Why I had no cash this afternoon

Spending some time beneath a waterfall today.  You know the story – mountain trail, California flora, intermittent screech of a hunting hawk – the dusty trek to an open ravine that’s purportedly hidden but heavily littered by a callous citizenry.  Six feet separates the cliff from the falls, and I wedge myself in amidst the spray as a vertical sun blinks miniature flames upon the pool below.  It is one of those profound philosophical moments when one starts to ponder life’s significance, the universe, blah blah blah.

I am reminded of Simon, William Golding’s character from Lord of the Flies, an island-bound introverted misfit who hides himself behind a wall of vines in a futile search for solitude.  Gravity pulls the water into a foaming fizz.

A face appears, jack-o-lantern teeth, Leperish flesh rabidly scraped, hair like a rustled birds nest.  Around a too-large tongue, it emits a grunt.  Fight or flight kicks in, the adrenalized blood racing from heart to limb, accompanied by panic – fear nthed.  I pause to consider, the whole book by its cover issue now becoming an actual book with a cover. As pages turn, strange questions arise.  Why do I feel threatened?  Is this how aging, frail ladies feel around tattooed teenagers?  Am I experiencing the terror a black child of the early sixties felt when the po-po’s passed by?  Does this moment reek of something Islamophobic?

The answer still eludes me.  Am I forming an opinion based on past experience? Or is this my built-in defense mechanism – the moat of my survival – my limbic response to danger?  Am I really so mentally inadequate that I am succumbing to evolved monkey–thoughts?

It seems strange to think like this under water, as though I am being taken back to the roots of humanity in a way that suggests I am being offered a second chance.  I extend my hand.  He extends a knife.  On the plus side, I know exactly where I lost my wallet.

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By ccxander

Prince Charming?

So, apparently I’m supposed to be excited by Britain’s – mid-austerity movement – $100 million dollar spending spree to formally verify the nuptials of the next monarch.

Didn’t we entertain a fairly hard-fought battle with these folks across the pond?  Didn’t we gallop through the streets warning our citizens that King George III’s six-deep death squads were afloat and course-plotted for our nation’s center? Do we now shirk past grievances in favor of a paparazzi-like voyeurism? True, we left the eighteenth century a few years back, but America’s memory seems to be both short and forgiving.

Watching the military-dressed Prince stand altar-side, toe-to-toe with his new bride, hinted at an aggressive honeymoon in a way that harkens back to George III’s taxation command.  Young Wills is going to be lifting that gown and performing unimaginable acts of sedition in an attempt to imperialize Lady Catherine’s nether regions.  To her credit, she removed the phrase honor and obey in favor of something more congruent with equality, but let’s be honest, who in her right mind is going to defy the future King. Will Will thrust her upon the throne or lay her at the foot of the Palace threshold?

We should all watch Lady Kate, hoping she doesn’t just bend and succumb to Willy’s wishes, but rather, stands with America in its defiance of imperialistic intent. Lady Kate is our generation’s Lady Diana.  What once was lost now is found, hallelujah.  C’mon Kate.  Get on top of things, as it were.  Take hold of Charming’s mighty steed and ride into the sunset.  Britain and America need a strong female role model.

Long live the future Queen.

By ccxander

A Tribute to David Foster Wallace

I am standing outside Beverly Hills-centered Saban Theater, home of motivational speakers and obscure Hollywood events. A small crowd awaits the evening’s program – a B-list reading of David Foster Wallace’s final literary foray, The Pale King.   Since he hung himself from a rope half a decade back, Wallace is not in attendance, although he is probably spinning in the dirt over the idea that this event attracts a virtual paparazzi – at commendation, the man recoiled like a post-coital penis.

Beneath the lengthening shadows, Converse shoes carry a ubiquitous stream of denim, topped by cotton, cashmere, worsted wool and various combinations of plaid as hypertrendy Hollywood-types attempt to fashion themselves something fashionable.

One twenty-something female is shrouded in what can only be termed pajamas, although clearly she intends to persuade onlookers otherwise, and there is a sense that these DFW “fans” are here more for the idea that they are being part of something cool, rather than having an actual like interest in the author and his latest release.  I have coined the term “slobvious” to define a man with an overt ass crack, a low hanging hirsute belly whose button would be as difficult to find as Santa Claus’s mouth, and a body odor, which screams “Deodorant?”  He is not handsome.  A very large woman made the appropriate decision to wear a moo-moo.

Doors open at 7:00.pm. and the stampede to the bar indicates Wallace is better appreciated via fermentation.  Inside, the sound is an arpeggio of cow moans and hen cackles.  Two gay men appear to be sweating over a Shirley Temple’s cherry stem.  There is the suggestive scent of a fading Tic-Tac.  No one knows anyone here.

Mirrored walls adorn the entryway and several hideously vain pseudo-disciples surreptitiously adjust their bangs.  Along the west side of the lobby, DFW’s archived collection sits table-bound beneath a price list which shouts “profit-motivated,” in front of two young bookselling employees whose disappointment at having to spend Friday night with an amalgamation of neophytic writers oozes from every rolled eye and pursed lip, you can just tell.  Berber carpeting does nothing to muffle the stupidity.

Lobby lighting is cinematographically rusty, something like a psychiatrist’s office but without the analytical subtext. Several folks tote The Pale King, although clearly the purchase is more ceremonial than out of curiosity, since most of them carry the volumes the way a mother might cuddle her child.  Worship has delicate hands. Many people are missing hair and the ones who have it wear it in ways that would confuse a compass. The breath mint appears to have faded.  The female bartender is attractive like everyone in Hollywood is attractive, with the flirtatious lumineered-smile that suggests a casting couch BJ or a small part on some sitcom pilot, executively determined.

The theater itself is gothically-adorned in silver, and intimates something shrinish.  Twelve plastic chairs rest behind metal podiums in what appears to be a horrible absence of forethought.

Several photographers scamper about shooting candids, halfheartedly pointing to the photo release attached to the theater door when annoyed attendees complain. One aspiring actor appears in at least nine different photos, smiling.  At least three people express the strain of having not urinated before the performance.  Pre-performance music floats above the crowd and Mick Jagger just lipped something about rape and murder being just a shot away.  Lights dim.  Voices diffuse into anticipatory silence.  One man emits a bark-like cough.

Onstage, a moderator appears and delivers the CV’s of tonite’s cast, a laundry list of terminated sitcoms and supporting-squared actor roles, with the notable and apologetic absence of the most well-known star, presumably due to a last minute engagement (read: my agent neglected to tell me I’d be the evening’s Steven Biko).  The intro to DFW feels like a eulogy, and a low hum emanates from the crowd like monks-on-the-chant.

The evening’s literary curator has selected several passages to which the actors will lend their tertiary talent in hopes of transcendently lifting Wallace’s words from page to L.A. wealthy suburb. For ninety minutes, it is a stock market chart of belly laughs and scarring sorrow.  Twelve percent of the audience laughs regularly – the others presumably missing the jokes – while the various miked heads perform random tete-a-tete’s with DFW’s dialogue.  At one point, a man in the fifth row reaches a convulsive spasm so powerful, audience members consider calling paramedics for fear of this being an epileptic episode.

Wallace’s humor is cliff’s edge, the danger lying in the subject matter’s off-limit’s nature – masturbation, dogshit-on-shoes, ass-in-face – and yet the brilliance comes with his turn or phrase, the unique ability to present off-color material in a way that makes anal suffocation laudable.  The fucker can just plain write.  Deeper down, The Pale King touches universal themes of life’s boredom, man’s ability to conquer world-weariness, and various tales of human compulsion.

And then with a simple two word phrase, it ends.  Pressure leaves the room as worshippers file out with wide grins and rabid opinions.  There is abundant joy tinged with a sadness that this is the last time David Foster Wallace’s words will appear.  Rest well, Pale King, rest well.

By ccxander

DFW RIP

For the last month, I’ve been looking forward to the Pale King Monologues, the L.A.-based celebration of David Foster Wallace’s final novel – half finished – before he decided to eliminate his own personal map with a well-affixed noose and some seriously depressing thoughts.  This post-modernistic author revitalized my faith in literature.  His ability to explore pretentious-sounding vocabulary with a blue-collar bent was an exploration in linguistic calisthenics.

Known primarily for his bestselling 1000-page novel Infinite Jest – about 10% of the readers actually finish reading it in spite of its flat-out brilliance – Wallace distinguished himself with a wicked sense of humor joined by an unparalleled observational acumen.

Tonight represents my Hajj, a trip to literary Mecca, the once and final journey of a devoted prince.  I am hoping for inspiration, something to hang from my ceiling when times get rough.  But tonight, that wish seems a bit ironic and overwhelmingly macabre. Perhaps I’m better off just settling down with a good book.

By ccxander

A cynic’s wish

Look, I understand the whole concept of English-only is pretty offensive to some folks.  Just the idea that America is a bastion of ethnocentrism is sort of oxymoronic for a nation built by immigrants.  However, there is something to be said for understanding language, and whether it be English or Spanish or Chinese, can we at the very least, agree to eliminate stupidity from the national vocabulary.

Tonight I ordered Chinese food online and the guy said I couldn’t do that because they didn’t have a fax machine.

?

The other day I asked the gas station clerk for regular bottled water and he said they only have unleaded and diesel.

?

A preacher told me that the Devil is evil and then explained that Satan punishes bad people.

?

One gets the sense that something infinite has been lost.  Maybe it’s because of the text messaging and the rampant abbreviations.  Perhaps it’s the immediate availability of information – via Wikipedia, Google, etc. – that allows us to stop thinking for ourselves.  Or possibly, with so much sensory stimulation, we’ve become desensitized to information, and thus, numb.

Whatever the reason, this infinite thing is gone, obliterated from our humanity.  We no longer understand each other.  Worse, most of us are no longer listening, but rather, entrenched in our daily lives to such an nth degree, we can no longer be considered part of the greater community.

I think what I’m trying to say – apparently I’m not sure – is we could all benefit from stopping for a brief moment, looking someone straight in the eye, and listening to what is being said.  The stupidity might remain (it might even be here in this entry), but it won’t go unnoticed, and isn’t that what all of us cynics are really hoping for?

By ccxander

Plus, I don’t know how to cook humans

Overpopulation is the condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat, which is a little like the idea of filling your bowl of Cheerios to the point where leakage occurs, only, on this planet, the overflow pretty much ends up in your backyard.  Recently, we’ve decided to scale back on the space program, and since other nations have neither the technology nor financial wherewithal to fund space exploration, the idea of colonizing some distant moon seems to be going the way of the phone booth.

It’s not like we are going to stop reproducing – the drive to procreate along with the sexual addiction is way too strong to imagine anyone is going to take the problem into their own hands (literally) – and it’s unlikely we’re going to find ways to live under the sea.   Energy sources are eventually going to run out. By 2045, as we approach 10 billion people, food supplies will dwindle. The concept of an extended life increases with every medical advancement.  All of this begs the question, what’s next?

Seems to me the Vegans are gonna go first.  When Mom said eat your vegetables, she meant it, and since these folks are going to be physically weaker and lower on the human food chain – plus more nutritionally beneficial, what with the added vitamins – I think they’ll be the initial prey.  Eventually though, we’ll become full-on cannibalistic carnivores, consuming each other like a necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria), in hopes of sustaining ourselves. It’ll be quite Darwinian, a human population so evolved that evolution will speed up, intensifying to the point that mutation occurs more frequently, promulgating the species in a way that will make today’s NBA athletes seem like uncoordinated wimps.

Imagine it, hunting the weaker members of society for dinner.  Gives going out for Chinese a whole new meaning, eh? (misfortune cookies notwithstanding) The whole idea of a Happy Meal just resonates with possibility. I think back to Elmer Fudd – the hunting wabbits fella – and wonder about future animation, and whether that subtextual lisp, which implied old Fuddy might have been picked on in elementary school and thus ended up with his irrational compulsion to kill small animals, is going to appear in carnivorous cartoons which depict folks like Yosemite Sam chasing down an overly effeminate Speed Racer in hopes of procuring a Sunday night meal.

This entry didn’t really go where I thought it would…sorry.

By ccxander

Thinking

Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking…

They stand in supermarket lines with this glazed over look that says “I’ve been stuck in my miserable workplace work for eight monotonous hours, and now I’m here in this godforsaken food line waiting to cash my overtaxed-underfunded paycheck so I can overpay for my slightly-organic-but-not-really-organic-because-companies-fucking-lie vegetables and this thirty-two ounce bottle of fermented escapism which will leave me dry-tongued and dehydrated in a way that your average alcoholic would drink to.”  Their robotic loading of the conveyor belt with the plastic stick-thing that separates their dinner from other people’s dinner, set authoritatively upon the counter, and the perfunctory placement of various foodstuffs such that the glassy-eyed checker, with the breath that proves Tic-Tacs have an expiration date, can methodically move them through the line with the least possible hindrance.  The down-turned lip and anticipatory stare as they watch the ascending numbers on the digital screen, performing some cranial computation about how many hours of work it’ll take to pay off this week’s meal plan and wondering whether a brief hunger strike or dietary change might offer some relief.  The slow slide of the ATM card through the electronic terminal followed by the quick leftward glance at the bleary-eyed post-work sufferer in line behind them as they wonder whether this innocent looking bastard is surreptitiously stealing their password and is planning on battering them over the head with a baseball bat somewhere south of parking structure level three.  The Rewards Card decision, knowing it won’t save them squat but running it through the machine anyway because it’s too hard to explain that they haven’t purchased anything of real value.  The frustrating pull to the right of that ridiculously designed grocery cart wheel that makes them appear drunk or very uncoordinated in a way that your average alcoholic would toast to, again.  The unloading into their backseat of paper bags that are completely inappropriate for weighty glass items that will inevitably spill all over their car and make them repeat this grocery story trip over and over for years on end until they decide that hunters and gatherers probably had it right and maybe this whole convenience thing is a complete farce and perhaps, just maybe, it’s time to plant a fucking fruit tree and buy some chickens and get on with life.

…And sometimes, I just think for myself.

By ccxander

Lost in Suburban America

Traffic pulses. Fumes leak from passing cars.   The voice of a monster truck growls with impatience.  Cement-colored clouds drift about like lost sheep on an azure plain.  I am curbside, observing.

Two hours in and gopher holes fill my brain, the thoughts manifesting and then disappearing like rabbits into brush.  Two female joggers pass, their push-up lycra struggling to maintain a hold.  A man approaches them, the way a dog would approach another dog at a park.  Offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder, insensitivity in the heart of the accused.  At a stoplight, an old man stares at me from inside his Chinese-built hybrid.  His face is like cracked mud or an old oil painting.  Some of us think great lines come from the tongue, but he would disagree.

A dandelion of thought drifts through my head, and sticks, like a first throw at masturbation, where you just know there will be a hell of a lot more over the course of the season.  It is an oboe amongst violins, poignant, resonant, defining.  Suburbia is hours of boredom mitigated by moments of terror.  Lives spin like the wheels I see before me, desperately hoping to avoid the potholes and surface cracks on their way home to un-loveable wives and deteriorating husbands.

In the sky, the sheep are blackening.  The suggestion of something thrown away fills the air.  A car horn bleats. Someone raises a middle finger.  Sleep beckons.

By ccxander

Rainy Day

Head down, I am staring at the worms winding their way across the cracked wet pavement, their mating intentions evidenced in a slow crawl to sexual pleasure.  Worms are susceptible to desiccation – drying out – and they have no lungs, but rather, breathe through moist skin, a requisite environment for diffusion.  This would not be important on most days, however, in my current state, one of emotional dehydration and a staggering shortness of breath, the worms provide an appropriate depiction of my flagging stability.

And so I amble, staring at my reflection in the puddles as they fragment my face with each footstep.  The ripples return to rebuild my countenance, and I continue along my path, only vaguely aware of the leaves now sticking to the sides of my shoes and tugging at the fraying edges of my jeans.  I hear the dull thumping of the raindrops, the gentle arrhythmic tapping of an amateur musician upon a muted xylophone. Thup thup.  Wintry water wedges beneath my collar.  I shiver and turn my head to witness the drainpipe vomiting a deluge upon the insect world and carrying today’s waste into tomorrow’s waves.   Beneath my soles, the worms squish.

From above I imagine I resemble these worms, slithering my way across city streets, weaving dejectedly, sliding aimlessly.  In puddles I see car headlights, like lighthouse beacons turning to and fro, illuminating destiny, then fading into oblivion, an appropriate metaphor for my current state. Thup th-thup. For a brief moment, I stop upon the sidewalk and stare up into the trees, watching the brightness glisten through the droplets, and then, like falling light bulbs, they descend, their inanimate silent screams of reckless abandon ending with an explosion upon the ground. The Ploipp! resounds with death.

These precise pinpricks of presence draw at life’s truth.  The details provide me sanctuary, like white blood cells battling this disease called life.  Minutiae is my vaccine.

Beyond the trees I see a window, the tears dripping down my glass face mirroring my own internal pain.  At the top of the reflection, the horizon lurks, the wet pavement-colored sky blowing dark smoke trails through the trees, black wisps wandering across the leaves and drenching the city.  Th-thup thup.  Like a tympan in the recesses of my brain, I hear the raindrops bouncing off an aluminum trash can lid, their metallic ting followed by a tiny splash of purity, then corrupted, like me.

Hands pressed deeply into my pockets, I turn to walk, the shredded leaves thickening upon my shoes, the worms squishing louder, the xylophone increasing in volume and frequency.  Th-th-thup-th-thup.

The sunlight struggles to break through, but fails to surface, shoved back beneath the covers of shadow, as though the sky endeavors to suffocate its own heavenly child.  Darkness comes deeper now, driving my head further down into my coat in an endless search for warmth.  Through my collar I smell the soaked asphalt. The aged rains bring a far away scent, an aromatic blend of tar, humidity and repugnance, and its thickness sticks to my tongue, settling in my nose like coagulated blood.  The worms continue to swell.

Th-thup.  Another reflection – telephone wires appear like train tracks in the shallow pool before me and I imagine riding those rails through the waters and into nothingness.  Nothingness.  The word resonates like the raindrops, plummeting through the wind to smack hard into the cement, then evaporating into thin air.  Empathy is easy. Th-th-thup-thup.

On the darkened cracks of buildings now seeping with nature’s shower, a damp ooze crawls through the breach, preparing the terrain for an onslaught of mold, mildew, and decay.  Sometimes I search myself for those cracks, wondering when the rot got inside, when death entered me.

Their lifeless bodies now floating downstream in the gutter’s current, the worms have drowned. The leaves won’t let me go.  Light is fading.  Thup thup.  The rain continues.

By ccxander

Basic Arithmetic- Buy a Cow

At $4.24 for a gallon of gasoline and $4.89 for a gallon of milk, it appears home-based breast-feeding is probably the most financially responsible decision a family can make.

However, let’s dig a bit deeper.  There is currently a $.65 difference or approximately eight gallons of gas for every seven gallons of milk.  With gas prices rising faster than inflation, some of us are considering making a hedge bet.

To wit, I am buying cows –  not those little Jersey bitches with the small teets and designer leather futures – big heffers with a fast gait and rear-ends the size of your pathetically-endowed-man’s 4×4 SUV.  When gas prices push northward of the half-dozen dollar mark, and the populous is out shopping for some two-wheeled Chinese import with rusty spokes and questionable gearing, I’ll be riding my fuel-efficient bovine transport system down to the nearest mall in search of a new big screen.  But wait, there’s more.

Methane, with bond angles of 109.5 degrees, is the simplest alkane and the principal component of, drum roll, natural gas!   That’s right kiddies, while I’m feeding my cow enough grass to produce methane out the ying-yang, y’all are going to be screaming at your gas pumps.  Plus, if I can find a lactose intolerant cow – irony is cruel fuckin’ wet nurse – my little Bos Primigenius is gonna flatulate me from here to kingdom come.  Factor in the added bonus of a few good steaks – weird to think cows are vegetarian isn’t it – when the poor fella’ croaks and I’m fairly certain I’m coming out ahead of the game.

Michele Obama can bitch about dairy all she wants, and sure the smell isn’t exactly what your average thinking man would consider applying before an anticipatory Friday night, but cows are the future, baby.  C’mon, join me.  For the good of country, for financial liberty, for the freedom to make slow progress across the fruited plains.  Buy a cow.

Note to self: When they place your face on the back of the milk carton, try to smile.

By ccxander