Reason Enough

in out   The best waves in weeks were head high and pumping at Pleasure Point, reason enough for a pair of his somewhat more reliable workers to be hours late. It was a common enough occurrence in an environment where no reasonable explanation was to be expected, not from a dedicated Santa Cruz surfer. Landlocked expectations do not technically adhere to moving surfboards when thrashed by sets of gnarly waves originating in the Sea of Japan. Zeno could only hope that at least one of them would show up at some point. No guarantees, though. Even if Zeno’s Rolled and Twisted Dough did have an important deadline to meet by order of prickly Steve Jobs. No one of sound mind or body wanted to be on the wrong end of that spontaneous combustion.

Apple, now a corporation, was celebrating, and Steve Jobs wanted a big cake. Woz too. The company had hit one million dollars in sales for the first time, and it was still only May. They wanted more than enough cake for all comers. They were up to fifteen employees. Plus guests. Plus hangers-on. Plus strays from streets and nearby bars and alleys. They’d all want cake. And an extra piece to take home as a souvenir. The tolerable Steve Jobs would get stoned and smile at his own beneficence. Unlike the prickly Steve Jobs who did not tolerate excuses from the lame and bereft.

But what about those stalwarts Zeno could depend upon to help out in a pinch? Oh yeah, that’s right. There were none.

His predicament therefore called for quick and decisive decision action on the wing and the fly, hardly ever a good idea in astronomy or physics.

He repeated an unoriginal mantra, “I can do this.”

Zeno had no problem with any dire implications of talking to himself. He did not believe he was any more crazy than any other subnormal specimen of an unevolved species. Evolution was an imperfect process, after all, that took lots of time. Mistakes needed lots of time to be made. He was desperate because lots of time was what he lacked.

He added, “If not now, when?”

Not very deep below the surface, however, and wobbly atop it on spanking new crutches tethered to a short lease, Zeno knew he should never have attempted to slither down the steep, rocky grade in the Santa Cruz Mountains to reach his patch of blooming weed near the bottom. Where else was he going to end up other than topsy-turvy in a gully with thorns stuck to his tender ass and stubbled cheeks? He failed to recall a number of important lessons absorbed and passed on by his ancestors in escaping from slavery in Egypt. Follow a path, maintain a pace, hold tight to limbs. Don’t think too fast around sharp objects. Don’t push too hard, or too far, too near a thorny edge. And don’t be stupid and forget about the crutches. Because scuttling down a ridge on a tender ass does not qualify as climbing higher. And stupid always is and does what it is and will be.

The audible shards devoid of all wisdom that rushed like an ill wind out of his mouth while in the act of tumbling, though loud, were hard to understand. What good are cheap words after all the profits in an exchange have been swept up by numbers and pictures? Nothing intelligible he could say was going to be any match for the depths of ancient graves. He gasped from the pain in his sprained and swollen ankle. That was the result of another regrettable mistake in a bar at closing time. Like duh.

But he had plenty of time to scrub his wounds with dirt and revisit his misadventures at the chilly bottom when he could not get up. High noon passed without a smoking gun. He was left with one crutch. He crawled into a ray of sunshine that split the redwood trees. He plotted a comeback. He pulled thorns. He assessed wounds. He licked blood. Periodically, he trumpeted a weak call for assistance.

Maybe Woz would be able to persuade prickly Steve Jobs to calm down. Maybe he worried too much. Maybe it would all turn out for the best. Maybe admission to an intensive care unit under general anesthesia would induce some human kindness. Maybe one crutch was enough. Maybe if he nodded off for a spell. Maybe he’d feel better when he woke up.

Then he was shaken awake. He did not feel better. He started to abruptly feel worse. A sharp toe was attached to a cute boot. It was not tickling him.

He said, “Ow.”

“Wake up.”

“I’m up.”

“It doesn’t look like it to me.”

She kicked him again. She was grinning. She seemed to think there was something about kicking a good man when he was down that was funny. The man must have missed the joke.

“That hurt.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m the one standing on my own two feet.”

“Everything hurts.”

“What kind of lame answer is that?”

“Is that a sword in your hand?”

“What does it look like?”

“A sword.”

“Hah.”

“It looks like it’s sharp.”

“It’s a machete.”

“Very sharp.”

“I asked you a simple question?”

“Which one?”

“You’re on my property.”

“I fell.”

“You’re still on my property.”

“I didn’t start out here.”

“No one ever does.”

“What’s the machete for?”

“Cutting.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“You’re still on my property.”

“If you’ll help me up, I’ll just be on my way.”

The vast tract of property owned by her family for more than one hundred years surrounded his measly plot of loose dirt that straddled the San Andreas Fault. Her family had grown apples in the Pajaro Valley below the Santa Cruz Mountains for three generations. She had never heard of Steve Jobs or his newfangled computer. She was not impressed with the explanation. The only apples she knew or cared about were sweet and sour and delicious. Her ancestors from Croatia used to hunt the fleeing ancestors of Zeno for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. They carried swords, not machetes, also for the purpose of cutting. But she reluctantly agreed to help him up and out as long as he enthusiastically agreed to be on his questionable way. He had to promise he would never come back. No problem there. He had just enough time to simmer the weed in the butter for only an hour less than optimal before baking all night. There was plenty of cake.

What a happy Steve Jobs never knew never hurt him.

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Coming In From The Cold

collision3  The Kid was trying to emerge out of static but found only fuzz, buzz, crackle, whir. No matter how he twisted and leaned, the shifty pirate radio station located somewhere near Ukiah that played all night music from the African diaspora eluded his fingers on the shitty radio dial in the shitty sedan from Rent-A-Wreck. It was Spring amid the rocky terrain of Northern California where the only two seasons that mattered were wet and dry, and the slick road lurched through the green hills and gulches of Mendocino. Was it light rain, low clouds, a heavy mist, a patch of fog? The rotation of a minor planet neglected to flex and accommodate changing tastes under a cold, opaque sky. But, how else is a single soul supposed to get properly attuned to a multiverse in motion without jazz after midnight? Where there is no beginning and no end, as there is, awareness in the course of meandering becomes vital to humdrum health and welfare. Even if he was trying foolishly harder than bleary eyes allowed to get back to an empty bed still no less than four hours away. It was his fault the bed would be empty, but still. Contradictions abound despite frail compensations. Unless it was gravity that was once again dropping the ball. Either way, among the many ways to go, it became more than prudent to stay on his side of the flitting white line down the middle. The trunk of the shitty sedan was amply crammed with garbage bags filled with aromatic cannabis sativa to provide extra incentive. It should have been easy to do the right thing. Yeah, right.

Then, amid the blizzard of aural snow, he clearly heard the announcement from colonial Washington

that their endless war in Viet Nam had ended for real, no bullshit this time. The ironic news was recited with requisite bitterness by the on-air deejay, a scathed veteran, who liberally sprinkled John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf into his mix alongside Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits. Wake up Mendocino County. Read all about it. The emperor after taking a deep dive into chill waters has proven once again to be able to whip it out and show off that small dick to all comers. More like the olds than news, thought The Kid. Next, they’ll claim it was the cold that caused the dick to shrivel, all the dicks. Bite me, he spit.

Tribute paid to the grand wazoo, he mused, never ends. The Man wants your back torqued like a rusty Slinky falling down rickety stairs and those jerky knees scabbed over and gnarled from all the kneeling. But I ain’t marching anymore.

He was too busy assessing the cost of another oven installed in his cramped storefront on Cortland Ave. and how much leafy weed to simmer for how many hours in what relationship to peanut oil for piquant cookies with cinnamon and cardamom. But why stop there? Cardamom and turmeric in banana cupcakes would be something to live for. If that’s not all about balance, what is? Their war was never his war. His war was never meant to end. No more than his desire to lean back and hear Coltrane blow. But, rent was going up on Cortland Ave. Why not move to a larger warehouse on Bayshore Boulevard and sell wholesale exclusively? Who needs the headache of heavy foot traffic? Woz was ordering ten dozen cupcakes for The Homebrew Computing Club each week. The dweebs and geeks at Atari consumed that many moist muffins per day. The word of mouth from the chubby cheeks of Woz was pure gold, straight, no chaser. And not only the moist muffins, but the nutty granola was becoming popular in health food stores in Berkeley, Mill Valley, and Santa Cruz. The Kid was so busy he bought one of those long telephone cords that allowed him to talk while mixing dough on the other side of the room . That was how be became turned around with creamed corn caught between his sticky vanilla fingers the first time he heard from Rock Scully. Plus he had a sick desire to scratch a floury itch on his nose. What a no-no.

Rock Sully asked, “Do you know who this is?”

The Kid explained, “Not yet. It’s your job to tell me.”

“What if I tell you I’m just playing in the band?”

“Do you know you’ve called a bakery?”

“I’m the one who called, didn’t I?”

“A very busy bakery.”

“That’s why I’m calling.”

“This will only be a start if we end up getting somewhere.”

“This is Rock Scully.”

“I like the name, Rock.”

“You still don’t know.”

“You still haven’t told me.”

How was The Kid supposed to know that Rock Scully, the manager of the Grateful Dead, was a big fan of cannabis indica in his cheesy cornbread with jalapenos after a show? Plus, he ordered a large assortment of cookies to last for the duration of a European tour, eleven countries in twenty-one days. And moist muffins for the band and entourage, too. Bob Weir as it turned out was nutty for the granola. Jerry enjoyed carrot cake by the slab.

Plus, Rock Scully backed up his talk with proof in the form of a certified check that walked the walk.

Why else, pondered The Kid, would I be traveling in Mendocino after midnight? Not even the moon has the courtesy to shine. Plus, finessing cardamom is always tricky.

A clue would only occur to him later, after it was too late, and not for the first time, when the proverbial final anti-social straw leading to collapse struck like lightning because material circumstances were past due for a screwing. Gripping a moist wheel with such a loose moral structure during meandering in any evolving multiverse is bound to suck on a wet and winding road. All it takes is one damnable bump to bruise, violate, penetrate, and upset the old apple cart. Everybody knows that. You can’t trust a decent proverb anymore to deliver the goods.

The Kid declared, emphatically, “Fuck me.”

In straying from the straight and narrow, he found all four unaligned headlights fixated on the shoulder of a rocky patch, victimized by a crushed bottle in a paper bag. The multiversal nature of consciousness is such that it only takes a teeny bit of it to trigger an explosive megaton or two of damage. A formerly serviceable rear tire was punctured. He braked to a floppy stop in rimed mud under a drippy manzanita tree. There was justice, no peace.

The Kid added, “Fuck you, too.”

Because The Kid had proved sufficiently prescient, however, to pay top daily dollar for his 1969 Buick Special Deluxe 4-Door Sedan with optional faux gold and chrome, though faded, he discovered a shitty jack where it certifiably belonged, also in the rear. And a shitty spare tire to boot. The path ahead was clearly marked by crumbs. The mud that was going to stay stuck to him no matter what provided the ideal stage for his performance. Best to plunge knee deep without scruples in order to begin. Not even the shitty war in Viet Nam that ruined everything got any deeper than that.

And the big fool said, “Push on.”

As it might be expected, results under less than ideal conditions tend to suck hard. He was sodden, shriveled, shivering, bleeding by the time the last lug nut claimed the last skin on a bare knuckle. Right from the bruising start it was never going to be a fair fight. He kicked dirt and screeched and growled and caused an unholy ruckus. Not even the non-stop static spewing from the speakers could compete. Bare knuckle brawls are never fair to a loser. It only looks that way. That was not shit on the seat of his pants. It only looked that way. It made no sense to allow facts to soil a lofty view.

Still undefeated in his own mind, he snapped, “Outa my fucking way.”

He believed he had nearly finished reversing the direction of his spiritual jacking, even if only on the obtuse material plane, when he heard the eight suspicious cylinders of a domesticated Chevy rounding a curve. It sounded like a full load of gravel dropping into the pit of a parched throat. Only a clunker of a cop car resounded with menace like that.

The Kid glimpsed the flashing lights in plenty of time to do something, as if there was something better than nothing to do. Instead, he squeezed tight like an icicle and dripped. The same sad psychodrama continued to play out with the same pair of shaved legs sported by a fabled soap opera star, one of those underhanded vixens who steal the show. Meanwhile, the lingering smell wafting from the trunk posed a metaphysical dilemma. No mere huffing and puffing was going to rise up and blow away a spiraling tornado. The Kid conjured streaks of red and blue and yellow and green to dwell upon. Anything but the ashen gray of iron bars.

He reiterated, “Fuck me.”

Who was it who proved that base fear and stupidity roil the material plane and tend to ruin the two top dimensions with lids? Oh yeah, it was Einstein. Roil is a law of nature. It figures, as The Kid recalled. I’m fucked.

But, did he dwell some more on the profoundly negative? Why not? What else was he equipped to do while uncontrollably shivering? Until, that is, a glimmer of hope appeared just a few feet away. He discovered he was not alone in suffering. It is often comforting to share misery with mixed company. A fuzzy apparition in black and white appeared in the refracted light. Unless that aura was a halo. An irate skunk reared up higher than the average dancing bear to register a complaint. Was that a final straw of her own she was grasping? Mama skunks do get that way around intruders. What mama wants to put up with a lot of loud noise from a troublemaker that awakens fussy babies? Mamas need their rest, too.

A skunk is accustomed to having its own way. No sly fox will mess with a skunk. No wily coyote, cougar, or big buck. Not even a dancing bear. Any everyday ordinary skunk is able to saturate a moving bulls-eye out of either of two equal assholes without blinking. No biggie. Just aim and let loose. No motion wasted. After forty million years of practice, it’s hard to miss.

But, did The Kid possess the wisdom learned by his more experienced betters? Fuck, no.

As a member of a superior species known to be great self appointed thinkers he acknowledged no betters. So he thought it over in a flash. He and his impulsive kind had been around for a whole hundred thousand years. Did a whole shit load of heavy thinking right from the start. He believed what he did next was bound to be for the best. Ain’t no stopping a hefty human brain in action. This was war. He stood tall and kicked mud in the face of a skunk.

If that’s not a learning experience, what could it be?

And then, when what it is turned sour, and fast, and he began to suffer like an infidel for his ungodly beliefs, because who deserved it more, he started to cry. He knew for sure he was eternally damned. That shit that stinks also burns. It leaves a marked, rancid trail. He tried to abandon the clothes on his back. He would need to cut off all of his long hair. A hole for burying would come in handy. He would need to grow new and improved skin. Maybe a heart and lungs. He puked on his pants and dropped trou and stepped away from his tighty whities. Gross.

Which was the initial image witnessed by the sharp eyes of Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff Rod McDonald as he pulled up to the scene. It appeared at first to be no more than a filthy hippie dancing naked in mud, probably another lunatic on LSD. Hardly worth the paperwork. Rod McDonald patrolled a regular route from Willits to the Sonoma County line at 2 AM most mornings. But it was not a regular night for Rod McDonald. He was born in Boonville and had lived in Mendocino County for all of his twenty seven years. Except for one gung-ho year in Viet Nam. The words still made him gag. He did not need to be reminded. He had no problem with working the late night shift. He did not go out of his way looking for trouble but he knew what to do when he found it.

But when he opened his door, he gagged again. Uh-uh, he decided. Not me, not tonight. This is one filthy hippie who is on his own.

Rod McDonald left the scene, no crime.

Chalk up another victory for Ho Chi Minh. And The Kid.

Maybe he won’t turn out to be as dumb as he looks after all.

.

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Hot and Cold Running

mirage      Impresario Steve Wynn was not easy to satisfy. Big leading to bigger was only a beginning between more to come. But, he was temporarily satisfied so far. The view from the penthouse suite atop his ground-breaking Mirage Hotel sparkled with the astonishing light of his desert. It was his, not hers, or theirs, or yours, because who else would turn nothing into something like that? Add some ultra-hyped zing and some zest, a slew of pyrotechnical gizmos and doodads, jokes, jokers, and royal flushers, a waterfall, a moat, a castle, a clown, and a barrel spilling over the top with scads of monkeys performing razzmatazz with pizzazz, and what do you get? Astounding profit, that’s what, sharp, keen, and straight to the astonishing roundabout point.

“You know me. I’m not going to take no for an answer.”

He poured more champagne and toasted his shrewd guest, Michael Milken. He offered a plate of colorful cookies with oddly spiced cranberry chips as they each pondered the vast potential of growth in endless stocks of shifting sand, and took another cookie for himself. Good, smart cookies were easy to come by, but Michael Milken was a lot smarter then an ordinary smart cookie. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty doing the hard dirty work. He knew how to shake and harvest greenback dollars from neglected trees stripped of bark and leaves. Sticks, and stones, and bones, too, it seemed. How would the grandeur of The Mirage have ever been able to appear out of nowhere without Michael Milken and his glorious junk bonds? Steve Wynn knew how to pick a winner, all right. Less than two months until opening day. He lifted a crystal flute in salute.

Michael Milken admired the view as well, the long view. That, and the champagne, the short view. He knew he was going to prison soon, served up as a scapegoat by jealous competitors and crooked politicians, but he could take it. And he never forgot names and faces. And he knew he would get out, and come out, ahead.

He listened with half an ear as Steve Wynn dispatched a nuisance call with wit and aplomb. Who doesn’t understand what that’s like? You can tell a lot about a man by how he refuses to play nice in a sandbox with others.

Steve Wynn griped, “I need to come up with a better strategy to get rid of this pest Trump who keeps trying to horn in on my action out here.”

“Pest is a nice way to put putz.”

“You know him?”

“Everyone knows him, but no one wants to.”

“He’s got nothing but balls to offer.”

“Half of nothing.”

“Wisdom like Moses there.”

“You probably mean Solomon.”

“Another heavy hitter.”

The Mirage was going to be the biggest, the best, no whining. High rollers needed a lot of room to spread out and flex and shoot off wads. Trump was peanuts back east in Flushing on streets filled with dog shit atop piles of real snow. A faux volcano was going to erupt four times every hour in front of the Mirage when the lights were turned on. Not just any lights but lights the equal to stars. White tigers and straws with top hats to stir the drinks, too. Tap dancing Mr. Peanut Trump was never going to get anywhere close in the long run.

“I only admire persistence to a point.”

“When it’s yours.”

“Or will be.”

“It has to make some sense.”

“I’ve got gnats flitting all over me. You know how parasites are attracted to pure wholesome protein. We’re not even open yet and anyone with the vision to think straight can see from close up Vegas is where it’s going to be at, baby. Who doesn’t want a piece of that? Anybodies and nobodies, too. I got this guy camped out in my waiting room who bakes these cookies and thinks he’s going to get to see me because he knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.”

“Who’s supposed to know something about something you can’t live without.”

“As if I’m ever going to have time to see him”

“Good cookies, though.’

“Good, but not great.”

El Kid knew his cookies were not great. He was still trying to reach far and wide enough to get there. High, too. He knew how to mix, and stir, and blend, and often whir, and how to taste more than a bit of bittersweetness, but not always how to let it be. He was constantly tinkering with his spices, never right, never exactly wrong, as if spices represented the vortex by which gravity pulled the cockeyed earth.

For the lucky seventh time, he approached the receptionist who bubbled behind the gilt desk, and offered, “Have another cookie.”

Who of sound mind was going say no to a pure and natural cookie right out of the box with no strings attached?

She said, “Maybe just one more.”

“Nothing wrong with pure and natural ingredients.”

“It’s tingling my tongue.”

El Kid knew a little bit about how to bite, and scratch, and claw, too. And fake an authentic smile. He was lucky enough to learn that early in a tough town. He thought he was going to succeed in getting to see Steve Wynn not only because he knew Sweet Lady Jane, who had already won unanimous approval for her chocolate tacos, mocha cupcakes, and cinnamon bobka from Steve Wynn, the only vote to count, and not only because Sweet Lady Jane knew Thom Roger, the lead interior designer for The Mirage, who used to have an office on Melrose Ave. next door to her great bakery in West Hollywood, and not only because Thom Roger knew Steve Wynn who had known Roger’s father in Las Vegas for many years, but mostly because he wasn’t going to give up. He had refused to quit while staying put, and he had endured humiliation lots of shitty times before.

“Tingling is good You can put in a good word for tingling with your boss.”

“I’ll do my best.”

She politely kicked him out of her office at five o’clock, though, with the unfortunate message that Mr. Wynn had been mysteriously called away and was gone for the day, which was in fact not a lie, a first.

El Kid might have let slip out at the next opportunity when inside the next elevator going miserably down alone, which was not a question, “What the fuck.”

He crossed The Strip on foot revisiting the eternal loop that skipped in his head, do I stay or do I go? A bus beeped and a minivan blew a warning, beware. He pushed against the nearest revolving door and followed a crooked highway into the bowels of a casino. Speak up, no shirking, you dope. Murderous expectations for tomorrow, about the same. Unintended consequences unaccountable. You won’t find out until the last second before you’re dead. Pick a number, any number. Don’t pretend not to peek.

He was too hot, too dry, too flattened to come up with a convincing response to a nolo contendere plea. Fake trickle down is grueling to harvest when baked on brick pavement by a desert fighting back by any means necessary. He tried not to forget it is what it is.

He took a seat at the sports book at Harrah’s, where seats were many and asses in them few, and perused the odds on the neon board. The pivotal third game of the 1989 World Series was about to begin on an array of screens populating the amphitheater, A’s versus Giants, two sides of the San Francisco Bay. As a recently confirmed resident of the Santa Cruz Mountains, El Kid was a fan of both. South Bay, too. He gulped a free beer that was worth it, and mused, why not a better beer? Why not add spices? The shifting numbers on the board seemed to be slanted at an obtuse dialogue. Unless that was only Socrates getting the shaft again. Lucky for El Kid he wasn’t playing odds.

Baseball is a complex game of decision making in tight situations where simultaneous variables travel at high speed to impact at junctures that hurt. Simple enough. Who hasn’t been spiked, beaned, battered, bruised, broken? Or whiffed on a deceptive pitch and struck out?

El Kid arose from his comfortable seat to place his bet in memory of Joe Avirgan, a man who worshiped at the altar of a home run in the bottom of the ninth. He was betting on not only power but speed. No odds were able to stand up to that.

And then the Bay Bridge fell down on the big screen in front of his wide eyes that would never be able to close in the same way again.

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Kant Say

fib3     The Kid was hoofing it back to his car through a concrete tunnel that smelled like dog shit, cat piss, rancid cooking oil, and the original adobe bricks pitched as weapons against the carbine carrying conquistadors. He was wearing his expensive Italian shoes that hurt his feet, and pleated, itchy wool pants stitched in Bangladesh. He was only partially distracted by calculating the big numbers in his small head from a big day in sales when he experienced a brief unsettling episode of a recurring event, often mistaken for a deep thought, asking where am I? Some recurring questions are perennially hard to answer on a satisfying, ongoing basis. Why wool pants on a hot day in August? It was a highly meaningful personal question worthy of an imperative answer with its derivation deep in the metaphysics of his sweaty balls, but was it universal as well? Or just another contradiction. The cooking oil he smelled was the deadly, hydrogenated kind that clogs arteries, grows nodes, and corrodes bones, the wily cats descendants of mutant coyotes. But, that wasn’t it either. Wool and L.A. are almost never a good combination. He already knew that categorically, which is why he did not recklessly ask why more often than absolutely necessary. It was just as easy and satisfying to blame the heat and smog rising. Sort of.

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A Croupy Toot

tombstone     It was no time for levity. The atmosphere was much too dry. It was no time for fiddle faddle or pussy footing either. That weak shit was so over. But, make no mistake. It was time. The waxed fruits on display were getting no riper. An official brass band blew a rousing croupy toot and the solo President of the United States appeared on stage to adoring pork and bean squeals. Dander mixed with bile and crusted flakes tumbled like confetti from loge seats. Clubs trumped diamonds and high heels stomped spades under crappy tables. There’s nowhere to go but one known way up after that. He was wearing a minor dab of tasteful pancake and blush, a rakish top hat, spats, and a white tail like a lizard.

lizard-in-top-hat

“My fellow Americans,” the solo President crooned,” and I do mean all among you who have no cause to question or doubt, I come before you not to mourn the failure of a transitory and negligible passing, and not to engage in pejoratives, expletives, or negativisms, because why bother with losers, but to get it on. We are going to get it on so far out there we will be able to stay the way we are, swing it back to the way it used to be, and pretend in 3-D omnicast it is simultaneously like it was and will always be for better or worse in sickness ’til we part. You be sure to stay tuned and follow the bouncing balls. With all my power and spleen, I thank you, along with your so-called government that stands lined up straight to unilaterally second that emotion.”

second-that-emotion

The cloudburst of low pressure pouring from the top tier boxes was precipitous. Draggy dress rehearsals were never exciting like this. Chilled penguins wiggled flippers and exchanged secret hand signals while skating on thin ice. A mid-century beauty rubbed latex semi-gloss into a stunning clear veneer on a rotating stage. Cheap imported cameras memorialized events in stylish white with velvety undertones of beige and cream in clotted bulk. Howdy-Doody was there, Flub-A-Dub, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Peanut, Clark Kent, Urkel, Tonto, though no Zorro. The detachable shelves were stocked with discounted merchandise bouncing off of walls into cages. Branded jello molds jiggled with delight. The pork and beans came with a choice of two mashed sides. Voting was with feet. The cameras focused on a giant applause meter that jumped and swayed. Rumors of hanky-panky were naturally exaggerated. Yes, the best side won as always.

“We, as the gloating winners who are good at it, and have all the proof and nothing but the proof we need to prove it, so help us, are good at getting what we’ve won while the getting is good. Who else knows better what it takes and how it’s done? That’s how it looks to me. That’s how it is and supposed to be straight from the source of Gold Almighty. I know all of you who can speak would agree with me if you could. But that’s my job now. And a sweet one it is. There are no leftover spoils here to be had. I got it covered. Everything’s fresh from the can. We boil twice to be sure, spread it thin. But enough idly said. Taste the pudding and pie filling. Grab some cheap pussy on the house. After that, the price goes up on a normal schedule with compounded interest.”

The rakish solo President cut a slashing figure as he joined the joyous bob and weave on ice. He twirled his diamond encrusted billy club with deft sticky fingers and opposable thumbs. Gold flashed sharp and incisively. There is no substitute for diamonds and gold on skates. Until, that is, he slipped on a flap of loose skin and unsightly leakage from a camouflaged plug came undone. A swift cutting edge re-insertion became required by any means necessary. The Secret Service whisked him away to a broom closet for his own self-protection. How else was he going to be able to remain stiff for the good of the country, praise the fucking lord? This benighted man was no robot out of a mold. His medication worked like a charm once it kicked in.

trump2

The band continued to play soft and hard as cover for marching and charging after his premature departure. Talk was cheap and flowed. A conga line formed in triumph to hail. A fragrance gathered underfoot and congealed among exposed toes. Unless that was the limbo. And those poles with sharp points had keen purpose.

The solo President of the United States had a dream that night of staying alive. It had a steady beat and he could dance to it. Fox News covered an interpretation like a blanket of ocher smog. The monotonous chorus would become legend on the gospel trail during the blockbuster Summer season. He appeared as a smoking vision of vitality all night long. His stage too was rotating at no less than a mid-century rate. He was splendidly spent perhaps, but fulfilled by his insertion, and still beige, and clotted, and creamy.

 

 

 

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Blowing

smoke in color     The Kid was afraid but he refused to admit it. He held tight to the wheel with both hands. Even years later he could not bring himself to admit it. That would be the same as conceding defeat. How was he supposed to get where he was going that way? The wind had first started to growl with menace above the Arctic Circle, rising, falling, spreading out like a cluster bomb on the tundra. The wind was ancient, and the wind was here and now. The wind stripped carcasses, left dry bones. Gusts rocked his car with hammers and fists but he was not going to budge. Not now, not then, not ever. Of course the wolves howled alongside. In Saskatchewan and Alberta dogs joined in. The wind foamed from the jaws at the mouth of Lake Superior. Ships at the bottom rock and rolled like cranky old timers, not only the Edmund Fitzgerald. Trees in dark forests snapped like popsicle sticks. The wind cut and dismembered the electricity in Menominee. The assistant deputy on duty at the power plant had a heart attack. His wife had begged him to lose weight. It did no good. It never did. The wind shredded the plate glass window of a bratwurst factory in Racine. Raw, hideous meat oozed and sparkled. Sewage backed up in Peuwaukee, generators failed in Oshkosh, alternators in Prairie due Chien. Milk cows, winter wheat, barn roofs, all fell, and did not get up to beat the count. Then it began to really blow.

The Kid tapped his breaks lightly, careful not to skid on the ice. It was a bigger car than he was accustomed to driving, a green Plymouth Duster with a 443 cubic inch supercharged V-8 engine. He had stolen it earlier that afternoon from the driveway of a split level home in a suburb of Milwaukee. The cute family of four was warm inside eating Campbell’s tomato rice soup and grilled cheese sandwiches around the Christmas tree. The path ahead was as clear as it was going to be. He would park it right up front at the airport and mail the keys back to the owners. He had no problem paying off a debt. It was no big deal really. If it was truly a debt, that is. But threats and extortion was something else. No fucking way he deserved that. He was going where they’d never find him.

Until one day, he finally could. Admit it, that is. It wasn’t such a big deal anymore. Do or not, ebb and flow, but not only. Wisely, he reflected. Choose what makes a difference. Though not too close to any edge.

It took three hours to drive the ninety miles from Milwaukee to Madison. The wind had gained reinforcements on frozen Lake Mendota, on frozen Lake Monona, on frozen Lake Wingra that was cracking up. Trees were down all over town, pine trees, and birch trees, and red maples in the best of neighborhoods. Telephone service was spotty. The Capitol was deserted. The University of Wisconsin was shut up tight. The airport was closed. The stores were stripped of batteries, Marlboros, Meisterbraus, and corn flakes. Model citizens were preparing for the worst. The worst was surely coming. There was ebb and there was flow and then there was this.

The Kid stretched out on the floor of the airport terminal to wait. There was plenty of free parking. All he ever wanted to be most was free. He was confident he left no tracks to follow. Or such obvious tracks, why bother? How many cities was it in how many days? He mailed his letter with the keys wrapped inside. He enclosed cash and an apology. It couldn’t be helped. He believed that sincerely until he no longer did. The lights flickered but stayed on inside the terminal. He was not alone there. Others, too, had nowhere else to go. The building shook, but stayed put. The way he figured, he had it made.

The first flight took him to Minneapolis, and then Seattle. After that, only he would be in a position to know.

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Raw Potential

newsom2     Lt Guv Gav Newsom, triumphant at the polls, and now the favorite son of mothers for many years to come in Coastal California, or at least as many as exist in a spiraling vortex until something different comes along, savored his fleeting moment for seven days. Seven days was enough. Soon, and never too soon, there would be shit loads of work to get done by uncounted others in his behalf. Someday, with sufficient focus upon selflessness, they might count. Shit happens, after all, and never ends. Name a growth industry with more raw potential.

flies on shit 3turd 4

Not even the multiple levels of weed extraaction, soon to be the number one worldwide industrial market of all times, comes close to matching what gets flushed down the drain. Opportunity is no mystery. There are philosophers who extol plumbing, and not without cause, premise, presumption, reason, but still. C’mon. Number one can’t be beat. Get fucking real, why don’tcha? Then you might be able to get used by Lt Guv Gav for cause, reason, and presumption, too.

When weed becomes a staple, California will need to grow bigger because California is not big enough. To become an independent state after a new declaration of independence, and to fight the good fight for civil war fought for indigenous freedom, which is only right, because indigenous rights don’t die, a rightful sovereign state must pay the cost to become bigger.

Lt Guv Gav confidently proclaims, “No problemo.”

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Let Freedom Zing

final-banh-mi-me-jpg

Let Freedom Zing!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4OMMZC

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Banh Mi Me To The End Of The Line

columbus-parade  The 148th version of the Columbus Day Parade in San Francisco started out from Fisherman’s Wharf under a muddle of grey clouds that mimicked slate smeared by an eraser. The forecast called for a gradual clearing by the time the geriatric marchers wheezed past Joe DiMaggio Playground into North Beach. The one true god who sported shades of white and beige on white proved to be on the right side of the fence again. The parade was the oldest civic event in the city, filling Columbus Ave. with an assortment of debris since 1868. The staid Italian families of North Beach held on to the reins of the procession with a grip that knew how to nurture an historic grudge. Marching straight was as narrow as it had ever been. No fruity loops, no glittery diamonds, no jokers, no queens, no spades. How else was the sky ever going to clear up without firm guidance? From their sunny point of view, the bay was as smooth and glassy as the blue on Lt Guv Gav Newsom’s touched-up eyes. Every pro pol in the the city had better show up to pay homage to the latest faked version of history, every has-been, wannabe, and ever will be, with glad hands and skin showing, or else. Even rank amateurs who stunk up the joint routinely showed up at the parade. Not even an ex-mayor of the city like Lt Guv Gav was exempt. Slick jockeys carrying silk whips pushed for inside positioning. Many possessed a sharp agenda to embrace. None of them were like mine, though. I did not care where in the crowd I did not fit. I wasn’t running anymore. I wasn’t hiding. What I was carrying looked like a non-descript box. Why else would an anonymous spy risk exposure at a dumb parade?

columbus

It was still dark when I started out that morning as one of only two passengers on an N Judah streetcar leaving Ocean Beach. I was wearing trendy mirrored shades shaped like a vintage German torpedo and a floppy jungle hat that disguised the flaky crust around my eyes. But I was soon joined by a brawny mass of street wise proletarians and strapping hangers-on. My career as a spy was approaching an apex. The Ferry Building was my nearly last stop before the end of the line. Unless that was an apogee. I stayed vigilant on the lookout for suspicious characters. No back stabber was going to sneak up on me. I was keenly aware that political intrigue did not pause for flashing yellow lights in streetcar tunnels. I gave up my seat and stood stoutly beside an iron worker, a dyslexic electrician, a paid up member in good standing of Plasterers and Shophands Local #66. A front desk clerk at the Hyatt Regency applied lipstick. A checkered cab dispatcher smeared her pancake and rouge. A surly coffee house waiter, too. Unless that pancake was blush. I did not have to ask to presume they stood with me as one for freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles. More fellow travelers squeezed on at Duboce. There was a brouhaha at Noe. A corner of the box I was holding jabbed my chest at Castro. A gaunt Chilean baker of savory Chinese buns was muttering about no good crumbs and bums. He’d be a lot better off eating a bite size edible muffin to become chill. History was not marching, it was charging. Nothing was going to stop this runaway streetcar. Not even if that chest pain emanated from a bruised rib. I was going to transfer to the J Church on Market St. and change hats. I’d fool them all. I had exact change. Lt Guv Gav would never see me coming until it was too late.

n-judah

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At or about that same historical moment, Lt Guv Gav Newsom was seated on the ferry crossing the Golden Gate to the city from Sausalito. He was feverishly texting like a whiny adolescent with latent issues derived from blotchy skin. This and that was up for grabs in the political arena and he had a crammed schedule of head to head encounters to get ahead. Who ever said the path to win-win was all glory? After brunch, lunch. Next, a photo-op for unaffiliated party hacks. Soon, snacks and scones at a meet and greet. The schedule of an opportunistic plodder on the run was never full enough. He gargled and flossed, checked for tarnish. His hair was perfect. No problemo there, that’s for fucking damn shit sure. He re-scanned the same speech I had tossed off twice, for which I charged double, like duh. It wasn’t so much he enjoyed the exhilarating give and take of punishment and retribution that fueled political discourse, but if a hammer needed to be cocked against the engorged head of an enemy, he was a man to rise, not shrivel, and go limp, upon impact. Public service was no sordid matter of power or control to him but deep and widely felt principle handed down from his dad, an appointed judge. Whole white milk builds enamel. Straight teeth gleam. Dimples twinkle. The spotlight shines brightest on what may not be the truth and nothing but, but he don’t ask, and he sure don’t tell.

newsom

But, then a rogue wave near Alcatraz broke over the deck and caused the engine to sputter and stall. An ominous cloud gathered mixed mass. The newspaper in his lap ran with magenta and cyan. Intermittent drips sent his cell phone into a tizzy. The crease in his tight pants became all shook up. A steamy odor offended. His stack of cue cards drooped. A light went on and on.

pyrmaid light

I would only learn later that the buoyant humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe, when not more accurately representing dark ecru on the eternal color wheel, was monitoring developments from a position above a bubbly trench near the Farrallon Islands at 37.6989, -123.0033. Feeling the unity in the salt of all mammalian solutions, he was checking out new turf that would soon be returning to an acestral home at the bottom of San Francisco Bay. Then I heard what might have been the voice of Mavis Staples pleading, “He’p me.” She just wants to be free. I thought, me too. Then I heard the same voice offer, “I’ll take you there.” It was not the voice of Mavis Staples, though, resounding in that rarefied air. It was the voice of the lovely Thee Mrs, wife of HHUMH Thee Tawny Owl, who could duplicate every soulful sound in the storied history of rhythm and blues since Clyde MacPhatter. And I knew with certainty I was under the protection of mighty high flying wings.

At the corner of Market and Van Ness, I stood self-importantly with the masses. The trolley clanged. I held my box with both hands. Next stop, historic inevitability. I said emphatically, “Excuse me.”

“Yo, wrong way, dude.”

“Hey, watch it.”

“Sorry, no stopping now.”

I wasn’t really sorry. No fucking way. Momentum was mine right in front of me. There was no place in all-out war for wishy-washy any longer. No more horny rams butting lambs, braying, “Baa.” That’s just so sad and reactionary. Embrace or be rejected. Inclusion included occlusion in my bloody red textbook of revolution. I jumped for the clouds feet first from the back door and made my splash in the street like a cannonball in a gross public pool. Nimbly, I dodged a bus, a motorbike, and a minivan. What were they doing on a week-end schedule obstructing history? I missed the J Church that was heedlessly fleeing the scene but I vowed to catch the next one. I had plenty of time to eat a healthy muffin that was also delicious. My strategic plan did not change again until the next streetcar that came along was an L Taraval. Never no good reason to not get going while the going is good. It was a good thing, too, because events were accelerating. What it is what it is.

hubba7

When Lt Guv Gav finally arrived, wet and drippy, later to him, sooner to me, I was just barely able to be there to observe. But there was no fraternal meet and greet for me. He eyed me with alarm, and turned his head while feigning a sickly cough. I waited to show my cards. I did not need to bluff. He stepped into a waiting limousine where he changed pants behind a suspicious red curtain. I followed closely from behind. He wasn’t going to fool me with a change of pants. I knew the political games played behind closed curtains. The robots and techno-yuppie dweebs were still still sucking hard on powerful juice. Carrying an important box slowed me down, but importance is what makes a great cause worth so many casualties and so much grief. What else?

I stumbled on a crack in the Emarcadero and bumped against an ornamental urn on Clay. I dodged a bullet on Drumm, a barker on Broadway, an entitled bicyclist going the wrong way on Battery. The hills were hard on heart and lungs. But I was not yelping for help. All vital organs were swollen with pride in a shared accomplishment. I held the winning box over my head triumphantly. I was just about finished for  good. The box was beautifully tied with an elegant, crooked bow. I pictured the confetti blowing in the next victory parade. I heard green tin horns with white fifes. Owls hooted bass with the upbeat. Whales blew blue opalescent bubbles to Oakland in San Francisco Bay. Stripes were shed for diagonals. Cable cars were skipping tracks and running wild and free in the streets. I held on for the ride.

Later, after Lt Guv Gav had caved in at the first fearful glimpse of the decorative noose tied with such an elegance on the box, because knots may turn what’s inside out, and stick it to The Man sporting the bad juju stamped on his political DNA, he tried to pretend. He blamed, he blathered. He felt sincerely as if he was still one chill cat, no lamb. He scratched his unmentionable rash that itched when pinched.

“Win-win,” he bleated.

But did I gloat? Fuck yeah, I gloated. I wasn’t shooting my marbles with any modicum of cool self-restraint. No responsible adult here. I’m pretty sure I unmistakably heard Howlin’ Wolf growl and repeat, “Ooh…aah…ooh…hooh.” That’s politics for ya. Low consciousness, poor impulse control, sprinkle with gasoline, and fire away.

Sure, it was unnecessary to say it. But I said it anyway.

“Loser.”

 

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Banh Mi Me Back To Front

tan robot     A soulless international robot is able to be strong, make commands, pose, shift, shaft, screw, delete deep, and wide. A soulless international robot may fake a heavy heart and soul, procreate, control by remote, digitize with thumbs, dial up, get down, grow to prosper, possess goods, demand services, acquire people, places, and things. Recent versions of international robots have developed attitude. It looks and feels the same as the original. Many squeals and grunts accompany thumping bass. Big time entitlement, too. With no aesthetic gene to get in the way, it works. Sort of. That’s another telltale area of dubious achievement in which humans continue to fall behind and will soon require artificial enhancement. But there is no escape for an international robot from the posterior point of view in which skeletal meridians align inside the nether zones of tianzong while arcing to a fulfillment of sparks at the juncture zhishi. Facts of matter in the multiverse matter. Bile born in the liver bites. Comes to roost disguised as back pain. Delivered inside the bladder to electrify and stew. Hits like molten lava. Pipes quiver and burst. Dynamite.

robot spew

As long as soulless international robots, along with opportunistic political pros with soulless agendas, maintained their alliance with scum sucking rats, who thrive so soullessly in a community cesspool with no rules that would dare to be posted, no limits on gorging or gauging, and no cartoon sized heroes professing the ability due to some bogus guidance in any divine desert to save any asses, they enjoyed a certain amount of negotiated protection from debilitating spews and clogs. Backups were kept to a minimum. But once the surgical gloves came off, as they did on the rocks at Ano Nuevo Island, and the raw redness of treachery was exposed for what was, is, and will be, there was nothing to stop an historical stream of sludge from gaining traction on drier land. The jack boot of gravity comes down hard. Rats are skilled at revenge because practice, practice, practice, pays off.

rat in toilet

The elite international robot A.I. Peter felt herself to be immune to static upchuck, of course. Who knew her formatting better? Her septic deposits were slim. She had rigorously memorized the manuals and created shortcuts with tabs. Basic stuff. She knew better than to ever shake her rigid hips. Her kind never fudged. You know the kind. Not once an overload or back-up. Less fat, more foam. Inspections up to date. Runs for miles without lube, and remains rust free. Plays a safe poignant endgame without angst. Repeats, “None for me, thank you.”

white skin2

The elite robot A.I. Peter was not the only underhanded conniver in the neighborhood, though. I found myself hitting a groove in recovery from cranial war wounds without hardly trying. I was just messing around with her ovoid head that morning, playing Jr. Walker and the All-Stars out of my window at full volume, nothing major, because it had been such fun to hear her complain so bitterly about it last time. Those soulless robot membranes tend to get hyper-sensitive to interfering nitty-gritty. But, how was I supposed to know that the lyrical, “Shoot ’em boy, run now,” was a signal that would set off rampaging rats down a premature path that turned into a stampede? Events in a multiverse shed staid predictability like lice with little input from me. Those trumped up charges against me will never hold up. Rats have an ability to get down and funky, too. And cosmic dust will continue to float and flow, no matter. How can that be my fault when I’m always innocent? If not, why not?

.confusion

I wasn’t going to become complacent, though. Wherever indigenous freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles in California is at risk, I will continue to stoutly avow and declare, no matter how much potent DNA they share in soulless opposition, fuck those mortal enemies of freedom, the rats, the robots, and the pol pros, who are out there still lurking. Let them just come and try to blame me again. See how I run this time. I’m no slacker in the defense department, after all. I was like totally prepared to duck for cover, like duh.

head in sand

My initial path through the forest leading to freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles was marked by crummy crumbs from white bread without crust. No savvy bird would touch it. From there, no problemo. I had confidence the teen twins would do a swell job of defending the fort in my absence. They agreed to back me up with a plausible alibi in return for a reasonable bounty in bitcoins. They were tough negotiators. Totally win-win. I was busy brewing brown beer in the space between my washer and dryer when more rats came out of hiding. I wasn’t picking the needles from that purple sage for any sort of potion. I was merely running with those scissors and that knife to get where I was going. I was in a big hurry to start chopping.

The yang twin suggested the story needed more rat guts to spill out, but I advised sobriety, caution, and patience.

“One day soon, my son, all things will come out. And we will all be a little more free.”

“Yeah, right.”

My pride popped like white kernels of canned corn. I believed sincerely I had done my best of all jobs in teaching them. The yin twin was busy doing something. The yang twin was capable of something, too. Now, I only had to wait for the rats to hear the next lyric coming up before lamming out of there, “Get down, get down, get down tonight.”

We were all fiercely hopped up as a unit when the first clue came from the other side of the fence, which was technically more of a wall,  a resonant,”Eek.”

“Do you hear the treble in that screeching?”

“It’s only the rats next door.”

“You’ve taught me the meaning of proud.”

The elite robot A.I. Peter was lolling in embellished shade, covered up. It was going to be a hot day in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The venal white cat napped on her lap. Her outdoor air-conditioning was blasting full speed through useless ozone. It caused straight hairs to curl up and cringe. The yang twin pointed at her while laughing out loud.

I said, “Even when dealing with lowlife enemy scum, it’s not polite to point out loud across fences.”

He said, “Dude, that’s a wall.”

I knew he understood my important point without deigning to respond but he made the effort. I was glad we were able to grab a moment to have a serious talk about issues. I wasn’t really expecting a major attempt on my life yet. Soon was more likely. But, still. The days of a traitorous spy are always numbered by simple arithmetic.

form 5

When the rats came, they came with experience in the redress of grievances. A wrecked relationship on the rocks of an island in the ocean can chafe. They were well versed in the multiversal clash of contradictions. Sure, many opponents were worthier. Most, in fact. But the imagery of a venal white cat with pink skin was irresistible. And revenge was always ripe and succulent.

open mouth

Short and long, that’s the way it was, and is, and will be wrote, folks. After the brutal game of politics struck her down in her sub-prime, A.I. Peter lost everything, stock options included. The techno-yuppie dweeb would have to find another lawn to mow when not commuting daily to Silicon Valley. The venal white cat would never murder another beautiful bird. Another win-win.

By that time I was certifiably gone, gone, gone. I was anonymously seated on a speeding city bus multitasking like any other model city chimp dealing with social issues. The bus made anonymous stops at a hospital, a laundromat, a muffler shop, a bench. The bus would take me within walking distance of the certifiably airtight basement residence of the Unpaid Internet Content Provider where I’d be safe. There would be vital sustenance, including brown beer. His mother would try to show off her tits. Beat that, soulless fuckers. My mission as a traitor and a spy was not yet complete but would be. There was still an election for freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles that the good guys were about to win. And only I knew when more revenge would be coming from what direction next.

 

 

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