"Sensitive?" The God of the Octopus was truly shocked. "I'm too sensitive? Is it too sensitive to expect
loyalty, fealty, to say nothing of gratitude? They tried to kill me you know."
"And you know as well as I that they had absolutely no chance at all." The god of the clams was building a
"Stop right there. If you try to convince me that this was ‘a cry for help' I will have to hurt you."
"No." If the clam god had had a way to manage a smile he would have. "No, I mean quite the opposite."
That O'Hare woman invaded my dreams last night wearing that same awful print dress she seemed to
be wearing in every interview I ever saw her in. She always appeared to me like the mother of one of my grade
school chums only Mrs. V wasn't nearly so venomous.
Contempt flowed off her in waves. Even in death she appeared angry. What could bother the dead? I
considered leaving her alone but was struck with my own contranarian urges.
"So is there a God?" I asked.
"Don't you know?" she sneered.
I feigned indifference and circled around her considerable bulk.
I briefly considered checking poor Mrs. Barnes for any residual blood but I wasn't quite that desperate,
yet. Curiously – despite my growing agony - I was afraid of further embarrassing myself in front of Marshall, as
if it were possible.
"I asked you a question, did you want to become a vampire?"
"I wasn't given much choice now was I? It was a matter of survival."
"Yes but you knew what Scrumptious was, you at least knew that she should be avoided. Yet you didn't. You
invited contact. If you find this existence so horrible, end it. It's been done."
There are times I believe there are things I would tell my father now that I couldn't say to him when he
was alive. But it's all bravado. I'd probably swallow it as I did then. Come to think of it, there isn't much that's
unresolved. Either way the damage is probably done.
I'm from the "don't look back" school. Not that I eschew introspection, it's just better not to dwell.
Besides my memory is so bad I can no longer assign cause to frailty. Who to blame, nature or nurture for a
particular shortcoming? Better to live with it.
Redd Foxx invaded my dreams last night working his characteristic Fred Sanford hobble. I knew his
shtick inside and out, grew up watching it live; yet it never failed to delight. I told him how much I enjoyed his
show through the years. I fairly gushed about how much it meant to me. I only made one comment about the
quality of the show slipping toward the end. The Hawaii Caper was SO unnecessary. Grady had become a
liability and Lamont was doing strange things with hair gel.
"So tell me dummy, how many TV shows did you star in?"
I believed once that I could fix anything. That given enough time, or resources, or motivation, or help
that I could honestly fix anything. It's the engineer's mantra, that given enough time and money any problem
can be solved. It is an inherent optimism, a fundamental trust.
And on some level I still believe it to be true. But now II understand that not everything wants to be fixed, not the
wino I tried to offer a meal in lieu of the $5 he tried to panhandle, not the mental patient that dumped the plate
I'd fixed him one Thanksgiving.
"Do you twist?" he asked.
"Uhm, excuse me?" I had begun to seize in mid step.
"I'm talking about the dance darling," he replied as if speaking to a half retarded child.
"Oh!…..uhm….yeah, sure," I said, stupidly relieved.
"Then follow my lead."
We brought down the house. I was dancing with a man, a man larger than myself (and I am no lightweight), a
man larger than myself wearing a sequined dress lip-syncing to HELLO DOLLIE (the Pearl Bailey version). We
were attending "drag night" with friends at a local bar. He complimented my dancing. My wife was duly
Ras The Destroyer invaded my dreams last night and smacked me around a bit. Bloodied my lip. I
waited for a convenient pause.
"You're a fiction. You never existed."
"I did for you. For a very brief time I was very real. Besides mon, you dreamin'."
"So you're here to remind me of my one time ideals?"
"Nah mon, I'm ‘ere to remind you of what a good beatin' feels like. You need one from time to time. Little pain
be good for you."
He lit a blunt and took a deep drag. I asked for a hit. He refused.
At least I'll have home cooking. Staying at home instead of a hotel. It'll be good to see John again. Junior says
he's drunk with power. The old management/hourly schism still persists.
"They wanted relief. They wanted to be rid of you. Knowing that you would not willingly release them of
their duty, of the ‘honor', to worship you they goaded you into a rage, taking advantage of your pride. In effect,
they committed suicide.
Don't look surprised. How long has it been since you've noticed any true enthusiasm in their tribute? Truth be
told they've never been to enthused about you as a deity."
The god of the clams decided that the god of the octopus had had enough truth for the moment. He halted and
waited for the inevitable storm.
Alden Jackson makes your brain grow big. I was with Alden the first time I heard MEMPHIS SOUL
STEW, by King Curtis; the live version from the LIVE AT THE PHILMORE WEST album. We'd been listening to
NPR (first time for me), to Car Talk. Car Talk ends and Jerry Jermont's most excellent bass line kicks in.
Changed my life it did.
Alden Jackson introduced me to sushi and Japanese Samurai movies and The Stones (God how had missed
the Stones?) and Unix and hummus (no wait that was Sean).
I'll make up missing his son's christening this weekend… somehow.
The first time I saw Dick speak scared me to death. Understand, I was trained by Lutherans, Missouri
Lutherans. An excellent education mind you, but a Midwestern frame of mind just the same. I knew, thanks to
my father, that Nixon was a crook, but to hear about the subversive nature of my government; wire taps,
entrapment, blatantly criminal activity. More than I was ready for. And they were controlling the
I learned some healthy skepticism eventually, but Dick taught me to question authority, about the pernicious
nature of media about many things I didn't always want to hear.
Dick ran from New York to LA back in 1976 to raise money and the nation's consciousness about world
hunger. Naturally he stayed over in St. Louis a few days, being the hometown boy, making appearances and
speeches all across town.
One night, I met Mohamed Ali. Well actually I was part of the sea of people attending the party in Ali's honor.
Suddenly a wave breaks from the back of the house, Dick and Ali at it's crest. They paused momentarily in front
of me and Ali shook my hand. I mumbled something inaudible as the wave resumed course.
Dick shocked everyone. While he acknowledged that the government had often fallen short he offered the
proposition that perhaps we had a hand in our own destiny.
Imagine, Dick giving a speech on "personal responsibility" a full decade and a half before Newt Gingrich.
Watching the local coverage later I was struck by press spin, editing Dick's comments and the crowd's reaction
to seem like any other "radical" assembly. I've been wary of the press ever since.
Quite frankly we were just glad to be in the room. They were sharing their pasts with us, along with
copious amounts of alcohol. Three surgeons and a couple of college students. Two of them served together in
Vietnam. They recounted an instance when they and another black private were behind enemy lines with a
white lieutenant of southern origins who had no compunctions about using the "N" word when giving orders.
They fragged him; reported him killed in action. Recounted it as if talking about the weather.
I made a mental note not to make either of them angry.
Were you really going to take people back to Africa?
"That was my intent."
Really, why? How can you expect anyone to go back to a place they've never really been? I could go back to
Tennessee some day, even though I only actually lived there for a short while, but at least I have some
connection to the place. I've at least been there. You were selling a pipe dream.
Marcus turned away stiffly and avoided further contact.
I regretted having said anything at all.
Mac and Sheryl provided succor during THE BIG SLEEP. I was on a Spirit Quest, trying to find myself.
I found myself mostly on Mac and Sheryl's couch watching cable. Mac was finishing up an architecture degree
and absent much of the time. Sheryl was working. I'd never had unfettered access to cable before.
I took up permanent meditative repose on the couch, remote in hand. Hey I paid rent in advance and I did the
dishes… sometimes. Even let Mac use my car.
Third day in Sheryl returns with the classifieds. "Mourning period's over, time to find a job."
Out little inside joke about being akin to strangers in a strange land. Of being careful, of being vigilant. Against
what I'm not sure.
Weekends go too quickly. Turn around and it's Sunday night and you're facing "The Sunday Evening
Blues." Dread is the flavor of the moment, spoiling any time you've got left. You become cranky. You want to
make it last so you don't do anything to get distracted so that the time passes slower which cheats you out of
starting anything fun and you wind up staying up later than you should trying to stretch it out which starts
Monday off even worse.
A legion of sleep deprived ticked off zombies longing for Friday when they can do it all again.
Gil Scott-Heron coined "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Evidently it will if it draws the right Nielson
Televised war is not necessarily new, Vietnam was the first. But now coverage is much more extensive and in
It's fascinating but I'm afraid I find something wrong with it. I want to be disconnected from war. I want it to
remain monstrous and out of touch and unpalatable. We worry about children becoming desensitized to
violence via simulated mayhem. What of the real thing?
Besides, ultimately, the real purpose of television is not to inform but to persuade.
I recently saw a commercial for the Armed Services that looked right out of NFL central casting. The images
were carefully mastered presenting the image of Army as a glamorous profession, not one of service.
Colorfully garbed soldiers all tanned and buffed.
I understand there is a bunker or several bunkers deep underground that will house our leaders and
brightest and best in the event of a nuclear attack. Two things strike me as funny here:
1. Unless you're living somewhere damn close to said bunkers (practically on top of them) you'd probably be
hard pressed get to ground in the event of a sizeable threat.
2. Other than the shut in types – the Jenny Jones and Judge Judy set – who'd want to be cooped up for any
length of time, particularly since the surface will be uninhabitable for quite some time?
I would like to visit Corsica. The pictures in this month's NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC reveal a gorgeous
island. The only downside being that local separatists choose bombing as the preferred method of political
protest and assassination seems to be an acceptable mode of conflict resolution. However bombers are
careful not to target occupied buildings and murder is reserved for local disputes.
Mustn't upset the tourist trade.
My father alternately told strangers that he was Corsican or Sicilian. Only the truly gullible believed him. It was
a useful fiction, entertaining to his audience and (I think) a balm against his true origins.
Polypeptides, amino acids, proteins and molecules, building blocks. Nanotech, the new construction
technology. Think of the breakthroughs. The lame will walk, the blind will see. Pocket sized supercomputers,
truly lifelike robots, real six million dollar men.
And think of the drugs. I'm not talking gene therapy, but rather the recreational type. Take an actual soma
holiday, two weeks in the Caymans experienced in an hour real time. Dream the dreams of Picasso. Think the
thoughts of Einstein. Re-experience the womb as an adult.
And it will happen too. Because there will be a market and profit, your justifiable horror aside.
Down in the hollow Dupree and Spook heard the arrhythmic, shuffle of Miss Lullabelle. As usual, she
was humming GOD BLESS THE CHILD. They gave Lullabelle a wide berth knowing she was probably drunk.
It was Saturday night, the Eagle had flown Friday and she was carrying her patent leather purse. They knew
she carried a tidy sum in that purse, less the cost of a pint, and that she could be persuaded to share her
Just as likely there was a butcher knife in that purse and she tended to cut anybody fool enough to mess with
Up the road they rounded a bend to find old Acuff beating his child bride. Naturally he was drunk too.
Seemed to Dupree that everyone was drunk this particular Saturday night.
Acuff also liked to sing when in his cups and tonight the program was spirituals. Everybody hated Acuff. He
delighted in all manner of torture, but his favorite was beating his wife.
He sat astride her singing THERE'S NOT A FRIEND LIKE THE LONELY JESUS except he sang "There's not a
friend like the long-legged Jesus!" He knew the words but it tickled him to sing it his way.