Tuesday, July 28, 2009

For Darren. “People who don't drink are afraid of revealing themselves"

I hated that picture.
But they always brought it in.

"Is that you? You're Detective Polowski, right?"

"Nope. I'm a dick now, a P.I.; where the hell'd you get that clipping anyhow?

"The library, Detec..."

"Just call me mister, is that alright?"

"Yes. Mister Polowski. Say, are you Russian?"

"No. Parents were from Eastern Europe somewhere."

"Somewhere?", they'd say, "What kind of private dick can't even trace his own heritage?"

Yeah. What kind.

"The kind who don't work for free, now you've asked me a few questions already but I don't see no cash. If you want business lay it out."

Sometimes they would and usually they didn't.

The lease was up on the flop so I slept in the office that night and almost every night.
I had just killed the lights and taken off my hat when the door swung open and I grabbed the .38 from my hip.

"Hello", she said. "Hello? Detective Polowski?"

She walked in a few feet and I kicked the door shut behind her. I grabbed her left arm and brought it up behind while I pushed her forward toward the desk.

"Who are you and what do you want?!"

"Ow, you're hurting me..."

"Don't you know any better, you dumb dame, than to be pushing open doors in this part of town after 10?"

From the electric lights outside I saw her profile and she smelled like money.

"I... I... I heard that you were the best, Detective Pol..."

"Mr. Just call me Mr. Polowski. You got that?"

I let her go and put the .38 on the desk. The silver caught the street-lights and glinted, she eyed it for a second.

"Don't you even think about it, doll."

I hit the lamp and poured two drinks.
We spent an hour talking and she cried about her brother who had gone missing before starting his gig on a merchant marine ship to England.

"So, he went AWOL, what should I do about it? Tell the MP."

"No they already know, I shouldn't have bothered you... I just..."

She was crying again.

"My brother, Nicky Clarke. You gonna write this down?" she sobbed, "He was supposed to sign in on the SS Byron D. Benson one week ago. The ship sailed and the MPs came to me about it. That's how I knew. Now, Det... Mr. Polowski, now I am coming to you. Please, I know you were a brass, a top, and you knew all the officers...".

"Listen here, we all have to make do in this war. I can see that your eyeliner on your legs is running, you lost nylon, I lost a lot, too. But I ain't got the stomach to go gunning for some AWOL coward, too afraid..."

She slapped me clear on the face and it woke me up, some. She wasn't wearing a wedding ring. I knew that because my cheek just stung and there was no blood.

"Why you lousy... Get the hell out of here". I yelled.

She started crying again and I knew that I was being a heavy.

"Look now, Mrs. Clark, was it? Look, doll, I'm sorry about that. I seem to get a little sore about deserters. I ain't saying that your brother is one, mind you, but I just get sore at the idea. A man has got to give it in for his country these days and I just hate to see men play it out like that."

She turned away and sobbed harder. I grabbed her shoulders and spund her around to face me.

"Look here..."

But it was too late and she pushed those ruby lips against mine.
We kissed in the glow of the street-light through my 3rd floor office window and we knew it was wrong.

She put down $300 on my desk and turned as she walked away. "I've included expenses. I'm staying at the Astoria, tell me when you have found Nicky."

I was in love and out of whiskey. I had three Lucky Srikes left and my gun was unloaded.

"Goddamn broads".

I went down the block to Louie's Tavern and got a triple, no ice, no groceries.
This was gonna be rough but I knew that if I was on the level it would sort out.

"Merchant marines" I said. "Hell".

Buddhists say that, "Before you can walk the path to enlightenment, you need a great teacher." I say, you just need to know how to walk.

I couldn't figure it out at all.
There was a pole every 50 feet, but no wires connecting them. They just stood there, 150 feet tall.
The bus driver laughed and told me they were there to stop the planes going into Mexico and America beyond.
On the way down Highway #1 to Orange Walk, and beyond, I understood.
They had planted those poles to stop planes from landing on that highway.
It would have taken their wings right off.
I knew that the trip was going to be mad and insane and I loved it all and already.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

I planted some seeds, one time.
And they grew into something that was more than me, more than I could handle.
But I knew how they struggled and I knew how they burst forth and I knew the soil.

We sat and watched them grow all summer and those flowers owned me and I loved them but they gave me peace like that.

I want to water you, too. I would soften your soil, dust your petals and even support your stalks.

I am Kannon-ed like that. I am Bosatsu-ed like that.

I am your man, solid and in love with love.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crowley's Law

From and old Dispatch, here.

Fuck the fucking moonbase. There is nothing there for us, despite what the ridiculous ‘40s-vintage helium-mining fantasies they’re spinning say. Here is a complete list of the moon’s benefits to humanity: it looks nice.
I mean, it really, really looks nice. Hanging there, waning away, outshining the stars on a cloudless night. Its only competition is the orange glowing steamcloud cloud of the pulp mill on the horizon.
“Come on, dad! Just do it!”
I snap back from space. Tough-guy Jody’s being goaded by the apple of his pugilistic eye into flipping off the deck. He peers over the edge like it’s the lip of a canyon rather than a six-inch drop into five feet of snow. Sense and sobriety do battle with whisky and lifelong daredevil instinct across his nervous-smiling face until his wife (or whatever; I just got here, myself) puts in her $0.02:
“For fuck’s sake, Jody! You’ve got a good job; don’t break your fucking back!”
FLOOMP into the snowbank, a perfectly cushioned backflop. Sometimes all it takes is the concern of a good woman to remind a man of his party responsibilities ... and these people take their responsibilities seriously.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”

Judge: Well, you have said that you wanted to postpone talking about this during the presence of attorneys, but now you are answering questions.

Saddam: No, this was regarding previous accusations. If you want to repeat them in the presence of attorneys, yes, I want to postpone them. But if you want me to sign then the attorneys, no, please, I wouldn’t do it. So my occupation of Kuwait, the seventh charge, unfortunately it is coming from an Iraqi. Is this just?

Judge: But this is law.

Saddam: Law? What law? Law that puts Saddam to trial because the Kuwaitis said that we would make out of every Iraqi woman a prostitute for ten dinars in the street. And I have defended the honor of Iraq and revived the historical rights of Iraqis against these dogs.

Judge: Do not insult anybody, this is a legal session.

Saddam: Yes this is a legal session, and I am taking responsibility for what I say.

Judge: Any impolite statement is not acceptable.

Is that right?

Well, then, I guess a good and solid "Fuck you" is out of the question?

You dumb cunts.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

" Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. "

The day will come, you know, when I am no longer around again.
And it did.
And here it is.

I left quietly in the morning. I remembered which boards creaked and to lift the door of the fridge so that the hinge didn't squeak.
I didn't make any coffee or even smoke any cigarettes. I wanted it raw, I wanted the morning to be raw and I refused to dull that with phony little pleasures or postulations.

The bedroom door was open and I looked in again but, and only, for the last time. She was still sleeping and dreaming about the fair I promised to take her to on Tuesday. She loved the roller-coaster and the thrills like that. She was on her side and facing the wall away from me. I cried to not see her face because I knew if did she would have seemed an angel and I would have made coffee and taken off those well-worn boots and put my keys back on the table and woke her up with a kiss and breakfast and the promise of a new day.

But she slept and was turned away in her dreams. And I wept solid like a man whose heart has broke again and for the last time.

By noon I was 360 km away from that bed. By dinner I was 1038 km away from a cold meal waiting at an empty seat at that table.

I made that table one fall. We had gone for a country drive and in a state of love I had ripped off the side of an abandoned barn-door. The planks were cedar and had already lasted one hundred years or more. After a date with my belt-sander and several layers of Tung Oil I pressed those planks together tight and left the clamps on for a week. Those barn-door-planks became our table on which we ate and fought and even several times fucked.

I knew that by this time, at 11:00 p.m., my dinner was still there. It was accompanied by a tear-smeared note telling me what a selfish prick I was, etc.

Sometimes, though, life needs medicine.

Sometimes, one needs to leave it all and everything and just go.

Sometimes, through tears and wails and fears and taboos, you have just got to get fucking going. Somewhere. Away and alone.

I changed my diet the most, though, in early February.
The Olancho Mountains were brutal in the winter and the rain nearly drowned me.
But I managed to build a place out of mountain pines.
Honduras was good to me and I had made friends in Catacamas.

I would hunt when I could and sell what I didn't eat or smoke.

Life was new and good and as time went on I forgot things.

I came across an old shepherd's hut one time, though, and took the door from the hinges.
I strapped it to my back and walked back up the mountain to my pine home.
I used bark with sap on it and spread it around evenly. I heated the pine bark on an open flame until the sap became liquid, then sprinkled sand over it ind doused it in cold water from the stream below. I used the crude sandpaper and smoothed the door from the shepherd's hut. I didn't even build a frame for that table top and had no finishing oil. It lay bare on my floor.

There was never a cold meal waiting on that table nor was there a tear-smeared note telling me that I was such a selfish dick.

I liked it in Olancho.

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”

Hey, thanks, man.

I feel great

and so much better now.

You have made America great again and I will do everything in my humble power to aid you, to make sure that the good wins.

Thank you for the chance to be worthy of something.

Thank you for digging my stupidity and and thank you, for getting it right.

And thank you for the bumper-stickers. How else could I let my neighbours know that I am a fool?

And how else may I obey and comply and even deride my friends and family?

And thank you for a decade of fear.

And thank you for never giving me the courage to question your shit and if someone did well thank you for killing their voice before it made a difference.

Thank you very much.

I feel much better, now, master.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Hwy. 2, Nanton to High River"

grain bin

nice cloud


Monday, July 06, 2009

Beyond "Asteroids": Four upcoming videogame films

The other day, I was feeling really positive about the world. Maybe it was because I'd had a nice meal and my blood-sugar had risen above its usual level of what you'd expect in a shipwreck victim stranded with nothing but a crate of saltines and a drum of instant coffee, but for a while there it seemed like everything was going to be OK. Global depression, terminal ecological collapse, solar flares, invasion of the Moon Men... these things, if they came at all, would pass and we would survive. And not only would we survive, but we deserved to survive. Humanity was a bright, beautiful species with lots of good to offer the cosmos!

And then, this from The Hollywood Reporter:

Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to pick up the film rights to the classic Atari video game "Asteroids."

Oh, right. We're that species, too. Bummer. My first thought wasn't actually a despairing mental wail over how the main stream of our culture is a shit-eating Ouroboros with its mouth grafted to its own asshole, but this: why a four-way bidding war over a "property" the title of which is a common noun and which carries with it no characters or narrative? If they wanted to film 90 minutes of CGI space rocks getting blown all to hell -- "Armageddon grossed half a billion dollars, Chief, and they had only one lousy asteroid. Imagine Armageddon times, like, a zillion!" -- they could have optioned my ninth-grade Social Studies binder for a box of Hochtaler and a set of winter tires.

My third thought, after I'd wracked my brain to come with the nearest accessible structure from which a fall would certainly kill me, was that if they're filming fucking Asteroids it's open season for videogame adaptations. The old world is dead. All rules of sense, taste and cultural necessity, however slight they may have been, are struck down. And thus:

QIX: The Movie (dir. Alex Proyas)

Tagline: "Infinite vectors. One victor."

The game: A big hit in 1981, QIX called on players to draw geometric zones on-screen while avoiding, and ultimately containing, a deadly Apple ][ screensaver.

Synopsis: In the year 2025, cyber-hacker Damien "Ghost" Gost (Chris O'Donnell) finds himself fighting for the survival of reality itself as he races against time to prevent a "techno-demon" dubbed QIX ("Quasi-Interfaced eXomorph") from corrupting and conquering the world's datashpere. Meanwhile, in the "meatspace" of the real world, the shadowy Corporation responsible for summoning QIX is closing in on Ghost's fiancee (Anna Paquin), a brilliant DARPA statistician who just might hold the key to humanity's survival.

Amidar (dir. Russel Mulchahy)

Tagline: "Who or what is Amidar?"

The game: Fill-the-zones games were a big deal in '80s arcades, and Amidar stood out by offering two bizarre alternating scenarios for its path-following gameplay. In one, players controlled an ape running from cartoon jungle cannibals; the other featured a paint roller pursued by angry pigs.

Synopsis: Unwilling to leave Fox's QIX alone to cash in on the fill-the-zones market space, Dreamworks rushed Amidar into production. Bob Balaban (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) stars as struggling poet Michael Amidar, whose life takes a turn for the weird after he discovers a strange map in the lavatory of an antiquarian bookstore. Following the path laid out in the map leads to surreal shifts of reality and identity as Amidar comes every closer to the greatest mystery of all: himself. Co-star Genvieve Bujold is unrecognizable under award-nominated prosthetics as Balaban's otherworldly porcine love interest, Squee Cochonne.

M. Night Shyamalan's Math Fun (dir. Alan Smithee)

Tagline: "Dying is easy. Math is hard."

The game: In 1980, kids played the "education card", holding up Math Fun to convince their stepdads that an Intellivision console would be something other than a mind-rotting gateway to delinquency. Basically, you had to answer arithmetic questions correctly or your gorilla got dunked in the river.

Synopsis: On the banks of a river with no name... surrounded by creatures of fantasy and nightmare... one child must race against time to decipher the equations at the heart of reality. Dexter's Preston Bailey stars. Noteworthy as the late Rutger Hauer's last credited screen appearance, in the role of the Malicious Mister Minus.

Wonder Boy (dir. Rob Cohen)

Tagline: "The Eighth Wonder of the World... is first in line for action!"

The game: Also known in its NES incarnation as Adventure Island, Wonder Boy featured a kind of kewpie-doll caveman in a grass diaper who had to throw stone axes at slow-moving animals, and sometimes jump a skateboard over campfires, in order to rescue a princess, or something.

Synopsis: Superstar rapper by day, secret agent by night, Simon "Wonder Boy" Wilson (Common) and the bicoastal crew of "hip-hoperatives" known as the Tomahawks face their greatest challenge yet when terrorist group S.N.A.I.L. threatens to foreclose on the mortgages of every orphanage in America. Features the voice of LL Cool J, who postponed an announced retirement to play the role of "Papa Choppy", Wilson's acerbic robot helicopter. Decried by Wonder Boy purists ("Wondies") as a betrayal of everything Wonder Boy stood for, this urban-action-spy-comedy nevertheless had boffo box office with the fifth-best St. Patrick's Day weekend opening of all time.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"Castle Orgies"

On the walk home, after buying my ticket back to Canada, I was met with only smiles and winks. Now, as in the last moments of anything, like Joni Mitchell says, “…you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone…”, on death-bed, on prayer, I see it all. It was all me, always. Japan, you are happy being Japan. That’s cool. When, oh heart, did I become such a judge? Why do I compare? What is it that made me do it?
It was me, all along. The attitude, the hard feelings, the disposition from hell.

Japan, it was never you, baby. We all have problems, me especially.
Sweetheart, now that I am leaving you, and the sun is out and the skirts are short, I just want you to know I never meant to hurt you. I am so sorry I spoke of you poorly. I am sorry I hurt your feelings, baby. It was/is/was me; the whole time I slagged, whined, bitched about things - it was always my choice to take it the way I did.

Today, under your sun, I cried a little, on the train. I smiled at your sons and daughters, your mothers and fathers. We had fun, seeing the joy in each other’s face.
You’re a beautiful country, Japan, with beautiful people and a fantastic culture.
Please forgive this old man, he has been lost in his head, forgotten his heart.
You looked so good today, I am sorry we are breaking-up, Japan.

I know you will find another man, soon. Maybe he will be better to you than I was, it wouldn’t be hard to do.

Just so you know, when you lay your head on my chest, one last time, and I feel the sting from your sweet, true tears, I have always loved you, Japan. If I didn’t, I would have never bothered to criticize you, as I would not have cared enough to do so.

Sleep well, doll, have a good Saturday. Thank you for the best times of my life, I will remember you always, with a tender heart.


-Sid Fucking Heart

Friday, July 03, 2009

"The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spritual center of gravity..."

"...from within the pale of this society to a zone unknown. The fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delights."

"Yes, yes please", they would chirp in Japanese from doorways as we stumbled past, "Mr. Foreigner, please come and enjoy our company".
I never did.
Well, sometimes I did.
Sometimes I couldn't resist the sirens. The kimono straight and the lure of of being fawned over was too much. Those angels would light our cigarettes and pour our drinks and ask us to take them out for ramen when their shift was done.
I never did.
Well, I sometimes did.

"Ah, so, you are a school staff. English, ne?"
"Yes. English. Can I have another whiskey?"
They would shout to the bar-mama and the drink was brought over swiftly; held out for me in two soft hands and a bow.
Usually I would buy a bottle and drink it with the girls, those sweet fucking gorgeous girls.
I always went home with a broken heart.
I always did.
Well, sometimes I didn't.

At 11:00 p.m. I would catch the train into Sapporo, while it rocked and swayed and I would drink beer and chat-up local girls and meet up later in Sapporo with some other friends. Friends who knew that deal better than I could ever hope to.
Two of them were from Australia and one was from New Zealand.
Those boys saved me from certain death, and love, many nights and I'll never forget that. I can't repay that.

One summer night, during the Sapporo Beer Festival, where the entire centre of the city is turned into a giant fuck-off beer garden I met my boys and we got drunk and insane. One of our waitresses was an old high school student of mine.
It was at a high school in Shin Sapporo; an all girls school. I was hired on a 6 month contract to teach conversation and communication there.

Megumi. That was her name.
I remember thinking she was cute when I was teaching her but she refused to speak English.
One time in school, during our conversation class she spoke in fluid, unbroken English and she invited me to come and watch her sing jazz at a local Hilton Hotel.
She had a beautiful voice and sang Billie Holiday.
She was in a sleek black dress that night standing against the piano and was suddenly a woman and when she saw me after the show and spoke to me I know that I blushed; she knew, too.

We had her meet us later, after she had finished work.

When Megumi showed up she had a car with three other girls in it. She told us that she was taking us to Dream Beach, on the coast between Otaru and Sapporo.
Megumi said that there was a giant rave there that night and they would love our company.
"We just want to dance, Cloutier sensi."; it was a purr I swear to god it was a purr.
And we crumbled.
The seven of us, squished and drunk and heady went into adventure's lap.

Those soft, unspeaking lips.
I knew I had to kiss her. That goddamn Megumi.
That sweet Yukata.

We drove, passing a bottle of plum wine around, until we arrived at the beach.

The "heavies" let me and the boys in for free because were exotic, foreign.
The girls paid $50 each.
They made about $1000 a night so I didn't feel bad at all.

We danced and drank and kept going until it began to get light, there, on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

I feel asleep in a lifeguard's chair with Megumi in my arms, looking out to Russia, the world beyond. As my mind grew dim and my heart melted away into love for a night and I knew it was love then and there; but leaving was the only way.

But it was a dream, and I never did things like that.

Well, sometimes I did.