Noise

“For the most sensitive among us, sometimes the noise can just be too much.” – Jim Carrey – upon hearing of the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The cross city bus clamors out a murderous seasick solo backed by an orchestral scrum of whizzing internal combustion engines in uproarious brawl spewing invisible air and ear pollution death while begging for second gear; both instruments of audio-olfactory destruction, an offense to the ear and nose from landlocked personal space-ships bumper to bumper on the narrow streets of San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood; all, along with the antique streetcars sing out a cacophony of noise so disturbing I had to hold the phone, physically 1,500 miles away from the action, six inches from my ear.

Our story’s hero Jeff is laboring, careening up and down intensely inclined ski sloop streets chasing said bus while he screams into his cell phone at me “Man, the first thing you’d notice if you came back is the noise”. I tell him he’s preaching to the choir. The air in my environs of northern Wisconsin is so calm I can hear the sound of autumn leaves rustling along the well-kept lawns and iridescent blue birds singing their daily arias.

Writers flood into big cities, whether they know it or not, to be uncomfortable; since like the late, great Charles Bukowski opined “no one comfortable ever wrote anything worth a damn”. The city is life on steroids; it’s intensity keeping us all tense. The boulevard is a raging river of humanity and sometimes inhumanity. There is rarely a shortage of stimuli upon which to opine. Here the writers cup runneth over.

Our hero confides he’s been reaching back into his past to make that connection that sooner or later, sooner I think for some of us given recent societal developments, we all eventually make; that DNA linked memory to our roots. Jeff is currently covered by a warm blanket; surrounded by like-minded west coast social justice warriors – yet when looking back over his shoulder in contemplation of revisiting comrades from his mid-western past; he is floored, repulsed and catatonic over the addiction he sees in his childhood pals adherence to the new ersatz fascism; the redneck noise that is Trumpism.

In the same way it’s nearly impossible to escape the noise coming at us all like a Chinese parade, from eight different directions all at once; it’s the same for our natural inclination to decipher the content and arrange it in some assemblage of bite-size order. Is it as it seems? Is the new avalanche of information overwhelming our capacity to upload, sort-out and categorize it’s meaning and importance so we might get a handle on our collective future?

It can’t only be me and our hero who, overwhelmed by the noise, wish solace in heeding the wise voices from our past. Timothy Leary’s advise was “tune-in, turn-on and drop out.” Or the angelic voices of groovy guru of the day who suggest wandering in an open field for mindfulness training. Or the Birkenstocks environmentalist who insist we head back to nature and hug a tree; or the mental spiritualist that whisper meditation is the key. Maybe the best of them are the Tantra yogi’s who claim sexual pleasure is the way in and out; that the answer is a bit more of the old in and out. Being a hedonist myself I tend to flow in this direction.

Yet, with escape valves in place in case of overload and prayers to the universe for guidance, I can’t help myself wanting to sort through the noise and discover, like a pathfinder, which direction to point; for myself and others. The Stoics posited that the philosopher left the cave, examined the outside world and returned to tell the others of the joys and dangers outside the cave.

Now they’re be a noble and heroic cause; to be a fearless scout in the face of unknown dangers; to be a trailblazer for the greater good in a quest to report, interpret and transmit the findings. The conundrum seems to be we can’t translate through the noise to know what’s coming if we disengage from it.

In the end I’m left perplexed. Shall we try to make a path through the noise though we fear not knowing the answers and fear worse not even understanding the questions? Are we all just like our hero; wishing to be heroes; but succumbing to the dictates of surviving the day and reach for the safety and sanity of just catching that bus? #rednecknoise #Stoics #Trumpism #CharlesBukowski

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Carnival in Purgatory

Baby here we stand again, like we’ve been so many times before. Even though you looked so sure; as I was watching you; walking out my door. But you always walk back in like you did today; acting like you never even; went away.” “Here Come Those Tears Again.” – Jackson Browne

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I went to the poetry reading. The roads snaked like a river, a main cable that plugged right into her. I knew as I hit the door it wouldn’t be anything. These academy kids had all the juice squeezed out of them years ago. In another ten years they’d be looking out office windows in high rise buildings on some Market street wondering why their lives were so meaningless.

The room was full of zombies, walking dead, fake people who never stared into a wound in their lives. They hid it, ran home and Mommy put a bandage on it. They would never find out who they were. Lonely, troubled, anxious women surveyed the room for their next victim.

The poets read, barely audible, terrified, like the words were precious, frail and fragile. The future chief of police shushed the crowd. It’s was pure Valium, plain oatmeal, no one laughed, no one cried, no one kissed, no fights broke out and no one bled, not even the poets. Burroughs, Bukowski, Kerouac and Ginsburg somewhere on the ethereal plain bent over retching, leaking blood from their eyes. I knew if they could hear such pabulum they’d never stop throwing up. It smelled like slow death in there; malaria, nightmares. I had to bounce.

I could feel her pulsating torment all the way up the stairs. I made my way to where the vibrations emanating. The room had those suicide windows. Shit man, somebody turn down the lights and put on some make out music. She was the only thing there that was alive. She buzzed all sadness and lonely eyes begging for relief. I headed for the door.

The cool night air slapped me awake. I started the engine and gave it some gas. I was covered in a patina of regret. I headed for the Bay where the fog cleansed me. By now Cassie was cleaning the spoons and closing the lights. A June bug flew from the warmth it once knew. I measured the distance between our hearts and caught the last train for the coast. #love # passion #poets #carnival #purgatory

Paradisio

“Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat; covering the crossroads that I’m standing at. Or maybe it’s the weather or something like that; but mama, you’re just on my mind”Bob Dylan

My once upon a time wife passed over to the other side a few months ago and today a message came to me, circuitously through our shared progeny and the family grapevine, by way of a dream had by our offspring, telling me to be careful not to do a thing that, inexplicably, I had just decided to no longer do.

Not sure if she’s watching me or if my thoughts caught the firmament and landed in my son’s psyche. I suspect the latter more likely only since the former would be just too flattering; what with all she’d now be able to watch, if in fact she’s gained that power, she’d spend those winged hours watching over me.

I’d be cool with either the celestial or the extra terrestrial phenomenon. If she is watching me she knows I’m living under an open heaven; writing in the wee hours  when the balmy silence of my paradise encapsulates my typer and me; freeing us to immortalize the only record that tracks my moods.

The moon has vanished and its afterglow is back-lighting the proud formations of ancient tree stands that silhouette both gods, and my, impeccable landscape; forming low rolling mountains around the bucolic void of an idle lake outside my beloved writing window.

The absent moon has left bite marks on the sky; all the rooms in my mansion smell like jasmine and when I finally succumb to slumber, if at all tonight, my soul will take up the dreams of the ghosts who slept here before me; maybe even dreams of her.

In these wee hours when thinking turns to feeling a perfect loneliness nestles beside me as I contemplate the length, breath, width and depth of the gratitude my Muse wisdom’s me to ponder daily; reminding me that every person, and every thing, around me is an energetic reflection of some aspect of my inner state of being. She counsels my heart to choose to BE Love and watch the world transform, amaze, delight and inspire.

The great Kurt Vonnegut also provides me with similar and equally profound advice half way through Slaughterhouse Five; the very same advice he was given by the Tralfamadorians, and it seems to have been forever ingrained in my DNA even before either of them said it; proof of Jung’s theory of collective consciousness.

Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones. Well hell, maybe that’s, after all, the secret and the purpose and the meaning of life. If it is; it’s plenty good enough for me.

 

I’ll Never Forget What’s Her Name

“If you’re traveling to the North Country Fair; where the winds hit heavy on the borderline; remember me to one who lives there; for she once was; a true love of mine.”Girl from the North CountryBob Dylan

She’d come by the Commune’ selling Kush she hawked for her dealer on the side.  Smoking hot, tiny and tight and Midwestern lovely with an air that spoke she came from good stock; a daddy’s little rich girl getting her kicks playing bad on the dirty side of the field; had that wild but pure charisma thing going in spades; a real heart breaker.

I never spoke to her much; Maverick did the deals with her and she’d hang for a while afterwards and toke up a bowl with us. She always gave me the eye and like most of them saw the power and indifference and probably relished the challenge; wanted it to be sure; maybe she thought it would rub off on her or maybe she just wanted to get inside of it. I was used to the whimsical possessive vibe; a common occurrence for innocent flower children in that era.

One night she came by to see me and in no time flat off we sped in her rocket ride straight to her parents’ house. The electricity had long built up between us so it wasn’t more than ten minutes after she led me to her bedroom that we crashed into each other.

“You’re such a stud. Most guys I know are wimps. You’ve got charisma and I like your muscles and you’re smart but mostly I like that you’re cocky and you have a cock a girl wants to marry”, she said as we tangled the bed-clothes. I didn’t know if that last gush was a compliment or not but I didn’t ask since when she said it she had her hand down my pants and my little head in a passionate death grip.

She was a talker and after the deed was done held forth some more. “That thing you did to my toes last night made me come a little”, she said. I like that you waited cause’ when you finally (she drew out this word) touched me I came”, she said. She wouldn’t stop romancing me and I didn’t want her to though she was reciting this rock hardening stuff like learned rote from a script; but then she was an aspiring actress and it sounded rehearsed. I joined in and as she melted into me with every compliment I laid them on like hot southern gravy on mashed potatoes. Hours passed and I kept hearing that commercial that plays over and over every time I turn on my TV. “For an erection that lasts more than four hours seek medical help”.

Nurse!

She was my toy and I couldn’t stop playing with her;  an Olympian in the sack and our acrobatics would have gotten a ten from the judges. I now understand why some are driven to video tape their sex-escapades though I keep ours locked in my brain vault. Her body was at once like Masonite yet soft and yielding with those ski sloop breast and high shelf bottom. She had skin like alabaster and long strawberry colored hair; a classic Irish Colleen.

She was young, way too young for me, maybe fifteen years my junior; so much so that when she said “fuck me daddy” I finally managed to form a declarative sentence.  Well, I started to but now she sounded sincere and so good that I just kept mute. My endorphins were firing overtime and I could taste the adrenaline in my mouth even past her tongue which tasted like cherries. She smelled like rain and must have paid a fortune for that underwear which she had stripped down to in the most erotic way. It was an epic communion; but to be fair her bed was firm and lent itself to achieving maximum purchase.

I could hear bird’s chirping and kids playing outside. It must be Sunday morning I thought; we’d been up all night. I could hear her padding around on the hard wood floor fussing to find her sexy little waitress uniform. She ran a bath and lead me to the fragrant steamy bubble bath. She bathed me with a sea sponge and made sure the experience would be memorable; I was catatonic. She pried me out of the tub and dried me off with a huge Turkish bath towel, wrapped me in it and told me to lie down on the cushy couch while she made a breakfast of Belgium waffles with honey and blueberries and the best coffee I ever tasted.

I passed out on the couch and she went to work waiting tables. When she got back I had just gotten up and dressed. She packed a bag and we jumped into her Volkswagen and headed for the Wisconsin border where I had a buddy with a farm-house out in the boonies; wood stove, no heat; outhouse; real rustic. She’d scored some Mexican brown from the bus boys at the restaurant and we pulled over to inhale some. It was my first time and it was trans-formative. I was flying high with angels, truly in heaven. I was so in love lust I had to pull over to the shoulder every ten miles or so just so we could make out which elicited frantic honks from jealous truckers.

Once we got to the farmhouse and got settled we all dropped some acid; then did some more brown. The third day in it hit me like being kicked in the belly by a mule. I staggered outside and dropped face first into the snow writhing in pain. When it passed I went back inside and they all, looking at me in shock, said I had turned pure white. That was some weekend.

We drove back to the commune’ and she left then came back the next day wanting more but I was busy. Just then two euro-trash yuppies pulled up in a convertible sports car and in she hopped and away they went never to be seen again. I think her name was Barbara or Sandra; something with an “a” in it.

After the way she’d slow danced with my soul I’d planned to give her six months. Had she stayed with me she’d have been two years just catching her breath. But by the time she came back, lost and lonely, I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; on my way to Africa; half way around the world.

Man she sure could cook.

 

Escape

“If America’s for the winners; what’s for the losers”?  Junior BonnerSam Peckinpah 

Well, those boys just couldn’t keep still. It was only Thursday night and the late spring sun was still dancing vapor trails over the Golden Gate Bridge on San Francisco Bay and there they were, once again, hanging with the Bowery Boys. It was a real tough crowd this time of day; hard drinkers with sullen shadows; longshoremen with grizzled hands and hobos rolling in off the gutter with a fresh fiver from a deposit at the blood bank. Joey and Roy were as fidgety as trapped animals and they would not be tamed. They knew this was not going to end well so they took their pleasures as they could and to them living any other way was a waste of life.

Joey tucked a C-note under his empty shot glass and winked a goodbye in the direction of the bartender then threw his arm around Roy’s slim shoulder and guided him toward the door. “You should watch your dollars Joey” Roy said. “Relax, Roy Boy, cash don’t have handles on it. Its only dirty paper anyhow, we’ll just make some more. Besides; you know crime don’t pay”. They both chuckled and waved a goodnight to Singing Sally and her perfect legs encased in peddle-pushers jack-knifed on the bar stool like swizzle-sticks.

Waves from their laughter fell in the stank dead air and bounced like a knife off the pavement outside the Pair-O-Dice Lounge in the Bowery section south of Canal when Cool Breeze and his new girl turned the corner. “What it is gents” said Cool Breeze. “Who you got there” asked Roy. “Meet my new lady fellas” said Cool Breeze. What’s your name sweetheart, asked Joey. “Lotta Goo” she answered.

“Cool give you that name” asked Roy. “I named her after a doughnut I was eating when I met her in New Orleans last week” chimed Cool in his best sing-song fashion. “You all take care out here; full moon yonder and that demon is in these streets tonight” Joey said with an earnest concern. “Heard, got the word; hell I smelled that beast myself. But hey man, you all know I’m too sweet to eat” sang Cool. “Catch you later Cool; night to you angel” said Roy. “No you won’t” yelled Cool as he sauntered down the street with his meal ticket in tow. “Why not”, Joey shot back. And with his best pimp smile, the one he practiced for hours in the mirror, Cool proclaimed; “cause I’m a sly fly” Cool chimed.

Roy and Joey strode down Market Street with a here today gone tomorrow swagger. The pressure built inside them and rose like the steam from the manhole covers rising like the whole damn city was ready to blow. The loneliness that lay between them was stark but though unmentioned could not be denied. Neither had kept a full-time night woman. They were too selfish for that; both were serial killers when it came to love affairs; having dead-ed in shambles three relationships each with some pretty decent women who had a penchant for bad boys with style and charm.

Joey secretly thought about Sweet Mary and how she loved him; how a woman like that mellowed a man out; helped him keep the devil down in the hole; how he could always make her laugh and how it pieced his heart like a needle shot straight out of a mirror when she did and how she slowed him down enough to now and then eat a meal or two she’d cooked for him.

He could feel her in his arms wrapped around him like silver foil; making love in zero gravity, while angels flew above their cathedral bed in a scene so passionate it burned their shadows into those walls; Jesus weep. And he thought to himself, secreted from his compatriot, how each time, when it was over, he melted into her and slept the sleep of an honest man. #love #goldengatebridge  #BoweryBoys