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.

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