Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crazy? Who's crazy.

Conundrums. Puzzles.
"Conundrum?" Sean Connery might ask? "Ah forget it. Your mother is a whore!"
Nevertheless conundrums. Puzzles.
On the horns of a dilemma.
And again, the ridiculous answer.
MAD Magazine showing some poor confused dweeb perched the horns of a bull named Dilemma.
...And on harboring a grudge, there is this troll the dweeb keeps in the basement, rent-free. The boarder looks really pissed off.
Droll troll.

But the pin-spotter in the sky has me today.
Press F for f*ck-up. "Now I've got you, you son of a bitch," from the pin-spotter.

Thirty years the writing of one book.
Thirty years of being pin-spotted on your alley space as a loser.
Thirty years of dodging landlords, income anxiety, bankruptsy, madness, losing entire families--for what?
For the novel, that's what.
But thirty years?
Said my uncle, after ten years. "You haven't even scratched the surface yet."
Said the editor at ANANSI. "Do no more work on this."
The ego screams like a trapped hare.
Not even as good as Anais Nin?
It has not always been like this, though the pin-spotter somewhow manages to set you up you every time.
Not always so, though the obsession was always there.

Celebrating the success of my columns in TOPIC Magazine, Both Sides Now. One year gone by. Fifty-two columns. An award. House in the exuburbs. Beautiful wife and children.
"But I want to be a novelist, not a journalist, Martha!."

Resubmit my novel, THE HAT PEOPLE.
Agent takes it, but he wants money. I am a dweeb. I give him some money.
I wait. Nothing.
In comes the letter. "You have joined our list of aspirants...."
Aspirants? What the hell is this, a creative writing course?
I ask for my money back, and Talisman Enterprises does indeed sent it back.
Next month, Talisman publishes somebody. Not me.

Pin spotter. As they used to say in the Air Force, "Got me by the bag." Last time I actually paid an agent, I somehow, through a wobble in space, and largely by the agen't advice, managed to publish my very first novel....But printed in the magazine I worked for. Does that count?

Ah persisting with the fantasy, the novel I had titled THE HAT PEOPLE..
THE HAT PEOPLE were vicious, menacing phantoms. They were pure energy. They fried people like me because they liked earthly crispy critters.
They came from outer space and they fielded themselves on weakened, failed humans to draw energy from. Energy suckers from Space. Preying on weakened humans who, unlike more able and insigthful humns, had no defenses against alien vampires as better evolved humans had had. The better evolved humans, the better writers knew that things were in the saddle, and they rode mankind. But weakened humans did not know this... Weakened for sure as a the failed writers tried to name the incubus. Name The Hat People, so as to have power over them. But personal power failure in the attempt.

Perhaps an exerpt from something thrown at the hero by THE HAT PEOPLe from outer space. Bowler Hat fell from the sky, beaned, me, like something tossed by Odd Job in OO7.
Hit me full on. Made me mangled, charred grist for the Hat People and their buddy, the sadistaclly grinning pin spotter in the sky... Scratch one loser. He grates:
You will be put back in training camp with the other failed creative writing kiddies.
Scratch one loser. That's where the HAT PEOPLE want you.

But from outward apparances, loser not.
Paid-for house, writing job. Nice family Teaching job as assistant professor.
So what was the beef?
Ukfrainian father says what the hell is the matter with you? "You not have enough to eat?"
If it were only that simple.
A fine madness I am obsessed by THE HAT PEOPLE. I am trying to name them and so rob them of their power. What is crazy about that? (incredulous clucking here from the Hat People).
I have become compulsive, obsessive! My novel, THE HAT PEOPLE will be published or I
will die.

Cut to:

Real life.(At least the unreality of an unreal person):
I surrender the vows, give it all up. Find a garret. Starve.
"Now I've got you you son of a bitch," says the pin spotter.
Got ya pinned. Got you on my list of 'unpublished novelists and other f*ck-ups.' That's not what you wanted, but that's where I've got you."

Today, I burned my final draft of THE HAT PEOPLE.

There was a sense of relief. I am free of THE HAT PEOPLE, which, as my uncle had said, was a negative self-projection in the first place.
I am free of the HAT PEOPLE.
Now if I can only get away from THE PIN SPOTTER.
I'm going to get you, you son of a bitch!


Monday, April 27, 2009

The perfume, the powder and the lead

We were married in the spring, she didn’t want for anything

A lovin’ husband, a little cabin, close to town

Workin’ hard out on the farm, comin’ in to all her charm

Until one day, when the stranger came around

It starts to rain can’t work no more, run to the porch open the door

To their surprise I realize their little game

So what was I supposed to do, oh I could tell he’d been with you

It made me mad and I just couldn’t stand the pain


I can’t believe what I have done, I killed them both with daddy’s gun

As their bodies lay entangled in our bed

He was the sheriffs only son, to me she was the only one

I smelled the perfume, the powder and the lead

--Appalachian song.

A final, irreducible antinomy. Shot them both with Daddy's gun.

Ah, but the truth is more rococo, full of ifs and buts, and how is it that an outraged lothario comes home to find that what was good for the gandder was good for the goose.

Part-Chapter l6 of Light Over Newmaket.

I was now walking down Timothy Street, my home street, and it seemed straight out of a dream and not at all the avenue of warmth, home and pleasure that I had longed for while being so lonely in Mexico. I walked past George's income tax preparation office, past the taxi stand on the left, past all the parking meters in the lot in front of the town hall, past the house across from my own where a guy who looked like Elmer Fudd lived, up on my own gravel driveway to walk up to the front door, to park my two bags on the porch, to go up to the screen door, open the heavy oak to be almost immediately greeted by my children. They were tumbling down the stairs, a little plump in their body-hugging pajamas that made them look like little Pooh-bears and they were shouting "Daddy, Daddy." (They had apparently been sent to bed even though it was only six-thirty). I clutched at Michelle and David and hugged them, picked them both up off their feet and proceeded to walk to the kitchen where Loren was lying back in a chair, very relaxed at the end of the yellow plastic table we had bought a year back.
She was peering up at me, the light a little behind her through the glass of the back porch door, and she seemed very calm and she had this little half-smile on her face and I stared at her as if I were looking at a stranger, for she was now to me not of the Loren in my head. Who was this woman whose entire colouring was strawberry itself, the woman who was regarding me through here newly purchased bee-eye glasses, sexless, seemingly compared to the instant flash of Valerie and her fashionably uplifted eyebrows. Loren seemed to me a pleasant stranger whom I really did not know, perhaps had never really known. She appeared relaxed, calm, oddly cheerful in this situation. One sentence from her, though:

"Kevin, Red is asleep in the other room."

I had a sudden inexplicable flash of jealousy, rage, desire to murder. I examined one of the heavy wooden chair around the white plastic table. I could use one of these to kill the interloper. But kill a man out of hand? Just like that? That would be murder, pure and simple, and it was beginning to dawn on me that I was not entirely the innocent one, the outraged husband.

I was wearing, with my expensive suit, hush puppies of a soft rubber sole. I would not kill my wife's lover, but I could certainly remind him, bring it home to the cuckolder that the husband was back and that the intruder would not soon forget the entering of another man's territory, to woo the wife while hubby was away.

I let the children down on the floor, tenderly though a little faster that I should have, turned on my worn heel and went into the living room where I had somehow missed the sleeping form of Red Stassen on my way in. He appeared to rest so slumberingly on our white linen chesterfield, undisturbed apparently, by all the noise and obvious drama of the situation.

Before attacking the sleeping (or apparently sleeping) form of Stassen, I observed how red he was in colouring, much redder than Loren herself. Wide, flaring nostrils and a rather probing nose.

I kicked Stassen in the face, and kicked him again in the face and in his side and along the shoulder blade and again in the face.

All I heard from him were sighs as if the man were having dreams, as if he were still sleeping.

I kicked him until he fell off the chesterfield, onto the floor and I was about to kick him for about the eighth or ninth time when I felt Loren behind me, yelling "What are you doing? Get out. Get out of this house!" She was pushing me out the open door and I was letting her because it was I who had transgressed first and I didn't really have the right to come into the house and act like a Master when I had in fact abdicated, had left the house to the suitors and the inevitable people of the street, people like Stassen, specifically Red Stassen.

And I was suddenly out into the street, and there was a pause as I stood there with my two bags, and I was making it back toard Main Street and the hotel to try again, when I heard Loren's voice behind me, saying "Wait."

I paused and waited and soon she had the car started up and she said, "Wait, wait. listen, here is what I'll do, I'll drive you to Sals, my sister's and then you can go to your parents' house." And I'm saying that's bullshit, that is my house, our house, why won't you let me come back, and she says, you can't and I am saying, "Look, I've been a cunt." "Don't use that word!" she screamed. "I know. But you have to let me back into the house," and she says No and then I said "I know I've done the wrong thing, but I will get back into our house even if I have to go crazy. Will you visit me in the nuthouse?"

"Yes, but the children won't."

And by this time we were in the GO terminal where she said she had to phone Sal and while I was sitting down while she was phoning, I thought I could hear her saying that she had "had it" and that she could not, would not take me back. I refused to believe my ears.

And then we were back in the car and when was saying for the second or first time that she loved me and her eyes were wild and very ball-like and round through her glasses, and she was saying I..I love you. I will find a way, listen, I will find a way...

From ancient Celtic truth to colloquial suburban soap opera.

We try to be kings, but end up as clowns.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Would you get up in the morning to this chapter?

For the first time in my life, I refuse to get up this morning and face the day. Most of my life I have had more discipline than the Marquis de Sade, though his seemed more through the back door. And a contemporary had said he had known the late Marquis as just a young whippersnapper.
But this morning, discipline is gone.
I have really badf teeth, my mother is sort of fading away at the Home and I can only taste half of my Martini because of the novocaine.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
This was not always so. Car breaking down, hitchhiking to the college, "Why did you have such a Protestant ethic?" asked the Dean's secretary. "You could have called in with the problem."
Protestand ethic gone this morning.
Pull the covers over your head.
Tried the oven, but it's electric.
Black is the colour of my true love's mood.
I have forefed a chapter of my novel, THE HAT PEOPLE to poor ChuckerCanuck 2.0 blog.
I realized through the cutting and pasting that it was small wonder that one editor in the past had said the book had no commerical value.
The style is jejune. I had only scratched the surface of the work I really had in mind, the tragicomedy of a culturally displaced person trying to hold it all Toronto.
Buck up, f*ck up!

Ah well. ChuckerCanuck 2.0 had esablished a thread in his blog. Much of it was a rant against our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for having the gall to ask for outrageous public funds at a time when everybody's economy was bad, bad, bad, and the CBC was no screaming hell when it came to giving Canadians what they wanted. ...Like did I really want to watch Little Mosque on the Prairie?

Throughout the writing of my novel, I had had much contact with CBC executives, some of whom drove me to drink not only in Toronto, but, in, of all places, Copenhagen where I was doing some work as a war correspondent.
Egad. First down and out in Toronto and then down and out in Denmark. But everything is material, and I included my ins and outs with CBC types in a novel chapter, changing all the names.
So here is Chapter 26 of The Hat People, the "Hats" being CBC types.

Seven Canadian journalists, John Lazarowych among them, arrived at the Hotel Haslev in a town in Denmark of the same name. They came in two olive green European Fords rented by the Canadian Forces for the purpose of transporting the newsmen to the various mock battle sites around south Zealand and Lolland Falster, where 11,000 NATO troops were to take part in an exercise. Canada, England and Italy had sent upwards of 1,000 troops each to Denmark, there to meet Danish soldiers in an exercise called RED ARROW, designed to test the rapid development of NATO troops in the event of attack against one of the member NATO countries by "an unnamed hostile power." Public relations officers from the three branches of the Canadian forces had been on hand to meet the Canadian newsmen as they arrived at the military airport. As for the freeloading journalists, there was CBC newsman Sean McKnight and his cameraman Fritz Van de Geer, Jacques Outremont, a young UPI photographer and Olaf Hansen a CBC Winnipeg newsman on vacation in his native Denmark and taking advantage of the companionship and freelance possibilities on Service junkets such as this one.

In the second car were a PR major, a naval petty officer, and the remaining three journalists, Mac Brown of CTV in Ottawa, John Smith of the Hamilton Spectator and John Lazarowych.

Lt. Kevin Robertson, dreamy, tall lanky, sensitive, had driven the lead car and had succeeded in getting the party lost no fewer than three times enroute to Haslev. He kept talking of yoga and peace.

After two hours of enroute boozing by the newsmen (booze supplied free by the army) the party finally arrived tired from the flight and a little drunk at the Hotel Haslev. At the inn, a low chateau-style building, white, impeccable and scrupulously neat, the journalists were shown their rooms, where they stayed just long enough to dump their suitcases before joining Major O'Hare and the two other PR men for a drink. After an hour of war stories offered by the major, increasingly incoherent talk, and frequent trips to the washroom, fatigue and alcohol began affecting everyone. Sean McKnight, CBC Toronto began tales of the Congo where one year he and a camera crew were stranded during the 1964 Katanga uprising. "We started to starve. Ever eat dog?" McKnight was handsome like an afternoon is long. Gone through five wives and was about to divorce the sixth, he demanded a got homage from the group. Major O'Hare suggested they go downstairs for a few more drinks before a late supper and to a man they left, all except John. He knew if he had one more glass of akvavit or two more of the potent Danish beers he would pass out where he sat. He made for his room, tried to sleep there but couldn't. Strange country, strange place, strange people. One ego trying to outdo another in a joke or in topping a story of a previous trip. A young media type, he was a child along children.

When he came downstairs, the six were seated in a dining room, spotless with white tablecloths and oak panelling. The food hadn't come yet and the group was still drinking. Sean McKnight noisiest and most affected by the booze, was carrying on a discussion of Portnoy's Complaint with Lt. Kevin Robertson, who was trying to impress McKnight with the fact that he hated the army, had a university degree in sociology and English Literature, and that he wished like hell he'd never heard of a plan called the Regular Officers Training Programme. McKnight and Olaf Hanson, the vacationing CBC newsman embarked on an akvavit drinking competition, belting down the pleasant tasting overproof stuff as if it were orange juice. It was a hard scene to take in without one's self being really bombed. McKnight and Hansen may well have been two drunks emptying the radiator of a bulldozer. McKnight was beginning to lose the competition, slowing down, holding back a retch. Hansen laughed at him. McKnight poured off before McKnight smashed a jigger against the glass Hansen's held. Then he threw it at his head. The laughter stopped. Both men were stone drunk. McKnight, feeling that he had won, but hardly able to stand up, moved towards the stairs and somehow made it to his room there to pass out immediately. Hansen, dazed, too drunk to really feel affronted, stood up and also made for his own room. He was seen two hours later passed out in a bathtub, a trail of vomit behind him.

After the last newsman went to bed. John Smith of the Hamilton Spectator woke up screaming at 5:30 in the morning and had to be sedated with a swig of rum by young Outremont, who never did get his proper sleep because McKnight had got up from bed, called him in a sleep state a "stupid fucking Frog" and gone back to sleep. At 5:45 a.m. Hansen opened his eyes to see whom he had just punched to find Sean McKnight trying to fondle him.

At six a.m. the First Battallion of the Canadian Guards landed two miles south of their intended position ending up on the edge of a squadron of 'enemy' tanks, and according to exercise referees, losing 60 percent of the Canadian force.

At eight a.m. a surprisingly alert Major O'Hare woke everyone up, issued little Canadian lapel pins and said something about every Canadian being and ambassador of the country he came from. After two days of army snafus ending in the total wipe-out of the Canadian continent, the journalists were on their own time. In four more days, an air force Yukon would take them back home. The seven journalists made for Copenhagen.

Once in the city, John split. He didn't want to see them again until they were all collected in the Yukon that would take them back. Free and alone at last, John walked out of his hotel room first thing in the morning to find a city like he's never seen. No high rise Toronto, no polluted Montreal, Copenhagen suggested cleanliness order a renaissance style of beauty. The Carlsberg art museum rich with French impressionists, awe inspiring sculpture and whole Egyptian tombs. Girls on bicycles, blond and leggy. Whole streets built entirely for pedestrians. Handsome, fair people, tall intelligent, most fluent, marvellously fluent in several languages. And the immense sculptured fountains, which spoke from the earth and spewed their message. And buildings like Durer woodcuts. By the second day, John began to feel, in the face of this great northern civilization like a country bumpkin. All these years of writing about culture purely through the acquisition of an essay style borrowed from Montaigne and Eric Hoffer, all the lofty pronouncements on the state of the arts-all without having been to Europe since the first time around, when he and his family had run across it, always behind retreating armies. Only his origin was European. He was yet another gawking American tourist, a colonial sheisskopf. By noon, he was sorry that he'd left the others. After years of saying yes to the philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, about the desirability of solitude, about the need to avoid the marks that people leave on each other, he found he didn't like being alone in a strange and obviously superior culture. He the self styled philosopher, home-grown Kierkegaard and cultural critic. He thought he'd go to the park, near the waterfront, to see the mermaid there. He had to see people in the worst way. He passed a sex shop, and like any good Canadian boy, bought a packet full of four colour jerk off photos. Feeling the erection hot in his pants from the first look at the healthy robust orgyists. No cheap Montreal porn this, no stocking over face. Smiling healthy people, eating each other out, having sex sideways, backwards in every position. But there was composition, here, an attempt at art. John forgot the mermaid and the park and went to his hotel room to jack off. By midnight, he ripped up his pornography into little pieces, the old Catholic guilt haunting him. Had he kept it, he was afraid he'd lose his sight. Here was art edited to elicit only one response from the beholder: the power to masturbate five times in an evening without flagging. Perhaps of such ilk are many would-be intellectuals. The next day, John was back in the streets, wandering around. He felt a mild panic. What's the matter with me? Here I am in the sex capital of the world, in the prettiest city in the world, Copenhagen everybody back home talked of this city as an experience. Why am I so spooked? He wanted to be with people. He felt add with his little Canadian flag on his lapel his ready smile and his dependency in restaurants and stores. By the third day, he continued to feel self-conscious and alarmed. He met an American girl at a sidewalk café. Back home he would have probably been able to take her to bed, let alone just have company as he needed now. Dark, about 29, tiny and from New York, she sensed the growing panic in him. She had initially caught his eye, she was the first one interested. But when he began to speak, the hesitant words, the tentative sentences cooled. He could not order her a drink and she walked away from the table five minutes after he had come to her. It wasn't `till yeas later that he realized he'd met Erica Jong.

That night he sat in his hotel room alone and drank a bottle of akvavit he had bought. As if to punctuate his sense of self consciousness and visceral culture shock, he had looked at a red lettered light to the left of the elevator after he got off. It read I FART. Next morning he looked up his newspaper buddies. He would be gross, drink to the point of being sick, would ogle girls and make stupid, crass comments. He would bring up in washrooms. Anything, anything, just to be with his own kind, in company again. On the plane back, he joined a lineup of soldiers, all with newly bought pornography in their pockets, and all standing lined up half way across the Atlantic to get into that private cubicle and masturbate.

Style is jejune, isn't it? A litle precisous. I am an artiste, Martha!

...Ah well. One response from ChuckerCanucks 2.0 blog anyway:

Ivan,I just read your Chapter 1 and I can't wait for the next episode....This is much more enlightening than J.R.Sauls'ramblings. (John Ralston Saul aspires to be the top philosopher in Canada).

Hm. "If you could reach just one person..."

Think I'm finally going to get up this morning and hope to find more reviews.

If you can reach just one person...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Maudlin and "Maughing"

Potted biographies.

Favourite device of the journeyman novelist.

Potted biographies. You have your list of characters. They all have histories. You place their histories in little pots you can uncork when you need to refer to why a character actually does something and how he/she does it.
W. Somerset Maughan says, however, that the writer actually ends up painting his own face, potted biogriaphies or no.
This is corroborated by one Miss Lizzie who seems to say, "Just write!"
Well, that is the way it usually works for me.
Procrustes' bed. Lay it down first, and superimpose the plot later.
But I can't get over Maugham's brilliant THE SUMMING UP.
Wonderful writer, at times, and Maugham's overall success in his plays. But, as people have asked me, "Are writers really human?"

I have seen your face, Billy-boy.

And I have no doubt as to Willie's sailor fantasies about being blown ashore.

He had needs. And marriage for him was a disaster.

I am given to understand that Maugham disowned his daughter

His vast millions? The inheritance? I don't know.
And his poor, ignored wife.
As if we ourselves were not guilty--oh how guilty!
Some of the things we have done in this dark age, would cause even poor old St. Augustine to blanch. Or W. Somerset Maugham.

Potted biographies.
Past lovers in bottles. Auras, really, some auras powerful, almost incandescent. The bottle shines bright, as if full of fireflies on a May night, when you and she, --her eyes responsive -- were in your bower, yourselves like two winking fireflies.

Now it's just you and your potted biographies.

The past is gone.

Today, a scene become gauche.

The past wafts around you at the oddest times.

Sometimes, of all places, it is in the shower that we sort out parallel universes;or maybe it's more rococo than that.
We men. Rococo, rococo in the shower.
Gets really rococo. Like Kirk Douglas singing that godawful tune in .20,OOO Leagues under the sea.

There was Typhoon Tessie
Met her down in Madagascar...

And all the times we have hurt the one we loved.

Just like The Augustine might say, we suffer (enjoy?) the auras of our past lovers.

I am a hell of a lot older than the revered Bishop of Hippo at his death, so my auras are all but overwhelming.
Somebody's face is nuzzling against my thigh. It is Celia, the most powerful of the auras, and I hardly had all that much to do with her sexually. Why the strong, almost magnetic pull? Because she was a lot like me, and like tends to attract like, and though a writer's worst enemy may be another writer, this was a female writer and women are best at the plays of relationship known as fiction, and she could really get write fiction.
Unpublished, though, but really banging against the wall of my lifeboat at one time as I tried to madly paddle back to a sinking marriage. . Celia, gorgeous young Faye Dunaway. We were a little like Bonnie and Clyde.We robbed memory banks.
Why did I not go to her soon enough?
There is the soul and its accusations.



You had no scrupulocities with your your cycle sluts and and a rutting pig with even the one who loved you most.

Ah but Tristan and Isolde.

The haunting presence of another halo, male. King Mark, I was the Tristan in the piece?

Would King Mark have slain me if he'd seen us in the act vulgarly known as sixty-nine?

Would he have just said, Hello then, let's have a cup of tea, shall we?
But he was not British, :)


Potted biographies.

My own potted biography. The older I get, the more I think of the past, but it is reallya pastiche of parallel universes.

I am in Denmark. I am in Spain. I am in my ancestral home home, Chernobyl, Ukraine.
Rarely is it these days that I fully realize I am in Canada, that Chernobyl of the spirit, where there has been a meltdown, an apparent dying of the country's spirit as its giants, the Northrop Fryes and McLuhans and Penfields and Bantings rise up to the sky, fingers pointed accusingly... And hardly anyone was noticing.

With the death of McLuhan, everything died spiritually. "Leave the poor man alone," said McLuhan's wife to the jealous academics. "You are killing him." They did. And with that, cutting-edge Toronto had to give it all up. We are now Baltimore's Maryland, soon slated, probably, for ugly urban renewal. One of the paradoxes.

Potted biographies.

Well, the giraffe prof is countering what the Zebra prof had just said.

Forget plot. Use character. Character is everything. Character IS plot.

You write your first draft on the fly, just let one word follow another, forget the sophistication you want to convey, just do it, do it to that last page 300 where you finally write THE END.
It is shit, yes, but out of shit grows the flower.Then you go into the second draft, another five hundred pages, two hundred of which you will have to throw away. Still want to be a novelist?
It is a technique (some Satanists would say a Technology ) ninety-nine per cent talent, ninety-nine percent hard work and ninety-nine percent imagination. And potted biograhies. Especially your potted biography.

"I was born..."
John Fowles " I was born the son of middleclass parents, themselves under the shadow of that monstrous dwarf, Victoria...It soon became apparent that I was not equipped by heredity to be the person I wanted to be..."

Now don't that turn your brown eyes blue?

How did John Fowles arrive at his book? He has no idea and says so. "I just wrote and wrote, hardly knowing what I was doing."

First draft.

Potted biographies. His own autobiography in a huge pot?

The potted biographies really go into your second draft; that's where you flesh out the characters, that is where
things click into place. That is where they do what they do because they have no choice. That is where you do what you do because you had no choice. Your biography,

I am still in the shower.
Use your vices, your alchollism, your lechery, your addiction to tobacco--as rewards. Do not just surrender to your vices, your piggishness. Use your vices as a reward when you finally succumb.

Surrounded by the auras of all the past lovers.
Like Philip Roth somewhere, you are likely to masturbate and that will take all the sanctity out of it. Yeah. Noble as hell.

Jacques Barzun: More people f*ck than philosophize.

But then, Jerzy Kosinski: If you must masturbate, do so, and you could even try writing about it as a Gongorist trick.
And Philip Roth took the advice, hook, line and stinker.
Produced a book called "Whacking Off."

O how profound, we male writers!.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wigged out prof ploughing the vinyard

A token male (let alone Ukrainian) in Seneca's College's English department, I was eventually cashiered, stripped of epaulets, moustache and medals and sent out into the desert of Main Street Newmarket like a badly behaved Legionnaire.

Ten years of teaching gives you an authoritarian complex, you've got to lecture, compare, explain.

Having no one to lecture to (my wife had had enough and had moved out) I went out to the park here known as Fairy Lake there to lecture to ducks, geese and assorted raccoons.

I went to Wilkinson's Photograhic Studios here as a PR rep , and not having much to do but write some radio copy here and there, I lectured to anybody who'd listen until even Bruce Wilkinson got tired of it, and decided I might make a pretty good tripod for his cameras, albeit a little noisy.

What to do when you're a fallen professional?

I got into politics and they burned my house down.

Homeless, I went back to lecturing ducks. Some would shuffle notes around the grass. Others would look up with some interest, but would stop paying attention once they realized that I had eaten all the bread in my bag.

I went out to milllionaire Frank Stronach's farm to lecture horses, but these were an elite breed, holding their tinted cigarettes between hooves and pasterns, adjusting their Sixties-style blinkers and commenting on my lectures with loud whinnies and horselaughs.

"Go back to ducks," seemed the message.

Unpublished horses and unskilled bongo players really piss me off.
I had to work now to eat.

Eventually I got a job in an auto parts department, upon which time my girlfriend at the time complained that my lovemaking had become somewhat mechanical.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on

The reception wasn't too bad. They all seemed to know me at Shanahan Ford around these uh, parts, but after seeing me for the third time, head and feet sticking out from a load of mufflers and exhaust pipes, the thrill was gone. The same thing at 400 Auto Wreckers when I decided to take an asthma fit right outside the office because of leaks in my ancient delivery vehicle. Feeling Not so much like a gassed Kurd, but more like something of a turd, I soldiered on after the wreckers brought me to.

There is a line out of old Beverley Hillbillies that goes like: You're an artist, you have to suffer. Boy, are you going to suffer when you find out that the construction crew screwed up and dumped cement not at your poolside, but all over your new BMW.

Story of my life.

Just like MAD's version of "Prince Violent", I somehow always manage to "pick up bow, drop quiver, pick up quiver, drop chainmail pants."

Eventually I got a freelance writing job at the Georgina Advocate.

Ah dues, dues, how long does one pay one's dues?

This morning, a funny thing happened to me at the food bank.
They gave me a popcorn making kit, but I had no mircrowave.
Heh. I do recall my wife observing that in temperament that I seemed a lot like Sylvia Plath, along with some tendencies, and "Ivan, you got your head in the oven again?"

Ah well. The poem. The poem.

Was it all worth it?

Well, let's see:

He saw the teardrop on the rose
And again, he saw the teardrop on a rose
And he knew he could never melt the teardrop
And he knew this was already the end

So he kissed the face of the evening wife
As he had kissed it before, in all its varying forms
And again said hello to a precipice of silence
A precipice of silence
For his eighteen months of loving

The Queen of Swords is crossed over
And all the king's horses and all the king's men
Are trying to get her together again
like me
To no avail.

Gigolo and Gigolet
This side of the lake of mutilation
Strike a match
And the hotel burns

There is only
this path of silence
As we dump our gods
And become like them


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Strung out on cheap (cheap?) drugs. A vision in a teacup I once saw....

Another Novocaine high.

What follows are some my rhumenations on Mexico and a part-act for media Writer Monique-- for maybe to entertain herself with till I get it together to produce something for her in her MIDDLE DITCH.

Ah, the nature of the beast.
Why do we writers absolutely burn outselves out, leaving ourselves vulnerable, psychologically unprepared, immune system down--to be absolutely bowled over in any crisis, domestic or work-related.

Thirty years ago, on a bright June day I had completed, in San Miguel Allende, a novel on which I produced 35 pages a day, proof copy. I was glad to place the THE END at the end.

I had been on a regimen of tequila, strong Nescafe, marathon sex to relax, and all kinds of Corona de Baril beer so I could sleep...There wasn't that much sleep, as I had run a cross a nymph at the Jardine, town square. "Are you a Wood Nymph," I asked, half jokingly. "No," she had said. "Just a nymph."

So here is a man going to hell fast, while producing 35 proof pages a day.

No sooner do I complete the book than I get a Dear John from somebody.

Wheeeeee. Whoooooosh. Nininaninaninoona!

"You are crazed," said my mistress.

"I am crazed," I agreed.

Run, don't run. Grab a plane, don't grab a plane. Kick ass. Don't kick ass. One million dollars at stake in bank account and property...And I had to go on this marathon writing thing, leaving myself as weak as light beer.
The wood nymps starts to pour the love on, trying to get me to relax, to pour out the madness, extend it, get me back to myself, whoever that was.

I can not paint, but I was surely Gaugin. Gaugin and his Wahines. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and 35 pages a day. Mexico on 35 pages a day.


The god wants a price and old Scrooge was coming to collect.

I had given my life for art, whoever the f*ck Art was.

So here we are doing it again, creditors at the door, old partner still wanting to argue and we're trying for 35 pages a day.

It is at this point, probably that the landlord will come knocking, the collection agency guy with a lawyer, my anus will fall off and I'll be signing myself into the jigsaw puzzle assembly plant.

Magnificent obsession.

And leading to where?


Nature of the beast.

Act II

Scene Three



(MUSIC IN BG: "All My Love's in Vain", by the Rolling Stones. UP, then fade to bg.)


Ah, she was on my frequency all right. On my frequency in spades. Or was it the Rolling Stones?


Well i followed her to the station
With a suitcase in her hand


Ah, the Stones doing the Robert Johnson, that man who knew of the pathos of life, black but not always blue, a genius, and the Stones ripping him off. Ah, but there are times when Mick can write too. On my frequency, yes.
let's have some frequency modulation.

MUSIC IN BG: Segue to "You Can't Always Get What You Want', by the Rolling Stones. From guitar ride to:...

I saw her at th reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna make her connection
In her glass there was a footloose man


Yes, somebody had made Celia into his novel. Somebody has made me into a novel. Brilliant bastard.
And was I to be the bleeding man at the bottom of Celia's glass?
Ah, that first night with Celia, Lief passed out in the next room...


SCENE: The professor and Celia are still on the same living room set. They are dancing,somewhat intensely to
Robert Johnson's 'All My Love's in Vain', done by the Rolling Stones. They stop when the music stops, and return to the chesterfield.
She begins to unzip the professors fly.
The professor is beginning to wake up, wake up to this tender trap.

Hey. Hey. What goes on between you and Lief? What is your relationship anyway? You are a married woman after all.

Celia takes a sip of her white wine. She is beautiful. Nice, high forehead. Flesh-coloured lipstick. Blonde hair abob.


Lief and I have an open marriage. He has male friends. He has female friends. I have female friends. I have male friends.

"You want another drink?"

"I think I'd better.



What the hell?

(touching the professor's shoulder):
Oh don't be startled, David. Lief is upstairs looking for that insurance policy. We are remortgaging the house. None of us have been able to find that old policy. I told him it was up there in the attic somewhere.

Three a.m. and looking for an insurance policy? And starkers? I thought Lief had passed out.

(giggling). Tacky, isn't it? Leif and I will drive you home in the morning. You can stay the night.

Did I ever tell you I was in the army?
I would give my mitt-bag, my kit bag, even my shit-bag to tarry then nigh."


( be continued. But if the writer wakes up sober, probbably not...)


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Horrid dentistry. Bad taste in my mouth. And a blog in bad taste.

Warning: This blog was written on a novocaine high.

Oral surgery all week.

Like shots to the head.

Leaves you enervated. Full of pain. And sometimes thoughtful if a little bent.

My mouth is full of pain. My penis droops.

It has now come to this. Frog prince has again become a fugly-ucker. Like an aging starlet, I "need work".
I had asked my doctor about further work.
"We can not enlrarge it, Ivan.
Well, what would have been the point anyway.
Oh Dr.Freud, my wee-wee is largely unemployed.
My sex life, what there was left of it was largely in the land of shot horses and fallen women, usually with vibrators.
What other people might call perversions, we called refinements.
Yet what a joy and surprise to find yourself in a beautiful woman's bed where eight hours ago you had been sleeping in a parking lot. The writer thing: Loneliness and art, as any cad knows, are deadly with women... And maybe gay communal farmers.
I swear in the course of my misguide life, I have been hit upon by at least five sexes.
The gay patholotist's wife had said, "I piss on your degree.
You are a strange man."
Strange indeed. Offered me fifty dollars if I would dump on his chest. I declined. But a nearby roofer, down on his bucks, offered to vounteer.
Met the roofer again that night.. "Hey, it wasn't so bad. Nobody's paid me fifty bucks for a having a sh*t before.
"But on his chest?"
Dr. Crippen is a strange man. So is the roofer.
So is the gay communal farmer outfits himself in tights and prances like Rapunzel among the corn rows.
"You can keep your Superman comics!"

The hell of it is that all these guys are rich and successful
while you're still hawking your novels in the streets.
At what point did you decide to be a writer, at what point did you lose your mind?
A million in the bank. A wife who loves you. Beautiful children. And you chuck it all to try to be Carlos Castaneda.
Sorcerer's apprentice. Psychic researcher.
Psychotic researcher. Come home with two goats ande a novel, the goats standing around, waiting to be told what to do. I was, after all, their boss.
More Canadian writers have come home like that. Fifty thousand dollars in Canada Council grant. Two goats, and more often than not, no novel. Waste of taxpayer money.
And the goats standing around wondering what to do.

But I did interfview some goats and came back with a story.
You've probably read it before in this space, but my head aches, I have delusions, so would you take a used story from this man? I am, in my illness arrogant enough to say this is at least as good as the Canada Council crap they have been publishing of late..


In an old prairie dugout, there lived a goat.
Goats seem eternally peeved, that superior expression, but Andreas the Goat was not really peeved; quite happy, really. Did he not have what he wanted, the supply of scraps at the nearby junkyard, the good feeling he got from the Jimson weed and chicory, the late middle age age which had now cooled his passion, True, the young she-goats still showed interest, though this more for his old daddy goat appeal than anything else. He was a handsome old goat.

One day, another goat passed his way. A young-old nanny ...She still had a prance to her gambol, as if very youthful, but a little gray in her dapple showed she was almost as old as Andreas.
The old goat regarded the new arrival with some interest. Meeehh, he bleated, almost out loud. There was, inexplicably, a Meeh-ing response.
Andreas did a slight double-take, but he composed himself. Always be cool around females. "Hello. Come closer. What's is your name, little she-goat,what's your name? "

"Yasmine." she bleated.

She clacked along the gravel to his hideout and came closer. He could now see her face. The cutest little snout, though he could could see by the reddened blacks of her comma eyes that she had been into something.. Funny weed? Perhaps a bit of fermented barley down by the sump pump. She had certainly was on something.
Oh not again, the old goat thought. These kids, always grazing on those devil weeds. And the adults just as bad.

She was now right up to him and went to almost pass him, though rubbing a little along his rough hide.
It had struck Andreas that it had been so long, so long since there had been a horn-to-horn. Or even close contact with a female.

But just as soon as she had come up, she suddenly turned on a cloven hoof and seemed about to run away..
But he followed and trotted beside her.

"What's your last name," he asked.



"Yes. Yasmine Springbok."

"Icelandic,?" he asked.

"No, South African.

And with that, she seemed to just spring away from him, as she had done just before.,soon to disappear through silver-and-blue Russian olive bushes.

These spacey drug freak nannies, they're all the same, the old goat thought. So much into power plays, games, control. Use you as a sounding board. Tease you and run off.

But her scent, the recent nearness of a female, had awakened something in Andreas.

For some time, the old goat had noticed his thoughts were more in the past than the present. Manger scenes, back in the days wheh he'd had a family, kids, barns, chickens. All gone now. All grown up. Or maybe worse. He winced at the thought.
Always the new she-goat. that's how it had always been up until he grew old. Never mind, Yasmine Bleat, or whatever your name is, I will tend to my grazing, see my reflection in the old glass windshields around the garbage dump. What a fine old goat I am. I don't need anything or anybody. I am a rock. I am an island.

But Yasmine kept coming around.

At first she seemed to ignore him as she gambolled past, but he had to admit she was raising old- goat passions in him, not only the hint of an erection he was starting to feel along his scrabbly belly, but also some sort of promise that Yasmine seemed to hold.

One day she came right up to the old goat and said,"I will give you whatever you want. Anything at all. Whatever you want, real or imagined.
"Nutcase," he decided. Off-the-wall she-goat probably Iberian. Gypsy. Best keep to myself."

But on the third day she came back with an old soup can can in her mouth, which suddenly, inexplicably, turned into a flower.
The old goat pawed at the ground, but here, suddenly was a bunch of carrots. "How you doo dat?" the old goat asked, trying to show casualness, not the sudden, strange supernatural fear.

I am she-goat, mistress of goathood. I can make you horny. I can de-goat you if I choose. I can make you magic. I am Isis-goat. I know you better than you know yourself."

Never met a goat like her before.

They took to running around together, past the trees, past the birds, past the clucky stampeding chickens, through the yard and into a grove of Russian olives, spiky and hard to get near, let alone eat. "Got something to show you, said Yasmine. Come."
Andreas followed, followed her down a glade to the hollowed-out stump of an old oak tree, ancient, thick, though the inside was rotted out, leaving a circular ruin all around. One end was open, and inside, there was space for two or three goats, as if in a pen. There, inside the old oak stump there was a nest of spiders, just babies really, scrambling for cover. Yasmine suddenly went to stomp them, and in fact, trampled a couple. The others got away.
Andreas was surprised at this sudden show of atavism. Who, what was she really? Andreas had a sudden feeling of unreality as . the hollowed oak stump seemed suddenly alive, all ashimmer. . "Do not be afraid," said Yasmine. This is only a show of my power. I can give you anything you want. Anything at all. And then she knelt on her front legs and produced the vision of a past manger scene, the old goat's former mate, the kids, the chickens. All he had to do was walk into it and there he would be.But Andreas just stood there tranfixed, wondering at the unreality of it all. And just as soon as the scene dissipated, she scrambled for a wall and was suddely gone.

It took a long time for the old goat to return to the dugout.

He was much changed old goat.

Seven years of rooting around the old dugout that he had lived in
And for the first time, he'd learned something. But what was it?

He yearned to see the young-old she-goat again.

One morning, he saw two goats up on the rise, a fine billy and along with him, Yasmine.

Son of a wanton goat! he thought. I should have known.

But the following day she was back, alone, her mysterious companion not there.

"I want you to love me," she said, rather matter-of-factly. I want you to love me. Spiritually, like a goat-knight.
I will give you anything you want." And suddenly, between them, there sprung a clump of olives. Andreas had a taste. Not at all like stale Campbell's soup. Something in those olives though. He could feel, sense the ramaining baby spiders in the stump's walls. Could see them spinning their little gossamer webs, and the mother now nearby.
He made to tell Yasmine how he was feeling, but she was not there now.. She was gone again..

She came back that evening, and, after some rubbing against him, unexpectedly, presented herself to him. Andreas was in goat heaven. He took her. And afterwards, without much ado, she went to run off again. "Stay," said Andreas.

But she gave him a quick nuzzle and she was again gone.Seven days went by. No Yasmine.

He saw the mysterious he-goat again, alone this time, up high on the knoll. Soon another goat joined the handsome Sean Connery- goat. It was Yasmine.
Andreas could see by the familiarity displayed between them that they were, it seemed, still in love. "And me, what about me?"

She showed up alone the following evening.He was half-made with jealousy and woe.


"You can't get everything from just one goat," she asserted. I am with him, but I love you."


And she was gone again.

Nights were now spent in fits of jealousy and discontent. He would do this, he would do that. He would butt heads with the mysterious lover.
And one day he did. He saw the two of them up on the rise again and ran right up. "You got a problem? said handsome Sean Connery- goat. "Yeah, I've got a problem." And with that, he gave the handsome stranger a pretty good grazing. The stranger did not fifght back. "Leave him alone," Yasmine bleated. "Leave my husband alone."

Andreas walked back down the hill, to his shed. He had a sense of clairvoyance. He thought, as he had run away that he heard Yasmine say, "There is a reason for everything. I had come to you for a reason."

He sulked in his "apartment." So that was it. They are married. Well,he had his pen, he had his food and he had his certainties. It was an episode, a learning experience, old as he was.I will be a rock. I will be a hill. I will keep to myself.

Yasmine did not come around again.He grew to be his old self again, his certainties, the "key" his pen.

One morning,something compelled him to leave his pen, and leave fast. There was the sound of heavy machinery just above. He was out just before a massive bulldozer razed his home.

And high up on the knoll, again, he saw Yasmine. Alone. She was making moves to go back down to the other side of the knoll. She had almost disappeared now.. He had no idea why, or what he would do, and could he do it. But he suddenly made to follow.Soon, he was up on the rise, with Yasmine still in sight.

I think I am still high on novocaine!


Monday, April 13, 2009

The Left-going Zax and the Right-going Zax

Keep busy or go mad," says Voltaire.

Full moon just over, I still feel an episode coming on, probably from getting too many bangs on the head, not from a misspent youth, but, damn it all, Saul, misspent middle age.
For a long time, the incident--say it on--accident was just a recurrent dream of the future I had until one day it actually happened.

I hate to drive through rural Arkansas as they are a little short of money there and I swear they will torpedo you into an accident just to keep you around town for a while.
So there I was about a hundred mile west of Little Rock and someone with his lights off pulls out of a right service station lane just in front of me and prangs the right front of my little Dodge, knocks me cold as I hit the driver's side door window. I had wondered what had spiderwebbed the window glass till I realized it had been my head. Blackout...
I came to which the Sherrif's deputy asking me if I was all right. He had been directing traffic all around me and and the other car, which was now at right angles to my front, blocking traffic.There were no lights, on his cruiser..
The story will remain short, but in the three-day motel stay in town X, I saw three other out-of state drivers get into exactly my kind of accident. They used to tell us at the Toronto Star, that when something happens three times, you can then consider it a fact.
It is a fact that the road leading into that town with its tiny hidden cross-lanes was a deathtrap and the other tourists had not been as lucky as me. Serious injury. Hospitalization. Good thing I had money and insurance. And a hard head.

Yet to this day, I don't see as well with my right eye as the left. There is a predisposition to mood swings as the memory of that crash lingers. That and the fact that since that accident, I had been in a number of bar fights with irate Scottish footballers. Arrogance. Even whorishness, "I'll take you all on, Mother....ers!
Well did they ever give me a proper Stopped the blows with my head. Good move, Rowdyman!
...So I could hardly now sue that town back there in Arkansas. I needed to sue the Bayview Thistle soccer team in Newmarket, Ontario.
"You've got that punched-out look," my girlfriend observed in the morning. "Nothing like having your partner come home with a black eye."
I affected a Mexican vaquero, "'Pues." it will pass.

...But it was probably that accident that had made me go off kilter and, with all five- eight me thinking I was King Kong. Brain damage. Had to be. I had always explained to bar rednecks, even those with accents that I was a lover
and not a fighter. I really should have gone to hospital back there in Arkansas but the State Troppers said there was no need.
Blame it on the car crash. It was my mother who was the crazy one. Me? Sound as a dollar. Yet why was I picking on Scotsmen twice my size? My father had always warned me to take it easy. "Mother? She's sharp as a tack. It's you I worry about." Poor mother. In and out of the pistachio assembly plant.. The nuts don't seem to fall too far from the female walnut.
I did black out one more time after being hit in a bar. I woke up in the lounge area of Section Eight hospital ward. Saw some patient answering the phone. "Nut house!"
I resisted yelling, "Get me out of here!" as this would have surely prolonged my stay.
Ah, what can you do but drink and laugh about it.

Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, here comes my wagon.
I can hear my keeper calling me
Just like the nuts that fall
I'm a little cracked that's all
Ding, Ding, Ding Ding, here comes my wagon.
My wagon
My twuck

...Well, Mark the poet, I'm not sure if that was in four-foot iambs, but I think I just seen one. I saw a four-foot iamb right in front of me, right now.
Too much Dr. Seuss in my youth, I suppose.

There was a left-gong Zax and a right-going Zax...



Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It is Good Friday, and on this full moon, one feels exactly as if he himself were in Garden of Gethsemane.
Christ in the garden, and T.S. Eliot too, though it might just be mid-life crisis.But did Eliot ever have one for all time!:

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.


Oh, "leave us not to be separated...."
...But what does it matter now, that one is over the hill, and it might not be so much them, or it or her that you miss, but your own soul catching up with your body.

One is certainly in some sort of quantum state here on this full moon. Not in the Garden of Gethsemane and the agony there, but in some sort of transition state between the tomb and ascention.
Quantum state. Do not touch me! Between the subjunctive and the indicative, unformed quantity, and changing, given to chance, and then the leap.

Robert Bell:
First, no amount of success can heal a person’s soul. In fact, success makes it worse… If you have issues around your identity, those issues will not go away if you “make it”. They will be there until they are hunted down and identified and dealt with. We often live under the illusion that when we reach that goal and complete our mission, those issues that churn on the inside will go away.

But it’s not true.

Says Ivan, "But it is true. I know it from experience. There was a time when it waa all together. (But as for right now):

- This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks


Says Ivan again:

But there was a time when the path was pure. He had fought his way up the mountain and down the plain. There was a reward. He had met the One.

Marriage was the Garden of Eden.

Yet that Adam's Apple. Can it be that plain?


This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks

Eliot wrote of Ash Wednesday. But it is already Good Friday.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Black Christ has come

Why write a complete novel? Jorge Luis Borges asks. That would be too tedious, too much a labour." I only write the story, the reader assuming that a larger work already exists and I make allusions to it as if indeed it did exist."

So, being a Borg for Borges I write my own ficcione with the assumption that a larger work exists.

A child of war, he remembers himself and his family living in holes along the Rhine, where the bombers came every day and every night, along the river across which the Americans were laying their Bailey bridges, one dead soldier-engineer for every yard of boat-pontoon.There were still German soldiers wth their 88's up on the banks.
Abaove, were spectacular air battles the ME 262 jets firing cannon into the tails of B-17's from incredible distances, leaving holes in the American bombers big enough for a man to fall through. And the little ragdolls did, followed by wispy parachutes. The farmers hardly went out to pitchfork them any more. German soldiers stripping off their uniforms and walking around in their longjohns till some Bauer offered a shirt.
White flags on staves out of the pigeonholes in the Rhine banks, fashioned from the discardedd long johns. And sheets, tablecloths.We are civilians. We surrender. And now so many soldiers in alpine hats and lederhosen.
Also Sprach Zarathustra.
One Superman lay dead, only his long-johns and torn cape flapping from a pole.
At night, the Americans could not see the white flags, of whatever the material, and howiitzer rounds would walk the escarpment occasionally hitting a granny and her bag of rice spilled all over the dead vinyard.
The denizens came out of thei holes for the rice, dodging the bullets.
The American tanks and trucks came across on the Bailey bridges one morning. Full of hapy singing negroes. Cigarettes, gum, Hershey Bars.
The black Christs had come.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

LIfe's got me by the Peter

There are people who tell me I am sucess-shy.
Certainly gun-shy of late.
Every so often I hit a publishing streak, get myself on the staff of a magazine, Wirite up a storm, get an honourable mention if not a premier award, get a writing grant, and they all say "you go boy."
But wise old editors say, more often than not,"Good. But can you keep it up?" Well, usually I can, but after about a year, I run out of gas. Expending all that adrenaline, drinking jugs of coffee and about twelve beers at night to come down with; I do a roman candle. Fizz! The image is more complete since there is smoke seemingly coming out of all my apertures, whoosh!-- from the cigarettes I'm chain smoking.
A friend once explained myself to me. "Nice guy, IQ of probably of a mildly retarded girl, Normal, I guess.
"But then he cranks himself up on all those legal chemicals, does a Brewster McCloud, Icarus with flames shooting out of his ass, Whoosh. Crash. Per Ardua ad Terra.

Brewster McCloud, from that old movie, wings patched back up, climbing the terraces of the Houston Astrodome again, to launch himself once more. And wow. Flight.
But for how long?
If the wings don't melt, the cops'll get ya.

Getting to the top nearly every time, but durn, no stamina.
"Good. But can you keep it up?"
Mostly no.
I got as far as magazine editor. Takes some brains, art aptitude, even cunning, because the young Turks are all around, out for your scalp.

But then the incubus that thing that seem to sit on your chest, draining all that artiificial life out of you, that energy you'd hoarded from all that coffee, all those cigarettes and all that booze.
Struggling with the incubus.
Like a psycho. "Get off!"

The episode passes.
But there is still an enervation. Weakness.
On top, and out of gas.

Perhabs my metaphors are too vague.
Put it this way: A cartoonist become successful. But they put him in a cage, where only a scant lunch is served by a grudgingly admiring jailer now and again. His ediorial keepers demand more and more from him, poor starving pokemon, until one day there is just an india ink splat on the tile floor and the skeleton of a hand.holding pen. This is success? Yes. More often than not.

There are of course those who are like the Enegrizer Bunny, they kee going and going and going. Dave Letterman comes to mind. But then another coronary. Gotta retire. Even Leno is slowing down.
And the life went out of MAD Magazine decades ago.
(I get notes from the wonderful Willie Elder, creator of Melvin Mole, a Man out of Conrol. But with Mr. Willie it's age and not burnout. He never did burn out and keeps drawing up to this day).
But myself, I am Mr. Burnout.

Two years to get an idea. Another six months to sell it.
Sell it big time....They want more material!
And then blank.NeeNeeNanneeNanninoonah!
Ferdinand the Bull. Sniffing daisies." Wha?...Whoaaah."

Peter Principle, I guess. Everybody gets promoted to his level of incompetence.
If I'd only listened to that wise barmaid that night.

"Stay small, or you'll go crazy."