Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Karma Police

"This is what you'll get when you mess with us . . ."

To fate, destiny, the idiot monkey god who flings dung of misfortune upon my life or whatever higher power exists:

OK, I get it. I apologize for my last entry doubting your power. I mean, when the first song on my Ipod this morning was "The Threat to the Governor of Haurfleur" from the Henry V soundtrack, I said, hmmmmmm. And then The Pixies "Motorway to Roswell" came up ("Last night he could not make it/he tried hard but could not make it/. . .and now we wonder how could this so great turn so shit"), I said, "OK, there's no pattern, just noise." Even when the third song was "Honky's Ladder" by the Afghan Whigs ("Caught you motherfucker where I want you, I got five upon your dime"), yeah, I started sweating.

And the day turned out to be absolutely shit--staff issues, including a staff member lying directly to my face, things getting fucked up on my watch, general work crapola I thought was over. Even then, I stood my own against this onslaught, thinking the whole thing with the Ipod and the crap workday was juuuuuuust coincidence.

What happens when I get home, I get a call from the ex--at least that saved me from punching myself in the heart three times and in the crotch five.

So oh idiot monkey god whom I shall deem George, I get the picture. I shall believe in karma again. I have done my penance. Can you please call off the crotch hammer of frustration now? Pretty please?

Monday, April 24, 2006

God Put A Smile Upon Your Face

Sometimes, I envy the believers. In my weaker moments, I wish I could walk through life knowing that the world, fate, God was speaking to me. I turn my Ipod to shuffle and ask the oracle a question. The synchronicity of hearing the name on a television show the exact moment I was thinking about someone with the same name is a message fraught with meaning and depth.

If the randomness was not just a signal to noise, then there must be some implicit order. The sacrifices, the heartache, the frustration, bad things through no fault of your own, the casual cruelty, all this you can bear knowing that it is all leading you closer to that brightness just over the horizon if only you can keep going. All the kindness and the love that you gave (and that was thrown away) will be rewarded.

Faith becomes a warm blanket and a fire in a cold twilight.

But I think too much. If the world were really so ordered, if karma was really so swift, then the implications are untenable. The piss-soaked bum mumbling to himself, his face caked in grime, well, I don't know if he deserves to be where he is. I doubt every single piss-soaked bum were each child molesting tax cheats who kicked puppies on the way to the whorehouse. And you can't tell me trust fund babies engaged heroics straight out of the womb to deserve their money.

So as much as I want to believe in destiny, as much as I want to be a believer, I just can't. It would make my life easier to believe that, after what I've gone through, life will reward me with something wonderful if I can just hold on. But if I believe in that, then the rest of the world will truly be a drab, shitty, predestined purgatory. Better to believe there is no set path, that there is no justice other than the one we make for ourselves. And that means there are no paths, only horizons.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fall in Light

"Feel no shame for what you are
Feel no shame for what you are
Feel no shame for what you are . . ." -- Jeff Buckley, "New Year's Prayer"

Hey kids! It's time for an opaque parable of my current existential angst awkwardly clothed in bad prose!

Red rolled into town when I was kicking dirt in the noonday sun. I had just downed the third shot of some cheap whiskey that looked like wood varnish and went down like paint stripper. The desert dust was going to cake the black chrome of his Cadillac into a cracked yellow. Red never did have much sense, but fuck it, he's the one driving the Cadillac while the sun dries out the green polyester on my Pinto.

Red was driving too fast and went past Casa de Jack a quarter of mile before he realized his mistake, then flipped a bitch, kicking up more dust before he finally braked in front of me. I didn't mind. My front yard was dust, a couple of plastic surplus chairs from the middle school and an AM radio sitting on the steps on the trailer.

"Fuckin' aye, Jack, you wanna fuckin' retire, you wanna fuckin' lay low, you coulda gone to fuckin' Palm Springs if you like the desert so much. But Kingman, Arizona? Man, ain't nothin' here but Bibles, skinny old fuckers and drunk pregant high schoolers."

"Well hello to you too asshole," I said, pouring some whiskey into a paper cup. I handed the cup over to Red. "Good seeing you again."

Red downed his shot while I took a swig from the bottle. "Fuck," Red spat, "how you drink this shit?"

"Like a guy who drinks mojitos should be puttin' down another man's drink. Siddown Red, you're liable to make a man nervous you keep standing up like that."

Red took a look at the once white plastic seat, now gray, covered with years of solified soot. You would've thought that he was about to sit on a public toilet seat splattered with the mess of a thousand truck drivers.

"So what brings you down to Kingman? Certainly ain't the culture."

"What do you think? The peanut gallery thinks it's about time you get back on the grift, and for once, I agree with the peanut gallery."

"Yeah? I heard the peanut gallery is doing fine without me."

"Shit, it's not about how we're doing. It's about how you're doing. Don't look right having a veritable fucking master grifter out here, pissing the days away with bad whiskey and talk radio."

I was trying for a chuckle and it came out all dry and evil sounding. "Master grifter? Red, before the last couple of gigs, I couldn't pull a scam worth shit. Timing was off, I was either just a step behind another joe on a mark, or the marks were way outta my league."

"So? You made up for that in spades, my man. Shit, what with getting Fanelli out of the picture and keeping both your balls intact. And you got the girl."

"Yeah, right, a lot of good that did me."

"What, still too early? OK man, fine. But you got more than what most people get, and with all that experience, seems a waste to be just sitting here."

"I got my ears to the ground."

"Uh huh, which is why you're in your wife-beaters and boxers listening to fat men in bad suits testify about the Lord our Jesus on AM radio while drinking yourself to sleep."

It wasn't really going to serve much of a purpose to get angry, so I didn't. "Yeah, well, I got no drama in my life, Red. For the first time in a long time, I got no drama. No one to get me so spun around that I don't know which way is up and which was is down. Got no entanglements. I do have the warm sun and bad whiskey. I got enough to live and keep me, well, not happy, but not sad either. And that's a helluva lot better than all that shit that went down."

Red and I sat there for a while, letting our lungs get scorched by the heat of the day. Red looked over at me and said, "Hey, the peanut gallery knows a lot of bad shit went down. Bad shit that no one should go through. They talk about that too, which is why we haven't bugged you for the last six months. Hell, if I were in your shoes, maybe I'd go all batshit and get some twelve-gauge facial reconstruction. But the fact of the matter is, you don't seem so batshit to me right now."

"Look," Red kept jawing, "so you don't want to be back in that bad place. But I know that you haven't felt that joy like a fluttering of wings in your chest. And I can't guarantee you'll ever feel it if you come back home, but you certainly won't feel it again sitting out here." That Red, he can sure be poetic.

"You know I still dream about how it all went down," I said. "The way the bullet slammed into my chest, me throwing up blood as my heart was racing and my body went cold. The way everything felt numb and nauseous at the same time when I went into shock. I think about her saying goodbye. That's not a place where I want to be again, Red."

"Yeah, but those dreams aren't going to go away. Least you can do is try to get some new ones. As I said, ain't no guarantees that you won't find yourself in that situation again, but you sure as hell ain't gonna get any better dreams with your chinky yellow ass sitting here."

"But I ain't gonna get hurt either."

"Well, I'm not here to twist your arm. You wanna rejoin the rest of the world, you know where to reach us. Just give it some thought, OK?"

"Sure man."

Red went back into his Cadillac and kicked up some more dust. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching cool wooden crosses on the hill as the preacherman testified about the revival of the soul.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Good Fortune

"And I feel like some bird of paradise
My bad fortune slipping away
And I feel the innocence of a child
Everybody's got something good to say"

- PJ Harvey, "Good Fortune"

After about thirty-three and a half years of existence, I think I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable with who I am. Do I still have angst? Well yeah, but not about my personality. Do I still dream about being on EW's It List for new writers? Hells ya, yo, but I'm not tossing and turning over whether I'll ever be published.

OK, so maybe I don't sound all yippity skippity about every aspect of my life. But I don't feel the need to apologize for who I am or to change the way I behave. I don't feel the need to pity myself and pull the whole self-martyr thing. I'm just a guy who, more often than not, will pull knee-jerk acts of kindness that will get me in trouble. I'm also a guy who, more often than not, can be a materialistic and lookist bastard.

Now, I'm still not ready to totally let the past fade to black. And fucking aye, flakiness still annoys the shit outta me (I know, living in LA, the flakiness capital of the world, that's like being an eskimo that gets pissed about snow). But on the other hand, being comfortable with myself has taken away one more worry from my brow.

Yup, getting paid $80/hour for an ocean view sure does have wonderous recuperative effects.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm Only Happy When It Rains

When it rains, people wearing glasses look like they have low self-esteem. We have our shoulders hunkered up while our heads face down in a vain attempt to keep the rain off our glasses.

Yeah, I know, very Larry King-like observation, except, ya know, I'm not bugfuck insane.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


For the first time since I've started blogging, there's been radio silence because I've been content. There's been no drama making my life a delirium of highs and lows--no stalkers, no bizarre love triangles, no women who've just broken off an engagements looking at me with odd hope in their eyes, no repeated breakups with the inevitable (and more fucked up) reconciliations, no bosses throwing staplers at me, no associates scheming behind my back, no feeling of dread of a daily ten hours of sociopathic and psychotic behavior that seems to pass for the norm in most workplaces.

I've simplified my life--wake up, go to work in Santa Monica until the sun sets over the Pacific turning the sky bright red and the ocean into black glass, put the Ipod on shuffle and go through the day with a soundtrack, fall asleep looking forward to the next day. I try not to think about the last few years, and instead focus on the odd confluence of a great single--New Order, Twilight Singers, Massive Attack--popping up on the Ipod just as I hit a patch of sunlight and an ocean breeze while wandering around the Promenade during lunch. And I think, "Maybe life could be better, but if this is the best, I guess I'll keep going on to the next screen."

OK, not the most exciting of lives, but I've had enough of excitement since I've moved back down to L.A. four years ago, some good, but a lot of the bad Mexican soap opera it's only entertaining if it isn't happening to you excitement. So this lack of drama, and the heretofore unknown feeling of contentment, well, it's certainly better than the fear, the angst, the broken heart.

Yeah, I know, what about the novel. What about being a writer. I'll get there, but I'm in the process of getting my bearings back. You can't blame a guy for wanting a breather. And then I'll get back to writing.

Now, if something exciting walks across my path in a slinky saunter, I certainly wouldn't turn my back and walk away. But right now, I'm just happy waiting for the next Twilight Singers album ("Powder Burns" in May), Darren Arofnosky's "The Fountain," the third season of Battlestar Galactice in October, and the British publication of Richard K. Morgan's new novel later this year. Oh, and finally getting a fucking Xbox 360 and a nice tax refund doesn't hurt that whole contentment dillio either.

"Just give me one more day (one more day)
Give me another night (just another night)
I need a second chance (second chance)
This time I'll get it right (This time I'll get it right)"

-New Order, "Krafty"