Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chevy S-10

There’s a Chevy S-10 crashed through the corner of a green rubberized cyclone fence that was rusting away through its chipped green rubber coating. There’s a little Chihuahua running around the truck, yapping victoriously at it, like he just kicked its ass. Quickly approaching cop lights and sirens light up the early dawn, amplifying the morning’s redness. Everything is a strawberry burn. Everybody is defeated and going to work.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Almost Woke From My Nightmare

Within my nightmare, I dreamed that I had awoken from it. It was a dream inside a nightmare. I dreamed that I was everything that I was supposed to be. I had lived up to my potential. All was right in my world. Not the entire world, just mine. I dreamed that I did something meaningful for a living and that I didn’t hate my job. I wasn’t backed into a corner. I wasn’t responsible for, or to, other people. I wasn’t a coward. I dreamed there was no mountain of mundane tasks. In my dream you were there with me. We were friends. It was great. I dreamed that I didn’t worry. It all came very easily. There was no alienation or strangeness. I dreamed there was no mistrust, no misgivings. I dreamed that I could sleep through the night. In my dream nothing was broken, and nobody was sick. There were no tumors and no need to be strong.

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Ordinary Crucifixion – No. 7

The toughest son-of-a-bitch I know won’t kill a cockroach. He’ll coax it into an envelope and release it back into its natural environment through a storm drain. The toughest son-of-a-bitch I know can take a hit or five and keep plodding along. He’s a little slower now than he used to be, but has not stopped for a moment. He works 15-hour days. The toughest son-of-a-bitch I know has taught me a lot about standing upright and towing your wreckage behind you like it’s weightless. He’s going to be the Last Man Standing, even with Parkinson’s, even if it puts him in a wheelchair. He’s Pittsburgh’s Dali Lama.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Last Man Standing

I know the last man standing. He is not me. The last man standing is not a hot-tempered man. He is not an especially violent or powerful man. The last man standing is resilient and indestructible. That’s the secret. He never kills. He lets time kill for him. He just outlives you. The last man standing knows how to mind his own business, pick his fights, and defend himself when necessary. He is not prodigious or possessed of genius. His accomplishment is one of duration. Upon sight of him, one cannot always identify the man who will be the last man standing. I know that he is not me, as I lack the temperament and endurance. The last man standing is not an especially brilliant artist, writer, thinker, lover or fighter. He is simply the least apt to die. That duration is his genius and his gift.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Ordinary Crucifixion – No. 6

On Duquesne Boulevard, in heavy morning traffic, on my way to work, there were two pickup trucks side-by-side at a traffic light. I was one car behind the one in the center lane, and the other was in the left lane. A woman stepped out of the passenger’s door of the truck on the left. She looked to be in her early 40s, with a bleached blond mullet and tight acid-washed jeans. She walked over to the other truck’s driver’s side window and started talking. I couldn’t hear what was being said. She started to walk around to get in the passenger’s side door of the truck on the right, leaving the door open on the truck which she had left. At that point I could hear some yelling, but still couldn’t tell what was being said. As she was standing between the two trucks, the light turned green. The truck in the center lane drove off. We started moving. The woman was still exchanging words with the driver of the truck in the left lane through the open passenger’s side door. They were paralyzing the left lane of Fort Duquesne Boulevard, in morning rush hour traffic. The driver of the BMW 750i immediately behind the remaining truck looked extremely irritated, but didn’t say shit. Nobody laid on their horn. In my rearview mirror, I looked back at the event, and saw her get back into the truck through the door she had exited when the event started. They moved through the intersection, only to get stuck at the next light beside the same truck.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bars in the Morning

The real test of a bar is how it looks in the morning, filled with daylight. Most places can’t hold up to that test. Most bars need the forgiveness of moonlight and neon to look good. Anonymity is their character. Broad daylight ruins them. You’re not meant to see a bar that way. Just like you’re not supposed to see a woman without her makeup, but a really beautiful one even looks good without it.

Monday, February 22, 2010


This shirt’s got buttons and a collar, so fuck you. In my estimation, that’s dressed up. That’s license to go anywhere: job interviews, hearings, weddings, funerals, and public speaking engagements. I am held hostage by it. It’s so fucking goofy. I hate the extra fabric, stiffness, and complexity, all present for no tangible or quantifiable purpose. I feel like I’m owed something for this gross indignity.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Apparently watches are pretty fucking important. Perhaps they are even the measure of a man. The bigger they are, the better. There should be no plastic anywhere on it. Plastic isn’t hard like stainless steel or chrome or gold or silver. Whereas diamonds are normally reserved for shallow, bitchy women, on a man’s watch, they indicate a giant dick, insatiable heterosexual appetite, and good Protestant work ethic. A straightforward, honest, god-fearing man should wear a good watch. A respectable watch should cost as much as a decent used car. That way you can ensure that nobody will mistake you for the sort of dishonest, degenerate queer who would wear a cheap, scratched up, ten year old plastic Timex with a nylon band that doesn’t match the face, bought at K-Mart, on sale, for $14.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bagging the Grass

It burns my ass that I have a yard. My dad has a yard. From the age of about 12 or 13, cutting it had always been my responsibility while I lived with my parents. Now I own my own house, and I have to cut my own goddamn yard. I wish my house didn’t have one. I want to pave the fucking yard and just paint the asphalt green. When we bought the house, the yard was nearly dead. That was one of the big selling points for me. The first summer that we lived here, it was fantastic. I could get away with cutting the yard once every two weeks, and I just let the grass cuttings lay. The next summer was still pretty good, but the grass grew a little faster and got a little thicker. My wife suggested that we get a lawn service to spray it periodically with lawn treatments to kill weeds and fertilize the grass. I agreed to it, without thinking or believing that it would realistically do anything. Another year has passed, and as we move into summer, we have much more grass to deal with. It’s terrible. We have thick, fast-growing grass everywhere. I’m still resolved not to bag it, though, as I fucking hate that. Bagging your lawn clippings takes forever, and just seems like a really ecologically shitty thing to do. The drawback is that we have ugly clods of grass everywhere. I couldn’t give a shit if you paid me to. The grass clods didn’t bother me one bit until my dog started eating them. Whenever we would take our Chihuahua outside to do her business, she’d grab a giant clod of grass, and eat it while she shat. She’d squat and grind out turds while chewing a mouthful of grass. It was kind of funny to watch. I guess there’s nothing wrong or unhealthy with that, but it pissed me off. It was time-consuming. Anytime we took the dog out, we had to wait for her to finish playing with the grass clods. So this past week I resolved to bag the grass just to spite our dog. We have a somewhat wooded lot behind our house, so I dumped the clippings there into a compost heap. I gave the yard a crew cut. It looked like golf course. No grass clods anywhere. The next time I took our Chihuahua out to do her business that evening, I taunted her that she would starve to death, because she’d have no grass to eat while she shit. She was immediately thrown by the absence of grass clods. She hunted and hunted for them, and I laughed out loud. I relished my victory. The only problem is that now she won’t shit at all until she comes back into the house. Now it’s incredibly difficult to get her to shit outside without the clods, and we’ve got to either housetrain her again or just mulch the grass again and let the clods lay.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mother’s Day at the Deli Counter

The grocery store closes at 8pm on Sundays. It is 6pm as I walk up to the deli counter while my wife gets the produce. There are two people in front of me being served. There’s an adolescent boy getting bologna, and a middle-aged man getting half a pound of everything. It’s Mother’s Day. There are two women working the counter, both middle-aged and motherly-looking. One of them turns off all the lights behind the counter as she prepares more meat and cheese for this bastard of a man. A smiling manager approaches and asks her something. She replies, “I’ve been here since 6am. I’m done now.” He smiles and nods. She smiles with beautiful indolence and defiance, and continues preparing meat and cheese for the raging asshole of a customer. He orders what easily must be another half pound of everything. I begin to contemplate what sort of man is so inconsiderate to keep this poor woman working like that. When he is finally done, I order half a pound of turkey breast and a quarter pound of sandwich pepperoni.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Sound of the Ocean

Sometimes you’ve got to blow off work. Sometimes a subtle reason is all you need to stay home. Like bad allergies, or a cold, or no reason at all. Some days were just not meant for writing code in an office without windows. My house is about a quarter-mile away from a back road that gets substantial morning traffic. It’s never congested, but there are frequently cars zipping along, on their way to work. Through the bedroom window, if you’re sleeping in on a weekday, they sound kind of like the ocean as they pass, just not as rhythmic and even. It’s kind of like cheap, miniature vacation ambiance. My allergies are acting up today. Frail, feeble, and failing, I’m in the rare mood to listen to bright smiling music to clear my head and make the most of my stolen day. Misery and commiseration are for work, not for home. As I comb through my CD collection, looking for optimistic music, I become acutely aware of what a depressing person I must be. I guess I need to work on that, not that I have any idea how you “work on” something like that. Oh well, fuck me. I settle on Iggy Pop, The Minutemen, Le Tigre, Jane’s Addiction, and Fugazi. Load up the CD carousel, put it on shuffle, and sit down on the couch with my laptop. The dog is sitting on the kitchen floor, in a bright square of sunshine. It’s her favorite thing to do. She loves to bask like an alligator on a hot rock. The warm sun helps her digest her breakfast, and she loves to nap in it. Today will be a good day despite my allergies, goddammit. Crumpled tissues pile up, all pregnant with snot, and I type and read and sketch, a narcotic joy overtaking me that I never want to end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bad Ideas

Bad ideas come into the world on their own. They don’t need anybody’s help. My dog climbs up onto the end tables and chews up things she shouldn’t. She loves it. I’ve never wondered for a moment if she saw another dog do that on TV and got inspired, or if she heard a band sing a song about climbing on tables on the radio, or if one of her friends put the idea in her head while she was out playing. I’m pretty sure she hatched that one all on her own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The wife and I just got a dog, a Chihuahua. I just wanted a dog. I didn’t care what kind. It didn’t matter to me. She agreed to get a small dog. So we got the smallest kind on god’s green Earth. We got a four pound Chihuahua puppy. It’s fucking adorable, and it needs to wear those goofy little clothes that people like to put on small dogs. Apparently Chihuahuas are so small and have such little body mass that if the temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re cold. So they need to wear those embarrassing little dog coats, unless you live on the equator. Pittsburgh isn’t on the equator. Their teeth are also very small and delicate. So they have to eat little dishes of soft processed meat. Somewhere Charles Darwin is rolling over in his grave, spinning like a lathe.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Never Sell

I’ve been showing my paintings for eight years now. In that time, I’ve done about 34 shows. Everybody loves my work. Other artists, gallery owners, the art-viewing public, critics, schizophrenics, drunks, and the homeless all think I’m great. Nobody ever buys my work, though. Nobody wants it in their living room above the couch. I drop it off at the gallery, or ship it to the gallery, and hang out at the opening. I socialize and answer everybody’s questions. I don’t say anything insane, offensive or frightening, which takes some restraint. The show stays up for its predetermined length of time, and at its end, I always have to orchestrate my work’s return. Pick it up or ship it back, apologize to the gallery owner for not making a penny for them the whole time my work was up, and store it away in the garage. My work keeps getting stronger. There can be no doubt that I do it because I love it. It’s for goddamned sure not for the money.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Lizzie Border B&B

Both my wife and I are atheists. Neither one of us believes in the existence of any gods, an afterlife, reincarnation, ghosts, or the paranormal. We thought we’d test our skepticism by staying at one of the most allegedly haunted attractions in North America. So we stayed a night in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was the last stop on our Massachusetts exploration, which also included Boston and Salem. Skeptical as we are, we still harbored a strong degree of optimism for the night. I would have loved it if something had happened that I couldn’t explain. I would have loved to have been scared out of my wits. We arrived at around 4pm. We got checked in and took a look around. It was an old Victorian home. There’s nothing too remarkable about that. There were bad acrylic paintings of the victims, dated 1995, hung in antique frames on the walls. There were inkjet prints of photos of the crime scene everywhere, and pictures of Lizzie (looking insane) all over the house. We stayed in the master bedroom, which was of course the bedroom of Andrew and Abby, the two victims. It’s supposed to be one of the most haunted rooms in the house. The evening tour always starts at 8pm, so we had time to burn. We went out for dinner, returning at 8pm for the tour. The tour was well executed. Eleanor, the woman giving the tour, was obviously a pro. She told interesting stories and knew all sorts of obscure details about the house. Other people had apparently died there since the murders. There were also séances scheduled for later that night, for an extra $10. We had never attended a séance before, so we signed up. The medium was supposed to be very good, so we were excited. There were two sessions, 10pm and 11pm. We were in the first session. We spoke with a few people who were going to be attending the first session. They were all skeptics. I was excited, and wondered if that would affect the tone of it. The medium was no older than 21, kind of chubby, and very soft-spoken. She wore a flowing white dress, and had about a mile of cleavage exposed. When we sat down at the table in the dining room, my disappointment began to mount. The table was visibly on wheels. It was an old table, and at the slightest touch, it creaked loudly. To start we all were asked to put a finger on top of an upside down coffee cup, which moved all about the table when the medium asked questions. This wasn’t very compelling. The cup moved towards certain people at the table, and the medium talked about the spirits having particular interest in those people. It was corny, but kind of fun. The next portion of the séance involved everybody putting their hands on the table, and the medium again asked questions of the spirits, and they would respond by moving the table. This was so utterly fake that it was actually upsetting. The table actually wiggled around a bit, creaked and squeaked. The medium’s cleavage heaved. If you happened to be looking at her hands, instead of her heaving bosom, you could see the tendons in the backs of them standing up. You could also see the tension in her forearms as she struggled to make the table move. When she paused to fix her hair, the movement of the table mysteriously stopped. It was obvious and bad. It seemed like she was having trouble getting the spirits to respond, so she asked us if any of us wanted to ask the spirits anything. I volunteered, and suggested provoking them. She agreed. I asked out loud if the spirit of Andrew Borden liked to molest little boys. She assured me that that was a bad move and that he was getting mad, though nothing seemed to happen. I asked if it was okay that I called him “Andy.” She said that I should be careful. A whole lot of nothing happened, and eventually my wife asked if he could interact with anything else in the room. She asked “Andy” if he could blow out one of the candles, or knock on something other than the table. Nothing happened at all, after a total of 40 minutes. The séance was over, and we had to go sit out in the parlor. We all went out there and laughed cacophonously. It was, in fact, hilarious. We talked and laughed for quite a while. The second séance, for the group comprised as entirely of believers as our group had been of skeptics, lasted about 70 minutes. We could hear them through the walls. Apparently, there was a lot going on. The spirits were much more riled up for the second group than they had been for us. Around 1:30am, we all went to our various rooms to go to bed. The sheets and mattresses were new, but the bed frame was supposedly the one owned by “Andy.” The walls of the house are all very thin, and you can easily hear what’s happening in other rooms. Given this, we decided that it was out of the question to fuck before going to sleep. I was disappointed. It’s not that I was feeling especially amorous. A good round of screwing was really just my last hope of upsetting the spirits and getting something to happen. So before falling asleep, I jacked off. I figured that might still sufficiently upset “Andy.” It didn’t. Nothing happened. I gave up and went to sleep. In the morning, breakfast was very good. Once again, all of the believers sat at one table and the skeptics at another. None of the skeptics had any experiences of the preceding night to discuss. The other table had apparently experienced a paranormal orgy all night. Not a wink of sleep. One woman claimed to have levitated off her bed. Another heard footsteps up in the attic. Before leaving, we bought a $5 cookie cutter shaped like a hatchet.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brewery Tour

We like to take brewery tours when we travel. We hit two in Boston. At the first tour, after the tour was finished, we were brought into a sampling room with long, slender tables. It was very crowded. We got seats, but not everybody did. Across the table from us sat an elderly couple. They were nice people, very friendly and conversational. I was wearing my CRAMPS t-shirt. The woman said, “Who are the Cramps? Is that a band?” I said, “Yeah,” and proceeded to explain a bit about the band, to provide context. She started at me intently, though I could tell that nothing I was saying meant anything to her. I might as well have been speaking Greek. She said, “My daughter has a Cramps t-shirt. She lives up here now. We’re visiting her. We’re from Indiana.” I explained that my wife and I were from Pittsburgh. Their other daughter currently lives in Texas. They asked if they could take our picture, to show their daughter. We said, “Sure.” I didn’t do anything obscene in the picture. I put my arm around my wife, and smiled like I was posing for a picture being taken by my own mother. I felt badly that both of their daughters had moved so far away from them and that they had to travel to see them. They must have done something right, though, if their daughters weren’t afraid to strike off in their own directions. I’m sure their daughters are pretty cool people. I still live half an hour away from where I was born and raised. People from western Pennsylvania tend not to leave. At that moment I felt a little ashamed of myself, and still do. I feel like I’ve failed at life by living so close to where I’m from, but I don’t have the heart to leave.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Schizophrenic Cadillac Donuts

We were looking for a particular pastry shop in Boston. We got there and it was closed. After failing to find something else suitable in the immediate vicinity, we wandered around and squandered the morning, lost in search of breakfast. Disgusted, we gave up and went to a Dunkin' Donuts. I got in line behind an old guy who was apparently ordering. He looked a little unusual, kind of like a black Hunter S. Thompson, with a suitcase, brightly colored shirt, wide-brimmed pink stoner hat, and red cane…but I thought nothing of it. I dig insane-looking people. I stood behind him in line, paying no attention to anything that he was saying. The girl working the register shouted over his head to me, “Can I help you?” Initially I thought that I had done something rude. I paused, confused. She repeated herself. At this moment I could see the old man gesturing wildly, and talking off in a different direction. Still unsure why she wanted me to displace this man, and order ahead of him, I timidly approached the counter. I ordered a cream-filled key lime pie donut and a small coffee. My wife ordered a blueberry donut. The man wandered off to the side, and started talking again. I began to understand what was going on. He proceeded to let loose with one of the most awesome monologues I’ve ever heard. It was actually a dialogue, but only one side of it. He was having a conversation with somebody who wasn’t there. He would speak, and they would respond, though only to him. This person had just bought a brand new Cadillac.

“Bright red. Shinin.’ With a tape player in the dash. You could ride around in it all day. Up and down the block. Have your girl in there beside you, and ride. You know…”

The old man was sincerely happy for his invisible partner. It was touching and beautiful. He was engaged in something much cooler than I was. I was engaged in a donut that looked so brightly green that I thought it was radioactive.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Red Sea

We ate dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Boston on the Harvard Campus. It was incredible. Beautiful, long, slender black women with heavy accents waited the tables. There was excellent service, ambiance, and food. Perfect. I had never eaten Ethiopian food before, and had no idea what to expect. The experience was great, except for the sniveling pussy at the table sitting next to us. He was the sort of guy who gives guys with ponytails a bad name. I primarily resented him on that account. I have a nearly identical ponytail. He was underweight and slightly hunched. He had a weak voice with a condescending tone. He was wearing a polo shirt and ancient running shoes. I hated him. He and his girlfriend sat down just moments before my wife and I arrived. He spent about ten minutes educating his girlfriend on the menu, taking great care to pronounce everything correctly and explain its cultural significance to the good people of Ethiopia. When he ordered, he took great care to pronounce everything correctly once again. I wonder if he thought there was some prize to be had for being the most cultured and tolerant white guy in the house. I thought he was about to apologize for slavery, apartheid, and Vanilla Ice. After ordering, he proceeded to gripe about a funeral that he had recently attended, and followed that up with a lecture on the moral etiquette of grieving. Apparently somebody in attendance at the aforementioned funeral was expressing a disproportionate amount of grief to their relationship with the deceased, and it bothered him. Then he talked about mountain biking, and how advanced the courses he rides are, and that he would love to take his girlfriend mountain biking, but wouldn’t dare subject her to the rigors of the difficult courses that he rides. He pissed and moaned about what must have been a dozen other petty, irrelevant things. Eventually he started taking shots at people from West Virginia. I’m not from West Virginia, but it’s less than half an hour’s drive from where I live. I’ve been there, and West Virginia isn’t that much different than western Pennsylvania. I wondered what qualified Mr. Harvard to trash on people from a state he’d likely never seen. I wondered why it’s okay for educated, privileged pseudo-intellectuals to trash on poor, white people from the middle of nowhere, though they’d never dream of uttering a critical word about any other race. Right when I was thinking about tackling him, putting him in a headlock, and shaving his head with a butter knife, my phone rang. My phone never rings, so I generally don’t bother turning the ringer off when I’m in restaurants, though I know it’s a common courtesy. This particular event was actually the first time that it had ever rung while in a restaurant. My phone plays Slayer when it rings, quite loudly. You can hear it clear as a bell. Initially, I didn’t even realize that it was my phone. I saw an Asian guy beside me start frantically reaching into one of his pockets, and I assumed it was his. I laughed and smiled at him knowingly, thinking that I had just made a new friend. We were united in Slayer! Clearly he was a scholar and a gentleman, with impeccable taste in music. Maybe he would help me pummel the sniveling pussy with the ponytail sitting next to me? Then I looked over at my wife, who was redder than a stop sign. “Turn off your phone!” she urgently whispered at me across the table, through clenched teeth. I said, “Easy baby, it’s not mine,” and smiled, trying to assuage her misdirected reaction. Once we determined that it was, in fact, mine, I took my time turning it off. The sniveling pussy at the table next to us looked appalled. I checked it later to see who had called. It was my friend Dave. It was further proof that he’s an excellent and helpful guy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bukowski’s Tavern

We went on a hunt for Bukowski’s Tavern in Boston, MA. I’m pretty sure Buk never had anything to do with the place. I’ll bet he never even set foot in there. More likely, it was created as a tribute to him, after his death. Cool enough. I am a huge Charles Bukowski fan and also a fan of beer. Bukowski’s Tavern is supposed to have a lot of that, and we’re on vacation in Boston on the 4th of July. So it sounds good to me. Along the way we stopped to drink at a few other bars to refresh ourselves. Hunting with bad directions in a city of illogical civil engineering makes you thirsty. It was a good evening. Then it rained. We ducked into a CVS and bought a $6 umbrella for my wife. I don’t mind being wet, but she does. If she’s going to be wet, she also wants to be holding an ineffective umbrella over her head, so she feels like she is at least making an effort not to be wet. She’s a complicated woman. We walked a great deal, got lost, and she had a need to piss, apparently pretty strong. The frustration of walking around Boston lost, in the rain, in a throng of sidewalk congestion was getting to her. Loads of people, all headed to see the fireworks. I heard that they’re big fireworks, but I really couldn’t give a shit about fireworks. The pouring rain, immense navigational frustration, sore feet, diminishing beer buzz, and full bladder were getting to my wife. She wasn’t happy. Understandably. There was seemingly nowhere to stop to use a simple fucking bathroom. So we ducked out of the crowd and down an alley behind an apartment building, looking for somewhere that she could go. We saw three dumpsters arranged in a “U” shape, and she darted between them, hiked up her skirt, pulled her panties to the side and pissed. I was the lookout. We were about 40 feet away from a giant crowd of innumerable people, all moving down the street like cattle. There were cops everywhere, and we were barely hidden by some dumpsters. I was looking. Nobody was coming. The rain was pouring, and I could hear the sound of my wife’s urine stream against the pavement over and through the drone of the rain. She peed louder than the rain. It was literally a pissing contest between her and God, and she won. When she was done, we walked back into the mob and kept looking with renewed vigor. She was re-energized and filled with a new conviction to get me to my bar. “I’ll bet you’re going to write about that!” she said, no less than three times. “Yup,” I said in response, each time. Eventually her new mood deteriorated again as we searched. After about two or three concessions of “Fuck it, we’re giving up,” we actually headed back towards a subway to head back to our hotel room, defeated. The umbrella blew inside out, just like an old cartoon. At that point we saw Bukowski’s Tavern. It was roughly the size of a telephone booth, attached to a parking garage and an empty lot with some miscellaneous construction vehicles beside it. We went in and it was pretty cool. It was dry. There were amateurishly painted murals of Buk, an awesome framed Robert Crumb illustration, and cardboard coasters with the name of the bar screen printed on them. It was perfectly depressing. Very appropriate. The beers were overpriced but good. We each had one, and I pocketed our cardboard coasters. When we left, the rain had stopped and I took a picture of the front of the bar. I had mistakenly thought the return trip home would be less painful than the initial journey to the bar. I was wrong. The fireworks were finishing up, and foot traffic was flooding the streets and trains. Though we knew exactly how to get back from where we were, the return trip was almost as long as the initial search. Three different trains, with people crammed into the cars to the point of bursting. Ninety degree heat, humidity, and agonizing human scent. When we got back to the hotel room, I went to sleep like I had earned it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Show Opening

I had two large pieces in a group exhibition that opened last night. The gallery looked good. So did all of the work. I really appreciate having friends like the three people who run the Moxie. They’re great. My work never sells, but they hang it anyway. I love that. My friends who run the Boxheart are the same way. I’ve shown there a bunch of times, never made them a cent, and they keep inviting me back. I really do appreciate that. Anyhow, this particular show was the first one I had done in Pittsburgh in almost a year, and the first one I had done at the Moxie in almost two. The turnout was great. There were a lot more people than I anticipated. Not a single homeless, schizophrenic alcoholic in sight. I was the only one. Though most of my friends who promised to attend didn’t make it, a few did. Lots of cool people I’d never met before were there. So I met new people. I made some new friends. I drank. The Girl From Moscow turned out. It was wonderful to talk to her. She had been MIA for a while, and I was concerned that she had finally gotten fed up with my constant sexual advances. Apparently, she had finally broken up with Dipshit. Awesome news! That’s good to know, and I guess that explains her strange absence. I’m glad it wasn’t my fault. By the end of the opening, I was drunk. My wife drove us home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy To See Me

I’m always surprised when people are happy to see me. I normally expect that when it’s been a while since I’ve seen somebody, it’s because they’ve wised up and come to their senses. They’ve finally realized that I’m a boring, depressing, bitter man, and they’ve found better ways to spend their time than with me. But people always seem happy to see me. It’s baffling, but it makes me feel like a wealthy man. I’ve got friends everywhere, more than I can name. They’re all wonderful people. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of being a lost dog. You make a lot of friends.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pride Fest 2007

June 16, 2007 was Pittsburgh’s first official gay pride festival, called “Pride Fest 2007.” We missed the parade in the afternoon, but showed up in the evening for the festival. They closed down two blocks of Liberty Avenue for it. Initially I was apprehensive about going, as neither my wife nor I are really truly gay. We thought about bugging some of our gay friends to see if they would be there, and go with us. That seemed kind of cowardly though. I don’t need a human shield or chaperone to go investigate something new. It’s not that I was concerned about being seen alone with my wife at a giant gay function, but that I hate to feel like I’m intruding where I don’t belong. We wanted to show our support however, and they were going to have legal drinking in the street. So we went. We circled the perimeter of the event once to check it out before entering. I was shocked that there weren’t any protesters. This is Pittsburgh, after all. I had expected a mob of people in Steelers garb, with crosses and giant homemade signs, explaining why it’s un-Christian and morally wrong to be gay. I thought there would be angry meatheads yelling, “FAGS!” from their pickup trucks as they drove past. There was none of that, and for a moment, I was very pleasantly impressed with my town. There were two entry points, one in the front and one in the back, which I thought was funny and appropriate. If you already had a ticket, there was no line. If you needed a ticket there was a huge line at the front. In the back, however, there was no line at all. We took that route, bought our tickets, and were in. The atmosphere was immediately one of insane and infectious joy. The most obvious spectacle was, of course, the stage, upon which there were dancers. The dancers were fit young men in extra-tight briefs and nothing else, gyrating and thrusting to the pounding club music that filled the scene. The backdrop behind the stage was a huge rainbow banner. There was a giant net full of multi-colored balloons held above the crowd. Not on a stage, but towards the back of the festival area, there was a circle comprised mostly of young black guys doing some hybrid form of vogueing and break-dancing. Some were trannies. Some were not. It was incredible to watch. Before the night came to an end, I would encounter four men that I knew from places that I’ve worked or from the art scene whom I’d had no idea were gay. Though I suppose seeing them there wasn’t necessarily evidence to indicate that they’re gay, as I too was there, and not really very gay. Regardless, everybody was extremely friendly. Everybody was cool, so much so that I felt like an alien. There was no meathead bullshit to be found anywhere. Even the cops were laughing and having a good time. Everybody was so open and suave that I felt like a lame, straight caveman. I felt like I was made of 2x4s, rusty metal and rawhide. I wanted to apologize to everybody I saw for darkening their beautiful event with the pall of my dysfunctional clumsiness. My wife took to it much more naturally than I did. She enjoyed the girls checking her out. I enjoyed the girls checking her out. They, however, didn’t seem to enjoy me checking them out. I felt bad about that, and did my best not to do too much looking at women, not knowing if they’d be receptive to it. My wife thought it was utterly hilarious to watch the men checking me out, which I didn’t anticipate, or notice at all. I was utterly oblivious to that. Certainly it’s positive, though, as I’ll happily accept that sort of endorsement from whichever side of the fence wants to give it to me. As I drank I loosened up, not to such an extent that I would embarrass myself by dancing, but enough that I shed some of my tension and meshed well with the crowd. Some people who weren’t tense in any way, shape or form were: The black man in the sequin panties, sandals, rainbow colored wig, and not a stitch of anything else; the dancing bearded man in a t-shirt reading, “You’ve been a bad bear, go to my room!”; the two young guys that slipped off into a Porta-John together. There was, in fact, quite a large number of people without any self-consciousness whatsoever. I was envious. I was painfully straight. I didn’t want to be gay. I just wanted to be less inhibited and less tightly wound. At that moment it occurred to me that gay people are probably the next natural step in human evolution. They’re a more developed breed of human, without the primitive, standard-issue, boring, straight, middle class, suburban, white, Christian notions of gender roles, sexuality, and inhibitions. The train has left the station, and gay is where it’s headed. Those of us not fortunate or cool enough to live there will do well to at least come and hang out periodically. We stayed until about 12:30, when the aforementioned net full of multi-colored balloons was released on the crowd, and everybody went nuts.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My French Fries

We were eating dinner Friday evening at the Sharp Edge in Crafton. It’s a wonderful place with excellent food and excellent beer. We’re there way too often. Their fries are great, a little thicker than a quarter of an inch, but less than a half. Hand-cut. After eating my sandwich, I had arranged all of the fries in the pile into loose parallels. Ate a bunch, mostly the little burnt bits and unusually shaped ones. Once I had reduced the pile to a manageable volume of relatively uniform quality, I lined them up in ascending lengths, like a xylophone. At this point, it’s easy to cut the fries with your fork, and spear them two or three at a time. It also makes them easy to dip in ketchup. It’s a neat, clean, efficient, and ultimately superior way to eat them. Employing a different method of French fry consumption is a clear indication of hopeless insanity and/or communist political convictions. This was the stage at which I had arrived when the waitress walked by to ask if we needed anything else. She saw my tight, straight lineup of parallel fries, all evenly cut with a fork, and said, “Aww, that’s cute! You’ve made a little sidewalk!” I laughed politely, embarrassed, and my wife burst out laughing and said, “That’s what you get!”

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Bangkok Balcony

The Bangkok Balcony is a great place to get Thai food. It’s not terribly expensive, but it’s not cheap either. Their curry is fantastic. I thoroughly recommend it. We went there for dinner Friday evening, after work. It’s a nice way to end the week. I got some Massaman curry, nice and hot. My wife got Thai-fried rice with tofu. We each had a beer with dinner, just a beer each. The Bangkok Balcony is a great place to eat, but a shitty place to drink. They don’t have a wide beer selection. Their hard liquor is overpriced. I don’t know about their wine. I don’t drink wine. Beyond that, it’s a fucking restaurant. You don’t go to a restaurant to drink. You go there to eat. We ate big meals, each with a single beer. No buzz whatsoever. We paid. We walked to the door, out the door, and started down the steps. It’s a balcony, after all. It’s on the second floor of a building. In front of us, headed down the stairs, were two women obviously having trouble. They were kind of short and looked like they were in their 40s, with permed hair. Dressed like your mom, and carrying shopping bags. The first one was doing relatively okay, but the second one was doing very badly. I was initially inclined to go help her, but I saw how jerky, disconnected, and uncoordinated her movements were, and I thought that perhaps she had cerebral palsy. Not wanting to insult or humiliate her, I patiently walked down the stairs behind her, as her movements took up the entire width of the stairwell. The descent down one flight of stairs took easily three minutes. No big deal. I was glad to see that she made it down without any problems. The first woman turned around, and was very red-faced and sweaty. She smiled and slurred out a “Sorry” as she fumbled with her car keys. The second woman, was also turned around, was even redder, sweatier, and could not even get out an intelligible sentence. She just burst into laughter. At that point I realized that palsy was not to blame for her state. We went off in our own direction, feeling morally superior. Then it occurred to me that somebody should stop them from trying to drive. So I turned around to see them staggering up the street, and concluded that my intervention would not be necessary to prevent them from gaining entry to their vehicle.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Smell Good

Right now I smell like artificial mint flavoring, cheap aftershave, and aerosol deodorant. I smell like the sort of man who wears khakis and a polo shirt, not because he has to for work, but all of the time, because he chooses to. I smell like I should be eating Buffalo wings at Hooters, drinking bad beer and watching televised sports. I smell like I have a 401K, a nice car, an obedient wife and no thoughts of my own. I smell like the self-righteous lies of a Christian man in a porn store. I don’t smell the way I look, behave, feel, or live.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Apologies and Cologne

Cologne is stupid. Why would I want to smell like anything other than myself? I smell magnificent on my own. I don’t need any help.

Apologies are self-indulgent. They’re made for the purpose of relieving your feelings of guilt and regret. They do nothing to heal the injured individual. Apologizing is like masturbating in front of somebody because you did something shitty to them and you want to feel better about it.

Cologne is a pre-emptive apology for one’s own scent. It is ideologically offensive. Jesus would wear cologne, for the same dumb reasons that he wants you to abide by his dad’s ten commandments. Cologne is humanity pretending that we’re something higher than animals.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Frat Boys

On the ladder of human evolution and moral standing, somewhere below pedophiles, rapists, serial murderers, drug dealers and used car salesmen you’ll find frat boys. Sure, just like cops, there are some good ones, perhaps even very good ones, but generally speaking, they’re degenerates. A frat boy is a meathead who is too terrified of the world around himself to confront it as an individual. He can only meet the world confidently if surrounded by a whole pack of like-minded people who have paid to join his semi-exclusive friend club. A frat boy is the opposite of an independent, critically thinking individual. Events like the various medieval inquisitions perpetrated by the Catholic Church, the Salem witch trials, the Holocaust, the Mafia, gang rape, televised sports, war, the Ku Klux Klan, and the band Sublime are only possible because of frat boys. These are all events or activities in which no thinking individual in their right mind would participate, endorse, or propagate. However, once you’ve surrendered your personal free will over to your group identity, all manner of idiocy becomes easily possible. None of us is as dumb as all of us. The frat boy, in his current and all historical manifestations, is proof of that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Guy

This guy leads with his junk. He’s incredible. When he looks at girls, he turns his whole head, neck, and shoulders right in front of them with no subtlety or apologies. He makes sure he gets an eyeful. He makes me look prudish. The party never stops.

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