Friday, September 16, 2011

Spinning my Wheels

The low clouds finally surrendered their payload on Corner Brook, choosing the hours of 2 and 3 am to unleash buckets of rain on Oggy's weathered van. I'm no climatologist but I think the dust storms from the drought in the west are the cause of what has been called the wettest summer in Newfoundland history. Rain is h2o collecting around dust more dust in the west equals more rain in the east. I've fought the leaks for months now and can't believe the water is sneaking past an entire cylinder of silicone epoxy. The windows leak and the windshield leaks and the dampness creeps into the bed. I'd had stomach trouble for a few days and this afternoon figured out why. The loaf of manager's special flax bread was as moldy as a witch's fruit salad. Why would I eat moldy bread? Because my evening snack time now arrives in darkness and I've been sticking my hand blindly into the bread bag to get 1/2 a slice to put 1 tbsp of unsweetened peanut butter on it. It tasted ok but ten minutes later my belly was belching like a Hank Williams song. Days went by of this and finally I wanted a half a sandwich during daylight hours. So I pull the chest out of the damp corner it resides in and open it up, resisting the urge to eat a marshmallow, which are rationed now at one per week, and get my bread and...what the hell? Maybe I can tear the mold, it's totally moldy. I've been eating it for days but whatever bacteria has been growing in the flax does not agree with the bacteria fighting for survival in my gut.

Now I'm reluctant to replace the bread. I think crackers will be the better choice. Or maybe eat the peanut butter off the knife and be done with it. DO I need starch?

The rain makes it impossible to play music on the street, which is my alternate plan to put some queen Elizabeth quarters in my pocket. The first plan is to stand near the Kent hardware store, basically a Lowes, and wave my work gloves at passing trucks, which is the universal sign for "Mexican for Hire: I Ask No Question"

I've been trolling the job market in New England and see a job repairing musical instruments and accessories in my future. I waffle on the idea of writing and researching for the World Watch Institute because I see them as basically fund raisers for their own causes but using the WWI moniker as a cloak of legitimacy. I know that any change in paradigm that happens must take place in ones own life first. There are no short cuts and no number of articles talking about cfl lightbulbs is going to change anything. The world will change, as it always has, at the last possible second...after a hurricane wipes the earth clean from Miami to Atlanta, after New York is hit with a Tsunami. Etc. We are a clever animal and the will to survive at all costs is evident.

Dennison said, "In our lifetime there will be millions and millions of people dying in global catastrophes. We will become numb to genocide."

And history would basically support that prediction. With more people alive today the catastrophes will naturally be bigger and our means of anesthetic relief are better today than ever. The 1918 flu epidemic didn't stop the Red Sox from winning the world series that year for the last time in 86 years.

I wonder where that leaves us in the light of the universe? When God is eclipsed by Mickey Mouse dancing to distract us from a police state then are we better off? I think we're getting to the bottom of the human relevance scale and conversely inflating our own importance. Before Copernicus and Galileo, humans and the earth were important. Now that we are scientifically proven to be universally insignificant it has become imperative that we survive. This makes no sense. The nihilist is supposed to be depressed and despondent and drink black coffee and not have kids but the urge to procreate increases in the face of ultimate despair. Are there proportionately as many doomsday prophets today as there were in 300 A.D.?

I think it goes back to the cat in the bag metaphor. Once the cat has escaped the bag, the baby is born, the song is written, the axe thrown, then there is no way to put it all back in place. The world will not wait for the eagle to learn to fly. The eagle must fly or die. It doesn't care that it is endangered. The wolf is extinct from New Foundland. The Great Auk is extinct from the earth. Men are as thick as fleas on a dog's ass. But the philosophical injustice this presents makes no difference because there is hidden in us all a genetic understanding that we're 3 degree F away from a climate so hellish it'll make last summer feel like a stroll through an air conditioned mall. So, we prepare, or in my case, we pontificate and procrastinate. My contributions to society are markedly unwanted and undesired. They aren't even very creative or original. I've been called a "waste of air space" and "vagrant" and I can't defend myself against those accusations. So, what is my motivation to lift myself from my damp makeshift mattress and prepare my van for travel under damp skies and hostile stares of morning commuters on their way to the pulp mill? I sit in a library with thousands of books (that are quickly becoming obsolete and dusty) but I think I can add one more to their ranks. Mutual funds for Canadians. Badges of Canadian Armed Forces. The Menopause Book. Coping with Macular Degeneration. War. Breaking Bad Habits. Where does mine fit in there? Does it matter except to my own delusion that I can complete the great Santa Cruz saga and see it pirated to Singapore?

I'm in a 6 mile holding pattern in Corner Brook from the defacto used car lot to the supermarket parking lot where I use the bathroom and check on my vacuum modulator at Canadian Tire, to the Sir Richard Squires building where the library offers some refuge and view of a single red leaf maple tree that has jumped the gun on its photosynthesis hiatus. Then back to the used car parking lot where the van sits with stove pipe sticking out into the rain like the ugly girl at a bar amid pretty Hondas and Fuel Efficient Toyotas. Maybe I should put a for sale sign on the windshield. Cloud cover is complete and puddles are forming in my wheel wells. I will wait a few more days because the weather has turned sour anyway. I have a bad neck from sitting and typing for too many hours but I've bought a manual on how to crochet and now realize some of the mistakes I've been making with my hats. It turns out that most hats are actually crocheted as flat scarves and then slip-stitched together at the seam and drawn in at the top. This was news to me since all I do is crochet in a spiral until the thing fits on my head. Why is that important? I think it is a matter of self-deception.

The Fast Carnival

"And we laugh like soft, mad children snug in the wooly cotton brains of infancy."

Jim Morrison*

*Ghost Song on The American Prayer album

When Jim Morrison wrote those words he may have been standing on the wooden Santa Cruz boardwalk overlooking the blond beach sands that masquerade as soft luxury to teenage ideals questing for realism behind the Hollywood prop curtain. That curtain fell and rose on Santa Cruz as it fell on Morrison's neon Los Angeles and The Grateful Dead's undulating San Francisco and Lou Reed's cockroach New York, but the Sainted Town of the Cross has more rain than sunshine, little neon and many dying addicts dreaming they are swimming in tropical seas while knee deep in the piss poisoned storm drain gutters. Winter brings fog that lays wet on the blankets of the flower children and falls as rain on the cheap wooden guitars brought to sing the traveler's ode, Me and Bobby McGee, bending the bridges and fingerboards away from weakened carpenter's glue. The weather washes over the stately redwoods and floods the hibiscus-scented, rape-friendly river levees (near where Oggy's drama unfolds) when storm clouds blow even wetter winds through the graying hair of portly street sages, the pot smoke filtering between ravaged and unflossed teeth, through lips that have sucked cock and eaten cunt and spoken profound poetry on both. Morrison's voice has more than a trace of irony at his own ideal of infancy and the tattered ruin that became his own LSD manufactured umbilical cord, employed too late and too often as a lifeline to the Gone Days, the Black and White Days, the 8mm Days before Zapruder and The Fab Four cast their strawberry colored shadow over Haight Ashbury's panhandlers and lesbian meter maids. Did Morrison know his words would find their way to an album, sans his permission, post-mortem, orchestrated by his musical step-brothers? Perhaps Morrison knew too well his own desires were grown up, not childish, but mad, indeed and the laughter was hard, not soft, and, furthermore, the gingham cotton of Patsy Cline had become pin-stripped polyester of Janis Joplin destined for the vintage clothes stores of Seattle and celebrity auctions of Hong Kong. Morrison's words are tinged with regret his tone is nostalgic at too young an age (25) forced, like he himself was, too early from the crib and cradle, too unprepared was he to play the "public man" role for teen gigilo, the mystery lover creeping into the bedrooms of virgin daughters and sticking his tongue down their throats at 33.5 revolutions per minute. He ravaged the mad children and then exposed himself to their parents, mocking their Eisenhower morals with his bourbon induced impotence. Then he sold our virginity back to us in song and left the parents of 1967-1973 to solve their own soap opera-diagnosed marital problems with self-help psychology and divorce. Impregnated through radio waves, the wooly cotton brains were alight with self-deception. The illegitimate children of the rock gods wove their tapestry in paisley and peppermint and cocaine. The youth movement briefly broke free of the corporate Disney-inspired technicolor suburbia Kerouac had failed to prevent and the picket fences were uprooted for magical fairy huts moments before being replaced with chain link while Morrison's own children remained unnamed and forsaken thus completing the infertile cycle. Those fairy huts remained undisturbed in the dark and rainy Santa Cruz forests, waiting for new residents to stumble upon them and take refuge from the snarling search dogs, residents such as the martyred Oggy and his loyal Magdalene, the beautiful Isabelle, both fated for biblical destinies described herein.

Of children (flower children, grown children, counting nickles and thrusting batons on leather lanyards) I have much to describe since the children of the street, the forest nymphs, the beach bunnies dwelling in their virtuous sand castles all play different and compelling roles in my story. It is my intention to detail the causes and effects of the street culture and carnage as I observed it in Santa Cruz circa 1994-1996. A natural history of this time period, a puzzling out of all the factors and features, is called for and it is what I will supply. Different cities or this city in a different time period are no doubt distinct with a myriad of similarities and differences. I make no attempt to compare or contrast different cities or time periods to the focus of my own investigations, thus a comprehensive conclusion may not be reached at this time. However, mad and soft as I am, snug in my own wooly innocence, allow me to haphazard my own conclusions so future astronauts bound for my own solar system of super nova sophomores may be primed accordingly. As it stands, my present work examines in detail the status and ramifications and alleged causation of the adjunct culture evolving and the defacto decay of street denizens then and now living in crack hotels and VW vans and behind the abandoned Ferris wheel amid debris from forgotten ages where you would ordinarily not even store used plastic buckets.

To the major movers who graciously and sometimes unwillingly provided me with interviews, primary source manuscripts, shelter and sustenance, I am grateful. Any errors should be regarded as my own oversight and any illuminating treasures should be regarded as a gift from these selfless feature players. It is my hope and expectation that this work will satisfy the conditions for my self-designed degree in Comparative Literature, Sociology and Social Reform. My lengthy research notes have been included along with various and sundry audio and videotapes when they could be retrieved from police evidence. Oggy's unabridged "Argument to Dismiss Charges on Grounds of Unconstitutional Vagueness and Moral Weakness" as well as his "Affirmation of Request to Dismiss on Grounds of Philosophical Unsustainability" have been included in their entirety as well as being referred to in the text itself. The accompanying supplement "Profiles in Homelessness: An Illustrated Guide to identifying the Homeless" was illustrated by my friend and colleague, Moses of Santa Cruz. Autopsy reports and Police case files have been included when permission to reprint was granted. Status of ongoing criminal cases and "at large" man hunts are listed in the final chapter.

Santa Cruz is a poem that is written in shifting sands by violent waters. The hypodermic needles washed into the Bay of Monterrey bear traces of blood but lack the voice to describe their Pacific Saga from beneath the stone bridges to the bathrooms and plastic port-o-potties of the parks and onward down the chain of abuse to the washed out steps of eroded beach access stairwells. My own opinions are not and can not be withheld from this manuscript. Journalism, non-fiction, cold reporting, are not in my carnival repertoire. I have attempted to be honest in my assessment of the facts as I observed them but I do not think my conclusions or bias will be shared by all who read this ghost song. Where actual interviews are transcribed I have set these in italics. Much is conjecture based on interviews and observation but all is a humble attempt to puzzle this moment in history to its 3 dimensional, chaotic, glory. Critics are welcome to respond.

"Back in those days," wrote Jim Morrison, "everything was simpler and more confused." To those days we now alight, like lonely stoned wolves descending to our immaculate granite den.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.