Monthly Archives: October 2010

Our Beautiful Midwest Coast Thing

Photobooth love

The woman at Verna’s Donuts who I see every Sunday morning knows about my life. She knows I am in love and when I go to Chicago because I talk a lot in the cold, early A.M. This week she baked a cake to bring for Etta. The cake survived a bike, multiple trains, the airplane, lots of walking, and later, an awkward pairing with Walgreen’s brand cake batter ice cream. An eleven hundred mile journey to my stomach that ended in my heart.

Cakes on a plane

Our Beautiful West Coast Thing
by Richard Brautigan

We are a coast people
There is nothing but ocean out beyond us.

— Jack Spicer

I sit here dreaming
long thoughts of California

at the end of a November day
below a cloudy twilight
near the Pacific

listening to The Mamas and The Papas

singing a song about breaking
somebody’s heart and digging it!

I think I’ll get up
and dance around the room.

Here I go!

Jump While You Can


Can I ask you a question? What happened to your legs? Were you born like that? Or did you have them chopped off? Do you have an asshole? Or do you shit into a bag? How do you go to the toilet? Can you masturbate? Seriously, I want to know. What’s this lump on your back? Do you blame God for being born? What are these? They’re stumps. Do you have any friends? Have you ever been in a fight? Have you? If you hit me first, it’s okay if I hit you back, isn’t it? Because you’re a man. Do you trust me? ‘Cause I don’t trust you.

From DV8 Physical Theatre‘s 2005 short, The Cost of Living

A smile

“This piece is about what we think we are, and what we think we ought to be,” explains director Lloyd Newson. “We camouflage ourselves in conformity, put on a mask, smile, hide and pretend, so we too are invited to the ball. But what happens to those who don’t get invited, who aren’t perfect, who can’t pretend?”

Northerly Island

Accidental photo

One hundred and one years ago, two men put to the public a plan for the future development of Chicago. The document, Plan for Chicago, was co-authored by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett. It recommended standardizing the grid, widening the streets, a regional highway, citywide rail lines, new parks and most important, reclaiming the lakefront for the city’s citizens. “The Lakefront by right belongs to the people,” wrote Burnham. “Not a foot of its shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.” The plan called for the creation of manmade island parks. Only one was ever completed…

The blue line

Chicago is not blessed with nature the way Boston is. There are no nearby ocean lawns, mountains or forests. The state parks are not so close. Lake Michigan is the wildest and best friend to the Chicagoan naturalist. Its important to have a solid connection to the lake. That is why I take time to cycle and jog along the lakefront path. Under grey clouds and in forty degrees I rode Etta’s bike to my southernmost destination yet. In grey sweatpants and a grey sweater, listening to a handheld transistor radio on headphones, I jogged the length of Northerly Island.

Grey skies

The clouds were moving liquid fast. When I got home I warmed up on the back porch in the rocking chair and daydreamed that I was submerged in Lake Michigan, watching the grey curls undulate towards the shore from below.

Jerzy S. Kenar’s Shit Fountain

Shit Fountain

Food vendors go in and out of bars in Chicago, no different than hot dog barkers at a baseball game, hawking everything from foccacia bread with pesto dip to pork and cheese tamales. One night in a dive bar, Etta beat me four of five rounds of pinball. We had just come from a restaurant named for a talking teddy bear from the 80’s, that moved its mouth to the sounds of a cassette tape. I do not like losing so badly at pinball, and was susceptible to emotional eating, when a woman breezed by with a box of chocolate, vanilla and bacon cupcakes, $2. apiece. Despite being very full, I got one. I thought the cupcake would salve the humiliation of losing. In the midst of the first bite, Etta slapped it out of my mouth. It was not a mean slap. I believe she was trying to save me from myself. The contact ratio was 90% cupcake 10% my frosting smeared lips. In a flash I dove to the floor, recovered my lost cupcake, and put it back in my mouth. I did not think about doing this. It was my fight or flight instinct. The cupcake was now covered in flecks of vomit, bellybutton lint and pubic hair, and whatever else lives on the filthy linoleum floor of a dive bar. I put the bacteria cupcake back in my maw. Etta slapped it out a second time. Again I dove down.

Later Etta licked Jerzy S. Kenar‘s sculpture of dog crap, thus balancing the bacteria between our two mouths.

Mysteries / Incredible Body Hocus Pocus

Miss Nude America

Glen Lantz: You ever read about the Balinese way of dreaming?
Nancy Thompson: No.
Glen: They got a whole system they call “dream skills”. So, if you have a nightmare, for instance like falling, right?
Nancy: Yeah.
Glen: Instead of screaming and getting nuts, you say, okay, I’m gonna make up my mind that I fall into a magic world where I can get something special, like a poem or song. They get all their art literature from dreams. Just wake up and write it down. Dream skills.
Nancy: And what if they meet a monster in their dream? Then what?
Glen: They turn their back on it. Takes away its energy, and it disappears.

Johnny Depp in his first onscreen role baring his midriff

Nancy’s Mom, Marge Thompson: You face things. That’s your nature. That’s your gift. But sometimes you have to turn away too.

-from the 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street, written and directed by Wes Craven, which I have always been too afraid to watch until tonight

Reginald Bushroot

My plant

Not so very long ago, a girl and her boyfriend stooped on the sidewalk outside their Inman Square apartment with a plethora of plants at their feet. They were moving to the West Coast and had to find new homes for their leafy friends. I was working the door that night, and some inclination told me to leave the restaurant and walk down the street. It may have been someone said, “Free plants that way.” I took in one, and my friend Jim took one, and another friend Colin Weinerman adopted one as well. Weinerman’s suffered a horrible death of neglect, but both Jim and I have cared for these living things with love. The girl left me her email address, and so I am sharing with her their wellness here on my blog.

Jims plant Reginald Bushroot

Jim named his after a character from the animated series, Darkwing Duck. Reginald Bushroot is a biologist who became half-plant and half-duck following a chemical accident. He is able to control plant life.

Time Is Almost Over Now

Bob Desper

“To a friend of mine with shiny eyes. Where could I find this love you have? This bright inviting glow. He put his arms around my waist. His manner always kind. He said, “I cannot tell you friend. Its like showing to the blind. But I know a place. I know a special place for me. For it is the place where I found this love…” He lead me down a dusty road. He said, “Go and look what you’re searching for.” The road lead me to a quiet place. The vision I could still see. The sun was shining warm and soft. I saw the sparkles from the dew drops, but there was no change in me. Something was warm upon my face. Then I felt something warm in my heart. It made me feel very much calm. You know it was just like a river put to rest. And then I heard a gentle voice, softly spoke to me. You can hear it all around. It sound like whispers in the pine. It sound like whispers in the pine.”

Lyrics by Bob Desper, blinded at age 10, who recorded his only album, New Sounds, in one take in 1974. Listen to Dry Up Those Tears and Time Is Almost Over.

Shopping Cart Annie

“THE fish men see her still, their Annie, in the hide-and-seek shadows of South Street. She’s telling her dirty jokes and doing anything for a buck: hustling newspapers, untaxed cigarettes, favors, those pairs of irregular socks she’d buy cheap on Canal. She’s submitting to the elements, calling out “Yoo-hoo” to the snow and the rain and her boys…” Dan Berry, on the passing of Gloria Wasserman, also known as Shopping Cart Annie. It was the first thing I read this morning, on the john, after waking up on my couch in shorts and a baja. There was crying.

Bring back alien life form. Crew expendable.

Its a god damned robot

The store across the street from the restaurant sells Haitian goods. Its called Tropical Dimension. On Saturday, investigators in orange hazmat suits with breathing devices and blue gloves fished a dead body out of the apartment upstairs from the Haitian store. Meanwhile the coroner had gotten an ice cream cone from Christina’s, which he held in his bare hands and swirled with his tongue. A couple of cops hauled the apparently heavy body bag down the stairwell and up onto a gurney. All the employees at the grill crowded the windows, but traffic, specifically a moving truck stopped at the red light, temporarily obscured the view, causing everyone to yell, “Move! Go!” motioning at the driver to pull up. The coroner chomped on the cone while the cops wheeled the body bag to back of the coroner’s van and loaded it in.

Its goddamned yogurt

Later the following evening the circus pulled out of town.

-images from Ridley Scott’s 1979 film, Alien, which I took in at Coolidge Corner Theater’s midnight screening this past Saturday. An interesting Wikipedia article explains how Ash (pictured) is a counter-revisionist robot who does not adhere to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

White Horse Not Horse

Etta and her sweetie bear

In the years following 9/11, my mentor Luis drove a white jeep down Chicago’s endless side streets, DJing the soundtrack of my early twenties, a mix of folk music and hip hop, while instruments of relaxation were employed. These days, Chef Goob drives a white jeep, with every necessity for survival and/or food preparation and/or dog care in the backseat and trunk. I was enjoying a medium lime / grape slush puppie near the intersection of California and Armitage when I walked by this white jeep, with the stuffed animals hitched on the grill theatrically portraying Etta’s and my feelings for each other… That’s us.

Heart of the Sunrise

Sunset over Milwaukee Ave

I will leave the race-day marathon musings, including a full explanation of why it took me six and a half hours to finish, for the near-future… when I return to Massachusetts. For now, the sunset that Sunday from Etta’s enclosed porch.

Love bug

Two days later, hours after security forced us to leave Graceland Cemetery, on an eight plus mile walk home in the gloaming, the love bug.