Hit Somebody

So I wanna fucking hit somebody get hit get beatdown lose a fight to someone who is in the wrong and I don’t even know why.

Overworked?

Oh, yeah, shit, I was on the clock for three and a half hours today.

Extenuating circumstances of twelve hours out of the house don’t count, nor do fucking lazy ass shithead boo fucking hoo the hours I spend between jobs or on public transport I just want to hit somebody get hit shit in a hole in the dirt club my dinner alpha’s dinner to death before I get it stolen sleep outside the warmth of the fire watch the engines flame out toss a hand grenade into cargo class from the fucking cargo bay we were born to be slaves, we have always been slaves we deserve to be slaves my bucket list what keeps me alive is the watching the release of nuclear weapons on a civilian population on the BBC or even better from the rooftop bedtime good night fuckit.

Covers

A song is not a dress nor a necklace nor a bracelet, not a bangle or a bauble or even a well made suit.

Some are.

Some are, it’s true. Some songwriters put the same love and care and soul into their work that a Cambodian slave-child making a pair of Nike shoes that will retail in New York or Chicago or Shanghai for a greater sum than Mother received the day they took Older Sister away.

She won’t be coming back.

Some songwriters, many songwriters, most songwriters are churning out a product to be served to the masses, a product that will go viral perhaps, a song that will have a special place in your heart because, and only because, it was the soundtrack to your first kiss, your first fuck, the last time you saw her before the drunk driver came across the centerline…

But no more. No meaning beyond what it means to you, which can be explained but never conveyed except by allegory because we all have those songs in our head, could be Madonna, could be Lady Gaga, could even be Stacey Q. It’s there, in your head, not on merits, but on the experience.

So there’s the Top 40, Trending Now on YouTube, You May Like…

They’re in my head too, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But there are the other songs, the ones the writers thought and fought for, the ones that can take a moment like the one you remember Stacy Q because of and push that moment, that experience, that life straight into your consciousness like you lived it yourself, that can show, in two or three hundred words, in three or four minutes, the whole who and where and what and why, or as much of it as you need know, burn it right into your memory even though you weren’t there, you weren’t here, you weren’t, not yet, you didn’t even exist, and you’ve got no frame of reference but what was laid out on that page of a notebook, laid down in that studio, so many years before.

The artist has made his life a part of yours, but that doesn’t mean you own it, no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re a fellow worker in song, it’s not something that you can slip into because you think it will set off your voice nicely, the gender discongruity isn’t a clever little twist, you weren’t there, it wasn’t you, stop kidding yourself just fucking push play and enjoy.

An Ugly Vibe

There’s a weird vibe on the boards lately, something in the wind that doesn’t feel right.

Not ugly.

Not yet.

Not sure where it’s going, but snark and sass seem to be the order of the day. Offenders? Dunno, nobody, everybody, somebody, somebody not new, somebody just new. Little things getting picked at, the edges of the scabs running a tad raw and everyone’s out of that grease that Gramma carried in her purse, combination lip balm scrape lotion thread loosener hinge oiler spice, none left, tube’s dry and the bits are starting to squeak where they rub up against each other, but the squeaks are turning from metal against metal to metal versus metal, small shavings falling off between the hinge plates and the pin.

Grooves, and not the groovy kind.

Is this just a phase, is this just part of the normal ebb and flow, the combined breathing and pulse and circulation of fifty thousand mostly quiescent minds bumping against each other in this little corner of the the vast consensual hallucination that Mr. Gibson and DARPA bequeathed us, or is it a sign of something larger, the growing lack of incivility that Horace noted so recently? Or is it just a figment of my imagination, is the break already starting to chafe? I need to be at work in a few hours, but here I am, tapping away, man was made for work and toil and strife, not electric light and heat and instantaneous connection with the outside world across the seas and continents, for most of our history we were prey, and then we were slaves, which amounts to the same thing but the master doesn’t kill you cleanly, he eats you day by day over decades, we aren’t cut out for this, not for freedom, not for choice, we were born to fear and lacking that fear, we grow to fear everything, which is as it should be, is that a stick or a snake, are you hungry enough to eat those new berries, was that the wind in the grass or a lion?

The Spartan helots were mandated a certain number of beatings every year, whether or not they behaved, so they didn’t forget their place.

Tuesday Night

It was a Tuesday night, and we were out drinking at the box. My days off were Wednesday and Thursday, so it was my weekend at that point, but it didn’t really matter much in those days; I didn’t start work until after noon most days, so every night was beer o’clock. On the corner, out front of the convenient store, there was this… I dunno, I think it was some sort of electrical or phone switching box, about waist-high, coated in some sort of hard, stippled green paint. There was a fence of aluminum tubing, just short of waist-high, on three sides of it, spaced such that if you were leaning on the fence, the box was the perfect height and distance away to put your beer and your snacks.

No open container laws, so we called it “the box,” and met there every night. Across the sidewalk, there was a trash-can that we’d sometimes use to play at “throw the empties away.”

Drunken gaijin playing beer-can basketball on the sidewalk.

I don’t think I’d been there long that night when my phone played the little section of MIDI Bach that I used to have as a ringtone.

“Ohmygod, are you watching the NYC live news?? Two planes just hit the world trade center. bush says terrorism”

Huh.

I really thought I had more to say when I started typing this, but we all know the rest of the story.

In a year, some young person in the United States is going to raise their right hand and swear away the next four years, or however much less is granted them, of their lives. Someone who has never drawn breath while the towers stood.

Yeah, that’s all.

Steeplechase

Just awoke on this Monday morning from a dream of running and scrambling through the fields, racing my good friend to a point we knew well. No euphemisms, nothing clever here, just a steeplechase in the old meaning of the word, where a man on horseback, out riding with his friends, would say something on the lines of “See yon steeple of St. Nyaralathotep’s? Race you!” and the game would be on.

We, of course, were dismounted, because this happens in very nearly the real, and the objective wasn’t a steeple, but a point well known to both of us, down at the bottom of the hill. He’s taller than I am, and has the advantage that way, but I knew a course through a field and sliding skittering down a hill through the backlots that gave me an edge, putting the contest at very nearly even.

One day two other professors, visitors from America, decided to join in and they were fast, so fast, so I showed my friend my shortcut. I marveled that he hadn’t discovered it before, as it was well beaten down with my footprints, and in the dream, I still wore the old “black Cadillac” combat boots, with their distinctive self-cleaning tread, and we ran, we ran down the hill, and this is when I knew it was a dream, because I was young enough that running was a joy, strong enough that jumping over obstacles was a pleasure, and supple enough that slipping sliding glissading down a hill was no cause for fear of the sprain of the ankle, the twist of the knee, the stumble and attendant impact that wreaks a life-changing crunch in the shoulder.

We didn’t win, and like most dreams, the memory of the joy of just racing is fading from my brain already.

Reflect on This

Do it.

Get naked.

I don’t mean nude, I mean naked.

Take it all off.

Take off your clothes.

Take off your makeup.

Take off your jewelry.

All of it.

Even the wedding ring.

Even the piercing that only your lover knows about.

Even those little bits of tech that let you see clearly. Take off the glasses, take out the contacts.

Wash that shit out of your hair, scrub off those perfumes, scents, deodorants, essences, all of them, get them off of your body and just stand.

Stand in front of the mirror.

Stand and look.

It doesn’t matter if the mirror shows you from top to toe, or just reflects your eyes back at you, just look.

I know it’s cold.

I know you feel silly.

Look some more.

Keep looking until you can finally….

…see.

Reflect on this.

Harry Potter?

So (I assume) to promote the new live-action Beauty and the Beast movie, my local cable company ran all the Harry Potter movies over the weekend.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter, but that’s not a crack against them, I’m just way outside of the target demographic, but I decided to give the movies another watch because why not?

Missed the first one or two, but I definitely saw Goblet of Fire from the start, and man are those stories messed up. I’m going on the assumption that they tracked the books closely enough, and I’m sure most of this has been said before, but…

The Tri-Wizard Cup. Tri. Three. Sure, evil baddy can put Harry’s name in somehow, but…

Wait a minute, this competition could be fatal. Shouldn’t you have some sort of security to stop anyone but the applicant from putting their name in? I mean, I’m afraid to enter writing contests, damned if I want someone slipping my name into the stinkin’ Hunger Games if I don’t have to try out.

And that speaks to another thing. I was only half-watching the movies, so I don’t know which one, or ones, I’m on about, but Hogwart’s is a mess. You’ve got a whole bunch of mischievous kids to young adults running around learning magic, and apparently no magical countermeasures in place. Hermione uses magic to help Ron cheat on his sky soccer tryout, his brothers nuke the underclass midterms, Harry’s dad was a magical bully, and no one ever seems to face consequences for anything. It’s like running a computer school and not investing in basic antivirus and firewalls. Plus, as a teacher, some would even say professor, I’ve let class out a few minutes early on occasion, but I don’t think there’s been a Hogwart’s lecture that’s lasted more than about ten minutes before either the professor or one of the students manages to catastrophically fuck things up, leading to a “class dismissed, and your homework is to try and put the flames on your eyebrows out.”

Right, back to that Tri-Wizard… Yeah, three. It’s a magically binding contract with a cup that can’t even count to three without taking a right turn at Albequoikey? RU serious?

And sure, I’m all for letting seventeen-year-olds make decisions that could lead to their deaths. Seriously; I turned eighteen in boot camp, it’s cool with me. But one thing that not even the Marines did to me was put my sister in a position where she’d be killed if I didn’t successfully complete a task that I’d had no instruction on how to do. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair to hold family members and friends hostage to a glorified best athlete competition, although it would make the homecoming game more interesting if it ended with the decapitation of the cheerleading squad of the losing team…

Changed my mind, that bit’s cool.

So before he goes swimming with the fish-chix, Harry’s gotta take a bath in Tony Montana’s tub, where he meets a girl who normally hangs out around the men’s room, and boy is she eager for a peek at Harry’s hairy Harold. Of course, she’s dead, so neither she nor Harry are going to get much more than an eyeful.

Or are they? She’s clearly not the “spiritual echo” kind of ghost that’s forever condemned to repeat the same actions; she’s got quite a bit of volition, and her interest in Harry suggests that she might be capable of…enjoying…herself, given the opportunity.

But contact is impossible.

So basically, she could become a camgirl for the male members of the student body.

Or maybe she already does, when she first showed up in that movie, she was halfway out of a commode.

Eeewww. Her fetish, not mine.

But anyway, nobody’s going to get pregnant or catch a social disease, like dysentery.

Ick.

Right, moving on. In one of the later movies, Voldemort tells the baddy high council that somebody or other was suggesting that wizards breed with muggles, and the whole table reacted with derision and disgust. You know what this means, don’t you?

Every year a certain adult site releases its stats on who, living where, is streaming what from their site. Like the folks at 742 Evergreen Terrace are super into movies featuring three or more….

Nevermind.

The data they release (as opposed to what they collect, and I swear someone breaks into my house every night around midnight, I’m fast asleep with my lovely wife in the other room, I can never catch the bastards) is at the national or state level, and one data point that’s been fairly constant is that interracial (which, I’m given to understand by my ex-roommate’s uncle’s cousin’s community college statistics teacher almost invariably refers to movies featuring African American men with Caucasian women) movies are most popular in the bits of America we now call the Southeast, but which were briefly referred to as the Confederate States of America, and were known for their somewhat divergent take on race relations.

So anyway, back to Voldemort. This means that in the wizarding community, there’s probably a small but dedicated group of men who like nothing more than the sickening thrill of watching a pretty young witch defile herself with a…dentist. There’s probably a muggle brothel in Hogsmead, and the odds that Snape and the boyz have spent some time tied up there being forced to say “Please, mistress, call me a customer-service rep,” while being flogged with a feather-duster are quite high.

Okay, that’s that.

Not quite, first a very short bit of fan-fiction. I’ve never read the books, so the tone is probably off, but what the hell, here we go:

Voldemort held his wand in front of him, a blast of purplish-blue lightning lancing out of it. It had nearly reached Harry when he raised his hand, pointed his wand, and yelled “EXPECTO PATRONUM”, which caused a silvery shield to form in front of him, blocking the dark wizard’s assault. Changing tactics, Voldemort began to fire a series of smaller spells, which the younger wizard parried while sending out his own attacks. For a few moments, the battle resembled a choreographed ballet, but then Harry summoned his last reserve of strength and sent a massive red beam from his wand, a beam which Voldemort blocked with apparent difficulty.

Suddenly, there was a new noise, a single, sharp “BOOM!”, and Voldemort dropped, his shield collapsing immediately. Harry approached the downed creature carefully, confused at how his spell had penetrated the Dark Lord’s wards so quickly. His wand at the ready, he peered down at the hole in Voldemort’s forehead, then spun as he heard a footstep behind him.

“Hermione! Don’t do that to me, I could have killed you. I..,” he didn’t know what to say. “I think I killed him, but I don’t know how.”

Hermione cocked her head and sighed. “No, Harry, you just distracted him; I killed him.”

“But, but how? His shielding spells were so strong, I could only tire him, he was going to ki-“

“Yes, Harry, I know. But I have a new kind of wand, a wand that uses spells that no wizard has the power to block.” She held up her hand, a curiously curved wand dangling from one finger by a loop fixed near its midpoint.

“What kind of wand is that? Dragon, unicorn, oh, oh, kraken?” Harry stammered.

“No, Harry, none of those. This has been passed down in my family for over half a century, since my grandfather’s time. It’s called a Webley.”

Yeah, I know, it’s crap, but I’m not going to bother to rework it, I’d have to read all the books to get the voice right, and… nope.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

 

Missed Connections

So there was that guy that you killed.

You wanted to say that there were a bunch of people alive today who wouldn’t have been, but for you, but then you realized you put down that headset twenty-odd years ago.

Long enough ago that you not only don’t remember the day, but you’re not even sure of the year.

And some of them might be, probably are, dead by now.

So there were a bunch of people whose lives lasted longer than they might have because of you, and the one guy that you kind of killed.

You know it went down in your record, and, if you remember correctly, you were even punished for it.

You hate Picasso, and Joan Miro’s stuff belongs in the trash next to the fridge, to save the space for better artists whose medium includes macaroni and spray paint, but one of those fuckers did impressionism, or expressionism, or stuff that records the feelings imparted by a scene while completely rejecting the accuracy of the scene itself.

Probably Picasso, with those fucked up doodles of cows meant to evoke a Fascist napalm attack.

Whatever, the point is, if you want to understand what it is to work 9-1-1, you need to watch two horribly inaccurate movies, and one of them isn’t even about “public safety dispatch”, although it is.

There are two accurate points in Martin Scorcese’s “Bringing Out the Dead”. One is that there is, indeed, a city called Yew Nork in Damnerica.

The other is that there are ambulances.

You know this from experience; you passed through LaGuardia once, on your way to Chicago.

Which is, if you recall correctly, the setting for “Pushing Tin”.

Also, you worked for a 9-1-1 agency for more than long enough to get certified, and just short of long enough to get fired.

That is all, all other “(n)ames, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”

But watching these two movies with your factual eyes off and your third eye open, gives very clear and accurate view of what life behind the phone, on the other end of the radio is when everyone you talk to is having the worst day of their lives and for you, it’s only Monday and you’re juggling a 12×12 panel of phone lines, and you’ve got three monitors, a foot pedal, a pushbutton, and a headset.

And one day a little girl calls in. A few hours ago, her sister got into an argument with their mom, took her schoolbag, and ran out the door crying. A nice man just came by the apartment with her bag; he found it where the tollway meets the state route and thought it might be lost. So you put in the ticket and your coworker dispatches the appropriate officer to take the report and the phone rings and it’s another call, a traffic accident, a barking dog, a man beating his wife to a pulp with the phone as she’s crying for help, and one of your units is on a traffic stop and another is stopping by the school and a third is rattling door handles downtown.

But about that guy you killed. It was a fight in a parking lot in the middle of the night, and you didn’t get enough information, didn’t ask about weapons and the stab wounds from the broken beer bottle killed him. You weren’t the only one to take a call on it, but you got less than the minimum and put in the ticket, moved on to the next call, took a suspension day or so later on, but they ruled it a justifiable homicide, which is the legal system’s way of saying everyone is better off with him dead, so you spent your suspension day having a beer with a coworker whose regular days off you didn’t share.

That other call though, the one with the little girl. You did everything right that time, got all the data, put in the ticket, but she and her sister are still gone, gone, gone except for when you wake up twenty-four years later, give or take, and wonder.

The Spaniard

I’m finding myself more and more fascinated lately with people almost lost to history.

It’s hard to remember, at times, that everyone who ever lived, lived.

He wondered if he would ever see her again.

But who was he? Am I talking about the Egyptian King Iry-hor? He’s the oldest person whose name we know, and that’s about all we know about him.

Or were those the thoughts of the Altamura Man as he hung, upside down, broken and dying in that cave?

Or the anonymous soldier I’ve watched fall five, a dozen, a hundred times as he came out of the surf onto the beach that day in June.

And so often the “he’s” aren’t men at all; our culture, all of our cultures, are much more likely to leave the lives of women unnoted, unrecorded, unnoticed.

Why did Elinor Curry agree to marry him?

Why did they get divorced?

All of them lived. All of them ate, and drank, and laughed, and maybe even loved, and lay awake at night, unable to sleep, worried about the future, got up in the morning, bleary-eyed, took a shit in the manner appropriate to their culture, station, and situation, ate meals which likewise suited them, and all of them almost, almost, almost disappeared.

But not quite.

“He took some informal guitar lessons in his twenties from a Spaniard he met next to a local tennis court. After a few weeks, he picked up a flamenco chord progression. When the man failed to appear for their fourth lesson, Cohen called his landlady and learned that the man had killed himself. In a speech many years later, in Asturias, Cohen said, ‘I knew nothing about the man, why he came to Montreal . . . why he appeared at that tennis court, why he took his life. . . . It was those six chords, it was that guitar pattern, that has been the basis of all my songs, and all my music.’”
The New Yorker