Not This Time

These new digs are good for writing but not for reading. I need an easy chair. Something easy anyway. I must have two dozen books ready to read, some started, none finished. Been writing my ass off a year now and don't know where it's going. But I have a play idea, and a close friend has said he will get it to a well-known actor and director, a veteran, out in California, a woman I knew once in The Living Theater. Sounds good to me Bob.

I only have one scene and of course it is unfinished. Not even sure where I'm going with it but I know I can do it. It won't be your normal television pap I will tell you that. I don't want to sound superior but you won't catch me with my head in front of that goddamned television. I know it's good. It's too good. People get trapped in front of the hypnotism box and forget their own thing, forget their ideas, forget everything, and go around with their heads full of Seinfeld or the Evening News or 60 Minutes or whatever, and where are they? They are now programmed to think about some clever thing tv writers came up with to promote a "product," that probably isn't worth half the money you pay for it. No thanks.

I want to get back to reading. I'm almost finished with The Essential Pinter; Selections from the Work of Harold Pinter; great stuff. Then there is Endgame by Beckett; Kafka's Curse by Achmat Dangor, (not bad) a South African I guess; almost finished. Plato Not Prozac! Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems; Dialogues of Plato; Plato's Theory of Knowledge; I been reading this guy for years and I swear I will understand him someday before I croak. Go East Young Man, by William O. Douglas, my all-time favorite Supreme Court Justice; Walking, by Henry David Thoreau, about finished; Leonard Cohen's Book of Longings; God is Red, by Vine Deloria, Jr., who wrote Custer Died for Your Sins; a biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, by George R. MacMurray; Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac (third reading;) Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter; (I read all his books, the best writing-President since Jefferson; better in fact, but his novel, Hornet's Nest only has historical interest to me.) And, War Is A Racket, by my favorite Marine, Smedley D. Butler; plus something I am FINALLY beginning to understand, Duino Elegies, by Rainier Maria Rilke. I know, I'm slow babe. I never claimed to be an intellectual, much less a Poet.

Then there is The Essentials of Storytelling, by Peter Rubie; Howl on Trial, The Battle for Free Expression, by Bill Morgan and Nancy J. Peters; the Tao te Ching, which I have been reading and re-reading for 30-odd years; I can't get enough of its mystery; Allen Ginsberg's Indian Journals (second reading,) which copy I actually stole right in front of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, when City Lights Bookstore was closing up. I wish I had asked him to autograph it for me, when we were crossing Columbus together.

Yeah, I had been reading it all day in a lazy chair at the old City Lights before it turned into a world-class tourist attraction, I didn't have a dime, and I just had to finish it. One of Ginsberg's best in my opinion. I should have asked him for it but I was afraid he would say no. Yeah I stole it. Like Mr. Natural said, "Nothing is yours." Of course that means that nothing is mine either, which is one reason I'm giving stuff away all the time. I usually buy a book read it and pass it on. When I thought I was gonna die a few years ago I went down next day and gave 17 cartons of books to the Presque Isle Library, good riddance. Been carrying those things around from one storage place to another for 20 damned years. They were happy and so was I, finally I was gonna get off this fucking planet.

Then of course there are the plays of Aeschylus, which I have been trying to untangle from their apparent simplicity for a couple of years; I'll get to the bottom of that one yet. I'd much rather read him than the complicated Shakespere (I prefer the old spelling)who took a lot of his themes from the first great Greek tragic dramatist. All in all I'd rather read the Greeks than the English. Did you ever read Trevanian? Now there is an interesting writer. Read Shibumi and tell me he isn't. Another of my favorite writers these days is John McPhee, a geologist who just happens to be a world-class writer too. He has written a shitload of good books on different subjects.

Another is T.Coraghessan Boyle. Ever read him? Great writing! Read A Friend of the Earth, and The Tortilla Curtain, and tell me this guy can't set up conflict that makes you squirm in your seat. Then there is Cormac McCarthy of course, a very dark guy, my kind of writer really. Great stuff, especially The Crossing, All the Pretty Horses, and his latest, The Road; not for the faint-hearted.

Then there is Spinoza and Voltaire waiting. I probably will never get to them. Another two books which I will never give away are Viet Cong and PAVN (Peoples Army of Vietnam) written by the great Foreign Service officer, Douglas Pike, the foremost western authority on those two entities. They are the reference for the core of my novel, heh heh, which I am not going to say another word about...I still think someone stole my idea (in the Blue Moon in Seattle) about Godzilla coming to America.

And there are others. I pick up books like some people pick up newspapers. I don't know where they all come from. I find one lying around in a train station or a laundromat and start reading it; if it looks interesting I take it home and try it out. Usually I finish it. You'd be surprised some of the good books I found. The Lost Boy comes to mind; a true story about an abused boy in San Francisco. Somebody said they made a movie about it. A straight-forward account by the kid as a grown man who survived the horror of being locked in a cellar and fed like a dog on scraps for years by his mean-assed mother, while his avoidant, cowardly father let it happen.

I'm listening to Bonnie Raitt. God I love this woman! She bring tears to my heart even while she makes me get up and dance. Ah! The only "star" I ever wrote a fan letter to. I wrote: "Dear Bonnie, I'd crawl across cut glass to meet you." She sent me a signed photo and a used guitar pick. I lost them after paying three years on a Florida storage unit that was auctioned off, while I was broke on my ass and trying to read prose in poetry-oriented coffee houses in San Francisco in the late nineties.

"The man I'm loving don't worry about me running around.
You'll never find my baby hustling me all the time...
He'll get me when he wants me, he's the finest loving man around."

Oh God I feel so good for a change. Like a whip has been stopped from lashing my back, like my feet stopped swelling and all of a sudden feel normal again, like I just had my first shower in a month, like a nice lady who really likes me just fucked my eyeballs loose, and I'm lying there watching the ceiling go 'round. Well, not quite that good. I'll probably never feel that good again.

It's 2:13 AM, I'm drinking coffee and eating a Three Musketeers. I got a packet of M&M's waiting and plenty of Cuban coffee too. The only reason to go to bed is so I can get over to WBAI tomorrow and look for the archivist who can give me a radio program for somebody. Somebody I'll never speak to again.

"Now me and my baby, we always know what we're putting down.
We'll always be together until something better comes around..."

I can't let this sadness overcome me. I can't let this squeezed out heart break anymore. I can't drink the beer my overdrinking housemate keeps offering. I can not help but help to get this house up and running. I can't lose what it has taken me 68 hard years to become. I know I have critics. I listened. And screw them. They waited too long to speak up, and they don't even know how dishonest that is.

I won't. For the first time since 1968, I'm starting to like myself, to feel like myself, and know that I can do it. But the last time I was feeling like this, my dumbassed sister put me in a solitary confinement cell for 18 months, so I have to watch out. You never know what kind of shit is coming down or where it's coming from.

Nope, just me, a day job that's not too hard, a lazy chair, some books, a big cold Coke, privacy, my dying computer, and Bonnie. Wonderful...

I won't let these blues get me down.

Not this time.


Anonymous said…
Great always...This is one of my favorites and I enjoyed reading it...LC
Anonymous said…
Mike, this is Horton, can you call me? I misplaced your number.

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