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.
An incredibly drunk writer went off on me at a party last night. That’s not unusual, writers and drinking kind of go together, and writers love to talk and, when drunk, they love to argue. It’s their charm. But this was different. This was intense. She came out of nowhere and was suddenly there, right in my face, ranting. Ranted at me about the LA Weekly–which I haven’t written for in two years–and editors and the business and how nobody pays writers anymore. She began crying once or twice. Outright weeping another. A lot of incoherence. She had me cornered with my back to an incredibly steep drop down the hill and I couldn’t move. Or say anything. What do you say? You slip outside to smoke a cigar and some demented chick in an Attack of the 50 Foot Woman tee shirt starts ranting at you. Yelling, crying, cursing, weeping, confiding and telling me I’m awesome. I’m not sure where the awesome came from. I had never seen her before in my life. I finally managed to break away. I saw her inside later, tear streaked, broken hearted, inconsolable, shitfaced. She avoided everyone and they her. She apparently made a beeline for her poor ex and totally went off him. He got the full treatment, without the awesomes. Ugly scene. Glad I missed it, or maybe I wish I’d been there for it. Because that was a great party. And if a great party doesn’t have a disaster or two it’s not a great party.
One time at a crowded anarchic bash at our house my wife Fyl slipped on a rug while dancing and fell and struck the coffee table. Tore a three inch gash in her back. This was the night that the seven foot tall homeless schizophrenic (who’d been off his meds for some time) suddenly hated Jews and women. He’d liked them fine earlier in the evening, been quite pleasant. But he’d been partying…. He wasn’t violent at all about it, just verbal, right to their faces. Intense, this big giant dude looming over chicks and telling them how much he hated all women. Odd, even for our parties. Then Fyl slipped and fell and the whole houseful of drunken stoned people went into a panicking herd mode. They shouted advice, orders and admonitions. Concerned en masse, even the schizo one. They crowded around to help, which was useful. They crowded and freaked and weirded out and panicked. If I didn’t do what they said right now then I was the worst husband ever. They followed me around the house, admonishing me as I tried to recruit somebody sober to take her to the emergency room. I finally had to do a Sgt. Bilko routine–Attention! Shut up! Attention! You! Shut the fuck up!–to get them to calm down and get out of the way of the front door so Fyl could get out. They massed there, in our tiny slip of an entrance hall, so tight they could barely move. I managed to get them out of there, not quite by force, but almost. Somebody took (a very calm) Fyl to the emergency room and someone took the (also suddenly calm) homeless guy back to the park he lived in. Fyl, stitched up, tough as nails, returned from the emergency room and resumed partying. On top of all that I’d forgotten to invite the guy who’d been at every party we ever threw. Every one. An omen, the inebriated Greek chorus said, you should have known. But how does one know ahead of time what one his forgetting? This is the stuff of Aeschylus, not a mere blogger. So to ameliorate Fate, the gods and the drunks, we threw another party the following week. The missing man was there, and all the people from the first party except the homeless guy. They bitched at me for being a party nazi and yelling at them the week before. They all remembered themselves as being perfectly calm and logical at the time
Drunk people do that when they’re not drunk. Think they were logical. Remember things they can scarcely remember. See things through rosé colored glasses. Well, cheap red wine and beer colored glasses. If they’re drinking whiskey they can’t see anything at all.
I have a zillion more stories I could tell but I still know all the people. They still come to the parties. In fact I just deleted a charming anecdote involving a pretty lady and a pair of roller skates, but nevermind. And then there’s the time I accidentally punched out the shortest guy in the room. Totally by accident. My knuckles connected with his eye socket with an audible crunch. He dropped to the floor trying to draw a penalty, but it was my party so I couldn’t be thrown out. Got a lot of stares for unsportsmanlike behavior, though. And I’d done nothing. Totally innocent. But when the biggest guy in the room punches out the littlest no one believes the big guy is innocent. None of you do reading this. You’re thinking what a brute
My favorite party ever was at our pal Edwin’s place on the 4th of July some time ago. A bottle rocket set the hillside on fire and mere anarchy was loosed upon the world. With minutes it was a regular conflagration. The fire department helicopter showed up and dumped a load of water which missed the fire but completely soaked a guest. He came back sopping wet and disgusted. Those things look so accurate on TV. Some idiot hipster chick parked her car in the middle of the lane and ran off screaming. I remember she left the car door open and music blaring for who knows what reason. I saw mini-dressed party girls in brightly colored fuck me pumps trying to run down the street. Their heels clicked and clacked crazily on the pavement. The firefighters couldn’t get their trucks through and were pleading through megaphones for people to move their cars. A valiant bunch of party dudes got a hose and held it aloft to douse the flames which would have worked had it been connected to a water line. The young and hip were in a complete panic, though you can’t blame them, really. San Diego county had just gone up in flames, houses gutted, people dead, the moon a vivid orange. But the geezers couldn’t give a flying fuck. We sat around swilling beer and cooking hamburgers and cracking wise, having a helluva good time watching the show. A party-side view of a brush fire is a rare thing. They’re usually off in the distance engulfing houses but this was right across the street. Flashing lights and screaming sirens. The crackle of two-way radios. The sky filled with rockets and whizbangs and Roman candles. Whistling Petes shrieked like incoming shells and festive projectiles big as bombs exploded loudly. Someone had dragged an old Wurlitzer organ out on the lawn and above all the din you could hear the strains of Light My Fire.
Hours later some of the hipsters came back to retrieve things they’d left in the panic. Hats, ice chests, a purse, a boyfriend. The geezers made fun of them, not to be mean…well hell, of course it was just being mean. It was funny. The kids looked ashamed. Sometimes you have to be tough to have a good time. And so a crazy drunk lady flipping out last nite at Mona & Jeff’s was just the sign that the scene was rocking. Mona and Jeff would tell you that too. Anarchy is a good thing. We’re all old punk rockers anyway. We may not act like it, much, or look like it, but put a bunch of us together with too much beer and it’s fuck you, weirdness and laughter all night long.
Weird time to be a writer. There’s writing everywhere, a deluge of words, and it’s all free. But in the beginning, when writing was brand new and Iraq was Sumeria, dotted with city states and kings and gods and zigurrats, there were perhaps a few hundred of us, etching sentences into clay in cuneiform, “woven” an ancient scribe wrote, “intricately like a net”. Almost no one could read then, and fewer wrote, and it took years to master their craft; writers were a specialist caste, powerful, feted, privileged. Imagine that. Kings would utter commands, scribes made them real. Now we writers plug away on Facebook between pictures of cats. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.
Yet beneath this very post, in the programming, is the work of coders. I open the source page and see their work, the thousands and thousands of characters, letters and numbers and slashes woven intricately like a net. Few now can read it, and fewer write it, and like the ancient scribes, mastering their craft takes years. I can’t imagine any of them see the irony–they, hunched over in their cubicles, are the scribes now, and if not feted or privileged, they at least make a living. My words are just keystrokes, their code makes them real.