Friday, February 25, 2011

Then Came The Dawn

Where's the politics? The world's aflame and you're fucking around. Give us some spin. And be funny as you do it. Sorry. The grand stage is crowded. Countless people shouting their opinions. Pick a voice and go with it. Plenty for everyone. The century I'm in is no less chaotic. It's what the future holds.

Small green spider motionless. Meditating? What runs through arachnid synapses? If it's looking to eat, it picked the wrong season. No flies or ants around. It'll starve then dry up like the spider bodies in my old basement. A breath and they're dust. I turn my writing light up, a spider shadow's cast. Maybe it'll chase the shadow as dogs chase their tails. Maybe I'm stalling. More likely drunk.

Digging my car out of the snow. Nissan caked with drifts. Tires buried in exhaust-blackened ice. A dirt shovel's needed to break through. Arms and upper chest start to strain. People my age die doing this. I feel it for the first time. New snow falls. I'm the only fool on the block digging. The other cars sleep undisturbed. Fuck it. I'm going back indoors. I'd rather be comfortable should death come. Johnny Cash singing Reaper ballads.

Late calls to the west coast. It's 2:30 here. Can't sleep. Won't write. Nothing but voice mails. I'm going crazy. The bite of this birch beer is the only contact I have. How do other people lose it? What's their final straw? Thoughts of them snapping soothe me. Projection of madness is balm. Good thing I didn't become a teacher.

Back to the notebooks. I don't remember writing half of these pages. Sentences crossed out. Arrows in all directions. Circled phrases, some starred. The whole thing's beautiful and absurd. The noise raging in my head sometimes makes sense. But I can only snare bits of it. So much more gets away. Grabbing a nice chunk is glorious. Occasionally you don't feel the debris.

Rumors of a new Three Stooges film continue. I say give the boys guns. Make them martial artists. Get them laid. I wanna hear Curly come. Moe moans while Larry has locks of hair ripped out by a frenzied woman who thinks he's an oil magnate. Add sledgehammer and hack saw (maybe Shemp?) and it's a Stooge orgy. Next: Abbott and Costello Learn To Obey.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sloopy Hang On

Isolation is vital for deep writing, but man does it fuck with your head. Relation to space fluctuates, time has no meaning, sleep comes when it comes. The only schedule is the page.

Remembrance feeds the fire. Dredging up emotions seemingly lost can surprise but also sadden you. Moments and events accelerate. A kitchen scene cuts to a Catholic school playground then to a driveway at night, a frightened boy in pajamas staring at stars, wondering where his parents are (you'll have to wait for that ending). Out it pours. And I run after it all, laying it down in longhand, filling small notebooks with nonlinear bits. There's a certain joy in this, but it's brief. It feels more like a long-delayed duty, if only to myself. But it's on now.

Proust's madeleine is an overused reference to memory triggers, yet it remains apt. And while food/aroma/taste triggers are in play here, much of what sends me back is media-related.

The music my mother played and danced to in our living room (Motown, Streisand, The 5th Dimension, Herb Alpert), cigarette commercials, local TV stars like Sammy Terry and Cowboy Bob (still around via YouTube), 60's sitcoms, Hanna-Barbera cartoons, any show where characters wore capes (Batman, Superman, Captain Nice, Mr. Terrific, The Mighty Heroes), early masturbatory images (Julie Newmar, Diana Rigg, Tina Louise, Nichelle Nichols). All this and much more merge pop crash in my mind. If the younger tenants mind the older guy cackling at 4 AM, they haven't shown it.

It's weirdly appropriate that I'm writing this volume on campus. Michigan is a hyper-study school, so the atmosphere is right. There are few diversions. I know a divorced guy my age is expected to slobber like a Tex Avery wolf at all the young women, but it just isn't happening. Sure, there are some beautiful women here, yet they live in a different world from me.

I get more stares from guys when I walk down the street. I don't know why that is. Maybe I look like a dork to them. Or perhaps they're mentally measuring their dicks against mine. This is the age when that shit blossoms. These guys are at the beginning of their adult lives, which must frighten most of them. I understand. It never really goes away, but you learn to mask it better.

To the young women, I'm invisible. Just as well. They're focused on their studies while I'm spinning through time. I will say this to the student downstairs who gets laid on a regular basis: What's your hurry, dude? From the sound of it -- and trust me, I can hear everything -- you're fucking as if on deadline. Slow it down. Switch speeds. Mix it up. You've got more time than you know. Take it from the traveler upstairs.

(Above image: "Sonia Face through Time 2 (with Face)" by Sonia Landy Sheridan, 1970s.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Like Butter Play Toast

The specter of revolution stalks the Arab/Persian world. Activist friends are energized by protests in Wisconsin. Older activists like ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern directly confront Hillary Clinton for her hypocrisy over Egypt, getting dragged off by security as Hillary droned on, stage smile fixed, not missing a beat. Ferment, action, courage, hope. How deep does it run? How long will it last? I'm all for it -- jam the imperial gears, rattle the cage. But now I'm watching college girls walk past my apartment window.

The motel phase has settled into sublet living. I'm in an old house on the Michigan campus, right in the middle of sorority row. It's a professor's place, a French-African woman who returned to Paris to have her baby. African art lines the walls, emitting positive energy. Parking sucks, especially with the majority of cars owned by students. Otherwise I like it here. It reminds me a bit of Butler, with some Indiana University thrown in. But unlike those schools, I don't see myself partying with the kids. I'm the older guy at the top of the stairs. He's quiet and keeps to himself, but late at night there's mad laughter and shadow apparitions on the ceiling.

After a brief my-life-has-utterly-changed hiatus, The Project resumes. I'm lining up some stage time in LA, where I'll be in early-March, and may take a meeting or two. After that, more mics in NYC, a few in DC and perhaps elsewhere, depending on developments in flux. I'm also going to give readings. For the moment, I'm working on the book part of The Project, the first volume of what I expect to be a three volume set. This aggressively stirs up really dark shit, but after the last few months, I'm used to it. So if I'm absent from this space for more than a few days, you'll know why.

Bright spots exist. My son most prominently. The ex and I getting along is immensely helpful. The other day at the place where I get my hair cut, Christina, my stylist (she's no mere barber), said "Okay Dennis. You're next." The young guy she just finished turned, looked at me and asked, "Are you Dennis Perrin?"

Fuck. More papers? IRS? Homeland Security?


"Hey. I read your blog. You're a terrific writer."


He wasn't crazy about the videos, though. Took too much of his time. But he loved my writing. "Really good stuff," he said leaving.

Christina beamed as I sat in her chair. "Wow! That's gotta feel good!"

It ain't bad.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hugh Simon's Theory

Kenneth Mars' death makes me very wistful. Although Python, the Lampoon and SNL forged my early comedy awareness, Mars was never far away. His talent was on par with Peter Sellers; his absurdist, at times bizarre precision anticipated the young Dan Aykroyd. Mars made the most unusual comic choices, seemingly sane to only himself. Yet they always worked, with Mars chest deep in character.

Mars' passing is another reminder that my generation of influences is starting to die off. I wish I could be more Zen about it, but I was raised as an American. Clutching old emotions is a national birthright.

My favorite Mars performance is in What's Up, Doc?, Peter Bogdanovich's homage to Howard Hawks. But most people prefer Mars in The Producers and it's easy to see why. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were pretty good, too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Broken Good

Screaming at the crows again. Out it pours, pain, frustration, faded love. And the crows take it. They're used to my abuse. Occasionally they'll caw back, black eyed void and casual hate. I dare them to attack, tear off my shirt and wave it at their heads. But they fly away taking wet white shits. Neighbors watch but never intrude. Their lives are sad enough without testing crow patience. Me, I got nothing but time.

Old photos of her still arouse. Long legs, firm ass, a model's posture. Then we were hurt crazy, fun crazy, drunk crazy. We fucked on a dime wherever we liked. Kitchen counter love with the windows open. Faint hair on her arms electric, prim tongue unwound. It was sweetest when she let it all go, pretense, modesty, education. In the moment cries and bruises from sharp corners. Eventually it passed and now is gone. Only the dead remember.

I drink to see my ancestors. Many are mean, shallow, base. What intelligence they have fuels their mockery. They blast me for being a sucker. I smile in the haze, let them flail. You'd think they'd change tactics, but their bile blinds them. They stagger through lost time confused. I reach out and they slap away my hand. A wasted gesture I consciously repeat. Maybe that makes me a sucker. One of us has to embrace it.

She gently drew blood. I didn't resist. It felt too good. I'd collapse with her at my neck. A few hours later I'd wake up, sore, happy. Light burned my eyes. I rubbed them as she came into focus, lips crimson caked. She wanted more. She always wanted more. Step to the plate, baby. All you can eat.

Being thrown into walls seasons you. Life's less a mystery when your head dents plaster.

Cute cashier smiles in dull brown frock. Uniforms obscure, but she floats above it. She shares the secret with those paying attention. Amazing how many miss it. All you need do is look.

An old friend phoned, angry with my writing. Why do you hate? he asks. What happened to you? I say I've changed somewhat, but not in a bitter way. My words are filled with love. That he reads my love as hatred means I've failed to connect. Not the first time. So I keep trying. This is me trying.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Old Glory Holes

Militarist displays at the Super Bowl are nothing new. Since 1991 in Tampa, when the US finally shook off the Vietnam Syndrome (celebrated by George the First Bush) by pounding Iraq to near-unanimous national applause, corporate America's biggest PR stage has been used to forge obedience to the war state. The 9/11 attacks pumped fresh plasma into the mix, and now we must bow to those in camouflage, not only at the Super Bowl, but at practically every major sporting event. Without them, we are told, the barbarians will trash our toys and turn our strip malls into mosques and beheading parlors.

America has long flirted with and at times personified authoritarian tendencies. But now it's institutionalized. What's more, it's lost its sheen. Whenever I debated reactionaries or spoke to dopey libs about corporate culture, I always gave our propaganda system a genuine thumbs up. Hitler, Stalin, Mao were Mr. Magoos compared to our heavily researched, tested, and financed fabric of lies and fables. Making consumers deeply believe that not only were they the freest people on the planet, but that they couldn't get any freer was genius. I mean, who invented the invisible fence? Keeping them doped with religion, sex and TV was only the beginning. As technology advanced, so too systems of control and surveillance.

Like so much else, the golden age of American propaganda has passed. Now we're directly, crudely told to obey our masters and their military wing. Instead of shaking off the cobwebs and forging some kind of resistance, most Americans go meekly along, hoping not to lose their jobs or their homes. Sophisticated lies aren't needed anymore -- consumers are trapped and show no signs of stirring. This saves the PR industry billions. Wave a big flag, push a few Afghan vets into view, have fighter jets streak overhead, and compliance is pretty much guaranteed.

This is why Christina Aguilera's National Anthem fuck up was beautiful to see. It would have been sweeter had Aguilera intentionally flubbed the lyrics, but she's no celebrity class traitor. Aguilera simply forgot the words, which sent reactionaries into predictable fits. Yet what Aguilera did was thoroughly American.

Not knowing the words to the National Anthem is minor. A great number of Americans have no knowledge of their country's history, much less the song that celebrates it, but this ignorance doesn't stop them from humping Old Glory. Indeed, it fuels nationalist frenzies. Less intelligence is more. Next year have the Anthem sung by CGI dogs with celebrity voices, one of whom should be Christina Aguilera. After all, Americans are a forgiving people.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rust In The Drain

She ran in the snow, crying in bare feet. I saw her while throwing garbage in the motel's dumpster after dark, so I could avoid the housekeeper for another day. Long dark hair hid her face, but her pain and confusion came through. She wore shorts and a sweatshirt, oblivious to the ice crunching under foot. She walked in circles then dropped to her knees, sobbing, laughing, coughing. I began to approach her when a man's voice yelled from the balcony.

"Bitch! Get back in here! Don't make me mad!"

He wore a Harley t-shirt, short hair spiked. He held a small camera in his left hand, using it to emphasize his impatience.

The woman got up, brushed the hair from her face. She looked young, 18-19 tops. Baby fat cheeks red from frozen tears. She looked at me and smiled. I stood in the icy parking lot under a dim light. For a moment there was frigid silence, then her redneck boyfriend started yelling again.

"Kelly! What the fuck did I just say? Get your fat ass up here!"

Her shoulders hunched as she trudged back upstairs. The guy filmed her all the way, laughing about how getting fucked in the ass wasn't so bad. She had to relax and play to the camera. She entered their room and he slammed the door behind them. He yelled some more, then it was quiet.

This was my last night in this dive, and so far I'd been left alone. People came and went during the day, battered rusty cars and mud-caked pick ups sporadically parked through the lot. This is a place for the poor and ignored. There is relative freedom in this world, so long as the cops aren't called. But there's sadness and resignation as well.

I went back in, smoked more weed, poured another chilled vodka. The heat worked pretty well, countering the drafts and cracks that brought in subzero air. I'd planned to jerk off, but that girl's face stuck with me. Poor kid. What a shitty life she must be living. Usually I can get past such distractions and tend to business, but not now. So I watched an early sound picture on TCM, where men in tuxes drank cocktails while women in gowns smoked long cigarettes and cackled at their antics. Somewhere else bodies burned, but here the heat made the numbness bearable.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

From The Mailbag

Just because I'm living in motels doesn't mean the work stops. Far from it. If anything I'm taking on too much, which if I paused to analyze it might suggest that I'm trying to divert the psychic pain of my personal life by answering those whom normally I'd dismiss with a nod and a wink. Anyway, this entered my in-box from an admirer of a certain English-born propagandist this morning, and I thought I'd share.

SUBJECT: So, what do YOU think?

I'm guessing the Muslim Brotherhood starts taking over the political representation in Egypt. The best and the brightest flee to the U.S. (doctors, academics, elite science researchers) leaving the society to fracture into subsets of severe and disenchanted anger and in 3 or 4 years it becomes Pakistan rather than Iran.

To which I replied:

You're right. Them Ay-rabs can't be trusted to revolt responsibly. Too crazy. Too primitive. We should probably invade Egypt now to save money and American lives, or at the very least, send a dozen drones and cruise missiles through Cairo to show them we mean business. Because we do. Unlike the Ay-rab, Americans kill for the RIGHT reasons. Plus, God is on our side, not theirs. As if the celestial creator of all things would choose mud people with car bombs over us. Please.

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