Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fingers Like Nosferatu

This poem was posted here in 2007, just about a year before Harry died. It was in the form of an email, not one of our usual wacky postcards. I always think of it on Hallowe'en, though. I think I'm supposed to.

Fingers Like Nosferatu

Body by Baron Victor Von F
Luck by Loki
Going forward day and night.
American Dreamer
Algerian Detective
Holed up on Desolation Row.
In the Heartbreak Hotel.
Where less brave spirits have checked out long ago.
His voice sounds there still.
Disturbing the dust, and any who would dare listen.

We are patterns, persisting. Yes, indeed, HE Fassl.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

She Died Smelling Brylcreem

My column for Storytellers Unplugged, October 28th 2010.

She Died Smelling Brylcreem
October 28th 2010

I come up with the craziest story titles. But there you go, and I’ll explain how delirious I was to even think such words in a moment, and it will also explain my not posting last month. This was my September (plus a dollop of the last hot nights of August). My crappy $30.00 bike was stolen from where I locked it at the grocery store. The right brakes did not work, so I hope some sort of melodrama ensued for the thief.

The Saturday of that same week, I was robbed at gunpoint. At two-thirty in the afternoon. Now I’ve been mugged before, punched in my right eye which doesn’t really feel anything because of my cerebral palsy, the little twerp high on weed must have thought I was a robot. In the end, I was bloodied and all he got was my rolled up copy of Avengers#500. I might have mentioned that once before, but yes, true story. So I was ready to do the Ernest Borgnine jumping into the lion pit thing, but in my head I was thinking, I only have twelve bucks in the wallet. I’d need to get my Disabled Ids from the city and the RTA bus system. Figured, let them try and use my ID for credit, my rating is worse than Lindsey Lohan’s. I gave them the wallet, they left, like it was a business transaction. Walked down the street bordering the Dan Ryan Expressway. The only other part to that story was that I went to TJ Maxx to buy a new cheap wallet and was ready to knock this woman down the escalator because she was texting right in front of it. Like she was from Rangoon, and didn’t understand the concept. And now my wallet is filled with my Fresh Values card and all that crap I didn’t really use in the first place. And my new ID makes me look like that Ray Harryhausen Cyclops. Only tanned from the summer.

Then my border collie died, he was only seven. Buddy the Mitch, because my nieces wanted to name him Buddy and I wanted to name him for Robert Mitchum. We reached a compromise, money was involved. The grifters start at such an early age now. I still mourn because we were like Starsky & Hutch, now that I’m on disability, I was with him pretty much every day for the last three years. In fact, we had a pact. If I died before the finale of Lost, Buddy was going to dig my corpse up and tell me the ending by means of his telepathic dog powers. He was very arthritic, we made quite a team, I soldier on. There’s a guy in the subway at State & Lake, one of the songs he’ll sing is Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” and I cry just like I’m doing now, because of the lyrics, how the pain is gone and there were no obstacles in his way. Damn that Johnny Nash and his one-hit wonder. No, not really. I’m sure he’s a cool guy and maybe still sits around with his leather suit on with a bunch of bunnies all around him.

Yes, I’m delirious. Because nine days after my collie died, my right lung collapsed from bronchitis–which I have never had before–and my weight dropped from 162 to 142 in five days. I had dreams about Redd Foxx, I don’t know why. Because of the antibiotics, I can’t take my bipolar meds. I’m barely at 150 pounds and pretty much see floating clowns with seltzer bottles full of bleach and air horns that shoot out goat intestines everywhere. I call them as I see them, gang.

But here’s the thing. 1I finished the damn novel. Proactive Contrition. Scared as hell that I’d see the Reaper and say, hey, there’s my ride! Before I hit 104K. It was all written out, those last thirty pages, I made copies, sent them to a few people, and to better add to my insanity, I rolled my pages into an empty pint can of Steel Reserve malt liquor I found on the way back from the cheapest clinic I could find. Pretty much followed the trail of passed out guys in overalls and sport jackets as I walked further west, where the gentrification stopped like a terminator of light to dark. My can of Steel Reserve gained me passage to a place where I got adrenaline shots and anti-inflammatory shots to the base of my neck and my back and my single, pathetic typing finger. All in the shadow of an abandoned building that had been a harp company. I was looking out past Sangamon Street as the needle hit bone and thought, hmph, I suppose harps came from somewhere. See, I did this on the sly because there was no way my main doc was going to give me the steroids that kill the pain for a few days–get out of my head, Johnny Nash!–and I needed to finish the book my way. I did, I’m back on my meds, they take about three days to kick back in, the side effects being like you see on television, euphoria, thoughts of suicide, menstrual cramps, taste for human flesh.

Seriously, this is what the book reads like. This is ho I pitched it to my agent: Think of Charles Bukowski mud wrestling me along with an Al Pacino sex doll. If there are any new readers here expecting a lesson, let me just say: Don’t try this at home. Really, the power drill to my forehead when I was fifteen probably wasn’t a good idea...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jerry Lewis Cinamerica, Summer 1975

At my closest intersection, there is a strip mall called Four Cities Plaza, because clockwise from where I live, each cross street gives you Burbank, Chicago, Hometown, and Oak Lawn. Now, Hometown doesn't even qualify as a town, its barely a half mile long. But at the east end of it, Hometown was just a few blocks from my house. If you crossed Pulaski, you were in Evergreen Park, but that's another story. I bring all this confusing stuff up because someone brought up seeing Suspiria on TCM earlier. In the summer of '75, I practically lived in Hometown, more specifically the Jerry Lewis Cinamerica. Walk from 85th to 87th, then a block past the strip mall. Horror films a quarter, all day long. If you left and came back, it was only a dime. Being 15, I saw films I probably wouldn't have seen at the Marquette or the Colony in the city. One Saturday, for a buck, I watched Every Single Planet Of The Apes Films.  To watch Ray Milland at the end of his career, Davids McCallum in DOGS, that one guy in BLACULA and another blaxploitation film named ABBY that was kind of like AUDREY ROSE, which came out years later. 1975 was the only summer of horror, after that, it was a mess of anything they could find. The building is still there, this squat grey building that looks like a decommissioned Cold War facility. I see it when I'm on the 87th Street bus, and I'm pretty certain its some orthopedic place, after being an auto parts store for decades. I don't really miss that place, but I miss that celluloid.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photos From My Flickr Account

These are shots from my Flickr account that never ended up on the blog. Dig the Pain Enterprises truck. For all the times I've been at the stop light at 63rd and Cicero, you'd think I'd have more than one shot of a plane landing. How I pulled off taking a shot of my face in complete profile is beyond me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kick-Ass Frazer Irving Cover Art

Oak Park, Both Sides of The Viaducts

Well, the sequence of these photos is wrong, but I think you'll get the idea. One side of the viaducts, is the Oak Lawn I know from visiting Harry and Diana. Their house is closer to Roosevelt Road, 1111 South ****, and this is Lake Street I'm talking about, 200 North. We'd often go to Barbara's Bookstore and a few other used stores. These days there's a place called The Book Table just off that cobblestone street. Lake Street has a few businesses scattered closet to empty lots or factories, but the side streets are how you see the difference. Granted, right near the Green Line there are apartments going up like the monthly rent in existing buildings. All over the city it seems, new housing within walking distance of the train. But on the north side of Lake Street, it looks more like the wasteland between Oak Park--a collar suburb to Chicago--and downtown. The West Side, in hushed whispers. And in truth, I'm happy to stay on that el after dark, no need to get off until I am in the Loop.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Please No Weapons

These are from two weeks ago, when I took the 383 bus to the Orange Line to the Green Line to the 309 bus through Oak Park, then Maywood and into Melrose Park to then spend three hours with an end result of filling out an application that will simply get the Dept. of Human Services to reply with an appointment letter to *return* to see a caseworker. Got that? Then back home, so start time 7 AM, home by 3 PM, part of it being that the 309 bus runs only once an hour. I'll post photos of Oak Park next, but the 309 starts where the Green Line runs, at Lake Street. The viaducxt more or less separates good from bad, and unfortunately, ALL of the 309 bus route runs along Lake Street. So here's a few photos, some guy with a behooved look on his face and some strange luggage, people too lazy to throw clothing into a clothing recycling bin, and a waiting room filled with Arabs, Poles, Latinos, and me. Much like my block in Burbank. Best part? The sign on the bus that reads Please No Weapons.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Since When?

I never heard about this film until about a week ago.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Two Places I Never Knew Existed

Yes, there is a company in Chicago that makes (or sells) harps. The other place, well...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

This is Always Promising

October 8th, 2010

Again, when I finish the novel. I'm close. That Cameron Diaz photo I've had since 1994, from when Interview was a huge magazine. I just dig the look in her eyes. And then to ruin it all, Pluto's Drive-In, because, you know, Burbank.