Monday, August 29, 2005

Ike Outtakes

The LAST time I danced in public (if you don't consider dancing nightly in front of three startled kitties being in public) was with the chief election official in Blue Earth County. So when the two of us were recently in Beverly Hills at a banquet where there was a cover band playing lots of Motown my last dance partner told me she expected an encore performance. Fat chance. Those that know me best (probably said kitties) know that if there is one thing I dislike it's like calling attention to myself. With my natural jerky movements (plenty have made fun of the way I walk) that go along perfectly with my natural jerky behavior, I'm not one who will be hitting another dance floor any time soon.

The one time I went to a high school dance was when Sharon Streif asked me and we went and she spent most of the evening with her friends and I spent most of the evening with mine. When the last dance was called I grabbed the nearest chair and halfway through the chair became my dance partner as I spun it around myself as I did a happy lil jig.

I mention all this because last Saturday's Ike Reilly performance at the Minnesota Zoo featured the Olympic Hopefuls as the opening act. I was looking forward to their performance having kinda grown fond of their peppy pop but having never seen them live they were better than advertised.

In a way it was the perfect match- Ike's brooding, angry, poetic pop played the role of Lennon to the Hopeful's peppy, somewhat silly, ever optimistically cynical McCartney like ditties. Midway through their set through a great great romp of "Drain the Sea" the sixth Hopeful came on stage dressed in a dress shirt, tie, and dress pants that contrasted with the other five Hopefuls who were wearing their trademark blue jumpsuits. This sixth Hopeful proceeded to dance with all the exaggerated movements I feature in own dance repertoire.

Later in the show this guy reappeared on stage and he motioned up to all the faithful Hopeful fans to come on down to join him in front of the band. The youthful throng did just that and spent the last few songs jumping up and down in place. It was enough to almost make your aging Asian cynic leave his front row seat and jump up and down with kids half his age.

I didn't quite muster up the energy to do that but I did go out the very next day and buy the Hopeful's CD, The Fuses Refuse to Burn. I haven't been able to stop listening to it ever since. Once again I'm reminded of McCartney's best pop efforts although I'm equally reminded of Crowded House a group I kinda always liked although I liked the Finn's songwriting better than I did the group's execution of the songs.

I'm not sure one will one will ever gain great insight to the meaning of life listening to the Hopefuls but a song like "Whisper" that so accurately recounts the universal feeling of being with one who secretly likes you but is petrified of being seen in public with you, that it'll probably send you back to therapy if you're in anything resembling a weakened condition. Likewise the opening track "Imaginary" features all the studio dubs and sounds the band can muster but that only adds to the lyrics about what it is like to dance with a chair.

The songwriting can be a bit too clever at times "You passed out... invitations to your show..." but seeing the band live the thing I loved most was that the group shared tambourine playing duties amongst themselves which indicates a healthy team spirit that would befit the greatest Olympic team. Listening to The Fuses Refuse to Burn in its entirety was a needed boost, a smile inducing narcotic just when I needed it most facing what might be a life change that blows beyond altering to let's start all over again.

Still if some opportunities that have arisen eventually fall by the wayside I think I may have found my next calling, the seventh Hopeful- the guy that sits at the side of the stage and takes it all in as he is wont to do.

Monday, August 22, 2005

What'dya Know About My Love?

My recent trip to California reminded me of a couple of things. First of all, every time I go to Los Angeles it's beaten into me that there are a lot of people on this planet at any given moment and most of the time I'm really not one of them. I was also reminded that as hard as I try, I'm just about as fond of the girl with the crooked pelvis as I ever have been.

The first little lesson may sound trite and absurd but here is what I mean: as I reach the age where it seems more than a little silly to be a grown man scootin' to work, I am constantly astounded, surprised, and perturbed at how unaware most other people I come across are to those around them. If they're not unaware, then they don't care that their actions, their movements, their words might actually have some consequences for those within listening distance. As I go along I'm finding it more and more difficult to find people who seem to care about the things I was taught about at an early age such as courtesy towards others, being a good listener, understanding that a moment of silence can actually be something to cherish, and just because you get a thought in your noggin it isn't always a good thing to share it with whoever might be with in range of your voice.

I've been away from home so much recently that I don't know if I'm coming or going. Those I share my house with seem to be feeling something similar. Two of my cats, Theo and Diego-san seem reluctant to let me out of their sight and the third, Thompson, gets this woefully sad look every time I step out of the house as if he's not sure when, if ever, I'll come back.

The spirit of their predecessor, Mr. Max will forever linger between these walls and I must admit everything I learned about being a cat, even though I'll never be a cat, came from my many years with Max. I tried my best to learn Mr. Max's ability to live right here and now, and not let the past or the future cripple my brain. It's a very Zen like notion and the shortcut involves becoming numb and doing whatever you have to do just to get by and to the next day.

See I used to do a lot of thinking. My brain would be busy from my morning shower to that moment at night that you just can't shut your mind off enough to fall asleep. Now days not so much. I'm lucky if I allow myself to think about (let alone feel) what's ahead the next day.

So I show up at work most mornings at around 6:30 and if my brain would possibly function without its shot of caffeine it would probably be scrambling how I accepted the fate at a 9 to 5 job that tends to suck... any ounce of creativity right out of my soul.

It's the music that (still) matters. There are certain artists, certain moments in particular shows I find myself at, certain songs that seep inside, remind or teach me that it was once different or this isn't the way it was meant to be, and then I feel more and more numb just about the same moment I can stop crying. Ike Reilly is one of these artists that thank GOD has made music that has changed my very being, my very heart and brain and spleen and every time I see him I'm glad I did at the same time I begin to wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. Seeing Ike at the Minnesota Zoo Saturday night was once again one of these life altering, oh my God not another dead end detour type of show.

Ike came on stage solo with his acoustic guitar and did a I know you all might already be drunk, but this is what this sounded like when I was inspired and wrote this song, "Put a Little Love in It" followed by a similar in feeling "God Damn Shame," and then the first of several new songs he did throughout the night. The Assassination then joined him and rocked hard and dangerously.

A personal highlight came in the scorching "Garbage Day" when Ike, as he is want to do, captured exactly what I've been feeling ever since I went back out west, better than I ever could in a million and a half years. "Hey now I can't tell the buildings from the people, the strangers from the steeples, my anger from my friends. I soak here in the juices and beat up from the Stooges who sing here in my head, 'why can't we just get along?'"

Ike attracts a small albeit hard-core group of fans who share his love of drink (and song). Whenever he did one of his old songs the fans would sing and dance (if you can call jumping straight up in the air dancing) to the lyrics as if the same soundtrack was playing in all of our own personal movies (and struggles). I was in the front row of seats but I fought to see the band in between all the dancers and I battled just as much to hear the music what with the constant chatter of the woman behind me who had the most shrill voice that God ever gave to a human being. All I can say is I can't wait (and I gotta find a way to hold on) until September 27 when Ike's new CD, Junkie Faithful comes out. Given what I heard, songs about a boy in his dreams growing to a man in the arms of a woman who is just another line in another song may just provide enough of a tonic to make it all make sense for another day.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Broken Flowers

"Ooh! Get me away from here I'm dying/Play me a song to set me free/Nobody writes them like they used to/So it may as well be me/Here on my own now after hours/Here on my own now on a bus/Think of it this way/You could either be successful or be us/With our winning smiles, and us/With our catchy tunes and words/Now we're photogenic/You know, we don't stand a chance"
-Belle and Sebastian

Standing on the corner of India and Date Streets in downtown San Diego last Friday, I was waiting for my friend Alex to pick me up. I hadn't seen Alex in over a decade and I was a bit jittery as I enjoyed the sunny southern California evening sky. Alex had recommended that I stay in the La Pensione motel in Little Italy and after checking in I was glad she did. The motel was quite quaint- and my room had a tiny balcony overlooking the many independent restaurants and businesses in the vicinity. The smell of fresh brewed Italian coffee filled my nostrils.

I was downstairs standing right outside the lobby people watching when it occurred to me that I didn't know what kind of car Alex was driving and since I hadn't seen her in quite some time I wasn't even sure exactly what she would look like these days. I found myself peeping into the windows of all passing cars and trucks. I thought to myself that I could probably elminate pickup trucks because that type of vehicle simply wasn't Alex.

A couple of weeks back when I called her she seemed excited that I was coming out. She had to cut our conversation short however since she was off to ballet class. It didn't surprise me one bit that she was taking ballet- it just seemed like something the Alex I knew would dive into. Just as I was getting lost in my thoughts a Honda pulled up slowly through the intersection. Inside was the smile that I knew or tried to know so well. I opened the door and she said she recognized me because I was wearing a hat- a trademark of mine back in the days fifteen years ago when Alex and I worked in the same office.

"After all this time so many disagree to turn off the lights, or pull down the shades, don't be afraid, after all this time/After all this time I'm glad that you can see. After all this time I'm not the man I want to be. Strong as your love, free as the wind, each day we begin after all this time..."
-John Hiatt

I spent all of January 1987 visiting my sister in Los Angeles. It was the spring of my senior year of college and I was in mental place where most people shouldn't spend a lot of time if they want to get out alive. Academically I was in L.A. for a senior assignment of trying to get on a game show. The closest I got was a painful tryout for The Dating Game but I struck out.

I spent the bulk of my time exploring the city, walking along the beach, trying to get as far away from this other place as I possibly could. I spent one day in San Diego and the city left quite the impression on me. "I could live here," I thought, but I knew I had to finish my degree up first. It was the first time it occurred to me that my life didn't have to start and end in Minnesota. The city was just like Los Angeles only without all the people. My impression may have been a bit skewed however since I spent the day at Sea World and the San Diego Zoo where much of the population was by definition not of the homosapien variety.

Four years later I was working for the state and the job wasn't much of a job so I ended up taking some vacation time and taking another trip out west. This time when I got back I met Alex and we had a few memorable times together. One day after a nothing day at work we were driving out to our softball game and Alex said to me, "Some day we'll be having dinner at a fancy restaurant, you in your suit and me in my dress and we'll look back at these days and laugh at how far we've come." At this point I was grasping at straws, just so tired of losing everything important to me so I almost asked Alex to sign some sort of a contract binding her to her vision because I was glad she could foresee a future with me included.

Alex left town shortly after for much better things. We were able to get together in 1994 when she was interning at the White House (pre Monica) and it was nice catching up after a few years.

Ten years later this after even more time since we saw each other last catching up time was equally as wonderful. Alex proved to be wrong with her past vision in one aspect, as we stood out on the deck of The Fish Market, a fine seafood restaurant, waiting for a table and overlooking the sunset over the ocean we were both wearing casual clothing. We had sushi and I loved gazing in her still twinkling eyes again. She was worried she was using her chopsticks incorrectly and had me show her the way that I thought was right. I told her you hold the bottom one just like you hold a pencil and you don't let it move- the top stick does the moving as your thumb and forefinger act as a fulcrum. Our conversation was enlightening. We both have changed over the years, both have been through a lot that neither one of us knows about the other yet still as I listened to her and tried to share some things, it was the same Alex I grew so fond of all those years ago. If ours is to be a friendship where we only see each once every ten years so be it, she'll always remain someone I have a great deal of affection and admiration for. It's quite impressive what Alex has made out of her life but our friendship is also a great barometer how far I've come after all these years. Who would have thought that I would ever reach the point where I would own my own house, have three quirky kitties, and drive my own scooter? Not only that but also have a job where I could afford all that?

Alex has been a city planner in San Diego essentially since she got her masters degree from the University of North Carolina. She proudly gave me a tour of the city's incredibly renovated downtown. Seemingly the city has had one major development project after another and its vibrancy was eye opening. San Diego currently has around 27,000 people living downtown in apartments and condos (which average $480,000 in price) and they expect that by the year 2030 there will be over 89,000 people living downtown.

But equally impressive to me was Alex's own home improvement project. She had bought a rundown house and has poured her sweat and love into whipping it into something quite beautiful. We talked about haunted houses- one of the four units to her personal complex is haunted she has been told by two different tenants. It was great catching up with her and it melted my heart to see how happy she got when she counted the quarters from the washing machine and dryer she had put in for her tenants and came up with $18 in one week.

I spent most of Saturday just wandering around downtown and taking it all in and it occurred to me of course that nearly 20 years ago I had done something similar with little hope that I'd be around to make a return visit. I guess that's one of the things that makes life so intriguing. Little Italy is somewhat symbolic of what is happening to downtown San Diego. It's an area that was once dying as rapidly as the tuna industry was dying. But the community decided they needed to revive the area and so they worked with the city and others and came up with a plan to attract new residents and businesses while still maintaining the history of what had been.

Sunday morning I took a long walk along the pier. I stopped and took a tour of the carrier Midway and was astounded at how big the ship is. I committed my biggest gaffe of the weekend though. Like I do most mornings I just grabbed a T-shirt to wear without giving it a second thought. The shirt I had grabbed however was one Al had given to me featuring a quote from Joseph Stalin saying that the people who cast the votes decide nothing, the people who count the votes decide everything. To wear a quote from Stalin on my chest garnered several nasty looks from the people working on the ship. I thought the girl in the gift shop was going to claw out my eyes.

The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring downtown again. I found an outdoor mall near the NBC building where Alex works and inside the mall was a Sam Goody Superstore that had two levels- one for new product and the other for used product. The used level even had a toy section that featured collectibles (mostly Simpsons memorabilia). I asked the girl behind the register how much they paid for used CDs. She was non-responsive until I pressed the issue and she told me usually between 75 cents and three bucks (although they do give in-store credits as well). Most of the staff I saw were hunched over the counters reading magazines.

Alex had left me with the lasting impression of my time in San Diego. As we were looking at various new construction she told me the ones she liked and the ones she didn't like. "It's all about windows," she said. It was something I might have said for all together different reasons. She wasn't talking about their transparency or reflective qualities but rather their appearance. Did I mention it was great seeing her once again?

Monday morning I was again standing on the corner of India and Date waiting for my friend Michelle to pick me up to drive us to our conference in Los Angeles. Again I didn't know what vehicle to expect since Michelle's cousin-in-law, Joe, was giving us a ride to a rental car facility. I pulled out my iPod and instead of selecting Sinatra that one might expect from one standing in the heart of Little Italy I dialed up Bob Dylan's ode to the Italian mobster Joey Gallo. It's one of my least favorite Dylan songs (way too long) and yet I was quite happy it was blaring in my ears. Michelle and her cousin-in-law pulled up in pickup truck.

"I was born here and I'll die here, against my will/I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still/Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb/I can't even remember what I came here to get away from..."
-Bob Dylan

Say you're a Japanese American and you're visiting the Japanese American Museum in downtown Los Angeles for the first time. What'dya think you'd think? Do ya think you might think about your Dad's family's experience in being locked up by the government it had trusted during World War II? Or might you think about the depth of feeling both joy and despair captured by a Japanese American potter whose art was on full display and whose pots had the unique quality of being sealed at the top? Or maybe yet perhaps what got you most were the pictures of those mistrusted and interned having a deep love of the game of baseball? Or how local newspapers were of particular importance to those in the community and there was a quote from a Japanese American who observed that if four people got together one of them was bound to start a newspaper? Probably it was at the end of the taiko drum exhibit where a Super Nintendo game (your Mom was the Nintendo playing grandma after all) allowed you to try to drum along with American pop tunes with your hidden taiko drum talents.

Nope. What really was on your mind was a quote in the free lefty weekly newspaper The LA Weekly in a piece about two local twenty-something girls who offered the following bit of wisdom: "No matter where you travel, there you are..." That about sums it up and you realize that as you rapidly approach the twinkling age where you aren't exactly a kid anymore, that much of what you have learned and continue to learn comes strangely from twenty something members of the opposite sex. Most people travel for two stated reasons, business or pleasure. Then there are those of us who travel either to get away from something or to try to get to something. Find something that's not at home.

Perhaps transparently I was thus in a sad but reflective mood. It struck me while I was shopping at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles, a place that our Cheapo stores are trying to be, in amongst a tremendous selection with so much I wanted to buy but didn't dare try to lug home to Minnesota, that for good or bad my life started all over when I was lucky enough to get a job at Cheapo in the fall (pun intended) of 1987. Music was what was keeping me going at that point having just got back from the coast. As long as I could find that next song, as long as there was a song that existed that somehow could stop time and make it all make some sense to me, I would be all right. But who knew if that could continue to be? Faith in the unknown, as embedded as it is in our cultural way of thinking, wasn't much of a comfort to me anymore.

My thoughts were interrupted when my sister told me to try out the listening stations at Amoeba and she was right, they were so cool. Not only did they allow the scanning of barcodes of just about any CD to sample the music some obscure artist had dared to get down, but they allowed you to stand at the back of the store and listen to the whole CD if you cared to do so. I loved that. The sound quality was crisp and eventually the experience influenced what I eventually purchased.

Later I was walking down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills after having checked into the Beverly Hills Hilton where every room comes complete with a 42" flat screen plasma TV and I couldn't help but wonder how the hell I got from here to there. I was surrounded by friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators about to be awarded with proof of graduating from this is where you are program, and yet if I could one time in my life turn back the clock I most certainly would have. There were men older than I sleazily hugging younger women and braless younger women enjoying free food (but paid for booze) doing the network thing. I saw the skyline of downtown L.A. from the top of the pricy hotel and the thoughts of jumping were only tempered by the notion that such thoughts, as common as they often are, are akin to spitting into the wind and what is the point to all that?

"I put down my robe, picked up my diploma/Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive/Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota/Sure was glad to get out of there alive/And the locusts sang, well, it give me a chill/Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody/And the locusts sang with a high whinin' trill/Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me"
-Bob Dylan

For the past couple of years I've been participating in the only election administration certification program in the country. The 12 classes are taught by faculty from Auburn University and the classes are held in various parts of the country giving me plenty of time to get away from home. It was nice that the year I finished up the classes the graduating ceremony was being held in Beverly Hills so that it gave me time to see my sister Donna in Los Angeles and finally get to see the nifty little house she bought last year in San Gabriel. Several other Minnesota friends in the election business made the trip out to attend the annual conference so my graduation was well attended by family and friends. The ceremony was held in the room they hold the Golden Globe awards. They had us stand in the back of the room and one by one us twenty some graduates were called down as a brief intro was read highlighting our careers. The bright lights blinded me as I sauntered towards the stage. My heart beat like one of them wind up monkeys banging on a drum. Part of me was hoping I'd stumble on my way- it would have been quite symbolically appropriate. But I didn't. I took my plaque and the corresponding handshakes with the aplomb of someone that has either come a long way over the years or has fallen a long way along the way.

Stalin's Advocate

David Maeda, Elections Specialist for Hennepin County was designated as a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator (CERA), the highest professional achievement, in ceremonies conducted by the Election Center at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, August 12, 2005.

CERA designation is achieved only through a multi-year course of study conducted by The Election Center's Professional Education Program and completion of twelve core courses taught by the Master's in Public Administration faculty of Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama) ranging from ethics, to voter registration and elections law, planning, communications, and voter participation, among others. The intent of the program is professionalize the management of voter registration and elections administration in promoting and preserving public trust in the democratic process.

"This is the highest designation available to elections and voter registration officials," said R. Doug Lewis, director of the Center. "Of more than 21,000 elections and voter registration officials throughout America, this graduating class of 46 professionals takes us to 320 election officials who have achieved the CERA status. To be among the first 500 certified in America is an outstanding accomplishment."

"Hennepin County is indeed fortunate to have Maeda as one of the top designated professionals in America. Obtaining and maintaining CERA status means that he has committed to a career long process of continuing education to improve the electoral process in Minnesota and the nation," he stated.

"These truly are the people who make democracy possible," Lewis said. "Maeda and other CERA professionals serve as the nation's protectors of the democratic process. Because of them, Americans have a trust and public confidence in the election process. They have assurance that the system is fair, free, honest and accurate. In many parts of the world, their citizens have no faith in the form of democracy offered in their home countries. The importance of what Maeda is doing for Hennepin County is incredible but rarely noticed... unless something goes wrong."

Maeda, an elections official for eight years, said "This is one of the most challenging election education programs I have ever participated in. We covered the law, and ethical considerations in how to better serve the public. We also became more aware of how important it is to nurture and care for the democratic process. I loved how we got credit for just showing up, just like the voters do.

"It is my great honor to assure that the public's will is accurately reflected in our elections," Maeda said. "I see my role to dignify all potential voters and to remove as many barriers as possible to participation in the democratic process. Our office cannot be responsible for how many actually turn out for each election, but we can certainly be sure that they have the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted accurately."

The Professional Education Program is sponsored by The Election Center, a non-profit association of voter registrars and elections administrators throughout America. Its membership is comprised of township, city, county and state elections officials. The Center's primary purpose is education for local and state voter registrars and elections officials to promote and improve the democratic process.

Professional Education Program participants receive continuing education credit from Auburn University as well as professional training credits from The Election Center.

The Professional Education Program was recognized in 1996 as the top continuing education program in America by the National University Continuing Education Association.

"Normally most Americans don't even know the election officials exist in their community and that they work constantly to protect the democratic process for its citizens," Lewis said. "Due to Election 2000, we now know just how important and complicated elections can be. In my opinion, the elections officials deserve the highest recognition that a community can give. If they don't do their job well, then citizens have no faith in the democratic process itself. Without faith in the process, it is almost impossible to believe in government itself - and that is a very large responsibility."

Monday, August 8, 2005

Ol School: All the Lilacs in Ohio

In the pantheon of my favorite singer/songwriters John Hiatt falls somewhere near the top of the second tier. He isn't as good as Bob or Lucinda but he's in the same league as Neil Young or Elvis Costello (who he's often been compared to). I've stopped going to see his live shows because every one I've gone to has been pretty much been the same thing. Not that that's a bad thing seeing he's got quite the impressive catalog of songs and he's a fun performer. But I really don't need to hear another live version of "Thing Called Love" (which he wrote but most people associate with Bonnie Raitt).

His last few CDs have really been hit or miss. Crossing Muddy Waters was brilliant, my all time favorite Hiatt CD, while his last release, Beneath This Gruff Exterior was uninspired to say the least. 2001's The Tiki Bar is Open still gets played more than any of my other Hiatt CDs.
So I didn't rush out and buy his latest effort, Master of Disaster when it first came out because quite frankly there were other discs out there that I wanted to hear a little more (The Eels and The Wallflowers to name two).

When I finally got around to listening to Master of Disaster I was pleasantly surprised. This is Hiatt at the top of his game and as they say there's not a bad song in the entire bunch. I put it on late one evening and as I lay in bed trying to catch some much needed but always elusive sleep, my ears perked up and by the end of the last song I was again high on Hiatt.

The title song (and opener) is a follow up anthem to "Perfectly Good Guitar" and like many of his best songs one has to wonder if the bastard Hiatt is singing about may be the songwriter himself. "Thunderbird" is the most Springsteenian song Hiatt has ever written right on down to the automobile motif and somewhat sinister and sinewy sounding melody. "Howlin Down the Cumberland" and "Cold River" are simple country blues and show a singer who alternates between pain and great joy. I guess one can't quite ever truly appreciate the beauty of this world if one doesn't at times wallow in its ugliness.

My favorite song on the CD, and perhaps my favorite John Hiatt song of all time is the old time jazz "Wintertime Blues" that after my first listen made me get out of bed and hit the repeat button a couple of times because it's so damn funny, and it captures the inertia of wintertime living so accurately I got a shiver even lying in the hot July air. It's the kind of song that seems to flow naturally from Hiatt and it's the type of song that sounds like it's been around forever at the same time one has to marvel at its pure originality.

"Three hours of daylight and all of them gray/The suicide prevention group has all run away/I'm running out of groceries/I ain't got no rubber shoes/Bring the bacon baby/I got the wintertime blues..."

When he repeats over and over that there hasn't been any spring, there's never been any spring, the mocking sincerity in his voice reveals a man who is finding great humor in his own misery. He's as "stiff as Al Gore" because things are cold as snot. And to top it off he admits all he wants is "gravy on everything." And for those of us who somehow put up with Minnesota winters every year, we know exactly what Hiatt is moaning about.

All the songs are sung with great confidence for great reason: this is a terrific songwriter who knows he has come up with a bunch of good songs and has the band to deliver on the goods. With Master of Disaster Hiatt once again demonstrates why he is one of the few artists whose work is consistently worth paying attention to even if he seemingly will forever stay on the cusp of popularity. His music can't be pigeonholed even if it's always easy to spot a John Hiatt song from a million miles away.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Forever Baloney

Warrick warbled weekly at the wobbly moon. "What for?" he asked the giant ball of tasteless cheese. The whiskey water was wearing off quickly and his head was a foot taller. "I need a little head," he chuckled to the thumb print on his empty glass.

Just as his mom had taught him, he was saving his corn for a rainy day until he realized that every day was a rainy day. The girl in the want ads turned out to be more than just fishnet stockings. She didn't think a ten percent drop in body fat in three months meant that she had to sell her Kmart stock.

Warrick paused for a moment but only for dramatic effect. It didn't work. Someone in the room 306 snorted. Room 882 was right off the elevator and he nearly stepped to his left before he realized that wasn't where the country was headed especially with the nomination of another envelope licker ("you lick her you brought her!" he shouted) for the Court of White Supremacy.

She moaned and wiggled a bit. Warrick sat being lonely and he knew what that meant. It had been too long since he poured a little mustard on his bologna sandwiches. That had always put him in a ripe mood. Mandy needed love. Just man enough, he sure did.

Truth be told, as seldom as it is, it was more sad than true that in his 41 trips around the sun Warrick had learned but one thing; if you don't have any hair it isn't a good idea to ride hatless on the convertible (BDP) ride back from a lodge up north in the blaring sun especially if the jazz is playing and you know that the inside secrets and jokes and asides that you share with the driver with curled toes no one else quite gets and that is why she probably is the best friend you've never had. Failure to heed the lesson learned meant that the very next day your head would burn and peel and skin would fall like shaken asbestos snowflakes in one of those plastic mini-worlds that you don't see much anymore (except at the Hallmark nearest you).

Joe Cocker played on the radio. "Cocker? I don't even know her!" Warrick whispered incredulously. The gas smelt up the room. He told himself he just needed to drink more water. It wasn't so much trail mix blockage he was suffering from, clearly it was more muscular than systemic.

He was a third baseman by birth. The other team kept pounding balls his way and his reflexes, not quite what they used to be but better than most elevator etiquette violators, snared everything within range and his teammates were impressed and the other team said "nice play third" as if he hadn't heard that the other two times he finished in fourth place. He was better than he looked but not quite good enough to matter. His first at bat he swung with all his meek might and missed and struck out and he didn't remember if he had ever done that in such a public forum before.

Warrick's scooter ("scooter, I don't even know her!" he yelped ) stopped scooting. Something was wrong with the carburetor. The gas/air mix wasn't proper. More and more that was the case he had discovered after he burped. He didn't quite come to a complete stop but he surely wasn't moving as fast as he always thought he should. His parts were interchangeable as far as she could tell.

His walls were wet and every time he turned on the lights the fire alarm blared. It wasn't fair or just. It was just beyond fair. All the work they had put into landscaping his yard was constantly blocked out by a big ass ugly car that the neighbors parked in front of his yard like a boy with his finger inside a pleasant smelling unconfirmed dike.

Warrick needed to leave if for no other reason than to improve his posture. His therapist had affixed two strips of tape on his back that would pull his skin if he were to slouch. Those that knew him best probably figured he was no slouch but a move to somewhere other than here probably could confirm that quite firmly if not finally.