Thursday, December 7, 2017


The song going through my mind today is actually from the show Nashville, which is surprisingly good. The music is the real deal, if a bit too polished. But such a venture is expensive and I can see the need to smooth (you might want to take a look at that link there to learn the difference between smooth and smoothe, because I didn't know it) it out for maximum popularity. Reading the liner notes, the credentials of participants are rock solid. Any way, this one, Mouth for a Gun, has got me, maybe because of all the bullshit flying around these days. You really have to listen, although I included the lyrics at the end.

Well, we made it through the night of crazy kitties. I don't see too much damage. Emmylou had to have a lot of petting yesterday. She could not really be comforted. They are out walking the perimeter, and, so far, I didn't see anyone/anycat in the street. 

Here's a little palate cleanser. I am slightly hungover and there are a couple of small fires burning on my FB feed. This song came on my iTunes shuffle. So beautiful. It will calm you.


I saw a stranger with your hair
Tried to make her give it back
So I could send it off to you
Maybe Federal Express
'Cause I know you'd miss it

I saw another with your eyes
The flash just turned my head
I went to try them on for size
But they looked the other way
And they wouldn't listen

Chorus: But you're never hard to find in a crowd
The people around you smiling out loud
Their feet don't touch the ground
No, their feet don't touch the ground
No, their feet don't touch the ground

I heard a stranger with your voice
It took me by surprise
Again I found it wasn't you
Just an angel in disguise
In for a visit

By the way how is my heart
I haven't seen it since you left
I'm almost sure it followed you
Could you sometime send it back
I'll buy the ticket


I saw a stranger with your hair
I saw another with your eyes
I heard an angel with your voice
By the way how is my heart
By the way how is my heart

Okay, better now. As any regular readers have discerned, I am hella stressed out these days. And that can lead to over-indulgence with vino and/or food. We know well that spiral of misery and self-loathing. I stopped just short of disaster last night, so I am still functional, but still rueing my behavior. 

On the other hand, I made some great spaghetti sauce which I am going to eat for lunch. Hopefully, the will calm me down. Book group on Moby Dick this afternoon and I am behind. 

Okay later. The Kermit Place Readers did not disappoint. They revel in Moby Dick and it is a delight to be along for the ride, even if I am not in the same enthusiastic space at the moment. We soldier on.

These are tough times.


Found a girl and I gave her a ring
She was everything I’m looking for
It’s over now and this is how
I lost the war

Well my head got heavy as a Christmas cake
And I made a break for the door
It sucks so young
You shot your tongue
I lost the war

But you’re not the only one
with a gun for a mouth
No you’re not the only one
With a gun

And the red headed angel in the wings
Singing lay down your sword
It’s over now
And this is how I lost the war

But you’re not the only one
with a gun for a mouth

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Yes, Mom is lucky to be gone today. As the streets are being oiled, the cats cannot go out. And boy are they unhappy about it. Oona looks at me as if I am the meanest person ever, meaner than a shitgibbon. She feels that mewing constantly will cause me to rethink her horrible incarceration. She knows well the power of annoyance. Theoretically, we can drive on the streets in a few hours, but given Oona's penchant for 1) filth and 2) rolling around on her back in the dirt or on cement, there will be little recourse save to bathe her (and her compatriots) which would result in a multitude of scratches and likely some tears along the way.

I suppose I could sequester myself somewhere.

Vera is taking it well, though. Comfortably relaxing in a stuft rocking chair without much of a care. She knows better how to go with the flow. And should she need an outlet for oncoming frustration, she can find Butterscotch and menace her.

Butterscotch, on the other hand, enjoyed another night of free access to me. I think if she did not have to live on the edge of terror, i.e. other cats, she would relax and be even more cuddly than she is becoming. I had to remind myself that it was her curled up next to me last night.

Meanwhile, out in the greater world, the shit show continues. Not even application (consumption) of too many madeleines can assuage or allay the horror of our political situation.

As a child and as a an adult, I was afraid of The Great Depression. That was something I most decidedly did not want to live through, along with volcanoes, the mere idea of which would send me crying to my mother's bed. Once I learned about the rise of Nazism in Germany, I didn't want to live through that either. I wondered, afearedly, what the quotidienne (once I learned that word) would be of the rise of daily horrors. 

And GODDAMNIT if I am not living through it, for fuck's and all other sakes. 

(Oona, Emmylou, and Ariel are all lined up at the front door like airplanes waiting their turn to land. Fortunately, Oona has been distracted by Zora Idris Caledonia into playing. Nothing like kicking someone in the face repeatedly to relieve tension. Emmylou is trying pace the table, probably to be follow by tail in front of the screen. Maybe a round of catnip for all will help. Zora Idris Caledonia rushes up to Ariel in an "I'll have what she's having moment.")

Perusing the LA Times, which generally frustrates me, I found an article that SHITGIBBONFUCKTARDLARCENYLARRYDUMFUCK's lawyer said obstruction of justice is not possible for SHITGIBBONFUCKTARDLARCENYLARRYDUMFUCK as he is, essentially, justice defined as president. SMS says Nixon tried this argument, too. I think it is worth noting.

I need to go. Just heard about allegations and expulsions from WNYC. I just want all the good menfolk out there to keep their shit together on this. All of this is just as bad as is now being exposed. After you reach enough decades of mistreat, not being heard, rude categorizations and judgments, and the all rest of it, you learn to cope some. If any of you, female or male, are surprised by ANY OF THIS, you were living in a big ass bubble of denial. Some of that denial is understandable if not excusable. How the hell do you take on this problem? 

As we all know, wholesale hanging of the accused does not work out. In a case like Senator Franken, well, I think he could be redeemed and reprogrammed. I think he has learned his lesson. And we need him.

And as we head into another long and lonely evening, I offer more Richard Thompson. Now, don't blow this off. Listen to this here, carefully, a few times. Then read the lyrics.


If I ever get out of these shoes
And I shrug off a skin or two
I'll come looking in the wasted places
Beat-up, last ditch rendezvous

If it had been some other place
Some other time to find me
If I had been in my right mind
Not looking for ghosts behind me

Then I'd hold you with my fingers burning
Kiss your little tears of yearning
But sometimes there's no turning
Take Care The Road You Choose

If I ever get out of my mind
Guillotine myself to stop me dreaming
And let my heart go where it will
Without those other voices screaming

Some take the high, some take the low
Some take the straight and narrow
Some still standing at the crossroads
Some fly like an arrow

With my radar I'll find you, darling
No regrets to blind you, darling
And never look behind
Take Care The Road You Choose


Tra la la la la la la
Tra la la la la la la

For those not in the know, that is the beginning of The Banana Splits theme song.

Carl was entranced with this show. Then again, the tv often ate Carl as a child. Once he was hooked in, you could stand right in front of him and he would pay you nary a never mind. To get his attention, physical contact was required.

And but soft! What do I hear but a puking cat so very near. I best go investigate. That was Emmylou. For those of you not in the know, cats and wall-to-wall carpeting are not a good mix. I dislike wall-to-wall carpeting, particularly when you have potentially nice hard wood floor below. Wall-to-wall carpeting is much harder to keep clean than wood floors. Just sayin'.

Now comes another potentially puking cat through the window, Butterscotch. She was in some kind of heaven last night as I had my door closed so that Emmylou could not attempt another of her destructive jailbreaks through the broken window. This gave Butterscotch free reign over me without fear of reprisal from her enemy cats, particularly Vera Paris and Oona Minnie Pearl Moonlight, both of whom like to whack her around. 'Scotch was free to wake me frequently for petting and even use my body as her personal beach. 

After puking, Emmylou is now sitting on the gardening bench below my desk window. I guess all is well.

Later that evening.

Yes, well, it is almost 8:00. Failing being run over by a steamroller, a physical one as the current life situation is steamroller-a-plenty, I just feel like being flat in bed. I think about Celine's book Death on the Installment Plan. It sure feels like a slow, drawn out march to that at the moment.  If only death could be reasonably previewed so you had a better idea if you wanted to commit, kind of like living with someone before you decide to get married.  

Then again, we hear that heavy drug addiction relieves some of the immediate pain.

Yeah. All different kinds of pain, including some physical. And a lot psychic.  

Later again.

The street will be oiled tomorrow, so cars had to be moved by 8:00 a.m. I moved the Honda tonight so as to not be worried about it tomorrow.

Janet is in bed, here at 10:10. I just spent the last fifteen or twenty minutes petting Emmylou, which is a somewhat rare occurrence. 

I could sit here and mouth breathe.

I tried my hand at hot and sour soup tonight from an easy Martha Stewart book. The results were okay, but not outstanding. Janet liked it though. I will consult some other recipes. I love those shiitakes and I over bought so I must find something else to do with them.

I cannot get this Fugs song out of my head, although I think it stolen from a Yiddish source.

Monday, nothing
Tuesday, nothing
Wednesday and Thursday nothing
Friday, for a change
A little more nothing
Saturday once more nothing

Sunday nothing
Monday nothing
Tuesday and Wednesday nothing
Thursday, for a change
A little more nothing
Friday once more nothing

Montik, gornisht
Dinstik, gornisht
Midvokh un Donershtik gornisht
Fraytik, far a noveneh
Gornisht pikveleh
Shabes nach a mool gornisht

Lunes, nada
Martes, nada
Miercoles y Jueves, nada
Viernes, por cambip
Un poco mas nada
Sabado otra vez nada

January, nothing
February, nothing
March and April, nothing
May and June
A lot more nothing
July, nothing

'29, nothing
'32, nothing
'39, '45, nothing
1965, a whole lot of nothing
1966, nothing

Reading, nothing
Writing, nothing
Even arithmetic, nothing
Geography, philosophy, history, nothing
Social anthropology, a lot of nothing

Oh, Village Voice, nothing
New Yorker, nothing
Sing Out and Folkways, nothing
Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg,
Nothing, nothing, nothing

Poetry, nothing
Music, nothing
Painting and dancing, nothing
The world's great books
A great set of nothing
Audy and Foudy, nothing

Fucking, nothing
Sucking, nothing
Flesh and sex, nothing
Church and Times Square
All a lot of nothing
Nothing, nothing, nothing

Stevenson, nothing
Humphrey, nothing
Averell Harriman, nothing
John Stuart Mill, nil, nil
Franklin Delano, nothing

Carlos Marx, nothing
Engels, nothing
Bakunin and Kropotkin, nothing
Leon Trotsky, lots of nothing
Stalin, less than nothing

Nothing nothing nothing nothing
Lots and lots and lots of nothing
Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing
Lots of it
Not a God damn thing

Monday, December 4, 2017


Later that same night in a not so deep and dark December ...

Black cherry tea smells good, which reminds me that some aroma therapy can help with the mood issues. And sometimes just remembering that you can breathe through the hard stuff (not always). But right now, that seems to help.

After getting Emmylou in for the evening, she was able to yank open the broken window and make a damn escape. When I took Kim and Ginny to the airport at 4:30 the other morning, Emmy came running down the street at me. I doubt whether I will be able to get her in again tonight unless I stay up very late. Earlier and soberer to bed suits me better. 
(I am plenty sober tonight.)

12:08 am on Monday. I managed to woo Emmy back into the house. Now, I have to hope the window is secured.

The next morning.

Usually, I get up around 7:00 or 8:00, put on Janet's coffee, and make my first cup of espresso. I take that back to bed, read The New York Times online, check out Daily Beast, Lit Hub, snorkel around Facebook, and do the easy NYT crossword puzzle. I just can't. I just can't look at any more Grinningshitgibbon endorsements of child molesters, or fatuous doughboy old fucks rife with self-congratulatory smiles that they are ruining lives just because they can. What device sucks all compassion and the merest drop of human kindness from a human body? They must have them all over Congress.

We are running late this morning, as I didn't wake up until 9:00. I should be wrangling Janet to get ready for the senior center, but I feel so low and affectless, I just want that numbness that all those old white haired dementors in Congress seem to have. I guess I should have been more focussed on power and money. If only the rest were silence.

The temptation to nothingness is very strong right now. Plus, December! The constant thrum and whine of awful Christmas music bombarding us at every turn. How the hell are we supposed to be joyous about anything? Oh yeah! The inestimable gift of our life. 

Perhaps I am too much here digging through my own shit. Sartre had hell wrong. Hell is moving your belongings from one place to another. Hell is the inability to make decisions about whether to throw away that earring when you are pretty sure you lost the other on the subway but the remaining one is beautiful and dear and maybe you can find a replacement.

Elementary school education (or what will pass for it in this stinking pile of broken dreams we live in) should emphasize instruction in the myth of Sisyphus, Atlas, and maybe some Prometheus. When older, if they are still in school if not indentured servants, field workers, or organ donors, they could move on to No Exit. Welcome to the world, little one.

This puts me in mind of Richard Thompson's shockingly misanthropic tune he wrote at the birth of his son Teddy. Check out these lyrics for a good time. 

The End of the Rainbow (here's another version)
I feel for you, you little horror Safe at your mother's breast No lucky break for you around the corner 'Cos your father is a bully And he thinks that you're a pest And your sister, she's no better than a whore Life seems so rosy in the cradle But I'll be a friend, I'll tell you what's in store There's nothing at the end of the rainbow There's nothing to grow up for any more Tycoons and barrow boys will rob you And throw you on the side And all because they love themselves sincerely And the man holds a bread-knife Up to your throat, is four feet wide And he's anxious just to show you what it's for Your mother works so hard to make you happy But take a look outside the nursery door There's nothing at the end of the rainbow There's nothing to grow up for any more All the sad and empty faces That pass you on the street All running in their sleep, all in a dream Every loving handshake Is just another man to beat How your heart aches just to cut him to the core Life seems so rosy in the cradle But I'll be a friend, I'll tell you what's in store There's nothing at the end of the rainbow There's nothing to grow up for any more

This man's middle name is Nothing-But-Fun. This should be taught to children in to sing each day. A new anthem for the USA.

Enough for this morning. Oona and Idris are playing in the nearby window (actually sitting at the desk in anticipation of working on the new volume of Monsterwood soon ... moving out of the bed in the morning where it is too easy to watch endless episodes of Nashville or something).

Yours in pain.

Mitch McConnell's can relax now.


Swimming day! I actually had a good swim today, and that is a bit rare for me, to actually say it was good. The weather was a bit warmer, and quite clear. There are days when it is cooler and overcast that swimming is not as much fun. However, the strokes came easily, I had no trouble doing my usual routine, and still no extra pain or exhaustion. Besides the soft water, there was a clear cloudless sky with two or three dragonflies skittering across the surface of the water.

Janet has been sleeping most of the day. I can appreciate the ... motivation? I do like her to get up and move about each day. Earlier today I put on Renata Scotti's Madame Butterfly. She lay in bed with the cats enjoying it. 

I know there is a bag of potato chips in the cupboard and I am having a hello of a time staying away from it. I will compensate with peanut butter pretzels. 

Many many many days later.

It's a Sunday evening. Janet is watching Alias Grace. I am sitting on my bed with Butterscotch wondering if I will ever find any.

Do you ever feel remonstrated by all of your belongings and objects? So many obligations to the inanimate. I am feeling socked in by everything. I spent a lot of the day doing laundry, folding it and putting it away, then continuing the process of moving the objects/clothing in my drawers all around, making myself discard clothing that has pin holes or even small stains. I did make progress but not near enough.

The tax bill has me almost stopped. I am reeling, as are so many, from the reality that the United States of America has gone completely insane, the colors of our avarice and greed showing every where. 

I think I will take a bath and see if that helps my mood. Be right back.

That helped a little bit. Now for some tea and honey and then sleep. Hopefully, if there is any left in me, I will feel better in the morning. 

I am surrounded by things I collected for a life I now know I am never going to have. This is the life I have. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


I need to interrupt this post with what? A special bulletin? 

I've been working on this post both theoretically and actually for a couple of days. I haven't quite made it to the keyboard to write all that I am thinking and feeling. I am so uncomfortable in the world, I feel as if I am on some kind of prickling ice fire. Just morally and spiritually itchy and miserable. I know a lot of it is the sound of long unleashed misery and injustice cacophoning around the country. And the constant pressure of our desperate failure to run this country in a reasonable manner. I wonder if this is what it felt like in Germany after Kristallnacht. Or maybe a regular day during the black plague. I fucking do not know. I only know I am in deep and abject panic, pain, and anxiety. Did I fail to mention deséspoir?

Back to the post I was working on.

As is often the case.
As is often the case.
As is often the case.

I just picked a random sentence from a random earlier post. As is often the case, I am kind of tired. I went swimming today for the third time since I arrived back from New York. I am working my way back to my regular routine, but not all the way there yet. And today I feel it. 

One would not think it would be so challenging to get in two swims a week, given that I don't even have a regular job, but it still takes planning unless I could get up and do it before sanity and light set in. I don't anticipate that. I am not sure I could trust myself to make it to an evening swim at this time of year. It is hard enough with the grayish light and cooler temperature.

One of my friends says he has a to-do list three pages long. I am not even organized enough to write a list. But I did make more appointments for Janet (oh joy! Teeth cleaning! Pneumonia shot! Physical therapy!) as well as starting the bid process to get the jacaranda tree trimmed. 

I think I have hit my three accomplishments a day. I stopped by the store after the pool, my hair turbaned in a towel and a dress thrown over my wet swimsuit, to get the necessary vegetables to go along with the chicken I need to roast. The bird has been washed and is moving toward room temperature. If I get that done and the kitchen floor washed it will have been a stellar day.

The cats are warming up to me. Butterscotch is nearby almost all the time. Emmylou greets me by jumping into the car when I open it to get out. She hung out with me during my post-swim bath as well. Oona almost jumped into the tub with me. Mostly she ran in and out of the bathroom playing with Zora Idris. 

The autumnal sun is so wan. How did the quality of light change so very quickly? It's a dirty dishwater yellow grey without much interest in illuminating anything.

So, a reading/nap break is in order now.

The day after next.

There were a lot of small birds, I almost mistook them for hummingbirds but they did alight, marauding in one of my (very hot) pepper bushes. I could see the red roses peeking over the fence from the neighbor's yard as well.

I was trying to upgrade something on my laptop this morning, which sent me to some morning Melville.

Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me.
— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

 I am not making very quick progress here. I get distracted by all the other delectable book morsels around me.I found a copy of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest at a thrift store yesterday and had to buy it. It was one of my very most favorite books. What's not to love a book with these as the opening sentences:

I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit.

I mean seriously. That is music you can dance to. You cannot go wrong there. As I peruse this again for the umpteenth time, I find it even more interesting, now that I know more about the violence in the mines. My grandfather was indicted for murder at a mine in Arizona. He was a union organizer. Someone was killed in the melee and they tried to pin it on him.

Post outburst continuance.

One of my friends said that he spontaneously retched when he saw the photo of Al Franken. I am in the midst of this internal turmoil of things that have happened to me, ways I might have been party to harassment, memories of the Clarence Thomas hearings, it goes on and on. 

I have to figure out ways to be kind to myself, to take a little care of myself. I do feel ill. Disoriented. And, you know, hopeless. I feel nothing could give me solace or relief. Anhedonic. 

I know this time of year, what with the onslaught of forced fun holidays upon us. December, to me, looks like a lot more doctor's appointments. Maybe some swimming and graphic novel writing in there.


I caught the darkness
Drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness
Drinking from your cup
I said: Is this contagious?
You said: Just drink it up

I got no future
I know my days are few
The present's not that pleasant
Just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
But the darkness got that too

I should have seen it coming
It was right behind your eyes
You were young and it was summer
I just had to take a dive
Winning you was easy
But darkness was the prize

I don't smoke no cigarette
I don't drink no alcohol
I ain't had much loving yet
But that's always been your call
Hey I don't miss it baby
I got no taste for anything at all

I used to love the rainbow
I used to love the view
I loved the early morning
I'd pretend that it was new
But I caught the darkness baby
And I got it worse than you

I caught the darkness
Drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness
Drinking from your cup
I said: Is this contagious?
You said: Just drink it up

— Leonard Cohen

But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do—remember that—and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves: and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of God consists.

— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Sunday, November 12, 2017


This is merely to say hello. As if a hello were mere. One can forget that a recognition and kind greeting can be more than a small thing. A flicker of consciousness? A nod at being?

The Kermit Place Readers are on to Moby Dick. Again, I had some reluctance to take on such a long work for the second time. But with the rewarding memories of a re-read of Middlemarch still fresh, I press on. With that, I was rewarded with this at the outset.

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong and moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball."

And that is in the first paragraph, baby. You thought "Call me Ishmael." was grand.

The next day. 

Janet and I seem to be having pyjama days. I can hear the umpteenth episode of Fixer Upper playing down the hall. It is soothing. 

I watched the ending of Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge, which I recommend. I still have some old copies outside that I should perhaps try to sell instead of letting them rot. When I was at UCSC, I found that they had bound copies of the magazine. I wasted some good studying time looking through them. If only I had known there was such a thing as American studies, I do believe my life would have taken a different turn.

So, I will go back to my reading. I am almost finished with this Please Look After Mom, a huge bestseller in Korea. Kind of a sentimental tear-jerker, yet not without merit and insight.

A house is such a strange thing. Everything else gets more worn when people handle it, and sometimes you can feel a person's poison if you get too close to him, but that's not what happens to a house. Even a good house falls apart quickly when nobody stops by. A house is alive only when there are people living in it, brushing against it, staying in it.

— Kyung-Sook Shin

Between hearing Fixer-Upper and thinking about the moving sale my friends are having at a beloved second home in Woodstock, I suppose this is particularly resonant. Knowing that I will never spatchcock or roast another chicken, huddle outside near the fire pit, laugh ourselves silly, or crack 
wise through a mutual terrible hangover at that house saddens me.

I knew—one day I wouldn't remember anything. And before that happened, I wanted to take care of everything I'd ever used. I didn't want to leave anything behind. All the bottom cupboards are empty, too. I broke every that was breakable and buried it.

— Kyung-Sook Shin

Well, it's 4:30 and I am still sitting here in an unmade bed in my pyjamas. Butterscotch is still sleeping in her favorite corner. The piles of undone things and unfinished tasks are before me. Do I watch more tv? Read Moby Dick? Roast a chicken? Or fold the laundry? I will not get to all of these tasks. Shall I blame the lethargy on the cool, grey day? Now, that I think of it, I am just grateful I don't have a hangover from drinking wine with the cousins last night.


You will get your full measure.
But, as when asking fairies for favors,
there is a trick: it comes in a block.
And of course one block is not
like another. Some respond to water,
giving everything wet a little flavor.
Some succumb to heat, like butter.
Others give in to steady pressure.
Others shatter at a tap. But
some resist; nothing in nature softens up
their bulk and no personal attack works.
People whose gift will not break
live by it all their lives; it shadows
every empty act they undertake.

Language is a diluted aspect of matter.
— Joseph Brodsky

No. Not diluted.
Flaked; wafered;
but not watered.
Language is matter
leafing like a book
with the good taste
of rust and exposure
the way ironwork
petals near the coast.
But so many more
colors than rust:
or, argent, others—
a vast heraldic shield
of beautiful readable
fragments revealed
as Earth delaminates:
how the metals scatter,
how matter turns

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It, New York, Grove Press, 2010