Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Golden Spur I have been writing nothing at all whatsoever and whatever I have been ill I have been sleeping I have been thinking about absolutely nothing, I haven't been dreaming (would I even know if I was? if I have, I have not been remembering) I am still working I am still sick I am still drinking McMenamin's mocoas and getting palpitations everytime I drink them, they are addictions that hotwire my heart I still read when I'm not sleeping I'm wide awake and not reading a lot I am not making sense of what I read I still read because therein lies the beauty of the world that and eating but I am eating very little mostly turkey leftovers from christmas dinner I haven't got around to the spaghetti sauce that Amanda and her husband Wes made me, they asked tonight at work, she is a housekeeper who cans, I called it tomato sauce and wes corrected me, he lashed out actually told me it was spaghetti sauce and I knew that, I guess the reason I called it tomato sauce was because I was considering using it for cannelloni nevertheless it will be messy like the serviette the swedish girl wore after the winter mushroom sloppy joe she had in the restaurant the other night, and this serviette looked like a truly fine example of abstract expressionism, autumnal browns and yellows, I turned to my colleague Kevin and said that dirty piece of linen would make a fortune on ebay, which alarmed Kevin for he saw that I meant what I said with great conviction and was already imagining a frame for it...

She materializes at the front desk at the best moment because it is always the best moment when she appears, she often steps behind the desk to talk to me, does she want to see my boots, I wonder, or does she want to show me hers, they are very nice, I don't compliment her, there are far too many nice things to say, so really where does one begin? She is a lightning rod of fierce originality, she has one outfit, equestrian blazer, scarlet to match her lipstick, cowboy shirt underneath, white with black piping, it is I am certain the outfit that Lee envisaged for suzie Jane in Hey Cowboy, she doesn't wash her hair, only conditions it, how did we even talk about this, perhaps it was I who needed to apologize for the state of my hair the last time she came in, it was lifeless and miserable, having just been washed by products clearly not up to the task, and did she wash her hair I may have asked boldly, I was confident I was having excellent hair on this particular encounter, but no comment from her about mine which was fine I was hardly fishing, our chatter was comically screwball, she wears a coonskin cap, then we talked about her lipstick, again how bold of me, I don't know how it went there so suddenly, she has blue eyes, she's 29, and talks Swedish after a few drinks, she drinks spirits, why she's ebullient, we talked lip balm, chapped lips, it is cold in Portland, Flagstaff had warm afternoons, it's been cold throughout the day and foggy,  she grew up here, it is her mother who is Swedish, everyone is wearing layers, I pressed the button for her cab and she gave me a Christmas present, a tiny pocketknife, an antique tied with a little red ribbon to a stick of sandalwood, it's wonderfully fragrant, we hugged and she repositioned us heart-to-heart and my world was spinning, what was I thinking I couldn't tell her I was leaving for georgia in a week her cab showed up I didn't even have her phone number I blew her a kiss and she was gone, home to her apartment on Christmas Day and then I woke up on boxing day feeling very ill after searching all over the house for Dawn Powell's The Golden Spur absolutely convinced that my sister-in-law had left with it and then managed to call off the search patrol at 8am the next morning when I discovered that it had fallen under my bed behind my brown carry-on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From Love and Death in the American Novel

If Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man seems, as a novel written by a Negro about the Negro's plight, superior to any of the passionate, incoherent books of Richard Wright, this is because Ellison has bypassed all formulas of protest and self-pity and cast off the restrictions of mere realism. Only James Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain has a comparable freshness and directness, but it lacks finally the madness which gives to Invisible Man, a special kind of conviction. The whole middle of Ellison's book takes on a special quality of the grotesqueness because he begins and ends it with a Surrealist nightmare. The invisible man (invisible because he is black — and being black cannot be seen through a wall of cliches) crouches in a cellar retreat lighted by "exactly 1,369 lights." His electric power he steals from the Monopolated Light and Power, using it not only for illumination but also to keep his record player going. On that player spends endlessly Louis Armstrong's "What did I do to be so black and blue," to which the invisible man listens as he eats his favorite dessert of vanilla ice cream and sloe gin.

- Leslie A. Fielder (1960)

Friday, December 06, 2013

The day after Thanksgiving I had off and set myself a variety of tasks that turned pear-shaped

Thanksgiving was out at my parents, Jack and Jamie. Dad is built like a fullback: 6'2" 224 lbs and mom is 5'6" — 6'8" with a mohawk. She wears her hair Christine McVie's length these days, a length that is hard to deny.

Went to their place from work via light rail, 45 minute jaunt roughly. Arrived (8:30am) and mom heated me a couple frozen waffles and then I went to bed. Awoke up at 1pm and had beers with Dirk's dad. Dirk is my real brother and dad is my real dad to everybody but Dirk. I had a large helping of food by dinner time and helped pass plates around to my aunt Marilyn and uncle Bob, my sister-in-law Pam, my niece Allison, my brother and the rest of my family (Dirk's parents). Played frisbee after lunch and then went back to bed. Got up at 8 and then at 9:15pm my mom took me to the station. Unbelievably cold out.

Since I was getting in to work so early, I figured I would stop at trendy Buffalo Exchange (open til 11pm) and sell my tweed coat that I brought from home. Inexplicably, they were closed. I then decided to go to Everyday Music and pick up the Kanye West CD, they were closed too. I walked down to POwell's Books to get Frank O' Hara's Lunch Poems for school. Also closed. I went back to work a little dejected. It was Thanksgiving I was reminded. Thankfully I was informed of mass portions of food that I could help myself to.

I left my tweed coat at work and picked it up the next day when I went in to get my check. I planned to accomplish a variety of tasks, a series of interesting endeavors that would conclude with live music back at the hotel by Madison, Wisconsin's Freedy Johnston, who I had befriended at the hotel over the week and appreciated his midwestern soul straight out of Ring Lardner, but first I would sell two jackets to Buffalo Exchange. Sadly my fashion sense is out of time and they didn't want these non-sellers. So I left the jackets on a recycling bin outside in a furore, figuring a bum would snag them and walked to Powells to get this book of poetry, which they didn't have, so I walked up to Everyday Music to get the new Kanye West, which was fifteen dollars that I didn't spend. No thanks I thought when I could get it on amazon for eight. I like the idea of supporting local business, but this was stupid.

Went up to Ringlers, half block, to fill an empty 32 oz. mason jar that I carry in my satchel sometimes full of kris kringle yuletide ale to take to watch the Civil war game out at Mike McClellan's, but on my way to the light rail, the beer got agitated, I felt a wet streak on my trouser leg and lo and behold the beer had exploded in my satchel and ruined my life. I sat on the curb and drank the beer which was good. It was unbelievably cold out and my gloves were frozen stiff from beer. Called all my friends to complain, shivering, went and deposited my check, shivering, got my bike from work, shivering, still complaining and rode to Tim's shivering, then showered, had more to drink and finally, sitting on the couch watched the greatest football game of all-time (Auburn vs. Alabama) no longer shivering, feeling toasty, cackled euphorically at the ridiculousness of it all and spared a thought to the life that we are all living now.