Monday, October 31, 2011

On JD and SLS

From the new bio on director Nicholas Ray ("Rebel Without a Cause," "Johnny Guitar"), quoting Ray on actor James Dean:

"The drama of his life was the drama of desiring to belong, and fearing to belong... It was a conflict of violent eagerness and mistrust, created very young... The intensity of his desires, and his fears, could make the search at times arrogant, egocentric; but behind it was such a desperate vulnerability that one was moved, even frightened. Probably, when he was cruel or faithless, he thought he was paying off an old score. The affection he rejected was the affection that had once been his and found no answer."

Friday, October 28, 2011


I think here's a secret: Who we are at 8 is who we are. Those who truly love us later on are also channelling our weird little interesting 8-year-old selves.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath (October 27)

The last 2 sections from "Poem for a Birthday":

6. Witch Burning

In the marketplace they are piling the dry sticks.
A thicket of shadows is a poor coat. I inhabit
The wax image of myself, a doll's body.
Sickness begins here: I am a dartboard for witches.
Only the devil can eat the devil out.
In the month of red leaves I climb to a bed of fire.

It is easy to blame the dark: the mouth of a door,
The cellar's belly. They've blown my sparkler out.
A black-sharded lady keeps me in a parrot cage.
What large eyes the dead have!
I am intimate with a hairy spirit.
Smoke wheels from the beak of this empty jar.

If I am a little one, I can do no harm.
If I don't move about, I'll knock nothing over. So I said,
Sitting under a potlid, tiny and inert as a rice grain.
They are turning the burners up, ring after ring.
We are full of starch, my small white fellows. We grow.
It hurts at first. The red tongues will teach the truth.

Mother of beetles, only unclench your hand:
I'll fly through the candle's mouth like a singeless moth.
Give me back my shape. I am ready to construe the days
I coupled with dust in the shadow of a stone.
My ankles brighten. Brightness ascends my thighs.
I am lost, I am lost, in the robes of all this light.

7. The Stones

This is the city where men are mended.
I lie on a great anvil.
The flat blue sky-circle

Flew off like the hat of a doll
When I fell out of the light. I entered
The stomach of indifference, the wordless cupboard.

The mother of pestles diminished me.
I became a still pebble.
The stones of the belly were peaceable,

The head-stone quiet, jostled by nothing.
Only the mouth-hole piped out,
Importunate cricket

In a quarry of silences.
The people of the city heard it.
They hunted the stones, taciturn and separate,

The mouth-hole crying their locations.
Drunk as a foetus
I suck at the paps of darkness.

The food tubes embrace me. Sponges kiss my lichens away.
The jewelmaster drives his chisel to pry
Open one stone eye.

This is the after-hell: I see the light.
A wind unstoppers the chamber
Of the ear, old worrier.

Water mollifies the flint lip,
And daylight lays its sameness on the wall.
The grafters are cheerful,

Heating the pincers, hoisting the delicate hammers.
A current agitates the wires
Volt upon volt. Catgut stitches my fissures.

A workman walks by carrying a pink torso.
The storerooms are full of hearts.
This is the city of spare parts.

My swaddled legs and arms smell sweet as rubber.
Here they can doctor heads, or any limb.
On Fridays little children come

To trade their hooks for hands.
Dead men leave eyes for others.
Love is the uniform of my bald nurse.

Love is the bone and sinew of my curse.
The vase, unreconstructed, houses
The elusive rose.

Ten fingers shape a bowl for shadows.
My mendings itch. There is nothing to do.
I shall be good as new.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something there's been lost

'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

And if I pass this way again you can rest assured
I'll always do my best for her on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death and men who are fighting to be warm
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Not a word was spoke between us there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail
Poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail
Hunted like a crocodile ravaged in the corn
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Suddenly I turned around and she was standing there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Now there's a wall between us, something there's been lost
I took too much for granted got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Well the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much it's doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker he blows a futile horn
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I've heard newborn babies wailing like a mourning dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love
Do I understand your question man is it hopeless and forlorn
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

In a little hilltop village they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation and they gave me a lethal dose
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Well I'm living in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor's edge someday I'll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born
"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I wasn't born to lose you

from "Blonde on Blonde," 1966.

The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
But it's not that way
I wasn't born to lose you
I want you, I want you
I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep
They wait for you
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin' from my broken cup
And ask for me to
Open up the gate for you
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

Now all my fathers they've gone down
True love they've been without it
But all their daughters put me down
'Cause I don't think about it.

Well, I return to the Queen of Spades
And talk with my chambermaid
She knows that I'm not afraid
To look at her
She is good to me
And there's nothing she doesn't see
She knows where I'd like to be
But it doesn't matter
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
He spoke to me, I took his flute
No, I wasn't very cute to him - Was I ?
But I did it because he lied
Because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side
And because I ..
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

I didn't realize how young you were

from "Blonde on Blonde," 1966.

And I told you, as you clawed out my eyes
That I never really meant to do you any harm.

I didn't mean to treat you so bad
You shouldn't take it so personal
I didn't mean to make you so sad
You just happened to be there, that's all
When I saw you say goodbye to your friends and smile
I thought that it was well understood
That you'd be comin' back in a little while
I didn't know that you were sayin' goodbye for good.

But sooner or later one of us must know
You just did what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.

I couldn't see what you could show me
Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid
I couldn't see how you could know me
But you said you knew me and I believed you did
When you whispered in my ear
And asked me if I was leavin' with you or her
I didn't realize just what I did hear
I didn't realize how young you were.

But sooner or later one of us must know
But you're just doing what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.

I couldn't see when it started snowin'
Your voice was all that I heard
I couldn't see where we were goin'
But you said you knew and I took your word
And then you told me later as I apologized
That you were just kiddin' me, you weren't really from the farm
And I told you, as you clawed out my eyes
That I never really meant to do you any harm.

But sooner or later one of us must know
But you just did what you're supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


S. and I had talked about the Byzantine Empress Theodora years ago, tossed around the idea of a screenplay. The idea, as with everything else between us, petered out. But I still kept thinking about Theodora. I'd first discovered her after watching a History Channel show on the end of the Roman Empire. (The Eastern part of the Empire, headquartered in Constantinople, lasted centuries after the fall of the Western part in AD 410.) And was struck by the TV-show account of Theodora's singlehandedly standing up to the hordes at the Hippodrome who were trying to overthrow her husband (the Emperor Justinian). In the midst of the chaos of the revolt, she convinced her husband and advisors to stand and fight, when they were all ready to give up and take flight. Thanks to Theodora, they did make a stand, and Justinian's rule was saved.

Who the hell WAS this woman?

I did a little research at the time, and learned that she was born the daughter of a bear-keeper at Constantinople's Hippodrome. When her father died when she was little, her mother guided her 3 daughters onto the stage in order to make money for the family. ("The stage" at that time included prostitution.) A young (not-yet-Emperor) Justinian met her while she was performing, and the rest was pretty much history...

Interesting to me. But then after I shared the idea with S. and the idea went nowhere, I let it go. A couple of days ago, though, when I was at the library, I typed in a search for "Theodora" just for the hell of it; apparently there's a brand new 2011 book out about her that the library's still waiting to get. I put myself on the waiting list to check it out. And then found another book about her -- "Theodora: Empress of Byzantium" by Paolo Cesaretti (2001), that I hadn't read yet. This author fills in a lot of historical detail that I didn't know about. I'm only a hundred pages into it, but he's already provided several striking occurrences in her life that made me think of A MOVIE.

One scene is: After Theodora's bear-keeping father died, her mother took her 3 daughters (Theodora the middle one) to the public Hippodrome before all the masses to beg a city official in the stands that the bear-keeping position be continued with the new step-father in their family. (Otherwise the family would have been destitute.) The city official (who had officiated at the funeral of the father; both he and the father were members of the "Green" team of the Hippodrome -- one of 4 stadium competing teams, who fought lions and bears, etc.) stared at the kneeling mother and daughters and then pointedly turned his head away from them. The crowd was silent; the kneeling mother and her daughters were humiliated. Until... a call came from the other end of the stadium... from a rival team, the "Blues." The leader of the Blues called the family over to join them.

How frigging dramatic and screen-worthy is that? The betrayal of the Greens, her father's team, and salvation by the Blues... ESPECIALLY knowing that, years later, Theodora would again be confronted with the Hippodrome teams when trying to publicly save her emperor husband...

After reading this kind of stuff, I started taking notes on a screenplay: Main Characters, Historical Notes, Important Plot Points...

A couple of years after the above public Hippodrome humiliation and temporary salvation, Theodora's mother started to pawn off her daughters sexually for the family's financial survival. Here are the notes I wrote about that under "Important Plot Points":

Mother guides daughters to perform on stage, for financial survival. [Actresses considered barely better than whores; they often performed nude or nearly nude and were expected to have sex with rich patrons.] Oldest, Comito (then around 15), becomes actress/courtesan, with Theodora (around age 12) appearing in Comito’s retinue as a boy. Both must perform sexual acts. (Since Theo too young to be considered a “real woman,” she, per her “boy” appearance, is allowed to be sodomized.) Comito, as a beautiful woman and featured performer, has sex with upper-classes, while Theo must have sexual relations with lower classes. [This will come into play later when Theo is in power --- though she is a relatively fair ruler, she will, however, force many “ladies” in her court to marry working-class men.] During this time, Theo known for being somewhat of a clown, overtly sexual, not a great actress, more of a “pal” (i.e., “fuck buddy”) than a real actress/temptress. [Her sister Comito takes herself and her “art” seriously; Theo does not.] Procopius bitchily reports that during this time period, Theo often after a show dined with 10 upper-class youth, having sex with them, then – allegedly unsatisfied – finishing the night off with their slaves. He also reports that Theo publicly wishes for more orifices with which to satisfy her lovers. (!) [I see this as part of her “whatever” attitude – she’s in a horrible position, forced to make the best of it, and she takes it to the extreme.]

That stuff is too powerful. And not made up! And just the first third of the movie! She hadn't even met Justinian yet!

Just what I needed: some inspiration. I have always not minded working crappy jobs as long as I had a creative project to come home to.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Your AstroCenter horoscope for October 21, 2011

It's possible you could meet someone today, who will act as a kind of Pygmalion for you. You need to be surrounded and encouraged by people who believe in you, STEPHANIE, and it is good for you to have one or several people around to support you. If you do meet this kind of person, don't be a show off, and listen to what he or she has to say to you. It is for your own good.


You know what? If a Pygmalion had come along that said anything that I knew was true and/or true to myself, I might have listened. As it was/is: Any "authority figure" I've been around in my entire life -- parent, teacher, boss -- has always been primarily full of bullshit that I could easily see through. (I will never forget my thesis advisor in grad school... One poem that I'd felt particularly close to and worked particularly hard on, she said didn't like and that she'd read it while driving to work... When I told her that I couldn't respect her opinion if she'd only read the poem across her steering wheel, she got mad at me. SHE got mad at ME!) I've never had a Pygmalion, a real role model. I've always had to raise and instruct myself. For better and worse.

Should such an insightful person who believed in me show up in my life and show me support, I would of course be extremely grateful. Who wouldn't be?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kiss and Tell

From 1977 to 1979, I was a huge KISS fan. (Thinking back, I'd assumed my obsession lasted a lot longer than it did, but in reality it was only from 7th grade through the first part of 9th grade.) Thanks to my "cool" friend Debbie for getting me into them. Debbie was so cool because when she was 12 she was already reading "Creem" magazine and getting to stay up late to watch "Midnight Special" on Friday nights and "Saturday Night Live." (I, on the other hand, still had to go to bed at 9pm on school nights and 10pm even on weekends; the only time I got to watch those shows was when I spent the night at her house.) And she had quite the interesting, mature rock record collection for a junior-high kid -- stuff like Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones and Patti Smith and The Runaways, along with KISS -- while I was still just coming off of the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy. (Though I've got to "out" Debbie -- my mom accompanied her and me to our mutual first live concert ever in 1977, and it was...SHAUN CASSIDY!) :)

At the peak of my KISS fandom, I had a Gene Simmons-face birthday cake one year, 2 KISS T-shirts, a KISS belt buckle, tons of posters covering my walls, and a membership in the KISS Army. Debbie and I would frequently don KISS makeup at her house (with me always Gene and her, Ace), and then I exported that habit to the more prosaic kids in my own neighborhood during summers, with me still Gene and my next-door neighbor/friend Marla being Ace and us enlisting our little brothers to be Paul and Peter. Before we figured out that the band used something called "greasepaint" and that this could be purchased relatively cheaply at the Fort Worth mall's pseudo-head shop "Spencer's," we invented our own makeup: The white part was toothpaste spread all over our faces for stickiness, with baby powder then thrown on to it. The black part was... magic marker!! :) When we put on concerts to "Alive II" in my bedroom, the guitars were tennis rackets and the drumsticks, pencils.

The picture shown here is from my 14th birthday, 1979 (when I for the only time switched over to being Paul -- though I still kept my Gene T-shirt -- and we all had real greasepaint), with some "straight" friends from school who weren't that into KISS whom I persuaded to get made up just for something to do at a slumber party! Funnily, there was a fourth friend at this particular sleepover... but her religion precluded her from dressing up like these alleged "devil worshippers" -- at that time, there was a rumor rampant that "KISS" stood for "Knights In Satan's Service" and she didn't want to take any chances! :) (I'd invited Debbie to this same party, but she made up an excuse and didn't show at the last minute; I was crushed! I hated her for dissing me for a long time and only later figured out that she just didn't feel comfortable with this group of people, though they were all very nice. Maybe the "nice" was the problem!)

I never owned all of their albums (my weekly allowance was tiny, and birthdays/Christmases only came so often), but at one point I had:

Hotter Than Hell (bought for me at the mall by my dad after the parents' divorce; when I brought it home, my mother was angry at him about the suggestive pictures on the back cover!)
Rock and Roll Over
Love Gun
Alive II
The Ace and Gene solo albums
Double Platinum

By the time the bad/disco-y "Dynasty" came out in '79, and today, KISS was/is thought of by some to be a gimmick band, but prior to the solo albums, they were pretty raunchy and dark. Gene dark, especially, with songs like "Goin' Blind," "Watching You," "God of Thunder" (written by Paul but performed by Gene); and raunchy, especially, with "Calling Dr. Love," "Ladies' Room," "Plaster Caster," "Christine Sixteen." Paul wrote or co-wrote and performed more of my favorite pop-y and anthemic and sometimes equally sexy songs ("C'Mon and Love Me," "Do You Love Me," "Shout It Out Loud," "Detroit Rock City," "Comin' Home," "I Stole Your Love"), but Gene was the one whose songs we -- Debbie and I -- listened to much more solemnly, via candlelight after midnight on those weekend sleepovers, as I'm sure many Beatles fans solemnly listened to "Sgt. Pepper" and the White Album in their day... There was something semi-spooky, something "deep" about "real life," going on, and we wanted to get down to the mystery of it...

A p.s.: Debbie moved away from my town after our sophomore year, around 1981. I didn't speak to her again until 2007, after I'd moved to NYC and found out she lived in Brooklyn. When we met up there, she told me, in KISS-related news, that she'd gone on after high school to be an actual groupie for a time (mainly hanging around heavy/death metal bands, but also some '80s hair bands like Motley Crue) -- and... she'd slept with Gene Simmons!! Of course, I was impressed! She said he was a dick, though. Why?, I wondered. Was he mean to her? No, not really. And he talked to her about her going back to school. Never could get it out of her what was so dick-like.

I feel uptight on a Saturday night
Nine o'clock, the radio's the only light
I hear my song and it pulls me through
Comes on strong, tells me what I got to do
I got to

Get up
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody's gonna leave their seat
You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City

Get up
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody's gonna leave their seat

Getting late
I just can't wait
Ten o'clock and I know I gotta hit the road
First I drink, then I smoke
Start up the car, and I try to make the midnight show

Get up
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody's gonna leave their seat

Movin' fast, doin' 95
Hit top speed but I'm still movin' much too slow
I feel so good, I'm so alive
I hear my song playin' on the radio
It goes

Get up
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody's gonna leave their seat

Twelve o'clock, I gotta rock
There's a truck ahead, lights starin' at my eyes
Oh my God, no time to turn
I got to laugh 'cause I know I'm gonna die

Get up
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Get up
Everybody's gonna leave their seat

She's a dancer, a romancer
I'm a Capricorn and she's a Cancer
She saw my picture in a music magazine
When she met me, said she'd get me
Touched her hips and told me that she'd let me
I took her hand, baby this is what I said
I said baby, baby, don't you hesitate
'Cause I just can't wait
Lady, won't you take me down to my knees
You can do what you please
Come on and love me

I'm a man, I'm no baby
And you're lookin' every inch a lady
You're good lookin' and you're lookin' like you should be good
You were distant, now you're nearer
I can feel your face inside the mirror
The lights are out and I can feel you, baby, with my hand

So baby, baby, don't you hesitate
'Cause I just can't wait
Lady, won't you take me down to my knees
You can do what you please
Come on and love me
Come on and love me

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dead Animals, OHIO-USA, October 2011

Why the mass slaughter? Idiotic Ohio policeman interviewed on TV: "We didn't have tranquilizer guns." (DOH.) I feel sick. GET some tranquilizer guns, you stupid, stupid human buffoons allegedly in charge of "law and order." p.s. Love the way you scumbags in Ohio laid out the dead afterwards as trophies for everyone to look at. Are you really proud of yourselves for this? Really? I just read that Ohio has the most wild animals in captivity of any state in the Union. Really? And no tranquilizer guns on hand? Why that dichotomy? Why, if your citizens are known for keeping wild animals, are you, the state, not prepared to counteract said citizens' poor decisions, other than to slaughter any animals that might escape? Ya think maybe BANNING the keeping of wild animals might be a good decision to begin with, to at least avoid the below horror?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A sailor's only daughter... (1976)

If never I met you
I'd never have seen you cry
If not for our first "Hello"
We'd never have to say goodbye
If never I held you
My feelings would never show
It's time I start walkin'
But there's so much you'll never know

I keep telling you hard luck woman
You ain't a hard luck woman

Rags, a sailor's only daughter
A child of the water
Too proud to be a queen

Rags, I really love you
I can't forget about you
You'll be a hard luck woman
Baby, till you find your man

Before I go let me kiss you
And wipe the tears from your eyes
I don't wanna hurt you, girl
You know I could never lie

I keep telling you hard luck woman
You ain't a hard luck woman
You'll be a hard luck woman
Baby, till you find your man

Monday, October 17, 2011

I have counted every day...

I have counted every day since you've been away
It seemed like a thousand years
and at na,na,na,na,na,na, late at night
na,na,na,na,na,na late at night
I'll sit and count the tears

I have counted all your lies all your alibis
I'm a guy believes just what he hears
and at na,na,na,na,na,na, late at night
na,na,na,na,na,na,late at night
I'll sit and count the tears

She's gone and found somebody new
He may be happy now but soon

He'll be counting every day that she's been away
It'll seem like a thousand years

and at na,na,na,na,na,na, late at night
na,na,na,na,na,na, late at night
He'll sit and count his tears
He'll sit and count his tears
He'll sit and count his tears
He'll sit....and count his tears

Sunday, October 16, 2011


by Anne Sexton

"Do you like me?"
I asked the blue blazer.
No answer.
Silence bounced out of his books.
Silence fell off his tongue
and sat between us
and clogged my throat.
It slaughtered my trust.
It tore cigarettes out of my mouth.
We exchanged blind words,
and I did not cry,
and I did not beg,
but blackness filled my ears,
blackness lunged in my heart,
and something that had been good,
a sort of kindly oxygen,
turned into a gas oven.

Do you like me?
How absurd!
What's a question like that?
What's a silence like that?
And what am I hanging around for,
riddled with what his silence said?


When I first read the above poem, I was a kid in high school, and didn't think any such cruelty existed. I'd seen first-hand such cruelty, witnessing my parents' behavior, but nonetheless thought it all surreal, even when Sexton said it, even when I personally witnessed it as a kid. It was between them, not me. My kid-self shut out the awfulness. Once I got out of there and had my own life, it would all be better...

Today, at 46, nothing's been better. There have been variations on the bad, but... nothing's been better. My whole life since age 12 has been "Lessons in Hunger." I've achieved societal things like degrees and getting jobs. But I've never been loved and cared for by someone that I love. In patches, that kind of lack and accompanying independence is rather liberating. With long-term emotional deprivation, though, the seeming freedom of self becomes a burden. A point constantly proven, already! :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Come early. Be loud. Stay late.

Not always the best prescription, but in this case, it mainly worked!

As I've bitched about maaaaaaannnny times before here, not having regular work makes me a slug. A lying-around-the-room, watching-TV-12-hours-a-day, drinking-into-the-early-morning-hours slug. Not proud of it. But it's just how it turns out, having nothing else at all to do.

In this instance, haven't had a day of work in 2 weeks! (Despite being registered with 7 -- count 'em, 7! -- employment agencies and calling in my availability weekly or daily, per their requirements. With that, and applying for any available jobs that I see online, what the hell else am I supposed to do? Can't think of anything...)

Friday morning, I'd gone to bed at 6 a.m. or something. Heard the phone ring at 10 a.m. Was too hung over (or still drunk) to get up and answer it. When I finally got my groggy ass out of bed around 3 p.m., I listened to the message from one agency: Did I want to work the UT Longhorns game this Saturday? I was almost afraid to call back, 5 hours after the fact, and almost just negatively blew the offer off... but when I did call, there was, luckily, still a spot for me...

It turned out to be a fun experience! Number one, ANYTHING to get out of my apartment and earn a little needed money is a "fun experience." Number two, though, this really was a fun, exuberant, invigorating environment to be in. Just the fact that the Longhorns had gotten creamed so badly last week by OU and needed to make amends, this time playing a team just as good as OU, set the stage for a bit of excitement in the air...

And then: In all my years at UT, both as a student and an employee, I'd only been to ONE Longhorn game, back in the '80s. Had seats high up in the rafters, didn't really enjoy it that much. This time, though, I was assigned to work as a "floater" on the floor with the indoor suites --- i.e., where all the "rich folk" gathered. I'd initially hoped to get a great view of the game, which didn't happen, except when I was stationed outside a suite door, where I could peek in and down at the field. (Since I was a floater, I had the freedom to run to said doors whenever I heard a huge roar from the crowd!)

It was also interesting to get to watch the "elites'" behavior: I'd been told by staff regulars to get a load of all the alcohol constantly schlepped in to the suites, so I was expecting/hoping to see some Bacchanalia! No such luck! :) I did get to see the President of UT and Wife walking around, along with other UT luminaries, but... no one was doing anything weird or obnoxious! In other words: Nothing to make outraged social commentary here about! :)

OK, so every single person that I saw in the suites was white. And, of the various staff members, the majority, 80% or more, were Hispanic or black, with lil' ol' me in the 20% minority. What, at this point, can I even say about that racial breakdown? It's all been said before. And I think, had I been 26 rather than 46, I might have had sensations of, "One day, I too will have such a suite!" But, being 46, I didn't really care. Mainly because the suites and what was going on in them and what the people in them looked like and their view of the playing field wasn't THAT envy-inspiring.

A lot of 50-60-year-olds (the women with nicely coiffed hair) and their grandkids. A few suites dominated by 20-somethings, the boys looking like fresher-faced versions of their rich fathers and grandfathers (you knew EXACTLY what the boys would look like in 30 years), and the girls -- in their miniskirts and accompanying cowboy boots and long straight hair and fake eyelashes -- looking like Austin's only slightly differing version of LA/Kardashian girls as seen on TV. Completely nonthreatening visually, psychologically, what-have-you. They just were what they were: middle-aged and young people drinking and watching a football game. (I always love judging. And I'm usually at least somewhat paranoid. That I got no bad vibes at all from my surroundings Saturday was a pleasant thing! All I basically came away thinking was that these people were good-looking! Better looks are one thing I'll grant Texans over New Yorkers, for instance!) :)

(Oh yeah: UT lost to OSU, 26 to 38.)

A good day, in an exuberant setting, plus I earned a hundred dollars just for sitting around. I'm thankful for having the chance to do it. Another chance for me to reconnect with Austin, which I suppose I didn't do properly during my first 20 years. (Never once going to any public library then, for instance; or never walking around downtown during the day, seeing things other than clubs after midnight.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fox and Friends

"Poor Mike is 5'9" and Cindy isn't paying any attention to him at all..."

I was liking Fox News for its straightforwardness after the snarky, extreme left bias of MSNBC... until seeing the below ad on Fox! Seriously... If the only Fox viewers besides myself are creepy little men with Napoleon complexes... ugh!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The $15.50 Chinese Dinner

Craving fast food, having no car, and having 2 miles to travel (either walking or waiting for a bus) to get either a Whataburger or Taco Bell meal, sometimes I just have to go with the menus that have been delivered to the doorknobs of my apartment, mainly national pizza places (Domino's, Gatti's) and local Chinese joints (China Palace, China Kitchen, Oriental Express).

Last night I settled on "China Kitchen." It, unlike the two others, only had a $10 instead of $15 minimum order. All had a $3 delivery fee.

So I called for a $7.50 dinner (Lemon chicken, deep-fried, with two scoops of rice, two egg-rolls, and soup -- egg-drop). And ordered two extra egg-rolls for $2.50 to meet the $10 minimum.

Let me just start with: In NYC, some Chinese places also offered burritos and other Mexican food. NO. Chinese and Mexican food don't mix. And at Austin's Dobie Mall, a Chinese place is called "Oma's Kitchen" --- it doesn't offer German food, but does offer burgers along with the Chinese food. NO.

Similarly, tonight when I called "China Kitchen" for the first time... A deep male BLACK voice answered, "Yeah?" From a couple of years up north, I just gave him the number off the menu: "Can I have the #3. Egg-drop soup. For delivery."

"I don't have the menu in front of me. What do you want?"

So, because he didn't have a menu, I then had to explain about the lemon chicken and how it's deep-fried, and about the rice, and about the egg-rolls, and about the soup... and about how I wanted an extra $2.50 order of egg-rolls to make everything add up to $10.

Did I want some crab-cakes? "If they're free crab-cakes, then sure, but otherwise, no..." "Heh-heh-heh. $15.50."

OK, the meal was $10. Tax on $10 is less than 10% here. The stated delivery fee was $3. The whole thing should have been under $14. When he said "$15.50" I spent the next 45 minutes worrying about whether to give a tip or not. Absolutely did not want to, and ended up not giving because the total amount was so much.

When the meal arrived, it was a huge amount of food. Minus the extra $2.50 egg-rolls that I'd ordered, though. In NYC, you'd get the same ton of stuff for $7. In Austin, it was $15.50.

I'm going to try to stretch it out for 3 or 4 meals, and can probably do so, so it won't be such a waste. But still... $15.50 was a big fucking waste of money. I could have gone to a decent restaurant for that price.

Main Lesson: Don't order Mexican or burgers from a Chinese joint. And don't order Chinese from an African-American joint. It just doesn't work out well.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rainbow Bridge

POSTED ON FACEBOOK -- by a "Friend," NOT ME! -- about the death of his cat, followed by an exchange starting with me:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown

ME: ...Are you kidding with this "Rainbow Bridge/Special Friend" stuff? Hey, I loved my cat Gracie A LOT and was VERY upset when she died after 10 years... but the above is pretty creepy, a la Baptists mourning for Jesus to this day.

MC: No I'm not kidding Stephanie, and at this point you are just becoming obnoxious with your constant negative comments on everything....I can see why at this point we have no more mutual friends.....ugh, get a life!

ME: The below that you wrote [referring to the whole "Rainbow Bridge" passage] is one of the most fake, false things I've ever read. I've loved some pets deeply, and the below doesn't do them any justice at all --- It's like some Southern Baptist preacher wrote it.

SLL: MC, who ever this person Stephanie is, I wish you would block her from writing on your wall. Clearly, she's not a nice person.

ME: SLL: OMG! Because I said our dead pets are not frolicking after death in a place called Rainbow Bridge with happy kisses raining upon our faces?? What's next? We humans are going to Heaven to play harps with angels? Come on.

MC: steph....i feel sorry for you at this point....i'm sure most people are seeing you the way sharon and myself see you at this just like arguing, that's something i've come to realize....sometimes you need to know when to shut it. i'm sorry this post had to be ruined by your insensitivity.

ME: I remain amazed: You guys REALLY think there is such a thing as "Rainbow Bridge" where dead pets and their former owners frolic and exchange kisses? Seriously? I feel like I'm going crazy right now. I am not "insensitive" in the least. I've mourned pets deeply. But just not in this weird "I'm going to frolic with you later" way. That is really bizarre to me.


Am I fucking crazy?????? Seriously, half the time, Facebook people make me think as if I am fucking mad. There's no Rainbow Bridge! There's no Big Jesus in the Sky! Barack Obama isn't the Savior (my old Austin/NYC left-wing acquaintances). Barack Obama isn't the Devil (my old right-wing high-school acquaintances). I want to stop relying just on books and turn to real people for communication... but... REAL PEOPLE ARE FUCKING CRAZY and, WORSE, they're STUPID!!! (Give me crazy over stupid any day!)

I'm frigging serious... On Facebook, if you don't sit there and give kudos to every dumb-ass post, then you (well, maybe just I) get shit like, "get a life, you're obnoxious, I feel sorry for you" ----- WHY do people feel sorry for ME???? :) Because I say straight out that there's no frigging "Rainbow Bridge"????? What in the world are people wanting? (Well, I know what they're wanting: "Tiger loved you. You will see Tiger one day soon on Rainbow Bridge." Oh dear god. I just figured out what Sandra wanted me to say to her: "Jim loved you. You will see Jim one day soon on Rainbow Bridge." If I don't tell the truth, I get points for sympathy. If I tell the truth straight out, I get hated for telling the truth.)

I live in a land --- both real and virtual --- of total Zombies.

Ideas of the Ancestors

My great-grandfather's brother, German psychiatrist and opponent of Freud:

He also published poetry under the name "Alfred Erich," though I could find none online.

Paul McCartney got re-married...

... for the third time, Sunday, October 9. The news said that during the ceremony in London he sang for his bride 3 songs: Let It Be, Let Me Roll It, and a new song written just for her.

I've always liked the sexy "Let Me Roll It," from the classic 1973 Wings album "Band on the Run":

You gave me something, I understand,
You gave me loving in the palm of my hand
I can't tell you how I feel
My heart is like a wheel
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you

I want to tell you
And now's the time
I want to tell you that
You're going to be mine

I can't tell you how I feel
My heart is like a wheel
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you


Here's the thing, though: What bride wants re-tread songs? OK, it means something that PAUL MCCARTNEY is singing "Let It Be" and "Let Me Roll It" to you... but... only if you're a fan or something! He wrote those for other women! Let's hope the one new song was a good one! :)

p.s. October 9 is John Lennon's birthday. While Paul had probably forgotten, I'm sure Yoko will send him a note reminding. And in upcoming days: Sandra's mother died on October 11, and Ginny was born on October 11. I doubt very much that S. will remember. And I think that Ginny's parents will very much remember.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


I told someone once how they called to me,
sang to me, and that someone fled.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bukowski's "More Notes of a Dirty Old Man"

One thing I miss about working at the university library (which I haven't done since 2000) is being able to go on massive "writer kicks" -- reading every available book by and bio on 'til it (he or she) is all out of my system. Back when I was floor supervisor and trapped there for 8 hours a day, I'd get all the work done in 2 or 3 hours, then have the rest of the day to just browse the stacks and discover.

At some point in the late '80s or early '90s, I had my initial Charles Bukowski kick. It has now been around 20 years since I first read him, 'til I just found his "More Notes of a Dirty Old Man" (2011) last weekend at the city library. (He died in 2004; these are all essays/sketches/stories published in non-mainstream magazines from '67 through '84.)

The guy puts me in a good mood and makes me feel good about life!

Here's from a funny sketch about a groupie who'd come to his house unannounced:

She put down her bottle. "You are a great writer," she said.
"That's no reason for coming to see me."
"Yes it is, yes it is. You see you fascinate me, you write this way and you look like, you look like --"
"The trashman?"
"Yes, or a diseased gorilla, an undergrown aged gorilla dying of cancer. And those goddamn eyes, slits of eyes but when you finally OPEN them for just that second -- shit, I never saw eyes LIKE THAT, that COLOR, that VICIOUS FIRE --"

They end up doing it on the rug; afterward, she says "ooooh ooooh ooooh I liked it, I liked it I liked it, you filthy greasy pig," and then she leaves while he's in the bathroom.

I was fascinated by that sex (which I'm guessing really happened): It kind of turned me on to read, but then when I started to think about it, and ME: There are some writers, however much I admire them, that I have no actual desire to have sex with, and Bukowski is one of them! :) Yes, just based on the fact that he looked like a trashman/diseased gorilla! I don't think that I could have, unlike the red-haired groupie in the sketch, ever gone beyond that external analysis, despite his writing and his "goddamn" eyes! But... now I feel like I've been missing out! :)

That whole passage made me think about exactly which writers I like that I'd want to sleep with: Bukowski, noooooo. Kerouac, noooooo. (Both too sloppy.) Mailer, maybe. Fitzgerald, probably not (too neurotic). Hemingway, yes. Plath, no. Sexton, yes. Ted Hughes, yes. Rilke, Yeats, Eliot --- noooooo. (Though I'd like to stay up very late drinking and talking with Yeats and Rilke, and all of the above, I suppose.)

Back to Bukowski's writing, though: I like the fact that he writes about a lot of rough stuff and about a lot of dreary, mind-numbing day-to-day stuff (both of which I've experienced too much of), but with insight and humanity and detail. Like Raymond Carver's story about having a guy friend over to hang out and drink; a few hours into the evening, the main character sees his friend kissing the main character's wife in the kitchen --- it's a stunning, potentially life-changing moment... and simultaneously, as he sees the kiss, the main character has just spilled some beer on his new Hush Puppies and is worried about the stain coming out... Life is LIKE that. I've had a hundred moments like that. It's so hard to capture in writing.

One Bukowski sketch in this book that I liked a lot: He's at a camp out in the wilderness with his girlfriend and a bigger group. His girlfriend seems kind of distant one morning, so he goes off by himself to write, wondering about the "inconsistency of woman"... And then gets lost in the woods. He wonders around for hours, eventually truly scared, to the point of abandoning his notebook... After about 8 hours (and contemplation about his potential demise), he finally winds his way back to the camp by chance:

"My god I'm glad to see you! I thought I might die..."
His girlfriend's callous: "I think you got lost on purpose...I thought maybe you went over the mountain to get a drink... Now you'll have something to write about."

As they're trudging back to their tent: "We had to climb between and over old barbwire fences. I got stuck in one, three or four barbs stuck into the back of my shirt. My arm was too tired to reach up and pluck myself free. I just stood there between the strands. Linda waited. I couldn't move. She walked back and lifted the top strand off my back and I got out and followed her."

I laughed out loud about Bukowski idiotically being semi-trapped in the barbed wire. And then laughed out of happiness at Linda's kindly, despite her pique, lifting of one strand to "free" him. Yeah, there's symbolism there, but it was also just a very cute moment of a real-life dynamic between a couple. That kind of thing is very hard to put into words. And Bukowski, and Carver, could do that so well.

Finally: In this book, I also enjoyed Bukowski's recollections of libraries and the idea of solitude:

"After sitting in [LA's] Pershing Square and listening to the boys argue about whether there was a God or not I would walk over to the library... I found myself in the Philosophy Room. Those boys had some style. They talked about what mattered... One of the things they talked about was the need for Solitude. That made sense to me. That need. I mean, when I was sitting at a table reading a book and somebody came to my table and sat down it disturbed me. Why sit near me? And when I looked about and saw other empty tables, I felt really repulsed. I know that I am supposed to love my fellow man but I don't. I don't hate him; I often dislike him; I just don't want him about. I feel better alone.

I loved Solitude. Still do. I grow when I am alone. People diminish me. Especially men, they seem quite unoriginal. Women, at times, are useful. Also they are funny and tragic. But too many continued hours and days with them leads to madness."

from The New Yorker, 10/3/11

by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Evolution settles for a while on various stable balances.
One is that some of the girls like cute boys and some
like ugly older men and sometimes women. The difference
between them is the ones who like older men were felt up

by their fathers or uncles or older brothers, or, if he didn't
touch you, still you lived in his cauldron of curses and
urges, which could be just as worse. They grow already old,
angry and wise, they get rich, get mean, get theirs.

The untouched-uncursed others are happy never needing
to do much, and never do much more than good. They envy
their mean, rich, talented, drunk sisters. Good girls drink milk
and make milk and know they've missed out and know they're

better off. They might dance and design but won't rip out lungs
for a flag. Bad ones write books and slash red paint on canvas;
they've rage to vent, they've fault lines and will rip a toga off
a Caesar and stab a goat for the ether. It's as simple as that.

Either, deep in the dark of your history, someone showed you
that you could be used as a cash machine, as a popcorn popper,
as a rocket launch, as a coin-slot jackpot spunker, or he didn't
and you grew up unused and clueless. Either you got a clue

and spiked lunch or you got zilch but no punch. And you
never knew. It's exactly not anyone's fault. If it happened
and you don't like older men that's just because you like
them so much you won't let yourself have one. If you did

people would see. Then they would know what happened
a long time ago, with you and that original him, whose eyes
you've been avoiding for decades gone forgotten. That's why
you date men smaller than you or not at all. Or maybe you've

turned into a man. It isn't anyone's fault, it is just human
and it is what happens. Or doesn't happen. That's that. Any
questions? If you see a girl dressed to say, "No one tells me
what to do," you know someone once told her what to do.


Wow. Part of me wants to quibble with the suggestion that non-abused women are duller than their abused sisters, which reminds me of the rather self-serving, smug quote -- was it by Dorothy Parker? -- "If you weren't molested as a child, you must have been an ugly kid." (I must disagree with the latter: I myself was really pretty as a child, to the point of adult male friends of the family wanting -- and being allowed to -- have me on their laps while they brushed my long blonde hair; strange men at Dairy Queens buying me ice-cream -- while I was sitting there already eating an ice-cream; men at my dad's office telling him that I was "the prettiest girl" they'd ever seen. I think I was never sexually abused because I was a very verbal, opinionated tattle-tale of a child rather than because I was not pretty.)

But that quibble is just a quibble. This is still very powerful psychologically (not as good as Plath, of course, a Plath who'd gotten tired of speaking enigmatically in terms of history/art and decided to just come right out and SAY IT). I love stuff like, "They...won't rip out lungs / for a flag. Bad ones write books and slash red paint on canvas; / they've rage to vent, they've fault lines and will rip a toga off / a Caesar and stab a goat for the ether." I like the whole fifth stanza.

And the last 2 lines are especially for me: "If you see a girl dressed to say, 'No one tells me / what to do,' you know someone once told her what to do." I was not treated very well, emotionally, when I was a child, and nearly every second of my freedom after age 18 has been an attempt to not ever, ever have to be so trapped and degraded again. I've often failed miserably in that attempt (especially in the last year or so!), but nonetheless recognize that the innate desire for autonomy after 18 years of entrapment is a driving psychological force of my adult life.

Ruined as I may be from constantly rejecting... there are few poems or epigraphs written about those who did NOT give in, despite the pressure. The cute girls who simply DISMISSED the older men's comings on, thought them pathetic, and then moved on. I refuse to give any real credence to girls who say they were sexually abused simply because they were unable to say no to the creeps that they might have disliked at the time but thought they'd go ahead and mess around with anyway because they were ever-so-slightly fascinated.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sunshine Maria

The anonymous black cat that I've seen a couple of times lying below in the next-door-neighbor's scruffy, rented yard looking up at me while I looked down at her from my 2nd-story apartment window is apparently named "Sunshine Maria." And this morning she didn't want to come home.

The plaintive calls for "Sunshine Mariaaaaaa...." started about 10am. Then some whistles. Then some more "Sunshine Maria"s and more whistles. After 15 minutes of this, I got annoyed and looked out the window for a bit. Saw nothing, went and laid back down. After more calls, got up again: This time I saw a black cat jumping off my apartment roof to the roof of the shed of the property next door. (My own now-dead cat Grace was a big roof-jumper, so I thought this was cool.) Kept looking. After the jump, couldn't see anything. Went and laid back down. But then the calls for "Sunshine Maria" kept up so, annoyed still, I got back up and looked back out. In time to see SM making her way down off the shed via trees and then onto the path joining the property/shed of the house next door to my apartment complex. Her owner kept calling and calling. SM kept inching forward and then stopping just short of the fence dividing the property of the house from the apartment complex. I finally saw her owner come into view, on my apartment side of the fence: "Sunshine! Here, Sunshine! Come here." SM, just inches from the dividing fence, looked at her and didn't move. And didn't move. And didn't move. And didn't move.

How both cool and annoyingly cat-like was that cat! :) (Cool for herself and annoying for the owner.) And how annoying were the owner's cries, at least to me, semi-trying to sleep despite her ongoing cat-calls and whistles! (And what's the story behind naming a black cat "Sunshine Maria" -- I highly doubt that the naming was with any knowledge of Edison's "Black Maria" film studio! Or... was it? Am I just a misanthrope?) :)

The owner finally gave up. I, on the other hand, kept watching out the window. Sunshine Maria finally crossed under the fence over to our apartments, long after her plaintively-calling owner had gone.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sexy (Poor Franchot)

Just Kids (No Glitter)

Just finished reading "Just Kids," Patti Smith's 2010 memoir of her young life in NYC with her best friend Robert Mapplethorpe.

A few things that I noted:

"In the war of magic and religion, is magic ultimately the victor? Perhaps priest and magician were once one, but the priest, learning humility in the face of God, discarded the spell for prayer.

Robert trusted in the law of empathy, by which he could, by his will, transfer himself into an object or a work of art, and thus influence the outer world. He did not feel redeemed by the work he did. He did not seek redemption. He sought to see what others did not, the projection of his imagination."


"In my low periods, I wondered what was the point of creating art. For whom? Are we animating God? Are we talking to ourselves? And what was the ultimate goal? ... I craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself. Why commit to art? For self-realization, or for itself? ... [Robert] never seemed to question his artistic drives, and by his example, I understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of color and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion. To achieve within the work a perfect balance of faith and execution. From this state of mind comes a light, life-charged."


"It is said that children do not distinguish between living and inanimate objects; I believe they do. A child imparts a doll or tin soldier with magical life-breath. The artist animates his work as the child his toys. Robert infused objects, whether for art or life, with his creative impulse, his sacred sexual power. He transformed a ring of keys, a kitchen knife, or a simple wooden frame into art."


"He put his arm around my shoulders and walked me home. It was nearly dawn. It took me a while to comprehend the nature of that trip, the demon vision of the city. Random sex. Trails of glitter shaking from muscled arms. Catholic medals torn from shaved throats. The fabulous festival I could not embrace. I did not create that night, but the images of racing Cockettes and Wild Boys would soon be transmuted into the vision of a boy in a hallway, drinking a glass of tea."


"The artist seeks contact with his intuitive sense of the gods, but in order to create his work, he cannot stay in this seductive and incorporeal realm. He must return to the material world in order to do his work. It's the artist's responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation."


"Why can't I write something that would awake the dead? That pursuit is what burns most deeply. I got over the loss of [Robert's] desk and chair, but never the desire to produce a string of words more precious than the emeralds of Cortes. Yet I have a lock of his hair, a handful of his ashes, a box of his letters, a goatskin tambourine. And in the folds of faded violet tissue a necklace, two violet plaques etched in Arabic, strung with black and silver threads, given to me by the boy who loved Michelangelo."


...I stood there and looked at him. So peaceful, like an ancient child. He opened his eyes and smiled. "Back so soon?" And then again to sleep.

So my last image was as the first. A sleeping youth cloaked in light, who opened his eyes with a smile of recognition for someone who had never been a stranger.


I cried and cried when I was finished. For Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and their youthful wrestlings with Art and The Universe. For them having each other. For Smith's understanding of and empathy for him and his creation process. For her thoughtful contemplation of what art and god are, how they intertwine, how their life-force are so important. Recently, I'd forgotten the latter. Her words helped me get back in touch, however briefly, and I'm grateful.

I suppose I also cried (and am now crying) for the one true friend of my youth, Ginny. The nearly matching off-the-shoulder sweatshirts with Japanese writing that we wore around Azle in '83, prompting a 7-11 clerk to ask us, "Y'all ain't from here, are you?" Our exactly matching "Frances Lives" T-shirts, bought after watching "Frances" at a local cineplex. Our sneaking around to visit various churches to learn about god, having to lie to her conservative Baptist parents when we tried but failed to find the -- to them disreputable -- Unitarian church in Fort Worth. Our driving trip with her parents from Texas to Georgia, giggling over our "secret language" culled from the glossary at the back of Burgess's "Clockwork Orange" ("groody yarbles" = "balls" was a favorite). On that road trip, having to share a room with her parents, us in one bed flipping through TV channels with the sound turned all the way down, getting a secret thrill from watching the mild sex scenes in "Blue Lagoon" and hoping the snorers in the bed next to us didn't wake up. Our attempt at songwriting: "He's a Geek of the Pencil-Necked Variety" (inspired by "She's a Refugee" by U2); when I left her to go to college in the fall of '83, she had matchbooks made up with that title on the cover and sent them to my dorm...

The last time I saw her was in September 1985. By that time, she'd found a new "best friend," whom she brought with her to Austin. Ginny'd stolen 100s of cassette tapes from the Fort Worth mall record store where she worked and thought selling them in Austin would be a good idea. I remember the three of us approaching a crosswalk on the way to an Austin record store to sell the tapes, she and her other friend engrossed in conversation and me tagging along slightly behind. The crosswalk sign was flashing "DONT WALK." I stopped. She and her friend walked on, not even noticing that I wasn't with them. Broke my heart.

That same fall, I was in a poetry class taught by David Wevill. On November 6, 1985, I wrote a poem that I just now dug out of a box at the bottom of my closet. At the bottom of the poem I'd written, "for Ginny and 'Skippy'" --- Sandra, who was in that class, was "Skippy."


...and she loved her street in passing
her neon name,
the sweet fame-glint of the glistening walk

she was careful where she stepped --
the puddles were hers, too,
diamond sax for her pleasure --
all wind and grit and dream for hire

loose, the girl without her shoes
had graced the night, had
made her peace --
and she smoothed her well-worn list,
kissing the names for warmth,
watching them wash in cool dissolve
rearranging to a clue
that would soon mean nothing --
nothing she would ever need to know

cold and wet, the streets may starve
no glitter -- though her
face glows


Ginny died in 1987, of cardio-pulmonary failure. I found out when I tried to call her in 1988, at her parents' home in Georgia, where they'd all moved a couple of years earlier. Her dad answered, and there was an embarrassing silence when I asked for her, then: "I thought we'd told all the Azle people... She died 6 months ago."