Friday, November 28, 2014

A box at the back of the closet holds bones and other mementos
of luck gone bad like third-day mutton.

She was sick that day. And a little after.
Laughter later giving her away
like her daddy would never do.

She never changed his shoes.
The dress she did change
had his paint on it.

"I wouldn't let them see that, if I were you."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To the parents of Michael Brown... wailing about why their son is dead:

(1) If you hadn't raised him to think it was OK to rob convenience stores; and
(2) if you hadn't raised him to think it was OK to scuffle with a police officer and grab his gun...

then maybe your son would still be alive.

As the press conference last night made clear, autopsy results showed that Michael Brown was NOT shot in the back. And the gunpowder and injury to his thumb showed that his hand was at some point on the officer's gun. Why in the world should that officer have been indicted for shooting someone who first attacked him in the police vehicle?

All of the violent protests are ridiculous. All of the "crying wolf" has to stop. The protests need to be saved for those who have truly been victimized by police, not for neighborhood hoodlums. I also stared in disbelief at President Obama's press conference, in which he stated that race relations have a long way to go... I agree: until the black community stops teaching their young men that it's OK to steal and fight police officers and loot when they don't get their way, then, yes, race relations do indeed have a long way to go.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"You can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts..."

2010: The now-aged Chad Mitchell Trio reprising their 1961 Lizzie Borden song at the site of the murders just for further hoots. 1961 song follows. (I'm curious about why anyone finds anything about the case funny. I, personally, find it incredibly sad. Why are you singing in this house, you disgustingly smug, snarky assholes-in-khakis?)

A Good Day, despite...

My post office used to be a few blocks away, a 5-minute bus trip away. A few months ago, that neighborhood post office closed; my new one is now up north, a 25-minute bus ride. No longer a "neighborhood post office." And the new one is in an utterly shitty neighborhood, full of multiple lone guys loitering on street corners, feeling free to come on to me, a lone women waiting on a bus, asking for cigarettes. Me, eager to show that I'm a "good sport," always give them a cig. (Why should I have to, though?)

Friday when I got home from work, had a post-office pink slip that I had a package waiting at the up-north station (open 9-1 Saturday for pickup only). I was irritated 'cause I knew pretty much that it was my Euro cartons of cigarettes: usually they deliver to my door, sometimes they make me go to the PO and sign for the package. I hate the latter.

Desperate for my cheap cigs despite the heavy rain, I got up early Saturday, got on the bus, got to the shitty post office a few minutes after 9am. Three other people were waiting. I asked a younger girl there: "Have you guys rung the bell?" They all had, and no one had answered. I rung the bell again. No answer. Two of the people left.

By 9:15, with just me and a Hispanic guy left, I rang and rang and rang the buzzer. And stood and stood and stood there. Finally, upon my billionth ringing, someone YELLED from the other side of the door: "I'm coming, I'm coming."

When the woman finally opened the door, I said: "You're supposed to be open at 9am, right?" She didn't apologize for being late, no nothing. She just blankly asked for the pink slips and IDs from me and the Hispanic guy standing there, then slammed the door again.

(My cohort thankfully laughed when I said to him: "Why is she mad at ME when SHE was the one who was late?")

Irritated as I was about my PO trip: I did, in the end, get my cheap foreign smokes that I'd been worried about not getting; I got home, I got to lie around at home on this rainy day reading my Lizzie Borden books, sleeping in between, waking up again and reading more... It ended up being a Good Day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'll be living...

... Up North in a couple of months. Since I first came to Austin as a student in 1983, I've always lived South or Central. I don't know "North" at all. But it's close to work, and it's all I can afford. At this point, ANYTHING/ANYWHERE to avoid the 3 hours on the bus every day. Today I left work at 5:15 pm, got home at 7pm. From a work-site 15 miles from my home. I have no control over this kind of crazy.

This past September, the City of Austin initiated two "Rapid" bus routes, one of which took over the previous shuttle bus from the UT campus to my work campus.

The Austin Capital Metro hype for the new "Rapid" route: "It will take about the same time as the former shuttle. And it will be much faster than the '3' route." An utter lie. The former shuttle took me from campus to workplace in 20 minutes flat. The new "Rapid" takes 40 minutes. Double the time. Not even anywhere near "about the same time." As for being "faster" than the regular "3" bus also travelling the same route: The "3" takes 37 minutes. The "Rapid," with fewer stops, inexplicably takes 40 minutes.

What's the point of a "Rapid" that takes longer than the "Regular"?

Monday, November 17, 2014

I walked around in a coat today...

... with a broken zipper, because I'd bought it back in 2007 in NYC, because I'd walked around with it on 7 years ago because it looked good then... It is "microfiber" aka "microsuede." It looked good back in 2007, especially when the zipper worked.

IT LOOKED LIKE SHIT TODAY. AND I WAS FUCKING COLD TODAY wearing it, zipperless, out of nostalgia. My nostalgia was gone after the cold, and especially after seeing a homeless woman on the same bus also wearing a similar "microsuede" coat.

Speaking of homeless people: I was on a couple of buses unfamiliar to me this afternoon in my quest to get to, before dark, the post office that had mangled a book I'd ordered. The PO clerk was an asshole; I got no money back or even an apology for how destroyed the book was by the USPS. What I DID get by the time I arrived home after my various bus journeys was a distinct odor. I REEKED OF PISS.

After leaving work at 3:15pm and doing my post office errand, I finally arrived home at 6:30pm. I washed my hands, I changed my clothes, I sat down at my computer... And I still REEKED OF PISS. The odor of the people I'd been around on the bus earlier had apparently sunk into my very HAIR, or my SKIN.

Disgusting. Don't enoble the poor from a distance until you've ridden on a bus with them for years, as I have.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Night Football

Kinda broke my heart the other day, reading on my journalist brother's Facebook page how he and his boys often spend nights in the stands eating popcorn and Skittles while he covers the games.

"Broke my heart" because the image of him and his boys is so sweet. When I was a kid, in the rare occasions that I got to attend anything, I was shunned for asking for popcorn or candy. When I read my brother's account, I felt happy for his kids.

On the darker side, because my own ONE memory of going to a high school football game with my father was a shitty one: While at the game, we saw a teen girl riding on her boyfriend's shoulders. My father pointed out to me what a slut she was.

I don't remember anything else about the game.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


A book I ordered last week from Amazon arrived on my doorstep looking EXACTLY  like this. No note. No apology. And when I tried to file an online claim with the USPS, got a message that my claim was ineligible.

My only intellectual sustenance: It was a book about Lizzie Borden, so perhaps it's appropriate that it should arrive so MANGLED...

(Pain in the ass though it may be, I will definitely be hauling -- by tortuous, probably 2-hour, bus trip -- this disgustingly mangled book into a post office that's now miles north of where I live and hard to get to. What the FUCK were they thinking delivering this to my door sans apology?)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"They just don't like you."

Simple, isn't it? But our egos don't want to let us admit it.

I don't want to admit that my sister-in-law doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my brother doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my mother doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my father doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that Sandra doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that Kathy stopped liking me. I don't want to admit that Ginny stopped liking me.

But once I admit the truth... all the confusion becomes clear: If someone doesn't like me, no matter WHAT I do, it won't be right. NOTHING I DO WILL BE RIGHT. That's freeing.

It would be kinda nice if SOMEONE liked me, but I have no control over that.

And so, I carry on.

Sad Thanksgiving Prediction

I've always liked Thanksgiving and Christmas, even as I've always, for the past decade, been an "adjunct" relative. I like my brother; I especially like my nephews; I want to see my mother on the Big Days; I like talking to my sister-in-law when she's in a good mood and not going off about "education issues" (which has lately often been her wont).

As this Thanksgiving approaches, though, I'm seriously considering bowing out. At my brother's birthday dinner in late October, my brother's wife barely said a word to me, not even a "hello" when I was picked up. At my mom's house for the dinner, there was no conversation other than an argument over the "affordable housing" issue currently on the ballot in Austin: I said I was against government subsidizing of housing. My sister-in-law said (among the first words she'd spoken all day): "Even though you've been complaining about not being able to afford living in your neighborhood?" Me: "I don't expect the government to pay for me."

I will sit home alone with a fast-food meal and enjoy the Thanksgiving Cowboys game (as I did when I was alone in NYC) rather than subject myself to further Stupid.

In the future, I hope to have someone of my own to spend Thanksgiving with.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Mommy Song / Blitzkrieg

I wrote this in December 1986, when I was 20. Originally called "The Mommy Song" then retitled "Blitzkrieg" for my 1994 grad program thesis.

She has seen her face in food, food on walls,
the late-night aftershave men in suede,
felt her body shot ripping gold chains.
She heard the wish for the plane crash,
wings crumbling, the captain's cool voice,
applause two million miles away

Is it what he wanted, these killing words;
such words lie in wait, the wet-fur cringe
down low on plastic tiles, the rattling knob
echoed in slow, cold mirrors,
the slower cracking of the plywood door

("somewhere my blood beats sure as rain
from tin roofs and in drains,
on the face of a boy
whose lips part for my outpouring")

She has seen her eyes on the banks of the Rhine,
seen him for the first time: in cafes, the wine
mingling hot and his hand on her arm.
Oh such eyes, those black-heart jacks,
reflect nothing on her, or the woman she may be.
They see things in voltage:
the blue bolts dangling, frantic, to the right temple,
the right mind that may be changed

Still a fear of the eyeless drives her
past speaking, past belief
to some world sightless in itself
in a search for
love, like gold, a vision
given cost beyond weight,
melting once to perfection, twice
to a lesser state

At what point is credibility gained?
At what point is the gained thing forsaken?

She grows old in this hothouse
as lilies fill her mouth
yet pardons the exile
and takes her fine time
looking up

There is always the trial --
as the defendant she must submit...
herself, a luxurious thing of lines undrawn
and she feels the split
the plaintive cracks in perception
that see her past stained windows
and into light that glows alone.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Absurdist Foodies

Putting a finger on what exactly is so obnoxiously smug and ridiculous about "food snobs," from John Lanchester's "Shut Up and Eat" article in the 11/3/14 "New Yorker":

Most of the energy that we put into our thinking about food, I realized, isn't about food; it's about anxiety. Food makes us anxious. The infinite range of choices and possible self-expressions means that there are so many ways to go wrong... You can make yourself look absurd. People feel judged by their food ...choices, and they are right to feel that, because they are...

...Food is now politics and ethics as much as it is sustenance...

If shopping and cooking really are the most consequential, most political acts in my life, perhaps what that means is that our sense of the political has shrunk too far -- shrunk so much that it fits into our recycled-hemp shopping bags. If these tiny acts of consumer choice are the most meaningful actions in our lives, perhaps we aren't thinking and acting on a sufficiently big scale. Imagine that you die and go to Heaven and stand in front of a jury made up of Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Your task would be to compose yourself, look them in the eye, and say, "I was all about fresh, local, and seasonal."


I personally have no "anxiety" about the food I eat. I revere my Dairy Queen Country Baskets and I think Whataburger has the best fast-food burger. I'll miss the burgers and white gravy-and-fries from local favorite Players once it closes. I eat at each of these places maybe 3 or 4 times a year. My usual diet, during the work week, is salads and soups from my work's on-site cafĂ©.

What I absolutely can't stand is those vegans or those into the latest fad diet (paleo, gluten-free, anyone?) who then present themselves as somehow "politically and ethically superior" to the rest of us "plebes" who eat normally on a daily basis. (By "normally," I mean a common-sense balance that keeps us within our weight range... sans any fad diet.) My overweight brother, for instance, has been trying trendy diets for years now and likes to tout what trendy restaurant he's been to lately and mock my simpler eating habits. He remains fat. I, on the other hand, remain Not Fat via eating mainly salads (because I like salads), little meat (fatty meat makes me gag, but I do like lean chicken, lean brisket, lean hamburgers, and the pepperoni on pizza), the occasional delicious fast-food splurge, plus walking over 2 miles a day. I don't THINK about what I eat, particularly, I just eat what my body feels like eating. I have little anxiety about it. My body knows, once I've scarfed down a Whataburger-and-fries, that it's grateful but that it doesn't need the same gloop again any time soon. And, conversely, my body feels good when I've eaten a salad.

It's between me and my body. There's no fetishism about it. The "foodies" are all fetishists. Attaching "politics" and "ethics" and "anxiety" to eating is not only absurd but also mentally sick.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

New Lizzie Borden T-Shirt

Now, what in the world am I hoping to accomplish by wearing a Lizzie Borden T-shirt anywhere?!
I actually do think she murdered her father and step-mother. And that the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, had some hand in it. (After reading 4 books about the case in the past two weeks... those two were the only ones in/around the house when the murders were committed. The house was on a busy street; there were no sightings of a bloody madman running in the vicinity afterwards. The victims' faces were mutilated --- in 1892, not much about "criminology" as a science was known, but in the years since then, it's been established that when a victim's face, especially, has been mutilated, it's most likely the work of someone very emotionally close to them.)
What the hell happened there? And what, for instance, might be the difference between wearing a Lizzie Borden T-shirt and, say, an OJ Simpson T-shirt... Simpson was, after all, also pretty emotionally disturbed at the time that he allegedly stabbed his ex-wife to death... What makes the Lizzie Borden case a "hip" T-shirt thing, while wearing a similar OJ shirt would be simply creepy, somehow celebrating wife-abuse/murder? Is it the old adage that "tragedy + time = comedy"? Is it just because the murders in the Borden home happened longer ago?
I don't think so. Say that both parties were guilty: Say Lizzie Borden killed her father/step-mother and that OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife.
As various witnesses have attested to, it's pretty much a given that, post-divorce, Simpson was in a constant jealous sexual rage about his ex-wife, to the point of stalking her. No real surprise that he might have been following her, been enraged by seeing her with a young guy at the gateway of her home.  
With Lizzie Borden, though, what was the impetus for the murder? The "Ghost Adventures" cable TV show recently posited, sans proof aside from psychics, that Lizzie had been having sexual relations with her father. A 1984 book by "Evan Hunter" (Ed McBain) posited that Lizzie Borden and maid Bridget had been having a lesbian affair and that Lizzie's stepmother had discovered them and then threatened to tell the father... These seem quite believable sources of extreme anger to me, but at the time, nothing of the sort was presented.
Whatever the relations between Lizzie Borden and Bridget Sullivan... SOMETHING was going on in that house between them. It was an internal thing. You simply don't have one ax murder at 9:30am, then a lull until 11:00am before the next one (as the coagulation of blood from the two victims indicated) if it's a random case.

Sunday, November 02, 2014


Always glad to talk to folks at the bus-stop. Uh-huh.

Today's "folk":

It's beautiful weather. (ME: It IS!)
Don't mean to bring you down, but this bus just came by 15 minutes ago. (ME: That's OK. Just 15 minutes, then, 'til the next one.)
All glory to the Lord. (ME: OK.)
Do you need your shoes shined? I shine shoes: "Rise and Shine" is my business. (ME: Nope. Don't need my shoes shined.)
Just $5. (ME, stretching out my legs to show the mediocre shoes that didn't need shining: Really, I'm not a businessman who needs his shoes shined.)
Alright, I gotcha. Wait, I got a call. (ME: OK.)
That woman wants work, but she's not reliable. I've been trying to help her and her boyfriend. They have a yard business, but they smoking. I try to help her... (ME: What are they smoking? Pot or...)
Crack. They smoking crack. (ME: Oh. That's hard-core.)
Yeah. (ME: You can work on pot, but you can't really work when you're on crack.)
No, you can't. I keep trying to give her chances, but she don't show up. And don't call. If she would just call, that would be fine. (ME: Well, you've tried.)

Now, me and my wife, we doing alright. I'm from Philly. (ME: I like the Northeast a lot.)
You do? What about this great city? (ME:  I lived in New York City for a few years. I just like the weather a lot better up North. I like the seasons. I like the snow. I don't like 7 months of hot weather here.)
Me, I'm a salesman. I can get along anywhere. My family was military. (ME: My dad was military, too, so I moved a lot. I can get along anywhere, too.)
My wife's family is military. Her daddy is a staff sergeant. She's spoiled, man. I've been married 38 years. She's a wonderful woman. I tell her every day. Not because I have to. But her sister, man; her family. What's between us is between us. I lost $86,000 in the market. And her family keep trying to give her things. I told them, anything you give her, I'm going to throw right through your window.

I kind of let him just go on from there. There was stuff about the "Blood Moon" appearing every 7 years, and how market crashes have corresponded to that. And how Republican presidents have also corresponded to the Blood Moon. He also wrote down a phone number in Philly that I could call so that I could invest in gold.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Massachusetts Trip To Come

(1) Fall River.
(2) Salem.
(3) Plath and Sexton homes; Boston psychiatrists/bars/colleges.
(4) Dickinson home.
(5) Fall leaves.

I'm not going to go here by myself. I could fly to Boston, sure, but the things I want to see are a driving trip around the state, and a bed-and-breakfast type of thing. And I hate driving. And after years of looking at things by myself, I don't want to look at things by myself any more.