Thursday, May 27, 2004

A morning rich with ideas has given way to an afternoon of lethargy. Last night, we rediscovered the Tipperary. Dave G and I grilled the new ownership, hoping to glean the finer points of a workable business model. To reassure ourselves and our countrymen that this latest incarnation of the Irish Pub isn’t going to be scattered to the Four Winds when the books reveal naught but redness. The ponytail and accent (acquired on the mean streets of South London) made me dubious. Dave G held the sucker down and I dug my boot into his ribs. Sirens. Cop cars. We retired with dispatch.

By the time I got home it was later than expected, and the last desparate gulps of hefeweissen percolated furiously in my middle. I went outside for air, bumped into Sam the Parking Man. Sam moves cars all day to confound the ticket cops. His tanned skin like orange rind. A whip of yellow beard slung around his jaw. We walked to Amesbury and I rode with him as he moved a bloat of SUVs from one curb to the other. Finished, he lit a Backwoods and leaned up against an Oak.

I walked back home and went inside. I grabbed a handful of chow and dropped it into the cat bowl. I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I went to fine tune the thermostat and heard a light knock on the door. I opened it and there stood Sam. He asked me if I wanted a lesson for the ages. He asked me if I had any curiosity left in me. I told him but hell I did and waited until he said it. Old Sam picked a speck of wet tobacco from his lip and he said it.

“May all your flights be fancy.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Friday I was reminded of the fragility of life when, in a ritual as ancient as the cosmos, a large, gray owl swooped across I-20, smack-dab into the path of a semi, and was rendered a swirling ball of feathers by the mighty rig’s front fender.

Ruston, La., proved relaxing and beautiful. Some 200 miles east of Dallas, the trees grew tall and proud. The bayou was rife with drive-thru liquor shops and peach stands. The pool still a bit too cold for comfort, I sallied along its length and breadth on an air mattress I purchased at the local Wal-Mart. I dined on steaks and fried crawfish.

I tanned myself in the southern sun.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I can't help but wonder: What happened to Bill O'Reilly? I swear I used to run into a Bill O'Reilly about once a year, at least. But it's been, like, forever. I've been to Irish Pubs and potato festivals from here to Chicago and back and not once, in the last five years, have I heard of a Bill O'Reilly who wasn't a Fox News sitcom character. It's a relatively common name, no?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It is 8:30 p.m. Friday and we are at the Copa drinking drinks that burn. We are a half block from North and Clybourn, which puts us within shouting distance of every spigot on the near north side. I tell Ben that I never figured him to be one to wallow in contentment. He laughs and slaps my shoulder, “McKenz, you don’t know the half of it.”

By 9:30 we are swimming in a lake of pleasant heat. It radiates from our insides outward. Clyde sells us cut-rate cigarettes and we dive into another pack as the winged scavengers descend on the place. We have good seats and we persevere as the filthy fowl pack the four-tops that line the back wall. There are mirrors back there. A wall of spherical mirrors reflecting the villians and their bad deeds. Looking there and then away quickly, we plunge our noses into another glass and another glass, the flames licking our brows. The heat consuming us as we consume it.

Stick calls late. We’d been tracking him down for hours but the satellites couldn’t connect. Ben makes arrangements and we tab out just in the nick of time. Vultures are crowding our shoulders and jostling us mercilessly. They squeeze between us with drink orders and wet beaks. “We’re going to meet him at the 404. He’s got Belle with him. Dash is already there.”

We head out to the black street and the June air is on us like cloth. Ben’s phone rings again and he steps away to take the call. I lean against the building’s brick and sink into the sound of car horns. I try to listen to the din from a distance. I try to hear patterns. I steady myself; we have a long way to go.

Ben is still talking as he steps into the street to get a cab. “Yes. No, 404. On Diversey.” I go out there and join him as a cab U-turns to gather us. As I push in I look skyward, catching the full moon’s grin between a chin thin with clouds. As I settle in, Ben twists the cap off a pint and we warm up. The engine rumbles and we are hosts in darkness. The LCD fare mounts a dime at a time, block by block.

We can’t bear to let the vultures get the best of us. We are starting with headsteam and we’ll continue because we love to fight the good fight. We are the best of friends, fighting together a common foe. Vultures. The cab rolls to a stop. 404. We brace ourselves for the opening salvo.

If you haven’t seen the new Jaguar TV commercial, you're lucky. It’s a simple thing, really — the camera watches from detached angles as the Jaguar zooms by in all of its glory. Wet roads, evergreen trees, virgin blacktop winding a swath mountainside. But the music. Oh bloody hell, the music.

“The machine of a dream /
Such a clean machine /
I’m in love with my caaaaaaar!”

It’s enough to make me want to kick bunny rabbits in the face.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I have reached new heights of originality by using a new canned Blogger template. Let the rocking begin. Let the socks fall off.

My question is this: Where is my Cadillac, ho?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I had an idea over the weekend for waterproof cigarettes — “cigawettes.” The idea is that they preserve all the healthiness and enjoyment of normal cigarettes, only they have the added benefit of allowing you to smoke in the rain or underwater. No more swimming laps and thinking, “Dude, I’d better get out and towel off so I can enjoy a smoke.” No siree. Because with new Cigawettes, you can now swim your laps ... and smoke while you do it! Sick of plummeting off the third platform only to have your cigarette destroyed when you hit the water? What kind of lunatic are you, anyway, jumping off the third platform like that? You could get yourself killed! At least savor a waterproof Cigawette® while you’re at it, Mr. Crazybones.

Keep your eyes peeled for a Cigawettes™®© ad campaign involving Olympic swimmers, naked chicks, and a hilarious case of mistaken identity. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to make mixed drinks that don’t dissolve in water.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Remind me later that tonight, when I go to the grocery store, I need to get some bottled water and deodorant. Bottled water. I never drank the stuff until I came to the parched plains of the southwest. Until that point, I had been raised atop the bountiful aquifers of the midwest. I remember mineral-rich showers and drinkable tap.

Weekend recap:
• Friday evening mojito circuit, followed by drinks and more drinks at the Pharmacy, Xpo and beyond.
• Saturday dinner cooking — breaded pork chops, potatoes, portabellas and potables, followed by a private screening of Godfather, Part I ... Don’t ask.
• Sunday sun day — outside, poolside. Then hit NorthPark and bought new sneakers. Returned to find Dave G and Reba backstroking. Coaxed them out of the pool and into dinner at Desparados. Bashed them over the head and stole their wallets. Suckers.

My tan gets fatter.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Remember that cool, flighty chick who you worked with at the college newspaper about six years ago? You may begin to suspect that her life has not turned out the way you would have expected when she proudly e-mails you a link to this web page. You will be further convinced of this fact when you realize that the site is run by her boyfriend ... ostensibly as a source of income.

Amy, I hardly knew ye.

Last night, I watched 15 minutes of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I am ashamed of myself. Kate Hudson should be ashamed of herself. And we should be forced by the government to bathe together so that we don’t infect innocent civilians, like in that movie 28 Days Later, which sucked in spite of its popularity.

That was some infectious shit.

Lucky for everyone involved, I’d stopped earlier and rented L’Avventura, which could also be called “How to Lose a Guy Immediately” or “The Fabulous Trousers.” Now that was a movie worth getting into a bathtub with Kate Hudson for.

The movie was brought to us by Michelangelo Antonioni — a name that will knock your tongue off, if you’re not careful. The film is beautiful. The early shots on a desolate island are jaw-droppingly rich with texture. I mean, I sat there watching this story unfold and couldn’t blink. I was mesmerized. It was as if I had been placed into a bathtub opposite Kate Hudson.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I came up with some brilliant ideas yesterday, whilst the steady hand of Bass Ale ushered me toward nightfall. I percolated in the thick breeze. My prose got rich and flowery, as if the Sultan of Dubai had been miraculously cross-bred with a flower shop. I modified all of my sentences with “I really do believe” or “In the final analysis.”

Dave reaches over the table and socks me with a bottle of malt vinegar.

Camala works in the service industry; she carries drinks for a living.

I shall get tattoed on Saturday (this one being the capstone on my well of brilliant ideas). I have spent the better part of the day trying to figure out what kind of timeless logo I should have irrevocably inked into my body. Maybe something like this. Or maybe this. You see? I can’t lose.

Camala seems like she might have some good ideas. Her platinum locks harness their follicular mojo from dimensions humankind may never comprehend. She is superstring theory in an apron. She is Daryll Hannah in 1986, only she is here at The Old Monk in 2004, emptying my ashtray and asking me if I want seasoned or regular chips with my fish. Clearly, she is the kind of woman who would know a thing or two about tattoo design. I have no doubt in my mind that she has a rainbow butterfly or tribal salamander taking up residence in the small of her back, just off center.

Suggestions? I haven’t the gall to ask.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

One of the great things about being an adult is the ease with which one can avoid locker rooms.

I have work to do.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Last summer was the first summer that I went out with the express purpose of getting a tan. Tans had been, up to that point, something that accidentally happened while I was outside playing sports or robbing hookers. When I was a kid, I would get awesome tans because — like any kid who had a hippie for a father — I was pretty much allowed to go anywhere topless ... and stoned.

My melanin languished during the college years, due in part to the fact that I was spending a great deal of time exposing myself to coeds on the sixth floor of Milner Library. (Just kidding. That wasn’t me. But there was a guy who actually attained minor campus celebrity doing this. I forget if the he ever got caught. And now I wonder if some grizzled deputy is going to read this post and say “Eureka! I’ve got him!”)

(No, really. Seriously. I was kidding.)

Anyway, I haven’t had a Tan of Epic Proportions since my youth. It never really bothered me any. Tans do not elicit the same social cachet back in Illinois that they do here in Dallas. In Illinois, tans are still something of a curiosity — like dubutante balls, inbreeding and beauty pageants. Yankees fail to embrace these things with the gracious acceptance characteristic of southerners. We Yankees tend to embrace other things, like sarcasm.

So last summer this lack of tan started finally to get to me and I stomped my foot and made a decision: I would tan myself proper. One balmy May afternoon, I laid out by the pool for about five hours, certain I would wake up a picture of mahogany perfection. Unfortunately, I woke up a picture of crimson horror. An uneven application of sunblock caused tanless stripes to crisscross my torso, which lines decorated my otherwise Pantone 185 layout. And this is to say nothing of the anguish my newfound crispiness engendered. My epidermis moved and shifted like tectonic plates; the friction was sheer agony.

I walked city streets stinking of aloe.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The rig’s chassis sagged under the weight of old bricks, pig iron, while the engine gargled magma somewhere in the oily guts of the beast. And the posterior proclaimed “We Demolish. Jesus Saves.”

Green light. Proceed. The Rev. John Platemore double clutches and gasses up. I would really like, at this point, to keep writing; however, it’s just not happening.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I just got my first ever professional chair massage. After the bespeckled masseur shattered my calcium-starved scapulae and manipulated a pressure point that caused my bowels to spontaneously release, I was overcome with a sense of spiritual renewal. I have decided to parlay this feeling into a campaign of something. Because I like campaigns. I am on the campaign trail. Drinking champagne near Lake Champlain.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Last night I watched Roberto Rossellini’s Open City. There is something about those flickering scenes of old Rome that make me want to grab dirt in my hands.

Here now my nails are too short. I haven't a callus in the world. My socks are soft and my pants fit the way I like. My computer hums with multi-gigacycle efficiency. Devil.

I want to wrap myself in burlap and skulk along ancient village streets.