Thursday, June 30, 2005

Joe Potatoes Notebook

Suspicious activities. (What’s going on here?)
(Memory gradually returning after the ECT, drug shock & terror at Bellvue mental ward)
Ex con planting Aloe plants.
Why do I feel more human when nobody’s around?
Things like cancer, plaque, cysts growing in our bodies we can’t control.
Likewise in the social body.
Posters of attractive people with problems.
Open mouths of wrenches saying nothing.
National Enquirer: ELVIS MEETS BIGFOOT! I don’t THINK so!
Things we don’t know that hurt us. The more so, the more we think we know them.
Man talking to himself beside the freeway.
Female elephant gets beaten for not doing her tricks right. Bursts into tears, HUMANIZES her captors!?
Woman shot for love or at least what they call love.
Dr. Frankenbush & his zombie bride, Terry Sciavo. "Err on the side of life." If that’s what he calls life, we’re ALL in trouble.
And his "real" wife, Laura, where’d SHE come from, with that strangely dis-affected voice? Hmmm.
The boring crap that’s famous & the excellence that can’t even get a day in court.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fast moving thunderstorms are blowing thru right now and pounding on the bus roof. And I’m off to dreamland. 6/21/05Dental appointment today,Got up at six, took a shower, got on the road, see theRandom splash of blood hear the news on the radio from some ancient timeI just happen to live in& impersonate any one of numerous public official selves I invent on a daily basis dead Javelina

the guard at Ed’s Parking Lotby the McDonald’s arches has nothing to hide he’s there all day, dying in the sun might as well be friendlyI walk the wrong way a few blocks until the painful jolt of orientation sets inI remember this street by the borderwith the empty looking shops I almost remember the black face, torn clothes, aimless smile of the homeless man sitting by his bundle of rags staring into some absurd sky but then once I turn away from the sheet metal fence, the crosses piled up on it, telling us over and over how cheap our own lives are no matter what we think we have, once I turn onto Calle Obregon memory fails me every shop looks like every other shopI call the dentist’s office, get a recording, I’m at Calle Obregon and Calle Pierson, I’m lost. I say, the next time I get a busy signal, then nothing, then a voice in spanish says my service has been suspended. I go into a Western Union office, ask the lady working a computer up front for a phone book"No Entiende" she says, & shakes her head, as if to say, crazy tourists, who knows what they want, or expect? The line inside the Western Union is too long. I go into an optometrist’s shop, they say, he’s 2 doors down. But it’s another dentist’s with a similar name.I try a pay phone, It makes incomprehensible noises when I dial.Try another, it takes my card & makes other noises but won’t do anything.Try another, it’s dead, has tissue covering the keypad that has bubblegum under it that smears all over the phone when I try to remove it, go into other dentists' offices, there’s smelly air coming down dark stairs, cant handle it, the whores, maybe I could just forget the dentist, forget the karmic debt, forget my humanity, just fuck somebody, so young, so lovely, so broken so dead inside and I cd look at them, forever, tears in my eyes & ask for every love they & I never hadwhere is that love I cd ask and they wd be mute,. no entiende, they wd say, there are no phonebooks in the land of the heart, only bubblegum and phones that don’t work from one side of yr brain to the other, stop bargaining little baby mama’s busy dying on the street, all the lost loves, the dead friends, I think,....fuck me till the hurt & loss & anger spurts out of me white & juicy, if you don’t I’ll get sadder & sadder until you give in, I warn you I’m an excellent manipulator, I learned it from a lover who was a trauma queen, if you will I’ll pay you in advance for every bad thing that happened and could happen, fool, fool, to look for love in a miasma of desire! Look in the ugliness! Or look under stones! Look in the unforgiving stars!I take each one inside and punish her by punishing myself for not wanting me for not repairing all the brokenness, I tell the homeless man, too crazy to even beg, with the black face & torn clothes & the insane smile, It’s ok, I gave at the office, I was sad & anxious for years, I have insurance, I paid the premiums in imaginary blood, I’m a god damned liar! Finally, by accident I stumble into Dr Gonzales office, the artificial marble on the floor, the split level ceiling, so relieving in their inane familiarity. I plop down in a chair & wait, exhausted, I had plenty of time after all. He shakes my hand. He remembers me from a year ago, did you bring your bite plate? no. are you still using it? yes. yes I think, except for the last month I should have said, when I decided I had resolved all my subconscious conflicts and anxieties & was perfectly relaxed when waking up, and was no longer grinding in my sleep except for the secret identities, except for the something that is so wrong inside me I broke a tooth trying to eat it....ohhhhhh Dr. Gonzales says looking in my mouth, very bad! my heart sinks. I’ve been bad.....those times I said I’m over my depression & anxiety now, I’ve outgrown them and didn’t use the bite plate.....wrong. something is still terribly wrong inside me, some part of me is not communicating between one brain and another, one self and another, except in dreams, the frustrating part is I can’t get at it.....some people want their dreams to go away, I desperately need mine & want to take them back to the lab and analyze them and can’t have them "Are you nervous?" He asks. "I wasn’t until you told me how many problems I have." I said"No," he laughs, "I mean are you a nervous person?"I guess in spite of all I tell myself, I still am. I don’t answer, overwhelmed.I didn’t equalize the tension between one part of the mind and the other. the animal inside is still scared, still needs to chew on bones it digs up from the dark within, needs to cling to the past, dumbly, stupidly, anxiously, the more so, the more ephemeral things get AFTER

we all agree, it was all in fun, all a joke, the time, the money, the love, the disappointment,after the monsters who ruled the arts center for seven years are gone and it’s gone, after all the loves of my life that oppressed me are dead and/or gone, the reasons (and the anger at the very reasonableness of them)I submitted to the oppression are still here baby selvesthat live inside my old man’s face, the animal is still not happy
the animal needs something really bad,
digs up bones and chews them all nightand my real teeth are worn down to nothing and broken so where else would I come for repairsthan to these streets where only the animal is real?

Dr Gonzales hands me a mirrorI watch my old mouth, the yellowed worn teeth chomping, testing the bite, good, good I say, good job, I appreciate the work you did. It WAS a lot of work, intense, dedicated, with an assistant holding the UV light that hardens the buildup, sharp objects in my mouth, grinding, sterilizing, daubing, grinding, fitting for almost 2 hours straight $30/tooth"I’ll do the upper ones for free." he says& he also ground out the bigger chunks of plaque for free....and things inside us get that bad without us knowing? O YESS! we can’t live without accumulating poisons, plaques that make arterial plaque look like nothing, the only relief is children, animals, innocence we cannot hold inside us any longer & must try to touch it outside ourselves.

On the way back to the borderI stop & ask a man who doesn’t seem to care about anything at all, A donde es La Frontera? He points & tells me in Spanish. At least I understand the pointing. I feel like I’m walking out of an insane asylum. Got any money?Stick around.Buy something, celebrate, you’re not so old & ugly, the young girls will get used to you after awhile, maybe even give you a kiss forfree if you’ll just join the party, stop being so sad, stop trying to think about life & deathwhen you know it’s useless...if you don’t have any money...if you won’t stop thinking...if you insist on seeing the poverty of life for what it isthen Leave or sit down in the gutter till your face gets black& an insane smilecomes over yr face.

I get my picture taken sitting on a donkey, holding a ukelele with no strings, a serape over my shoulder, a sombrero on my head, a pickin an a grinnin, lying to the public,

el mariachi de mucho dolor’
with a smile he bought from a whore
o mariachi please lie to us again
tell us more
lie to us on the dead side of caution the way our president Dr. Frankenbush does after our brains are gone and we are still obligated to live just becuz

At the border the blind man still sits with his cassio playing it, very competently, in marimba mode, somewhere between passion and rote, I hear the music just as a woman’s breast pokes its way into my sight, full, inviting, almost falling out of her dress,here! here! It says, everything you ever wanted, why don’t you take it, please! please! the beggar at the door says, impersonating me, holding out his baseball cap

this is like a bad dream, I have to get out of here before my teeth fall out, wheel chair man with ear ornament on a chain, man walking lopsided with a cane past the hospital cheerful as he goes bumping bobbing along yup yup yuphup 2, 3, woman with sign on her breast: "beauty advisor""can you make me beautiful?" I ask"Of course." she says, smiling because she knows I want her.Liar liarHAPPY BUDDHA DOG KENNELthe sign on the van in the parking lot says and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home. I think, I think what do you think now, Bob,if you can think anything at all, of allthe artists & writers lost, unrealized, in small townsor big stinking cities under the stars the deaths of children within and withoutis it ok? Because if it isn’t OK, let’s just kill somebody or blow something up like Timothy McVeigh did, like he was a walking symbol of the US of A, like the Mujuhadeen over in Iraq blowing shit up for God because the cruelty and injustice of the world alreadyblew their minds

Sunday, June 19, 2005

This is a log of private investigations into loss, absurdity, and the IS of "it is what it is", as seen from the big time and the big self of childhood, before we knew enough to stop wondering, before the banality gang got to us and told us how to be chained to our daily selves. The investigations are conducted by Joe Potatoes because he has a lot of private eyes and they’re all on the ground. Joe was the second character in a one man performance piece called Big Time Big Self. This piece was about a gang called The Banality Gang (which aims to get all our brains before we’re done). The piece itself was taped over, all except for one last segment, by a videographer who needed a tape to record a soap opera one night and Big Time Big Self was the lucky winner. Death by inanity. And you thought Don Corleone was bad!
the deaths of children
I remember when I was 12 my cousin hung himself from a tree. He told his friends to go on ahead and he’d join them later. When they came back looking for him, they found him hanging there. I remember the inconsolable wailing of his parents, and the first tears I ever saw in my father’s eyes. I remember wondering what this loss thing was.
My grandfathers both died that year. My maternal grandfather had remarried while he was in the hospital with diabetes. He married a nurse named Beulah, who got half the farm when he died. I remember her trying too hard to cry at the funeral.
A band director in a nearby town committed suicide.
The son of the band director in our town drank himself to death in Galveston. There is a knowledge which can’t be spoken which slowly sinks in on you when these things become the facts of our lives.
The suicides I got to know were perfectionists, a violinist who played experimental improvisational music and it was never good enough? How could something improvisational not be good enough? That kind of thing HAS to be what it is. And a guy who used to dress up every Saturday night like a fop and walk the streets. A kid who had an addict for a dad, and made up a perfect one inside him, which he shot full of holes.
We rebel against this knowledge in various ways, but those are still just ways, and probably not very good ones, of living with it.
Marvin told me today his friend was water skiing at Lake Tahoe, got some kind of rash on his buttocks where the spray was hitting him, got a fever that night, had to be taken to the hospital, was diagnosed with some flesh eating virus, his liver and pancreas and kidneys were failing, and he died shortly after that. Marvin said it was difficult. Yes, I said, so sudden. He said he had to go move his friend’s stuff. Sad duty. I said,
and thought about Creely dying & wondered often what he thought, if he thought at all now, about the lives & deaths of artists & writers whose time & energies were so taken up in the struggle just to live, that their voices & images couldn’t get out to whomever it may concern
as it all moves, plants moving down the aisles at Home Depot, or little houses just lying there under the stars in little towns in New Mexico, but we cannot SEE, not really, not ever
the inseparable motions of death and life in our lives
the deaths of children
something about that fact is so balancing to every joy a person can experience, something about it is so true to what goes on inside us daily, and how we survive that fact, each in our own fashion, is what makes us who we are. It feels to me the way watching my father’s death and scattering his ashes felt, that I was privelidged to suffer and priviledged to be present at a mystery.
My neighbor stays in his house more & more these days. When the subject of his ex comes up, he starts swearing and generalizing the evil she did to him. Seems like she got to a place where nothing can ever change inside him. He has the same level of anger & depression as he did when she left—after several affairs, which he never stops bragging about, one of them a live-in. If his ex was that bad you’d think he’d be grateful he’s not in love with her anymore and she’s gone. He says he is glad, but he acts otherwise. She could have had half of everything for living with him a few years but she settled for the vacant lot between us. I suppose she had to get SOMETHING for her contribution to the marital community, but he says,
"When I met her she didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of...and now she’s got that lot, see what I get for being a nice guy."
Or for needing a mother, and then rebelling when you got one? I wonder. Because it was like a mother son argument, she, a historically known control freak, probably 20 years his senior, and he, like me, with so much stuff piled up everywhere, that it would suffocate even another pack rat. She kept nagging at him about it, and he made feeble efforts at controlling it, then when she made an ultimatum, he said, don’t threaten ME! Then she moved out and left something like a dozen cats for him to take care of. They said when they agreed to live together that their home would be a haven for homeless cats, but none of the neighbors whose yards they would piss and shit in were invited to the meeting. He still loves the cats, but now he’s bitter about having them all by himself.
His real mom found his next girlfriend for him and when that romance died, he found other women, beautiful, hot women, he said, but not emotionally available—not like mom? And at least the first few must have felt like there was a whole crowd in bed with them, a madonna, a whore, a mom, a slut, an angel....
like the grassrooter artist I read about who had his front yard full of signs cursing his ex wife, and had his house full of little shrines to her angel like love
and now he’s alone with his anger at the past, and I’m alone with my fears of the future, the new neighbor who’ll move in & possibly harass me thru the building department, or bring in some gangbanger tenants, or whatever. I could sell and move farther out of town, but that’s what causes sprawl. My principle for ecological living is a return to the medieval walled garden and I’m sticking with it. I just need money to build a big fat, tall, medieval wall.
We think things are over, we think we are done, but as John Donne said, we have not done. My ex says she may have IBS or colon cancer. I need to know what’s going on and she doesn’t feel like talking, because we’re not that close and the fear sucks it all in. If we’re not that close then what’s this pit of despair doing in my stomach?
I’m scared too. I have this skin that won’t stop making pre cancerous melanomas even in places I keep covered with long sleeves. Obviously the sun’s rays penetrate even steel & wood, why not cloth? And then I screwed one up by trying to self medicate. Well I was between doctors and I was scared, so beat me and scream at me, maybe It’ll make me smarter. That’s always worked in the past.
Life and death, one process, roiling & tumbling inside us daily.
Last time the family trust that takes care of my mother & sister had to sell some apartments, Sarah, one of the tenants, lost big time.
She took care of the landscaping, grew beautiful rose bushes and desert plants. She had a bird feeder and binoculars. These things were her only relief when she’d come home tired from transcribing court records of trials of rapists, murderers, dope dealers, the endless parade of human detritus that goes before the bench—the birds and the landscaping, and taking care of Aimie who was the nicest person possible and was dying of brain cancer.
When we sold, by the time I saw for sure what kind of people the new landlords were going to be, it was too late. They drove out a gay architect, just by being abrasive and intrusive, they didn’t pay one tenant for work he did, said rent had to be paid by five o’clock on the first of the month or they’d start proceedings, installed exterior lighting which the tenants had to pay the electric bill for, cut down the landscaping and put in gravel everywhere. The birds were gone, so was Sarah’s car, so was her peace of mind. She was miserable. I tried to give her jobs in landscaping and offered her a place to rent at my house but it never worked out. I told myself, you’d think you could just marry someone you loved & respected like that, but it’s never that simple. It’s almost like real life, because you can’t make it up. (And the fidelity is amazing. Sometimes it’s almost like being there.)
Now it’s starting to look like we have to sell again. I have a duty as trustee to make the trust grow and to have it benefit my sister & mother. Those are two separate duties I was told by a lawyer. I don’t feel that a duty to an abstraction, like money, divorced from human benefit, can stand. It’s just a bunch of words. As far as I’m concerned, in social and legal matters, the best advice I ever got came from an old etiquette manual to wit:
"A kind heart is the best manners."
It isn’t good currency in some circles, but I’m OK with it. And I’ve always relied on the still, small voice of individual conscience over big words, and laws and what Charles Olsen called,
"The myth of mass." because, even if they are all in one room, and even if that’s a courtroom, and everybody’s dressed up, speech and all, they’re still just a bunch of idiots, after all. Or collective intelligence must always be calculated against collective stupidity.
But how DO we live with death, since like the poor AND the rich, it is always with us? The originator of cognitive behavioral therapy says when we get to the point of accepting IT IS WHAT IT IS then we’re THERE, which we have on good authority, is a better place than DENIAL, internal temper tantrums turned to depression, anxiety, dissipation, suicide? Yeah, it’s probably better, at least until we die ourselves, assuming of course, that we really KNOW anything. It feels better to me, anyway, to just be here, with the birds singing in the morning, shouldering the burden of happiness in the face of all possible adversity, and remembering the dead—yes, even the suicides, even those lives virtually stillborn--- with gratitude for what they tell me about life.