Category Archives: I Wonder

permafrostedlink

An eyelash falls on the rim of my glass. Should I blow it off and make a wish? Or take a swig and see if it hangs on? It’s emblematic in a vague way of our tenuous existence, and this is easily the most tender and exquisite metaphor I’ve constructed for our mortal quandary, how delicate and vulnerable we are. Don’ t worry, I hang on.

Everyday we prevail just by making it to our pillows. (I love all my pillows. There are four of them, two are firmer and more substantial, the other two are rather flimsy and weak, very scrunchable. Those I place around my body while my head rests on the other two.)

The light through the crack in the blinds is a reminder that the outside world exists. It is peaceful to look at the strip of light on the wall, in the dark, slipping into slumber.  In the morning there is no such ease of feeling. Just the darkness  of dream interrupted. The alarm clock buzzing something horrific. I wake, agog. Hello, world. You rang.

— In a fractured world, how do you know what constant to follow? How do you stay on beat? You’re not a drummer! You’re not a DJ! You write prose prickly like Joshua trees, more obscure than the most distant galaxy beyond the last one. All you care about is satisfying your hunger for art and your quest for a good time: a bohemian pinstripper giving it all away.

Friday Night 12/18 11:19pm. Lets go. Close the door. We’re off to the streets. There is a festive atmosphere to the usual comings and goings. By the curb a homeless transvestite sleeps splayed out, his shopping cart tipped over and contents spilled out, a bottle of Centrum loose on the lawn. The driver of an American made roadster revs its motor and tears off towards Fairfax. The constellations spell out dirty words in Latin. Behind closed doors people are drinking, screwing, and merry-making. Behind others they’re sleeping, watching TV, or playing video games.

Where are you, when the spirits walk among us?

I wonder about the lonely ghosts this specter of a city produces, crawling our streets in the invisible dimension, driving invisible 55 Chevies and caught in permanent diaspora. Will they ever find the other shore?

— I place these fragile thoughts online to preserve them in infinite air.  When all of civilization is frozen they’ll survive in permafrostedlink. While the world does a post-apocalyptic jitterbug these stonepiled-essays and arguments will exist in some cluttered cyberfield, the carnal grounds of blogs and Facebook pages….

There are only so many words you can fit on a tombstone. And you can’t ever hear what anyone has to say back. I have too much rattling my bongo-brain to not let it loose, but 90% of writing for me is staring at an empty screen, and after an agonizing hour, when I read it back, it still feels like I’m looking at an empty screen, the ideas seemingly evaporated into dust, lost in a jagged, extraneous prose. I know I shouldn’t harangue myself like this but how can I not? This is how it feels when you’re caught in that winterselfpityfunk and you’re hard on yourself for being hard on yourself. Tumbling in a psychic spin cycle.

Writing is the pursuit of manics and demigods. Listen to me! I’m so smart. I’m so witty. I’m so deep. I’m so sad. It’s the toil of fools who believe they have something to say. And they repeat and repeat and repeat the same thing over and over again and delude themselves into thinking it’s original. I know I’ve called the moon a hundred different vegetables or minerals over the years; it’s a melon, it’s a grapefruit, a grape, quartz, alabaster, a piece of clay, an oyster shell, a hubcap, a pie pan, etc.! Whatever fancy tag I can give the moon only serves my intent poorly — there’s nothing more evocative than simply… the moon.

Saturday 12/19 3:42pm. It’s a postcard perfect day in L.A. The transvestite and his cart are gone but the bottle of Centrum remains behind cryptically out of place. The East Coast is being hammered by a blizzard, as we speak hundreds of people are sleeping in cars on closed highways, and here in Southern California I’m strolling down a sunny sidewalk wearing shorts and a light sweater, the mountains are capped with a white layer of snow and the sky is a soft bed of blue. A few diaphanous clouds interplay with a scimitar-shaped harvest moon. Such a beautiful day, I wish it would last all year.

I’m not the type to make New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions throughout the year ad nauseam. I battle my imperfections everyday. I don’t need a holiday to be reminded that I could use some work. But even though I’m not the type, I make them anyway — because I’m the type who does things even though it makes his skin crawl. Like cut onions and watch Jersey Shore.

— The reader will take this all in, digesting it according to their own personal experiences and thoughts, reading it in rooms just like mine but very, very different. I would be surprised if I’ve conveyed anything approximating my intention (and if that’s even an achievable feat for any writer). The words on the screen is just a finger pointing at a jellybean moon.

I got a box of chocolate truffles from work and a bottle of Shiraz as holiday gifts. I’m indulging myself with the two, supine on the couch, enjoying the gluttony and the silence. Christmas is coming and there are triangular strings of lights atop office buildings throughout the city and white holidays lights festooned through the trees along Wilshire Blvd.. Los Angeles does its best to provide some simulacra of traditional cheer. There’s a very busy Santa with a very sore lap down at the Grove. There’s Styrofoam snow on their chemically treated green lawn.

Another year almost laid to rest, ready to be simplified into lists, recaps, and memorials. The twenty-dime (2010) is here. The world’s wobble continues on indifferently to our nomenclature, our calculation of time, our slang, or our plight.

We’re an eyelash on the rim of some writer’s glass fantasy. Are you ready to make a wish?

Our Bodies Are Like Yellowstone Park, Perfumed and Daquiried Expressions Notwithstanding

The sun isn’t setting.  We’re spinning out of its sight. Outside the window a swarm of gnats buzz in a collective frenzy in its slanted high-yellow light, high up here on the second story, fifty feet above the city floor. There’s something beautiful and horrific about it at the same time.  

The cloud of gnats, the air conditioner units humming on the roof, and the traffic down below sailing by, I take it all in while punching the letters on the keyboard till they pop back at me with aggression, slapping me in my face, leaving imprints of vowels and garbled phrases on my cheek, so I can finally say, shout actually, ‘See, see! Writing is a contact sport!

The director calls for the actor who is somewhere offstage.

My keyboard is broken, or rather certain keys are. I can no longer do an equal sign. It might be because when I fall into my prose I hit the keyboard with tall, flourishing motions like a Carnegie Hall pianist, probably harder than they’re designed to take.  Time to send it to the keyboard graveyard.

You can tell what a person loves by the things he uses. And throws away. At one point in our lives, if we’re lucky, we are all loved. Used. And thrown away.

Like an air conditioner unit.

Like a potted plant.

From my loft I can look down on my living room, the dinning table three feet away from the couch, the clutter of furniture and gadgets, the pictures of my wife and I on vacation in wooden picture frames populating the walls; it’s the intestines of my life, the inner workings of my mind actualized in a seemingly normal living space. And my loft is even worse, the books everywhere, short stories, stapled and dogeared, stacked on a rickety set of shelves I found on the street with my friend Dwight, candle holders with macintosh red wax melted in the bottom, and collages born of mid-twenties angst, still revered in my mid-thirties ennui, just sitting on the carpet, or leaning against the wall; it’s even more clogged with physical manifestations of my soul’s frenzy than the living room.

I’m fifty pages into Infinite Jest and that’s a dreary prospect for a Friday night. My fingernails need clipping and the pizza gestating in my stomach into gassy spirits of bloated burps remind me that our bodies are organic things full of bile and decay, like a mini Yellowstone park, perfumed and daquiried expressions notwithstanding.  

The actor stands and takes his mark.

In a world of invasive marketing, “Intellectual Property”,  the M.C Escher-like corporate synergy that puts movie stars on fast food cups, the endless simulacrum of modern life ad nauseum… reproductions and remixes, remakes and tributes, Banksy artworks in museums… with technology and media raising an entire generation in a copy and paste, digitally-altered cultural fun house, how do you know when even your pain is yours? Or perhaps you’re just copying Elliot Smith, or downloading Jack Kerouac into your persona as you slide down the whorl of your own imagination… a Kafkaesque Chutes N’ Ladders plunge into “deep literature” and polemical diatribes against the sacred statues of the town square?

Although you see the tie dye flags flapping on the old Victorians and the Birkenstocks flopping down Haight St. there are no more hippies in San Francisco, they’re nothing but electric sheep dreaming of 1967, the age captured by audio recordings whose scratches and flaws slake a nostalgic yearning bred and branded into our psyches. The needle moves along the grooves as the record rotates and the room closes in inch by inch with every memorized and duplicated lyric. I click on Itunes and select shuffle and Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Nirvana comes on, a song recorded for a TV show.  I’m now listening to it off of a computer. It was first written almost 80 years ago by a dude in a shack, probably without even a rotary telephone.  And kids these days probably think Kurt Cobain is as old as Jim Morrison and when you think of Rock Music and the course of Humanity, he pretty much is. It’s all too disabling to think about on a Saturday night.

[Beat] The actor looks upset.

The donut shop opens at 4am. You wonder how many poems Charles Bukowski could write in a night. Traffic on the 101 has a hypnotizing, mechanical lull, the whirling grind of our iron dreams. You listen to it whirl away and think about the fresh donuts they put out at 4am.

The year is 2008. The month is August. There is a video camera aimed at your face and a serious man imploring you to shout and an intern holding a boom mic just above your head with one hand so it bobs up and down erratically. He is scratching a mosquito bite on his lower back with his loose hand, the drawing of blood a timeless ballet of man and Pan’s wild things… the audience chortles with their necks snapped back like empty Pez dispensers.

“Stagg Chili is the thickest, meanest chili around!” The actor bellows the lines written down on the cue cards.

You wonder what you’re supposed to yell back, why you’re on top of this horse, why is there cacti everywhere? What is that bull doing in my living room? The commercial comes to a close and you find yourself with your blankets and your knick-knacks, and you think to yourself, it’s about high time you – not stoll, not gallop – but stampede to the kitchen to make a can of Stagg Chile©.

I’ve got 16 spray-painted Buddha statues for sale. 11 homemade crosses…

Sell it all. Copy it all. Steal it all.

When everything is art then art is everywhere.  

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE GOOD FOLKS AT ARTOFSTARVING™