Thursday, December 31, 2009

just in case you thought I was kidding

here's some pics of the stuff in the 13 days of christmas song.


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Just a reminder...

we only have two days left to save the arctic wolf from being destroyed by Hannah Montana and the iPhone. Please do what you can to stop those two monsters from destroying everything. My life is my protest to their evil. And it was (neg)18 degrees today. That's a long walk to the unemployment agency! What did you do to topple Walmart? as Sinead O'Connor said, "Fight the real enemy."

storytime and a surprise...



I honestly didn't expect the phone call. No one ever calls me except to fire me. But the lesson is that when you set out to entertain then the world will always give you opportunities. I also find it funny that Homer slowly backs away from me. The "Brooks" reference is to Shawshank Redemption...which is also funny because if I got Brooks's job I'd get canned in a week.

Storytime with Turtle

Me and Homer hard at work.

Not much story behind this pic. That's me and my story turtle. I want to call him Homer. Homer, the story turtle. Like a tribute to the greatest storyteller ever, Homer. Get it?
If I can explain the story to him then the story works. If I can't get my point across to a stuffed turtle then I'm doing something wrong. I credit Hardworking junkman mcgee out in hippie-ville for keeping me focused on the simple things. The story turtle is my muse.

A bleaker writing den has never been witnessed...the bulb burned out so I took one from my three bulb lamp and now use that part as a towel rack.

William T. Vollmann

I’m going to take a break from talking to the turtle to tell you about the only author worth a shit. It’s not Steinbeck, Hem., or even Updike. No. The author everyone ought to look out for is William T. Vollmann. I don’t know why he isn’t in book clubs. David Balducci? What? Are you kidding? Harry Potter? Vampires? Vollmann is the only guy worth reading.
He’s got another more recent book but since I have absolutely no money I don’t own it. The last one I read was Europe Central. Now, that took me about three months to read. Actually, I only took two books to Mexico. Europe Central and George Orwell’s essay collection. I finished Europe Central like 6 months after getting there. It was a grind. In fact, it played a small role in my emotional collapse because I was suddenly a character in the story. Dimitri Shostakovich was in love with a translator named Elena. Elena was in love with a filmmaker who was always on the western front. Elena’s favorite word was creepy. I was living in a group of apartments next to a British guy who would later die (and who fought in the war the filmmaker had filmed.) a Vietnam War veteran/poet who lived without electricity in a closet. A guy my age who smoked so much pot that he was chiefly responsible for the drug war in Sinaloa. Don was in there too, and his hooker-a-night habit I’ve already discussed elsewhere. And me…playing violin and guitar at café Molina and chasing after my own Elena, a multi-linguist Scarlett O’hara with dark eyes and Hollywood emotions.
So, reading about the fantastic details of Russian/German relationships in 1940 put me over the edge. It had nothing to do with the cheap rum.
I had too many white Russians to drink one night and yelled, “We can never forgive the dead!” at Elena.
She said, “Wha’ doo yoo kno? Yoo chil’. Jus when I t’ink I understan’ yoo, I see how you really t’ink.”
“Listen,” I said very slowly, “Hannah Montana is out there. Right now. And she’s devouring the world. She is the anti-christ. And this…” I jabbed Europe Central. “This can destroy her.”
I think Elena started crying somewhere right around then. She shook her head and wiped her eyes. I got in her face.
“Look at you. You’re acting so innocent. Are those tears real? Mrs. Crocodile?”
Finally, she took control again and wiped her tears away and said, “Ok. Wha’ shood I ma’e for loonch.”
“Lunch?” I said. “I’ll give you lunch. Hitler burned so many people that the hair…”
It just got worse and worse, like at 5 in the morning with the sun dawning over the gulf of Mexico, gulls cawing, crabs fleeing to their holes. The evening had started out pretty well, too with Elena and her sister and I playing Trivial Pursuit. I taught them absolutely everything about Jackie Robinson and Lou Gerhig. Laughter. It ended in tears and Hitler. Needless to say, I slept alone. Thanks, Vollmann .
Anyway, I gave that book to Elena before I left. I said, it’s not entertaining, but it’s the best writing there is right now. I even printed out a picture of her and her sister and put it in the book, as a gesture. She took the 800 page monster and tossed it aside, shrugging. “Goot. You wan’ too eat?”
Elena cooked some mean fish and rice. I said OK.
“Firs’ wash yoo han’s. They are fuckin’ feeelthy. An youse soap thees time o soo help me…”
I got better gas mileage without that book in the van.
I would not start with Europe Central unless you are a masochist. I never read his first book, something he famously wrote while hiding in a computer factory after it closed and living on snickers bars. He said there was a motion detector and he could not leave the keyboard or move very fast. So he typed all night and slept in the bathroom. But I’ve read almost everything else he’s written. The reason I bring it up is because Europe Central is the model I’m after. It doesn’t really have a point. It’s third person and all over the map, plotwise. I can’t ever explain what it’s about. Hitler is called The Sleepwalker. And there’s an octopus. And a symphony. And a picture that Elena asks to be returned. And a guy who worked at the concentration camps and was the chemist who designed the gas used in the chambers and who later smuggled out proof of what was happening and no one believed him so he tried to intentionally lose cases of the gas to slow down the executions. After the war he was executed for crimes against humanity.
But it’s all written third person and so effortlessly. I don’t know how Vollmann does it. He’s got another book called “The Atlas” which is almost all first person blog type travel writing. Short anecdotes. That model I’ve got no problem with. But the guy went everywhere on the planet. I think when I read that ten or fifteen years ago I thought, “I’ve got my work cut out for me. If I’m a music teacher in a junior high school for five or ten years then I’ll never write like this. It’s one or the other.” And if I never write like that then I’ll never be able to write the Santa Cruz novel and it will become a cancer inside me. Because even though the experiences will never change (since it’s in the past) the skills have to develop to explain it as I understand it. And the skills can only develop with more experiences that I ponder and write about. If I’m a junior high school music teacher then that’s it. That’s where the writing will stop. I’m sure Vollmann read something one day, Crime and Punishment maybe and knew that he was going to have to work hard to write about WWII the way he wanted to write about. Europe Central is an incredible accomplishment and it is merely one of many books he’s written. But the thing about gaining experience is that it leads to completely different things. It’s like, you are going to train to climb mountain A by training on mountain B. But mountain B is damn tough. It kills people. So maybe you should train on mountain C. And in the process of climbing mountain C you meet someone who knows about mountain D, that is harder than mountain A, but you really need to climb mountain E to train to climb mountain D, so you leave mountain C and end up in a completely different place with strangers. But in the back of your mind is mountain A and the sands of time pass. You become an expert at Mountain D. People want to hire you and think you are crazy because you want to climb mountain A. Even you don’t remember why. I think Vollmann is one of the people who stubbornly refused to forget that all this extra training was preparation for a bigger task. He’s probably the fastest good writer alive so he’s got more big novels in him than a normal person, but he’s also broken his pelvis and isn’t going to die of old age so he can only do the projects that mean something. Europe Central takes the shoes back from the pile of castaways outside the ovens and puts them back on the owner’s feet. That means something.
I’d like to write that novel about Santa Cruz, to make everything right again, in a place that was such a disaster. It’s not much different since I’m dealing with forgotten nameless dead people. The world moves on. It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. In fact, Europe Central’s main theme is that Russia and Germany were two sides of the same coin. I don’t really think that way about Santa Cruz but I’m forcing myself to write like that because if I don’t then it won’t be funny. I’ve got idealists, extremists, hippies, republicans, addicts, dope heads, social workers, police, mayors, yoga teachers, revolutionaries, and bread makers. In fact, the title I’m going to use, unless it’s taken, is The Crystal Circus.
What do you think? It’s undeniably a circus. And it’s transparent, and fragile like crystal. I’m not sure.
But how do I stay out of it? That’s the hard part. Because I’ve got to be 100% in it but not offering my over all opinion.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe Vollmann really has transcended the ovens. He did it. He’s a transcendent being. And I’m not because I proved it with Elena.
I think Confederacy of Dunces is a good model because while the hero is Ignatius, the other players are not villains. They are equally hampered by their shortcomings. It’s an unusual story and the writing is so unusual, but all the comic characters are treated with the same ruthlessness. It’s entertaining, which is more than I can say for Europe Central. I’m not convinced the Santa Cruz story has entertainment value. Grapes of Wrath didn’t have one good laugh in it. 500 pages without a joke. I can’t do that. I don’t care if Pa dies in the wagon, at least let one of the kids make a joke. Come on, Steinbeck!
I laughed a few times during Europe Central but that’s only because I was emotional at the time. It’s a brutal book to read. Confederacy of Dunces has a laugh a line. I laugh thinking about some of the lines.
Again, they are all third person masterpieces. And Rabbit Redux. Third person…present tense.
Of all 4 books I still say Europe Central is the best. I love the other three but Europe Central is totally out of the blue. You couldn’t sell that book if you hadn’t already been published. I read that Vollmann had to rewrite his contract because it had literally no audience and the publisher couldn’t afford to publish it unless he subsidized it from his royalties. To do it anyway says something. It’s a vision that’s unjustifiable. He doesn’t condemn anyone. Nothing is solved. But he manages to make dead people immortal. I admire that. If we could one day write a pornography script or pornographic novel together that would pretty much be my dream come true. I'll illustrate it or whatever. Or take pictures and rub his back while he writes.
Now, I’m going to talk to my turtle about Santa Cruz.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another excerpt...

If only my buddy Brad were here to confirm this madness. He stayed at the shelter one night (just to see the deal) and then insisted on renting a room in the Crack hotel near the ocean. (Yes, the Crack hotel was arguably a better place to sleep.)It didn't take long for him to understand why it made no difference. Santa Cruz was overrun with disease. Might as well save money. We all piled into a crappy hotel room and the dogs shit on the floor and someone was being beaten next door. The crack dealers just assumed we were there to get high, but I was actually a raw food vegan who didn't even use salt and pepper because the Bhagavad Gita said stimulants repressed spiritual growth. Crack? I insisted on recycling the aluminum cans that had been used to smoke heroin. My girlfriend's bike got stolen. We didn't drink or do any drugs but we were too insane for them. They kicked us all out into the rain. Brad wasn't like everyone else. He laughed at the whole situation. At one insane point we were both dragging my girlfriend away from the television. Don't ask why. She grabbed it and the whole thing toppled and crashed to the floor. There was debris everywhere. Brad asked her to help clean some of it up and she threw a lamp at him. Anyone else in the world would have blown a fuse but Brad pondered this and said, "I am beginning to see what my father was saying when he told me I would understand things one day. All those times he asked me to clean my room or do chores and I defied his tyranny. Now I see. I was just a miserable selfish asshole." Then he cleaned up the room on his own, whistling, oblivious to me beating on the bathroom door to get my girlfriend to stop trying to cut her wrists.

That was literally the last day I saw him. He had a ticket to Thailand and was taking a bus to S.F. in a few hours. At the station he made me promise to tell him how it all turned out. We were both certain that day would come. No one could have predicted how it would turn out so he wanted to know exactly what happened. every detail. I said, "Brad, I'm so unhappy." and he laughed until I laughed. Life there was so complicated and every day it deteriorated a little. It never maintained a level of awfulness, it always got slightly worse every day so that whatever plans I had from the previous day to improve my situation were obsolete because the situation had deteriorated terribly. Every day the problems compounded and the combination of problems all interrelated so that a previous solution was nullified. He loved hearing my stories and I loved telling him my stories while we ate donuts at the coffee shop. I must've rehearsed this story a thousand times in preparation for the day I got to tell him all about it. I still think I'll get the chance even though that's crazy. "We've much to discuss," he would say. I think I became a storyteller because of the response I got from Brad back in the 4th grade. He was one of the few people who thought my stories were funny and not horrifying, although he also thought they were horrifying. But mostly funny. He didn't think I needed help but he did pay for that hotel room. So this is for you, Brad.

The book has many elements. Ponytail is just one part of that strange saga. here's another...


The River Street Shelter was a shelter in name alone. The green plastic roof of the eating commons kept dry a small area containing several picnic tables. These picnic tables, since it was now dark, had been converted into bunk beds. Adults slept on top of and underneath them. Children and teenagers slept on the benches with cardboard. Near the eastern edge of the covered area stood many wooden cubbyholes filled with old clothes. Rats roamed freely through these stacked boxes, scouring for food, shitting liberally, and taking material for nests which were conveniently located nearby in the ivy overgrowth next to Highway 1. On the opposite side a television played local programs and news to the vacant, insomniac eyes of a group of tweakers and runaways. Water dripped from the green plastic roof onto the top of the television. Since it was taking place in the realm of television this development was considered outside the influence of any person at the River Street Shelter. Many people saw the water dripping into the heat vents on the back of the television but to do something about it would require more energy than they were willing or able to invest. Furthermore, there were a dozen spare televisions nearby. Suffice to say, everyone was content with the status quo.
A row of bus lockers stood outside the fenced area of the shelter. The top of these lockers had been claimed as bed space by several people as they were protected from the rain by a plastic canopy. Two Godot-awaiting men were having a conversation on the top of the bus lockers as the rain dripped over the canopy.
“City don’t care about us. City keep us here.”
“We rats.”
“Dig a hole. Shit in the ground.”
“Nowhere to go. Nothing to eat.”
“Rain wash us all downstream.”
“Then what we do?”
“Time will tell.”
A tweaker named Steve was finishing a crooked line of cystal meth in the bathroom. He could hear every rain drop as it hit the top of the port-o-potty roof. He could even estimate the size and shape of the drop by its reverberations on the plastic. He flexed his biceps and felt his muscles ripple from his back to his chest. The toxic stench of the blue fluid filled reservoir tantalized Steve’s senses to the point where he could taste the mounds of shit and piss. Steve snorted the last of the line and tossed the piece of cardboard into the toilet, disregarding the sign that said “No Trash In Toilet”.
“Motherfucker,” yelled Steve as he kicked the door open. “I’m high!”
He stepped onto the wet chipped wood that blanketed the area and sized up the site. It would take some effort but Steve was confident he could transform the entire shelter before morning.
“You,” said Steve to a man hobbling past him. “Get some shovels and a rake. Pronto. We need to divert the water from the storm drain and build a hydroelectric plant to run all our power. I’m gonna take this whole place off the grid.”
The man hobbled away mumbling to himself about the curse of lice, while Steve proceeded to climb on a dirt bike and pedal, shirtless, muscles rippling, into a field abutting a welding factory. He sped up to a cardboard tent and skidded to a stop.
“Mary, baby, you ready?”
“Just wait. I’m hurtin’.”
“I’m gonna lay you like a Mexican.”
“Alright, babe. Just a minute.”
“I ain’t waitin’. I’m ready.”
A plastic curtain parted and a toothless woman poked her head out of the tent.
“Stevie, you got some left?”
“Bend over and I’ll see.”
Stevie,” she whined.
“Shut your mouth, woman. Shut your fucking mouth.”
Mary smiled a crooked smile.
Damn, you one fine fucker.”
Steve threw his bicycle to the ground and crawled into the tent. He turned Mary around so her face was buried in a pile of rags. His own head scrapped the top of the tent. It was dark. Suddenly, he didn’t know where he was. The sound of rain pounding on cardboard was like thunder in his ears.
“ARE YOU FUCKING AROUND ON ME?” He screamed.
“Mmdrr. Ahnrridd,” mumbled Mary into the rag pile.
Steve looked down and struggled with his belt buckle. Lacking excess fat, he managed to take pull his pants down without loosening his belt. His reindeer boxer shorts fell down also. His limp dick coughed out a tiny bit of white fluid.
“You see what you made me do?” cried Steve. “You see?”
“Abbdd. Abbdd,” mumbled Mary. “Abbdd. Abbdd.”

Cinema Paradiso

Watched my favorite movie of all time last night. The director's cut. It's emotional. I had a different reaction to the finale, like Alfredo knew that if Toto had all the love he wanted then there would be no hole he would need to fill with art. See? Art is what artists use to complete themselves. And if they are already complete then the art sucks. Maybe that's justifying my insanity, but I think it's true. The bigger the hole, the better the art, if you can complete it. Generally, there is a limit on how incomplete a person can be and still accomplish something.

this first shot is when Salvatore returns from the army. He is alone in the plaza. Everything has changed. The thread has been broken. It's an awful feeling. I felt this way in La Paz. I looked around at the hot dog stands and the closed shrimp booths and my van on the beach and thought. It's over. I don't belong here. Worse, I thought, "This is a Cinema Paradiso moment."

this second shot is the moment young Toto realizes he's different. He is watching his friend get beaten with a stick. IT was funny for a second and then it becomes...a moment. In Toto's mind he understands that this is something...he isn't sure what...but it is something to remember. And this is what Alfredo sees in him: not a projectionist, but a poet. Toto has a gift of memory and substance. It's a curse also because you see how happy everyone else is and Toto is in another world. That's the world Alfredo is trying to guide him to and that's the world his Elena can't be a part of...because she will fill the void, or worse she will forever be a symbol of something rather than a wife. It's awful but unavoidable. The story is about a man's struggle to NOT be a poet. You can't serve two masters. You can love flesh and blood people or you can live in a world of symbols. There's more to the story but that's what it meant to me last night. I only rented it as an excuse to talk to the librarian. Courtney. I was so bumbling I gave her my credit card instead of my library card. I babbled about getting fired from a factory. Forgot to mention I live in a van. I said, "Since I moved here you're the only person I recognize." Is that a vague opener or what?
She's got a widow's peak that would make Vivien Leigh jealous. And she wears four inch high heels and stunning turtlenecks that do her figure all the good in the world. It's not fair to talk to her since she lives in the real world and I live in a world of symbols. But I'm still hoping someone can tolerate me ignoring them. She's probably married.

sleeping with snakes review

Excellent book. Every story is excellent. Everyone should buy a copy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Santa Cruz: The Novel.

The great Santa Cruz novel has begun. I've been dreading it ever since I left that place for the last time. One of the darkest periods I've ever witnessed. A real state sponsored holocaust. How the hell am I going to do it justice? It's almost impossible at this stage in my life. Steinbeck was experienced when he wrote Grapes of Wrath. But this is about people no one will have any sympathy for. So what do I do? I go for it. It's different. I'm not a journalist. I'm an entertainer. That's the only thing I have going for me. This isn't the whole first chapter. It gets too complicated having two editions going at once. FYI: There is a $10 fine (donation to wikipedia) for asking me how my "novel is going." If it isn't published then it's going very very badly.


Chapter 1:
A total loss. That’s what Ponytail thought when he first looked at his ransacked campsite. There was nothing left. Even the Rainbow Buddha altar had been defiled. Who was responsible for this karmic atrocity? Would a scumbag tweaker wingnut trouble himself to dig through every tree stump to find all of Ponytail’s hidden cans of food? He knew that kind of troubled nomad also lived in the dense forest surrounding the train track and it was no mere rumor that a group of meth chefs had built a trash fortress behind the golf course. Ponytail had seen the plywood and plastic kingdom with his own eyes during a magic mushroom hunting expedition. He had never stolen from the Wingnut Empire and never trespassed on their territory - why would he? - so this act of destruction, this unprovoked attack, had been random, probably the work of one of the truly insane men who lived in caves by the river. What other deviant would cut out pages of the bible and impale them with sticks in a circle around an old Penthouse centerfold? That kind of obsession based ceremony was definitely performed by a bipolar madman whose barrier between fact and fantasy had completely eroded. It was very likely that the person responsible for stealing all of Ponytail’s clothes was building a cocoon for a stuffed animal and simply needed more shirts. He’d seen weirder things.

A drop of rain fell through the dense canopy and landed on Ponytail’s head, which meant it was already raining heavily. Ponytail needed shelter but he was upset and his yoga teacher had trained him to act only with a balanced mind. That’s what Yoga means: Balance. Act without balance and nothing is accomplished. So Ponytail kneeled down near a small redwood sapling. He flexed his anus and imagined a string pulling his coccyx up through his skull and into space. The world spun on an axis and within this axis was another axis that spun perfectly around Ponytail. Each inhalation was one of love. Each breath out was one of love. In with love out with love. Ponytail imagined himself high on a mountain. Sitting before him was every person and animal in the world. From Ponytail’s eyes came a bright white light that represented love and this white light penetrated the eyes of the animals in the front row and from their eyes came another white light that penetrated the eyes of the people and animals in the second row. And so the white light was replicated and passed from row to row until every person and animal had received his blessing of loving kindness. Just as Ponytail was about to complete his practices with a series of deep om chants he was struck in the head by a heavy boot. As he fell forward into the wet leaf bed he saw a naked man drop from a nearby Bay tree and flee through the woods. This naked man was carrying Ponytail’s backpack full of journals and aluminum cans. As he expected, the offender had been one of the cave dwellers which meant retrieving his journals, along with the detailed plans for his fruit and nut oasis, would be next to impossible. The naked man stopped near the train tracks and looked both ways. The man had a long bunched mat of black hair and a tangled web of a beard. His skin was covered with mud and brush and was naked except for a pair of filthy neon green leg warmers. The man looked back at Ponytail and let out a maniacal laugh that everyone who lived in the forest knew well. This wasn’t just any bipolar nut, this was the king of all nuts, the Minister of Manic, the Pope of Post Traumatic stress, The Duke of Depression: The Hyena. Ponytail watched The Hyena’s bare ass scurry in the direction of the river and disappear behind a redwood tree.

Gone With The Wind

God really had a laugh with me this past Summer. Met a girl, Elena, in Mexico who had grown up thinking Scarlett O'hara is the ideal American Woman and Rhett Butler is the ideal man. That's funny because I've always thought Ignatius Riley, from Confederacy of Dunces is the Ideal man and Hana (Juliette Binoche) from The English Patient is the ideal woman. Thus began one of the most bizzare affairs in the history of mismatched men and women. That we both took our ideals from fiction explains a lot about how we tolerated each other at all. All four characters are basically tragic figures and all six of us were on a crash course with disaster.

In the scene below Scarlett has just received a nice green hat from Paris. Rhett is sitting nearby and this sideways glance that Vivien Leigh gives is classic. She makes sure Rhett isn't looking and then intentionally turns the hat backwards and asks, "How do I look?"
Rhett sees the hat on backwards and says, "Don't you know how to wear a hat?" and all the attention is on her. He fixes it and then she says, let me, and ties a bow and he realizes she's messing with him. That is not only a fantastic detail (note the wedding ring on her finger. She's oblivious to the fact she's wearing black because her husband died and she's supposed to be in mourning), but it was exactly how the girl in Mexico acted. I'd like to say she looked like Vivien Leigh but she looked better than Vivien Leigh. Fiddle-dee-dee.



speaking of wearing your hat backwards...from R to L: here's me, Elena (Scarlett 2.0), a couple whose names I can't remember and Ernesto.
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We were alone at a bar in La Paz called Salsipuedes (trans. Leave if you can) and I was crying because I thought romance was dead. Elena said, "Le's go, baby. I haf plans." I wanted to keep her there, to keep drinking and talking. But she sounded serious so I paid the bill and walked outside. She started to sulk.
"I ha'e you right now."
Hate? What? What the fuck had gone wrong? We'd been getting along so well. I had promised to get her back in time for...
"I ha'e you for leafing." she said. "We were hafing foon. How you say, we were on a roll?"
And in a flash I understood everything.
"But we can go back." I begged.
"No, i's too la'e. Ta'e me 'ome."
She loved to say that with a pouting tone. Take me home. It was ever on her lips. Some southern belle.
"I want to strangle you." I said. "The fucking world is collapsing, Hannah Montana is destroying everything, and you are playing games?"
"Ta'e me 'ome, baby."
"I'm going to drive us into the sea of cortez. I'm going to kill us both."
"I ta'e a cab then."
She had no money, never carried any money.
"Alright. Goddamn it! Get in."
I opened the door for her and we sat looking out the window.
"But..."
"Ta'e me 'ome."

I put on some music by Bucks Fizz, music she liked, but it didn't help. You would think I could have taken control of the situation but it was complicated.
"Go tha' way," she said for directions.
I turned the opposite direction.
"We'll get there. Just relax."
I was drunk and ran every light through town. Horns blared. Elena never said a word. She sat examining her nails until I opened the door for her. To look at her you would have thought we were in a closed carriage in 1869 with silk ribbons hanging from the horse bridle, instead of a rusting 1969 Ford Van with a stinking moped and dirty sheets in the back. I was sweating rivers and she took out a wooden hand fan I had given her and waved it in her own face, gracefully.


At her house, as I kissed her cheek very slowly, I was going to ask her to come to the beach, to discuss this whole thing in detail. Her cell phone rang. She lit up.
"Mande! Si? Si." Laughter. A completely different person. She squeezed my arm without looking at me and walked into her house, which was never locked. I returned to my van.

I was watching Gone With The Wind and trying to get a screen shot of Vivien Leigh. It was next to impossible. Her expression changes every two frames. They say she was bi-polar and manic depressive. I guess chemically balanced people don't become great actors. She was more of a stage actress which makes her close up shots so incredible. Check her out in Streetcar Named Desire. The lady is English and won Oscars for playing two southern women. Those eyes are unbelievable. Unbelievable. I would click on the screen shot button thinking I was going to get a smile and I would end up with something else. I tried to anticipate an expression change but would guess too early or too late. It took hours to get just this one screen shot. The whole process reminded me of hanging out with Elena in Mexico. I could not pin down one screen shot. I was always a little early or late. Vivien Leigh only acted like Scarlett for the time period of the movie. Elena acted like that her whole life and she was an expert. She was better than Vivien Leigh. There was never a break. She was living her own private Gone With The Wind and I was just a supporting role. This is for you, amor. You want immortality? You want tragedy? You've got it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Am I the only one who thinks he's adopted?

God, we celebrate the birth of a baby which coincided with an order to kill all recently born male babies. Isn't that why Joseph and Mary had to take the baby into the country? And then the wise men rat the baby out? Anyway, we celebrate the death of a whole generation of male babies by getting together with our relatives? Why? Is it like, "At least OUR father wasn't killed by King Herod."

Matthew 2:16-18

16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.


So, we celebrate this slaughter by exchanging gifts? Is it any wonder I'm sarcastic and indirect? I CAN'T CELEBRATE A SLAUGHTER BECAUSE ONE BABY GOT AWAY and was eventually crucified as a heretic and blasphemer. Really, every Christmas we should all gang up on the police chief, like as a stand in for King Herod.
I guess that would cut down on the greeting card industry. Imagine getting a card that says, "May the rocks you throw at the Police Chief injure him permanently. May the slaughter of the innocents be redeemed this Holiday Season. Have a merry time for revenge!"
Would you feel good about sending that to your grandmother? I wouldn't. So I don't know what I'm talking about.

But seriously, the savior may have lived but Herod eventually got his ass. Isn't that the lesson of Christianity? The man's gonna get your ass so if you're gonna start a batty cult then do it fast. Don't wait. Get your church built fast! Cuz they gonna track you down and pin you to a cross. The clock is ticking!

It's hard. We all get such high hopes for Christmas. We want it to fix everything. We want to feel good about ourselves and our families like George Bailey. EVERYTHING IS OK. God bless us everyone. Scrooge sees the light and buys a ham for everyone. Cyberdyne gives me my job back, WITH A BONUS. Well, I've learned to be happy with a glass of egg nog and tales of past Christmases gone wrong, gifts that led to misery, gifts we regret. Ain't nothing gonna get fixed. Cyberdyne didn't call. I'm just lucky my van didn't explode and the cops ignored the multiple code violations. So where is the message? Is it possible that what makes it all work is that even though we dread it, even though we know no tearful ham exchange is going to take place, no crippled kid to raise on our shoulders, no demons to exorcise, we do it anyway. Even though you want to run screaming into the river, we throw our arms around people we haven't seen in 6 years. IF every day was like Christmas it would either be a better world or we would all go insane...maybe both. But if there is one thing to be thankful for it is that if someone named King Herod gave an order to kill all the male babies under two he would be completely ignored as people sipped their egg nog and collectively agreed, "Tiger Woods is a man-whore!"

Well, if Joseph went up to a hotel and the dude said ,"we got no room but you can stay in the stable." I guess I'm in good company because after a night on the too short couch of my brother's I'm back in the carriage house in Laconia. There's no lambs or sheep but there are ducks right out the window. I'm sick from too much chocolate but there was just enough family. Hell, I even talked to my mother on the phone and I have no idea where she is. I guess if you want your life to be like a Chaz Dickenson short story then you'll be disappointed. The only ghosts are the babies King Herod slaughtered and the people you don't wish a Merry Christmas. So Merry Christmas. Baby Jesus got born today and then escaped with his family. Kind of like all of us. We made it!

Now can I please get back to downloading and watching porn?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cyberdyne ID tag

I've got all kinds of free time lately. I wonder why that is? There's this backlog of ideas to execute. This is the horrific ID tag cyberdyne gave me. It's the last smile I ever had in that building.

Look at that logo. Good lord. Could it be any more of a rip off of the Japanese rising sun flag? No. But it's supposed to be an approximation of one of the pieces that fit in the cell towers. The other picture is the Japanese flag. They are almost identical. But the CEO is Chinese. So what gives? Ha, and to think I was considering going to China as a trainee. I wouldn't last ten minutes in that place. I'm telling you that we didn't win the second world war. Or if we did then it made no difference. Think about it. When is it that you win a major war and 40 years later the two countries you defeated have totally implanted themselves in your economy and you have people going hungry because they lost a job that went to the country you forced to surrender? What happened? Are there American Flags all over ID tags in Japan? OR China? Where am I? If the Germans take Britain you think there would be kids from Berlin losing their jobs because Braun opened a factory in Leeds? Oh, there's be a factory all right, but it would be surrounded by barbed wire fence and minimum wage would be a fantasy.

Did Americans die so I could go to work for the Japanese at minimum wage? Well fuck. We might as well have skipped Dday and let them win. Save the ammunition. They got my ass in the end. We get to say Hitler was evil and the Germans get to import expensive beer and cars. That shit should be free for eternity. Why? Go look at Arlington. Instead, I get to wear a Japanese flag on my shirt as I get fired and the Chinese completely dominate the manufacturing world. Who says Communism doesn't work? They must be laughing their asses off.
What a disaster. Russia gets to expand and then race us to bankruptcy building doomsday machines. The middle east gets divided into assholes and assholes who hate assholes. And America gets an interstate freeway so we can all visit the grand canyon before Mexico takes it back. My high school history teachers must've gotten their degrees from the back of a cereal box.
Or maybe they were all Chinese spies. They just TOLD us we won the war. TO make us happy. Really, America is just a slave compound and they have us all fooled. That's the way it feels. You see how fast Cyberdyne got rid of me? Because I didn't bow low enough. The food dispensers were filled with udon noodles at $3 a pop. Question authority.

blog to print

I see an option to print my blog in a few easy steps. I click on it. For $15 I'll publish Memorabilia myself. No need for New York hot shots. But, wait. Memorabilia would cost...$180 to print and bind. Uh. $180? Any takers? Place your orders now! Of course, that means I don't make a penny. That's just what it costs to produce. If I added $10 then the cost would be almost $200 for one copy. I can hear you say that I should just delete...oh...500 pages. And like Mozart said to the critical Prince. "Which notes should I remove? Just point them out to me and I'll take them out. No problem."
I wanted to reconstruct 1980-1991. That took 1000 pages and around 300,000 words. It took 11 years to write. Not only would it be a full time job for months to delete 500 pages but the story still has to make sense. What if I took out 1983? Do I really need 1983? Yes I do.
So that's where we stand. It's not getting published as it is and I'm not deleting any of it.

Query Letters

My brother is throwing me some Christmas crumbs and thought I should send some queries to agencies to get my aforementioned novel (unpublishable) Memorabilia some air time. This is the most polite letter I could write...Let's keep our fingers crossed....


Oggy Bleacher
Group Home #26
Laconia, NH 03246
homelessloser@gmail.com
Big Shot Agent
BIG FUCKING AGENCY
Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
Mr. Big Shot,
Once upon a time the Boston Red Sox were a bunch of losers. For 68 years they knocked on destiny’s door and heard only the awful echo of someone who sounded like George Steinbrenner say, “Nobody’s home.” On October 25th, 1986 the Red Sox peeked through the key hole and could actually see inside. The dusty, cobweb-covered door even opened an inch. I know this because I was 15 years old, standing outside the door and I managed to squeeze my fingers through the crack even as Wade Boggs and Jim Rice were shaking their heads with a not-until-the-last-out kind of look. I ignored them. My face, Mr. Big Shot, was one of pure joy. I was there! We were going to win! This would be the answer to all my dreams! One more strike to Ray Knight. One more out…one more… and…wait…oh my god…what the fuck is happening? NO! NO! NO! The door slammed shut but I didn’t get my fingers out in time. I DIDN’T GET MY FINGERS OUT!
Fingerless, friendless, homeless, bitter, I managed to write a book called You Broke My Heart You Worthless Motherfucking Losers. No, I’m kidding. The book is called Memorabilia. But God must be a football fan because the year I finished the book, 2004, was, incredibly, the year the Red Sox not only opened the door, they kicked the fucker down and bulldozed the entire building along with Yankee Stadium and those supreme chokers the ’04 Yankees. They did it again in 2007. 1986 became a footnote, the baseball equivalent to a quarterback fumble that the quarterback himself recovers. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FINGERS? I hadn’t even received rejection slips from my first round of queries and the Sox are already talking about repeat championships. Ah! It takes 86 years to win the big game and they have to do it the SAME YEAR I FINISH MY BOOK? ARE YOU KIDDING? So I’ve now been in a 6 year tailspin to rival the original funk of ’86-‘03. This can’t go on much longer. Needless to say, Memorabilia is still up for grabs.
Mr. Big Shot, I’m a reasonable man but my patience has worn thin. Memorabilia is finished. It’s done. Like Confederacy of Dunces, or Slaughterhouse Five it’s a completely insane tome of surreal literary architecture, assembled brick by brick, memory by memory over 11 years. I read it now and can honestly say it has no equal in sheer farcical bedlam. It’s a time warp. It’s a ten hour Roger Waters song performed by the Bee Gees. It’s a mosaic of tiny pictures of Papa Smurf that looks like Ronald Reagan’s asshole when you stand back about 10 yards. Does it need an editor? Hell, yes. Am I going to edit it? Hell, no. I’m busy writing screenplays that won’t get produced. I even wrote a biopic about Henry David Thoreau. It got optioned for a cup of coffee and when the cup went dry I naturally moved to Mexico. I’m sure it’s in production in Hungary right now and I’ll be credited as a hairdresser. Such is life. Another story I wrote was so good it took 5 years to get published. It’s in an anthology of bitter Los Angeles writers called Sleeping with Snakes, (not to be confused with that terrible movie with Julia Roberts called Sleeping with the Enemy. (I could totally see that dénouement coming.))
Is the world ready for Memorabilia? Well, one writer I respect just said I “make Robert Frost look bitten and forever shy.” That’s true. Robert Frost will become the ’86 Sox equivalent to my ’04 Sox lexicon ballet. One day, Frost fans will flock to my grave with their handwritten poems and Rick Springfield perms. Frost who? Kerouac who? Bleacher is the name that will bring their blood to boil.
Memorabilia is about music and baseball and fanaticism and self destructive behavior and Xanadu. You wanna read something that makes you laugh? Call me. I’ll send you the first 30 chapters…for free! After that we’ll have to talk business. Or you can go fuck yourself. I don't care either way, you New York snob. I only wrote this letter to get my brother to stop bothering me. Otherwise, I wouldn't cross the street to piss on you.
Oggy Bleacher
Laconia, NH

De niro

I've always wanted to know how to get screenshots of my favorite scenes so I could make t shirts out of them. I got Deer Hunter from the library the other night, totally unrelated to my getting fired. I recall the stare I gave the old woman in the assembly line. Was it like De niro or not? This was research related. The scene was the famous Russian roulette scene in the prisoner camp. De Niro is at the top of his game here. Walken too plays his role to perfection. I especially like the part where Walken (Nick) looks at the gun and just shakes his head. "No. No more." Then he shrugs his shoulder and emphasizes it with that famous rising Walken accent, stressing syllables where no one else would stress them. . "No moah." Like the guards don't get it. He's serious. He doesn't want to play anymore.




I love it. This wasn't exactly like the look I gave the lady at Cyberdyne. But it's how I felt. to get the screenshot you just play the movie and hit printscreen. then paste the clip into a jpg editing software like paint. then cut out the part you want (since the movie playing software will be in the picture too) then save. Bring it down to your local tattoo shop and get this inked on your back. Call yourself a man.


In fact, let's have a contest to see who can take a picture of themselves with nearly as much hate in their eyes. This is a look that can get you into movies. Here's my submission... You actually have to be thinking hateful thoughts to get a good picture. And De niro had to do it for take after take. Excellent! The lack of make up doesn't help but it's ok. Doesn't make you want to piss your pants. But it turns out it was exactly good enough to get fired...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fly On

Seeds planted in the duff
Forest leaves brushed aside
Turning brown to these eyes
Looking through the glass called I

Only the strong leave their seeds behind
To drift against fence posts
And tree stumps
Carried by the wind to distant rivers
By rivers to distant seas
To the bottom of the ocean
To the top of the mountain.

Fly on
Walk where you aren’t allowed
Go and don’t stop until you are home
Once you grow then the law means nothing
It's not pretty but it's beautiful

lexicon

In linguistics, the lexicon (from the Greek: Λεξικόν ) of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes.

I thought of this word when rereading the following fragment I wrote...

"...building mini indestructible pyramids for Chinese pharaohs."

I think that breakdown led to a breakthrough. This little fragment represents an evolutionary jump in my writing. See, I wasn't trying to be poetic. I was just throwing down words that symbolize my imagination but the words came out sort of poetic. It's perfectly understandable and yet the words have never been used like this before. This, I think, is a writer's job: reinvent language. I've been toying with that pyramid/pharaoh image for years because I think we all agree the pyramids are a monumental waste of human resources and the pharaoh had no justification for building them...except that he had free labor and an insane belief in the afterlife.

So, to reapply those symbols to my own experiences has been a challenge and I think I finally pulled it off. It's a combination of words that has never been used before to communicate an idea that is familiar yet original. It's not gibberish, but it's not normal. It's grandiose, but I'm also talking about large scale manufacturing done by many for the benefit of the few, so it isn't totally inappropriate. The things I was building, by the way, will last longer than the pyramids and are polluting every element to death.

Anyway, I like it. "...Chinese Pharaohs." It's got a nice ring to it and I was working for a Chinese CEO so it's sort of true. It's an accusation and a denouncement without coming out and being crude. It's poetic and damning. Or I like to think it is. That's what being a writer means to me.

Terminated with Prejudice...

How else would this story end? Cyberdyne didn't just dismiss me, they did it in the most spineless way imaginable, using the temp agency as the hatchet man and inventing a story about insubordination to justify it.
Now, I'm an asshole in more ways than one. We all know this. You ask me to push a broom and I'll wonder why and extrapolate that simple act into a complicated constellation of philosophical means and ends and maxims and ethics that would make Nietzsche puke. But there is no way to get the whole story here. I can only explain myself and you, dear reader, will fill in the blanks. You already know about my resistance and trouble in that difficult procedure of applying the X to the bottom of the aluminum plate. What can I say? I have problems writing. The marker ran out of ink. I wasn't trained. I needed more time. SO many excuses and all useless.
But was that the problem that led to my termination? I'll never know. Was firing me the right thing to do, for everyone concerned? Of course. This was a marriage made in temp labor hell, right down to the mugshot ID tag that I will post eventually.
So many men have been down this road. I can say I hopped and jumped to please everyone, but that would sound pandering, and whiny. I can also say that I never did anything I wasn't asked to and hardly paid attention the entire time I was working there, instead dreaming of Mexico and Kerouac and music and women. And this would be partly true. Amazingly I managed to do the same amount of work as the people who did pay attention. They paid me for my hands, not my attention span. That costs more than minimum wage to rent.
Why I stayed as long as I did is testament to how badly I needed the money. But in the end, when you are faced with a difficult decision it is better to leave with your pride than be fired by lies. I didn't expect them to stoop so low but the fact they hired me was proof they are bottom feeders. No matter what, I knew the end was near and I allowed them to finish the play instead of taking the supervisor aside and asking for a different department. I know there was no other department so it would have been a dignified way of parting.
"No hard feelings. I'll turn in my badge."
A nice handshake. The chance to pick up my lunch bag.
But this leaves a nasty taste of bile in my throat. Getting the hatchet because they say I refused to do work, barely 15 minutes after clocking out and having my supervisor thank me for working on two special projects involving aluminum chips in rejected heat sinks.
"In fact," I told my temp boss in a lapse of philosophical equanimity, "That sounds like the exact opposite of what happened."
But that is hearsay as far as the general public is concerned. I'm black listed because Cyberdyne is the one writing the list. I will not say I wish I had done better work. I only wish I had left on my own.
Next time you talk on your cell phone and think what a wonderful device it is I want you to shove the phone up your ass and try walking around all day. Feel good? Well, that's what it takes to put that phone in your hand and make it work. And in the end the record will say you were defiant and not worth minimum wage. That grave we all have in our future will be cold and dark and have exactly zero network coverage...forever. So why the fuck can't we do without it for few years?
Disregard that last comment. It's Christmas! Time to be happy! Ho ho!

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 days of Christmas



On the Twelfth day of Christmas my group home gave to me...
twelve shots of whiskey
eleven books I won't read
ten day old cupcakes
nine days in lockup
eight things of mustard
seven plastic forks
six empty beer cans
not a fucking thing
four guitar strings
three mismatched socks
two broken speakers
and an ashtray so nasty





P.S. On the thirteenth day of Christmas I got a pink slip.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Going crazy...

This past week was a real test. They did kick down some overtime so it looks like I have some room to breathe. But it also means that I have to work.
This coming week I am going to try to concentrate on working. That sounds obvious but let me tell you that when you are baking aluminum bread it is hard to pay attention to the minor details like signing paperwork.
The real needle in the eye came when I was making these pieces and was supposed to write an X on the bottom left corner of the piece. I did this at the start...(God, this is petty to even mention) and then I put the piece on the oven. thirty minutes later I took the piece off and the X was gone. IT had been baked off with the epoxy. I did this many times and each time the X vanished. So I would reapply the X.
Now comes my opportunity to bitch about the pettiness that drives one to petty. See, the person who later was assigned to the second step of the process tells me to put the X on the bottom because he isn't seeing it. And the 50 year old ladies who have been there for 15+ years start talking out loud. Oh, god, my blood pressure must've been right beneath Aneurysm.
"He don't listen. None of 'em listen."
"Well...I..."
"Naw, I don't care! It's none of my business. I'm staying out of it. It ain't worth it! They don't care about the X. It don't matter to you but it matters to the next guy in line. But what do you care?"
I don't say anything. I just stare at her. I give her the Robert Diniro stare.
She says, "I'm staying out of it! It ain't worth bothering myself about. You can't teach something if a guy doesn't want to learn. Put the X, don't put the X. What do I care? They don't want to put the X on."
This last part kills me. Instead of just a forgetful mouth breather, I suddenly become a villain. I didn't want to put the X on. Like I've been plotting this at home for weeks. I will fuck up the whole process ON PURPOSE! I sabotage the assembly because I'm evil! But...see...I...oh, Jesus take me!
This goes on for minutes. Three old women just shaking their heads that I can't remember to put the X on the bottom of the piece of aluminum even though I have been putting the X on but it gets baked off.
I have a familiar feeling that I have felt many times, most of all when I was working on the merchant vessels. In order to continue this conversation I will have to defend myself. But to defend myself means I will say, "I put the X on, but it bakes off during the thirty minutes at 250 degrees. It disappears." And this statement, as true as it is, is so petty and unsophisticated that I can not bring myself to utter it. But to listen to this old woman yap like a hen on crystal meth is intolerable. But I need the job. If I had any pride at all I would just walk out. There is no need so great as to demand listening for ten or twenty minutes as a woman ignorantly accuses me of something that isn't true. But to quit my job, a job that pays real money, because this nameless woman is having a fit about this phantom error is EQUALLY AS PETTY. I swear, the Dali Lama has got it easy. He trucks around the globe with a fancy entourage whining about China stealing Tibet. People kiss his ass and he smiles all the time. What a happy guy, he is. Yeah? Why the fuck shouldn't he be happy? I'd like to see his face when they put the hot irons on his feet. Would he be happy then? Hey, Dali, let's trade places for a week or two!
I'm right on the verge of a breakdown. I'm not angry at all, I'm just struck by how utterly insane this whole situation is, baking aluminum high tech shit for 15 years, building mini indestructible pyramids for Chinese pharaohs. and during this insane process there is an equally insane mini drama that has to do with an X, a single letter, that I write on the bottom of these mini-pyramids that disappears in the baking process and now everyone is accusing me of forgetting to put on in the first place, even intentionally neglecting to put it on because I'm a bad team player. This is why people go crazy. They are completely serious that this is a major offense and I am completely certain that it doesn't even exist, that the process is destroying the X. But to explain myself is to sink to a level beneath a slave. First of all, I will have to write the X on and demonstrate that the X disappears. It will involve everyone gathering around the piece as I take it off the hot plate. I almost gag thinking about that scene, the women and men looking for an X on the bottom of the aluminum as a conveyor belt and ovens and pallet jacks thunder past in this industrial landscape. Second of all they will still say that I forgot on the other ones when actually I just stopped writing the X on because it made no difference. I knew it would bake off. So now I'm going to start writing the X on and then it will disappear and they will write it back on. IT's no solution.
But most importantly, what the fuck have I gained by this demonstration? I may vindicate myself to the placement of this magic marker X that is not permanent past 250 degrees of direct heat. But I will have lost some shred of respect for my worldview and philosophy which detests the cultivation of petty complaints. I should leave.
But I need the money. I can't leave and I won't defend myself. And I can't make the X stay on the aluminum. This is factory work. It isn't worth any amount of money and yet most of the world does it without complaint. But I am not most of the world. To even write about it makes me queasy but I have to get it out and move on. OR if I end up in an asylum and you hear me muttering, "I put the X on. I put it on! It got baked off." then you will understand.

Later on, a guy comes over to me.
"Oggy, You seem, pre-occupied."
"I got the weight of the world on me."
This is vague, and funny because the weight refers to a nonexistent letter, but I don't want to get into specifics.

"See, I don't let that bother me. After 12 years in jail, my parents died, my sister died, my wife left with my kid. Now I'm out and I get to look at nice asses, make some money. Listen to music."
I stop grinding my teeth a little bit. I realize that his time in jail, as unseemly as it might be, actually gave him insight into psychopathic expressions, and I have brought this back to him. Thank you, Cyberdyne.
"It's all getting under my skin."
"Hey, don't sweat it. In jail we said inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard."
"What's that mean?"
"Think about it."
He walks away past a younger female worker with tight jeans.
"You got a nice ass. I bet you fuck good."
"Go on! Pig."
But she ways it with a smile.
They have that kind of relationship.
So I'm trying to take it inch by inch.
But I swear I put the X on the bottom. I swear!

Worst Pick Up Line...

"Uh, I'm trying to make my life tolerable...so would you like to go play bingo."

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 2009 gallows humor award goes to...

The annual Cyberdyne holiday party.
Eating turkey and stuffing.
"I'm surprised Andrews isn't here with an Uzi."
Andrews was one of the 250 people let go last year. His bitterness was more profound than most.
"Yeah, I heard he ordered some Kevlar."
"Ha. And hand grenades."
"Yeah, he's been building pipe bombs all summer. In his shed. Ha. By the light of the moon."
lots of laughter.
"Didn't you notice the chains on the doors? The fucker's got us locked in."
We all chuckle.
"Forget Andrews, I'm coming for some payback too. They escorted me out of here 9 months ago. Then begged me to come back for half the pay. I came packing today!"
"I'll hide behind Dave."
Dave is the supervisor.
"That's ok. I bought armor penetrating bullets. They'll split Dave in two."
"They sell those?"
"Soldier of Fortune has everything. Hell, they got a whole section specifically for going postal."
"Yeah, they got packages for how many supervisors are in the company who fucked you over."
"It's called the 'disgruntled employee discount.'"
"Now they got one for religious killing sprees."
"Oh, yeah, for that guy down south?"
"Right, he got Package M.... For Muslim."
"That come with hand grenades?"
"Of course. And a copy of the Koran."
A few people chuckle.
"Which package you get?"
"C, for China, where all our jobs went."
generous laughter.
"That come with a special hat with a Commie Star?"
"Yep, Andrews got me wise."
"So we're fucked."
"Eat up."
"Last meal. Glad it's good."
"Good? I've hit a skunk with better meat than this."
"Don't eat the apple crisp."
"Why, Andrews poison it?"
"Yeah. He put rat poison in it. When we all go to the bathroom he's gonna blow the place up."
"He'd do it too. That guy was so pissed. His wife left him. Lost his kids. What's he got to live for?"
"Revenge."
Everyone laughs until Dave gets on the microphone and says,
"Hope everyone is having a good meal. It's time for the raffle prizes. Everyone have their tickets?"
We all clap and get our tickets out. I win a gift card to Old Navy. The company lays me off two days  before Christmas.

The Poco Diablo Saga AKA Urban Renewal


I awake in the van on the street. Someone has either slammed their door or honked their horn or a garbage truck has crushed a load. My arm is asleep and my vision is bad. I sleep with my eyes open so any light irritates my eyes even as I sleep. Sometimes my dreams incorporate what I see, such as the time I was visited by Ted Nugent in a spaceship.

When I roll over on the right side of my head I can hear nothing because my left ear is nearly deaf. A hearing doctor once asked me to describe the sound.
"It sounds like a swarm of locusts," I responded and watched him pause for a second and then write it down.

I remember that today is the day I have to get something going, one way or another. I need to make a few dollars, not read more civil war history in the library. Then I think, no. Fuck work. I won’t make any money. I’ll probably get injured. It’s futile. I’m better off at the library looking for a real job. Then I see myself from above, sleeping in an old van, wearing my socks to bed to stay warm, a moped and a ton of tools actually stored in the van with me, like a garage on wheels. When it rains I have to direct the water away from my bed with torn plastic milk jugs. It’s insane by any definition. I’m living completely on the fringe of society, a microcosm of lunacy, reusing dental floss, shitting into old newspaper, and drinking puddle water. I could plant a garden in the fertile soil under my seats. But I am parked next to $300,000 condos. I stare at the Flashdance soundtrack LP above my bed and meet Jennifer Beal’s vulnerable yet determined eyes. How am I going to turn the abstract performance art that is my life into a small cabin or mobile home with a wife and children puttering about as I hang storm windows or play the piano? My life is something Leonard Cohen would sing about and I want the song to be written by Cole Porter; how will that happen? By working? Maybe, I rationalize, I’ll get a good temp job that will turn into a long term assignment. Good things always happen to me. Think positive. Today could be the day.

So I roll out of bed and take my pants out of the protective plastic bag I store them in at night and put them on. I draw my boots on and tie the laces by propping my foot on the seat of my moped. The soles aren’t coming off the shoe yet but they will be ruined by the end of the day. Then I go to piss in a milk jug that has been with me for 6 months. It’s full but I don’t dare pour it out on Lincoln Avenue again. I’ve learned that lesson. So I grab the nearest empty jug of apple cider and piss into that. Then I gather up the curtains and drink some water from a green 2 liter soda jug that was given to me by an Evangelist in Quebec. Time to start my day.

The van starts up on the first try. I choke the carb a little and roll all the curtains up until the engine runs smooth. The inside of the windshield is totally covered with condensation but I drop it into gear and roll in the direction of Labor Ready, aiming for the only piece of asphalt I can see.

Men are smoking outside the door, meaning I am late. The lobby opens at 5:30am and it’s after 6 now. A guy I know nods at me and asks with a smile, “Where’s that Ten dollars you owe me?”
About 8 men are sitting in the lobby when I go to sign in. I’ve worked here before, which means I’ve taken the safety test before, but the dispatcher, Sue, tells me I have to take it again. I don’t argue. The questions, accompanied by a text with all the answers, are of the common sense variety.

#5 If you are on the job site and are told to climb a ladder over 10ft tall you should:
A: Do it and tell your branch office later.
B: Do it only if it is a supervisor telling you.
C: Walk off the job site.
D: Don’t climb the ladder. Contact your branch office.

The correct answer is D. Of course if you are on a job site and are told to do something then you will probably do it without hesitation because you understand that if you don’t do as you are told then you will not be invited back the next day. The company might be fined but how will that help you? So you climb the ladder and since you passed the test then the labor firm is protected when you eventually fall off a ladder. You will be out of a job, injured, and have no legal recourse to get workman’s compensation. Just don’t fall off the ladder, is the implied meaning of this question.

I answer about 80 questions, double-checking the text to make sure I don’t get any wrong and also to stall. There is a chance I’ll get a good ticket but there is a near certainty that I’ll get a terrible assignment. If I got no ticket at all and just sat there for a few hours I would consider myself even for the day.

Nearby, two men are talking about their child support payments.
“I got twenty-two grand worth. Try getting it out of me. Just try.”
“When I got back together with my old lady she signed this paper that waived 14K worth of back support. I only owe two grand now.”
The couple had since split up again.
“I think I got my kids this weekend. You know how that goes. It’d be nice if I could take ‘em to Chuckie Cheese.”

Another man sits down, picks up the paper and turns to the police log.
“Let’s see if I got arrested last night,” he says grinning.

Another guy limps by.
Someone asks him, “How’s your foot?”
“Gout’s killing me. In the big toe.”
“Gout? What’s that?”
“It’s God’s way of making sure you don’t kick your kid’s ass.”
“Haw! My son-in-law pisses me off too. I told him to buy his own cigarettes from now on. No more handouts.”
“Good luck.”
The man with gout limps out the door.

Another guy with a ponytail is sitting in his underwear for some reason. He has pants around his ankles like he’s on the toilet but he is on the edge of the lobby sitting in a plastic lawn chair. No one talks to him. From the waist up he looks normal. From the waist down he’s only wearing boxer shorts.

Almost every man there lives at the local halfway house called Crossroads. They kick you out at 5 am with a piece of toast and jam for breakfast. The library doesn’t open until 8 so they migrate here to the labor ready office and drink some free coffee. Some wait for tickets and some slip away before their names are called. I could go to Crossroads but I prefer my van. Spend a night at Crossroads and you’ll know why.

I finish the test and turn it in just as four men are assigned a job, something to do with unloading a truck, and handed hard hats. They leave en masse, resigned to their uncertain fate like marines to a beachhead, neither enthusiastic nor depressed. It looks like the kids’ll be going to Chuckie Cheese after all.

I sit down until a job order comes in for detailing cars. For a moment it is up for grabs but I imagine the inside of my van and how badly it needs detailing, or at least a light cleaning. Why would I spend all day detailing thirty strange cars when my one van, my house, needs attention? This is the beggar’s paradox: he is willing to do for others what he won’t do for himself.

Sue tries to explain the ticket, “You wash the tires, dry the windshield, clean out the ashtray.”

There is literally no way to make the job sound glamorous or desirable. It reminds me of the job description of a housekeeper. “Remove all pubic hairs from drain.” Sue looks in my direction but I keep reading the paper. The man reluctantly assigned to it, the last man other than me, doesn’t have a car of his own so Sue closes the office and gives the guy a ride to work. I walk to a nearby café and order a bagel and egg sandwich with bacon and cheese. I read the employment news at a counter with lonely retired men staring into their cups of coffee, insomniacs who worked the first shift for so long they can’t sleep past 6. They are wondering what a man like me is doing in a coffee shop on a work day but my look says, “Keep staring at your coffee, grandpa.” In the paper there are jobs for heavy equipment operators, registered nurses, and elderly companions. The bagel sandwich arrives. It’s made with real cheese and I eat half of it before walking across the barren supermarket parking lot back to the office. Kids are on their way to school with backpacks and poster board assignments. The yellow and red leaves are all in bags. Autumn is over but real winter has not yet begun.

When I arrive Sue and another staff member are fighting to get the double doors open. The deadbolt only retracts so far so it still catches on the other door. Sue fights it for nearly a minute, swearing, as we jog in place to stay warm. Finally the door opens with a bang almost breaking the glass. She and another employee go in first.

Sue says, “Every time I open that door it’s the same thing.”

I look at the latch for a second and in my younger days I would have tried to fix it. In fact, I would have fixed it because there is nothing I dislike more than simple maintenance tasks that are ignored and lead to major replacements, especially in a labor hall where able men sit around and read week old newspapers in their underwear. The lock needs to be sprayed with some WD-40 so it slides easier. The deadbolt could be filed down. The whole mechanism is probably worn out but I’m talking about fixing it in the next ten minutes. I have some WD-40 and a file in my van but I have learned something at Labor Ready and that is to do only that which you have been told to do. Ambition or independent thought is frowned on. Basically, I am forbidden from fixing the door so I sit down and eat my bagel while reading the paper. There are packets of ketchup in the bag so I make a puddle of ketchup and dip the bagel sandwich into the puddle and eat.

The news concerns a domestic sniper being executed after a last meal of chicken in red sauce. That reminds me that I want to go to the Indian restaurant for dinner. Another news story quotes the President as he says he is sure that the terrorist accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks will be executed because he is plainly guilty. He has no reservations about trying him in a civil court because there is no chance he will be found not guilty. The trial has not even begun and the President, a lawyer, has convicted him. I wonder who died and put Stalin in charge. As I move to the sports section the phone rings and since I’m the only one in the hall I know my destiny is about to be decided.

“He didn’t show up?...What about…He didn’t either? Well how many you need? I got one here. You need two or one? I’ll call Dover. Alright.”
Sue hangs up.

“Oggy! They need someone athletic to do some running around. Construction cleanup.”
I was the youngest man in the hall by a few years but I know I’m in trouble. “Athletic? Running around?” Do I look like I’m twenty years old? Then I remember that I recently shaved my salt and pepper beard (for another job interview) so with my ball cap on I do look like I’m twenty, which is something I won’t be able to say for long. There is no one else in the hall and no other job to choose from so I take my ticket. I’m going to Poco Diablos, a faux-Mexican restaurant in downtown Portsmouth that is receiving a facelift. There’s no free parking down there and I quickly decide to park near the mill pond and ride my moped there. I sign out for a hard hat and some gloves and get in the van. It is almost 9 so I’ve been waiting for nearly 3 hours.

Instead of parking at the millpond where I know the Junior High School kids will fuck with my van, I drive near the river and end up over by the old Portsmouth Herald. I throw an old sweater on since it is cold and take my rings off. The hardhat proves to be a problem for my moped’s storage unit, which is a mini Coleman cooler. The moped runs rough since it is cold and since the single piston is worn out but I get to Poco’s in a few minutes, parking and locking the moped on a telephone pole near the tug boats. I don’t find my supervisor but I find a worker, John, who is throwing wood into a dumpster.
“You from Labor Ready?”
He says this like an accusation so I shrug as though I’m powerless.
“Ok. Our only job is to keep this place clean today,” he says.

So I start hauling garbage cans full of construction debris and throwing it into the dumpster. Not too hard. It keeps me warm. Carpenters are tearing a wall apart and as they toss studs and nails aside I throw them into the trash can. In between trips to the dumpster I take a note from the safety test and observe my work environment. There are five pieces of heavy equipment including an overhead crane, an excavator, an extending work platform, a bulldozer, a bobcat and a mini excavator. Later a concrete mixer will arrive. Down an alley a backhoe is digging up a sewer line. The Ferry Landing bar used to be right in front of me but it’s just dirt now. The area is not big enough for all this equipment so any time one piece of machinery has to move another has to move first.

When all the loose debris is in the dumpster I begin to think this is going to be easy money. I give myself a pat on the back. God gives all things to industry. Yes, He does. That’s what they’ll put on my gravestone. “Honest” Oggy Bleacher: He lived and died on the sweat of his brow. Normally at this time of the day I’m in my van feeling sorry for myself or in the library clicking on yet another link for a used Triumph motorcycle or a long-shot job in the Bahamas. Today, I’m proud of myself. I’m in the work force. I’m part of the Great American recovery. I’m day dreaming of stars and stripes when John leads me into what used to be the bar.
“I’m going to start breaking this up with the jackhammer. You haul it out in these buckets.”
Wha? That’s sounds like real work. Just to be sure I pretend like I didn’t hear him. John yells, “I’M GOING TO START BREAKING….”
That’s the thing about temp jobs: your job description can be explained in two sentences. Sometimes words aren’t even necessary; John could just point to the broken concrete and then point to the dumpster.
My worst nightmare has come true. I didn’t just end up with a shitty ticket; I ended up with the total bottom of the barrel bullshit ticket. A ticket paying the minimum wage for the maximum manual labor. I’ve got a right to complain. There will be no easy money. I now see why two other Labor Ready employees didn’t show up. They knew what was coming and they jumped on those auto detailing tickets. Right now they’re probably sitting in a Lexus or a Mazerati pretending they own it, laughing, getting stoned in the bathroom, stealing quarters they find in the seat, flirting with the sexy girls at the tanning salon next door. Me? I’m in the express lane for spine surgery.
I need to stall some more so I look at the two five gallon buckets. I look at the bar.
“How much of this is getting torn up?”
I know the answer and, furthermore, any amount of concrete is too much to carry in buckets.
John motions to these big areas crisscrossed by a concrete blade. Some already have been chipped into and sectioned off. Most is still intact. Judging by one hole there are two layers of 6 inch concrete and one layer of 4 inch concrete all sandwiched on top of each other over the years as new construction evolved. We have to expose sewage and water pipes that haven’t been seen since John Paul Jones got drunk near a two-masted schooner. If I busted my ass, which I don’t plan on doing, this should take days.

I sigh/moan as I trace the path I must follow from the bar, over a ledge of broken concrete, through an open door where debris rains down from above, across a flimsy bridge made of a several 2x4s and a piece of plywood placed over a moat of mud and exposed rebar (this bridge was later crushed by an excavator moments after I made one crossing), past the ever-moving excavator, under an extending platform (ignoring Labor Ready safety rule #37) and up a loose dirt hill near another rotating crane where the dumpster is. It’s like 40 yards away. The dumpster, by the way, has walls that are almost six feet high so whatever debris I bring there must then be lifted above my head to dump. Some carpenters tearing down the deck above us dislodge some plaster onto my head.

I dreamily remember a ticket I got in Los Angeles. A Walgreens was being built and for some reason no ditch digging machines were available for the parking lot borders. Oggy Bleacher to the rescue. I dug with a pick axe and shovel for 8 hours, getting a $64 parking ticket in the process that lost me $10 on the day. But it was warm and I didn’t need a hard hat and it was in Westwood where everyone is beautiful. I took my shirt off and drank a gallon of water for lunch. I was also 5 years younger and felt I was paying my dues to live near people like David Mamet and Snoop Dogg. It wasn’t going to be easy, of course. I only needed to be patient.

Flash forward five years to me in the basement bar of Poco Diablo’s on the opposite coast, everyone in hardhats and sweatshirts, a jackhammer nearby, two buckets of concrete debris in my hands. I’m not paying my dues anymore. I’m just trying to get some money coming in. I should have stayed in the van.

“Are you sure?” I ask, implying that this is not a job for plastic buckets and my Labor Ready ass.
“Yeah,” says John, “We got a ton of concrete to move.”
To keep what little pride have left I say nothing more and grab the two buckets, marching outside with the buckets on either side of me. A board tumbles in front of me and I kick it away. The plank bridge wobbles. Two beeping, belching excavators almost collide in front of me. The dirt pile collapses when I step on it. Seconds after I leave, John turns on the jackhammer compressor before he hooks the hose to the jackhammer causing two or three hundred pounds of air pressure to be directed into a loose hose, which goes completely berserk before he can shut it off. The hose lashes the side of the building, nearly hitting an exposed natural gas pipeline (goodbye downtown Portsmouth), and whips like one of Dr. Octopus’s arms in vicious circles. Luckily everything it breaks is about to end up in the dumpster. John and I trade a look of relief. He admits later that he has never used a jackhammer. I have but I won’t admit it.

While John moves to put the hose on the jackhammer I walk the last 30 yards to the dumpster and lift the buckets one by one to dump them in. I estimate that for every full bucket I have to take a minute break. I also estimate that I will be permanently injured if I take full buckets all day. Truth be told, I can barely lift a full bucket. It probably weighs 90 pounds. For every half full bucket I have to take a fifteen second break. I will probably be injured if I take half full buckets. The weight of a quarter full bucket is still in the 30 or 40 pound range, which means two buckets of 60-80 pounds total. I decide that is the absolute maximum and if they don’t like it then I will hand my hard hat in. John won’t be able to break the concrete that fast anyway. I’ll be doing everyone a favor if I just take my time and take the minimum. It is one thing if I have a clear path and a pile to dump it into but I have a dangerous obstacle course of 40 yards and at the end of it I have to lift everything above my head. I pick up the empty buckets up and weave my way back through the obstacle course. When I think I’ve found safety in the bar again it is filled with concrete dust raised by John, who is now guiding the jackhammer in small circles. It is deafening. I point to my ears as though to ask John if he has some other ear plugs and he hands them to me. Another dust cloud follows. There are no dust masks so the only solution is to hold my breath and dig frantically in the dust for some chunks to fill the buckets. I am wearing safety goggles so when chips of concrete hit me in the face at 50 miles an hour they click off my glasses or sting my cheeks. The generic plastic hard hat has never fit me right so every time I lean over to pick something up it falls off my head.
“Motherfucker!” I yell, though no one can hear me over the jackhammer. Worse, by speaking, I have to breathe the cement dust as I fumble with the hard hat.
“Shit. Fuck!”
I finally toss the helmet on my head, grab the buckets, and blindly try to get out the door. I trip on the cement ledge, cut my knee on a piece of rebar, stumble across the wobbling bridge, climb over a mound of dirt, dodge the excavator, duck under the crane platform, dodge another excavator, jog up a hill and set the buckets down. I consider walking off the job. I would be better off playing guitar on the sidewalk for 8 hours. Fuck industry. Fuck God. Fuck the work. Fuck Poco Diablo’s. I never drank here anyway. I’ll never go back to Labor Ready so it doesn’t matter if I burn that bridge. Or I could pretend to get hurt. Pretend? Ha! I am actually limping from the rebar. And my hands are cramping already. My back hurts. My shoulders are numb. Most people in my condition were just in a major auto accident. I’m about to throw in the towel when a carpenter walks by. He sees me massaging my hand and knows I’m a temp worker, a soft skinned pencil pusher who just got suckered into this ticket because I’m dumb too.
He says, “Nightmare job, huh?”
“Jeez. No shit.”
“We come in here last week just gonna replace the windows. Turns out the whole back of the building is leaning 8 inches.”
“Well, fuck. All these buildings are leaning. A few more feet and it’ll be a tourist attraction. So what?”
“Gotta bring it up to code.”
“That’s just...So…So this?”
I wave at the destruction around us.
“$25,000 change to the order.”
“It’s bullshit.”
“Slaves had it better,” he says.
“Naw, slaves could buy their freedom.”
We laugh mirthlessly but the exchange gives me renewed hope that I am not a mule. I commit to the effort. We will do what is necessary to rebuild this god-damn restaurant. I march back into the debris field. A bulldozer is backing toward me so I hop over a concrete wall into a trench. I bounce over a pile of broken slabs of concrete and climb back into the bar area. Another man is standing there. I can tell by his posture and his ill-fitting hard hat that he is a fellow labor ready employee.
“What’s up, bitch?”
“I shoulda stayed in bed.” He says before adding, for no reason, “I’m on the waiting list for public housing.”
I nod and toss some concrete into the buckets.
“Mama’s in the cold, cold ground.”
Then the machine starts again and we are both enveloped in a cloud of dust.
Later, we take a break for lunch and are each given a gigantic hamburger and French fries.
The remainder of the day is spent humping concrete to the dumpster and avoiding the backhoe. I never get cold but I never get so hot that I remove my sweater, or even my jean jacket. The hard hat is more of a distraction than a piece of safety equipment but it manages to stay on for the rest of the day. I pace myself so I am never completely burned out but with every round trip to the dumpster I feel the tendons of my arm tremble. On one trip I am carrying two buckets with hardly any concrete in them. This is because the other worker and I are keeping pace with the man operating the jackhammer so there is really no need to carry more than I am able to carry. Furthermore, I am pacing myself to last the whole day. As I dump the contents of the bucket I see a group of foremen looking at me. One of the men, either the owner of the construction company or a lead foreman, points to my bucket and elbows the man next to him. Then he makes a gesture and I can read his lips. “That guy (lazy fuck) was carrying about two inches of dust.” They laugh and I can tell they view me as a complete liability, a shirker of duties, a malingerer, and a loafer. My own reaction is resignation. I can’t win. I recall how many people called me a loafer for living in my van in Mexico, surviving on tacos and water, picking up nothing more than some wood for a fire. Now I’m carrying two buckets of concrete and am still a loafer. And the people who thought living in a van was loafing would just think I’m an idiot. Either way, I can’t do 8 hours of this work, and for what I’m getting paid I shouldn’t do a single hour of this work. There’s a reason this job was designated to a temp worker. No one could make a living from this work. You would destroy your body and your clothes faster than you could make the money to repair them. But everyone already knows this. I already knew this. But I need the money so I took the ticket. The ticket turned out to be a killer but does that mean I should walk away from it and not get paid? That would just make trouble for everyone here. I can do the job at my pace and still go home in one piece. But doing so means the men in charge will look at me like a stray dog that should be put down. Fortunately, entering the work site again requires all my attention and I don’t change my routine at all. If they want to send me home I won’t argue. If they want to give me shit for loafing then I will say nothing. If they allow me to stay then I’ll move what I can move without killing myself.
The other temp and I drag ass the final hour, authentically loafing, standing by the dumpster for no reason, talking with the carpenters, looking at girls walking by in long coats, talking about the economy. The end comes mercifully. A man I’ve never met says they need someone back the next morning and I don’t commit. They don’t particularly want me back and they don’t care if I come back, but they need someone because there is still one day of work left in that bar. I can expect more buckets of concrete and more disdainful stares by the foreman. I take my signed ticket and walk back to my moped. Except for my pride, I’m uninjured. That’s the important thing. I can still play the guitar. I ride the moped back to my van. The van fires up.
On the way back to the labor hall I stop by the donut shop. A week earlier when the library was closed I sat in the donut shop nursing a hot chocolate and reading a book. As I pull in the parking space I look across a fence and meet eyes with Cristos, a friend since 1977, who has recently gotten married. I honk and wave. Cristos does a double take. I jump out of the van with my hard hat on and work gloves, covered with concrete dust.
Cristos squints in the neon light, “Oggy, what are you doing?”
“I’m working! Got me a job at Poco Diablos. Lugging concrete.”
He can’t get away and his shoulders sag.
“What happened to you?”
This is his typically obtuse way of pointing out how much I’ve changed from the Whiffle ball hero of the JFK Center to the hobo work mule. What happened to me? Let’s just say that at the Baskin Robbins counter of life I want to try all the flavors, even the ones I know I won't like.
"Trying to get some hustle money, is all," I respond.
"Hauling concrete? Are you an idiot?"
I invite him over to the Dunkin Donuts and he obliges even as he looks at his watch.
“The first thing I thought when I saw that van was, ‘What a piece of shit.’"
That’s what most people think.
"It's a good van. You think I can afford rent in Portsmouth?"
I order a hot chocolate and, because I worked today, a pumpkin muffin. I resent handing 5% of my paycheck to the cashier for twenty cents of sugar and flour.
While I sit at a table and eat Cristos explains that he just got back from a funeral.
“80 years alive and in the ground forever,” he says of his recently passed uncle.
"See," I say, picking up a conversation thread we started years earlier, "That's what I'm talking about. It’s not fair. The rules aren’t fair.”
“That’s how it is. And you’re just wasting it.” He doesn't even look me in the eye when he speaks. He's looking behind me at lady ordering glazed munchkins and coffee.
I start babbling, “This is my life. I get up and try to make something happen. It’s a big world. When we going to Greece?”
“I just got back from Italy.”
“Look at you. Mr. Italy. Why you go there?”
“Honeymoon.”
“Oh, right. You’re married. How’s that?”
He shrugs. He has settled down and wants to settle down even further. I do too but like to tell myself I haven’t found a good enough reason to do it.
“So that’s it,” I say.
“Yeah, I gotta go. Come by, buddy. Call me.”
His tone of voice is identical to the one he uses with faceless customers at his work scalping sports tickets. Maybe that’s because he spends most of his life using that tone of voice and maybe it’s because I’ve become one of those faceless customers who keep him from his own interests. Either way, he’s gone into the night and I return to my dry muffin until my cell phone rings. It’s the labor hall and Sue wants to know if I went to work and if I plan to come back to get paid.
I drive over to the labor hall with my hot chocolate between my knees and get my check.
“They need someone tomorrow at 8.”
I’ve already decided I’m not going back so I say, “I’ve got a job interview tomorrow.” This isn’t true but at least it makes me look less like a malingerer.
Sue doesn’t care either way. She merely needs to know if she will be sending someone new to Poco’s in the morning. Maybe she’ll call a reliable worker tonight to give him a few extra hours of sleep and allow him to skip the trip to the labor hall. Either way, my job is finished and I walk out of there with a check for $50, not enough by my book and too much from where they’re sitting. No one is satisfied but the sun is down and I’m back in the van and on my way to a dark street. The library is closed so I will play the guitar until it gets too cold to be out of the sleeping bag.

I park near the old JFK site and wonder aloud, "What happened to me? What happened to you? You go around flying around the world with your fat ass. What about whiffle ball? What about the game? I'd play right now but they tore the goddamn court down. What happened to you?"
I talk to myself in the van because I like to hear conversations out loud. My own private theater.

$50 breaks down to $15 of gas, $10 of food and $25 into the Guatemala fund*. Taking the ticket turned out to be a brush with disaster but it reminded me that I am too old for that kind of chain gang labor. There was a time twenty years earlier when I could work 8 to 10 hours with a shovel and not complain but if I want to make some money and survive I need to get into manufacturing again. I plan to scour the papers for work and call back several temp agencies. One agency is in Laconia and has advertised for multiple assembly jobs. Maybe I’ll go up there. Driving to central New Hampshire in mid November with no job and no place to live is not a fantastic idea but the alternative is to drive south into New York and see what comes up. But I don’t even have enough liquid cash to make that trip. I’m sure the Labor Ready in Manhattan has work and I could make my way to Florida in stages. As I lay in my van I know I can not possibly answer every question, but at least I’m asking the right questions. I needed money so I made $50 without taking my pants off. That’s a step in the right direction.

*It took 5 years, but Oggy successfully drove his van to Guatemala.
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.