Monday, November 30, 2009
The bartender looked good. Big surprise, right? I’m kind of predictable that way. She was very thoroughly tattooed. She had one half-sleeve and a great deal of patchwork on the other arm. Intense stuff too. Looked like H.R. Giger’s work in black and white. Nice and curvy, she was just mildly overweight, blond hair, bright purple eye shadow, a ring in her lip, spider web tights, and a “Possessed” t-shirt. She looked like she could break up a fight. Doubtless she has, on more than one occasion. She looked to be just over 30. I was smitten at first glance. She was a knockout. Most of the office was there. Shawn got a new job, and this was his going away party. He was a good guy. Everybody mingled and circulated throughout the bar. None of my co-workers seemed impressed with her. I didn’t get it. I’m not sure how you could see her as anything short of stunning, though I’m sure they all thought she was scummy and/or dirty, if they even noticed her at all. Whatever. I’m sure she was leading a fuller, happier, more interesting life than any one of them, or any number of them combined. She had soul by the boatload. I wanted to go talk to her, though I feared I’d look antisocial if I just sat with the bartender. I might have also had to answer some questions later that I just wouldn’t feel like answering. They all know that I’m married. It would have been awkward and stupid. Not worth it. It occurred to me, though, that your taste in anything says a lot about you, your depth of character and your sense of identity. Food, music, women, cars, etc. All things in life are subjective, and thus there are no “right” choices. It’s easy to see, that most people don’t spend a great deal of time looking, thinking, or evaluating on their own, however. Most peoples’ values come out of a can, and it’s not even a very good can. It’s a B.O.G.O. at Wal-Mart kind of can. Whatever’s on sale and whatever everybody else is getting. It seems like most people don’t even really know what they like.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I admire things that imply the failure of other things simply by their naked existence. A spare tire implies not only the failure of the tire that it’s replacing, but it also points to the limitations of tires in general. Divorce attorneys highlight the finitude of love and the volatile and temperamental nature of human sentiments. Police allude to our inability to behave. Churches illuminate our failure to grapple with the fact that we’re all alone in the universe. Shoe polish indicates leather’s lack of natural shine and resilience. Wars imply the failure of diplomacy and cooler heads. My garage full of art proves my failure to ever sell any of my work. My daily one-hour commute to my miserable job implies my stupidity and complacency.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
On my way home from work today I got a flat tire, in four lanes of gridlocked rush hour traffic. It happened on 5th avenue, which runs through the heart of the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. I made it from the 2nd lane over to the right side of the road. I pulled over by the sidewalk into a metered space. I put a quarter in it, because it was before 6pm, and a parking ticket would just add insult to injury. I got out the spare, the tire iron and the scissor jack. It took a bit of struggle to get the jack in a stable spot underneath the car. It went up, though. The hubcap came off pretty easily, and all the nuts did likewise. All of them except one, which was a little reluctant to come loose. I managed to slip and pinch my hand between the tire iron and the curb in the process of its forceful removal, opening a decent little hole in the meat of my right hand. It bled quickly, and the blood mixed with the dirt already accumulated. The wheel itself, however, was rusted firmly into place. I couldn’t pull it off. I couldn’t even get it to wiggle. College kids streamed past, beautiful girls in short skirts and boys without convictions. They were all young and clean. I am not a proud man, and I would have happily asked one for help, but I just didn’t see any of these guys with more upper body than me. They all looked thin and soft. Filthy, and sweating completely through my clothes, I knelt in the gutter with my blackened hands, one also bloodied now. A woman walking down the sidewalk handing out religious pamphlets approached me, asked if I knew about the lord Jesus Christ, and waved a pamphlet in my face. I wondered if I took the fucking thing, would the lord Jesus Christ come down from his ivory fucking tower and change this goddamned tire? I wondered if I looked like I needed something to read while I tried to pull this rusted fucking wheel off, and I also thought about ending her miserable fucking life with the tire iron still sitting easily within reach of my bleeding right hand. I wanted to cave in her face, take pictures of it, and send them to the lord Jesus Christ as a warning. Instead, I politely said, “No, thank you.” It was the most restraint I’ve ever exercised in my life. After about 15 minutes, a cop showed up and demonstrated how to kick off a tire that’s rusted stuck. Apparently, he worked two jobs. His second job was as a mechanic. He was very friendly and helpful, and looked Hispanic. Nicest cop I’ve ever met. His trick worked pretty quickly. After thanking him profusely, I put on the spare and threw everything else into the trunk. My 45 minute drive home resumed.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Last night the bar was full of beautiful girls, stunning punker girls. Some heavily tattooed, some heavily chested, some just heavy, and each with a unique sense of purpose. I was only half-cocked and sticking to beer, since New Year’s Eve is really not a good night to get hammered. There’s just too much potential for disaster. So I sat quietly with my wife and some new and old friends at an upstairs table. There was a beautiful red-haired, red-lipped, pale girl telling us a story about getting her nipples pierced. It sounded nice. Better than the music that was playing on the juke box. She drank, breathed smoke, and tossed about armchair philosophy with us. Some things were relevant, some things not. Everybody is a moralist. Everybody rationalizes. It’s all goofy and pointless. There wouldn’t be any insanity for us that night, just talk. That was all I really needed. I was content in it. Today, I don’t even have a hangover as a memento.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Sometimes when I’m driving, and my wife is with me, I’ll begin to drive like an asshole just to draw out her criticism. It’s not that I like to fight with her, but at least I’ll be able to participate in the argument that my bad driving will precipitate. I normally only use this technique as a method of curtailing a really long story that she’s telling. I can’t participate in a long, winding, one-sided story. I can only desperately fight to listen. The argument that I’ll precipitate with my bad driving will at least be a discourse between both of us. It will bring us closer together, whereas her long story will only drive us apart.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tonight I got buzzed and went to the local shopping mall with my wife. In the back of JC Penny's, near where she was getting the free wrapping paper with the towels that she was buying, they had a bunch of exercise equipment for sale. Complicated machines engineered to help lazy people do sit-ups. So I sat down on one, and started doing some of whatever I think I was supposed be doing on it. When I got up, there was a middle-aged black woman walking past, trying not to laugh at me. I made no effort not to laugh.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I’ve got an apple, and I’m not questioning it. Like any good fortune, it should simply be accepted and enjoyed for what it is. There is no valuable information or lesson to be learned from belaboring the origins of this apple. I found it in my lunch, which means that I must have put it there myself. What could be questionable about an apple? It’s not complex. When good things find their way into your life, they don’t need explanation.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The woman bagging my groceries was retarded. She was also missing some fingers. They did not appear to have been missing since birth. Their absence looked like the result of some terrible accident. Her right hand was perfect, but on her left hand, each finger ended at the first joint. Her thumb was the same way. She was able to make reasonable use of the little stumps that remained, but she was definitely missing the top two links from each one. She was smiling and bagging and doing an excellent job of it. She was grouping things logically and efficiently. She was more content with her life than I am with mine.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Our favorite bartender got a new job at a new bar. Now she’s managing a different one, instead of simply tending the bar at the Tiki Lounge. The new place is just down a block and across the street. It’s not really new. It’s been there for a while, but we’ve never been there before. Her hours are different, and the place is obnoxious. She’s not there when we are. We can’t stand the new bar. It sucks. We’d go just to hang out with her, because Stephanie’s that cool. She’s got a magical personality. She has told us when she’s there, and that we should start coming in then. I suppose I could if I got a new job. We’ve tried going back into the old bar, to give the new bartender a shot. He’s a big fat guy with a shaved head. Nice enough guy, but bad taste in music, not as much character, and not nearly as nice to look at.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
There was a dead dog by the roadside. I saw him on my way home from work. It was a large German Shepherd. Not horribly mangled, ripped open, or splayed out, just dead on his side. No visible blood from my vantage point. Head turned at an odd angle, by the side of the road. Cars were passing quickly and frequently, very close to the dog. So close that the draft coming off of them made his tail move slightly. It looked like it was wagging, barely, sadly and lethargically. It looked like he thought he still might be able to convince somebody to help him, like his situation could still be fixed. In that way, he exemplified the unbreakable spirit of a dog. Even when his predicament was beyond hope, even in death, he was optimistic.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Periodically I make new friends at the gym, normally with guys with whom I have very little else in common. They’re great guys, but there’s really not much I can talk about with them. Generally, the guys you find in any given weight room are very into sports and not much for art, music, literature, or poetry. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only powerlifting art fag in North America. At least that’s the case around here, in Pittsburgh. You couldn’t pay me to watch sports. I just don’t care. Besides that, I really don’t go to the gym to socialize. I like to hit the weights hard and get out quickly. Regardless, I was shocked this past Saturday morning when a visibly excited guy came over to me, asking about my tattoos. I’ve got Renee Descartes’ “Cogito” tattooed inside my right bicep, and an icon that I drew up representing Occam’s razor on my right shoulder. Apparently this guy has a Ph.D. in philosophy, and has been teaching it in Belgium for the past six years. You don’t often find philosophy geeks in the gym. Not really art or literature, but close enough for me. It was a fun conversation, him leading, me trying to keep up. I got my ass handed to me. It was magnificent.
Monday, November 16, 2009
The locker room at the gym smells like sweat, shit, and Right Guard. It doesn’t smell at all like the failing air freshener that’s plugged into the wall. Naked old men are walking about. The air is so humid that you can very nearly float in it. I’m thinking it’s a good time to jump on the scale, because I’ll probably be lighter because of that humidity. I do, but I’m not. When I get out to hit the weights, the air is so comparably clean that I feel like I’m about to do my chest workout on top of a mountain.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I was on my way out the door after a few beers, my wife behind me. We were cutting through the crowd efficiently and with trained purpose. Some girls were trying to come in at the same time that we were trying to leave. The first one handed me her driver’s license, looked me in the eye, and smiled. She was very pretty. I’m always happy to have pretty young girls hand me things in bars and smile at me. I was, however, slightly confused by the gesture. A sad and pathetic part of me hoped that she wanted me to ravage her, and she was proving that she was of legal age before taking me back to her place. Perhaps just laying eyes on me from ten feet out was all she needed to see before giving herself to me? Then the rational portion of my mind took over, and my immediate confusion gave way to disappointed amusement, as I realized that I’d just been mistaken for the bouncer. I smiled, handed it back, nodded, and motioned for them all to come in. They smiled back and walk in. Then we continued out the door.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This morning was the end of time. It was majestically overcast and gray. The sky was huge, and not at all claustrophobic or crowded, as overcast skies tend to be. The air was cool, but not cold. The sun didn’t have the energy to fight the crushing nihilism of the clouds. It wasn’t in the mood to work hard, and none of the rest of us were, either.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Nobody’s fucking anybody tonight. This place is terrible. It’s full of terrible people smelling terrible. The art is terrible. The beer is terrible. Everything sucks. The gallery is full of young, pretentious hipster assholes. I am the only man in here who can bench press more than his body weight. I guarantee it. I’m also the only guy in here that has likely ever made art that meant anything. There is nothing for me to learn here. These men are not men. They’re all growing beards and ironic facial hair to convince themselves that they are. Then they’ve adorned themselves in strange haircuts and ridiculous glasses to temper all that projected illusory masculinity and create a visual tone of irony. They’re all admiring the crappy, neato, comic-book-sketch-looking, safe-quasi-graffitti cartoon art that isn’t even framed. It has just been drawn on illustration board and tacked to the wall. It must be a rough life having that little self-respect and motivation. How do they have sufficient energy to feed themselves? Too much weed, not enough red meat. I can understand that these kids were raised on cartoons and videogames, and that’s why it’s reflected in their art. Fair enough. However, in the larger creative dialogue, I think it’s absolutely horrifying that that’s all my generation has to say: “I like video games and comic books.” That appears to be about the size of it. I can’t understand how they can feel that passionately about inane, time-wasting childrens’ games and pulp illustration. It’s proof that humanity is in decline and we’ll never cure cancer or AIDS. It’s even more ridiculous when they try to pass it off as “street art.” Whenever I hear that excuse, I want so badly for Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to come back from the dead and beat these corny, white, straight suburbanites within an inch of their safe, stylish lives and educate them. Furthermore, I’ll bet none of these people read anything worthwhile. Likely they don’t read anything at all, except maybe comic books. Of course! God-fucking-knows it’s important to have images and illustrations handy to remove any of the creative responsibility from reader. On top of all that, the women here are generally sexless and uninviting. Fuck these people and their scene. I can appreciate what they’ve created for themselves here. I’m sure they were all misfits and outsiders growing up. Now they’ve got a place to belong, and that’s great. The only problem with that is the fact that they’ve simply created their own exclusive group with a specific set of codes and criteria that you must meet to be accepted. Being an outsider by nature I can identify, though I have no desire to belong to anything. I tend to be an outsider among outsiders. When too many people agree with me, I get nervous and uncomfortable. I like to judge people by my own criteria, based upon their content. None of these confused fuckers have anything valuable to say or contribute. They have no enduring sense of identity beyond having all gone to the same shitty, over-priced art school that taught them nothing, but reinforced the juvenile notions of art that they carried into it from high school, and created an incestuous clique for them to hide inside. Never send your child to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. A worse education isn’t available in the free world.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It’s 2006 and all of American culture has been consumed by the postmodern cancer. Everybody is too hip to believe in anything. Even many religious people often won’t own up to their beliefs in conversation. I suspect they’re concerned about pissing off God(s), and just don’t want to pick a team officially. Nobody takes anything seriously, for fear of looking ridiculous or being wrong. Sincerity is a vulnerability and a liability, and we live in a culture of cowardice. Everything is rented, and ownership is seen as a form of insanity. We are a culture without permanence or honest conviction. Welcome to Wal-Mart. With no lasting interests, we’re all passively waiting for the next big thing to come by and blow our minds, tire of it, then move on. Recycle, then move on. Recycle, then move on. The strong-willed individual has died and given rise to shiftless disorganization and fashionable disinterest. Irony has consumed everything like rust. Art without conviction is a shameful and insincere thing. Good art should come from the gut and be inflexible. An artist must first be a fascist.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I like Toronto. You can’t smoke indoors anywhere…but prostitution is legal. Canadian logic is amazing. My wife really wanted to watch me fuck a call girl, but we opted to hit a strip club instead, as I just wasn’t in the mood to gamble with diseases that night. Strip clubs are safer. They all appear to be free here. They’re pretty different than any that I’ve been to in the States. Free to get in, and you don’t tip the dancers unless you opt for one of the optional private dances. The alcohol is, of course, horrible and overpriced. I suppose that’s how they make their money. Regardless, it’s fun. My wife doesn’t enjoy it quite like I do, but she tolerates it well enough. She’s a good sport. Unfortunately, most of the strippers don’t know what to make of her. So she’s like stripper repellent. They normally just don’t approach us. So on that night we were content to watch from our table. The stage was wallpapered with mirrors. There was even a bank of them at a 45-degree angle between the back wall (mirrored) and the ceiling (also mirrored). There was quite literally nowhere for the strippers to stand on the stage that they weren’t exposed in one way or another. There was also a strange chin-up bar that I didn’t fully understand. I hadn’t once seen a girl do chin-ups or even swing on it. It must have just been there in good faith, in case they ever hired an ex-gymnast to dance there. We didn’t hang around long. One beer each and we watched a few half-hearted dancers. We left to get some coffee. It was raining, and my $12 umbrella was apparently made of black tissue paper and feeble old coat hangers. Whenever the wind picked up, it turned inside out like a sea cucumber. The only practical thing to do was embrace the cold wetness. Accept the things that you cannot change. Once at the donut place, the name of which I can’t recall, I was drinking my black coffee and eating a stale donut. While I did this, my wife dried off in the ladies' room. I sat right beside the door, because I’m stupid and was not wet or cold enough yet to realize that the rest of the place was empty. Warm, dry seats abounded, everywhere other than where I sat. However, my stupidity paid off, as I got a close up view of a girl pressing her ass through the door. She had a coffee in one hand, and a cell phone in the other, and tons of flat, boring shit pouring out of her mouth. Her ass, however, was round and full and wrapped in wet denim. Watching it change shape as she squeezed and turned her way through the glass doors was the sexiest thing I’d gawked at that night.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My wife and I love Toronto. It’s only five hours away, so we go there fairly frequently. It’s a fun little town with lots of cool things to do. One evening in Toronto, we decided to check out the Amsterdam Brewing Company. It’s a brew pub. We had a pretty good idea where it was, and struck off without much preparation. We got off the subway a little too soon and had to walk a little extra distance. The air was nice. Canadians are nice. The sky was beautiful. So we walked and loved it. Ever so slightly lost, we were only about one or two blocks off. We arrived with minimal trouble. They had outdoor seating in a sectioned-off area on the sidewalk. We stood and waited to be seated, assuming a hostess was coming. A beautiful young girl greeted us, and instructed us to sit wherever we liked. I said, “Oh, sorry. We’re not from around here.” She replied, “I could tell.” She smiled, betraying sincere amusement. I said, “You could tell we’re Americans?” She responded, “From down the street, before you even got here.” We laughed. It was a pretty wide open street, with minimal car or pedestrian traffic. No doubt she could see us approaching. I wondered how she could identify us as Americans from that far away, though. We weren’t wearing or waving an American flag. Our attire was pretty nondescript, and didn’t have anything intrinsically American printed on it, like a Slayer logo or American football team colors. We didn’t try to economically exploit anybody on our way down the street, or declare a pre-emptive war on anybody or anything. I was dumbfounded, not hurt or offended, just honestly baffled. I wanted so badly to ask her to explain what we had done that made us look so obvious from so great a distance. Not wanting to embarrass myself further, I decided to just get a beer and enjoy the evening.
Monday, November 9, 2009
The afternoon air was chilly. Not terribly cold, but cold enough to make me uncomfortable. My wife and I were walking westward on the right side of East Carson street. She walks faster than I do. Often, on a crowded sidewalk, this puts her out a few feet in front of me. Such was the case on this afternoon. At 15th and Carson I watched a shitty old Honda, which was traveling east, make a right. There was nothing remarkable about it. It was a simple turn. The driver used his signals and moved at a slow, responsible speed. My wife was already past the event and not watching. I was watching because I’m easily distracted. As the car began traveling down the narrow side street, a flock of pigeons left the pavement. Pigeons are not valuable. Pittsburgh has no shortage of them. People typically don’t empathize with them. As the car drove down 15th, however, I could not help but sympathize with a particular bird that had not escaped the shitty Honda. It was not dead. It was not flattened. From a solid distance of 20 feet, the bird’s injury was obvious. It leaped out from under the Honda and flopped about madly on the street. It arced up and fell repeatedly, never clearing more than five feet. It flopped and beat its mangled wing furiously. I hoped that it might be able to straighten it out like an inverted umbrella. Very quickly, it became apparent that would not happen. It was more likely trying to throw the wing off completely, just to rid itself of the painful, useless burden. I paused for a moment watching the bird’s agony. I wanted to help, but had no idea how. I certainly have no qualifications to treat the bird’s injury myself. Beyond that, I can’t imagine a veterinary professional offering any help for this animal beyond euthanizing it. Lamentable as pigeons may be, this pigeon’s suffering was no less real or compelling than any human pain. My wife was getting very far ahead of me on the sidewalk. I pulled my eyes from the spectacle and caught up with her. I didn’t mention a word of what I had seen. I didn’t want to burden her with it.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
There is no doubt in my mind that dogs are emotionally and intellectually superior animals to cats. As contrary to popular opinion as that is, I believe it is painfully obvious. Testimony to this is a dog’s visible sense of guilt. A dog knows when it has done wrong. A dog knows love and malice. A dog is a dynamic, expressive animal. It learns, feels, and acts, not only according to its instinct, but also according to its reason. It is a layered creature. A cat is an arrogant, base, immature creature. Cats lack the depth and loyalty that dogs constantly demonstrate. Nobody has ever successfully domesticated a cat. They have simply been domesticated by their cat. The misconception of feline domesticity is a reversal of cause and effect. The common illusion of feline intelligence is attributable to the human prejudice that arrogance and emotional instability are traits which imply intellectual and emotional depth. Humans hide behind this façade all of the time, and they also like to project it upon their pets. A dog understands what it is doing and experiences emotional dynamics. It simply has the heart to fight through them. A cat is always one-dimensional, feral, and without heart.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
There was an old man sitting on a bench, presumably waiting for a bus. Suddenly, as though he had been shot in the back of the head, vomit leaped from his mouth onto the sidewalk in front of him. It steamed up from the pavement. Miraculously, none appeared to have landed on him. There was a little on his shoes, maybe. I wasn't sure. Just then, I caught a whiff of somebody’s fresh laundry. A dryer’s exhaust must have been breathing nearby. In that moment, I was grateful for the direction of the wind.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I’m sorry. You’re sorry. We’re all sorry. Everybody’s sorry! Let’s drink to sorry! If apologies were gold, we would all be rich, and the booze would be free. If apologies were pussy, this would be an orgy. Nobody’s got answers or solutions, but fuck if we don’t have “sorry” by the bucket load. It has never inspired any great art, cured any diseases, or launched a thousand ships. Sorry leaves you all alone in front of something giant and unloving. Sorry is a rubber check, written for millions of dollars, meaningless and unlimited in its falsity. It’s utterly useless and we’ve got tons of it. Good, honest reasons are a rare commodity.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tonight has got me in the mood to drink myself into a mild coma. I’m losing on all fronts. The whiskey can’t change that, but it can change the way I feel about it. It isn’t the cure, but it will treat the symptoms. It can make a loss feel like a victory. It’s the consolation prize. It helps. It kills some of the sting. Whiskey is nice, though it’s not as nice as watching her naked ass walking in front of you, leading you across the room to the couch. Hips swinging like a boat listing side to side, without a stitch on her. I think, though, that even if I had her here, I might still be drinking whiskey tonight. Whiskey is good then, too. Then, it’s even better.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
It’s hard to forgive when you’re the last to know. It’s hard to respect people who manipulated you by withholding information. It’s hard to overlook all of the various points in time when you should have been informed and were not. It’s hard to know what an ass you looked like, sincerely operating under false assumptions. It’s hard being betrayed by people who are supposed to have your back. It’s hard to live with yourself, knowing that you’ve been used. It’s hard to be the only honest man in a house full of liars. It’s hard being a martyr to honesty.
Monday, November 2, 2009
There’s no clear, consistent, defined honor among thieves. It’s all very relative and subjective and complicated and discretionary. There’s no definitive code, rulebook or instruction manual. That ambiguity will bite you in the ass, and sometimes you’ll do the biting and deny it. Like an attorney, you’ll build up a shield of complex technical arguments that protect and justify your actions, proving to yourself that you’re somehow a noble thief, perhaps not even a thief at all.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The fucking never bothered me. The fucking was the whole point. The fucking was the purpose of the arrangement, and we all did lots of that. From all of our previous exploits, I had gotten quite accustomed to watching it. We were all supposed to be involved exclusively for the fucking. No problems there. It was the cuddling that stung. I didn’t anticipate that, and I was unprepared for it. Nobody was supposed to cuddle. Nobody was supposed to develop feelings, and our unpreparedness for that event opened the door for injury. I got dragged in too. It led down a long, strange, dishonest road. It led to jealousy and hurt feelings. It led to manipulation. It led us to all sorts of places that we hadn’t planned on going. You put a condom on your dick to make sex safer, but there’s really nothing that you can wear to make cuddling safe.