Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BETTER THAN APPLES

LATELY I HAVE ACQUIRED THE HABIT of making myself a little plate of cheese and crackers, sitting down on one of the chairs that originally was from the dining room set in Maine

God I miss Maine

It was so beautiful in the winter

It was so warm and lovely in the summer

In the autumn there would be a fine mist

You knew that winter was coming, but that was just more loveliness, only different and snowy

I think I liked almost every moment I ever spent in Maine other than the two or three weeks between seasons in April

Maine doesn’t have a spring, really, although cherry trees did blossom there in May

April could be a problem, though, but hardly worth mentioning

In fact when you are a kid they always say that you will grow up and fall in love and get married and be happy, but I really think that if

you grew up in Maine your heart is already broken because you can never love anyone else other than Maine, the tempestuous, Latin Lover of your youth, distant and beautiful and smoking a cigarillo

Even that tiny little period in April doesn’t matter anymore

The red delicious apples of October, and they are delicious, more than compensate for the slender few days of lonely silence in April where you have no tempestuous Latin Lover smoking a cigarillo, just rain

like now, when I sit down on one of the chairs that was originally from the dining room set in Maine where upon I enjoy eating my crackers and cheese and when I do

I generally watch an old TV show, preferably The Andy Griffith Show

I think it is my favorite show in the world

One thing I really love about it, and there are a lot of things to love about The Andy Griffith Show

for example no one says a mean thing to anyone hardly ever

even though there is some teasing once in a while and lots of shenanigans

the barber is crazy and I wouldn’t want him to shave me

the deputy constantly locks himself in jail by mistake and everyone has a good chuckle at that

nobody seems to ever be married to anybody else

people travel a long way for a fancy chop suey dinner

there is only one drunk as far as we know

and only one bully

it never rains

and there are a lot of fresh biscuits and no dentists

lunch comes in baskets

and there is pie after dinner

and there is strumming on the guitar

after dinner

and lots of trout fishing which is more fun to do than to eat

and when there are apples, they are just used for throwing, at heads

and all of these things are wonderful things

but the one thing I like best of all, better than apples,

better than anything in the whole world

is that everyone loves to talk, and they always talk a lot

but hardly anyone ever says anything, anything, anything

about Maine

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BREAD, LOVE & CHA CHA CHA

If I woke up one day and discovered that I couldn’t speak, and that I had to learn how to talk all over again, all I can say is that I hope there are no Xavier Cuvat records playing at the time. Ask me why. OK, I will tell you. Let’s take BREAD, LOVE & CHA CHA CHA by Xavier Cugat, for example. CHA CHA CHA is so mucho more interesting that the words BREAD or LOVE that I would immediately assume that all good words come in threes, like, for example, HO HO HO, and that all words are spoken in reverse sequence of value. Well, they are, aren’t they? “I love you,” for example. And “Rock & Roll for example.” Although not “HO HO HO" for example. And if bread love and cha cha cha were the only words I knew than I would have to think that they were the most important words in life, the staff of life, as it were, not Rock & Roll and not luvey duvey gooey I love you things. I would try to survive on bread and love, while dancing, perhaps, the cha cha cha. I would try to survive on bread bread bread and love love love, while dancing the cha, all the while not knowing which was which and why. I couldn’t do that. And I would need water. One needs water, just ask Magellan or your high school chemistry professor, the one who drinks too much. And I’m not talkin’ water. BREAD, LOVE, CHA CHA CHA and WATER. And Cuba Libres. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Then there is the problem of the word ‘Xavier.’ Must I explain that? I am hungry, thisty, and tired of dancing and too tired to explain. In the distance, somewhere, a hamburger fries. When one is all of those things, one cannot hope to explain the complexities of the word ‘Xavier.’ Please wait until I have a few more words under my belt. A little food, perhaps. At that point I will stir, I will try. I don’t care. Watch this move. I do it with my feet. I call it a love dance sandwich. Of the mind. It’s doughy and delicious. I learned it shortly before I was born, smack dab in the birth canal. I learned it, and I earned it. Cowabunga. It was a busy time, according to the advertisements that mention the ways of the day, especially when they mention car tires and funeral parlors and muscular swimmers, talking to pretty girls at poolside, smoking away.

KAWABUNGA

When Chief Thunderthud proclaimed “Kawabunga!” one day way back in, say, 1957 in the middle of the Howdy Doody show, no one knew precisely what he was saying. There he was in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and the traffic ground to a halt. An old lady with a poodle in toe clutched at her heart. A young lady, wearing a fashionable hat, had some sort of sexual fantasy of some sort. The policeman waved his billy club. “Move along now!” he said, without a trace of an accent. Not everyone has an accent. Don’t you believe it for one second. And he wasn’t really in the middle of Fifth Avenue, but if he had an accent, who can say what would have happened and how we would remember it? The point is, we certainly remember “Kawabunga!” as we should. Don’t you think I do.

It would be years before the Australian surfers knew that Chief Thundthud really meant “ Cowabunga!” when he said “Kawabunga!” even though he meant “Kawabunga!” and not “Cowabunga!” and it would be years more before everyone in the world, including the Cookie Monster and Bart Simpson etc. would concur, although neither the Cookie Monster nor Bart Simpson use the word “concur.” Nor does Bart Simpson wear a fashionable hat. Nor does the Cookie Monster sport a billy club. Nor do I. Nor does Chief Thunderthud. Nor do accents clutch their hearts. Nor is there not such a thing that is not a sexual fantasy.

My grandfather once said, “You can either stand here, or you can stand there.” Something either is, or isn’t. It’s called the ‘domino effect' where a line is drawn in the sand by a girl named Sandy. Smiley Lewis, par example, had no front teeth. Smiley Lewis both is, and isn’t. “But if you stand there, I will beat you within an inch of your life.” He did not mean it in a suggestive way, my Pappy.

My teeth, my teeth, for the love of God.

Next: I would like to discuss spelling. “Kawabunga” is really perfectly fine, it only seems strange when we look at it now, after years of television and surfing in Australia and broken femurs. Meaning, however, is something else. Look at a word long enough and it starts to meld into a vapor of nonsensical shapes and supernovas across the iridescent galaxy of your mind. Which is nice. Stare at it even longer enough, and you plop down and die. If you believe in God, it could be worse. No worries, mate. But back then, rather than today, of course, what was said in all sincerity and with perfect clarity and correctness is now wrong. Completely wrong. One thinks of beheadings, for example. A beheading of the mind. But not if you go to church. All things change and become wrong, you have to learn to live with that. Son. Did you brush your teeth? Did they fall out–of love? That’s what they do. That’s what I was told. In surfing, the waves rise up to the sky, but they don’t really, and what you hear is not a soaring laughter, it is mispronunciation at the highest levels. You mustn’t believe everything you see.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

EL HOMBRE EST ARRIVÉ!

EL HOMBRE is at large and available. Simply look at the new list at the right of your screen, looked poised and everything, and click on the highlighted title ("El Hombre de la Capa Castellana") as you ready your poor credit card accordingly. In the spirit of the work, we gladly accept pesetas, and, maybe, even, dubloons. Anything fancy, really, will do.

all artwork, including handsome monsters but not crinkly devilish types, ® mr. crispy flotilla, 2008

Friday, January 16, 2009

ART, 1 through 2 (bonus feature: 3)

I signed up for a course in German because of my abiding affection for Goethe and sweet summer afternoons when the grass is really, like, green. The professor had a mustache, if you can call it that, and the air was hot and musty in the room along with the sweet sickly whatever aromas everywhere. Don’t get me wrong: I loved it. My affection abides. Sometimes it even bursts, like a stupid piñata. But I now must tell you the truth: I only stayed long enough to find out how to say ‘art’ in German. And now I will tell you something so that you never have to meet someone who has a mustache if you can call it that and all the rest that comes with it usually. Here it is: kunst.

PART TWO

I have only one answer to everything, and that is to do a handstand. When they ask if I would like a receipt, I of course do a handstand. When someone says “Watch where you’re going!” I do a handstand–not the other way around. And if someone says, “Don’t I know you?” My handstand says, “perhaps.” Late at night, when the world grows gentle and soft, I draw a picture of someone doing a handstand–it’s good practice. And then I let him be eaten by an octopus. “I didn’t draw that!” I swear. I run away as quickly as I can, on my hands, red and sweet.

PART THREE

I looked at the her photograph after I watched her movie and felt very uncomfortable with it. There was something missing – her hair was in a pretty black braid and her eyes were like stars of course and her hands were held in a broken prayer and threshed wheat stood behind her gently brushing the background.

“It’s the brick wall!” I thought to myself. “Where is the brick wall surrounding her?”

Of course there was no brick wall. I should say: there was no reason for a brick wall around her. Unless you count her loss – her family’s gone, now, and so are her friends, her husband, her flowers, her photographer. Never again will she eat a hamburger to make her mother happy. And who can explain cows? Nevertheless, a brick wall would be a nice thing to have, next to the stars. Dontcha know. And so her father holds her hand and watches television. The cat is there, or was, not understanding nothing. Nothing's missing. It's all right. Eventually, you stop. I don’t think there is anything missing.

And Carl Perkins was playing, of course, in her eyes.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

MOMENTS IN HISTORY: WINSTON CHURCHILL: AFRAID OF MICE? (CHAPTERS ONE THROUGH FOUR)

CHAPTER ONE

WINSTON CHURCHILL IS RUNNING AROUND THE KITCHEN IN A ELEGANT, WINE-DARK SILK BATHROBE with a champagne bottle in one hand and nothing in the other. The mice are scampering beneath his feet, hither and thither. For a man who writes books about English history, he truly is a plump man!

Ordinarily, a man who drinks champagne is not afraid of mice.

Is Winston Churchill afraid of mice?

It’s hard to say. As we see Winston Churchill now, he appears quite agitated, and, frankly, not very nimble.

One could say that mice are as afraid of Winston Churchill as he is of them, but actually, mice are afraid of men in general – Winston Churchill appears like any other man to mice only, with their keen mouse eyesight, decidedly more wine-dark.

And so, their fear of Winston Churchill is no great than that of any other man, dressed differently.

Winston Churchill. W.C. Fields.

Winston Churchill Fields.

CHAPTER TWO

Suddenly there is a terrible crashing sound and there are glass fragments and tiny pin-point champagne colored bubbles everywhere.

“My Pol!” Winston Churchill exclaims, en lamente, as he sees his beloved POL ROGER BRUT scattered in tiny bits here and there, near the toaster and a coarse straw broom and dustpan.

“What is it, Luv?”

Why, it’s Paul McCartney, the mop-top rock ‘n roller–making a cameo appearance in a Sir Winston Churchill poem, mistakenly confusing Winston Churchill’s grief for lost champagne (“Pol Roger”) for the giddy squealing that is normally reserved for the Fab Four (e.g. “Paul McCartney.”)

Needless to say, it was an error of no unsmall magnitude. And as such, Sir Winston Churchill did not dignify Sir Paul McCartney’s presumptuous endearment with a response or clever repartee, or, for that matter, any repartee at all. He could have, had he chosen to, believe you me. And if you don’t believe me, read one of his books on English history–they are replete with clever repartee. And so each of them just minded their own business in a ghostly silence.

CHAPTER THREE

It just occurred to me that if you were writing about Winston Churchill when he was still alive and using a manual typewriter and typing “Churchill” when someone came in through the back and shot you in the back and you slumped over the keys that it would just read “Churchill.” But if you were writing about Winston Churchill now and using a computer with touch type and someone came in and shot you in the back while you were typing the word “Churchill” and you slumped over the keys it would read:

Churchilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

and so on.

CHAPTER FOUR

Winston Churchill and Paul McCartney. There is nothing finer than having two knights in some kitchen somewhere. I always enjoy watching Winston Churchill, and I always enjoy listening to Paul McCartney. Although, truthfully, I have to say that I don’t enjoy watching Paul McCartney playing his ukulele to scampering mice who upset Winston Churchill like they did. And what he Winston Churchill is saying is neigh on unintelligible. Understandably so. And there is nothing sadder than watching a Knight in a bathrobe, cleaning up a mess in the kitchen with a broom and a dustpan, all by himself, in the twilight of a great career.

SOMETIMES IT JUST TAKES THE RIGHT WORDS WITH THE RIGHT INFLECTIONS ABOUT THE RIGHT PIE WITH OF COURSE THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS AND THE PROPER BAKING TIME

The way you describe banana cream pie could make the most heartless assassin

one who killed completely innocent people for really small amounts of money–maybe just enough for an El Producto cigar

rise from the grave, covered in gushy, smelly flesh and viscera and graveyard dirt

stand proud and tall and thrust one arm towards the sky and proclaim:

“That sounds like the most delicious pie in the world!”

He wants it

He needs it

He's never been more serious in his life

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A NUMBER OF 1998s

ENNUI

There are, according to Soren Kierkegaard, three types of people in the world: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the spiritual.

Let’s forget about the ethical and the spiritual for a second. The aesthetic is really just great, and worth talking about, because you can concentrate on everything that makes you happy, like: presents, and love, and kisses, and peanut butter cookies, and soft cushions and big beds and ... well, the list goes on. and as far as identifying yourself, it’s really nice too. you can say,

“I am an aristocratic aesthete,” and wait for someone to say, “Wow! that really sounds like a great thing that you are!” “Well, it is!” you chuckle, “come .. buy me a drink!” if you are one of the others, all you can say is: “I am ethical” and look very serious or “I am spiritual.” and look far away and not say anything else.

Boring!



all artwork, including French people artwork ® mr. crispy flotilla, 2009

1998, AGAIN

JOLLY AND OLD

There is an old English saying:
drink champagne and
you will lose everything that
you own. This is

true: it happened to
me. I drank champagne
once:

when I came home,
everything was gone.

emptiness was,
surprisingly,
an interesting thing

for emptiness can
be filled with fire.
champagne, like
emptiness, is
fire, or on fire,
or, of fire. Once
you go home,
your champagne
becomes the fire:

“here is your home;
you empty, empty,
home,”

a ladybird said to me
upon my drunken return

“I, too, am alone,”
it said, “no we
are not!” I
rejoindered

for fear of this
fire

dying ––

“Let us creep
away to a new
place

lonely

we said” like
an ember, dying ––

and did

and in doing so,
we did not.


••


APPLES

After a long day at the office
I read the obituaries and a story
or two from the NEW YORKER

and say, “It is flawed.” and “Oh!
I recognize him!” perusing the
fifth column, “and now he is dead.”

“Too late to invite him over for rasp
berry and biscuits,” think I / (“and
apply dapply / is so fond of pies”)

and too late to ask him his opinion
on this story (it is so flawed!) I suppose
I will write him a letter and apologize.

Here I am, next to the cupboard.
I am standing like a little soldier.
the mice love my cupboard.

What did I think of this man, now dead?
there are cakes and cheese and jam
biscuits in my cupboard, and bread.

Of course the mice love it. but what do
they think of me? what do we think of us and my house? and
my letter writes itself, like a scampering mouse like a scampering mouse.


••


LEARN HOW TO PAINT

When I can’t write, I think that I might learn how to paint. but then I am afraid that, when I can’t write, that I will discover that, also, I can’t paint. At times like this, I enjoy sitting down at the piano and playing TEA FOR TWO. you can always play that. Sometimes I will put a little drawing on the piano and draw little squiggly lines in purple and black. The purple represents royalty; the black, French film. I do this between verses of TEA FOR TWO. By the time I have come up with a few slightly nervous looking lines, I have, subconsciously, also come up with a few lines of melodic improvisation. Mina Loy did that: she called it style nouelle ... noodle style. Or perhaps I have made a decision regarding style: the next verse will be transposed into a minor key. People loves songs played in minor keys in bars; I don’t know why. Which

brings me back to writing: perhaps I will write about people in bars. Fielding Dawson did that. I don’t do that. I try to clear my head and put on my hat and take out my pen and draw a few lines and try to think of the proper words and yet all I can think of is “me for you and you for me” -- I know that these aren’t the best words to think of; it’s such a lonely world. Where have we gone? But I write them down anyway. In my opinion, Mel Tormé sings HOW HIGH THE MOON far too slow. Between every verse, once again, it’s me for you and you for me. Each and every time, in between each squiggly line, atop the beautiful black piano, covered in flames.


••


WRONG NUMBER

What a nice date we had. I ate a crab cake and she drank a Pernod. We shopped for music, and I bought a collection of songs about the moon by Perry Como and an album of Art Tatum or what have you, too. We both drank champagne and we both looked a baby pictures. she used the word “romance” and I kissed her on the cheek. I never saw her again and so it was a dream. I am certain. Just like the night before when I was swimming and breathing in black water twenty feet below the pool’s surface, and the night before that when a man took out his comb and combed his hair each time that he was about to say “you are wrong” and then explain exactly how, and why.


••


DIVORCE

I looked in through the window and saw a young woman wearing a top hat.

“Pardon me, is that your top hat?”

She began to look uneasy and stood up slowly and then walked quickly out of the room.

In her place was a man who was sitting on a stool and his foot was moving up and down on a ... hi hat!

“Excuse me,” I said, “is that your hi-hat?”

The man stood silently for a moment and blinked his eyes nervously. Standing up, he grasped the hi-hat underneath his arm and left through the door that the woman who had already left had passed through.

Gene Krupa played the hi-hat beautifully. He played it probably as well as anyone on earth who has been born so far. You would probably cry if you heard him play the hi-hat, if you weren’t already crying at the time.

I said all of these things to a baby who was underneath a stool in the room with a hat, playing with a stuffed lion with two black round eyes which were in perfect condition and which it appeared he was playing with very carefully. “Tell me, are you Gene Krupa?” I asked him and

he stayed precisely in the same spot and laughed every time I laughed at his lion which was so fearless looking and handsome and majestic and it was very apparent that he was content and that everything was working out beautifully.

Clearly he WAS Gene Krupa, without a hi-hat, not wearing a top hat, keeping time, happy at last.


••

DESSERT (from 1998)

once I went to
spain and
bought a post
card and sent
it. it read:
“I love spain
and I wish
you were
here.”
then, before
I did another
thing, I bought
a big bag of
spanish fruit
and I got in
to a very big
boat and
sailed across
the english
channel all
the way to
england,
which is a
beautiful
country, too.

and then,
before I said
a single word
to anybody
at all, I bought
a beautiful
post card
of english
sunsets and
wrote this on
the postcard:

“england is
my favorite
country in the
world except
spain. I wish
you were here,
too!” I put an
english stamp
on it and said
“thank you”
to the english
postman who
took it from me
and promised
me that he
would mail it
right away.
and so I thought
to myself, “I
must find
myself a nice
place to stay
in england”
but before I
could even
think a single
thing I reme
mbered that
I hadn’t
addressed my
spanish
postcard to
anybody. and
then I thought,
“but I must
find a nice
place to stay,”
and then I
remembered
that I hadn’t
addressed
my english
postcard to
anybody. I
liked england
and spain
best of all,
and so I
bought a
bag of flour
and with
my english
flour and with
my spanish
fruit I found
a place to
stay in
england and
then a nice
place to stay
in spain where
I put on a wed
ding ring and
set straight away
to make a real
nice plum
pudding and
didn’t write a
single post
card ever again.
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