Friday, October 31, 2003

We're packing up and moving the operation to our new digs on Oak Lawn. Soon, we will be upstairs from D Magazine, which is basically a hip, industrial cauldron bubbling over with hot babes and literati. It's an extra 15-minutes tacked onto my commute, but the joint is top notch and well worth the effort.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Former classmate and reality-TV veteran Summer Zandrew paints like a fucking champ. So I’m clueless as to why she invited me to spend 50 cents to see her work on the internet when I can already see some of it for free ... on the very same internet! (And this is not to mention the fact that I'm almost certain someone with her talent has the kind of money best measured in tonnage.) My fiscal conservatism precludes me from spending loose change to see what the Red Paper deal is all about, though my curiousity is certainly piqued. Maybe one of you kind souls can check it out and let me know if it’s worth the investment. I assume that it is. I think Summer’s art is superfancy. Disturbing and beautiful. If I was an art critic, I could say it much better. Alas, I’m just a lowly layman.

But if you’re out there Summer, keep doing the good work. I love your stuff. Seriously. And when I make my fortune and move back up north, your paintings will fill my living spaces.

Jennifer had tits that were planted on her chest by massive, assembly-line genetics. And her body was the brand of well-muscled product that accomodated those blast caps with the kind of physiological competence that precipitates a career vamping for lingerie catalogues or the porn industry. However, somewhere in the process her eyelids were damaged. Her eyes, too, damaged. To the point that when she was addressing strangers, they could easily think she was eyeballing a neighboring water cooler or some shit. But she got by. People learned. And it’s not really all that surprising the kind of patience one shows when the afflicted is also blessed with near-perfect cans. I bring all this up because until about a week ago, her existence had been almost completely deleted from my mental library. She peeked out again after a little prodding from Fellini and a cheap cab-sav, and though she wasn’t quite looking in my direction, I remembered quickly how to gage her wayward stare and recognize the memory. Last I heard she was working some desk at a publication in or around Chicago. Last I remembered I can’t remember. She faded with a seemingly innocuous precision that didn’t ring bells. That was Jen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I can see by the way she fumbles with her cigarette that she’s still having trouble finding him. I don’t ask questions. I don’t want to get involved in another lengthy conversation about it. I light the cigarette instead because she’s flicked her Zippo seven straight times with no luck. I can understand the tunnel vision because I’ve been there myself. I light my own cigarette and give her a nudge because the light is green and it’s time to get in character. We cross and head right up Beaumont, stopping at White Hen for a pint of cheap bourbon before settling into La Strada two doors down. The drinks here have price tags. We order one each and nurse the pint until our tardy sipping becomes suspicious. This saves us tens of dollars by night’s end and keeps Joyce in good humor which in turn keeps us from having to probe the Deep Meaningful Psychological Shit that I know she’s aching to get off her chest. I know that I’m running out of time but I order another drink for cover and start to quick-eye the chick in the Bauhaus T-shirt to see if I get a look back. Joyce spills her cigarettes out onto the table and starts arranging them. She wants me to notice the strange behavior and ask what’s wrong and care and listen, but I’ve done that before and I decided at circa 8 p.m. that tonight was my night and she can flip her lid if she wants to but I’m having a good time with or without her. Don’t speak. Bauhaus Chick is clearly not interested, and meanwhile has pointed out to her friend that she knows she’s being checked out. I know this because her friend keeps dropping her fork and turning around and looking in my direction and laughing. She is the ugly of the two. Riding the coattails of Bauhaus Chick’s good looks.

And now I’m definitely out of time. Moreover, I’m a bit late. I grab Joyce and tell her to gather her squares because it’s time to go. Goodnight, sweet ladies. Good night. Good night.

It was fun enough that I had to do it twice. This has been a test.

“... on the top shelf up on that shelf. Up there on the wall.” “Why?” “Just to fuck with her.” Jess is still nursing the reciprocal effects of Saturday’s concussion. She doesn’t understand.

I confess, I am making this up. And yesterday I didn’t even show up for work. I swear. Instead I sat on Ridgeland Hill next to the train tracks, there, across the street from the high school, and carved my name into a tree. My pant knees muddied from the fence crawl and scramble. I cleaned the under-nail dirt with the corners of my teeth. I produced a screwdriver or an inkless pen and I carved it. It was a decision I made. Finished, I put away the instrument.

Gately showed up climbing up while I was on my way down and accompanied me to the tennis courts. We found the induction vent and ventured down into the guts of it and smoked a few. Gatley isn’t so big in person, though every description I’ve ever heard had him standing tall and weighing in at stone after stone after stone. The way I figure it, his determination makes him appear this way. Knowing what I know though, Gately stands six one tops and weighs less than a middle-school linebacker.

We spend the first few minutes looking for Michael because legend has it he’s down here all the time. Legend has it some wonder drug fucked his mind up proper and this was the only place he could function anymore. Legend has it he lost his voice, his ability to communicate.

This has been a test.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Village Voice reviews David Foster Wallace’s latest opus. DFW is, quite possibly, the greatest writer in the solar system. Maybe the greatest writer in any solar system. Anyway, he's had a tremendous influence on me and I've recommended him to everyone I've ever met. Even your gynecologist.

I found this interview with George Lakoff super fucking interesting. A lot of journalists don’t understand language. And even fewer understand that their own reporting is unsound not because it is purposefully inaccurate or slanted, but because the terminology they use is and they just don't know it. They take their own language for granted. This becomes especially problematic when words become ingrained in the national fabric. Words whose meanings are shamelessly malleated by the politicians, pseudo-scientists and other miscellaneous rapscallions who use them. But I digress. Lakoff, a master linguist whose name is seared into the consciousness of every English major on the map, can explain it much better than I can. And he does. Just read.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Why people don’t take Libertarians seriously.

Why people don’t take Catholics seriously.

Some day, when the world as we know it has ceased to exist and aliens are rummaging through the floating jetsam, one will come across a copy of the movie 28 Days Later, watch it and wonder how a species that would create such a stupid ending to an otherwise good movie could have possibly survived on its own for millions of years.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Hold on to your hats, cats, as Calluna Vulgaris gets mad props from The Front Burner. We are all of us famous. We have huge tits and tight abs and ears of unrivalled symmetry. So come one, come all. Bask in the reflected glory.

Polly was out there every day. Out there on the steps pretending to read a book while she contemplated John Wolfe’s finely sculpted posterior. One day, as we packed the tools into the trailer and prepared to head home, sweet Polly mustered up the courage to ask John out. On a date. Ben and I stood by and immediately began to provide John with encouragement. He being a quick thinker with a knack for improvisation, John told her that The Company does not allow painters to date people whose houses we are painting. Company policy. Brilliant. But Polly had a wit of her own, we found, because she deftly pointed out that we were not painting her house. We were painting her mother’s house. So John became flustered and the turn-down became awkward and Polly’s feelings were left slightly sore methinks. And but so we got on our bikes and rode home and slept and the next day we woke up and rode back to work and at some point during the day we were up on the scaffold. To continue.

Ben and I being sensitive young men who did nothing but care intensely about the feelings of others, we were giving John the ribbing of his life. John took it in good humor and we generally spent the afternoon partaking in a spirited round of girl-making-fun-of, which is an actual activity that does not — according to the Chicago Manual of Style — have a less-cumbersome euphemism. Trust me on this. I am an expert. Some time during the downslide of the solar arc, we noticed that silly Polly hadn’t taken to the steps at all that day. The elder Boemiller came outside with some hairless tea and we had a drink and talked about the progress of the operation and Mrs. Boemiller seemed happy as a clam. So then John asked about Polly and where was she and why hadn’t she been outside to watch us ply our trade and generally provide a soothing, albeit strange and kind of depraved presence. Mrs. Boemiller took a deep breath and put her hands on her hips. Shaking her head, she told us that Polly hadn’t come out of her room all day.

Her room. Fuck.

Polly’s room was on the third floor. It faced the street. We had spent the entire morning deconstructing her curious pathology while she sat inside. She heard it. All of it. Double fuck. So Mrs. Boemiller, herself a horse of a different color, broke it down like only a true lunatic could:

“She’ll be alright. I think the poor girl overdosed on broken romance.”

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Mrs. Boemiller’s daughter had a thick, ambling coil of black hair atop her head and glasses that resembled two stock car windshields held together with pink pipe cleaners. Her lips were badly chapped. Skin a battleground of scales and spots. Breath reeking of Borax. She wrapped herself in otherworldly garbs that seemed to be woven of rat pelts and burlap.

A sweet girl, nonetheless.

A girl, well, a woman. Fossil records indicate she’d walked the earth for some 40 years (with a margin of error of +/- 5%), but she could have easily just been one of those haggard 25s who these days populate makeover shows en masse. Her name has long since been put in stacks back at the mental library so for now I’ll call her Polly. Polly Boemiller. She lived in the attic of her mother’s house and my best guess was that she was one of those socially gangrenous girls who grew up sheltered during the roaring 70s and never quite had a chance to fit in with anyone. The schoolboys made fun of her. No question. And the ordeal left her with a debilitating mixture of shyness and naïveté.

Her attempts to reconcile her shortcomings were painful to witness. On a sweltering summer day, as the crew painted the soffet, she brought out a carafe of home-brewed iced tea and sat on the steps shielding eyes with her left paw, watching us from below. We came down minutes later peeling sheets of latex-base from our hands and forearms. Hot and dirty, we made tracks for the tea and took turns refreshing the glass. John Wolfe, a square-jawed chap and beacon of social competence who resided across the border in palatial River Forest, chugged hard and, without warning, spit out the stuff in mid-sip. For in her haste, Polly neglected to notice that a sizeable chunk of her head hair had detached from the greater cranial production and dove headlong into the carafe. And there it swirled with ice and tea within the sweating jar. That tangled mass an accidental specimin. A relic of her days as a teenage outcast. It swirled.

And that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Oh, sinuous female forms, coiled like the spirals of a white serpent. Oh, maiden, how imperceptibly you turn the by-play of love into a surging fire. Drink of me. I am the wine that inebriates."

I partook of Fellini's City of Women last night. I liked it but I guarantee that you, whoever you are, you wouldn't like it. No, not one bit. But as Snaporaz slid down that slide amidst carnival illumination, I could not help but smile as the women of his life flashed before his eyes. Flashed before his eyes on stage, there, before my very eyes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

We shall none of us update. Not until the work is done.

Friday, October 17, 2003

I talked to Ben the other night, just minutes before the Cubs suffered one final drubbing at the fins of the Marlins. He said the city was bedlam. That the streets were awash with blue, red and white. So he purchased a whole line of Florida regalia and walked the narrow avenues of Wrigleyville. He has been a White Sox fan all his life. Naturally, we are the best of friends. Were it not for his impeccable taste in women, I might think him an idiot.

I am busy and this is going nowhere. I have a song with no name stuck in my head courtesy a dream I had last night about cohabitation. My roommate was real but she didn’t look like herself. We walked around a quadrangle in autumn collecting leaves for a craft project. Her skirt calmed the wildlife.

I get to spend yet another weekend in the office. Joy.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Not only am I handsome and viril, but thanks to D Magazine’s blog, The Front Burner (Dallas' No. 1 blog, according to the Observer), I am now also somewhat famous. I am Mike Innocenzi, Fiscal Conservative. And I will sell my testicles (yes, both of them) for the limelight.

Fascinating stuff.

OK, so last night it happened. The Unthinkable. The Cubs put the icing on a three-game slide that left the City by the Lake high and dry once again. The series is kaput. The Marlins clinched the National League pennant with a 9-6 win at Wrigley. Cubs fans must now piece together the wreckage of another dream dashed. But.

But the Cubs gave me a season I couldn’t have wished for in April. Not if I didn’t want to court a summer chock full of disappointment and humiliation. They gave me a young pitcher who basically pimp slapped the opposition and willed the ballclub down the stretch. They gave me a 6-2 win over the Marlins on a warm July evening at the Friendly Confines. They gave me a lot to be happy about this season.

The end of every season that culminates in a playoff berth ends like a funeral for all but one team. Mourners leave the ballpark shaking their heads while trying to lift their chins. “They would have wanted us to go on.” “They would have wanted us to be happy.” “They lived a good life.” Mantras exist because they work.

Cubs fans have a lot more to be happy about this year than they have had since, shit, since 1948. So we look forward because that is what we do. We go to work. We care for families. We eat lunch with friends. And come next spring, we know exactly who we’ll be rooting for. We are not so much gluttons for punishment as we are loyalists. We are waiting on a shooting star, afraid it will materialize if we look away. We are a collective of vision and spirit. And we can be whoever we want to be in our waking lives, but when the game is on we are all one thing: Fans. So we gather that wreckage. And we move on to the next mantra: “We will do it next year. Yes, we will.”

Mantras exist because they work.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I know a lot of people who don’t care about baseball. Who don’t care about sports in general unless they have a relative, girlfriend, mistress or rabbi mixing it up on the field of play. And even then the sentiment is somewhat muddled. Some people, I know, they just don’t like sports. They don’t get it. They don’t want to get it. I’m fine with that.

ROBIN: Alvy, what is so fascinating about a group of pituitary cases trying to stuff the ball through a hoop?

ALVY (Looking at Robin): What's fascinating is that it's physical. You know, it's one thing about intellectuals, they prove that you can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what's going on.

There is something incredibly entertaining about physical competition. And to anyone who has grown up watching a team and rooting for them and identifying himself as pretty much an honorary member of that organization, the outcome of a game can be the difference between elation and despair. And a game like last night’s Cubs-Marlins showdown represents the Holy Fucking Grail of my point. The contest itself presents a set of circumstances that only someone who is involved can fully understand and appreciate. And not just a set of athletic circumstances. This mere seven-game series of baseball games will have, for the enlightened viewer, philosophical and spiritual repercussions that will color his world in ways no casual observer will comprehend.

I will not be consumed with anger if the Cubs should lose. That is what many people on the outside just don’t get about Cubs fans. What happened last night was entirely in keeping with a mode of operation I have grown up watching. I pray for victory, but I am no longer stunned by defeat, even if the machinery of that defeat seems to be oiled by diabolical forces. This is expected. This is the world as I know it. And anyone who turns in crestfallen after a seemingly jaw-dropping loss simply does not know what I and the millions of Cubs fans who populate the map have known for years: There are mysterious forces at work at the confluence of Addison and Clark. Shock presupposes ignorance. And not some profound ignorance like the kind that makes otherwise grounded women watch Dawson’s Creek or some shit. But the kind of ignorance that is understandable from an insider’s POV.

Unless you have suffered with us, you will never understand our suffering.

Here is a damn good column about yesterday’s collapse. From someone who I gather understands our suffering.

What happened last night in Wrigley Field was a nightmare. Broadcasters can say what they want about the fan who bumbled a sure putout by Moises Alou by sticking his fucking hand into the one place in the entire fucking universe one should not have had his hand last night, but at that very moment, for every Cubs fan on earth, there was a palpable disturbance in the fabric of the cosmos. The game was lost and we knew it. Not eight runs later. Not four runs later. Maybe when Alex S. Gonzalez glove-heeled a high hopper. Maybe some realized it then. But if your heart pumps for the North Side, you felt it earlier. Trust me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Are you male or female? I took my last post and pasted it into the descrambler. Apparently, I am female. The researchers claim an 80-percent accuracy rate, but that rate is currently hovering around 75 percent (which is still pretty impressive, but I’m certain the on-line version of the test should not be considered scientific. Fun, yes. But not scientific.) So are you a man or a woman? Do tell.

I was conducting some science experiments out on my patio last night. The first experiment involved inhaling tobacco smoke. The second experiment involved poking curiously at some caterpillar husk that’s been decomposing out on the concrete for about a week now. Little fuzzy bugger. No, big fuzzy bugger. Looks kind of like Mickey Rooney, who, in turn, looks kind of like Yoda. Yoda is fictional. Therefore, so is Mickey Rooney. Case closed. I packed my test tubes and erlenmeyer flask. I am a fucking scientist.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I wrote more this weekend than I had for weeks before. The words came at a high price though. Damn physics and its interminable laws. I realize now these are sentences that should exist independently.

Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Paige, our new society writer, lent me a CD today and so I listened to it dutifully and wrote down my impressions and here's what I came up with:

On first look, the homoerotic connotations of “Youth & Young Manhood” lie in stark contrast to the militant-hetero appearance of these melodious ruffians. This dichotomy is manifest in songs like “Holy Roller Novocaine” and “Molly’s Chambers,” both of which fairly drip with suggestive irreverence. Dash cunning, these rogues. Furthermore, the musical composition itself has an unbeveled edge that, by design, grates against its very message. (Which message is, in essence, “Strive toward world domination in the name of Satan, but not before washing thoroughly behind thine ears.”) As for the rhythm section, the beats will clearly lead to provocative booty dancing, much to the dismay of Mormons everywhere.

All told, a brilliant album which appeals to the contrarian in all of us.

And for the record, I’ve made all of this up. But I do like the album and (don’t tell the RIAA) I have uploaded the MP3s to my hard drive and intend to share them with file swappers across the country. I shall rationalize this undertaking by calling it a gesture of civil disobedience.

I am an idiot of all sorts.

Top 10 movies I will not be watching this weekend:
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
2. Terms of Endearment
3. Mystic Pizza
4. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
5. How Stella Got Her Groove Back
6. Gung Ho
7. Hope Floats
8. Jawbreaker
9. Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot
10. The Care Bears Movie


My car has been stinking for days. I have checked the cabin thoroughly and have not unearthed any cadavers. No rogue deli meats or exotic cheeses. No malodorous insects, shit stains, armpit shingles, lizard tails or overweight Samoans. Nothing.

OK, well, maybe something. I haven’t really been looking that hard. But I’m growing tired of hopping into my car and feeling like I’m in an Indian grocery. (Not that I don’t dig Indian food or have any personal distaste for Indians as a people. As a matter of fact, back in the days I used to check out Sankara’s sister, Shoba, and experience a confusing sensation of penile unrest in my nethers. Hell, we all did. [I.e., check her out ... I could speculate about possible feelings of sexual confusion among my friends, but that exercise might seriously blemish my spotless record of mental health and staunch heterosexuality.] She [she being Shoba] was smart and had plenitudinous tits. [Not that I cared if she was smart, but my personal experience has taught me that, for some reason, girls like it when you notice they are smart before you notice they have massive cans. You can actually, at any point in a relationship, stop and say “My, but you do have the large-boob action working, don’t you?” without fearing a swift face punching just so long as you have established at some point previous that you find the girl to be smart. And not even smart, per say, but charismatic/interesting/weird/cute/completely and irrevocably insane in an endearing sort of way/misandristic/lumpy. All acceptable alternatives.] We were young and couldn’t help it. But here again I’ve said too much. The point being I love cooking with curry.)

I didn’t mean to get all parenthetical on a brotha’.

And if you slip you gettin’ pistol whipped.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Gellin’ like a felon. The Sosa homer last night was one of the longest I’ve ever seen at Wrigley. Over the center field thicket to the camera nook. Right up there with Glenallen Hill’s rooftop shot of 2000.. The Cubs march on.

By the way, here's a great article about Wrigley Field in October by ESPN's Jayson Stark.

I went to one baseball game this year. The Cubs beat the Marlins 6-2 in a July 7 night game at Wrigley. It has to mean something. Even if it doesn't.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I have friends and then I have friends.

Phil Pearson was adopted in infancy. His mother committed suicide in prison after being convicted of murdering his father. What father? Whatever. He has white parents now. Christian providers. I have met these people. They are the salt of the earth.

These subjects seldom came up. (I have witnesses. They will tell you I don't ask questions.) Back in Bloomington, Ill., two days removed from the longest girlfriend in my personal history, I was sitting on the stoop with a 16-ounce can of Old Milwaulkee in hand. Sitting on the stoop in the sun chugging like the dickens, smoking squares and making a day of it. I may have just gotten off of work. The sun hung static and tree leaves vague red maybe. I say maybe.

But shit, who can remember their alcohol days?

Phil was new to the building. I'd seen him and suspended judgement. He came out and offered me a beer as I sat with my four-left in-a-six-pack hipside. He offered a beer as a handshake. An introduction. A formality. It wasn't what it was, really. And but so I went to his place in 102 and he pulled a beer from a crisper stacked width and breadth with bottles while I asked about the Seminoles helmet resting atop his television. I can't remember how we became such good friends so fast but those were alcohol days. And no one can remember. We saw to that. Colin Conlan moved up short days later. Short days stretched long. Short days invented.

Colin was Irish to the bone and spoke it. A waitress fucker. A charmer. Quick-witted savage. We headed to bars nightly. Three-headed. At the Lizard Lounge, we met girls of all shapes and sizes and shot pool until early hours. At North Pier, CII's, Bogie's, et. al. we drank with relish as coeds tried to pry us away and home to bed for snuggles and such. I remember phone-number exchanges at 3 a.m. in alleys whilst frozen fingers turned 9s into 7s. I remember unfamiliar beds in the morning. Walking into the newsroom in the same clothes I wore yesterday. So yes, we had some of it. But not as much as we could have.

And so those friends I have had may be strewn dustwise over high school football fields but that doesn't make them nothing. I called Phil's fiancee (the engagement a miracle of minor proportions) and asked her what his new cell number was. She was crying. Her roommate took the phone and grilled me. Who was I and what did I want. Shell ('Chelle?) took the phone back frantic. "Mike? Mike?" "What's Wrong." "I'm not sure but ... God Mike I can't-" Her ring finger burned. Her hair had fingerprints. Evidence. I was one step removed. She was in the middle. I was in the middle. What words come now? What this? What? I smashed Katie's phone against a table and screamed. I screamed.

Phil was dead. I drove to Dallas the next day. And that's the shortest version of the longest story.

Janine and Katie were there that night. Yellow plastic phone and chips of green circuit board everywhere. We smoked again and again knowing full well I had to drive hundreds of miles within hours. They were good people and didn't try to stop me. Katie had a troubled brother who'd run bloody from cops just days before. Janine broke legs, knees and pelvis in a horrific car accident of her own. So, yeah, getting to the point.

Feb. 26, 2000 - St. Louis: Phil at a bar drinking a drink. Taking a ride from friends of friends. They stopped for gas, Phil seated back driver side. No money. No pay. Run. Drive. Fast as possible. Off ramp, squad car bearing down. Car take pole at three digits and three will die. And they did. Phil's hands, my ex would later tell me, looked like ground beef across his chest. In the casket. I was in Dallas by then. Three passengers dead and a paralyzed captain with spirits on his shoulders and no way to carry them. That sounds moralistic but it's true because it's what happened. And maybe I ignored it because cliche sticks in my throat lengthwise.

But it was true. And I never faced it. And my friendships since have been tainted. As I sit alone drinking with my friend.

Cubs lose. Damn. Still, it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen. And that’s gonna’ be it for the semi-daily Cubs updates. One more busy day, then I’ll be back.

Monday, October 06, 2003


I popped multiple boners last night. Great game. Great series. Great outcome.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

It is Saturday, Sunday early a.m. and I am homeside. Forearms hot from penmanship, tendons tight. I can no longer handwrite. My intake has handlocked my typing fingers. But no. We see what we are capable of.

I wish I was a squirrel. Four-shoulder churn, I claw the bark treeward. Furred and autumn blanched. I dance from limb to limb in wishes. Claw clicking across the stateside veld. Making my statements animal. Flummeristic nonsensicality. There is no such thing and this is nothing to worry about. I am the fairest rodent, for fuck's sake.

My father has asked me if I have a passport. I will ignore that question. As a squirrel I can cross borders at my behest. Just as sacred cows shit in the streets of Calcutta at their leisure. Oh Calcutta! Don't boat with smugglers to Bali. An American will find himself fearing for his life.

I am disguised.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

We get back late or early. Heads dancing in liquor. Clothes with mystery spills. We spill in and pound recklessly down the stairs. Ben searches cabinets for a bottle he’s hidden from himself. I sit with six remotes and try to navigate. I will need luck. I get it. Bobby Womack on, I get up and scatter balls on the pool table. Grab a stick and point and shoot. I miss and miss again. And again. Ben walks over. He’s found the bottle. We drink.

Three, maybe four phone calls. Dosh, Ally, Lindsay. I forget, but Ally is soon on the way with friends in tow. Jessie, Tina, Radvansky’s Sister. They materialize on the perch minutes later, a blur of hugs and giggles. An elated scream. They have not seen me in like forever. They are beautiful as I remember them. In the Red Square Café, sneaking cigarettes, hefting bright backpacks, stomping snow dust off new shoes. Their gloved fingers too green to fork the sticks properly, Jessie’s hand once burst into flames. Now they are minus the trollop. Amanda. No one misses her.

I do remember.

Ben finds a card deck. We sit cross-legged at the coffee table. Bobby Womack gives way as Ben pulls rank on the CD rotation. I complain but I know I won’t win. The game is not important. Ben tosses cards out and we all cheat. And we know we all cheat. And there are no reprisals for cheating. We all drink.

I step outside for an open-air cigarette break. I watch stragglers stumble out of the Copa. This one shiny-black-hair, stockpiled follicular mojo, ass packed tight into black leather skirt. Light. Magic. Spirit peeking from every curve. She doesn’t blow the smoke, she lets it escape. Perfection controls the little things. She takes another drag. When she is drunk she is an actress and a good one. She steps out toward the curb and steps too far. Steps back, trips and sits. A beautiful maneuver. Somehow I tell her this. She sees me on my perch and we exchange drunken pleasantries. My cigarette is finished. Her friends wave from the cab. She shimmies through traffic like a Sober. She slides in and out and the cab squeels off. I hand-grab at the doorknob like a Drunk. I manage.

Back downstairs after much gnashing of teeth. I return to the hearth. My beer can is full. Ally hugs me ‘round the neck and I hug back. Jessie tongues her lip ring opposite. We throw cards back and forth. Gather and arrange by suit and number. Throw again. Drink. Smoke. There is wine. Liquor. Beer. I assume Jessie has pills of some kind. Indeed, the girl has blossomed nicely. Her hair trickles around on bare shoulders. Glass fibers rolling down a curve. Rolling back. She pushes it back with a finger over her ear. There are rings there everywhere. Ally is asking me questions. I am answering her without knowing it. Radvansky’s Sister asks the same questions. I never expected it from her, but I’m glad she asks. Then Jessie. Ben nods his head and tells me so. He invented the question. He shapes the answer.

We miss sunrise by maybe ten minutes tops. This is why we keep trying.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

ID: Coffee, dirty little slut you. Sultry, full-lipped libation, I beckon you come hither so’s you can activate my dormant pleasure centers. Carry me through morning and your good deeds will not be forgotten. As your warmth splashes around in my middle, I will remember you fondly. I will introduce you to my family. I will buy you expensive accessories. I will nail your sister. You will forgive me. And I will do it again. That’s right. Closer. Yes. Good.

EGO: Coffee, thou hath stunted my growth. Dastardly substance, constantly winding your way through my nethers. I need to be strong and no, you’ll have no hand in that. You keep me up at night. You take advantage of my patience and understanding. Your rings on my desk. Your illusions in me. Go, go, seek some otherwhere/importune me no more. Begone, liquid devil. Begone.

SUPEREGO: Shut the fuck up. Both of you.