Sunday, June 15, 2008

maybe just thursdays

three giant steps back. I'm 21 whenever I'm around those people. Can't stop drinking, can't handle a buzz, uncomfortable and neurotic, sick and and embarrassed, drunk and talkative, confessing everything in slurring broken sentences.
No more Friday or Saturday nights for me please, too much riding on them with the gun barrell of Sunday morning waiting, with a hangover and blurry flashes of all the nonsense of the night before.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

craig hates blogs

there's a commercial on lately, I don't know if you've seen it, but it's getting a lot of play, one of those 'concepty' type of ads where you have people of all races and ages and genders and walks of life, finishing off each others sentences, about all the fantastic things humans, Americans, have done and how things are now changing again, so this, you know, gets my attention, what have we done now? Apparently there has been some kind of amazing breakthrough in technology or medicine, maybe martians have landed. nope. McDonalds is now offering chicken sandwiches for breakfast. Breakfast you say? Chicken? I know, I know, but it was this same kind of thinking that allowed scientists a way into space and the moon, that allowed Einstein to split the atom,(Einstein did that right?), that gave Martin Luther King the courage to march through the streets of Montgomery, the hope that change, revolutionary change, be it in science, aerospace travel, race relations, or breakfast, was possible. Now me, I'm weird, I'll have pizza for breakfast if I wake up late enough, but having said that, chicken is not usually the first thing I'll think of, so before I gave McDonald's a shot, I figured I'd conduct my own experiment in the breakfast arts, I let a whole chicken breast roast in my oven, overnight, so that the next morning I'd have a hot freshly prepared meal.
The chicken was delicious but, didn't quite sit well,not that early in the morning, not for breakfast, sorry McDonald's, while I appreciate your moxie I'm afraid this sandwich is just not for me.
Hold on, what if I told you that this sandwich wasn't roasted, no, it was fried, and it was served on a light, fluffy, buttermilk bun? I bet you'd change your tune real quick. I know I did.
So in the spirit of Einstein or Oppenheimer or any of the nameless, faceless scientists at NASA, or King and Kennedy or anyone who's ever caught a bullet with their head in the spirit of radical change in America, I endorse the new McDonald's Breakfast Chicken Sandwich.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

you're tired

It’s too bright in this damn room for clear thoughts, but who am I kidding those aren’t coming anyway. Another Saturday night of waiting for that bastard phone to light up with some kind of message, some digital little blinks that hold the potential of immediate happiness. 7:44 never seemed late to me, I like to procrastinate, but where could she be? Will she even call? Does she know that I’ve been squashing my own insane impulses to dial her up and tell her that all I’ve been thinking about during the week is seeing her tonight?
Of course I would never say that to her, no time for romantics in this era of crazies and cold steel realists. Everything else feels like a bruise with a thumb pressing down on it. I don’t want to talk about the future or about a career or money or anything anymore. I want to be in love without being sabotaged by my own head, I want to stop thinking that doom is right around the corner, I want to stop hearing that little taunt that, sooner or later, this is all going to crash and that there is no way anyone is ever going to be interested in you. Be on your guard, summon all the manic energy you can to stay interesting enough for them not to forget you, because ultimately, being forgotten is the saddest thing you can be isn’t it?
Distraction is my friend, distraction will make all these seconds ticking by seem like nothing, but I can’t shake this mercury feeling in my spine that this is where it all goes south, that there will be no happy ending here, that I was fooling myself when I started to think “finally” and all those things that people in the movies think when they find someone they click with. Oh you horrible fool.
And here comes the morbid black thoughts of a man going out of his wits, fantasizing about everything he can do to destroy himself and wondering how people will talk about him when he’s gone. No widow, no kids, just a lot of mad scribblings in notebooks and unfinished word files. Full heads of steam that started off with the promise of pages and pages, three acts, maybe some twist endings, maybe redemption, but none of them ever finished really.
Oh well. The time ticks by and nothing, nothing to pull me away from this wordy rant, to leave it unfinished with all the rest of them. Tonight I’m leaning towards drinking whiskey with the windows open and listening to Doors vinyl while the newborn spring breezes creep into my head. Thoughts of driving up to Paterson and sipping drinks with Evan Toth or running out Haledon and talking over the crowd buzz with Tyler at the Sheppard and the Knucklehead rush to mind. Things that make you feel better about everything for a while.
Tales of old Jack Kerouac holed up in his New Jersey home writing in long scrolls about what probably seemed like jibberish on paper but made sense to him gives me a kind of vague hope that maybe I’m not nuts. Or that maybe if I am at least I’m not the only one.
8:00 now. Prime time. No show yet. Oh what to do when that carnival noise starts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sort of

I liked her better when she was sweet and innocent and didn't really know who I was.
and when was that exactly?
Well I don't really know, I just kind of like the sounds of it, nothing really makes sense,
when you're alone and crazy.
I got fog on the brain tonight, a thousand hours ago, parking lots and copper lights girls on their way to being somewhere else with someone else and becoming someone else.
and fine with me.
I'm just trying to wring it out of my memory and move on to the next one, that great one waiting in the wings to club you in the temples while you ask for some more and wonder why it's happening to you.
Yeah I got a beating coming, and I'm not going to beg for it because it's on it's way, like some patient snake that knows it's going to sink it's fangs into you, it's just waiting for the right moment.
Wheeew, metaphors.
Cynicism stops by now and then and tells me to say whatever, and I usually listen.
Beat me up.
I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the singer was drunk (from 2002)

I hate the winter. This was the thought running through my head as I waited for the car to heat up. It was New Year’s Eve and it was freezing. A few moments later the warm air melted away the thin layer of ice on my windshield and I slid the car into drive and headed off, down Route 17, wondering if tonight would change the long standing tradition of me being completely miserable on New Year’s.
Coming down the mountain in Ramsey I could see the sky was turning from grey into a dark red over the crippled Manhattan skyline. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps going into New York City on New Year’s Eve the year of the worst terrorist attacks in the country’s history was a good idea. But, instead of dwelling on such fears I lit a cigarette and turned the radio up. I didn’t have time for thoughts of terrorism, I had too much on my mind and to be honest, if there was going to be an attack what could I possibly do about it? I pulled off the exit for Paramus Road, swung around the jug handle and headed for Glen Rock to pick up Tyler, who would be accompanying me this evening. The destination was the Apollo Theater in Harlem to see the Strokes, a New York band starting to get some national airplay.
The trip into the city proved to be rather uneventful, in fact it was a little disturbing how easy one could park their car in Hoboken and walk past the three police officers in the PATH terminal and board train running under the Hudson River into Manhattan. I was expecting the full regalia, stationed at every exit, armed to the teeth holding back crazed German Sheppard’s, checking ID’s and frisking everyone, but in truth it might as well have been September 10th. We got off and walked down a few blocks of the cold, buzzing streets of midtown, finding a cab to take us the rest of the way.
Outside the theater people were scattered, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee and hot chocolate, trying to stay away from the windy streets. Tyler and I walked up to the entrance where the lobby was filled with people trying to squeeze in so they didn’t have to wait outside. No point in trying to sneak in there, I thought, and lit a cigarette. I looked around at the neighborhood, this wasn’t my first trip into Harlem, but it certainly was one of the few times I was intentionally headed here. A few years earlier I’d been on a tour of the Apollo with a class of mine but I didn’t remember all the murals, and painting. Before I could fully appreciate this whimsical moment I heard a voice behind me.
“You got two dollars man?” A raspy voice grumbled.
I turned to see a man dressed in old clothes, unshaved and hunting cap slightly askew talking to Tyler who was fumbling in his pockets.
“Here you go,” I handed him a single I had in my pocket from the subway and Tyler handed him another.
“Oh, thanks man,” is what I think he said though I couldn’t be sure, he put the money in his pants pocket and then started to point, “You see that big brown fence over there,” he motioned to the fence between the Apollo and the building next to it, “they killed some guy back there a few days ago, behind that big, brown fence. That must be seventy-five by a hundred but they got him”
“Oh yeah?” I said back while staring at Tyler to gauge his reaction and make sure this guy did just say something about a murder.
“Yeah, you know, I don’t like it around it around here too much anymore. I’m from Alabama, it don’t get this cold in Alabama, I’m headed there soon, soon” he said looking off into the distance. “Alright boys, I have to get going, you have fun now” and he started walking towards the big brown fence.
“I think the whole ‘guy getting killed behind the fence’ kind of made that exchange uncomfortable” Tyler said.
“Hey man, you think I could get a quarter?” the man had returned “I’m sorry I forgot”
“Yeah sure,” Tyler, as if anticipating this, handed him a quarter, suddenly people started crowding towards the door and the homeless man disappeared. We never got a chance to see if there were any dead bodies behind the fence.
When the crowd realized it had to make a line to get in it started to disperse and somehow, luckily, we were right towards the front to get in. Tyler asked a girl if she knew what time it was.
“Um, nine-thirty, I think, around nine-thirty, my watch might be wrong” she said in a thick accent.
“Are you English?” I asked in my complete ignorance of accent detection.
“Um, no, we’re Australian” she corrected me.
While I was wondering whether or not it was offensive to ask an Australian if they were English, I noticed her friend standing next to her. Had I seen her I might have initiated the conversation myself. This girl was wearing a yellow vest with a white long sleeve thermal undershirt, brand new Levi’s and black Converse All Stars. An all-American Australian girl.
We were to find out through some small talk that they were staying in Connecticut at a friends house but they were specifically here for this show, having missed the band when they were in Australia, and making up for it by flying half way around the world to be in the cold glow of Manhattan. We started discussing the little insignificant differences between our cultures when a security guard passed us and threw them open, unleashing a warm gust of air. Until that happened I hadn’t been aware of the wind chill factor, blowing up against my neck and down my spine. The guard stood on a chair, he had a relaxed look in his eyes, and his braided, red pony tail made him look like something of a pacifist, but his muscles were visible through his jacket and it was obvious if he had wanted to, he could punch my head off my neck.
He spoke: “Alright everyone we’re going to ask you to stay in line the left here and have you’re ticket ready. We’d like to remind you that no flash photography will be allowed tonight, as well as no audio or video recording devices inside. Thank you”.
As we passed through the doors I quickly decided that these security guards were the most friendly people I’d ever been frisked by, they were wishing everyone a happy new year while patting them down. There were even a few New York cops inside that were getting hand shakes and pats on the back, something that certainly wouldn’t have happened at a rock concert six months earlier. The Aussies were still in front of us on line but as we got further into the lobby I realized there were two ways to go: straight ahead to the floor seats and upstairs to the rafters. Without really thinking, I knew for some reason that there would be no further life lessons on life in the outback this evening, as it would be painfully disappointing to travel thousands of miles and be stuck in the upper mezzanine level.
We came close to where tickets were being ripped, there Apollo employees took over wishing everyone new year cheer and handing out noise maker sand paper top hats and plastic crowns.
The staircase at the theater leading up to the mezzanine can not be structurally sound. At first, being taken by all the large paintings and photographs of performers,(name an artist from Duke Ellington to Little Richard to Michael Jackson and their image is somewhere on the wall) you don’t really notice that your knees are landing hard after each step. After all the years renovations some of the steps seemed higher than the others and my legs quickly started to feel like gelatin.
When we reached the top there was a girl waiting there to check our ticket. “We’re probably in the last row,” I mumbled to Tyler. The girl pointed to an intimidating man with a red blazer and flashlight who lead us to the seats.
“No, we’re in the second to last row,” Tyler corrected me.
The seats weren’t really too bad, you could see the whole stage and the rows were steep so there would be no case of someone’s head getting in your line of sight.
“Happy New Year fellas” the man said as he left us.
“Thanks,” we said in unison.
Everybody was so nice. I felt like I should stick around after the show and ask them if they needed any help cleaning up. It really felt almost like we were at a party because everyone was being so cool with each other. The staff, security guards, the police and the audience all seemed to be in a relatively good mood .
As we were told when we entered, if we kept our ticket stub on us we could go outside to smoke and allowed to re-enter. This is what lead to what seemed like at least ten trips up and down those unforgiving stairs. We got up and put our jackets on, but I decided that I was just getting used to the warmth of the indoors and that maybe I’d rather just sit and have a beer. It was New Years Eve, and I wanted to catch a nice buzz to enjoy the show with. I had about $70 on me and I thought this would be enough to obtain that goal.
“I.D. please,” the girl behind the small, make-shift bar smiled at me.
“Sure” I fumbled getting the license out of my wallet.
“What can I get you?”
I stared at the bottle of Jack Daniels for a moment, “I’ll just have a Bud bottle I guess. You want something?” I turned to Tyler.
“Yeah I Heineken bottle, please” he answered. This was a prearranged scheme, Tyler was still 19, but I didn’t think anyone should be denied drink, not on New Years, not after this year.
“That’ll be fourteen dollars please” the girl behind the bar said very casually.
I looked at her for a minute and then began to fiddle through my wallet for a twenty. At these prices I certainly wouldn’t be maintaining much of a buzz, in fact I’d have to cut myself off soon if I wanted to have enough money for the parking lot back in Hoboken. I handed her the cash and politely said “thanks” not wanting to ruin the whole friendly vibe that had already been established.
We went back to our seats, the place was starting to fill up but there were still vacant sections as it appeared as if everyone was still roaming around. In fact it seemed like everyone knew everyone except for Tyler and I.
I sat back and sipped my beer slowly, I wanted to enjoy every nickel of it. A few minutes later the house announcer came on the PA to remind everyone of the no flash photography, no audio or video recording devices rule. As I got to the bottom of my over priced domestic beer we decided to head down and have another cigarette before the show started. The stairs seemed more difficult to navigate going down then they did coming up and I was winded and jelly legged by the time I got to the bottom. I didn’t even want a cigarette anymore. But as most great explorers would have I forged ahead with little consideration for my own well being.
I had forgotten how cold it was but my attention quickly turned to people crowding up to a long, white limo that pulled up to the curb. The police came over and yelled to clear a path, which of course just drew more attention to the car and formed a bigger crowd. I heard one of the officers behind me say: “Tell them to ease up, it’s New Years Eve”. I was convinced the train had drove us through a tunnel that landed us in a twisted backwards version of New York City. The door to the car opened and it was…nobody, a bunch of college kids who must have rented the limo with the intention of not having to drive anywhere for the evening, and a smart move on their part. I turned away from the crowd and noticed a flash of make-up and jet black hair walk by me. I focused in: another girl draped in blue jeans, several layers including flannel and leather, and black Converse all stars. This was obviously the theme of the night. As she walked by I mumbled to Tyler: “That is the girl I want to sit next to”.
“Right” he answered with the exact cynicism that I probably would have answered him with had he said that to me.
We threw our cigarettes down and headed back up the staircase of death. The house announcer said the show would be starting in five minutes. I took my coat off to get settled in, having no intention of spending another seven dollars on a beer. Two girls started walking down the aisle, I didn’t really pay attention until I realized they were getting ready to sit down next to me. It was the girl from outside. Jet black hair, hoop earrings, beautiful face, as well as other complimenting features. It was if I’d wrung out the last drops of karma from the filthy rag that was 2001.
It was 10:05p.m. That is what the wrist watch on the guy in front of me said. He had his arm around the girl next to him the whole time I’d been there and the watch was in plain view, I was checking it regularly hoping that neither of them thought I was trying to have a look down her low cut top.
“I’m going out for another cigarette,” Tyler announced. “You wanna come?”
“No, I’m think alright for now.” I had thought maybe this would give me a minute to work up the nerve to strike up a conversation with this girl next to me. Tyler disappeared through the exit, I turned to my left as the girl took her jacket off to reveal a short sleeved flannel and two arms half filled with tattoos. This changed everything. No longer was she the sweet faced girl from the suburbs who was in the big city for a good time. She was the girl who took the train to get here from Brooklyn and of course she was going to be here tonight, where else would she have been except for maybe a punk show in some basement club that I’d never heard of in some section of the city I don’t really know. I was already struggling trying to come up with something to open with to her, now I couldn’t even fathom a word.
“You want to get something to drink?” I heard her ask her friend.
“Yeah, I’ll come with you” she answered. The got up and left their jackets.
I had the whole row to myself now as people were standing around filing in, going to the bar, or going down for a last smoke. Sitting alone gave me a minute to take in the whole aura of the place. There was a hum of chatter that was constant, like a vacuum cleaner or air conditioner that helps you fall asleep at night. It sounded like school during recess, just dozens of clashing voices forming a rickety buzz. My mind started wandering and I’d wondered how I got myself here in the first place.
Two months earlier, the end of October, the sun had just come up and I felt like an ashtray, the booze had worn off and the taste of stale cigarettes stuck in my mouth. I pulled into a gas station trying to wrap my mind around the evening that had just unfolded. The Strokes, whom I hadn’t heard of before, came on the radio, the song was called “Last Nite” and for some reason the image of listening to that song, completely burned out on the night sitting back in my car seat and watching the sun come up over Route 17 after hooking up with a girl who’d broken my heart a few months earlier always stuck with me.
Now it was January, that girl was gone again, and here I was, hoping for the best with a girl who I feared if I said the wrong thing might kick my ass all over the Apollo Theater.
Tyler walked back in and sat down and few moments later the house lights went off and the show began.
David Cross walked on to the stage like a party host to welcome the crowd and explain how the show was going to be laid out. His bald head and thick, black framed glasses stuck out even form our seats high above the stage. He told the audience he was going to do 45 minutes of stand up followed by the Strokes at midnight and then Guided by Voices, then more Strokes. So it looked like it was going to be a long show if nothing else.
Cross was one of the selling points for me in the first place but during his set half the audience started blowing in to the horns or twirling the noisemakers that were handed out earlier in the night. At first it seemed like it was just a way to make the ovation louder but some were still using them during his set, which to his credit, he managed to play off for a while even though it was obvious annoying. Finally after he finished a bit he shook his head, laughed, and said: “Who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to hand out noisemaker?” This received a mixture of laughter and applause and eh continued on with the act, the horns continued but the audience slowly started turning on those who continued until it the noise was hardly noticeable anymore. What bothered me about the whole thing, besides interrupting his set, was that it kind of ruined the atmosphere of people who enjoy the same things spending New Year’s Eve together. It reminded me of other concerts I’d been to that left me wondering how I could be into the same music as people like this. He finished his set with an interesting perspective on September 11th, and tearing down the George Bush myth, which the crowd really got into and he received nice ovation before he introduced Guided by Voices.
While all this was going I’d completely forgotten about the girl next to me. When Cross finished he introduced the Strokes, whose equipment was set up behind the curtain. As soon as they began playing everyone in the place started standing up and moving around. It was a situation where my height becomes an asset, through all the fingers and hairstyles I could see the stage, and the band playing. Tyler, had a tougher time due to the monster in front of him who was sucking back Heinekens’, at which I calculated he must’ve spent at least $50 in the first hour we were there, soon however all this appeared to catch up with him as he sat down, looking shaken and Tyler gained a small line of sight to the stage.
The show looked like what I imagine seeing the Doors in a small auditorium or theater, probably looked like in the late sixties; it was loud, the singer was drunk and leaping around the place and everyone in the crowd seemed to be eating it up.
“We’re going to do one more, and then Guided by Voices is gonna come out here. We’ll be back later though!” the singer called out.
Good, I thought--it would give me a chance to have a cigarette, maybe sit down and have a conversation with the girl. But, no, there was no break. Guided by Voices came right out, said hello and started playing. “Goddamn efficient setup” I cursed to no one in particular.
Trying to be fair I stuck it out for a few songs before I ultimately decided my nicotine addiction was more important than being respectful to a band I didn’t even know was playing this evening. I trudged down the stairs, which I was convinced by now were doing irreversible damage to my joints, and headed outdoors where the cold was waiting. For a minute I forgot it was winter, I even forgot it was New Years. That can’t be a bad thing I thought. I finished the cigarette and realized it was almost midnight.
I rushed upstairs and regretted leaving, the Strokes and David Cross were back out. I was excited, and the countdown started:
“9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1..Yeahhh! Happy New Year! Fuck Dick Clark, we’re taking over. We’re going to do this thing every year. Save your ticket stubs!” David Cross screamed as hundreds of balloons and confetti poured from the rafter of the Apollo onto the stage and front rows. Then both bands started playing together, I turned and smiled awkwardly at the girl and then quickly turned back.
The singer from the Strokes kicked balloons around and into the audience, then someone jumped onto the stage and past security. Then another. I saw the singer whisper something to the security guard, and then he started pulling people up to the stage.
“Hey, man, leave these people alone. Let them up! They’re just in love with life,” he slurred into the microphone while pulling another girl up.
Within minutes the entire stage was full of people and I couldn’t even see the band anymore. A female fan grabbed the microphone from the singer and declared: “I’m in love with you!”
“Oh, yeah?” he answered.
“I’m you’re soul mate” she blubbered.
“Oh. Okay, cool,” he went back to the song.
“That is the stupidest thing I ever heard.” The girl had broken her silence. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or not. “I mean, did she actually think that he was going to be like, ‘Oh, really, we’re soul mates,’ and then embrace in the middle of the stage, and go home together or something?” she said with a certain measure of disgust in her voice.
“Well, yeah, that‘s usually how I pick up women, I run up to them and tell them I‘m their soul mate.”
“And do you find that works for you?”
“Yes, that is exactly how I picked up Joan Jett in 1997”
She smiled and focused back on the stage, and I started analyzing whether or not I’d made a shitty joke. I started wondering how to follow up this exchange.
“I saw these guys in North Carolina,” she said.
“Really. Are you from North Carolina?”
“No, just visiting friends. I’m from the West Village.”
“Were they any good when you saw them?” I asked, trying to keep it rolling along.
“Yeah, they were real good.”
This was followed by a story involving her walking in on the singer and another girl, and then being hit on by the singer later in the night, at a bar after the show. At least that’s what I deciphered over the sounds of the band.
The gears in my head started turning. The Strokes were finishing up their set; and I, in my infinite wisdom, thought it an excellent time to brave the dreaded staircase and the cold weather for another smoke, but this time I would ask her to join me. I looked at Tyler: “You want to go smoke?”
“Yeah, alright,” he reached for his jacket.
“You’re not leaving are you?” she asked as I grabbed my coat.
“No,” I said immediately “I’m just going for a cigarette, I was actually going to ask you if you wanted to come.”
“Well, I kind of want to watch the band,” she said with a hint of regret in her voice.
“Alright. Well, I’ll see you in a few minutes then.”
“Yeah, alright,” she said.
Down the stairs. Out the door. Cold. Smoke. Back up the stairs. When I got back the row looked emptied out, I thought maybe I was looking at the wrong aisle, but no the girl was gone. Probably went to get a drink or something, I thought.
Minutes and songs went by. The longer she was gone, the more I disliked Guided by Voices. Finally the truth sank in. I looked at Tyler, who was listening to the band so I didn’t want to suggest leaving, but I really didn’t want to be there anymore.
“What’d she leave?” he asked, eyes on the stage.
“Yeah,” I said.
“You wanna go?” he asked.
“Up to you.”
“Might as well, maybe we could stop at a party or something on the way back.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” I said, coming back to reality, remember that it was winter, and it was New Year’s, and this kind of thing was tradition.

That’s why I called her “the girl” about seven hundred times -- I never did get her name. After we left, there was the forty-five minute wait to get a cab as we started walking down the streets of Harlem to get closer to mid-town, and eventually a couple from Canada let us split a ride with them but only took us to 47th Street, thirteen blocks short of our destination. There was the transformer that blew out in a giant flash on the subway car behind where we were sitting that shut the power down on the train, and caused several cautious cops to evacuate it while they did a sweep for explosives.
There was also the sub-zero Hudson River winds blowing in our faces for blocks as we walked through Hoboken to the parking lot and the flat tire I got after dropping Tyler off at 4:30 a.m. as I took a wide turn off his street and bumped a curb, and the half hour I spent unsuccessfully trying to change that tire until I just gave up and let Tyler drive me home so I could finally drive a stake through the heart of 2001. But when I think about that night, I always come back to that girl. Whatever her name was.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Oh wow. Three weeks of relative stability and now I'm all worked up again in mad frantic burst on a keyboard just so I can get some kind of grip on the carnival noise blasting through my head. My head my head my head.
Oh it was so clear just a few days ago, I was focused and working hard, undistracted, and hopeful. Now I'm sucker punched with flashes of what could have been,with girls who aren't available, aren't attainable, and the urge to pull the car off the commute to work and sling it onto a highway that points west grabs me harder than you'll ever know, and the only reason I can come up with for not doing it is that I'm gutless. There ain't nothing really keeping me around to haunt bergen county anymore.
I want to drive until I'm away from all the lights and eyes and satellites and panic and music and chances of running into old nervous breakdowns. I can't see any future in hanging around, hoping to fling myself into some milquetoast melodrama that will spiral into paranoia and self loathing. No sir.
And what the hell did I say the other night? Too much whiskey in the firing mechanism that night. Too many beautiful girls swarming around, for me not to dare myself to get rejected.
Oh well.
I'll bounce back.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

winedrunk and sad

Oh, after midnight already, I'm sorry I'll have to be turning in soon, I'm terribly exhausted and my head is tilting downward these days as it is. And I'm sad, like real deep sad that I didn't know was still there, just something new kicking up all that sentiment that sunk to the bottom. So long sweetheart, guess I played another one all wrong.
A bottle of wine and some strange ideas that I can't quite flesh out, some crazy ideas about daring myself to try and get my nerve back. All the pretty lights glowing outside and the urge to flee wash over me like some warm childhood blanket. I want to move into Evan Toth's attic for the winter with a carton of cigarettes, a case of wine, seven reams of paper and an electric typewriter and get myself out of my system while I watch the snow stick to the gray Paterson landscape. I want to lock myself in and exorcise all this crazy so that it doesn't hit me out of nowhere. I want to stop thinking I'm past all this before I get smashed in the side of the head with it again. I want to go dark for the winter and come back new and adjusted in time for spring. No more crazy whims about hopping a train in the middle of the night for somewhere that will make everything seem normal and quiet and still and sane. Nowhere is far enough and I'm just trying to wait out the clock until the odds catch up with me. Either love or death, happiness or some new misery that will change anything. But that's all kind of sick and twisted and I forgot what the hell I was really trying to say and my thoughts weigh a thousand pounds right now and my eyes are betraying me. So off to bed and hope that maybe tomorrow my mind is quiet and my aim is better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maybe the Devil was Ugly/Crushed like a Bug in the Ground

We were in my bed, ready to go to sleep, and then some kind of wave came over the two of us and we started going at it, doing the kind of things to each other the French hadn't even thought of yet-- then, just as it appears everything was going right everything went wrong.
She changed her mind. Some guys might have gotten pissed off about a girl making such a sudden brakeslam. But not me. Oh, no. When you get right down to it I am a push-over, and to be honest I was surprised things had gotten that far, considering how badly things had been going between us. That is, until last week. We began hanging out again, and things'd kind of fallen back into place.
Now, I'm outside, breathing in this misfit devil fog,watching a bug crawl across my sidewalk, trying in vain to work it's way over the rocks, while a naked girl I'm in love with is in my bed thinking it over.
I thought maybe if I went upstairs and lay next to her for a while, maybe the alcohol would wear off and things would calm down, but to no avail. She wanted her clothes and she wanted to go to sleep, unless I wanted to drive her home now. It was surreal. My stomach had completely dropped, and I felt as if I had swallowed a 9-volt battery. What the hell was wrong? What the hell had I done? Perhaps when we woke up, it would make some sense.
The next thing I knew she had rolled back into me on the bed. I looked at the clock: 5:01 a.m. I put my arm around her and thought maybe everything would be alright. But the second I my arm touched her she pushed herself over to the other side of the bed. She wasn't buying anything I was selling, even if she was asleep.
I slid off the bed, and headed outside into the cold March morning. Sunlight was starting to peek out over the Ramapo Mountains, as if to say "Welcome to Sunday, you sorry bastard," and I screwed a cigarette between my clanking teeth and lit it. I thought maybe I would reach some kind of enlightenment just staring at the night sky, but nothing, just that stupid bug again. My spine began to freeze into a long pole of ice as I stared at that bug, and I started to sympathize with it. Poor bastard just wanted to get over the rocks and on to other things, but he just couldn't do it, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, right before I crushed him with my boot heel.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You are Listening to Rock Music

Drunk and drifting in and out of the bright, twirling, spinning lights, just at the point where it all finally hits that "no matter what I do for the rest of the night, no amount of fresh air, coffee, water or miracle cure is going to save me from a merciless hangover once the sun shines it’s brutal face in my window tomorrow morning" point. And what am I doing out anyway? I should be at home, reading books, doing all the studying I blew off in college, making myself smarter, better, rising above this neon sea of girls with too much perfume and make up and too little self esteem and guys with hundred dollar haircuts and perfect pleats in their khakis.
Yes, you've been pulling away from this your whole life, but just because you’re not snapping two dozen shots on your digital camera of you and your friends toasting shot glasses and smiling cross-eyed so you can rush home and post them to myspace doesn’t mean you’re not a part of this rotten bar culture.
These were the things that were pounding in my head outside the club, I don’t even remember the name of it, I didn’t pick the location this evening. Crouched against a wall outside taking deep drags off a Marlboro that I’ll regret in the morning, my first instinct was to call out of work in case I slept straight through my alarm, which was seeming like a good possibility. If I had any shred of responsibility I would do it now while I still had some of my wits about me.
Maybe I wouldn’t call out. There’s a train station down the street, I could take it right into Manhattan and get lost for a few hours, wandering the city, smoking cigarettes and breathing in a million different sour flavors, looking for love or trouble. Then in the morning I could hop the first train back to Jersey and be at work by eight. Or maybe I didn’t even have to do that at all. I could head south, maybe Nashville, wandering back alley bars, or all the way down to New Orleans and see how that old heartbroken city is recovering, blah blah blah.
What the fuck are you talking about? People are starting to file out of this packed sweat box, their voices are like a million fingernails scratching a blackboard. Maybe their ears are ringing as loud as mine from the pumped up kick drums on whatever Top 40 drivel the four pretty boys were plodding through on yet another Thursday in hopes of a quick blow job in the parking lot from some girl, freshly 21 and taken back by all the pretty lights and smoke machines. Whew. Alright, turn the bitter down and keep your head straight and focus on keeping whatever concoction of acids and whiskey is brewing, in the bottom of your belly.
No, no diners for me thanks. Please just stop the car as close to my bedroom door as possible, and maybe pull a blanket over me if you can find one, and let me sleep until two in the afternoon. I was a fool to think that tonight would be any different than the last eight years, or nine years, or whatever it’s been. And what of that nonsense earlier about haunting the city and escaping the steel box of suburbia on some southbound steam wagon? You have work tomorrow. People like you don’t do those kind of things. Swat that ambition down with reason, that longing for something else with responsibility. Sleep it off. You’re in a Toyota, headed through the northern towns of New Jersey. You are listening to rock music. You are walking up your driveway, filling yet another warm and breezy night under the heading of ‘disappointing’ in what will eventually seem like one long night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let The Zombies Howl

I remember looking for a parking space. I remember having dinner, some Guinness and a burger, in the little,old village of Pearl River: a fortress of Irish bars with a train running through the main artery. I remember walking through the street and having a conversation about a hotel that looked like a place where writers lock themselves in for months to work on a book they can't finish and blow their brains out. I remember getting in the car, but then something went wrong. I came to in the back seat of the SUV, a blond female at the wheel and a wild eyed passenger raving in a conversation I came into far too late to have any grasp of. "Best to pretend you're still asleep", I thought, "who knows where these deviants were headed." Maybe I had too much to drink. Couldn't be though could it? The world wasn't spinning, and the lights outside weren't leaving trails. Maybe I'd been living a dual life, two personalities and I'd just become aware of it. Either way it didn't matter now, we pulled into the parking lot of a college that looked hidden inside of a mountain.
"Hey, wake up!" I recognized the voice instantly. "Are you awake?" The chief's voice grew irritated.
"I'm awake. Where are we?" I asked, feigning exhaustion.
"We're at the Zombie Prom" the girl behind the wheel quickly answered, applying blood to the side of her mouth in the rear view mirror. "Do you want some?" she held the bottle up offering some of the red corn syrup.
"No, hell no" I shot back, "What the hell is a Zombie Prom?"
The chief spun around in the seat and looked me straight in the eye, the shadows across his face made him look insane. " Don't worry about what it is, just pay attention to anything that might happen in there." Quickly, we were walking up a stony path, then down a dark stretch in the back of the school, I was waiting for some punk to pop out of a bush to give us a cheap scare but there were two police cruisers in front of the hall waiting for someone to get out of control, nothing to fear for now. My head started to feel like it was full of helium, that frightening feeling of a strong buzz lost, when your muscles and bones double in weight; no condition to be facing an auditorium full of fanatical ghouls. Outside the doors we crept through a pack of smokers in blood drenched t-shirts and ripped up thrift store suits.
"And why are we doing this?" I mumbled to myself.
"Because it will be fun, there's bands,a pie eating contest, and you know a bunch of zomboes." the girl answered.
"The fuck is a zombo?" I answered, weary of participating.
The chief turned around and shot another maniacal stare, "We're going in here because it's Zombie weekend at the school, and quite frankly you're in need of something to write, that last story was shit."
"You said you liked it." my voice went up a defensive octave, never bothering to ask what else was included in Zombie Weekend."No, not really, but enough about that, you get your head straight and get in there. Find an angle." his finger pointed at me, I knew he meant business.
"And don't fucking embarrass me in here." the girl's blue eyes shot violence at me followed by a hard poke in the chest.
I slinked past the smokers into a great open hall, likely used for sunnier purposes in daylight, but now it was transformed into a sleazy club: leather couches and old concert posters, groups of sloppy, sweaty teens and random garbage on the floor. The echo of a beat and that water splash feeling of not belonging flashed me back to a high school dance. I looked around, I was overdressed in a long black trench coat and collared shirt. I felt completely out of place and hoped that no one had noticed. I quickly retreated to the bathroom where a handicapped stall seemed to be where the bar was located. Kids, around 20, sipping cans and 40's then hiding them away in their backpacks. Random girls made their way in to flirt a few beers away from the naive. 'Bastards," I thought, ' I should have been prepared." My toxic levels were far too low to get comfortable at this event, but no more chances to improve on that, I was locked in. Before I could lament further, one of the bands started and we made our way through the giant black curtain, separating the straggling drunk anti-socials from the mob of sweaty dancing, costumed fanatics. There were 200 strong filling the area and pushing towards the stage, singing along with a band I'd never seen nor heard of. A wave of body odor carried over the room and reminded me of being young and excited to be at a show. But that wasn't necessarily a feeling I was prepared to channel this evening, and I was struck with an idea. I headed back towards the bathroom and approached the nearest chap with a beer in hand. "Hey, you want to sell me a few beers? I'll pay you whatever you want for it." seemed like a good deal to me, plus I wasn't aware of any American law against buying beer from a minor. "Um, yeah, let me check if I have any left" he seemed confused by my proposition."Yeah, let me know. I'll pay whatever" I assured him, convinced I sounded exactly like a TV narc. He went into the stall to talk it over with someone. "Sorry dude, we're out." he said quietly. Before I could get disappointed another voice entered."What are you doing in here? Get out here we're going backstage" the chief fired at me from the doorway."It was hard to determine which room was designated as backstage, several of them had people hanging out, but the chief and his girl had been slithering around like reptile-bloodhounds sniffing out a story. We stopped at the area directly behind the stage where the push to the front was visibly violent: young girls screaming lyrics and gasping for breath in the same motion. Behind the stage there were scattered people watching attentively before scattering to run to the room behind us, most of them trying to look like they belonged there. And I was no different really, I felt that just being there I probably came off like I was looking down my nose at the whole thing, but in truth I was really more fascinated by how quickly it seemed this whole world had passed me by and maybe secretly wished I was a little more involved in this event. The chief was bold and lead us into the area where the performers had gathered to drink cheap wine and watery beer. Instantly I tried to find a way to invade someones stash but they were all quick to keep their supplies tight to the chest, perhaps anticipating a predator like me, so I scanned around for pretty girls or drugs, anything that the chief might think would make an interesting story. After a few glances at anonymous tits and female arm pit hair I deducted there wasn't much here.
The bands that were hanging around were much older than most of the audience, but they all seemed to be chemically altered together in perfect harmony. I thought this might be a good time to go outside for some air. I looked at the chief who was mumbling notes into his tape recorder. He nodded at me in agreement that it was time to rejoin the mob of zombies. We parked in the main room and looked for some photogenic zombies I could get some shots with. "Hey, you look exactly like my cousin, can I get a picture?" I 'd say as I rushed to them. Most were good natured and agreeable until we encountered a mustachioed, bare chested, hippie-villain who wouldn't comply with our request to take a picture. The urge to swing a chair at his forehead and strangle him with his peace beads rushed to my temples but the girl reminded me about not making a scene. I shied away from what appeared to be the only real zombie of the evening : a young Paul Giamatti looking creature with tinted glasses and a grotesque sneer that he flashed around the room every 13 seconds until he stumbled off dragging his leg. "No make up on that freaky bastard" I said under my breath."What?" the girl asked with a sharp glare."Nothing. Shouldn't we be getting out of here?" "Not yet." the chief insisted. "I want to see the last band, maybe we can salvage something out of this night just yet." The last band was a ten piece, who graduated from this school what must have been many semesters ago. Dressed entirely in suites they worked the crowd into a lather with their completely non-unique brand of sort-of punk rock. We were pressed off to the right side of the stage just in range of a large girl loosely hanging on to a stair ladder that went up to the ceiling lights. She was one mis-step away from completely squashing the three of us flat. "Forget it" the chief declared, "let's get out of here. I feel nauseous."
The chief and his girl exited through the curtain but I waited for a minute. Wondering if there was anything left for me in this place. I could feel myself getting older by the second and I didn't miss this kind of thing anymore. I'd retired from it, retreating to the old bastard bars and nights at home with my television and books. So let the zombies howl while they still can… "Will you come the fuck on" the chief shouted and I listened. It wasn't long before we were away from the thick, sweaty air and outside, passing the real zombie's glare, the cloud of smoke, the ominous shadows from the police car, and through the dark alleyway and the empty college building and finally at home in the back seat of the SUV. The car engine ignited and we headed south. Somewhere over the Tappan Zee bridge I started to nod off, no idea where I was heading.