January 1, 2012

How Islanders Get Through the Horror Days

So anyway, its been a hard year and no one is sad to see it go. Word came down about Andre's release and Marlene scrambled to get herself and a bag and Adam and everything else to go down there to Oak Street to pick up her man who had spent the so-called Holidays in stir.

At the end of the year, people either contracted inward with friends and relations, much like sea slugs, or took whatever gig looked to be the best or the first in line so as to make some kind of money on this.

Jose and Javier landed gigs playing elves

Jose and Javier landed gigs playing elves for Santa in Babylon for iMagnin, while other members of the financially-strapped household secured jobs as tableaux figures for Macy's in Union Square. Macy's had the idea of dressing up its windows with figures from California history, so we had Martini portraying Portrero, Tipitina portraying a bearded Junipero Serra, and Pahrump presenting Chief Joseph and Chief Marin on alternate days, it being difficult to obtain a genuine Native American to stand in a storefront window portraying a Redman icon during the Holidays.

Something about History has something to do with this.

Arthur portrayed Leidesdorf, the first American Black millionaire, and Rolf, wearing a gum-glued beard, portrayed Sigmund Freud, who never had anything to do with California, but nevertheless had a great influence, it must be admitted, upon the Golden State, especially up in NorCal, and upon the Holidays in general.

Festus got a gig portraying a 49'er in another window and Xavier got a plum portraying General Vallejo. This was excellent, for that window earned a smorgasbord of a groaning table of California's produce, of which Xavier availed himself throughout the day until the window wonks remembered to lay the table of abundance with wax fruit and plastic hams, spraying artificial food scents that drove him near mad until lunchtime.

Marlene stood before the gates of the Big House

While these petty dramas played themselves out to their respective pathetic consequences each to each as the wretched year dragged itself down to oblivion in an atavistic thrashing of blood and violent flailing of limbs, as each segment of American looked to succor without relief, Marlene stood before the gates of the Big House with Adam in hand, a ruined Madonna with child, just like the original, a mother with a child not allowed her own, gifted with an unusable womb, just like the original, although made so a different way. So to speak.

The doors opened and Adam emerged, wan, beaten, cold and clutching the few belongings left him after Those Who Consider Themselves God had riffled through them, taking whatever pleased them.

Having little to start, he was lucky to have lost only a Cat Stevens tape (which he detested) and a silver-turquoise amulet. As well as all of the five dollars that had been in his wallet. Many who have been taken by those who consider themselves god have suffered far worse and lost far more.

"You a-hole what the 'eff were you thinking?" Marlene said.

"You a-hole what the 'eff were you thinking?" Marlene said.

"Eff you," Andre said, tiredly. He was not in the mood for arguments.

For a long moment the antagonistic couple stood there looking at one another with red-rimmed eyes, everything salty and crusty with time and tiredness.

Adam broke loose from Marlene and ran to embrace Andre about the legs. "We still got turkey from the Food Bank and gravy and fixings. Food aint no good in there. I sure knows it."

Out of the mouths of babes. The couple slowly gravitated to one another like necessary planets. Each person revolved on their predetermined axis. Each fated to the eternal revolve designed each to each. Each fated to link orbits for all eternity. For Andre there could be none but Marlene to hoop within his gravity. For Marlene, none but Andre could cause such eccentricity.

"Hey, Marlene got sammiches from Snob Hill. Day be super cool! Let's go eat some!" Adam was hyper.

"Snob Hill? We can't afford that kinda shit . . ."! Andre said.

"O eff you," Marlene said. "It's the New Year."

"Eff you," said Andre. "In that case."

The two of them kissed there on Seventh Street with the cars going by and Adam dancing on the side.

Some say that the moon once had a sister

Some say that the moon once had a sister who gradually approached over time and collided, ever so gently, or so gently as moons may do, so as to produce our present-day lopsided moon with its mountain ranges on the dark side and its bland flat plains that face us on the other. NASA is looking into it, but we know that the moon shall remain mysterious, impenetrable and effulgent with poetry, for its main purpose is to shift the tides of ocean and heart.

"Some people like to go out dancing", Lou Reed used to say.

New Year's eve, the Editor stood at the Island-Life Offices window while the fireworks went off all over the place and people whooped it up. "Some people like to go out dancing", Lou Reed used to say. "Other people like us gotta work."

The offices were largely silent, dark rectangles looming in the darkness where busy copyboys and writers worked during the day and for most evenings. Lately, because of the hard times the Editor has been allowing people to scoot when deadline evenings fall in the middle of holidays. It was hard enough keeping body and soul together in this time of usurious rents and declining income while still working for a non-profitable news agency.

Besides, something about seeing Jose wearing green leotard pants, curly shoes with bells and that stupid elf cap really irritated him.

Hrmmph! The Editor shifted his cigar from the one corner to the other corner of his mouth and returned to the cubicle where the lamp made a pool of light on the desk and the machines hummed quietly with their LED lights gleaming almost like Xmas.

He longed to have gorgeous Scandinavian women hanging on his arm

He felt he had chosen the wrong profession, for he longed for the impossible. He longed to host a variety show attended by fabulously talented friends, a show admired by millions across the country. He longed to have gorgeous Scandinavian women hanging on his arm as he grew older dispensing sage wisdom, witty quips, enchanting stories, lectures on the book circuit to promote his latest successful book about a semi-fictional small town nestled somewhere in middle America, a town of quirky characters and warm, homespun emotions and traditions.

He longed to crinkle the eyes of a dour bachelor farmer with laughter.

He really wished his singing voice had gotten better with time instead of much worse. How wonderful it would be to share a mike with some vivacious young thing just out of Nashville! He longed to enchant instead of plod. Plod like a goddamn dray horse.

He longed to hold the lovely red-haired girl called Fame in his arms

He longed to hold the lovely red-haired girl called Fame in his arms and dance in waltz-time wearing bright red tennis shoes as Time collected its due and he got older.

Instead, he simply got older. That part happened all right.

Somewhere a last fizzler went off, sizzled, cracked and then was still.

From the open window of the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles drifted the strains of Denby's guitar and the croak of his voice as he finished up a plaintive blues song past midnight.

Will you please, remember me
if we never meet again
Will you please remember me
I'll always be your friend

I was born, born to roam
I can't find my way
I want to find some kind of home
Maybe I'll get lucky some day

Once I had a few good days
They're all behind me now
Once I had a few good days
I'll get by somehow

I went down one ole lonesome road
couldn't find my way back
I went down one ole lonesome road
Wasn't nobody cryin' about that.

That feller sure gets depressive, the Editor thought to himself before relighting his cigar. The Editor bent over his desk into the pool of light, finishing up the last bit of business for the proofreader to handle on Monday, wondering if there were a fellow mind out there in the beyond where all was darkness and cold distant stars.

Will you please, please remember me
if we never meet again
Will you please remember me
I'll always be your friend

The Old Year lay down on the dark roofs of the little island town and slept before taking the train to leave. Above the dark hills of the coastal range tattered cloud carelessly daubed the sky with incipient pinks and golds as the new day of the New Year approached.

I wonder if I should pay to have Denby take singing lessons or . . . take them myself, the Editor wondered. A new year has begun. Anything is possible.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the newborn grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its hopefilled way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, heading off on its own journey to parts unknown and to an as yet unknown future ripe with opportunities and potential.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.