Note To Fellow Travelers

If you are stumbling in to Dharma For Dummies for the first time, I probably know you and sent you here, but if not, welcome and feel free to prowl around.  Please understand that what you are seeing is very much in the rough draft stage and far from being in suitable shape for publication. Dharma For Dummies is growing and taking form, it is accreting drop by drop like a stalagtite, or more exactly like a stalagmight because it might be a pretty good story when I get it tight.

Please feel welcome to help me with your comments or corrections of fact. The usual disclaimers apply to any persons living or dead…yada, yada. Some names have been changed and some have not, you can decide what to believe. I have created characters by grafting various donor organs together with literary cat-gut. Don’t believe everything you read.

This memoir is being composed as an eBook and is not designed to be read necessarily in any particular order. The reader is asked to navigate through my life and adventures the same way that I did, by trial and error. I hope you have fun with my telling of the story. –Lrod

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You wouldn’t want to live my life, but you might enjoy hearing about it.

My first question was: Why would anyone want to know about my life? I’m not famous. I haven’t won the Nobel Prize for literature, Olympic Gold or an Academy Award or even a Purple Heart. I’m not a mass murderer, a self-made millionaire, a sports hero or a musical prodigy; I’m not even exceptionally beautiful. So, why would anybody want to read my chronicle of near misses, mediocrity and outright failures?

I have no adequate answer for that question. I like to imagine that the general public is interested in the life and times of a great but obscure American poet. I would love to think that simply my crisp and clever prose and my amazing ability to tell a story would be enough to cause the copies to fly off the shelf. But sixty years of jousting with the realities of artistic survival in our world of hoax, hype and flimflammery have cured me of such illusions. Maybe my picaresque wisdom and my skepticism will recommend me to the readers.

This book is written in little bits, the same way in which our lives are lived, in little bits, increments of fulfilled or unfulfilled destiny. The chronology is fractured because that’s the way memory works, with bright colors and strong smells fighting for center stage, with terror and trauma and triumph dancing for the spotlight. It’s a memoir and it must be told as I remember it. Perhaps it is vain, self-serving, embellished; perhaps it is fantastic, colored by wishes and disappointments, even invented from thin air. But most of it happens to be true as far as it is possible for us to tell the truth about ourselves. If it’s not true it at least indicates the truth, points at it. I was born in Texas so my talent for hyperbole is naturally acquired. According to our regional tradition the facts should never get in the way of a good story.

I have chosen to tell this story by means of letters which I have written to many of the people who have themselves been characters in the saga. The direct and conversational tone of these letters points to the intimacy of the subject and also how we reveal ourselves in different garb and language to different confidants. You will read more than one account of the same events as told to several listeners. This demonstrates more than what a liar I am. It shows how our testimony is colored not only by the pastel of time but also by the expressions on the faces of the jury. You can compare the accounts and decide for yourself where to mark the truth.

This document is designed to be either read in order, start to finish, or in no particular order by clicking around by subject and section. I hope that you will be entertained by these trivial accounts of one person’s life as told to his friends and colleagues. Some of these events were as hard to remember and describe as they were to live, but I learned from them both times.

This is most of all a story of how art and crime intersect and how a poet survives the brutality and indifference of life, the legal system and the literary world in this age of changing media. Like every life, it is made of pain and pleasure, gifts and sacrifices, efforts and outcomes, love, hate, luck and destiny. My reward for telling this story will be the smile on your face as you read it, a smile of realization or at least recognition. Enjoy.

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Introduction

Linda,
It’s a windy day in North Texas today, no day for decisions. But decision time is coming soon, especially concerning my mom’s estate (of which there is none.) My disability doesn’t start coming till the end of next month. I don’t know if we are going to try and keep this condo or not. We may just stay here until they turn the water off and then abandon it. I have no idea where I will end up. I think I will try to find a small garret somewhere where I can write.

For several years I have been taking preliminary swipes at my memoir. I have a whole collection of episodic accounts of my adventures, little stories and poems etc. But I hadn’t decided just how to present it in the literary sense. I’ve considered everything from straight 3rd person narrative of the auto-biographical sort, dialogues, epic poetry, first person account like Holden Caulfield or Kerouac, disjointed poetic prose a la Burroughs, with screenplay form, I’ve thought about it in every way I could imagine. When they granted my disability, I knew it was the signal to begin earnest work on the project of writing this potentially ungainly masterpiece. But I still hadn’t seen the stage that I was looking for, the one where I wanted to make the monkey dance. I hadn’t found the voice or the dialect in which I wanted it to be heard.

But I think I have finally hit on the perfect way to present this comedy. I haven’t decided on a title yet, but the sub-title is ‘an epistolary memoir.’ I’m going to tell the majority of the story by means of letters, both real letters that I have actually sent to my friends and enemies, and ones that I will write to people who have been in my life, both living and dead or to people that I don’t even know. So, that’s the plan. Prepare to see things that I have written to you and which you trusted as our most intimate confidences, published to the world. I knew you wouldn’t mind….haha.

What jarred me into that clarity was getting a letter a few mornings ago from a young lady named Amy Puett. Amy is the daughter of one of my college friends who died about eight years ago from a sudden heart attack. I’m sure you remember Freaky Dave. Upon the event of his demise I received an email from her introducing herself and asking about my impressions of her father. Over the years we have kept in touch and I have developed a fatherly interest in her life, the atavistic urge that we have to care for the offspring of our tribe members who have died.

Anyway, she wrote me a note asking me a question about Freaky Dave and I responded with a rambling story about him that also encompassed descriptions of the time and place that I knew him. That’s when it hit me. The letter provided setting and advanced plot. Letters, as a form, provide that intimate voice that I have been looking for. Letters are direct person to person communication. When combined with the voyeuristic aspect of reading someone else’s mail and the dramatic impact of overhearing something that is said to someone else instead of something directed at you. it becomes effective in the theatrical/literary sense, simultaneously intimate and detached. The epistolary approach allows me to jump from voice to voice and from person to person and from tense to tense almost at will. Also, I have always just liked the sound of the word ‘epistolary.’ Not only does it have a biblical cachet, it has PIS in it and PISTOL. Words that begin with the EEE melodic vowel sound are strong in general and this one rhymes with bristle, thistle, missile and whistle, so what’s not to like?

I’m sending you the letter.
—–

Hi Amy,
I’m glad you wrote because it gives me a chance to ponder some of my memories of your father.

I met your dad in 1967 when we were both students at what was then called North Texas State. There was a coffee house on Hickory St. run by the United Campus Ministries. The Burning Bush catered to the bohemian segment of the student population and served coffee and conversation and some really fine jazz music as well as folk music and speakers etc.

The night I met Freaky Dave was the night of my first major poetry show in Denton. The show was called Caesarean Section. Those were turbulent political times, at least in our post-adolescent minds, and the poster we used to advertise the show depicted likenesses of Joe Lemming and me slashing our way through an American flag, wild-eyed infant poets escaping by force from the womb of our culture with our pens brandished in such a way as to resemble those heroic Worker’s posters from the 1930’s Soviet Union. Young revolutionaries can get very full of themselves.

The first time I saw David Puett, he was hardly the picture of a person to which one would ever connect the word ‘freaky.’ He looked like a Mormon missionary with a Nerhu jacket. He shared the program with us that night at the Burning Bush and spoke on some obscure religious topic drawing from Seventh Day Adventist and Hare Krishna texts and it was all very seeking and intellectual. He was a great act to follow for Joe and I. Our show was more like William Burroughs meets Abbot and Costello with Doors music. We were channeling Salvidore Dali much more than the Dali Lama.

After the show was over, a bunch of us retreated to The Flick, a small off-campus movie theater with big speakers for an afterhours soiree with the attendant pot smoking etc. Somehow David Puett fell in with our crowd of rookie hipsters. He had never smoked pot, a pharmaceutical virgin. Well, he got his cherry popped that night. By morning, this rather stiff and reserved young man with a Sunday school haircut had seen the hallelujah light. I have a picture in my mind of him dancing in wild native abandon to the pagan slinky guitar of Robbie Kreiger playing This Is The End on the Flick’s giant voice-of-the-theater speakers. Dave was making exclamations like, “NOW, I UNDERSTAND!” and he had some little piece of nonsense rhyme that he kept repeating to everyone as if were the ultimate secret of the Universe. He was a man transformed.

I guess it’s always a privilege to witness someone’s epiphany or satori, it’s as sweet as a young girl’s first orgasm. Also as wet-eyed and corny. Dave became an instant and glowing evangelist for the spiritual benefits of the herb and a few weeks later, LSD. It’s the same naive enthusiasm that usually appears with new religion or new awareness or new love. This was Fall, and by the following Summer, the mild-mannered David Puett had become known as Freaky Dave. You could no longer see the white sidewalls above his ears and he sported every accoutrement of the official hippie uniform.

You will have to pardon me if my recollections are tinged with cynicism but so many of the promises and possibilities and ideals of that era have gone to seed in most disappointing ways. The whole counter-culture became co-opted by the very garish culture that it pretended to disdain. Your father was an example of someone who drank the whole glass of Kool-aid and asked for a refill. He had a vast capacity for acceptance and innocent belief.

This brings us to the topic of the flutes. I was the unwitting patron of your father’s career as a flute maker. Our ad hoc revolutionary group supported itself at that time with a cottage industry in selling ten dollar lids of pot to our comrades and to hipsters from the jazz school and other more adventurous students from the University. It rented a house for our headquarters and enough brown rice to keep the revolution alive. In the summer of ’68 school was out and most of us were on road trips to various political events or music festivals. I went to New York and to Chicago for the Days of Rage at the Democratic Convention.

Before I left Denton, I entrusted Freaky Dave with my last two pounds of pot. It was intended to be the seed money for resumption of commerce in the Fall when the students all came back to Denton. I said to Dave, “Just keep this for me. Don’t smoke it, don’t give it away, don’t sell it. When I get back I want to see THIS pot, not different pot, not money, I want to see THIS pot.” He assured me that my stash was safe with him.

In late August my companion and I returned to Denton covered in road dust from hitchhiking and with the smell of Mayor Daly’s Chicago tear gas still in our nostrils. Freaky Dave was nowhere to be found. A couple of days later I finally located him in an attic over on Oak St. He was ensconced with his new Craftsman woodworking equipment including a precision lathe and drill press. He announced that he was no longer going to be a hippie revolutionary but a craftsman instead and that he was going to make flutes of ebony and grenadine and that these tools were necessary and oh, yes, about the pot, I want you to know that the very first flute that I make belongs to you. He died owing me that flute. I chalked it up as a deposit in the Karma Bank.

I never saw any of his flutes but I understand that he made a few. If you have any luck locating one, take a picture, I’d like to see it too. I’m sure that when I join him in heaven, there will be two pounds of fresh pot waiting as well.

Lrod

——-

VZandt

Having spent the past ten years or so jotting notes in preparation for my memoir, I have committed myself to the actual assembly of the document within the next year. As I sift through these piles of material I wonder to myself whether I have lived too much or just talked about it too much. I have decided to tell this insignificant little tale by means of letters. It will be subtitled, ‘an epistolary memoir.’ I tell you this because you have been one of my longest and most faithful correspondents. I know you are by nature private in your writings. While I will be using some letters that I have written to you, I want to assure you that my intention is to protect the privacy of my correspondents and other than brief explanatory passages, I won’t be publishing your letters, only mine.

Our lives appear in memory as movies superimposed on the same screen as music videos and sit-coms and news reports, a montage of chapters snatched out of time and all fidgeting for attention at the same time. It has been a fascinating exercise for me to consider just how I will untangle this morass of information much less portray it as a story. I don’t intend to restrict myself to the facts, but the facts are a good place to start. I tend to tell the truth in letters.

My disability checks don’t start coming until next month so I’m still hanging by my fingernails over here.

Poetry is the perfect balance of what we admit and what we omit.

Onward,
toots
——–
VanZandt,

This memoir meditation is proving to be quite a purge both spiritual and clerical. In this process I am reviewing thirty years of letters. I had forgotten what a blabber-mouth I am. I’m learning a lot about myself. Some of it isn’t nice. I can see my progress as a writer over the years and as a person and I can also see times when perhaps I misused my super-powers. It’s the natural risk of an enterprise like this, brutal self-examination. The evidence is all there in black and white because I wrote it myself. I’m sure I won’t be shy about advertising my almost fathomless store of amazing talents and virtues and my heroic adventures etc., but I am compelled to also display what a rascal and a con-man and a phony I can be if you catch me on a good day. If it’s a bad day, I’m pompous, manipulative and abrasive.

One of the magic things about letters, besides their durability as snap-shots of time, is their honesty or frankness. I don’t mean to say that we can’t or don’t lie in letters, but we can learn truths about ourselves and others simply by noticing which things we choose to lie about. If letters don’t always tell you the truth, the true feelings of the author are more likely to reveal themselves there.

Letters also become more powerful with age. Time ferments them and imbues them with powers of intoxication and astral-projection. They become temporal talismans. We hoard them tenderly in the bottom of a special drawer. They become relics of times and people passed (sic). For this I lament the demise of the handwritten letter penned on paper that was actually touched by the hand of your correspondent, concrete objects with weight and texture and smell. Time yellows and curls the paper but it also transforms the words and thoughts and feelings contained in the letter. What was written as anticipation can become prophesy. Our fears and folly and foolishness all take a fine patina. Letters don’t mean the same years later as when you first sent them.

I can’t think of ever once referring to myself as ‘a man of letters,’ but darned if I’m not. I’ve written thousands of them. Email has made it much easier for me to keep up with my letters. I have precious few envelope-and-stamp letters because my files have been lost or stolen or seized so many times during my life. Besides, I’m the world’s worst secretary. But thanks to the personal computer I have virtually everything that I have written for the past fifteen years.

I don’t think that I have any examples of the many letters that we exchanged during our college and revolutionary days between Denton and Berkeley. I probably destroyed a good deal of those because they were evidence of our revolutionary activities in the realm of drugs. They couldn’t have known that our poetry was much more subversive and deadly to their way of life than any amount of psychedelics hitch hiking in a hollowed out volume of DeSade.

At this point I am trying to organize my many careers and identities. How do I explain myself as a child, a student, a revolutionary, an artist, a criminal, a jeweler, a musician, a chemist, an architect, a lover, a monk, a prisoner, a charlatan, a fugitive? Oh yes, I’m also a writer, that’s how I’ll do it.

Onward
toots

———-

Toots,
Eloquent essay on wordsmithery in the service of self-mythology. I’ve never known quite what to believe about you. Some of your stories seem plausible, others far-fetched.

When I was in elementary school we had to tell a story about traveling to another country. Very few of the kids in my Amarillo Texas classroom raised their hands as they had not been out of the panhandle much less out of the country. At the time my only trip out of the country had been to Canada. I raised my hand not to tell a story about going to Canada but because at the time I lived an exciting life in my imagination.

I knew that I had spent some time a few years before in the lap of my Uncle Bud as he piloted his Cessna around central Texas. It didn’t take much for me to extrapolate a tall tale of us flying abroad together. Cuba was in the news quite a bit in those days and being a bit of a geography geek I studied maps and globes. I conjured a story about flying low over the Gulf of Mexico to this exotic Caribbean Island. As I recall that incident these 50 years later, the eyes of the girls in the room sparkled a bit when they looked at me and the boys distrusted me even more than they already did. I was already a bit suspect because everyone knew my “dad” (actually my step-dad) the famous wrestler who hosted the local wrestling TV show on Saturday night and they teased me about it.

After class the teacher asked me to stay. She knew I was making this story up because as she pointed out Americans were not allowed to travel to Cuba at that time. I felt bad about duping my friends so I don’t make up stories about myself anymore. I have used fiction to do that, creating doppelgangers and surrogates who do things I can’t or won’t and go places I’ve never been.

I know it’s easy for some men to cheat on their girlfriends or spouses. I’ve never been able to do that not because my morals are “better” than anyone else, but because I would feel too guilty, and besides I wouldn’t want my girlfriend or spouse to cheat on me. Same is true about telling stories about myself.

In show business, which is the only business I know, it is widely known that people reinvent themselves all the time, sometimes by creating entire false backstorys. It’s could be called the Coco Chanel syndrome. Again, I can’t do that because I’d just feel too guilty. I would always be afraid that I would be found out. And besides my life has been fairly interesting.

I look forward to reading your memoir meditation. Maybe then we’ll all learn who the mysterious Lightning Rod really is.

BG

——

BG,
That is a cute story. Some famous drag queen, I think it was Divine, said, ‘We’re born naked and from then on everything is drag.’ Costume, artifice, identity are primary human occupations or pre-occupations. One of the reasons that training in theater is helpful in life is that it shows us how easy it is with a few tricks to manipulate reality and produce illusion. We all do this with our identities. We create a costume and a character and being the true method actors that we are, we eat and sleep the part and eventually we agree with ourselves that this persona will represent who we ARE, be our token in the game, will be the Real Clay or the Real Barry. We become dedicated to the role; we even become faithful to it. We feel like we are cheating if we slip out of character.

When I was a typical sixteen year old sociopath I enjoyed indulging my pulp-fiction fantasies. I would put on my Madrass sport coat and my shiny sharkskin slacks and my alligator shoes and get my hair all slick full of Alberto VO-5, splash on about a quart of Jade East and get in my mother’s big two-tone (yellow over white) Buick and drive across town where nobody knew me. I would go to a hamburger joint or a bowling alley or a pool hall and pose as the cool, out-of-town hustler and try to pick up naive co-eds from Hardin-Simmons or McMurray (ACC girls were just impossible.) I usually claimed to be from Dallas or someplace I matter-of-factly called The Coast. Long-distance hoo-doo is very effective. My conversation was about subjects that I imagined to be sophisticated from reading Playboy magazine and Ian Flemming novels. I imagined myself as some red-dirt David Niven even though I still had fuzz on my lip.

As you can imagine, I have been pondering the subject of verity. One of the compelling things about a memoir is that it is a true story, at least from the point-of-view of the author. Otherwise we would simply call it fiction. Memory is a peculiar mix of completely subjective impressions which is then compromised by time and distance and blurred by our editorial overlays. One person’s memories are at best a vague approximation of true history. Facts are important but the true story is more than simply the sum of them. I’m a good enough writer that I could probably sell any number of tall tales as a chronicle of my life, but I have learned that it’s not good economics to lie when the truth will do. It fills your RAM with trash. As you point out, our lives are plenty interesting without having to concoct things that never happened. If poetry is the perfect blend of what we admit and what we omit, I’m going to be more worried about which embarrassing stories Not to tell on myself.

For some time I asked myself how old one needed to be before writing a memoir. I think the theory goes that you wait until you are too old to embarrass yourself and most of your friends who could call you a liar are dead. In other words when you have nothing to lose by telling the story as you see it. Anyway, I’m hoping to find out who the real Lightning Rod is too.

toots

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House-Call from Dr. Dixon

The first real needle-freak that I ever met was Dixon Dean from Norman, Oklahoma. I had read Junky and was about to start Naked Lunch when he showed up on my doorstep in Denton with his little black kit.

I was introduced to Dixon on one of my trips to Norman on behalf of pot and politics. The radical underground railroad ran from Austin to Norman by way of Waco and Dallas and Denton. It was the Silk Road of the Sixties in this region. Student activists would travel from rally to rally and bring their cargoes of reefer going north and LSD going south, the fuel of the revolution, along with the folklore of the counterculture.

Dixon wasn’t much into politics. He was into shooting up. He preferred Methadrine but anything would do. I saw him and a bunch of his fanatic friends trying to shoot hot water and peanut butter because there was no actual dope to be had and somebody had heard a rumor that Skippy worked in a pinch for just a short rush. My nausea prompted me to leave.

There was an amount of suspicion in the underground surrounding Dixon. The politicos didn’t really trust him because he had no ideology and the hippies thought he might be a little too hard-core. So when he showed up at my little cottage in Denton unannounced, I took a breath but let him in. He was on his way to Austin, he said, and needed to take a little break from the road. What he needed was a place to top off his crank-case so he could stay awake for the five hour drive to Austin.

Dixon placed his black kit on my coffee table. Inside were little compartments, in one an alcohol lamp, in one a silver baby spoon with its handle bent to make it sit level, in the long one at the back were several syringes. After I had declined his offer of a shot of meth, he proceeded casually to his ritual. First a tiny pile of crystal powder in the baby spoon. Dixon Dean never stopped talking. Even as he prepared his shot the rambling monologue continued. In a way it was entrancing. He lit the alcohol lamp and looked me square in the eye, “So, what do you want?” This question always disarms me in any context. It’s so wide open. He didn’t wait for an answer, but continued, “You know you can’t get to straight ends by crooked means.” This coming from a drug-addict with a notorious lack of morality seemed a strange pronouncement. He heated his shot over the alcohol lamp explaining that alcohol burned clean and didn’t leave the bottom of his spoon charred like a match or a butane lighter or a candle would.

The whole process of shooting up still made me squeamish at that time in my life. I had never done it myself and still looked at the practice as too unnatural to fit with my hippie orthodoxy. I still associated shots with the pain of a doctor’s office, but Dixon had long since transcended this bourgeois prejudice and connected the injection ritual directly to the pleasure centers of his brain. Underground folklore has it that when a speed-freak starts dissolving his brain with crystal, the first things to go are the higher cognitive powers like morality and ethics. All dedicated drug-addicts suffer this reputation whether it’s true or not. I have met both honest and dishonest drug-addicts and the degree of their moral turpitude usually corresponded to the depth of their pockets. Addicts are like anyone else, they do what they need to do and then try to justify it later. Why was he asking me, ‘What do you want?’ anyway? Did he think he was my shrink or my pastor?

Some people called him Dr. Dixon. He looked like a scrawny old croaker as he drew his shot up into one of the syringes. It was a glass syringe and not one of the plastic disposable ones that most junkies use over and over. He left the cotton wet and removed the surgical tourniquet from his kit. He tied off, slapped his arm once and it was over in a blink. Dixon was one of the few needle-freaks I’ve ever met who used alcohol on his skin before and after a shot, and as I tried to decide if this was foreplay or good hygiene he began again, ‘Nope, you can’t get to straight ends by crooked means. If you want the whole white picket fence deal, better get a job as a teacher.” What did he mean? All Dixon knew about me was that I was an 18 year old aspiring poet who went to political rallies and sold a little pot to his friends.

Dixon was only in his late twenties but he looked like some mad sage who wandered out of El Topo or the desert of drugs and demons. Plus he had the same infectious, manic intensity as most amphetamine users. Speed is a drug built for salesmen. So, his simple question resonated with me. What Did I want?

Dixon had just injected a quarter-gram of pure crystal methedrine directly into his bloodstream. I could see his hair growing. Anything was possible, anything in the world. He was like a man staring directly at God. He wasn’t going anywhere until I answered him. He produced a yellow legal pad and began sketching the Periodic Table of Elements. Dixon had been a Chem major in his student years at OU. He was still in touch with some of the young stars in the department who supplied him with his very fine psychedelics and also his crank. “It’s all about Chemistry,” he said. “I can make you believe whatever I want you to believe if I put the right chemicals in your brain.” I didn’t doubt him for a moment.

“I can make you think you are In Love or On Mars or in the presence of Jaysus hisself. I can make you ambitions or content. I can make you feel hungry or horny or like you just been fucked and fed. I can make you hate your mother or believe that every woman in the world wants your body. BELIEF is chemistry. It’s all chemistry.”

I couldn’t argue with him. I knew that a little piece of LSD smaller than you can see with the naked eye can strip your soul naked and hang you like a nerve exposed on the cross of your chosen mythology. I knew that one puff of marijuana containing less than 100 micrograms of THC can propel one with enthusiasm throughout the day. I knew that I could smell four parts per million of my love’s pheromones in one waft of her scarf. I knew it was all chemistry, yes. Or you could say that it’s all energy or even all Belief. But that gets us back to chemistry. Dixon was right, you can’t get to straight ends by crooked means. The means themselves always become the ends.

I told him that all I wanted was to be a real poet. I meant a REAL poet who would put Whitman on notice and plumb the deepest wells of the human heart with his words. Dixon started packing up his hit-kit. “Well, yer in trouble there, son. Artists are the worst junkies in the world.” Maybe he was right. Maybe all I wanted was a civil service job and a trouble-free girlfriend. I didn’t see the sense in suffering for my art any more than was strictly necessary for authenticity. “Artists have a habit they can never kick,” he said, “They’ll lie cheat and steal, even kill for it, themselves usually.”

As he folded himself into his rusty Ford Falcon, he said, “Well, kid, I’m off to crooked ends. Do yer homework.” That’s the last time I ever saw Dr. Dixon in person though I heard stories about him for years where someone had seen him in jail or selling dime bags at a Tim Leary concert or arguing with some rookie professor at an ethics seminar. For some reason I have carried his words with me through the years like a war-time penny. And they have always proved true. “You can’t get to straight ends by crooked means.”

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Everybody Must Get Stoned

Dear L,

I’m thinking of a night long ago. I believe it was the first time that you had ever been REALLY STONED on marijuana. We can talk about our childhoods, can’t we? at this stage of the game, without too much fear of humiliation? You aren’t about to apply for any high-clearance jobs, are you?

Enjoying cannabis is like any other acquired taste, it takes an amount of education and experimentation to be able to extract the best from the experience. You can’t just go about it willy-nilly and expect to receive the full benefit of the herb. In order to appreciate the beauty of opera or great music or fine art or wine or any of the cultural pleasures, it helps to know the reasons and rituals and histories behind them. It helps to be taught how to use the chop-sticks. The only thing that separates a herb connoisseur from a stoner couch potato twisting doobs and watching Jerry Springer is the lore and ritual and wisdom of the rich pot culture.

Everybody thinks that old Lightning Rod is a wild-eyed libertine when it comes to drugs but that’s a jacket I really don’t deserve. I think that we as a society take far too many drugs and also that people use drugs in wrong or foolish ways, ways that don’t bring them pleasure. I don’t think everybody should smoke pot. For one thing, it’s not everybody’s friend. By this I mean that its effects are not helpful to some personalities and situations. What I actually believe is that it should be illegal for everybody except poets and priests and the priests should be required to get theirs from the poets. I know that this is an extreme idealistic position. It will never happen. I’m enough of a realist to settle for, ‘ain’t nobody’s bidness if I do.’

Given the widely varied effects that the herb has on different people (not even considering that there are also many different varieties of pot that all have distinct effects) it saddens me to see the haphazard ways that people use it. Getting stoned is something that has to be learned and if it is not done with the proper devotion, it will do little but make one stupid. I see the value of getting stupid once in a while but we don’t want to make a lifestyle out of it. We were young then and entitled to our foolishness. Do you remember the night?

A few days before, I had been walking through a Pier One or some such store that sold glassware. I saw this wonderful dark green vase with a long neck and a large flaring base. I thought it would make a great hookah because it looked like an emerald minaret. So, I got a cork and some copper tubing and rubber hose and fashioned a water-pipe. For the bowl I got a musical bell and took the wooden handle off and the clapper out and soldered it upside down to the copper tube. The bowl was huge. To fill it would take a couple of ounces.

I don’t think we filled the bowl that night but the herb was special and we smoked considerably more than we needed. We were on a date (remember that quaint ritual?) and Johnny Radford was driving whatever over-powered, over-priced automobile he had at the time and you and I and Deb W. found ourselves parked in some concrete drainage canal with the doors open in the clear Autumn night working out on that green glass hookah. I’m guessing that it was a baritone hookah because when you drew from it the bubbles rumbled like a waterfall or the OM in a monk’s chest. I think you had smoked a few times before but just enough to know what it smelled like and never in the unnecessary amounts we were smoking that night in honor of the awesome new pipe. After the hose had gone around a few times, you looked up at the starry sky. I’ll never forget the look of childlike amazement on your face, such a beautiful pale face in the starlight anyway but now, alight with wonder, it was angelic. You looked like a mad Irish saint with your mouth dropped open and your rich mahogany locks lifting in the breeze.

Then you began to babble on about the things that you were seeing in the sky. I remember that you were describing things, cartoon things, things in rows and ranks and patterns, things like lipsticks and little toy neon bears in the sky and can’t you see it? It’s all clear now, you were saying and gasping at the sheer beauty of the universe rushing into your open mouth and eyes in one torrent of ecstasy, you looking at me for my dumb verification, can’t you see it? Isn’t it Byewwwtiful?

Radford looked at me like, ‘whoa, you gotcha one there.’ I was holding your hand and it felt like I was holding a kite string because you were about a mile up in the sky making coo-ing sounds. I often marveled at your general depth of experience, L, how things caused you to feel so intensely. Pleasure came easily to you and also the harsher emotions. Sometimes I wondered how you had managed to survive to adulthood because the world hurt you so much. Not that life was cruel to you in particular, it let you be smart and beautiful, but you suffered its touch with more sensitivity than most. That’s why you are a poet in your heart. Poet’s don’t get anxiety. They panic. They like to say ‘trepidation’ but what they feel is clam-handed, trembling Fear. No feeble flirtations for poets, only wrist-slashing, torrid love affairs will do, loves that explode in a second leaving nothing behind and loves that go on for years like sacred coals in the vestibule.

As you were having this religious experience, we all piled back into the GTO or whatever muscle car that was and Radford started cutting up trying to impress Deb by driving crazy up and down the sides of the drainage ditch and he’s a master at making you think he’s out of control when he’s in Total Control. I thought you were going to tinkle on his leather seats because you were looking terrified as a baby at her first Fourth of July, not sure whether to cry or surrender to the awe of the fireworks. You were so glad just to make it home in one piece that you let me feel you up or something…haha. It was a particularly high night for everybody. It occurs to me that we all could have had lead poisoning from the solder that I used on that pipe. You could probably find a lawyer to sue me for it these days.

In my ideal college curriculum would be included not only advanced studies in literature and music and science and lovemaking but also a doctoral program in the proper use of sacramental religious herbs and drugs of pleasure and recreation. You know, the stuff we studied in school. Timothy Leary, who many forget was a renowned thinker in the world of psychology before he was a culture guru, said, ‘If you are going to smoke pot, it’s best to do it all the time.’ My experiments have told me that he wasn’t just speaking from the perspective of Professor Party Animal, this was the scientist talking, an honest clinical observation. The herb works better for you if you smoke it every day rather than on special occasions. The first time that anyone gets stoned is always the best. At least the side-effects are most profound. And when a week-end warrior tokes up, the experience he has is not the same as an everyday user would have, it’s more intense. You build a tolerance very quickly but part of learning how to get high is finding the trick of turning it into a useful meditation that you can maintain as you go through your day. “This might take years of study and practice,’ says Lrod with a yogi grin.

So, what does that leave me with, dear L? I’m saying that if you are going to use grass it’s better to use it on a regular basis. In other words, chronic use is better than occasional binge use. More is less. Marijuana isn’t addictive but it is habit forming if it is used properly. I would make an excellent drug counselor, don’tcha think?

Is there any news about our grand-embryos?

lrod

Posted in Dope, Sex and Violins, Early Days, Family, Letters | Leave a comment

Family Tree

Genfo,

I thought that given your interest in the magic and mineral springs in Texas that this story might amuse you. It seems that springs played an important part in my heritage. I’ve never paid that much attention to the family tree thing. I don’t care who my ancestors were unless they left me some land or a title so I have never actively searched my family tree. But my ancestry has a way of searching for me and besides the stories from my grandmothers, several other members of my family have done research and sent it to me. Recently Sativa’s husband followed the January side of my family and there were some interesting facts.

My ancestors were among the first Anglos in Texas. Some of my mostly Scots-Irish relatives fought in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Then they migrated steadily west for a couple of generations through Kentucky and Alabama. They arrived in Texas in time to fight with Sam Houston at San Jacinto in 1836. Several of them died in Indian fights and buffalo hunts. They were rugged folk, mostly farmers and frontiersmen. After escaping from Santa Anna’s army in the Runaway Scrape they obtained land grants from both Mexico and the new Republic of Texas. By the mid 1800’s they had settled in north of Austin and my great great great great grandfather, John Berry dammed a spring creek and established a grist mill. People came from miles around to have their corn and wheat milled into flour. Today the old millstone sits on the Georgetown Courthouse lawn with a bronze plaque on it commemorating the Berry family.

John Berry’s daughter Hannah married Moses Hughes and when Hannah Berry Hughes got ‘dropsy’ which is what they called general ailments of the liver in those days, they followed an indian legend and found the sulphur springs about fifty miles into indian country where she drank the waters. Her health improved enough for her to eventually bear twelve children and since she was the first white woman to be cured by the spring, it was named after her, Hannah Spring. Moses Hughes, like his father-in-law, John Berry, dammed the spring creek and established a grist mill. They were the first Anglo family in the town of Lampasas which grew around the healing spring. I drank the clear cold water from that spring when I was a child. I learned to swim in the water from it which was so cold that your lips and fingernails turned blue. I went fishing in the mill pool that Moses built. By then it was filled with ancient moss and catfish bigger than some imported cars. My grandfather helped to build the golf course that now straddles the banks of Sulphur Creek and the waters of Hannah Spring fill a modern swimming pool.

Springs made my family’s survival possible, those gifts of Nature, fresh clean water bubbling straight from the ground. When I was around ten years old I remember marveling at the spring. By this time a pipe had been placed in its mouth and the water bubbled up from the middle of a little concrete pool that had been constructed to keep the water pure and clean. The pool was in the shape of a keyhole and I would lie belly down on the warm concrete slab and watch the icy water flow from the heart of the earth. I would put my face in the churning pool and drink what had fallen as rain centuries before. It had a soft taste and a texture that made it feel almost thick and nutritious. It tasted like time in liquid form steeped through the Great Plains, a rich tea of buffalo hooves and indian flint dripped slowly through the capillaries of the Ogallala Aquifer which runs all the plumbing in the Hill Country. That taste in my memory has made me suspicious of self-proclaimed spring water that comes out of a plastic bottle. I don’t care how exotic and enchanting the label is, it doesn’t taste the same as the water from Hannah Spring. I don’t know if it cured me of anything but I’ve always been pretty healthy. Maybe I should drag my old liver down there and have a sip of that water for my dropsy.

So, when you are updating your book (I can’t ever remember the name of that one) on Texas mineral springs, you might take a look at Hannah Spring in Lampasas.

toots

——–

Clay,

Thank you so much for that amazing true story. I am here at my current temp job at United Way, helping to raise dinero for good causes. We’ll be going out to companies and giving speeches, so I’ll get to indulge my fetish for standing up in fronta strangers and running my trap.

Oddly enough, just last night I got an email from a lady in Lampasas asking me to send her material about my public palavering for a program their local library puts on. I was in contact with this woman a lot last year when I was researching a medicine man who was based in Lampasas County last part of 19th century.

I do have some info on Lampasas in my 1991 book Crazy Water — the Story of Mineral Wells and Other Texas Health Resorts. But it barely scratches the surface of the whole story, and I woulda loved to have your reminiscence about sipping the sauce at age 10.

I have a buncha geneaological stuff my mother and father did on their sides of the family, but I too have never been much of a digger into all that, though it’s interesting for sure. It sounds like Sativa’s husband dug up a lotta fascinating info on your ancestral haunters. Maybe one a these days I’ll get to poking more into mine. I did research a story about an ancestor who was tried as an accomplice in a famous double murder case (Fort Worth and Amarillo) right before WW Two.

G
———

Yeah, I was hoping to find some outlaws in my lineage but there either weren’t many or else they didn’t get any press. I feel like there must have been some outlaws somewhere because the larceny in my heart seems so congenital. Oh well, at least my dad played one on TV. Meanwhile, on the other side of the family, my sister Christye is even blinder than I am but one thing she has been doing is to research our family on the web. The reason we are going blind is because cataracts like people with blue eyes. So, it was a bit of a surprise to find out that we are about a quarter Jewish. It’s on my great-grandmother’s side (my mom’s grandmother.) This was not completely surprising to me, however, because for some reason I have always thought that there must be a yid in the woodpile somewhere. My first Jewish friend in school was Barry Goldblatt. I always had this strange kinship with him like he was my brother. There has never been a hint of Jewish culture or religion in our family. We were raised as Methodists. But for some reason I read all of Leon Uris’ books and I’ve always been fascinated by the saga of the Jews. Maybe I’m related to Woody Allen…haha!

But from looking rearward down the genetic spiral I suddenly go to looking forward. Sativa is going to have twins I am told. Their science project has yielded results. Ba-da boom, and the beat goes on.

toots

Posted in Early Days, Family | Leave a comment

Private Contractors, Bounty Hunters and Mercenary Poets

When I was an embedded poet with the Lakewood Rats, a loose confederation of smugglers, dealers, bookies and petty criminals headquartered in East Dallas, conversations occasionally turned to the subject of bounty hunters. The consensus was that it was much more of a strain on one’s underworld style to be pursued by a bounty hunter than to simply be wanted by the cops. Many of the Rats had at one time or another worked for bail-bondsmen as bounty hunters themselves. They knew what the difference was. The cops have to at least make a show of following the rules. Bounty hunters don’t.

It has become a custom in our culture to farm out undignified or unsavory work to sub-contractors. When a government organization doesn’t want their official fingerprints on something, they hire it done by a private contractor. This makes certain practical sense in our age of specialization. We tend to want to leave things to the experts and it doesn’t do to have expensively trained soldiers peeling potatoes and digging ditches like their GI predecessors did when they should be out terrorizing impoverished Afghans door-to-door in Kandahar. Of course soon all of our military work will be done by mercenaries and drones. The nature of warfare is changing and the level of engagement favors strike forces and special tactical units and streamlined corporate squads of specialists because they are less expensive and more effective when operated by good old American free-enterprise businessmen who don’t have to follow so many picky rules and aren’t bound by the Geneva Conventions. Standing regular citizen armies are so 20th Century anyway.

The loudest person I have ever met in my life was an ex-bounty hunter named LeVon. When I say loud I’m not talking about his voice although it was booming. I’m talking about psychic noise. When I met LeVon he was retired from the bounty hunter business and had taken up the lifestyle of a Rastafarian in Jamaica. He had all the money he needed and was now on a spiritual quest. We were sitting in a small grass-roofed bar in Negril when LeVon told me of his former career. He worked for insurance companies mostly. He was the guy that they sent to Argentina to retrieve the odd embezzler or thief who might have not spent all of the loot for which the insurance company was on the hook. His only jurisdiction was what was within range of his Glock. He had no official portfolio or authority but for his sheer presence and size. He was large as well as loud. His usual technique involved locating his quarry and watching them until the opportune moment arrived when he could sit down in a restaurant across the table from the stock-broker or accountant and quietly inform them that they were going back to the States. He would give them a rap on the knee with his Glock under the table to punctuate this declarative sentence. Then, when he had their undivided attention, LeVon would give them the opportunity to out-bid the insurance company and stay in Rio. He said it was a lucrative business for all involved but he also had a couple of bullet holes in his legs as mementos of occasions where his clients had something of their own under the table.

LeVon was so loud that when he walked into a room, everything got quiet. His noise was like white noise. He said it came from the power he derived from his I-tal lifestyle. It was the hum of the Universe. One evening LeVon visited me in my little guest room at Doris’s house. Doris was the Magistrate of Negril, sort of like a Justice of the Peace, but she cheerfully allowed us to smoke big spliffs on her front porch. When LeVon walked in I was smoking and playing my guitar. He sat down and we smoked and then the strangest thing happened. I’ve seen many quasi-supernatural parlor tricks and yogis showing off in various ways but this is the only completely unexplainable para-normal experience that I’ve ever had. LeVon took a deep breath and it felt like all the air went out of the room. He said to me with a gesture to my guitar, “play.” I made a chord on the neck and when I strummed it nothing came out. Dead silence. I struck the chord again. Nothing. LeVon said, “see what I mean?’ and then we resumed talking as if nothing had happened and no more was said about the trick. It has always mystified me.

Aside from his ability to play with your senses LeVon was a charming and overwhelmingly comforting person. It was remarkable to me how a person who was capable of such extreme violence and intimidation should be so completely gentle and assuring in his presence. Even though you knew he could take you from behind without you ever hearing a sound, you just felt safe and comfortable when he was around. LeVon was a person of extraordinary power who lived completely by his own rules. That’s why he was the perfect mercenary or bounty hunter.

Sometimes the job requires a specialist and you don’t need an army to do brain surgery, you just need the right doctor. Maybe it makes sense to sub-contract everything. It certainly would have been a wiser use of resources to hire a corps of assassins to deal with bin Laden and his handful of fanatic adherents rather than spend trillions trying to invade two countries hoping to defeat something as nebulous as an ideology; it was a classic case of burning down the house because mama saw a roach in the pantry. We should have simply hired an exterminator, a specialist, a bounty hunter. I’m sure that bin Laden feels much the same as the Lakewood Rats. He would much rather have the whole US army trying to flog him out of the Himalayas than to have one ninja bounty hunter watching him through a night-vision scope.

Lightning Rod is thinking of hiring a private contractor to write all of his future poetry. They could do all I aspire to as a poet, color outside the legal lines, break all the rules, be ruthless and take no prisoners. Somebody probably has a magic algorithm to churn out poetry that would be better and more perfectly metric and aligned than anything I could do myself with a mere lifetime of tragedies and exaltations to draw from. The critics couldn’t blame me then, yet all the credit would be mine. But the only mercenary that I would want for the job would be LeVon. I can only imagine the poetry he could write when he made everything go silent.


Of course I don`t care who you are
What you`ve done, what you`ve said
I don`t give a damn who you are
I take pride in my work
I`ve done this for ages–Susperia, The Bounty Hunter

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Dope, Sex and Violins | Leave a comment

Dear VanZandt

VanZandt,

I am having an intense reverie this morning. I’m taken back to the spring of ’68. I see you and me and John Renner and Ren Deaton riding in that old peuse green Oldsmobile convertible driven by Bob Clifton. We ate some colors and headed up toward the Red River from Denton in the early morning hours. Then all of us on a hilltop overlooking the Red River. We built a fire and every one of us but Clifton stripped naked at the dawn, praising the sun and crouched like cavemen around the fire. Clifton just leaned against the wheel of the Olds with a toothpick in his mouth, fully clothled and admired our bodies. Then we waded through the underbrush to the river. The wind whipped our hair into dreads on the way back to Denton in the convertible. By the time we got there your eyes were nearly swolen shut from the poison ivy to which you were most allergic. In the next scene we are cleaning kilos in that little garage apartment in East Dallas that had so many fleas that you needed a hazmat suit to walk in there. Flash forward to you and me and John in your little Corvair on the beach in Galveston. When the cop was shaking us down I could see you trying to hold your hair over the doobs that were behind your ears and the wind was whipping in off the beach. That night it began to rain and the three of us got into the Corvair sitting on the beach along with Sugarbear, the 300 lb beach-bum. I remember the way we looked at each other as Sugarbear’s corner of the Corvair started to sink into the sand first. Then I remember the next morning digging and digging trying to free the Corvair from the sand and the beautiful and charitable girls who pulled us out with a wench and took us to their motel room and showerd us with….well, showered us.
The final scene of my reverie is you and I and John in a carwash in Austin washing the salt and sand off the Corvair when over the radio came the news of RFK’s assination. It seemed like it went to your heart more than it did to mine at the time, but I’ll never forget that moment.
I love you, my friend.

I’m sending the books today. Since I haven’t heard from you about the autographs, I will sign one book to you and just sign the other one without a name, in case you want to give it to someone else.

Later, amigo

Clay
——–
VanZandt,

I stopped by my post office box today (the one I call molasses ) and was delighted to see among the trash mail a gem shining with your name on it and a hope of breaking even.

Yes, you did select sinister portraiture but then again I quoted the price. Grant failed at nearly everthing he tried until he was commander of the Union Army. He spent his last days in a rocking chair on his front porch with throat cancer from too many cigars, writing his memoirs and swilling laundanum. I am but miles from the capitol dome. You know that thing is made out of cast iron?

When I saw your handwriting on the note you sent with Mr Grant I was transported back to a time when you wrote me notes from Berkely (including hollowed-out books) and it was like remembering a fragrance, seeing your script from the past.

Now, down to business—

To whom should I autograph these volumes before I send them tomorrow?

Maxine asks me to tell you how much she enjoys the wit displayed in your writing.

Thank you for this very tangible encouragement, mi amigo.

clay
——–
VanZandt,

Maxine is at the post office as I write. I am sending you TWO copies of The Heart Has Many Signals. I will still, as per your request, give away to a totally unsuspecting victim/beneficiary, a copy. The extra one I have included can be disposed of in any way you see fit. (See if the Corsicana Library wants it.) I would like this in exchange—-a few words of appraisal or comment about the product.
I think Maxine did a wonderful job on the layout and design. And the poetry ain’t too bad. Anyway, tell me what you think and maybe you’ll see it on the cover of the next edition.
I don’t know what I’m talking about. We’ve got three more books in the works and are trying to produce a cd of spoken-word and music. So little time.
Let me know when you get the package.

toots
——
VanZandt,

Survival is a kind of rapture. And the bell jar is an atmosphere of sorts, convict air wishes it was a vacuum of silly putty. Rubber zerox and high-tech yo-yo’s. Lobsters walk backwards and make progress that way. It’s a matter of semen and fortitude clipping the fog, trimming the vapor and wishing, ever wishing. Kevlar, like salvation, doesn’t necessarily make you bulletproof but the insurance rates are better cuz they know you’ll never live to collect. My firmness is anothler illusion convinced by drugs. God wore a cardigan of universes. His dry cleaning bill is charged in light years of fluid and space. He scoffs at the franchisers who are trying to sell his name and likeness and a copyright on the void.
The cocksure reciprocal pulled up his tights and reached for a pocket that wasn’t there.
Only god’s codpiece.
The ramshackle joint had an atmosphere of socks and band-aids, things stuck together with tape worms grazing on your nourishment. They mock you for trying to paint the air with sound. But if you got moxie, you continue. If you wanna fly you gotta taste a lotta dirt. Icarus said, “It’s all about just getting off the ground. After that it’s easy.” Easy as the sun on wax. My peter slumps like that after too much wine and not enough sleep. Only antidotes I’ve found are love and marijuana.

toots

——–
VanZandt,

That is a dylan quote that has travelled with me for years. It has been my credo, in fact. “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”
The essence of this statement is that to survive we must have a code. I’m not talking about laws imposed from without, but a self-adopted code of ideas and values to which we are dedicated. This is why I get along well with bikers, even though I am not a biker myself. They have a code and live by it. I admire that.

The cop/criminal game is just that, a game. When I was locked up, the favorite tv show among the inmates was “America’s Most Wanted.” They all wanted to be cops in their secret hearts, just like “every cop is a criminal” (mick). It is an obsession with rules, either making them or enforcing them or breaking them.

I have spent most of my life living outside the law. Coloring within the lines was never my long suit. But I see the lines as our friends. Same as the beat and chord structure are our friends in music even though I habitually exceed those boundaries in my playing.

Do we ever know which words are resonant? It’s like shooting BB’s through a concert harp. The BB can pass right between the strings and not make a sound or it can make contact with the F or the C string and cause it to vibrate. Ideas and symbols (words) are the BB’s and the mind and sensitivities of the listener or reader are represented by the harp. Sometimes you hit something and sometimes you don’t.
Of course, knowing your audience makes it easier to determine what words or styles or poems or songs to use. When you are writing to one particular person it is possible to (by knowing them and their emotional or intellectual set-up) aim the BB’s pretty accurately. With a larger audience it is more difficult but still possible if you can see them react. When I walk into a venue and I see that everybody in the audience has tattoos and piercings and magenta hair, I will pull out some of my edgier stuff. If they are sipping tea and eating crumpets then out comes the fluff. That’s just guaging your audience. But when we write for the larger unknown audience—the unseen audience of time—how do we know? How do we know?

And what can be taught?

Allow me to relate a story about Maxine’s daughter, Alicia (who has become one of the joys of my life.) She is ten years old and very bright. When I came here from texas, slightly less than a year ago, she became interested in playing the piano. I’m not a piano teacher but a student myself but I would give her pointers and explain bits of theory to her. She is very quick and I could tell she had a natural talent for the instrument. Her fingers are like little medussa snakes and she has an instictive musicality, even her little memorized pieces from the elementary books and what Maxine has demonstrated for her have a well put together and fluid sound. From listening to Maxine play, the bach piece—Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring she has picked it up. She has a best friend who expresses a desire to learn to play as well, and the other day while they were both sitting at my keyboard, Alicia decided that she wanted to teach her this piece. She jumped up from the keyboard and grabbed a piece of my staff paper and began scoring her version of the bach piece for her friend. I was amazed because scoring is to me a very difficult and tedious enterprise. But I had taught her the lines on the staff and rudimentary note value. She began translating what she had learned by ear to the page. It was not exact but it was a fair approximation of the piece. My point here is that her impetus for doing this was communication—she wanted to show her friend how to play the piece. It has been obvious to me that she already knows the things that can’t be taught about music—how to listen and that the score is in her head. But her desire to communicate and convey the piece to her friend (who couldn’t have begun to understand the notation anyway) caused her to try to master the notation.
This made me think about skills as opposed to talent. Some things can be taught and some things cannot. I believe that critical thinking is one example of this. There is also the factor of the ‘need to express or communicate’ which is what I think is the motivating influence that makes a student wish to master the skills and techniques (which take effort and discipline and can be taught)
I have always remarked at the dichotomy between ‘natural’ musicians and ‘trained’ musicians. I can’t tell you how many times that I have encountered ‘schooled’ musicians who couldn’t improvise if their lives depended on it. This has always amazed me because you would think that a schooled musician could always overtake a natural musician. I think this is an expression of the ‘cleavage’ that you mention.
It’s five in the morning and I can’t sleep.
(note: doesn’t the word ‘cleave’ also mean joining with in addition to separate?)

toots

——–
VZ,

Your odd juxtaposition of subjects struck me in an amazing way because of an event in my life. In the mid seventies when the sex pistols were making their first US tour I saw them at a seedy country and western honytonk in Dallas called the Longhorn Ballroom. A couple of days later I got on an airplane to go to Jamaica (as it was my habit to do in February to lie in the sun and smoke de herb and listen to the distant throbbing of the reggea.) Seated next to me were Johnny Rotten and Malcolm McClaren (sex pistols manager and brains.) McClaren was an interesting guy with a headfull of ideas. We talked most of the way to Jamaica. Johnny Rotten, on my other side, was like sitting next to an empty seat. (to be fair I don’t think he was feeling well—looked pretty jonesed out.) Interesting flight though. Joni Mitchell was sitting somewhere up in first class.

toots
——-
VanZandt,

Dallas Skyline is a piece that I wrote several years ago when I was working as the MC at a rave nightclub in Dallas just south of downtown. It was a huge warehouse and we had an average of three young garage bands per night playing there. Over the year that I worked there I met hundreds of these bands. It was a great experience and an ongoing education about what young musicians were thinking and playing. Of course the bands ran the gamut from completely awful adolescent excessive pompous noise to some rare and exciting and creative music. I was amazed at how MANY bands there were, it was a seemingly endless stream. Set me down anywhere in suburbia and I won’t be able to spit without a garage band getting wet. I think there are something like 300,000 bands with their music on MP3.com.
Anyway, I lived at the warehouse, called the Dunebuggy Headquarters (because that’s what they used to do in the warehouse–build dunebuggies.) I lived in a former office that had a huge picture window that looked out upon the beautiful Dallas skyline. This piece was inspired by that view.

In the sixties and seventies it was my honor to know and play music with Spence Pershkin. His ground breaking band was called Shiva’s Headband. This was one of the first bands that combined country and rock and roll with a psycheldelic flavor that became known as the ‘Austin Sound.’ Spence was a wildman on electrical violin. We both have daughters named Sativa. I served time in the same prison with him in the eighties. We were both creators of chemical revolution. You might remember Spence from the great album called Mother Earth. He wrote ‘Living With the Animals.’
One day he said to me, “Over the years people have said to me, that ‘You’re ahead of your time’ or ‘you’re behind your time.’ All any of that means is—you ain’t makin’ no bucks.’

I’ve been playing all my life. I was raised to be a player. The gentleman’s game—golf, as well as gin rummy and bowling and pool. All games with skill involved. Skill #1: It’s not how good you are, it’s how well you pick your opponents.
I started life as a small time journalist and academic boy scout accessory after the cold hard facts were assasinated.
I sold acres of pot and poppies and even made my own contraband from stolen chemicals and thin-air theory. I dug twelve-foot holes and raised marijuana in them. I invested in real estate flim-flam car deals and bogus stock. I manufactured licence plates. I’ve slaved at anonymous computers and been a music whore. I’ve written legal briefs and collected box-tops and cracked rocks for the state. I’ve planted trees, fathered children, built houses and written books. I’ve been a con-man a dope dealer and a convict, a cab driver and a courier and a wheel man. I’ve been a consultant, a counselor, a jeweler, a chemist, a producer, an ice-cream vendor and an utter failure.
And the hell of it is: I keep writing

toots
—–
VanZandt,

I’m not gonna let you get away with this. My pristine memory of your work is not the point. It’s the quiet volcano inside of you that’s the point. I’m sure making hinges is an honorable profession. I’ve seen that you manage the relationship with your co-workers with great aplomb. But I have to think that things stir within you that harken to some primal Venezualan rain forest whose vines stretch from the continent through the ferment of the sixties, nihilism, addiction and onward into families and bankbooks and mortgages and fear of illness and joys and disappoinments and mostly perspective steeped in your fine sensibility. This is not nostalgia or a test of your skill. I’ve seen Schindler’s List. This is a chance to excercise the muscle that God gave you. Anyway, I will love you no matter what you do but I hope you will take the time to collect the sweat and seepage of the inevitable literature that lives in your mind and direct it to this pool.
Have you been in touch with Linda or Jaime?
Here is the link to the secret Hill House Chronicles web site:
First go to Jaime’s web site: mbay.net/~jansellf
Then click on Photo Pages. From the top of that page click the title: Photo Pages. This will lead you to the HH section. After a few pages of Jaime’s intro you can click on Clay or Jack to see some of the early material.

Tortuga Toots
——
VanZandt,

It was my first trip to Jamaica. It was hot, August in the tropics. I was staying at Grandma’s Place. This was a house in Red Ground, the area just above the cliffs in Negril. We were eighteen miles from the nearest telephone. Grandma ran a small rooming house. She was adored by the community, because she was….adorable. She was the magistrate in Negril. This is the equivalent of Justice of the Peace.

She sold me herb while I was there, lovely lamb’s bread. If I had been arrested for possession, she would have been the judge I would have been tried before. She said, “Yes, that would be my job, but I couldn’t lock anybody up for smokin’ de herb. Everybody smokes de herb.”

One day I was sitting on her porch, smoking a spliff and playing my flute. As I was playing, a seven foot tall Jamaican man came upon the porch. He introduces himself as Son Facie. He said that he played the reggae and that he wanted me to come play with his band that night. He said he would fetch me at dark-time.

He came with a flashlight at dusk and we walked on a path from Red Ground up into the hills a couple of miles. We came to a hut. The band was gathered there. The only tunable instrument was the banjo played by the leader of the band. Son Facie played the bass box. This is the instrument upon which reggae is built. It’s like an oversized kalimba. It is made from a wooden crate. The player sits on it and plays the tongues between his legs. It has six or eight tongues made out of car-springs or something. It’s the bass instrument.

So, we played under the moon, everything in the key of G. I fell in love with reggae that night.
——-
VanZandt,

I am most saddened. Hadn’t seen Hugo in some months but we had strangely kept in touch over the years. We had the respect and affection that can only be built over years. I will write some memories about him. Never met a man could snore as loud as Hubert. I remember him having to sleep in his car because of this.
I have relocated to virginia where a lovely poet has opened her home and heart to me. It’s a rare blessing. Thank you for relaying the sad news about Hubert. I grieve with you. I love you.
Clay
——-
VanZandt,

My first real job, outside of mowing lawns and throwing papers or baby sitting, was at Ashburn’s ice cream parlor in Dallas. This was a job where I actually had to punch a clock, pay taxes and show up on time. I think I was making a dollar seventy-five an hour, which was a respectable fifty cents above the minimum wage in those days.

Ashburn’s ice cream was home-made and delicious and we sold it for six cents a dip.

I had secured the job by the time honored means of knowing somebody. My grandfather played golf with the owner of the company. They had eleven stores in Dallas and I was placed in the flagship Ashburn’s #1 on Knox St.

Knox St. is a short street. It’s about six blocks long and it sits in a peculiar place between Highland Park (where Dick Cheney lives) which is a very affluent part of town, and pedestrian East Dallas. In the mid-sixties there was also a small black community two blocks away where the people from Highland Park kept their domestic help.

On Sunday afternoons Ashburn’s would be packed, the black people and the rich people shoulder to shoulder waiting for their ice cream. The cash register at Ashburn’s #1 would, by ten o’clock at night when we closed, read $5000. That’s something like eighty thousand dips of ice cream. I’m glad I was young; it was a strenuous job. After a year of working there, my right forearm looked like Popeye’s from dipping ice cream. (this muscular development was also supplemented by enthusiastic masturbation)

Ashburn’s #1 was a mere hundred yards from the Highland Park city limits. As you walked up Knox St. you would pass second-hand bookstores and antique shops and the Highland Park Cafeteria where old ladies in hair nets would serve you roast brisket that would melt in your mouth.

Then you come to the Knox St. Theater. When I first started working at Ashburn’s #1, The Knox St. Theater was boarded up. It had once been an elegant theater but had fallen on hard times with the advent of suburban movie houses. Some developers grabbed the property and opened a nightclub there. It was called The Phantasmagoria. This was the mid-sixties and The Jefferson Airplane had just recorded White Rabbit and psychedelia was all the rage. Johnny and Edgar Winter were the house band.

By this time I was getting sick of dipping ice cream and punching a clock. My only drug experience up until that time had been the Bacardi rum that one of the older guys at Ashburn’s #1 was able to buy at the liquor store on Knox St. We used the lime sherbet to make Daiquiris in the milk shake machine.

Right next to The Phantasmagoria there was a little nook of a shop. In late 1966, Chuck Knox leased the space and opened the first head shop in Dallas. He called it Psychedelic Supply. Chuck had been to San Francisco and had seen what was happening in Height-Ashbury and recognized a potential business opportunity.

It just so happened that I went to high school with Chuck’s younger brother. So again it was demonstrated to me that in the matter of employment, it’s not so much what you know as who you know. I asked Chuck for a job. I went from selling All American Sunday Afternoon Ice Cream to selling cigarette papers and black light posters and buttons that had risque slogans on them.

Then, at the second hand bookstore, I bought a copy of Doors to Perception/Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley. The rest is history. I began my spiritual quest by quitting my job at Ashburn’s #1 and swearing that I would never punch another man’s clock, and I also found some LSD.
——-
OU Weekend circa 1978

Our state fair is a great state fair
Don’t miss it, don’t even be late.

It’s dollars to doughnuts that our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state.
—Rodgers and Hammerstein

I used to smell it when I was a kid too. Fletcher’s and candy floss and candied apples.

My most vivid memory was of the night I first got drunk. The Texas/OU pep-rally in downtown Dallas that always pre-ceeded the opening of the fair.

There were mattresses and televisions raining out of the hotel room windows on Commerce St.. I was seventeen and riding in a convertible. Shortly after we emerged from the famed Triple Underpass, I discovered that if I made the ‘hook-em horns’ sign with my fingers, that somebody would slap a bottle in my hands. By the time I got to the end of Commerce St. in Deep Ellum, I was walking with a girl under each arm and a bottle in each hand. I don’t know how I got home.

Some years later I went down to the celebration again. I walked this time and the cops had things under much better control.

I was with a girlfriend who had hands as soft as lotion and labia that rested like swollen rose petals covered with dew between her thighs.

We snorted speed and pretended to be from Oklahoma.

I don’t remember how I got home that night either. Maybe I didn’t
——-
VanZandt,

We had a flood in our house. It was a subtle flood. Water began seeping up from our hardwood laminate floors. Then the carpets started to go ‘squish-squish’ when you walked on them. It was a creeping nightmare. It had to be a leak in the plumbing we decided.

After examining all the pipes and finding minimal leaks and trying to trace the path of the water, we decided it was time to call in an expert. I said to Maxine, “I’ll bet an experienced plumber could take one look at it and go straight to the problem.”

She reminded me of my little quip about plumbers: “There are only two things you need to know to be a plumber–shit flows down and payday’s Friday.”

The plumber was very bright and personable. It took him all of two minutes to locate where the water was coming from. I had searched every drain and spigot for two days trying to find that leak and he found it in two minutes. This is where the value of expertise becomes apparent.

It turned out that the leak was not in the plumbing at all, but in the air-conditioner. All these gallons of water that we had been mopping up for several days were coming from condensation because the drain to the overflow pan was clogged. It took the plumber another two minutes to run a coat hanger through the tube and fix it. The check was written for 125 bucks. Four minutes of work. It was worth it. We weren’t paying him for what he did or how long it took him to do it. We were paying him for what he knew.

The other lesson from this experience is that sometimes trouble can come out of thin air. It is amazing how much water our air-conditioner sucks out of the air. In our house, it’s something on the order of a gallon per hour judging from how much water we were having to mop up.

Yes, it was feeling like New Orleans around here for a few days. Made me want to put my clarinet together and play the blues. Tune about floods coming from thin air. I guess that’s why trumpets have spit valves.
——-
VanZandt,

I hope you had a pleasant Labor Day.

I’m still in position here, or maybe I’m just an imposition here, but I’m here.

Had a very uplifting experience last week. Maxine’s 92 year old mother was staying with us. She found my books on the coffee table and spent a solid five days reading all three The Poet’s Eye books. She read them from cover to cover. She would call me over and ask me questions about things she didn’t understand. She said, “I just can’t put these books down. I love them.”

So she took the only copies I had of the books (the proofs from which I was making corrections) when she left. She called me on the phone yesterday and told me that she had started reading them for the second time. What flattery!

Dorothy is the first person to read these books. She was obviously entertained, which is my purpose for writing them. It was really a boost to my artistic self-confidence and a very badly needed one. Maybe I’ve discovered my target demographic–92 year old women.

Anyway, I think I have viable product here. Next problem–how to sell them.

Which brings me to the other brilliant idea I had. It’s called Love Cuffs. Alicia started High School today. She is such a joy. She’s sure to kill all the boys and charm all the teachers. So, I talked to her about Love Cuffs. Here’s the idea: sell a piece of costume jewelry that is a bracelet that looks like a handcuff. It has a place to engrave a name. It also has a clasp on it that can be connected to another Love Cuff. Kids could trade them and ‘hook up’ with other Love Cuffs. I think it could be bigger than the Frisbee.

Enough nonsense. Just thinking about you.

toots
——–

Van Zandt,

Thanks, yes I have been notified about the hack. I have taken the recommended steps. If they are gonna hack my account, at least they could give me a kickback on the viagra they sell.

I love your kite tale. Great image and nicely told. I have been concentrating on similar pieces lately using a single clear image or event and working it through its natural elaborations. Small stories are the best way to tell larger stories.

The other day, in the process of promoting The Poet’s Eye, I made a post on a conservative, tea party leaning web site. Mostly in the past I have published on sites that were fairly left-leaning. I have been publishing for several years on Daily Kos for example. The site I’m talking about appears to be in that league in circulation, a leading conservative site. Well, figuring that I might be spending too much time preaching to the choir, I decided to post articles and links at places that might not be as friendly to my message which is commonly perceived as a liberal one.

I posted the recent light-hearted piece about Christine O’Donnell and BozoGate. It was hardly partisan polemic. The place erupted. I have never been called a troll in so many different ways. It seems that the term ‘troll’ has taken on the meaning of ‘anyone who disagrees with the party line.’ There were quickly about a hundred responses complete with some very clever stock pictures of trolls and people getting ‘zapped’ and insults with acronyms that I didn’t understand. It was a swarm. They were on me like white blood cells on an invader in the bloodstream. It was obviously a familiar and cherished local ritual to tar and feather the outsiders before running them out of town on a rail. I was quite entertained. It had been some time since anyone invested so much imagination in the cause of my defamation. It reminded me of what a caustic place the web can be and of the sad level of polarization we see in our nation.

Anyway, I’m pleased to announce that The Poet’s Eye circulation has been growing nicely. Last week I had over a thousand discreet readers. I still can’t get in over at the Huffington Post. I guess I’m too far out there for them. I find that a certain humorlessness is what the far left and the far right both have in common.

The whole thing amuses me greatly. I’m not a political idealogue, I’m a humorist. I don’t have the attention span to be partisan. I’m neither liberal nor conservative. I make fun of them both. The right is just an easier target than the left at this particular time. So to most people I seem like a liberal.

The whole tone of the liberal-conservative polarity has just become so ugly and petty. They have both become pejorative terms depending on whose mouth speaks them. Conservatives assume that they know what liberals think and liberals put words into the mouths of the conservatives. They both limit themselves with these labels. My experience on the conservative web site didn’t surprise me. I was a little surprised that they were so uniform in their intolerance of any new ideas and were completely beyond the concept of laughing at themselves even a little bit. The site is called Free Republic. Another thing that amuses me about both the right and left is how the names of their organizations are so completely oxymoronic.

I can’t believe I got three pieces of fan-mail today. Think I’ll make some tissue paper kites. Keep yours aloft.

toots

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Adventures of Levo and Dexter

My Dearest Levo,

We must pray that the authorities never intercept our correspondence lest these missives show up in an indictment as supporting evidence for the depravity of our imaginations. The many years of messages which have passed between us could keep their code breakers busy for generations. Even though we sign our names as Levo and Dexter, Left and Right, these simpletons will never tumble to the fact that we are both speaking from one unified fictional mind. Yes, it’s the mind of manic-depressive idiot savant, but they don’t need to know that. Let them think it all means something. Ha!ha! serve the fuckers right.

Still we must avoid detection at all costs. They are getting so creative with criminal laws these days, I know we must be guilty of at least several of their cracked infractions and at the very least there are conspiracy statutes that could ruin our day if we let them get the idea that art is a deed and not just flimsy free speech. I think we’ll be safe as long as we don’t reveal the code, so careful of who gives you a blow-job before you pay them.

I’m not getting paranoid on you, honest.

Mum’s the word.
Dexter

——

Lev
I find myself at the time of life when it is not uncommon to think about changing careers. It’s not that I am dissatisfied with my present set of careers but somehow I feel an almost adolescent urge to broaden my horizons. And change my identity. I have three possible careers in mind. The fist two I might undertake in tandem. I want to be a concert violinist and a figure skater. Hard as I try I cannot seperate these two ambitions in my mind. I keep seeing myself sailing across the ice in my plaid muffler fiddling to beat hell. I would sleep in my skates with my violin tucked under my chin. I won’t let the facts of my digital aversion to stringed instruments and my history of almost complete non-athleticism deter me. I find it difficult to chew gum and chew gum at the same time. So, I do have a fallback career choice: Performing Japanese chef. Only a small amount of cosmetic surgery would be required and in no time I’m sure I could be juggling meat cleavers and torches with a glib line of patter and a perfect eye for medium-rare. I’ll need a new passport for this, I’m sure.
Dex

Dexter,
Today I wear these lovely Doc Marten sandals and find them comfortable and stylish. They provide a floating sensation to the increasingly gravitational act of walking. I love to float. I prefer it to walking and I’m sure Doc Marten has patented the combo of floating while walking, so you have to pay dearly for the these shoes. They don’t come cheap. Unless of course you’re a hoodlum and everything comes cheap, but this is not a socio-economic treatise, this is about new shoes. The shoes I’m presently wearing easily accompany a variety of lifestyle situations I find myself involved in, from the casual to the ridiculous. But I am hardly hooked on these shoes. Oooooh No! I change my shoes often because my feet sweat. My feet have always sweat, I don’t know why, as long as I can remember, my feet have sweat, and so I have a lot of shoes. I love new shoes. I hate to shop. But I will shop for new shoes. When I discover a pair of shoes that solve all my podiatry needs I stick with them. I photograph my collection of shoes. I write songs about my shoes. I notice other peoples shoes, to the point of just this side of fetish, fetish, fetish, what is a fetish? Once, when I was young, how long ago was that? Once upon a time I enjoyed sucking the toes of anonymous girls, they smelled like girls, I don’t know what happened to that thing, that thing, but now when I see a pair of kicks that excite me I have no problem approaching the wearer of said kicks and asking “Where’d you get those cool kicks?” I have occasionally purchased a new pair of shoes after such encounters. I hate my job. Some would call it a career. {I dint aks fer it-it cum to me} I guess when you work in one profession for year after year, decades pass, then it could be called a career, even if you consider it a burden and not a career and you want to blow your gizzards out. I greatly admire and appreciate your mid-life career changing choices (is that the proper way of phrasing this?) I have often composed in my mind the sonata of my new life if I could but change my career, and have only heard cacophonous echoflexions. However, you have inspired me to reach out for a new career plan that I only thought was a dream, but now, thanks to you, realize is a complete and absolute possibility. I am grateful for all I have been granted through the hard work and ambivalence I have invested in my so-called career, but I am convinced that the future holds for me nothing less than a career in topiary gardening combined with earthworm farming. I am convinced that a career as an anthropomorphic annelidilist is my destiny, and as I’ve tried to explain at more than one dinner party, destiny is like a table top – either one adorns it or waits in the dark.
Levo

Lev
My second wife divorced me for sleeping in my boots. Sleep isn’t something for which I prepare; it overtakes me. I never take a day off. The moment I open my eyes I’m at work. Poetry is a full time job. And it doesn’t bother me at all if I already have my tapshoes on when I start my dance with the new day. But I agree that shoes are at least as important as plastic surgery in constructing the type of positive self-image that lets us linger over our reflection in store windows and moon hubcaps. Doc Marten makes some fine footwear but I think they are really missing out on market share by not making a good line of pimp shoes. While they already make a good street fighting clog and devote appropriate attention to the necessary responsibility of supporting the flaccid arches of the upwardly mobile I believe a good pimp shoe would let them have a crack at housing the piggies of the professional classes. Now, attaching shoes to wheels, skis or blades places them in a new and dynamic class of footwear. It separates the comptitor from the mere pedestrian. Soon they will adapt those new computerized scooters to be built into shoes with ball bearings on the soles. Then you will simply lean in whatever direction you wish to wish to travel and let the shoes take you there. Can winged feet be far behind? Ah, he has the heels of a dragonfly! Feet are finely tuned sensory instruments. Besides smelling they can tell you of subtle changes in the environment. And as we both know, non dancing feet get blisters. I ramble so because it is snowing in Dallas. It looks like a Currier & Ives print outside my window. It’s not sticking yet to the warm Texas prairie that never quite forgets the summer but the air is full of lovely large flakes. Oddly, it always seems warmer when it snows in Texas. It’s so much more a gentle affair than when the blistering wind and sleet jump the three barbed wire fences between here and the North Pole and blow in for a visit. Yep, makes me wanna get on my ice skates and glide down Turtle Creek with the fat flakes splatting wetly on my cheek like kisses from a baby. Would that be good for my Strattivarius?
Dex

Dex
Looks like summer outside. I won’t venture out just yet because on the TV it looks like winter. The weatherman is standing in the middle of a snowstorm. I look out the window. Still looks like summer to me. I’m so confused. Who to believe? The weatherman or my very own eyes. I turn up the sound on the TV. He’s not a weatherman. He’s a war correspondent. He claims to be in Moscow. Are we at war with the Russians now? So it’s winter in Moscow. I believe it’s summer in Los Angeles. But I think I’ll wear galoshes today anyway, just in case it snows. Galoshes and a down jacket. Galoshes are good because you can’t walk too fast while wearing them. Your feet sort of slosh around inside that yak fleece lining and the rubber soles slap the ground and you plod along and look at the blooming canalilies and the violently violet neon glowing ice plant flowers covering the ground and the calalilies are looking like they might pop up any minute and what’s that? A girl in a bikini and cowboy boots. Her erect nipples poke at the flimsy chartreuse colored material. She must be cold. As she walks toward me I can see she has goose flesh. “Aren’t you cold?” I ask her as she passes. She flips her long blond hair in silent defiance and continues walking. I turn and follow her, not because her ass is so incredibly round and firm and perfect and barely concealed, but because I’m concerned for her well being. She hears me and starts walking faster. I can’t keep up what with the galumphing galoshes and I start to run. She starts to run. She can move in those boots. She looks like a goddamned TV commercial, running in slow motion, all bouncy-bouncy, and she pulls well ahead of me. “Don’t you want to wear my jacket!?” I yell as she runs down the palm lined street and around the corner and down the hills of Beverly to the non-stop party that is West Hollywood. I realize I am sweating like a pig in a sauna. I tear off the down jacket and toss it on the sidewalk. I sit on it and remove my galoshes. They are full of liquid. I pour the liquid on the grass and the grass instantly wilts and dies. A horrible odor fills the air. I sit on the sidewalk watching the tourists go by. I wave at them. They ask me to take their picture. I do, without getting up. “It’s called a low angle shot,” I explain to them. “Oh, you’re in the industry?” They ask. “Of course,” I reply. “That’s why we’re here.” Darkness chases away the award winning golden light and I notice that the moisture on my feet is starting to freeze. I walk home shivering, my feet are literally wrapped in ice. They crunch and crackle with each step. Extremes in temperature this time of year here in the city of low angles.
Lev

——-
Lev
Have cotton in my head this morning from fighting with wires and little black boxes and computers and software and sound cards and drivers and cross-platform issues and sample rates and all I wanna do is play my flute for the people. I think technology is lowering my sperm count. For this reason I’m considering going back on analog time. The digital world is too full of contrived symmetries. I long for the smooth unsegmented world of sweeping second hands and elegant springs and flywheels and sand falling through the hourglass and shadows silently indicating the hours on the dial. I love the soft sussurace of tape hiss as the magnets paint the music in iron oxide in one unbroken spiraling stroke–time and emotion written in rust. One of my advisors conducts counter-espionage in the insect world with the cover story that he is an anthropoentymologist. He believes the insects are behind the digital time conspiracy because they prefer to observe time in discrete segments rather than as an unbroken flow. This makes it easier to destroy the sense of history that becomes troublesome in humans. While the forces of segmentation can count every nanosecond and give it a number and point to it in the catalog I seem to recall that we are still argueing about when the Christian Era began give or take four years. The first thing that happens when the Nazis take power is that the trains start to run on time. Time is like energy–it’s limitless until you start counting it.
Dex
——-
Levo
No word is good enough to write. The left hemisphere of my brain is on strike. Or is it the right? Whichever one governs straightforward and rational thought. I don’t know my left brain from my right. Lever or Dexter? My Latin fails me. Dumb ergo dumb. The world is a succession of stimulants and sedatives. I’m a phantom with no ID trying to run a career from an iron lung. I look at the world through an angled mirror and type with a swizzle stick in my teeth. It’s a longer shot than the lottery betting on the glimmer of my intelligence. All I know about the Winter Olympics is that I don’t like Winter. And figure skaters are more vain than poets.
Dexter
—–

Levo
I believe I have contracted a terrorist infection which is slowly eating my imagination. Hard to say who was sitting in the crop duster but whoever they are they seem to be interested in freeze drying any spore of fresh thought. Course they get most of their work done at the airports when they make you walk through their scanners so they can hit you with the apathy ray. The intra-veinous broadband is pumping tranquilizers and low-yield carbohydrates like turkey and dressing and football games to every home in the hospital state. As we speak the Idea Narcs are in training at Quantico. They dress like firemen from Fahrenheit 451. Herod’s goons looking for the infant. Public servants. There is no vaccine.
Dexter

PS Merry Christmas
——-

Dear Lev
Check and see if your pants are on backwards. Are the pockets in the front? Is there a slight draft on your asshole? These are the tell-tale signs. Also I think there is a urine test for this. Of course that entails opening your fly. My associate tells me of a man he knew who taught his asshole to speak. So naturally his taylor put the fly in the rear of his suits. I think this was of some help in controlling the arguments between his mouth and his asshole. But that gets us into the question of subversive coture and my limited tastes don’t permit me to have valid opinions in matters of fashion. I think diapers are chic and Ghandi was a well dressed man.
Dexter
—–
Lev
You’re right about my limited tastes. So, today I’ve decided to throw out all my Brittney Spears and my Brandy albums. I’m keeping my NSynch because I have a little crush on Justin Timberlake and think he might be the next Tony Benett. They were here in town last night but I didn’t make it in because I couldn’t bribe even one teenage girl to give up her place in line.When I walked up to them with a hundred dollar bill in my hand they just thought I was an old pervert looking for head. Maybe it’s my hat.
DexDear

——–
Lev
Sorry so long sints I rote. I found a place to buy half price cigarettes so I smoke twice as many. Have you heard from Jackie the Angle? The last job we pulled went smooth as midnight but I insulted his frail and ain’t heard much since then. I take it you did a scam in LA. Took eight men. Any survivors? How much did you get? Whatever it cost to build our legend.
I must say I’ve missed our talks. Still wanna do that burglary of the Vatican thing. Most people think of us as humble music teachers but little do they know. Talk to you soon. Don’t forget the code.
Dex
———

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