Friday, December 31, 2004

The Fire Never Understands The Spark

The city is deserted. It’s just you and me and the ghosts. We are walking hand in hand. The night is cold and quiet. I can see your breath when you talk.

You say, “Do you think we’ll always be this happy?”

I say, “No. We’ll be even happier.”

You know I’m full of shit, but you don’t call me on it. We don’t get many moments like this. Right now nothing is wrong with the world. Tomorrow everything will be different, but tonight we are inseparable.

You lean against me and hold me just as tight as you can. You put your cold nose against my neck and you laugh. I smile and squeeze you until you squeak.

Overhead the moon reflects the light of an unseen sun. The stars send their song from millions of light years away.

I find myself wishing I could capture this. In a few weeks, it will just be another memory. You will be gone and I’ll be alone with everyone. But there’s nothing that will do this any justice. No song, no story, no fucking poem will ever make anyone feel what I feel right now. There’s just no reproducing this.

There are some things you can’t hold onto. They fade away like shadow and mist.

I tell you I love you and I mean it more than I’ve ever meant it. You look up at me and smile.

You say, “I could marry you.”

We sit down on a bench by the ocean. A cloud passes over and we are shrouded in darkness. We listen to the sound of the water splashing against the sand, too big to ever be held completely.

I put my arm around you and hide my face in your soft hair. It smells like fruit.

You say, “How much do you love me?”

I say, “Oceans.”

A gull cries in the distance. A cold breeze blows across the empty beach. The clouds roll past and I see your face in the moonlight. Goddamn, you are beautiful. I wonder how someone could be so fucking beautiful.

You kiss me and I am lost forever.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Signal

We pull into the motel parking lot just as the storm begins rolling into the city. Over the flickering sign that says Vacancy, I watch dark clouds illuminated by lightning within as the world around me rumbles. It hasn’t started raining yet, but it's on its way. The breeze coming through the rolled-down window smells like some ancient sea.

Dane says, “You know who really sucks? Green Arrow. I mean, here’s this guy surrounded by fucking Superman and Flash and Wonder Woman and the green Martian guy with basically the same powers as Superman...”

I say, “Martian Manhunter.”

He says, “Yeah, him. I mean, you’ve got all these people with the powers of fucking Greek gods and shit, and then you’ve got a dude decked out all in green with his cute little hat and a goddamn bow and arrow. He doesn’t have any special powers or anything. Even his girlfriend in the fishnets has the sonic scream thing. But this guy, he’s got nothing.”

I say, “What about Batman?”

Dane flashes me a look as he flicks his cigarette ashes through the crack in the car window.

“What about him?”

I light up a cigarette of my own and say, “Well, Batman doesn’t have any powers. He’s no better off than the Green Arrow. Superman could flick his fucking pinky finger and shatter his skull. He’s just a guy in a suit.”

“Yeah, but it’s a cool fucking suit. I mean, if you had the choice to go to a Halloween party dressed as Batman or Green Arrow, which one are you going to choose? Batman’s suit looks all menacing and shit. Green Arrow looks like a fucking faggot. Plus Batman’s a detective. What’s Green Arrow? A flaming liberal? There’s no comparison.”

I take a drag and say, “But he’s still just a guy in a suit. And don’t you think wearing that cape would get in the way in a real fight? At least Green Arrow won’t get his ass stuck in a revolving door.”

Dane says, “Dude, we’re talking about fucking comic books here. None of that shit applies in the real world. In the real world, the government would’ve either killed superheroes for being freaks of nature or they would have kept them a big secret and used them in special ops. You can’t apply real world shit to comics.”

I say, “Then why can’t someone wear a green suit and be a bad ass with a bow and arrow?”

Dane says, “Because it’s gay. This is a world full of super-powered villains, not fucking Sherwood Forest. What are you, a fucking Green Arrow fan?”

I say, “Nah. I always liked Hawkeye better. At least he pissed off Captain America all the time.”

Dane says, “Yeah, too bad he’s dead.”

“Nobody ever stays dead in Marvel comics except Captain Marvel and he died of cancer.”

Dane says, “And Bucky.”

“Fuck Bucky.”

We’re sitting in the usual spot in the parking lot waiting for someone to signal us with the lights. We’ve been coming to the Egyptian Motel for a couple of months now. Everyone’s favorite drug dealer, Eddie the Eel always gets a different room each day because he’s paranoid. I mean, he’s a drug dealer. In his line of work, it pays to be paranoid.

If you aren’t paranoid, you’re fucking stupid.

I don’t know how long we’ve been talking but it seems like it's been longer than usual. The Eel is a greedy bastard and he never makes us wait long. I like that about him. Most drug dealers dick around with you, just making you squirm like a fucking worm on a fishhook. But not the Eel. He’s quick and efficient. Everything always goes smooth as silk.

I finish my cigarette and put it out in the ashtray. In low volume on the radio a deejay is talking about thunderstorm warnings, so I turn the station. I fucking hate bad news.

Dane lights another cigarette and looks over at me, “Think he’s in there taking a shit or something.”

“Was just wondering that myself,” I say lighting another one of my own. I reach into the backseat floorboard and pull a beer out of the cooler. I pop it open and throw back half of the beer in a few gulps.

Dane says, “Thirsty?”

I say, “Nervous. You know I’m always paranoid.”

“Who isn’t in this business? It’s a shame everything good is fucking illegal, isn’t it?”

“What about comic books?”

“Dude, have you ever gotten laid because of comic books? If comics got you laid they’d probably make them illegal, too.”

“Guess you’re right,” I concede and finish off my beer.

In room number twelve a light flicks on and off quickly two times. This is pretty unusual because the signal is three times. Eddie the Eel’s always been adamant about that. Both of us wait for the light to go off and on again, but the light stays on.

“Do you remember what two times means?” Dane asks me taking another drag off his cigarette and blowing smoke out of his nose.

“I didn’t know there was a two.”

“Back when we first met Eddie. He told us that three times meant come to the room and two times meant something else.”

“Maybe it means he’s high and forgot to do it three times. I don’t remember him saying anything about two times. Let’s just go to the room, man. I’m ready to get stoned.”

I start to get out of the car and Dane grabs my arm.

“Wait a minute, man. I don’t like this.”

“Dude, nothing is fucked here.”

Dane flashes me a look as he flicks his cigarette out the window. “Don’t start quoting Lebowski, asshole. You know that annoys me.”

“That’s what I live for. Annoying you. Listen, man, let’s just go get the drugs and get the fuck out of here before it starts raining. There’s no two times signal. Eddie’s just high or something.”

“Fuck it. You’re right. I mean, what would fucking Captain America do? He wouldn’t sit out here in the car wondering about being cautious. He’d just go charging in.”

“Number one, Captain America wouldn’t be buying weed and, number two, he has an indestructible shield.”

“Don’t get all logical on me, man. Let’s just go get the pound and get the fuck out of here.”

We roll up the windows on the Chevelle and get out of the car. I light another cigarette and Dane follows suit. Normally, we’d probably be more cautious, but with the storm and the fact we’d been out of weed for a couple of days and people had been bugging the shit out of us, we wanted to get this done.

We walk up to the door of room number twelve and Dane knocks. We wait about a minute and no one answers. Now this is really fucking weird. The Eel never turns away money. Ever. Not unless he thinks you're a cop.

I whisper, “The fuck is going on here?”

Dane whispers back, “How the hell should I know? Think I should try the knob?”

“What and get shot in the gut by a paranoid drug dealer when you come walking into his motel room? Go right ahead.”

Dane tries the door. “It’s unlocked.”

“Captain fucking America, right?”

Dane opens the door and his face freezes. I see a bunch of people in the room that look like cops. The first thing I do is bolt, but I notice cops are coming out of the adjacent rooms. We’re so fucked. I think about making a run for the car, but looking back I see that they’ve already grabbed Dane and he has the keys, so I change direction and head for the woods across the street. I hear people screaming for me to stop and what sounds like a gunshot, but maybe it’s just thunder. Cops don’t shoot unarmed men in the back, do they?

Everything’s happening so fucking fast. I feel something heavy hit in me in the back and the next thing I know I’m eating loose gravel and some big guy is trying to wrestle with me on the ground. I manage to kick him in the guts, but by that time two more guys are on me and my face is planted in sharp little rocks.

Something told me that tonight was going to be a shitty night.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Nature Wants To Kill Me

On Sunday, I decided to take my nature-loving girlfriend, Ptiza, to one of the local natural wonders. To put it mildly, I’ve never been a huge fan of the so-called Great Outdoors. There’s a reason we lost our fur millions of years ago. Give me a computer, air-conditioning, a pack of cigarettes, a large quantity of beer, and a bed to pass out in and I’m content, but I figured if Ptiza, who’s happy both in the bustling Big Apple and out in the middle of a bug-infested forest, is going to be stuck in this one horse town, I could at least show her some of the things in this area she might enjoy.

A few weeks ago we went hiking through the Land Between the Lakes- a huge nature preserve nestled between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley- where I promptly got eaten alive by blood-sucking chiggers. It’s a fun little hike but there isn’t really much to see except a bunch of trees, a man-made lake, and a few squirrels.

This time I opted to take her to the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Garden of the Gods offers what many profess to be a breath-taking view of forest and rock formations. The sandstone rock formations with names like Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, and Devil’s Smokestack are the modern reminders of an ancient sea which once covered most of Illinois, western Indiana, and western Kentucky. According to one website, “For millions of years ancient rivers carried sand and mud to this sea where it settled on the shoreline. Over time, the weight of the sediments turned them into layers of rock, thousands of feet thick. At Garden of the Gods, the sediment layers were more than 20,000 feet thick, or about 4 miles deep. Eventually uplift occurred that fractured the bedrock, exposing it to nature’s erosive forces. Since that time, windblown sand, rain and freezing and thawing actions have worn down the layers of sediment, creating the marvelous rock formations”

After spending a couple of hours driving around Southern Illinois trying to rattle my drug-stunted memory enough to remember how to get to the Garden of the Gods, which I’d only been to a couple of times years ago, I ended up stopping in a ghetto convenience store in the tiny Southern town of Golconda to ask for directions. The corpulent, two-toothed cashier gave me half-assed directions and after putting some more gas in the car so we wouldn’t run out of fuel in the middle of Bum Fuck Egypt, we were off again.

Thirty minutes later propelled by blind luck, I found the road to the Garden of the Gods, and we pulled into a heavily populated parking lot. You don’t expect to have trouble finding a parking place in the middle of Shawnee National Forest but, believe me, it happens. Apparently, a lot of other really bored people had the same idea I had.

The first thing I noticed when we got out of the car and headed towards the quarter mile circular trail that showcases the splendor of this natural wonder was the smell of human fecal matter.

“What’s that smell?” I asked my darling girlfriend.

“I dunno,” she said.

“Smells like shit.” I said.

Ah, nature. You gotta love it, right?

Anyway, after stopping off at the culprit causing the awful smell, a building resembling a public restroom only without the benefit of running water, so it was actually a giant outhouse with a big hole in the ground full of all the other tourists piss and shit and their little insect friends which swarmed around the toilets, we gaggingly made our way down the cobblestone trail to the wonder of nature that awaited us. Thankfully, the smell vanished as we made our way a little farther down the trail.

To our left we saw the first rock formation. A rather small one in comparison to the ones we would see, with no view at all. So we trudged up the side of it for a minute and stood there. I told Ptiza that she hadn’t seen anything yet and we made our way back down this small rock formation. Ptiza was wearing hiking boots, so she scampered down the small rock like a little mountain goat and was already heading off down the trail. I, on the other hand being the nature hater that I am, was ill-equipped for this venture and was wearing a pair of Vans. Where she was sure-footed, my Vans slipped out from under me as I made my way down the rock. The next thing I knew my foot twisted as it slipped and I was falling with nothing to grab onto. Luckily, there was a small tree at the base of the rock which broke my fall as my upper arm slammed into it with all the force that a two-hundred pound body in free fall could muster. It wasn’t a nice cushioned stop to say the least and somehow my wrists had gotten bloodied on the way down as well.

Ptiza rushed over to comfort her fallen man and besides a bruised pride and upper arm and several minor scrapes, I found I was still in working order. So I soldiered on so she might see some of the grandeur of Southern Illinois.

Needless to say, from that point on I was a little apprehensive about traipsing around on the giant rocks. Especially since, after the first one that I’d fallen off of, the drop was a lot steeper, by literally hundreds of feet on some of the bigger rock formations overlooking the view. While Ptiza scampered about on the rocks like the mountain goat she was apparently descended from, I made sure each step was carefully calculated to not include me falling to my doom.

But the view was gorgeous, as much as nature can be gorgeous to me, hampered only by the fact that there were too many loud and obnoxious people there ruining the serenity of its natural majesty. We saw the giant rock that looked like a cock, aka Devil’s Smokestack. We saw the other giant rock that supposedly looked like a camel. And we saw a bunch of other rocks that looked like, well, big fucking rocks. These rocks all overlooked a huge valley of trees covered in leaves that were just starting to turn into a brilliance of varied colors in accordance with fall. If you really loved nature, this would be the place to see, except of course for all the people being people and mucking it up.

After about twenty of minutes of crawling about on the giant rocks and enjoying the view with the sun blazing in the west, we made our way back up the cobblestone trail and past the foul-smelling public restroom to the car and made our way back to the creature comforts of the Fortress of Solipsism where booze and air-conditioning and the internet awaited our return.

On the way home, we saw a bevy of deer, including to Ptiza’s delight a little baby deer. And, lest I forget, some little baby goats. We also saw some of finest and most alarming examples of redneck living, not to mention a whole lot of Bush-Cheney signs littering the yards of the ignorant and uninformed. Pope County, Illinois, where I nearly lost my life at party once, is full of fine upstanding rednecks that will kill you just for being different.

Once home, I crawled onto the couch with the blessed a/c blasting and turned on the droning sounds of television and popped a doctor-prescribed Lortab to deal with the aches and pains from my massive fall while Ptiza checked her e-mail and the latest posts on the Lebowski Fest forum.

The absolute best thing about nature is the fact that we don’t have to live in it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The World Is My Ashtray

Right now I’m burning off seven minutes of my life. After I finish with this seven minutes, I’ll light up another cigarette and take care of another seven shitty minutes of old age. And I will love it just as much as this one.

I love smoking. All the cool people smoke. Me, Johnny Depp, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Denis Leary, Bill Hicks. Okay, so Bill Hicks died in his forties, but that’s only because he quit smoking. And he died of pancreatic cancer, not lung cancer or a heart attack. That was his body’s big “fuck you” for all of those smoking and health nut jokes he told. You want to quit and be a huge hypocrite? Okay, bam, you’re dead. And, sure, Denis Leary quit and lost his sense of humor and started making movies like “Dawg.” But Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is pushing eighty and still inhaling Pall Malls like a dying man sucking on oxygen in a crashing plane. He knows what I know. Quitters never win.

If you’re not smoking you should be.

It’s like Denis Leary said back when he was still funny and not putting fifty percent crappy music filler on his comedy albums.

“Smoking takes ten years off your life. Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks? It's the ones at the end! It's the wheelchair, kidney dialysis, adult diaper fucking years. You can have those years! We don't want 'em, alright?”

My grandmother has spent the last seven years wasting away in a nursing home, unaware of who she is and who her family is. When I go see her, she doesn’t have a clue who I am. She can’t get out of bed because her hip keeps breaking. I love my grandmother dearly, but I don’t think that’s living. That’s why I’m smoking for my health. So I never have to go through that. When I keel over of a heart attack at fifty something like my grandfather did, I’ll still be a virile and cognizant bastard. And I’ll have a big fucking smile on my face because I never had to wear Depends. People will remember me as a force of nature rather than some frail, brittle-boned old man with translucent skin.

Don’t let anyone tell you that smoking makes you look old either. That’s bullshit. I’m thirty-five years old and look younger than most non-smokers. It isn’t smoking that makes you look old, it’s growing up. I mean look at Johnny Depp. Look at Brad Pitt. Do either of those guys look forty?

If anything smoking keeps you young. Colonel Depp hasn’t aged a day in the last twenty years and that’s because he smokes.

What? You think I’m making this stuff up?

Back in the fifties Rod Serling would smoke in his intros for Twilight Zone. That’s how fucking cool he was. He was from our grandparents’ generation where all the men worked eighteen hours and smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. They did us all a huge favor and died young before they could drain Social Security dry.

Not our generation. We’re making all of these fucking smoke-free environments. We have some sort of complex where we think we’re going to live forever if only we eat right and quit smoking and quit drinking and quit having any sort of fun what-so-fucking-ever. In some places, like California and New York City, you can’t even smoke in a bar anymore. In a goddamn bar. Bukowski is rolling in his grave right now.

We’re a selfish, weak-willed bunch of assholes that have let the non-smokers make all of the decisions for us. Those same non-smokers who drive gas-guzzling SUVs that burn through petroleum and pollute the fucking environment like there’s no tomorrow, screaming, “Second-hand smoke kills! Second-hand smoke kills!”

Because it’s okay to kill the world ecology as long you’re not indirectly killing people.

And what’s so bad about indirectly killing people? That’s one of my favorite reasons for smoking. That makes me want to smoke more. It makes me want to blow smoke in the face of every baby on the planet.

Bill Hicks said it best about non-smokers when he said, “Obnoxious, self-righteous, whining little fucks. My biggest fear is if I quit smoking I’ll become one of you.”

The only thing worse than someone who’s never smoked is someone who’s quit smoking and points that out to you every time you light up. You know what, asshole? That was your choice to be a goddamn quitter. I don’t quit anything. Here, have some second-hand smoke, you fucking Benedict Arnold.

Sure, there are some drawbacks, but even the drawbacks can be a plus. Your teeth will turn yellow and everything you own will smell like an ashtray. But when you smoke, you don’t smell any of that anyway. Every nasty smell that every non-smoker has to suffer through, you’re automatically exempt from, including your own cigarette smoke. And you can always get your teeth bleached like I did. I have whiter teeth than a lot of coffee-drinking non-smokers. Now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Who can love coffee and not smoke?

For that matter, who can love beer and not smoke?

There’s nothing better than throwing back beer after beer and chain-smoking a night away. It’s sublime. It’s one of the reasons mankind crawled out the muck.

It’s okay that I wheeze like an eighty-year old man, because I look fucking great when I’m smoking a cigarette. No non-smoker will ever look as cool as I do sitting here writing this right now.

Even the coolest fictional characters smoke. Where would Marla Singer be without her chain-smoking? Tony Soprano never looks more menacing than when he’s lighting up a big fat Cuban cigar. Wolverine smokes. John Constantine smokes.

So, kids, take my advice and start smoking.

It’s like Dennis Hopper said in Waterworld.

“You’re never too young to start.”

Thursday, September 23, 2004

My Balls Are Bigger Than Yours

I have bigger balls than Maddox.

I used to have a lot of respect for everyone’s favorite pissed off pirate and his self-proclaimed “Greatest Page in the Universe.” I used to read his entries and laugh out loud. And even though he’d gotten lazy lately and started posting boring bullshit like “Video Games You’ll Never Play,” I kept reading, hoping he’d return to some of his comedic greatness. Then I read the biggest blow to his credibility, his latest entry about Websense. Man, I really liked that idea. I really liked it back when I wrote about it two fucking months ago and called it “Fuck Websense in the Ear.”

Maybe a few of you will remember the entry. It was a poignant, touching piece with veiled threats of burning down Websense’s corporate headquarters. It was about how Websense deemed my site “tasteless” and I went into one of my trade-marked angry rants about “who decides what’s tasteful and what isn’t.” Because we all know Websense and its employees are the ultimate purveyors of good taste in the business world.

One part of my entry, I talked about how I’ve blocked anyone from Websense from ever reading my site. I thought that was a nice touch of irony. Obviously, Maddox thought the same thing, as he copied the idea and called it his own.

Thanks for ripping me off, Che Guapo. Next time, can you maybe come up with your own ideas?

I know it sucks to be blocked by Websense. Like I said, I was there. But, unlike Maddox, I had the nerve to call up their corporate headquarters and bitch at their employees. You know, the ones who actually make the decisions to label sites things like “tasteless.” I argued that my personal thoughts being deemed “tasteless” was an insult to my own very moral viewpoints which are expressed in everything I write.

And even though one of the Websense employees that I spoke with said he actually agreed that I was “tasteless”, two days later my site was removed from that category. I’m not sure if my threats had anything to do with it, but I’ve always found that people respond well to threats. And this didn’t seem to dispute that fact.

This is why you can all read my site at work and school and at your local public library, but a lot of you, those of you with Websense baby-sitting your impressionable little minds, can’t read Maddox. It’s not because he’s any more “tasteless” than I am. It’s because my balls are bigger.

I fought The Man and I won. Maddox just whined and accepted defeat. Sure, he threw out a few good insults, but they’ll never be read by a bunch of his readers because he couldn’t do what I did and defeat those evil corporate cock-sucking thought police.

I can’t read the Misanthropic Bitch or Maddox at work anymore. (Though with the frequency both of them are updating, it’s not like I’m missing much.) But I can read the genius of Smotlock.

And that’s because I am better than both of them. I defend my readers’ rights to read my free fucking speech to the bitter end. This country may be turning into a fascist version of Disneyworld, but I will never take it lying down.

I’m glad you’re all so fucking gracious about it and everything. Thanks for all the comments on the last entry. All fucking six of them. It’s good to know all of this writing isn’t in vain. You ungrateful fucks can all go read Maddox when he updates in about two months. I’m sure he’ll have some crappy children’s art you can enjoy or a movie review that basically says “this sucks.” Or maybe he’ll have another topic he stole from me. You never know.

Now go fuck yourselves. I’m going back to writing my novel, you goddamn ingrates.

Tell me how great I am or go read the ongoing chronicles of the cutters.

Because I don’t have time for your fucking apathy.

My ego will never allow it.