Monday, August 21, 2006

It's like he read my mind and wrote it for me

While reading the August 7&14, 2006 New Yorker, I came upon this quote:

"'I am tired of my own thoughts and fancies and my own mode of expressing them, ' Hawthorne wrote not many months before he died."
These past few weeks, my own thinking mirrors that line. Hell, who am I fooling; I've felt that way for years.
I've been up to stuff, "adventuring" as my grandfather J.E.S. would call it.
  • I've closed Gallagher's (#264) the past three Fridays.
  • Helped a couple celebrate at their wedding reception.
  • Invited and bought drinks for two total strangers I bumped into on Clark Street at one in the morning (Eric and Sergio, hello).
  • Bummed cigarettes to strangers under a ranchero beat while staring at large, barely-hidden breasts on not-really-attractive bartenders.
  • Bought a drink for a lovely-looking woman with short, Midnight Black hair who turned out to be an ex-prostitute from New York, now lost in Rogers Park depressed and bi-polar and asking me if I think she should trust the man in the pink shirt. "I don't need you! I don't need anyone!" The Ugly Lights turned on, and I walked out into the morning confused and lonely.
  • Completely fumbled hitting on a brown-eyed, brunette at The Green Eye (# 268) even after she said the picture of Woody Guthrie (or is it a young Bob Dylan?) looked like me. "I just saw you from over there, and your eyes are really pretty. They sparkle, they're beautiful."
  • Went to The Red Light (# 267) with friends and drank wayoverpriced vodka, but dug the interior look. "This is what bars, cafes, and the streets in Spain are like, Mac," B.H-T. said. But I'll never know, I thought.
  • Stood behind the Landmark Arts on cobblestones, smoking cigarettes and gulping vodka and something, pretending I was in New York in the fall. Laughing with friends. Feeling involved in life. Pretending I was cool and a somebody.
  • Took a twenty minute nap in my office at work. Then went to lunch.
  • Helped to facilitate these two friends getting into a show at The John Galt Gallery, and had a great time at opening night. Later went to the L&L (# 259) and El Jardin's (# 101) with my boss and her friend for beers, margaritas, and tequila shots all the while getting hugged, kissed on the cheeks, and insulted (sometimes all at once which is a strange feeling).
  • Asked to watch my neighbor's pets again while they vacation, even after my last goof-up.

So things are happening, sort of, in a way; but, I can't seem to get into the Writing Rhythm. My nose is always dipped in the sauce, pressed to the grind, or buried in a pillow. I am stuck in my ways, and my ways aren't taking me anywhere.

When you're not even sure where you want to go, it makes it that much harder to find the way.

Out of practice, out of patience, out of energy, out of time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Craters, Ranchero, and the Double Doors of Perception

Two Weekend Ago: A summary.

Work week at The Bank sucked: tons of little projects weighing me down with practically no help from Big J., nagging Marketing M., little support from bosses, and an overall negative vibe from coworkers (they all want to quit.)

"When the going gets tough, the tough go drinking."

At my part-time job, Voiceover J. got promoted to a floor supervisor (but at another store, booo), so people met at Chumps to celebrate/morn our loss. She's one of my favorite coworkers, the 22 ounce beer tasted bitter-sweet.

Earlier that day at The Bank, I found out The Mooney Suzuki were playing at The Double Door. Stopped home after The Bank and called Mike, but no one answered. I figured they had band practice so that ruled out calling Matt too. Drove to Chumps. When I walked into the seating area, the ensembled coworkers ladies shouted, "Mac!!!"

It's like I'm the Norm of the store (only skinny). They even do that at times when I walk into work. It strikes me as flattering and really odd.

I ate a slice of quesadilla and talked until the group broke up early. I raced home to check my messages: nothing from Mike, so left for The Double Door. I find this sitting by my car, and consider it a lucky sign (no, I don't know why).

No one really there. There had been some sort of Chicagoist party/ V2 Records party. A large banner hung from the balcony railing and "writerly looking" guys and women staggered around with mixed drinks and Buds.

Paul(?) from Gang of Four was spinning great music which ranged from country to punk to hardcore techno, running the songs smoothly together (except for the Road Runner song that kept skipping).

People started entering as Blood Meridian set started. I liked them pretty well, sort of alt-country pop, I suppose.

Two sorority chicks types walk by, "if they banned smoking from this place, my life would be perfect"

I thought, "Oh, shut. the. fuck. up."

I moved from the bar to the far wall as Gosling came on next. I'd definitely see these guys again. I won't even try to describe them because I wouldn't do justice to their sound.

The crowd is picking up now. I'm glad I moved to the little riser part, to get a better view for picture taking. I had a clear shot of the stage and any antics to come.

And then a guy with wide, triangular hair that brought these guys to mind stands directly in front of me. Total obstacle. I do not want to be bobbing and weaving back and forth trying to get a shot off, so I get up the nerve to ask him if we could switch, explaining my photo plan.

Turns out he's a really nice guy named Gordy. We talk for a bit about how many times and where we'd seen The Mooney Suzuki, and it turns out we attended the same Metro show; the one where the band got stuck in customs ("security said they couldn't let us off the plane with this much rock") They were tired and seemed to have gone through the motions, with a short set to boot, but still a lot of fun.

And then they came on: Boom!

Again, I'll not bother to describe the amazing tunes and stage patter and inspirational experience that is The Mooney Suzuki. Just to touch upon how good they are: I was only a hip-swing away from actually dancing. In public! Damn, they're so good.

[pics should be coming soon on My Flickr--- Update 8/30/06--the pics are in this set]

After the show, pumped up and floating on air, I still needed to go out, to go on. I realized I wouldn't make it to My Place (#265) before two, so racked my brain for a Four A.M. bar.

To the Mark II Lounge (#260)!
Ugh. It was like walking into a flashback to Greenery/Nickalodean back at school, only with all The Bad Parts. With old men (older than me!) standing around hawking at the coeds.

And then I noticed this Hot Puerto Rican at the next table. Her Guido fucko boyfriend was passed out on the table, while her and her friends danced around. Then he wakes up and picks his nose. Heavily-chained dude doesn't even care everyone sees him, including his hottie. His friends dance and the other dude looks like a fun guy, just goofing dance in the chair next to me with his plump girl who can actually move. The Guido Fucko stands up and his hottie grinds and rubs up against him, basically doing these dead-on strippers moves. Sweet Mami!

They soon leave, leaving me with no eye-candy. Kareoke starts up, blech! A woman (bald in paper boys cap jeans and tank top alien lesbian biker type) starts singing.

I decide to cut my loses and go home at a reasonable hour.

And then I remember Gallaghers (#264): latin music and the, occasional, hottie Latina.

I drive over, park about a block west. Cops pull out of alley across street next to bar and begin arresting and searching the car of two couples.

The door is locked when I get there, but there's a crowd inside and the music is going. WTF!? I pull on the door a couple of times and peek into the window and suddenly the door pops open. I'm not carded, but frisked as usual. I weave to the bar and order a Heinekan keg can. $6 (um, again, WTF?!) I could have sworn the beer was cheaper last time.

I ask the guy next to me, "$6, is this for real?"


I could have sworn last time I paid $3, but they were Miller or some domestic shit, so maybe that's the difference import/domestic.

I sip and watching crowd dance and the men play pool. I actually recognize the bartenders, the general manager in the cowboy hat, and some of the women in the bar, including the one who (I think) hit on me at last call two past times ago, but in Espanola Rapido, so I didn't understand a freaking thing she said; so, she had just walked away.

That's when the guy next to me moves over a barstool and starts talking to me. Filipo, married with daughter and son "very smart with the computers. good grades." He starts bumming smokes, why not? I have enough. Small talk and then I hear myself asking: "is it okay I'm here, as a whitey?"

"Fuck yeah, is good"

"Okay, cool."

"My English not good."

"It's fine."

"Why you come here to this place?"

"The music, the late hour, the latinas."

"Ah! Latinas!" [long pause as we look into the crowd] "You like boys or girls?"

I mentally punch him across the jaw.

After he leaves, I drink another beer. Compliment the 49th ward cop guarding the line/ controlling the bathroom "whenever I call you guys are right there!"

A pretty Colombian woman sits down a few barstools away with her date/boyfriend, and mouths "hello" at my drunken half-smile and stare. I sigh, and finish my drink just as the Ugly Lights snap on. One last look around the room for my Last Call Latina: nothing, and that guy to my left has two bonitas hanging on him!

"Not fair, dude," I mumble to myself and saunter out into the morning purple for home.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Another reason to love Bloc Party

Besides their excellent sounds, they read Bret Easton Ellis (one of my favs)!

An excerpt from Pitchfork Media:

"...'Song for Clay' (formerly 'Merge on the Freeway'), inspired by the main character of Bret Easton Ellis' novel Less Than Zero. "

Thanks to Stereogum (again and again for showing me the way)

I am so looking forward to hearing more and more of The Bloc Party!

[related: for more information on Bret Easton Ellis, check out Not An Exit (great site)]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mac, as Dr. Doolittle, is a Dumbass

Why my Neighbors will never ask me to Pet-sit again.

My neighbors, Carrie and Justin, are summering at a beautiful east coast location, so they asked me to look in on their pets while away. No problem; I've done this before and finished the job with no animals dying and all my fingers intact, so Easy-breezy, right?

Typical routine every night after work: walk over, feed the cat, attempt to befriend the cat, snatch fingers away from cat's mouth, feed the bird, stroke bird's head until it makes that I'm-happy-but-sounds-like-I'm-performing-a-farmer's-handkerchief, feed the fish, feed the iguana, hang out for a bit listening to music, and then go back to my own apartment. Simple up-to-an-hour procedure, no? Did it okay last time, and this time the first few days are equally fine.

Then the fucking heat wave hit. I thought my apartment in the Complex burned like the sun, but they're one floor up from me. Last night, I opened all my pores nicely in the 45 minutes or so there.

Ah, expensive spas and saunas, eat your heart out!

It's the 6th Level of Hell (Level of Swamp Humid Alligator Devils and Crotch Rot) in there. I run around and turn all the fans on high, and I quickly fill the cat and bird bowls with cold water. The poor cat is panting faster than a hummingbird in the clutches of a Meth Binge, tongue lolling out and sides pumping up and down. I watched for a bit, waiting for the Alien scene recreation, but he calmed down in front of the window fan. I turn to the iguana cage and the trap door is open.


"Holyshitholyshitholyshit!" I'm now sneaking creeping around the apartment with all the sweaty hair on the back of my neck sticking up. "holyshitholyshitholyshit," I'm whispering in a tiny sing-song voice, "don't scare the mini-dinosaur, it'll slice your Achilles heel."

That little lock-picking prehistoric thief escaped!

Their lived-in looking apartment now resembles every horror movie with an ancient monster I've ever seen. "What the hell is that?!? Oh, bungy cord. Sweet Mother of Mary (Dina)! Ah, green socks..." etc. There are so many hiding places for this green scaly killer, it'll take me all night to flush him out...and then what?

I break Pet Sitting Rule #13: Never smoke in a non-smoker's apartment. I'm shaking, leaning over the sink, blowing Camel Light smoke out the window like it's 1990 and I'm pulling tubes in the dorm again. I'm just thankful the bird is in it's cage (chirping) and the cat isn't ripped to shreds/half eaten/strewn across three rooms.

And then I remember one of them saying, "yeah, he usually walks the same route when we let him out: straight to the bedroom and back again when he's hungry."

Entering The Bedroom. I now break Pet Sitting Rule #3.

"Heeeere iguana-waanaa-waanaa."

Since it's dark and evil-looking, I refuse to rummage through the bedroom closet. Last resort as the beast will have all advantages holed up in there. Instead, I head for The Art Studio section of the bedroom just to see if....

Oh God, there he is. Sitting on a box of canvas frames, staring out the window...claws digging into the cardboard. Did I mention the lethal claws?

Back to the kitchen for a smoke.

"Okay, he's mellow. I'll just scoop him into that Crate and Barrel box I saw next to him (#5 for you employed there)."

I go back in with a bowl of his food, place it oh-so-gingerly into the box. "Yeah, I'll just lure him in there, scoop it up, run like a madman to the cage, and dump him in."

He doesn't take the bait. I wait in the living room for ten minutes, then sneak back in, "Iguana, " I whisper. Still no movement, like a freaking tongue licking statue.

Except now he's waving his head around, flapping that throat flap thing at me. Is that like a cat winking (good) or like an attack-mode thing (bad)? I run away.

"Aargh! Why couldn't you be a cat?"

I tip-toe back in like Elmer Fud and remove the bowl and box (which, upon further reflection and eyeball sizing, would not fit him). I pace the apartment and eat two of the iguana's green beans and lima beans before I realize what I am eating, gag, and stand in front of a fan.

My shirt is a sponge and the sponge is fully saturated. My brow is cartoonishly covered in beads of sweat.

I consider the 12 year old Scotch in the cabinet. Another Pet-sitting Rule to break. I refuse to drink another man's fine Scotch; besides, booze will thin the blood and if I grab the beast, I'd probably bleed out before I made it home (besides ruining their wood floor).

I screw up all my heat-stroked courage. I grab a mug. What? I put the mug down. I wrap my left arm up in a small area rug and go into the breach again. I won't pick him up, I'll just "suggest" through his fear that he should move into the other room and then the cage.


I nudge him with a thin board.

Damn it, man! Like an immovable, squishy eighty pound beanbag.

I remove the rug, my arm is now covered in sweat and kitty litter. I feel like a total tool.

And that's when I see the white buckets. My white knight.

Slowly edge the bucket toward his face, scoop, scoop, scoop. "Come on little guy" Tap, ever so gently, his tail. "Easy buddy, it's okay." My legs are shaking quiver about to give out in panic.

He crawls into the bucket. Runrunrunrunrunrun through the bedroom into the living room, straight to the cage trap door, and sloooooowly pour him into his cage. Slam (and lock) trap door.


The cat is lying on top of the cage, panting; however, I am sure he is just overcome by laughing at me. The bird chirps (cheers). I sit on the back of the sofa, panting as well. I stare at the iguana. He crawls up to the third level of the cage and comes right up the the metal, staring me in the eye (this is odd because he usually only naps on his "security rock" when I am around). He cocks his head back and forth, his orange beady eyes probing into mine; and, sticks his tongue out at me. I move to the other side of the cage and he follows, again moving right up to the metal and sticks his tongue out many times at me. No flapping of the flap or nodding of the head.

What is this?

I feel a sort of bond. Was he actual lost, and is now thanking me for bringing him "home"?

I move back to the sofa edge, and he follows again. He licks his lips (?), flashes his tongue at me, and starts to eat. The cat yawns, the bird chirps, and I go home.

So, guys, if you're reading this: Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Only 6 more days to go. :-)