Luke the Drifter, a comeuppance and Tom Robbins calls it quits…

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Art is subjective and the first subject is the soul of the artist.

I recently watched I Saw The Light, a Hank Williams biopic starring Loki and the Red Witch.  Old Hank was a lyrical genius with more than his share of inspiration and damnation.  He put it out there and out there and still it wasn’t enough to allow him the thing all artists crave.

Connection.

Connection with others.  Connection with the world at large.  Connection with an understanding of their own psyche.  When filled with the emptiness of lonesome, any connection will do; alcohol, drugs, sex, food, money, power, fame, failure.  Connection.

I spent time in Alabama this week.  Hank’s home state.  I had connection on the brain when I pulled in Sunday night and kept it there all week.

He wrote from the heart.  Quickly, without much editing and without much regret.  His alter ego, Luke The Drifter, carried the weight of his more soul-searching work, but Hank was the canvas of Luke’s art.  He was a tormented soul yearning to break out and be free.

Let’s regroup….

I pulled into Alabama thinking of Hank and my writing and the unspoken reality that connecting with others has never been easy for me.  Does it look easy?  Sure.  I learned to use humor years ago to impress, deflect, entertain, flirt and distract as I saw fit.  A manipulative skill but one that leaves them laughing and wanting more…

My own art is suffering from a plague of mediocrity that only I will openly admit.  Others won’t for fear of hurting my feelings or disrupting a friendship etc.  Craig S. stands out on this topic for his brutal honesty.  But, as a Man dealing in reality, he is as honest with Me about Me as he is about Himself.  This makes his criticisms constructive, reasonable and easy to swallow.

I started this years ago because I had this Tom Robbins inspired notion of writing 500 words per day, no matter what.  Broadcasting to the world seemed to satisfy two criteria:  Engage an audience, receive feedback.

Both failed.

So now is the time to rethink this entire pile and focus on turning mediocrity into something that is not mediocrity.

I hit Alabama by reaching out to writer friends about editors/publishers and the writing community at large.  I never really considered myself a writing group type of guy.  I don’t even know what genre is fitting for my writing.  I just write the words in my head and let them go.  Full disclosure:  I’ve never edited any story on this page.  100% of what is presented was written directly into the blog and only after the fact was it saved.  Including the Romeos stories.

You deserve better.

I deserve better.

My characters deserve better.

My soul deserves better.

To that end, no more stories will appear here.  I’m engaging an editor and moving in the direction of publication and becoming a serious, if underrated, underpaid and unknown, writer.

My last story, Purpose, was written in the San Antonio airport after reading three pages of Notes from the Underground.  What if the people we think of as having Special Needs were able to think clearly, perhaps more clearly than us, and were using our ignorance and compassion to fulfill their goals.  Be they good, evil or indifferent.

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Back to ranting then.

I could rant for hours about a limitless number of topics.  The desire to express one’s self, so necessary for artist, makes me a boorish snob at dinner parties, a know-it-all ass successful in self-aggrandizement others can only envy.  I’m fun to drink with, tough to get close to and unforgettable for reasons I forget.  I admire Bukowski because he shuns admiration and love Kerouac because he needs it.  Palaniuk is my favorite modern writer.  His writing, satire, wit and intelligence is unrivaled in this Stephanie Myers world.

I often think I should disappear to a remote island.  Indulge in my alcoholic dreams, consume Rum and write a memoir no one will read.  But the truth is I would end up sunburned, arrested and my memoir would consist of two paragraphs about railroads, midgets and the smell of Schlitz.

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Trump and Hillary are symptoms of the same disease.  We’ve spent decades accepting the lesser of two evils.  Now we have nothing but evil to choose from and, ye gods, we double-down on this fact.

We have to take sides.  If you’re Liberal, you’re a Libtard.  If you’re Conservative, you’re a KKKonservative.  If you’re pro-Black, you’re anti-White.  If you’re pro-Cop, you’re anti-Black.  If you’re pro-White, you’re the KKK.  The Hispanics show up in here somewhere but seem to have the sense to recuse themselves for the most part.  You’re either pro-Gun or a Socialist.  You’re either a Socialist or bible thumping gay-hater stuck in an all-White past.  If you disagree with Me, you’re a Communist.  If I disagree with you, I’m a Fox News watching Zombie who should be mocked.  You’re either forever Rich or forever Poor.  Pick a side God-Damn you!  If you don’t repost that video about a Black kid getting killed, you’re a bigot and part of the problem.  If you don’t repost that video about a Cop being killed by a Black kid, then you’re not American.  You must fly Old Glory just above your Don’t Tread On Me Banner or you’re some sort of commie-fucker and probably love Obama.

We…that means YOU and I…encourage, support, promote, reblog, repost, share, LIKE, Retweet, Comment and otherwise ENDORSE the very DIVISION we lament…

We the people, have created a less perfect Union which divides us along superficial, political borders…

We ask our kids to pick sides and then wonder why our country is divided.  Being Conservative doesn’t make you anti-Gay anymore than being Liberal makes you anti-White.  Plug in any names/agendas/topics  you wish in that sentence and it makes just as little as sense as the original.

We’ve let our Politics decide our Principles instead of our Principles deciding our Politics.

I think most people view their own lives as a Conservative and the lives of their neighbors as a Liberal.  I know I do.  I don’t care what you do, at all.  Just don’t ask me to pay for it.  I’ll stay out of your bedroom and take my wallet when I leave.   The Ten Commandments at a courthouse don’t bother me because I don’t feel as if my government is forcing me into Christianity anymore than their Speed Limit sign tricks me into going 55…

I believe that most people are Libertarians.  They just don’t understand Libertarians-so they naturally are apprehensive-and the media/education system has convinced them it is some sort of no holds barred Anarchy.  The Sheep count themselves to sleep…

Think of it this way.  Fiscally conservative, socially liberal.  That sounds like most everyone I know…

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I’ve been reading Seneca, Letters from a Stoic.

Try it.

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As always,

John.

 

 

Accept the Fringe.

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I’m sitting there Wal-Mart checking the cheap-ass prices and wondering why they don’t carry Old Milwaukee in six packs so the non-drunk rednecks have something to drink. I was also thinking of The Doors because writing was on the back burner and what is writing without Brother Jim et al telling you its O-fucking-K to be a little nuts sometimes, when the mother of an old dead friend pops up next to me like a guilt trip with no ticket.

She says, “I want a copy of the poem you wrote about Harmon. Send it to Gary.”

Now let’s be honest here for a moment. I can’t tell you fine folks about Harmon, or Gary, or Betty, or the fishing trips, or the jokes, or the memories without crying in my Pabst like a two-year old. Harmon is off-limits. But there I was, in Wal-Mart (as sterile an environment as any operating room) and being reminded that a tad bit over a year ago one of my oldest, most loved friends was killed and I-in my rampage of ambitious bullshit and comfortable insecurities-never sent her my thoughts.

Let’s get down to some ugly monkey balls about this whole “Writing” thing if we can Pedro.
I put it in quotes because so many of us (capital US) consider “Writing” a sort of neo-religion that we assume there is some mystical language to solving its mystical power.
I call Bullshit so loud a headstone falls over…

You don’t have to be the best writer. Or published. Or edited. Or polished. Or worthy of your “fav” writer’s attention without a restraining order…BUT to someone, somewhere, at some point…YOU are the greatest writer alive.

You are it. The Hemingway of their memories. The Kerouac of their dreams. The Irving of their sorrow. YOU ARE FUCKING IT…

Bright as Time Square. Hot as a Forest Fire. YOU are it. You have the feelings, the emotions, the words, the ability,the talent, the time, the willingness to express whatever they feel.

Call it Obligation.

Call it Guilt.

Call it Love.

It is You and you, my virtual friends, are It.

You are the best writer they know because no one else is willing to sit down and write something while crying a little…while dying a little…while wondering “WHY ME?” so loud God grabs his (or hers) ear plugs.

>>>>>>>>>>

I read my poem about Harmon.
I read my post about Harmon.
I cried about Harmon while hiding in a dark kitchen like a rat.

By the time Gary opens his Facebook, Brother Jim will be silent, and the Pabst will all be gone.
My talk will be about a newborn Son, my potential house, and other realities.
But my mind will remember that I’m the best writer others know simply because I’m willing to cast it all out and let them reel it in…my tears will remember Harmon and his Mother’s request in the middle of Wal-Mart.

And when I have the time…
I’ll sit down, again, to write.

Because that is who I am.
Like it.
Lump it.
Fuck it.

It is all there is…

So be it…

That’s what we do. That’s who YOU are.

Accept the Fringe.

-John.

Hello, I’m John and I’m a rambler…

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Today is the 70th birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ll drink to that.
Also, do Alcoholics really think no one else knows they are alcoholics? Are they nearly as Anonymous as they think?

Where are all the damn concerts and benefits for the Gulf Oil Spill victims who are dropping into foreclosure and can’t pay for food?

I read some of Vonnegut’s Palm Sunday last night. He mentioned WWII (Shocker!) which made me think of a ravaged Berlin.
Buildings-crumbled, dying.
Nations-humbled, crying.

I find it comically rich that most of the same people who refuse to blame the borrowers for the housing crisis have no problem blaming the druggies for the Drug Smuggling across the Mexican border.

Currently, I’ve lost Red Hammer completely. It is fear and laziness. Not the proverbial “writer’s block”. Most of my days I’ve noticed shit others seem to believe in naturally comes with obstacles for me. I don’t believe in ‘writer’s block’. I don’t believe in multi-tasking either. You aren’t actually doing two or more things at once. You are doing several things in a row, quickly.

Right here is where I include something about our cat giving birth to six kittens and how it reminded me of Life’s fragility, permanence, and opened up a new level of consciousness in my world. Sorry, damn cat spread afterbirth and a feline placenta all over my back porch. Keep your fragile life and clean up my porch.

I heard Chinese Restaurants offer $2.99 a pound for feline meat. I’ll check it out and get back to you.

After surfing “tags” I’ve found dozens of blogs by strangers. These blogs talk about home moving adventures, writing, stage fright, sexual ambiguity, Obama, and the rudimentary skill associated with getting your blog noticed.

Like this blog for you, the above-mentioned blogs bored me to death.

I don’t think I have 500 words a day about myself. That’s why I post fiction.

Strangers are the most trustworthy friends. Friends and family have expectations. It isn’t that you’ve done something wrong or bad, it’s that you’ve violated expectations. The longer you know most people the deeper their expectations of you become. To test this, think of yourself (the person you’ve known the longest) and check why you get disappointed in you, and when this occurs. It occurs when you violate expectations of yourself. So why would this not happen to others? Deeper still, think of why you have expectations to begin with and you’ll see (maybe) that you are trying to control your world by developing expectations to meet. We set ourselves up, aligned with some expectations, so that we can decide when we are good or bad. But what if we have no expectations of ourselves? What if we just accepted what we are as what we are and not worried with disappointment, or regret?

This is the part where I tell you how spiritually aware I became by reading some book, or attending a class, or eating some food, or meditating. Yeah, not so much.

502- out.
John.

The Legend of Red Hammer. Ch. 1

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Down Dakota Avenue, on the west side of Mahalia, was a house that looked like a Monopoly piece covered in white, peeling stucco wrapped in a baseboard of dried, red dust. The battered storm door centered two split-sliding windows with smeared and foggy panes. A faded circus sign stuck to one window hiding the broken out corner of the glass. From the outside it appeared as if the walls inside were covered in mold, filth; a house that by all reasoning could never be cleaned, inside or out. This discarded Lego block house hunkered down between two ancient maples in a squared squat of indifference. Driving slowly down Dakota a passer-by would not notice the house. It was a two-bedroom rental engulfed by a pleading humility hoping to be ignored. In the unkempt backyard with its patches of tall grass peppered atop the dusty ground, beneath the humidity fighting sway of the plush maples, throwing a baseball as high as he can, and catching it once out of hundreds tries, was Eugene Klumpkin.

Eugene’s chubby face, painted with freckles and red blotches, fell from a shock of red-orange hair so bright it looked as if he were going hunting. Even in winter he looked sweaty with fat, dimpled and stained elbows. Pale, flabby flesh inherited from his mother shimmied under his arm with each up toss. The ball would drift in a backdrop of clear summer sky blue, Eugene would grin hopefully, and the ball would thud to the ground, again. And again. And again. It was a routine of Eugene’s each summer day. His hours spent beneath the maples throwing the ball up and missing it on the way down. His glove, a blue plastic disgrace from Goodwill, barely fit over the salty ham of his sweaty hand. He lunged and twirled around trying to catch the descending ball to no avail. Sequestered in his backyard, Eugene attempted to learn baseball each sunny day, until the bell rang.

Perched above the tattered aluminum backdoor of the low-rent adobe, a rusted bell clanged as the string coming from between the door and the jam was pulled. The string ran into the house, dangled along the ceiling by thumb tacked clothes hangers and into the bloated hands of Eugene’s mother. She was fat in the sense that the ocean is wet. Her girth filled her electric scooter to a point of spilling over, leaving the impression of melting dough sliding off the black canvas seat. She smelled. Her aroma wafted in a five foot perimeter of funk that hinted at corn chips and freshly poured asphalt. It took your breath away. When she grew weary of sitting or navigating the small house on her wheezing electric scooter, she rang the bell for Eugene to come back in the house. It was meal time. She had no breakfast, lunch, and dinner since time meant nothing to her eating. It was simply, a meal time. She looked up at one of the thousands of circus play-bills adorning the walls. Tattered and peeling the reminded her of her glorious past as “Fiona the Fattest Lady on Earth”. Her caricature, now yellow and discarded, could still be seen smiling in the middle of her fleshy, clownish face.

Eugene walked in wishing the water was turned on.