The power of stillness

I was driving west on Sunset Boulevard.
The sun was warm on my left arm as I crossed into Echo Park.
I could smell the street vendors cooking and it set me at ease.
You’re not gonna smell that in West Hollywood.
The clouds in the sky looked like pillows offering me comfort I didn’t know was even available.
For a moment I was not lonely.
For a moment I was home.
For a moment I didn’t care. 
For the moment I was able to climb the overpriced skyscrapers that serve so few.
I touched the sun and it burned my soul  black like a bowling ball that had never been rolled.
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Rainy Day

It was the rainy season and we sat under the freeway overpass most of the day. Some smokes cigarettes and we talked about the good things in the past and  we talked a little about the future. But we never talked about the present. How could we? We passed a cheap bottle of wine that gave some of us a headache but, if nothing else the pain gave us something else to focus on.

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#333

The rain falls at a 45 degree angle as I think of dinosaurs and watch pelicans diving for fish.
The earth will wash itself of humanity with bright indifference.
The styrofoam cup will become oily sand on empty beaches with water so clear you can see the soul of the universe.

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Tibeau Cemetery: Falling into the Sea

The taxi driver repeated it back. “You want to go to the Tibeau Cemetery?” He seemed confused and probably suspicious.

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The previous day, I asked the innkeeper about the cemetery.

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Someone who grew up in these islands told us about it and I was very curious.

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Climate change. The innkeeper said, “You must have noticed since your last trip here, we are losing land.”

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The cook overheard me ask, “Are people going to be upset if we’re down there taking a bunch of pictures?”

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“We’ve had some trouble, you know.” She said, “They are stealing identities of the dead.”

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“Oh, really?” I said, “I think that’s how Trump won the election.” She doubled over laughing.

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Some of the dates on the graves were old.

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But some of the ones in the water were as recent as the 1980s.

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I saw a bone.

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It could have been from an animal.

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I thought I should take a picture of the bone because no one would believe me.

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But it felt disrespectful, so I didn’t do it.

(no photo)

Photos by: Daniel Overberger and Nancy Winebarger

Gingerbread Dead

If I lived in a gingerbread house, I would be overweight.

If I had a gingerbread girlfriend, I would need a new one every day. Great mobs would gather around my half-eaten gingerbread house and chase me through the streets, calling me Hannibal the Gingerbread Cannibal. But no one would understand: I just can’t help myself.

Is that icing on your face… ?

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believe it or not

I really couldn’t believe it. On a tour of Europe in 2007, there had been whispers that our opening band (from Texas) were Nazis. As I watched them, it became clear that it was possible. I was confused. The band I was playing guitar for had a Jewish drummer born in Iran, a Mexican-Irish bass player and an American Indian singer who occasionally wore a dress on stage. It made me uncomfortable: like we or I was saying it was okay.

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I talked to the leader of our band, who also seemed upset, but said and felt that there was nothing he could do since the promoter put the tour together without any consent from our camp.

There is a giant anti-Nazi thing in Germany. Especially in the punk rock scene. The second or third show into the gig, someone was selling these pins. I had never seen something like this before. I mean, I grew up in a very self-segregated community, but Nazis were something I just read about in school or saw on TV. I bought the pin and wore it on my jacket for the entire tour and the next two.

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Whenever I returned to America, I would take it off and put it in a drawer thinking it had no place here. But sadly, this month I have considered breaking it back out. I still can’t believe it.

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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?

Simple Man

I was sitting at a café on Sunset Boulevard. It was an early, cold morning. I sat in the sun and drank coffee. It was a simple moment and absolutely perfect. A man rode by on his bicycle playing very loud music from some kind of music device. It was 1920s New Orleans jazz. I thought there was a certain irony to his musical choice. I knew he thought the same thing as he pulled on his suspenders, looking in his mirror a half hour ago.

People go to great lengths to put themselves on in the morning. I remember playing guitar on a goth tour of Europe. Everyone had makeup and mohawks to attend to every morning. I was often just too tired to get it together. I only wore eyeliner anyway. I stopped taking it off and would just add to it each night before the show. It turned out to be a look I could sustain. People have often said, “You’re such a simple man.” I thought they were busting my balls. But as I sit in the morning LA winter sun, I think that maybe they are right.

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Your Permanent Record

 All throughout my public school education in the Cleveland suburb called Euclid, I was told that anything I did wrong would go on my permanent record and follow me throughout my entire life.

I did a lot of bad things anyway. Most of it was just teen rebellion. I can mark the moment in time when the rebellion started.

I had broken my collarbone playing touch football. It’s a long, terrible story I’ll tell you another day. But I was in class the next day (elementary school), standing in line to use the drinking fountain, when a boy running down the hall ran into my shoulder, displacing my broken collar bone.

I fell to the ground in tears. The teacher came over and I said, “I have a broken collar bone,” and she said, “I saw what happened. That couldn’t possibly have broken your collarbone. I think you’re overreacting.” I explained that my collarbone was already broken, so she sent me to the principal’s office and they sent me home. From then on, I was “Daniel with an authority problem.”

So as I said, my “permanent record” just seemed to be filling up with an incredible list of bad stuff. Some I will not mention, but there were explosives, arguments, attempts at starting a student revolution, etc.

When I got older, I started to enjoy writing and telling stories. I thought I should write a book called All the Bad Things I Did in School. My mother worked for the Board of Education. (I would often hear from authority figures, “I know your mother!” Another threat, of course.) But since my mother worked for the Board of Education, I figured I could get a copy of my permanent record. It would be perfect… all laid out in some detailed list that I could use as chapters. My mother agreed to get it for me.

A few days later, she had acquired my permanent record. She told me the only thing it listed was my grade averages for my last four years of school. I was so disappointed. That permanent record and giant threat that hung over me didn’t even exist. It was a monster under the bed that totally disappeared the moment I looked for it.

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Decaf delirium

I watch condensation drip from the car air conditioning onto the asphalt laid by men who cannot afford to live in this town. For a moment, I am sure I am not far behind them. I drink decaf coffee and Steely Dan comes onto the café sound system. I am glad my girl cannot join me today. But I hear her words anyway. “Those guys sound like pretentious frat boys.” I wouldn’t disagree. The waiter gives me my check and I walk home in the heated September LA morning, slightly high on caffeine.

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