30 April 2016

On Division Street I rubbed my left eye. It was a bad idea but I did it anyway. I had a stye the size of a BB on my upper eyelid. It was heavy and made my eye droop. It was hot and painful too. I supposed some type of bacteria had gotten into my body, and had chosen to make itself known in an inconvenient location.

I was feverish too. I had been feverish for a week, or maybe even longer than that. The fever made shadows appear at the corners of my vision. Sometimes I thought I heard my own voice. At that moment I was fairly certain I didn’t see or hear anything that wasn’t actually there, but I wasn’t that certain. I wondered aloud, after I’d passed a woman pushing a stroller, if I was ever going to feel all right again. I said this: “Am I ever going to feel all right again?”

I heard myself say it. It sounded like someone else said it. I kept walking. I tried not to touch my eye. Portland was cloudy and cold. My head was fried. With a certain kind of fever, I thought, you really can lose your definitions. . . . I was in a membrane bath just then. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be outside or around people. I tried to remember my history. It was difficult. My history had become alien to me. I may as well not be Ryan, I went on thinking, and I may as well have no history at all. Maybe nothing has ever happened to me. That may as well be true. What’s to say it’s not? I couldn’t see behind me or in front of me. I was stopped outside a Plaid Pantry. I looked around. The scenery had changed, but I was in the same place I always was: I was trapped between two pitch-black voids, in the big hazy nightmare called “Right The Heck Now.”

A month ago I wrote to a woman in Belgium, saying I feared I am no longer attracted to other people. I talk to people, many of them fine and decent, and they have bodies, and on and on, but I want nothing to do with any of it. This realization, I think I told her, came to me after I had watched ‘The Master’ five nights in a row.

There is a scene in particular that does it for me. I remembered the scene: Philip Seymour Hoffman and a dozen or so women dance around a hallway. A woman is playing piano. Another is playing an upright bass. A few other women are clapping their hands. At first the women are clothed. The camera cuts to Joaquin Phoenix, who is slumped over in a chair nearby. He is a drunk and a sex addict. There is a sort of dark expression on his face. We see his face for a long time. We start to understand, maybe, that this scene is playing out from his perspective. Now we go back to Philip Seymour Hoffman dancing around. Now every woman in the room, young and old alike, are naked. The men are still clothed. A naked woman is playing piano. Another naked woman is playing an upright bass. A few other naked women are clapping their hands.

It was the fifth consecutive night I had watched this scene. And on that fifth night I decided I just saw bodies. Yes, there they are: bodies. They are fully exposed bodies, and they are moving around. Whereas this character has an uncontrollable arousal to them, and a desire to have them, I felt the opposite.

Before that night I had seen plenty of bodies. There are bodies in the world right now. In the past there were bodies. I am certain in the future there will be bodies as well. They house a lot of wiring and circuitry and plumbing and so on. Some of us like our bodies, or at least parts of our bodies, and some of us don’t like our bodies at all. Other times we like other people’s bodies. I have liked a few bodies. They were good ones. The people who had them were good people too. It made liking their bodies that much easier because I liked the ghost living inside even more.

But maybe I don’t feel that way anymore. I have wondered. I really have. I have wondered why I am drawn to certain eyes and certain noses. I can’t find an answer. And anyway, these days that’s about as far as it goes. I’ll think a person looks nice in the same way you think anything looks nice. There is nothing sexual about it to me. What does that mean? My DNA is futureless is one answer. Surely there have got to be millions of us out there, not wanting other people’s bodies. And perhaps people like us just die off, and are replaced sometime later by some other barely-sexual being, just as I have no doubt replaced many others who have come before me. What are we doing here? Did it come from our blood? Was it born in our brain?

Forgetting why I had come to Division in the first place, I went north on 26th Street and headed home. There I could shut the wooden blinds in the living room and lie down on the rug. Yes, I thought, that’s just what I need. I stepped over banana slugs and earthworms that had been washed out onto the sidewalk by the rain. “Excuse me,” I said to them. “I’m terribly sorry.”

My eyeball was throbbing. I had rubbed it too hard. I put my hand over it to keep it safe and dark and walked into a nearby farmers market. I bought an apple. I bit into it. My front tooth, which is fake, vibrated in a bad way. The vibration made the little grey vampire fang hiding beneath it vibrate as well. I felt it in my skull. I hated my skull just then. It hurt and I wanted out of it.

I crossed the street and went into my house. Inside it was dark and spooky. I had made it that way before I left. I tossed the apple core and stretched out on the rug. I put my hands behind my head and thought about how useless moments are to me now. I had saved up so many of them in my brain, and now I wondered why. Like a magic trick I made a few of them appear. Inside my head I saw faces and heard voices of people I had known. I saw my father. I had him say my name, and then the name of his dog. I thought about the moments when I had seen him like that, and heard him like that too. There were so many. My memory of him recreated him perfectly.

And then I thought: My memories have become old and warped. Many of them involved people, most of them gone now. I have let myself be rid of people who I liked, and who liked me too. I think of them vaguely, like outlines, in quiet and shadowy rooms. They are in a well of watery voices. I can’t see them clearly, can’t bring them back to me. They will continue to disintegrate. There is no new memory to pull from. They are specters. I won’t see them again. Am I someone else’s haunted dream? Am I still in their minds too?

I got up and put a warm rag on my left eye. It was a nice feeling. The pain went away. I wondered if the bacteria was working its way into my brain. I hoped it would ravage everything inside. Oh, God, I prayed it would.

I lurched through sunken rooms. I went into the basement. A dim band of sunlight shone through the small window beneath the stairs. I put my hand against the concrete wall. It was cold. I got close. I rested my head against the wall. I turned my skull so the cold would touch my eye. I wondered if I knew what I was. Darkly I knew what I was. I imagined a body I used to know. It was a nice body. There had been a very nice ghost living inside of it. The fever boiled my past. It was hellbroth now. So was the body, and so was the ghost. My body was cold. I didn’t want my own body. I hated my body. I wanted to lie down. I felt tired. I sat on the floor. I closed my eyes. I made my memory of my father say something that I was sure I’d heard him say before.

25 April 2016

My buddy Jackson is in town. Lord! I haven’t seen this kid in some time. We met in Austin when he was a 19-year-old programming prodigy at the publishing company I interned for. Then we both moved to the Bay Area. I left, he’s trying to leave, maybe to come here. . . .

Now, four years later, Jackson is six inches taller and asleep on a huge area rug in my living room—which, let me just say right here, he purchased for the house earlier this evening! What a swell guy. It was cold and rainy today, and Jackson said to me, “Ryan, let’s go get you a rug.” So we went. We took his buddy Tim and my buddy Ella. We had ourselves a good old time in the car, driving through the rain on the highway, listening to real good music. I found this real big mother in the warehouse section of IKEA, and the two of us carried it to the register like brothers. I bought everyone soft-serve frozen yogurt. I said, “Y’all wait here. I’m getting yogurt.” And I went and did just that. They had strawberry, so of course we all had strawberry.

Back at my fortified compound, we unraveled the thing out and got to laying down. We rolled around on it like dogs. My buddy Natalie came over, and Matt came home, and pretty soon the place was filled with people, all of us sitting on this huge delicious carpet. Matt lit a bunch of candles and I put on the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack. Ella got cold, I saw her shaking, so I turned on my space heater. I made tea. We drank tea. For God’s sake, finally: our house is now a destination. I looked around and saw what I had, and it was very good indeed.

fireroom

OK:

I AM FINALLY GOING TO STOP JERKING AROUND AND ACTUALLY SELL MY BOOKS

Matt volunteers at some sort of printing press. I am probably going to start volunteering there too. In exchange for the time you put in working the front desk, they let you use all the equipment for free. You just pay for materials. Uh, whoa! Since Christmas I have been touching up my short stories and novellas, and so on, and I’m going to print about 50 copies of each and see what happens. Maybe people will buy them . . . ? I don’t know, dude. It will cost me next to nothing to make them, so really I don’t have anything to lose. If nobody buys them I’ll use them to start fires in my fireplace.

I AM OPENING AN ONLINE STORE WHERE I WILL SELL MY BOOKS, AND OTHER THINGS TOO, SOME OF WHICH WILL BE MADE BY OTHER PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN ME

I have designed some things. Some neat little things. I have asked my artist friends to design neat little things too. We’re going to sell them in my store. I am making a store, you see, to supplement my income, and to do work that I give a damn about. It’s about time, yeah? I mean, why not. It’ll be a small store with a few books and a few non-book things. If it somehow becomes a bigger store, then I will work hard to make more things, and then I will use some of the money I earn to go to the dentist.

This is coming real soon! Like . . . within the next few weeks! OK!?

PEOPLE ACTUALLY SHOWED UP FOR DUDE’S DONE WRONG LAST WEEK, AND THEY LIKED IT SO MUCH THEY HAVE PROMISED TO COME BACK

So for two weeks it was just me and Matt. The thing about Portland is that everyone wants to hang out at their cozy house and not leave it. Well, now that our house is cozy as heck, and I’m always making everyone tea and sandwiches and so on, they’ve started to catch on. Also, Dante lives here, and everyone likes petting Dante. Hell, even Dante is starting to like having other people pet him. Really it’s not a bad idea to come hang out at my house. I’ll bet I get a text once a day that says something like, “Hey I’m walking by your house. Can I hang out for a bit?” And I shelter these fine souls and give them water with lemon, and sometimes I let them use my sunscreen too.

Anyway: Dudes Done Wrong was great! We had a screaming good time. What if . . . this week was going to be even better? Whoa. I guess you’ll have to show up and find out!!

LAST FRIDAY MATT AND ELLA AND I SAT ON OUR STOOP AND LISTENED TO MUSIC AND THEN WENT TO A HOT SPRING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

It’s true: We have created yet another ritual, and this time it involves sitting on our stoop and listening to a playlist of carefully hand-selected “Dad’s hanging out in the garage drinkin beers and smookin doobs while Mom’s out of town” tunes. We have something like sixty Classic Cool Dad Songs™ loaded up on this thing: Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Dire Straits, and on and on.  We put a speaker in the window and get down, man. Last week we shared two bottles of wine and ate a bunch of fruit and shit. I was wearing a fur coat. People were walking by, on their way to bars and whatnot, and we were jammin on the stoop, jammin on the sidewalk, jammin every which way, man. Listen: If you ever want to get heavy with a couple of cool losers, just look for the creeps drinking grocery store wine and eating strawberries while ‘Free Bird’ blares out of an open window.

Uh: Around 2 a.m. we decided to drive all the way to Bagby hot springs, and I’ll be god danged if we didn’t do just that. It was pretty cool! It was also cold as hell. We walked on a dark path in a dark wood for maybe a mile and a half to get to this place in the middle of the forest. We got a private room and hunkered on down. Ella and Matt thought the water was too hot so we had to dump in some cold water from the spring, though hey, it ended up being a real good temperature. We brought candles and everything. By the time we left the sun was coming up. Have you ever driven through spooky foggy Oregon at 7 a.m.? Whoa. It’s a thing to see.

I AM ENDING THIS POST NOW

Every night before I fall asleep I have been watching one episode of ‘Cowboy Bebop’ . . . in Japanese!! I’m going to do that now. I think I’m on episode 13 or something. I haven’t watched it since high school. I watch it, and I wonder: “Why can’t anyone else make something this good?”

19 April 2016

All right. Here it is. Lord. My friend Hannah is sending me the hours and hours of cut footage and I’m assembling my own b-side commercial . . . so look out for that! Yeah baby. OK bye.

19 April 2016

pipefestbaby

Listen: Y’all might not be ready for this. Hell, I don’t think anyone is. My friend Hannah, who is editing this bitch, sent me a near-final cut of ‘Pipefest II’ and I’ll be god danged if it ain’t wild as hell. It needs music. I told her that. This is a music festival and there’s no music in the thing. She said, “Yeah, that’s what Grant said too.” Grant is a good dude. He shot this whole big dumb trailer trash opera. And if he says there should be music, then hell, there should be music.

I asked Hannah and Grant if I was hosting Pipefest II, and they said, “Duh, dude.” So there you have it, I’m hosting Pipefest II. Matt and I are driving down from Portland (which is a beautiful drive, by the way) on May 13th. So hold onto your butts because it’s going to be glue-your-nuts-to-the-ceiling crazy. Pipefest II itself is the very next day, and I’m going to bold the date as well: May 14th. I suppose it will start in the early afternoon. They say there will be food and booze and so on, and I hope to not pay for any of it.

If you’re in Oakland, California, or the Bay Area or whatever, and you don’t come to Pipefest II, you’re a moron. If you live in Belgium and don’t come to Pipefest II, I completely understand, but you really oughta figure out a way to make that work. I mean, what the hell else are you going to do? At any rate, if you do materialize, I will meet you at the gate, and I will embrace you like my brother or sister. I am my own family, but for just one day we can pretend that isn’t the case. Or maybe it’ll end up being true anyway. . . ? Wouldn’t that be gorgeous?

They want me to do this thing in character and of course I want to as well. I’m going to get hammered on cheap beer and roll around in the excrement of the world. The kids can always spot a fake, and there’s no way I’m going to give them anything less than what they deserve. They deserve it all. As always, I’m gonna bleed for my art. I do need to find that blonde wig. I think it’s in the back of that police car, which belongs to my friend Katie. In fact that wig belongs to her too. Thank God she owns that thing. Let’s just hope she still has it, or else I’m going to have to overnight one before the trip. Yeehaw, baby.

(An aside: I have begun to wonder how much of a difference there is between me and my alter ego, who is this sort of used-car salesman Beetlejuice guy named Ryan Starsailor. I guess I am that guy. Or anyway I love crawling inside that guy. Maybe at this point I haven’t crawled out in so long that there’s no going back to the other thing. That’s fine. It’s easier to be this person. I am this person. It is a lot of fun and the Real Stuff hurts a little less. Yes, that’s why I stay in here.)

Anyway! I really am going to post that video . . . as soon as I have the link! This is ground zero for Pipefest II. If’n ya needa know something about it, this is the place to come a’sniffin’ around.

Um: I have a few other dumb announcements. I think I will do that tomorrow. I’m trying to do a nice mixture of long and short posts. I need more short posts though. Are you still here? Please don’t leave me. I swear I’m working hard. I have more to show you. I will show you soon. Don’t go just yet. H’okay?

15 April 2016

A stranger told me to meet her at Rocky Butte to watch the sunrise. Though I prefer sunsets for many reasons, some of which are philosophical in a dumb and cartoonish way, I said yes, damn it, I will meet you at the summit—and for God’s sake, please don’t kill me. And if you must kill me, at least make it quick.

Sometimes you’ve just got to see these things through. I decided I did not want to meet a new human being twenty minutes after waking up, since there was a good chance I would sound stupid and delirious. It really does take me until noon or one p.m. to get it together and be able to interact with the world, and even then just barely. Why, just today I was visiting my friend Ella at work in downtown Portland, and she said to me: “I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen you in the daylight. I was sure that would never happen.” See!

So I stayed up all night. I thought, you know, I’d rather meet someone at the tail end of my wakefulness than at the very beginning of it. It wasn’t difficult to stay up since I stay up every night, but around five I was starting to get a whiff of that bad craziness. To distract myself I wrote a letter to my friend Danielle in Los Angeles. The letter is sealed on my kitchen counter, and because I have no memory of it, there’s no telling what depraved nonsense is contained inside . . . though hell, it really did help me to power through all the way up until I had to leave the house.

The sun was scheduled to appear at six twenty-four a.m., so I hit the road at five thirty. It was cold and rainy out. I wore thermal underwear and a thick fur-lined sweater beneath my denim jacket. I got on the highway and was alone there. I listened to talk radio for miles and miles.

On the brink of total collapse, I cut through a residential neighborhood that looked a lot like the one at the foot of Griffith Park, and searched for the winding road that would lead me to the summit. It wasn’t difficult to find, and once on it, I took it real slow just for the hell of it. I rolled down the windows. The rain had stopped and the grass and flowers smelled real good. The sky was dark. I had plenty of time. Vaguely I wondered if I was minutes away from being murdered.

At the top I spotted a lone silver car parked near the edge of the slope. I pulled up behind it and killed the lights and got out. There was a young woman in the car. She opened her door and approached me. I extended my hand but she went straight for the hug. I am a hugger, I hug, so I hugged her back.

We sat in her car for a while. She was funny as hell. I thought that I liked her immediately. She had the same deadpan delivery as me, and so for the next fifteen minutes we seemed to be trying to out-deadpan each other. Every now and then I would stop and say, “OK. That was a pretty good joke. You’re pretty funny,” or some such thing. I mean hell, it just seemed like the polite thing to do. Part of having a dry sense of humor is that you never let on that you’re joking, and so of course you don’t dare laugh at someone else’s dry joke. It can be difficult to tell when a joke is appreciated by a fellow practitioner, so sometimes you’ve got to put it to a sentence like that. It’s a nice courtesy. I do what I can when I can.

I glanced in the back seat of her car. I reckoned she had about ten different multi-colored hula hoops all bunched together. Well, I thought, ain’t that something. Lord is it ever. Hell of a thing, et cetera.

Round sunrise she had me follow her up a path leading to an even higher elevation. In the center of a clearing was a small radio tower with a revolving spotlight mounted to the top. It spun and spun. My new friend sat down on a stone ledge and wrapped herself up in a pink blanket. I stood beside her with my arms inside my jacket. We were there for a long while. She and I had us a good old time riffing on stuff and making jokes and talking about nothing. Really, it’s my favorite thing to do.

The air was very cold. It seemed to keep getting colder. She offered me her blanket. I was reluctant at first, saying that I didn’t see myself in that particular shade of pink (I prefer a soft, powdery pink), but I relented when the chill got down my shirt and hollowed me out right good. I sat down beside her and she wrapped half her blanket around my shoulder. I clung to it and tried to stay warm. Somewhere in all this the sun came up, though I never saw it. It made the sky a sort of murky blue. Up there we had a three-hundred-and-sixty degree vantage point, and could see mountains and forests and so on for miles. Oregon really is a beautiful place when you can take in a lot of it at once. She pointed to a place faraway and swore that’s where Mt. Hood lives on a clear day. The clouds were swirling like hell, as though a storm were coming, and I could see nothing at all.

She asked if she could take some pictures of me. I warned her that I was nothing more than a compacted ball of garbage with a human face painted on the side. She was unfazed by this, and told me to shut up or something, and had me stand in various places making various faces. She gave me a parrot feather and I stuck it in my cap. I really hammed it up after that. In my head I imagined Peter Pan, if Peter Pan stopped sleeping and was haunted by time and memory and darkness and so on. Oh, God, was I having fun with it! It was dumb and stupid as hell. It looked like this:

yeahbaby

After that we sat in her car for maybe another two hours. She had the engine on and the heat blasting. It sure was swell, even if I felt completely insane. I was making some of the worst jokes of my life. Her jokes were a thousand times better than mine. I think we had fun anyway. I told her, you know, you’re a good one. You really are all right. I was so tired I wanted to scream. I had not slept in over twenty-four hours, so I left. We hugged each other again and I ran to the car and fired it up. I ripped down the snaking road toward ground-level Portland and got back on the highway headed south.

It was nice and quiet when I returned to my neighborhood. It was raining a little and the sky was overcast. I parked behind the house and went inside. Matt was still asleep. I found Dante curled up on my bed. He was making little sleep noises. He was deep and faraway in some sort of dream. It looked nice, so I swallowed a couple of pills and put a sleep mask over my eyes and went there to join him.

12 April 2016

onlymattforgives

Well, it’s official: Matt (my roommate, who from now on I’m going to refer to by name with no other qualifiers) and I have a secret dungeon beneath our house that is lit up like a Bangkok karaoke bar. Tonight we made this enormous wall of cardboard boxes to block out the creepy crawlspace-thing that is beneath the living room, so now it’s one weird solid beautiful concrete square-shaped hang out place ceilinged with ancient pipes wrapped in Christmas lights.

I have applied for a Very Tasty job that my buddy in Oakland is helping to push through, and if it works out I’ll finally be free from absolute poverty . . . and then I am going to use my first paycheck to get a weight bench and a bunch of weights from some schlub on Craigslist who wanted to get in shape as his New Year’s resolution and then gave up soon after. And see, this weight bench and all those delicious weights are going to live in a corner of this basement. Matt volunteers at a print shop and we have decided we’re going to make our own Macho Man Randy Savage (RIP) posters, complete with quotes of poetic nonsense from the man himself, and tack them to the walls surrounding our Get Huge Station.

Y’all ain’t even ready for the insane Halloween party we’re going to throw down there next year. I mean, hell, there will be many strange gatherings between now and then, but Halloween is going to blow your god dang coconuts clean off your body. That’s what I’ve decided!

I should have you know that I am, at this very moment, searching for cheap wifi-enabled cameras to install in the front and back of the house. Maybe you thought I was being cute when I referred to my house as a “fortified compound.” Well, I wasn’t! Matt and I have plans to buy solar-powered Christmas lights with which to wrap up the entire house. We’re looking for a couch to put on the roof. And as payment for the Pipefest 2 video we filmed last week, my friend Hannah has told me she will hand-paint me a sign for a fictitious detective agency that I can hang from some little hooks on the front of my house. I’m going to get a landline and everything, and have her put the number on the sign. Call my house and hire an unlicensed private investigator, why don’t you! Go ahead and do it you cockroach.

This place is real camouflaged and tucked away, but also front and center . . . it is a strange and mysterious location that I greatly enjoy. It is my headquarters and my castle of doom.

Hey: Dudes Done Wrong is on Thursday. (It is every Thursday.) Come hang out with me in my stupid basement. I’m serious as a heart attack. Let’s dance around down there in all that hazy psychedelic darkness. Maybe it’ll be real cool. Maybe we’ll lose our minds! Either way, I’m going to cry.

10 April 2016
『 In the Forest, In the Cathedral, In the Middle of the Night 』

I went down to the Fred Meyer on Hawthorne and bought a bunch of apples and a five-pound bag of rice. Lord knows how long I deliriously wandered those aisles in that huge fluorescent warehouse. I had only been awake for fifteen minutes or so . . . I was slanted as hell, feverish, and on a lot of cough syrup. It was the end of the night and the only people in there were sad people. They were hungry and alone, and I was one of them.

When I returned to the parking lot I sat for a long time in the car that I’m borrowing. I watched the lights flicker on the Bagdad Theater. I heard nothing. I put on some music. I went back to nothing.

It may have been a half hour or more before I decided to get moving . . . It’s hard to say for sure on account of the ocean of dextromethorphan flowing through my veins. At any rate I was probably just beyond the limit of safely operating a motor vehicle but I ripped out of the parking lot anyway. Back on the streets, all empty, I neglected to go right in the direction of home, and instead kept going straight. I drove for a mile or so to Reed College, where I knew I could do a lot of walking in the dark, and where no one would stop me from doing so.

Parked on the street and headed into the campus, mostly deserted. As I neared the dorms I heard a sort of pulsing. In my state I knew it was something resembling music. I drew closer and saw red and blue lights pouring out of a cathedral-like building, and a white hearse parked out front. I approached the building and went inside. There on a low stage were three dudes getting heavy with their heavy stuff. It was some sort of doom-y operatic sci-fi sludge . . . and it wasn’t necessarily good, but I dug it anyway, mostly because of the cough syrup, and also because they were performing for all of three people. You’ve got to respect something like that. I stayed there for a while, standing in the back in the shadows, and watched this strange scene, thinking it was pure and beautiful.

My throat was shredded on account of my head cold so I went searching for a water fountain. Outside I found a large courtyard populated by maybe thirty people. In the grass was a bounce house. Mysteriously there was a big inflatable happy face with arms and legs affixed to the side. The happy face was bouncing up and down because people were bouncing up and down inside his bounce house. I made a mental note that I would return to the bounce house later, after I had been properly hydrated. It seemed like a good place to make friends, or at the very least do a little bouncing around.

There were a lot of people standing around and smoking. Some of them were swigging beers. Their faces were soft and round. As I passed through them I heard little scraps of their conversations. I could tell their lives were mostly unburdened from any real responsibility. I figured maybe it was some sort of end of the year party for the freshmen, which would make me nearly ten years older than them. God dang it, I thought, that’s a riot. That’s really something else.

In a dark field beyond a dorm shaped like a castle, I saw little clusters of adult-aged children chain smoking and talking in quiet voices. I approached a ring of five and bummed a smoke. I don’t even smoke cigarettes, and I still had not done anything about my throat, but I took the thing anyway. In my experience an itinerant loner is just slightly less creepy if he’s smoking a cigarette. He may not be doing much, but at least he’s doing something.

I phoned my roommate Matt. I cued him in on my discovery, told him he would dig it. I was in bad shape, I said, but I was determined to have fun with it anyway, and wouldn’t he like to do the same. He said he’d be right over, and that he would bring a bottle of red wine with him.

I cut through the cathedral to get to the side with the white hearse. There were still just a handful of people in there dancing around in their own little worlds. I really did respect that. I kept on going. I kicked the side door open and stepped outside into that dark, dark night. There was a little red chair near the entrance and I had me a good old fashioned sit down . . . I took a pack of matches out of my breast pocket and lit it up the cigarette I had stowed atop my left ear. I read the lettering on the side. It was a Camel Turkish Gold. It tasted like cardboard and sawdust. I would burn through it in less than five minutes. With the cheap stuff you always do.

A girl came out of the cathedral looking spooked as hell. She was breathing heavily. She said the air was suffocating to her and that she needed some of the fresh stuff before she plunged back into it. I reminded her she was standing next to a trash can. She said, “Well, you know what I mean!” We talked about the white hearse for a long time. It was five feet away from my chair. I told her a hearse was a sensible vehicle for any fine American to drive, since you never really know when someone’s going to drop dead. She said, “You could drive around with your own coffin in there. Y’know, just in case.” I thought that was great. She asked for a drag of my cigarette, inhaled deeply, and took off somewhere.

Matt arrived with wine. It was wrapped in a paper bag. We passed it back and forth, as you do, and made our way to the bounce house. The two of us kicked off our shoes and slid beneath the big smiley face’s legs and through the low opening. Inside there were eight or nine fresh-faced freshmen sucking on whipped cream dispensers and making out. They were killing their brain cells with nitrous oxide. It looked like a screaming good time, if you were into that sort of thing.

One of them, a girl in a black pineapple-print button-down shirt, got real close and asked us who we were. We said something, I can’t remember what, but it was good enough for her. She asked if we did whip-its and we said we had no interest in them, since there were more interesting ways to get loaded. She bounced away.

There was a ramp on the far side of the bounce house with a sort of ladder attached. I climbed it to see what there was to see. It lead to an opening, which lead to a slide, which emptied you back out onto the lawn. In the center of this opening was an inflatable uvula. An overweight kid was clinging to it for dear life. He was sucking on a whipped cream dispenser.

“You want some of this, man?”

“I’m good. I like dumb stuff like that, just not that dumb stuff specifically.”

“I hear ya. This shit is so dumb.”

“Some other time, maybe.”

He pointed to his friends, still writhing on the floor of the bounce house, their brains temporarily obliterated and their bodies temporarily useless. They were all sucking that stuff down, and immediately making out with the person nearest to them. I have no knowledge of this sort of thing, but I reckoned that maybe you could “share” the high through a kiss . . . or maybe it just felt nice to be brainless like that with someone else. God only knows. I saluted the dude sitting next to me and threw myself down the slide. My body felt terrible but I was having me a good old time anyway.

Matt followed me down the slide. I told him about the dark field beyond the castle dorm and we got to walking. The little clusters were still clustering so we ran through them. Near a rain-soaked couch in the middle of the field we found an inflatable raft. There was a soft slope near the baseball diamond so we took turns surfing down it on the raft.

Hearing our glee, a girl with a shaved head approached me in the dark and asked if she could give it a shot. I told her she would be crazy not to and she handed me her phone and her keys and made several attempts at it, laughing like a psycho the whole time. Eventually she got good at it. She thanked us and I returned her things and she skipped away.

The field began to clear out, and soon we were alone. We sang a few Elvis tunes as loud as possible, probably waking up the castle dorm people. Having exhausted our lungs we returned to the other side where the bounce house resided. The courtyard too was deserted. Mr. Happy was all that remained . . . and of course we went right up to him and started punching the son of a bitch in the face. Matt grabbed his inflatable leg and tugged at it hard while I whaled on him big time. The novelty wore off right quick and we decided to call it a night.

On our way out we passed through the campus radio station. It was a small room lit by dark blue lights. There was godawful music blaring inside and no one was around. We sat down. We sat there for some time. Eventually the DJ returned. I was sitting in his chair. He passive aggressively asked me to move. I moved to another chair. A girl who had been dancing in the cathedral came in and flopped down on the couch. She was far gone on something. Her eyes were like plastic and she was spaced the hell out. I looked at her and she gazed darkly into my eyes. No one said anything. The room was loud with hip hop and Mario sound effects. Matt left the room. I stayed in the room. The girl and I stared at each other for a long time. Neither of us blinked. She nodded along to the music and made waves with her hands. I was still floating on a fever dream, dead tired, and half mad on orange syrup. We kept staring at each other. It was late. It was nearly three in the morning. I decided I wanted to be alone. I slapped my hands on my thighs and stood up. The girl’s eyes followed mine as they went higher into the air. I broke away. I kicked the door open and disappeared.

07 April 2016

leemarvindonewrong

The rumors are true: Tonight is the very first time the Dudes Done Wrong ritual will be held in Portland, Oregon. For those who came in late, Dudes Done Wrong involves viewing films which focus on a dude, man or woman, who has been done wrong by someone or something, and who rises from the ashes of total annihilation to get revenge upon their enemies, or at the very least do and say some real cool stuff to interesting people in interesting places.

Where are you? Are you in Portland? If you’re in Portland then you’d better be at my fortified compound by 10 p.m., because that’s when we’re going to watch Harry Saltzman’s 1965 masterpiece ‘The Ipcress File,’ which is part one of the Harry Palmer British spy series. Harry Palmer is of course portrayed by Sir Michael Caine, who is a beautiful and wonderful man, and who has fantastic hair and glasses in this film.

‘The Ipcress File’ asks: “What if James Bond was broke as hell, and hated his job, and maybe his whole life too?” Harry Palmer is a jerkish, quick-witted government agent who doesn’t give two shits about anything, and who lives in a dumpy apartment but still manages to get laid every now and then anyway. Dude hates authority and can’t get a break. Really, he’s something of a hero of mine.

If you wanna come, just email me and I’ll give you my address. I live in a secret hideout on Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s real cool. Tonight I finally figured out how the hell I want my furniture positioned, and so now it’s a nice place to sit down and watch movies. Like every Thursday following this one, we will gather like brothers and sisters on my queen-sized bed and have ourselves a good old time. If you’d like, I will make you a cup of tea. I just moved in so I only have green and earl grey. Give me a few weeks and I will have more options.

Please bring your pajamas if that’s what you feel like doing. I ain’t even kidding. Bring snacks. Bring a freakin sleeping bag, why don’t you. I want you jerks to be comfortable.

I am stupid and dumb and so I will probably make everyone put their cell phones in a box until the movie is over. I mean, c’mon. Have you watched a movie with anyone recently? They’re not even there, man. If you cannot commit to putting your phone in a box for two hours while we experience Truth and Beauty (lol), then hell, just do something else. That’s fine! You’ll probably be a whole lot happier. The thing is: This sacred gathering is about watching movies that represent the only real truth in the universe! It’s also about a whole lot more than that, but if I go into too much detail here I’m going to come off like a huge turd.

Y’all’s gonna love this’n, I promise. It’s funny and weird and cool. I would not lead you astray. I only wish to guide you toward the void.

OK see you then!!! Email me!!!!!

06 April 2016

My roommate drove me to the airport thirty minutes before takeoff. I got to the gate to find that I was alone. I approached an airline employee at the podium, saying, “Good Lord, did I miss the damn thing?” He assured me that the plane was still on the ground. “There she is,” he said, and he pointed to her. I thanked him and strolled down the jetway at a leisurely pace. No sense in being quick about it now, I thought. There’s the door and, by God, it’s still open. . . .

The plane was only half full. I found an aisle seat in the fourth row that looked nice. A mother and daughter had the middle and window seats. I asked them if it would be all right if I joined them, and the mother said, “Boy, take a seat!” I sat down and buckled up. She offered me a piece of gum and I took it. I chewed the hell out of that thing. I smiled, too. It was going to be a short trip, and I was feeling all right.

The flight from Portland to Oakland, if you’ve never done it, is quick and painless . . . it is just long enough to get comfortable, and just short enough to not get bored. The plane takes off, you order a drink, you drink your drink, you eat your peanuts, they come around and collect the garbage, and before you know it you’ve flown from a city that smells like roses to a city that smells like a prehistoric septic tank.

As for me: I spent the hour and fifteen minutes of flight time sipping black coffee and listening to psychedelic Japanese noise rock. No one bothered me and I sure as hell didn’t bother them. Air travel in the United States is such a demoralizing and humiliating affair that it hardly seems worth it anymore. In this truly terrifying age we find ourselves in, you’ve really got to appreciate these fine little moments, and I can say that on that night I wholeheartedly did just that.

If there was any vague longing for Oakland still stinking up my brain, it was absolutely annihilated as soon as I was confronted with the Bay Area’s godawful public transportation system. At the airport I took the tram to the Coliseum BART station, where I stood between two puddles of what I assume was urine for a whole twenty minutes, waiting for the last urine-soaked train of the night to show up ferry all us sinners away. And it came, and I got on, and I tried to find the loneliest seat I could, so as to be alone. I found it and I sat down. Three rows ahead of me a man with thick scarring on his face was half asleep and maybe crying a little.

At every stop we waited for ten minutes or more for the connecting trains to arrive so the people aboard those connecting trains could get onto ours, since it was the very last one. After about a half hour of sitting on the tracks at 12th Street station, a Millbrae train arrived, and a whole hell of a lot of people crossed over and boarded a mostly empty train. The people were loud and rude. They had come from San Francisco, where people tend to be loud and rude.

My friend Sam picked me up from MacArthur station, which is beneath an overpass, and which smells like it was recently submerged in an ocean of urine. He told me that my cat Dante had been very annoying recently. I had not seen Dante in something like six weeks. He had been staying with my old roommates in North Oakland while six hundred miles away I bitterly walked around in the rain in disgusting ragged clothing, wondering how I would ever have a place to live again. It had been very difficult but I did it anyway. I am good at things like that sometimes.

Back at my old house I climbed the stairs leading up to the apartment, and there was Dante sleeping on a chair. I don’t know if it would be accurate to say that he screamed, but he did a thing with his mouth and voice that at the very least resembled a scream in the world of cats. He was in total disbelief that I had materialized before him. I set my bag down and walked over and picked him up. He went limp in my arms. The son of a bitch had been sleeping.

In the morning I walked over to Donut Farm. I sat at the bar and ordered a cup of coffee from my friend Caitlin. She didn’t charge me. I thought that was nice of her. I hugged her. She told me a lot of things that had happened in my time away from Oakland, and I listened and drank that terrible coffee that I had over the course of many years drunk a whole lot of.

She asked me what it was like to live in Portland, and I told her I ignored all the things people tend to talk about when they talk about Portland. I don’t care about beer or food and I don’t care about boutiques and gourmet cupcakes. Mostly, I said, I just walk around at night through residential neighborhoods and deserted college campuses. I have always done that, even in Oakland, but in Portland (I said) there was a much slimmer chance that someone was going to jump out of a bush and stick a screwdriver in my throat. That and, let’s face it, you don’t have to step over a diaper or a dead bird every ten feet.

Portland really does smell like roses. I told her that. I reckon a city doesn’t get a nickname for no good reason.

Afterwards I walked down to my friends’ house on 56th Street to star in a commercial for a rock show called Pipefest 2. In my contract I stipulated that I would require a bottle of Andre champagne and a pair of black cowboy boots to get the job done. I ended up getting the boots, which were two sizes too big, but the only booze they had in the fridge was a twelve-pack of Olympia. I drank four or five cans of the stuff on camera in order to bring this psychopath character I created to life:

rocko

I told my friends I was portraying a freewheeling super-idiot named Rocko Cooter. I joked that I was a “method actor.” I never broke character. I rolled up my sleeves and shotgunned beers and, for God’s sake, I even smoked a few cigarettes. I had a Confederate flag tattoo on my forearm and a tattoo of a naked woman with “ASS PARADE” written above her head on my bicep. I skateboarded in those cowboy boots and swam in a fountain at Mountain View Cemetery, which I think alerted the security presence there. We peeled out in a decommissioned cop car before they caught us though.

It was a hell of a time. I think altogether we shot something like three or four hours of footage. This is all for a five-minute video! Isn’t that amazing? They tell me they have begun editing it, though who knows . . . apparently it will be finished soon. I reckon they need to get the word out as soon as possible, since the show itself is on May 14th. I’m going anyway, but maybe they’ll have me emcee it like I did the last one. If that’s the case I am prepared at moment’s notice to put on a blond wig and get up on stage to introduce the bands and fill gaps of silence.

You know, I think I did an all right job with that at Pipefest 1. I told some jokes and freaked some people out. Maybe that’s all you can ever hope for. I remember being kind of depressed that day. At some point I got down from the stage (which, if you’ve been paying attention, is a halfpipe), and went up to the house to get some water. I was on the porch sipping from a mason jar and feeling haunted and fucked out, and this guy walks over and puts his arm around me and says, “You were so animated on stage. What happened, man?”

To which I replied: “Hey baby, that’s showbiz.”

Anyway: I wonder if this new commercial will stomp on the balls of the old one. I really hope it does. My buddy Grant, who filmed the whole thing, and who let me borrow his cowboy boots, rented all this equipment from the camera shop where he works. He told me we used about $15k worth of stuff. Isn’t that nuts? That rules. I couldn’t get over how good it looked. Everything we shot is dumber than hell, but at any rate the production itself is pure and beautiful.

I wore myself out big time filming that thing. On Sunday my entire body was sore from the stunts, though mostly because I had been dancing on a halfpipe in huge cowboy boots. My thighs, man. I could barely walk. In fact even now, on Wednesday morning, they’re still giving me hell. Maybe I’ll never be 100% again. Hollywood!

As soon as that baby goes live I’ll post it here. It’s either the best work I’ve ever done or the worst. With me you never really know the difference. Hell, that’s maybe the only thing I like about being me. I think the kids at home are gonna love the hell out of it, though.

I am back in Portland now in a mostly furnished room. Dante is snoring at my feet. I don’t know where my roommate is. I think maybe he’s still sleeping at his other house. Well, well! I’m going to swallow a handful of melatonin and see what happens. Chances are it’ll be big and weird and heavy all the way through. Though hey, as far as I’m concerned, that right there is The Good Stuff.