Power’s been off and on, mostly off, all day here in our stretch of Silver Lake. Gotta love the DWP, delivering juice with all the intermittent excitement of a fourth world capital besieged or maybe Caracas on a bad day for socialism. I made dinner in the dark. Spilled milk. Didn’t cry. Ate in a candle lit room accompanied by our battery operated phonograph. I had listened to Chicago jazz all afternoon–found an extraordinary LP side of Pee Wee Russell, Vic Dickinson, Wild Bill Davison and Bud Freeman from the 1950’s I don’t think I’d ever listened to, with a riotous Muskrat Ramble at be bop tempo, just nuts. At one point I realized I’d listened to three LP’s worth of tracks none of which had been cut less than ninety years ago. An afternoon like that. Then the power came back on halfway through some late forties Ellington. Cat Anderson hit a high note and switched on all the lights. So I put the turntable away and reset all the clocks and started laundry and got online when Elmer Fudd at the DWP tripped over the extension cord again and the whole neighborhood was draped in dusk. As it lingered, ever darker, I lit candles and pulled out the record player again and switched to the two Bowie LPs I have left (I used to have a dozen, but they’re gone) and cringed at Kooks, as always. Then power came back on finally and I put the record player away and blew out the candles and was about to turn on the computer when Jerry Lewis at the DWP beat me to it by falling onto the main off switch with his foot stuck in a waste basket. Darkness again. The whole neighborhood enveloped in darkness. I sat in the living room in the dark and listened to distant light. A siren cut the stillness and coyotes howled and it was like the end of civilization, like Paris in the depth of the 14th century, beset by plague and war and brigands and famine, when wolves haunted the night time streets and snatched the unwary. Like that. Well, not quite like that. It was dark, though. So I lit more candles, pulled out the record player, and listened to the first Buzzcocks LP which I bought forty years ago next year, and it sounded gloriously low fi like it did on cheap punk rock record players in 1978, and I sat in the dark and remembered what a great album it had been to fuck to, but never mind. The second album sounded even better, incredibly creative, and just as Late For the Train reached its swirling, soaring, pounding finish the power came back on, lights on everywhere. Damn, someone at the DWP has groovy timing.
And here comes the epilepsy, a buzzing numbing fog. I forgot.
Epilepsy snuck up on me a couple weeks ago and left the brain kinda beat up and wiped out. I probably wrote about that. I was writing about everything. Not a neurologically safe thing to do, writing. Gets everything all worked up, spitting sparks, burning up dendrites in a flash like singed hairs. You can tell the next couple days that things were damaged. You’re slower, and suddenly can’t remember things that you remembered fine the day before. So I’m avoiding writing for a few days, letting damage control reconnect what neurons are still in working order. There’s less each time. Not drooling yet, though, or saying inappropriate things. I was totally weirded out by groceries, however. Weird times. Well, they’re always weird times for spazzes. But weird times out there in the real world too. Fire and fury, the pretty news ladies were all saying, fire and fury, fire and fury. I sat on the couch watching the chatter for hours. At some point I reached my limit. Enough of the fire and fury already, I said. So I changed channels but there was Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire and bashing it to smithereens in a psychedelic fury.
Saint Valentine, oh Saint Valentine.
I knew I was tired last night when I saw a beautiful photo on Facebook of a young Loretta Lynn, her guitar across her lap, reading the paper. Darling picture. But some guy was commenting on and on about how he felt so betrayed and heartbroken that she was a Trump supporter. It was jarring, Loretta fresh as a mountain daisy and here’s some whiny little nothing of a fuck complaining about her backwoods politics. Shut the fuck up, I said poetically, and leave the politics be for a minute and just dig Loretta Lynn. I was tired, the little editor in my head had clocked out hours before and so I posted that comment. Boom. Then I added how much I couldn’t stand you little keyboard warrior fucks whose notion of the Resistance was whining on Facebook and giggling at Alec Baldwin’s Trump impressions on SNL. Boom. Well, not boom. I hesitated before tapping the enter button. I mean I really like the lady who posted the photo and maybe the whiny guy was her boss or something and besides, I was being a tad on the extremely rude side. I get that way sometimes. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Words, you know, they can hurt but sometimes they are so much fun you forget that you are directing them at ordinary mortals and not other people who write words like they breathe air. So I deleted that comment without posting, backspacing the letters out of existence into nothing, like those thoughts that pop into your head just for a second and disappear never to be remembered again unless you write about them the next day. I think the moral of this story is that when we start insulting whiny little fucks just for being whiny little fucks then the terrorists have already won. No, that moral was two presidents ago. I don’t know what the moral of this story is. Though at the time I was too tired to care anyway. Instead, I pushed the keyboard away, fell asleep on the couch and woke, hours later, to the sound of Sonny Rollins, but I already wrote about that.
Passed out on the couch and woke up sightlessly dreaming, hearing only Sonny Rollins. The Bridge. Came to just as he’s heading into his first stretch and it’s Sonny on the radio, but not The Bridge but softer, as in a morning sunrise, and I draw the curtains closed, turn off the lights and post this.
No TV till middle of week. Will have been three months. Been really nice. In the meantime I watched a zillion movies off these Mill Creek fifty flick box sets. All Fyl’s science fiction flicks now. Lots of incredible obscurities I’ve never heard of. The heat wave gives me the excuse to lie about digging the mad monster get ups and occasional mind fuck plot devices and not think that I should be doing something else, even though I should. A breeze blows through the room with the hint of distant fires. I sip coffee and think about roasting a sweet potato for dinner. I love this weather. The laziness, the torpor. It’s a dry heat, like Noel Coward.
I spent the best years of my punk rock life working for US Borax. We had Boraxo up the wazoo in those days. Since then, I’d completely forgotten about it. The feel of it, grainy, like fine gravel, and stuck in the crevices between your fingers. We had whole cases of the stuff in the office, hundreds of cases tucked away in the basement where I worked, and little sample packets of Boraxo scattered throughout the above ground floors from the lobby to the executive suites in the vast US Borax world headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. There were fine secretaries, too, and I was a twenty something Mensch and easily distracted. Now strange sensations swirl about. I’m not sure if this is nostalgia, a flashback or maybe allergies.
(To be perfectly honest I have no memory of writing this, and am just as confused as you are. I found it in the drafts folder.)
Downtown memories: A legless old guy in a wheelchair selling crack in front of the LAPD station on Skid Row. This was back in the early 90’s, in the middle of the afternoon. There is no circadian rhythm on crack; night time, day time, it’s all one hustle. When the traffic light turned red all the walking skeleton crackheads rushed up to the car with the filthy bags of crack they’d hold in their mouths, and he came wheeling up with them, spitting the bag into his hand and holding it up to the car window. His bloodshot eyes were frantic, pleading. I politely declined. A police car rolled by and all the crack baggies disappeared back into their mouths and the crackheads began spare changing. A guy behind me dropped a dollar into a hand sticky with saliva. The crackheads converged on him like it was Night of the Living Dead but the light changed and he zoomed way. In my rear view mirror I caught a final glimpse of the guy in the wheelchair looking hopefully at the oncoming traffic. There was a pathos there that seemed to elevate him above the garden variety skid row crack head. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad shtick after all, selling crack with no legs. After all, I remember him all these years later, remember his face, his eyes, his humanity, while the others seemed no more alive than zombies in a horror movie.
It’s very nice down there now.