25 September 2013

Karel stayed in the room, alone with Ellington. He was happy the clouds had dispersed but was expecting nothing more this evening. That bit of an incident over the telephone call had suddenly revealed something he had refused to acknowledge: he was tired and no longer desired anything.

Karel heard water gurgling and the two women laughing in the bathroom, and he reflected that he had never been able to live the way he wanted, to have the women he wanted and to have them the way he wanted them. He longed to run away to a place where he could weave his own story, weave it by himself to his own taste and out of the reach of loving eyes.

And deep down he did not even care about weaving himself a story, he simply wanted to be alone.

Yeah, this book is pretty good.

19 September 2013


Yesterday I was blazing across the western sky, 30,000 feet or so above blurry topography I hardly cared about, feeling run-down and broken. And I don’t mean that in some small, cutesy way. I mean my insides were putrified, brain and all, from which I still have not recovered (and probably never will). During the flight from Boston to Houston I felt a sickness creep up my throat and I knew I had contracted something from some fucking jerkoff in New England—maybe from holding on to a hand strap on the T, or from touching the railing to steady myself as I ascended from the darkness of the orange line and into those cold, cold streets. Or it could have come from one of my housemates at the “monastery”—we were in close proximity, living like brothers who were also strangers—in which case I forgive them entirely. They were good and decent people. I met few others.

I am in a rotten mood and I feel as though I could get angry or frustrated easily, which is unusual for me, so I have taken to my bedroom to get away from anyone I could harm to write this thing and have put on some good music and lit some candles and incense and have got with me a hot cup of peppermint tea. These creature comforts, which barely affect me anymore (and which were once so powerful), are mostly ineffective tonight. But what else can I do? The alternative is darkness and silence and time spent deep inside my head, which, other than a public space filled with terrible, mindless, screaming human beings, is the last place I want to be.

Something has flipped, a switch—a significant one, maybe—and I feel like I can’t do the damn thing anymore. I carry on with this ageless face but inside it’s all turned to ash. My body has finally caught up with my mind. It aches and is useless to me. I feel like a wireframe outline of a human: a phantom, an empty highway of misfiring nerve endings and fading neon.

I have just opened a matchbook I found in the breast pocket my denim jacket—when did I put this here?—to light another candle, only to discover my own drunk handwriting scrawled on the back of the cover. If anything can be said to even happen at all, then this must have happened three nights ago when I was wandering dead neighborhoods in Rhode Island feeling bitter and insane. As best I can tell this is what I wrote, probably because it seemed important that I remember it at the time:

I see purple lights under the bridge on Pleasant Street . . . and I think, “What? Why?” This isn’t pleasant at all. I was awoken by the cold and my body needed warm blood surging through it or I would collapse again . . . the sign reads “Pawtucket celebrates 200 yrs of freemasonry.”

Well, I’ll certainly use it when I write this piece, which is complete in my brain and has been since the moments erected themselves around me. On a night when I put myself in the way of great peril, and did things which have, I now know, endangered my future on this planet, I had enough sense to jot down some half-decent ideas on train tickets and bar receipts. They are right here on my desk. I am looking at them. As someone who can’t stand virtually everything, especially my own witless rambling, I like these scattered fragments of that awful night. There is no filter, no audience in mind, just reactions to my surroundings—squeezed out, pulp and all, from a strange and badly wounded place. I will save these little thoughts, which I will turn into great big thoughts, for something that I hope will help my musician friends retire comfortably (“I will bleed myself out for you all,” I had told them in a less dramatic way. “I will make them see what they have ignored for so long.”)

It would be fair to say I have lost, or am losing, my mind. “Madness cornering me from every angle”—that sort of thing. What I want now is comfort and to hear beautiful noise and for my body to be restored. That’s not so different, I don’t think, from what I wrote at 3 am in a fit of exhaustion and delirium during that first stormy night in Boston, only six days ago now, but longer ago in my mind, like some half-remembered dream:

Really all I want is a cup of tea and a hug and for some friendly person to walk on my spine.

In the present my cup is empty and my face is leaking. Dante is hungry and he wants me to feed him. My spine is as crooked as a question mark.

I had said to Jon, the Zen monk, on the morning I left: “When a man is weary the world seems unkind.”

“When we arrive at ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ and the answer doesn’t make a difference to us,” he said, “then we can do either, or neither—or both.”

Rising from his place in front of the old oven, he wrapped a black scarf around his neck and looked through me. “Remember?” he said. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

14 September 2013


Providence, Rhode Island, ladies and gentlemen: a gloomfest of sad clouds and languid breezes.

Yesterday I experienced what we in the biz call a “non-day,” which is when you don’t go to sleep and then rocket across the Bay Bridge at 5 am with foreign chemicals flaring through your bloodstream and then you get on an airplane and unhappily sit in a small chair for seven hours until you get to Providence, Rhode Island where you wait two hours with a bunch of Patriots fans until a dumpy commuter train arrives to take you to muggy-ass Boston where you transfer to a crowded bus full of college freshman and muscle-head jerks and other morons and you are unceremoniously dumped off in a neighborhood called Allston where you walk a mile in the rain so that you may sleep in total misery on an air mattress in the living room of an acquaintance you barely know who is visibly shaken by how god damn terrible and worn out and fried you look.

Yeah, I had one of those!

I awoke at 6 am to discover that the rain had stopped. Rain, which I had not seen in six months on account of my living in Austin, Texas and Oakland, California (where it is unwelcome or at least fearful of visiting regularly), was one of the few good things to happen last night once I wasn’t walking under the damn stuff. It put me right tp sleep and I was sad to see it had gone away in the morning. But my gracious host (who was named Grace) was leaving, which meant I was leaving too, so she wouldn’t have to explain the continued presence of “that weirdo in the living room” to her poor, frightened roommates. And once I was out the door I knew I would be walking. My sadness subsided—if can ever be said to subside—when I came to senses and realized it was better that my journey be a dry one. And so I promptly ceased my crying and slobbering, in the spirit of keeping things dry, and willed myself from the floor. Grace seemed pleased. She grabbed a mop.

Outside it was gloomy and overcast. I could hardly believe how it made me feel, because it made me feel nostalgic about the East Coast. I sure as hell hadn’t felt that way in some time. And here I had spent the last two years or so paring myself down until there was nothing left—until I was, as the Zen monk I’m staying with just put it, “emanating from emptiness.” I shook my head and dashed the thought (“There’s no going back, old man! And even if you could, you shouldn’t! You wouldn’t! Shut up! Fuck you! Ahhhhh!”). I wandered around Allston for an hour or so, quashing memories as they rose from the ground like weeds, noticing that everyone around me had woken up that day, and maybe every day for all knew, and said, “You know, these pajama bottoms will do just fine for pants.”

Eventually I came upon a place that had been recommended to me by strangers from the internet, a fine little place in Brighton called Cafénation. I stayed there for six whole hours, drinking about a gallon of iced coffee in that time. I worked on this very godforsaken website. I made eyes with a woman across the way, who was writing letters, or maybe just scribbling mindlessly onto a pad of paper. When the kitchen shut down, and the place filled with smoke (still not sure why that happened), I fled, taking the 86 bus to Somerville, which is where the Zen monk lives amongst strangers most of the year.


Jon’s “Zen Garden,” where travelers from all over listen to a cool dude talk about cool shit for hours.

But he and I are not strangers: I stayed with him once before, back in December and into January, when 2012 became 2013. He taught me a lot of things back then, and in the few hours I’ve spent with him today he taught me a lot more. He told me that when his brother’s estranged wife took their son away, he told his brother to “imagine him dead.” Why? Because it’s impossible. “You don’t miss him,” he told his brother, “you miss the you with him.” It was important for his brother to realize this.

He also reinforced an idea I’ve been toying with lately, which is that we are all the same person—which is to say we are no one at all. “The concept of ‘I’,” he said, “is ridiculous. It has fled from this brain which is in this body. I’m not there.

Fascinating stuff!

A little while ago, around 2 am, a young woman sent a message to my phone. I had given her a letter on the train from the airport into Providence, largely because I saw her reading The Great Gatsby on the platform, and also because we briefly exchanged glances and I knew within that flash of a moment that we probably felt the same way about a lot of the same things. It turned out to be true, as far as I can tell, because she sounds like a great person. I may “walk around and feel weird” with her (I invited her to do this with me in my letter) when I’m in Providence again tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow I take that poor, ailing train back into Providence so I can go to a festival just north of the city in a place called Pawtucket. Holy lord, maybe it’ll be a good time. It’s called “DUDESMASH,” for God’s sake.

I don’t have a place to stay tomorrow night. Jon, the monk, has the room booked for the 14th, so I have told him I will wander Rhode Island until the sun rises and then take the first train back up to Boston so I can pass out until the late evening, when I am to rise again, this time to see a band I like more than any else, which is Deerhunter.

I have just done some light research, and it seems Pawtucket is less than 40 miles from Boston. I’m not joking when I say I might just walk it. The festival I’m going to, DUDESMASH, will be over by midnight I reckon. If I walk ceaselessly through the strange New England darkness I could arrive in Somerville again in 11 or 12 hours. I’ve done dumber things, that’s for sure.

Stay tuned for news regarding my funeral!

08 September 2013

“You are not even a thing,” she said, “but less than a thing. You are the negative outline cast off from some other thing; not a shadow but a small sliver of another.”

07 September 2013

I have seen the gruesome parts of this place and I have wandered in and stayed anyway

07 September 2013

He was in love with his destiny, and even his march toward ruin seemed noble and beautiful to him.