Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dickhead

Sorry, dickhead. You’re welcome to shoot past me at 80mph while angrily staring out the window at me if you like. I’m just going to sit here like a lump, in the right lane, going five below. I’m not giving you any reasons to pull me over. I’m not handing out any of those today. You’re just going to have to ruin somebody else’s evening for driving a little too fast. You’re going to have to find another way to meet your quota.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Law Enforcement

The existence of law enforcement is one of the great embarrassments of humanity. It ranks with racism, greed, war, homophobia, and religion. Law enforcement is irrefutable proof of our inability to control ourselves. We, as a species, cannot behave. The necessity for rule-enforcing professionals is evidence of this. Compounding this dysfunction is our impotence to effectively remedy it. An effective solution to a problem solves that problem. Law enforcement does not solve. It treats, and poorly at that. It does not cure our disease. It treats the symptoms. Often it even fails to do that. The real comedy of this is the fact that our behavioral problems are being treated by other people with the same problems. A human is a human. A law enforcement official is a human pretending to be something more than he is. This, however, is just an act. It is an appeal to power. It’s all they have, because they are aware of their own fallibilities and limitations as people. They know that projecting the power and authority of something more than human is the only way to maintain their fa├žade. I believe there are good cops. Perhaps even most begin their careers in law enforcement with good convictions. However, the nature of their occupation makes that an incredibly difficult thing to sustain. A law, like any idea, is only worth what is gained from it in execution. It is only as good as it is applied. Gravity is not an idea or a law. Gravity simply is. Gravity does not need its truth to be defended. Gravity does not need anybody’s help. If you think you can disregard gravity, go right ahead and try. A law is simply an idea. A law is a suggestion, and only as relevant as it is enforced. Our esteem of and belief in our own laws is just another indication of our overestimation of our own authority to determine what is right and what is wrong. The only difference between good kids and bad kids is that good kids don’t get caught.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Natural State of Things

As it turns out, freedom is, in fact, free. Freedom is the natural state of things. Control (in the William Seward Burroughs sense) is the absence of freedom, and Control is only created and maintained through deliberate effort and violence. Freedom and Control are diametric opposites. Wars are fought not on your behalf, in defense of you or your freedoms, but over you by various conflicting manifestations of Control which want to have authority over you. Control needs more Control to sustain itself. Imagine a giant game of dodge ball where the losing team is absorbed by the winning team. Control perpetuates itself with numbers. Control only creates more of itself. Wars aren’t fought over sincere hatreds or disagreements, but over the human desire to force others to be as we want them to be: like us, or at least in accord with our wishes. Though a soldier may sincerely believe in the righteousness of his cause, and perhaps even correctly so, the simple act of fighting in the first place proliferates the dominance of Control, and thus creates more need for violent conflict. Control creates more of itself by creating more need for itself. Any form of violence whatsoever functions to reduce and confine freedom, not protect it. Moral correctness or incorrectness is entirely moot. Violence is not about morals. It’s about sustaining Control and diminishing freedom. The only way to promote Freedom is not to fight.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

America Is My Landlord

You can love America all you want, but it will never love you back. When you own your house, all the monthly checks you put in the mail to pay it off are essentially still yours, because you own the thing you’re paying for. You’re investing. When you rent your place of residence, it pays for you to have a place to put your stuff for a predetermined duration of time, and it pays for your landlord to drive a Cadillac and go golfing. Your landlord isn’t necessarily a bad guy, but he doesn’t really have any interest in you beyond the checks you write him. It’s a money relationship that you’re paying into. That’s what America is. America is a landlord. Your relationship to it is purely economic. You get what you pay for, and you don’t have the option to buy. You can’t own. It’s only rented. It’s just where you live at the moment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An American Sunset

It’s utterly fucking godless, like a Pop Tart and a cup of instant coffee. It’s out-of-context, like Fyodor Dostoevsky dressed up in a floral print shirt with Birkenstocks, playing a bongo and drinking a Corona. It’s ill-fated, like patching up a bad relationship with dinner at a steak house, cherry-flavored edible panties, and a hotel room. It’s ugly, cheap, and insane, like a glob of ketchup fallen from a McDonald’s hamburger on a new pair of jeans in the stands at a little league baseball game, watching a fight between the parents of competing children. It’s angrily vicarious, bought-by-the-pound, processed, distilled, and edified down to the sum total of our backwoods ambitions. It is miles and miles of sincere nothing, with no content in sight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Big American Yards

Big yards surround me where I live. Big yards that require big riding lawnmowers to cut them, sat upon by big asses wearing big pants with elastic waistbands. Big yards surrounding big houses with big driveways ending in big garages filled with big cars paid for with big loans. Big yards filled with big toys played with by big kids that will go to big colleges, but who will never really generate big ideas. Big yards occupied by big dogs, eating big bags of dog food, and taking big stinking shits in the big summer heat, underneath a big merciless sun. Big yards paid for by big jobs worked big distances away from those yards, driven to in the aforementioned big cars. Big yards surrounding big houses, maintained by big wives with big ankles, big sunglasses, and big hair styled with big curlers and big cans of hairspray. Big yards for big egos, big pressure, big stress and big debt, in a big vacuum. Big yards abound where I live, though I don’t have one. Mine is relatively modest, and overrun by weeds.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Strip Malls

Strip malls mark the coming of The End. I don’t predate strip malls. I’ve never known life without them, but that doesn’t make them sit any better with me. People weren’t meant to live that way. Strip malls eat your soul. They’re like that cheap hotel soap which dries out your skin. It gets the job done, but it’s uncomfortable and leaves you feeling tight and dried out. Strip malls represent our bankruptcy of standards. Americans will take quantity over quality, ten times out of ten. Content doesn’t matter. Culture doesn’t matter. Meaning doesn’t matter. Atmosphere, ambiance, and character don’t matter. Volume does. Period. All we’ve got is massive, vapid appetite. Anything will do, as long as we have a lot of it, more than anybody else. It’s a reckless nihilism that’s eventually going to have lethal consequences for us and everybody else who inhabits the planet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guitars and Perfume

The guitar gasps and howls furiously, as if it is in pain and objecting to something horrible. I suppose it might be. The entire place smells strongly of perfume. It is a big place, entirely outdoors, and smelling powerfully of expensive perfume. One can only imagine the volume of perfume necessary to achieve that strength of scent outdoors. I don’t smell like that. I smell like laundry detergent and cheap deodorant. The music is good, but feels uncomfortable in this environment. I suppose that is one of the variables that a recording artist cannot control. You can’t prevent your music from being played in expensive, upper middle class outdoor strip malls. You can’t keep your art out of the hands of snappy metrosexual hipsters. Fortunately, lack of control works both ways. Artists can’t protect their work from overpaid mediocre people, but those same mediocre people can’t keep me out of their expensive, upper middle class, outdoor strip malls. Of course they can remove me, but they’ll need a reason to do that. I’m not handing out any of those. I’m a nice man, educated and polite. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t belong here. I look like a criminal and I smell generic. An unscented, walking eyesore, I’m here on behalf of the musicians whose work has been kidnapped from its proper context. I represent the truth.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Dirty Interior

We picked up my car from the garage. It cost $367.89 to fix it. All sorts of miscellaneous shit had been broken from when I’d hit the rock. I’m kind of brilliant that way. I’m great at finding ways to be expensive and still look like shit. I had missed having my car, though. We paid and walked out. We got in it, and my wife exclaimed, “Jesus Christ! Did they do this?” Alarmed, I said, “Do what?” looking around in a panic for something else to be broken. She said, “Your car is filthy!” They hadn’t done that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Insane Women

Dangerous and insane women are the best kind. They’re the only kind. I like the dangerous kind that you’re always a little bit afraid of, but you’ll want to be around anyway. Because you’re more afraid of what she’ll do if you aren’t there than what she’ll do if you are.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Penn Brewery Beer Festival

My wife and I love to go to beer festivals whenever possible. There’s a great one that happens at the Penn Brewery on Pittsburgh’s Northside just about every year. It’s a wonderful event, though it’s an incredible pain in the ass to arrange transportation. It’s a more-or-less local event, so you feel absurd making hotel arrangements. Driving is, however, absolutely out of the question, for obvious reasons. The good news is that they do have ample parking available, and many people use that option, irresponsible as it might be. This year we went alone, just the two of us. We parked on the Southside, and took a cab over to the festival, planning to simply take a cab back to the Southside after it was over. At which point we would spend as much time as necessary in the Beehive, drinking coffee until I was sufficiently sober to drive. Good plan. The first half worked out great. The cab that took us from the Southside to the Northside was a fucked-up minivan. Most likely it used to take kids to soccer games, and now it carts around alcoholics. Responsible alcoholics, though. Right? The festival was a blast. It’s always housed in the Penn Brewery’s parking garage. They just block it off and convert the parking spaces into booths for the various brewers. It’s always very crowded, and compounded with the low ceiling, that gives the space a very claustrophobic feel. We drank ourselves stupid and went up to the buffet. The food area was on the very top level of the garage, and we got a table at the very edge of it, so we could eat our sandwiches in comfort, with buzzing, clouded heads in the cool evening air and a wonderful view of the city. It was heaven. In the haze, we sent absurd drunken text messages to our friends. We returned back downstairs to the booths to drink more. As I was between beers, looking for my next, a really good-looking girl ran over to my wife, squealed and hugged her. Then she squealed and hugged me. I didn’t resist. Within a few moments I figured out who she is. My wife went to high school with her, and we had just met her and her husband recently at their ten-year high school reunion. We met them drunk at the reunion, and we met them again drunk at the beer festival. Those sorts of friends are interesting. If you ever ran into them sober, you might not have anything to say. You might not even be able to stand their company. They’re cool, though. We hung out for a while. We drank more. We met up with another couple of friends that were with them. Nothing insane happened. Everybody was great fun. We all hugged again a couple times and vowed to stay in touch. We walked out to the sidewalk and called our cab. The cab driver said that she’d be there in half an hour. We groaned. We sat. We waited. We weren’t really all that lit anymore. If my car had been there, I probably would have been fine to drive. Then our drunk friends came careening out of the festival. Singing and carrying on and staggering. They had arrived in their Land Rover, and were presumably driving back. They live in the Southside. It immediately occurred to us that we should get a ride with them. It wasn’t a bright idea. I knew that as soon as we considered it, but we didn’t feel like waiting for the cab. So we caught up with them as they walked down the sidewalk, and they hugged us again like we hadn’t already seen them earlier that evening. They were excited to give us a ride back. We all piled into the Land Rover. The good-looking girl’s husband, the drunkest one among us, was driving. The other guy rode shotgun. The other guy’s girlfriend rode in the back. She looked pretty good too. My wife sat in the middle of the back seat, and I sat in the back also, on the passenger side. The good-looking girl from my wife’s high school rode in the very back, where there isn’t really a seat. It was too crowded put a seatbelt on without making a whole lot of fuss. So we didn’t. I felt dumber and more painfully sober by the second. The good-looking girl’s husband drove like he was insane and high on PCP. The music playing in the car was decent. Not bad stuff, but they had it up as loud as it could go. The gas light was on. We stopped to fill up at the nearest station on the Northside. I remained seated in the back with all the girls. I thought to myself that if I was about to die, at least it would happen while I was surrounded by pretty, drunk, sweet-smelling women in an expensive vehicle. There was a cop inside the convenience store attached to the gas station. He shot a few angry glances at our vehicle through the window. I don’t think anybody noticed but me. A black man pulled up to the pump beside us and started filling up his car. It was a nice car, and he was well-dressed. He looked to be in his 40s. He looked in our vehicle and laughed. I smiled back at him. It must be shitty to see a car full of obviously drunk white people acting out, being ignored by a cop, when I’m sure he’s been harassed by cops before when he’s been doing absolutely nothing wrong. That sort of thing would certainly piss me off. It must have been a frustrated laugh. At least, I think that’s what he must have felt. I can’t know for sure. After the tank took $60 in gas, we drove off like the gas station was on fire and about to explode. We shot and swerved, and leapt and braked across town, laughing and carrying on. Music all the way up. Both front and rear sun roofs open. The other guy’s girlfriend occasionally stuck her head up through it to yell. At one light, the good-looking girl that went to high school with my wife decided that she was done sitting in the back of the SUV, and wanted to come sit in the back seat with us. So she crawled up over us. Her full breasts threatened to fall out of her top. They came dangerously close, and I watched attentively, hoping that one might spill forth. It didn’t happen, and she wedged her way in between my wife and the other guy’s girlfriend. After a couple more blocks, and across one more bridge, we were where we needed to be, and we left the car, grateful to be alive and not facing any criminal charges. We wandered over to the Beehive for some coffee, used their bathroom, and eventually headed for our car, as sober as we’ve ever been in our lives.

We started driving home. The drive was uneventful. We talked excitedly about everything. All was well. About a block away from our house, I began to say, “Well, I’m glad that all ended without incident.” I only made it to “ended” before I saw what appeared to be a crumpled brown paper bag in the middle of my lane. I thought nothing of it, and didn’t even slow down for it. It wasn’t a brown paper bag. It was a rock. The undercarriage of my car didn’t clear it. There was a very loud bang, and my car jumped upward like I had hit a speed bump. No lights came on. The engine didn’t die. The CD skipped, but that was it. I cursed angrily, turned the corner, and drove down our street and into our driveway. Turned on the driveway light, and saw the fluid pouring out from underneath my car. Not gas. Looked like oil. Fucking awesome! Nothing to do about it now. I didn’t want to turn the car over without oil, so I put it in neutral, coasted backwards down the driveway, and parked it on the street. At least the rest of the oil would stain the street instead of our driveway. We walked back to the site of the rock to move it off the road so nobody else would hit it. On our way we saw and heard a BMW hit it, turn down another street, and keep going. When we got to the site of the rock, two kids were standing there. They looked to be about 18-ish. Man and woman. They were a picture of my wife and me at that age. She had a fresh tattoo healing on her back. The bandages were still on it, and I could smell the vitamin D ointment. He was smoking. They had hit the rock too, in their truck, and felt badly that they couldn’t get out to move it in time before I hit it. We all smiled at each other, and wished each other well. We walked back to our house, and went to bed angry. Ten minutes ago I had had aspirations of getting laid. Nothing crazy. I just wanted to fuck the wife and go to bed. Now I was angrily going to sleep thinking about what the damage to my car would cost.

In the morning, I awoke to a call from my mother-in-law. Apparently, the previous evening, my wife’s aunt had had a brain aneurism. She had needed to be life-flighted to the hospital for emergency surgery. She had almost died. Now she was fine, but recovering, and we’d need to go see her that day, probably in the afternoon. I called for a tow truck. It showed up pretty quickly, a young guy driving it. Twenty, trying to look like 50. He was a fat guy, with a thin, scraggly beard, Lynyrd Skynyrd hat, shirt with an American flag on it. He was filthy and sweating. At 10am, it was already about 85 degrees outside. I stood by while he got my car on the wrecker. While he was fidgeting underneath my car, trying to hook up the chains, he saw something that he didn’t like, and exclaimed something that I didn’t understand. I said, “I’m sorry, what?” He repeated, “That’s the gayest shit ever!” and mumbled something about the frame. Apparently, there was something weird about my car’s construction that he didn’t like or didn’t make sense. I smiled and said, “Ah…” not even knowing how else to respond. My car went up, and he drove off with it. I took my wife’s car down to the gym, and lifted like crap. When I returned from the gym, I showered, and we left for the hospital.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cab

I like that when you open the door to a cab, you can see a bit of whatever color it was painted before it was painted yellow. I like knowing that it had a previous life before it was a cab. It makes me wonder what it did to get reincarnated that way and not to be allowed to die with dignity. I imagine it must have been something pretty bad. Maybe it raped an elderly woman or molested a retarded child. I wonder if I was a car, would I get reincarnated as a cab after I had died? What would I look like all yellow and decrepit? What would it be like to never have a destination of my own? What would it be like to cart drunks around on congested streets? Where do cabs go when they die? What do they become once they’ve died a second time?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Friends

There’s nothing wrong. Everything is right. Everything makes sense. I love you, and that means more than any of the petty distracting shit that we do to get by. I will fill myself up with friends so I’ll always be strong. I’ve got a wealth of them. Each one is a plate in my armor. Each one consumes another potential vacancy for an enemy in my life. Each one protects another vulnerable point. Each one blocks out the malignant, degenerate people that want my blood. It’s one of the many benefits of being so fucking charming. We’re where it’s at, you and me. We’ve got no shame and nothing to fear. It feels good. It feels right. Your company chases it all away. I owe you more than I can possibly give you in return.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today

Today is a large, soft, warm, motherly old woman. She has no expectations and will impose no obstacles for you. Today you will not be measured or examined. Today smells like baked goods and fresh laundry. Today will be gentle and considerate. You won’t have to scramble. You won’t have to produce. You won’t have to focus. Nobody will ask you for anything. There will be no heavy lifting. There will be no examination. Today there will only be abatement.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Queen of Pittsburgh

I almost hit the queen of Pittsburgh with my car yesterday. She stepped suddenly out from between two parked cars. I swerved, and she didn’t even notice. She looked like she was 28 going on 40, and had matted, greasy, blond hair. She was wearing actual fucked up, old, torn jeans, not expensive, fake vintage jeans, and a blue plaid flannel shirt underneath a brown satin baseball jacket. There were bags under her eyes and a cigarette in her mouth. At least that’s what I could tell in the quarter of a second that I saw her. She just kept walking across the street like nothing had happened.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are retarding the city of Pittsburgh. This city cannot evolve until it lets go of the 1970s. Somebody needs to plan an intervention for the whole fucking city and disband the team or send them elsewhere, at least for a while. This is not a commentary on the team itself, or the members of it, but a commentary on our city’s bad case of plot-loss. The same way an alcoholic can’t get his life back together until he gets off the bottle, Pittsburgh can’t get its act together until the Steelers are gone. We need to grow beyond football. For the past 30 years, it’s all we’ve had or cared about.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Saint

I’ve got a girl, thin and pretty. Sounds like a Fender Strat. She’s tall and lean with small tits, as white as the state of Maine. Long, straight, thick brown hair, and lots of patience. She’s signed up for the whole thing, for life. She’s signed up for the good, the bad, the really bad, and the utterly fucking shameful. She’s not a girl, she’s a saint.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Parking Spaces

One thing to keep in mind with parking spaces is that you can only park in one at a time. You can only fill one vacancy in any given moment. Certainly some parking spaces are nicer than others. Some aren’t necessarily nicer, just different. Some are worth circling the block a few times to get into. Some already have money in the meter when you get there. Some are carpeted with broken glass and rusty nails. Some you occupy for quite some time, some very briefly. There are parking spaces that you’ll try to protect by setting up cones or chairs, because you feel that you are entitled to them or own them. But you don’t, and it won’t work, and you’ll find some asshole in your space. Sometimes you’ll jump around from one space to another, and sometimes you won’t be able to find a space at all, not even to save your godforsaken life. Sometimes you’ll just want to park your car in the fucking river.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Studio Visit

My friends Christine, Grant, and Matt came over to see my new work and also revisit some of my old stuff. They collectively own and run the Moxie Dada gallery on Pittsburgh’s Northside. They’re great people who run a very cool gallery. The visit was supposed to be half studio visit and half recreational bullshitting. Christine was reluctant to get internet directions, so she asked me for directions over the phone. I gave her the best directions I could, which were really shitty and imprecise. I’m terrible at giving directions. I’m always clear about that up front, and only then if the requesting party insists will I give the directions. Despite this, they arrived right on time, and I had the studio (my garage) set up and ready. It was dusk. We spent a few minutes in the garage looking at my two newest pieces, “Honor Among Thieves 1” and “Honor Among Thieves 2,” as well as one in progress, which I haven’t named yet. They also returned the three larger pieces that they had just shown. Since they hadn’t been to our house before, I gave them a quick tour. There’s not much to look at, so it didn’t take long. Soon we were all downstairs, each with a beer, and many subsequent beers to follow those. We talked about art, the gallery, and various unrelated topics. It was great. We wandered back into the garage, and looked at and talked more about my work. Eventually it grew dark, and we planned a permanent installation that I would do on the side of their gallery.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Strange Hell

We went out drinking with some friends last night. Two lady friends of ours were the first half of the evening, really wonderful people. They’re awesome, always a blast. They’re a married lesbian couple, and not into men at all, at least not to my knowledge. After two gay bars, they bailed on us. No biggie. We met up with the Girl From Moscow at a club. We hate clubs, but I still want to sleep with the Girl From Moscow, and I thought that it might be the big night. So we bit the bullet and went. She looked good, and she had friends with her, and they were cool, and we all drank a lot, a whole lot. At least I did. We weren’t getting anywhere, and around 1am, we left. My wife, always the driver, was still totally straight. When we got home, I was too drunk to function, and she wanted nothing to do with me. Now, this morning, I’ve got a miserable hangover. This afternoon, a cute gallery owner is coming over with two other friends from the gallery for a studio visit. They all want to take a look at some of my newest work, and drink, and I’m quite certain she has no interest in me either. For all I know, she’s got a boyfriend. I’ve created a strange hell for myself. It’s a hell lined with pussy, and I can’t seem to have any of it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pink Glitter-Encrusted Origami Thing Hanging From a Rearview Mirror

Behind me at the light, gridlocked in traffic, she’s leaning forward, digging for something in the center console of her late '90s model Cavalier. While she does this, the little pink origami thing with glitter all over it suspended from her rearview mirror swings back and forth, repeatedly bouncing off of her face. I guess it was possibly made by her daughter? She tried to blink it away, but failed. She came up with a tube of mascara, took off her glasses, moved her bangs, and applied it to her eyelashes using that same rearview mirror. At this intersection, the last one before the road ends and you enter town, all of the vehicles tend to pile into the right lane, leaving the left lane almost entirely empty. I did this too. I was the last car to fit past the light. Not wanting to block the intersection, she darted around me into the left lane, went down about a dozen car lengths, and cut back into the right lane. I could see that she was missing at least one hub cap from the passenger side of her car. I suppose I could do the same thing, cut in front of a bunch of people and probably get to work a little faster. I’m not above that sort of behavior. I do it all the time. I’m just not in that kind of hurry to get to work.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pool at the Moose

My wife and I were waiting for the Girl From Moscow upstairs at the Smiling Moose. She was late as a result of some car trouble. Mechanical, and presumably traffic also. Time was elapsing. Irritation was growing. Mood was souring. Beers were draining. We called. She’s still coming. We decided to play pool to pass the time. We slipped our quarters into the table, racked the balls, and played. She broke, barely. We are each terrible at pool and loving it, two games. Each of which was long and drawn out and played very badly on both sides. It was wonderful. The Clash played on the jukebox. Actually, it seemed like somebody programmed up most of London Calling. Awesome! We forgot about the time, the Girl From Moscow, and trying to sleep with her. We made fun of other people in the bar. It was full of hipsters and posers and kids who want desperately to be punk. Eventually the Girl From Moscow arrived, and she looked beautiful. We all talked about her on-again off-again dipshit boyfriend and all of the asinine things he’s up to. I couldn’t have cared if you had paid me. I would make a shitty therapist. I’m sympathetic and try to be helpful, but the whole thing looks really simple and obvious from here. We talk. We leave. We walk her to her car to confirm that it’s still in working order. It is, and we part.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Brewski’s

This bar sucks. It’s a sad little dive bar that could have so much soul. There are a few great, gnarled old men in the front, cheap shitty beer, and throngs of pretentious pseudo-punk, quasi-artsy, hipster asses littering the place. Everybody under 35 in the bar works in advertising, and consequently has no character, soul, warm blood, or content whatsoever. They don’t eat or shit. They don’t even really even need air. There are more hot, horny, glittery-tank-top-wearing Public Relations girls than you can count, and a bunch of snappy-looking, well-dressed, presumably well-paid, fit guys who desperately want to look intelligent, refined, and sensitive, but also strong and tough, all at once. That’s a lot of bases to cover. Good luck with that. I suppose that’s the most effective way to bed a lot of PR chicks. Neither my wife nor I have much tolerance for these types, attractive as they might be. We’re just here to hang out with my friend Dana. A friend of hers, to whom I have just been introduced, begins trying to pick up on my wife right beside me. He shakes my hand, and darts off with a smile once he realizes she’s not having it. I’ve got at least lean 50 pounds on him. I just don’t understand that. Do I look that nice? Motorhead’s “(Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down” finally comes on the jukebox. I think I picked that one an hour ago. Every time I come here I promise myself that I’ll never come here again. I was ready to leave, and now I’ve got to wait for my song to finish.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Drug Bust at the Office

There was a drug bust across the street from my office. It was great. It happened ten minutes before the end of the day, right when everybody was about to clear out. Mine was just one of about two dozen faces pressed against the window, watching. Of course I got there a few moments too late to see anything cool happen. Some unmarked cop cars had just pulled over a navy blue, late '90s Lexus on Penn Avenue. It was as big as a boat, with tinted windows and giant chromed rims like convex satellite dishes. Apparently, I missed the part where the cops arrested the guy, confiscating his gun and two bricks of something. All sorts of plainclothes officers were milling about, taking pictures and looking around, in the trunk, under the hood, in the seats. Eventually we all lost interest and left. I didn’t see the guy, but I empathized with him. He had brought it upon himself--all choices have consequences--but getting busted like that has got to be shitty. All of our interest, watching through the relative safety of the glass, seemed very self-righteous to me. We love to watch the bad guy, the man who lives without the same moral yoke that we’ve all taken up ourselves, get taken down a few pegs. We like to watch with our pseudo-moralistic, self-righteous, slave morality…from behind glass. It feels good to see the wolf castrated and kept behind the door. It seems to validate and confirm our virtue and the correctness of the decisions which we’ve made. Doubtless, he’s probably not a very nice guy, but I’m not convinced that we are either.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Slow Going

This night has been slow going. It’s been one empty, disappointing bar after another. As if eventually we’re going to find one that’s got all of our friends inside. As if all our friends don’t live in different corners of the country now. Like bars are lottery tickets, and increasing the number that you accumulate somehow increases your chance of winning something. Like there’s something to win at all. We even stopped to eat dinner to postpone our inevitable surrender and return trip home. We called some friends who still live in Pittsburgh, the ones who haven’t moved away yet. Not much luck. The Girl From Moscow is out tonight, though. She’ll be making her way down to the Moose with some friends. That’s encouraging. It still doesn’t mean that we’ll see her. It means that we might. She’s unpredictable. We’ll sit tight and wait. We’ve got nothing else going on. We shoot pool, badly. This bartender knows what my wife and I drink. He’s great. He sees us approach, and grabs the appropriate bottles, and we all smile and laugh, and we tip well, and we drink. And the Girl From Moscow arrives with Richelle and Jon, and we’re pleasantly surprised. She looks beautiful. We’re not surprised that she looks beautiful, but that she arrived, and I don’t know why she’s always wearing so many clothes, and she gives us each a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. They order drinks, and we continue working on ours. Somebody’s terrible selections are playing on the jukebox. We all talk and have a good time. Everybody is cool, and everything I’ve drunk is beginning to catch up to me, and I’m buzzing, and it seems like the purpose of everything I endured during the week was to lead me to this moment, and it seems like it might have been worth it. And I manage not to say anything stupid the whole time. I'm proud. That’s quite an accomplishment for me. They stay for about an hour, and then they head off to a club. They ask if we would like to come along, but we don't. It’s not really our kind of place. We’re not really club people. I look stupid in leather pants. They take off for the club. We wait a while to straighten up. Then we walk out the front door, into the drizzle, and go.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cheerios Painted Black

She put her cigarette out in the palm of his hand, because he requested it. How absurd is that? I don’t think I would have honored that request. It seems like a lot of confusion and misdirected behavior. Of course they were both very gothy. Of course there was shitty industrial music pounding. Of course there were candles everywhere. Of course there were more clove cigarettes than you could count. Of course it was a room full of white people, painted even whiter than they naturally were. I think he was just scared to approach her any other way. So he had to wear fucked-upness and psycho-intensity like a suit of armor. It was a way to avoid swallowing his pride, putting his heart on his sleeve, and talking to her like a human. I think she was just playing along. It was relatively innocent, though she should have known better. The goth thing is hilarious to me. It’s for confused people who want so badly to be more evil and fucked up than the next. It seems like a frivolous pissing contest of sorts, just silly. Most of them are about as evil as a bowl of cheerios. They’re just a bowl of cheerios painted black. Asking a girl to put out her cigarette in your palm doesn’t make you intense or evil. I’m not sure what it makes you, but that’s not it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Merging

You’re supposed to use both lanes clear up to the merge point. Most people don’t. Most people pile into the left lane, sit, and endure the wait. I generally ride the right lane all the way up to the merge point and rely on somebody else’s good nature to let me over. It easily saves me 20 minutes of commute time every day, and renews my faith in humanity to boot. I don’t think this makes me an asshole. Anybody else could do the same thing. Everybody gets to choose. Sometimes, arbitrarily and for no apparent reason, everybody uses both lanes equally, and it really slows me down. This happened today. As one street dumped into another, the Honda in front of me got into the left lane. I got into the right. We sat. We moved. We advanced alternately towards the merge point. It took a long time. When we reached the merge point, I ended up right back in line behind the same Honda.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Stopped River and Parking Garage Sky

The river is standing still this evening. It stopped like it had nowhere to go. It makes you nervous when it does that. Rivers have to go somewhere. When they don’t, it feels like nature has given up, and the apocalypse is beginning. Maybe it’s stopped up? Clogged? The sky’s a concrete ceiling, like you would see in a parking garage, holding up everything above it. Heavy as the dirt they’re going to throw on you when you die. She still hasn’t responded yet, and I’m not sure that she will. Tonight’s a lifting night. Squats. Christ, I hate squats. They burn right up from your knees, through your thighs and hips, to your lower spine, and sit in your gut like bad milk. I could squat three of her at once, but I can’t even talk properly to one of her. The river still is not moving, and I’m almost home now. Well…fuck the river, and fuck her.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Insane Red Baby Steps

I entered the insane red bathroom, something out of a nightmare. There was an empty bottle of Corona seated in the strange, decrepit, filthy old sink. It was an unusual kind of sink, with two faucets and two sets of knobs. Pointed inward, forming a pie-shaped wedge with their negative space above the empty bottle of Corona. Inside that bottle, the slice of lime was still choked in the bottle’s throat. It was bright green and still looking clean and antiseptic in its bottle. I felt badly for it. The lime had had a rough night. Got sliced up, shoved in a bottle of shitty beer, left inside the bottle, and thrown inside this filthy sink. He was left out of context. You couldn’t wash anything in that sink. You could only make things dirtier in it. That sink was the lime’s hell. The white tiled floor was glistening and bright and slick with piss. I walked up to the urinal, which felt ridiculous, as it didn’t seem like anybody else prior to me had gone to the trouble of walking up to the urinal. I thought about the shoes that I would never be able to wear inside my house again. I took aim, pissed, and looked down. Below the urinal, near my left foot there was a giant squashed centipede, and near my right foot there was a smashed brown beer bottle. No label. It was pulverized. Broken into many very small pieces, it looked like the product of very deliberate effort. Perhaps the bottle had been used to squash the centipede? No piece of glass bigger than one inch in any direction. It didn’t look like that bottle had ever contained a lime, and I thanked God for that. If there had been a lime in that bottle he would’ve been having a worse night than the one in the Corona bottle in the sink. The rest of the bar was also red, and I returned to it as I left the mens’ room. My wife and the Girl From Moscow were still sitting at the booth, talking. I slid in beside them, sandwiching the Girl From Moscow between my wife and myself. She put an arm around me and cuddled up to me, and I bit her neck and chewed on her ear. She cooed a bit and didn’t resist. I held on to the moment, and rolled it around with my tongue like you do with a mouthful of whiskey before you swallow it. Apparently during the piercing incident from the birthday outing, my wife had learned that the Girl From Moscow’s carpet doesn’t match her drapes. I hadn’t had the privilege of seeing that yet, so it was news to me. We talked about it briefly, and why she dyes her hair black. It didn’t make much sense to me, but what does? Her thin left arm around me and the taste of her neck made enough sense. Our friend Stephanie was tending bar that night. We all drank and drank, and we closed down the bar at 2am. That’s as far as we’d get that night, but it felt good. Sometimes in life you must be content with baby steps.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dipshit Called

Everything was going great until Dipshit called, apparently just 20 minutes before we met the Girl From Moscow at the bar. She told us about it. She laughed it off. No biggie. It was forgotten. We drank. We talked. We went back to the house, the Girl From Moscow, my wife, and me. Dipshit called. We talked some more. Dipshit called. Making progress, slow but steady. Dipshit called. Semi-disrobed. Dipshit called. Almost there. Dipshit called. Dipshit called. Dipshit called. It was the sound of belligerent plot-loss coming through a cell phone, without pride, without dignity. She left to go see him. She left to forgive him, and take him back. At 1:30am. Goddamnit, I hate being leverage. Now I also hate Dipshit, though he’s really not a bad guy at all.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Girl From Moscow’s Birthday

Last night was the Saturday preceding Moscow Girl’s birthday, which is actually on Monday. We can’t go drinking on Monday night. So she was out drinking with us last night. We bought her dinner and all of her drinks. After dinner, she decided to get one of her pussy lips pierced. The piercer was a close friend of hers, and he didn’t charge, though she offered to pay. Another one of her friends happened to be at the piercing place. Nice guy, great conversation. He was a giant of a man. Maybe an inch or two taller than me, and easily 60 pounds heavier. I stood out in the waiting area with him while my wife went back to watch the piercing. He and I talked about philosophy and other very cerebral things. He’s a remarkably sharp guy. With Moscow Girl’s freshly pierced lip, we went to the bar next door, and the giant bought us all a round of shots. I don’t think this girl ever has to pay for anything. She always offers to pay her share, and that offer is always declined by whoever is holding the check. This particular occasion happened to be her birthday, but this seems to happen whenever we go out with her. She’s got friends everywhere. Everybody digs her. She’s doomed to ride for free. It’s amazing, but makes enough sense. She’s sweet and dark and enchanting, but a little cold. Just warm enough to keep you coming back.
 

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