Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Memorial, Part One: East Avenue Freezedown

I have the photos from last Sunday's trek to Oak Park and I'll post photos I took of Harry's secret lab tomorrow. The water in my crawlspace is gone and the temperature was back around 35 today. Compared to a week ago, it was still nice enough for me to saunter aimlessly and clear my head this afternoon, which resulted in me remembering to pick up the photos. The first photo I took a few days before the deep freeze; I live in the midget bi-level. Its comforting to know that, while my crawlspace floods, the giant building's entire basement floods. Might be a contributing factor in why the house is in foreclosure. Here's how it went, the 87th Street bus to State, then the Red Line took me to Jackson, the photo of the warehouse smoke plumes is close to 35th Street. Jackson Boulevard is a subway stop, then you go even further below and cross a tunnel to the Blue Line, which is where I met Playing Card Man. From there the Blue Line comes above ground and follows I-90 in a line straight west. The last two photos show the frozen snow and a neat Chicago City limits sign as well as the complete desolation of the platform leading towards East Avenue above. More tomorrow, I'll post a couple of shots in the afternoon, I think.

To See If I Still Feel

A friend of mine out east had posted the Sonseed YouTube on her blog awhile back, and I swiped that. I guess it was all real, the band played in East Brooklyn in the late 70s, stranger still one of the male singers eventually headed a school district and died choking on a sandwich. So, yeah, I guess every little thing is on YouTube now. So if any of you choose to look up Wayne's Veins and see me do my vein-popping
trick, well, that's my sole contribution to the YouTube library. For those of you who have already seen my parlor trick, skip ahead to read my December entry for Storytellers Unplugged, as follows.


by Wayne Allen Sallee

28 December 2008

Years ago, I starved myself one day just so I could write about it in my commonplace book, this was when I thought it important to experience something instead of guessing or taking someone else’s word for it. I’d make notes of whatever random words or metaphors came to mind as I hungered. Mind you, I share my father’s metabolism; we both bleed long and fast, and we burn through calories like nobody’s business. I’ll eat three to five times a day and I’ve never stayed above 155 lbs. for long, and I do feel (my own patented) physical pain faster if I do not eat. I’d often have a milk shake to ease the spasms in my back, maybe the same way people grab a smoke, so on that long ago late Saturday afternoon, I made my notes, I took some photos of my immediate surroundings for story referencing, then spent fifteen dollars at Gold Coast Dogs under the Wabash el tracks. My metabolism pretty much plays a big part in how fucked up I am when it comes to the spasms I get this time of year, my body eating up calories in double time when Chicago spends three days without topping the zero mark in temperature.

Present day now, and, yea, I’m listening to Johnny Cash, and, yea, his cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt.” In the last eight days we have gone from sub-zero temps to thunderstorms and the expected flooding as a foot of frozen snow sank into the erff and into my crawlspace, still there because its still raining as I type this, still nearly 60 degrees. Yesterday morning on Twitter, I was kidding the local gang that the only thing we are missing this week is a volcano erupting on the Tri-State Tollway.

A week ago today was the memorial service for Harry Fassl, though we did not go to Lake Michigan because of the ice and cold. Everyone gathered in Oak Park, his 80 year old dad amazed at just how many people were webbed together because of Harry, who signed his work HEF, and his ashes will instead be tossed along Pratt Beach on the vernal equinox. I no longer have to make notes about things like hunger pains and the effects of the weather, but I was thoroughly amazed that when I had left my home in Burbank it was -15 and two trains and two hours later, it had dropped to -35. (The gathering had been planned for the solstice sunset.) I had to cross a park to get to Harry and Diana’s place, when I rounded the conservatory building I entered a white out. I felt as if I had been punched in the bridge of my nose while simultaneously being force fed ammonia. I actually dropped to my knees and bounced back up like a marionette. Harry passed away in October; Jeff Osier put it best, saying it was as if he had left at the end of a paragraph. After my co-conspirator in Texas, Sid Williams, I emailed Harry most often, the crazy stream-of-consciousness stuff you’d expect from two guys who shared a love Green Lantern, H. P. Lovecraft, and sumo wrestling. Two months later, I still feel as if I lost a roommate I knew over fifteen years. I went in the basement and took photos of his lab equipment, various sculptures and pinboards. I found a rubber banded stack of postcards I had sent him going back to 1993, many more in recent years as I did not get a chance to visit once I fled Chicago to this relatively boring street just a mile from my old house, because bus schedules changed and a mile west translates to another hour travel time. He sent postcards, as well, I think we both just liked mystifying our respective postal employees, and his last one was signed Your reporter on the fringe…

By Tuesday the weather hit the thirties and it was snowing amidst thunderstorms. Thunder snow is what they call it. I had stopped taking my pain medication–those goofy things that jiggle the receptors in my brain–for close to a week, because what is the point if you are constantly in pain regardless. Part of it is getting no respite from typing my one-fingered tap dance, but I suppose I could throw being lonely and insane into the mix. So Tuesday afternoon when I started up the snow blower, I closed the garage door and stared and the blades, determined to know what it felt like to want with every synapse in my brain to shove my good arm into the blower, just like I wanted to know what it was like to be starving that time years past. I stopped thinking about it once I realized I was rationalizing about it. On Christmas Eve, I spasmed while checking the amount of water I poured into the coffee pot for the next morning, and I smashed my head into the bottom of a cabinet, waking up on the floor a few minutes later. Sometimes my body will subconsciously screw with me so I don’t have time to rationalize; Wednesday I waited for the bleeding to stop and then I applied Super-Glue, which works almost every time. Doubtful this one will scar, so I still look like Frankenstein in spirit only.

One writing venture I took up this month was starting a novel on Twitter along with Horatio Salt, its called Joy Motel. Even when I’m at my worst, typing then stopping and rubbing different muscles while I chew a toothpick, making so many gestures I could be mistaken for a third base coach in an asylum, I can still dole out 140 characters, the limit of a Twitter entry. Over the last few months, Horatio and I–complete strangers–had started writing about Salt & Sal in odd crime noir sentences that we batted back and forth like a ping pong ball. We thought it was time to write something more modern to reflect Twitter, yet we ended up with a still-ongoing tale that reads like a mix of PK Dick and James Ellroy. Horatio, much more versed in technology than I, has started a blog, that reflects the novel from the beginning, each few days beginning a new chapter. It’s the kind of mental displacement like Bruce Willis had in 12 MONKEYS, so I’m certain my portion of the novel has my brain on spin dry at false dawn each morning. I’d suggest checking it out, if only because part of me sees this as one of my last big writing ventures. It has taken me two hours to type this, yes, a lot of thought going between each brick of a sentence, but still. Without spell-check, I’d be lost. I’ve learned from the ghostwriting gigs that it does me no good to meet a deadline by typing for ten hours a day and not doing much of anything else. Yet still not being able to write in a timely manner. I think my biggest disappointment was not being able to get the voice activation software to work properly, I had set my hopes too high. I really do want see if I still feel, and those snowy blades looked damn inviting, so that means I’m still making mental notes for some reason. Things getting clearer as I head west into the black. Your chattel, Wayne

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 12:21 am.
Categories: advice, forensics, inspiration.