Star Dog Champion

I stood outside of the phone booth at Franklin and Highland (not there anymore), it was late. My new friend was making a call to the dark dark side to see if he could acquire “something”. We went back to his apartment and he played this album by a band from Seattle called Mother Love Bone. It really put the hook in me. The rock music scene by then had become SO corporate. This new-ish sound was so refreshing and REAL. I should have known. But I didn’t. Looking back now the music scene was ripe for a complete hostile takeover. But it was still so strong. The metal scene in LA that I had grown to dislike so much was like King Kong. Big and unbeatable. I really championed this new band and then BOOM the singer (Andrew Wood) died. I thought it was over like a match in a dark room. Just a flash. But it wasn’t over it was the beginning. Next thing I hear that moves me is some strange band called Nirvana. The first time I heard them was on KXLU Los Angeles 88.9 FM and I said WTF is this?? In 6 months I saw King Kong (the LA music scene) fall to its knees. It was like someone had dropped a bomb. It was so fast and it spread like wild fire. The monstrous LA rock scene was leveled with one punch, and by the time it hit the ground, not a single person was watching or listening. The truth and strength of the Seattle movement was HEAVY and its success was a surprise to everyone. It seems like those who created that magic may have had to pay a price. Every one of the singers is dead now. Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Stanley, Chris Cornell. Eddie Vedder from San Diego kind of replaced Andrew Wood if you know your history. He’s the last one. But of course he was not from Seattle. Andrew Wood was Chris Cornell’s roommate before all the “success.” Careful with that fire, friends, or at least always be aware of which way the flame is pointing.

seatle1-07-at-9-10-36-am

Cleaning tips from god

I just spilled a bunch of pre-cooked lentils on the kitchen floor. I immediately thought I should get the vacuum out and vacuum them up. Then I heard a voice in my head that said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. You should pick them up with a paper towel.” I was just wondering, do you think that was the voice of god? Or am I schizophrenic? And why am I getting cleaning advice from the voice in my head?

Get the broom!

Here’s the thing. The Wizard told Dorthy to bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West because he figured it was impossible. He was just trying make her go away (blow her off). What he didn’t understand was Dorthy’s desire to go home was much bigger than the so-called impossibility of getting the broom.
If you can apply this equation to your life, YOU WILL NEVER FAIL.
Get the broom!

WIZARD OF OZ3

Who’s there?

There was a knock at the door, which was strange because so few people knew where I was living. I had this one-room apartment on a street lined with 30-foot pine trees. It was dead center in the town of Hollywood.

I had no cable/satellite, internet or computer in the apartment. Often, I sat for hours on end doing nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly. I searched the depths of my mind with no ulterior motive. I floated like a plastic bag on a windy street.

The times I wasn’t doing “nothing,” I read books, played guitar and taught the occasional yoga class. I had had a vision of this lifestyle when I was in India in 2006 doing exactly the same thing.

Oh yes, but I said there was a knock at the door. It was a friend who lived in the building. He was the kind of friend you knew you could definitely count on if you needed to dispose of a body. But he was also the kind of friend who would be most likely to ask you to help him dispose of a body.

He was standing in the doorway, holding a refrigerator door. I didn’t ask. I opened the door further so he could come in, with his refrigerator door under his right arm. He was very cautious not to hit it against any of my stuff, of which I had very little. He leaned it against the wall. I sat back down on the edge of my bed.

My friend says, “Hey man, I have this refrigerator door I’m going to use for an art installation I’m thinking about. But I’m out of room in my apartment. Can I store it here?”

I wanted to say no, but I didn’t. Even though I had only a one-room apartment, I had a lot of open space. I had brought a girl back to my place once and she said, “Jeez, there’s nothing here. Is this just some place you bring girls to?” I don’t remember my reply.

Anyway, he left the refrigerator door and said thanks and good-bye.

I sat for a long time looking at it leaning against the wall. I got up and moved it into the kitchen. I leaned it against the wall in there and stared at it a little longer. Then I started putting the bottled water I had on the floor on the shelves of the refrigerator door that now leaned against my kitchen wall.

I was startled by another knock at the door. It was my friend again. He had another refrigerator door. It was the top half that closed off the ice section.

“Can I store this here, too?”

“Sure,” I said, “put it in the kitchen.”

He saw what I had done with the first door and commented that he thought it looked very cool. He also said, “Don’t get attached to it because I’m going to want it back.” Then he left.

After he left, I turned off all the lights and lay in bed. It was only 8:00pm. There was another knock at the door. I didn’t answer it.

AbandonedFridge

Surgery

I laid quietly on my right side, shirtless. My shoulder ached from holding the position so long. There was a blanket over my head. I heard sounds in the numb pressure that rose around me.

My breath was shallow like a man hiding in the dark.

I only saw the blue of a blanket as the man I had hired to do so pushed down on my neck with razor-sharp force. It seemed like a long time under that blanket.

I thought about death and made attempts not to panic. Breathing deep and thinking of Van Gogh flowers and sunshine. My hands were cold and clammy from the injections when I realized I was not afraid of death but terribly afraid to get there.

Van55

I thought again of Van Gogh’s flowers. I thought about his ear as the blade weighed into the numbness of my sedated flesh.

I asked, “How much longer?” as the pain in my right shoulder started to get wild in my mind.

“Only a moment,” he said.

I know the length of a moment. This was the longest one I had ever felt.

They took the sterile blankets off my head and the room was bright. I rolled onto my back and rubbed my face with my hands, loving the freedom of mobility.

“Do you want to see it?” the doctor asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

He held a small jar over my face with a strip of flesh in it, shaking it like a martini. He said, “It was bigger in the affected area before I cut it out. The water has left it now. You know we’re 70% water, don’t you?”

I said, “Same as the earth.”

He paused, still holding the specimen jar in front of my eyes and then said, “I never thought of that.”

I looked one last time at that piece of me that had been removed. It was no longer me. The separation made me uncomfortable. Me, not me. Where does it start and end? I didn’t know. But I felt different, like a man who has experienced something he could not explain.

The body’s ability to eventually heal itself is amazing. Of course, the doctor did a good job, too.

healing

Five months ago, I was bitten/stung by a bug. “A bug, you say? What kind?” you might ask, in a tone that says, “Is it possible to stay away from such a bug?”

I was standing in Griffith Park and a bug flew into my neck and sat trapped between my shirt and my neck. I slapped it. All I can say is it had wings like a moth and it probably only bit me in self defense.

The bug bite hung around for months, waking me every night at 3am to be clawed at. I finally went to see a doctor. As it turned out, the stinger or the biting mechanism had broken off inside of me. My body, in an immune system overreaction, had tried and tried to push it out, to no avail. This caused a larger lump of scar tissue. They told me I would have to have it cut out.

Most people I tell this story to seem most worried that it will happen to them. It was a fluke accident. It won’t happen to you. But as one of my friends said, there could be worse things you need cut out of your body.

Any Given Sunday

It was Superbowl Sunday, which is like some kind of holiday and religious festival in America. People were out in the LA streets in T-shirts with 12- and 24-packs of domestic beer under their arms. To these people, the American Dream is not a dream … it’s a reality in rented rooms with 42-inch high-definition televisions on their walls.

I walked in the sun to the 99¢ store. My shadow was cast long in front of me and I thought about groundhogs, weather forecasters and sun worshippers. I could be happy as any of these.

I see a woman standing next to a shopping cart. She yells out, “Hello! Fine day!”

I see her everywhere in town. She walks the streets picking up old blankets and clothing and then redistributes them to the homeless population, which seems to be growing and growing. I can sense that she is probably near homelessness herself, but I once heard her talk about the luxury of having both a ceiling fan AND a window fan in her home, so I know she has something.

I told her I was going to the store and could pick her up something if she needed. She said that she was hungry and would like some bread. I said, “Bread? What kind?” And she said, “White bread! And can you get me a cola?”

I thought, “My God… white bread and cola. That should just about kill someone.” But I only told her I would get her the stuff. I believe there is way too much unsolicited advice in the world already. Disagree? Take a look at your Facebook news feed.

At the store, I couldn’t help myself and also got her a jar of peanut butter. White bread and cola? WTF? I’m definitely putting some peanut butter in the mix. She was super happy to get it.

On the way home, I stopped at my local pizza place. I don’t have to tell them what I want. They know me. My favorite cashier was wearing his football jersey. He was very happy since the owners allowed him to watch the game at the restaurant while he worked.

When I handed him my money for the pizza, he looked at me a little funny. Then I remembered that time I told him I didn’t watch sports. I was NTBT. Not To Be Trusted.

The pizza was good. I sat and watched a little of the game so I wouldn’t seem un-American. I got to see the Christopher Walken commercial. Another perfect Sunday.

Penn-Charter-School-Football

Vampire Bait

My nerves twitch like roaches in hallways of fumigated apartment complexes.

In the 1960s and 1970s, government trucks roamed the streets spraying DEET into the neighborhood trees. My mother called us inside and shut the windows while the neighborhood kids ran after the trucks laughing and playing in the fog of chemical death.

DETdc0dc5272

That Cleveland summer and every Cleveland summer, I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Fourteen bites in one night is my record. My father may have me beat but he’s a stoic man who never talks about such things publicly.

If only I could make a deal with the insect vampires of the world. Every night I would gladly leave them a half pint of my finest blood if only they would stop biting me. These things, sadly, are not arrangeable. Some have said money can buy anything, but it is not true. These insects are clumsy degenerates that will compromise all to get just a tiny taste.

It’s like that show Monkey Thieves, where a monkey and his tribe find food in the city and they all run over and go crazy eating it while they spill 90% of the proceeds of their conquest all over the floor to be wasted. We cannot make deals with such vagrants. So I lay under a mosquito net covered in DEET in the tropics with my socks on, knowing full well that I will wake up with three to four new bug bites in the morning. I guess this is what rum is for. I’ve heard it also called acceptance.

I worried often about the mosquitoes, but alas, I was being bitten by sand fleas. The price of paradise for those of the sweet blood tribe.

dogwatchingphotosession

 

 

Airport Rhythm

The Miami airport has its own rhythm. Maybe I should say “unique,” since every airport has a rhythm. More often than not, it’s an unpleasant rhythm. LAX is at the top of the unpleasant rhythm list. It’s surprising in its awfulness, especially since Los Angeles has a decent musical history.

But Miami has a fresh rhythm… definitely a conga backbeat with a laid back rhythm that is easy to ride. It’s shy on low end, which is a little surprising, like a bra that sets off metal detectors. It might be a South American thing. Lots of high end, not enough bass.

How anyone misses this is only mildly understood. It’s the economics of electronics. Loud and bright, cheap and fast. The Caribbean is the exception: it is the world capital of low end. No one does it better. It’s a reggae thing. (By the way, the bottom needs to be big and tight, not just big. Ask a Rasta.)

I hear two people talking in Spanish. Good rhythm. No low end. N sits next to me talking in the rhythm of the South. She’s wishing her North Carolina kin a happy holiday. I feel like I am at the center of the earth… wherever I am.

AIRPLAne1197

 

 

Abandoned house in the Caribbean

I found this house on the island of Carriacou. There are many structures like this around the island… much of it due to the hurricanes of the past.

abandonroof

 

I have a deep attraction to these abandoned…things. It is a reminder to me that the earth will take everything back… eventually.

abandongodwillhelp

I’ve always thought that if humanity abuses the earth enough, it will just evict us and start over with very little trouble.

abandonceiling

It’s a beautiful message of impermanence and mortality.

abandonwindow

How long will it take the vines to pull all of it back down into the soil?

abandonstairs

The rhythm of insects singing in the distance.

abandondistance

 

 

 

 

Go!

Oliver Stone wrote Platoon in three weeks.

That means, if you start today, your dream project could be on it’s way to completion on January 2nd, 2016.

What do you want to do?

Start a band? Write a story? Stop the war? Save the whales? Feed the homeless? Teach children to read? Write a rock opera? Meditate everyday? Lose weight? Gain weight? Learn to speak another language? Clean your apartment?…Go!

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