Thursday, March 30, 2006

2003, A BAD YEAR FOR CRISPY

2003 was a terrible year for me. It seems that everyone I knew, died.

In January I was drinking a malted milk at the Maple View Dairy and I 
ran into my friend Lincoln. He was actually named after Lincoln, Nebraska, which was a source of confusion and excitement for him as well as everyone who met him. “Really?” They would ask, “Not Abe?”

Lincoln said: “Did you hear that Inch Worm died?”

I stopped drinking my malted. I stared out the window, the tears welling up in my eyes. “No, I did not.”

“Is that a delicious malted?” Lincoln asked. 

“It is perhaps the best and most delicious malted I have ever, ever drunk.” I said, as though in a dream, a malted dream punctuated by dead inch worms, all gathered to mourn Inch Worm, my friend, my brother, my Sad Dead Person #1.

**

In March I flew a kite near the highway wearing pretty yellow pants with black polka dots that ballooned out in the intoxicating beauty of a spring day. 

My friend Angelica saw me and waved from a distance. 

“D––––   Y––––  N–––––Y––––L–––” Angelica said,  the wind buffeting the words, like a symphony of nature near the highway filled with kites.

“What is it Angela? What are you saying?”

Angela approached me. “I said: ‘Do you know that you look like one of those French homosexual circus performers in the Fellini movies when you wear those baggy polka dot pants while you are flying a kite?’”

“Fellini was Italian.”

“I know. But he hated French homosexual circus performers.”

“No he didn’t. He celebrated them. But they were Italian.”

“They looked French.”

“That’s true. With a note of the Adriatic in their gait.”

“Hey,” Angelica said, which was a strange name for a man I think, “Hey,” he said, “did you hear that Jazzberry Jam died?”

“Jazzberry?” I cried.

“Jazzberry,” Angelica replied.

“Oh no, oh Jazzberry.”

“Well, it’s just Jazzberry.” Angelica said.

“Don’t say that. That is a terrible thing to say. Jazzberry didn’t deserve to die. Jazzberry was a good man. A very good man. Poor Jazzberry.”

Later that night, after reading a prayer to myself and lighting a candle I thought, well, actually, it was just Jazzberry. No big.

Dead Friend #2

**

In May, I attended the Kentucky Derby. How I loved the Derby! But then, who doesn’t? It’s true, only those who have never been to the Derby do not love the Derby. 

I couldn’t help but think of Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. I loved him so, but he didn’t love the Derby. And why not? The answer is obvious. 

Anyway, I was certain that this was going to be a good year for me, just like ‘97 when I bet on Silver Charm and won, quite well in fact, or last year, ‘02, when War Emblem paid off for me and in a big way. As I walked the grounds at Churchill Downs, everything seemed to be oh-so-right. The weather was perfect, I had at least 20,000 British Sterling in my trousers, the horses were snorting vigorously and the grass smelled sweet as Mosel wine. 

Funny Cide was certain to be a winner. My winner. Sometimes I think I should have just never gone to Law School and just followed my dream of, say,  marrying a race horse. Still, life is never exactly what you expect it to be. Another perfect
Kentucky Derby day.

And it was another perfect Kentucky Derby day until I saw from friend Jacobean. 

I never enjoyed my friend Jacobean, and tried to avoid him whenever possible, but where are you going to hide when you are in a place like the Kentucky Derby? I suppose that it is unfair to call Jacobean my friend: you should never call anyone your friend if you don’t like them at all and try your best never to talk to them. Still, Jacobean was my friend. You should always be friends with everyone, if you can. You never know what might happen if you do, and you know exactly what will happen if you don’t.

“Yoo Hoo!” Jacobean called out to me, “Yoo Hoo Hoo Hoo!”

“Hello Jacobean,” I replied, without enthusiasm.

“I am so glad I found you. Wonderful day, isn’t it?”

“It is at that.” I replied, exhausted.

“It’s hard to believe that on a beautiful day like this that Mango Tango is dead.”

“Mango Tango?” I cried, renewed, “Dead?”

”For sure dead. Mango Tango dead.”

“No, not my Mango Tango. Please. Tell me it’s not true.”

“Sorry old man. No more Tango, à la Mango.”

“Oh Mango. Oh Mango Tango.”

“I thought you hated Mango Tango.”

“No. Don’t say that.”

”What a fibber. You’re one of those big fibbers.”

”Oh God. Oh Mango.”

“Jesus! What’s your problem?.”

“My darling, sweet Mango.”

“Fibber.”


Seriously, I liked Mango. 


Dead Friend #3




It wasn’t until December of that same dead year that I even thought about trying that Origami book. I waited that long because I was certain I would fail. It was too complicated, too intricate, and required too steady a hand to execute properly. Still, December is as good a time as any to try a new endeavor, and I was certain that if I could successfully fold the crane, just one, then I would truly be on my way. 

I also knew that, according to legend, anyone who can successfully fold 1,000 cranes is assured of peace and contentment in their lives. And I thought that now, finally, alone, in the deepest heart of my solitude, with no Lincoln, no Angelica, no Jacobean, I could take the first step towards the happiness that seemed so often so elusive and intricate and complicated.

I would do it.

Nine hours later, I was surrounded by cranes! Perhaps a thousand. The problem was, they were all in a lot of trouble. But the sort of trouble that you don’t know about if this is all you know. Misshapen, broken, lost, terrible cranes without real wings or beaks but still very colorful and some interesting ways of pointing wings towards different places. 

I held the last one in my hand. It was red, with crisply folded wings and looked like the best one of all. It was, really, almost perfect. It almost looked like it would come alive.

So I guess I wasn’t really surprised when it did.

“Capital day, isn’t it?” it asked.

“I don’t know. I haven’t been outside.” 

“Sometimes you don’t have to go outside to know. You can just feel it, right here,” the crane said, pointing to the the spot where his small, broken wing met his lifeless body. 

“I suppose,” I said, looking at all the dead cranes.

“Hey, speaking of feeling things: did you hear about Wild Blue Yonder?”

”Wait. How did you know Wild Blue Yonder?”

He smiled.

“You don’t mean? You don’t mean that Wild Blue...”

Red, almost perfect with crisply folded wings smiled softly in the deep December light.

“Oh no. Oh Wild Blue Yonder. Poor Wild Blue Yonder.”

“Oh come on. Stop it. It’s a beautiful day out there,” the crane said, without a face, not smiling, and without wings, not pointing to anything at all, fading.

Wild Blue Yonder. Dead Friend #4  

#5- #1000, more or less, if you count the cranes.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

CRISPY ANALYZES THE PAINTER PERFECTO

If I were going to carry a book somewhere, I would be really careful about walking into a room where there was a painter sitting at his easel. I found out a long time ago that when you do something picturesque like this that painters will stop you and say 'perfecto!' and ask you to stop walking and sit down or just stand there with the book until they have painted you, which is OK if you have nothing to do for anywhere from an hour to a few weeks, but if you do, you will be driven quite mad from standing with a book in your hands for all that time because books are heavy and paintings take forever. and worst of all, artists have one thing on their minds: paint--sexy, luscious, rich, delicious paint. it can be quite dangerous, in a sort of sexy way, in a way that is hard to explain to your children or your parents. regardez: beware the painter who sees you and says perfecto.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I, CRISPY, ONCE MADE A LIST

of everyone who debated about the causes of schizophrenia. There are doctors, psychiatrists, professors, heath professionals, nurses, orderlies, sky caps, ushers, saxophonists, injun chiefs, racketeers, gigolos, ichythiologists, firemen, the ghost moths of Shetland with their yellowish-buff forewings, men with big hats, animal hunters along the lonesome highway, pundits who are attracted to the light, puritans who are attracted to the light, honeydew melons, sassafras, flowers that look like orchids, you, harmonica players who play a mournful tune and a host of fish that live so deep in the ocean that their bodies are luminous.

And yet no one agrees on the causes of schizophrenia.

Except for the luminous fish of the deep, who, as a group, tend to agree on the academic issues, and whose secrets remain within them, embedded underneath the coldest of the ocean’s most deceptively deep waters.

Will we ever know the secret cause of schizophrenia?

No, for the secrets of the luminous deep water fish will die with them, which is OK, really. After all, just because they agree doesn’t mean they are right. Just because they are lit up and living in a mysterious dark wet cold place doesn’t mean they know everything. No way. They might know the secrets of the deep, but not all of life is deep. Take schizophrenia, for example. I like to go fishing at the beach.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A CRISPY RUMINATION ON BEAUTY

On a distant, far-away beach along the Atlantic Ocean, there stands a beautiful woman in a trim blue bikini. Kant once said: “if an ornament does not itself enter into the composition of the beautiful form, if it is introduced like a gold frame merely to win approval for the picture by means of its charm, it is then called finery and takes away from the genuine beauty.” When this beautiful woman takes off her bikini and lets it drift away on the foamy ocean waves, there was a real dilemma. Where, now, is the beauty? Does it still exist? What ornamented whom, or whom ornamented what, with regard to beauty there? Kant would say it no longer exists: but is that for reason of the lost bikini or the bikini separated from its master? Or the woman no longer ornamented? Or does that distinction belong to the bikini? And yet beauty can exist without ornamentation, and should, so what remains beautiful when a bikini floats on the water? The woman, who is lonely, or the bikini, which is perhaps beautiful and free? I mention the loneliness of the long distance woman because it enhances her beauty. I mention freedom because that’s another word for nothing left to lose. When you have lost your bikini, you are free. And when you are free, you are no longer a bikini. And perhaps there is beauty. Where? If you can wait a moment, Kant is about to make a decision, I see him twirling his beautiful mustache. The anticipation is brutal. I think that the ocean tastes like a salty Pepsi Cola.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

IS THAT YOU, CRISPY?


People often ask: is that really you in the picture, Crispy? And I say, no, not really. First of all, I never
wear blue turtlenecks, although I would be lying if I said I never wore blue mock turtlenecks. Secondly,
I have a moustache, which I shaved off. (Look for a tan line where a moustache would be: you won’t find one!) Thirdly, and most importantly, you can tell that isn’t my handwriting, nor is it my pen, because it looks like a Mont Blanc. I would really love a Mont Blanc. How many times do I have to drop that hint at parties and in poems and waiting for the bus? Gee, a Mont Blanc would come in handy right now, I seem to say all the time. Oh well. Even my “Ode to Unrequited Longing for a Mont Blanc” didn’t do a thing for me, Mont-Blanc-wise. All my pens are from the Far East and they look like tiny torpedos from World WarTwo. FWISSHHHWOOSSSH KABOOM!!! Oh: one more thing: I don’t know what’s the matter with that wallpaper, but I don’t think that I could ever write anything sensible and look content if that wallpaper was near me. I also don’t think I am good at looking content and I never have a tan like whoever this guy is because, my friends tell me, I fear the God Apollo . As if! I mean, Sometimes I don’t even think Apollo exists! Whoever this man is, I think he believes just the opposite, very content, and never sweaty. Still, I don’t care how superior this guy is to me, I don’t understand the boy scout cap at all. It doesn’t match his sweater. I have to say, though, now that I look at it a little, his sweater does look just like mine. Could it be... could it be...my hero? OK, my hero!
They offered me $100 an hour to work. This seemed like a great idea because when it came to working I was used to hearing things like ‘eight dollars an hour’ or sometimes ‘six dollars an hour.’

I immediately ran home and got out a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down all the things that I wanted to buy.

I started off with a toaster and one of those modern looking silver garbage cans and by the end I was writing things like trips to New Zealand and Lambourghinis.

I was ashamed when I realized that I had not included any books or educational materials or gifts for any of my friends or family. But then I smiled, because, hey, what could be better than being rich with a trip to New Zealand coming up when you get to drive to the airport in your Lambourghini?

I know, I know--having your best friend drive you in the Lambourghini that you give to him for driving you to the airport with it. And then crying in the airplane because you don’t have your Lambourghini anymore and you only got to ride it once and that was to the airport. Because, honestly, that is what would happen. I cry like a baby when I give away sports cars. I haven’t done it yet but I am pretty sure I will when I do. Still, even after doing that nice sad thing and crying and everything else, at least I have New Zealand to look forward to, besides the new silver garbage can and toaster and always the possibility, which I think I now really deserve, of true love, New Zealand-style.

A CRISPY CONFESSION

I am not sure if I was reading it correctly, but if I was, there is a very famous philosopher out there, I won’t mention who specifically, but this philosopher, very deep and complicated and all of that, and poised, too, and elegant,
a philosopher who dresses nicely and always says the right thing, well, this philosopher, who the whole world thinks so highly of, in truth he, I’m sorry, this is so hard to say so I hesitate to even say it. But I’ve got to say it. Deep breath. OK. This philosopher, when he is away from his pens and his books and his deep thoughts and all the applause for his profound thinking ideas and all of that, well, this philosopher, this guy, when he is alone,he–I can’t even say it. I wish I didn’t even know. Maybe I didn’t read it correctly, Actually, forget it.
CRISPY SAYS: LET US COMPARE DOG BARKS

Mine is worse.

No, mine is worse.

Mine is more Basso. More Basso Profundo. Like Toscanini if he were submerged in the ocean and was shivering and trying to breathe through one of those curly straws.

Mine is hopeless. It’s a desert wind where the desert used to be. A desert that doesn’t have a name because no one cares and no one knows that anyone should care.

Or in the Arctic. Mine is on a raft in the Arctic. On a little raft without a paddle saying “I can’t believe this would happen to Toscanini” and the sound just echoes over and over until it sounds backwards and makes you seasick and then there’s the vomit, et al.

Mine wanted to be a desert, but was too alone. And so it settled for nothing. Mine said: “I can’t believe that I am so lucky that I have nothing and I have it all to myself–God must love me best of all.” But God doesn’t.

Mine is Toscanini wishing he were Liberace. Liberace at a lynching party or better yet a firing squad in Siberia, naked, with a powerful, piercing wind that is embarassing to Liberace when his hair blows in an unnatural way.

Mine is Liberace, also naked, in the third grade, trying to spell ‘Toscanini’ and failing and so all the other kids jump on him and pound him and break his big nose and he cries.

Mine is Liberace when he used to advertised his long-playing albums that featured things like Claire de Lune when he would look at the camera and twinkle and say “These are some of my favorites” Well, my dog bark looks just like Liberace does now, in his coffin with little bits of satina and ruffles and twinkly diamonds and lamé around the skeleton holding onto the record album and not saying “These are some of my favorites.”

Mine says that he has no favorites and doesn’t believe that your bark sounds like anything that would say “These are some of my favorites” even a little bit.

Mine is sitting along in a bathroom at a filling station in the desert that has no name and doesn’t even exist just like yours and just like anyone who will never know if Liberace or a dog bark ever had any favorites because things are forgotten so quickly not only by Liberace fans but others as well, for even if you were to ask a million Liberace fans, you would no doubt get a million different answers, some yes, some no, all forgotten and no one cares.

Mine wishes he could be a Liberace fan but knows he will die first.

Mine wishes he could be one of your favorites.

Mine would settle for not knowing what a favorite was.

Mine just wrote yours a love letter. It’s his favorite.

Mine just found it and smiled and threw it far away into the sky and then it floated and floated and when the wind hit it just right and landed in its eye and blinded it forever.

Mine is holding out his paw to yours. Mine will help you across the street. Mine will hold on and never let go.

Mine says thank you, but you would never know that to look at him.

Isn’t that mine?

I don’t know. I thought it was mine.

Wait. Come back.

There they go.

By Gum, You’re right. They’re off.

They look pretty good together.

They do.
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