Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Martyn (1948-2009).

Tonight fight or fuck someone for John. Or fight AND fuck someone. Or just do as I'm doing: listen to Bless the Weather and think of how improbable a decent cover version of 'Singing in the Rain' must've been. And how astonishing it is.

I was thinking, too, purely as an aside, but relevant, how cold and instantly these websites learn about deaths.  I check Wikipedia, as they update most frequently, and edit for accuracy as often.  But how did this happen?  It is absorbent and multiplicitous, knowing about the crushing acts, not yet of the age to legally drink.  

Anyhow, rest in peace.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The walk home thru Heaven on Earth, Bloomfield and the afterhours place ideas.

It could be Bloomfield cast in lead by Anselm Keifer.  Last night or, rather, this morning, around 4:30 when I inched home from a nightcap or so at the Castle the entirety of our neighborhood was encrusted in an infrared ice tundra.  Detailed mottlings of ice rain pools obscured the basic boundaries between curb, sidewalk, Liberty Ave.  It was something.  You might as well nail it above the Squirrel Hill Tunnel:  Pittsburgh:  Where Nothing Beautiful Is Ever Kind. 

Just a quick shot now to cut the heady stuff I've been laying out lately.  Not sure how I feel about it, or what the future will hold.  The frigid assaults on Pittsburgh have awakened a wild Coleridgean energy and on so many fronts I have been exhilarated by new ideas.  Tag along.  

One thing about which I am confident is this Sunday.  The Super Bowl has compelled us to double the Gooski's stock in wings and all things fry-o-latable.  There have been rattlings in my dreams, trying to satisfy some vegetarian friends' game day cravings.  I forecast roasted serrano and baby eggplant involtinis;  a freak show tent cross-pollination of the falafel, hush puppies and beans and rice.  You won't catch me saying it aloud but I think this unnatural fritter will carry the moniker, the Pinto Puppy.  I know, it's fucking silly.   

Omnivorous notions too have abounded.  After nearly a week of brainstorming the very simple concept of the Caesar salad--done right one of my favorite foods, I think I arrived at a nice spin.  Not an innovation exactly, after all a proper Caesar is perfect as it is, more like a pairing:  classic romaine heart, anchovy and parmesan mayonaise dressing with garlic croutons (all par for the course)  heaped alongside grilled flatbread and deep-fried smelts.  To me that's ideal bitter beer drinkin' food.  that's Steelers stomping birdass food.

I'm still trying to refine my pizza crust technique, and am constantly on the lookout for disused bricks to modify Gooski's oven for a better pizza making environment.  That accomplished margheritas and pierogie pies will resume in the chewy glory for which they were conceived and destined.

I'll be trying out several new wing flavors as well.  No hints on those.  Sufficed to say one will be incendiary in nature.  And in general expect to get my ass handed to me at halftime.  I must say little could excite me more.  The aggressive temperament of this winter bodes well, I say, for the Steelers' hopes.  More to the essence it evokes the best of the city.  It snows, it rains, there are golden towels in the air.  When the elements converge it is out of a harsh and most reliable love.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Even the sunlight was cheap.

I couldn't say what reminded me, but having that itch nearly exclusive to Sundays, I'll write this little chestnut down before the vodka swills and half-remembered blows to the head flush it all away.

This would've been the autumn of 2006.  Miss Kathyrn and I were living on Two Street, Mummers' Row in the heart of old Irish South Philly.  The First Ward.  Pennsport.  Not two blocks from the Riverview movie theater where you can take in a Pixar and get shot by an infant for the same ticket price.  A steal, if that's your thing.  Also we had a Burger King.  Jesus, was it awful.  Anyhow Kate and I liked it and we had some happy times in that place.  

At the time I was working at the law firm of Larrabee, Cunningham & McGowan, P.C..  A terrific bunch of folks who put up with me much longer than I would have.  And given that they paid me a king's ransom (by my math anyhow) I used to spend the liberated evening hour going through the Reading Terminal Market, shopping for the makings of supper, often giving very little regard to what I spent.  At the risk of a digression: Le Bus batards; Salumeria's clotted cream and purple-marbled Roquefort; the cookie & an attiude (the attitude was free),  the rabid octogenarian playing the upright piano as if all music was the embossment of her dream and all the Market was bygone Vienna; the Amish yogurt and raw milk; chickens from Och's; Jill's Cook Book Stall--yes, Kate I did have a kind of crush on Jill, but it was a harmless one; the leeks, Yukons & cipollinis from Iovine Bros.' that became so many a night's copper purees and then the chive ragouts that crowned them, are among not only my fondest memories of the Market, but of Philadelphia on the whole.  Hell, of all my known adulthood of details on the whole!

I don't remember what I bought that day, save for what was jutting out of my book bag.  It was one of those kinds of book bags they only give us city liberals.  You wingnuts don't get them.  To accentuate the elitism and snobbery of my book bag, I'll add that it read the name of the greatest record store on the planet, my former place of employment, A.K.A. Music., where, as we speak A.K.A. Mike is edenically rooted in a Frankie Miller live album, arguing about Slumdog Millionaire with the excellent Tony Creamer.  Oh wait, it's Sunday.  Mary and Mia.  Jesus, Mia's pregant!  

I rely on these details to safeguard the chemistry of nuances.  It's like when you watch Bob Ross paint a picture there comes a time in the execution of each canvas when you caution him, Bob, that color doesn't go there.  That's where the stream yields a tuft of blond grasses, like you said earlier, before you started.  But moments and soft words later the counterintuitive swath of emerald green has fallen behind--that's right, a precise and exemplary tuft of blond grasses.  So please know that it all belongs, and belongs in the order in which it falls.

In those days I rode the old Smiths bike.  A 50's era Ross, doubtless made in Allentown P.A., resembling the regal Raleighs of Nottingham, England.  I remember at first sight of it, thinking of my hero, the great tragic World War I poet, Wilfred Owen, riding across a smoke-buffed moor path with a bag of letters, intelligence and the augured imaginings of fatality and honor that would win him his sad fame.  If I could imagine him there on that Ross--a Raleigh simulacrum, then it was the vehicle for me.  I could, and it was.  Incidentally we called them Smiths bikes because of their profusion in the 1987 music video for The Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You Think You've Heard This One Before".  Both anglican associations gilded my appreciation, though truthfully neither came so readily to mind as thoughts of excessive violence upon watching a thief in a red sweatshirt ride it past me, the unlatched cord-lock sitting in the wire basket I'd added only days earlier.   You know...

Anyhow, these we're happier times to be sure.  Peeking above the scarlet rim of my tote was a batard, some greens, a white paper wrapped parcel of Luganega sausage--I do remember!--and a slender bouquet of flowers wrapped in green tissue for Kate.  In those times, too, I was better dressed than I am now.  Like the self-portrait galleries showing Rembrandt's rollercoaster of fortune and misfortune, my own is detailed in the sartorial surges and crashes that live in memories.  It was cool enough for a scarf, and this was before that rueful day when Kate gave me the brown corduroy jacket ultimatum.  So there I was, affected and content as could be, pedalling my way down Two Street, a tote brimming with food and flowers, oh, and a 30 pack cube of PBR balanced precariously on my handle bar.  From behind me I heard the acceleration of an engine and as best as I could, I yielded to the unseen auto.  This had to be done cautiously, and yet with enough expedience that the driver would detect my courtesy;  that kind of bike, with that kind of occupant, carrying that kind of tote formed a gestalt portent of Pennsport gentrification.  I was not so well liked by the neighbors.  Nor was Kate.  And she had being pretty on her side.

So there I was, yielding to not just a picture of fourth generation Pennsport stock, but one driving a pickup, more to the point one with that dusty red complexion exclusive to contractors fond of the n word.  He cast me a long unconceding stare.  The thought occurred to me to stop entirely, let him pass as quickly out of sight, and out of the path of confrontation, as possible.  I thought about how old I was, how I'd come to look and act as I did.  I was from people so much like him, and yet I was so unlike him.  I don't mean that in a  judgmental way.  Where did my water diverge from the greater currents?  

The glare seemed to occupy the entire autumn of 2006, when, having slowed to my unsteady bike pace he imparted, "Brother, you are living the dream."

As quickly as that my confidence was restored. I remember finally laying the flowers on the kitchen table, overtop a gas bill.  There was enough light coming off the Delaware to know one object from the next.  But really, that was it. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What now.

Could be that it's just
As you left it,
A phrase embodying the dust,
A knockout spell,
Circumstantial to the climate, unnoticed
Bereft, it

Pries to the sun.

Here, listen,
A chorus designed to
Withstand the galing adversaries
Somnolent and externally bummed out
And remind who

Did what to what:

Check the line
Gunning away and left--
Clear the straggling scratch thought
Uplifted by the barking savvy of your balk
Harsh whispers 
Dictate route, shadow and type

To what.

The dust as was auld lang snow, falls, 
Softens the floors.
What was time is time, but it is over:
Go back.  That 
Whine of fingernail calls

Is the crying call. What,

There is no cabinet for the unbleached particulars, 
Darkly bereft of us? 
The last David dies in an   unlit avalanche.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

By only beginning and always beginning I refute the way it turns out for me.

Lucian Freud-Double Portrait (British 1988)

I'm escorted by a simple idea.
I say "each day" when I refer to that moment  

I feed the dog.
Each day.

In taking imparticular comfort in my actions
I've already begun to regret the disruption

It is difficult to imagine our not being as we are
And loss and loss decades in the act of preparation.

I know.

I cut a soft-cooked egg into a lump of wet grain
With the back of a spoon,
And her head hovers above the imaginary bowl I think of.
Like if steam constituted an answer:

If I were her this is how I would begin.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Or for the light.

Rest in peace, Andrew Wyeth.  

The Lord of the Earthquake.

(For the bygone mentorship of the 20th century, and colors that don't exist any longer, retained in some movies photographed on auburn film, but veritably lost.)

Year after year  in the Peruvian landscradle
Beyond the llamas and green earthen wands
The mist swafts and anticipated sighs regurgitate:
He is carried on a wave
Of shoulders.

This is a reliable coincidence.

What is prayed for 
Is ecstatically gotten
This year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The honey resin.

Edward Steichen untitled photo (American 20th century)

(For my pal, F.A., out west.)

Song is the fantasy of all speaking:

Look and see, reading lips
That Sinatra was singing:
"The fire in your heaaaart"
with lopings rupturing those vein-blue lines
Grace restored all eyes to a state of,
Umber poisonous wax on sofa-like bumps
In today's night.

It is no longer used to hurt people;

Ready, but I mean, this soft uncrude stuff
Has been eliminated; now they say it's torture:
People watching with the mute button impushed
And all the candy on the floor from this time.

And all the candy on the floor from last time. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our son.

I've been cruising Craigslist looking for a cd player for the Gooski's kitchen. This morning I came across this ad under the Barter heading. It encapsulates all that is beautiful about Pittsburgh, PA. There is a sense of sacrifice underlying this ad so crisp and true that its worthy of an O Henry story:

I am going to assume we are going to win tomorrow. I am going to post my 2 Lower Level tickets on the 20 yard line up for sale, and I'm sure they will go for a pretty penny. I am interested in an assault rifle. AR15, Mini-14, etc. Email me if you would be interested in a trade. My seats are about 25 rows from the field on the 20 yard line. Home side of the stadium.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

My toothbrush's in there.

To the west there is an ocean.
There's a mountain on the right.
Now will you walk away or take the blame
For the unfortunately named Children of This Day.
Children of This Night.

Some mornings tell you all you need to know about a place.  If you're in the area come to Bloomfield.  I'm having that kind of morning;  I could offer up my services as tour guide of this specific sensation.  Of course it involves characters not present, not all of them, and an ephemeral moment which for all I know has already passed.  But the basic elements are here.  We need another word for poverty though.

The song: "This Night", the artist, Destroyer.

And it started.  I had to run down to the Shur Save to pick up some ingredients for Miss Ella's food.  The butchers, like the sum of the staff at Shur Save are impedimentary in their lack of skill and charm.  For the butchers the former is primary.  But it's cheap, and with a dog who needs to eat basically the diet of a small, picky child the disfigurations of conventional cuts are permissible: I opted for "Chicken for Soup" at approximately $.55 per pound.  Now choosing this cut has its drawbacks.  And they begin the moment selection has occurred; the styrofoam tray is invariably brimming with sticky pink chicken water.  They say technically its not blood.  From a psychological perspective that is instantly reassuring, then troubling.  Lingeringly troubling.  At the check-out counter I warned the cashier about the liquid.  She's going to be touching all Bloomfield's food this morning and the wan pewter cast of her eye suggested the notion of cross-contamination might very well be a foreign one.  Thanks for nothing--she eyed me and the meat with the same revolted wan pewter gaze.  I would've followed up in my defense but there was also something laconic about her.  Like she'd found an insulated space from which to conduct herself.  Her shift had just begun and justification for splitting my discontent between the two of us was simply not to be found.  With sticky hands I counted out exact change and walked away.

Now here's were it becomes, as Phil Simms might say, a Bloomfield kind of morning.

I took a longer way home, cutting back on Ella St. and through the alley to Taylor, then back to Liberty, so I could hear as much of the long "This Night" as possible before reaching my door.  There was just enough residual snow on the ground to be able to say: I walked home in the snow.  In a crosswalk I passed a kid I've run into from time to time, one of those squatter punks who has the appearance of having been tarred but not yet feathered.  Always working on selling you something you could never use--in his case chain-mail jewelry.  Truth be told he was nice and sad, like the right opportunity wouldn't make him any smarter or happier; he'd just stay put and put up with it.  Glad not to have to be suspicious of a good thing.  

On my first day back Jesse and I went out to grab some coffee.  We'd been moving furniture and were pooped from the one-two of manual labor and drugs.  Everytime I move I swear it'll be the last time.  Anyhow there he was.  This tarred punk.   He was grousing about a landlord who'd locked him out over a rent dispute and some unpaid damages.  He said the guy was a cunt and everything would've, from a legal standpoint, fallen cleanly under the heading of normal wear and tear.  But there he was:  "My shit's in there, all my clothes.  My toothbrush's in there."

It was evident that his toothbrush was in there.

Jesse said the guy was nice enough.  He said, "You know, whatever really happened with that apartment, it was his fault."   

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I have come to regard Twitter as the 21st century answer to the haiku;  the participant is forced to consider and reconsider words at length, re-phrase and patch until what one hopes to express is captured in 140 characters or less.  Of course this can lead to ivy posters, whose banalities cover one's walls.  If you count toilet paper sheets as you peel them off for use it veritably recalls Thoreau's consumer-consciousness, but kindly do not report these statistics.  Not each time at least.

Anyhow, I should hold my tongue, having been more than liberal in my effusions.  Brings me to today's meditation on a Twitter message I composed last night but never sent:  

Dear Morrissey,

I am pleased to see you're interacting with your public.  Given the strand of celebrity you endure it must be difficult to appreciate Twitter intimacies without succumbing under all that heavy-breathing and repetitive ass-kissing. Christ, the volume alone!  That said I find Boz a terrific songwriter, and you, with your voice, perhaps this generation's Dean Martin.  I'm 33 now and have grown sparing with compliments.  May the short math bear out the magnitude of my regards.

My reason for writing--it is quite late here;  if you still live in Rome, as I'd read you did some time back, the evening is only getting started, is silly.  I picture you drinking molasses-colored wine on an oriental rug, eyeing your landscape.  Hopefully you are pleased you decided to keep the gardeners on in the winter--a time, as borne out in Lawrence Weschler's fascinating book, Robert Irwin: Getty Garden, when those activities are most crucial.  Provided you kept them on.  And of course as a former Los Angeles resident the Getty reference was not misspent.  Provided you have a garden.  Hell, regardless.  

A man doesn't need a garden to appreciate a garden.  

There are things at work compelling a person such as me to reach out to a person such as you.  I remember the letter you wrote as a kid to NME snarking on the clique discriminations between glam and punk.  There is no writing without confidence.  And as assuredly as it's the journey not the destination it is the bickering not the resolution.  So thanks for the colors.

This is silly mostly because there is no reason;  I feel like that old man in Jospeh Heller's Catch 22 in the culminating chapter, The Eternal City--and no, come to think of it, the Rome association was not planned.  Anyhow the Americans march in to liberate Italy from  the fascists.  They find a bitter old man who wants no part of it.  He's aware of the downward arc of his culture and finds this imminent salvation both naive and condescending.  He just wants to die already.  I thought of that feeling again several years ago when the Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci, died.  The way she accelerated a xenophobic agenda towards the end of her life reminded me of so many of the great anti-heroes.  Our love belongs to their confidence, their resolution.  They have seen the last chess moves earlier than the rest of us, and they are not smiling.  The last piece I read about Fallaci (before her 9/16/06 New York Times obituary) was an extensive, highly conflictive biographic study written for The New Yorker.  Ms. Fallaci railed against the Muslim world and its encroachment on continental cultures; it was unselfconscious and sickening.  During the course of the interview the author described how Ms. Fallaci cooked for her, and did so in an almost grandmotherly way, as if demonstrating a nurturing inclination, despite a world view that abraded it.  I bring these things up because they tie your present home soil to a feeling of spiritual decline that permits me to express without known direction, as if it is done blindly or it is not done at all.

What I'm working at is a little ethereal--I'm practically self-hypnotized--though the guys at the bar where I work would just say I'm beat--and I know there is no strategic point to which I'm coming.  This thing is a safeguard against treatises like this.  People must express themselves in haikus to one another.  Regardless of message.  Having arrived without one, and taken up more than my allotted 140 characters in the shake I'll say goodnight.  Good evening.  May your Rome rise from the bickering,  may you have even greater success still with the new record.

Warmest regards,
The auld lang syne. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thanks pal!

Over the past few years, especially during the rigorous presidential election season, my tribunal education on American politics has been colored by some terrific voices. Foremost among them is the eloquent, bright and intensely dignified Zbigniew Brzezinski. He gave firm contour to Obama's Americanness, and helped usher out the bellicose age of unchecked accusatory politics and corporate media laziness. He has been vigilant, and his recent comeuppance sammich made special for Joe "Fuck" Scarborough was especially gratifying.

May the age of W. era rationalization never find its traction. Happy New Year Everybody!