Author Archives: orangehairboy
Another great author who will knock us OUT with her skill today is none other than the famous, the fabulous, the forthcoming-bookish Trista Hurley-Waxali!
Trista Hurley-Waxali is the author of the poetry chapbook Dried Up. Her work has appeared in the journals FORTH, Enclave, and Street Line Critics, well as in the Procyon Short Story Anthology 2014 (Tayen Lane Publishing, 2015). She has performed at the O’bheal Poetry Series in Cork, Ireland and in a Helsinki Poetry Connection Poetry Jam TransLate Night Show.
Seriously, kids, you do NOT want to miss this. This is a poet/author who can both write ’em AND read ’em! And don’t you DARE think that the rainy day today will stop her powers! Just look at how amazing she was in the realm of perennial rain, Ireland (courtesy of the O’Bheal Poetry Series):
Trista lives in West Hollywood, where she is working on her first novel, At This Juncture. Come see Trista, and all the below stars, at 2 p.m. SHARP at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park!
… plus surprise guests that will AMAZE and TERRIFY you!
We meet in the back, and to encourage those in Los Angeles who dislike what the describe as “weather,” we’ll give free popsicles to the first 40 attendees! (See? Who said serious fiction and ridiculous amounts of corn syrup couldn’t go literally hand in hand?)
JEKYLL AND HYDE: A RROSE IN A PROSE LITERARY SALON
OCT. 18, 2 P.M.
HOSTED BY ART CURRIM AND D. M. COLLINS
@ STORIES BOOKS
1716 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90026
I know this is an old episode, but there have been so many good ones, and I don’t have cable, so I was unaware of it.
Thank you, John Oliver, for saying that our prison system is broken. Thank you for saying that prison rape, and “drop the soap” jokes, are tired and cruel and silly and unacceptable.
And thank you for keeping it up with similar messages. I was so moved by the clip above that I had to check out Oliver’s most recent show. I was not disappointed by this one, about the ridiculousness of municipal fines for tiny little infractions, and how the fees on those services can snowball into a world of fuckedness:
I’ve recently been unemployed, for the first time basically since 2001 (give or take a week here and there in 2012 and 2013 when I got laid off and then hired within a fortnight). This lack of work couldn’t have happened at a worse time, since I’m kinda crazy and have incurred thousands of dollars in fees for things I was late on paying, even though I had the money, like a ticket for driving with an expired tag, or a minor tax fee to the state of California (where I got over $1000 just as a penalty for about $2000 worth of overdue taxes).
I’m in a world of financial hurt. And yet I am technically a lucky fella–on a good year, I can pull in an upper middle class salary doing tech work. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be gainfully employed, working hard, making minimum wage, and trying to pay off these ridiculous fees.
I’m glad someone is preaching the healing truth about how fucked up our federal, state, and local governments have become, and how we’re making billions of dollars for private companies at the expense of the poor, and even at the expense of government. We needed someone to tell us this.
Thank you, John Oliver. Now it’s up to us to do something about it.
Recently I’ve been unemployed, depressed, and prone to self-destructive bouts of television-watching gluttony. I’m ridiculously addicted to television, so much so that I try never to commit to starting a series on Netflix. Whether it’s fun entertainment that never quite suspends my disbelief (e.g. The Walking Dead) or simply bandwagon eye candy that slaps together a bunch of lame jokes into a flat-lined story arc underpinned by a solitary, suspiciously over-capable capstone character who numbs us with his ability to fret but then master every challenge put in front of him (e.g. Breaking Bad) I’m always too good at making excuses for why I need to commit to a show until the bitter end. To start watching TV is to neglect the rest of my life: I know I’m not going to get shit done until I plow through every episode back to back.
But with no job to take up my time, and a need to distract myself from my financial woes, cheaply, I figured, hey, now’s the time to catch up on Star Trek!
Like everybody my age or older, I’ve seen a lot of the original series’ reruns back in the day, and several episodes of Next Generation, when they actually aired in the 90s, plus an episode or three of Voyager and that shitty Ferengi-filled space station monstrosity. I’ve never felt a particular need to look back.
But as a 60s fanatic, I’m surprised at myself for not going back and re-absorbing the original series. I should have done this years ago. What seemed campy to me as a kid now seems … campy to me as an adult! Now, I can (only slightly ironically) get off on bizarrely lit sound stages and outrageous alien tunics in all their groovy glory. And actually, once you get past the first season’s “deus ex alienigenis” plot devices where everything is caused by mind-reading shape-shifters, the story lines get really compelling and gritty. And of course, the moment I decide to give the show its due, the best actor dies in real life.
It’s weird, because until I recently started watching Star Trek, I guess I’ve known quite a bit more about the personae of its actors than of its characters. We’ve all been laughing at William Shatner for decades, and he along with us for nearly that long. And in more recent years, George Takei has become perhaps even more famous: relishing his new life as an out-gay leader, leading the charge for civil rights and the end of bullying for queer youth, publicizing the need for reparations to victims of WWII Japanese-American internment, and hosting one of the funniest, and funnest, social media presences out there. And oh, there’s his appearance at Shatner’s roast …
But I never quite took a shine to Nimoy. Whereas the other folks in the Star Trek pantheon seemed bemused about their unique fame, and never took themselves too seriously, Nimoy always took a more somber, brooding approach to his fame. It’s like he was the Donnie Wahlberg of the group: sure, he might sing “Oh oh OH OH oh, oh oh OH OH,” but he doesn’t mean it!
But now in the wake of Leonard Nimoy’s death, I realize that, maybe, he’s the guy from the entire Star Trek series who’s the most like me. He’s talented, but confused. He’s lent his name to corny shows that he’s later avoided talking about, except via reference on The Simpsons. He’s made mistakes, like putting out a book called I Am Not Spock and then having to retract it later, after wide confusion, with a book called I Am Spock. And I kind of get the feeling that his whole “I’m so serious” thing was just a put-on all along, that he knew damned well he was working in media that were silly, and that the best thing to do about it was to simply put on the kind of straight face that made Andy Warhol such a lifelike Mona Lisa of his own.
And in later life, Nimoy moved to another art form, photography, where he was actually kind of good–and yet also needlessly pervy. And I respect that. Whenever I think of Leonard Nimoy, I don’t think about Spock first, or even his amazing work on the Golden Throats series. I think of his images of Shekhina, the female form of God, which he put out in a gorgeous book of black and white photos in the last years of his life.
Sure, it’s a good idea, even deliciously sacred and sacrilegious at the same time, to take a Jewish concept of the female side of God and then put it to life in gorgeous, nipply photography. And yet, in another way, you can tell there’s something more to these photos, something personal here that seems to go beyond the intimacy of nudity and into the realm of voyeuristic, dirty-old-man stuff.
And yet, in another way of looking at things, I don’t care … I just love these photos, right or wrong, and I don’t care what that says about Leonard Nimoy, or about myself. As my own personal fond farewell, here are some of my favorite of the Shekhina photos. Live long and prosper, old friend. I hope when you get to heaven, God’s waiting for you, and she looks like this.
P.S. Lest you think Nimoy was only interested in photographing lithe, model-type women, he also did many photos of beautiful women with larger frames, and gorgeous S-curves.
I’d feel his work was a bit less problematic if he did more photos of men, but for a man with a lot of artistic problems, he’s one of the best.
Lee Camp is really coming into his own. In a few short years, he’s gone from merely being right (but too full of vitriol to prove his points sometimes) to being entertaining, persuasive, insightful, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. He never dips into conspiracy talk (in fact he pokes fun at that side of activism) but isn’t afraid to tackle the numerous in-plain-sight atrocities the media never challenges.
This episode about factory farming is so spot-on, it makes me want to put him in the same pantheon of humorous truth-tellers as Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie, and (until he went nuts) Dick Gregory. This guy certainly has the potential to outshine Jon Stewart. We need more like him. Let’s keep watching.
If you don’t love at least a little bit of Erasure, you deserve to be dragged into the street and chopped into tiny pieces by mannequin babies that have been wished into life by satanists and now wield dull hatchet blades…
P.S. This was the first version of “Take a Chance on Me” I ever heard!
P.P.S. This was the first version of “S.O.S.” I ever heard:
What the hell is wrong with my fellow white people? I’ve heard the phrase “youth is wasted on the young,” but y’all be proving that education is wasted on the educated. Read this report about the Disneyland measles outbreak, and tell me if this is both shocking and, yet, totally predictable:
A recent study from Kaiser Permanente found undervaccinated children in Northern California tended to live the same area which can magnify outbreaks. Peditrician Tracy Lieu headed the study which found a greater likelihood of undervaccinated children in neighborhoods where more parents had higher education.
And what’s the result of all this willful ignorance? A nearly 1300% increase in measles cases in just two years!
The Centers for Disease Control reports that there were 644 cases of measles in 2014, up from around 50 in 2012.
If you are an anti-vaxxer, let me not mince words: you prefer pretending you have a little cabal of knowledge to actually seeking out true knowledge. You prefer “THE TRUTH!” to the truth. In your ignorant smugness, you not only piss on science, but on the great humanitarians: the Pasteurs, the Schweitzers, the Salks, who spent their lives dedicated to eradicating needless deaths. And now Jenny McCarthy’s stupidity has caused you to make things like this happen. Shame on you.
I have a confession–I am one of the few people out there who did NOT get some of my baby shots. It wasn’t all of them, and it was because I have an allergy to eggs, and some shots are grown on an egg culture. I am one of the minority of people (along with the elderly, the babies, those with leukemia, HIV, etc) who cannot get some of the shots, or are in the tiny minority whose bodies can’t produce the correct antibodies from the shots. When I was a kid, it was no big deal, but now that there are thousands of folks out there whose parents have voluntarily abused them by not giving them the shots that they CAN take, I now can’t rely on your herd immunity. Any time I’m near wealthy white kids, I could contract a disease that should have died with WWI. Thanks for taking away my access to Disneyland.
So, the other day I was in an event based around the photography of Amy Darling… or so it was proclaimed. The idea was to pick one of her photos (many of which are of live shows, or music, or people around Los Angeles you might know) and base a piece of writing around that photo.
It was such an exciting premise that, once begun, I could not complete the task. I kept writing and writing, then editing and editing, until it was now past time for the event to begin; I finally was satisfied enough with what was on the page that I left home, went to the Echo Chamber, and got there two minutes before the event was scheduled to end–but the bastards ended three minutes before the end, and I missed my spot entirely. That’s probably for the best–it would take me about 15 minutes easy to read this.
I hope you take the time now. It’s a bit rushed, and maybe a bit abstract and moralistic, but hopefully it feels like controlled dada, and there ain’t nothing more fun than reining in a creative beast and knowing it’s been trained well. By the way, here’s the photo I chose:
As to why this is another piece of fiction from the perspective of a female character… well, I don’t know why I keep making my protagonists women. I don’t think men should speak for women, and it disturbs me more than it probably disturbs you that I’ve been doing so repeatedly in 2014. Maybe part of it is that I have a strong female side, and don’t associate with a lot of the rough-and-tumble of my male author counterparts. And maybe part of it is that I simply like women and want to hear stories about them, even if they’re coming from me.
In this case, though, I can use Amy’s photo as an excuse, because this boogie-ing gal clearly needed a narrative. Here it is.
(Sorry, one final disclaimer: I do NOT know the dancing woman in the photo above, nor do I really know any of the other people in this photo on a personal level. This is a complete, absolute work of fiction. Aside from the fact that I, too, hate traffic, please don’t extrapolate anything about the people depicted in this photo, or Amy Darling, or me, from the narrative below.)
Sleeping Through Work
She almost never dreamed. You have to sleep a long time before the dreams come, and she almost never slept. The drugs took care of that. She hated her tech job so much, testing a stupid website that sold expensive jewelry to women at a slight discount, bought by husbands who got rich by never paying full price for anything, that she had to take a fistful of Vicodin just to get through the day.
Normally Vicodin is a downer. But when you have a crazy, broken brain like hers, it invigorates you, makes you want to stay up all night watching TV series on Netflix and respond to all your old high school friends’ tweets. Every morning, just getting up for work was torture, but to pay for the Vicodin, she had to keep working at the job; and meanwhile, in what still seemed like a temporary, short-term delay of planning for phase II of her awesome life, suddenly she was almost at the end of her twenties. All the grand and important things she had planned to do with her life–or a least, the fact that she had planned for her life to be grand and important—seemed to be this quaint little thought, an artifact to be smirked at and shelved and gawked at for its innocent stupidity. All she seemed to know now was tired mornings, grey smoggy blocks of sky framing the gridlocked plastic and steel in her foreground, commuting to her hell. To her hell.
She’d started to have stupid thoughts. And she knew they were stupid, puerile, childish, Sylvia Plath BULLSHIT, the kind she had given up when she was fourteen years old and had stopped pretending that she got anything out of cutting herself besides the joy of feeling troubled. But now, twice that age, knowing the thoughts were stupid didn’t help. “What’s the point of even being here,” she’d think. It seemed, begrudgingly, logical. “I’m already in hell. Even if the worst is true and the Christians are right, and I wind up in actual hell for leaving here voluntarily, it will simply be a lateral move.”
There was only one thing she did that actually made her feel that life was precious. It was the only thing she seemed to like. And she couldn’t imagine it happening in an afterlife, a place that she believed was more akin to that Talking Heads song about Heaven, a place where nothing ever happens, not even songs by the Talking Heads. She’d kind of lost touch with music as college rolled into real life, when she found herself stumbling into the work force largely in a beer haze that looked cute enough in her tired twenty-two year old eyes to get her invited back for second interviews. Temping turned to a slot at a startup, and beer pong turned to cocaine with friends, then alone, and finally evolved into her current, more stable favorite. It seemed she had matured, in her own way, and her secret was no more shocking than most people’s marital affairs.
But then one day, she’d found herself at an after work drink party, realizing she had absolutely nothing in common with the men around her. And it was mostly men, because somehow, somewhere back during the days and nights of ramen and Tecate, luck and some well-timed moments of clarity had rolled her right into a job in the tech world. It was the most real thing in her life and yet it seemed like a fable, almost as if she was watching herself from the outside, like the character in a short story, the kind where she was not her own author. She was largely alone there, constantly belittled and ridiculed and hit on and ignored and passed by. But she met the challenge head-on, skipping work, turning in half-assed projects, napping in the server room, and rationing out the right lies to the right people so that they were all completely in the dark about how little she was really achieving, which was crucial to being a functioning drug addict. They weren’t there to praise her successes, so why not fail and give herself praise anyway?
But a few years back, she realized that there was something missing from her life that the drugs couldn’t massage away, probably something cultural—but where to go to get reconnected? In the end, it had been her dealer that had turned her onto her first event at the Nomad gallery. He was friends with a performance artist who made giant puppets and costumes out of felt and Velcro, and who would put on plays while people wearing her creations would dance around in character as monsters and animals. And she had gone to this show, and avant-garde shows like it, knowing no one, and not really understanding or enjoying much of the visual art around her.
But the music was something else! God, it wasn’t that she wasn’t picky, it’s that she didn’t know what she had always been picky for until she heard the band that night. What she wasn’t getting out of large arena rock shows by bands like Alt-J and Incubus she could get at places like this. The sound was inconsistent, and the bands made mistakes, but they wanted to be here so much! And they sounded like they found nothing more important than making the instruments in their hands match the sounds playing in their heads.
She quickly realized that the pills that kept her up all night had a good side, too—it was the energy! Her broken, sad brain meant that the downers made her go up, up, up, and she could dance all night. And she never felt nostalgic. There was no wistfulness here, no memory of herself as a young girl listening to young people bands that had now grown old and popular, no “gosh, I’m almost having as much fun as I used to!” There was only the eternal present, and she got caught up with it. Whether there were five people there, or 50, she was always there and always, well… always going out of her mind! She knew she was crazy, despite the fact that she was able to function as a drug addict and con everyone around her. And she was gleeful that this was the one place where her insanity was an asset. Everyone seemed to be feeling the music, but she FELT it. She fucking FELT IT! She is ALIVE and she UNDERSTANDS! And she is IN IT, even more so sometimes than the people playing it.
And she wasn’t a spiritual person, but she’d tried that on in her youth. And she’d read the Tibetan book of the dead. And she had forgotten most of it, but she remembered one little part, a part about how to have dream control. And she remembered that the monks in their waking lives would practice the same things over and over again, the idea being that if you ritualized the process of prayer enough, it would inevitably become the setting of a dream.
She remembered this with acute depression somewhere in her early twenties, when she started dreaming about cocaine. She would often find herself in a hallway, and couldn’t find the jacket that had her cocaine in its pocket. She’d be looking through closets, and hallways, and closets, and hallways, and would try to nudge up against friends and strangers and surreptitiously feel the outsides of their pockets to see if they had her cocaine. Now in her Vicodin lifestyle, she almost never had dreams, though once in a while, a lunch time nap would plunge her into that haunting sensation of something missing, or sad, or scared, like a tropical vacation where her parents were always barging into her cabana right as she hid the drugs, or about going through security at the airport and realizing there was a bottle of Vicodin in her carry on.
Now that she rarely dreamed, there was an added unease to her dreams, a state of half-clarity where the subconscious of her subconscious understood that this was all a dream, and that a real dream meant she probably had slept late. And that happened a lot. Actually it happened THIS day. She had set her radio alarm clock for 8 a.m., but having slept fewer than 6 hours in 3 days, her depleted body had no problems coasting right through its rhythmic nudgings.
And in the dream, she knew she was late for something, but it turned out to be a band at the Sancho gallery, and she wriggled through the crowd and stood in the front like normal just as their set began.
And in the dream, she wasn’t on drugs. There was something a little sad about her sobriety, but something remarkable too, and breezy, like she’d skipped the part where she’d had to rearrange her lifestyle and find a new sense of energy.
And in the dream, she had lots of natural energy. The band on stage was led by an old man in an angel dress complete with felt sewn wings on the back. He was bald, and an angel’s halo hovered over him affixed to his head with a wire that could have been from a coat hanger. He was playing the drums, and singing, and a group of similarly wizened guys and gals were playing along with him on keyboards and guitars, kind of a quirky new wave, perfect for her to dance to.
And in the dream, everyone was smiling, and dancing along with her, and giving her knowing looks, like “Isn’t this wonderful? And aren’t we all in this together?”
And as she danced, she could feel a thinning of the room that seemed a little unusual. And she looked back, and she realized that there were zombies in the room. Slowly but surely the zombies were grabbing the people in the back of the room, snapping down hard on their skulls with their teeth, cracking the skulls open so they could chew on the brains below. They’d take a quick bite of one person, throw the carcass to the floor, and grab the next person in front of them.
The band seemed unperturbed, as did her compatriots around her. It seemed certain that people had noticed the zombies, but they were going to wait until the last possible moment to move, enjoying the music as much as they were. She did see one or two people escape the zombies’ clutches, at least for a few moments of temporary safety. But for the most part, everyone had planned to wait just a little longer than they should have. And suddenly the girl behind her, one of the smiling winkers and acknowledgers who earlier had shared in this musical experience with her, was pulled backwards by a zombie. She could hear the girl shudder, and whimper–feeble, failed attempts at last words–as the zombie peeled back the skin on the crown of her head with his teeth in order to get a good, hard bite on the skull.
And in the dream, she ran through the band, who were still playing, to escape through a door behind them. They turned their heads and looked up at her, and she could see in their eyes that they had been zombies all along. Perhaps the whole thing had been nothing more than a zombie feast?
She ran out the door and into the yard, but there was no exit there, just endless cement walls and fences, and she kept running around the perimeter with zombies chasing her back and forth, not the kind that ran at top speed like in the new zombie films, but not the lumbering kind, either…. These were calculating, shrewd zombies, able to plan a clever massacre like this and who would not be satisfied unless they succeeded at achieving 100% of their goal of eating everyone in the room, of which she was almost certainly the last.
And as she scrambled to climb up the yard’s lone tree, and contemplated making a broad jump onto a nearby roof, just as the zombies below realized that they, too, could climb trees, she heard the pitter pattering drum machines of light 80s R&B on her alarm clock radio. She realized to her horror that it was now 10:48 and she had slept through a meeting.
And now she was the zombie, she thought to herself, her oversleep making her even more groggy as she went through the ritual of pulling on a dress and some stocking and shoes and hobbling down the stairs to her Subaru so she could jump on the 10 west. She was going to be in deep shit with her bosses, but if it was Brett, he acted more like a father than a mentor: she could always adopt her “oops I’m just a young dumb girl” persona to talk her way out of it. So why was she feeling so lost and worried?
She realized it was the dream—she had been cheated out of her victory. She wanted to be back in that world, where she had been decisive and exciting and bold and talented for a purpose, one she could have succeeded at. She needed a challenge, didn’t she? Maybe the whole reason for her endless cycle of drugs and work and drugs and work, ruining her every waking moment with the fatigue of the cycle’s incompatibility, was to fashion a crisis like the one in the dream. Most people would kill for a job like hers, but there she was every day, self-sabotaging, because it was so fucking easy, and these people were so fucking stupid, and fuck them. And Fuck them! And FUCK THEM! AND FUCK HER! AND WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK?
She came to a screeching halt behind a brake-happy BMW and screamed a deep, resonant frustrated scream…. raaaah! It was now almost noon. And she realized to herself that there was some kind of spring music festival in Long Beach. It was an all weekend thing, including today even though Friday is a work day and not a holiday, and a bunch of the Burger Records bands were on the bill, but also a gaggle of comedians and Maria Bamford and all kinds of weird cool shit.
And as she drove near the 405, instead of passing it by to continue to her Santa Monica office, she got in the right lane and took the 405 south towards Long Beach. She was going to miss work altogether. And she almost wished she wasn’t going to be able to get out of the situation she was putting herself in. But she knew she would. From years of practicing the deceit of drug addiction, she knew she’d be able to convince her boss that there was some important new disease she’d caught, or another family death, or a pet getting run over in the street.
But she was done making excuses for herself! There was one part of her life that made her feel very awake and alive, and she wasn’t going to ruin it anymore. She wasn’t a fucking drone! She wasn’t a fucking coward in a cubicle, working with technology because that’s what life had thrown her way. She wasn’t a fucking clam to absorb life’s shitty, pissy silt breakfast.
Opening up her glove compartment, she found the bottle of Vicodin that she had procured recently from her friend who worked at a shipping company and who no doubt had simply stolen them and was making 100% profit at 6 dollars a pill to her. This bottle was like $600 just sitting there. And if it was still sealed, it might even be legal if she got pulled over. Probably that happened a lot, that relatives picked up medications for their older relatives? If she didn’t open it, she wasn’t even a criminal.
It had been two weeks since last she’d had to wean herself off these things so that she could get back on and start the cycle again with a less brutal tolerance. Now she was normally up to four Vicodin in the morning, with another 4-5 at night to help her stay up late.
“Who gives a fuck,” she thought as she unscrewed it, punched through the foil with her finger, and then scooped out about 8 pills from under the cotton. She popped them in her mouth, crushed them up a bit with her teeth, and then chugged them down with some of the Monster energy drink from yesterday evening that was still sitting in her drink holder. She cut off a bright red sports car in a very satisfying manner as she sped up her Subaru on her way to the LBC.
So many friends have passed in recent years, months, days… and here’s another one to add to the sad, cold pile.
Truth be told, William Mitchell was not a close friend of mine. I didn’t know him that well, and he might not have been able to pick me out of a crowd at all.
Yet there are some people you can just tell make the world a better place by being in it. William was that kind of person. In hearing of his passing, I couldn’t help but think to 2008, when another friend of our extended bohemian community, Gina Marx, had gone missing. Many thought she had taken her own life, or come to a violent end. And it was William Mitchell who did the legwork to actually find her, and to let us know she was okay.
Somehow it seems even more tragic that a person who would do so much to help assure us Gina was living would opt out of life on his own. It’s cold comfort, but apparently William was a poet. It’s not really immortality, but maybe we can remember him by his words? The best we can do is try.
So… I guess from now on, if I want to publish poetry on WordPress, I’m gonna have to take a screenshot of my Word doc and just publish that image. Trying to get even slightly fancy with poetry (with avant-garde choices like “no spacing between lines” or “subtle indentation”) is apparently just not a consideration here.
Do I sound way bitter about something not that big of a deal? Why not just hack it up a bit, or edit in Text, or use manual spacing rather than indentation? Well, I’ll tell you: WordPress has somehow, I assume indirectly, made their site so that it “corrects” all those creative choices and still displays each line as left aligned and each new line as a new paragraph, i.e. it adds a space with each line break. I’ve tried to change the style of the blog in the hopes that it was just the Theme that was causing the problem, but that seems to have no effect.
Seriously, look at the letter below and tell me if the spacing and line breaks make any sense. No? That’s because they were totally NOT my original choices. Despite my posting it eighteen times and trying desperately to get everything to work, it just didn’t save correctly. Sure, it’ll look fine in the editor, but upon save, no dice–this blogging tool wants its own paragraph formats and line breaks, and to hell with creative choices and single spacing!
Seriously, now that we’re all doing more poetry on this blog, this feels like a near deal-breaker for me. WordPress, you can do better. Poems are words, too.
This is the poem that was read at A Rrose in a Prose yesterday. It’s a letter from me, now, to my teenaged self, letting him know some good things in store.
A lot of times I get depressed, wondering how things turned out this way–why am I not doing something better with my life? Why am I not able to focus, to remember things, to feel awake, to stir myself into the kind of action that brings success, whatever that means, instead of, I dunno, ramblings like this?
And yet… and yet I find myself constantly in situations where I look around myself, and I think, “If only the teenaged version of myself could see me at ______, hanging out with ________, oh my god! He’d flip his shit!” I’ve lived out my childhood fantasies many times over. So maybe, in a way, I’m a success.
By the way, the below could easily have a twin poem, a Picture of Dorian Gray about the terrible things to befall our poor young sap in the years to come! But that’s a poem for another time. We’re already writing letters from the future to the past, and the least we can do is give the fellow a ray of hope to last him during the remainder of his cold, lonely years of virginhood.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
You’ll get to visit Harvard and put notes in the mailboxes of John Rawls and Robert Nozak.
You’ll get to leave Tulsa and move to Los Angeles.
You’ll get to lose your virginity.
You’ll get to, mostly, no longer suffer from allergies anymore—part of which is geography, and part of which is that you’ll be less whiny.
You’ll get to live in the city with the cement river, where the giant ants from Them went to live at the end of the movie,
where Mel Torme and Manie Van Doren and, yes, Greased Lightnin’ had hotrod races.
You’ll get to meet Lux Interior of the Cramps and talk his ear off about the Sonics.
Later, you’ll get to interview the Sonics.
You’ll get to meet Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerard Casale
and visit Mutato Inc, with its thousand synths
and peg-board synths
and a giant
foot-operated keyboard like in the movie Big.
You’ll get to see ? and the Mysterians play.
You’ll get to see the Ventures.
You’ll get to see the Standells.
You’ll get to have a threesome,
and then another,
and after a somewhat frustrating decade,
you’ll get to figure out how to make that happen on a consistent basis.
You’ll get to sing “Sugar Sugar,” Germs style, while your girlfriend pours a bag of sugar all over your head and the venue
(and it was a roller rink!).
You’ll get to meet the drummer of the Germs,
and you’ll do a lot of drugs together while listening to cool records.
You’ll get to emulate the life of Lou Reed:
if not in music, then in speed use, and
You’ll get to go to college.
You’ll get to live in a house like the Pit from PCU.
You’ll get to suffer in ways that will forever set you
apart from the
and give you some authority with which to write fiction and punk songs.
You’ll get to fuck people in bands you like.
You’ll get to talk to one of Link Wray’s Ray Men.
You’ll find out one of the guys in one of the bands from Pebbles is your friend’s dad.
You’ll get to write fiction, and receive actual rejection letters.
You’ll get to try long-term monogamy,
and living with someone,
and feel what it’s like to be absolutely accepted,
at least for a few halcyon moments.
You’ll get to obsess about words like “Halcyon.”
You’ll get to meet the Flaming Lips.
You’ll get to see time prove that the indie rock band everyone
could barely get one song on Buffy and then was forgotten.
You’ll get to be a little nicer.
You’ll get to stay a feminist,
and learn how to be a better one.
You’ll get closer to figuring out your sexual orientation,
and will have fun trying,
but sorrow too.
You’ll get to see the dark side of life.
You’ll meet Sean Bonniwell of the Music Machine in a run-down vaudeville theater.
You’ll meet Davie Allan outside of a bathroom,
and one of the Small Faces at Rhino Records.
You’ll get to talk to Gil Scott-Heron
and take him to task for calling women’s liberationists
you’ll be pleased to hear how much he liked Patti Smith.
You’ll get to hang out with Kathleen Hanna,
and she’ll make you tea and
give you a
You’ll get to see Black Flag reform
and be on the stage with them!
You’ll get in free to hundreds of shows, and on stage for many of them.
You’ll get to see the Pixies, and Kraftwerk, and Salman Rushdie.
You’ll get to date a rich girl from Bel Air, and a Russian girl, and a drag queen.
You’ll get to meet Weird Al,
You’ll get to see TV’s Frank and Joel Hodgson do a
You’ll get to tape dozens of episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000
and watch them over the summer
with dozens of hungry fans
back in Tulsa, a town bereft of Comedy Central.
Lives will be changed,
including yours, who will get to attend the premiere of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie;
you’ll be wearing a jumpsuit,
and you’ll get to meet
Trace Beaulieu and Jim Mallon.
You’ll get to meet Tomata Du Plenty,
and see a painting he did of Herge.
You’ll get to hear Vampira read fiction!
You’ll get a 1966 Farfisa, and learn to play it.
You’ll have Sky Saxon tell you that you are now in the Seeds,
even if you never have a single practice or show.
You’ll get to be part of a scene that accepts you.
You’ll get to see your friends make beautiful art and music and writing,
and get to be less jealous of that than you fear.
You’ll get to be part of other scenes.
You’ll get to help make your own scene.
You’ll become less awkward.
You’ll become an authority.
You’ll get to learn the secret to better writing: do it all the time.
You’ll give to live with, and love, a fantastic musician.
You’ll learn to play lead parts with your right hand while you play bass lines with your left.
You’ll get to tour with a glam punk bubblegum band of your own invention.
You’ll spend years covered in glitter and nail polish.
You’ll get to thinking that, maybe, at time, you’re not ugly.
You’ll get to meet people who have been in L7!
You’ll get to meet Janeane Garofalo
and Martha Plimpton
and Mark Arm.
You’ll get to have a fantastic record collection.
You’ll get to be a DJ on college radio,
and pirate radio,
and people will pay you just to give them ideas for what to listen to.
You’ll get to thinking,
it’ll be okay.