Monday, January 18, 2010

The American Challenge

Something was missing from my room...but what? I looked everywhere for that one piece of accenting decor. Like in the Big Lebowski. The rug brought the room together. I found it at a pawn shop where all my expensive clothes went today. Yes, I went to sell things to buy some bread and butter but I COULD NOT resist this item.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That IS an American Flag border. Flags and eagles. Why not? You see, this velvetine wall hanging was manufactured around the time of Rocky IV...the one where he fights Drago in Russia. How funny is that? Russia. The Cold War. The Berlin Wall. Rocky III. We lived through those times. No wonder we're so fucked up. Something like 130 million people live on less than $4 a day since the fall of Leninism. Way to go Reagan! And everyone blames Communism. In 30 years it's only gotten worse! Maybe Karl Marx was onto something!

Anyway, 1985 was a dark time. The picture is from Rocky III when he beats Mr. T Clubber Lang but we'll have to forgive the inconsistencies.
It was manufactured as swag in 1985, which is when Rocky IV was released. Maybe that is why there are four "Rocky" words. Or is that a stretch? Rocky IV, incidentally, has the worst of the worst gratuitous scenes in the world where Rocky ponders his decision to fight Drago by...get this...DRIVING REALLY FAST in his sports car. It's so so awful but I admit I loved it as a 14 year old pup in 1985. It was so awesome. I thought that when I get signed by the Red Sox I would ALSO drive fast in my sports car. I even saw a big poster of a Lamborghini in my brother's basement that used to hang in my 1985 bedroom with my Dwight Evans poster (maybe I'll get it and hang it up here hahahah).
Eddie is right. The L. Countach is the red one. The black one is a Jalpa. I think he drove the Jalpa in the scene I'm talking about. I had a poster of a white Lambo Countach 5000. It was so awesome!

It's all coming back to me...

Now Rocky hangs where he belongs in the Laconia group home. It's an American Challenge to keep getting up every day. The felon down the hall was yelling at the Christian death metal musician this morning.
"You clean ya hair outta tha sink! What the fuck!"
Then it snowed a foot and everyone was out shoveling, Mary wheezing and huffing asthma medication.
Bob, the man who has a death pool on him (I chose May 20th) was not in the action. His club feet and walker prohibit anything but a slow shuffle to the bathroom where he empties his colostomy bag. MMMMM. That's what I like smelling when I cook my breakfast.

But Fred says the valve factory might be hiring in February. So there's that to look forward to. Free showers to get the lead off your skin!! What a deal. I bet they bury you in the company graveyard, which is sealed with cement. hahahahah

So, Rocky is my new idol. It's the American challenge. To get up when the Dragos of the world have you beaten. You have to get angry and stay angry. It's not how hard you hit, but how hard you can be hit and still fight. Every day here is like getting pounded in the head at a WWF cage match. But I get up. And I think, I'm going to crack this nut today. I'm going to write the Santa Cruz book that only I can write. Let me tell you what that means.
Just a taste....

"The public council meeting was attended by the Food Not Bombs crew, and Pirate Radio had a live broadcast from the bushes near the City Hall with updates from a news runner who relayed the proceedings every twenty minutes. Robert stood on the lawn outside the City Hall where he was contributing his part to a Communist Manifesto Marathon.

“…The average price of wage labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer. What, therefore, the wage-laborer appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence…”

For the past 14 hours someone had been reading from the Communist Manifesto and the goal was 24 hours of disadvantaged proletarians reading their bible. Donations were accepted in a paper cup. Nearby, Justice was strumming his worn guitar and singing, “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me….”

A man in a flannel shirt passed quickly and yelled out, “Get a job, you worthless bums!”

Justice called back, “Hey, wage slave, fuck off!”

Robert continued, “…all that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it…”

In the City Hall the public comments had extended into their third hour as citizens from every corner came out to voice their opinion on the Wal-Mart question. Mayor Kennedy tolerated the mayhem with aplomb and kept the wheels of democracy turning, evicting hippies like a man with a bandanna over one eye and a sign that read "Santa Cruz says NO to Hannah Montana."

But is that going to work? I don't like it. It feels like I don't have a muse. I'm not telling it to anyone. I'm out of my element writing in the third person because I think it has to be for everyone. I stare and stare at the screen. I'm writing something but it isn't my book. I'm describing the book I want to write but the writing itself isn't natural. Please, let me write this book as I know I can. But I read it and it sounds like anyone could write it. That's not good enough. Because I know things about this situation that no one else does. So only I can write this particular book in this particular way. See? I know the story, but that is minor. The story is simple. I've got that. I know what happens. But there is a whole vegan underbelly to it that is indescribably insane. Like when Rabbit in Updike's book goes to get laid and his kid and the lady's kid (not his wife) are sleeping and the lady's robe opens up and she doesn't put it back. And it is on. And...the details. That's all I can say. SO WHAT that there is a communist manifesto marathon?? Big deal. Anyone can tell you about that. I know other things. The tears and the sweat and the reek of stale coffee in reused cups and the college drop outs shuffling on the lawn and the books of Zen poetry and the plans to start a commune in the forest and the yoga and chess games. What about those? What about the...ah...this is it. This is the shit. The girl, the molested girl...who was hugged by the pirate radio DJ and the hippy boyfriend said, "No. You don't touch her." And there was a fight on the lawn by the boxes of plastic cups...all the while the girl's mom was being arrested for walking on the highway (hitchhiking to pick up some extra money giving blowjobs) and of course there was the high fever the hippy got that blinded him in one eye so that when he went before a judge on civil disobedience charges he was wearing a pirate bandanna over one eye because any light caused extreme pain. His defense speech was laced with quotes from Socrates. He was amazed he was found guilty. Crying, he left the courtroom on crutches because his left foot was completely deformed.

I tell you that it is an ocean of details that I can only inject one syringe at a time. That's the problem. There is too much to tell because you will never be able to keep up with the truth. It's impossible. I can tell you what went down there but then you will look at your front door and think "That's out there. That is all out that door." and you won't want to leave. ever.

So, the American challenge is to get all those details into one seamless thread that makes sense. But how?

furthermore, it has to be done by the second week of February so I can submit it to the amazon book challenge. That is also when all my money will be gone and I'll be back in the van without electricity.

help me, Rocky. Help me.

Here's that first paragraph, edited as though I were writing to someone I wanted to entertain. See, that's the thing. I want to entertain. I'm not just trying to tell the story of some useless hippies. I want it to be entertaining. Anyone could tell the story of the Dust Bowl. A bunch of poor farmers wander to California. Pick peaches. Get exploited. Some leave. Some survive. It's America. But Steinbeck wrote the story that he saw. And it was good. I still cry on the last page in the rain in the barn. That's the story. Sort of contrived, but it works. It's Rocky...

The public council meeting, the part that was predetermined by shady back room dealings, was attended by a divided Food Not Bombs crew. Kim and Robert wanted to treat the Wal-Mart vote like a democracy where their voice would be added to the chorus of dissent and thus bring about real change, celebration and deeply moving unification of community. Freedom wanted to join the Anarchist Brigade and firebomb the whole building, igniting revolution and eventual return to agrarianism. The city hall would be renamed "Che Guevara Revolution Hall" and would house the new Bureau of Equality. Consensus was never reached. Pirate Radio provided a live broadcast from the bushes near the parking garage with updates from a skinny news runner who relayed the proceedings to Radio Head Tom every twenty minutes. Robert stood in ragged canvas pants, barefoot, smoking American Spirit Cigs, rocking on the lawn outside the City Hall where he was contributing his part to a Communist Manifesto Marathon in a strong voice. He hardly needed the book so perfect was his retention of the philosophic and contextual material.

It's better but I'm still not rolling in my seat. It's not really entertaining. It's just informative. Is it worth cutting down a tree to print on? Not really. Would Rocky think it's good?


hobo soup said...

i would offer that you need to create as trong character, then another then they can interact. You give us so many one liner characters my head spins. Treat them more humanely, make me understand why she;s on a highway giving blowjobs. Instead it's a laundry list of weirdos. I won't learn anything from a laundry list, except what's dirty.

eddie said...

i believe the car in question in Rocky 4 was a Lamborghini, not a Ferrari. Just saying. Don't play Rocky for a fool.

Oggy Bleacher said...

both excellent comments

Hobo junk man, you are right. It all comes down to character. Don't treat them like puppets. They are like Pinocchio and I bring them to life but they have souls of their own and cause their own mischief.
Although, Tom Joad didn't really have much character. He just got out of jail...drove across the country...saw exploitation...went off to start a union.

I'll pay more mind to that. What do I need an MFA program for when I have you?

More importantly, there was no Ferrari in Rocky 4, as Ed points out. I made some changes to reflect this detail.

I think I'm pre-diabetic and get these lapses in comprehension if I eat too much sugar...or not enough.

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