I have reached the conclusion that mankind can't stand peace. Peace is just too peaceful for them. They must have LOUDNESS to live. War is LOUDNESS. Peace is something you find at its best in solitude; peace at its worst is a truce in a time of war. All time before and probably after these days seems to be a time of war. Thousands of people a day are killed in wars. Even murders are a part of a war, a small more internal war, but a loud war just the same. Or it might be the seemingly constant war between the cops and drug dealers; or it might be a street war between gangs. Never any peace. Never a "cops for peace" movement; never a "gangs for peace" movement. And when you do speak up for peace you usually get killed. Have you noticed throughout history, military leaders get to be rulers; peacemakers are not even generally known to the public. The following is the biography of a peacemaker in Nazi Germany; all the man wanted was peace...so what did he get?
In my day, Martin Luther King seemed to me to be a peacemaker, though as a preacher of the Christian way of life, his ultimate goal, yes, even the ultimate goal of Martin Luther King, was war, the war that all Christian leaders have to look forward to: "Armegeddon," the Christians call it, and they pray that it will come soon, and, yes, though they claim at Xmas time that Jesus wants only "Peace on earth and goodwill to all men," that's pure-dee hoakum when you follow the chain of their hypocritical logic. If there is supposed to be peace on earth and goodwill toward men according to Jesus, then what the hell is Armageddon all about and what is Jesus coming back as a mighty warrior riding a white horse out of the clouds, what the hell is that all about? Hollywood can't recreate that silly shit; it's too unbelieveable for virtual reality. If Jesus were really a "man" of peace, why couldn't he just float down some bloody afternoon in the middle of Baghdad and hold out his arms and stop that LOUD atrocity going on over there in the name of democracy and peace. Why wouldn't champions of Jesus go to Baghdad and hold out their arms ordering peace? Because, all of us have to die; Christians, however, are scared to death of death--not of killing mind you, but of their dying. They trace their fear of death back to the fabulous old Middle Eastern tale of the creation of man and woman (the Christians's Adam (for alpha man) and Eve (evening is the womb filling to pregnancy readying for the birth of tomorrow at the coming dawn) who because of WOMAN (Woe-to-Man) ate of the forbidden fruit that contained the knowledge of good and evil (such unmittigated bullshit--what the hell is "good" and what the hell is "evil"? Is a drug that cures AIDS a "good" drug or an "evil" drug? How stupid is believing in good and evil?), knowledge only a god knows how to handle. Oh yeah, gods are all great guys aren't they? Women gods, too; really great people, though they are usually portrayed as human-animal hybrids. Thank god for the gods. Man created gods in his own image.
The god-damn United Nations has peace as its goal to the point that chisled into the walls of their headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan is the statement that the UN wants to turn arms into ploughshares. Yeah sure. The United Nations has about as much power as I do. The United Nations was purposely made a joke by the Big Three in those days, the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union. I can't think of anything the UN has ever done...well, maybe they've saved some...no...Truman made them responsible for the Korean War--he got the UN to let their flag wave over that war--that was the peacekeeping organization at war, and a LOUD WAR, too. How many millions died in that little police action?
I googled "peace" on the Internet and I didn't get much; the same old acronyms for this peace or that peace. There is still a peace movement but it's basically ineffective; it put millions in the streets against the Iraq War before that foolish lied-about war started, warning of the very things that have happened since, but the millions marching were totally uneffective since the media refused to cover it and the majority of those who rule us ignored it. So the war went on anyway, fuck the peaceniks. And that's how peacelovers are thought of in the white history of things. Peacelovers are Hippys, Commies, Yippies, dope smokers, kneegrow lovers, injun lovers--oh Jesus, I feel like a fool rattling on...NO, THERE IS NO PEACE ON THE INTERNET.
My dad sat around growling all his life about all he wanted from life was "Peace, quiet, and loving words." He got them all but Peace. He finally got peace when an 18-wheeler Mack truck going 88 mph down a Texas highway hit his car broadside on the driver's side. The collision blew my dad out of the driver's seat, threw him somehow 20 feet up into the air, blew all his clothes off, including his underwear, his shoes and sox, blew his wristwatch off his wrist [my brother found it off the highway in the grass, still intact, still running, an Omega black dial, and he wore it for several years after that], and splatted him down face first ending him up flying naked all the way to the back of the 18 wheeler that had just exploded all his dreams "in one fell swoop," a phrase he championed a lot during our short span of years together. Alas, my dad got his peace. His rest in peace, which as an acronym is RIP. "Gonna rip it up," Little Richard used to sing. Little Richard never has had any peace.
I see no peace in anybody's future.
A Wolf's Lonely Howl
When I lived in Santa Fe, it's been so many F-ing years now, but anyway, I had a Siberian husky and his son a larger Malamute, half husky/half wolf--two of the nicest dogs, by the bye, I've ever had the privilege of living with--I normally hate dogs, but not Skigor and Skookum; they were gentlemen dogs.
In Santa Fe, I lived in an old Philadelphia school (studied under Robert Henri at the Penn Academy of Art) painter's handbuilt studio that sat a drop off down in back of his big adobe hacienda--and the drop off was steep enough you could see the roof of the studio from the big house's long back porch. The big house and the studio hung several hundreds of feet up above the little city of smokestackless Santa Fe, itself 7,000 feet above sea level, and you could look from our little studio's upstairs porthole window down out and all the way across the city all the way over toward the Rio Grande River Gorge to the west and the purple-est of mountains off in the hazy distance. It was an ideal place for a writer, like I was pretending to be in those days, and for my wife, though probably a little bored while I was writing, at least charmed by the quaintness of the place, the view, and the fact that she could knit to her heart's content in her big leather chair by the small but hot and illuminating adobe fireplace with the sweet old Navajo rug thrown down in front of it; what old Navajo rugs were meant for.
We had only been married a year and a half and we had moved to Santa Fe the fall before from Mexico City, where we had lived a wild, exciting almost-year and were looking for some laid back peace living among the old artists of wonderful old Santa Fe. The big adobe hacienda was the last in a row of houses built by five painters who came to Santa Fe in the early twenties, they called themselves Los Cincos Pintores, and they all built their own compounds in this row on this ancient roadway called Camino del Monte Sol, the street to Sun Mountain, which was a small child of a peak up at the point where the Camino ran into its feet and where the beautiful old convent that was then the College of Saint John sat between the toes of that mountain's feet in a silvery heavenly Russian olive grove.
And it was peaceful and my young wife and I had a definitely exciting life in Santa Fe, socially hooked up to a smart bohemian crowd that made up our friends, a couple of restaurant owners, an ex-Marine drummer/artist and his ex-ballerina wife, a black cowboy wild horse breaker, a talented singer-pianist I grew up with back in the wiles of West Texas and his wife and brand new daughter--and there were so many other fun people we met there, like the young couple from El Paso, or the New Mexico governor's private pilot and his Arkansas-bred wife--wonderful fun, parties, cookouts, jam sessions since a lot of us were musicians--and we met painters, potters, putterers, portraitists, and a Mexican troubador in his seventies, and couple of Navajo silvermakers, and what still few old original Santa Fe artists were still hanging about, Winfield Towley Scott, the poet, most of them turning into vegetables--like the great poet Wytter Bynner, his brilliant mind taken over by the ruthless mind-erasing Alzheimer's disease lay wasting away in his nineties and my wife used to go over to his place and visit with his secretary and they would sit looking lovingly after him as they waited for Witter to die in peace, which he didn't, by the bye--Alzheimer's is one of the cruelest diseases to ever pop up amongst us--and on and on this story could go, but I'll wind it in a bit.
For five years my young wife, she was 18 when we married--16 when we met, and I was seven years older than she, and I hobnobbed around Santa Fe and down in Albuquerque and she was so pretty in Santa Fe, so dark, her eburline face framed in her Choctaw-black hair, lips pouty like a very young girl's, a 42D bustline by the time she was 11, supported by full hips, rounded ass, and sturdy sweet legs, just a girl, still with that sweet baby fat, though compared to my silly, wisecracking, comic-minded boyishness, she was far and away a more mature person.
We lived our short married life in Dallas, New Orleans, Mexico City, Santa Fe, then leaving Santa Fe the summer after we lost the artist studio when we tried living in Key West, then we tried Boca Raton, and from Boca Raton we tripped across the US of A for a short stay in San Francisco up at the top of Washington Street, to then attempt to live in Victoria, British Columbia (breathtakingly beautiful but also Old World boring), gradually travelling our way in our Jaguar back to Santa Fe for another stay in another fabulous villa on the side of the Sangre de Cristos, our second Santa Fe stay.
We went out every night. We would eat at one of our friend's restaurants, then we'd all bus up and go down to the hotel where my friend from my hometown entertained the turistas sitting around a piano bar, and he played and sang to the tons of people who ganged in to see him every night except Sunday and Monday, when he'd usually be over at our place listening to jazz out of my 2,000 album jazz collection. Life was good. We played bridge once a week. Then my wife went to work for her first tycoon, a rich man who also owned quarterhorse race horses and later built the Santa Fe Downs. My wife impressed this rich dude so much, he got her made secretary of the New Mexico Racing Association briefly and we got passes to all the racetracks from Ak-Sar-Ben in Nebraska (spell it backwards) down to the Juarez, Mexico, racetrack. We spent one summer going from racetrack to racetrack in the Jaguar, starting up at Raton, New Mexico, then hitting the Fairgrounds in Albuquerque, going to Ruidoso for the running of the richest horserace in the world, ending up down in El Paso in the Plaza Hotel going to Sunland Park or over to the Juarez Race Track where we were members of the Jockey Club. Oh what a life. And she was always faithful to me though I wasn't very faithful to her, I have to admit. I just got along with women too easy and sometimes I fell head over heels for some wonderfully mystic beauty but my wife stuck with me, in spite of my foolhardy affairs.
We came to New York City in the early seventies from Santa Fe. Our troubles began in NYC when we went to Cape Cod that first fall, and we spent five days partying and I ended up naked in a hammock with another man's naked wife--nothing happened I swear, though I have no recollection since both naked humans were fifteen or twenty sheets to the wind and if we had sex it surely wasn't anything to get divorced over and when I went into breakfast the next morning I had no wife. She'd already bussed back to Gotham and had left me an ultimatum: I either got back to NYC by midnight that night or she would be long gone home to her mother--signed F.U.
That was one of the worst days in my life. It was around 11 am when I got the ultimatum and I ran from this bungalow where we were staying a couple of miles into South Wellfleet and in that pathetic Norman Rockwall-painted town I was told the next bus to NYC wouldn't be until 5 pm. I was broke; only had enough money for my ticket and a god-damn Payday candy bar. So I had to sit in South Wellfleet on a bench on the green in front of the perfect little white church--god, I was tortured by this little all-American berg on lovely old Cape Cod--plus, you know I was hungover like Elvis just before he threw up his whole life in one of his Graceland toilet bowls that sad day--and I sat there in that cleancut "I say!" atmosphere, watching old editor-lookers in Bermuda shorts with knobby legs picking up their New York Times and it was a Sunday so the Times was as essential as god on their Sundays, and I sat there an atheist taking it like a real man; I mean it was whipping me hard, but I took it until that bus pulled in right on the dot at 5 pm and we headed back to NYC--6 and one half hours away, which meant the bus had to make its scheduled time or I would lose my wife. I might lose her anyway because I thought there was no way that damn bus was going to get me back to NYC by midnight...from Cape Cod? Get outta here.
I walked in the door of our apartment at 5 after midnight. I tripped over her packed suitcases sitting by the door. I came face-to-face with her. "You made it just in the nick of time, my man," and then we left the bags packed and we made wild wildcat-like love all the rest of that night. And we made some wonderful love when our rhythms were right and we just came together so naturally, so easily--especially one time down in New Orleans and she was coming out of the shower all wet and I was sitting on the commode waiting for her with a towel. But there were other times when it wasn't so pretty and gradually in NYC, I lost interest in her. I did. I admit it. I had to get a job and I got a good one at Time Inc. and there I ran into young, saucy, eager, bright, witty, built-like-brick-houses women of all types--and my boss on my first job writing copy for a department store Xmas catalog was a tall willowy blonde Princeton girl and, oh well, it is the same old story, the fight for...I've played it again over and over again many times, Sam, old buddy.
So I came to find I really didn't love her. But I was prepared to stick the marriage out anyway because I liked her as a person, she was just like me in so many ways, and I had no trouble living with her; I had a good time with her and I certainly enjoyed her wit and beauty. It was mean of me to know I didn't love her though and keep living with her and pretending to love her when we made love, but I knew my love for her was evaporated, but I wasn't ready to hurt her with the truth.
We were married 10 years, but one Sunday afternoon, another Sunday, "never on a Sunday?" nope, not with me, always on a Sunday with me, and this was a January '74 Sunday, a very cold and rainy Sunday, and she told me nonchalantly she wanted a divorce. We were living well, on Sutton Place, by God, but she had the great job and made executive money by then working again for one of the richest men in the world and with a connection to the actual richest man in the world at that time, and he tried to get my wife and I to move into one of his many places--Tokyo, Beirut (safe at the time just barely), Riyadh--London--and all I was was a cheapass chief copyeditor at Time Inc. who was lucky if I made 7 grand a year while she was knocking back way over 50 grand a year I know for sure--I've eaten at the Yale Club with her--those Yaley assholes couldn't believe I was that woman's husband.
We were divorced in Port au Prince, Haiti, in March of '74. I called her from Haiti the night of the divorce and we drank champagne to ourselves over the phone, talking lovingly for several hours until the Haitian phone system simply died and cut us off, and I spent the rest of the night with the salad girl from my hotel's restaurant.
Then she was my ex-wife and soon she left NYC with tons of money and went to Florida where she bought an apartment building and told me one night on the phone I might have turned her into a Lesbian, though she also told me she was friends with a famous jazz saxophone player and hanging with him at Disney World, plus she was becoming a jazz deejay down there with a late night show on a Tampa radio station.
Then one day I found out she had moved back to Santa Fe. I got her number out there and called her and we talked for awhile but then one night I called, I was actually missing her and kind'a falling for her again and thinking of getting romantic with her again, though it was just jive on my part really, and she must have intuitively picked that up from my phony pie-eyed romancing voice because she interrupted my banter and bitterly turned stone cold on me. I asked her what she was wrong and she told me, "I'm in bed with my lover...." "Oh, Jesus, sorry...." "And, Wolfman, please don't call me anymore, ever. I don't care to hear from you ever again, do you understand?" I did, I told her, and I stopped calling her. In fact, I lost her number and only called her ONE other time after that.
I visited Santa Fe last in the high eighties, making one last visit out there at the invitation of my friend the drummer/artist and his former-ballerina wife who had just gotten remarried after being divorced for a couple of years while he traipsed off with some nurse on a wild goose chase.
I called her for the very last time that time and invited her to a party some folks were giving me at a nice Mexican restaurant to celebrate my first return to Santa Fe in 13 years. She begged off pleasantly by saying she was having to watch her 92-year-old father because he had Alzheimer's and wandered off into the Santa Fe nights sometimes and would end up miles from her house so she was concerned about him and just couldn't risk leaving him alone. Her mother had gone blind in her eighties and had just died she said. She had taken care of both her parents like a most faithful daughter for a big chunk of her middle life, otherwise she would have gladly come. She sounded pleasant, like her old self; it cheered me up, that final conversation I had with her.
After that, I totally lost track of her. I tried to find her on the Internet years ago but I had no success so I just assumed she was doing fine and living a good life without caring one bit about my ass. In the nineties, an old friend of mine from Santa Fe who came through NYC on his way to Greece told me over a veal dinner at Emilio's in the Village that she had let herself go and lived in the woods a lot but that she had built her own adobe home in the Glorietta Battlefield area of the mountains south of Santa Fe and that she owned a lot of land and was getting a nice wad of cash from the government because of a mountain she owned that they wanted for their battlefield national park they were planning. Plus, he reported, that she talked about me a lot but in negative terms and told everyone in Santa Fe, our dear old friends especially, that I had ruined her life. That made me feel sad, but I didn't feel guilty, nor did I agree with her on any of those accounts. During our marriage we had traveled extensively, lived well, drank well, partied well...and then the dream had ended and I fell to earth having to work for a cheap living in the pits of NYC while she went on her seemingly merry way.
I had totally forgotten her until yesterday. Yesterday I started thinking about her a lot.
I just happened to be surfing through some blogs in Google blog search and quite by chance I came across a blog run by the Santa Fe Daily New Mexican newspaper, for whom my ex-wife had once worked--and there staring back at me from out of this blog's sinister black format was first the blog's big head, "Obituaries" and then my name--but it was really her name--and yes it was her because that's the only woman who has ever taken my name as her own and used it as her own right up to the end. And there that damn obit went on to say that this woman who once had been so close, alive, and so dear to me had left the coil on October 6, 2004. She'd been dead over a year and a half and I hadn't known it. And even though we'd been divorced for 30 years and though she never wanted to see me again and said I ruined her life and we hadn't seen each other in 30 years, I broke down. I just couldn't believe she was gone, man. It hurt me. This young woman I once was married to, so pretty, so lively, so smart, so brilliant with her practical thinking, was dead, already rotted, eaten by the worms, turned back to dust.
I remember one cold night in our artist studio in Santa Fe and we had just gotten Skookum, the Malamute, and he was a young beautiful big pup with cheery wolf eyes, just a damn gentleman dog, and he never barked. Skigor the husky barked but not Skookum. And one night I'm laying in bed with my wife in my arms and we can't sleep because we're sad about something, probably the VietNam War which was at a peak during our marriage, and suddenly we heard the most mournful sound, right outside our backdoor. It was a long howl that just silently arose out of the silence of that night to soar more mournful and more mournfully high and wild up toward the silver-bright clear-sky moon that hung over the Santa Fe basin that night. I got up and saw it was Skookum; just howling off the mountainside to let it roll and tumble off into its faraway echoing death. Was he missing his old gang back in Alaska where he was born? Was he missing his true love or was he missing something instinctually alive in him that he didn't know what to do with so he just started howling at that full mountain moon.
That's the only time we ever heard Skookum howl like that ever again. I thought of Skookum's howling when I read my ex-wife's obituary. She was only 59, too; almost only half the life of her father who lived to be 98. Why didn't anybody let me know? I selfishly wondered. I doubted suddenly she had really put me out of her life. How could she carrying my name around like she did and bearing the legend I made for us out there in Santa Fe. I miss her now; I do. She was an extraordinary woman and I have some wonderful memories of us together and in love and happy and looking good together and I know some things about her that no one else will ever know.
I am a yowling, howling, heartbroken wolf tonight. I mourn for my one-time closer-than-close companion. She kept my name in death; that hit me as sad, too. Goodbye, baby, bye-bye.
for The Daily Growler