Friday, October 30, 2009

Great Pumpkin Head

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lobby Mints Mean Business

She elevated above the throw pillows. Aloft, smiling, secure in her serenity. A floating beauty. People came from all over town to praise her, offer gifts, bask in her radiant glow.

Turned out her radiant glow caused cancer. The floating alone should have tipped people off. This is why I don't leave my basement.

Coach told us to give all we had. As his crew went through our pockets, we smiled at one another. The joke was on Coach. It was a bye week.

The house burned well into the night. Lit up the street like a Christmas tree, which is funny, because it was Easter.

The killer whales returned, obnoxious as ever. If they didn't have "killer" in their name, I bet more people would protest.

As as kid, I carried around a big can of Raid that I kept in a shoulder holster. Every bug was an instant duel. Five paces then SHHHOOOSH. Coated in foamy poison.

I never lost a duel. One mantis gave me a fight. Took nearly half a can to kill him. A worthy opponent. Bugs today are soft.

The bake sale tanked. I was gonna blame the buzzard pies, but they sold well last year. Must be the market.

Don't you hate movies where actors look into the camera? I don't pay good money to be watched. I can walk through the mall nude and get that for free.

The Great Bunny Spirit appeared to me one night. It rose outside my bedroom window, reassuring me that all would be well, I had nothing to fear.

Seems some local teens threw a dead rabbit at my window. They can mock my faith, but just wait until they have something to lose.

Peace is overrated. What if you want to hit something?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kiss The Ground

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wet Leaves On Windows

Janice calmed Cyrus, avoiding a serial murder spree that sold papers and broke careers.

Eve's resistance to temptation came with a price, lost love bitterest of all.

Cataracts compromised Mabel's organ donor outlet, but not her community spirit.

Time passes, but kids remain the same.

Death often arrives as a group, easing the transition.

Alice never spoke of her adventures, leaving one to guess.

Muffles casually tormented Dough Boy, losing interest along the way.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

U.S. Steal

Several friends and a few strangers forwarded this the other day, expecting me to erupt.

"You've been ripped off!" they shouted. "This guy's cribbing Savage Mules!"

Yeah, well, yawn.

Writer Thaddeus Russell touches the same savage points I did in Mules, which isn't hard to do, once you've read a little American history. Attacking Democrats as warmongers didn't originate with me (though I think I brought my own flavor to the mix), and given my marginal status, I'm always happy to see those with a longer reach make similar arguments.

Still, it is curious how suddenly the main thrust of Mules is acceptable in certain liberal circles. The reality of Obama's rule has nudged a few people to acknowledge what cranks like me were saying a year ago. But if they are committed to exploring this critique, it would be nice to be invited into the conversation, since I did write a book about this very topic, released in the face of Obamamania, attempting to say what now can be at least partially heard.

I'm not holding my breath.

Stealing from other writers, "borrowing" in politespeak, is as common as shitting, and usually as fragrant. I've never bought into the "genius steals" concept, perhaps because I worked among comedians, where theft is rife, originality scarce, and fear and hatred drive ambition. Not every comic I knew stole bits, but a lot did; and when they discovered that audiences didn't care who originally wrote what, they were free to grab at will.

This made me crazy, and off I dashed to the reasonable, rational, well-adjusted world of lefty political writing. Before long, I realized that many comics were amateurs compared to journo-pundits up against deadlines. I saw ripping off on a regular basis, astounded by the shamelessness, but counseled that a good idea or insight is commonly owned, especially by those with recognized bylines. Several of my concepts, phrases, and critiques were openly taken and used by more celebrated figures, none of whom I'll name, but a few of which you might already know, my dear readers. Again, this was for the greater good, unlike comedy, where the sole purpose was to cash in.

This still goes on (hi Jane!), and I'm more or less resigned to it. The Web makes stealing easier, faster, and less recognizable, as readers flock to like-minded sites, anxious for daily reinforcement. Like night club patrons, countless Web surfers aren't interested in original thinking, much less in those behind it. They crave anything that might make their world less hideous, a hunger cynically and readily fed by various pen keepers. Information is supposedly power, but in our present state, it's a narcotic. Few ask who first cut the dope. Once the high hits the brain, it's the furthest thing from their minds.

Speaking of similar concepts, here's a premise I thought originally belonged to "Mr. Show," but now learn it first appeared on "Fridays" some 12-13 years before. The idea was to portray Satanists as Christian evangelicals, complete with bad wigs, Southern accents, garish staging, and pious wailing. This premise was more immediate when "Fridays" aired, when the religious right was surging in political influence. By the early-90s, the caricature of crazed preachers had been done to death. The "Mr. Show" version is still funny, perhaps even better than the "Fridays" original. But it remains a copy. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frozen In Fade

The first dead human I saw outside of a funeral home was on Houston Street. Late 1982/early '83. Frigid icy sidewalks. Walking to my copy room job at Salomon Brothers, I came upon two cops standing over a body. He was white, gray beard frozen, bloodless fingers stiffly bent. The cops joked around, waiting for back up to arrive. As I walked past them, I stared at the dead man's face, wondering if his spirit was near, or if he was an insect husk, blown away by time.

Death has always fascinated me. It began with my sister dying at three. We shared a bedroom and were very close, at least in the fragments of memory that remain. I saw a picture of her not long ago, stirring that fading part of my mind, conjuring random images of play, sharing meals, watching cartoons on our black and white TV.

I could almost smell our small home, bright clashing shades of red, gold, and green on the walls and furniture, the silver starburst clock satellite sharp, reaching across wallpaper stripes. This is why people my age and older respond to "Mad Men." Whatever the twisted plotline or glacial character development, the living room sets are precise. The colors, patterns, and shapes eerily exact. Within this world my sister and I romped and jumped about. Until she became sick and disappeared altogether.

I don't remember her illness, nor the drawn out medical/emotional drama that preceded her death. The flu she couldn't shake turned out to be Reye's Syndrome, most likely brought on by children's aspirin which I also took, but survived. She went into a coma then passed away, right after JFK's assassination. I've been told that at her funeral, I walked to the open casket, kissed her forehead and begged her to wake up. This has either been erased from my brain or is locked deeply away. But I saw my sister Laura dead at a very early age. Since then, death has remained with me.

Recently, I read "The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored History of the Porn Film Industry" by Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne. Early porn is another obsession of mine, largely for personal reasons, but also because of the human anguish that littered parts of that scene. Among these horror stories is the saga of John Holmes, a truly lost soul who possessed native intelligence and hidden kindness, but was so fucked up as a kid that he never recovered, and probably had no chance.

Holmes was a pathological liar who charmed his away into various circles, culminating in porn stardom, fast money, loads of drugs and ready pussy. It was the perfect world for his talents, but ephemeral, and before long Holmes found himself on the scrap heap, hustling to survive, becoming more desperate and abusive, primarily towards his young girlfriend Dawn Schiller, who endured Holmes' coke-fueled rampages.

Inevitably, Holmes got involved with a dark, violent crowd, leading to his involvement in the Wonderland murders, where five people were savagely beaten with striated steel pipes, four of them fatally. The film "Wonderland" dramatizes the events leading up to the killings, and it isn't a pretty story. Val Kilmer plays Holmes as a pathetic sociopath, which I'm sure wasn't far from the truth, given the evidence and testimonies from those who knew Holmes.

The gritty criminal drug den scenes ring true. I bought plenty of weed in apartments like the one at Wonderland Avenue, where dealers snorted coke off album covers, their girlfriends walking around in a daze, wearing panties and Aerosmith t-shirts, handguns on the tables. Save for nearly having my head blown off by a drunken dealer who accidently fired a shotgun right next to me, I was spared the darker aspects of that world.

After watching "Wonderland," death drew me further in as I looked for more material online. At YouTube I discovered the actual police video of the Wonderland crime scene, July 1, 1981. It's not for the faint hearted, and I'll spare you the embedded footage. But if you wish to see it, click here, here, and here.

The apartment's decor takes me back to that period, which now seems more distant than ever. But the bludgeoned bodies strike a deeper chord, motionless, silent in the wake of a ferocious spasm of madness. As hard as it is to look directly at the victims, for me there's a certain truth, a recognition of our fleeting existence, honesty too pure to hide. Even here, amid liars, crooks, sociopaths, and thieves, humanity is present, frozen on their battered, swollen faces. No matter how crazed the killers were, they couldn't transcend that fact.

Death is the definitive reminder of who we are, which is probably why so many people fear its approach. For me, death is an old companion, touching my life early on. I only hope that when my appointment arrives, it'll be in a quiet room or at a relaxed moment. I'd like to touch death's face before losing touch, just to return the gesture.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cochise In Hand

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look Through The Ground

Moans and muffled screams. It can't be coming from next door; the elderly woman moved out months ago. Maybe a young couple touring the house, testing its acoustics. Maybe murder. Maybe I'm hallucinating.

A siren in the distance. Coming here? On and on it wails. Then the moans cease, the siren fades. I look out the side window. No car, no lights, no people. What the hell was that all about? Perhaps madness is mutating my brain. What singular, horrifying sounds and images await me? Is this why older people talk to themselves in public?

When I sit outside my son's school, waiting for him to be dismissed, I watch the children in wheelchairs, on crutches, their small bodies twisted by birth defects, heads nodding, mouths open, arms and hands reaching, curling. What do they see? What is their subjective reality? Several yell and scream, others simply stare off, eyes widened, semi-smiles then grimaces, silent, alive.

These kids attend a school next to my son's. In his first two years there, he worked with them as part of the curriculum. He was a little freaked out at first, having never been around people with severe physical challenges. But he quickly adapted, maturing in the process.

He doesn't feel pity but respect. He's amazed how hard these kids try to achieve the simplest tasks. His father, on the other hand, fights back tears nearly every time. I was raised with an uncle in a wheelchair, back when people openly frowned upon paraplegics outside of the home or hospital. I recall food shopping with Don, noticing older women staring at him with visible fear and disgust. Don didn't care. "Fuck 'em," is all he'd say, pinching peaches for ripeness.

Don defined his environment. His legs didn't work, but his brain took up the slack. These kids are different, at least to me. Basic existence appears to be their main engine. What goes on inside them I haven't a clue, but it breaks my heart. Then my son appears, tall, gangly, long brown hair blowing across his face. He usually has a gag ready, whether throwing himself across the car's hood in slow motion, acting as if he's been hit, or informing me with a straight face that he's been expelled for reasons he cannot divulge -- but we may get a visit from the police later on.

My late Uncle Don, no slouch in the humor department, would love this kid. I'm simply crazy about him. It's the one form of craziness I find solace in. As for the other forms, well, adjustments are continually made. I'd elaborate, but a pterodactyl is trying to break through the living room window, and I must beat it back with an aluminum bat.

Fall's in full swing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

All You Need Is Nobel

So happy to see some liberal derision of Obama for winning the Norwegian merit badge (Gore Vidal's apt phrase). I don't know if this signals a turn against President Savior, but you gotta start somewhere. Yet until more conclusive evidence is in, I'll stick with my contention that no significant liberal/prog mutiny will develop against Obama, especially as 2012 draws near, and the lunatic right keeps its freak show jumping.

Indeed, those reactionaries are perhaps Obama's biggest allies. The crazier they act, the more reasonable and moderate Obama seems. This also helps liberals who struggle to oppose a sitting Dem president, a position that most would rather not take, primarily against a historical figure whose name adorns their rear bumpers. But it's still early. As the shit water rises, it'll be harder to ignore the stench. Then again, many liberals can convince themselves that overflowing sewers are beautiful fountains, so horrid conditions may be denied for ideological need, or blamed solely on the right, whose power and reach is so vast that it forces Democrats to act against their better nature.

You know the lyrics.

Prizes are largely bullshit, politically determined, selectively awarded. But if money's attached, or if one's career is advanced, the allure is understandable. In Obama's case, the money must be given away, and his career cannot be bettered. How much higher can he rise? In a sense, the Norwegians punked Obama, praising him for peace while he blows apart anonymous poor people. It showed in Obama's reaction, the standard faux humility that Bill Clinton honed to a fine edge. Several liberal commenters I read thought it was a "class act," but in truth, Obama was cornered by his hypocrisy. He knew it, tried to finesse it, but the cognitive dissonance was clear. (If Obama's team was on its game, the president would've gone Brando and sent up a woman of color -- Muslim? -- to accept the award instead.)

It's impossible for an American president to embrace peace. Not part of the job description. Like telling a demolitions engineer to knock down a building with a daisy.

The optimist in me believes that as Obama steadily erodes, his admirers will acknowledge the reality that made him king, and act to counter it. But honestly, who has time for optimism these days? Check your socks for sewage stains.

Friday, October 9, 2009

600 Months For This?

And here's Brother Buck (who just celebrated his 52nd) on some other guy who has the same birthday as me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Many dreamers had high hopes for the Web, yours truly among them. Finally, a direct way around corporate walls and filters, a means to personally express political thoughts to whomever has online access. Mainstream hysteria about bloggers reinforced this conceit. The fuckers wouldn't scream unless they were scared.

Yeah, well, hoo haw to all that.

Corporate mouthpieces still spew hostility while their outlets wither and die. But overall, their anger counts for very little. Like traditional news operations, the Web is privately owned, and therefore limited in reach and ultimate punch. As my friend Rob Payne recently put it:

"I wonder in this militarized police state we inhabit why big brother hasn’t taken control of the internet to render any independent voices silent. Most likely they just don’t see it as a threat yet as the most popular blogs are either rubber room right wing dingbats or delusional liberals who are so happy to have their man in the White House that you could sell them the Brooklyn Bridge five times in a row without raising suspicion. Even paying more attention than most is no guarantee that we can get things 'right' as it were. However, if the ruling elite ever see the internet as a direct threat to their rule, you can bet the internet’s days would be numbered, at least in the form we are now familiar with."

There's no need for the state to step online and quell dissent, whatever form it takes. We are so depoliticized and scattered to the commercial winds that any "direct threat" to corporate rule would require a change in present consciousness so dramatic, so revolutionary, that it cannot be defined by present thinking. This is why we're indefinitely locked into this fixed system: the basic requirements of real change have yet to be articulated, much less defined or deeply understood. There are flashes on the periphery, some rustling here and there, but nothing that would seriously alarm our owners. For them, the Web is another form of control.

This is not to say that the Web can't be bent in a more democratic direction. It's a tool like so much else. All that's required is desire, drive, courage, tactical intelligence, and patience. Endless, bottomless patience. For if real change becomes even remotely decipherable, reaction will be swift, merciless, crushing. We'd have to be able to take beating after beating, getting back on our feet and pressing on. Not easy, not fun, and for countless proles, most undesirable. Voting is simpler, fantasies more soothing -- to the extent one's pain can be adequately numbed by dreams.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zeus Is A Jerk

Do you like this site?

Do I in any way help you cope with the bullshit while making you smile, perhaps even laugh?

Does my large head frighten you?

Well, there's not much I can do about the canned ham atop my shoulders. But if you get something positive or useful from my varied efforts, then please hit the PayPal button and contribute what you can.

Things is tight, y'all. Plus, I live in the worst state economically. Yet I still create different ways of dealing with the American madhouse (which larger, more lucrative bloggers have had no problem, umm, "borrowing") for free. You know the fractured piano tune. So help if you are so inclined or financially able. I'll keep chopping away at this petrified system, a song in my heart, and Bosch-like images dancing in my head.

Speaking of musical sights, here's the awesome Janis Joplin, from Dick Cavett's ABC show, June 25, 1970. Janis was an early symbol of freedom to me; I gazed at her album "Pearl" and fantasized about living the bohemian life. I was only 11, but she struck a serious chord. I wasn't aware of Janis' personal hell and the conditions that led to her tragic end. To me she personified all that was/is great about creative expression. But that, like so much else, comes with a price. Dig her.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Nefarious Plot Foiled

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tongue Untied

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Michelle's Secret

Much thanks to Ethan Persoff for posting my Special Depraved Bonus Bits about Michael O'Donoghue at The Realist Archive. This was in reaction to several idiotic reviews of "Mr. Mike," primarily the one in New York Press, the weekly referred to in the piece (I didn't want to give them any publicity -- such was my mindset back then).

Reading this evokes mostly bad memories. It appeared at the time when our home life was imploding, and everything, as O'Donoghue would put it, was covered in snakes. "American Fan" was under attack from the HarperCollins lawyers as money flew out the window, along with the wife and kids, who moved to Michigan while I remained in NYC, chasing ghosts, getting hammered, and stalking around in a fiery mist.

Still, being published by Paul Krassner remains a true thrill in my life. Think of all the satirical and literary heavyweights featured in The Realist's lifespan, from Lenny Bruce onward. My tone was a bit more aggressive than now; I had yet to learn how to shade my anger and channel it into less-poisonous areas. Some of you may not see a difference, but trust me, there's a big gap. That writer was one bitter, nasty, fucked up guy, and he had yet to hit bottom. It makes my stomach hurt just thinking about him.

The photo of O'D in lingerie is genuine. As I point out in the piece, there were numerous pix of Michael's transvestism in his files. His widow, Cheryl Hardwick, helped select the one we used. Dunno how Michael would've felt about this, but he anticipated such posthumous exposure years before he died, so I doubt he would have been terribly surprised.

Here's a segment from "TV," a pilot that Michael tried to sell to Fox in the early-90's. It was roughly the same premise as "SCTV," minus a resident cast. Michael wrote most of the pilot (two younger writers filled in the margins), but as he often did, especially late in his career, O'D recycled old material cut from SNL and elsewhere. The first bit is one of Michael's better concepts: Rutger Hauer as Kid Satin, a western gunslinger who wears a dress in order to provoke duels.

Transvestism, violence, and Debussy. A Mr. Mike combo if there ever was one.