And a Fine ‘Fuck You’ to Ann Coulter!

Praying works!

yes, she's a cuntI prayed for Tucson in my day, because I was told to by a billboard. Prayed that Tucson—or at least the rest of Arizona—would trade in the stick for a carrot (carrots, at the minimum, are more soft-tissue-friendly!) and stop turning the entire state into one giant prison for all sinners criminals great and small.

Well, I haven’t gotten that wish yet, but small steps, right? What I have gotten is this:

From the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson:

Finally, we’ve decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives.

Now, it turns out that she’s being replaced by one of the martinets fuckheads Murdoch’s chattel “journalists” of FOXNews, Tony Snow, but…small steps, right?

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Triptych Diptych

Yesterday was not an easy day. Productive, a bit, and destructive, more than a bit. It more or less ended with me grabbing my helmet and getting the hell out of the house Dodge for a while.

There is a certain flying feeling when you’re on a motorbike. That goes double and wonky when it’s a Vespa. You’re seated more or less upright. Both feel planted on a supporting, flat surface, knees protected and handlebars sufficiently flat to remove themselves from view.

Add to that a very long and curving and unbroken road through Golden Gate Park, late enough in the day where mottled sunlight interrupts the pavement and blurs the curblines and it’s nearly cinematic in its removement. Only the loud clacking and choking sputter of a two-stroke engine keeps you grounded—and not even then. Inurement turns the sputter and clack into a sort of rattle and hum that soothes.

Before I made my way through Golden Gate Park towards Ocean Beach, I stopped in the Castro. Stopped at the drug store there for tools of an armature I needed around myself for this solo flight: a notebook, three packs of index cards and a good pen.

I arrived at Ocean Beach as the sun was low in the sky, a headlight unable to keep pace with the Earth’s escape into night.

I’d also ended up on Twin Peaks, briefly, after deciding against stopping at the too-convivial Canvas Gallery or the too-elidable cafes of the Castro and Duboce Triangle.

Thoughts that go to ink and paper are different to those which fly through fingertips into the light. I can go to explanations both physiological and logistical, but fuck that noise, as we used to say: it is what it is, and off we go.

2005.08.27 — Ocean Beach

The Sea is for the Nothing Special.

Too much of too few things: mundane. Too many creatures of too many varieties: bewildering.

Too much water and too much—far too much—air.

Sand is nothing except where the endless ends, the perimeter around the too-much.

The gulls scavenge and shit, filthy creatures who get away with their excesses and excuses because there’s so much to scavenge and so many places to shit.

And a too-willing Sea, green and complicitous, ready to swallow the evidence and chalk it up to Nature.

When the Sea offers, It’s just who I am!, remember that the tiger does not hate the gazelle and the fly can do nothing but accept the spider as a fact of life and a feature of Nature, as we might a hurricane or an earthquake.

Sand does not attempt to hinder the gait, it just wasn’t designed for it or for anything.

Or perhaps the sand is too forbearing, too accommodating, too open, too bending and too giving to be forgiving.

[I would miss San Francisco if I were not still in it.]

It’s too easy to slip into Forever near the Sea, and too often too painful to slip back out of it and be reminded that Forever lasts longer than you will.

If I stayed?

Would the Sea keep me in Forever?

Or would it take me away and swallow all evidence of me when I could no longer stand as a rampart, no longer balance on inert-but-strange sands and even stranger waters?

Obsidian Depths and silicated Oblivion are Forevers as well, from a certain perspective.

[Old Albert—he and I would have been fast friends, Forever friends.]

The Sea is cold—apologies to D.H.—no matter the heat of the life within it. No one can dismiss the chill.

The chill of the Nothing Special.

•••

2005.08.27 — Twin Peaks (later)

Filmic sky, both pastel and metallic. Odd.

I am Adam Hoskins in Chapter Two, but in my world, it’s far too cold and no one’s gawking.

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Me, Me, Me, Meme

From Addaboy, who tagged me for this. Now, granted, I was randomly chosen for this—and by someone other than addaboy!—but I’ll try not to take it personally. After all, he didn’t. Ha.

Oh good, and it’s a simple one. Ten songs you’re currently ‘digging’. Hmmm. As if my ignominy wasn’t going tits-out already.

<br/>Tagging:

Sam<br/> Tony<br/> Skittles<br/> Adam<br/> Walt

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The Lovely Fear

I finished reading the third book, “The Devil Wears Prada : A Novel” (Lauren Weisberger) in less than a week and began to read the fourth on the way home from work yesterday. “The Lovely Bones: A Novel” (Alice Sebold). I asked Sam to pick up a copy for me because it was the inspiration for a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter. A lovely song I can’t seem to stop listening to, even now.

The book has been sitting there awaiting my attentions for weeks now, and at this point, I can’t honestly say it wasn’t some passive-aggressive thing that kept me from picking up this book.

It’s about a young girl who is murdered at the age of fourteen. It’s written in the first person singular, postmortem. In the first few pages, she talks of “my murderer” and begins to map out the terrain of “my heaven”.

After the surprise to myself that there was hesitation in my even approaching this book, yet another surprise hit me when I finally got started. This book is not maudlin at all. At all!

There’s a certain blunt candor to Susie Salmon (“like the fish”) that I think every fourteen-year-old has inside his or her head. For an intelligent young person, that goes geometrically worse (trust me, I know).

Most of all, I am only eighteen pages into it, and already Susie is a fully reified person.

I used to wonder about my grandmother “Ma” and my great-grandmother “Nanny” looking down from “their heaven”, when I was a very young boy—no more than seven or eight—and wondering how they could be where everything was supposed to be perfect but still looking “down” at us missing them, at my mother’s illimitable grief, and feeling perfectly happy? Did they just not care about us anymore? Was god hiding them from seeing our visceral pain, our unwelcome vicissitude?

It was the first of many things that became simpler, more understandable, more abidable, more “perfect”, in walking away from the martinet lockstep of christian polytheism.

Or maybe we all do get to choose our own Heavens. And for me, like for Tony Kushner’s characters and for Herb Caen, Heaven is a City much like San Francisco.

I’ve dallied too long. The book and whatever it may bring, await.

•••

<br/> There’s neighbors, thieves and long lost lovers<br/> Villains, poets, kings and mothers<br/> Up here we forgive each other<br/> <br/> In my heaven<br/> <br/> For every soul that’s down there waiting<br/> Holding on, still hesitating<br/> We say a prayer of…..levitating.<br/> <br/> In my heaven<br/> <br/> You can look back on your life and lot<br/> It can’t matter what you’re not.<br/> By the time you’re here, we’re all we’ve got.<br/> <br/> In my heaven.

— Mary Chapin Carpenter, My Heaven

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Pro-Life Pat Robertson

Nods to him for the pointer on this one.

Seems the Pro-Life Pat Robertson is calling for the assassination of another human being.

Think the “@%#$@#$% liberal media” is at it again, making trouble for a humble man of god? Think again. The New York Times starts off its article with this line:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has suggested that American agents assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”

“Suggests!” you say! Clearly it’s a witch-hunt! Well, it might be, if the Times hadn’t quoted Robertson directly, just three paragraphs later:

“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he [Pat Robertson] continued. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

So where’s the moral outrage from those self-appointed absolutists? Catholic brown-nosers? Little Calvinists in Papist clothing?

Maybe the Catholics are too busy dissecting the threat of—wait for it—hand-holding during Mass!—to be bothered with calling out murder-threats made by one of their god-ridden own.

But, I suppose, there’s too much political loss associated with in-fighting to be bothered with things like a call for murder.

Speak up, folks. Tell us how Pro-Life you are, and what you’re going to do, quite publically, to defend that stance.

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Books & Trains

I have read two books in the last 48 hours.

I never thought I’d say that again in my life.

The last time I’d done something like this was on a vacation Allen and I took in 1994. We went to St. Thomas. Allen had won the trip playing a phone-in version of the Scrabble TV Gameshow. Ironically, it was on the Family Channel. Yes, folks, Pat Robertson had sent a gay couple to St. Thomas for a week, all expenses (including airfare) paid! We had taken three suitcases: one for him, one for me, one for books. I read eight books in ‘six days seven nights’.

The reason for the reads? The taking of a train! (A lot of alliteration for a literary allurement, no?)

Now that Frank is no longer making the daily trip to the Mothership (sound the chime of gratuitous rhyme!) I am taking CalTrain baby-bullet trains to the South Bay. It saves on gas, it saves on the expense of gas ($92.50/month for the train vs approximately $70/week), and I get a couple of hours each day of me-time. I’ve spent the last two commutes reading.

First was Necklace of Kisses, as I mentioned in the last entry, and then was “Ethan Frome (Enriched Classics)” (Edith Wharton). Technically, I had to read the last 10 pages of it when I got home, but Sam insisted. You see, he’d had to read it for a class last semester, and we had the movie adaptation of it from Netflix. I had wanted a “date night” with Sam, and he set it all up: he cooked, bought me flowers and chose a bottle of wine that he knew I liked.

So we watched the movie together, cuddled up on the sofa under a too-heavy comforter.

The movie was well-acted, but the adaptation was one of the worst I’ve seen (that said, Demi changing the end of The Scarlet Letter to a happy one is, by far, the worst).

Ethan Frome is a painfully well-written novella. Knowing up front that things don’t end well doesn’t stop you from wishing with every paragraph that it will be other than you already know it to be, and the more pages you read, the less chance that the fewer remaining pages will produce an unexpected happiness. That makes for an intimate dread! It’s been a long time since I have been affected so deeply, personally by a book.

Well, except for the day before, with the Weetzie Bat book. But even that was an abstract idealistic, ethereal reaction rather than unavoidably having to endure the cold, wet, loneliness of Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver.

It feels like I’m finding that bit of daylight back into the world I want to be in. Not a nose buried in books, but rather a life lived with memories and sensations and imaginings that are motile, accessible, vibrant. An arable life, I’ve called it in the past.

I know from Sam and from Mikey and from my own distant-past experience that reading compulsorily does not bring with it the same joy as reading by choice, but I do now have the luxury again of having the space and time to read and to get back into my own headspace.

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Necklace of Kisses

I once met Francesca Lia Block at a reading in Berkeley. It was two summers ago. She was there to read selections from her book, “Guarding the Moon: A Mother’s First Year” (Francesca Lia Block). There is a luminous quality to the woman, something not contained in her thin body or ample breasts or raven hair or in the eyes that bejeweled her angular face. The small beige top she wore belied the numinous gift for words she didn’t seem so much to possess as to become.

I thanked her for Weetzie Bat and for all the rest of Weetzie’s stories. When she fielded questions from the group, I asked her how she managed to make the writing feel punctuated and staccato while also sounding like the most satisfying run-on sentence you ever heard. She laughed and cocked her head to the side. She seemed to enjoy my own phrasing and told me she’d written the book in her head while walking back and forth from classes to her home. She suggested the cadence perhaps came from the walking.

I was introduced to the entire Weetzie Bat set of books by a stripper in Chicago. He was a lean and gorgeous and little man, blond and beautiful, older than I was by a few years. He was given to wearing primary-colored t-shirts that were old and shrunken a bit, showing off more upper arm than otherwise. He was easy to talk to, very easy to listen to—except when he’d raise an arm up and I’d catch a maddening glimpse of hard and smooth torso as a result of the too-short shirt (to this day, a sliver of torso will drive me to distraction).

I wasn’t merely introduced to the books by him. The next time I’d seen him—perhaps a month later—he handed me a small brown paper bag from a bookshop on Broadway St in Boystown: the first two of the Weetzie Bat books! “A gift,” he said, “Someone bought me a set, so I’m just doing the same.” “But!” he added, “Save them. Don’t read them right away.”

“Well, when can I?” I asked, not sure what the hell he was saying.

“Save them for when you need them. You only get to read them for the first time once, so make them count.”

My year-long stint in Chicagoland back in 1992-3 was not a pleasant one, for the most part. I didn’t fit in Naperville, or Chicago, or any of the flatlands of the Midwest, so I had no sense of home, no sense of my own center. San Francisco had already been the object of my affection and half-way through my year-long sentence stint in Chicago, after six months of sowing wild oats (and other seed!) I had consummated things with San Francisco and began the machinations to shack up with her. But in those moments of loneliness and emotional aphasia I turned to the two very slim volumes of technically young-adult fiction and dug in. Eighty-some pages and less than an hour later, the first book had its narcotic effect: yes, every Dirk deserves his Duck, houses can be pink and made of gingerbread, and My Secret Agent Lover Man waits for me!

I was transformed.

The world can be candy-colored and made of spun sugar and gumdrops and faux fur. Orange tennis shoes go with anything and pink is perfect!

So goes it with what must be the seventh or eighth Weetzie Bat book, called <br/> “Necklace of Kisses” (Francesca Lia Block). From the book:

Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you on this earth. Sometimes you catch them. They can be the hands of the people you love. They can be your pets—pups with funny names, cats with ferocious old souls. The thing that keeps you here can be your art. It can be things you have collected and invested with a certain sense of meaning. A flowered, buckled treasure chest of secrets. Shoes that make you taller and, therefore, closer to the heavens. A suit that belonged to your fairy godmother. A dress that makes you feel a little like the Goddess herself.

I say, Believe in magic and it will believe in you. Believe in yourself, and the world of the possible is yours.

It never occurred to me until this new book that Weetzie is about my age. She’s turned forty and is missing so much in her life. Her Secret Agent Lover Man is just Max now and Witch Baby (Niña Bruja!) goes by Lily and attends Cal. With a supposed midlife course correction, all is not a fancy and a folly:

Sometimes you keep falling; you don’t catch anything.

Weetzie captures so much from those around her, perhaps only because she empties herself with every new acquisition and thus makes room. She shares that sense of abundance that I also possess: give of your gifts and abilities because there will always be a restorative. Give of yourself because others give you so much already. Never mind that they are able, in part, to give to you because of what you’ve given to them over the years:

Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you here. Sometimes you catch them. Sometimes you don’t.

Sometimes they catch you.

As you all who read me here know or have figured out, life has been fraught with cost for me—and for LOML—in various and sundry-and-not-sunny ways, for a time. These have been perilous times for my sense of abundance; no restorative had made itself known.

Until this weekend, on a trip downtown to Stacys’ Bookstore in an attempt to retrieve a long-forgotten gift certificate when I was surprised by signed first-editions of Necklace of Kisses on the New Fiction table.

I read it cover-to-cover in my 90 minutes of Caltrain travel today. I’m feeling restored!

And loquacious. (though he may say ‘prolix’. :)

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