Friday, October 30, 2009

You Know You Are in New Hampshire When...

1...A kid playing ultimate frisbee yells, "Just huck it." walk into a bar in late October and hear someone say, "Yankees nuthin' - Phillies six. Gottah love that."
3..Fall lasts one week and your waitress says, "Someone fahgot to ordah summah."
4...the streets are gold and the sky is grey
5...granite gravestones

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Open Letter to Pic N Pay aka Hannafords aka Evil Purveyor of Beauty Porn

To whom it may concern,

You coward! You cocksucker! You spineless motherfucker! You continue to allow beauty pornography like "People" and "Us" and "Ok" and "Lifestyle" on your shelves. Is this the middle ages? What the fuck? Where's the aisle with the snake oil and leeches? Would you let that spoiled cunt Mary-Kate Ashley shit on the floor of your produce department? Would you? Would you let her squat down by the apples and take a gigantic dump on the floor and then wipe her ass and walk away? Yes or no? Because that is what it feels like when I go to your store to innocently buy some muffins or chips and I see that this skinny bitch is getting married or divorced or fucked in the ass by her toy poodle. I DON'T CARE! Now, you could say that it would be unacceptable if someone took a huge shit on the floor of your produce department. But the argument in favor of this crap act is that it is just shit. Who cares? All the food becomes shit so what does it matter if someone shits on the floor. Many markets around the world have shit on the floor. Just don't eat it. Or step in it. Yes, it stinks, but is it really a health risk? You could have signs, "DON'T STEP IN MARY-KATE'S SHIT"

Would that help? I think it would. My point is that this is the argument used when you leave this lurid beauty pornography on the shelf by the check out stands is that if I don't like it then I don't have to look at it. BUT YOU PUT IT RIGHT NEXT TO THE CASHIER STAND. YOU THINK I'M AN IDIOT? You want me to look at it. But I don't want to look at it. So what the fuck am I supposed to do? Close my eyes and get a fucking seeing eye dog to walk me through your store? It should be published along with all smut, per the 1st amendment, and then wrapped in plain brown paper and stuck out back with the anti-freeze and other poisons. Please! For the love of god take that shit away from the cashier stands. I want to tear every magazine to shreds and piss on the face of Britney Spears's latest "boy toy".

Here's 2 definitions of cosmopolitan, also the name of a trashy magazine:

So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest.

2. sophisticated or urbane

And here, reprinted without permission, is a sample from's latest home page:

Sex & Love

  • Sex Positions You've Never Tried
  • Sex Tips from Guys
  • 30 Feisty Foreplay Tips
  • 75 Crazy-Hot Sex Moves

Hair & Beauty

  • Best Hairstyles with Bangs
  • Celebrity Virtual Hairstyles
  • Ultimate Hair Color Ideas Guide
  • Sultry Summer Hairstyles

Celebs & Style

  • Sexy Summer Sandals
  • Top Lauren Conrad Hairstyles
  • Latest Summer Fashion
  • Sexy Lingerie for Your Shape

Quizzes & Games

  • Quiz: Are You In Love?
  • Play the Boy Toy Game
  • Are You a Good Flirt Quiz
  • Cosmo Couples Quiz
The only place these subjects would make one "conversant" or "sophisticated" is deep inside Anna Nicole Smith's withered cunt.

Let me make myself completely clear: THESE MAGAZINES ARE TOTAL SHIT. They are nothing but advertising forums for plastic surgery clinics, weight loss drugs, cosmetics and other barbaric institutions that PREY ON THE MANUFACTURED INSECURITIES OF WOMEN, insecurities that are assured by these very magazines. By putting this trash, much more manipulative than the nastiest fetish porn, where children can see it you are being a willful accomplice to THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL FEMALE SELF ESTEEM. Is that your intention? Do you want a population of top heavy, undernourished, beauty obsessed, gossip whores whose chief concern is the cellulite on Jennifer Aniston's ass? Is that your goal? Because that is exactly the goal of the editors of People and Ok. A distracted populace is a tame populace. Well, do I sound tame? Fuck you! You are not my friend. "You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill." Right? Fuck you! All I want is a fucking corn muffin and if I found one of Oprah Winfrey's tampons in my muffin then I WOULD NOT EAT IT! If you wrapped these repulsive magazines in brown wrappers then I could blame no one but myself upon learning that Hannah Montana has a sex tape. But if you put a magazine that says in bold type "HOW GOOD ARE YOU AT ORAL SEX?" or "Kate to Tom: No More Anal Love!" right where I have to see it then I find it as objectionable as the idea of Mary-Kate Ashley shitting in the produce department. I only want some milk and a lightbulb. Jesus Christ! What must I say to make you understand? If I want to know the "juicy details" of the Hollywood Elite then I will go to a whore house and have a prostitute lick my asshole while I jerk off on a copy of "Teen Celebrity". I don't want to do that. THAT'S NOT HOW I WANT TO SPEND MY TIME. But that is exactly how I feel when my eyes stray for a fraction of a second on those glossy covers and the human wreckage they highlight. Their main objective is to target young impressionable women and make them feel inadequate by comparison to models and celebrities. Their lives, bodies and ideas are not, according to these magazines, worthwhile. But with some better clothes, a different set of tits and a glamorous attitude (including all manufactured knowledge of the latest famous whore) they can rise to a level of value. Beauty and love are commodities to be bought by surgeries and traded by lingerie, so say the editors of "In Touch" magazine. Your complicity in this crime is unacceptable. The simplest way to arrest this completely diabolical attack on our nation's women and my tender sensibilities is to take the magazines and put them either in the bathroom where I will wipe my ass with Christina Aguilara's face, or else wrap them in brown paper and hide them near the low calorie popcorn. Please do this today. Go on. Why are you still reading? Go. Right now. Get up and do what I ask. GO! Your concerned patron, Oggy Bleacher.

Scott Jerome


Let's take a moment to remember Scott. This is his water fountain by the central little league field in Portsmouth.


there's a pic of the fountain and my indestructible 1974 vespa scooter. The south mill pond is in the background.
Now, this water fountain as you can see is rusting out around the plaque and probably will last only a winter or two more. the fountain itself is rusty and old and I'm sure there is talk of replacing it and when that happens then the plaque itself may or may not be replaced. The plaque, you see, is the only remaining evidence of Scott in Portsmouth. You ask most people about Scott and they are going to tell you they have no idea who he is. IN fact, if you look closely the plaque doesn't even tell you when he lived or even if he died. Was he a war hero of the gulf war? Vietnam? WWII? Mayor? Coach? There is no way to tell. And at the time this plaque was erected (At the ceremony I probably slouched in the background, torn acid wash jeans dragging in the dirt, sucking on a blow pop, spitting casually in Caufield-esque aloofness) we thought everyone would remember Scott forever. After all, we had followed his story from beginning to end. But now in 2009 only a few people remain who remember who he was and why this plaque exists. I just want to refresh the story since it is a small chore and there aren't many of us left to remark on Scott's life.

To set the mood let me copy some of what I have already written (nearly ten or fifteen years ago) about Scott. This is part of my book called Memorabilia, Some parts of it are absolutely horrible and then other parts are hysterical. It picks up with me on my bicycle...

"Slightly unnerved by my encounter with Justin, I biked home through the shiny streets, by the Jr. High School. I eased left onto a footpath between a break in the curb to avoid the jolt to my bones and bike. The path led between the Little League field and Leary Field on my right and the Mill Pond and Gordy Clutcher's basketball courts on my left. As I was about to start to pick up speed to make it up the hill that led to Eleyn Avenue, I noticed something inside the fence of the Little League field. Maybe it was a shirt or a hat or a coat or a briefcase full of money. There was only one way to find out, so I coasted over the slippery grass into the spectator area, where my dad and grandfather Stevens had sat on the wooden bleachers and watched me bat and run the bases a decade earlier.

The thing on the ground was unfortunately just an empty cardboard Blow Pop box, no treasure. But it lay against a green water fountain. I worked the lever for a sip of water, but it didn’t work. The water had probably been turned off for the winter to save the pipes. This green fountain had replaced the one by the fence behind the visitor's dugout, the one that used to stick up from a cement cylinder and shoot water two feet in the air. That fountain had been cut and capped so that kids playing today have as little idea about what was in the cement cylinder as they do about what a J.J. Newberrys sign is doing on The Gap building . All they know is the green water fountain..

The bronze plaque on the fountain read:

“In Memory of Mack “Wynn” Wynter 1971-1984.

Mack exhibited the true spirit of Little League baseball.”

Some brown pine needles lay on the plaque, blown a good distance from a white pine tree near the Junior High School bike racks. I brushed the needles off and had to take my gloves off to pick the last ones from between the bronze letters. I didn't need the Timewraiths to tell me what to do. I'd sung this Youthsong before. Some songs I like to sing.

Who was he, Oggy? Was he a friend? Did you know him? Did you fight him?

I stared at the crowd of Wraiths, searching for Mack's pale face. More Wraiths floated from the empty infield and emerged from the slimy, ice covered mill pond.

“I know Mack Wynter. Did you Bullwhip? Or is this plaque just like the J.J. Newberrys sign? Is this name just one of legend and myth? Do the two dates scare kids who drink here? Some were born in 1984, a coincidence not to be ignored. Do the little seven-year-olds have the imagination to reconstruct this boys life and his fate from the plaque alone? Maybe, but how true would their creation be? Does their imagined life make them pause when they pass this water fountain on their way home from 2nd Grade? Does it make them see their own name in bronze with two dates? Because that is the song I sing. It is, as you will see, the least I can do.”

I performed the Youth Fire ritual. As the Chief Songster, I didn't need the Youthtribe around me or even the flames to fan with my memories. The power to keep Nostalgia away was mine alone. I took my Sox cap off and drank the sweatband Moonshine . The potion was strong.

Visions arose from the fountain: Bone Harbor, the Jones Ave. dump piles, the foot-scuffed dirt beneath the Bone Harbor swings, the cut outfield grass, French fries and ketchup, the bad breath of twelve-year-old boys eating in a cold cafeteria after gym class, stink bombs, blood, oxygen tanks, stolen baseball cards, swirled around me. The Timewraiths glided from their shadows and gathered in solemn circle around me. This was the misery feast they had waited for, their Crying Time. They joined in my Chant.

Feed the Fires

Burn and Bright

Watch the Day

Suck into Night

Sing the Youthsong

With your kin

Here's the Tale

Of young Mack Wynn"

...end of quote.

If you care to read the rest it is in Oggy's old blog and in the chapter titled "Fly Like and Eagle."
Chapter 21. just click on the link on the left and go to chapter XXI.

I took the title from a Steve Miller song and also because, after Scott lost all his hair from the chemo, we called him "the bald eagle.". I cringe to think of this now, this taunting of a dying kid, but there it is. Steinbeck didn't hide from his duties to tell the tale, the whole tale, of Salinas and Cannery Row. I don't either.
here's another sample...

"I was the first child ever to walk to school. The first New England October was mine. I was the first child to notice the shining graves across the hooking Harbor, or wonder what it was like to be dead. I was the first to discover how the field could be used for games. I claimed Clough Field. I claimed the swings and the long metal slide and the tire bridge. I had discovered this new land and it was mine. My hat was a planted flag for the Red Sox nation.

On the side of the big school building was a forty-foot brick wall. When I first I walked onto the playground for my first day of 4th grade and discovered fifty kids throwing a racquetball against the wall and running around screaming trying to get the ball back, I thought I had entered Nirvana. The objective was to throw the ball against the wall and to catch it again. Simple? This was no small challenge when fifty other kids tried to catch it too. The game was Off The Wall and I claimed it as my own invention. Fifty kids couldn’t take the ball from me. I had an uncanny ability to know exactly where the ball would land. I could make it bounce over a hundred outstretched arms and a thousand fingers to where I stood quietly behind them all. Or I could put a spin on the ball with a snap of the wrist and then run to where it would suddenly zag off when it hit the ground, making everyone think I had attached a string to it. It was like I was born to play left field at Fenway Park, like balls deflecting off the Green Monster were, by design, destined for my hand. For a challenge, I would throw the racquetball so it would come down in the middle of everyone making it an even game, the prize going to the highest, most aggressive jumper. I then leapt over heads and hands, rising on shoulders to snap the little blue ball out of the sky. Then, before anyone knew it I had it, I’d throw the ball again and dart off to meet it up close to the wall. Then whip-zing back again way over everyone's heads, sweating and running with sharp eyes, brightly, reaching up to gather it in. Even Gordy Clutcher had to admit that Off The Wall was my game.

Then the inevitable morning came when a shock wave hit me from behind and knocked me down. The blue ball rolled away from me and the game continued. I looked from my bleeding palms at a blond haired kid with big white teeth, a pale round face, and eyes the color of the racquetball he was holding.

“Bettah watch yahself” he said.
I found out at attendance that his name was Mack Wynter.

...end of sample.

A few things to now: I call Scott... Mack Wynter in the book. I wanted his name to include "Win" like a tribute to him. He didn't lose. He won. We was a winner. And Wynter is close. Also, Wynter, or a misspelling of Winter, has a connotation of the end of a season, and his story sort of closed the chapter on my infancy. What else? Oh, check out how I wrote his plaque quote. I included the date, but there is not date on the actual plaque. I remember feeling it was necessary to include the date so I could keep everything consistent as the story progressed through the years. if the date wasn't included then it wouldn't trigger the exact obsession that oggy has with time. And like I feel now, there isn't any definite date on the plaque or even if Scott is living or dead, and that wouldn't work for my story so I put the two dates to drive home the idea that everything had become a gravestone to Oggy, he is basically walking in a cemetery in his mind. And I didn't want to get into the discussion that the plaque is more generic that a tribute to someone who died. But here I am analyzing my own writing.

anyway, just reading about the game Off The Wall brings back memories. The timewraiths are dead (even though I am writing this in the new Portsmouth library that actually is built on the old JFK rec center land and, more importantly, on the old whiffleball/raquetball courts where Scott, Brad, Jess, Mike, Nick and I would play a thousand games a day. There is no plaque to comemorate that. But don't get me started) but I can still hear the playground noise and the slap of the raquetball against the brick wall.

Anyway, it's true that Scott was basically a normal kid: Big for his age, aggressive, prone to violence and insensitivity. Normal. His whole story is there in the book. I met him in 1980 and by 1984 he was dead. He was probably getting some treatment for Leukemia in 1980 but it's possible that the whole discovery,treatment,remission,discovery,treatment,death cycle happened in those 4 years. He was 10 or 11 years old and died at about 15. We lived three blocks apart and had common interests in baseball and arcade games. The story is a bit tragic just in general but the details as I know them and can tell them are something special. What affected me more than watching him grow sick and die were the efforts of his parents and mine to comfort him. Of course, this is position that no parent is prepared for (3 years of chemo treatments followed by a year of "making him as happy as possible") but it is also a position that no kid like myself (who sees and remembers every possible detail of human interaction) is prepared for either.
For instance, I can still remember not just the words of Scott's mother when she asked me to come play video games with him on his death bed (the living room couch), but I can remember the tone of voice. And it is the tone of voice, the swallowed pride and sorrow of having to ask for what should have been given, that is the strongest memory. These video games did not interest Scott anymore. They were bait to get me to visit him. but frankly, sitting next to the withered Scott and his oxygen tank did not make playing Donkey Kong on Atari 2600 very fun (and I normally loved video games). And suspecting that this game and the pizza and the chocolate chip cookies (Scott had no appetite) were all for me, to keep me there so I could in turn comfort or amuse Scott, made my visits loaded with emotion that I could not express. Something incredibly sad and desperate was going on and I could not even gain admittance to R rated movies yet. I had no language to understand the situation. Archie Comics and Sports Illustrated didn't quite give me the tools to translate what was happening.
I remember my expression of hopeless futility. Outside on Richards ave was a world I was going to go into, a world of bicycles and cars and girls and birds and Scott would never again leave that house. It's those kinds of details that I try to write about because I know they are key. I try to capture that feeling of being torn between the reality and the idea of reality, the meta-emotions swirling around me at the time. It's not for lack of understanding that I fail, but it takes an almost zen like concentration to recreate the scenario in my mind and then paint the picture so carefully that the reader discovers the idea on his own. That one scene with me and Scott in his living room. Me, absently playing video games as Scott weeps quietly into his respirator. Scott's mom unwrapping cookies (too exhausted to bake them herself). A dusty baseball glove on the ground. The blonde wig that Scott no longer wore. Presents from well wishers. Pictures of Scott with Red Sox players like Jim Rice who take time to hug dying children. The scene itself explains a little about me but it is my desire to describe that scene that really explains everything about me. It has been a part time job for over 20 years. The drama of that scene is palpable and I feel it's my responsibility to keep it alive in my mind until I have all the 3 dimensional puzzle pieces arranged so other people see it as I see it. I want to answer the question: What was happening there and what does it mean about the human condition?

Scott played little league baseball in 1980. His cancer was in remission long enough for him to play for a team called "Pic and Pay." I think I write that his team beat my team "Local 1947" for the 1983 league championship but that isn't true. He beat another team. Ricci Lumber probably. He was a good little league pitcher. He hit a home run and got the game ball for the championship. It was like Jon Lester's story except with a 12 year old kid. Really, Scott was a winner even before the game ended. I guess, the true spirit of little league baseball is that you play as well as you can, as well as possible, but for fun and in the end you shake hands with the other team. The actual Little League motto is: Character, Courage, Loyalty. That about sums up Scott. That summer we played whiffle ball at the JFK rec center. And that was it. He made it to 6th grade in the middle school. pictured below...


IN fact, it was at this exact spot that I meet the Timewraiths in the book Memorabilia and sing the song of Mack Wynn. The curb that once had a break in it for my bicycle is right in front of that illegaly parked Subaru. It was near the fire hydrant that Scott caught up to me in his final school days in 1983 and said he had kissed a girl. I forget her name. I was jealous and confused. We had that conversation just feet from where his water fountain is today. If it isn't there tomorrow then at least there is some digital record of this bit of Portsmouth trivia.

So, I'll leave Scott in peace now.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

my new craigslist ad

$100 Artist seeks Patron w/ house

Date: 2009-10-24, 4:47PM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

I'm a jazz guitarist (Male, 38 (but people say I "look young") with piano skills and drumming ambitions looking to relocate to SW Florida from the northeast. My aim is to begin projects in stained glass, finish several writing projects including stage plays and screenplays while continuing to practice several instruments in anticipation of performing a one man musical variety and comedy act.

I can, despite public opinion, "get a job" and "make money", but I feel this is beneath me and, frankly, a complete waste of my immense talents. All my previous jobs have confirmed this suspicion. Imagine if Charlie Chaplin decided to assemble diesel locomotives or if Marilyn Monroe had taken a job at a sewing factory or if Pablo Picasso had been a barkeeper...all in the name of making money. The world would not be the same.

So, I am looking for a way to purchase back those otherwise squandered 8-10 hours a day by becoming your personal entertainer and artistic concierge. We will, among other activities, listen to Beethoven's 5th symphony on a regular basis and discuss the thematic patterns. We will listen to Jim Hall's inspired guitar playing and mediate on what it means to express yourself with an instrument. We will paint. And we will sculpt and pick up shells on the beach and make something out of them.

I realize not everyone can be a bohemian, but I can live no other way.

Perhaps you have a big house that is paid for and has a piano gathering dust. Do you like Ray Charles' heroin inspired piano solos? I do.
Perhaps you have a mobile home (once purchased as a secret retreat for you and your now deceased lover). The bathroom is stuck in the 1970s? Do you like mirror mosaics and Mexican clay tiles? I do.
Perhaps you have an empty guest house that needs painting. How about 1966 Mod era pink and blue vertical pin stripes?
Maybe your child is glued to the television and can't be bothered to read a book. That sounds like a reason to get lost in the Everglades National Park and some campfire readings from the naturalist John Muir.

I'm bringing my guitars, a violin, some songbooks and some clothes. I travel in my 1969 ford van. I need a place to sleep and play the instruments and some space to make stained glass. Needless to say, I will be restoring classic motorcycles on site. I also read until 3am and sleep until I wake up. I don't use alarms because they are not sophisticated. If something is so important that I need to be reminded of it (or, god forbid, woken up) then I will hire a nubile servant to come wake me with aromatic spices and an oil bath for my long brunette tresses.

I don't habitually use drugs or alcohol but tolerate them in artists. Life is an unusual and breathtaking experiment where we walk on the precipice of disaster at all times. Drugs help us see how insane that is.

In closing, I basically need a space to create my art and I offer my entire set of skills at your disposal in exchange. Even if I paid you rent I would still do this. I am not selfish with my abilities but I am selfish with my time. The ideal situation would have me as a modern day Socrates in a white toga leading philosophical discussions by a hot tub before cooking grain salads and dining (not eating) while being entertained by a wind ensemble. Later, some reading and writing of poetry. I'm a straight man so don't get any funny ideas about me bedding down with you at night. I am like Odysseus, a loyal lover of the fair Penelope...though I have not yet met my Penelope.

So, check out my entertaining blog,
And may Zeus the thrower of thunder look kindly upon you in your travels.

  • Location: Naples
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
image 1436147614-0 image 1436147614-1

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Man meets Young Man

So, the trip south involved no christian families although God may have been involved in the gigantic dump I took at a dunkin donuts in Trois Rivieres QUebec. It plugged the toilet and I of course sped away, the phantom shitter.

here's a pic of Oggy manning the cannons.

After finding out that there was no Les Miserable being performed anymore in QUebec City (It closed during the summer) I had some nice Indian food at one of the three Indian restaurants in town. Spent the night in a parking lot. Then traveled south. Crossing the border was effortless although I did panic when the man asked,
"What do you do for a living."
"I sell bibles online." I said.
I hope god forgives this lie.
We had a good chat about my van and he decided not to even look inside although I invited him in for some whiskey.
"Any bombs or guns?"
"No, I didn't stop at those stores."

This reminds me of when I came into Canada and the guy said in his French inflected English
"Do you have any guns, knives, pepper spray, ammunition, or weapons of any kind."
and the way he said it made me say, "Uh, should I have any?"

it was like he was asking if I were prepared to go to Labrador City. I felt as though I was underpowered. The wolves might be more violent than I thought.

Anyway, I stopped off in Littleton for a drink at a main street bar called Billingleys, or something like that, under a hotel, and watched the Angles beat the Yanks in extra innings. The Yanks are the team of destiny in case anyone was wondering. Bet the house on them. I give it my five star pick of the week. The yanks win the world series. then I watched football and read some rock trivia book and listened to three women get drunk on wine. They were talking to chemical engineers (so they said) and I was the only one in costume so I failed to get one back to the van for a tour.

anyway, the cops basically followed my hippie van all around Littleton until I left and drove and I believe I saw a red fox or wolf running across the road and I almost hit it so I decided to stop and pulled into the nearest stop. the next morning I knew I was in the middle of franconia notch.
but where is the old man in the mountain, a landmark I knew from when I was a lad. I took a walk and found a plaque describing the demise of the old man in the mountain. IT collapsed and went from this...
to this...

Actually, I can see a different profile in this new formation. call me crazy but it looks like one of those Easter Island people. I'll get a photo editor and outline it one day but the forehead is the curved part at the top of the cliff. The eye is the part that seems to be jutting out in the direction of the viewer. the nose looks to be where the old forehead used to be. and the mouth is closed. the most prominent feature is the left cheek. there is even an ear. does anyone else see it?
here's the outline that I see. Maybe it is a stretch but you gotta work with what you got.

anyway, my point is that the old man in the mountain as it used to be will be my first stained glass project. I saw some stained glass pieces in littleton and I like it. I think I've got the skills for it and I want to go modern with it. wierd stuff. like my van. in stained glass. why not?

So The man in the van is back on sacred american soil again and here is a picture of the van at Fort Stark, that old fort in New Castle that protected the harbor and river mouth.

Yes, the man in the van is always running against the wind but he has his hat on and is going to keep moving. he can walk on water along with Jesus...

golden larches

this is the van with my favorite tree, the golden larch. the only deciduous conifer (the dawn redwood might also qualify). the needles all turn golden yellow and fall off. I fondly remember this tree from an expedition in British Colombia. I awoke in the back of a truck in southern B.C. We were bombing toward Washington. I was tired and my foot ached. my back ached. I had torn all the tendons in my groin (bicycling from N.H. to Wyoming) but I was alive and I saw these trees, the golden larch. giant trees with golden needles raining across the highway like shining tears. The trees up there were enormous, unlike these small examples in Northern Quebec.

here is a picture of my distant relative or at least a guy who sort of looks like me (when I was young) Guillame Couillard. Old Will, as we used to call him back in 1630. 1612-1663.

in fact, it is Will who taught me that far away, mysterious look used by both of us. look at that hair. check your forked tongues ye who mark me as a hippie. Will was a man of great stature and elegance. long hair has simply gone out of men's fashion, but it was not always so. give me a goat's hide vest and a ox pulled plow and some nice knee high boots and I am a pioneer.

notice the resemblance? I wonder if the bull didn't jump the fence somewhere in the Bleacher family line. If Mr. Couillard didn't pull some fancy bedwork with a Bleacher lass somewhere along the line? Look at the eyes.

I mean, really...I know who I'm going to be for halloween...

this is a statue in Quebec. Will was one of the pioneers, after the vikings to settle on the north side of the st. lawrence. this guy had to do it all with the plow and the musket. you watch, there will be a statue like this for me one day in front of the adult book store by the traffic circle. "Oggy Bleacher 1971-2033 Masurbatus En Excelsior" A box of foot fetish magazines at my feet. Maybe some kleenex and water based lube. I hope the sculptor puts me in some better fashion than my Thar She Blows tshirt from Yokens R.I.P.
In fact, if there are any sculptors out there I'll totally commission you to sculpt that statue. I'll pay to have it bronzed and we can get Peter's Palace to give us a spot to put it. How hilarious! Portsmouth's answer to Quebec City's Guillame Couillard.

moving on,

you all know what this is. the fabled fuel cap that mr. lachance found for me and that brought me into his family and into the loving arms of Jesus Christ our lord and savior. Amen. Is it not a perfect fit? The other one had no character. This one looks like it came off an army jeep. Merci Beaucoup, Gislain.

I recall saying to the minister, "You mean to tell me that with eternal salvation on the line God decided to have me lose my fuel cap and stop at a junk yard."
"Yes, my child."
"Well, that seems totally haphazard. I mean. He couldn't come up with something better than that? That is his great plan? A fuel cap?"
"It is mysterious."
"Mysterious? It's daft. I mean, I found my copy of The Odyssey while helping clean out a garage with my buddy Jon. And the only reason that happened is because a guy bailed on me at the last second who was going to pay my way to Dallas."
"I don't see your point."
"Neither do I. It is all completely random. There is no grand design. I mean, a fuel cap?"

the LaChance family, all 8 of them, was watching as I waved my arms. I felt totally outnumbered. 9 evangelical christians trying to convert me and save my soul. I don't want to be difficult but I don't want to lie just to get them to stop. It's like when you feel up your girlfriend and she just rolls over with her ass to you. No complaint but nothing on the return. It's like "Get it over with." and you stick it in her and imagine she loves you. in the morning you don't even talk about it.
I couldn't just say I was in bed with Jesus to make them happy. I mean, I really believe it was a completely random event that brought us together and since most of the country is christian then it was just good odds that they would try to convert me.
alright, maybe it isn't like date raping your girlfriend.

Grand Jardins State park...a short hike in the frigid air. hypothermia was almost instant.

that silver river is the st. lawrence river in the distance

permafrost in odd tendril-like tentacles of ice

at the border they asked me why I had so many tools. I told them some absurd thing like, "I work on motorcycles." but here is the real reason why I have tools. Not only did the radiator start to leak from the top seam but the drive belt started to squeak and then became loose. So I had a cold and beautiful garage for a moment while I got under there and tightened it up, a process that involves loosening the alternator tension bolts and using a long socket extension as a lever and while pushing the alternator to the left, tightening the bolt down. lost all feeling in my fingers during this procedure. but it worked.
This is also the point at which I took a long look at a map and calculated that I had 600 miles left to Labrador City. Then 600 miles quebec city. The temperature had not risen above 22 degrees F since I had left Wellsley, mass. (The van, you recall, has no heat and the multiple holes in the floor cause a draft at least of -10 degree wind chill. my plan of taking the engine cover off the was insane as more cold air came in than heat.)A moose had slobbered on one of the windows. the radiator was leaking and a tire was losing chunks of tread. You can see where this is going.

I took a long nap, ate the remainder of my blueberry pie, ate some cheese, an apple, some granola, heated some water for some oatmeal, drank some milk, took another nap, got the mexican foot fetish mag out and browsed for a while, read some of the odyssey and some Corinthians and decided from here on this would be work. Remember, I am retired and work is simply out of the question...even when the arctic wolf is concerned.
I decided to drive back to the highway and head south.
IT is what Guillame Couillard would have done in 1640 had he owned a boat that could get him back to France in two days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Loup means Wolf in French. IT's pronounced "Loou"

That is the word for Wolf in French. I learned that at Grand Jardin Provincial Park and Wildlife Reserve. The lady ranger told me that as she also told me that gathering wood for a fire, even if that fire may save my life, was prohibited. I put the wood I was carrying back into the woods, kind of like A Kurt Vonnegut scenario where guns are disassembled and the metal unrefined and then buried...
anyway, I left the week of what is known as Wolf Awareness Week. Or Wolf Observation Week.
Here are some facts to digest in light of this important date.

Red Wolf or Canis rufus or Loup Rouge

The red wolf is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the gray wolf. It is gray-black, with a reddish cast that gives it the color for which it is named.

Go Wild!
Help save the world’s only red wolves from illegal killing, road deaths and habitat loss by Adopting a Red Wolf today!

Height: About 26 inches at shoulders
Length: 4.5-5.5 feet long (including the tail)
Weight: 50-80 lbs
Lifespan: 6-7 years in the wild; up to 15 years in captivity


The red wolf’s diet consists primarily of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. Also known to eat insects, berries and occasionally deer.


Almost hunted to the brink of extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rounded up fewer than 20 pure red wolves to be bred in captivity in 1980. As of 2007, approximately 207 captive red wolves reside at 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States. Thanks to these programs, more than 100 red wolves currently live in the wild.

100 wolves left in the wild? That's not many.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

inside the walled city

why they allowed me in these walls I will never know. they built them to keep monsters like me out.

but I have a bit of time to describe the basics surrounding my adoption to the Lachance family.
you see, I got lost. maybe you will be facetious and say I am always lost but this time I was only sort of lost. I was going in the right direction (east and north) but on the wrong road. then I got gas. the next time I got gas in a town called Tetford Mines (coal mines perhaps) I went to unlock the cap and it wasn't there. Ah, I was so cold the last time I got gas that I ran back to get in the cab and well, I never put the cap back on. Now, I did not like my last cap for simple reason that it was a mess and the gasket was broken and because I had to unlock it as though some one were going to siphon gas out of my tank.
so I went to a few "pieces du auto" stores and got no love. when you say "1969" when the guy asks the year they usually stop typing and shake their head. "1969??" yes.
no luck even though the one I lost was a new one. the original long gone.
so I tried the ford dealership (let me tell you finding the dealership with only french guides was a treat.) no love there. no love at the next auto parts store. It is snowing inside my gas tank. do I tempt fate and put a rag over it? No. I gotta find a cap...even though I don't know the word for fuel cap. the last parts place wanted to order me a fuel tank at the cost of $1000.
I pass a decrepit junk yard. Garage LaChance. german shepards barking. broken water coolers. overturned cars. windshields on the ground. in short, the kind of place I love.
I show the man what I need. He is fast and covered in grease. He runs to a bit that is towering over some old tires. the dog is barking at my heels. viscious barks, frothing.
The man mimes that it won't bark. he only speaks french. this is the sign of a good man. He gets like 5 caps and takes them all down. puts on one. two. then the third one is such a perfect fit in both size and color that it could be the original cap. beautiful. low profile. I will take a picture of it.
then he says, through his son Patrick, "Do you Believe God?"
"I believe people believe in god."
You will eat with us. yes?
I have 4 daughters. yes?

This is like a movie set in the 13th century

ok. good. they are big breasted? I hope. I will buy the youngest and prettiest.

good. a deal then. wine? as the canonballs fall on our walled city. we discuss wedding plans.

so I go. we eat chicken torn from the bone. I play the piano and guitar and demonstrate how to play Pachabel's Canon in D on both as a duet so patrick and the pretty isabelle can play together. great mounds of wood are outside. canned strawberries. bread. tea. it is freezing as we discuss god. they pray for me. I am a son of Jesus.

Gotta go now. more later. this is fun.

quebec city

the border guards must still be scratching their heads...a guy drives all the way from the number one exporter of cheap drugs (mexico) to the opposite corner of Canada and all he is bringing is a mexican foot fetish magazine? That defies all logic. Pierre, go ask him what he is doing here again.

"He says he is going to run with the arctic wolf."
"The wolf. HE wants to run with the wolves."
"And he carries no drugs?"
search the vehicle again.
so they dig and dig.
the ultimate came when they found my spare vehicle key. they really had to dig for that key. but it was inside the car. Pierre showed it to me.
"What is this?"
he wants me to freak out. they had found the key that unlocks the drug stash. no.
"That is my ignition key. it is an extra in case I lose the other."
"But, pardon me for asking, it is inside the vehicle. why?"
I shrugged.
"Because the windows are easily opened. If I lose the key I can get into the van but then I find the key and I can start it."
Pierre blinked so I added with a smile. "But that's just between me and you. Our little secret." I wink.
He doesn't know what to do. The absurdity defies his border guard mentality. it isn't possible that there are people like me out there who are so outside the law that they don't even break it. He is probably praying that the dog will find drugs. they might even let me go just because I will fit some classification. but as it is he returns the key to my door. no drugs. some mexican porn. some granola. a moldy cucumber. dancing with wolves. my insane 1977 polyester grandpa pants. the beard. we should kill him now.
but they are nice.
"you will like Labrador. No I have never been there. no one goes to labrador unless they are in the military and training for arctic warfare."

Now, in part two I will describe how I was adopted by a junk yard owner named Monsiour Lachance and brought to see the light of God and eating dinner with his 4 daughters and 2 sons. we read Corinthians and some of Acts II. in french. it was quite an experience. I read Mathew. The part that stands out is when they got a minister on the phone who asked me where I was going when I died and I said "I don't know where I'm going when I wake up."
he didn't know what to say so I added,

"Have you read the Illiad and the Odyssey? Because there is this god named Athena and Zeus. And they take the form of people. Are you Athena in the form of a christian minister? Come on. Be honest."
that killed the conversation.

all for now.
quebec city is special.
here's a pic from Franconia notch.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beatle Boots

“I’ve never been to Spain. But I kind of like the music.”
That’s how my night, a random night in early October, ended and began: Singing at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. The open mic host saw me carrying a guitar and asked, “You wanna go on after this guy?”
“Where’s the Jazz band?”
“They all gone. You just play what you want.”
“No drummer?”
He looked like this was crazy.
“Not unless you brought one.”
I’d thought a band showed up, a drummer and maybe a bass player, but that was not the way this one went down. This was an all solo show.
“So you wanna go on?”

I’ve never been to England, but I kind of like the Beatles.”

Half of this is true. I’ve been to England. And I like the Beatles. In fact, I was beating my brand new vintage Beatles boots on the wooden floor of the Press Room. Keeping time because there is no rhythm section at this open mic. My boots were almost possessed. I seldom stomp my feet in time because in my intermediate orchestra classes and beginning strings classes Dr. Eastman would say, “If you want to tap your foot then take the Big Band Jazz class.”
They don’t let in violinists to the big band class so I stopped tapping my foot to keep time during a Mozart Minuet. That’s the conductor’s job, anyway.

But these Beatles boots, some real piece of work someone put together in 1960 or 1970 with zipper sides and an inch heel. You feel like Ringo Starr in these boots, like Keith Richards. One look at them and a pretty girl in a tight sweater says, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
And you say, “Yes. Fuck yes.”

And the boots were tapping as I sang “Never Been To Spain” by Three Dog Night or Hoyt Axton depending on whom you ask. And I’ve song that song perhaps a hundred times in La Paz and my bedroom, so many times that I almost remembered the entire three verses. One starts with Spain. The next starts with England. Then the last one is I’ve never been to Heaven. I do it like I remember it with a slow first verse and then a medium second verse and the final verse is an all out redemption shout.

“…But I’ve been to Oklahoma.”

As though that’s a good substitute for salvation’s garden. I’ve been to Oklahoma, though not recently, but once in a while I go through and this song is on my mind. Actually, I was born in New Mexico, not Arizona, but what does it matter?

Now, I had missed the jazz jam because I was in the middle of nowhere in Nottingham discussing the mental and physical health of the nimble fingered Benny Hawkmaster, the piano man of the north, the man who would be king but found himself only hours earlier at the end of his rope, literally hanging from the neck by a badly tied noose and a pine limb. I thought I would intervene with a bottle of whiskey but it turned out that Benny was passed out. A young woman was talking to me through a screen door as a dog watched us from her legs and a rooster crowed in the darkness of the Nottingham forest.

“He sounded worse than normal.” I said, choosing my words carefully.
“I…I can’t even tell you how upset I am.” Responded the bird.
I couldn’t tell she was upset so she was one of those level-headed codependent “enablers” that career drunks like Benny attract. Probably compensating for a drunken father or ex husband or maybe her own troubles with the sauce.

“What the hell are you doing out here in…?” I asked.
“…the middle of nowhere? I don’t know.”

But I knew. The old story of living downtown because it is close to everything turns out to be code for living over a bar that has a permanent tab for you and your ass wears away a groove in the plastic lined seats and you have played digital darts so many times that you can actually recognize which areas of the board respond to the dart and which are broken. Someone asks for a Bruce Springsteen song, “Badlands” for instance and you already know the digits. “B-55” you shout.
That’s how it starts and Nottingham is where it ends…with a rooster, a broken motorcycle, a rusty truck, piles of wood from a decaying shed, a lot of lies you sweep under a rug. An old mailbox shaped like a barn. Loads of compromising, as Glen Campbell predicted. On Saturday you wake up to the sound of the Epping Speedway. Benny calls it the “redneck roulette.”
“They gave us tickets,” said Benny, slurring his words, avoiding my questions as to his address. “But I don’t want to go to a fucking car race.”
“Right. So what road do you live on? What town?”
”Oggy. Oggy. Why are you such an asshole? I hate you. I hate you. No. Really I love you. But I hate you.”
I laugh to deceive him. “But where do you live?”
“I’m sick. The tree broke and I hit my chin.”
“Where is the tree? You tried to hang yourself on a maple tree?”
“A pine tree.” There is venom in his voice like I'd called his mother a whore. “A PINE tree you fucking....”
I pause as his words become unintelligible.
“Benny, this is bullshit. You are holding all the cards and I don’t like it. You got me at a disadvantage.”
“All of you. You team up on me. I want to kill you all. You know what, Oggy? I will…”
Then the call got disconnected.
I had to look at the phone to make sure it had gone back to default setting. No more Ben. I sighed. The Jazz Jam started in a few hours. There is always an excuse not to do anything productive with your life. Believe me that I have found every excuse in the book. They follow me around. Suicidal friends. Lunatic artists. hateful girlfriends, sick dogs, A period of time where I studied microelectronics “for the fun of it”. Not to mention gainful employment, the worst time-killer of them all. Only the guitar has born fruit after a decade plus of agony and stolen moments when I was supposed to be giving my girlfriend a back massage or whatever. And my one outlet for this hobby is at open mic nights here and there across the country and in Mexico. Now, as the moment of my first gig in Portsmouth grew near I had a decision to make: Intervene with Benny or go to the Press Room without delay.
“He’s drunk? Then forget it,” said my father.
“Fuck him,” said my brother.
“But he’s my friend. I was trying to get in touch with him,” I said.
“You can’t help him. YOU CAN’T HELP HIM.” Said someone.
I lay my fork down. “I wanted to hang out with him and now that he’s trying to kill himself you think I should ignore him? Why? So I can go to an open mic night and get discovered? That makes no sense. You guys are assholes. I don't like you as people, let alone as family.”
“Do what you want,“ said my brother, cocking the hammer, “But if you go and see him then you are a cunt.”
I looked around as my father and brother stuffed their mouths full of meat and beans. It was raining outside.
My father: “I like this place because you can order your food and sit down and not get bothered.”
“Yeah. It’s alright.” Said Brooklyn stuffing his face, a fork full of greasy food falling on his lap, “But sometimes too much is too much.”
This is my family. This is how they deal with a crisis.
"The pork chops are good," says someone.

I started my set with “Handbags and Gladrags” a tune Rod Stewart covered that was originally written in the ‘60s by a Vegas performer whose name I can’t remember. For some reason, the song, a kind of lullaby from a father to a daughter, speaks to me.

“Have you ever seen a blind man cross the road, trying to get the other side? Have you ever seen a young girl growing old, trying to make herself a bride?”

There are about 5 chords to the entire song. If I can remember the first line of every verse then I can sing the song without a problem. I even have the lyrics on a chair in front of the stool I am sitting on. Unfortunately I am going deaf in my left ear and can only hear a distant echo of what I sound like. It is a little weird. I can hardly hear the guitar. A girl, a pretty singer who caught my eye earlier and who looks like the actress Ellen Page, is singing the words to this obscure song that I am singing. Then she kisses her boyfriend, who also knows the words and I am filled with hateful jealousy. It is a moment they are sharing together; inspired by this bittersweet song I am singing, but as remote from me as Benny and his pine tree performance.

“So what becomes of you my love? When they have finally stripped you of… the handbags and the gladrags that your poor old grandpa had to sweat to buy you.”

What indeed?
The song could use a rhythm section to give me a chance to play a solo of some kind. With six chord changes it is a little hard to maintain the harmonic progression over my normally meandering solo leads. In fact, the original recordings are all done with a big orchestra, Rod Stewart in front of like twenty musicians. I think Coldplay covered it with a dozen musicians. I haven’t heard it as a solo but it's a good acoustic tune. Whenever I play it someone will marvel that I know that song, a rarity in the eyes of many. But I play it like I wrote it and emphasize any part of it that drips nostalgia.

“Once I was a young man and I thought, all I had to do is smile.”

At this point in my life- not an old man, not a young man- I can sing this line with some credibility though it isn’t completely true. I always knew that my smile would get me nowhere. I smile as I sing this because whatever it means, the important part is “once I was a young man…” That’s all I need to say because to a young person the rest is irrelevant and to an old person the rest is redundant. I think that’s what brings out a smile in me as I sing it. I know that this is a cliché that one has to earn to sing, and I can sing it now as a bearded man with grey on his chin, whose testicles are shriven. If I were to say this to a youngster then I would be intolerable. There would be no irony, no self-awareness in it. I really would be an old fart telling kids what I thought about my useless life…passing my wisdom onto them. It’s laughable when the kids sit at their tables drinking wine or beer and living their life, almost nothing to reminisce on. That’s the difference. There is living and then there is reminiscence. I can sing this song of nostalgia because I have earned it and the kids can relate to my being nostalgia, but that’s as close as we can get. There is a gigantic gulf of years and experience between us on the worn floor of the press room. I could just stop singing and say, “Fuck all of you. My friend is killing himself right now and I’m leaving.” That would create a bit of a stir, but the gulf would still be there. So I keep singing.

“Sing a song of sixpence for your sake and drink a bottle full of rye.”

That’s what Benny sounded like he had been drinking when he called me.

“Is Oggy there? This is Ben.”

I didn’t recognize the number or the voice. This could be, I assumed, a random caller for an ad I placed on Craigslist for nude modeling. I didn’t know.

“What’s up?”

“It’s so good to hear your voice.”

I paused. Did I know a Ben? The voice continued rambling as I squinted at a squirrel climbing a tree.

“I went to the woods…two road diverged in a forest…there was a rope and a tree…I broke my chin cause the noose was loose. Rin Tin Tin.”

Was this a crank call? The fucker. Then it dawned on me, a voice from the past. Ben. Ben Hawkmaster. Wait.

“I know you!” I shouted, ecstatic. “I know who you are!” I pointed at the phone.

Ben laughed because this was the last thing he expected to hear. I then remembered that I had put two carrier pigeons out with messages to Ben, whose whereabouts were unknown to me. He had responded within hours…

“What was that about the rope?”

“This isn’t a cry for help. Let’s get that straight. I am not asking for help,” Benny slurred.

“But…a rope and a tree? A noose?”

“I followed my rooster into the forest and he led me to the tree and I was gonna hang myself.”

“Whoa! Slow down. Did you say hang yourself? You mean, kill yourself?”

My father asked, “Are you ready?” We were going to a restaurant. I held a finger up.

“But the rope,” Benny continued, “I tied a slip knot and it slipped up the rope and onto the limb and I was left hanging there with one foot on the ground and my ass crack showing ‘cause my trousers fell down.”

“Christ, Benny. This is some fucking how do you do.”

As soon as my tone of voice changed he considered me a traitor and enemy.

“Never mind. Forget it. Go do what you gotta do. Fuck you.”

“Let’s go, moron.” Said my brother to me. “We gotta eat.”

Urgently, I held up a finger then my whole hand, the line was getting full of static.

“But wait. Aren’t you..?"

I heard a dead silence on the other end. My father walked out the door. My brother impatiently gave me the finger.

I called the number back. A part of me, the selfish ten-year old part that dominates and destroys all my relationships, was thinking, “What about the food? Whatever you do, don’t do anything that might end up with you missing out on a taco. And the Jazz Jam. Remember?”

I was almost relieved that no one picked up Ben’s phone. I was absolved of responsibility.
“I’m coming.” I called out and closed the door.

The second song I played was Wagon Wheel, by Old Crow Medicine Show. Easy chord changes, like Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.

“Headed down south to the land of the pines, thumbing my way down to North Caroline.”

This is another song I can relate to on different levels; even more touching because I learned it in Mexico at a small RV park from a nice artistic couple from Oregon who modeled a relationship that I didn’t know could exist. The wife loved her daughter and showed me pictures, hoping I would approve or something but I was obsessed with a Mexican girl who would eventually tear my heart apart. The couple were musicians and dancers and adult, function, no poisonous stares, no passive aggressive comments, no games. I marveled at their conversations that were, for lack of all the words I learned growing up, mature. It was a rarity, a functional relationship. And they loved me, adopted me, even ignored the crush I developed on the woman, and taught me this song: Wagon Wheel.

“Rock me mama like a wagon wheel. Rock me mama any way you feel. Hey hey mama rock me.”

Some or all of it was written by Bob Dylan, so the legend goes, but the group Old Crow Medicine Show performs it with an old time country and bluegrass attitude.

“Those east coast winters keep a getting me down, lost my money playing poker had to up and leave town. But I ain’t heading back there living that old life no more.”

This part I sing with conviction, like losing all my money in a cold part of the country is beneath me… or at least not worth repeating. The second chorus always seems easier to sing than the first, like at this point singing “Rock me Mama” sounds more like a plea than an order, a plea for some relief from my mistakes. Rock me any way you feel, because I have no idea what I’m doing.

At the table in the Mexican restaurant I mentally remove my brother and father from the “People to call when suicidal” list. I don’t want Benny to call back, but now that I know he has my number I figure it is just a matter of time. I am selfish and order something with cheese.

“So are you going to grad school or not?” my brother asks.

“Grad school? What are you babbling about? I’m going to Baffin Island. I'm going to save the wolf.”

"No, you're not," says my father and I want to punch him in the mouth. My brother ignores him.

“All right. And after that?”

“Who are you to question my life? Who are any of you? I’m living. I’m eating. I have a life and you insult it.”

“This is a life? You call this a life.”

Brooklyn’s tone drips condescension, like he’s talking to a legless man who wants to learn kickboxing. My father laughs.

"You two are loathsome people, " I say.

“Wait a minute," says my dad. "His van, I mean his house, is still rolling. He’s got fuel in his camp stove. What’s the matter? What are you saying? Are you saying that Oggy isn’t successful?”

Everyone laughs, even the family at the table next to us, but I look with disgust at my taco. Ten or twenty seconds was all it took to turn my life into one big failure…a joke…a topic of mockery. I wouldn’t treat my worst enemy like this and they do so without even putting their forks down. It’s not even a conversation, it’s a diversion, it’s small talk.

“I hope everyone is having a good time. I hope this is a good old time for you.” I say this with practiced technique, my voice with a party tone and my eyes like a funeral director.

“Huh? What?”

They drive daggers into my life and then have to be reminded they were doing it. What a bunch of unforgivable snakes. I could start all over with the family at the table next to me and do no worse. My taco tastes like dust.

“Walkin’ down south out of Roanoke, caught a trucker out of Phillie had a nice long toke.”

I’ve hitchhiked out of Roanoke, Virginia. And although contract and law strictly prohibit driving big rigs stoned, I’ve ridden shotgun with some high drivers. Any stoners in the crowd inevitably smile or nod in recognition. We like to hear songs about things we’ve done or approve of. It’s like a song we would have written. Wagon Wheel is my song, a road holler to a girlfriend on down the line. If the women in our lives only knew the trouble we went through they wouldn’t give us so much shit when we did eventually arrive a little late or with the wrong type of pasta…

“If I die in Raleigh at least I will die free.”

Isn’t that what it means to live in the ‘live free or die’ state? Then Benny calls back.

“Benny, dude, we’ve got so much to talk about. I want to hear everything.”

“You and everyone else,” says Benny. “You take it and use it against me. It’s ammunition.”

This is why Benny has removed his humorous blog that I had followed for a few weeks. The blog was basically a diary of his decline from functioning alcoholic to recovering alcoholic to active alcoholic to unrepentant drunk. The next step - belligerent, suicidal menace - is normally not recorded and when I saw his blog vanish from cyberspace I knew he had crossed the line.

“I completely identify with that.” I said. “These motherfuckers. Our parents. Our fake phony friends. They are all cunts. They use our words against us. FUCK THOSE DECEIVING CUNTS!”

For the first time my brother actually took an interest in my conversation by saying, “Dude, use your inside voice.”

I followed his eyes to the table next to us where three pre-teen kids were staring at me over their plates of macaroni. They’re mother is shaking her head. This was Exhibit A in why I should live on the beach in Mexico. I opened my mouth to apologize but the horrified look in their eyes shut me up. Although it was rude to eat and run, under the circumstances I decided it was appropriate, so I excused myself from the table and walked outside.

“Benny, are you there?”

I heard a groan from the other end of the line.

“Benny, this phone system is the worst. I had better reception on the beach in Mexico. That’s where I belong.”

“You don’t care, Oggy. You don’t care about anyone but yourself. Where are you? You were supposed to be here by now.”

“I can’t really argue with that first part. I am selfish. Live with it. Now tell me your address.”

Which brings me to the last song of my set, a song all about me and where I’ve been and what my observations are. While Handbags and Gladrags is a plea to a young and careless daughter to be less like her flighty father, Never Been To Spain is all about me. I am selfish and that’s how it is. The first word of the song is about me.

I introduce the song with an explanation of where I have been in the last year.

“Just got back from Mexico,” I say as I noodle around with a C# minor pentatonic scale. “Drove over here in my 1969 Ford Econoline Van. Through Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, St. Louis, Niagara Falls, Boston. I’ve been a lot of places…yes I have…but one place I’ve never been…I’ve never been to Spain. But I kind of like the music.”

“The ladies are insane there. And they sure know how to use it.”

It’s a little hypocritical to make observations about the women in Spain despite never having been there. I mean, what am I implying with these details

“They don’t abuse it. Never gonna lose it. I can’t refuse it.”

I can’t refuse it? What can’t I refuse? And when was it offered to me?

One could argue that the point of the song is that odd contrast of never visiting a place but still making comments on the music and women there. It’s like…I don’t even have to go to these place because I know the next best thing.

My brother and father exit the restaurant and I follow them. Kenny finally says his address. Something something a lake road, Nottingham. I’ve never been to Nottingham. I’ll get the map off the Internet later.

“Look, I’m coming out there with booze. What do you want to drink? Benny? Benny?”

We’ve been cut off again. I get in the car.

“So who was that?”

A buddy. Apparently he’s trying to kill himself.


“Who is it?”

“The kid who played piano at Brett’s funeral. Remember.”

“Oh yeah. Talented kid. So who wants ice cream?”

Later, I arrive at the chicken coop that Benny calls home and a barking dog and a girl meet me at the door. We talk, each eyeing the other up. I'm not invited in. She is wondering if I am a thief or maybe a drunk or meth head looking to take advantage of the situation. I am wondering if she is the cause of all his problems by being A) A bitch; B) A sexy drunk; C) A bitchy sexy drunk or D) None of the above but still a problem.

I leave with no conclusion except that I sense a major strain on their relationship that I’ll never fix and that Benny is alive. I look at my watch and see that there is just enough time to make it to the Jazz jam. I fly through Durham and Newington and walk into The Press Room only to find the Jazz band leaving and a folk singer, the open mic host, playing ragtime instrumentals.

After the final verse of Never Been to Spain I noodled for far too long with the C# minor pentatonic. I figured that I’ve been playing with that scale for so long that I should not care what comes out. I just naturally make something sound ok. It’s no Eric Clapton performance but it’s obvious I’m familiar with the guitar. It’s also obvious that I’m improvising. No one claps after the solo and after I sing the final verse a last time a bit slower I slap the guitar strings and stand up. A few people clap. I’m moving to the door. I nod to the no one in particular, not making eye contact with anyone. I was done and another artist was taking my place with an autoharp and two guitars. I packed my guitar up and even left a bit of beer in my glass as though to send a message that I was only drinking it because I thought it was the least poisonous thing on the menu. I made my way for the door thinking, in my ignorance, that my night was over and I could sleep. Outside I moved from the press room toward my van.

“Are you the guitarist?” asked a baby-faced man in torn clothes.
“I’m A guitarist.”

“Good because you are going teach me to play guitar. I’m a tattoo artist. Do you want a tattoo?”

Who doesn’t want a tattoo? He looked at me and said, “I make priceless art. Priceless. And I just had my guitars stolen from me and I quit my job as a chef. Now I am making custom one of a kind clothes and sell them for thousands of dollars. Look. I made this tonight with a pair of scissors and it’s priceless. I’d sell this for three hundred dollars.”

As he manically talked he modeled his torn flannel shirt. He had spray painted something on the fabric.

Do you want to work here or in my car? I don’t have a house. I’m traveling the country with MOE. Do you know MOE? It’s a movement. You’re coming to Florida with me and we’re going to go shark fishing. Tonight! It’s a full moon.

The moon was full the previous night but I didn’t correct him. I wasn’t tired.

“My name is Oggy. I live in a van. I’m going to Newfoundland to record the habits of Arctic wolves.”

The guy didn’t hesitate.

“That’s fantastic. But first you have to teach me to play a song.”

“Ok. Have you ever been to Spain?”

And before he answered he looked down and said. ”Those are awesome boots.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

ghosts of aldrich avenue

found myself in front of your house on aldrich
I waved to your shadow in the attic
slept on your old lawn
covered with leaves
trees fallen in the corner
near an old catcher's mitt
torn leather
a deflated football
a basketball hoop with no net
looking for familiar faces across the street
I tried to climb a tree but hurt my shoulder
I thought I heard a voice singing...
" bathing suit...chew a little juicyfruit"
then I was crying because there was no voice
and no home
no kathleen
no meg
no dan
I tried the door and the man there (not Jack, possibly Pakistani) told me to go away
so I walked downtown and the police followed me with angry eyes
near the prescott park marina I dropped into the ocean
the current took me past the fort, past Maine
past burnt orange horizon, green sadness
as I sank beneath the waves I could see a smoke trail from Web's point
the water is warm
I walk on the bottom of the ocean
the clams between my toes again
cool mud


At the speakeasy in St. Louis...playing along to The Beatles. I stopped and sort of shrugged my shoulders like "I can't play along with The Beatles." A man sitting at the bar said, "Be a fucking musician." and his tone made me sit back down and bash out anything I could think of until the kids started to applaud.

With legs like this I just might start my foot fetish. better late than never. thanks Kelly and thanks to the Lemp Mansion for not kicking us out...

I can explain everything...

my new job running the tractor at the applecrest farm in Hampton Falls. You can see the van in the back.

see you later Kelly...

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.