Dé hAoine, Lúnasa 29, 2008

It's a Pity

Call it a Catholic upbringing or what have you, but I'm afraid I will always see something fetid, something false, in normal human conversation. The game of human beings reacting and feeding off of each others cues, living in the moment, imagining ourselves to lose ourselves. It is a lie. It is a foulness. Or simple bitterness on my part more than likely. Yet I can not help but feel slightly nauseous when I see people lost in conversation with each other. Can't help but feel ashamed of myself when a familiar face makes me feel happy. Utterly baffled when a friend shares something about himself to me with matter-of-fact ease. Several years ago I told an older woman that I lived alone and she was shocked. She said that she couldn't imagine spending an hour of her day without having someone to talk to. Her statement filled me with a white rage that terrifies me to this day.

It is often said that writers are supposed to be filled with uncontrollable passions? Well who the hell taught you that? That rapist Bryon? That drunken thug Hemingway? Is there, at any rate, nothing we can possibly feel passionate about besides the fellow shaved monkeys around us?

I write because my interior dialogue is the only one that is unshielded, and this cannot change. This is who a human being really is, the swirling yokes of feeling and thought and sensation that cannot be released to another through speech or touch or look. Our true selves can only be found by staring within ourselves and giving shapes to these half-comprehended shades. It is then and only then that we can know who we love and who we hate and who simply amuses us and why. But we can never know them. We can only know what we are to us. The world and everyone in it but you will always be objects to you. If we cannot know each other than the best we can do is to love and emphasize, to realize that the isolation we have all been damned to will ultimately hit the extroverts the hardest. Their light hearts will surely beat longer than others, and so to them goes the honor of burying lovers and friends until they see, until they know, and than there will be no one to talk to.

Dé hAoine, Lúnasa 22, 2008

And so it goes.

Oh, the usual boilerplate. Futile struggle against a hostile nature and indifferent universe. etc. etc

Dé Luain, Lúnasa 18, 2008

There Was a Time When I Loved The Spark of a Warm Afternoon

And now the sun of through the window of my old apartment
Now the smell of mowed grass is a mockery
Everything I've Failed to Appreciate
The Afternoons when I was twenty four, long ago
the Fridays when I would feel the electricity
Freshly broken up, Perfectly Contented to Spend Whole Days alone
A feeling Gone forever, How Strange
The Grocery Shopping on Friday Afternoons,
The Walk Down To South Street and back, the first time
The first Halloween, Hunter S. Thompson
Still Thrilled at the Sight of the O Street Crowds
The Happiness of Weekends alone
Trips to the bars, perhaps to find a woman, perhaps not.
The love of the smell of dried grass in the air
The feel in the apartment on afternoons that is still there, still the same,
but stining now, Not embracing and alive, as it was
Under This sky and Under These Trees, so long, so long,
Watching the Games with the low-rent people in the union.
Driving to work on the last day of the spring break blizzard,
seeing the sun appear out of the clouds for the first time
The Mopac Trail on my First New Years Day here
I Could tolerate the cold than, oh how I could tolerate the quiet
Always the same calm in my apartment that unified Summer and winter but no more
Now I must Embrace them. I will embrace Chicago when the time comes,
Let me morn now.
The Starship, Hustle and Flow.
Introducing Dan to Shoemaker's, collaborating on the Laurus Story
The nights on the HOA porch
Drinking to bitter hangover and loving it
Let me mourn for what it took me too long to value.
The wisdom that I never asked to bare.
The one love I truly wanted and can't have
The same mourning we all feel
The same weaknesses we brothers all share
And so of so little help to each other
Just the same mirrors showing our own growth and Decay
The beauty that kills all who value it
We can never have this again
We have but to rue the happiness of our children.

Déardaoin, Lúnasa 14, 2008

I've Had a Vision

Not a dream but a waking vision. Naked Iron Age women circled around a primitive farm field offering their vaginae to the sky in order to summon rain. And I feel a certainty that something like this has happened, perhaps in my own ancestral line.

Dé Máirt, Lúnasa 12, 2008

So My Mom Called me Last Friday

And asked if I would be available to pick up my cousin Wendy at Eppley Airport and drive her to North Platte through the night. It seems that she had run into money trouble while her husband Richard was visiting the people in Nebraska, and her ex boyfriend kindly offered to drive her from Lake Havasu City Az. to her parents in Las Vegas. He ended up sort of kidnapping her instead. Putting her and her children on a plane from Havasu to Reno and leaving her to escape at the Reno airport by telling him that she and the kids were going to the bathroom. She got a hold of her in-laws, my Aunt Sue and Uncle Tim, and managed to secure airfare from Reno to Omaha via, oddly, Tucson. My mom called at about one o'clock on Friday and asked if I would be able to pick her up at 9:55 and drive her to her husband in North Platte. Of course I would be. So there's that.

I drove to Omaha at about seven P.M. and had a dinner of boiled beef and sourkraut at the Bohemian Cafe with a meatball soup appetizer. The entree had too much dill in it and the gigantic portions left me stuffed for five hours. But overall it was nice. The waitress was great, and at any rate the presence of a Bohemian cafe in Nebraska's chief market is fraught with significance. It the only way it would be better is if the place were on Center Street, the road into Omaha from the Polish/Bohemian/whatever Alps. But on second thought nah fuck that street.

I bought coffee from a place on thirteenth and wondered along the riverfront for a short while before arriving at the airport at round 9:30. In the lounges by the gates middle-aged men were watching the Olympic opening ceremonies as if it were a funeral. I made a crack about knowing that the nation of Comoros existed now and was completely ignored.

The plane was on time from Tucson, but the jet-way was busted, so Wendy and her brood emerged from the plane half an hour behind schedule. Said brood consists of Jade, age six, and the twins Jeremiah and Jacob, eighteen months. In addition to her very small and very loud children Wendy had brought eight bags of luggage and toys, along with a crib and stroller for two. I drive a 95 Buick Grand Prix, and I had brought my own laundry with me out of pure reflex.

She made arrangements to leave the stroller in the care of an attendant on the oddball Arizona-Nebraska route. Several bags of clothes were ripped open for the sake of fitting in the trunk along with the crib, which fell out of it's cover and onto my foot in the process of figuring out how to fit everything in. While Wendy was in the airport making the deal with an attendant, a airport cop stepped out and asked us how much longer we would be. We had been parked by the terminal doors for fifteen minutes or so at that point. I told him he would have to ask the redhead inside at the Jet Express desk. This he proceeded to do after making small talk with the kids and expressing sympathy at the distance we would have to drive.

We eventually got everything into the trunk save for Wendy's suitcase, which she would sit on unbelted. The trunk closed with a small, disconcerting click and I knew that I would do well to avoid a rear-end crash of any magnitude.

The drive was pleasant enough. Wendy spoke of her ordeal and her days as a Vegas stripper and pointed out that she was worried about the cop I had directed towards her because of the high-grade marijuana she had towed across four different airport security checkpoints in a single day. This was good to know. The children fell asleep almost as soon as we started driving. She passed out in Lincoln. If Metallica's "One" hadn't come onto the radio around York I would have gone mad and/or killed everyone in the car.

A stop at Grand Island for more coffee, arrived at my parents house just after four.
My parents are having their bedroom and bathroom renovated. My old room upstairs is being taken by my cousins and their kids. I slept on an air mattress in the computer room five feet from where my father snored in his recliner.

The next day I was high on the high-grade pot and walking the dogs for relaxation when my Dad casually had Jade follow me since she wanted to walk the dogs too. And this was too much. She's a sweetheart most of the time but she's still six. The casual assumption that I would help in watching the kids after all I had done was... my God but that house was loud, and I need my twelve hours of solitude a day just like any reasonable man. So I called my mom at work and informed her that I would be coming back to Lincoln that night.

And now I feel guilty about it. My mom always cooks a big breakfast after church on Sundays for her parents and any extended family that wants to show up, and I know she was looking forward to feeding me. We were only together for a couple of hours out of the whole event. But my God, I cannot sleep five feet away from my parents while infants squeal at random points in the night. I'm just weak that way. I felt like some dipshit tourist taken in by a local peasant family while hiking Ecuador. And I'll be back on Labor Day when surely there will be some space carved out for me somewhere in the house, surely it will get back to resembling my house, our house.
Oh but Fuck it all, I suppose I'll have to tolerate my own infants someday, but damned if I'll tolerate anyone else's.

Dé hAoine, Lúnasa 08, 2008

Last Night

I was in the immaculate garden where Payton Farquhar found refuge.

Déardaoin, Lúnasa 07, 2008

I Was in Omaha Some Days Back

I wondered by the riverfront for awhile until I was past the point that has recently been developed for tourists and was back to where there is just the railroad tracks, cement factories, death trap streets,gravel paths to nowhere. It is somehow a great comfort to know that Nebraska's gateway to the East is still a profoundly ugly one. Railroads and cement factories are necessary, but old hat, not superficially progressive enough.

I wondered upon the Amtrak station at 9th and Pacific. It would be closed for several more hours before they started taking tickets for the one train from Chicago to the Bay Area. I used the stations parking lot as a portal to trespass onto the track that cross the river immediately to the east and gradually loop through town to Ralston and Sarpy and eventually Lincoln to the west. Here one will find the original three-block long boarding platform for the old Burlington station. The side of the station that faces the street has been kept up and still looks impressive. The side facing the tracks consists of windows broken decades ago and unwashed graffiti. The interior consists of nothing but dust, odd junk, and one can imagine more than a few rats. There is an awning at the rear of the platform leading to a long rotted-out staircase into the building. Still the place looks better than the glass box Amtrak station, and I see it's being developed into condos. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlington_Station" Well, good luck with that. They're definitely going to have to do something about the railroad front.

The platform was covered with rusted metal and glass. It was humid and I was dressed in shorts and sandals. I was a bit concerned for myself. But I was looking for a quick way into downtown and was a bit curious as to what was along this track in the southern midtown area, so I continued to walk southwest. I was looking for a break in the fences to get back to the street grid and there were none. Eventually I came to the overpass over 13th street. There was something of a foot path leading down to the street, presumably made by hobos and random weirdos like myself. By grabbing the branches of a strategic tree I was able to overcome my sandals' lack of traction and make it down to the pavement without tumbling onto it. Than I had lunch at a gyro place a few blocks further south.

It seems that higher gas prices are driving many to lower themselves to the decadent European level and ride the train cross-country "http://omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10397453" Of course the problems with Amtrak are well-known. Trains are typically obscenely late, still contacted to ride along meandering Burlington/Santa Fe routes despite B/SF being bought out by Union Pacific some years ago, still forced to yield to freight trains, still carrying standard engines so that they cross the landscape at about the same speed as a modern car retracing a 1920's auto-trail.

But I am a naive and hedonistic leftest, and the truth is that I am so out of touch with my own Godly culture that I really despise driving for more than an hour at a time. Amtrak is shit. This is perfectly clear. But the fact of the matter is that there is no way to travel long-distance that isn't painful. Only Americans would believe that there's something magical or ecstatic about stuffing oneself in some manner of moving box and traveling two thousand miles in one day. Only Americans would think that we are supposed to believe such a thing. The thrill of the open road. Utter horse shit.

So I'm not willing to give up on shoveling tax money into Amtrak. I've ridden the Zephyr and could see with my own eyes that it clearly isn't that much. Let's get faster trains, like they have ion the coastal strips, nationwide. Or how about a north/south line for the Red and Missouri valleys? Fargo to Sioux Falls to Omaha to Kansas City and than on to the cities of Texas. Light rails to Lincoln and Fremont and Blair. You hate your car. Admit it. It's okay. None of your friends can see you now. You can trust the silence of your confessor.

I remember seeing a video once in which Joseph Alioto, mayor of San Francisco in the early seventies, was testifying before a Senate committee and getting berated by Roman Hruska, our own late, great, proudly ignorant, Bohunk jackass, for having the audacity to not cover his city with freeways. Those of us who have been to Frisco, who have seen how beautiful, delicate, and densely packed of a city it is, should know that a full American-style freeway system would ruin the place. Never mind. Spending half a billion tax dollars on a freeway is the American capitalist way of doing things. Spending half a billion tax dollars on public transportation is socialist.
This is the American way. We are God's children and we decide what is and is not normal. That which is normal is good because what is good is normal. The private automobile is the symbol or one's worth and value. The fact that my car is bigger than yours is proof that I am more willing to feed my children than you are. I can't count the number of times when grown men, of reasonable intelligence, and with total sincerity, equated the modern automobile with a cowboy's horse, implying a sacred bond between you and your collection of glass and metal tubes. I cannot count the number of times when I was walking and mocked by random passerby for walking. I might as well have been sitting on the corner with my cardboard sign. It's always the people and the shittiest rusted-bondo cars who mock with the most relish, just as poor whites tend to be more virulently racist than the rich and educated.

And a car-based culture does serve its uses. The core of Omaha, the part that facces the Missouri, is nearly as densely populated as the largest cities, and as beautiful in many parts as well, particularly in Little Italy. But real Americans aspire to be aristocrats, measuring our worth by the size of our steed and our amount of land, and sometimes this takes some encouragement. Build a freeway through the densest part of Omaha. Build the 480 and the North Freeway to continue the long-term work of choking off North Omaha from downtown. Do everything you can to make living in the city core as undesirable as possible. Than we can become a city for the worthy ones, the real Americans, the Red Robin's, and the Von Muir's and the streets named after John Galt. Anyone who tries to walk through the neighborhoods of the worthies is bound to get killed. So much the better.

The truth is that our society achieved hegemony too young, while we were still filled with juvenile delusions and our ideal of liberty was restricted to the right to gain the material, the physical, the easy to grasp, the easy to think about. Now we carry on like Ludwig II, using our power to legitimize the nonsense and lunacy that drowns us. I'm not fond of denigrating my own country in particular, we are not at all unusual in this. But it is damned depressing, how stupid the whole lot of us are.

Dé Domhnaigh, Lúnasa 03, 2008

Czech Days

First off. it was still eighty eight degrees and humid at ten p.m. I feel that it's real important to mention this, as a single moment of experiencing hot weather makes every millisecond of life pointless and unbearable and all attempts at social joviality evil and disgusting. But the festival, lets get back to the festival.

Well, the town of Wilber was filled to the brim. I drove in via U.S. 77 and Nebraska 41, a narrow shoulderless road that is usually adequate to serve east-west traffic to and from Wilber but on Czech Days weekend is something of a death trap, especially this long double curve out of Clatonia. Parking was a bit of a problem once I got there but not as bad as downtown Lincoln on a workday. I found a spot at first and Court just two blocks from the west end of the street fair. Mostly it was the pedestrians that made driving through town problematic. The typical big bubbas mixed with girls in old peasant-frauling costume wrapped in the arms of boys in cowboy hats and Jay-Z t-shirts.

It was disappointing, the way that the festival added only a thin layer of gloss to a perfectly generic prairie village. There were two live rock bands playing in the bars. (One thing Wilber has going for it is that it has one bar for every thirty people or so, revealing the town's Bohemian roots much more than any country schlock fest.) One band was playing Puddle of Mudd, the other was playing Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Major events, whether at the personal or community level, are really not at all transformative. They merely amplify the character that is already there. If there isn't anything interesting there than this will become more obvious than ever.

There was a street dance going on in the parking lot of a small grocery store. They were playing some current top-forty rap of the type I do my best to avoid. Girls in tank tops and high heels complimented by the occasional straw hat. Boys standing on the backs of pickup trucks and, dear God, raising the roof. It wasn't more than ten years ago when white people in even the larger Midwestern towns had a knee-jerk hostility towards rap. We should go back to that. Rap was better then. It was beyond horrible, watching these kids scream and "dance" while the stereo spouted TRL cant. Girl I like it when/you move that/sit back for me dolla/slap that/Mercedes Rims/That Bitch got a Dime/Move that Ass/ Who now?

I walked to a food stand featuring fare from the meat market owned by Russ Karpisek. Karpisek is known to the outside world as the state senator from the area, replacing deranged moon-harpy Jeanne Combs of 'I need a concealed gun to protect myself from prostitutes' fame. In the last session Karpisek managed to get a bill of his passed which upped the penalty for possession of marijuana under an ounce, reasoning that it was wrong for minors who are caught drinking to be punished more harshly than if they were smoking a substance that it illegal to all. While Karpisek is a marked improvement over Combs, it is still comforting to know that the area can still produce senators with ass-backwards solutions to state problems. I bought a polish dog with kraut. It was magnificent. All is forgiven senator.

I walked into a bar, also owned by Karpisek unless it's his brother or something. There was a Cech brass band singing a drinking song that was incomprehensible over the crowd. There was a two dollar cover charge, with another three-fifty for a Pillsner Urquell. The women were overweight and/or overly made-up. It was stuffed fill of assholes and the collective body heat negated the air conditioning, and than the band started playing the husker fight song, and the people sang along, and I always knew that this would happen. Even when I was an infant, unable to speak or reason, I knew that this moment would be. That I would be in a bar in Wilber Nebraska listening to a brass band in peasant costume playing the Husker Fight song while I was surrounded by sunburned rubes in a fire-hazard country bar. This is my moment of eternal return, this is what I will experience forever in the split-second before my death, and the thought of that fills me with a sort of bitter peace. Why does the world hurt me? Why does it hate me? Why must I be the one who reveals the smell of spilled Bud Light on the floor combined with sweat and chewing tobacco? There is no escape from this universal destiny. This is are apocalypse. While the rest of the world collapses in a great wave of blood and fire, Nebraska will be in a bar listening to an Ethnic brass band play "Good ol Nebraska U."

After this I wondered up and down the festival streets until I came to the Hotel Wilber. Which is a historic hotel which is currently being used as, a hotel, or rather a bed-and-breakfast. And in truth the place is, rather pretty. Judging by the website it seems that the maids and the waitresses all dress in old-world costume. This loses its novelty quickly. It only takes a few minutes for the sight of a woman in Czech dress smoking a cigarette, drinking a Bud Light, and cursing her child via cellphone to become nothing at all.

The Hotel Wilber is where the various state Czech Queens are being kept. I was surprised at how easily I walked in the front door. There were various hangers-on about, presumably the owners of the hotel, officials connected to the pageant, the festival, the town. The Czech Queens came and went among them, dressed down to five or six layers of underwear. Why I didn't strike up a conversation with one of them I don't know. I could of taken them away from there. We could have gone to Oakland, where the weather is never offensive and the subdivisions among white people are laughably insignificant. But here I am and there they are. Life is pain.

I went to a liquor store in search of an individual 24 of Urquell, but all they had in this vain were Budweiser products. I went back to my car and eventually navigated my way out of the village, taking the shouldered Nebraska 103 north towards Crete. Two thirds of the other cars on the highway were cops just sitting there just waiting to catch somebody swerving. When I got back to Lincoln I bought a pint of Pillsner Urquell from N street liquors and drank it in the alleys of T-Town.