Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Things He Longed To Know

He wondered, if you have a really sharp knife and you choose an exact spot, can violation of the flesh be almost effortless?

If you avoid bone, can stabbing someone be like slicing a pat of butter from your butter dish?

It would appear so. At least on the surface.

Can it be that easy? Nothing is that easy, right?

It would take some research to discern this but he was not afraid - he was a reader. He enjoyed looking things up.

It must be a satisfying sensation, assuming you choose the right victim. You really have to hate them.

You have to believe in your soul that you are doing the world a favor.

If there are any doubts at all, regret will consume you at just the wrong point - immediately after penetration.

And then it is too late. You can't just say "Oops, I'm sorry - I made a mistake. How can I make it right?"

It is doubtful the victim, assuming they survive, will just let it go. There are a lot of mistakes that can be forgiven in this life but stabbing is not one of them.

Of this he was fairly certain.

Then there is the eye contact thing. He wondered, first of all, if he would have the guts to look the victim in the eye as he perpetrated the awful sin.

He wanted to believe that was possible. Because he wanted to experience the brief moment between the recognition of being stabbed and the onset of pain. He wanted to see it.

There has to be a momentary lapse. An instant when the eyes are wide with shock and then suddenly squinting from unimaginable pain.

There should be a name for that moment. That void between a sudden grasp of an evil reality and the all consuming blanket of pain.

He couldn't come up with one, though. He wasn't that clever.

He liked to consider these things over a sophisticated merlot at night, alone, in the dark, where his life made the most sense.

But sometimes the thoughts bled over into the following morning.

He didn't like this. They seemed more sinister in the light of day. More real.

Today was one of those days. Fortunately he had no time to dwell. Had to get to work.

He loved his job as a career counselor at the local high school.

Loved that he could take students' vulnerability and steer them in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Got Some Words For You

I was working on my life with Leonard Cohen on "in the background".

Of course that is ridiculous - his talent will not be ignored.

So...................from "Bird On A Wire":

"Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free."

Kris Kristofferson has said he would like these words etched on his gravestone.


"Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with his horn, I have torn everyone who has reached out for me."

These words mean something to me.


"I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch, he said to me, you must not ask for so much; and a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door, she cried to me, hey, why not ask for more?"

All of these meaningful words originate from one Leonard Cohen song.

The man was an endless well of inspiration and introspection.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Like Coming Home

Rediscovered American Horror Story.

Thank God.

I connect only with freaks, mutants, and broken spirits.

Happiness Debunked

"It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains-that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant."

I randomly came across this proposal in my reading and was immediately overjoyed.

It potentially exposes happiness as a sham, an unattainable ideal that results in great suffering when vigorously pursued.

Upon digging a little deeper I discovered that it was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 1992.

Upon further investigation I discovered that it was a satirical proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder, submitted by Richard P. Bentall of the Liverpool University, meant to underscore the difficulties in defining what a psychiatric disease is.

I was disappointed.

Still, it wouldn't be a bad paragraph to commit to memory. You can use it as a weapon.

When you are in the company of someone who is only pretending to be happy, who leans heavily on those vapid quotes people use to fool themselves into believing they are happy, all evidence to the contrary, you can say "Wait a minute? Did you know the Journal of Medical Ethics says happiness is a psychiatric disorder?"

By way of clarification - I am not against happiness. I dig happy people..................if they are genuinely happy. Happy people exude happiness naturally; they don't need to beat you over the head with it.

It's the desperate people who say things like "A smile is happiness you find right under your nose." Makes you want to vomit, right?

You now have some words you can use to fight back.

Could be especially useful at this time of year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fouled Through Weakness

He punished himself as soon as they left.

A precious day had been fouled through weakness. Made awkward and uncomfortable.

He didn't see it coming and wasn't sure how the hell it happened. It seemed to happen instantaneously, in the wink of an eye, but that couldn't be the truth.

Could it?

Immediately after the final wave goodbye he walked back inside to the chosen doorway.

Facing one of the door jambs, he hooked his fingers behind the half inch of wood on the left and the right that provided a good enough grip. Leaned back a little and then suddenly pulled himself forward, creating a violent collision between his forehead and the impassive, immovable door frame.

He was momentarily staggered and leaned back against the opposite jamb, barely able to hold his balance.

It occurred to him that it wasn't enough. He had not paid a big enough price.

Forced himself to stand tall, gripped a half inch of wood on each side once again and positioned himself at a severe angle.

This time, when he launched himself forward he caught the edge of the wood. He dropped to his knees but could only hold it for a few seconds before he fell backwards, banging the back of his head against the opposite door jamb, ending up in an awkward sitting position.

This was the retribution he was looking for.

Blood flowed from his forehead, down his left cheek and onto his chest.

It wasn't embarrassment that drove him to this punishment. It went way deeper than that.

He felt weak and exposed; lately he felt overwhelmed. It was getting harder to hide the truth and he felt that he was destroying whatever respect, and possibly love, previously existed.

Maybe a lifetime of weakness had already done the damage. Maybe this latest incident was just another nail in the coffin. Predictable and not so shocking.

He tried to think it through but could not. Could not make sense of the situation, could not even flirt with a possible solution, or dig deep enough through enough bullshit to get at a root cause.

This made him furious, as the blood ran, as his head pounded, as his dignity died.

Frustrated, he yelled "Fuck it. I am sick of the analysis, sick of the explanations and the apologies. Fuck it. Fuck it all."

He stood up uncertainly and grabbed the edge of the counter as a vicious smile spread slowly over his face.

He raised his right hand and slowly spread the blood all over his face. Painting his forehead, his cheeks, his chin, his lips.

He liked the way it felt. The sticky warmth. The juxtaposition of life and death inherent in the blood flow.

He staggered to the recliner and sat down heavily. Patiently waiting for the blood to dry as darkness fell.

He considered wearing the blood as a mask the next time he left the house. To provoke reactions against which he could unleash his fury.

It was a thought. A possible course of action.

For now he was where he needed to be. Feeling his skin tighten as the blood began to dry. As darkness isolated him.

Feeling the pain he deserved to feel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Perspective is an elusive and a slippery son of a bitch.

Over the weekend I was sitting all pampered and warm in my middle class home thinking with great satisfaction that this week would be a good week. An easy week.

Work Tuesday, work Wednesday, Thanksgiving on Thursday, work Friday, have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off.

Today I want to jab ice picks into my eyes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Just A Night In A Bar

John pressed the pedestrian cross walk button to halt traffic in four directions at once and stood and waited for his opportunity, guitar case in hand. When prompted, he crossed Main Street slowly, slow enough to run out of time, slow enough to hold up anxious commuters. Casually, insolently, he looked through the windshields at angry, impatient people intent on getting home to that first precious drink.

He felt their contempt. A forty plus year old man with a thin, grey ponytail and a banged up guitar case is no one. No one at all.

He created death scenarios in his head on really black days.

Pictured the first guy in line slumping over behind the wheel after suffering a massive and fatal heart attack. Imagined those in line behind him honking their horns furiously as the light changes to green, growing insanely impatient, gesturing and banging on dashboards, each second feeling more like an hour. Until commuter number two loses it completely, furiously stomping the gas and cutting to the right, only to smash into the drivers side door of an innocent passing him by.

Traffic is snarled; eventually horror sets in as drivers realize the guy in car number one is dead. Guilt crushes some of those involved as they slowly relate the superficiality of their impatience to the finality of the sudden and vicious ending of a life.

Some, however, remain impatient as the cops show up to the scene.

This scenario never fails to bring a smile to John's face.

It was seven o'clock and John was headed to one of the few dive bars remaining in the city for a Friday night gig. Looking forward to his free meal and a free drink or two, generously poured.

He thought of it as a dive bar. It really wasn't; it was clean enough, comfortable enough and the clientele were not assholes. It could only be considered a dive bar compared to today's soulless, antiseptic cookie cutter bars that legitimized drinking, disguising it as socializing.

John was more comfortable in bars that let drinking just be, places where drinkers killed pain, turned away from life and arrived at laughter, however insincere and fleeting.

The bartender nodded as John walked in.

He liked the staff in here, they were good people. No bullshit, hard working, harder partying people whose opinion of humanity was very much shaped by the people they waited on.

He liked them because they had an attitude. They waited on customers from a position of strength. Humility had no place in this bar, with this staff, and it keep things edgy.

John himself had been feeling edgy lately.

At a bitter point in his life, painfully and reluctantly, he realized he would never make it in the music industry.

Decades of rejection had worn him down. That and a million false promises and dead ends.

He was reduced to playing in bars and restaurants. For decades he took comfort in the fact that he was not an every day working stooge. Not a hypocritical asshole who looked through a windshield with disdain at a man who refused to follow the blueprint.

He took greater comfort in slipping a couple of his originals into his sets just to prove he had the chops. They wanted covers, everybody had a goddamn request, but when he played his own music he felt like he was offering something to the universe. That he was making a difference.

Lately though, these things provided little comfort.

And John felt edgy.

Three songs into the first set a guy a couple of tables over got a little loud. John knew this guy would be a problem when he noticed the rocks glass in front of the man, three quarters full with evil whiskey.

"Free Bird. Play Free Bird." He thought he was being funny; he thought he was being original.

John tensed up but made it through the song; one of his own.

As he eased his way into "I Am A Rock" the guy shouted "play something we can dance to."

John stumbled a bit, stopped, pretended to be tuning his guitar and then began the song again.

"This fucking guy thinks he's James Taylor, for Christ sake."

John stopped playing and looked up. He seemed to be considering a response.

Ten awkward seconds later he picked up a solid glass ashtray, walked over to the table and smashed the ashtray into the guys face. Then he calmly downed the whiskey in one gulp and walked back to his stool.

He grabbed his guitar, leaving the case behind, and walked out the door. The guy was face down on the table in a pool of blood, surrounded by people drinking in shocked silence.

John lit a cigarette in the cold night air then smashed his guitar against the side of the building. He walked two blocks to a liquor store, bought himself a bottle of bourbon and thought to himself "It's gonna be a good night."

Friday, November 18, 2016

That 12th Step

Ah, yes another Friday rolls around my friend. Time for strong libations. Whaddya say?

Twelve steps lead up to the second level of my house. But I have to take a 13th step to get onto the second floor. Is that unlucky?

What? What the hell are you talking about?

I am concerned that every time I go upstairs I am inviting bad luck, but it's a matter of interpretation. There are only twelve steps but I have to take thirteen to complete the journey.

Are you serious?

Maybe that is why my life has been so erratic, so unwieldy. Maybe it's not my fault. Maybe I should skip the last step. Then again, what if I pull a muscle stretching out to the top? I'm not as young as I used to be.

You're not as dead as you're gonna be if you don't pound a few with me tonight.

What other things have I missed in my life that might be jinxing me? I gotta get this shit right, man - I'm trying to make a statement here and I'm running out of time.

What is the statement - that you are retarded?

That is not a nice word. It is not politically correct. You know how much I care about being politically correct.

Jesus, man you don't give a shit about being politically correct. You spit on people who are politically correct.

I do?

Goddamn right.

Yeah, now that you mention it I think I remember something about myself along those lines.

Are you stoned? Do you know who you are? Do you know where you are?

I am a little bug, a tiny little bug trying to create big waves in this world.

The only waves you create are when you stand in front of the toilet.

Man, you are being harsh. What the fuck?

I just don't want you to waste time worrying. Just get drunk. Stay drunk. It's the only way.

I love the color brown but I don't wear a lot of brown. I don't know why. Why don't I wear more brown?That's gotta be bad luck, right?

Can we go now?

We should go shopping first. I need some brown shirts.

I don't wanna go shopping. It's Friday night. I just got out of work. I survived another day with my asshole boss and my soul sucking job. Know how I did that?


I knew I was gonna get drunk tonight. It's fucking simple.

I don't read enough poetry. I love poetry. Well, not all poetry. Not that artsy fartsy stuff that don't make no sense with all those fancy goddamn words and ideas. I like the straight ahead stuff. Like "Life is a cesspool and you gotta keep swimming, if you don't swallow you know that you're winning."

You are a sick son of a bitch. Come on, man there are cold beers and hot ladies waiting for us on a crazy-ass Friday night. Let's dance.

Do me a favor. Go upstairs and find me a shirt. Preferably a brown one if you can.

Should I skip the 12th step on the way up? How about the way down - what do I do then - jump?

Oh Christ, man that's a good point. We better stay home.

I'll see you later. I am outta here. Call me when your brain function returns, knucklehead.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


"Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say follow your bliss and don't be afraid and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else."

Joseph Campbell

I am beginning to think comments like this apply only to creative people and only to 1/2 of 1% of them.

I don't think the guy working in the warehouse, angry and drunk all the time and fantasizing about dismembering his boss, has followed his bliss. I don't think he could identify his bliss and if he could I don't think he would get the opportunity to follow it.

Casual Comments, Harsh Reality

Read an article in Playboy about the rapidly growing legal pot industry.

One guy involved in the business describes potential clientele as follows:

"At one end of the spectrum are young men in their 20s who just want to get high, and at the other are people who have cancer, epilepsy, and terminal illnesses. We're focused on the health and wellness consumers in the middle who want relief from chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia and migraines."

In an unwitting way this guy just described a typical arc of life. Pretty harsh words but pretty accurate too.

Enjoy your 20s, kids.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Epiphanies Are Supposed To Be Surprising, Right?

I am trying so hard.

Since cancer I am determined to make my life as much my own as possible.

Hard to change habits, hard to shift perspective, hard to affect self-perception, but these are the things that must be done for me to wipe the slate clean and write my own honest and true story on it before it is too late.

I spent the entire morning chasing websites, researching writing related jobs, anything and everything I can do with words to make a little extra money, regardless of the cost to my soul.

I have been sitting in front of this computer since 9:30.

But it didn't feel right. It has not felt right since I made the decision to approach this in this way.

I have been looking into higher paying part time jobs that are no less soul sucking than the one I have.

But it hasn't felt right.

Got a text from Keith turning me on to a group named Pentatonix singing "Hallejulah" a capella.

Checked it out and almost lost it entirely.

My response was so strong it surprised me.

And I realized it wasn't just the fact that it is a Leonard Cohen song, it wasn't just the fact that Pentatonix did such a beautiful job performing the song, that they respected the emotion within it and the man who wrote it, it was everything that has been going on in my head since the night I found out I had cancer.

The song drew it out of me.

I respect Leonard Cohen because he figured out who he was and lived his life in a way that allowed him to express himself honestly and hopefully in a way that made him happy.

That commitment and awareness is what I am missing, what I have always been missing.

I sit here trolling websites day after day knowing in my heart that I am looking in the wrong places, that I am doing the wrong things.

The timing of Keith's text could not have been more perfect. After almost two hours of futilely looking for answers, for a way out, he turned me on to a performance that smashed me in the face with honesty and triggered an awareness in me I have been ignoring.

I am shattered right now. And in a little while I have to go do something so beneath me and so meaningless to me that five hours will feel like ten.

Just as I have done for my entire life.

So strange how life works, how an epiphany can result from an innocent or casual reference.

The catch is you gotta be open to it; ready to receive it or experience it.

I am a raw nerve right now.

I am in the right place.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leonard Cohen

Last week was crushing emotionally after idiot Americans voted Donald Trump president.

I was depressed at the open expression of hatred expressed by voters. The lack of judgment. I did not think I could be more down.

Then Leonard Cohen died.

I have taken to getting quite high before I go to work now because the job has become anathema to me. I cannot function there unless I feel numb. I prefer whiskey but whiskey doesn't last.

Leonard Cohen died on Thursday. I did not get high on Friday.

Didn't need to. I was dead inside. I functioned as quietly as is possible in retail work, stayed away from people as much as I could, endured the five hours and headed home.

I discovered Leonard Cohen in 1994. In retrospect, the way I came across this man seems so stupid, so insignificant.

I saw the movie "Natural Born Killers". I was not on a spiritual journey, I was not looking for inspiration. I was looking for a heaping helping of insanity and violence.

Leonard Cohen had two songs on the soundtrack. "Waiting for the Miracle" and "The Future." When I heard them I immediately came to attention and thought "Who is this? These lyrics are heavy duty; the mood of the songs inflames my emotions".

Went out and bought some of his music, read up on the man, read some of his poetry, and fell in awe. I have been there ever since.

I read "Beautiful Losers", one of the two novels he wrote before beginning his music career. Difficult book to read, almost impenetrable. Sometimes you need to stretch yourself when you are dealing with a mind like Leonard Cohen's. How can you avoid boredom if you don't step outside yourself? It is worth the effort. I have read it twice. I will read it again.

I came across Leonard Cohen randomly in 1994 in a superficial, back door kind of way but because of that he has been in my life for 22 years, for which I am deeply grateful.

I knew immediately when I first heard his words and his music that his soul would connect with my own, and that proved to be true in a way much deeper than I could ever have predicted.

There are people who have covered Leonard Cohen songs in delicate beauty. Taken his words and music and lifted them even higher.

Jeff Buckley is the most well known for his cover of "Hallelujah." It is exquisite. If you haven't heard it you should go to YouTube and listen to it. You will feel like you are sitting in church. Or in life in its purest form.

Antony covered a song called "If It Be Your Will" in a Leonard Cohen tribute concert and documentary called "I'm Your Man", released in 2005. This is the one that shakes me to my core. Please go to YouTube right now - dial up Antony If It Be Your Will and listen. He hijacks your emotions and intensifies them until your only choice is to cry.

My favorite Leonard Cohen story is told by Rufus Wainwright.

Leonard was always impeccably dressed. The first time Rufus met him was in Leonard's kitchen and Leonard was wearing only a t-shirt and boxer shorts. He was feeding a little bird he had found that had fallen out of the nest. Leonard was chewing up sausage into tiny pieces and feeding them to the bird.

I was getting ready for bed Saturday night and Saturday Night Live came on. No fanfare, no bullshit. Just Kate McKinnon in character as Hillary Clinton sitting at a piano and singing "Hallejulah". She sang a few verses then said "I'm not giving up and neither should you."

Seems silly but it hit me hard. It connected Leonard Cohen's death with the tragedy of the election.

I had been distracted. Had some friends over for dinner. A simple night of friendship, laughter, food, conversation, games and drinks. Very nice. Took me away from my head for a while.

I was in a fog since Tuesday night. A fog that got pretty thick after Thursday night. Saturday night brought me back a ways. Saturday Night Live returned me to the funk.

I am mourning Leonard Cohen today. It had to be this way. I had to be alone. I have listened to a lot of his music.

Equally apropos, I had my cancer finale this morning. Last check up on the nose, a quick look at the back. Everything is fine. I don't need to cover up the nose anymore. I am left with a dent on the nose and a significant scar on my back. Reminders.

Just before I left his office the Doc made sure that I am set up for regular monitoring by a dermatologist. He said "I want you to be healthy, I want you to live for a long time. But these two incidences of cancer are a sign that the sun has done some damage to you. That you may have to deal with this again in the future. So you need to be religious with the dermatologist."

This is what I love about the man. He doesn't sugarcoat anything yet he manages to give me a sense of confidence.

And he's into the blues.

So that is where my life is at. I have to spend the rest of my time with an awareness that cancer may not give up. And I have to use that knowledge to concentrate on beauty in my life; on the things and the people who count.

Leonard Cohen's death is wrapped up in that. His death makes my life smaller. It hurts as if he were family.

In fact, 2016 has been especially brutal for me; many people who I loved and respected have died.

My life keeps getting smaller. That is the way life works. As I get older it will continue to shrink. I will not be able to do this, I will not be able to go there, I will not be able to enjoy that.

Leonard Cohen leaves a huge vacuum. A hole in my heart. Muhammad Ali did the same. It took quite a while to accept that Ali was gone.

I have not yet accepted that Leonard Cohen is gone.

Nick Cave's tribute may be the most accurate: "For many of us Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried. He will be deeply missed by so many."

Leonard Cohen himself recently said: "I am ready to die. I hope it's not too uncomfortable. That's about it for me."

That is so Leonard Cohen.

And so is the "clarification" he offered later on, saying that he was "exaggerating". "I've always been into self dramatization," he said last month. "I intend to live forever."

I will miss Leonard Cohen deeply.

It is a comfort when you know there is a human being out there fighting life's harshness with beauty and honesty and reflection.

I do not know who I will turn to now.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Thirty Good Seconds

I need to consume a massive amount of whiskey tonight. And wash it down with a bucketful of beer.

What the hell are you talking about? It's fucking Monday night - you just barely jumped back in to the cesspool.

Doesn't matter - everything is so shaky. So unpredictable. Just when my life is supposed to get easier, it gets harder.

That's life, baby - it is a goddamn swamp full of alligators. You make your way through as each of your limbs and eventually your internal organs gets ripped off and out of you. Every once in a great while you inadvertently smile through the painful shrieks. Those are the high points.

That is the stupidest fucking analogy I have ever heard.

You know who the blueprint for survival is? It's that Monty Python knight who gets his limbs hacked off and keeps hopping around saying "only a flesh wound." That's life in a nutshell.

What the hell is the point of life lived that way? What is the point of being alive?

Thirty seconds of happiness in eighty years of life. That's it. The trick is to recognize that thirty seconds for what it is and then tell everybody "I have had a good life". Because that is what people want to hear.

I'm thinking about stabbing myself in the chest with an ice pick just before jumping off the side of the Grand Canyon with a bottle of whiskey in my left hand, an ice cold beer in my right, with the hope of breaking my spine in the belly of what is most beautiful about America.

That would be cool.

You would like that, wouldn't you?

Goddamn right. I would record it and post it to facebook.

You wouldn't care that I chose to die?

Christ no; caring is the problem. If you care about anything in your life it exponentially multiplies the agony. The trick is to not care at all. That way the suffering is meaningless.

I'd rather be dead.

You're kind of dead already, right?

What are you talking about?

Well, if you are thinking you'd rather be dead, you really are dead already. So save us the bloodshed and the horrific waste of good whiskey and beer. Live the rest of your life like a zombie just like the rest of us do, and when death comes you won't even know it.

Talking to you is so damn comforting. Let's get out of here. Let's get Monday-night-wasted.

Now you're talking.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Oddly Prescient

Got a big, fat, hard cover book in my hands lately.

It is a collection of three Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch detective books. 793 pages strong.

Never read this dude before. Digging it. A lot.

The second story, "Black Ice", which I just started this morning, is doing double duty notable quote-wise.

"I found out who I was."

That is a suicide note written by a cop who blew his head off with a double barrel shotgun.

Seems profound. Could be a suicide note written by any one of us if we ever got down to the bare naked truth.

"There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself."

That is a quote from a book titled "The Long Goodbye", written by Raymond Chandler.

Again, seems oddly prescient.

OK, I am showing off my vocabulary. I am proud of it. Don't get to flex it much.

In other words, again, it seems like words applicable to any one of us interested in the truth.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth.