Sunday, April 16, 2006

Chapter 39 - Low Serotonin

It is hitting me, finally. Since the box of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (Effexor SR) a friend found in the dumpster and gave to me is gone I now have to pay and the money isn't there. It isn't under the van seats, It isn't stuffed in a forgotton dirty clothes pocket. it isn't in a piggy bank up smothered in cobwebs above the kitchen cabinets that the previous tenants forgot about, and it certainly isn't going to fall out of the sky... It lasted me over a year. There was almost no agonizing desire to get skull fuck drunk. No creeping suicidal thoughts. I had actually realized what it could be like to be sort of normal for a year. Worth it. Now I know I can do it at least, that life can be very good without drugs or drink. In fact it was never good at all with drugs or drink so that's kind of of those statements. At least now I know what it is. Low serotonin. Probably from a bad fall I had as a kid or when they thought I was dying of Leukemia.

Hopefully a recent painting will sell and I can get the Effexor as I need some serious re-uptake inhibition going on right here!

Hopefully the doctor at the psychiatric clinic for poor people gets hit by a pharmaceutical truck for refusing to treat me because I didn't look or act homeless.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Chapter 37 - Faux Vinyl Ant Chair

Sitting here making faux amber beads out of clay with my wonderful wife, our two dogs at our feet, me reading the beautiful strange writing of The Man Who Couldn't Blog, a peaceful night, and then she says, "What's the difference between just keeping a journal and "As it Happens" writing?

I think for a moment, I had it worked out a while ago. I don't answer.

"I mean, I can see if you were writing in third person, then it would make sense... but now isn't it the difference between a sanitary engineer and a garbage man?"

"Well that's how it started out, remember? I would write everything, as it happens, in third person."

"Well you better have it worked out or somebody's going to call your silly ass on it."

I realize she's right. There is no difference between what I am doing and a million other bloggers. Unless I start writing in third person right now...

J got up and went into the bathroom. Mike heard the water running. She came back out wearing the necklace she had just put together. It was beautiful.

"An ant just crawled right up my face," she said. "Either that chair goes or I go."

Mike felt the faux vinyl of the old car seat that he had wired to the milk crate. It was one of the most comfortable chairs he had ever sat in. But it had a few ants in it and even though he cleaned it really well, he didn't get them all. He hated the idea that the chair, his homemade chair, that was more like a functional sculpture than chair, had to go. He slapped an ant off his neck and sighed.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chapter 36 - Hardboiled

I flew to a pen later this afternoon, grabbed a few sheets of my novel that the agents keep rejecting as a "coming of age" if that were the worst kind of deathfart, obviously having barely glanced at it, and I began writing on the other side of the typed pages...almost angrily...the beginnings of a detective story. Why? I hate detective stories. But there I was on the cement steps of our house writing one...

My name is Jimmy Tool. Bastardized Irish. It was O'Toole when my people got off the boat but for some reason immigration thought Tool sounded better. Funnier for sure. I don't mind it. Kind of fits what I do. I'm a private detective.

Forget about all those detective stories you've read or seen. Being a real one is nothing, absolutely nothing like that. It's mostly mundane bullshit, downright boring, sometimes really depressing, and the low life cockroaches you meet are enough to make you puke. That's why I always keep a wastebasket near me. It's my best friend, besides my 411 S&W .40, and my flask.

I've had the 411 since my days on the force. A trustworthy piece. Can't be fired if you accidentally leave a round in the chamber. And when I have a few too many, like anyone else, I tend to get a little accident prone. The flask was a gift from my dad before he chased his last whiskey with a bullet. His was an old fashioned cop pistol, a snub .38. He could actually hit better with six than most shooters nowadays with their 15 and 17 round Sigs and Glocks. He was a real cop. Tempered in the blast furnace that was Hell's Kitchen...The garbage can is a Wal-Mart special. It's got little ducks flying over some marshland. A place I'd like to be, I often think, while I'm hugging it. It calms me down.

So all that said, here's a real life case for all you "dead mind babies of the television war". Oh, you know who that is? It's appropriate as you'll see.

This happened back in '86. I was sitting in my office. Pat's bar. He was sitting across from me having a beer. It was a typical runaway case. He wanted me to find his son. He was worried about him and I really felt for the guy. He didn't strike me as the type who was beating the kid or molesting him, or molesting his mind, just as bad. He just made a mistake. He turned the screws a little too hard when he found young Tommy had a sack of marijuana in his dresser. He said he tried to use "tough love" on the kid. Dad was a little square and I wondered if he could smell the joint I had just smoked before our appointment. He wanted to know if I knew about tough love. I just smiled and nodded.

"Let me tell you about 'tough love'," I wanted to say -- And if he'd been and asshole I would have --"Tough love has turned so many kids into prostitutes that you'd think the whole physchiatric community is moonlighting as pimps." At least it seemed to be a fashionable approach back in the 80's, everyone was touting and no one seemed to be questioning. They should've asked me. Or just about any other kind of person who sees the results of these kinds of things, and whose feelings haven't been sandpapered off by too much of it. Yes, I would've told him that but he seemed really worried about his kid and, like I said, he was kind of square, in a nice way. So I told him a lie. I told him that his kid was probably having a ball away from home, just hanging out with other kids his age, maybe getting a little buzzed up now and then, but after all weren't we all kids once? I told him not to worry, that I'd find his kid and they'd patch things up and things would go back to normal. Ball games and hot dogs. Fishing, even. Sure. I took his retainer and got good and drunk. I didn't want to think about what sensed I would find.

I didn't want to think about it because it was a good possibility that the kid was dead. It didn't seem right that he wouldn't have contacted this kind of a father when the shit got gritty. So, after I was good and high I had Bill the bartender fill my flask and I headed over to the morgue. I had all the info I needed with me in a manila envelope the kid's father had given me. All I would need at the morgue was his picture.

Now here's where most detective stories begin, right. The strange maneuvering in and out of shadows, sub-plots and twists, layers of bullshit piled on layers of bullshit. The truth is usually stark and simple. Just like what I found. The kid, dolled up for hustling, had overdosed on H. Who knew if it was accidental or not. The only mystery was why he didn't contact his father, only a few hours away upstate, when the panhandling didn't make it anymore. Maybe he thought it would be kind of like an adventure or maybe there was something I didn't know about the father. Whatever the case, there he was, in cold storage waiting for an I.D. I know the guy who was on duty so he let me look through the boy's stuff. In his coat pocket was a Germs CD. I opened it up and that's where I read the quote about the "dead mind babies". A good line. A true line. No wallet on him obviously, nothing else.

I probably should not have taken the guys money until I had him contact such an obvious source, but then what was I supposed to say to this worried, hopeful, father, who told me he had already called the hospitals and jails in a hundred mile radius -- "Have you checked the morgue yet?"

I headed back to my office office, a cramped little apartment in the Lower East Side that was also my home. I called Tom Sr. and told him what I had found. It was a bad thing to hear, on both ends. After awhile he asked how much he owed me and I told him nothing.

When he hung up I sat staring at the blistering drywall, listening to the strange sounds this city makes at night. Then I visited my ducks.


Good to get that out of my system. Don't think I will be writing any more of those soon. I hope not. Not sure where the obsession came from. It certainly isn't what I would call a good story. But it had to be written. I pulled it down after posting it because I think it's lousy. But I put it back up thinking I should keep the lousy stuff up too if it is a significant event of the day, just to be fair to the "As it Happens" process.

So now, as it happens, I'm sitting here in my homemade car seat chair waiting to upload some pics to the Lollipop (Ruby Lane) jewelry site. Two people have flaked out with orders so I have to email them about it. They have little consideration it seems that the stuff is still sitting up on the web listed as sale pending so nobody else can buy it. It's been there for a month. I must be tactful but slightly forceful, still more tactful so they reply. It is hard to be since we are living on peanut butter most of the time and these orders are our bread and ...peanut butter...

Chapter 35 - Four walls, 16 Tubes of Paint and a roll of canvas...

We have converted our house into an enormous studio. I found some two by fours of various length and cut them and pounded them into the wall studs in big rectangular shapes. Then we took the roll of raw canvas we had ordered from Dick Blick and stapled it to these temporary stretchers. We have two enormous oil paintings done so far. Now, when they dry, we can simply pull them off the stetchers, roll them up and send them for a fraction of the price it would cost to send stretched canvases. We feel this will go over big since everybody wants big but who wants to pay three or four hundred dollars to have a giant painting sent. This way, for about a hundred bucks they can take them to a local framers and have them re-stretched.

Yesterday was productive. I not only built myself a very comfortable chair out of an abandoned bucket car seat (wiring it to a milk crate base) I got one big oil done and a necklace. We cooked a gumbo. Listened to the yelling from the bar next door and off key karaoke madness. Strange how this doesn't bother us. I guess after you've been living in a van for so long noises like that become oddly comforting...

The only downside to all this is the chair. Even though I cleaned it up good there still seem to be a few tiny ants in there and they periodically will climb up my arm, even into my hair. Annoying for me but now J won't sit in it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chapter 34 - FBI Files on Bukowski

Here is a poem that pretty much wrote itself after a visit to Henry Baum's (Ash Tree) site where I found a fascinating link on Bukowski. This was inspired by the idea of an agent following him around.

File: 140-35907

Subject just vomited for the third time
this time in a garbage can
off Sunset Blvd.
He has papers spilling out of his
back pockets
and I am waiting for
one of them to drop out
I feel this will provide
us with much needed clues
into what he is up to

Subject noticed me standing
in a phone booth
and asked me for a light
I handed him a lighter and
went back to my
imaginary phone call
Subject told me,
"You can tell a lot by
a man's shoes."
I ignored him and he
walked on.

Subject seems to have no
purpose and goes from
day to day
in search of another drink
He seems to prefer
which brand doesn't even seem to matter

Monday, April 03, 2006

Chapter 33 - And in This Corner...Will Shakespeare

An Experimental Essay

I woke up about 1:30 am thinking about words, what makes them last, what makes them work…these thoughts fired by the article I read recently in Harper’s at the library. Writer Ben Marcus was berating, belittling, dressing down, hammering, working the small bag that was his head, Jonathon Franzen for supposedly berating, belittling, dressing down…Experimental Literature. It was a good, fairly long article, much like watching a good boxer work his stuff on a stuffed opponent… He was good, this Marcus kid, and he made me want to read some of his stuff, but I was a little disappointed that Franzen couldn’t fight back. After all, some of the head region combinations and body shots were suspect and could have been taken out of context. For example, isn’t Don Delillo what you would consider a "difficult" experimental writer, isn’t he one of Franzen’s heroes? It seems some of Ben’s arguments could be sorted under Experimental Logic…

I was thinking of Hemingway and his spare, almost biblical, approach to the use of language. Only using words he knew would last, themes that are in themselves biblical. How literature can be like wine and actually get better with age. Here is a small passage from The Garden of Eden that speaks my meaning perfectly…(passage coming soon)

During his time Hemingway was an experimenter, and while on the surface there seems little difficulty in his arrangement of words, there are many layers, depths, philosophical questions that arise, and we are free to think of them or not. We are free to skip happily along the surface or to dive into the darker regions…or both…which brings me to a useful solution to what Sherman Alexie called (in his letter concerning Marcus’ article) “The East Coast East Coast Literary Rap War":
Writing, whether it be difficult or easy to fathom, is always experimental if it’s any good...

But words do not last. They change, mutate, die out …Which ones will survive this century no one knows for sure. But for sure some will and some will not and in some the meaning will change as Will S. new. But what makes him last more than anything are his ideas suited in word phrases of such lasting electrical beauty that you could think of him as a one man baseball team in the literary lasting game…

J has been reading her beloved Joyce and while discussing him she says he had
"…A brain loaded down with knowledge like a daisy with too much dew."

She droops her head slowly toward the mattress she's situated on, among her large stuffed animals and pillows and down comforter. It's sweet, true and funny and we both laugh. We have surrounded ourselves with books and we're happy now that we can take hot baths, via the electricity that has finally been turned on. ! .