I got a call from my father's German pal, Manfred, asking to sleep over again. This made me feel put out. I want to help the poor guy but I didn't understand why he couldn't just sleep up at 79th street where my Dad was. The apartment is big enough. Manni couldn't really answer that except to note that there was no bedding for him. I suggested he grab my sleeping bag, a blanket/pillow, and stash 'em uptown in a closet so he wouldn't have to trek back-and-forth and crash my futon every time they come to NYC. He shared the suggestion w/my father and it seemed like a bad idea -- for no good reason. I knew that there was some nasty roommate politics involved with why they couldn't sleep on the floor of the empty master bedroom, but it still seemed suspicious, and I was caught in its epicenter.
Upon SBX's suggestion, I had a heart-to-heart w/my father about his dilemmas. I told him that I associated his telephoning me w/tragedy and pain. That, his name was synonymous w/misery. He agreed. He has been going through a rough time for years, and now that his Diabetes is fucking with his sugar system and legs, and his teeth are rotting, and he has no sense for a healthy diet, never exercises, has no job/no money, is depressed, well.... no wonder I associate him with misery. Would announcing it change a damn thing? No. It wouldn't. Yay. I told him that I figured him moving to the one acre of solitude in East Hampton would either kill him inside a year or he'll live to see 90. Either extreme would be so. Again. He agreed. Bah. Should I raise half a white flag now or later?
I finished penciling NIGHT FALLS 2/pp27 and got an email from movie producer Ted Hope willing to read my screenplay SWITCH TO KILL, which I had hinted at submitting in a previous exchange. Something I think would be perfect for FRANK PLEDGE to direct. So, this means I've got to hop onto the proverbial pony and ride 'em cowboy. To wrap up the creative portion of the day, Bertozzi polished off the OMAC proposal and I sent it of to editor Wacker at DC Comics.
Manfred came over @8PM and I set him with two DVDs: ARMY OF DARKNESS and SPIDER-MAN. SBX was working at the Food Co-op after working at CMD, and so I treated myself to Mexican dinner at ALMA on Columbia Street w/Mike & Marie. Mike bought me a Margarita and that put me in a relaxed head. Marie told me that she put in a book proposal w/Country Living regarding Antique Shoppes 101, which seems to be a popular trend for city slickers who make a second/final home in the country [Catskills, Westchester, Long Island, et al], and I thought the book would do gangbusters. If sold, she may use my mother and her shoppe, Kicking Stones in Margaretteville as an example. Marie also met up with a few literary agents via raffle through a writers society she joined up with. Those contacts look promising.
Talk went from skimming over the workweek to unlocking the secret origins of the Gods. We came to the conclusion that Gods were originally created as a way to perpetuate the history of dead family members and, if one or two were extra cool, then yes, that meant Aunt Bertha got more stage play than Uncle Otis. Also, it helped if a story was embellished by nature, because weather rules planet earth and religion is fascinated w/its power. So, when lightening strikes, you think about Thor the thunder god and such. It manifests mythology and creates legends. Mike was entering the 25th hour of his frazzled mind and Marie was following suit. Friday nights do that to a workweek. In our dementia, we renamed genitalia; Penis became "Vagina Stick," and Vagina became "Penis Hole." Made way too much derogatory sense. Looking back on it, it still does.
I rode my bike over to SBX's where she had just put the girls to sleep and, upon entering her 25th hour, was buying a one-way ticket to Cloud 9 sans passenger. I gave her back & neck a nice rub and we went upstairs to the bedroom. Clean teeth and naked bodies under blankets can only mean one thing to me but she couldn't go there. "Too tired." Too tired, again. Her focus wandered and SBX talked about how nervous the Haze was taking some big test next week that would determine what type of middle schools she can get into, but had faith she would score really well because the Haze is an A-student who yields top honors on most of her tests.
I warned SBX that being too book-smart didn't necessarily translate to street smart, nor did it guarantee a successful life. That, having the ability to perfectly spit back what you’re ordered to chew [read: school] may be less a mass conspiracy but more a government ploy to weed out the wheat from the chaff than to celebrate honest to gosh genius. A trick to brainwash those who have the ability to digest and repeat a school’s worth of information deemed important and valuable by the heads of state, which most oft have no interior meaning to one's true soul. Sure, one must learn the rules in order to break them, but why spend every ounce of your formative years under the gun? Rather than train and employ genius for society’s ulterior cause, why not manifest its potential for originality? Why else would America reward and make successes out of those who do well from Reading/Writing/Math [w/History/Science a close second], providing the nation with drone determining tests, by and large, ignoring/burying the creative souls who seek alternative solutions? Creators who entertain, provoke, and innovate, push the proverbial envelope. Where were the questions that I had to answer in 4th Grade, telling me what kind of artist I would be? There is no test like that because it's impossible to determine/foolish to gauge such a path. Especially when true art comes from the heart. Only later on does rent and bills steer your desire to create. A damn shame, fer sure. Yes, there are specialized schools that train you in the popular [read: accepted] arts but I see those as institutions that target and collect talent, keeping Big Brother’s eye on the look out for an attack from rebels, in fear of outsider art terrorism.
And, no, I ain’t talking purple prose and comix making a damn dent, neither.
I came to the conclusion that it was better if The Haze only achieved 85% of her test. This good grade would place her in a well-rounded middle school that would yield a cross section of book-smart and creativity. Because, the impetus to be creative often strips the focus of aping government/socially assigned knowledge, ergo, becoming their good little robot. Instead, rebelling just enough to let the mind wander, dream, and reach.
Then again, I could never ever stand on a line in front of a conveyor belt punching the eyelets into your raincoat. So, maybe schools were keeping enough folks in line to provide me milk and light switches? So terribly depressing.
SBX conked out and I argued with her snoozing corpse. I felt insulted. Was this really about workload or me? I've been feeling so frustrated w/our lack of quality time together. Where was her ability to find time for me/for us? Isn't that why people date? Fed up, I read the rest of Warren Ellis' "Haunted" HELLBLAZER trade paperback and passed out, fully clothed above the covers. Again.
Ola woke me up Saturday morning by slapping a yellow sticker dot on my left bicep while SBX took The Haze to school where she is studying for that big scary "placement" test. I told Ola to get my black bike bag 'cause I had a present for her and her sister. She was excited when I gave her another installment of Linda Medley's CASTLE WAITING collection. SBX came back home and set Ola up in the bathtub on the ground floor to play with her toys while she came back upstairs, got undressed, and played with my toys. Finally, a little bit of action.
I spoke to Hueston and found out that the Space Shuttle Columbia had exploded upon re-entry over Texas. Good morning, America. I rode my bike home in the drizzle and worked on my screenplay SWITCH TO KILL, and updated my laptop so that I could write at SBX's house whenever there was down time.
What's this? You have to dial the area code for EVERY call you make? Now we officially have 10-digit phone numbers. Hassle.
I went for a walk and coffee break w/Mike & Marie in Carroll Gardens and met up for dinner w/SBX and the girls. We watched SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN DAUGHTERS on DVD, and realized that this is the next movie director Paul Thomas Anderson should remake. It has all the cheesy moral play you could ever want, with singing, dancing, and battle choreography galore. Thos movie was as surreal as it was corny.
Mike & Marie picked me up in Little Man @9:25PM and we drove over to see/hear Cooly C's new band TORTURED SOUL play at Alphabet Lounge in the lower east side, just a few blocks from where I used to live w/ex-gal-pal “Boo” in the early/mid 90s. A foxy ex-fling named Catherine was bartending and that was a nice surprise. Hadn't seen her in a few years. Not since she broke up with Daupo. Ex-fling meant free drinks, and so, I was reintroduced to Jim Beam and Mr. Beam reintroduced Cooly C's devastating drum beats to my legs and suddenly the dance floor was tilting and swirling like back in the day. Only, back in the day was more like a year ago than twenty. And with Beam and Cooly beats only comes tomorrow’s hangover.
Hungry, Mike & Marie drove me to Wo Hop where I was shocked to discover it was CLOSED! Closed? Chinese New Year. AAAaarrgghhh! Most of the joints on Mott Street were closed except for the upstairs Wo Hops [which I never go to]. I succumbed to the ugly fat sister and picked up steamed dumplings and an awful rendition of Beef w/Tomato over white rice. M&M dropped me off at home and I woke Manfred who told me that, my father was warned by the doorman at 79th street that he was going to get evicted for having a surly roommate and for the fact that my father was never in the apartment anymore. Both were true. What to do?
I went to bed wishing I had taken SBX's invitation to come back to her house and sleep there. But, w/the rancid second hand cigarette smoke that permeated my pores and the stench of whiskey on my breath, I didn't want to subject my angel to such torture.
Manfred split by 8:30AM, Saturday morning, and I brewed a cup of Yo! The sun was shining bright and the winter was doling out a few windy hugs. I called up SBX, had a short spat about A, B, and/or C [your choice] ~ which put a damper on things, but I insisted on some park action, nonetheless. I put on the jacket from last night and it was rank in cigarette stench, whiskey bitch slap, and ominous bar scene smatter. No matter how well you wash your hair, clean your body; put on a new set of clothes, none of it matters when you put on the jacket from last night. Like lipstick on the collar, it reveals the underbelly of nocturnal recreation where things get done that would never be considered in the daytime. The moon chaperones all seedy prospects that the red light dares accompany. Run. Hide. Burn.
So, I rode my bike over to SBX's house to rally her and the girls for a quick play in Prospect Park. SBX took advantage of this and went for a run while I pushed the girls on swings and watched them skip around the playground. A few of their friends appeared and a game of Frisbee ensued. A terrible game at that. Ola had retained some of what I had taught her last summer, but her pal had no discernable skills and beamed me in the head. Hard. The Haze was just as mean and aggressive with the competition disc, often employing it as a plastic sickle to decapitate us at will. The sun hid behind some clouds and the wind took over, sending us back to SBX's house for some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and a couple of games of Hangman.
I was supposed to rendezvous w/Hueston for the Russian Turkish Bathhouse, but a few phone calls got me nowhere. Running late, I split for the F-train and went into Manhattan catching up on a chapter of Lansdale's carnival pulp paperback, FREEZER BURN. It felt good to walk the streets of my old haunt, the Lower East Side. Memories flooded me and I felt fond for the unrelenting streets of First Avenue. At the bathhouse, I met up w/neighbor Lena, and her Colorado pal Adam, Amy Basile & her beaux Bill, and, later on, I found a livid Hueston sitting upstairs reading The ECONOMIST. A series of miscommunications and poor planning had Hueston meeting me earlier than proposed sans cell phone signal. Waiting underground in a subway as four F-trains passed, hopping the train and going to the wrong stop. Walking a mile or so to a bathhouse he couldn't find. Eating pizza to tide over his angry gut and, FINALLY, stumbling upon our destination. Ready to leave, I convinced him to stay and relax. Take in the powers of the eucalyptus steam and learn to use the tools of the 21st Century, so he wouldn't get "caught out there, son."
And that's exactly what we did: hit the eucalyptus room with its fearsome steam pipes, took calm breaks in the friendly motel style saunas, stormed the monster Russian room lined w/brutally hot stone stairwells to sit on, pouring strategically placed buckets of perpetually running ice cold water upon our melting bodies every few minutes while dunking towels and wrapping them around our head for relief. Amy B. gave me a back, neck, foot, and hand massage, so I didn't seek any of the mute masseurs that bring legend to the joint. I bought a $5 cup of green mud. Mike, Lena, and I applied our faces with the stinging terra firma and I sat down by the ice pool to let it dry. Old SUNY Purchase alum/actor, Phil Cruise [he played Pat Benatar's "brother' in the LOVE IS A BATTLE FIELD video years ago when MTV still played music videos] immediately recognized me in my war paint even though I looked like a cross between Fred Flintstone and Shaka Zulu. Speaking of Zulu, I was telling Mike & Lena about some of the famous actors who frequent the bathhouse and, as I was describing actor Keith David [black hero in John Carpenter's THE THING, etc.], who should show up on cue, like in a badly written movie, but -- KIETH DAVID! So cool. So purposeful. A gladiator.
Mike and I bought a few baked dessert items for our respective ladies before heading back to Brooklyn on the F-train. Caught up w/Lena & Adam and shot the shit while my uncombed hair made me look like a roadie for an 80s rock band. “Journey?” It was disturbing, so I put on a hat and vowed to get a haircut – pronto! SBX was preparing dinner by 6PM with homemade Potato/Leek soup [yummy], and fresh-rolled dough for pizza! Dishes were licked and attended to while SBX read the girls a chapter of HARRY POTTER. She got them to bed while I turned on the TV downstairs and waited for her return.
Showered and free to hang a half hour later, SBX entered the TV parlor a right bitch and snapped at me. What the fuck? She turned on A BEAUTIFUL MIND, a movie she had wanted me to see for a long time and I couldn't get into it. Not with the shitty tone she had set. Halfway through the movie, I confronted her about said tone and, after some tug and pull, chalked it up to her frustrations for reasons A, B, and C, making her act so very unlovable. Hell, she was pissed that SHE couldn't go the see Cooly play. That SHE couldn't go to the bathhouse. She was pissed at her life. Pissed that nothing she did was ever good enough. The walls began to crumble. I couldn't have sympathized more and I knew that an extra helping of love would be the only thing that could chase the black butterflies away from her harried head. Rather than finish the flick, a few nibbles and a pat on the head, took us upstairs and under the blanket. A blanket, by the way, that gets so hot it must really be a net made from a black hole that links to the heart of its collapsed sun. Still, that wouldn't stop us from taking care of biz and my catching a deep, steam bath induced, sleep.