Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mixed nuts and other delights

Ate a snackbar my parents sent me for Christmas.

If only they knew that the nuts would get in my teeth where my tooth used to be they might reconsider what they send me (although in their defense the packaging did say from Santa).  Probably shouldn’t have opened it before Christmas anyway.  Damn I need to get my tooth fix. Why won’t someone publish my novel? What’s with all these gray hairs suddenly? On the right is a photo of Chaser biking home to get books on Thanksgiving. What I did was watch football and drink beer and when she arrived (our house is not far from the diner) I read books with her and waited for the Himalayan grill to open up at 5pm.

What happened after we ate the  lamb mixed grill I can tell you because it is in my notes:

“Passed out in the handicapped toilet of Liberal Arts. It’s our nearest loo and we don’t like to mingle (my officemate and I) with the plebes. The cause of the unconsciousness was some kind of gastronomical disorder.” 

To give you some context my officemate was not in there with me and this episode occurred the day after Thanksgiving. Perhaps this will be the extent of my holiday blogging this year. Would you look at this cabin? It is a fire lookout. It takes about two hours to climb to the top. Chase ran it and I had to go it alone. I thought the many ravens near the summit were circling her body. She thought I had been trampled by elk. We were glad when neither of these were true. The Grand Canyon was observed from the top.

Walking alone is tiring at first - the mind if full of junk and cougar attack paranoia, but after an hour or so and some mixed nuts you start to zone into the landscape and get rather philosophical about your place in the world. Below is the kind of shots you would often see in a John Ford movie. Do you have a favorite John Ford shot? Post them here and I'll pick a winner. Winners get a postcard with a short message.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Rediscovery of North America

Finally a window in which to read for pleasure. I am going to review Dave Graney’s album for Steve’s Doppler too in a minute. Will also read the first chunk of Nicky Kraft’s novel.

Barry Lopez's Rediscovery of North America contemplates the consequences of Columbus's barbaric new world pillaging.The most imaginatively ludicrous of fictions cannot comprehend the level of desecration they carried out on these cultures and a beautiful environment lush with hummingbirds, jaguars, etc. Went for a walk up by the observatory, making better friends with my friends the squirrels, while thinking about what Lopez said. It is hard to conceive how amazed the Spanish must have been in those first few years by the sight of crocodiles, hummingbirds and the roseate spoonbill, the anaconda and the jaguar...Lopez writes.

The lack of charity, the mega-violence, more recently the same behavior and attitude displayed from timber industry folk until someone realized that a lot of the trees wouldn't come back. Lopez would not approve of Hoover either, might I add - built to power two cities that are as artificial and unsuitable as they come. Chase said the only way I will accompany you there to stare into the abyss on your 40th is if we can canoe it too.

I'm reading The Fatal Shore next because Lopez said to do some good and plant a tree and the only tree I ever planted was in Australia when I became a citizen. Whether I was a productive citizen is hard to say — I was a good friend to many people. I am approaching the environment with greater sensitivity these days. Before school today I told Chase who was in a rush that I was taking a shower and she said didn’t you take three yesterday, I said no only one, never more than one and she was just upset because couldn't find the lids to her jam jars.

 Now to shift gears on a very different car. Fed a sony speaker box through the hall to the kitchen to augment a normal two speaker set-up in the lounge. Works fine. Bit disturbed that when I play Senator by the Jicks, Steve's solo is not heard – meaning that the solo is in stereo and only present in the other room, while I am in the kitchen preparing sweet potato, roast of choice, 49 cents/lb last time Chase looked. Begging the question, if a Stephen Malkmus guitar solo is not heard in the kitchen than did he really do it? I turned 40 in Boulder City, Nevada, canoeing on the Colorado, ate Himalayan Grill for Thanksgiving, passed out on the toilet the next day and went into ultra-gastro panicked shock, but I am a-okay.

Monday, October 29, 2012


We hurried to make the 410 showing of Ben Affleck’s new movie.  I don’t think the theatre people will appreciate you drinking beer at their movies, shaneyanne, says Chase. She calls me shaneyanne. I hope you don’t get caught with those beers, shaneyanne. Chaser was hustling to make a smoothie to take with her, I had my beers already packed, when a big mirror shattered in the other room. We left the house upset with how much bad luck that would give us. We got to the movies on our bikes narrowly missing a dead pigeon in our path.

The movie started. So far, so good. I opened my beer took a sip and went to a put it in the cup holder, but the beer was too skinny and it dropped but I somehow miraculously grabbed it before it fell through the cup holder and smashed loudly on the concrete floor.  Close call. I drank it and put the empty down by my feet.

So Ben made this movie that he looks very good in. He wears perhaps too many tweed jackets and sports a sexy beard that would make Carl Bernstein uncomfortable. Chaser asked if we were the same age. I said yes and she said he is much larger than you, this made me want to eat a big steak rare all of a sudden. Indeed he is a very big man. As a director, he allows himself to underact to such a degree it could count as overacting, over-emoting, brooding. There are too many guys in this movie.  It’s like an aggressive rock band of all males. Don’t allow yourself to be an aggressive rock band of all males at any point in your life is the message here. Otherwise it is a very good movie with excellent subject matter and the soundtrack of Van halen.
The hostages break a wine glass in the movie and they almost get as upset as we had earlier. I opened the other beer and kicked the empty over. It made a terrible noise in the movie and rolled forever. Chaser made me go pick it up and I very sadly cried.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Silence reigned amongst shit-scared crickets

It's Dirk's Mom's birthday. Happy birthday. Thank you again for stopping the pill and not telling Dad. Moved to a new house where the train is visible from the porch. No place to hang Chaser's hammock yet though. But I miss the cat and cried when I said goodbye. Maybe Doris will let Onni visit sometime.

Bought a sandstone painting from a sweet, old Native American woman with a tooth gone haywire yesterday. She came by my office, undoubtedly attracted to the soft, sexy sounds of R Stevie Moore piping from a portable speaker. Fiction class was gently uproarious. Chided by a psychology student who claims I exacerbate her cognitive dissonance with my disorganization. I am not as concerned as she is about it. Came home last night to find Chaser making bread and savory biscuits. Half-drunk, I pumped Pink Faeries, dedicated 'I wish I was a girl' to a boyfriend and went to bed. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What kind of idiot puts a casserole in a lunch pail?

Dungen's on the boombox, I played it for the cat who's laying on the wet towel on my bed next to me and not really paying attention. She likes my taste in all things particularly lunchmeat. I'm showered, cologne's on. Two squirts well-applied to exposed features. New cologne it is and also fantastic. I've got my fiction class reading McGuane's The Casserole. Contains a line worth starting a revolution over: "What kind of idiot puts a casserole in a lunch pail?" In addition to new cologne, a new t-shirt from Target. Actually my entire outfit consists of Target (brick red drawers also). They are doing tasteful things in men's wear at the moment. I wouldn't mind if my entire wardrobe came from there. The only problem is the possibility that every lumberjack (NAU's mascot) in town is wearing the same thing. I think I'm pretty safe tonight at Delhi Palace, Cuisine of India in Flagstaff. Hope it's as good as Tandoori Times, Cuisine of India in Fitzroy, Melbourne. When Mistress Bel finds out that I wrote a blog instead of responding to her emails from earlier in the week she is going to crack the shits. Ultimately though she will read what I have to say and find it uplifting like the melancolee film squid and the onion. I owe Dave Graney a review, it will be killer given time because his new record rules and I love his emerald-eyed wife and the two Stu's. My new cologne is Halston by the way, I got a big thing of it at Ross's Dress for Less for $16.99 because no one wants to smell like they drive an '82 Mazda. No one wanted to smell like they drove a new Mazda in '82 either. I don't mind smelling like it though - hey, it's my prerogative. Speaking of which, in class we played a game in class to get to know each other better, two truths and a lie, and I said 1) I hold my high school basketball three point scoring record, 2) I once had Whitney Houston autograph my shoe and 3) I lived in Australia for eleven years. Not only did they answer correctly, they said it was elvis Costello wasn't it? To be honest, I may not hold that record any longer (three pointers). In other news, I started a whisky jar that I fill full of quarters. Incidentally, I only drink Early Times from a jam jar. I bought a half gallon for the same price as the Halston. I am not a fan of posting a blog without a photo so here is one of Elizabeth. I look at it everyday. The hairdo, combined with the "million things I got to do" expression, play off each other brilliantly.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oregon Dreaming

Drinking a second bloody mary at the Seaside golf course bar (not pictured). It is a Sunday, God's day of rest and it occurs to me that the first one had been a bit spicier. This one here though contains a pepperoncini that made me cough and upon breach of the green casing, a squirt arced across my lap. I'm with Mitch and Dad, who are over there playing video poker. They've been winning and shouting me drinks. The barman wears a straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt. We have a similar dress code. He reminds me of Bill Murray's under-appreciated brother Brian-Doyle, except more jaundiced. He's got his laptop on the bar next to me and I can see the ebay page he's got up. He's bidding on linen shirts. Looking out the window at the first tee, it's all fogged in. The plan, as ever, is to finish the novel and if it is not successful, write it from the perspective of Peabody's sister Dolores, whose presence in the story is diaphanous at best (Journal, 5 August 2012)

Been awful lucky to see Mitch as much as I have this summer (pictured to the right of me). His joie de vivre was in full effect in Seaside where he bought my Dad a bicycle as a gesture to my parents for all the good they've done, like be his friend and his surrogate parents. A lot of us clapped and there was a pretend ceremony where we all drank tequila and cried and Mitch got adopted for realsies. He said a lot of things were blogworthy, of which a mere fraction have been documented here. Mitch took me to Lake Havasu in May where we stayed at his uncle's house and I saw my first roadrunner. 

We'd sit at the pool and have arguments over music. Mitch had some noisy country on and I said I liked this better than the Johnny Cash he was playing.

"This is Johnny Cash though."

"So I guess this underscores my utter indifference to his music."

He put on some John Prine and i said, "John Prine is not good sitting by the pool music. Seems like what'd you'd listen to hungover as you pile into a pick-up to go hunt squirrels."

"Your cleansing is my infestation," he explained to me at one point,  neatly highlighting our general differences.

A few days at the pool and a few nights on the town and then we headed back to Flagstaff. If I remember correctly it was a three hour drive. 

Portland was busy, but good. Had some sweet excursions with my nieces, hit some good bars and met my sister's boyfriend, who dreamt that he went hunting with my brother. Pictured above is the fogged in coastline caught on camera on a hike with my nieces visiting from Maryland.

Midway to Indian Beach, we encountered what I assumed was an old WWII ruin inside the rainforest.  

I wore my Mother's clothes most of the weekend, which is kinda weird. Dad was upset because I drank his cinnamon whisky and was wearing his wife's clothes. The shirt that I decided to wear to the airport, one of the buttons came off as I was putting on deodorant. I didn't think that it was a bad omen necessarily, just that I had to get it sewn back on to make it complete again. Also that I need to learn how to sew. I didn't have any problems with the buttons coming off my Mom's clothes because they weren't blouses. They were pastel-colored sweatshirts. I only wore one of them out and that was to a rowdy dinner our last night in Seaside. Clam chowder, crab sandwich and two oyster shooters — I could easily go for that on my last day on Earth. Jupiter here we come!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Notes from the Rockies

My qualified mountaineering guide got us lost in the Rockies looking for the Lake of the Clouds. Trouble was by the time we came out of the woods into a large basin there wasn't any path to speak of. There was a waterfall to the left, but to the Darling Chaser of N Michigan, quaified mountaineering guide, that wasn't good enough. She elected to go away from the waterfall and I dutifully followed her like I was her dog.

In retrospect, the waterfall was probably a pretty good indication that this was where the lake was and not over a boulderfield where it turns out the lake wasn't, but that's where we went. Now I am hardly someone driven by ego to climb a tall mountain to say I climbed a tall mountain, but gosh dang it, I was determined to see this lake after hiking for five hours. We scrambled over a huge boulderfield. According to Chaser, scrambling is when you occasionally use more than your feet, which is what we did getting over those boulders. If the rocks weren't hard to negotiate as is, they were also full of spiders. The lake took another hour, but it was worth it.

In the meantime, we talked. She told me all about the course she just taught nearby in some other mountains. How she endearingly sang Lee Hazlewood's Hey Cowboy the whole time. How one kid said that he believed in a nourished and well fed team, which didn't make a lick of sense when he kept eating everyone's tuna packets, leaving the other kids with nothing but crackers (apparently he was on some weird protein diet). Some other kid got trenchfoot from not changing his shoes or socks for thirty days. Another lost their backpack off a cliff. Others inadvertently created solidarity with each other by shitting themselves. 

Chaser used several actual mountaineering terms to describe the terrain I negotiated on the nine hour hike that we did. Some terms: alpine lake is a tarn. Scree is small bits of rock amid large boulders. Permanent snowfields are self explanatory. Glacial moraine is debris left over from a glacier.

I actually quite enjoyed all nine bleeding hours of the hike. We had done six and amid continuous threats of thunder that we had somehow eluded, I made her stop so I could write down what I felt would be a neat title for the piece I was going to write about our hike: “Too sly for the storm.” I had mumbled the title, mumbling being indicative of a certain type of brain damage. Yet it was a terrific title, or so I thought initially. I have since retracted my thought and decided that it is not so great.

Chaser herself did not think much of this title either and began wondering if the hike had begun to warp me. She explained that many sufferers from long hikes are called DICHEADS, an acronym that means dizzy, irritable, combative with symptoms associated with headaches. I tried to absorb what she was saying, but got distracted by some raspberries bushes that she found. Thunder crackled mightily overhead. We were now on the final stretch, but the final stretch of a long hike is seemingly neverending and the beer always outside of arm's reach.

Let me tell you what happened when we got to the lake. Chaser went off to do some reconnaissance on how the heck we were going to get off the mountain. I had laid down on some grass between rocks overlooking the lake when suddenly a marmot popped up between some rocks with a pika in its mouth. I was confused at first because the pika's tail hanging over the top lip of the marmot looked an awful lot like the moustache on a walrus.

When I told her what happened, Chaser said, “I've seen alpine lakes that are a lot more impressive, but I never seen, nor have I heard of someone seeing a fucking marmot with a pika in its mouth!” She had me eat some alpine Sorel. It was my feeling that it could be used in a lemony cocktail. She said it's a pretty good source of Vitamin C.

We stayed near where we hiked, a campground that was treeless for the most part surrounded by mountains; we would climb the ones on the west. The trees were removed due to what the bark beetle had done to them. They eat the bark and the trees turn a sickly color and die. Used to be that these beetles couldn't survive the winter frost and would all perish by Spring, but climate change changed all that and these little bastards now feast year-round and the parks haven't worked out a way to stop them. What this means for the campground is no trees and more grass and the elk come down and graze and lick everything.

Our last morning, a group of us crowded around an elk, who had Chaser's backpack in her mouth. She got increasingly spasmodic (the elk, not Chaser, who was sleeping) the closer we got, doing frightened circles and raising dust. We were next to the highway and a park ranger had pulled off. He clapped his hands loudly. The sound seemed to dislodge the backpack because it went flying. The elk skedaddled. One of the gang told me afterwards that they'd been coming to this site for five years and it keeps getting worse. "The elk out here are like dogs. Ever since they got rid of the trees, they think of this as their playground."

Chase was happy she stayed in the the van, while I filled an incident report regarding the recalcitrant elk that tried to eat her backpack. I asked the ranger how often these incident reports were filed and she said not often. The last time involved a guy who was walking on the trail by a moose and her calf and the moose charged putting the guy on a log where he received a gash on his leg. It was bad enough that they treated him at the local hospital. They don't like the wild animals getting hostile and to some degree, this ornery elk was not going to give up the backpack. "I don't like that backpack anyway," said Chase, who will always side with the elk. She thought the campground should be shutdown. It was hardly a moneyspinner, as it was thinning out more and more each night. I secretly loved everything about it and had no complaints only the elks who became less interesting and more like pests by our second night.

Chaser and I walked hand in hand over to the dumpster to dive for propane when I noticed my spirit animal.

"Oh my God, a red-winged blackbird!"

"Jesus Christ, Shane!" cried Chaser, who couldn't handle the profundity of witnessing my spirit animal, stubbing her toe on a tree stump.

We found some propane to cook with and made eggs.

Best use of Foreigner's Feels like the first time

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bad Timing

You succumb to Phoenix airport Starbucks between Gates 15b and 17b when you are forced to stay there overnight because — get this — you went to the bathroom to exfoliate and when you came back with a revived face they had closed the flight. You had thrown your longhorns visor down on the carpet, stomped your feet and screamed, "NOOOOO!" So you resign yourself to getting comfortable on a vinyl bench. You ask yourself what Kerouac would do and then you proceed to make a pillow out of your dirty clothes and stack it on top of your satchel, propping your legs up on the carry-on that Doris let you borrow. You mostly sleep through the night, It's not like you check your watch too obsessively or anything. You fall asleep to a lugubrious offering from Smog on repeat. Morning comes in the form of a pretty sunrise and if your camera had any battery power left you would have gotten a shot of it. You're left thinking what a bad idea it is to go and buy a Starbucks, but you do it anyway. Better be good, you hope, slapping a fiver down on the counter. The 16 ounce vanilla latte is delicious

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This 'n' that

Title comes from a good little tune on a very mediocre Beach Boys' album (Carl and the Passions). Having a rough night at work, but at least I'm not one of the victims in Final Destination 5. Film ends with a terrific Grand Guignol montage set to AC/DC's If you want blood. Too seedy to read or write, I watched that instead. 

Assembled a crew down at the Taverna earlier that day. When there, we like to wash down their Greek sliders with Ouzo. Invariably left the joint in a sordid state. Heard from Chaser when I got home. Turned down side 1 of the Soft Boys first album because it's not good talking on the phone music. I let her talk for awhile, at least until her phone died. I like hearing her voice. She's picking me up from Denver airport tomorrow. So excited. After our conversation ended abruptly, I turned my phone off and passed out. Awoke to the sounds of thunder and hard rain falling. It was ten o' clock. There was a message on my phone from her explaining that her phone had died, but I was in no position to return her call, I had to get my shit together and go to work. The rain let up to the degree that I really didn't need to have all my things in plastic bags, but if I did get soaked at least I was prepared. A nice thing about working at a hotel is there's a dryer I can use if I do get wet and I will because it is monsoon season in Flagstaff. Constant rain July-August, coming down in buckets, there's no clause in my econolodge contract that says it is okay to be pelted by insects on my way home from work (see how I effortlessly changed subjects) but that is what happened to me yesterday. Maybe the rain had something to do with it and what were those things anyway? They looked like flying termites, except they weren't red, they were black. I picked them off my Hairy t-shirt when I got home. No kidding. Their favorite Cannane is stephen O neil. Been reacquainting myself with Tiny Frown - heckuva lil album, certainly better than Carl and the Passions.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tiny Echoes From Hermit's Rest

Doris and I woke up at 6am yesterday to hike the Grand Canyon. I was far too tired to stretch out. Thankfully making coffee requires no flexibility or warm muscles. I filled up the travel doodad the Chaser gifted me from the REI store in Washington state when she was falling in love with me. The Grand Canyon is ninety minutes by car from Flagstaff. The hike in question was one Doris had heard a lot about. It was reportedly a strenuous one and only advisable for seasoned hikers, of which Doris certainly was one. However brittle, I’m reasonably fit and drink a lot of milk. 

We listened to the radio in the car. When we lost reception I put on the CD that introduced me to Dungen via Mark Ibold during his DJ set at the Worker's Club Pavement reformation weekend, Melbourne 2010. Doris likes the Swedish band, partly for having lived a sizable chunk of her existence there. She hadn’t heard this CD because when I moved to Flagstaff there was only a case. When I returned to Portland over Christmas I found the disc and returned it to its rightful home.

Once in the park, we would need to hop a shuttle to the furthest point called Hermit’s Rest. There were families and foreigners galore and it would only get worse, we thought. I didn’t realize a shuttle was needed and I hate to go anywhere without something to read, so I went into the bookshop and came out with what I was looking for: Edwards Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, his ode to the Southwestern landscape depicting his time as a ranger in Moab, Utah. I was healthily distracted with that as we reached our stop thirty minutes later.

The temperature varies a lot at the Grand Canyon. At the plateau it might be 80 and warm. Down on the river, however, you might as well be in the hells of Phoenix, you’re at that level anyway. Expect it to be thirty degrees warmer. The sign said 108. Perusing the literature there seemed to be some discrepancy with the variations in elevation until we realized we hike down and then up again to reach Dripping Springs. According to a ranger, who moved into our conversation while we topped up our water, the Springs aren’t dripping at all, they are dry and there is no water on the trail. There was also a wild variation in the time given to complete the hike. Newspaper said 6-9 hours, while guidebook said 3-7.

We started at 9.45am and weren’t ten minutes into the hike when my left knee started to ache and I couldn’t work out what the problem was for this was my good knee. Doris was far ahead of me, but this was no concern, she is fast and leaving me in the dust comes naturally. I finally caught up with her, or rather she waited and I told her how sore my knee was and if only I had stretched out before making the steep descent and it really was steep and full of hard rock surfaces that couldn’t have been less absorbent. My knee felt a bit better after I stretched it and didn’t bother me at all hiking, up or on flat ground; it was just the downhill bits and they would soon taper off as we reached halfway down the canyon.

The views were spectacular: huge rifts in the canyon and curved camel-colored rockfaces catching shadow and light, thousands of feet tall, enveloping us. There were juniper trees speckling the landscape. If you put your hot breath on them, they smelled like a dry landscape after a much-needed rain — Chaser showed me that one. Doris said we should make gin and I was like yes, we’ll build the distillery right here! 

We only heard birds and the occasional flight plane. No people just us, remarkable for how crowded the shuttles were. Doris thought maybe everyone was just being sensible not to hike the canyon in the middle of July. The sweat was pouring off us and I had my shirt buttoned half way down. It looked sleazy, but felt practical. We were pretty much exposed to the sun the entire time, so thankfully we were well-lathered in sun-block, but we were drinking all of our water. As we stood on the path at the edge of a stark cliff that tapered into a shadowy crease of red, black shadow and finally the green of the Colorado River, I yelled, it seemed like perfect conditions to echo, but I heard nothing and wondered aloud why that was. Doris thought she heard a tiny echo and said, didn’t you write a story about a guy at the Grand Canyon. I was pleased she remembered as I had forgotten. It was the story about a Hollywood writer who gets frustrated and moves to Flagstaff to write the great Southwestern U.S. novel and ends up throwing himself into the Grand Canyon. Doris though the story should end with a tiny echo or perhaps no echo at all. I thought this a wonderful idea. 

By this point we did not know how far we’d come for neither of us had brought a watch. I had recently bought an elastic metal watchband for my old Casio and it was too new for me to take out on a sweat-laden expedition such as this. Doris talked about getting a Nike watch that does GPS for you in addition to testing your heart at full throttle, but it was not something she wanted to think about after spending a lot of money on the dentist and a new car battery last week. The heat was starting to get to us. I told her I wasn’t too concerned, it was when we began to speak in tongues, or I have unbuttoned my Hawaiian shirt all the way that we should worry. Mispronouncing words is a good sign of impending madness. Hiked Humphrey’s Peak last week and we were well into it when I picked up some dog tags off a rock and said, “look, robbies vaccinations.” Jeff grabbed the tag and said, “it’s pronounced rabies.”

Finally we came to a sign, Dripping Springs, then we came to a large tree with a wide canopy, selling us on its considerable attributes, namely shade. The trail seemed to end not long after. We went back to the tree — that’s where Doris parked herself. I leaned against a rock opposite her. It was an idyllic location and put me in the mind of the final scene of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries. I ransacked my backpack eager to devour the sandwich I made. Pastrami, lettuce and tomato on buttered Italian bread with horseradish and sharp cheddar. First I was going to eat the high fiber oats bar I brought that contained tons of salt. Took me about three bites. I drank some water and assessed that I had drunk half my water supply. I knew there would be a steep long climb on the way back but thought it was fine because my knee really only gave me fits on the downhill stretches and there would be less of those on the return, to hell with the water concerns. I bit into my sandwich with great gusto. After I swallowed the first bite I told Doris that my favorite part of hiking was the beer and the food you reward yourself with afterwards and the second best part was the sandwich that you eat once you reach your destination. She laughed and thought I was funny because what I was saying was so true!

Not ones to muck around we identified Dripping Springs by the water stains on the cliff face behind us, and contemplated for a brief moment the sensation of reaching it when there was water rushing off of it and sticking our heads at the bottom of the falls. We were feeling lively . We were back on the trail soon and moving fast, taking in the views from different perspectives that made the visual experience exciting and new again. But that soon faded along with a lot of our energy. My knee was feeling worse, a sharp stabbing pain with every step down and there were more step-downs than I remembered there being step-ups on the way there. Doris explained why this hike was far superior than the others she had done at the Grand Canyon, but I can’t remember why, apart from the fact it was just us on the trail. My exhaustion was such that I could only concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. I was suddenly down to half a water bottle. I recall one pleasant stop we made where I finished some cherries that I had brought and seemed to recoup a lot of the energy that I had lost. On our next stop, I looked over at how far we’d come and thought that I could see Dripping Springs way way over yonder and then I looked up at the plateau we had to reach — what an insurmountable sight for sore eyes that was. My mouth was so dry, not a trace of saliva. Even Doris complained of a headache. I noticed she had a sip of water left and who really knew how far we had to go. I began to wonder, rather obsess over how prepared I had been. Did that pastrami sandwich give me enough sustenance and how much water was my body burning through anyways? Would it take much more for a breakage to occur in my brain? 

All my interesting thoughts about the future had been waylaid by the thoughts of the present, or more specifically, my imminent demise. The past was an emptied porta-loo, no business even dwelling on glories, of which there were none to speak of anyways, only the good times and my oh my, there were plenty of those. Who you are is no longer important when all you can think about is your survival. I considered how eager I was to see Chase next week and how unlikely that would be if I fell over the edge or collapsed from the heat and had a wicked stroke. Out of necessity, my shirt was unbuttoned all the way and a fresh-looking couple passed us on the path. The guy looked at me and said rather cheekily, “Are you hot?” “Oh, a little,” I replied. Amazingly, my understated sense of humor was still intact. 

We had to walk through the covered entry to the gift shop and a ream of smartly-dressed tourists who must have thought I had returned from the bowels of hell in an irrevocable state. Doris and I headed for the spring water and what we couldn’t do at Dripping springs, we did here, drowning ourselves like pigs in a sty. I shoved a woman out the way to get in and she, having took sight of me, casually backed away and simply said, “I understand.” 

Back at the snack window we ordered the most delicious bottle of Gatorade and a fruit bar. We scared a lot of people though who were there to smell nice and enjoy the view, not get smashed by a couple who smelled, whose minds were fried and bodies wrecked. A Swedish couple and child spoke in their native Sverige that Doris was able to interpret. After looking us up and down, the child says to his father, “Daddy, what’s with them?” He solemnly replied. “I think they went on a hike.” 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Needless to say, On the Road is pretty special

You really did type up his Naked Lunch manuscript for him in Tangier?

No . . . the first part. The first two chapters. I went to bed, and I had nightmares . . . of great long bolognas coming out of my mouth. link

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Heavy Sweetness

Oddly, in last nite's sordidness I attempted a blog post, an inexplicable quote from the novel I am writing ("Did you ever think you just failed?"), don't blog when yr smashed kids is the disturbing message here. Found that my ipod that had stopped working yesterday and was now covered in beer was working again! Hard to explain that one. Doris and John found me on the side of the house after sushi, curled up in the fetal position and coughing like a newborn. Weird. I blame the Ouzo from Taverna afterwards. I came in and danced a jig to Hollywood Seven and then slept on the couch and spilt beer on my ipod. 

Having awoken from the couch I am now sitting up in bed listening to glass candy and writing this up. Climbed Arizona's tallest peak for the second time earlier this week. 

It's 12,500 and I do it so I can appreciate chili and beer from Brews and Cues splendidly afterwards. Also the air is good up there, the lungs like it, but otherwise it is hell. 

We housesat a housecat who scratched Doris across the bosom, he is no longer living with us, but photographic evidence shows that he once did. 

Since I finished school and started night auditing I have become quite the demon reader. Currently rereading On the Road and can clearly see its influence on a young me. Thrilling, really. Flying in to Denver next month for a spell. Gonna hang out in Neal Cassady's Rockies with Chaser for a few days. Though Gatsby's prose is more killer, there's something about On the Road that makes it so American, so Ford. What are the others? Portnoy's Complaint? Glamorama? Amis, I recall, arguing for Augie March. McGuane in the Paris Review (1984) sez Percy was bigtime.

"I remember that Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano just floored me. Incidentally, I consider that to be quite a funny book; a lot of it isn’t funny, of course, but its perverted energy is obviously akin to comedy. Fielding, Sterne, Joyce, Gogol and Twain were heroes. So were Machado de Assis, Thomas Love Peacock, George Borrow. There has never been a period when I was not reading Shakespeare. I loved Paul Bowles when I was just starting to write, and I loved Walter van Tilburg Clark. Stephen Crane seemed to me a fabulous writer, especially the stories. Knut Hamsun, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, Muriel Spark, Henry Green, William Eastlake, Walker Percy. You know, Barry Hannah and I were talking, and we agreed that The Moviegoer is one of those books that, for a lot of writers, was looked at like The Sun Also Rises was by writers back in the twenties."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Backroad blogging

Scratched out a few words on the Jews' early times (actually it's just this song). Read all about how I compare Berman to F Scott without any supporting evidence. Here.

By the way, the Pavement version of this song is incredible.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Waking up groggy

My job isn't the worst provided I don't encounter the owner, who is. Wrote that last night and then this morning he came in and was quite civil. Day naps are bad when you can't seem to function like now.

Third of the way into Walker Percy's The Last Gentleman had me thinking that this was everything I ever dreamed of and more, but by the end of it, I wanted to throw it into the econolodge indoor pool where a yellow tinge in the water had been noted in my log book. The sauna is broken and has been since I started. What frustrated me most is that I have a bunch of unread Percy's, including the sequel to The Last Gentleman!

Rescued by a delightful novel called Preparations for the Ascent by Gilbert Rogin. Steve Connell at Verse Chorus tipped me off — he's been reissuing Gilbert's stuff over the last couple years. I was curious what kind of comic novels they were publishing there, but Rogin's from another dimension. The New Yorker published him in the 60s and his stylish humor and prose complements the Salingers and the De Vries. 

Moving between fiction and non. Watching basketball alone, sometimes with people. Drinking white russians for breakfast and then going to bed with Gilbert Rogin, stuff like that. Saw Prometheus and liked it a lot. Revisiting Robert Hughes' memoir and occasionally noting interesting vocabulary: lapidary and parsimonious,  for instance. His account of artist Ian Fairweather is something. More than others, his account made me eager to see what his paintings looked like and so I went and found one.

Chaser's gone to the hills for the summer. The reason I am not with her is I am unqualified and I would die in the Colorado Mountains. I write her a note explaining how I needed to drink a bottle of wine that I was intending to share with her. One of the last things we did before she left was see this exhibition in town by sherrie wolf. Those are her squash up above and this is Chaser from the rear pensively perusing the Wolf. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Grievous Gringos and Comrade Hansolov's new Doppler Shift

Snagged a position at econolodge night desk, slowly been acclimatizing myself to that. So far it's been a waking frightmare, but I suppose that's the case when you have to learn new things in life such as consistency of continental breakfast waffle mix. Outside of work I've been trying to sleep and when I'm having trouble doing that I read, or write letters like Flaubert did.

Melbourne's Michael Hawkins visited and we had our picture taken next to a fine act, who did many renditions of good old country standards. We probably wouldn't have stayed if it hadn't been for my seeing the setlist next to the singer's foot pique my interest, how song 6 was called Grievous and sure enough they played a rousing Gram Parsons. 

It's funny how a stylish friend of mine from Melbourne (Paul Phillipson) took umbrage with the outfit I was wearing  that day. Only now do I realize that it was clearly inspired by Charles Portis' Gringos — a droll novel I was reading at the time about bounty hunters, hippies and UFO chasers in Mexico— an author Paul can't stand. Before I left Melbourne, I had sold him my copy of True grit, saying that it was well worth the six dollars. What a load of crap was soon to be Paul's take and now I realize his strain of existential urbanity doesn't gibe so well with the folksy parlances in Portishead (Portis's head).
Anywho, I remain a fan of both Portis and Paul's taste in books and here's a wonderful snippet from Gringos where a nutjob relates his UFO experience to our skeptical narrator.

“I am a payroll programmer from the state of Missouri and I wear nice shirts and nice suits when I'm at home. I live in a garage apartment which suits me, though I could afford something much, much nicer. It's comfortable enough and very private. I sleep upstairs, alone, needless to say, and my bedroom window faces southwest. At a little after 11 o' clock on the night of August third I was awakened by an expiring rush of air. Then there came a pulsing light and a low frequency hum, or a sort of throbbing...I am a professional man with a peptic ulcer and chronic scalp problems. Otherwise, I enjoy normal good health.”

There's far more to the anecdote, but not only am I too lazy to transcribe it, I'm in a rush to get to work. It's a heckuva book, I'd recommend it to most anyone, aside from you know, you-know-who.

Began Working the Doppler Shift, Steve Hanson's new mostly music writing project. Steve lives in Wales and is literally so cultured they should name a yogurt after him. We been sharing ideas, music (we pass a memory stick back and forth - more on this here) and a mutual appreciation of Meltzer dating back to our salad days at Plan B. He is track 4 on Neu's 75. He fights against cliche with erudition, style and grace. He'll keep you guessing. I am still trying to work out the artist who belts this juicy sax on this acid jazz mash-up he made.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Post-grad Post

Rather pleasant here aside from the champagne bottle that shattered on my handlebars and nearly sent a projectile into my crotch on my way to Jesi's pool party before she leaves for Kentucky. I was wearing my bathers at the time. Now I am wearing boxer shorts that have been in my possession since the Clinton administration. Heck, Pavement hadn't even disbanded by then. Full disclosure: the waistband has started to unravel.

I bought three expensive pens the other day: the total came to $5.79. It will be interesting if I return with the one I'm taking to Lake Havasu with Mitch (who I am expecting shortly). I haven't written anything for days. The thoughts that came into my head were of such shallow insignificance that it had me wondering if I had taken anything from this world since 1972 — exactly one week after Mia Schoen's inspirational birth — other than a presence that is hard-to-ignore due to my much-ballyhooed moxie.

So I reread the greatest novel of all time, The Bushwhacked Piano, in an attempt to generate some interesting prose. My inability to emulate his style is hardly testament to its genius. I suppose the thing that I take away from it more than any other is Mcguane's steadfast refusal to communicate anything in a conventional fashion. It reads fresh, alien even, every time.

Been applying for jobs around town, figuring that a good place to decompress after grad school would be behind a desk at a hotel foyer from 11pm-7am. Nathanael West did this in the 1930s and got at least two masterful novellas out of it. However, it's hard winning over the hoteliers considering I have no experience, but my winning personality may ultimately win them in the end. Besides, I've got a novella to finish.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Haircut 100 + Hangover = I Will Survive

If I was a girl I would probably wear my hair in pigtails all the time.

In the space of a week, I have been told by two separate people that I smell like Goodwill and that I smell like an old man who has consumed a lot of garlic capsules. Yesterday Chase said I smelt like ketchup. 

Trying to finish up, organize a party, read a book, apply for jobs. Getting 'er done barely.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vamping it up with crimson eye shadow

Updates up the ying-yang still to come, just a bit busy on my thesis. Doubt I'll finish, but hopefully will have it out with it this summer, a grudge match brawl.

Went to a wedding in Joshua Tree last weekend with the darling Chaser, who had an identity crisis. The wedding was at a lodge in the desert with her fellow outdoor ed instructors because when she's not at NAU, Chaser teaches outdoor ed. And since indoor ed is all I know and even that I am hardly an expert at, I probably came off as the least interesting person, but I really tried to be agreeable and may have overdid it. I got called out frequently on having a freaky attitude and look ala Richard Simmons. 

Sat in the dirt reading DH Lawrence, while Chaser scaled rock faces too high to even compute.

  "They had been sent to Dresden at the age of fifteen, for music among other things. And they had had a good time there. They lived freely among the students, they argued with the men over philosophical, sociological and artistic matters, they were just as good as the men themselves: only better, since they were women. And they tramped off to the forests with men bearing guitars, twang-twang! They sang the Wandervogel songs, and they were Free! That was the great word. Out in the open world, out in the forests of the morning, with lusty and splendid-throated young fellows, free to do as they liked, and - above all - to say what they liked. It was the talk that mattered supremely: the impassioned interchange of talk. Love was only a minor accompaniment." - Lady Chatterley's Lover

 As we left town, Chaser took me into a rock cave that had me thinking of The Cask of Amontillodo the whole time. Apparently people get stuck between the rocks in the pitch dark all the time. However she was a gentle loving guide, a skilled botanist, she has great legs and only mentioned flash flooding once.

Monday, April 02, 2012

On losing the ability to talk to squirrels

Dry Idea is a good name for lots of things, especially deodorant. Found some in the bargain bin at Bascha's, but I haven't applied it yet. Went to Safeway this morning in a beleaguered state having brewed the darling Chaser of Northern Michigan a rather dire plunger of coffee. Filled my basket with many items except the absolute necessity: toilet paper. Ate a jelly-filled donut as a reward for making it up the hill. It's suddenly cold today. It was warm yesterday to the degree that my tummy went pink as I sat outside finishing Geoff Dyer's charming Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Funny, but I mustn't drink so much. It's funny because I was thinking the other day that I wasn't doing enough of it, but then I was recovering from a cold at the time.

The Final Four was entertaining last night. Two years in a row I have watched it at Brews and Cues with JD Kitchens, an Alabaman who sings Lynyard Skynyard at karaoke. Kept asking the staff about their whisky specials and they were being evasive and for good reason. I simply didn't need to go there, but of course being stubborn I did go there and the subsequent night suffered as a result. Combination of that and a ghastly pub food diet. Tonight I am going to roast some mushrooms, contemplate what to do in the classroom tomorrow and read Thomas Bernhard's The Loser.

In other news, I have lost the ability to deploy my grey digger squirrel call. This is horrifying. My root canal came out the day after Matt and Alex arrived. We were headed to the Grand Canyon. Turns out the hole where my cap used to be was an integral prop in the mechanics of the impression.

I learned this on Friday afternoon in Chaser's backyard after she explained to me that she speaks like a sexy raven. I immediately went into squirrel call mode, but I could only make my lips tickle.

So I have started wearing aerosols and don't know if I will ever get to the Dry Idea, but it's in my toiletry basket on the bench and there if I need it. The Darling Chaser of Northern Michigan I'm pretty sure makes better eggs than Bonnie Raitt. She also uses a tea tree deodorant. Tea Tree is probably my favorite smell in the world. Here's a photo from Friday's sunset picnic at Buffalo Park. A bit Andrew Wyeth-esque.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Deep in the heart of Texas

Back from damn cool Austin. As the photo above illustrates, I was a sweaty Betty. Glory be, as Bel would say. Had a fizzy time, there really is no other word for it. Actually there is/are. Perhaps this weekend I will transcribe the notes I took down. I'd say they are hilarious, but also painfully esoteric outside the circle of Alex, Matt and I. Nevertheless, the results will be available and your level of care will be determined by whether you read them or not. Never an obligation!

We drove from Flagstaff to Austin in two days. Stayed in Albuquerque one night and a lugubrious ghost town called Early, Texas in which we barely survived an axe murdering the night after. We were in Austin five days. Saw some shows that rank high in the echelon of my ears and mind. Must say it was rather grim to go from humid Austin to a disastrous blizzard in Flagstaff, but here I am in one piece with merely a cold.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Hairy t-shirts and cuban sandwiches

I need an eyepatch. Not because I feel mysterious today, but because I gave myself a black eye when I crashed my bike. Did a quality photoshoot in my Hairy t-shirt that Mia kindly sent. Mia it fits real well as well. Subsequently listened to my Cannanes mix on the way to the wine bar that Leah works at. The wine there is so good. Hallucinogenic even. I crashed on my bike later, hairy t-shirt escaped the crash unscathed. My face skidded on the pavement. I had my helmet on. My eye is puffy. I kind of know what Jim Harrison feels like now. The darling Chaser of Northern Michigan would know too. She has sat on his lap. Jim has one eye.

The darling Chaser of Northern Michigan and Roberto and I met for breakfast. Martennes, royal Southwestern style grub is religiously popular and therefore too busy at this minute, so we opted for Criollo, this excellent Latin place next door. Chaser wanted to replace her peacock earrings that she lost the night before, so we did that and bought matching wayfarers.

In high school Chaser was one of the fastest girls in the country, and as she tells it, she maintained her prowess until she got curvaceous. Robert and I ate cuban sandwiches. I have my hairy t-shirt on underneath my overcoat. Those sandwiches are rich and juicy. I think they are a good primer for when Matt and Alex arrive and we hit the road for some Texas BBQ. Chaser had a mushroom burrito. I ordered a bloody mary sans vodka and when the invoice came through, they tried to charge me for virgin blood!
Matt and Alex get here Friday. What will they want to eat, I wonder? This is at front of mind. I know the theme of their welcoming party is honey, but I will probably get some tequila. I have other work to do now, but I may just read some more of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Nice to be reading again for my own personal pleasure.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Bonanza of High Adrenaline

"My scotch-soaked gearbox tickles me half to death as I shift down to recall the ironic pleasure this photograph, taken backstage at a Don Ho show in 1977, has given me over the years." (first line of the essay I presented on Friday) 

Chuffed to present at our university conference, only wish the Malkmus show wasn't on the same night. This was almost too much of an adrenaline high. Malkmus and co. were drop-dead good. He continues to mine an aesthetic that astounds me. There's no doubt my prose attempts to fuse high style with a nonchalance similarly (in other words: blame him!) Hazardous territory to be sure and one that I struggle to successfully integrate, but it's so much dang fun trying. Corwin gave me a plastic man t-shirt, so I am wearing that. The darling Chaser of Northern Michigan agreed to meet me for dinner tonight. She once sat on Jim Harrison's lap, which is good enough reason to skip the Oscars if there ever was one. Plus everyone is so down on Clooney in the Descendants (Bel, FJG, Bret Easton Ellis), I just can't stand the disagreements any longer. Now if only the local pizzeria were still open. I am told it is closing, which is the darndest crying shame. Still we will try our luck. The food is so fine (the #15 braised pork is incomparable), the ambience is lovely, especially for a Sunday evening, and they have an exquisite hi-fi that routinely plays jazz-rock that is music to my ringing ears.