Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Wilderness Years - Missed the train to Mars

When one is working 70 plus hours a week it's the small things that keep you sane, the three or four minutes of a pop song that allow you the respite of an oppressive universe, allow you to daydream and to forget those three inches in front of your face just long enough to get you through til the next break or off shift, it was the 95th summer of the twentieth century and i spent my days and nights covered in fry grease and sweat and when it wasn't fry grease and sweat it was hunks of bloody beef and an open pit, and when it wasn't fry grease and blood it was booze and acid and smack, i'd call it a nightmare but it wasn't, it was just living and how well i was doing that at the time is debatable...

If that debate had actually been held there would have been a predominant amount of witnesses arguing that i was an asshole in the business of alienating everyone around him and they probably were not far off but when one is a miserable motherfucker making friends and influencing people is not high on the things to do list, on the other side of the room i'd have found myself and a few others but there would have been plenty of empty seats, of course we cannot change history only document it so there will be no apologies, only the cold, hard, edge of the knife blade known as memory...

There was a dishwater blonde with long curls, a sultry voice and a these dark pools of eyes that were soft and sexy, i had spent the previous year (flunking out of grad school) asking her when she was going to take me to bed? she was good-natured and worse a sorority girl, i'd give her the business about the latter bit and assure her that i wanted nothing to do with her other than the fucking, i would attend no "Greek" mixers or formals and would not be her boyfriend but i promised her all the pleasure she could handle, her laugh would bring those curls cascading around her face, you're so full of shit she'd say, you wouldn't last ten seconds, her attitude told you to fuck off but those eyes would suck you right in, her pouty lips curling into a sly smile and then that laugh again...

That 95th summer i was a broke motherfucker, but broke motherfucker's need to get wasted and blow off steam and so i would find the ways and means to stay well and truly fucked, be it the kindness of friends or the graft and hustle, there was a bar on 8th and Philadelphia that had $1 import beers twice a week from 9-11pm, on the occasional off night i would stake out a stool at the bar, usually accompanied by a friend or co-worker who had heard about my game, there i would sit nursing a beer until the special kicked off, by 9:20 you couldn't move in the place or get to the bar, i casually knew the bartenders and being 6'4 helped but i would procure beers as long as one was bought for me, i spent the next two hours doing this and getting roaring drunk with a half dozen pints of beer still in front of me, after a few nights of this game the bartenders starting giving me chips, they knew i couldn't drink all the beers i got and none of us wanted them wasted so a drink chip it was, sometimes i'd accept cash when i had a few lined up but in the end the chips went further, they let me drink free at my leisure...

They often played this song in this particular bar, at night you couldn't hear it but during the day when it was quiet and mellow there were those few minutes of reverie i'd mentioned, Lizzie of the Curls and i would go drinking there in the afternoon, i'm sure i annoyed her with my usual offer of mind-blowing sex but then we'd settle into our normal conversation, always quite good and entertaining, when i was broke she'd stand me beer after beer, when i got my scam going she'd laugh at the number chips i'd have, i'd return the favor and tell her that chivalry lives, usually followed by how chivalrous i'd be performing cunnilingus on her, i was a right fucking twit and yet she put up with me, it was the company of a beautiful and intelligent woman, she came across as having it well together but she didn't, there was a sadness behind the eyes, a loneliness in the pauses between words, one particularly drunken afternoon as we exited into the blinding sun so i could make it to work on time she stopped me on the corner and kissed me, she said she was waiting for the answers, it looked like she had tears in her eyes, i was too drunk to know if i was supposed to have them and then she turned and walked toward her place...

That's how it went for her and i that summer, i was living with a girl, Lizzie knew that, we'd meet and drink and talk and except for that one kiss there was never anything sexual, except of course for the tension... i was working the day shift at the fry joint when she walked up one afternoon, she asked if i was working a double that day and i said no, i had already worked three that week and had a night off, she told me i should meet her at the bar, i asked what time and she said early, around 7 or 8 before it got crowded, i said i'd stop up for a quick drink or two... and therein lies the best laid plans of the wasted motherfucker... my shift ended and i went to the bar around the corner to play some Foosball with my co-worker friends, a few games turned into a dozen turned into a dozen beers and shots of Irish Mist, then a ride home on the bicycle and a few joints, a shower, a couple slices of pizza, more beers, more joints and the night was gone, i passed out in my room to the sounds of muted voices and distant waves...

I wouldn't see Lizzie again for a few days after that but when i did she gave me a hard look, slightly confused i asked her what was up? she said where were you the other night, i told her how i had gotten sidetracked after work at the bar and then went home to a semi-party and shrugged and told her i didn't think it was any big deal, she gave a wry smile and said well you missed out mister, i did i said baffled, yeah she said, it was your lucky night, her dark eyes were burning into me, wait what? i stammered, a girl can get lonely AND horny she said, you mean you were gonna? wait, you're fucking shitting me i said, she shook her head, you fucked up, after the second beer i had plans to take you to my place and fuck YOUR brains out, my jaw was bouncing off the floor, i began to do what any lovelorn alley cat would do and started begging and pleading for the opportunity to correct the situation, she stopped me cold, it was taken care of she said, who i said incredulously, my vibrator she spat back, it's my best friend until i get back to school... and off she walked...

I didn't see much of Lizzie after that, she'd leave the beach early and head home and then back to her final year of school, i'd move a few blocks away towards the bay side and get into a interesting month or so of hard drugs and acid and high infidelity, but every time i hear that song i think of those curls and how one night she walked back to her place alone, counting stars, while somewhere a scant few blocks away i was missing the train to Mars...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bim Skala Bim


The article said that Americans aren't fucking like they used to, that the average married couple just a scant decade ago was banging 65 times a year and that recently it had dropped to somewhere around 56 times and i scratched my head and thought well if that's the average some dude with a dad bod is getting mad laid because in these parts it's either feast or famine and these days i'm like that Jewish-Pole pianist stuck in the Warsaw ghetto, fucking thin, real fucking thin, and so as i wandered aimlessly through the fifth grade math carnival i studied all the moms and dads and debated and pondered, all in my own head of course, which of these happy couplings was coupling once sometimes twice a week, at what address were the bed springs squeaking as i drove the suburban streets stoned out of my mind and cursing the fact there were no decent massage parlors out here in the burbs or more correctly that i didn't have the money for a decent massage parlor out here in the burbs because off hand i could count half a dozen within a 15 minute drive, which then led me to think that there are either a lot of single and lonely men out here or that people are lying on those fucking questionnaires and those good and faithful types aren't as good and faithful as they'd have us believe...

One thing for sure is that i'm not fucking like i used to though not for lack of trying on my end, trying being a subjective thing and there are times when i try more than others, granted John Thursday would try on an almost minute to minute basis, the good lad thinks and acts much younger than his age but the soul and the patience get weary with the years and all these transactions of the flesh seem to cost more and more, there is a disconnect between the sexes and the fairer doesn't mind fucking behind hubby's back as long as their emotional needs are met more so than say the physical where as some old dogs just want to get down, get off and get the fuck out, maybe not as impolite as it sounds but there is the balance of the empathy earned and the empathy paid and if the balance is off then the deal goes south, quick-fast as we used to say...

When one is a chronic wank addict you almost have to be an atheist, you can't have a proper jerk if you think some creepy fucking deity is always peering over your shoulder, though i have to admit the wanking can make you lazy in the fucking department, it'll take the starch right out of the hunter and before you know it you'll be baking brownies and nodding off to Dr. Phil, it's strange days out here in the lily white, and on the usual morning i get up long before the sun due to a mind that clicks on as soon as the last vestiges of ganja have kicked it's way out of the system, i make some coffee and read the news, i make the boyos breakfast and pack lunches and shuffle them off to the public education, i work out, have a wank, take a shower and get on with things, i avoid the internets and it's fool's gold of sexual promise, everywhere there are women waiting, and there are 20 men waiting for every woman, it was like walking past that stall in the red light and seeing a line outside, no one really wants to see who went before them, at least in the red light there was order and rules and dare i say honesty, in the wilds of the web it's a fucking free for all, every one on the take and all trying to make a buck, the risk high and the reward low, the opportunity cost that once again feeds on a disproportionate amount of the soul, a sucker's game and yet there it sits like a fat, juicy, peach just begging you to take a bite, i'm not fond of fruit... but i've been known to get hungry now and then...

So here i stand at 46 and i'm really nothing more than horny 15 year old, i keep a running mental commentary on the Yoga pants set that would make a blue film seem like the Sound of Music and that's just in the Target fucking parking lot, some days i'll have a go at myself two or three times, this can't be fucking normal for someone my age can it? and yet how did this existence get so onanistic and monastic? the wanking monk... there was a time when it all came so free and easy, sometimes i wonder if it still won't it's just the rules have changed and there are things like decorum and manners and maybe i'm just clueless, just a caveman dressed up and pretending to be civilized because you can't go round asking, wanna fuck? polite society does not go for that shit and a man my age is supposed to somehow understand this, as a cocky seventeen year old i once walked into the mall and asked the girl at the pastry shop that very question, wanna fuck? and it worked, but now i'm supposed to be actively interested in the problems, thoughts and feelings and i don't have the patience for that anymore, we're old and bitter darling can we just get to it and be on our way? i'm gonna do my best to please you as many times as i can in the time allotted but make no mistake it's all for my damn ego, believe me, so when you and your girlfriends are at the local Starbucks or Panera Bread or what not you'll say my name, like Heisenberg, with an awe and respect for the work i've put in...

And so where does this leave me? stoned and standing with my pants around the ankles, in a world of imaginary friends and past fucks, bright yellow light and cold tile floor, an Ipod stuffed with caustic love songs, the platonic complacency of familiar strangers, a lusting for sticky fumblings in foreign foyers, the faint static of a clock radio on a Knights Inn bed stand, the green numbers illuminating somewhere past midnight, the bed sheets rumpled and wet, the quiet closing of car doors, the cat picking his teeth of the remnants of the canary, there is no need for justice or faith, there is only the need to feel the pulse and the cool air stinging the skin and the clandestine drive through the same streets with different names, in different states, in different times, empty bottles labeled the wine of youth are strewn on the floor, the sweat drips slowly from the tip of the nose leaving patterns on the floor, call them tea leaves and read of it what you will...














Friday, April 21, 2017

Kurt - 4/11

Today i sat in my car while the rain beat steadily down and read The Sirens of Titan while the eldest boyo got soaked at his futbol practice... if that isn't nice i don't know what is... it was the tenth anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death, a thing Kurt himself would have found funny or at least the fact that people who never knew him were somehow honoring his memory, you see i took enough online surveys to earn a gift card from the world's biggest garbage dump and found a good copy of his early work all bound up in a nice hardback with a swanky piece of ribbon for a bookmark, a dust jacket, the whole nine yards, those kids at the Library of America sure do make some fine books and a modern day robber baron provides me the means to find a good copy at a price i can afford, yeah i know i could go to the library, sometimes i do, sometimes i just need shit on hand to satisfy some silly question that pops up in my stoned head, there was also this article on the importance of bookshelves and their contents and more importantly the contents of said bookshelf that had not been read, somehow the article made me smile and might have reaffirmed a tiny nugget of my sanity...

I came to Mr. Vonnegut late and in my usual stubborn and roundabout fashion having been told for years to read him by various friends who i'd say had excellent and disparate tastes in books but all seemed certain i would enjoy this Kurt character, and so one day about five years ago i got a copy of his book of letters published after he had died, not one his novels or a short story collection but letters, and in those letters i saw a guy i could relate to and so one fine day i went to that library and checked out a book called God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and never laughed so hard in my life, it was all downhill from their and his work now gets devoured on a regular basis and soon i'll be close to having read all his novels...

They say Kurt Vonnegut wrote science fiction and i'd laugh and say that Kurt Vonnegut wrote nothing close to science fiction, that what he wrote was life, was humanity in all it's folly and glory and arrogance and beauty, you can't classify it and there are times when i'm sitting around doing whatever i do and i wonder what the hell it is? then i remind myself not to worry about it, the reward is in the doing and not the buying, selling or consuming of it, by the modern world's standards i don't do much, yes i cook and clean and mow the lawn and wash clothes but the real men don't call that work, i don't earn any money, i about earn my keep and nothing more, of course Kurt would say i actually do quite a bit and what he'd most like is that in those spare hours not spent cooking and cleaning and mowing i type out pages of my life, i type out stories and ideas and half-assed philosophical babble, and so in my own half-assed way and without ever really knowing it, i went into art.. the art of living...

"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something." -KV.... let it be stated that i spend a good portion of my day singing and dancing around my humble abode, i also spend a good portion of it conversing with cats...

And he's right, it's no damn way to make a living, selling weed or shining shoes is a much more effective means of supporting oneself and he's right about that reward, i always seem to be in a better mood when i get things done, things that might sit in a folder or file (digitized and otherwise), there is a satisfaction in the doing that i simply do not get from anything else, yes when i demo'ed the bathroom or pulled apart and fixed the toilet, that was all well and good and there was a modicum of accomplishment in figuring out how to do something i hadn't done before but it was nothing like the simple act of staring at the page and typing away, even when it goes badly, which it often does, there is nothing like pissing away the hours, the same goes for the paints, i have no talent or ability but i still i fritter about, making things, for no one and for no reason other than i want to, and so while i may be failing wonderfully at earning money or advancing a career i have gotten quite good and doing nothing at all, a man can work up a mean thirst after a hard day of that, Paul Westerberg said that not Kurt, but thanks Mr. Vonnegut, for helping an aging slacker stay the course...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Old Man




Today as i was dragged through the aisles of multiple Big Box Stores, the type of which let you improve upon that most cherished of all things American known as "the home", the dream foisted and sold and fucking shoved down our throats as if once that purchase of said property has been made you have fucking made it!! as if there is nothing left to do with your life? but there is one thing left to do... and the thing to do apparently is to improve that dwelling and make it the domicile of your gawd damned dreams i tell you, whole industries are there to enhance this process, there are television networks dedicated to helping you bring your dreams to fruition, there are people whose whole career is predicated on selling you shit to do this, D-list celebrities i guess, people who look vaguely familiar on the front of some Murdoch-like gossip rag adorning the front end checkout of the local supermarket usually occupying a small space on the lower left cover, and i stood in these aisles of toilets and chainsaws and washer/dryer combo sets, the dutiful soldier, the faithful and solid sounding board for the Breadwinner's thoughts and dreams, i had not a clue what i was fucking doing there, having been forewarned of Breadwinner's plan i spent the early morning sneaking to the garage and ripping clandestine hits of Jamaican Dream, Leafly said it was good for stress and made one happy and energetic, (i might beg to differ on the latter trait but the first two were pretty spot on), i spent a lot of time nodding and looking serious, i listened to a man prattle on about grout and glass tile, the whole conversation could have been in Mandarin Chinese for all i fucking knew, i was thinking about the weird yellow lights and the sounds of birds coming from the rafters, but i'm a good nodder and have mastered the art of masking stoned confusion with the look of utmost interest...

When i was a kid these behemoth Box Stores were just coming into existence and they weren't that one stop cash grab they are now and i remember being dragged along to multiple stores and the look on my old man's face as he nodded and looked serious, the dutiful soldier, that faithful and solid sounding board, of course the difference between my old man and me is that when my parents did this it was his/their money being spent and when Corporal Kono is dragged along there are no doubts left as to whose money is being spent, it is the Breadwinner's and though i may have some suggestions on how this money could be put to better use, legit uses too, like investments and shit, i am not so stupid as to offer my suggestions, i'm like the gawky and nerdy assistant in some female-centric rom-com, my duty is to compliment the star, of course in the American television sit-com scheme of things my old man could at least expect a piece of tail out of the deal (just like the commercials sell us) while i could expect to unload the car and lug stuff into the house... so it goes...

And what started this little reverie was a song i've been hearing on the satellite radio, a small perk thrown my way at least until it's discovered the free trial is over, it came on this morning in the drizzle and i sat and listened as i drove my way towards the stores and i thought about my old man, about how i was doing all the same shit he had done and for what?  to make someone happy? to please? was that the fucking theory? i couldn't really figure it out, maybe i could blame the Jamaican Dream or maybe i just don't really want to figure it out for various reasons though i'm pretty sure i got it sorted but those are the rambling and circular thoughts of the stoned and this isn't about that...

Since the old guy gracefully took leave of the house he paid for he's lived in an apartment on the West Side of Cleveland, first in Lakewood for 8 years and then two blocks over into the city for the last 16 or so, the apartments are like a time capsule, they are also the antithesis of the whole aforementioned industry and television networks, he has the old table that adorned his ex-wife's beloved dining room, it's covered with junk mail, a newspaper, books, a six pack of Pepsi, various coats or jackets hang on the chairs, i'm quite sure he hasn't sat at it in years, the same two couches he's had for ages though i think one may have been replaced with a newer model in the last decade, an old stereo with a tape deck, glasses and dishes salvaged from the divorce that until said divorce were probably being stored in boxes in the basement, but what the fuck does he care?  it's just stuff, why would he spend his time worrying about stuff? the old man reads too much and thinks too much, he goes to work (for something to do) he talks to his lady friend, he converses with his brothers and his son and doesn't really give a shit if he talks to anyone else, and that's enough for him, he's a self-contained kinda guy...

So i guess as the apple i didn't really fall that far, if i was in my old man's shoes i'm sure my place would look exactly the same as his (except i'd have an old turntable and a milk crate of records), i wouldn't give a rat's ass about the furniture other than that there were a few pieces to drop my ass on when the need arose, to this day i can honestly say i've never bought a bed of my own, it's never crossed my mind, and if i'm being perfectly honest the odds are probably pretty good  at some point i'll be in that same boat, i'll have my stack of books and the newspaper, instead of cigarettes i'll have the bong or better yet a plate of ganja cookies to go with my coffee, i'll watch the footie and the hoops, i'll talk to the boyos and laugh and listen to all the things they're doing, i won't sweat my old couch or the fact my few dishes and glasses are as old as the boyos, because the more i go sliding along the more i see how much i'm like my old man, and that's not a bad thing at all, at least not in my eyes, there are ways in which we are completely different and there are unmistakable traits that leave no doubt i am his son, he's a cool cat, i'm surprised his wallet doesn't say Bad Motherfucker on it, so as i walked the hard concrete aisles of the American home improvement dream, i just sat back and grinned, i nodded and looked serious, that faithful sounding board, just like my old man used to be...


Friday, April 7, 2017

Suburbia - Riders on the Storm

To call the clubhouse a colorful place would be like calling a church holy, its colorful alright and sometimes it's downright batshit, you see some of the characters that frequent the place and your protagonist here have been drifting in and out of each other's orbits for the last 25 years or so, some of course are brand new characters in this ever changing novel cum memoir cum bullshit-fest cum gospel according to Kono but the fact is that some of us have been attempting to melt what's (left) inside our skulls for close to three fucking decades, some admittedly with more success than others...

For a few years now there's been a story making the rounds about a guy and his devout belief that Jim Morrison is not dead.  Not only is James Douglas Morrison not dead but he's been living on the outskirts of Las Vegas and is an ex-biker now just a sweet old man with long gray hair and a big old gray beard. I know this because he's showed me the picture he has of him.  It is a subject that most people will do anything to avoid bringing up in front of our boy for if you do you will be subjected to a matter of fact presentation of evidence based on facts and first hand knowledge of Jim's current whereabouts, it's a sublime look into the mind of an acid casualty... who also happens to be fucking the adult daughter of said supposedly deceased singer, at least that's his story...

In the little town of Podunk U. there was little tavern where the locals hung out and a few of us student types, the townies called us the Art Crowd and for all intents and purposes we were, at least in that shit backwoods town, we were sculptors, writers, painters, poets, typical self righteous college asshats, my last two years at school i held an exalted place in the hierarchy of the Art Crowd, i'm sure this is covered somewhere here on the lounge but this shit's been going on so long i couldn't tell you where, now among this crowd i was the writer, a fucking poet maaaaaaan, with my thrift store sweater and flannel shirts i dressed the part, i took huge amounts of hallucinogenic drugs and had a grand time and though most people never read or heard a fucking thing i wrote i had a reputation of being a budding genius, the cult and myth of personality, there's the fucking title of the post and not the shit that's on the by-line... Raymond was a year or two behind me and would buy grass off me and was always talking to me about Dylan and the Doors, through the years it stuck with him that i was a poet maaaaaan, and so one night as i pulled my tenth tube at the clubhouse i decided to take the plunge, though i don't have a degree in it, like Vonnegut, i sorta fancy myself an anthropologist, of the cultural and crazy variety, i mean life's fucking grand is it not?

So i broached the subject... and his eyes lit up, a grin crept across his face, his voice picked up a notch, the casket man it's too small right? he said.  He had a new audience to espouse not just his theory but his proof, it's too small... too small, it's obvious it's not him he stated, he then began to wind this intricate tale, like he'd been reading too much Umberto Eco and doing too much DMT, being quite stoned myself i couldn't even begin to follow it, not so much because i was stoned but because it was downright lunatic asylum batshit... and it was in this tale that he had met this girl on a message board, a message board where he was talking about his theory of small caskets and not dead rock stars, and as the gods and fate and Ray Manzarek would have it this woman just so happened to not only know where Mr. Morrison was living but she also happened to know him personally and not just personally but more than that she was his damn daughter, Wanda...  now all of this is told to you in the most matter of fact and confident way, Raymond should've been a trial lawyer or a cult leader, his gaze pure and intense and friendly, he's telling you these things as coolly and confidently as the weatherman tells you yesterday's fucking weather, all i could do was sit there enthralled and nodding...

And so through the power of the Internet true love was born, how often does that happen? hardly ever according to Raymond, not like this and so they met and talked and fucked and he told her how he needed to meet her dad, she said she'd see about it, that her dad was a very guarded and private person but that she'd talk to him and explain how shamanic they both were and how they'd enjoy each other's company, that Raymond was okay and not just some crazy asshole wanting to meet the long dead lead singer of the Doors, who of course wasn't dead... and i'll be damned if  Wanda's love for her new man and her father didn't bring to fruition a meeting of the minds...

Raymond showed me pictures of this meeting, he had gone out west to meet the man, of course nothing was ever implicitly said as to the old guy's identity, it was just understood, in fact Raymond told me that at one point the old man and him just stood across the room and conversed telepathically, that they were placing their thoughts in each other's mind, it was all explained in glowing generalities with a lot of "youknowhatimsayin'", nods and winks and serious looks, as an old poet myself (Raymond's words) i knew, what i knew i had no fucking idea but i think i was supposed to know how to talk to fucking dolphins or something, i thought of broaching the theory that maybe this old man was just that, his new Internet woman's old man, a guy named Kevin who much like himself may have eaten the brown acid back in the Summer of Love, but far be it from me to piss on this man's reality, it was all getting very Carlos Castaneda, i took a rip and watched the smoke hang in the air above the coffee table and slowly slunk back into the other conversations taking place, Raymond gave me a knowing nod, it was as normal as talking about mowing the lawn or fucking golf, and i wondered what are we doing in this Hyacinth House? to please the lions? in this day... (more to come...)



Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Night in the Red Light (pt. 2)


Bridgette stood and watched as i took a seat at the bar and ordered a minty fresh Heineken, what the fuck i was in the 'Dam, she said what song American? i grinned at her and said Papa Don't Take No Mess what the fuck else, a few stools down a pair of regulars nodded approvingly, good one!! Bridgette screamed, i like you American... she proceeded to light a cigarette and and ask the usual questions, i answered and then pointed towards a door in the back, do i get my grass back there? she laughed and explained the deal, there was a coffee shop two doors down, a local one she said and not a tourist trap, i could go and get whatever i wanted and come back and do it in the bar, as long as i wasn't an asshole, i shook my head and smiled, fair enough i said, she took my beer and put it behind the bar, go ahead and get yourself sorted she said, i'll keep your beer cold...

Upon entering my first coffee shop i wanted to fall to my knees and kiss the floor, raise my hands to the ceiling and yell Jah Rastafari!! basically be a total knob because i was overwhelmed to be standing in a place like this, i got the menu rundown, quality ran top to bottom with the bottom being pretty damn good and top being mind melting, it was 1998 and the White Widow had just won the Cannabis Cup, it was the shit us American stoners would drool over as we perused the latest issue of High Times, and now it was right here in front of me, i was going to have the Widow, i bought a few grams and some papers and went back to the bar, Bridgette set me a fresh beer down and winked and one of the regulars came and sat down near me, whaddya get? he asked, White Widow i said, good choice he said and we began a most pleasant conversation as i ground up my weed and began rolling a king size joint...

I took my time grinding and rolling and while i was at it the Regular watched, he asked if i was going to put any tobacco in the joint and i laughed and said why would i do that? it'd ruin it in my book, besides we septics like it straight to the head i laughed, little did i know...my king sized joint finished i lit up... Regular and i had been talking for a bit and he was a good sort, Bridgette seemed to know him well and would sit in on the conversation when she wasn't busy, i was about halfway through the joint when it hit, like running straight into a brick wall named panic and anxiety, this was the strongest weed i had ever smoked at the time and i was fucking scoobied, Regular asked if i wanted to shoot some pool, my reply was i don't shoot pool when i'm stoned, i knew my whole demeanor had changed, it hit me that i was 4 or 5 thousand miles from my hood, fucked-up and having no idea where my room was let alone how to get back to it, and here this guy wants to shoot fucking pool? he looked and laughed, you alright? a game of pool? i suddenly thought he was hitting on me, he wasn't of course it was just i was so far gone i didn't know whether to shit or blow bubbles, i politely excused myself and ran out into the beautiful September night...

The night air helped and i immediately went to the Beer Cart and bought three Heineken's, one of which i had the Cart Guy help me shotgun, my logic being a quick influx of alcohol to dull the weed, solid thinking right? i took a deep breath and cracked one beer and stuck the other in my pocket and took a look around, i needed to chill and what better way to do that than peruse the lovely alleyways of the Red Light District...  and so i began walking...

I walked the narrow alleys and looked at the girls, i sauntered by the corners where women in huge windows stood blankly gazing out at the passersby, i wandered this way and that and past the Office of Prostitution where the girls records were kept on file, just past that i came by a doorway to a house where a beautiful Jamaican girl stood smoking, she motioned me over and she said i should come in, i put up my hands and said no no not today, from behind her another rather large woman stepped out, she grinned at me, what's the matter boy you don't like the black girls? i smiled, no no nothing like that it's just my first night here, they both stepped back and laughed, the big one squeezed her breasts together and cackled, c'mon boy we give you first one free, i smiled and walked quickly away as their laughter rang out across the way...

By now i had come somewhat back down to Earth, the panic had left and i stood shaking my head at what an idiot i must have looked like at the bar, i had finished my beers and hands in pockets i began walking the alleys again, i was sort of half daydreaming when i saw her but when i did i think my mouth actually fell open, she was in mid-alley on one of the narrower ones, she had jet black hair that was tied in big braids, she was blue-eyed and creme-skinned, the dimensions of her body flawless, i was fucking floored, i walked past and couldn't get her out of my mind, the imagination went wild, i circled the block and went down that alley again to sheepishly glimpse at her, i thought of Henry Miller, was it possible to see the most beautiful girl you've ever seen working a stall in the red light of Amsterdam? was it possible to fall in love? was it possible to go all in and throw everything you had at her to win her heart? were you fucking insane? no this was all perfectly rational and as i walked down the same alley again i couldn't get the thought out of my mind, stoned and half drunk and walking those old streets it was the most tragic, comic, romantic fucking thought i felt i'd ever had... and then on about my ninth trip down that alley, where my pathetic cruising had seen me smile at her repeatedly as if i was at a junior high school dance, she stepped out of he stall and stood in the alley blocking my path, her smile sexy and her hands were on her hips, she cocked her head and said, American, you gonna fuck me or just look at me all night?  I turned and practically ran the other way...

Epilogue- The next night for some reason i went back to my seedy little bar, i felt the need to redeem myself or something, maybe just to say thanks for being so damn cool, of course part of me was hoping no one i knew was there but as soon as i opened the door Bridgette turned around and laughing shouted, Our American! he made it!! a round of applause went up and the Regular from the night before walked up and bought me a beer, they didn't get many travelers in here and i had been nothing but top notch entertainment, we pulled up seats at the bar and Bridgette turned again and asked if i liked James Brown, you choose i said, and then she turned around, ashtray in hand, my half smoked joint still sitting in it, i think you forgot this she said, fuck that i laughed, you can have it, anyone can have it, the Widow kicked my ass!... there was much laughter and i couldn't seem to buy a beer, there was singing and pool playing and James Brown...


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Wilderness Years - One Night in the Red Light

Shortly after the 28th anniversary of my birth and the 3rd anniversary of setting up shop in North Oakland i took a vacation, of the European variety, it was roughly a month and i went on my own and it was a calculated gamble because the weed buyers of the world can be a fickle lot and packing up and leaving for a month could have found me coming home to a clientele list that had shrunk dramatically, and the honest truth was slinging was my main gig, it was how i got by, the warehouse job was for show, i had managed to squirrel some cash away and set myself a budget and did all the research and booked some cheap rooms and had a free place to flop in South London, this was done by placing phone calls and using actual travel guides because back then the internet was not the wondrous wasteland it is now... i would dub this trip the Booze and Drugs tour and it would involve stops in, besides London, Amsterdam, Brussels, gay Paree and then back to London before heading home and back to the grind...

And so it was one Friday London morning i arose early and walked to the train station, took a train to the main station and caught the Chunnel train to Paris where i realized that i'd fucked up and added 3 hours to my trip and that i should have caught the train to Brussels but what the hell? i'm a septic on a walkabout there was no need to rush... and so i caught another "fast" train from Paris to Brussels and then a slow one from Brussels to Amsterdam which was spent sipping Amstel and staring at the tulip fields, sometime around late afternoon, after spending roughly 9 hours on trains, i wandered out of the Amsterdam Central Station and began walking towards my little hotel, the whole time like some wide-eyed, wild-haired child, in awe of all that i saw, of the the language and street signs and bicycles and canals, i skirted the Red Light district as i saw my first coffee shop but resisted the urge to grab some gear until i had checked in and gotten settled and grabbed a bite to eat...

My little room was up a flight of steps with the toilet and shower down the hall and a bakery right next door, (how that would come in handy), i looked out the little window that faced onto a little square where the workers of the nearby shops took their breaks, i discovered that Dutch toilets had no water but a little shelf which amused me to know fucking end, the water rushing out after and pushing your turds over the "falls" and out to the lovely canals (or i could only assume)... i unpacked and took a short nap and then headed out to get something to eat, it was still early but after a long day i told myself that i would wait until tomorrow to hit the Red Light, no need to rush as i had a few days and in the back of my mind i knew i couldn't run amok but also knew that there was a distinct possibility i would run completely fucking amok and run the risk of Brussels and Paris going by the wayside and heading back to Souf Londin to drink Tennant's Super for the next two weeks while awaiting my flight home...

So into the late afternoon sunshine i went, i wandered a bit and saw Ajax's stadium and stood admiring the first professional home of Dennis Bergkamp, then found a little place and ate some lasagna and drank a few Amstels, i watched the bicycles and traffic and people all moving about, i watched the sun slowly fade and pulled out my little map and figured what the fuck? couldn't hurt just to find the Red Light tonight so that i would know where i was going in the morning right? and so off i went in search of the Red Light District of Amsterdam, a tall septic in a flannel shirt, like Coronado searching for his city of gold, in less than 10 minutes i was at the gates of Eden to a 28yr old half ass American hoodlum, i was stopped at the gates and told that if i wanted the best "coke, hash or ecstasy", to come see this man in a black leather jacket, "i'm here every night, marycan."  I nodded and took it under advisement.

There's a reason for districts like this being beacons for the petty criminal, my first fifteen minutes wandering through i must have looked like a first class mark, a bumpkin right off the bus, you didn't have to lift my wallet you could have stolen my pants right off me and i wouldn't have known it, my grin was Cheshire cat wide as i looked around, i told myself as i walked through that if there was a so-called heaven i hoped it looked just like this, yes it may be a warped view of things but it was my 28yr old view, the thought of a good night sleep dissolved like acid on the tongue, fucking gone, it was time to get down to business and so get down to business i would...

Now a good friend of mine who had come to Holland, squatted a house near the Belgian border, set up a grow room and plied his trade by peddling his crop to a Belgian who would ride his bike across the border and put the gear in a backpack and ride back, told me i would absolutely hate the music, he told me this while sitting in my room and buying gear off me when he came back after 18 months because his mother missed him, he was a good guy but leaned towards the hippy jam band scene and so i shrugged and took it under advisement, there was a couple years where my life was all about the club and doing drugs and dancing until the sun came up, but the reality was that i was mellow enough to get on anywhere and so i wasn't too concerned...

I walked around a bit and noticed this hole in the wall sorta place, dark except for the light that hung over the pool table, there was strange track lighting that ran around the doors and above the bar and it seemed reasonably seedy enough at first glance and so in i strolled, of course everyone sorta of turned and took a glance at the stranger walking in, the bartender looked like a bull dyke Bridgette Nielsen, she was close to six feet tall with a space between her front teeth, a mullet with bangs and shaved sides, she turned from the CD player behind the bar, took one look at me laughed and yelled, Hey American! you like James Brown? i grinned slightly and with my best smart ass said, I fuckin' love James Brown, she broke into a smile and yelled, then sit down and get yourself a drink... (to be continued)