Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I spent the weekend indoors. Phone calls unmade and unanswered. Unrequited bolts. Cubs win Saturday double-header to clinch NL Central title. Untelevised. Despair. Something late last week activated my critic, resulting in temporary creative paralysis. I came out of it last night while lingering caffeine kept me awake. So yeah, I’ve got a couple ideas for later this week.

Critic: evil bug. I could muster neither metaphor nor energy. Cap on backward frat-like. Couch curl, me in repose. Neither run round block nor window down drive. I spend my time struggling with pest control. No fall colors, just early nights. Autumn, Southern style, a festival of carnival proportions.

Monday, September 29, 2003

No time for posting. I'll try to respond to comments.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Here it is: My review of Saturday’s Yo La Tengo concert at the Gypsy Tea Room.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Thomas believed his wife was going mad because he was ignorant of the nature of substratum. The phantom rapping when the clock rang out time. Forgetfulness. Worse, silence. He had reconciled his want of sexual intimacy just three short years after the marriage. It was simply no longer a part of their relationship. Certainly nothing to discuss. No longer anything to get frustrated about. Like everything else, it had become ingrained in their profile. Like the we and the us. Certain things need not be separated and examined. Thomas believed this was true because he was proud.

When she wore the same dress for weeks on end he took it as a gesture of laziness and complicity. And yes, well, it may have been complicity but that complicity grew out of something. Thomas could not see that. He believed his wife was going mad because she wore the same dress for weeks on end and, with wine, shouted at lightposts on the way home in the streets when people could see. That light never exposed her. She, Catherine, she was a wife and a basketcase. He took it on as he took on anything.

Catherine sat at the dining room table with a bottle of bourbon, pulling the plug out and replacing it. Pulling the plug out — ploomp — and twisting it back in. Thomas was trying to read. He left the room and she stayed. All he could hear was the plug. All he could see was in front of him. An hour later she shimmied into his study in that old black dress. She sucked her pinky finger and he asked what was wrong. "I cut it," she said, and studied the wound. "On the bottle. When it broke. I was cleaning the glass." He laid down his book. "Did you finish?" "What?" "Cleaning the mess?" "No."

He picked up the book, opened it and read. She turned, pulled her dress up around her waist and walked away. Her bare feet bumped down the hallway. The wood creaked at the same spots. Catherine kneeled down in the dining room and gathered recklessly from the shard pile. She held it in her fist and held her fist over her wine glass, but she found she couldn't bleed anymore. No, none, not with no more blood in her. Her face white every morning. Her black dress stink. She went and found another bottle. Another bottle of new blood to balance the evening. The wall clock rang out eight and she could hear it, the sound inside the wall somewhere. She took her glass with her. Put her ear against. Closed eyes. Hair stuck in broken nail. Heart. Huh. And what she heard. What.

Thomas saw this from the stairwell. He embraced certain senses. He was ignorant of the nature of substratum.

OK, we can do this. One more day. I was so scattershot yesterday I began to think my boss, the insufferable Reid Slaughter, was actually a chicken wing. He was pretty pissed when I tried to dip his head into that bowl of ranch dressing. Must remember blëu cheese next time. Oh, and plenty of ümlaüts. You can never have too many, according to my grandmother. Then again, she may have been referring to lovers. I just assumed she was talking about umlauts. She always talked about umlauts. Crazy bitch.

The day is looking new and bright/And you’re gonna’ start it right

Ah, that first sip of coffee. If coffee were a woman I would drink her, thereby ingesting her essence and making myself even more powerful. My path to world domination is littered with the swallowed souls of women who turned into coffee. And umlauts. Crazy bitches. (APPLAUSE)

Finnegan’s Wake E-Mail Discussion ... That pretty much says it all.

And this is precisely why I haven’t been posting much this week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Give me days with time. Long beautiful time.

Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Gone. And they have been for weeks now. This week it’s the Real Estate Quarterly section — 14 pages of vacuous claptrap. And everything else keeps on moving. Deadlines keep approaching. I came in early yesterday and wrote my review of Saturday’s Yo La Tengo concert at the Gypsy Tea Room. I spent like 20 minutes writing it. I will never work in this town again.

I’ve got to start finding new ways to save time. Like breaking a bunch of clocks.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Unfamiliar. So I sit solo in the back and take inventory: gin & tonic, gin & tonic, gin & tonic, Guinness. By 10:30 p.m. I bask in lost count. Commence people watching.

• Vespas are the new flannel. Instant alt cred. Nobody needs to actually accomplish anything when they can market themselves for a fraction of the effort. Are you going to write? or are you too preoccupied with affecting the mannerisms of a writer? Calluna Vulgaris tangles her purse strings and voices her concern. She lights a cigarette and advertising punctuates her profile. I tell her that we have a responsibility because that is what someone told me once. I also happen to believe that what I’m saying is true. But shit, who can blame us for being a bit lazy when laying in the cut and selling a look is so much more efficient? Evil seductress. Ubi sunt appearance vs. reality, my favorite childhood dichotomy? Melting pots have seriously fucked up our mojo. A passenger is a writer, zipping by on a Vespa. It’s becoming more important to look the part than to play it. Bloody hell. I’m in too good a mood for this line of cynicism. Tom Jones lifts my spirits. Things are great. Really. Smile.

She’s a lady. She certainly is.

• Calluna is unskirted. Things are getting out of control. We are surrounded by writers. They wander pell mell through the smoke. They are attracted to vibrations. Bugs swarming around spots of light. Wings flapping furiously. We’re no better than they are. I order another drink.

• I spend a portion of the evening drifting backward with a camera in my face. I try to keep steady, but I feel an obligation to play the part. So as I drift I stumble. Recover and stumble again. It is all on film. Rubber Biscuit is my soundtrack. I keep it together. Deep breaths. Good. Now.

Our eyes fill with smiling. Smiling becomes water. It’s time to go home.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Stress has done the rope trick on my nerves, and they’re fraying with every twist. It feels like a corpulent banshee did a nocturnal pain dance between my shoulder blades and up the back of my neck. I keep telling myself the pain is psychosomatic, but every time I turn my head or lift my right arm, I feel like I’m being branded. No amount of relaxation can untwist me. I need a deep-tissue massage and a neckbone transplant.

Happy hurricane.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I’m not ready to post. So here’s one from earlier this week that didn’t make it. It didn’t make it because I couldn’t capture the bizarrity of the scene and that fact rendered the story pretty boring. I was meaning to go back and embellish a bit, but work is work and I won’t have time on my hands till tomorrow afternoon. But I love you all so much that I will suppress my inner critic and hit publish. Then I will put my hands back in my pants, where they belong. Here goes:

Saturday. I careened down Greenville in the late afternoon and found myself leaving tracks on cash. Brake lights lit up everywhere as my roadmates rolled to the curb to get a piece of the action. I pulled into the Olde Town parking lot and ran out into the street with the others, some of whom had parked their cars right there in the middle of the street. Greenville is a highly populated thoroughfare, so traffic quickly backed up to the horizon. A stout woman in a pleated skirt boxed me out as I tried to corrale me some notes, but I hip tossed her into the median and emerged with four 20s. I was rich and was ready to walk away until I saw the well-dressed man rush out of his SUV with a pained expression. I looked back twice to make sure and finally I trusted him. It was his cash. Angry girlfriend had tossed his money clip to the Four Winds on what could have been the most beautiful day. I walked up and handed him his dollars. He turned in pursuit of his wayward cash. Stomping on blowing bills. Some people gathered green and ran. Others returned what was not theirs. Money is sour when it’s not right. Sometimes it’s sour even when it is right. The notes made my fingers burn. Spending it would have made it permanent. The burning. So I gave it back. I don’t understand. Kind of the same way I don’t understand all the art house girls’ giggly obsession with Sylvia Plath.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Friday night last I twirled skyward and wrapped myself in celestial innocence. It was only 10:30, but enough was enough and an overnight make-out session with the ole delta waves was in the cards. My psychic abilities are well-documented. My prescience the stuff of legend. I resigned myself. Breathing slowed. Lights dimmed. Bed surface expanding, I could see my body laying fetal before me.

I went outside for some reason or other if for no other reason than to throw back an evening cigarette and collect whatever thoughts I had left. A rogue young spirit of light and magic awakened me. Everything changed and it changed suddenly. Reason, I hath forsaken thee.

It began, as usual, with me proceeding about my business with the best intentions.

Francesca skittered by, a whirl. Her hair bouncing inches per pace and her voice ringing true in cool night air. I rarely lack the fortitude to decline invitations. As a matter of public record, Invitation Declination is my personal fucking religion. But no, I went upstairs and promised myself only one glass of red wine. Yes, just one. And then it's to bed, young sleepyhead, because, after all, this entire detour is bound to pollute your ecosystem.

And but so I went upstairs and had some red wine and made inroads with my neighbors. Then aw, what the hell, another glass and the glasses were big and the wine spread out in several bottles throughout the house and I kept thinking 'Well, it's not like we're going to run out of wine.' So, for the love of my ancestors and my children's children, I had another glass of the vino. Yes, by then it was vino. The company was decidedly international, due in large part to Francesca's strong Italian presence. We perched on the ledge, all of us, and flapped our wings in unison as our cigarette clouds dissipated into black ether.

Devon stood opposite, hands plunged into her sweatshirt muff. Her eyes are not of this world and her hair is finely whipped butter. She seldom speaks but this fact gives her words added weight. Samantha threw her head back in laughter as she recounted a drunken encounter with the Strongest Man in Dallas. Samantha, on first glance, could have been a mean-spirited Perm Chick from the land that kindness forgot. But a closer look revealed her open heart and her eyes emitted much friendly glimmering. Danny provided a kindred presence, lest we all drown in estrogen. His smile permanent. Handshake firm. Four for four, I have met good people.

My mind wrote a script entitled "Glass of Wine, Pt. IV: You've Had Too Much Wine." But the script was rejected and my body plowed forth into the fourth glass and the fifth and sixth and the sequels, instead of getting worse, got better. Danny submitted himself to Francesca's fine hair clippery. She sliced his ear clean off with the shears and there was much rejoicing. We drank some more and some more and then more and more as the moonclouds slid like sky glaciers northeast and out of town until clear air dropped starlight on our eyes. Starlight was in our hair and we could taste the edges of it in our wine. Its sweetness infected all of us.

I am discovering new species. They are everywhere.

I went to bed telling myself that luck has nothing to do with it.

Friday, September 12, 2003

I have not yet given him his due, but he deserves it. Both of him. The follies border on genius. I found out shortly after adding hims to my link list that one of the minds behind Dr. Spinach is a former friend and associate whose writing I’ve always admired. Sexually. He’s campaigned for president. He’s defeated ass cancer with a flick of his pen. J. Alan Meyer has chops, yo. If you are patient and brave, you will click here and read from the bottom up. Disgusting and poignant, Matty One Leg deserves our attention.

At some point I had a realization that changed my life. Everything was balanced. All movement precise. Clearly, I had had three-too-many drinks. We all had. Boxed in between those gray walls, forced into it by the beautiful proximity of it all, we tipped our glasses and imbibed with vim. And when Calluna Vulgaris stood front and center and began to croon, I knew something had gone horribly right.

Back at the New Amsterdam, an aspiring filmmaker told us about his halcyon days, when his responsibilities were measured in pairs. He had spent time in France, Wyoming, NYC, DFW. His stories were painfully ordinary. The kind of fellow who thinks good posture can make up for any shortcoming. Who reads books about how to drive women absolutely wild. The light fingers on the nape of the neck. The fraternal hand on the knee. Smile. Say her name. Pick up the tab. Open the door. Eye contact. Listen. Good.

Colored lamps dangle in the auxiliary breeze of a ceiling fan. Red and orange, the light casings are molded of ear wax and amber. I can’t take my eyes off the corner. The filmmaker stands up straight and tall. He makes a sudden exit to the Meridian Room. C.V. and I opt for happiness a couple blocks away.

We look at each other. I don’t know what she's thinking. I never do. What I do know is that her skirt acts as a beacon, at times, its black & white swirls directing human traffic. She doesn’t know it, but she wields influence over strangers. Maybe she does know. I don’t know. But when the vultures got out of control, she would walk a lap around the room and by the time she got back everything was calm. This happened several times. I will testify.

I ran into Stanley, the old man who sketches folks with a No. 2 pencil. I gave him a few dollars so that he could enjoy the evening as much as the rest of us. He disappeared. He is short and dissolved between shoulders as he walked away. That is the way he lives his life — dissolving into backgrounds. Coming up for air when whatever keeps him short lets him be tall for a moment.

He lives tall at Xpo. He leaves short.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I’ve got expletives stockpiled en masse. I am pissed off at everyone and have arrived at a point of extreme impatience. I have arrived, yeah, I was fucking dragged here against my will. I don’t feel like writing. I’ve tried and nothing has happened. I think I’m still 16 to 20 hours of sleep away from a renewed sense of serenity.

Right now storm clouds are rushing northbound up Dallas’ dirty brown skirt. Raindrops creeping up the thigh while thunderheads run interference. This morning the outside air was on me like an old, wet cloth and it was in my hair and on my skin. My eyelids close and reopen like rusty iron clasps. Open. Close. And the whole physiological process of breathing doesn’t feel as automatic as it should. Something, somewhere is not operating properly. Fatigue and enthusiasm are mutually exclusive.

I spent this morning having my picture taken at a studio and my feet sniffed by a former street dog named Lulu. Pretty little brown mutt with a splash of white fur around her neck. I had to lean forward and smile and then right there en media res the power went out and the shoot was over. The photographer blamed it on his girlfriend’s laptop, but when I went back outside the streetlights were dark. No one has claimed responsibility. Authorities have ruled out authorities. By the time I got back to the office, electricity flowed to all outlets. Plentiful. Abstract maybe. But I plugged in and got the juice I needed. I’m talking about electricity.

I don’t really say anything worth saying. And I'm not fooling anyone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Klutch feared his home was not structurally sound and so he abandoned it. He promised himself that the next time around things would be different. Yes, the structure would be perfect. He spent hot days under the highway overpass sketching it out and then erasing wayward beams and putting every line in its proper place. The process continued this way for years. Of course, storms would drive him underground for months at a time. The thunder activated his shell shock.

The parking attendant was very accommodating when inclement weather was afoot. He knew that Klutch needed a place to stay. That his previous home was not structurally sound. That the lightning acted as conjurer. He understood that certain people are fragile and will suffer without the proper care.

Klutch was fragile and suffered horribly. He needed a home that was structurally sound.

Monday, September 08, 2003

• Friday night I overcame the forces of gravity. It was the end of a long week.

• Saturday night I drank wine and watched Network.

• My new upstairs neighbors have names like Devon and Francesca and are from places like Austin and Italy.

• Sunday I watched football solo. I needed some time to gather myself.

• Today marks the beginning of what will be another long week.

Friday, September 05, 2003

This I.V. drip is relentless. Each busy day plummeting from the dropper into what is already a well-fortified pool of occupational responsibilities. All backed up, the nutrients can only circulate so fast. Veins struggle with potent concentrations of work per square inch. I can only allow myself to think in metaphor because the reality of it all makes my fillings burn.

Breathe. Breathe. Good. Now.

This weekend promises to be an actual weekend. No work and all play. I have a roll of cash in my pocket and the Possibilities Docket sidles up and gently massages my brain’s pleasure centers. Possibilities: the new places collapse into my weekend’s open arms. Open hand tickles at the slightest touch. Tickle me, sweet drinks, so my lips loosen for the benefit of friends and associates. Spin me around on a rotating barstool and bring the walls back to life. Spin me around so that all the sounds sound perfect and my environment rubs me the right way. Like Johnny Gill.

When you’re cleaning up the mess, the teacher’s looking up your skirt.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

The redesign has officially hit the racks and we’re all breathing a little easier. For the moment. The newspaper looks great. I am exhausted but happy. Stage One in the Battle for World Domination is complete. Take aim. Subscribe today. 214-739-2244.

After several dozen hours of rest, I should be ready to go this weekend. Camping, that is. I need to hump a tree and pee in a natural spring. I want to kill a baby squirrel with my bare hands. I want to see an air conditioner in its natural habitat. I want to swing on vines with a cigarette dangling loosely from my lips while crocs nip at my flying heels. I want to get drunk with dinosaurs and wake up with a mastadon. Sunshine through the natural cover come awaken me and lift my head off the floor of this place. Where my ear will press down and listen overnight to the notes from underground. Burrowing happening somewhere down there. The earth’s machinery churning out new ways to surround us. When provoked, Mother Nature backhands us bitches and then turns around and tells us she loves us. We are parties in the biggest co-dependent relationship in the fucking universe. We call our lovemaking camping.

Eyes opening in border town. This is all speculation.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I didn’t realize until today that my fingernails are growing curiously long. People may start to wonder if I’ve lost all interest in personal hygiene when in fact this condition is merely a symptom of late hours. Late hours. Last night I pounded keys until 10:30 because the film must go and there are no two ways about it. My weekly post-work itinerary has been dealt a crippling blow. I don’t see myself having the energy to make it happen during personal hours.

The other night we hit the Bishop Arts district for the finest in Mexican fare. My enchilidas suizas were top-notch but the wine went too fast. My dinner companions spoke of doing something different to escape the Dallas grind. An arts consortium in the sophist tradition, only with a modern slant. Watching movies and drinking and talking and, well, and becoming better citizens in the process. And maybe the drinking part is my own embellishment, but I think that aspect of it is indispensible. I’ll push it through committee at the next planning meeting.

And but so after dinner at the place whose name I can’t remember (which was a wonderful eatery ... well worth the whatever), we headed to New Amsterdam where I sat on the heaviest bar stool the world has ever known. Friends of friends and friends of them provided shot after glorious shot. No doubt because I was accompanied by the two hottest chicks in Dallas. Cheers. One and then another. They just kept on coming. We had no choice but to acquiesce.

The Iranian film sent me to dream land. An old woman washing a rug in a creek. An old man with eyes like marbles. I woke up and went to work. And here I am again.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

He was as tough and romantic as the city he adored. Behind his black-rimmed glasses lay the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.

Monday, September 01, 2003

The last thing I saw on my way out was the graceful entrance of the most gorgeous transvestite ever. He had angel wings and a glorious red leotard. I stopped and told him that whatever it was he was doing, it was working. He smiled at me from behind all the makeup and glitter. Here, every woman is ten feet tall, even if she was born a man.

It started around the corner at the New Amsterdam. C.V. and Mindy were sitting at a back table reading and drinking coffee in the dark. After the lightbulb changed, the books closed and we were all holding drinks. Too much coffee aroused Mindy’s butterflies. The beer helped calm her down. Me, I drank a gin & tonic and then another. This is me breathing.

Meanwhile, steps away, the DJ’s birthday party gained steam at the Meridian Room, so after polishing off the last, we headed out and around and in again. We sat side by side by side and the cocktails were half price so we ordered strange and colorful drinks. It was not without its perils. Mindy drank so much at one point that she turned into a mai tai. I was a witness. I was glad to see she recovered because her dress was beautiful. The mind races. My martini was sub par.

Later, as we ravaged the cheese plate and welcomed visitors, performers decended onto the platform in the back and danced in celebration. The walls came to life. I headed home.