep often. When you do sleep, the gory, cryptic, POINTLESS AND ENDLESS flood of dreams is worse than your waking life. Short of suicide—the most humiliating capitulation, an unforgivable, whimpering apology—there's no way out. All your possible exits are morally indefensible, and you're feeling wretched enough as it is. You squeeze your shriveled black heart for some last drop of inspiration. None is forthcoming. You strap on your military mindset.
Group convenes rehersal upstairs bedroom, finished watching a show about his grievance, no one else had showed up, disgusted, left, spent a lot of time, quoted as saying, studio sessions, approached me and asked if I would go over his contracts, complaining about not being properly compensated, on one occasion, check on my shit too, slammed his fist into the other guy's jaw, held on for dear life, grunted, stumbled, lost his balance, continued trying to make her fall, grabs me by my hair again, punching me in my head, throws me down, destroy, the one that fucking pressed charges.
In the beginning, I never quite conceived of penetration. I always thought it was just about kissing and rubbing down and rolling around. I guess some info on penetration trickled down my way, though, because at one point I remember believing that you got a girl pregnant by pissing in her pussy. And that pissing in a girl's mouth was a more common practice than it turned out to be. And that applying a condom was somehow necessary to create a rugrat. Now, I often ponder getting a vasectomy, for the typical reasons. But I don't always trust my assumptions.
The rotting sawbuck fell through, dropping me into the sand. I felt 7 seconds' worth of a whining sting in my right arm, then nothing. A hard, white object was jutting out of a dirty gash in my forearm. Found out later it was my bone. The specialist at McDowell Hospital was out of the office, so my dad drove me to Asheville. I go into surgery and stay under for awhile. Dad crashes on the floor. The next day, he holds the piss bag for me. It slips from his hand. Spills piss all over the gown and bedspread.
Fuck being a cautionary tale. Yes, I will still bleed defending those few things close and true to me. Certainly, if you try to fuck with me or my circle, you will never stop regretting it. But I'm not as much of a fighter anymore. I avoid situations that could lead to stupid, useless pain. I FEAR DISEASE MORE THAN I FEAR VIOLENCE. I fear that sickness may be closer than I think. I'm no longer oblivious to my own mortality. I'm not prepared to go down puking and trembling, having not done what I came to do. Not yet.
Keep smacking lips. Suck face until the rent comes due again. This is what I'm talking about. This is where it's at, not out at the bars or on the bus or at a party or at the bank or anywhere else. This is what's happening. Everything's far away. All the gridlock and paranoia will leave you alone tonight. It's just you and this dish delish. So invoke the spirit of the lad that won that kissing contest in Chicago. Go at it. Go to town in your own home. Give her a lifetime supply. Drag it out. Kiss her.
Charleston. Waded in the ocean today, one of my favorite things in the world to do. Let the waves smack me upside the head. Felt the sand engulf my calloused tootsies. Went to Momma's Blues Palace, which I enjoyed despite the relatively brief performance from Momma herself. Went to the Griffin, an "authentic" pub wallpapered with decorated dollar bills. Seemed like a waste. Prolly fucking up the economy. Walked through the neighborhoods, past the defiantly dilapidated dayglo housing. Knew I could live here if necessary. Retreated to the hotel. Threw back cans of shitty beer and basked in the calm.
Moon jellies have nothing to hide because they have nowhere to hide it. Anyone in the aquarium that looks is privy to their insides. Anything they take on, they show off. And their eerie luminescence draws the eyes to their cache, to the evidence of who stashes the most. A pity, almost, that we aren't afforded such transparency. Our lives don't allow us to share everything; even if we have the will to lay bare and the psychosis to preclude all shame, there simply isn't enough time in the day. So it filters into dreams. Moon jellies are simpler beings.
I have hurt people out of envy. I have dipped when I could have soared, and I've taken others with me through the turbulence. I have followed those who were lost. I have absorbed others' useless suffering, and found myself sucked into the vacuums where their spirits could've been. And I have returned to the scene, knowing better. But it is too late in the day, now, for such foolishness. Now, I must reclaim my lost energy. I will aid others as I can, not beyond my ability. I will defy all that would see me weak. I will live.
I was shooting Jack Daniels at the Flicker Bar, and I must've blacked out. I woke up in the hospital, with an IV in my arm and dull yellow stains on the lap of my corduroys. One of the nurses was a tough rock chick with a PBR tattoo. She said I had a mean right hook. Lucas came to pick me up, and I left the premises without checking out. That needle must've had something beautiful in it: I didn't even retain much of a hangover. A girl I didn't remember called up to ask if I was OK.
Dahlia had always had loony adventures with her schizo bowels. For months, there'd be nada. Then, sans warning, the poor gal's sphincter would gush like a busted fire hydrant for days. Always a thin, amber liquid. All over the place. Always a mess. Dahlia was never satisfied with wiping; she needed a spongebath to feel clean. Consequently, she knew every single-occupancy "unisex" bathroom on campus. When the rainy season rolled ‘round, she locked herself in for hours, ignoring the occasional thump on the door. Throne-bound, she caught up on her studies. She scrubbed out her crack with soap and water.
This country will likely fall apart in tiny decrements. No air raid sirens or explosions, just the slow realization that things aren't what they used to be and never will be what they could've been. We will cleave to the most draining distractions and ask nothing, so long as it's all free. Our capacity for higher thought will atrophy, require amputation and later haunt the brighter ones like a twitching phantom limb. I'll keep doing my adorable rain dance, hoping to make things end faster and more gloriously. A man needs his dreams. Even on this day of reduced expectations.
Draper would often say something foolish when cornered. Would often hold forth on topics he didn't understand. Would often hit on the other guy's girl. Would often spill his drink. Would often say things in attempted jest that even HE didn't find funny. Would often misappropriate and mispronounce key words. Would often talk about himself, exclusively. Would often attack me on all fronts at once. The fact that I've only had one quick fistfight with the man over the course of our acquaintance gives credence to my faith in my own self-control. Self-control is what separates us from the deranged.
Let's take another draw on the bottle and get this show on stage. Now. How many of you have adequately defended yourselves against the violations, the intrusions and the petty insults in your lives? Do you know what you're doing? When attacked—mentally, physically or otherwise—what do you do? What do you do that you should not be doing? And what do you neglect that can be part of a more solid program for you in your future? You will learn more than most sadsacks ever know. You will emerge a better soul. You will. Believe that. Stand up.
Pancakes lathered in syrup and a fresh pot of coffee. Letters from good friends. An afternoon spent reading, alone. A day at the goddamn seashore. Marine life. Slow, wet kisses. Big-legged girls. Kind words. Respect. Recognition. An autumn sunset. A brisk wind on a spring afternoon. Christmas trees. Sunrise on snowbanks. A long ride to somewhere I want to go. A tune I loved years ago. The way certain writers cleverly paraphrase my exact thoughts. A pleasant memory unhindered by sentimentality. Live hip-hop. Rich, sticky green pot that doesn't make me paranoid. A pleasant drunk and a stupid film. Sleep.
"This is fair," thought the artists' long-suffering girlfriend as she cheered on the tumor that munched away at her insides. "This is how it's supposed to be. This is payback. This is for all the breakdowns, all the bullshit suicide threats, all the bad drunkenness, all the goddamn bad reviews I got from you. You fucking crybaby. You worthless, worthless ingrate. Now you get to watch me die. I get to slip out of your life, until I can no longer hear you whimper. I get to experience real mortal pain. The kind you always wanted. It's all mine, coward.
Savor the flavor of survival. It leaves a bitter aftertaste. It's the coldest comfort on the books. You aren't really LIVING, are you? That's all I want to see from you. A modicum of RELISH. Sass with class. I wouldn't even mind seeing you in love again. It's been years, hasn't it? All that bitterness is oozing out of your pores. You're stinking up this apartment. You don't seem to have any chips on the table. Or anything on the line. But my resources are dangerously depleted, and I'm tired of being angry at you. You sadden me. Break out.
"I want my jacket, so I'm sending a check to LL Bean." "How much do you expect to pay for shipping?" "How much do you think is necessary?" "Depends on how fast you want it. And what shape you want it in." "Do you think six would cover it?" "Better make it seven. No guarantees of anything unless it's six and half." "Fuck, man." "Do you want it or not?" "Yeah. I'm sending the check to LL Bean later this afternoon. I want to be cozy in the dead zone." "Oh, you'll be cozy. Right down to the cockles, babe."
You sit there at your job, unafraid. Prepared to whine and fume should anyone suggest he expects anything of you. Do you think you deserve a living simply because you were born? If I don't listen to your empty egotism, does that make you a victim? How the fuck did you get this far? Survival's too easy these days. You fucks have taken all the glory out of it. But you must never ask if you deserve what you have, or if you're contributing anything, because you don't want to know. Believe that. You saps perpetuate all the wrong instincts.
Big K rooted for the underdog. Always and forever. The favorites would always be interchangeable. The underdogs would always be characters. So he rooted for the underdog, and sometimes he helped the underdog out so much that the underdog became the favorite, at which point Big K withdrew his support. This sometimes shook up the insecure new favorite so much that he went back to being the underdog, at which point all was forgiven and Big K welcomed him back into the fold. He worked with – and for – underdogs. Voted for underdogs with his dollars. He even married and underdog.
SO THIS IS HOW IT ALL BREAKS DOWN. AND THIS IS HOW YOU ACT WHEN THERE'S NO ONE ELSE AROUND. I'm going to buy an operahouse. Cheap. For three pennies. I'm going hanggliding over the Pacific. I just hope the wind picks up. I'm not exactly sure what the fuck I'm going to do. But I'm going to make it good. You're all going to be impressed. Pleasant side-effect of brilliance. I'll buy you a drink in the afterworld. We'll throw on some scratchy old vinyl and relax. We'll assemble some jigsaw puzzles, with all the time we can imagine.
The Tip Jar