We Couldn’t Get Tito On Demerol?

I wasn’t going to mention the whole media blitz storm surrounding the death of Michael Jackson but it’s a nice day and I got Ozzy blasting through the house so I’d figure it would be cathartic.

I forgot about the monkey, the amusement park ranch, the hyperbaric chamber, the skin disorder, the masks, the surgeries, the marriages, the babies, the court proceedings, the showing up to said court proceedings in pajamas, the endless fascination and vilifying of a strange man.

I never forgot the circle slide, the moonwalk, the incredible dancing, the theatrical music videos and the politics of a man who just wanted peace for all people and for the wealth of the world to be shared with those less fortunate.

Crimeny, when this man danced he was the only thing you would be looking at, with dozens of people around him doing the same moves, no one did them like he did, he truly was a universal entertainer, every corner of the world understood that no one they knew could dance like that. His fashion sense alone has almost become a separate entity when describing him, those zipper jackets, weird gloves, buckles, straps, sparkles and even lingerie. Courage comes in many colors, my friends.

Since he hasn’t put out a decent record in at least a decade and a half and how the stories surrounding him were far from respectful or flattering, it’s almost a relief that he’s dead. The pressure on him to be something he’s not is gone and the weird caricature of a celebrity he had become has now morphed into the “The King Of Pop Is Dead, The World Mourns” headline that not only belies his global impact but leaves all the bizarre peripheral crap behind. Regretfully his children have lost their father but maybe the wee ones will have some semblance of a “normal” life without being in the shadow of such a media juggernaut.

An artist is an artist. You don’t sit down to dinner with an artist, you don’t have them babysit your kids, you don’t loan them money or have them sleep over at the house. If I stopped enjoying artists on their personal behavior and the value of their ethics, I certainly wouldn’t have any Van Gogh prints, ticket stubs to the Mollala Buckeroo or any Eminem records. Enjoy the art not the person. I’ve never once heard a great song or saw a mind-blowing performance and asked myself if the artist was a republican, cage-fighting fan or rapist. No offense to any of those demographics. Except the last one. 

People themselves often let me down anyhow so their art is many times the best person worth remembering.

And I truly believe Michael Jackson would have been a fascinating and sophisticated dinner guest.

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Photo Albums and Missing Plants

Let me shake the Bushmills off my breath and exclaim my gratitude to all who expressed grand wishes to me for my birthday. Though mired in a busy work shift, the two double neats of blue-collar Irish Whiskey afterwards made the whole evening end with dreams of having more energy and youth to keep it going until the break of dawn.

In reality, I’ve no wish to be the hyperactive ignoramus I was in my teens or the brash, drug-addled joker in a big car in his twenties. Thinking of having to again surmount some of the weird obstacles or negotiate the bizarre situations that I somehow always found myself in…god, no.

Like when in 1989, my freshman year, I came home with a girl to her apartment. She would subsequently be sent away by her parents to a boarding school but before all that, that day we fooled around quite a bit. It was heated and wonderful until she got up and left the room for something, I don’t remember but what I do remember was a photo album on the bottom of her nightstand. Me being the curious monkey that I am, I opened it and found that it contained a number of polaroids of her and quite a few different dudes at different times and at the same time, up, down, and all around. My frosh jock went bananas with every new hormonal emotion it could muster and in my heightened state of dirty discovery, I totally lost it. Instead of approaching the situation as an interesting case study in the sexual advancement of adolescents or maybe realizing she could be an authority on certain deviant questions I’d been harboring since the 7th grade, I suddenly told her I had to go and ran all the way to my friend’s house who, after me rattling off my story, stood up and asked me exactly which apartment number was hers.

Like the time when I climbed the giant turning searchlight atop Rocky Butte like some lunatic ape or how I hopped fences to have drinking contests in a rock quarry with dangerous friends and equally unsavory fifths of Thunderbird.

Or the time I was told to “sit on the curb while we ask you and your friends questions” by Portland’s finest while just past peaking on blotter and wondering if those blazing lights were going to burn my already melting skin. The cop was looking for kids “stealing shrubs”. What we all heard was “kids dealing drugs” which made our acid sweat through our pores as we just looked up and shrugged and shook our heads in frantic innocence. We were just trying to get the car parked before one of us began clawing through the upholstery. After searching the car for some bushes they left us to chase their garden bandit. I will never forget the lesson of keeping my mouth shut regardless of how well-worded I usually am because drugs and alcohol will invariably make me feel far better than I will ever possibly sound.

Birthdays are good, survival is great, days are long but time is short and with everything that’s already happened, I don’t want to go back. Also, so much more is on the way. Yay.

Random Righting

The World Famous Kenton Club is named so because of Racquel Welch. It is also one of my favorite places to sip whiskey. The north side of my town is where I was born and raised and though there are times I find it miniscule and tiresome, these neighborhoods are some of the best on the planet.

The knife protruding from that man’s belt is big enough that the handle alone could be considered a club. I wonder what he really cuts with it or is it just part of his hillbilly regalia. His denim is dirty and he’s an awful big guy to just be standing in the street like that.

I was on a train once where the handle for the bathroom had been broken from the inside and I was trapped for a good 10-15 minutes trying to negotiate the little door open. Sweating and frustrated, I kept wondering how much longer my claustrophobia would have held out until I just exploded out like the Kool-Aid man.

Bathrooms define an establishment. Usually. I’ve been in some beautiful restaurants and hotels whose restrooms are extravagant examples of lurid excess. I’ve also been in plenty of dive bars and rest stops where the toilet is the cleanest thing in the room. It’s always funny to me when I go into a somewhat high profile joint and the bathroom is a reeking cell of spilled urine and soggy toilet paper. My favorite: an unassuming and ordinary venue whose water closet is a lavish, immaculate chamber in which one is utterly honored to fumigate and soil.

The establishment is wearing us all thin. Corporate vultures, car giants discarding their dealers as if they weren’t generations deep in Chryslers. Layoffs and cutbacks but those who’ve survived still have cocktail parties and box seats.

I love the super-tight jeans these thin, lanky guys wear nowadays. I think it’s so their bicycles go faster catch less drag. What am I supposed to do with all my baggy jeans and backpacks? Trade ’em in for some hip-huggers and a messenger bag? Timbukt2 and Chrome? I think not! Maybe I’ll just save money by not buying insurance or gas for a car so I can spend hundreds of dollars for a lousy bag to carry my American Spirits and thrift store clothes to the next Arcade Fire show. I kid. (My motorcycle just broke down so I am secretly riding around on my 1989 Bianchi with a shoulder bag in tow.)

Back to the Kenton Club, where the brown stuff is lovely and heavy and it’s either the Stooges or the Stones that’s making it all kick in so nicely.

Scrawl

Like a dark hieroglyphic or a low whisper that ushers in great change, eventually running from one’s fears no longer provides any reprieve. The wild infant, unbridled and unashamed approaches the moment where its courage is tested and the child inside the man either evolves into strong character or is reduced to an ignorant lout for the rest of his days.

To man up and tell someone how you feel is a strength beyond compare. To garner the confidence and tact to express direct emotion and honest desire to others is a trait I am adamant in honing. Especially towards those nearest to me.

Instead of speaking I scrawl, when it concerns affairs of the heart my mouth doesn’t function nearly as well as my pen does. But when the heart is so twisted, unsure and unruly, no pen or pad or speech will suffice.

There are times when I cannot discern whether I’m a child, gentleman or cur.