Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Just got off the phone. Ben is not dropping into Dallas Friday. But keep those drinking caps on.

By the way, my best friend of life/international traveler/reality TV hero Ben Reb drops into Dallas this Friday for a weekend chock full of Southern tomfoolery. Ladies and gentlemen, put on your drinking caps.

What could be more fun than working until 10 p.m. to get a section out? I can think of two things:

• Coming back to the office at 11:30 when the press calls to tell you one of the files is corrupt.
• Letting angry badgers feast on your balls.

Who needs a drink?

Friday, November 21, 2003

We decended upon Fun Zone at 7 p.m. We being the grizzled newsmen of People Newspapers. Public servants bedizened in our functional frocks, we occupied lanes 27 through 30 and hit the Fosters 24-ouncers like seasoned degenerates. We meeting for the annual All-Staff Bowl-A-Rama. We drinking with aplomb and bowling with relish.

Fosters: Australian for “watch my motor skills deteriorate.”

The Players:
Mycah Emmerson, she of the pelvis-bending leg kick that evoked Juan Marichal with a busted spine, played fast and loose and somehow managed to put up respectable numbers despite her unorthodox style. By night’s end she was the proud owner of a leather whip and the heart of every alley-trawling grease monkey this side of the Mason-Dixon.

John Clare, sporting aviator shades, a purse, and a half-empty head of hair tossed the ball laneward whilst a Kool dangled precariously betwixt his lips. His breath that of a prostitute working the interstate underpass — a mélange of cheap liquor and aftershave.

Lauren Lewis: ringer at large. After throwing several gutterballs and generally embarrassing herself and her family, she pulled strike after glorious strike from the seemingly shallow depths of her talent pool. She ruled the alley with a puffy gray turtleneck, fancy pantalones and an ever-present bottle of Fat Tire. She somehow managed all this while editing a feature story and getting three quotes for a city council piece. For sooth!

Keri Payne has yet to master the intracacies of bowling. Her aim was true. And by true I mean totally false. And by false I mean she punished the gutters like a champ. She was all smiles though, proving once and for all that a good attitude is like a morning mist over the Thames ... whatever the fuck that means.

To be continued ...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Today I get to take my car in to the State Farm inspection hut out in East Dallas. And the more I think about it, the more upset I am about having to take an hour out of my day to drive out to my insurance company’s designated damage-assessment center. Especially since this is a company that I have worked for and that supposedly prides itself on its Good Neighbor service. It’s been over two weeks since some ne’er-do-well smashed my glass and lifted my stereo and generally pig-mauled the center console of my auto transport device. What has State Farm done for me in that time? Nothing ... Not. One. Thing. And they’re getting my $500 deductable? They sure don’t seem like they want to work for it. So sing along with me: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm might help you out at its convenience ... maybe.” Bastards.

Then I get to go to the dentist to have my teeth smashed by a professional.

And here’s my Shattered Glass review. Don’t expect much.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I have been profoundly busy. Like writing commandments and shit. Like parting seas and curing lepers. Like working for the greater good. Like giving foot rubs to the infirm. Like curing dwarfism. Like handing out pamphlets about the scientific advancements made in the field of penis enlargement. Like tickling old ladies. Like donating my spleen to hungry orphans. Like kissing puppies.

Like writing my review of Shattered Glass. I’ll link it on the morrow. Right after I help this hot babe find her nipple.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I am streetside by 5:30 a.m. and the headwind burns my ears in no time. I struggle to manipulate a cigarette between gloved knuckles and turn to head east down North Ave., checking my cell for the time and realizing I'm late and shifting up for speed. Eastbound, the wind slices across my face and makes me lope around like a drunken knuckleball. My rhythm fucked. My socks wet. Snow unsteady. Transition from sidewalk to street to sidewalk. Concentrate. There. Good. The cigarette is half-smoked and hopeless. My fingers have no feeling to grip. The filter slips through and the square is ferried away.

I am walking seven, eight blocks to the El station at North and Something. I will take the Brown south and transfer to the Green and go out west to either Austin or Harlem. I never stop in the middle. This is something you should probably know about me.

Last night's ghosts are haunting me proper before the chill takes over. Anoche: Ben, Sank and I hopped from one lilly pad to the next until we found ourselves at a posh high-rise apartment near the lake. Home of one Shrivastava Ng, a doctor and king of dope. We sat around the hearth and while we knew friends of friends and even the Nameless looked familiar, by the time the smoke met the lung all hope was lost. And that was pretty much the best we could hope for. We happily made decisions. My clock stopped. All clocks stopped. Tendrils of smoke frozen in the ether; a floating storm of tangled talons. We had the fear.

Shrivastava stood up with his shirt open and his nipples blaring. He held court to several women at once. Fucking Eros, this guy. And but so the smoke snapped into motion but we could hardly think to snap ourselves out of it. Because I swear to god her name was Darlene and her body was otherworldly. And her name was Stacey and she was a nymphomaniac. And her name was J. Starr and she had forsaken college idealism and now worked in law enforcement. And her name was Jessie and her lip ring no like seriously made a statement. And her name was Alison and she had rewarding friendships with boys. And her name was Lindsay and rumor had it she had access to a vast payload of experimental lace undergarments. And her name was Jenny and her face and figure would compensate for her lack of anything. And her name was easily forgotten but her ass was sculpted by the U.S. Marines. Some were there. Some were not. Everyone was there and we were in a heightened state.

Ben, a man of action, gathered us and Janet followed. Shrivastava stood in front of a boiling fireplace, threw his head back, and laughed as red stage lights illuminated his body from below. Large bills spewed from his maw. His shoes were made of the skin of poor children. Darlene jumped onto his shoulders and they floated away cackling like devils. The fucks.

Ten minutes later, we found the street and a cab. Four deep, we piled in and had no place to go, so we went anywhere he'd take us. He took us. We paid, disembarked. We got carded, entered and sat in the back. I had a gin & tonic I had no business drinking. An excercise in decision making. Opportunity cost. Social economics.

We never left. For all I know we're still there assembling a bottomless tab.

Ticket swipe. Turnstile. Let's begin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Now, four days removed from the art show, I refuse to acquaint myself with the funk. The weekend was top-notch. The tonics well-ginned. The birthday party Saturday night at Milo’s lacked the fraternal decible levels and beer chugging I had feared. Jen welcomed 30 with a dizzying campaign of liquor and foos-ball. Village elders came and drank and played the game with youthful precision. The floor was cleaned with us. The DVD (Scratch) had its namesake somewhere on the disk and went dead somewhere in Chapter 4. I still haven’t wiped it off and finished. Late fees accumulate. The sun blasted through the cloud cover Sunday, its rays elegant and cocksure. It illuminated the broken glass of my window, whose shards rendered rainbows on the cobbled concrete of the apartment lot. I was brow beaten, cigarette after cigarette my righthand accessory. Night found me in repose somewhere in 75206. On my couch or on my bed. Wondering where my stereo went. I slept fetal. Woke up toddling. Driving with the temporary plastic window compromising my blind spots. I find comfort in looking forward to this week. I will watch it unfurl and anticipate the design it reveals.

Monday, November 10, 2003

“Aw, they know people keep the faceplates in the car. In the glove box. Under the seat.” Mine was under the seat. Bad move. Because someone who really loves music busted my back driver’s side window and stole my stereo early Sunday morning. In the process, the young man destroyed most of the plastic and wiring in the center console. And now my signals don’t work. This morning I had to drive to the office without making any turns. And I’ve got to spend all week getting my car fixed and dealing with insurance and all the related bullshit. And driving around with a GAP bag covering my broken window. Because I am a preppy motherfucker whose heart pumps for double-pleats and button-ups.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Tonight we have a meet-and-greet with the D Magazine staff outside on the patio during happy hour. Rumors of a margarita machine have office anticipation at a fever pitch. It’s been raining all day and, sometime in the last 48 hours, temperatures here in the Metroplex plummeted about 30 degrees. Meteorologists refer to this as “God hating the South.” They refer to margarita machines as “alcohol delivery systems.” I was a scientist in my youth. I am well-schooled in the methods and pitfalls of the trade. I know margaritas stand up well under scientific scrutiny. Especially when you drink like five of them in a row. I also know that if there is a God, He is probably pretty indifferent about the South.

I stuck up for Stinky even when I knew he’d fucked shit up proper. I did this because I’d purchased stolen goods from him on several occassions and was afraid I’d be another tumbling card when the house came down. So when authorities asked me where he was and where his money was coming from, I brushed it off like a bona fide shyster and went out for pancakes and coffee afterward. Later, at the Celery House, I saw Stinky pulling an old trick on Saint Paul over by the jukebox and I went and distrupted his rhythm and told him we needed to talk. And that was something I never said to anyone. We need to talk.

Stinky brushed me off the same way I brushed off the Bob Crosbys back home at suite 230. Only better. Next thing I knew he’d conned Saint Paul out of his dentures and slid out the door in a blink.

Two days later I found Stinky’s wallet on the fire escape outside my apartment. There was an old business card on my window sill and I recognized it immediately. Sam Barnes. Associate Scrivener. Wollstonecraft & Russeau, LLP. 312-848-xxxx.

This has been a test.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Short essay on politics (leaving every gap unfilled):

When I was 13 years old, my dad ran for the house. District 110. Oak Park, Illinois.

Politics can be a dirty game. He knew that going in. In 1972, he’d boarded a boat with two smugglers somewhere in the middle of India. This after joining the Peace Corps and doing a turn teaching English in the Philippines. This to avoid the draft because. ... Because before that, he’d protested America’s participation in the Vietnam conflict. Before that, he was a student at Saint Louis University, where he was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. Where he wrote briefly for the student newspaper under the pseudonym Basil Kellogg Heimer-heimer. Where he had the full complement of facial hair and a sweaty bandana and a camera and suspenders. Where he founded the Billiken Honour Players, a theatre troupe devoted to standardizing the conventions of British spelling through subversive performance art. Where he was arrested twice on charges of indecent thought processing. Where one school administrator once referred to him as “a dangerous activist given, inexplicably, to bouts of solipsistic ennui.” Where he spearheaded an effort to place the entire philosophy department under citizens arrest for profiting from obscenity. Where he was accepted into the undergraduate program only after he agreed to sign several papers which placed him in a long, unfavorable contractual relationship with a mobile phone carrier. Where, in 1968, 13 students were shot dead by riot police during an unsanctioned sunbathing spree.

I tried to talk him out of it, but he ran and lost. Later that week he bought a red, poured-metal 10-speed and vowed to ride around the world to get the message across. He rides still.

Long days, these.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Ten blocks short of Dr. Wax, just seconds after successfully dodging the wide street swipe of a blade courier, I saw Debbie Curtain get tossed across Clark Street by the front fender of an old Cadillac Deville. The car paused, revved and ran, then stopped 15 feet up the northbound lane, its back fender left bouncing from the sudden polarity of it all as Tice got out slow like and stepped toward Debbie's battered temple. I checked my back pocket for change and there was plenty, so I sidestepped into the Franchise and got myself a milkshake so I could stand across and watch this whole situation develop. I leaned my foot up on the counter as Sally Andsoforth commenced with the smiling service and but so I tied my shoe, paid my way and shuffled on out and back to the spot by the lightpost, marking the 90 degree point of the parties involved. That is, if you could consider me involved.

The shake was tough coming up and my ears felt the faint rattle of pending implosion, so I leaned up and held the cup by my side to wait for the heat to melt my drink up a bit and lend a brother some viscosity relief. Across the way, Tice was kneeled down with some other witnesses around poor Debbie Curtain. Tice had sideburns that may or may not have met beneath his chin, but on their way in that direction the chops were bumpy and unkempt. I never got close enough to make an accurate determination, although I'm sure this observation would stand up in court, what with the historic power of eyewitness testimony and all. I took note of this and a couple other things worth remembering, in case they should come back to haunt me during cross examination. A couple things.

The sunlight was only touching down on the east side of the street, so Tice couldn't have been blinded. Aside from that, the light he was waiting on had been dead red and his tires chirped on takeoff. He'd taken a left off a one-way street onto Clark and he did it with clear disregard for the conventions of proper road etiquette, although anyone on the street would tell you this kind of thing happened all the time and, in all likelihood, we'd all done it once or twice ourselves and had never been caught. But no, that wouldn't come up in the courtroom. Other things stood out.

A moment before the impact, Debbie had turned in mid-stride to glare at the rollerblader. The same guy who'd almost knocked her over the curb just a second before danger came around the corner dressed as a rusty brown Cadillac. She was not exercising due vigilance as she proceeded into the crosswalk. My milkshake warmed up and I checked in. Sure enough, the vanilla came up the straw with flying colors. I would keep that part between me and my lawyer. But there was one other thing. The cops had just arrived and there was a surge of confusion as people stood up and began to reexamine their roles in the incident, but I remembered one more thing.

I had actually passed Dr. Wax about a block and a half ago. I should never have been up that far on Clark in the first place. And I was sure the lawmen would find that as creepy as I did. Like when your friend calls you up talking about he busted his hand in the door just seconds after you got some sharp pain in your own mitt. By this time there must have been thirty, forty people, maybe more, milling around the intersection and making a general mess of the afternoon traffic flow. I polished off the shake and tossed my cup to the Four Winds, headed back south to Dr. Wax to get that record but realized shit I had forgotten what record I was out to get in the first damn place. Hell, I kept on walking anyway just to get away from all that noise and stress.

Because, for the most part, I am a calm, relaxed individual.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The move is complete. I want to go cab tipping.

I’ve been a little bit more productive these past two days than meets the eye. After spending most of the weekend waking hours here at the office busting boxes open, limbs flailing in the corporate donnybrook, slicing my forearms fore and aft on every sharp edge imaginable, electrocuting myself several times (and then, too proud to admit it was a string of embarrassing mistakes, I shocked myself another five or six times throughout the balance of the day, just so people would think I was doing it on purpose all along), eating wet sandwiches, drinking dry wine, watching half of a movie, heading back to the office to move more, lifting with my legs, busting my knee upside the unbeveled edge of a temporary server cabinet, poking myself in the eye with a T-square, resigning myself to life within a cube, testing the depth of my own patience, finding the optimum work route, stealing handfuls of candy from the D Mag's kitchen, getting down proper with the baseline action and buckling under, overwhelmed ... after all that I drank a couple drinks at the homestead and turned in early.