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Fall

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Weather as crisp as an apple plucked fresh from the tree. The fruit beckons. It calls my name. The light, soft and diffused.  Autumn is the world’s dimmer switch, turning off the glare so that we can see each other more clearly in the shadows.

A glance held in the night, across the void.

Fall and school and leaden skies and the aroma of rotting leaves and cooling embers and toadstools kicked in the wood. Even at this ripe age, the autumn of my own life, I feel as if I should be strolling across a college green. Books under my arm, glancing at coed beauties with firm bouncers under tight, thin sweaters, sleeves pulled to elbows. My favorite spectator sport becomes no less engaging when a chill is in the air. Notice the way she moves in her clothes. The form and the flow of the under-current rather than the shimmering surface of exposed skin.

She checks her bearings. Afraid to drift.

A time to notice subtleties. The timbre of her voice. The arc of her gaze and the softness and warmth in her eyes. How she pins her hair, loosely or with precision. Whether her smile unfolds all at once or spreads slowly like a velvet curtain opening onto a show. 

Flats or heels or black, high top Converse All Stars.

Fall makes me want to return to Italy or take a lover. I should take a lover to Italy. Cypress lined lanes. Chipped ochre plaster. Old men playing cards or bocce ball. Old women laden with the makings of the evening meal. I am the outsider watching a world that has become familiar yet is still alien. Book in one hand, wine glass in another. The tight American knot of busy-ness slowly loosening in my stomach.

She might soothe my soul.

Fall evokes a different musical register. Giorgio Conte’s whimsical Gne’ gne’  or Leonard Cohen’s Tacoma Trailer or Erik Satie’s 3 Gymnopedies or 3 Gnossienne. Don’t confuse melancholia and introspection with sadness. Sorrow and regret and longing can be joyful too. For me, fall runs deeper than the other seasons. It folds rather than whisks. Fondles and caresses instead of chafing and rubbing.

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And then on into winter, we could go.

I should take a lover in the season when the petals will open only to accept the kiss that searches for the sweetness within.

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Categories: A Day in the Life...

Joy of Poop


N. eats gruel, at least that’s what it looks like. Fiber stirred into yogurt. Resembling the stuff Biafran children, stick figures with bellies distended and flies buzzing around cartoon sized heads, scoop up with their fingers. N. grimaces after each bite and quickly washes it down.

N. confesses that she has trouble pooping.

My bowels are as reliable as the atomic clock. Twice a day at least. The trains are never late. I also get the urge to go every time I’m in an office building or a facility where strangers are milling about. An instinct urges me to mark my turf. I know where the good and bad public restrooms are around town. I’m a connoisseur of the loo.

I’ve known a lot of women with blockages of the poop chute. Well, not a lot. Relatively speaking, I mean. Not one man has ever complained to me about his irregularity. Only with female friends (especially lovers) do I have “close encounters of the turd kind”.

J. had a miserable time with it. She’d take my hand and make me probe a spot on her lower abdomen, like waiting for a baby to kick, and there would be the knot. “See?” she’d say and frown, shaking her head. C. usually had an enema bag draped indelicately over the edge of the bathtub. More than one was fond of, if not addicted to, laxatives. I found confirmation of my suspicions with an internet search. Women are more prone to constipation than men (or at least complain to their doctors more) and the medical profession isn’t sure why.  

N. got me thinking. As much as I dwell on my own shit (the figurative kind), I almost never contemplate my own shit (the literal kind). So here is my own personal taxonomy of crap. I thought it important to drop it on you. To lay it out there. To push the load your way. To rub your noses in it.

Easy come, Easy go: The healthy version. Effortless. Pale and intact in the pot. Barely a smudge on the T.P.

Mud Pie: Pasty. Yucky. Lengthy clean up required for both dispenser and receptacle. Multiple flushes to wash away the stubborn, clinging spot. Or, horror, the brush!

Loch Ness: A rare sighting requiring photographic evidence or a credible witness to be believed.

Sand Bar: A thin layer of granular sediment. Disappointing and uninspiring.

Packing Peanuts: Like the little Styrofoam chunks wedged around the new tea chest. Methane rich, floating little stinkers.

The Runs: No explanation required although the occasional projectile “Ladder 7” version is worth noting.

Kaleidoscope: Too much avocado yields an almost fluorescent green. Beets once scared the shit out of me (pun intended).

Oh Baby! Oh Baby!: Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. The orgasmic poop. Requiring just the right amount of effort. Fulfilling (especially the “album rock” version).  A glass of wine would be nice. Smoke if it’s your habit.

There you go. Under most wonderful things you can do without props or a Platinum Visa, pooping probably ranks 3rd.

1. Fucking

2. Sleeping

3. Pooping

More gruel, please.

Mick

Categories: A Day in the Life...

Neon’s 7.7.10


Black linen dress and floppy straw hat with a ribbon and bow. High heeled sandals. She moves like a schooner, waves parting at her bow. Fluid and buoyant. A sleek vessel. Thin of limb and chin. Floating proudly. I should go below.

To check for barnacles.

It’s hot. If you stay in the heat, it feels natural. Because it is. It’s only when you move in and out of air conditioning that you notice. I spent the day in Scripp’s Center with air conditioning set on “meat locker”. It’s like being in a morgue. Fans circulate the Neon air. Schooner holds the hem of her dress as she orders an Anchor beer.

An appropriate choice.

Neon’s is canine friendly. Canine mattress. Canine toys. Black canine bowl with canine water. A Boxer nips at his owner’s leg, at the leash in her hand. Wants to play. Another dog of unidentifiable breed greets the Boxer, canine style. Nose to ass. Greets Boxer’s owner, canine style, nose to crotch. Evolution has muted our sense of smell. We hominids are a visual species. As Chauncey Gardner reminded us.

We like to watch.

In this heat everything ripens. The olfactory steamer has been restored and launched. I smell the fecundity of Neon’s. Humanity stewing in its own juices. Tart and sweet and redolent of fertility. I should drop to all fours and introduce myself to the Schooner.

Bow Wow!

Categories: A Day in the Life...

Lunch with the Taliban


Fountain Square with a Subway sandwich. Take a half-day off and extend the Holiday week-end. But an opportunity to catch some rays and read a little turns into an aural assault by a Christian Proselytizer accompanied by an ecclesiastical choir. Officially sanctioned, with a stage and a sound system and guards.

We’re living in an age of unrestrained fornication, I’m told. It’s depressing. It means I’m the only one not getting enough.

A lady thrusts a booklet in my face. I shake her off. Most people accept it but many leave it on the table or on their seat. I gather them up from the tables and seats nearby for the recycle bin but have second thoughts. I pluck one out of the green receptacle and begin to read. Rule #1 in the act of war is to know thy enemy. The booklet was written by Mr. Samuel Gipp in 2004. Stars and stripes are on the cover. The title is “We Are Americans”. Sarah Palin has already told us that there are “real Americans” and “others” so I assume that is what Gipp means.

Much of the booklet is devoted to cherry picked sayings by the Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers had much to say about religion but it looks like we should ignore inconvenient utterings. There is no mention of Jefferson’s fervent argument for the separation of church and state. I also cannot find my favorite Ben Franklin quote, “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.” While I read, the Proselytizer on stage offers the “In God We Trust” phrase on our money as proof that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles.

“In God We Trust” was added to our currency in 1957, during the Eisenhower Administration.

The Proselytizer makes lots of references to Sodom and Gomorrah. He rails against unnatural and sinful sex. I mean, look! 

But back to the booklet:

“… the attention of Americans was carefully steered to less important but all-consuming pursuits…sports, education, world acceptance…” (emphasis mine)

– I guess we should be uneducated, isolationists.

“… hid their hatred for the God of America behind their insincere demand for “tolerance”… (emphasis mine)

– Okay, intolerant, uneducated isolationists.

“… through movies, public schools, and the “new morality” sex, alcohol, gambling, environmentalism, pornography and other addictive, destructive actions were introduced into the lives of unsuspecting Americans.” (emphasis mine)

– Children. Which one is not like the other?

“What Can You Do?”

 “Apologize to God. Wait! If you’re about to excuse your actions by blaming someone else, save your breath. Any cheap, intellectual midget can play the “Blame Game”. (emphasis mine)

–   Apparently midgets will not be tolerated. Especially cheap ones.

“The Faith of Our Fathers”

 “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of history’s undisputed facts…That tomb is still empty and can be viewed in the land of Israel today.”

–   An empty tomb is proof of resurrection from the dead? Really? We should talk more. You see, I have this bridge for sale.

“Think about it. The founders of all the other religions in the world are still dead. What good is a religion that can’t even get the founder out of the grave?”

–   I am truly speechless. But wait. Here’s my favorite.

“Define Yourself”

“One of the tactics of God-haters is to try to create a fog of doubt with confusing definitions of what America and Americans really are. When you hear an argument and come away confused, you know you have been attacked by someone who means you no good.” (emphasis mine)

–   Actually, when you hear an argument and come away confused, it might mean that you’re stupid.

Inside the booklet are two little pamphlets. One tells me that “False Christs are on the rise. Any man who claims to be the Messiah is insane unless he was virgin conceived.”

–  Did I mention my bridge? The one for sale.

The other pamphlet is from The Morning Star Baptist Church with a smiling Pastor Dan Ferrell and his clutching Stepford-wife Janie on the cover. Janie stands behind rather than beside the Pastor. It says that they “…believe that the way to finance the Lord’s work is by free-will offerings.”

 –   I’ll bet they do.

Here are 10 things I learned today:

  1. Everyone is fornicating all the time. Except me.
  2. Trust what our Founding fathers said. Remember, “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.”
  3. Education is a less important, all-consuming pursuit.
  4. Environmentalism is an addictive, destructive action.
  5. Samuel Gipp won’t tolerate “cheap, intellectual midgets”.
  6. The Religious Right are easily confused by arguments. There’s also # 3. Hmmmm.
  7. Public education wants children to be homosexual, drug addicted, alcoholics. (I must have been absent that day.)
  8. Pastor Dan Ferrell and his Stepford-wife Janie like free-will (and tax free) offerings.
  9. Jesus is a Zombie. Other religious founders are just dead.
  10.  Normal people should pray for the Rapture. Soon. So we can get some peace and quiet and get back to the important business of fornicating.

Mick

Categories: A Day in the Life...

There’s Always Next Year


Kelly glistens. Like sparkles glued to construction paper. Luminescent pinpoints among freckles. Sandled feet on the back of the bleacher seat in front, she brushes dark hair off her neck and sips at the beer that is already warm though it came from a cooler carried into the stands minutes ago.

“Cold beer! Cold beer, here!

Baseball has been a lifelong passion. The Reds on the radio when I was growing up in the hills east of Chillicothe, Ohio. Sandlot games. We could never field complete teams. We needed only two outfielders, three infielders, a pitcher and a catcher.  We could sacrifice the catcher if we had a brick wall or a fence for a backstop and runners weren’t allowed to steal. Baseball was my favorite sport because, unlike football or basketball, it’s a small, speedy guy’s game. I liked to pitch because I could show off my quasi-ambidexterity. Righty Mick was all fastballs. Left Mick served up a steady diet of breaking pitches including a particularly devastating eephus. Righty Mick often got the shit pounded out of him. Lefty Mick was more effective but flew open as he released the ball. Defenseless.

I heard the crack of the bat. Then darkness. The kids standing over me when I “came-to” looked at me in horror but also in awe, looking at my nose splattered against my cheek. The blood was impressive. Facial and scalp wounds bleed out of proportion to the actual damage. My mother fainted when she saw me.

The old country doctor mashed my nose back into place, more or less, with his flattened hands, knuckles against my cheek. Working. Working. Branches cracked and loads of gravel rattled down a hillside in my mind. My already impressive proboscis stuffed with cotton and taped with splints into straightened verticality. The ruined grill of an almost new car. Headlight eyes glowing purple, then yellow and green. Boys gleeful in their mockery until they discovered what a powerful emotion sympathy is among pubescent girls. I’m surprised I didn’t start a fashion trend.

I reconnected with baseball in Cleveland. Old Municipal Stadium with 5,000 of my closest friends. An Indians baseball fan is an authentic baseball fan. No room for band-wagoners. I doubt they can afford a wagon. At Municipal I’d wind up peering around a pole watching Joe Charboneau lope up the slightly graded left field after a rope of a line-drive off the opposition’s bat. Super Joe was the purest of players. Not because he was the 1980 A.L. Rookie of the year with a .289 batting average but because he opened beer bottles with his eye sockets. But Joe’s fame was fleeting.

I was already in Cincinnati when Jacob’s Field was built. Before the powerful Indian’s teams of the 90’s. Before the 455 consecutive home game sell-outs. Before the consecutive playoff appearances. Before the 1997 heartbreak of Game 7 of the World Series that I watched on an airport television on my way back from Italy. Nagy took the loss in the 11th inning but it was Jose Mesa who blew the lead in the 9th. Omar Vizquel was right. Mesa was a choker. Mesa is gone and Municipal Stadium is a reef off the Lake Erie shore. A home for fish. I’ll bet the sightlines are terrible.

And the Indians are back to being the Indians. Last place, lovable losers. Being an Indians fan is to be a yearlong baseball fan. Indian’s fans keep track of trades and acquisitions in the off-season knowing that next year’s team will be better. Next year is always better.

In the sun deck of Great American Smallpark, enjoying Clevelandesque weather, sunny and warm but dry, I long for the seagulls gliding in off Erie. Another round of beers for the group. Kelly discovers a sticky substance on her seat and her ass. We’ll call her Candy Ass for the rest of the afternoon. The Phillies are ahead but I don’t think they’ll hold the lead. I want the Reds to win and they do but it’s a tainted victory. The Reds feel like a mistress to me. I feel like a cheat enjoying myself in the company of a charming and alluring woman while my true love sits home alone and waits.

For next year.

Categories: A Day in the Life...

Queen City Suffer Club


                                 Accepting Nominations and Applications for Membership in

                                                          The Queen City Suffer Club                               

Eligibility Requirements:

1. Currently in a state of financial, emotional or physical distress. Satisfaction of all three criteria makes you a Platinum Member. Special consideration given to those suffering a recent romantic breakup, job loss or untreated illness due to a lack of medical insurance.

2. Smart enough to realize that where you live (the Cincinnati region in particular and the U.S. in general) is in a state of severe crisis but pathetic enough to be stuck here.

3. Harbor an appropriate degree of rage toward the U.S. health insurance industry, Fox News, Glenn Beck, BP, streetcar and rail opponents, televangelists, mega sized suburban S.U.V. drivers (car and/or driver), exurbia, farm subsidies, the military-industrial complex, wealthy individuals and corporations that pay no taxes, propaganda disguised as news, Monsanto, Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin, Twitter addicts, the Petro-criminal industry, smokers and cigarette butts on the ground, Texting addicts, Lite beer drinkers, American Idol, NASCAR, Red Bull, adults who use the LOL acronym, genre fiction, soft core porn (what’s the point?), Paris Hilton, Chili’s and Applebee’s restaurants,  Adam Sandler, Wal Mart and hemorrhoids. You’re allowed one vice from the above list, but only one, while you are being re-educated.

Communal sufferings will be observed periodically at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, Rock Bottom on the Square, The Righteous Room, Frie’s Cafe, Dewey’s Pizza in Clifton and Neon’s Unplugged.

Meetings of the Q.C. Suffer Club Management Committee occur every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at Market Wines wine tasting at Findlay Market. Interested and prospective members are welcome to attend to learn more and sign up for a schedule of events. Bring your credentials.

Mick

Categories: A Day in the Life...

A Haircut Aboard the Titanic


Ferrari’s Barber shop on Garfield Place, the narrow strip of urban park that runs between Vine St. and Elm St. A short walk from the public library. Three barber chairs. Two barbers. Old, Italian brothers who came to America after the war. W.W.II. The big one.

I prefer Fausto. Most of the regular customers will wait for Fausto, while his brother Emilio’s chair remains empty. Emilio gets the newbies. Guys who wander in for the first time and wonder why a chair is available while others wait and read the newspaper or glance through old magazines. The novices soon find out.

Emilio rushes through his work. What Emilio really wants to do is go outside and smoke and get a cup of coffee from Cafe de Paris a few doors down. Emilio does this about every twenty minutes. He mutely gives fast haircuts without all of the flourishes and extras provided by his older brother. He charges the same amount non-the-less. Emilio is good for business. Not his business, but the haircutting business in general. After an Emilio haircut you’re ready for another haircut. Maybe tomorrow. Emilio only knows how to cut hair one way. You leave the chair looking a lot like Emilio. Sort of a Moe Howard thing.

There are pictures and framed news clippings on the barbershop wall. The clippings are short, human-interest write-ups about the barbershop and the brothers over the decades.  They are yellowed with age and pretty much unreadable. There’s a picture of George Washington. The one from your grade school classroom where George looks like a stern grandmother. The brothers, like a lot of immigrants of their era, are fiercely patriotic about their adopted country. There’s a picture of a Pope. I couldn’t tell you which one but I’m sure he isn’t a recent one. I’m not up on my Popes. There’s also a photo of the Titanic, a big, beautiful, stately ship floating serenely at sea. I want to ask if there’s a story behind the picture but I never do.

Fausto doesn’t like to talk about the past. At least not to me. I try to talk to him about Italy, which I have visited numerous times. Apparently the brothers haven’t been back to their home country since they arrived on the boat. Our conversations don’t go very far. Fausto would rather be here than in Italy. I’d rather be in Italy than here. That’s how it goes.

Fausto must be in his late seventies to early eighties. His brother somewhat younger. Fausto still delivers a credible haircut despite his age but he’s a little unsteady. He grasps my shoulder and holds on as he moves around to get a better angle on my head. The scissors clack without pause even when not engaged with my hair.

Fausto is easily distracted. If the phone rings and Emilio is out (he usually is), Fausto will shuffle to the back of the shop to answer it. It rings until he gets there. There is no answering machine. He speaks Italian on the phone and sounds irritated. I imagine that his wife is on the other end of the line. His barber chair is at the front of the shop, right in front of the plate glass window. Garfield Place is a busy pedestrian street and Fausto acknowledges passersby. Sometimes he goes to the door to say a word or two. You need to make sure you fill your meter before you go in, even if there is no wait. Fausto’s dalliances have led to some pretty expensive haircuts. You don’t want to be in the chair when the mail arrives. It’s an important and diverting event.

A haircut costs $12.00. It used to be $10. Be sure you have exact change. If I hand him a twenty he’ll tell me that he can’t break it and send me to the quickie mart around the corner. He’ll say this even if the guy ahead of me paid him with all one’s. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s payback for prying about his history, about Italy.

Fausto finishes my haircut by dabbing my neck and hairline with a lime scented concoction from a bottle. He massages my scalp and shoulders with a vibrating device strapped to his hand. I need this calming treatment after he shaves my hairline with a straight razor. I always tense up when I hear the razor slapping against the strop. Fausto’s hands are steady but there’s something unnerving about an eighty-year old man scraping a razor across my jugulars. I can’t take my eyes off the Titanic.

 Mick