Monday, October 27, 2008

my blunt came apart in the steam room

Something is definitely happening. You can see it in the wide eyed terrified faces of the hipsters as they ride by fingering their mullets. We are on the cusp of a new age. There is a global financial crisis, a new President, war is raging in the holy land and Bernie Mack is dead. A new day is dawning. I want to be front row center, waving my little flag when the post-ironic age rolls into town. Thank God! It' about go damned time. Irony is on its last stupid little legs and when it finally shoves off we can toss it into the hole next to its buddy post-modernism and get on with something... else. This has been a long time coming. Too long. Its time to take the wax out of your mustaches and trim up that faux hawk. It will, no doubt, take some time to get used to. Imagine a day when someone who acts like a douchebag and looks like a douchebag will be a douchebag . Imagine bad music being bad. Not "so bad its good" or "hilariously bad" but bad. Now, we are all going to have to make some sacrifices. I'm going to have to get rid of my "swallow bitch swallow"trucker hat and stop drinking mad dog (thank god) but any amount of sacrifice is worth living in a world where the guy who says faggot is not some sort of super liberal but is a dick. Just like the old days. Don't even get me started on the wonders this is going to do for the art world. Now some groups are unfortunately going to flourish in this age of earnestness (hippies, missionaries etc.) but this is just a swing back. A period of correction against the excesses of the past. Don't worry we'll see some irony again just this time not everywhere we look.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Good Life

I am driving in the sun on the coast highway on the cliffs outside of Pacifica. I'm listening to Cuban piano music and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My face, my pants and my shirt are covered with strawberries and goat cheese.


Fuckin Blue Angels. Shakin the teeth round my head while I'm carrying cases back to my apartment. Janglin my nerves and fizzin up my forties.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One of my ex's lives in Texas

Recently I was at an open studio in the hills around La Honda with my parents and my mom's cousin Amy. I was wandering around, looking at the sculptures and not paying a whole lot of attention to anything. Mom and Amy were talking about a road trip they were planning on taking from the Bay Area  down into Mexico. This was the first time I had heard about the trip but the discussion in its self did not really perk up my interest. My mom has been going through kind of a hard time. Her father has started detereorating and is suffering from dimentia and she had recently gotten sperated from my father. She talks often about going away for while and it seems like everytime I talk to her she is entertaining a new plan of escape: a month or two at a health spa in Arizona or a boat trip down the canals of the Netherlands. Amy's mother too is in decline and so the sudden talk of a southern tour hardly surprised me. The idea of two middle aged women driving off into the desert and away from their problems did strike me as a little steryotypical for my mother's taste but as it turns out I shouldn't have under estimated her.

My first sense that there was something more to this trip came when I heard Amy talking about the mexican pharmacies and animal hospitals she had researched on the internet. Now, if my friends and I were planning a trip to Mexico that planning would neccessarily involve a discussion of pharmacies and, depending on who was coming, maybe even a pet hospital or two. On the other hand, coming from my mom this kind of talk caught me off guard. My mom has never been the type to seek escape in drugs. She prefers the subtler endorphine rush of chocolate, or if the situation is really dire, the literal escape of travel abroad and has long been content to leave the substance abuse in the eager and capable hands of her son. Amy, as well, has been sober for years. I started listening more keenly to their discussion and, when I heard my dad jokingly refer to their "south of the border suicide quest",  I thought it was time to intervene.

I asked my mother exactly what it was she was planning and she responded enthusiasticly, "We're going to Mexico to buy suicide pills!" 

To which Amy gleefuly added "You should come with us! or you could put your name on the list and we could pick you up a dose." 

I still needed further explanaition and my silence encouraged Amy to extol the virtues of suicide. How no man can truly be free unless he has real autonomy over every aspect of his life especially his death. How life should be measured in quality not quantity etc. etc. It should be clear by now that my family is not squeemish about death. We are, as a rule, emphaticaly not spiritual and hardly weghed down with sentiment. Also, I should hasten to say that I profoundly agreed with everything she said. I'm all about people having the right to off themselves. I especailly understood where they were coming from. Everyone on my mother's side of the family, upon reaching eighty years old, rapidly loses their mind. It was obvious to me that having a vial of suicide juice in the fridge could by ameliorating the fears of growing old and going nuts allow you to really enjoy living the second half of your life. That said, it is still mightily disconcerting, when you are a happy twenty three year old in good health, to be eagerly offered suicide pills by your closest relatives.  Also I thought having a bottle of sketchy Mexican meds in my fridge was not so smart when you consider how many people regularly troll thru my house looking for medication to pilfer. 

It seems that after an especially trying time with her mother Amy was researching the most efficient and painless forms of suicide and discovered that (according to the internet) the best technique was to use a concoction they use to put animals to sleep.  Although strictly controlled in the U.S. it is possible to obtain some over the counter in Mexico (god bless 'em).

After that day it seemed to me that the idea of the South of the Border Suicide Quest kind of faded away. I did notice a growing tension between my parents (whose relations were already strained at best). It was weeks later and I, having already forgotten all about the proposed mexico trip was riding with my dad in his car. We were riding in silence until he said, employing that tone awkwardly situated between testy and cautious, "Your mother..."

"uh oh" said my brain.

"Your mother won't let me order any of her suicide pills. She said no! Can you believe that?"

"Really?" I said. Although I certainly could beleive it. In fact I was surprised that I hadn't seen this coming upon hearing of the plan in the first place. You see, to my dad, mom was just trying to control him. She was trying to deny him the autonomy and freedom she said were the imputouses for buying the drugs in the first place. I could see where he was coming from. 

"If everyone else can kill themselves why can't I?" She had offered to buy her own son suicide meds and the fact that there was a list implied that she had probably made similair offers to all of her other friends and realitives. My father felt that he had been singled out. Singled out and left out. In his mind her actions had an element of vindictivness.

That said I could also easily see my mother's side of things and it seemed to me that my father had probably gotten her intentions all wrong. First let me say that my dad is a charming funny man. Growing up he brought me nothing but joy and laughter and certainly never struck me as depressed. Now, that said, his life was a hard one  and he would often cultivate a personality of weary bittnerness (at the time I thought it was all for comidic effect). Among his favorite childhood stories was how after reading Steppenwolf he would take one day out of every year to reflect on his life and determine wheather he should kill himslef or wait until next year. He would initiate family dinner discussions with zingers like "Life is ashes in my mouth". So, for my mom her dilemma was a moral one. Neo-liberal rhetoric about personal choice aside would providing a man who was already in therapy four days a week with a lethal concoction of phamracuticles really be the right thing to do? It was no secret that following the seperation my father was not my mother's favorite person. At best my mother would seem like an enabler and at worst a potential murderer. The role of jilted wife providing her husband with poison is hardly an easy one to comfortably slip into.

Now, I wish I had a better way to finish this story. I wish there would have been some kind of resolution.  Most of all I wish that they would have gone on their trip and that I could be writing this to you from a cyber-cafe in Juarez hot on the trail of a black market veterinarian.  What actually happened is that the idea of the Great International Suicide Trip of 2007 just faded away.  I hadn't heard a thing about it for weeks until three days ago when I asked my Dad whatever happened.  
"Amy agreed with your mother and wouldn't get me any suicide juice either." He misunderstood. 

"No no no I mean whatever happened to the trip? Are they still going to go?"

He answered me laughing, "Oh no.  Apparently your mother learned that its better just to strangle yourself."

So, there you go.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I wish I looked Like Paul Newman

Shit is gettin pretty real. I'm going to chaperon a trip of High Schoolers to Shanghai for ten days in January. Then I have two more trips with kids to China in the spring. I had planned on also being a part of a fourth trip that would take up to a month and go all over China this summer but I found out yesterday that I might, in fact, be taking two additional trips to China with kids in the summer. On top of that I have just been offered a job teaching at an English immersion camp in Xian (in centralish China) for a month in the summer. All of those opportunities are pretty exciting but I'm starting to get a little concerned about my dwindling time to be in the Bay over the golden months of Summer. What to do? Does a pool miss you when your not around?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I woke up early this morning with a full day planned. I was going to go out to Half Moon Bay to exercise, meet my mom at the Beach for lunch then off to Berkeley in time for my afternoon class. Unfortunately, I awoke to discover I had lost my keys (both house and car ) the night before and was forced to cancel all of my plans. Instead I napped on and off for a few hours and started a new book. I've been reading a lot of diaries lately. Right now I am re reading Pepy's Diary and am starting to make some headway in Goethe's Italian Journey. This morning I started Red Dust, a book I read years ago while living in Ithaca about a Chinese man who flees Beijing in 1981 to travel across China on foot. Anyway, I was reading and I got inspired to write some new songs for my new band. Now, I'm not sure why but I always figured I would be good at writing lyrics. As it turns out I am not. Not at all. I discovered that in writing lyrics I either come off as a nauseating , tearful sentimentalist or a prick. Now the sentimental thing was kind of expected. I mean I think that most people's first stab at writing even the slightest romantic song leaves them sounding like a High School sophomore jilted on prom night. The prick thing, on the other hand, really caught me off guard. I have been listening to a lot of Muddy Waters and Fats Domino lately and as I started to write I envisioned myself easily slipping into my new persona as a sauntering bad ass, oozing confidence and bristling with raw sexuality. As it turns out, getting that tone right is really really hard. It is much easier (and in my case apparently inevitable) to come off as, at best, a conceited dick and, at worst, a straight up misogynist. Now I can be a dick don't get me wrong but I am emphatically not a misogynist so this whole exercise left me feeling really uncomfortable and a little dirty. The only line I didn't completely cross out was

"Your my Junior Monopoly girl.
Your too easy to play for real.
So I had to make a drinking game out of you."

See what I'm dealing with? Apparently that is the most charming I am capable of being on the page.

Anyway, trying to create was turning my stomach and raising all kinds of uncomfortable questions so I decided to give up . Instead, I went to get a slice of pizza. Lucky for me I live down the street from what I think is the best Pizza in San Francisco , Irving 24 Hour Pizza (it is not on Irving. It is on Geary and it closes at two). On the way I discovered that someone had taken a shit on my doorstep just feet away from where the kid was shot two weeks ago.

At the bus stop outside of the pizza place a Chinese boy was standing with his father. The father would point at a car as they would go by and the kid would identify its make. The dad would point and the kid would, for example, say "Toyota". Sometimes the dad would point at a passing pedestrian, "Shopping cart" the kid would say or "Wheelchair".

Postscript: I found my keys. They were cleverly hiding on my desk.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This time Is For Real

OK, I have been wanting to write on my blog for a long time. Months.  It's just that every time I start I go to sleep or get blasted or eat instead.  You see, when people ask me what my plans are for my future I say that I want to stay in school for as long as possible and then be a writer or something.  Recently it has occurred to me that, with the brief exception of this blog, I have not really ever written anything.  So I'm gonna really try to start doing this blog thing for real.  That said,  this blog really hasn't found its voice yet... I have some ideas for interesting articles, among them, "Is Human Milk Dairy?"   But ideas like that take time to polish and craft so for now I think I'm gonna make your average cop out blog where I keep you all (assuming there are any of you at all) posted on what I'm up to.  

After returning from China I had what was maybe the best summer ever.  I went camping a lot, spent about seven hours a day in the pool, read obsessively and squandered my savings on parties and pork products .  Also, one of my best friends moved out here from Austin and, with her two pet parakeets Edith Piaf and Jonathan Brandis  lived with me in my cubby sized apartment for a month or two.    Summer ended as it always does and I opted to go back to school.  Somehow I was lucky enough to be accepted into two classes at Berkeley (Modern Mandarin Language, and Introduction to Literary Chinese).  So now my life consists of getting up in the morning and commuting to the East Bay where I attend my morning class.  It is way out of my league and I just barely know what's going on every once in a while.  That said I absolutely love it.  With the possible exception of my Holocaust Studies Class it is certainly my favorite class I have ever taken.  After class I have four hours until my next class so I spread out my blanket and read Get Fuzzy comics until I pass out.  Usually the rising sun wakes me up gasping in a pool of sweat just in time for my next class which is actually pretty easy and passes before I've even fully recovered from my nap.  Then, after a hot dog or two, its back home to either play music, do homework or most often read or get in a quick drinking game with the roommate.  I have had some pretty wild adventures recently (rode in the back of a cop car, got roofied, threw out my back arm-wrestling a geriatric lesbian)  but If I share too much now what will make you all ever read this again?  Just so I don't sound too boring I and the girl with the partakeets did start a band tonight.  We're called The Atlantic Northwest and we're pretty much fucking great.  We laid down our first track (is that what its called?) today and it moved us all to tears.  We have a myspace page but I haven't figured out how to upload shit yet but I'll keep you posted.  


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stupa Dumb and Hyphy

I'm sitting in a tibetan restaurant in LiJiang right next to the border with Burma. Yesterday I rode my bike around a lake nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas at the beggining of the Tibetan Plateau and ended up at a Tibetan temple. There were a lot of soldiers there but the temple was still activly training young monks. Last night I got blasted on the roof of a building in the old town. Today I have to get all of the kids packed up and on a plane to head off to Xian. I don't want to leave here. It's paradise.
belee dat

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back in Beijing

So I'm back in Beijing now but I only have ten minutes to write because I have to get the kids on the bus and off to Tian an men square. I am lovin it here; it feels like I'm home again. I can understand everyone's accent, the food is better and I know my way around. I really love this city and am pretty sure I'm gonna live here. I also love being a chaperon. These kids are awesome they are all so sweet and we get along great (theyre pretty chill too I mean they listen to the pixies a lot so thats hopeful). That said I'm not sure if I'm really chaperon material. First off I can't keep my language clean to save my life. Last night while showing a group of girls to their room I lost my key and without thinking yelled "Fuck! Fuck me in the goat ass!" to which they were shocked speechless. Also I decided I was going to introduce them all to wu tang clan and so I passed around my i-pod and let them all play "method man" completely forgetting that that song started with the "torture a motherfucker skit". That said, in spite of my ineptness or maybe because of it they all love me and listen to what I have to say so thats nice. We spent the last couple of days in Shang Hai and in a small town (pop. 700000) outside of ShangHai called Jiang Yin. In Jiang Yin we all volunteered at a primary school which basically consisted of playing with a bunch of little chinese kids everyday. I taught them the solidi er boy dance and how to play kick ball. Chinese kids have really cornered the market on cuteness. I've always thought western kids always looked a but these kids have really got my biological clock ticking. I can't wait till I get my own Chinese baby. Jiang Yin was bangin but I was staying with a kid my age from Shang Hai. He was very sweet and increeidbly smart but also stark raving mad. When he looked at me he would either be overcome with a laughing fit to the point where he would eventually collapse in an exhausted wheezing heap, or would pound on the walls screaming "I must not laugh! You must disappear!! Vanish! Now!!". Or else he would be overcome with terror and start trembling uncontrollably and say in a fearful tone just above a whisper "You are in mafia... you are a human trafficker... I can tell from your face". He always wore the ear phones/ ear guards you wear in shooting ranges to sleep and would wake me in the morning by whispering "Charley, your a bastard, your a bad man". As I said he was super sweet and we have actually become pretty good friends although there was the time on the bus when he leaned over and whispered "You must do me a favor. It is urgent. You must jump out the bus window and on the the highway. You must do it now." I guess I'll chalk that one up to cultural difference. Ok I gotta go but I have lots more stories to tell so I'll keep you posted.
They call me C-murder cuz I eat a lot of fish

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hurry Hurry!

I am sitting in an elementry school computer lab and the internet keeps crashing. I've spent the last two days playing with little chinese kids and teaching them to do the soldier boy dance. I went to a hospital yesterday. It was like a third world play mobile. One of the deprtments was called clairvoyance... damnit I gotta go

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mercy and a thousand beers

So things have gotten well and truly out of control now. I stayed up for thirty eight hours or so, met some disturbingly shady people, lost my ATM card (for the better probably) and am suffering from crippling whiplash (not a car accident but an even more gruesome incident involving the entire 2112 by Rush). Thank god my camera ran out of batteries. In two hours I'm getting on the overnight train to meet the kiddies and start my new identity as chaperon. There is a typhoon on here and I have to get some lunch and buy bandaids for all the cuts on my feet.
love love love

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Bumpin day in the Kong

I slept like shit last night and had a series of disturbing and embarrassing dreams. I finally gave up trying at about 5 am and waited reading outside the dining room until seven when it opened and I could get my my usual travel breakfast of croissants, jam, hot chocolate and a fat stack of watermelon. I had a lot to do today (buy a cell phone, a camera, a back back and exchange some money but obviously not in that order) so I hit the streets promptly after breakfast. The streets were packed with morning commuters but unfortunately I discovered that nothing in Hong Kong opens until 9 or 10. I sat around bored for a while people watching and reading off and on before I discovered what would become my favorite early morning past time. I stationed myself at a bus stop or ferry terminal or cross walk and waited for the inevitable huge crowd to gather and then weaseled myself into the middle of the press of bodies until my arms were literally pinned at my sides. Then I blasted The Talking Heads through my head phones and allowed myself to be carried along with the crowd. Needless to say this was bliss and the hours passed quickly until all of the little shops on Cameron Street were open. I spent my morning getting back into the habit of bargaining and picked up a book bag, the cell phone, camera and a new guide book.

After a busy morning shopping I made my way to the ferry building and took the Star ferry over to Hong Kong island where I climbed up through the heat to a famous roast goose restaurant I had read about. It was your typical red and gold many-floored Chinese restaurant complete with a mirrored elevator and smiling greeters in chang po (defiantly not the right word). I ordered some crispy roast goose and a plate of spicy shrimp and settled in with my book. To be honest I had been dreading having to eat my meals alone but as it turns out I LOVE eating alone. Ordering at my leisure, drinking pots and pots of tea, reading and writing with all of the dishes spread out around me slowly picking my way through mounds of shrimps and goose fat. It was heaven. I still hadn't been able to completely shake my jet lag so after my two hour lunch I took the subway back over to Kowloon and napped until evening.

At about eight o clock I awoke to find the tv blaring and decided it was time to get into a bit of trouble. I made my way to an Irish pub I had passed earlier in the day and enjoyed a few Guinnesses while trying to learn Cantonese from the bar tender. Feeling sufficiently fortified I made my way by subway back to Hong Kong island and into the first non-brothel bar I saw, Banana Joe's. There I sat next to two British Indians (Tako, and Sunny) who had lived in Hong Kong since they were five years old. They introduced me to the bar tender (a mutual friend) and we passed the time toasting and buying each other tequila shots. Things were going smoothly enough until Sunny called the German girl standing behind me a Nazi and refused to stop doing the Nazi salute to her. I tactfully removed myself from their company and apologized to the group of Germans. It turned out that they, believe it or not, were a group of new flight Lufthansa flight stewardesses who were in Hong Kong for one night and we hit it off splendidly. After trading tequila shots and toasts with them for an hour I found myself far too hungry to keep up my original drinking pace and made my way to a Thai street stall I had seen and bought a bowl of spicy noodles (words, even words like bangin, cannot describe how good they were) but after my meal I could not find the bar again. I hailed a cab to ask what time it was and when he said 4am I decided I might as well head home so in the cab, through the tunnel under the harbour and to bed.
more follow kiddos

Hong Kong Arrival

Hong Kong is the perfect place to find yourself deaf and disoriented after thirteen hours folded into an airplane seat. It is one of those rare Asian cities in which the buildings are so tall and closely gathered around the streets and the heat so oppressive that when night falls it feels as though you are perpetually indoors. The mix of the ant-anxiety drugs and jet lag coupled with my deafness and the towering neon blurring in the humid air lent the city a disarming softness. I arrived in my room just in time to catch the laser light show which now plays every night at 8 pm across the skyline and is choreogrpahed to a kitchy radio broadcast of big band music and tales of old Hong Kong. I was too hungry to sleep so after depositing my bag I made my way back onto the street and followed the crowds through corridors of Indian teenagers whispering "Pills sir, Hashish sir" and around groups of Germans sweating, nervously clumped around the crosswalks and Subway openings. Eventually I found a suitable looking Cantonese restaurant. It was packed and bright white, gleaming under florescent light bulbs. A little man in a tuxedo shirt pulled a microphone from the ceiling and like a boxing referee announced my arrival over a loud speaker at which point I was shown to a sparkling table in the corner. I ordered a beer, a plate of chili shrimps and some fried rice with finger nail sized salty fish. The plasma screen tv was playing a Korean soap opera I used to follow when I lived in Beijing and sometime in the middle of sipping my slushy ice cold beer and sucking the chili paste out of a shrimp head it struck me that this was maybe the most content I had ever been.

Sitting across from me were two men, one quite old and the other young and muscular, who were dressed like criminal golfers from the future or like villains in old Kung Fu movies. The old one was dressed in matching flowing peach colored pink striped pants and shirt , a white straw newsie hat and tiny blue tinted perfectly circular sun glasses. He was wearing at least eight huge gold and diamond rings and unless I am much mistaken around his neck suspended on a thick gold chain was a porcelain cameo of Mary Shelly. His companion was wearing leather pants, bright red patent leather shoes, a white muscle shirt made to look as if it was splattered in blood and another white newsie hat. There was something stupid seeming about the young one but the old man seemed dainty, at once comical and diabolical. After their meal I watched as the Old man tipped two pink pills out of a gold pill case and passed one to his companion as if it were an after-dinner mint. I spent a long time at the restaurant drinking tea and reading the first hundred pages of The Quiet American. After I left my legs still hurt from the plane ride so I made my way a few miles down Nathan Road across Kowloon to the Temple night market . I pulled up a plastic stool at an outdoor seafood restaurant and had another beer while I picked my teeth and watched the tourists. Soon, realizing how exhausted I was I dragged myself half asleep back to the YMCA and to bed.
Well I'll Keep you posted. Much Love to all my boys and their boys.
Sloppy Kisses,