Thursday, June 29, 2006


Paris, as seen from a tall building across from the Eiffel Tower, if you are falling down on your left side, and holding your camera and taking a picture with your right before you fall down completely.


I bought big white roots in
a green sealed package in a
friendly bright grocery store
in Paris

Now repeat:

I saw bright red strawberries
held by a lonely old lady in
a typical busy grocery store
in Paris


I adored the crisp chocolatey noisettes
gracing the simple unadorned blue shelf
in a delicious young grocery store
in Paris

And finally:

What are the pretty Dutch schoolgirls
doing on the crowded vibrant metro
to the lonely dark cemetery so far away
from daring, scary Amsterdam in general
and the grocery store specifically
of Paris?


What are the pretty young schoolgirls doing
at the forbiddingly alluring cemetery
at midnight?

It’s Paris!
Go to the grocery store!

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006



IS the scariest man in American History. Someday I will have to read about Henry Clay so I can figure out once and and for all how he beat everybody else in the Scariest Man In American History Contest.

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006


all he wants are
words that confuse he likes
fat cars, hot moons,
fenders of abuse
he walks till midnight cause he can never stop
with his hands inside his boots he thinks of
jets and tigers, pretty leathers,
clubs a go go and the daily news
that tell him ...
of rip-up waltz, wind on
the earth, and the feeling of centrifuge
he dreams about pretty girls
he never knew and secret walks
and cliffs, soda and
window sills

tonight is a disease, wild
cause we heard so on the
radio with songs of beds of love
and moving rats
and the long day times that prance like lead
it’s been lovely you know
he knows a ride that makes us fast
and so we do it twice, which makes it
twice as nice and
if he takes us home
he’ll make us laugh
and dance, and dance into our past


Here in North Carolina, there is an apartment complex with a small pool in the center. Near the bottom of the pool, at about an eight foot depth, there is a small black spider that has not moved for days. Next to him is a small black truck, proportionally about the right size for a spider of his size, I would say about 3 inches tall, four inches long. The chassis and wheels seem to be in good shape, although they most likely have sustained some water damage. Next to the pool’s edge, a small, fluffy dog sniffs the water somewhat apprehensively, unaware of the spider and the truck. The sun reflects off the water and momentarily startles the dog. I am not making this stuff up! *

*except for the parts about the truck and stuff. How could I know there what was there? I am blind. I am typing on one of those special blind people whatchamacallit typewriters.

Thursday, June 15, 2006



I am dozing off on the couch. That sounds like a dream, I know, but it fills me with fear. And when I awake, the Buddha is attending to a wounded swan. That’s because I left the television on. It’s set to the Buddha Channel. And the swan is very grateful, but Buddha’s friend, Devadatta, is angry. “I shot it and it’s mine!” he says. The Buddha laughs in the way that only one who has achieved perfect spiritual enlightenment can laugh, and then, with one deft motion, smacks the swan with a big stick, dead. “That will show him,” he says, and I think that he means the swan. The swan, a smart swan, just pretends to be dead. He knows there is no safe harbor here. He opens one eye slightly to see if the coast is clear, and it makes him look as though he is winking at me. Far from it. The next thing I know, I doze off again. I dream I am on my couch, flying in place.



Someday I will be a sweaty old fat man with my big ol’ pants hiked up to here and wearing suspenders with little stars on them and saying things like ‘hokum’ and winking at the young lady cashiers who smile because I am so harmless. While they turn their backs to me and whisper to each other and giggle, I steal a big handful of candy and put it in my big ol’ pants hiked up to here.



William Jennings Bryan ran for President three times.
Is that interesting? Not really. But from what I hear from my friends that he died from overeating, that was VERY interesting. “My friends,” he said, “as I sit at this lovely dinner table before you, I give thanks to the Lord not only for his bounty which we are about to receive, but also that on this day it is affirmed that we are not–as Mr. Darrow might suggest–descended from lower beings, apes to be specific, but that our dignity and grace is a profound and pure divination of the Lord and all his glory” then came the spare ribs and mashed potatoes and succotash and hot apple pie, and then things got very interesting.

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I realize that it has now been 34 years since I first heard THE LETTER. It was a BOXTOPS song first, I think, written by, I believe, Alex Chilton. Can that be true? Hold on: I’ll find out.

* Short break *

Yes, it was Alex Chilton and THE BOXTOPS. But that’s not how I heard it. I heard it when I listened to
Joe Cocker’s MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN album. Now there’s an album! The band only rehearsed for
NINE DAYS before they toured and subsequently recorded this masterpiece. Is that possible? Nine
days? Hold on. Let me check that out.

* Short break *

4 ten hour rehearsals over eight days. More information discovered: album highlights include: Cocker's mossy brogue meshing provocatively with Leon Russell's Midwestern twang perfectly framing Dylan's love ode, GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY. I agree completely.

So, I guess, technically, we’ll say eight days. Or, I guess, four days of rehearsals.

But as far as THE LETTER goes, it always poses a very key question in my mind. But before we can think about that question, we should review the information that Joe Cocker gives us in his “soulful as Guinness Stout and sweet as fine port voice” (I also heard about this when I found out about the rehearsal schedule: 4 days, 10 hours: WOW.)

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take no fast train
Lonely days have gone
I’m a comin’ home
My baby she wrote me a letter

It’s strange how when someone uses the right words it makes you like things that you don’t care for. I am thinking of course of Guinness Stout and Sweet Port. I don’t like either. Of course, anyone who ever took a lot of asthma medicine feels this way. How can I ever forget my Mom holding that spoon in front on me, imploring me: “You’ll love it. It’s yummy. It tastes just like Guinness Stout.” She might have been right, but it just wasn’t enough reason for me to like it. How can one ever adequately define love? And then the line about “if you eat all your vegetables, I will give you another sip of the new asthma medicine. You know, the one that tastes just like sweet port.” No, love is feathery, wispy and ephemeral, often wafer-thin and a real enigma, not the above.

It’s surprising in a way that I like love, or, I mean, Joe Cocker at all! I do, though, even though the thought of the Sixties, all that was gained, all that was lost, makes me a little sad.

I don’t care how much I’ve got to spend
I’m going to find my way back home again
Lonely days have gone
I’m a-comin' home cause
My baby she wrote me a letter

Interesting fact: BOXTOPS Bassist Bill Cunningham: son of Sun Records artist Buddy Blake Cunningham and brother of B.B. Cunningham Jr., lead vocalist for 1960s Memphis group The Hombres, of "Let it All Hang Out" Top 40 hit fame. Here’s a song that, if you don’t love it, don’t laugh when you hear it, and don’t think, “Goddamn it, I am loving this song, it’s a sunny day, and my life is pretty darn wonderful!” Well, then you are dead, and not only dead, but dead and buried and that’s why you can’t hear it. And it’s rainy. And where are you buried? Not at Forest Lawn Cemetery, with people like Sal Mineo and Marilyn Monroe. Somewhere where there are no celebrities.

Anyway, my baby she wrote me a letter.

The question I always wonder is: what did she say in that letter? I always love the idea that you can write something down on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, affix a 37¢ stamp, drive to the post office and put it in the mailbox, and then, three to five days later, presto! Someone opens up the letter, reads it, and decides that trains are too slow and that airplanes are much better and faster even though they are more expensive. Of course, in those days, even though planes were relatively expensive, stamps were quite cheap, and an extremely economical and efficient means of communication. Stamps cost, I think, 4¢ and had a purple Abraham Lincoln on them. Or was it 5¢ and they had a grey Dwight D. Eisenhower on them? Hold on one second.

* Short trip to the post office in the rain *

Well, the possibilities are endless. For Alex Chilton reading a letter that his baby wrote me (sic) (1964), his baby could have affixed a Sam Houston, John Muir, William & Charles Mayo, John F. Kennedy, Homemakers Issue, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Centennial Civil War Battle of the Wilderness or Amateur Radio stamp. I am guessing the Mayo Brothers stamp: they look just like Roman Gods!

But if Joe Cocker received a letter from his baby in 1969 before he rehearsed for four days at ten hours a day over eight days, the letter probably had either a Plant for More Beautiful Cities, Plant for More Beautiful Highways, Plant for More Beautiful Streets, Plant for More Beautiful Parks, W.C. Handy, John Wesley Powell, Grandma Moses, California Settlement 200th Anniversary, Professional Baseball 100th Anniversary, the Alabama Sesquicentennial, Apollo 8, Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890-1969 or, probably the kind of stamp that someone who would be writing Joe Cocker to come home: the First Man on the Moon stamp.

Is there anything sad about this? There is always something sad about everything. One thing that really sticks out is that we don’t even know who started all this. We just know that it was someone’s baby. Probably Alex Chilton’s. Although there were a lot of BOXTOPS, and they might have had babies and anyone of them could have come in to play with Alex Chilton one day and said, “Alex, the strangest thing happened. I received a letter from my baby today, and she said she couldn’t live without me no more. The lonely days are gone, Alex, I’m a goin’ (comin’) home” and the next thing you know Alex has to find either a new bass player, a new guitar player, or a new drummer. But, being resourceful as are all rock stars, he made delicious sweet Tupelo honey lemonade out of this lemony/sweet Memphis Tennessee letter and said, “Hmmmm.”

Who could it have been?

Bill Cunningham, bass, is definitely possible. He won a spot on the White House Orchestra, so his baby was probably a little ritzy, a real society type. It would have been easy for him to afford a plane ticket. Although he probably wouldn’t have said “I’m a comin’ home.” He would have said, “I am coming home presently.” John Evans, drums, later worked as a computer network administrator, so I would imagine that he might be too pragmatic to buy an aeroplane ticket like that: it’s just too spontaneous and existential. I don’t mean to be judgmental; just trying to think deductively. Danny Smythe, rhythm guitar, on the other hand, played in Memphis soul and blues band, and then later became an artist. If I were a betting man, I would have to say that it was Danny Smythe. An artist and musician and living in Memphis where it is so hot and muggy? I think he got a letter and the rest is history. It’s so hot, it is almost steamy. Probably a very sweaty letter if he received it in the summer and put it in his pocket in Memphis, “Toujours l’amour de steamy hot America del Sur,”where the BOXTOPS are remembered to this day for serving up sweet, hot heaping bowlfuls of blue-eyed soul.

And to his baby he goes. Which baby? I don’t know which baby. So this letter is dedicated to all the babies I do know.

The Be My Baby baby, the Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby baby, the Coney Island Baby baby, the My Baby Does the Hanky Panky baby, the Baby Talk baby, the Bye Bye Baby baby, the My Baby Cares for Me baby, the Baby Lemonade baby, the Here Comes My Baby baby, the Old Timey Baby baby, the Oh Baby It’s A Wild World baby, the Here I Am Baby Baby, the Baby You Got What It Takes baby, the Bossa Nova Baby baby, the Rose and a Baby Ruth baby, the Baby Let’s Play House baby, the Dream Baby baby, the Baby It’s Cold Outside baby, the Cry Baby Cry baby, the Baby Let Me Follow You Down baby, the My Baby Does Good Sculpture baby, the Walking My Baby Back Home baby, the Baby You’re A Rich Man baby, the Merry Christmas Baby baby, the Good To My Baby baby, the Baby I’m Amazed baby, the You’re Having My Baby baby, the Baby Doncha Do It Baby, and then of course the Bang Bang I Shot My Baby Down baby.

Meanwhile, the Mayo Brothers, Roman Gods of Medicine.Take a look at the stamp. Is it still on the letter? It’s still on the letter, written by my baby.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Devoted Reader,

I need your help. I have embarked upon a new work, A CHILDREN'S GUIDE TO SAMUEL JOHNSON. It is a daunting task of no small feat to say the least, if for no other reason than the fact that there are only about two paintings in the world of Samuel Johnson, and children like pictures. Also, Samuel Johnson could be kind of annoying. And he hated children. Didn't see the point of them. Still, my editor thinks it's a good idea. And my publisher doesn't. And my editor thinks it should be a pop-up book. And I agree. My publisher is being a baby about it. My editor isn't–he's being, well, almost a visonary about it. As for me, I think it would be cool to just have Samuel Johnson's little arms and legs move around on each page while using the same two paintings for his head the whole time. He could be dancing a little quadrille, or lighting a cigar, or even pontificating on British morality, Lawrence Sterne, the labor movement, death, or, just for fun, yelling out the window for the children to pipe down while their playing a game of hoops or chomping down on a refreshing treat of crystallized ginger. Children can be so naughty and loud and they do love their sweets.

Anyway, the point is, we find ourselves at the crossroads. Think Robert Johnson and the Mississippi Delta with a ruffly blouse and a quill pen and books and really overweight with gout and stuff. Yes, that's exactly what I am talking about. And so this is how I need your help: PLEASE: tell me exactly what your feelings are about the Samuel Johnson matter. Is this a book that needs to be written, and why exactly it should and must be. If you have ever read this Crispy tome, please contact Mr. Garni in the comments section and do not hold back. Oh. And please give suggestions. The last one–the hologram thing with the Bladerunner backdrop–was inspired.


The Author

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006



I have given
a great deal
of thought
as to why
they are
removing all
the guts from
that squid on

I think it may
be all we have
left in the world
which has disappeared
except for the squid,
the knives, a few
men and a camera

And I guess a television
transmitter of some sort.

And us, too. The viewers.
It’s the day of the
Mark of the Beast
and all that jazz. All
gone, like last drops
milk from a baby's cup.
So, If that’s it, that’s that,
then we certainly don’t need
to see squid guts. Let’s go
out for an ice cream
cone. Oh, that’s right.

Well then, let’s see what’s
up with the squids.


I always shied away
from Grandma
Moses. It’s because
I was shy and because

I didn’t think it was
right that “Grandma”
and “Moses” should
be in the same name.
It's wrong and funny.

What can I do?
Either laugh, or worship
her. But I don’t like

Her paintings. The first
ones she mounted in
drug stores. Not sexually.
She was a woman of
faith. I didn’t mean

To suggest...

I don't kneel near paintings

And it's hard to pray
in drugstores

"Her primitive paintings captured
the spirit and preserved the scene
of a vanishing countryside..."

Before the sea parted and the
countryside disappeared


Strolling through a book
as though I was in a field
of daisies on a lazy summer
day reading a book, I
discovered that my

son was born on the same
day as Heavy Metal Cross-
Bow Hunting Rock Star
what’s-his-name. It was

the best day of my life.
It was the best day of his
life. It was a great day
for thrashy heavy metal.
It was a great day for ears.
And amps. And
arrows that kill deer. They
look up and say “Whaa–”
and then nothing. It was a
great day for the word

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006


After a first-rate evening of movies (DESK SET, THAT TOUCH OF MINK, TEACHER'S PET) I thought to myself: "You know, I wonder if Gig Young is still around. He seems like a nice, easy going guy. I bet it would be fun to go out and have a drink with him." So I did a little research, thinking, what the heck, maybe he wouldn't mind kicking back and talking about old times with a fan. It's only a plane ticket to Los Angeles or maybe New York
and a few cocktails and a taxi ride or something.

Well, not bloody likely. And I don't think I will go into detail here, but suffice to say, the reason that I will not be going out tonight with Gig Young involves sorrow, guns, brains, and splatter. Oh. And one wife. And some bullets. And more splatter. And now some ghosts that are haunting this building somewhere. I think that I will leave out the details for now.

Everyone loves to say that they are a good judge of character. I never do that. Well, I've stopped doing that. It's not just Gig, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't mostly Gig. So these days I just like to say that I am a good judge of movies. THAT TOUCH OF MINK was an excellent one. I am sorry that, in it, Gig Young had to be slapped by Audrey Meadows in the Automat and also fall down the stairs in Doris Day's apartment building and had to go to a therapist who didn't listen to him and felt unappreciated in all regards by Cary Grant who gets the girl and is his boss. I guess that was sort of the beginning of the end. I guess you could see it coming if you were a good judge of character. Honestly, though, I really didn't see it coming. Which reminds me: I'm better with other things than that.

** ** **

Photo courtesy of some interesting Argentine Batman website, 'Los Que No Fueron.' That slays me. Something like 'Those Who Were Not,' Was Gig Young supposed to be...The Joker? I think they think so. Oh man, the ironies are spreading thick and furiously like crunchy peanut butter on a tiny whole grain English muffin on a sultry summer day in North Carolina. As for Mickey Rooney: "Mickey Rooney: Otro de los considerados por Dozier que se quedó en el camino, sin dudas hubiese estado magnifico, pero es imposible imaginar a nuestro Pingüino en otro actor que no sea Burgess Meredith" which roughly translates to "he would have made a great Penguin, but give it up for Burgess Meredith." Man, I love Argentina.

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006


No one ever said Beethoven was a painter, but when he wrote The Moonlight Sonata for 1) a forbidden love and actually 2) he didn’t call it “Moonlight” because he wasn’t that hokey and 3) he did actually draw a beautiful sketch of his love and if you have some spare time you might consider taking his sketch and placing over the likeness of his forbidden love and you will note that there is a striking resemblance, even though Ludwig Van Beethoven only uses a few simple strokes in order to reveal her essence. Because of this resonance in economy and style to the greatest of one of the greatest of Chinese Jueju poets Li Po, who, like Beethoven, was a bit of a tippler, we have decided to commemorate December 16th, Ludwig Van Beethoven’s birthday, as National Bavarian Chinese Jueje Essence Romantic Poet Composer Painter Day. On that day, we are to write symphonies and and bicycle down to the river for a good swim, screaming at the top of our lungs like little musical notes–but not any musical notes–ones that are painterly, ones that ride bicycles and aren't afraid of a quick, refreshing dip.

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Sunday, June 04, 2006


One of my favorite paintings ever is BONJOUR MONSIEUR COUBERT, by Gustave Coubert. As you can plainly see, someone is saying 'Bonjour' in this painting, and he is saying it to two men and a dog. It looks like a hunting dog. And the sky is blue, but not 'bonjour' blue. And the gentleman who is most likely saying it–although it is not entirely certain that he is saying it at all–is wearing an elegant pea-colored coat, cut in the oriental style. His fiery-red beard is long and luxurious, and he composes himself in an elegant fashion, extending his hat in one hand, while pressing his weight, ever so slightly, upon his cane with the other. Next to him you find his moribund companion, holding his hat, contrapostively, is a spirit of resignation with one hand, while holding his topcoat, in a manner that can only be called glum, with the other. Clearly, he has nothing to live for.

Why? We can speculate that he is homosexual, and perhaps threatened by the arrival and presence of Monsieur Coubert, whose rustic appearance and swarthy, earthy 'art' tonality is enhanced by a whitmanesque bearing and a beard which extends towards the two gentlemen in an uncompromising, erect fashion–though clearly it points more directly towards the gentleman with the fiery red beard, the elegant manner with cane, oriental coat and wait–what's this? Disco boots? No, I believe that they are simply 'spats'–a stiff fabric cover extending over the boot, worn during the period in order to protect the wearer from dirt, mud and the dust of unpaved roads. This was of course, before the discovery of penicillin.

Back to the depressed man: there are a few pretty red flowers near his feet. That should cheer him up. And I think all three gentlemen are standing on a pitcher's mound, which is interesting, to say the least. Perhaps the depressed man is not suffering from love: perhaps he has just pitched a terrible game of baseball, and the elegant man has ascended the mound to console him. Suddenly, Monsieur Coubert arrives and diverts his attention. Bonjour! But was baseball popular in Montpellier, France, in 1854? I don't believe so. Also, I don't think that pitchers wore longcoats or spats when they pitched, even in Montpellier, way back in 1854. And the crowds at this particular game seem to be rather modest for a sporting event of its stature.

Another curious notation: if someone is saying 'Bonjour' to Monsieur Coubert, why is nobody's mouth open? 'Bonjour!' is very difficult to say in a tight-lipped fashion, and the 'J' in French requires a particular and supple flexing and manipulation of the lips. Of course, if the gentlemen in question were in Seville, Spain, and Monsieur Coubert's first name was 'Juan' and the gentlemen were on a familiar basis with Monsieur Juan Coubert, the tight-lipped "Buenos Dias, Juan" could theoretically be accomplished, due to the musky, raspy and semi-silent quality of the Spanish viz. the French 'J.' I say 'theoretically' because as most European scholars know baseball was not a popular pastime in Seville during the Coubert period, nor did French people travel to Spain in the 19th century in order to greet painters–as a rule.

Now it seems that we are evading one other possible explanation, perhaps a more logical one, as to the author of BONJOUR in this delightful work. I am speaking of course of the dog: for if you examine the painting carefully, you can see that his mouth is opened entirely, although he is pointed in vaguely the wrong direction. Of course, you could say that he is panting (and perhaps confused), since it does get rather warm during baseball season (which can be disorienting), or you could simply say that it is he (or she or it) who is greeting Monsieur Coubert by name ("Bonjour Monsieur Coubert! Woof!") which is perhaps what makes the one gentleman so éperdu, and the other so smartly elegant.

It would also explain the raison d'être of the painting itself. If you name were Coubert, and upon a chance meeting upon a baseball mound in France two gentleman approached you in silence while their dog greeted you by name, wouldn't you feel compelled to reproduce the moment in art, in a realistic fashion, and right away?

Which is why we must conclude our study of Monsieur Coubert and let him be on his way. As we examine the painting, it becomes clear that his beard in not pointing towards either of the two gentlemen, but towards a place far outside the perimeters of the painting itself: the future. And in that future Monsieur Coubert will compose a work of dog and men and a miraculous event on a fairly normal day. We may not agree as to what the miracle is, but certainly, we all agree that a miracle it is, and that it is to be found painted.

BONJOUR is certainly one of my favorite works–is it one of yours, too? I certainly hope so. In the meantime, back to work you go. Au revoir, Monsieur Coubert!

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Saturday, June 03, 2006


“It is a little dirty” the tour guide said. “And spoo-ooky.”

“They pile up the bones like a woodpile,” also said
the tour guide.

“SSSHHH!” said the tour guide. If that lady keeps talking to her children in Italian, no one will hear what the tour guide has to say.

“I have something important to say,” said the tour guide.

We found out that the bishop’s hearts went to St. Stephens, the entrails to St. Augustine’s.

“Eeennntrails” said the tour guide.

“Black Play-Gue” he said, like a real tour guide, lingering nicely.

His step was light and brisk as he walked past the bones stacked like wood and into the first catacomb.

Everybody likes the tour guide. Even the tour guide likes the tour guide.

The tour guide seemed to pop up out of nowhere at the second catacomb. It felt as though he said “Surprise!” but he didn’t. And if he waved as he passed the bones stacked like wood, nobody saw it–but if he didn’t, everybody did.

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006


When I woke up, he was gone. All that was left of him was a poem on the wall. I went up and read it and felt better. It was him all right. He hadn't gone anywhere–he was right there, all safe and warm and written. Now how in the world can I get him out?

all artwork, except likenesses of Lyndon B. Johnson, by Crispy Flotilla ® 2006
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