Cigarettes Pt. 1

Long before there were any notches on a beat-down headboard or a depraved selection of stories of how the notches got there, before jobs or deadlines, before past due notices and pleading no contest, there were cigarettes.

The second gateway drug after your friend’s mom and dad’s Kahlua and peppermint schnapps.

The daily dope of yellowing fingernails and raspy morning hacks, the hourly desire to tap the vein and choke the throat with that stinky, sweet tightening of every wonderful inhale…

6th grade. 1985. Metropolitan Learning Center. Northwest Portland, Oregon. Off-campus lunch hour. The Gypsy was a vast, dingy, dark neighborhood lounge where filthy day-drinkers and junkies hoping to escape the light of the afternoon often dwelled. In its doorway stood a cigarette machine that had a picture of a Marlboro cowboy corralling a herd of something while gripping a Full Flavor between his teeth. This was the notorious machine where the schoolkids would sneak into the bar’s entryway and stuff the machine with quarters and pull the knob that delivered those wonderful, brightly colored parcels of contraband.

One day it was Reed’s turn to get the smokes. Never having gone into The Gypsy or even began to fathom what a truly legendary dive bar it was, his introduction to such a venue was monumental. His eyes and mind were forever and beautifully wrecked for seeing such dimly lit debauchery thickly wallowing in a cloud of silent drinking and cigarette smoke.

As to not be spotted by the bartender, this child trembling, pushed what he hoped were enough coins into this towering machine. Frantic with nerves, he quickly saw the camel, that universal desert animal, dirty with gold and dust on its emblem and pulled the plastic, crystal knob that loudly delivered the cigarettes into the dispenser.

Reaching in, he snatched the smokes and booked it out the door, panting, dizzy, victorious.

Reed’s friends, standing across the street at the theater doorway, giggled and ran towards him as he swaggered down 21st Ave, the cock of the cigarette walk. He tossed the pack over his shoulder at the bunch and then watched his delinquent pals groan with disappointment. “C’mon, man, what the hell is this?”
“Whaddya mean,” Reed asked.
“Dude, these are straights.”
“Straights?”
“Yeah. Straights. No filter. Tobacco in your mouth. Lung burn! Short and not sweet, have you ever tried them? How are we supposed to smoke these? Gross. You smoke ’em, they’re all yours,” throwing the pack back at Reed in disgust.

Be ready to sacrifice yourself to the gods of vice should you choose to live such a life of experience, excitement and excess. There will be a day when you’re compelled to ingest chemicals you’re not confident in. A day when you will be expected to finish off the rest of the drugs, a moment when, you alone, will have to reckon with the fact that your partners in crime will abruptly leave you high and dry the minute you think everything is great.

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4 Way Hell

Drive to the store. Jog through the neighborhood. Sit and wait for the bus. Get into the elevator. Get out of the bathtub. Cross the street.

Parachute from airplanes. Or tall bridges. Race cars in circles bumper to bumper. Climb mountains that have no business being traversed. Walk tightropes, swing trapeze, ride motorcycles to the edge of inertia’s limit. Dare every devil you’ve ever had just to see who will win.

Then cross the street while at work and get hit by a car.

Then go to work one day after 20 years and get hit by a car.

Then walk like you’ve done your entire life and get hit by a car.

There is no rationality in the world because random tragedy occurs and throws the everyday into chaos and pain. Just as there is no reasoning with how instant joy and the luck of fortune befalls us unexpectedly.

Peace only occurs when one accepts the world as it is: an uncontrollable and savage beast seething with violence, beauty, strength, sorrow, laughter and love.

Grin > Chagrin

From seeing them together on the street to sharing great company with new girls, from bringing cheer to a dark hospital to painting on a smile while making drinks…

Every face I peel over this skull is determined to win the moment, every persona I deliver to every different room either fuels my desire to distract which feeds my spirit or drains a little bit of my blood and soul away. Every time.

The smile you see means one of two things: either it’s genuine in its foolishness and happiness or it’s a cloak and a dagger masking my eye roll and exasperation.

I’ve heard that a fresh eye roll is a delicious type of sushi. Or is it a pastry? I can never remember.

Twenty Fourteen

This new embarking of love and life has caught me slightly unawares, my usual knack for cunning remarks and quick replies has eluded me. This humble writer is smitten with a certain young lady that makes him laugh and weep simultaneously. Bless her to death! Additionally, met a fellow blogger at work today who deduced, brilliantly, who I was: Rich Bachelor was drinking at my bar, a talented beautiful nerd whom I wish I had more time to converse with was imbibing on mulled wine and Kentucky bourbon. Thankful for the serendipity that permeates my every step. Thankful for the certain inspiration that encourages my creative dalliances!

Bring It

Despite my adoration for and remarkable luck with still photography, I’m recently appreciating the sheer skill it takes to make paint do amazing things.

The invigorating verve of youth is astounding, it’s like a faraway fuel that was once burned recklessly but now quietly coveted by those who still remember.

High deserts claim those new and beautiful friends, low brows are the reason jokes and bad behavior remain relevant, some of the best relationships quickly ignite and though it burns the flesh for a moment, its bones and blood become bonded for good.

And always remember and adore all mothers.

Laugh It Up, Fuzzball

We used to have contests to see who could suck down the most nitrous oxide without passing out, he used to live by the big milk carton and had a half decent record collection. He was stupid clever and probably the funniest man I ever knew. He was keen on design and art, rock music and all things pop culture. He was grimy and cool, smoked cigarettes and had a bellowing laugh that entered rooms before he did. He had failed relationships but never had trouble finding women, he was crass and spoke his mind, even especially when it meant saying things that everyone else was afraid to say. We drank at the Matador before the Gogol Bordello show and those were the last photos I had of him. He was hard drinker, one of the hardest I ever knew, he showed me the dark weather on his face and the sharp humor in everything around him. There are certain days I need to talk to him, solicit input about women and whatnot, and in my dreams I can only eek out something nonsensical and forgettable. Today I need to talk to him and he just ain’t around.

All bridges should be made 5 feet off the ground.

pleading cases in lower cases

sometimes we talk fast, forgetting to listen. other times we turn our backs and ignore the ones we revere the most. and there are times we choose to walk our own paths, dismissing the input or influence of those among us, regardless of how much respect we have for them.

much of the time we try our hardest to please those around us and usually we succeed without incident while other times we attempt to placate people but find ourselves causing more destruction than anything else we expected.

dammit.

people: the most unpredictable, insurmountable, impossible creatures to explain. but absolutely the best kind of animals to try to figure out.