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Musing With A BB Gun
One day I might look out and see four apparently healthy dogs sniffing around the house and think what a shame what a marvel the existence of these wild inner-city animals, if only they had somebody who loved them, and the next day I've chosen sides (to hell with Love or the lack of it) all uppity about my own personal losses and predators be damned I strategically plan a revenge which is mostly just me with a bb gun shooting at not exactly helpless animals. The sound they make when hit is "yelp." When I feel the need to or can justify the protection of Shorty these yelps are nothing but a noise to me. Other times these yelps make me feel--egocentric as it sounds--as if I've been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the very idea of which implies so much affluence of choice as to make me tend towards a guilt over the abuse of my power. Power. Ha. Run away doggy, run away.
Is All Good, Friday 4.3.99
Even well educated as you all are, you are probably not aware that it does not have to be raining for there to exist a measure of 100% humidity. The New Orleans air is fully saturated today; the skies are gray; the temp is 70; the season is called spring; the sparrows have fluttering sex on the power lines, and Jermaine waits patiently for Beulah to rise from her slumber and move her car away from the entrance to the parking lot, so he can begin his car washing business on this last Good Friday before the beginning of the
third millenium AD.
This end of the block provides overflow parking for The Barbershop, and there is no weekend of business for haircutters that exceeds Easter Weekend. Cars began parking at seven this morning, and with Cadillac Shelton parking his spare Buick on this end of Dumaine, that lost space only adds to the problem. Which is why Bryan Henry's mom's car is parked in front of Van and Beulah's house, and why Beulah's car is parked in front of the driveway.
Jermaine, who hopes to take advantage of the increased traffic flow, is waiting on Van and Beulah's steps, with Corey on one side of him, and a toddler in her Easter Weekend dress on the other side. Jermaine is wiping sticky donut crumbs from the little girl's hands with a paper napkin, being as thorough as if he were shining the chrome rims on a Lexus sedan. The little girl who turns out to be one of his children seems to appreciate the effort, but still wipes her hand along the crisp fabric of her dress, before eagerly accepting the carton of chocolate milk Jermaine offers.
The doorbell begins ringing a little before noon; it will ring, with a combination of secret knocks, and glass tapping, endlessly throughout the day, until such a time when I answer with--"What?! what?! what?!" This evening the unlucky recipient of my wrath, on his fourth visit of the day, is
Lance. He has won this unlucky lotto more than once recently so I try to be gentle, not wanting him to think my disatisfaction is singular to his being. I try math, hoping to convince Lance that if he will just do the math, multiply that is, all the kids who have been on this porch today by the
number of times he himself has been here, then surely he will see why, at eight o'clock this evening, I am done, fed up, tired of interruptions, and wish to see or hear no more children (my tone suggests, ever), this evening. Lance is cool about it, and goes away. I close the door, feeling like an asshole, and if omniscience is allowed here, Lance is stepping down from the porch muttering, "asshole."
Jesus And The Pine Cones 3.18.99
In local news, an eleven-year-old was held up at gunpoint and robbed of $1.35 a few blocks from here at Rocheblave and Lafitte. Jacque Lewis, who lives at Rocheblave and Orleans, a block away from the crime scene, was heard to exclaim, "I don't know jack."
In seemingly unrelated news, volunteers prepare pignolati, bits of fried dough held together with caramelized sugar that represent the pine cones Jesus played with as a child.
Kojack and 2-year old son, Peanut, were in the block yesterday. Peanut runs up the steps, plops himself down next to me and responds to my greeting with--"No."
In the bright sun across the street, newly released from jail, G's mom, Annie, holds Kojack's baby girl, Jeanine. Jeanine cries.
"I know this is our first meeting so let me just say what a pleasure it is to meet you."
"So much negativity, I think we should accentuate the positive."
"I can make you, on account of I am a grown up with superior brain power."
"Just watch me."
Kojack in his 626 with Texas plates practices the art of the deal. Jeanine cries. Peanut is about to be tricked.
Across the street, Hunter fakes left, reverse dribbles behind the back right, stutter steps, and drives left, stops short of the basket and sinks a ten foot jump shot.
On the hitman's steps, a kid from J 's posse rolls a joint using regular Zig Zags. Just as sure as blunt rolling became commercialized with honey-dipped leaf-like wrappers sold in stay fresh pouches, kids on the street revert to the more common cigarette papers.
"I am nothing, but you are the great Peanut."
Kojack instructs his associate, "Get the fuck away man, this got nothing to do with you. Go on, get your sorry ass up the sidewalk."
Annie shifts Jeanine to her right arm, Jeanine cries. Kojack yells across, telling Annie to bring the baby over. Kojack admonishes Annie for holding Jeanine face up in the bright sun. "Little babies don't like that, why you do that?, give her to me." Jeanine stops crying. Kojack, standing below the elevated porch, stands Jeanine up on the porch so that she is eye level with him. He coos and cuddles with her, and she drools on his head.
Shelton drives left, defended closely by Hunter. Shelton trips, falling, throws up a desperate fade away, scores.
J takes a small hit, passes it on. The exhaled smoke is a cloud obscuring the faces of boys with caps turned sideways and backwards on their heads. Boys who advertise Nike, and FuBu, and Tommy Hilfiger. Boys who know little or nothing about the Yankees, or the Angels.
Hallie approaches and I tell her again why I don't like her to use the phone. "About an hour after you use the phone yesterday I get a call from a man wanting to know what I want and who I am. Calling me and asking that. And I have to start sounding rude, talking like--I am the number you called, this is Dumaine, blah, blah, blah, so even if you didn't leave this number on a beeper, everybody's got Caller ID these days, it's a nightmare, I hate
"Man shouldn't call and ask who you are," Hallie agrees.
I look right and Kojack is gone, back in his car, which he moves up the block so his associate will stay out of his business. Jeanine is nowhere to be seen, but is probably inside Mama D's.
Six-year old Erica is approaching, home from Phillis Wheatly Elementary.
"I will never amount to spit."
Erica seems surprised. "You know Peanut, Mr. Jim?"
"Well, I've been knowing who he is, but this is the first time we have talked."
Erica hugs Peanut, says to him, "I love you."
Kojack appears out of nowhere and says, "Tell Erica you love her, Peanut."
Peanut says, "Ruv U Eca."
G comes over and asks to borrow the football. A detailed Ford Explorer pulls up to the curb and Annie pokes her head in, talks to an old boyfriend in dress clothes. G and I overhear about her failing of a drug test. The man agrees with her at some point--"Yes, nobody's perfect."
Looking across to the basketball court, I recognize none of the young adult players in a heated three on three. Shelton comes across with a tennis ball, gives it to Peanut. We play catch. Peanut can't catch but has a hell of an arm.
The sun's too hot across the street, more people are crossing over.
Hallie is on the payphone at the corner.
I yell to a child I barely know and tell him to keep a toddler I've never seen before from walking out into the street.
Erica asks to borrow a jump rope.
Jesus plays with his pine cones.
Redneck Reunion 2.9.99
Gelti sold a spec on Bonita Bay, English Turn, and the new owners are adding built in bookcases, and some other shit they gotta have. So we're back over there. The beautiful woman next door had her baby girl yesterday, this I heard the husband yell across to lady neighbor at seven a.m., as he departed in mercedes.
Went to a parade tonight, low key, the weather is perfect.
On the way to English Turn this morning I see Don Lemonwhite's green GMC with camper turn onto Gen. DeGaulle. I slow down some and wait for him to catch up. He pulls even and with windows down we yell nonsense at each other at 6:30 a.m. He doesn't know enough goofy people, and neither do I, so we treasure each other. Even though I'm a nigger lovin' hippie, and he's a Mississippi Redneck. We haven't worked together in months, and since Bossman is giving up Terrell's work, we will now see each other infrequently. We are stopped at the intersection right before the Intracoastal Waterway bridge. We are two of about eight or ten cars at the stoplight. Don reverses into my bumper, as he has done numerous times before, but this time jumps outta his truck and starts waving his arms over his head like he just can't believe some idiot bumped into him, and I'm lolling out the window of the beat to shit little red Festiva, laughing, at 6:30 a.m. on my way to work. The light is respectful of our reunion and we talk the weather, me sitting in my car, and Don standing in the street. The green light says our goodbye, and as Don gets back into his truck he says, "thanks, you made my day."
Likewise I'm sure.
Brother, Please Be Quiet 2.8.99
I have no idea from where I was coming but at the corner of Orleans and Carrollton I was almost all alone. Three boys, not really gangsters, but stoned out of their minds and carelessly carefree, are sitting on the broken down parade barricades just to the left of a car (me) sitting at the light in the left lane, riverbound. I am not completely oblivious to the spectacle that is me driving the beat to shit Festiva, a car of a size perfectly at home and somewhat respected in a place like Mexico City or some other developed third world, but pretty much an embarrassment anywhere in the USA. The ego unfettered is a dangerous thing, so the little red car is really this thing I got going for me. And me and the three boys are the only inhabitants of planet Earth. There is no traffic, of any kind.
"Look at that little car, brah, heh, heh," middle boy announces to left and right end.
Okay, so I'm not really completely dope free, and driving around town early Sunday morning with a self-concious weed high is a thing I still try to enjoy now and again. But I'm wearing cheap sunglasses so my condition is not as obvious as that of the three boys.
"Yeah its little," I say, obviously tired of being quietly self-concious, and also remembering the gangbanger who on Friday said "look at the white boy," as Van and I left Dumaine to fish the river. I rolled the window down and turned to look slightly behind and to the left at the dred-headed bitch who would not return eye contact, and said something lame like, "you ain't color blind, what else you got going?" Van was quietly occupying the 6' 3," two hundred pound space to my right and I can only imagine that he lamented his proximity to a white boy who talked so freely, and stupidly. I should be more prudent.
Like I was telling PVA after we parked on Rampart near the Iberville projects so she could see one of the cemetaries she had read about in her travel guide. The one for which the guide suggests caution and warns of modern day outlaws. And one of two which claim to be the burial site of Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.
In trying to figure why I obsess on the crime angle of this city when describing it to visitors I can only count off in my mind the number off intersections to which are tied horrendous crimes. Bloody crimes that ended with death(s). Perhaps most visitors would rather smell the smells and see the sites without my crime scene editorials, but I rarely offer that
Impossible to give even a short tour of this city without passing ten such intersections. And this is just the last few years. Who could give accurate testimony to the life of a New Orleans street corner over a hundred or more years? Horrendous acts and off the meter depravity are inextricable from what makes this city alive, and interesting enough to capture an imagination.
The study of life and death, up close and personal. The historical events emedded in the asphalt covered cobblestone of this city are staggering to consider.
Who spit, shit, shot, (who) on this corner in 1923? 1790? 1897?
Anyway, what I'm telling PVA is that she's been watching the wrong movie if she thinks there are any hero's when it comes to having a loaded gun pointed at your head so, "for the record, if we're jacked, give up all worldly goods with good humor and don't speak unless spoken to. More than a few victims have been unnecessarily shot just because they tried to run away or spoke out of place. My goal will be to live through it, and if necessary, in the event you are not as lucky, I will speak kindly about you to your survivors."
Which all sounds even more like a crock of doodoo when you consider that one, the vast majority of us survives the New Orleans experience, and two, for the second time in three days I am talking stupid shit to members of a rather volatile age group. That 15-25-year old group. And I think I'm getting plain weird with this one because I'm rolling down the window, hanging my arm out, getting conversational. The middle guy is freaking, and goofing, on me; the right end is seeing some merit in my mode of transportation; and the left end is
theatrically nodded out, mouth hanging open, eyes closed, which upon noticing, causes middle guy to break out laughing again, and stuttering a little.
I could have been sympathizing with the middle guy when I asked, "you're too stoned to talk aren't you?" But I wasn't, I was fuckin' with him, and felt like doing it some more but the light changed and I was forced to awkwardly glide away, leaving behind the words of a white cop, "have a nice day, fellas."
Are You Sure You Want Out? 2.7.99
Fermin can't figure out why everything good has to be tainted with something bad. He's learning he can't brag about the new bedroom and TV he has all to himself over on Touro and expect to be treated with the brotherly love he desires while on Dumaine. His good fortune over on Touro further limits his appeal with his cousins on Dumaine, who didn't like him that much to begin with, and have always treated him more like the visiting relative with whom they have fun only when absolutely necessary.
Leaving a piece of trash on the steps leading to the front porch is like taking a big dump and then using it as the ink to scrawl a message like: "Thank you for your futile efforts, not good enough, fuck you." The insult on top of injury in this metaphor is the lack of proper sentence structure.
And how gleefully they drop dimes on each other--"Look what Fermin did,"one of his cousins reports while pointing to the pile of trash on the steps, as Jacque and I, returning from fishing on the bayou, exit the vehicle.
Jacque turned thirteen yesterday. For his birthday I went fishing with Van, down to the river, our lines weighted to the muddy river bottom with spark plugs. "We'll go in the morning," I had told Jacque, tempted to buy off his disappointment with a ten dollar bill.
The kids are bored and have hours to kill before the day's parades so let's sic Mr. Jim on Fermin, see what happens. Can't blame them that, although they should know by now that flying sparks can burn the unintended as well.
Fermin saunters back from Jack's with the second of what will be a four course breakfast, each course consisting of one of those frozen tubes of colored sugar water that you squeeze into your mouth by pinching and squeegeeing the plastic from the bottom up.
While the audience of kids--Shelton, Marqin, Lance, Bryan, Irvin, and Jacque--enjoy the spectacle of Fermin and I pissing off each other, I sink to the common low and interject with, ... and I sure feel like hitting you right now. I don't agree with it but Ican understand why people hit their children in anger, that's what I've learned from being around here, and while you're sucking on that thing empty this trash can over in the dumpster." Shelton and Lance laugh; Lance mimics my words and delivery.
"...While you suckin' on that thang."
And I go off into harangue number 28, "If you're going to hang around here, keep it clean, I mean, look at this street, look at all the candy wrappers inside this property alone, you got it looking like a ghetto around here...,"
"This is a ghetto, Mr. Jim," Lance interjects.
"No, you're mind is a ghetto."
"I don't know about that, Mr. Jim."
And then I give Marqin (9) an earful not knowing that two days later Mama D would drag him literally by his ears past the Sunday morning beer breakfast gathering of the Dumaine Gentlemen's Club, exhorting, "get inside and iron those pants like I told you to," while Monk (62), Van (39), and myself (39), cheer her on with encouragements, "good work Mama D," and "show him what's what, Mama D." And last night Marqin made Mandy's shit list with his aggressive misbehavior at a work related Mardi Gras function in the CBD, near the end of the Uptown parade route.
Monk has stepped out of blue collar unemployment into the mail room of some St. Charles firm in the CBD. The trimming of hair and beard removed much of his grey and combined with the slacks and tie give him a new profile which causes me to address him as Mr. Louis (first name), or, Mr. Gibson (last name). He answers like the dignified Englishman, "yes, really, we must do lunch."
This morning at the Shell, corner of Orleans and Broad, a man needing bus fare sold me a bag containing ten pounds of oranges of suspect provenance. Discarding the ones with punctures and rinsing the rest has me with a still life of sweet smelling fruit.
Times Picayune writer, Petula Dvorak, checks in with this--"Samuel Gaines Jr. didn't get a chance to stand up from his milk-crate seat to greet his visitor before the man shot him in the head Thursday afternoon, police said." Gaines had been released from prison one month previous.
Dumaine HMO 2.4.99
It could be said that junior post man, Eddie Green, gave The St. Augustine Purple Knights the cushion they needed to win just by being intentionally fouled three times in the last fifty seconds and then making five of the six ensuing free throws, giving his team a five point lead with thirty seconds left on the clock. Except that Jesuit tied it up, took it to overtime, and won. Jesuit hotshot Brandon Spann scored 45, St. Aug senior Hollis Price had 32, and Eddie Green had 18. Jesuit 85, St. Aug 81. The two teams are now tied with each other for their district's first place.
Glynn seems abundantly proud of his first suspension from school. He and Jacque want me to take them fishing for Jacque's birthday this Friday. The two twelve-year olds just hit me up with another request for the Friday event as I carried my Rocky Road back from Jack's--can they take Marqin (9) and Terrioues (5)? The best I can, I explain the concept of "pushing your luck."
As I layed back unwinding from last night's game there came a howling from the streets, surrounded by shouting and pleading. Shelton and HP were at opposite ends of LuLu's body as she suffered from a trauma (fighting with cousin Julia and being slapped by Mama D) induced asthmatic fit out on the sidewalk. HP moaned right along with her--"Oh please LuLu, please get up. Please LuLu."
LuLu is on the short list of people HP wants invited to his wake. LuLu is a sixteen-year-old raised at Mama D's who proves that intelligent, well-behaved, and respectful citizens can be bred in this climate. Mandy arrived on the scene (this time wearing her crisis intervention hat), got everyone inside, and then, as they were all still yelling, quite suddenly (and impolitely she admits), told everyone to "shut up." And to her suprise, she was obeyed. Mandy and Erica looked after LuLu for another hour and a half, feeding her asthma medication, mopping her brow, and letting her cry. About the issue of underlying resentment against the "little white girl" who meddles in other people's affairs, as Mandy has also recently looked into the mismanaged medical affairs of both older men (Ralston, diabetes in his 60's, and HP in his 70's), Mandy had this to say. "I guess Mama D was OK with it, she waved to me this morning as I was leaving for work." As for LuLu--I can only imagine that one has to keep quite a lot pent up inside to remain "good" in this environment.
That white boy was hanging around the corner yesterday with the knuckleheads from Maury's. He may be a buyer but I always imagine him as a supplier. Good luck everybody.
"I'm not scripting that," Erica said.
"You're not what?" I said.
"Scrittin," she said, sure now that I would know her meaning. "I just stay in the back is all, I just stay in the back."
Adults showing undo interest is the babblings of youth is suspicious behavior, Erica thinks.
Is she trying to tell me a secret? I push a little more, the dull-witted adult. "What is it you're saying?"
"I just stay in the back," she enunciates slowly, "I stay in the back." She says it the last time with an air of finality, implying equally that she is done with the subject and done with my interest in it.
Attempting to be oblivious to the roar of marauding children in the street last night, I lay on the bed reading detective fiction. Mandy is on the porch supervising, and drinking a few Mickeys. She lets Erica pass into the inner sanctum which is JimWorld, a quiet place.
Franzen thought I turned 40 this year and that there should have been some hoopla surrounding that event but he was/is wrong on both counts. It was a couple of months after the May event that he's thinking this, so thinking (wrongly) that I would be upset not having a fuss made over the big forty, he
sets me up with this Amazon.com account with a bunch of money in it. I tell him I'm just 39 but thanks for the cake. I get a bunch of the I Can Read Dr. Seuss stuff and some of the PD Eastman illustrated stuff and this is what I'm reading to Erica this night. I got fourteen books but she only cares about, over and over, Robert the Rose Horse, One Fish Two Fish, and Snow, occasionally allowing for Fish Out of Water. She has them almost memorized and tonite is pretending to read to me.
At one point, she pauses in her recitation, turns around to look at something in the living room, and says, "What do you want?" As we are the only two people in the house, I ask what I consider the appropriate question. "Who are you talking to, Erica?" Her answer is the obvious one. "No one."
Fermin, Shelton, Jacque, and I went to the show today and saw Bride Of Chucky.
After the show took Mandy Uptown to Isidore Newman Highschool, which is where Peyton Manning and his cloned quarterbacking brothers went/go to school.
Eddie Green from across the street was playing in the basketball championship game of the Newman Invitational Tournament against East Jefferson. Another tournament trophy for St. Augustine. Eddie Green, made the all tournament team. His mom, Beulah, is a big fan but she had to work tonite so its after the game now and Eddie is eating his victory fast food over there in the living room, at the other computer, on account of he's locked out of his
Ethnic Humor On The Radio 12.10.98
Since that day this summer when the Festiva was floating like a battered red buoy, bouncing off the curb on a Dumaine wave, the car radio has ceased to work.
So it has been that long since I have had the opportunity to hear Howard Stern in the morning, because not too many crews will agree on listening to four hours of talk. But today we listened to the whole show.
A big part of the morning was dedicated to the Intern Beauty Contest. The judging panel was made up of one homosexual, one retarded guy, and one Klan member. This Klan guy, Daniel Carver, is very candid about his beliefs, which
are summed up simply by saying--niggers, queers, and jews are a sub-species and can be blamed for all the wrongs on the planet.
So some guy calls up and tells Howard that the New Orleans
radio station was censoring his show by playing music during segments they deemed offensive, in this case some gag song featuring the word "nigger." I believe I heard it once when working at another job. The black guys on the stucco crew were listening to their own radio that day so maybe didn't hear the nigger song. But its an awkward feeling nonetheless, worrying that a black dude on the job will overhear some of this shit--a bunch of white guys listening to a spoof on "niggers," despite all Lenny Bruce-type arguments which would suggest that Howard is strictly making fun and shining a light on offensive racial attitudes.
As much as I appreciate the irreverence of Stern's humor I would hate to be put in the position of actually defending his behavior. The hedonism ( or just plain self-absorption ) which fuels his desire to entertain at all costs is his own little trip, and he's gotta carry his own baggage. Except I do
support his belief that his shows are no more offensive than that which the popular media churns out day after day, month after month. Including, if not especially, news media. Will Barbara Walters get to the bottom of this Bill Clinton Ally McBeal thing? Will Princess Di ever Die?
So anyway, Howard is pissed off about this censorship, at least as much as will make for good radio, and he promises to get to the bottom of whatever the hell is going on in New Orleans. If he came and hung here for awhile he would
see that all the niggers aren't actually listening to his show and therefore mostly would not be aware of the censorship that is going on for their benefit, nor would they be aware of the cutting edge behind his sophmoric humor, which for them, surely makes the dilema of whom to thank all the more
There has been some confusion among my vast readership as to what the hell is up with my posting of outdated journal entries.
My nephew, just awarded his PHD from LSU, did ask--"what the, I mean, whyya whyya doin that thing? There's a date at the top and one at the bottom...?"
"Well it's complicated," I began telling this nephew during his not so recent visit. I went on to say, "hey you wanna beer?"
Now I get a similar query from my overseas friend. She was so bored recently that she asked me to write her just to break up the monotony of her day and when I did she was overwhelmed by the magnanimity of my effort, which was really nothing considering the tradeoff value this woman represents in her capacity as my "French Girlfriend." She said something like, "hey, thanks for writing." A few days later I get this from her--"what the, what the, I mean whyya doin that, that weird dating thing?" And although she does not have a PHD, this friend was at least somewhat smarter than me in high school.
So what is up with all these brilliant people drowning in confusion? I really can only answer that to the extent that their confusion relates to my past-dated journal entries.
I started writing in '97 about my New Orleans experiences. I was emailing them to my pal in N. Virginia. And then I added to the mailing list my pal in Bucks County. And then his brother in NY, and then a few other people, never totaling more than seven or eight. The writing was like therapy, not, of course, that I needed any therapy, being so famously well adjusted, but I noticed myself feeling relatively better when I did write as opposed to when I did not write. It was like a drug, and I became like a junkie. The writing was adding to my life a certain joie de vivre, and who doesn't need a good French phrase now and again.
My Virginia pal suggested I start doing HTML. What that is? I wanted to know but he never really answered me and so I sort of figured out what it was on my own. Then, in the spring of 2000 I am electronically introduced to this NY Webmaster who has a sight on the Internet (digitalmediatree) and he says send some stuff if you want and that's what I do. And he makes it so I don't really have to know jack about HTML, which is the written code language you really have to know something about if you're going to post anything on the Internet. My friend had given to the Webmaster, for his entertainment, a hardcopy of my previous two years of emails prior to introducing us, and so this spring in NY while forcing me to eat good food and drink outrageous wine, and the Webmaster suggested I post some of the stuff I had written prior to 2000, I said okeedokey. And I had been thinking about doing that anyway and was grateful for the suggestion. It was just like when my French Girlfriend asked me to write her last week. All you gotta do is ask. I do requests.
And so I hope that clears it up. Also, there is no truth to the rumors that I am bored with the present and have nothing to say, just as there is no truth to the rumors that I am gleeful about the politcal demise of Trent Lott.
NO Flash Picture 11.20.98
"Man kills brother on Bourbon by Petula Dvorak.
A man was gunned down by his brother Thursday just before midnight outside the Chris Owens Club on Bourbon Street, where police fought to keep tourists from snapping photos as the man lay dying".
This morning at the EZ Serve across from the jail at Tulane and Broad I purchased a Pepsi Cola. The porn magazines behind the counter are not completely hidden and I found myself staring into the come hither eyes of a blond haired blue eyed hot girl who was busy licking the ear of another blond and blue hot girl. The cashier was not being rude, ignoring me and my Pepsi, she just needed to get the attention of the man behind me.
"You can't hear me calling you?"
"Just that one time."
"It was three times."
"Wellllll...can't you see, I'm busy?"
For the rest of the day I was Jaybird Taylor.
"Well, Oh--kayyy," Kevin at work said after I informed him of my decision.
At Lunch Bossman finally broke the news to me that he is dissolving the company in March or April, and when I cried out--"It's about time," I didn't mean it as an insult, more just to say, "you know, I mean for me, I could use a break."
Profanity And The Missing Daddies 11.3.98
M didn't even see the sidewalk poetry, she was put out with S before that, the capper being his cackling laughter as he tortured a neighborhood boy.
"Fuck the police, fuck the bitches, fuck the hores, Dumaine Thugs," and then the listing of several neighborhood names.
On Sunday, "No you can't go with us."
"Because you misspelled 'whore...'"
"Thats the way M told me to spell it..."
"And you wrote all kinds of stupid shit on the sidewalk, and you made it sound like there's a gang called the Dumaine Thugs, which is like advertising--I'm a gangster, I'm an idiot, come arrest me, my name is S, and these are the names of my accomplices. Big C and Big S ought to whip your ass for including their names."
Later on Sunday in the middle bedroom through the open window I hear this chanting and this crying, and more chanting and more crying. It doesn't stop so I get up and look out the front door and F is hunched over the hood on one side of Beulah's car, chanting, and T is on the other side, crying.
F: (singsongy) You a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty.
F: (singsongy) You a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty, you a crybaby and you daddy kiss booty.
That's just part of being low man on the totem pole at Mama D's. T will have to learn to take some of that.
Today after the big boys kicked the little kids off the basketball court, Preston runs off down the sidewalk as Erica watches him go, and when he's about twenty feet away two things happened at exactly the same moment. Erica
pointed her finger and said "flip," and young Preston executed a front somersault/cartwheel looking flip, then kept on running, without looking back.
Kids are weird.
Coming back from the movies yesterday with L riding shotgun. A second line parade, just passed, is causing havoc with the traffic, so I turn right on Ursulines, and shortly come to a stop at Broad.
L said, "There go your daddy, F."
F ignores him.
"That's your daddy though, ain't it, F?"
F mumbles and slumps down in the back seat.
Never seen F's daddy. All the same, I did not rubberneck.
I'm Sorry, Its Empty 10.28.98
A year ago I was talking to this friend of mine. We were on the sidewalk of a shopping center on the east coast talking about the meaning of life, procreation, survival, and greater purposes in general, and I remember now, or actually last night after yelling at Shelton, that I said--and not hurting
people's feelings. I did not know why I said that, it seemed awkward, and still does, but teenage disappointment sure brought it back last night as Shelton lumbered past me with homework which would go undone after I told him, curtly, to reverse direction and get back in the front room with all the other kids. He was on his way to his "office" (the bathroom) to start his homework, but I'm against that tonite. Shelton is fourteen, not a kid, still a kid, and wants to be given special privileges in this house. I feel strongly against special privilege but my attentions to Erica, Shelton's neice, belie that attitude, and it is clear to everyone involved that truth be known, I like what I like, when I like it, and that my belief system is subject to an inconsistent moodiness (I wouldn't say manic depression), that reminds me of Fathers in general--Shut Up I'm Trying To Watch The Television. Followed by--Hey Son Wanna Play Catch.
A US Mail eighteen wheeler broke down in front of 2654 Dumaine last night, and has been there all day. A bunch of white guys are checking out the situation at sunset. A basketball rolls under this one guy's foot and someone from the parking lot/basketball court comes to retrieve it. But the white guy is like Beaver Cleaver and can't seem to get out of the way, and he and the young shirtless man do this little dance before everyone achieves their short term destiny.
School is in session. Poochie's daughter, Shentrell, is out on the porch with HP and a blond barbie puzzle. Mandy says not to give Shentrell anything until she apologizes to Terrioues. Woops, I was just trying to get her to stop ringing the bell. Lance (the former acrobat) is at the kid's computer playing
a game while he waits for Mandy to give him one on one in Algebra. Erica has finished copying the letter "J" and the numbers eight and nine. Terrioues is at the table writing something and waiting (in vain I predict) for an apology
from Shentrell, who earlier hit him and tore his paper. Mandy asks me do I remember anything about quadratic equations and parabolas. The vacant stare is my best answer. Glynn did his work and is gone. Bryan is still working on it. Lance comes over and asks me how good am I at math. Not as good as Mandy. Lance and I agree that Language Arts is more to our liking. "What do you want me to read?" says Lance, and I am caught off guard so I say, "I will think of some real fine stuff...before you turn twenty." This seems logical to Lance, he nods, and goes back to his computer.
The trailer is opened, flashlights shine, Glynn peeks, its empty. The tractor disconnects and pulls away from the empty trailer. If it stays too long here on Dumaine it will become part of the scenery, and eventually morph into a
thing it never knew it could be.
City Park Hobos 10.12.98
Phillis invited me over for the Saints vs. Forty-Niners game, along with her sister, Evelyn, and Mandy. So this is football with three chicks, two of whom do not understand the deeper meaning of the sport and are of the type to make inappropriate, almost sacreligious comments during the game. Sure is a lot of hand holding, they notice; a lot of butt grabbing too.
Evelyn and I, however, scowled, and moaned appropriately, for the entire game. Niners 31, Saints 0. SF is pretty good but DeBartolo is a punk.
Before the game I took Bryan, Irvin, Fermin, Glynn, Marqin, Terrioues, and Erica to City Park. The first four boys are about 12, Marqin is 9, and Terrioues and Erica are 5. No two of these children are from the same mother and paternity is often a vague unknown. Shelton, by the way, is being
punished again. I heard Mama D yelling across to Mandy on the front porch yesterday--"Tell Jim not to take Shelton nowhere tomorrow. He didn't make his bed and..." some other stuff I didn't hear. Shelton is a pretty cool troubled
fourteen-year-old but the trips are alway easier when he doesn't come. His propensity for troublesome behavior extends well beyond not making beds.
The four bigger boys packed off together, Marqin tried to tag along with them, and Terrioues tried to tag along with Marqin. Erica stayed put and stared out over the pond near the sixteenth tee. I stared at Erica staring.
"Ducks," Erica said.
"Ducks," I nodded.
"I wanna follow them boys."
"Go on then," and that's what she does, looking back once to see if I'm going to follow.
Erica and Terrioues were standing at the curb waiting to be crossed but the big boys wouldn't cross them. Erica started to cry. "Don't cry Erica, it's not as bad as you think." But she wants to see what the boys are looking at. We crossed to the little circular pond with the shiny abstract windmill in
front of the Museum of Art. The boys took off for the big open meadow to the left and started playing football. Marqin stayed behind to explain about the big fish that he and the other boys had seen but that Erica and Terrioues could not see.
Some well-to-do matrons of the arts look down from the steps of the museum and think what a cute picture.
Marqin spotted the miniature train and ran off to chase it, yelling, "the train, the train."
Erica and Terrioues started yelling, "the train, the train," jumping up and down. I cross them over to the meadow, at the far edge of which the train is traveling along.
And they take off across the meadow, following Marqin who has caught up with the train and is running along side it, waving, and laughing at the passengers who are waving and laughing at him. Erica and Terrioues are all the way across the meadow now and have reached the tail end of the train.
Gosh, they sure are a long ways away, engaging in potentially dangerous behavior. I hope they don't do anything silly, or, you know, childish. I sighed with relief when they fell down exhausted, one after the other. Marqin was still near the front, and I think the "engineer" was yelling at him to
stay away, so Marqin fell down too.
Before the park I was out helping the kids clean the street, Rene was bending my ear, going on about something that had nothing to do with getting the street clean, and this guy in a blue work shirt walks up carrying a can of gas, and he's coming on to me, so to speak, wants something from me, I can tell, and so I'm acting impatient, saying--all right man, all right. But he just starts telling me what a good thing me and my "wife" are doing around here, and I'm nodding, yes, thanks, I appreciate it, but what are you really after is what my body language is screaming, but after he was all said and
done it turned out he didn't want anything at all except to say--thanks.
Sleeping Around--Slacker's Travel Guide 10.8.98
The present blurs. And the past intrudes to remind us of the days that made us old.
Sun on my face, tide coming in, bar under water. Two hiking girls are escaping the island before the bar disappears completely. I hope to arrive on the island before the bar disappears completely.
(The doorbell rings, a voice explains, and two more critters join the fray. Erica, with a new boy, a new name I won't be getting tonite. Sure, have some bubbles, have a party. Doorbell rings, Marqin has a problem, can't get into
Mama D's. Marqin gets the mop and cleans bubble juice off the floor. Phone rings, LuLu say--Mr. Jim?, Yes? Marqin there? Yes, would you like to speak to him? No, just tell him he can come home now, good night. Okay, goodnight.
Goodbye. Goodbye. Marqin? What? You can go home now. Okay.
The girl who is less pretty takes my picture. It must look like I'm walking on water because the two girls look like they're walking on water, what with the bar just inches below the surface now. We are approaching each other, the
three of us, out in the middle of the harbor, walking, it appears, on top of the water, and the prettier of the two is about to speak to me, this, I can sense. Me, I'm just hoping the bar is wide enough for all of us because they're mistaken if they think I won't push them over the edge.
"You can't spend the night on Bar Island," she said, as if she were used to being taken seriously.
The next morning, having timed the tide correctly, I crossed back to Bar Harbor, and shivered for two hours until the sun was high enough to give me warmth. I waited outside in the October cold until the first door unlocked, and then I entered quickly, and was greeted by a formal waiter with a white
cloth over his forearm.
"Goodness, did you camp out last night?" He asked me.
"Yes, on Bar Island," I said.
"We got our first freeze last night," he said.
"That doesn't surprise me, I was very cold last night."
"Breakfast will make you feel better."
Coffee and blueberry pancakes on heavy china over white tablecloth. Like a proper tourist, vacationing in Maine, out of season.
oitigygagysgasgagshhahhahhshhshgyhbxijyitirfi9ti r4ur4tiit5uuhrhhhhgh and I
are writing a story. I sent her away to get a chair.
afwngswtswstge3gwgsefgsegdf34gg3ew and now she's back erica lewis
its my turn now and now what are you doing
how old are you Terrioues?
five? are you big for your age?
erica's five and I'm bigger than her
but boys, are you bigger than the other boys in kindergarten?
yeah, 'cept for two girls, they twins.