Of Braggarts, Liars, and Their Adoring Misery

by

06/22/2006

King St. & Richards St., Brooklyn, NY 11231

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Red Hook

June 14th 2006 3:30 pm

Philadelphia

“Who are these fucking people? They’ve been following me for years. Why the hell are they bent on exposing me as goddamned fraud?”

I did a little research of my own and was disturbed to find that they were not only my closest friends, but my family as well.

I called New York from the downtown libraries basement. Got my tickets for the Thursday show. It felt like a pacific lumber town outside, the sky was filled with silver water. I started down the parkway towards Chinatown.

There’s a photo-booth in the department store where I get my socks. Took some pictures, two of them are horrible. I couldn’t send them to mom, even though I wasn’t, I looked stoned.

The china town bus leaves from 11th street. I use the stations bathroom and pay phone. It’s an old enemy. Controlled by lesser demons, the phone fucks up before I can get ahold of Garett. I put it down in the cradle a bit hard, drawing looks from the other people waiting in the station. But the looks are understanding. We all have the same ticket after all.

I’m taller than her or her boyfriend. She looks up at me quite often. A short black pony tail is pulled tight off the back of her head. Wraps her arm around his as they board the bus.

June 14th 2006. 6:00 pm

New Jersey Turn Pike Rag

We pass a bearded man stumbling up the slope of an overpass with dirty knees. How many times have people passed me in the same position?

There are many places that aren’t worth naming and a lot of things not worth saying along the New Jersey Turn Pike. Economic motels. Transmission repair shops, high schools, cemeteries. A gardening supply store, selling miniature lighthouses and blank tombstones. Structures painted the color of sun bleached lumber and ash.

Among these things I fall asleep thinking of the sky in an old painting of the Delaware River. A yellowing white horizon.

The Bramble seed Mouse parades of 2003

There was a time when I would follow her down the lane to the skeleton of a house. Our socks and pant legs threaded with fox tails and seeds. We had a bathtub filled with rain water, eucalyptus leaves, and mosquito larvae. We would smoke cigars and watch the fog roll in from the roof beams while the night pulled the heat up somewhere colder.

June 14th 2006. 7:30

Bayonne

I woke up in the jersey sea port. Rolling through factories lit like fairies castles and painted like warships. A main line carrying a double stacked train wound into a muddy hell of cranes and security fencing. Aztec temples of container boxes rose above the jersey church’s west work and steeples.

We passed an Emerson company smokestack, and then were swallowed by the Holland Tunnel just like Pinocchio and Septet. That’s when I realized I was not ready for New York at all.

June 14th 2006. 8 or so.

Smith/9th St.

The escalator is always broken. The tiles on the wall are the color of an old watch face. The same as the painting of the Delaware fallen asleep to. Someone ahead of me is wearing sun tan lotion, filling the stairway with that summer smell.

I call Garett from Court St. and this time the phone works. He’s making dinner. No, he doesn’t need me to pick anything up on the way over.

I follow my landmarks; a line-drawing of an apple on a plywood fence and a painting of a molar tooth with a huge erect penis. They take me to Coffey Park, empty except for a young woman giving her dog one hell of a scratch.

The city seems different without my bum goggles on. Just another person trying to

GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER.

I’m employed, but trying not to make a habit of it.

I do believe that the girls have gotten even more beautiful while I was away…

1995

Mill Creek, Covelo. CA.

Garett lived in a cabin above the creek, over by the green bridge. It was one room with a loft and a tin roof. A pot-bellied stove. The walls were painted red where small song birds were delicately pinned. Wild sweet peas dominated the garden.

In the evening I would come to visit and we would drink red wine by kerosene lamp. I was still in high school then and Garett was the first poet I had ever met. Typing out the stupid shit my friends and I said on his typewriter.

I never thought about writing then, just about leaving. It was a small town, 1,000 people with the closest city, San Francisco, 4 hours south.

My mom was a waitress at the café and I got free dinners when she was working. Garett would come in, the room filled with cowboys, Indians, and hippies; he’d be wearing white Capri pants, flip-flops and a shirt with pukey flowers on it. His hair sticking out in every direction. Stoned and smiling with his tongue between his teeth. He’d sit down beside me, and we’d find something to talk about, though I have no idea what the fuck it was.

June 14th 2006. 8ish.

Red Hook. Brooklyn. NY

On the stoop a Latin family is taking in the night. I ask which buzzer is Garett’s.

“Older bald white dude?”

“Yeah.”

“He ride a red bike?”

“Yeah, orange one I think. A red one too.”

“Push all the top ones. You can’t hear the buzzer, push on the door. Push on it, you can’t hear the buzzer.”

Dinner is ready and Garett has already poured me a glass of wine. Before eating I go into the bathroom to wash my hands and face. I strip off my socks and shoes and wash my feet in the sink too. My shoes go out on the fire escape.

Garett’s talking on the phone, “Andy’s back. You remember? Our man Andy? From Covelo. Yep, on assignment.”

A few years ago my friend was on a camping trip with Garett in Santa Cruz. He took a picture of G. splitting firewood that I often think of. He’s wearing jeans and a green jacket liner with red sleeves. His frame is extended through the whole picture, pulling on an axe that is stuck into a chunk of wood. Moe is watching him in the distance. A cigarette rising towards her face in one hand and a beer in the other.

“So. What is this production about?” Garett would like to know.

“A French guy. A singer in the 60s, like Sinatra. I don’t know. It’s a musical.”

“Hmmm.”

“They gave me an extra ticket if you want to go. It’s at eight tomorrow.”

“What’s it all about?”

“I don’t know; it’s a musical. It’s this French guy’s songs translated into English. It was really big in the 70s and they’ve redone it. Jacques Brel. I don’t know. I looked on the internet and this cute girl’s in it. I think they’re giving me a press kit, maybe there’s backstage passes.”

Garett laughs, “Yeah, you’re half way to getting your dick sucked.”

I laugh, “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”

“No, I want to. I’m always interested.”

Garett has done what I never have succeeded in doing: constructing a charming little bunker from which to wage an everyday war.

When I first came to his apartment in New York I had been sleeping in fields and under bridges for months. The hot water was forgotten magic. I used it with lavender soap and chamomile shampoo, dried myself with a clean towel.

I made a cup of tea and found myself staring. It was the perfect shape for holding liquid and color. The bookshelf held poetry of lovesick Chileans and bitter Frenchmen.

There was a cupboard filled with cigarettes and another with dates and chocolate.

A telephone, a clock and a desk. Heavy canvas curtains to block out the street lights.

A French press. His typewriter on a card table by the window.

December. 2005.

She’s still moving to Paris. Studying language, anthropology, and scientific illustration. In the meantime she’s putting on art shows to raise awareness and money to benefit the victims of genocide in Sudan.

I quit my job, stopped taking my meds, rode my bike to Mexico and have declared war on Toulouse, Edith and the whole fucking country of France.

July 15th 2006. 8 pm

Manhattan. NY

“Blue-hairs. There are a lot of them here. Theatre crowd. Weird.”

I was also unprepared to enter the world of the theatre. A micro-sphere of dusty ol’ melodrama where every action is an exaggeration of rapidity or of slowness. Everything is a breathless dance and a throaty song.

The show began with a song about the devil sung by Gay Marshall. The piano player had a cigarette in his mouth, but I don’t think it was lit, and even if it was, it could not have been producing the amount of smoke that filled the room. It formed a yellow halo around R. Cuccioli in the spot-light.

When he sang I thought that he seemed very bitter and it made sense to me.

The melodrama was sarcastic; the players were mocking their own role as such.

I was a little too close. When Rodney Hicks looked at me I had to look away. Why the fuck should I feel embarrassed? He’s the one up there prancing around and singing. Pretending. Why the fuck should I be ashamed? Thank god, he’s looking at someone else, I can watch again.

A blue hair behind me was whispering all the lines of the song before they were sung. His wife seemed very un-impressed. I wondered sadly if she had ever been so with the giddily blue-eyed frog next to her. And where the fuck was all that smoke coming from?

I realized all of a sudden that the girl on stage (Diaz) was singing beautifully, seeming to gently bring down dust from the ceiling and turning it into something else in the smoke. I had become completely absorbed into the space above her eye and below her brow. It was a nice place to linger for awhile and ignore the sleeping old folks surrounding us. Garett leaned over, “This guy had great punch-lines.” “Stray cats are easily fed in New York” June 15th. 2006. 10:30pm Manhattan. NY. He’s fifteen yeas older than I am. Following him in traffic, I wonder how Garett has lived this long. When almost hit by another cab he says, “That’s why we do it.” Another obstacle is the beauties lining the sidewalks as we pass. Crashing into cars, meters, pot-holes, one another. New York is dangerous terrain. With all the long legs walking up and down the street, I am doubly impressed Garett has lived this long. Blowing through a stop light he says, “It’s really sort of beautiful that these emotionally fucked up people are the one’s portraying us all.” That night I had a dream in which I was standing in a river up to my waist surrounded by returned love letters. June 16th 2006. 10 am Brooklyn. NY “A season in San Antonio” Brooks was another old friend. We’d gone to school together in Covelo, lived together in San Francisco. Had been dethroned and banished from the same kingdom and wandered across the country in the same state of vicious uncertainty. Smoking cigarettes to slow our boiling bloodstreams; hot and cold calculators. He’d just returned to New York after a doomed trip to Boston. He was sitting on Garett’s fire escape reading when I woke up. I climbed out the window and Garret pulled up a chair close to it. We sat ludely in the sun while eating scrambled eggs. “I believe that a broken heart gives me liscence to be a cruel and uncaring monster for at least one year. Maybe more,” I said.

Garett chuckled, “Only a young man would say that.”

June 16th 2006. 1pm

Manhattan. NY

Brooks and I were walking with our bags and a bike, on our way to catch the bus. Walking up Union we found a baby starling that had fallen from its nest, was sick, or injured. I put it in a paper bag and we crossed the Manhattan Bridge.

In the middle, I climbed onto the handlebars and Brooks rode the rest of the way with me holding the bird and him steering.

“I know where there’s a photo-booth in Philly. We should take pictures when we get there. I’ll pay.”

June 16th 2006 3 pm

China Town Bus

The bird’s wings were scraping the sides of the bag. The girl sitting next to me was trying to ignore it. She was pinkish, wrapped in friendship bracelets, and wearing gold heart shaped ear rings.

Brooks wrote dirty words in a cross-word puzzle and handed it to me across the aisle. I checked to see if they matched with the given clues, but they did not. This was unlike him. Brooks hadn’t slept or eaten much in a few days. He was giggling and bouncing up and down in his seat. When I caught his eye he would nod and smile. Yes, he’d lost his god damned mind in Boston, and it was about time.

I was on the Turn Pike again. Surrounded by Nissans, all their windows were rolled down in the heat. Foreheads burning in the windshield, feminine legs propped upon the dashboard. All toe nails were painted orange or pink.

I looked over at Brooks; he was staring out the window in the other direction at the planes landing in the airport. The pink girl had fallen asleep with her book open.

Though the bird would die that night, it was very much alive in the bus, trying to fly in the bag. No one was waiting for us at any station anywhere on the earth. The chances of a bad end were almost definite. The only question was how long will it be?

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