Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Rose On Her Shoulder

A pretty girl sits across from me at the coffee bar,

 I love her. 

Sitting on the stool perched with utter elegance, a macbook in front of her. Well manicured fingers are delicately typing out deliberate keystrokes as her eyes stare pensively at the screen she subconsciously bites her lip. Hair in a perfectly suited elegant style that compliments her features perfectly, this is a face that would set sail a thousand ships. A raven haired beauty with classical good looks. a tattoo of a sparrow on her thumb and a prominent rose on her shoulder. She switches her legs as she sits at the stool still staring down at her computer. For a moment she looks up noticing my gaze for an uncomfortable moment our eyes meet. Both pretending we didn't notice I bring my gaze back down to my computer. This is the moment when I wish that I was more charismatic, more handsome, more interesting, braver….

Sighing at the realization I am none of these things I slowly grip my coffee and close my own laptop…heading towards the door. The image of the rose on her well tanned arm still beckons to me.
In a universe of infinite possibilities, I walked up to her, In another universe I spoke with her, shook her hand, felt her smile on my face, her hand in mine as I walked out the door. But these are mere possibilities, not reality. The reality is that fortune favors the bold. Sometimes this is as good as it gets. Swigging from my cold cup of coffee I grimace before tossing it.
I don't even like coffee.

I stare at the window of my endless possibilities one last time, her eyes look up she sees mine. Almost casually she waves before returning to her computer. She misses my hurried yet delayed return wave. I turn back to the streets of Los Angeles, to the urban decay the blight with its smoggy air and distant sirens. Almost as if its welcoming to join in its destruction seeking to take me with it. The destruction embraces me as I begin my walk down a cracked sidewalk. There is a light shining from above, closing my eyes for a moment I embrace it letting the waves and the aromatic stink and decay that permeates this city sink in. Suddenly it disappears and then... just for a moment, in this state of silence and almost from behind... I detect the smell…of roses.

When Humanity Became Entertainment

I was in Akron last weekend, went to a rather dinky convention with some big names. Normally that type of venue I wouldn't hit with a 10 foot pole but this time I was in town to meet some big names in my book. I'll get to that event another time. Something happened while I was there that really made me sick.

A guy selling his normal run of the mill booth had a huge stack of B/W photos of the old serialized Batman investigating crime scenes. If you've never seen it don't bother it's a huge bore of a serial it doesn't even have the camp value of Adam West's series. This batman doesn't drive a batmobile and his pointy ears don't even stand up. It's all rather forgettable but again I digress. As I was rummaging through the stacks of photos I was struck with the strangest sense of deja vu, thinking I'd seen these pictures before.
Typical Comic Book guy seeing my interest saunters over and helpfully explains that these images weren't from the Serial but actual super-imposed pictures of the Serial Batman in crime scenes from Chicago in the 1940's.
Looking at them more closely I saw that all of the images were from the crime scene of the Lipstick Murders. I found this to be in incredibly poor taste and I told the seller as much. He was mostly taken aback mostly because he obviously had no clue what he was selling. He was just proud of his cheap photoshop hack job and selling his "stack" for $20 bucks a pop.
Lipstick Murders 1945 Frances Brown a single woman was found murdered and stylistically butchered in a bathtub in her Chicago apartment. Above her body crudely written in lipstick were the words: "For Heavens sake catch me before I kill again I cannot control myself." This was the supposed killers second victim the first being Josephine Ross also killed and left in a bathtub with no message. The third and final victim a six year old girl strangled and dismembered with her body disposed of in the sewers.
Setting aside the absolutely repugnant act of selling real crime scene photos with photoshopped Batman in them and seemingly proud of the "accomplishment." You have to ask just where did humanity go? These women had names, they were people and this man made a crass attempt to capitalize off of something he knew next to nothing about.
Going back to the nature of the crime a man was eventually found and convicted of the Murders under duress. A petty thief by the name of William Heiren's who recently died. Was he the killer? Most likely not. He was interrogated and tortured into confessing and recanted his involvement for the remainder of his life to no avail. Few things to consider in short detail in regards to the Lipstick Murder case. 1. The MO's for all of the murders are so radically different it's hard to believe that they were all committed by the same person. The first victim was shot then stabbed afterwards and left in a bathtub, no message was left behind at the scene. The second victim was stabbed with no other weapon involved, and the cryptically sensationalistic message scrawled in lipstick on the wall. Lipstick? Not Blood? Odd considering how much there was at the scene. Third victim a pre-pubescent child strangled and dismembered and disposed of in the sewers. Again no message and no matching MO. The victims didn't match the crime scene's didn't match and the kills and bodies bore very little similarities that makes it highly unlikely that this was the work of one man. Let alone a petty thief who could barely do that right. The message was likely written by a newspaper photographer eager to make a headline. Lipstick Killer sounded good and they needed to sell papers. Heinlen looked good for a patsy and they set him up for it. Clear 3 unrelated murders off the books with one fell swoop.
Comic Book Guy selling crime scene photos with Batman pasted on the front knew nothing about this. Woefully in his ignorance he continued hawking his wares completely unaware that these things even though they were old mattered to someone. Everything mattered at one point or another otherwise it wouldn't have existed in the first place. When we blur the lines between entertainment and reality we lose a bit of what makes us human. I wish comic book guy understood that. I wish I'd bought his whole "stack" and chucked them in the nearest garbage bin.

In the end he's out there blissfully making his buck and I'm left shaking my head...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Time For Firsts...

My first beer…

Every man has a rite of passage. First girl he ever kisses, first beer, first cigarette, first time he got a bra off successfully without the girl helping...

I still remember my first beer. Fittingly it was during my “exile” period when my family sent me back to Canada. Out in the boonies with my Uncles and cousin, knocking back my first beer and working on a shelled out corvette I still remember it to this day. Labatt’s Blue Label beer. Still cold in my shaky 16 year old hands…Saluting my good cousin Travis James with his worldly 14 year old cocksure attitude as he knocked back 2 to my 1. The kid could and still can drink with the best of them.

My virgin mouth slowly savoring the amber liquor of the Gods, as they say in some cultures. The immediate rush of aroma and faint watered down flavor. The cold beer hit my virgin tongue and virgin stomach like a freight train through an avalanche. It’s always amazing when that first drink is sufficient enough to not only put you on your ass but to put you on your back as well. (I’ve gotten better at it since then) I still recall the rest of that day as a blur. My head spinning, my body turning and my young-self doing his best to remember to stand up straight. To call myself a lightweight would be an insult to lightweights. I still remember my attempt at downing a second laughably ending up down the front of my shirt…I’m sure no one noticed…

Looking back at that particular rite of passage I remember the feeling of floating, of the dizzying heights the forbidden fruit could provide in a single bottle. Understanding that these feelings can cause problems if we allow them to overtake us. That self imposed realization that limits still need to be set.

I think that’s the way most habits (good and bad start) I still drink because none of my beers since then has ever had that same effect. I want to recreate and remember that first time. Like that girl smiling forever young and vibrant innocent of life’s unkind virtue. Or that first smoke curling in those pink unpolluted lungs, or that look of complete horror when you “accidentally” ripped a $200 bra in your young innocent haste…I mean honestly who spends $200 on underwear!? No second date…shame.

No second beer ever tasted quite the same, no kiss every quite as innocent, no guilty pleasure ever quite matched up to the first…
we chase those first experiences for the remainder of our lives.
Hoping that just one time we will find ourselves magically transported back to that one day, one moment, one time…

when we had that first cold beer in our hands.

Quem Quaeritis?

Old man looks at me as I cross the busy Santa Monica street. Eyeing me critically touch of madness behind the eyes. His hair straggly and his face burned and pocked with the smell of the street lingering from his every pore. What do you want from me old man? He reads my question wordlessly between us. I feel almost compelled to look him in the eye. The crossing light taking forever to change. He simply looks at me and asks…"Is this your moment?" 

Is this my moment….is this MY moment…

What moment do you mean old man? Is this the day when my life changes? Will a moment occur that will send me hurtling towards whatever hell life threw in your way and broke you? Will the moment break me? Will this moment be as good as it gets? Will this moment matter more than any other? Is this my moment old man? Are you me or what I am to become at some point? Is it true that we are all only one single bad day away one bad moment from losing everything we didn't even know we held dear? What moment is this?

Your breath is rank, I hate you for what you represent.


I could be you and you could be me. Am I looking at a mirror? Is this my moment old man? Or is this yours?

The light begins to ping telling me to cross. My moment is taking me away from you old man. Towards an unknown destination a tomorrow that beckons me like a moth to a flame, inevitable destruction is the only true outcome for us and you and I we both know it.

I doubt we will meet again…old man.

Wordlessly he holds his hand out. I give him my lucky 50 cent piece. John F Kennedy 1976 .40% silver. Spend it wisely old man.

He nods at me, I nod back.

This moment is ours.

I walk away from the moment and as I leave I hear a whisper in my head.

Where are you Andy?….I wish I knew the right moment to answer.

Something To Look Forward To...

They told us the world was going to end in 1999. 

This was a not a repeat of 1899. 

The last gasp of Generation X. 

They told us the world was going to end in 1999. 

Raised to believe that nothing mattered. 

Raised in the belief that no matter what you did or how you felt it didn't matter. 

Hey the world was going to end.

MTV bred Nihilists.

We partied like it was 1999…reckless and vicious and uncaring we destroyed the future that was never supposed to come.

Party, dance, love, pretend like nothing else matters with Cobain's lyrics written on our Jansport backpacks.

No electronic leashes of 24/7 news cycles, Facebook updates, youtube, and tabloid stars making movies, waiting in line for the same damn iPhone thats only different because of a number. Freedom to run wild and let yourself be known only by a quarter and a pay phone. Where a party's turnout was judged by name recognition not by twitter feed.

Soundgarden, Rage, Tupac, Lauryn hill miseducating us, MTV mattering and Bittersweet symphony playing in our ears.

A blast to end all blasts,

one last night to scream from the rooftops of our respective cities before it all ended, that one last fiery blast.

We were raised to believe that: This is how the world ends…

But it didn't.

The sun rose on a new millennium. All the belief that nothing mattered didn't seem to matter anymore.


Suddenly the generation that believed in nothing had something to fight for. We were going to save the world. 

They said save the world for us. The old guard fled the forces in droves. The new generation of hardliners took place. Like Phoenix's rising from the ashes of the WTC and the Pentagon, we became the Avenging Angels, the Badasses, the Charge Ahead Kings and Queens of Baghdad, Balad, Serno and Khost.

We were the Camouflage Kings of Rocket city. 

We Burned Baghdad. Bin Laden. We burned anyone that we could place our rage against. 
Fighting invisible enemies and screaming for retribution, revenge, revolt, reason.

The blast that we thought never came just came late, it came in Roadside bombs, rocket attacks, C4 under Burqas.

They said this is what we will do. THIS IS OUR PURPOSE. To live and die with our blood in the sand. 

MM4TM: (More Meat 4 The Maw.)

…and then one day it was over. Peace declared via press conference. 

No more fighting, no more blood, no more purpose. No more point.

No more war.

Now what? 

Who do we fight now? 

The Generation that didn't care, cared too much in the end. 

I wish it was 1999.

Stubborn Pride Has Painful Results

While on my first tour of Iraq I developed an ingrown nail in my right big toe caused by an ill fitting boot that quickly became infected and extremely painful. Walking on it caused it to get progressively worse in a very short time. I was 22 and stubborn, and very foolishly ignored it feeling like I could man up and handle it. The infection grew progressively worse, and my toe began swelling up, and oozing pus and blood. The daily routine of putting my boot on became an ordeal. I would bite down and shove my boot on to my foot. Functioning in my daily life was agonizing as my throbbing, swollen, infected big toe would send waves of pain up the inside of my leg. Soon I was walking with a limp because every step was a painful reminder of my stubbornness.
Finally, after the pain became too unbearable, (and even then I waited another week) I sought out the med tent. I delayed treatment for so long because field hospitals are the worst place to be sick. Standard knowledge amongst the troops is that if you don’t have any bullet holes they treat you like a test monkey. That, coupled with the lack of services and comfort, led to many of these horror stories being true. Med tents in the field are good for two things: stabilizing wounded until a helicopter can airlift the patient to a better hospital, and prescribing Aspirin for everything else. If you were suffering from a toothache to scurvy you could bet that all you would be walking back from the tent with was a handful of horse pill sized generic Aspirin in a small plastic baggy. This, in addition to my manly pride, led to my primary avoidance of any and all medical aid that might be rendered.
After finally breaking down and screaming as I walked/limped to the Med Tent. I walked inside to the smell of formaldehyde, air conditioning, and dim lighting. The Doctor was a 30-40 year old black Captain, and as soon as she saw me walking in with no medivac team or obvious trauma she smiled and motioned for her three assistant troops to gather round to hear what my ailment was. I wish I could describe the look of humor on the Captain’s face as I explained my ailment, and the look of absolute horror when I pulled my boot off to reveal my purple swollen toe. Needless to say, I saw the entire gamut of emotions in the peanut gallery as they all took turns looking and snapping photos. (God only knows where those photos went, but I shudder to think of the possibilities.) After being scolded by the Captain for a full 20 minutes amid the snickers from the trainees. I was immediately laid out on a cot while the doc prepared for emergency surgery. I had no idea what this surgery entailed. My worst fears came to life as the doc barked orders to her troops, instructing them on what to bring her. I did my best to block out what she was saying but “large size forceps,” and “scalpel with carving screw” did little to alleviate my fear. She laid out a number of stainless steel instruments on the table beside me.
I thought I knew pain before, but I was in for a rude awakening. After being cleaned and prepped I was instructed to not move. Otherwise, it would make it worse. I could do nothing, but watch in horror, as the doctor inserted a long needle in to the base of my toe starting from the inside left and going in deep. I couldn’t help, but flinch, causing a shock wave of pain from my already inflamed toe straight to my cerebral cortex. Letting out a tremendous scream I yanked back the needle still in my big toe hurting even more. The assistants held me down as the doc extracted the needle and attempted to inject again. Miraculously I was able to sit still as I was injected 3 more times around the base of my big toe. Only after this painful experience did the doctor determine that my infection had progressed too far and that the pain meds wouldn’t work. I cursed my stubbornness, the world, the desert, and a few other things that were on the tip of my tongue using a colorful vernacular that isn’t suitable for print due to good taste and lack of memory. The injections oozed blood and the insertion points hurt just as badly as the actual toe did. The doctor apologized, instructed me not to kick her, then grabbed the shear like cutters and began to cut my nail horizontally right down the middle. I hollered during the injections. I straight up screamed during the cutters. I watched as my nail was flayed open completely. With each cut a sickening crunching noise was made. The nail was hacked down the middle then spread open like a church door. The pain was so agonizing that my head was throbbing. Puss mixed with bright red blood as my mangled toe lay open and bleeding in front of me. Nothing matched the pain of watching her grip the open nail with a pair of pliers as she yanked and pulled the nail from nerve endings by the root and then repeated on the other side. The smell was horrible infected tissue coupled with copious amounts of blood from the open wound elicited a smell that could only be described as hellish.
I’d finally lost it. I shoved the trainee holding me down on my right side and lost everything I had eaten that day throwing up on the floor next to me. From the corner of my eye I saw the doctor pausing, and with bloodshot eyes and stomach contents dripping from my lips, I let loose what was later described as a combination scream/demand to the doctor of “DON’T YOU DARE STOP!” for fear of delaying this painful ordeal anymore than it needed to be. The doctor completed the nail removal, and poured acid and antiseptic formulas in to the affected area before stuffing and packing the open wound with cotton, only to replace them quickly after the blood soaked through too quickly. As I was being bandaged up, sweat dripping from every part of my body, I couldn’t stop shaking. The eager peanut gallery, all smiling and joking before, had been replaced with ashen and aghast looks of pure shock and total disgust as they moved me to the nearest table with crutches leaning against them. What had been a simple routine visit from an Airman had degenerated in to an orgy of blood, pus, vomit, and ear shattering screams in the space of under 15 minutes. I am content to say that I wrecked that tents mood that day.
After she instructed me to stay in my bunk and keep my foot elevated for the next few days, I wearily thanked the doctor for her help. She promised she would never see me again, and I hobbled, half limped out of the tent. Clutching in my hands a plastic baggy of horse pill sized Aspirin for the pain, I didn’t come out of my tent for two days. Anyone that asked or saw me afterwards in crutches got the same standard lie in my attempt to save face “I shot myself in the foot.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.