Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We went to Addison to take our minds off Katrina. To Sherlock’s for Lauren’s cousin’s boyfriend’s birthday, to raise our glasses in unfamiliar climes, to forget forget forget.

We didn’t arrive until late. And when we arrived I spent several nervous hours looking for a parking space. Because valet was $5 and I just can’t abide that shit. I will now allow myself to be held upside down and shaken, my pockets emptied, when I am perfectly capable of finding a parking spot all by myself. Two hours later, in the car: “I am perfectly capable of finding a parking spot on my own!” (No, I am not.) I eventually backed the car onto the patio of TGIFriday’s and left it there. Let them figure out what to do with it, fucking red-stripey buttony smiling assholes.

We walked the two, three remaining miles to Sherlock’s. The weather was nice.

I hate being carded by bouncers. I want to shove my chin out and say “Do you know who you’re talking to?” I want to punch their faces. Have their badge numbers. Set their eyebrows on fire. I flipped my wallet open and showed him my ID. “Can you take that out of your wallet, please?” (“Take it out of my wallet? But that’s why I bought a wallet that has the cool little plastic window where you can see my ID right through it — so I wouldn’t have to fucking take it out of my wallet every time a door monitor wants me to prove I’m getting old.” — I never actually said this. That’s why I put it in parenthesis. I was thinking it, parenthetically.)

Sherlock’s reeked of several thousand perfumes and body splashes and colognes. I love that. Doesn’t everybody? Man, I just love the smell of perfume and body splash and cologne. I almost can’t stand it, I love it so much. And when it mixes in the air and synergizes with cigarette smoke, synergizes into its own lifeform, floating around us, breathing its breath into us, making us more powerful than we ever could have imagined, it is then that you turn to yourself and say “I am enjoying life as much as possible. Look at that chick. She looks like a dude. I bet she’s a dude.”

She’s was a dude, I tell you.

Lauren’s cousin’s boyfriend, Brian, introduced me to the jager-bomb. It is not an actual weapon. It is a mixture of liquor and some such. It tastes really good. I had three of them. I could have had more had my arms not spontaneously fallen off.

When I discovered that my mind was drunk and slow, I stood up on a rickity bar stool and attempted to photograph a man I thought looked like Elvis. Elvis Prestley. The famous musician from olden days. I stood up and managed to keep from falling over and cracking my skull open on some chick’s engagement ring. I took the picture. Minutes later, Elvis came over and started yelling “Fuck you, man! Fuck you!” I told Lauren to hold my glasses. That there might be a donnybrook. Maybe even a fisticuffs. Bouncers descended on the scene.

I flipped my wallet open and disappeared — poof. I did it parenthetically.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Last night I had the New Lamb Wrap from Café Izmir Deli. The New Lamb Wrap is different than the Famous Lamb Wrap in that it has onions and peppers and herb yogurt dressing instead of swiss cheese and guacamole. The New Lamb Wrap also causes a marked spike in post-prandial stomach-bubble frequency. I found this out the hard way, because the easy way is the easy way out.

The lengths to which some will go.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

When I own a coffee shop I will call it The House of Awesome Choice Blends, and people of all shapes will come from miles around to sample my awesome choice blends. They will love the clever name of the place. “I love the clever name of the place,” they’ll say, as I pour hot coffee on their children. “No children,” I’ll say, pointing to the sign on the door that says “No Children.”

They might leave without paying. They might even rush their scalded children to the hospital as I direct the attention of the other patrons to the placard above the foamer. The placard that reads: “Rush your stupid children to the hospital, morons. More coffee for the rest of us!” The next round will be on me. This will become a tradition embraced by my regulars.

I’ll come up with a funny nickname for the quiet guy who gets there first every morning and stays until noon. I’ll call him Sergeant Caffeine McDrip or Professor Coffee Breath. I’ll get those little name cards and each morning put one where I want him to sit. It will be a fun game for the both of us. For example, there will be some old chewing gum on the floor with a toothpick sticking out of it and a card attached: “Reserved for Dr. Fuckface Whatever.” And that morning the quiet guy who gets there first every morning will get there first.

“I thought I was Sergeant Caffeine-”

“Psht!” I’ll say, moving a flat hand toward his yap. “Today you’re Dr. Fuckface Whatever. This is part of the game. You have to sit on that gum. This is going to be fun.”

People will eat this shit up. Because they love theme restaurants. Money magazine will dub The House of Awesome Choice Blends “The Chuck E. Cheese’s of the Coffee House World.” I will win some kind of international acclaim for my innovative marketing techniques. I will impregnate tons of women. There will be lawsuits and talk show interviews. I will buy the Kentucky Derby and turn it into an adult film festival.

I can afford to do anything I please. I am a fucking coffee magnate.

I am helping people grow.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Let us now, here, together acknowledge that we are sick of talking about the weather. It has been a rare season. We have discussed it at length — the heat, the this, the that. We can all be sick of talking about it, all at the same time. We can simultaneously decide that we will talk instead about museums. Do we have enough museums? How many are too many?

That is just an example.

Another example is music. We can talk about music. About Saturday night at the Lollipop Shop, where the Black Angels astounded me for the second time in as many months. I bought a T-shirt, a sticker, an EP. The go-go girls were out, the mod boys and vultures. They were all there bobbing their heads, turning to one another, trying to say something new about music. The walls were illuminated by projected cartoons, mostly vintage japanimation, the black floors powdered with glitter. The go-go girls danced on wooden blocks. We brought our own beer. We drank it. We stood and bobbed our heads until hours wee.

There are other things that I do not want to talk about, that everyone around me who knows me wants to talk about, get to the bottom of, deconstruct. They are being polite. I am being elusive. Maybe they will think my plans are more important if I pretend to be shy about discussing them. Maybe they will not think my plans so stupid, pointless, digressive.

You can't have fiction without a crisis — even if you are being postmodern. I want to breathe in fiction. I want it to devour me so I can eat my way out from the inside. I want it to be easier than it has been. I want magical turning points. Surprise resolutions. Answers that are there, standing there, leaning against a lamp post when I turn the corner. I want it to take as little effort as possible. I want there to be life-altering signing bonuses involved. Complimentary invites to star-studded galas that I will not attend. I will imagine people milling around, drinking the latest drinks from the thinnest glasses, wondering about my absence, thinking it indicative of some artistic neurosis that makes interpersonal relationships overwhelming and unpleasant. "Oh, that's just Mike," they'll say. "He's an artist. We'll never understand the complexity of his immense talent." I'll be sitting at home watching American Idol, making a genuine effort to spot the most talented contestants.

One month from now. Am I a writer, a fraud, a con-man? We'll see. We'll see if I even have the balls to seek the answer. We'll see one month from now if I am sitting here writing a post about a break in the weather. The first cool day of September. My new long-sleeved shirt. Maybe a paragraph of images, looking forward to the official change in the seasons. I'll be sick of writing it. You'll be sick of reading it. But you'll say some nice things in the comments. "I really dug what you said about the air smelling like cork. That's so true." And I'll say thank you, making sure not to seem too eager. Maybe pointing out that I wasn't very happy with the post, that it didn't turn out the way I'd wanted. That will make it all acceptable. Because that way no one will have to tell me that I've failed miserably, that I've disappointed them, that I blew it.

Or maybe no one will comment at all. And it's not like I will blame them. No, it's certainly not them I'll be blaming.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Getting ourselves out of the War in Iraq is going to take the kind of planning and effective deliberation that the current administration only seems to employ when attempting to smear its adversaries. (By the way, did you hear Cindy Sheehan is getting divorced? What a nutcase!) Iraq has turned into unprotected college sex. If we pull out, we might create a huge mess; if we stay in, we risk having to deal with a long-term commitment.

It’s a tough situation. And just like the college kids, our administration has chosen to make most of these decisions while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. They have chosen Iraq — the ugliest girl at the barn dance. The one whose hot friends paired off with square-jawed Sig Chis about three hours earlier. The one who’s only there because her mom was a Chi O. Poor girl. She’s powerless. She’s got nothing going for her. No ammunition. But here comes George Bush, nudging his friends with a fraternal elbow and telling them how he can make that socially inept broad into a sex animal.

“But George,” one of the guys says. “I thought you were going after Jenny Osama.”

George chuckles. — Heh-heh-heh — shoulders bouncing. “You guys don’t see. Jenny-O isn’t glamorous enough. She requires more work than she’s worth. You see, I can turn that other girl into whatever I want her to be. She’s malleable. Desperate. After I get in there — which’ll be easy, let me tell you — I can get my rocks off and, you know, kind of establish myself as the alpha male. Really get some swagger goin’, know what I mean? Then girls like Jenny will take notice. They’ll see me as a take-charge guy. They respect that. So instead of chasing Jenny-O all over the barn, I can get some action from the loser and get what I want from Jenny. It’s brilliant, I tell you.”

“I don’t know, George. It sounds pretty risky.”

“Oh, quit bein’ such uh pussy. Just tell me where I can get an 8-ball, will yuh?” Heh-heh-heh. “That’s right. There we go.” Snooooork! “Ahhhhhh.”

We all know how that turned out.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I got back to Dallas Sunday night after driving through the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever driven through. That is not hyperbole. I had to pull over to the side of the road at one point and sit there shitting my figurative pants as the car shook with every gust, as the windshield and windows swelled and rippled into distortion, as the thunder popped my shoulders out of their sockets. I thought I’d be sent tumbling into the deep rut at the side of the highway. I thought I was going to drown right there, twenty miles from Dallas. I feared it. I feared I’d be struck by lightning bolts. I’d never see it coming. I’d be sitting there one second and gone the next. The people in the other cars that had pulled over — there were maybe fifteen others, lined up in front and in back of me — would marvel at how close they came. But it would be me. Because the lightning knows about me. Because I can’t stop thinking it does. It will be me who gets struck by lightning. My worst fears will be realized. My thoughts will make things happen. What if? What if thinking makes it so?

But I made it. After thirty minutes I saw an opening and pulled back onto the highway. The rain was still coming down hard. My arms were numb with fear. The lightning, majestic white bolts of it, were landing all around me. I could see where they were landing. I could feel the solid crack of superheated air.

I was on I-45 heading north. Or northwest. I’m not sure, but the roadway wasn’t made to handle that kind of rain. I could feel the tires losing their way. Here and there. I would clutch the steering wheel, trust the anti-lock brakes, wait to feel that feeling back in the wheel. That feeling that tells me the tires have their grip back. My arms were still numb. My hands hot.

And then in minutes the rain was gone. The road was dry. The exits came up and I was home. Inside. Sleeping a sleep I could sleep again right now. Believe me. It’s been that kind of week.

P.S. — (This made me laugh.

This is me clean.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cars. I've never seen so many cars. They are everywhere. Everywhere I look there are cars. Behind the concentrated streams of cars in front of me there are more cars. Behind those more cars. I am sitting outside of Starbuck's, drinking coffee, surrounded by cars. The parking lot is bursting with cars. There are more of them than there are spots. So people improvise. They park their cars wherever they can. There are cars in the grass, in the trees. People are desperate to get out of their cars. They leave them in the turn lane, in the alley, under the bridge. I've never seen so many cars.

Someone should do something about all of these cars. There are too many of them. They are everywhere. We should be thinking about this. This is a problem. Let me crystallize my thoughts, explain this problem as I see it: we need to get where we are going. We need to carry things back. There is too much to carry. We have to go too far. We can't get our act together without cars. What's the solution? Is there a solution?

I am driving an SUV. I am part of the problem. I am fucking up the environment.

This is not my SUV. I own a small, fuel-efficient car. Does that make a difference? Can I still be a good person? Can I still participate in marches? These are interesting questions.

I can smell the cars. The air is thick with cars. Red cars, blue, white, black, gunmetal gray. The rainbows are made of cars. The rain is made of cars. My grandfather used to say it was hailing taxicabs. How did he know? How could he have seen this coming? Was it that obvious?

I am hurling myself off the dent-resistant bumpers of cars. I am driving back to the hotel, fighting my way back. There are cars in every conceivable lane. There are cars dividing, multiplying before my eyes. I need to make a U-turn. I need to be successful. I need to drive this car properly. Arrive safely.

I am in my hotel room. I am alone. I am looking out of my 11th-floor window. I am looking at U.S. 58 down there below. It is covered in cars. I close my eyes. I see cars. I see more cars. I've never seen so many cars.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm off to Houston until Sunday. I'll keep you abreast. And by that I mean I'll grab your boobs.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I will stay up all night writing. I have just decided. I will stay up all night writing and getting it out, really working it out, banging it out. Because that is what writers, real writers, that's what they do. They write all night because they feel the holy spirit and they just can't help it. I want to feel that. I think I feel that. I made this decision only a few minutes ago. I will write until I fall over onto the keyboard. I will write until it's all out of me, whatever it is. And you'll be able to read it because I'll post it on my website. This is the Computer Age and websites are what it's all about. Can you feel the electricity? the energy? I can certainly feel it. My feet are twitching.

First, I will go to the refrigerator and get a bottled water. That's what I'll do. I'm going to be working for a while. Typing, writing until I drift off, until not even the holy spirit can hold me up. I'll need to stay hydrated if I'm going to go about this the right way. Need to be prepared. Water is essential to being prepared.

[Time elapses.]

There. I am satisfied with this arrangement. Only the water was not in the refrigerator; it was on the counter. So it is not crisp and cold. It is wet and satisfying, but it is not living up to its potential. That's my fault. I should have put it in the refrigerator. It was an honest mistake. I'm not angry or anything. I am prepared to write. I am prepared to take this as far as it will go.

I think you should know that I spent part of Saturday in an outlet mall. At an outlet mall. Shopping in the stores. Shopping for a new sport coat. Arriving there. Shopping for more and wanting more. Wanting to whip my wallet out of my back pocket, and, in one elegant motion, flip it sideways and have arrows of high-denominational cash shooting in all directions. I wanted to walk toward the register, doing the wallet thing, with ten new silk shirts slung over my shoulder. Name-brand socks stuffed into my front pockets. Cover that child's eyes, ma'am, I don't believe she's old enough to understand how rich I am.

The traffic was hell. We waited forever. I bought a frosty drink at the food court. It tasted like crap.

I am a giant creature emerging from a river of lava, picking the remains of kings and diplomats from my teeth. My handwriting is legible for miles. Every word I need will be there when I need it. I'll write until I collapse into myself. Until SWAT teams burst through the front door.

I purchased a new sport coat. A perfect fit. A brown corduroy sport coat from Kenneth Cole.

I will write until I bleed. Until continents migrate around the globe.

The traffic on the way home was not so bad. I almost had to tangle with rednecks. They wisely turned off on the next exit.

I will write until 11:15. Tomorrow will be a long day and I'll need to get some sleep. I can't be staying up all night writing like some lunatic. That's what those writers whose writing I hate probably do. I'll bet Mary Higgins Clark writes all night. Some of that shit she peddles reads like it was written during a meteor shower. Like she'd just been hit in the head with a meteorite. And she'd bled to death. That's what her writing is like. Or maybe that's what it's like for me reading it. Either way, her verbiage was no doubt the result of an all-nighter.

So I'm going to go to sleep. And I'll try to write more tomorrow. But it's going to be pretty busy. So, we'll see.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Next week, I will be attending my second wedding in the last two months. This is unacceptable. I have effectively destroyed a spectacular streak of non-wedding-attending that dated back to 1991, when I witnessed the solemn union of then-Cubs catcher Joe Girardi to my second cousin, Kimberly. A bunch of Cubs were there, as was Bears great Mike Singletary, with whom, as I remember it, Joe’d done some charity work. I was so excited that I nearly lost bowel control during the ceremony. I was sixteen years old and surrounded by sports heroes. I was asked by church officials to stop begging for autographs and told that if I could please refrain from shouting “Go Cubs!” at each pause in the vows, it would be very much appreciated. (I later had my revenge, clogging the little spigot in the back of the chapel that dripped holy water with a wad of chewing gum and uncooked rice.)

So now, here I am having to go to weddings at which there are no sports heroes. And unless I want an autograph from that bald guy in the corner who’s been doing coin tricks for four hours, I’m shit out of luck. On the upside, I can drink. And drink. The more cheap wine the better.

I have to buy a sport coat this weekend. I have to get my dress socks darned and butter whipped. Where are those cufflinks, the ones with the fighter jets on them.? Will I need a handkerchief? A squirt gun? There’s no telling, with these Southern Baptist church weddings. The only sure thing is that two people are going to be joined in the holy spirit so they can have sex without being persecuted. Sex, maybe in positions that defy gravity. Maybe requiring six double-A batteries. To each his own. I’m not here to tell people how they can and cannot have sex. I’m here to eat some free cake and watch amazing coin tricks.

So hands off the slacks, bitch.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I hope you didn’t spend the last few days knitting a bunch of sweaters with “global struggle against violent extremism” or “GSAVE” on them, because President Bush has overruled his marketing team.

Please obey the seatbelt sign and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position, we will be circling back and landing shortly.

ADDENDUM: The New Yorker has a great piece on the administration's latest two-step. (And I'm sorry I've turned this into a left-wing, America-hating, flag-burning liberal blog, but this issue is so rooted in language manipulation that I can't help but find it fascinating. I hope you all [y'all] agree.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I hate to write about politics two days in a row, but this morning I noticed a maddening juxtaposition in the Washington Post:

While 14 U.S. soldiers were being killed this morning in Iraq, George Bush, fearless commander-in-chief, was preparing to embark on a relaxing five-week vacation.

Maybe this is all a part of an intelligent design that we mortals were never meant to understand.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

When the President of the United States says that he thinks “Intelligent Design” should be taught in public schools, any person with a genuine interest in advancing mankind’s knowledge of science and reason and origin should shudder, because they are really, truly, and in every opening, being publicly fucked by the leader of the World Formerly Known as the Free One.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I do believe we live in the best of all possible hemispheres. But seriously, guys. Who keeps fucking with the thermostat? Monday in Dallas: level red, high of ninety-nine, partly cloudy, mostly smoggy, deep breathing may cause instant death, eyeballs may shrivel, plummet, roll across the floor like white marbles, skin may blister, crack and split at the joints, the corners of the mouth may dry up, tear open when you sneeze and oh, you will sneeze, and sneeze, and sneeze, and when you wipe the viscous threads of snottery from the border of your reddened maw, you may begin to cough in protracted fits, causing the pressure inside your head to increase exponentially, and the weary brain may press against the sides of its brittle container to the point that the container, its integrity compromised by extreme heat and pressure, may lose grip of its payload, and brain matter, expanding, on a molecular level, into liquid, will flow through the streets, evaporating into the atmosphere, where it may collect into clouds, and the clouds trap the heat, and the sun disappears behind the thickening matter, and the cycle continues until all the brains in all the skulls are free then flowing then rising into the ether and the earth becomes shrouded in our membrane, and our gas prices, national debt, social morass, greed, religion, trade, all of it, all of it dissolves, and the other hemispheres, they suffer it too as it spreads out from our hemisphere — the earth eventually shrouded in our membrane — and as the planet heats and expands, we may spread our sickness in death, spread it to the universe. And that will be our legacy.