My folks were here in St. Louis tonight, I just left them out at V's and I am feeling melancholoy. They wanted to watch tapes from the past few years as they've just figured out how to play them back on their camcorder, R and I were together in most of the videos - that stuff is a little hard to watch. I also miss my folks and hate that I see them for one or two days every few months and it seems like they are aging so fast, my father's nose is bigger my mother looks more weathered. It's a sad night. I am drinking a Vanilla vodka martini and reading John Horgan's Rational Mysticism - which you should all buy and read. Phil sent it to me after that last conversation. Last summer we built a garage for/with my dad, watching the tape of us putting up the frame - filmed right before Glenn's murder - it feels like that was five or ten years ago, ancient history. This has been the longest year of my life.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
And Before Eden?
The abyss predates everything. Many cultures agree with the Babylonians, our givers of law in the Hammurabic code, who explained existence in the Enuma Elish and the battles of Marduk with Tiamat; who came from that place between the Tigris and the Euphrates – the early Semitic tribes whose descendents became Jews, and Christians after Paul, and Muslims after Ishmael. The abyss was well understood metaphorically by the Babylonians as primordial water. The abyss became divided, as for the Taoists the one became two, the two became three, and from the three came the ten thousand things. We might think again of water being divided by the land, between the salty water of Tiamat and the sweet water of Apsu; bitterness and joy. High and low define each other, near and far cannot exist without the other, so too life and death. All extremes pivot on a point.
The abyss was not left behind at the beginning of things. It is still with us, and remains as Sartre’s nothingness at the heart of being, the gap between who we were and who we will become; the fulcrum point between the past and the future. Now. This gap is both the source of our potential and the void into which we fall. This is the heart of infinite mythologies.
These are the most basic facts of our existence, one possible picture of our earliest history, we who are water contained by the salt in our cell membranes, we who know joy through its juxtaposition with pain, who must have birthed in water as swimming newborns attest, as the long hair on our heads, as our posture’s affect on the internal organs, as our difference from the other great apes suggests, we who returned to the water, but have been washed by a flood of our own number back onto the land.
I write now on the other side of the world, in-between two great rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, a city that is in the gap. St. Louis may well resolve itself into a fulcrum, a center point, from which the earth is moved.
Monday, March 29, 2004
I don't think the American people are in touch with Bush's feminine side.
I have the day off of work as we are between sessions at the center. Deby and I each decided we would bookend the week with three day weekends, this is mine. She was hoping I would travel, do something I wouldn’t ordinarily do, but I am too broke to get away. I’ve been playing phone tag with Thad so no clear roommate solution. Saturday I steam cleaned the upstairs again just in case. I’m a little at a loss for what to do with my day, I imagine I’ll clean and do laundry. It’s past time to figure my taxes, so I guess I’ll do that. Friday BJ came into town.
I’m caught in a bit of a tension. Jen is bored by her latest blog, as her voice feels restricted, she has too much stewing and doesn’t want an uncooked meal of ideas all over the place. I too am bored a bit by my blog as is– listing the events of a given span of time does offer the reader the limited entertainment of the reality TV show. Some of my readers have told me as much, I get occasional questions from far off friends about some of the stuff I’ve written about – to write more about certain “characters”. Angela has repeated her request for more literary efforts. I might start a second blog, with more of my fictive writing there and keep this blog for the cathartic self-reflection, which would mean I should do less listing and seek more catharsis.
Friday BJ came into town. While I was waiting for him to get in I mixed a stiff gin and tonic and watched the first half of Silverado. The Western is key to the cultural construction of masculinity. For a much better read on this then I can give here checkout Jackson Katz – particularly Tough Guise, which is a video available from The Media Education Foundation.
My father’s father died when my father was young. During the school year he was raised by his mother, together with his two brothers. Summers he lived on a farm with Karl Wentzle and worked for room, board, and a few dollars a week. I am named after Karl. I’ve only heard a few stories about him. He was a first generation German immigrant who worked hard and belched loudly after meals to show his appreciation. He had a dog that my father would race down the hill on his bicycle to get the mail.
Without other role models I think my father fell back on the culture. He loved the tough image of the Western heroes. I’ve spent endless Saturday s watching the various classics with him: the films of Clinic Eastwood, the John Ford & John Wayne films, the Dirty Harry films and the James Bond canon. The weak points of these characters are clearly their misogyny and their use of violence as conflict resolution. But the strong silent image of the capable man is attractive.
This is funny in the context of my weekend as I end up heading out to BJ’s sister’s house in St. Charles and when I arrive he is watching Tombstone, the Val Kilmer argument in Latin is a great scene. The extended appearance of western themes dominated the weekend.
Paul is in town and he calls me on Saturday to hang out. Paul was a roommate of mine in college and is now in his pathology residency in Columbia. He’s like Quincy, only more “what kind of cancer is this” then “who is the killer,” though a fair amount of “how did they die?” He wants to know if we can hang out and if I want to go to the shooting range with his father-in-law. My father tried at various points to teach me to shoot, I’ve even gone deer hunting a few times (extended early morning nature walks really), but it’s just not my thing. I take a pass on the shooting range as I want to get some cleaning done and his father-in-law drops him off after. The Paul quote, “Even with the laser at the number two setting I was down into the nuts.” He could hit the target at short range, but long range he was down and to the right. His father-in-law was in the next booth and the bullet casings from his rounds were flying up over the divider and falling on Paul’s head as he was trying to line up his shots. That’s a great image.
So Paul arrives and we spend the day junk shopping. At the first stop we buy matching Philippine wedding shirts, his brown mine blue, and later we pick up a pink one. Cutting against the Western grain & yet Gene Autry was a shirt man. We went to see Mary’s place, she’s planted a variety of roses all around it. We talked for an hour or so and then I was going to run Paul back out to the county, where his in-laws live. We stopped by my place to let the dog out and got a message that his wife and her parents had gone to a movie and he had no way to get into the house, so we made espresso and took the dog for a long walk.
He eventually decided to go with us to Tyler’s BBQ/poker party, to which we made Beth wear the pink shirt. We played nickel dime quarter Texas Hold Um (more western themes) and I kept winning all night, I was up thirty bucks until I went “all in” on a big pot and lost by one card. Beth and I were both very ready to go at that point, Paul had already left. When Dan & I kept winning Bree started feeding us top shelf Don Hulio(sp?) tequila shots to undermine our game. It worked.
We picked Angela up on our way back in from Fenton, she had braved the crowds and gone to the Democratic Party rally in Forest park. She got within eight people of John Kerry and is now more impressed with him than she had been. Vanessa is volunteering for his campaign. Angela was supposed to come out to the BBQ after the rally, but couldn’t get Hannah or Vanessa interested in driving out to the county. There is a city county tension in St. Louis, and I have to admit the county does make me uncomfortable, though this is less true of south county. St. Louis is a white flight city where the suburbs take conformity of ideal and appearance to frightening extremes. The Jones on Jones competition is astounding and longhaired red heads in Philippine wedding shirts are a rarity to say the least.
Sunday Angela and I coasted around the city shopping for nothing in particular. We had a great lunch at Il Vachino in Clayton, they have a stone hearth oven and make great sandwiches and pizza. In the evening we decided to do a wine and cheese thing but could get no takers, so we gorged ourselves on havarti, port wine cheddar, English stilton, and Wisconsin sharp cheddar with several wines from The Wine Merchant on Forsyth. I loved the David Lee Roth cameo on The Sopranos and was overwhelmed by the home improvement show we caught, they went into Watts and redid the home and neighborhood of a woman named Sweet Alice. We just caught the end of that and I would love to see it from the start. Ah well, I need to do more with my day off then sleep in and write blogs, so I think I’ll go walk the dog.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Thought still life:
People are dying in sub Saharan Africa at rates not seen since the Black Plague.
Yesterday I removed thirteen snails from my fish tank and released them in a local pond
The tank feels empty without them.
Henry Miller is perplexed by the old Paris of Maugham, of Gauguin reflected in the Seine. Why is he the only one that is haunted by the historical past? Why can’t he share his thoughts with anyone, with anyone other than a thirty year old in the far distant future and millions of others, but they can’t share back, it’s a relay race and you can only share forward (or laterally). He wants to share with his predecessors but they’re gone.
A ninety year old man reflects on the absurdity odd ecological Ludites, “Do you think we could feed six billion, or the coming eight billion people with the agricultural technology of the eighteen hundreds, or even the nineteen sixties? There isn’t enough shit produced yearly by the living beings of the planet to fertilize the fields we would need to feed us all using “organic methods,” we need genetic engineering and industrial fertilizers to pull this off. Yes habitants are harmed by toxic run off, but without that toxic run off there would be no habitats to pollute, we would need every inch of soil in protected habitats to feed even half of us using the old methods.” At ninty he is re-engineering maze in Mexico.
People are dying in sub Saharan Africa at rates not seen since the Black Plague.
Friday, March 26, 2004
It stands to reason that if one had the correct goals and applied themselves - enlightenment should be possible in a lifetime
Actually, it can occur today
The essential event is the courage to act on the knowledge that the Divine wants you to serve it's purposes, today, and in all instants to follow
Once you act on that knowledge that we are all born with, and that the ego is born to struggle against, you instantly die
the you that dies is the you that has been busy designing the future
mapping out your growth,your path, your stategy
The hard thing is that this same "you" is the one that has been doing the seeking, and it is damned proud of what it has learned, and it does not want to surrender its fate to the whims of a life of service to the divine
fear is the block
death of the ego
The ego is a survival mechanism that has been 2 million + years in the making
Only rarely does a person come along willing or even able to risk the loss of that crucial survival tool
Even the "enlightened" teachers I have read seem to be carrying along really big ego's
Perhaps a true loss of identity is not even possible - due to the way the mind constructs a past from memory that the ego owns and identifies with
What are we that we are so different from animals governed by instinct? Are we so different? Is language itself the fall from grace - when the one becomes two and subject object metaphysics is born?
The half animal half alien theory is popular here in the land of the new age
In a way science will continue to illucidate, that the animal mind was ONE with the world at one time, and perhaps the enlightenment experience of divine unity is in fact a genetic artifact of earlier structures in the mind that were COMPLETELY in tune with the world: lost senses like knowing your are being watched (hunted), projecting your consciousness across a valley, around a corner (to hunt),
calling a loved one mentally in a time of great distress (to survive an attack)
I wonder if an enlightened person or teacher, going through life with the primary central goal of their existence being service to the divine, the evolutionary perfection of humanity and life in the universe through the continual development of novel experience and increased complexity, can ever really say that their ego is not experiencing that process
Perhaps rather than the ego dying, it is in fact seeking purposes higher than survival of self, and in serving perfection of humanity over perfection of self, it finds a cause that it associates with so strongly that the self-absorbance of the ego is all that dies, and the ego expands to encompace all life, all time, all process.
In that re-association, one can say "I was Born Again", I was Enlightened, I experienced or continue moment by moment to experience one-ness with all that is and ever was or will be
Ravi Shankar refers to the ego as the shell of a seed which we need to protect us, until it's time to grow and flower, he says of the ego don't begrudge the seed its shell.
I like that
not ego death, but ego expansion, I like that
4 am wake up, thunderstorm and disturbing dreams. I take my oldest nephew and his classmates to an IHOP, which is also a movie theatre, where some of them get alcohol while we eat and watch a movie with The Who in it. (T recently got busted for getting loaded on a cruse ship, they’ll serve miners in international water – Ah “international” equals IHOP, that’s cute brain). After they all pay their bills there is still ninety-six dollars owning in booze as none of them owned up to drinking and I only have forty something dollars (getting stuck with the tab, rent is coming due and still no new roommate). Earlier in the dream I am having a scotch and water and a women walks up and puts her hand on my shoulder, it’s quite comforting, it’s not a woman I currently know, she stands there for a long time, her right hand on my right shoulder. She has darker hair and I think she’s wearing glasses. Maybe she’s a teaching assistant for T’s class.
I don’t really have nightmares for one key reason – I generally know I’m dreaming and when something gets annoying I change it. I imagine myself with a credit card from T’s school to cover the tab they’ve run up. When I do that I notice that I am at the front of a long line and people are just starting to get impatient. I am suddenly wearing a cowboy hat and I touch the brim in acknowledgement of the people at the back of the line. As I turn back to pay, my dog Sebastian leaps back and forth over the counter and begins to run crazily around the restaurant, which is now overlapped with a park. The people behind the counter are regretting allowing me to bring the dog in, which I didn’t, the people in line are judging me for how poorly trained he is. An elderly woman walks towards me out of the park yelling at me that Sebastian has attacked her little white dog.
Brad approaches with the dogs leash in hand. Brad will let Sebastian chase squirrels by just dropping the leash, I’ll have to remind him not to do that in case this is a precognitive flash. However what this probably is, is an odd reversal.
In the real world Sebastian was attacked in a park by two white dogs when their owner dropped the leash. This was when we first moved from the ville. I was in the basement of our house tinkering and R decided to take him for a walk by her self. It was in the evening I think on a Sunday. She took him up to the local park and this guy who was walking two large white dogs just dropped the leashes, R is not a big girl so she tried to get out of the way as one dog attacked Sebastian from the front and the other bit him from behind. The owner eventually stopped the fight and left quickly without giving R any contact info – we never saw him again. R couldn’t describe the dogs or the owner very well and the police did nothing. We even went on the AKC website to try and identify what sort of dogs they were, but R couldn’t find a match. She picked mastiffs I think because they are large, but I doubt it was two mastiffs.
At first I thought Sebastian was fine, he’s been in fights before, by the next morning there was blood all over the house. I took him into the vet and they shaved his flank revealing several large punctures. There was a hole about an inch in diameter where you could see the muscle moving underneath. They couldn’t do stitches right away, as it was an open wound into the body. For several days I had to keep pouring hydrogen peroxide into the hole and letting it drain. Eventually they stitched him up and he was fine – at least one thousand dollars in vet bills later (back when I had plastic). That was a deep rift for R and I. Sebastian is like a child to me, he’s been a part of my life for almost eleven years. No part of that incident was her fault, but I always felt that if I’d been there it wouldn’t have happened. I’ve stepped into potential dogfights before with my body, I just put myself between the dogs and kick the attacking one off. Maybe in this situation I would have gotten bit, R certainly isn’t big enough to have done anything like that. As a type A control freak I have problems giving up control to other people. It can drive me nuts to ride in a car with a bad driver. But I work at it, I do ok unless I am overtired and then I get very impatient. This incident affected my ability to trust R, to let things go and trust her. It was an open wound for us and I didn’t know what to ad, no stitches, no healing.
So why would I dream that incident in reverse with Sebastian as the attacking animal? Processing an old psychic wound? Transferring my feelings of guilt about not being able to forgive her for something that wasn’t her fault, so that the victim is now the perpetrator? Something I ate? I saw a book recently in the land of the new age, over at Mystic Valley I think, about pets as guides. Certainly Sebastian is a guard and friend for me, he’s kept the house here from getting broken into I am sure on more than one occasion. But would I see him as a spiritual force in the Shamanic sense of an ally? I suppose it’s possible. Not much of a guide though, running around like crazy in an IHOP. He did alter the course of the dream though, which evolved into going to bars in Dublin with my Dad and having cheery pints, until I was awakened by the rain.
I have the shamanic thing on the brain as yesterday my friend John R – came into the center. John is a new ager of a certain type, the macramé necklace, VW microbus, Rainbow Gathering, following the band Fish in lieu of The Dead, rhetoric about “the people,” that kind of thing. He’s a large young man, he stands a proportioned six four and easily must weigh two hundred and fifty pounds. He’s twenty-two now I think, and just recently a father. His son was born on John’s birthday just minutes from his own birth time, “In almost the same latitude”. A home birth of course and the doula had her off the bed and wrapping up the sheets ten minutes after the birth, “It was like a dance, she only had to push three times” (she is also young). The doula is from Alaska, where over the past fifteen years she’s delivered hundreds of babies. She will be starting the massage therapy program soon. John’s wife is twenty-one I think, she wears a red paisley bandana in her hair, more tropes of the type. John’s on a Shamanic path, his mentor will randomly show up and meet him all over the country in Castenada like ways. Read A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and you’ll know what I mean.
John brought in a Native American Blanket yesterday that was gorgeous. Nathan is a friend of mine from childhood. His father is an antique dealer who often deals in Native artifacts. This blanket compared favorably to the ones I remember from Nate’s house. It’s a heavy course hair blanket in reds and whites. John handled it with a sense of sacredness and there did seem to be an aura around the item. As he showed it to us he explained that he had traded for it and it was an original of which copies had been made. It depicts a prophecy that ten Shamans will come in a time of darkness and teach the people how to live in harmony with the earth. The ten Shamans are depicted on the blanket flanked by two gate keepers, the Shamans will lead the people to the four sisters who will revive/retransmit the old knowledge. Do you get prophecy in your work place? Tom and I each “had a wrap” where John placed the blanket over our shoulders and wrapped it around us. The blanket did have a presence and as skeptical as I am at times of John and of everything I encounter in the land of the new age, I did feel the shakti of the item. Shakti is like a spiritual charge items that are blessed can get. If you’ve even felt like you were in a sacred space, sort of warm and quiet yet powerful, you’ve felt something of shakti (yes it’s a Sanskrit word, but syncretism is de rigeur in new age land where all traditions are one). I dated a girl, Stephanie 2, who was part of this subculture (Jenny was too). Steph was a Geography major, Karen saw her at Bluberry Hill last year. As I was writing this I was surprised to remember that she was in my dream as well last night, though I am at a loss to tell you in what capacity, I just remember that she was there at one point. I have at times been a happy hippie, maybe I should tread that path with “the people” again.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
I bought a stovetop espresso maker the other day after work, I had to run the pre-natal massage certificates by Brentwood Physical Therapy for Suzanne to sign (the workshop was a big success and we’re rebooking her for the fall), so I thought I’d hit the Manchester Goodwill, two bucks and it works great. I really need to get rid of things and the coffers are once again running dry, and yet I buy new crap – well, perhaps this will prompt me to get rid of the old espresso machine, which I never use.
I had a funny moment when the AT&T bill came yesterday. Last months bill had Erin on it and was $130 dollars. The bill post Erin was $10.68. I’ve never really been into long phone calls and I really keep up with most people either online or in one long call every few months. I am also now done with AT&T, cancelled my service and I am just an SBC boy, it feels good to get someone’s corporate hand out of your pocket. It felt that way when we got rid of cable. I actually should do more and cancel DSL since I have it at work. When Erin lived here she told me several times that I didn’t talk to her enough, I think that the disjunct is that I don’t talk as much as she does period, to anyone, but especially if a meter is running. I feel like my teenager has moved out and it is quite a relief.
I read the opening of Tropic of Cancer yesterday – (paraphrasing) I have no money and I have no prospects and I’ve never been happier in my life – the simple life does have a strong draw.
I feel you on the credit card front Jen. I made this plan to be debt free in five years. I started it two years ago in September, actually the month R moved out, and I am on track to being debt free in three years, I’ve paid down more than eleven thousand in debt. Deby pointed out that I live below the poverty line, but it doesn’t feel like I do, it’s just extended college living. If I don’t get the full time teaching job I am going to pick up adjunct work for some extra cash. I had started a freelance writing thing, but I quit when the Glenn shit hit the fan, I just didn’t have the emotional energy to work two jobs. I did much of the advertising copy for The Fleur De Lys, wrote some of their menus and did their home page. I enjoyed it at first, but then if you’re sitting down to write, whay are you writing advertising? Because it pays you ya broke dummy.
Coffee, mmmmmmmmmmmm, I steamed some milk and am having an am cappuccino. It’s raining here. Last night Angela and I watched The Italian Job, which was a bland chase movie only redeemed by Charlize Theron’s attractiveness.
This weekend promises to be a good one as I have a three-day break (I have Monday off to run errands), BJ and Paul are both coming into town Friday night so it will be good to catch up with them. Ah well, must get me to work.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
I love fish and I like to blog. How can I combine these loves?
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Diane asked me to give her breakup advice today. When does it get easier? How long were you together? So, a year and a half later from the latest breakup, those of you who’ve known me longest are aware that this ship has a wake and this is only the latest in a long string (and we do not throw life preservers in this man’s navy), and I still think about her in a significant way on a weekly if not a daily basis. Not much help Diane, sorry. Serial monogamist walking. James came in to the center to sort financial shit and they seemed to do ok. I asked how the summit was. Later in the day she went to Whole Foods and got in the checkout line of James’ current paramour, “cause her line was the shortest.” Why is this a bad decision apart from the obvious? Diane has a domestic partner card, as James is a manager there, which gives her 20% off her groceries obviously because of James. Diane asked James if she could continue to use said card even though they are no longer partners. He said yes. The paramour objects obviously along both personal and corporate policy lines. Don’t poke the bear (you can really live by that advice – don’t poke the bear – say it with me – do not poke the fucking bear (but if you have to poke the bear, cause sometimes you have to, then really get your money’s worth and poke the fucking bear)). Don’t get in the wrong line out of spite or your grocery bill will get jacked 20% permanently. It’s one thing to be passive aggressive, it’s something else to be passive aggressive with yourself. Of course 20% off Whole Foods prices equals Shop and Save prices so she can just switch outlets sans wheat grass.
Ah well, we had an odd happy talk at work this am. Deby, who has saved my life by being an insanely competent boss, expressed that she was happier then she’d been in years despite all our shared job stress. I said that when I caught up with my friend Beth over the weekend, it was really clear to me that I was doing really well in spite of my fucked up year and that I was basically happy, I told her that I often hadn’t been doing well, but now I am so it’s ok. Deby astutely said, “Well one thing that makes you unhappy is that you don’t really understand how appreciated and needed you are here. I don’t think you realize how essential you are, how many people you help. I know it’s not teaching, so the rewards aren’t the same, but you provide so much here, I wish you could realize that more.” Thanks Deby, that was very appreciated. See a good boss knows when to blow smoke up your ass! All you bosses out there blow us some smoke, it goes a long way and only affects the bottom line in terms of increased productivity. Ok I’m going to go to laundry – CU. My counter keeps going up, but no comments, a voyeur’s paradise, please faceless mass comment so I know you are out there, and that this is a worthy or hopelessly unworthy enterprise.
A guy called me a socialist last night. Actually he said NPR was run by a bunch of socialists and he inferred that by listening I was complicit. We had been talking about the Israeli assassination of the founder of Hamas. Never get into politics at a bar with someone on the other team. I just let it go, but today it’s still smarting, so I guess I didn’t. His teammate Julie works for PBS, more socialists, she was wincing. Hannah has a new tattoo of her daughter’s initials (AJ) with birds flying around & she is excited to be going to see Madonna in Chicago soon. Vanessa dumped Lance, the next guy after Phil, and has designed the sandwich shop that is going in under the Saratoga – architecture in action. Lance asserted that the Tarot has Kabalistic origins and this revelation kept her hooked for three dates, but just no spark. AHHHHHHHHHHHH, I’m late, need to get back to the office –k-
Spalding Grey has killed himself
Car accident victim
With thousands of fragments
Of his own skull
Imbedded in his brain.
“At Least,” says his widow
At least we said goodbye
He called me honey
We did what we could.
And I think
At least we found him in the water
Fished him out near Kent Avenue
When you consider the size of the ocean
Good morning damage control, last night I went East. I made mention of the temptation at bowling and Eric handed me a pass to my favorite club, that sealed the deal. I could get no other takers, but that really doesn’t matter much. I haven’t been over there in six months and I haven’t had a really good time over there in more than a year. Last night made up for that and then some. I could blog at length, but will take the advice of the commercial, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
I am beginning to think that I generally move about the world in a perpetual state of exhaustion. In the same way that we often define a thing by what it is not, on Sundays I am not exhausted. I am well rested and clear of mind. On Sunday I feel more me than I do during the week. So what did I do with this day of clarity? Angela and I made corn beef hash from potatoes and left over corn beef. We had fresh ground coffee with Baileys in it and then switched to gin and grapefruit. We watched the Bruce Willis film Bandits, which was fine Sunday fare and then Vanessa came over. The three of us went furniture shopping at a high-end outlet store in Kirkwood and then we tried to get a late lunch at Bevo, but were repelled by a private party. We ended up going to Copperman’s in the West End where Vanessa bought us lunch, and then Angela and I came back here to nap. I ordered smoked chicken wings and got this plate of full size chicken wings – not the little bite size ones you normally get, with BBQ on the side for dipping – mmmmmmm.
After chilling out at the house for a bit I took Angela home, she lives behind a Borders so after I dropped her off I went and browsed. I also went to Linens & Things, World Market – bought a bottle of wine to have with the Sopranos later, & Pets Mart. I ran into a girl from the ville in Pets Mart and I have no idea how I know her, she saw my picture in St. Louis magazine and asked if I was still at the HAC – which had me wondering if I knew her from there or where. Don’t you hate that when your memory fails you? I felt like a jerk so I made a quick exit and speaking of quick exits I need to go if I’m going to make the start of the show.
It’s Sunday am and I am not trying to remember my dreams. I know there were car/space ships, a corpse in my trunk that I needed to take to work, a woman in a matrix style body suit fighting the ghost of said body with a sword. All images fairly tv/movie related. Oh, there was this bit where we were walking a huge white tiger into the Galleria for an auction since the research facility at which he had lived had been closed from lack of funding. Friday night’s dreams had the recurring fish tank theme – where I built several interconnected giant fish tanks as a public aquarium for people to come and enjoy and I began transferring my fish into the tanks which rapidly grew and multiplied – there was an odd moment when I had a bucket full of fish and the water was thick with shedding dog hair from Sebastian and I had to get the dog hair out of their gills before I put them in the new tanks. What does pet overlap mean? Once the fish were in the big tanks they grew into gigantic fish on the premise that some fish grow to fit their environment. Over the course of the dream the public aquarium turned into a bar and then a gas station and then we went into a back room of said bar/gas station/aquarium for a political debate – we were in a red velvet room with antique couches and curtains everywhere. On one couch there were five democrats and on another couch there were five republicans. A moderator sat in between and a large group of my friends sat facing them. I was having a hard time following the debate and eventually when they took a break I found myself taking pictures with a box camera from the early days of photography. Odd. I don’t remember enough of these dreams to make sense of them.
The other night when Angela was over she made a comment that reminded me of this friend of mine Beth from undergrad years. I knew Beth was living in Seattle so on a whim I called information and got a number for her. When I called the number it turned out to be a fax line, so Friday at work I sent a fax to this number – I wrote in big messy letters, “Is this Beth from Chicago who went to school in the ville? Karl wants to know. If this is not that Beth please ignore” and then at the bottom, my phone number. She called last night while I was out so I called back at the new numbers she left (she asked about my spleen so we know it’s the right Beth) and left silly messages and this web address, so say Hi Beth everyone, as she could be reading this right now. My best Beth story has to do with a trip we took to White Sands New Mexico, but that will have to wait. It would make a great chapter in a book filled with the postmodern sense of journeying.
Yesterday I was indecisive and couldn’t muster the energy to make a plan. It was eventually gorgeous out, but the rainy morning had me feeling like hibernating. After opening all the windows and doing dishes, laundry, and cleaning the grout in the upstairs shower I decided to sit outside, read and drink beer. A nice afternoon and then into evening it got windy and cold. Angela came over and my indecisiveness prevented us from going to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as we missed the start time so we decided to surprise Mary at her new place down in south city. Mary lives right by the Bevo Mill –
From the Bevo website:
Prior to World War I, August A. Busch, Sr. and his architects studied Flemish architectural styles with the intention of building an authentic windmill in St. Louis. In 1915 he chose a spot exactly halfway between the brewery and Grant's Farm, his home. Mr. Busch used the beautiful Mill Room as his private dining room for many years, while the remainder of the restaurant was opened to the public in 1917.
From the beginning, the Bevo Mill became a favorite family restaurant, boasting of several unique architectural details. The exterior is finished with stones personally gathered by Mr. Busch from Grant's Farm. Following a German and Dutch tradition, a pair of storks are mounted on top of the chimney to ensure good luck. The vaulted ceilings of the foyer and Mill Room have groined arches which end in stone-carved gnomes, originally exhibited at the Paris exposition of 1889. All tiles, light fixtures and millwork are original, carefully restored through 1984-1986. The brewery spent 20 months and over one million dollars to renovate what is now South St. Louis's favorite dining facility. It is now operated by the Hanon family and can be yours for any special occasion.
I went to Bevo for happy hour on my twenty first birthday, a tame night as I was flying out to California the next day for my brother Andy’s wedding.
Last night we thought about ordering a pizza, but couldn’t get through to Mary as she was online, so we got two sacks of White Castle instead. We stopped by shop-in-save for Gin, tonic, Red Bull, Potatoes to make hash this morning, and a ham bone for the dog. Mary was surprised that we dropped in. I was able to put up a blind for her in her kitchen that I’d been meaning to get up and we checked out all her improvements. We flipped on her tv and Repo Man was just starting so we watched that with gin & tonics until Angela was falling asleep and that was it for Saturday. South city, particularly around Bevo, is real old St. Louis. All of Mary’s neighbors were out doing BBQ with kids on bikes zooming up and down the street. She planted several kinds of roses yesterday and I hope they’re safe from this weeks cold snap. Angela just asked me to turn the heat back on, so off I go to make hash from scratch – a first attempt for me.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Friday, in the land of the New Age, I am informed that this is an auspicious weekend. At 12 something last night the spring equinox began/happened, at 4pm a new moon phase commenced. It’s springtime and a time of new beginnings. Ann said that during the spring equinox, the Native Americans would tell a story to a tree, a story that they wanted to be done with. Earlier today I blogged a blog that I have deleted. I told it to a tree and will leave it there. The trees can handle your worst stories, today is as a good day as any to leave them behind.
OBJECTIONS: as though all tribes did this, as though one can make blanket statements about the manifold peoples who were more native than Amerigo. If we group the pre-Amerigo – the pre-colonized as “Native” peoples then anthropologists will of course note that this is a relative distinction since “they” did not spontaneously generate on this continent. But then again “they” may have common ancestors who crossed a land bridge, but “we” all share a global Shamanic heritage among all races/nations but by their distance from materialist capitalism “they” may have been closer to the pulse of perennial truths of humanity’s more spiritual dimensions, or “they” are romanticized and colonized with odd projections of chicken soup for the new ager’s soul….etc. Continue with your own objections. It’s fun.
Emotional Spring Cleaning on this the equinox:
I think that I’ve stopped cooking for a while. I feel that my desire to cook has wound down. This is not a good sign as cooking is one of the things that I love most in life. It just feels as though I haven’t made a big meal in awhile (what was Saturday if not a big meal Karl?). I’m saving money by not cooking elaborate things. I’m also loosing weight. Last night I warmed kielbasa over a bed of sour kraut and ate in front of my ongoing Soprano marathon – it seemed an appropriate meal (this is only weight loss fair if you’re on the Atkins diet Karl). I left work early on Tuesday as I wasn’t feeling well with allergies etc. and I rented the first tape of the fourth season. I’ve been going back to blockbuster all week and getting more tapes. I just finished the last episode of season four and am at a loss for what to do with my day. I should make coffee.
I have a mountain of laundry to start with and I need to reseal the tub – it’s a “have to do day” in the making. Angela went out bar hopping with work friends last night. I’m still not feeling well enough for that sort of thing, she kept calling from further and further out into the county – the much dreaded donut of whiteness and sameness that surrounds St. Louis – that many people think is St. Louis. No, if your house looks in any way like your neighbors house then you are living in the pop and fresh housing hell of conformist suburbia, not the unique city of St. Louis that I know and love. You’ll be driving along any of the county roads and will see in succession the same series of business repeating like amino acids on a strand of DNA. Starbucks, Dobbs Tire and Auto, Outback Steakhouse, Borders (rinse & repeat). Brad called and wondered if I was coming out, nope. I talked to sister Sandy and even got my niece to say, “Hello uncle Karl, I’m playing horsy with daddy.” She’s very cute.
Last night was a phone night. Steph #1 called from Florida to tell me about the guy she’s been living with for a month, a social studies teacher, and we got caught up. She said, “I keep asking myself why is this so easy when my last relationships were just so much work?” She didn’t know about Glenn or Mary so that was a long phone conversation. We decided against Prince tickets, as they are 75$ each (for the sixteenth row) and that is well out of my price range. Ah well, a flirtation with the concert going of my youth. Last time I saw Prince it was fourteen dollars and I was sixteen years old.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Prince tickets go on sale Saturday for a May 5th show date at The Savis Center. Angela is going to call her connection to try and score us good tickets. We went to Mai Lee again last night. I have this sinus thing where I can’t hear out of my left ear – ick – the food was great, but upon reflection we should have gone to Thai Seafood Café as they have some of the hottest curries I can stand. I ordered my food hot and spiced it up with the sauces at the table – but it was still too mild for what I needed. I tried eating straight wasabi when we got home, but even that didn’t work, too mild. If it’s not better by tomorrow I am going to do a cranio session with Ann. We rented two movies last night, The Battle of Shaker Heights & I’m Going to Get you Sucka. The latter we watched for about fifteen minutes before shutting it off, the former was quite good and reminded me of Rushmore – same type of humor. Today at work I am constructing new contracts for inactive students, they need to sign a contract when they take a session off ensuring they know how much time they can take off and still be allowed to resume their programs. I’m also developing an evaluation for students to critique the clinic staff and procedures. I met with one of the co/authors of a popular book we sell on transformational breathing to see about holding workshops here in the future. I got Tyler’s wife Bree a massage in the student clinic. I also got Mary in tonight, afterward she’s coming over to debrief me on her latest adventures in the land of love and loss. Yesterday I couldn’t tell Angela what I’d done all day at work – sometimes it just escapes me as it’s always just the next thing and the next phone call ad infinitum, so I thought I’d take a mental snapshot of this moment. I talked to our Biotone rep, I need to call her back, I need to call Earthlite & I need to call Anna Coy back, we’re thinking about carrying her CD collection. This is my work life.
I find it slightly depressing when fictional characters from TV show up in my dreams. I had several odd dreams last night – the zombie portion was especially special, but my initial recounting will be of the one right before I woke up. I’m on a busy street and up in front of me is a nice black velvet couch facing a theatre. I’m walking with Carrie Bradshaw and Big from sex in the city. Big and Carrie sit on the couch and leave enough room for me so we can await the premier of the final episode of the show across the street. I’m chatting with Carrie and I have my arm around her.
Why Carrie Bradshaw? These essays in this blog have something structurally in common with the premise for her show. Particularly the other day when I posed the open question about the link between civilized man and domesticated dog, that could have been a tag line from her show. Also, I was reading the RFT (River Front Times local independent paper) last night right before bed and there was a review of a New York writer come St. Louis who was writing Bridget Jones style fiction for the late twenty something female audience. So what did my subconscious want to tell me?
Ok, and why is this depressing? When R and I moved here and we had no money and very few friends, every night we’d watch Friends. They would show two episodes back to back. Over this six-month period R and I both began to dream about the characters from Friends, as though they were real people in our lives. I was involved with Rachel subconsciously for several weeks. We discussed this occasionally as a depressive marker and as a motivating factor for us to get lives, but we were both so exhausted. I used to be a night owl and this period was the forced transition for me – when I began to have to go to bed by ten in order to function the next day. I found it very depressing not to be able to stay awake through Letterman. The worst for me were the Friday nights, once a big night for going out in the ville, and here you almost can’t count Friday as part of your weekend. On a bad week you are so exhausted (as in last week) that you just go to sleep as soon as you are able to and Friday is a wash.
So the dream quickly transitions away from the TV characters, I look down and it is an ordinary old brown couch, the kind someone would leave on a curb, Carrie has become Karen and Big has become John, which makes sense even physically – curly haired female writer overlap, tall business guy overlap. Then we get location overlap, we’re on a street in kville just off the square, but it’s lined with St. Louis five story apartments from the twenties. There is going to be a Mardi Gras style parade. John goes inside to watch from upstairs, Karen goes somewhere else, but brings me a drill on a long extension cord to fix the couch, or a foot stool – something. I am constantly using the drill at work to fix things. The parade starts before I finish repairs and the route goes over the drill cord-which I just leave there and retrieve later in the dream. Interp – parties are a distraction, there is something you can fix, it is related to episodic writing, Karen is perhaps a factor.
My memory is already failing me with regards to details of the parade. There is something in the basement of Karen’s that I need, that someone else needs as well. I kick in a window with bars on it and enter easily as an alarm begins to sound. I know it’s ok because this is a house in which I am known and belong, so when the Cops show up I’ll just pretend to be investigating the break in which I am perpetrating. I don’t think I find what I’m looking for, but then I have Leland’s dry cleaning. The alarm that is sounding reminds me of yesterday’s tornado drill. Leland is tall, and this is a long coat in a plastic bag. I know he’s upstairs with John watching the parade. I go upstairs and give him his dry cleaning – in real life Leland gave me a book on writers block out of the blue – I read half of it yesterday and may order it for the store – the focus of the book – which is called The War of Art – is getting past resistance and procrastination in writing and in life. Apparently I am grateful to Leland, so I got his dry cleaning for him. Clean coats are an image of renewal.
John is upset when we’re upstairs because I take a call and don’t get all the information he needs. I apologize and he says, “I’m not going to let you off that easy, Cheerleading was very important to me and when those people from the old days call it’s really special.” I tell him to star 69 the caller and go back to recover the drill, which has been kicked apart and I have to put back together with drywall screws. I see John as someone very linked to his past. I imagine that a dream life for him would be to follow the Dead ad infinitum. He doesn’t like being in one place very long, in arriving at and being in the now. He’s on the run from the present moment. Why he is so on the move is an open question that only he can answer. He is restless, like Phil, and has a quality of not fitting into his own life. Melinda was like that – always the next thing and the next to avoid something in her past. Mel would enroll for seventeen hours, get a part in a play, do stage craft and costumes for said play, write for Windfall, be in several student groups, date/manage my life. She would then breakdown around midterm or so. I need to remember not to be like that – to give myself time to reflect and deal with my own backed up pipes.
The way early zombie dream was at first your typical horror film thing. There were zombies everywhere in this city on fire and if their vomit hit you, you’d become a zombie. A main zombie was a pea soup spitting Linda Blair, my imagination has been colonized by pop culture. So the more interesting portion of this classic chase dream was that Glen R – a friend since high school who I still hang out with. He lived out two timelines in the dream – in one he became a zombie and in the other he didn’t – zombies were clearly linked to heroin use and HIV, decay from drugs and disease. The Healthy Glen and I encounter the Glen from the alternate universe, he’s passed out on his back and his teeth have separated in the way that crack addicts do. This is a warning dream about the dangers of addiction with overtures to The Portrait of Dorian Grey. I woke myself up from that one, told my body I got the message and went back to sleep.
These dreams I have nightly are a great source of imagery, but they have a danger to them. In the film Until the End of The World, a machine is built that will record and playback your dreams for you. Several of the main characters become addicted to their memories and their dreams. There’s a great scene with William Hurt and others wandering around dazed holding little etch-a-sketch monitors with images of their childhood etc. After all, Narcissus drowns.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Once a decade the artist both formerly and currently known as Prince emerges from Paisley Park to see if there is enough funk in the decade for him to emerge, or if we’ll have another long season of hellish Republican conservative asinine winter. His three consecutive performances on Ellen last week bode well for the survival of the FUNK. Dr. Funkenstein is duly impressed and pronounces that a funk front is on the move!!!!!
I'm not exactly in the mood to blog, and yet I want to share, so I thought what I might do on days I don't feel like blogging anything new - would be to blog somthing old - and to air it out with you. So here is somthing old to me but new to you - I was trying on a kind of benzidrine enhanced style. Let me know what you think by clicking on the comments thing in red at the bottom of the page.
Title: This is all true
Wasfi Goddess wanted to hit me, but on the day chosen for our fight he found a baby rabbit instead and I told him how to take care of it as we rode home on the bi-state buss, we were fifteen. Years later I was with my father at a car dealership which isn’t there anymore, now it’s a car rental place – I know cause dad and I went there not so long ago looking for a new car for me since mine had been demolished at three am in front of my house by a drunk driver who drove away, who got away and left me car-less. The car dealership had become a car rentalship, but back then it was a dealership and my job was to keep my father from leaving the place with a car, I was to be reason in the face of his desire and I was to prevent the salesman from making the deal, but I was bored and I didn’t want to be there and then I saw Wasfi and Wasfi was buying a car, a much nicer car than the eggshell blue rabbit that my father had his eye on, that my father still has, that my father obviously came home with after I left with his assurances that he was just looking, that my father brags about the sound of the engine of, German engineering, that my sister drove for years until it broke down in Iowa on the way home to the ville from Wisconsin, my sister Sandy had to stay with me in the ville for several days until her husband Steve could come and get her, except he wasn’t her husband yet at that point – but he might have been, anyway after I saw Wasfi and the guys he was with – one guy was a young guy who had tried to hit me from behind, but had only hit my backpack and then I elbowed him – or I tried to, but I only hit my backpack – and he said, “what’s up with you, what’s the static” and I didn’t know what he meant as static was not in my vernacular as tension – it only meant random electricity that gives you a shock and is generated by rough fabrics rubbing together. Like the shock you get when the guy who wanted to hit you, but found a rabbit instead, gets involved in doing the sorts of things to other people that allow you to buy a very nice car when you’re very young and you have lots of other guys around you who are there presumably to do the hitting, should any be required. And the world fell all over, as it often does.
Anyway Sandy and I broke down in that rabbit just outside of Fairfield Iowa when a strut snapped, it could have snapped at any point on the highway, but it chose to snap as we were pulling into a gas station. The women there who we waited with for the triple A guy – remembered me over the next several years whenever I would stop there for gas, she’d say “aren’t you that guy that broke down here, don’t you teach in the ville”, and I’d say “yes” and that was the extent of our flirtation, but it was clearly a flirtation – limited in scope, but a flirtation none-the-less. My friend Beth’s brother managed a grocery in Fairfield for several years, he called the locals “the rues” after Guru – in honor of the Marharishi International University of Management located there. My friend Carl Martin – The poet - who signed my copy of Genii over Salzburg after we drank a very large bottle of gin – near, but not with, the Hawaiian Museum director who was kicking her habit with North Carolina and Hard Boiled eggs (this was when John John died in the plane crash) and Carl immortalized my friend Yumi in a poem a year later after a diner at Minn’s Cuisine in the ville, when a local professor mistook her Korean features for those of an Inuit and made a comment equally enlightened (her husband is an “independent scholar” who wears a cowboy hat and hands out his card in the hopes that someone will talk to him about his important theories which involve the significance of a book about a talking monkey (insert title) ironically by a talking monkey– this is a book which makes me tired in the same way that when I was in my early twenties people would try to talk to me about Ann Rand and I would just get tired – Ann’s rationalizations and cold war individualism rhetoric are just more than I can handle. It’s a sort of pre yuppie propaganda on which the displaced entitled youth tries to mask their entitlement with a Nietchian will to power. How’s that for a rant? An ex-girlfriend of mine once rode back from Chicago with this professorial couple on a train and they read loudly to one another and the other passengers winced – wincing for miles across the plains if Illinois.
Carl went to Maharishi Mahesh when it first opened – he was accepted and enrolled before they bought the campus- he and the beach boys were surprised to be heading to Iowa– he had a break down there – got a jolt of too much shakti from the Guru– they don’t really care if you break in this life because what is this life after all but the gateway to the next – anyway his break was schizophrenic bipolar and all the other words they use for schisms now- an African American from North Carolina who Mia Angelu just doesn’t get because he’s not writing about the south or his blackness – he’s writing about Genii’s over Salzburg.
I wonder if Beth’s brother ever waited on the gas station girl?
So sandy and I spend the night in this drafty Days Inn and I have to teach in the a.m. so I get a ride in with my friend who commutes from Fairfield, she has two beautiful daughters who like the power puff girls and a husband who knows she’s leaving and so he tries to enter a death cage match to prove his love for her, but his knees are no good and they have no health insurance and she leaves him anyway and meets this other guy at another University years later he leaves his wife for her – so it’s all cages and death matches with that one – anyway she gives me a ride in and my sister shows up later with the towed rabbit. The triple A guy is only supposed to tow 50 miles for free, but he does that whole thing for free – right to my driveway in Kirksville because she gives him acorn squash from my parents garden in Wisconsin or he does it and she gives them because that’s just what you do.
It was supposed to snow last night, but it hasn’t. I haven’t turned the heat back on. I am in some discomfort this morning from a sinus headache that is out of control, it’s been getting worse on a slow simmer since Sunday. I actually took an Alegra a few minutes ago (which is something I never do) and we’ll see if that helps the pressure in my right ear. Work was fun yesterday, Leland is well educated, so as I was training him I explained our systems in terms of Descartes’ view of the history of philosophy: an architectural mish mash where styles of incongruous periods are built on top of each other out of necessity. This system is being phased out and replaced by this system, but which system you use is context dependant. Leland said, “It’s just like people, we only change when we have to.” Leland was a social worker in a former life.
Bowling was fun, but we lost all four games by slight margins. Eric’s wife Tam joined us for a bit, and we got on quite well with the other team. The Saratoga is the oldest bowling alley this side of the Mississippi and the gutters are original to the 1913 construction. It was remodeled in the 1950’s, but not substantially since. We’re still on manual scoring. The jukebox is new however, very new, new last night. It looks like a standard jukebox from either side, but it has a touch screen like a mega-touch game. It is hooked up via dsl to a server and you can then select nearly any song ever recorded via the dsl connection. Progress as promised.
We decide we had the energy to go out after bowling so we tried the Hipoint. There was what can only be called a thrash metal band, and it was a very young crowd, on to the loop. Too early for The Delmar, Riddle’s was closed, Blue Berry Hill seemed dead so Cicero’s. Wow this headache is overpowering me and I don’t have any other drugs to take – right behind the eyes with sinus pressure. I’ll have to write more later as right now I need drugs. Found drugs – when Erin was sick a few months ago I walked down to the grocery and bought her Alka-Seltzer (which has survived the departure, good it was expensive)– my old standby. In more honest days Alka-Seltzer’s advertising slogan was, “feel better than you should.”
So, Cicero’s and I have a revised relationship. When R and I first moved here we had a terrible meal there, which made me physically ill – this was several years ago – and I haven’t been there since. There was a great Ska band, there was no cover, Guiness on Tap (20 beers or more on tap) – what more could you want? Opinion revised. Also, just a point of observation. It is the general rule at St. Louis bars, and perhaps bars in general, that the men outnumber the women by margins as high as two to one. This is not true at Cicero’s, where the reverse is in play. There are an infinite number of reasons to go to a bar, but flirting is high on the list. Vanessa had three boys on the line over at the Saratoga until the drunk twenty first birthday crew arrived in stiletto heals and falling down halter tops. Tam asked if they were hookers. You get that at the Saratoga post ten pm. I took my parents there a few months ago and that crowd was coming in just as we finished bowling. My mom asked Angela, “are those hookers?” ha ha ha ha ha. Ah mapleweird, maplehood, sing me a song of the far gone days of Maplewood, when the trolley ran to this outlying suburb and there were actually trees here.
So at Cicero’s we ran into a former student of mine from Meramec who has been trying to track me down. We had done some counseling after she had come to my class clearly on something. She confessed to using cocaine, but the added wrinkle was that her husband was her dealer. I walked her down to counseling after we had talked for a long time, there were no counselors there as they were having a training day, I insisted that they get someone down there who was qualified to meet with her and they sent a librarian with a background in counseling. What good is a counseling service if there is no one there to counsel when people are ready to make a change in their lives? Anyway, she stuck with the counseling, left her husband, got her own place and now makes a living running several daycare centers.
She gave me a talking to about the change in her life that began with that class. Karl get back in the classroom – the universe seemed to scream at the top of its lungs. Hannah and Vanessa agreed. My calling is to teach and to support people. I support a large circle of friends (and am supported by them in turn). I support a great many people at the HAC and wonder how it would run without me, but it would, just as it did for years and years before I came there. I should hear back from my January round of applications by the end of March or early April. I’ve applied for three teaching positions at local colleges and I’ve met with the Dean of Humanities for one of the institutions. It’s competitive to be sure, but I’m in the running.
It’s a chicken and egg argument Leland; “have to make a change” and “want to make a change” both get you change, and who can say which comes first. Though as Heraclitus aptly observed, “you can’t step in the same river twice.” So even if you don’t want change, change wants you. And as David Bowie in the guise of Ziggy Stardust observed, “Time may change me, but I can’t change time.” So we are powerless to stop our inevitable transformations and evolutions in time. What’s next universe? Next you put out the dog, feed the fish, and go to work, just like you did yesterday (in an ongoing and habitual reproduction of the past). Hahahahahha it’s a gyre dam it, a gyre!
Sunday, March 14, 2004
“Hans thought about nothing but Heilner for the rest of the afternoon. What an odd fellow! Hans’ worries and desires simply did not exist for him. He had thoughts and words of his own, he lived a richer and freer life, suffered strange aliments and seemed to despise everything around him [the hypocrisy of his education and his fellows – reading Homer as dissection rather than for inspiration]. He understood the beauty of the ancient columns and walls. And he practiced the mysterious and unusual art of mirroring his soul in verse and of constructing a semblance of a life for himself out of his imagination [he is a poet]. He was quick and untamable and had more fun in a day than Hans in an entire year [Sammy loves ya baby]. He was melancholy and seemed to relish his own sadness like an unusual condition, alien and delicious”(85-86 Beneath The Wheel).
Hesse writes here of boyhood fascination with the artist as a young man, homoerotic and narcissistic to be sure. Hesse is both the envious academic drudge, Hans, who is fueled by externally motivated ambition and he is Heilner, the sensitive artist that finds meaning from within, according to his own hierarchy of value, and who accepts the beauty in melancholy.
How do you keep a houseplant healthy? Every spring you buy a bigger pot, put in fresh soil, give it lots of water and sun. Everything that grows needs freshness – or you stagnate and thrash around. Take a deep breath of fresh air Jen and don’t begrudge the seed its’ shell. Get you some freshness and all will be well. I hope that’s good advice – you can always tell me to take my platitudes and go fuck myself – ha.
Thad seems workable as roommate. He comes across as a little shy, but seemed to fit into the group well. He seems mature and grounded, I was far more impressed then I expected to be. Our party was more of a dinner party than anything else. Vanessa made spinach cheese balls and brought all green fresh veggies for dipping. I wore my old Ryan’s bartending shirt, it was that or a Greenbay Packers jersey. Beth brought Bailey’s Irish Cream to have on the rocks, Angela brought a brie and a goat cheese (one of the best brie’s I’ve ever had – the Allouette that she normally gets is much milder and we all agree that stronger is better). I started cooking at two pm – a combo recipe that starts with warming your roaster to 225 and putting in your corn beef roast, dump ½ cup of apple cider vinegar over the roast (each roast) and then the seasoning packet that will come with the roast – salt and pepper to taste and then cover the roast with apple juice. I did two roasts in a large roaster so that was two liters of apple juice. Then you add quartered red potatoes (six pounds), carrots (2 lbs), and cover everything in cabbage. 4-5 hours at 225 – or until done – or until your party hits the point where everyone has recovered from their initial binge on appetizers and is ready for the main course (if you're cooking this on a stove on simmer you'll want to let it cook for three to four hours before you add the vegge - but in a slow cooker they all go in together). Brad brought martini fixings but he was the only taker. The rest of us mainly drank black and golds – like a black and tan but with Harp instead of Bass. As part of my barware I must have ten of those Guiness spoons to assist in the perfect separation pour (where the guiness floats on top of the Harp). We listened to The Clancy Brothers & The Pouges – so all things Irish were in play. I posted the lyrics to the two most essential Irish drinking songs, and I encourage you all to memorize them as your assignment for next year (or this year as there is still time)– I will do the same as I am currently only good at the refrains. Hannah brought me a gift from a restaurant supply store – a tri-layered salt, sugar, Rosie’s lime dispenser to easily get salt on your margarita glass – or sugar should you be so inclined. Nice to have a smaller party really, intimate – more personal conversations. The only real drama of the night was the departure of Phil. Vanessa has been dating a guy named Phil that she met online, but she’s wanted to break up with him for over two weeks and just hasn’t. He did not bring his own car and when Vanessa wasn’t interested in leaving he simply left – he lives maybe three miles from here – it was raining off and on. Vanessa said, “His choice, I guess I don’t have to call him anymore.” I thought he was fine, until the last party when he made a rude comment about my dog – after that the official line is we like him if you like him – but you’re what matters. Does this all sound sophomoric? I suppose that’s because it is. Every once in awhile you get to be kids on the playground again and that’s not all bad, I would love to play foursquare again. We seem to mature intellectually, but when it comes to matters of the heart we are children again as often as not – why is that? I heard a dog trainer once say that wolves reach adulthood, but the domesticated dog is stopped from maturing past adolescence and they never get beyond it, are we the same in our socialization and civilization – frozen at emotional adolescence? An open question. Angela is up and now I must go have adolescent fun. It’s a gorgeous day here in St. Louis an we aim to enjoy it – ahhh breakfast outdoors in the West End – Copperman’s awaits us.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Tim Finnegan lived in Watling Street, A gentle Irishman - Mighty Odd - He'd a beautiful brogue So rich and sweet, to rise in the world He carried a hod, You see He'd sort of a Trippling way: with love for a liquor Poor Tim was born, to help him on with His work each day, He'd a drop of the Craythor every morn'. One morning Tim was rather full, his head felt Heavy, which made him shake, fell from the Ladder and broke his skull, so they carried Him home, his corpse to wake, rolled Him up in a nice clean sheat, and laided Him upon the bed, A bottle of Whiskey At his feet, and a gallon of Porter At his head. And whack Fol-De-Dah now dance to your Partner, welt the floor, your trotters shake Wasn't it the truth I told Ye Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake. His friends assembled at his wake And Missus Finnegan called for lunch First they brought in tay and cake Then pipes, tobacco and Whiskey Punch Biddy OBrien begged to cry, such a Nice clean corpse did you see Arrah hold your gob see Paddy Magee. And whack Fol-De-Dah now dance to your Partner, welt the floor, your trotters shake Wasn't it the truth I told Ye Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake. Then O Connor took up the job "Arrah!" Biddy says she Ye're wrong I'm Sure, Biddy then gave her a belt on The gob and left her sprawling on the Floor, there the war did soon engage Woman to Woman and Man to Man Shillelah-law was all the rage, an A Row and a Ruction soon began Mickey Maloney raised his head when a bottle Of Whickey flew at him, it missed him falling on The Bed, the liquor scattered over Tim, Tim Revives, see how he rises, Timothy rising from the bed Whirl your Whisky around like blazes Tonamondeal, do ye think I'm dead. And whack Fol-De-Dah now dance to your Partner, welt the floor, your trotters shake Wasn't it the truth I told Ye Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake.
Pulp Whiskey In The Jar lyrics
As I was goin' over the Cork and Kerry mountains
I met Captain Farrell and his money he was countin'
I first produced my pistol and then produced my wager
I said stand and deliver or the devil he may take ya
Oh ring dum a doo dum a da
Wept for my daddy - o
Wept for my daddy - o
There's whiskey in the jar - o
I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she'd love me, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman 'cos you know she treats me easy
Oh ring dum a doo dum a da
Wept for my daddy - o
Wept for my daddy - o
There's whiskey in the jar - o
Being drunk and weary I went to Molly's chamber
I lay down on the bed and I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, grabbed hold of my pistols and I shot him with both barrels / Oh ring dum a doo dum a da
Wept for my daddy - o
Wept for my daddy - o
There's whiskey in the jar - o
Now some men like fishin' and some men like a fowlin'
And some men like ta hear a cannon ball a rollin'
Me I like sleepin' specially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain yeah
Oh ring dum a doo dum a da
Wept for my daddy - o
Wept for my daddy - o
There's whiskey in the jar - o
I had no idea how exhausted I was after my workweek. I came home last night and fell asleep on the couch at 6:30. I woke up to a phone call at 9:30 and went right back to sleep upstairs. I slept for twelve hours and really feel right now like I could go back to sleep again, but I must clean for the coming mess. I also must cook. I need to find a good recipe for corn beef and cabbage. I forgot to ask mom for the family one when they were here. Angela, “Are you really going to make corn beef and cabbage?” “Yes, why” “Because I hate it. Are you going to do it in the roaster? (Possible implication – the whole house will smell of corn beef and cabbage)” “That was the plan. Lots of people love it, myself included, but we can BBQ as well if you want to bring something for the grill.” “Seems like a lot of extra work and it’s kinda cold out.” “There is not an iota of work in grilling and nothing warms like fire.”
I was up and out at 8:30 to drop off a storeroom key at work, which accidentally went home with me. I went to a few rummage sales, the local goodwill, and an estate sale over by Wash U, but found nothing to my liking. The Salvation Army in Maplewood is having a big sale next weekend so will try to work that into my schedule. Ever since Orchids of Hawaii tiki glasses made the cover of one of the antiquing magazines the pickings have been slim. I collect tiki. If my mind were a stew kettle here is what would be on a low boil: I’m reading Hesse’s Beneath The Wheel (often called his spiritual biography), Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (for the third time in a row – I finish it and just start over, it’s just so fucking good), Borges’ collected nonfiction essays (jumping around in that, just read a fun one on why he always returns to “the eternal return” as a theme (ha!)), Kristopher Scipper’s The Taoist Body (nonfiction – revisited from a Lloyd class – considering it for use at the HAC as supplemental for the Shiatsu course), and Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama – the first chapter of which draws heavily from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (don’t trust the narrator – I’m not telling you what is true, just what I’ve seen – I’m like the Buddha without his lotus blossom), but who doesn’t? I tend to read several things at once and switch between them depending on my mood. Which at the moment is turning to Merle Ellis’ The Great American Meat Cookbook & Jessie Tirsch’s McGuire’s Irish Pub Cook Book. –k-
Friday, March 12, 2004
Well, I imagine at this point that Jen and family are in transit. Open questions of marriage, the confines and riches of the country life, the allure of some new career or pursuit all folded neatly for the briefest of travel time and stowed in an overhead bin. Sometimes this blog is like a conversation with Jen (and you the secret other reader who shows up only in the counter to the left despite the readily available comments section) – or rather it’s a correspondence. Letter writing is often called a lost art. I think of Jeffersonian letters home from Paris, of Civil War letters of love and loss read as voiceovers in the docudramas of Bill Moyers, the post modern post cards of Griffin and Sabine (Cole, was it a broken heart that inspired this post Oxford fantasy?). Jen’s the only one who I know reads this everyday, gets upset with me if I don’t blog, taught me the basics of how to set one up in the first place. Angela teased me today about calling her my sugar mama; I may make more than you, but as my financial advisor Deby aptly points out – with my debt load I am living way bellow the poverty line, so your help is much appreciated – fully half my monthly income goes to debt payments (and less than half of that hits principle), the mortgage on my whit from ten plus years as a student, student teacher and teacher.
I made a Venison roast last night from a deer my father shot on our property in Wisconsin. I slow roasted it at 200 degrees with carrots, potatoes & onions. Fabulous. Liz and Mary came over. Angela was too tired and not a huge fan of venison. Mary was entertained to be eating the deer that my father was so excited about shooting on the last day in the last hour of the season. She’d been here for the enthusiastic call last fall, but did not expect her play by play to result in participation through consumption. Perhaps my best venison roast to date. The invites are out for a Saint Patrick’s party tomorrow. Perhaps the end result will be the gaining of a roommate as the end result of St. Valentine was a departure. Thad is still in the running, but Nada is out, cheaper to live with dad. Jo perhaps as well, I would love to live with Jo. I talked with my neighbor Brandy for some time tonight, I think I’ve misjudged her & I’ve invited her over tomorrow for the party, I hope she comes, she seems lonely. (What? You’re having another party? It seems like all you do is have parties. How long have you been doing this? Since I had an address to call my own. The Bill Mahr argument is the best one. Do you want 100 Pat Boone years or 75 Sammy Davis ones? No contest, Sammy loves ya baby.
Busy? No time to blog about little things(or big things)? The question is where did I leave off? It’s Friday and I’m at work. I just sent Emily down for a session with Dave, so I’m covering the front desk – generally if I blog at work it’s during one of these – cover for staff moments. Work – it’s registration time so all is crazy here helping students get set up for the next session (which starts April 5th). My end of that is mainly invoicing, so I’ve been knee deep in numbers all week, tuition projections – class caps – that sort of thing. Odd how much math I actually use at work, I never thought I'd use it really and now I'm always fixing someone else's numbers. I hired a new staff person today – interviewed him last week & will start to train him in the store on Monday. It addition to my other duties I manage our retail store. I’m very glad it’s Friday, it’s been an exhausting week. My parents have been in town since Saturday, though I didn’t get to see much of them. They went to my sister Sandy’s when they got in and I assumed they’d be exhausted, so I made the Brad birthday plans instead – I think they would have liked it if I’d come down though. I went to church with them Sunday AM in Imperial – before Aaron’s welcome home party - that could be a blog by itself. They wanted me to go to a Bach concert with them at the Seminary, but took my sister Vick instead as I had the party. They have a motor home and are beginning their yearly trip – This year it’s Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the gulf coast of Florida, a big loop with National Geographic as their guide - they are going to use me to relay messages to the fam as I ahve a land line and many of the others don't. They are very cute in their motor home. Sunday and Monday they stayed with Vick, Tuesday they went back to Sandy’s, and Wednesday they stayed with me. I got them both massages at the center in the afternoon. In the evening we picked up my nephew and went to Lenten services. After church it was cards & beer in typical family fashion. I spent more time with them in the am as they prepped for their trip, but still it really didn’t feel like we had much time together at all. It took me an hour to write the above paragraph, between phone calls and other demands. I think about what it must be like to have time during the day to read books and I am jealous. It seems to me at this moment that time is a much greater luxury than wealth and wealth is only important as it provides you with more freedom in time.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I’m getting some of my fifteen minutes of fame this month. There is a show on PBS called Living St. Louis – they did a segment on Saratoga Lanes (one of the people on our league is the camera man for the show) and apparently Vanessa and I are featured bowling in the background during the owner’s voice over. I haven’t seen it yet – but apparently it’s quite long. Vanessa and Hannah informed me that I was having people over Saturday night – I will make Hannah bring the tape over as a condition of festivities. I wonder what my old students think when they see that stuff, most of them were from St. Louis. About two years ago St. Louis magazine did a feature on massage and there was a big spread on The Healing Arts Center. There was a full page photo of me on a shiatsu mat with our shiatsu instructor Mary pulling me into what would be called the cobra pose in yoga. I’m face down sort of and she’s kneeling on my butt while pulling my arms and torso into a back bend. This picture has apparently become a stock photo for St. Louis Magazine as it’s been run again in the current issue, with an article about alternative therapies. It’s around page 40. So I could post a photo of me, I think Jen has somewhere on her blog, or I can point you to my many public appearances (Ha).
Comfortable in my life? Jen quarries and states simultaneously in her blog – in work and life Jen, I do what comes next. What comes next is to make lemonade, to have a party, to be with friends & family and support one another. Angela told me the other day that she’s seen me go through a lot of changes lately, all for the good. I am reviewing my life and this blog is part of that. My art is on the wall at home (photography and fiction), my voice is on the web here now; for good or ill I am in my life and living it, which has not always been the case. There’s a Taoist proverb that goes something like, “Once you realize that your life is a prewritten script, all you have to do is embellish the part.” Sort of like saying good and bad shit is going to happen to you – your power lies in how you react to it. As we pulled into Dillard’s last night, amid the BMWs and Lexi, I was singing in my best mock operatic baritone about my car, that smells like gas, that has no back seat, that is missing a hubcap on the front right tire. At the moment I got a pretty good song out of my vehicular fortune, and more importantly I made Angela laugh.
Money & the praises of Mai Lee
I have a sugar mama. Angela likes to buy me little things that she thinks I need – things I won’t buy for myself. It’s all part of a queer-eye-for the straight Karl upgrade. This is I guess also part of the couple swap and falls under the “it all comes out in the wash” philosophy. I cook a great deal and generally buy lots of expensive ingredients, which we then consume together. I fix things around her house, and for her birthday Vanessa, Bethany & I repainted her whole place. So yesterday I was gifted with four new oversized bath towels and two hand towels from a linen sale at Linens and Things – just odd to get a mid week gift of towels (which came in response to me saying I was thinking about getting new towels so I guess I set that one up).
We tried to go shopping in Dillard’s for new shirts, even at eighty percent off I couldn’t find anything that I both liked and could afford – the Marxist in me loves the Lands End Outlet Mall in Oshkosh Wisconsin, I buy nearly all my clothing there, probably depression era parents affect this – the heat is currently shut off in my house as I need a roommate and am warm blooded by nature. I turned it off over a week ago and only feel a slight chill as I type away in boxers and t-shirt. Perhaps I’ll make some hot coffee and start warming from the inside out. Angela was cold last night as we watch School of Rock on DVD. In addition to the two blankets she was covered with – I found four brand new oversized towels on the dinning room table, which I used to bundle her tightly.
After our abortive shopping venture, I took Angela to dinner at Mai Lee. Our friends Dan and Yumi turned me onto this place. To listen to Dan talk about the meals he’s had there is to experience an interactive commercial – the sort they play on Sunday afternoons that do not reflect the views of the station, but do get an hour of station time. Not the best metaphor as the Dan-fo-mercial does reflect the views of this station – excellent food – lots of food – cheap (again, I love finding more for less). I remember starring in wonder at Yumi’s platter of muscles surrounded by gigantic and fresh baby boc choy. Mai Lee recently redecorated from a sort of fifties greasy spoon look to something that was modern in 1985. The current décor is a mixture of lightly toned raw wood chairs, hot orange walls with black sketch murals of peasants leading oxen, and black ceiling triangles and circles that remind me of the gaudy earrings one can still find in abundance at the yearly Clayton art Fair – (which becomes more of a waste of time every year). If you think “eighties trendy Chinese” then you’ve got it.
Mai Lee is both a Chinese and a Vietnamese restaurant and has over 500 items on the menu. I often get the Vietnamese fried chicken – which is a whole fried chicken segmented into more manageable pieces, served over a bed of fresh lettuce with this sweet brown sauce that has a slightly orange flavor. Last night we had pork spring rolls with that thick chopped peanut sauce – the rolls were overflowing with fresh cut cilantro – mmmmmmm. For our main entrees we had #74 and # 83 from the Vietnamese menu - #74 is beef strips in a satay sauce with large hunks of cabbage, carrots, and other veggies. #83 is a ginger chicken where the ginger is cut in pieces as large as the chicken and stir fried together with it – also served over lettuce and shredded cabbage with rice of course – and some mixed veggies thrown in. What would you expect to pay for a meal like this? Remember that when we could eat no more, it still looked like we hadn’t eaten anything and we took two full large size take out boxes home with us. Final bill with 20% tip was twenty-one dollars.
Some days you just float about the more substantive blogs, you can’t quite cut through the everyday, instead you stand on it like a river spider supported by the surface tension.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
I keep having the following conversation:
Me, “So the latest is that His lawyer is the same guy, the same firm, that represented Jeffrey Dahmer.”
Them, “That’s pretty fucking unbelievable, but he lost right, so that’s a good thing.”
Trapped at home – I awoke to pounding and drills. I am getting a new garage door and the workmen have made a mess and parked me in. They give it fifteen minutes to let me out, as they have to move the old door out of the driveway, so I’ll do a short blog. I couldn’t put the dog out with them there, so I took a long walk with him and ate up my usual writing and yoga time. My right arm is stiff from more bad bowling, but again we held strong in second place by winning all four games – the lead team is nine games ahead of us though so it seems a stretch to think we could get to number one. Last night we decided that Vanessa will get the silver trophy as she’s been on the team the longest – should we get the silver. Vanessa brought the team candy necklaces to wear, so we were very festive. Yup, my arm is killing me, I really need a midweek practice to get used to this new ball. I had Angela look at this blog yesterday and I think she was expecting something more literary from my writing style, she’s read other things I’ve written that have a much less conversational tone – form dictates function and a journal is all about stream of consciousness. Though in the future I might post some of my more literary aspirations for comment should curiosity abound – or even if it doesn’t – this is after all a vanity project right? Aren’t all explorations of individuality vanity projects?
Insomnia was in the air on Sunday Jen and D – I didn’t go to sleep Sunday night until three am. I watched Life as a House – great Kevin Klein film – very sad – cathartic. So yesterday I was running on fumes and came right home after bowling. I was asleep by 10:30. Perhaps more from work later – must dash now to wrest the car free from architectural entanglements.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
I just talked with V – she’s upset about how much attention the killer is getting – getting what he wants to some degree – some measure of fame or infamy. What about Glenn? Glenn would love that Rolling Stone is writing a feature on this. It surprised me when I read about their reporters being part of the media frenzy. Beth is from a small town in Missouri where the town bully was shot dead on main street in front of many potential witnesses and no one will turn in the killer, they made a movie (perhaps more than one) about it. She says Playboy had the best article about it, and when she was old enough her father gave it to her to read so that she could understand what had happened. I hope Rolling Stone does their homework and honors Glenn, and of course I am wary of spin and the media in general. When Glenn lived with us he kept a copy of Rolling Stone on his dresser, the issue from the mid-eighties with Aretha Franklin on the cover. He learned a few cords on a guitar and dreamed about fame. Words fail.
I wrote the following after I wrote about Ma Mary, but before I read about the latest trial news – I offer it now because I am at a loss to write about anything connected to these new developments in the investigation.
Dinner with Angela’s family was fine. I met her father for the first time. Firm handshake patriarch who is warm and loving with his family, all of whom call him Buddy. Frank Pappa’s is a great restaurant – very traditional Italian. I had Calamari and Brochette on my plate within two minutes of sitting down at the table. Half the family was observing Lent and had fish, the other half, including us, had Carpaccio and Pinot Noir. I had a simple Linguini Con Polo which was excellent. I spent a fair amount of the meal talking about fish tanks with Angela’s nephews (they both each just got one to use as night lights in their rooms). Her brother-in-law Tim is a sports guy so there was a great deal of Rams speculation – trade Bulger, put Warner back in, we have the youngest team in the league and it shows. Angela and I went to the playoff game with the Panthers as her dad was in China and her mother wouldn’t go alone. We sat in the southwest corner of the stadium about twenty rows up from the field. That was quite a game and quite an experience. It deserves it’s own blog of the future.
I was less of a sports guy when I was expected to play them, and I know the whole Chomsky argument about irrational submission to authority, jingoism, the wasted intelligence devoted to statistical arcana, and the bread and circus and the military flyovers and all that – still, as I get older I find myself enjoying professional sports more and more – there I’ve said it. Part of my resistance to sports came from my father’s tendency to ignore me when they were on. I have these childhood memories of trying to spend time with him by watching boxing matches, but the only thing that held my interest was trying to count along with the fight clock in my head.
The fight clock would only show up occasionally in the lower right hand corner of our black and white television during the classic Muhammad Ali fights of the mid to late seventies. I would start counting with the clock and if I was within a second or two with my internal clock when the numbers reappeared then that was a victory, or I was somehow participating with my father in a way that was meaningful to me. Perhaps this was the beginning of my odd relationship with clocks – I currently use the timer on my microwave as part of cooking on the stove, but my internal clock will off and I’ll walk into the kitchen just as the microwave beeper goes off, I wake up generally one minute before my alarm would have gone off, so I can turn it off. That fight clock is still running in my head.
Later in life sports became a thing I could do with dad. We went to Cardinals games regularly as family outings. I learned to love it and still do. I probably went to ten Cardinal’s games at least last year. But for me it’s always about much more than the competition, it’s about the participatory spectacle – there’s only one vender in that whole place where you can get a turkey leg and my seventh inning stretch involves a walk down to the outfield bleachers for my tryptophan fix.
Beth jokes with Karen about a super bowl a few years ago when I was cooking in the kitchen and actually wearing a white apron. Karen and Beth both hollered from the living room for me to bring them a beer. Now I have a super bowl party every year. I have old banners from Ryan’s that I sometimes hang up. We watched the first half in Kirksville this year – on our Ground Hog Day weekend from hell. It was great to spend time with friends, but the dreaded gasoline spill (see earlier blog) still haunts me. I have not yet reinstalled my backseat. And my coat, fresh from the drycleaners, still smells like gas.
Reign in that tangent! We finished dinner with cake and Sambuca served in a snifter with three coffee beans floating in it. You eat one of them for luck. Angela tells me later that her father turned to her mother and said, “Karl seems like a nice guy.” This is apparently high praise coming from a man of few words. I tell Angela, “I give good family.”
A weekend recollection & then a remembrance of things past:
Dinner with Angela’s family at Frank Pappas… I’ll get to that – let’s go in backwards. This afternoon I went to a welcome home party for BJ’s brother-in-law Aaron. I was there the night Aaron met Brit at Ryan’s Sports bar, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Meg Ryan?” Love at first line, sincerely given. I was in North Carolina in the Summer of 1999 when they were married. Aaron paid for his B.A. in Business Administration in part with money from the National Guard – which removed him from his life for a year to Europe to serve in Kosavo. Aaron has written a book about his experiences and wants me to read it, maybe edit it and help him take steps towards possible publication. I am deeply honored by his request and will happily help him go forward with this in any way that I am able.
One of Aaron’s friends helped me with an earlier blog – the forgotten drink from T.P.’s office is called a Baltimore Zoo and it is important to note that this beverage is only properly served in a mason jar. If you’re in the ville I challenge you to drink one this very week! T.P’s office warrants a moment here. The bar is currently owned by Paul, who must be pushing sixty by now. The former owner was a journalist for The Ville’s Daily Express. He was a wonderful man who was one of my regulars at Days Inn and at Ryan’s. He passed away before I left the ville and his wife went through the oddest of transformations. I’ll write about them in detail in a future blog when I can do them justice. Paul in his Kitchieness is perhaps a quicker study.
Paul is an Elvis impersonator. He gives bar top performances that are really a once in a lifetime treat, or they were ten years ago when he was in his prime (Though it’s always been Vegas Elvis leering at the ladies). God, I have lived so many different lives in that town, all the same places and yet separated as though each were the end run of a different set of possibilities. As Einstein thought with regard to an afterlife, time just replays over and over, and we live again and again, each time making slightly different choices into infinity.
Ok, let’s say that Paul is not a quick study, he certainly is a local personality in the same way that say Beetle Bob is here – Paul shows up in costume at fair events and hosts
classic car reunions and contests. He’s an embodied icon of the fifties: sequined jump suit, chest hair and chains. If you’re in the ville and you get a chance to catch Paul’s show, it’s worth seeing at least once, just to say you’ve seen it.
When Paul took over T.P’s Office, he learned a great deal about the bar business, as did Harry and Barb over at Ryan’s, from a woman named Ma Mary. Mary once told me a story about Paul to make me feel better. I had dropped the hand held bar phone into the bar sink filled with soapy water, shorting it out. “Paul did that once and he decided to dry it out in the microwave, nearly burned the place down!” Picture Elvis doing a hotfoot dance in front of a sparking microwave, a stream of expletives flowing from his mouth. Well, we all have those moments.
When I first started bartending at Ryan’s Ma Mary was ubiquitous. Her husband Terry and his brother Jim are still there daily I am sure. She was the ancient font of restaurant knowledge from which all wisdom came. She once told Barb, “You have to treat your employees right. You have to pay them fairly. Because if you don’t they’ll just take it from you.” For Barb, whose work life training had been in the printing business in Saint Joseph, this was the number one maxim for staff management. We got one free meal with every shift, regular raises, and a Christmas bonus check directly related to the success of the business.
While Mary was a mentor and a friend to Barb, she was much more than a mentor to Paul; she was a surrogate mother. Paul’s real mother was always characterized as hard woman. She’s like the women you expect to see in Vegas, long pink hard fingernails and short white hair, dangling earrings that involve chains and balls in various loud colors; a leopard print of some kind matched with a stole or a jacket with a white ruffle. She volunteers with the Red Cross and draws blood on the second floor of Baldwin Hall. Some would see that as a fitting image. It’s not apt if taken too harshly, in harder times a lanced wound heals fast of necessity, that’s how many of us were raised. Sometimes we need to bleed (and to know where hamburger comes from Jen). Paul’s real mother is a very blunt woman, but she’s compassionate too. When I had hypertension from the ten packs a day of second hand smoke that form the atmosphere of Ryan’s, she always asked about my health. She’d gone hypertensive herself in her early twenties, “Right after my first pregnancy.”
Mary had that same “toughness of necessity” that Paul’s mother has, but she was tempered, less reactive. Whenever Barb or Harry had a question about how to run things, Mary had the answer. Mary had run food service for the Marriott in Columbia for years, and as such she had “seen it all”. Or at least all there is to see when it comes to food and bar sales in the middle Midwest. As I search for a way to describe Ma Mary physically, the first thing that comes to mind is actually Mother Teresa – same height, same wizened features – just remove the habit – poof the sandy brown hair (a wig actually because of the Chemotherapy) – give her a cigarette and a 10 oz miller light in a frosted mug, and you’ve got Mary sitting on a green barstool at the end of the bar. She passed away among a culture of chain smokers who deny still the links between smoking and cancer. It’s a healthcare conspiracy.
Barb, Paul and many others were devastated by her passing, if we live on in those we’ve touched – every meal at Ryan’s – every drink at T.P.’s – every plate of eggs at The Uptown Café (which is still run by her children who squabbled bitterly over her estate) has something of her in it. Terry remarried, too soon after in some people’s minds, a wonderful woman that he met at work, Julie. Her daughter worked at Ryan’s and married (and then divorced) the doorman at Toons. Terry has a tattoo of a lepracon with his dukes up from his service time in the Pacific. He too went hypertensive some months after Mary’s death and I saw something that I’ve never seen before, his pressure got so high that he bled from his eyes.