I’m listening to some Art Pepper right now, picked up a used CD at Reckless Records. Also snagged a nice Sonny Rollins, with Max Roach on the tubs. Sunday night in summer jazz is the best kind. And the sax always reminds me of skirts and powdered noses. No, I don’t talk this way, but depending on my mood, its the voice in my endless narrative head.
Jazz can make me feel old and young at the same time, if that makes any sense. I can put it better like this, the music can send me back to the early 90s, when I hung out on Augusta Boulevard when it was still a Polish neighborhood and not a haven for hipsters, me smoking pot with a girl I knew, Stan freaking Getz on vinyl and I’d swear the exhaled smoke curled in the air as if trying to catch up with the musical notes. Almost twenty years later, I still know her, only she’s married now (so there goes my one pot connection), and there just aren’t any old neighborhoods anymore. Just old men like me, my brain now playing the flip side of the aging process. Still single, the summer heat allowing me that feeling of immortality, heightened by the fact that most everyone else in the homes around me are asleep. Sitting here in my reading glasses, the ones that make me look like Mr. Six, the guy on the Six Flags commercials, I mull over still being single and with the coming of summer I might again hope to meet someone who will either have an attraction for someone who resembles their grandfather, or maybe resembles James Carville. The best part of this whole ‘being single’ gig I’ve got going twice again as long as the Broadway run of Cats is that every few years I’ll actually find someone I actually want to know better, mostly because I’m dense and miss the times anyone is trying to flirt with me pretty much every single time. And the neat thing about that is, I write more because, well, because it’s the only way to keep from thinking about said female. So there’s that.
First, I shall make you cringe with a story about what might have been simple flirtatious moment. I’m waiting for a few writer friends to arrive at Clarke’s, a diner across from the still-shuttered Red Lion, and am perusing a book by Jim Silke called Bettie Page Rules. I bought it because there were chapters on many women going back to Clara Bow, and I was a bit annoyed that he had skipped Chicago’s own Sally Rand. I’m drinking water, served by a guy with a beard. For the past few months, its always been guys serving on Monday nights. I look up and see a redhead walking by, eye contact is hard to avoid, and that’s that. Within seconds, I swear it was that quick, I hear a voice asking me if I want more water, I look up, and it’s the very same redhead. And the page I was on had Ms Page in all her unfettered glory right there, no way of getting around this one, my brain thinking first on why the guy had left and then on just how the hell and the girl sneaked up on me, it wasn’t like I was ogling the pages. (I wasn’t.)
She peeks over the book I’m trying to hide, even though the cover is much more bright and suggestive, and pretty much squeals Bettie’s name. What else can I do but what all writers do at certain embarrassing moments, they tell a little white lie. I told her I was in advertising and that I photographed models and then someone else would make it look like, instead of a table, the girl had her arms folded over a pack of cigarettes. I gave other examples so bizarre I can’t even recall them because sometimes writers just don’t know how to shut up. And, quite frankly, if I did have my pen in hand, instead of pretending I needed to write, I would have likely shoved the my Uniball into my ear. My friends arrived, I ate breakfast as always, and we readied ourselves to leave. We get to the door and the redhead appears, playing with her hands as she asks me about if I’m looking for new models and how much I would pay. Of course, at this point I realize that I had to get out of there before I would have to forcefully leap down to the next level of Hell. My friends had abandoned me, not knowing the first part of the story. They just knew that some girl was asking to pose for me in the nude, and in retrospect, I likely could have asked her out once I had told her that, well, quite obviously, that is, you see…but in the end, I simply said that, no, maybe another time, times are tight, the government has me working as an advisor on that oil spill in the gulf, I’m really a vampire detective hunting werewolves from Pluto and hey, there goes one now. So there are those who believe that she was using my lie to hit on me, and even if that were the case, it would still have been wrong. And if I had started that first conversation with stating that I was a writer, she would have flitted away like a flaming-haired will o’ the wisp. Who was taller than me.
My buddy Greg is an artist for a Big Pharma ad agency, and when we have lunch together, I’ve learned to arrive just at noon, when this gal named Caroline takes over for someone at lunch. First few times I’d say hi, she was pleasantly surprised when I recalled her name, and I’d sit and read or scribble more notes in that inane novel I’ve been working on. I’d sneak looks at her when I knew she was busy transferring calls, and Greg got to waiting a good five minutes before showing up. She’s in her thirties, and I could say all sorts of things that will end up in some sort of fiction so we can skip that. And last week, with summer and jazz having a hell of a lot to do with it, I did ask her out after work, grab a bite before we went our separate ways. And, yes, she knows I’m a writer. She also said she was engaged, but I didn’t look down for the ring I already knew wasn’t there, but then told me the intersection where she lived and said an after five thing would work, so I was likely going through a pre-screening process. So what do I do? I write a story, a wonderfully romantic story that Might give her, I might not. But. Simply by adding another paragraph to it, I have a tragedy that I can send to some magazine somewhere, because of course I’m a whore. That is how it was, I finished writing the story while on the Red Line, re-read it, and thought, hey now. Played with a new paragraph, and then wrote one down. Do I suck, or what? Caroline will have three pages of coolness while I’ll have four pages that I can hopefully sell to someplace truly obscure like Butt Monkey Quarterly, if only that she never, ever sees it. Until I discover that her cousin from Lackawanna publishes the damn thing and she’s on the mailing list.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Stevenson Hall was where I took my writing workshops. One fiction and, for some reason, two poetry. Room 203, taught by James Sloan, and where I wrote "Rapid Transit." That very first story. Wrote the first paragraph, then the first page. The finished story was my final grade in my final class of my final year. June, 1982. I remember faces from the class, a guy with a bandana, a woman who resembled the actress Rachel Ticotin, and a man who always wore a yellow hat because he was allergic to sunshine.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
The optometrist was from Scandinavia (I asked, she replied yes) and for some reason, instead of using a machine 100% of the time, she had me look at her face and then tell her how many fingers she was holding up as she moved her hand around. I suppose I could joke about what her bra was holding up, but naw, I'm not complaining. Free eye exam, and $112.00 for one set of bifocal and one regular. (Truth be told, I was having a difficult time in the chair, concentrating on focusing my right eye was making my entire right side weak. I had been walking around since 10 AM in our 90 degree heat, so I was going to be weakening, regardless).
On the way home, I took the 379 bus, because I had to run an errand on 79th Street ( by the, I was past delirium), and it has been well over five years since I took that bus. I ran into a friend of a friend of the Elvis band I worked with. And so it was I learned the final fate of the guy who had the shaky legs and had sumpin on his lip. He died in May of 2006, liver failure at the age of 45.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Central Camera is beneath the el tracks on Madison and Jackson, and is HUGE. I keep meaning to take a photo at dusk, when the neon is going. One day. I'm glad there are still businesses that keep the neon going even after the place has closed.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I would close up the place after the counter girls left. I quit in August, because I didn't much like seeing black sedans drive by the place at 11 PM. The original building was torched in late August, on a Sunday, the one day they were closed. On this one stretch of 95th, that little square of real estate is the only new building, and that itself is thirty years old. I could have taken photos of a car dealership and two attorney signs, but they'd have no meaning.
Petey's Bungalow seems like a cool place; there are so many brick buildings here. Cormac Condominiums look great, the odd 1960s style lettering. This might have been the place I first saw the word condominium. A "U" shaped building, the courtyard could be a postcard of any recent time era. It really reminds me of a framing scene for an episode of The Fugitive.
But yeah, for a few months in 1979 I worked for the Chicago Outfit.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Shelbyville, pretty much the last disposable camera I'll have used. My cousin Danny drove Ashley and me around town. (I'd seen much of it before, many times over.) The first shot has the two of them in Danny's 1964 Dodge Dart, and I think it looks like the moments preceding a bad event, like a murder during a rendezvous. Then there's the train, and the tracks themselves. See that blue water tower in the shot of the tracks? You can see it from the opposite direction from my Auntie Dorothy's backyard. I contemplated that tower after her second husband, Melvin Melone, died in 1991. Back then, there was nothing around it. Now, it is hard not to be distracted by the Wal-Mart and the KFC down near the highway. When it was a solitary place, almost two decades ago, I wrote "I Said Nothing Until the Horse Flew Away." The last photo, since I have a bridge theme going, runs behind the old jail house. Supposedly, back in the day, criminals of a certain persuasion were hung from the tracks.