There’s been a lot of war stuff on regular old poor man’s teevee lately; PBS has especially been dragging out all its already rerun-to-death WW I and II series productions and reshowing them. A long detailed series on "War Planes"; an old tired rerun of Bob Hope's USO tour group in WWII; a young rich dude who spent millions of dollars finding the German battleship--the biggest battleship ever made, the Bismarck; and another tired old treasure of the combatants from both sides in the Battle of Iwo Jima--raising that flag again for the 200th time. I guess this is all necessary. Like our "president" says, we are at war.
Reruns are so important to regular old poor folks’s teevee; reruns run the WB, oh, I’m sorry, it’s just had a name change like the Universal Studios network has just had a name change, and the channel that Rudi Guiliani sold to one of his buddy’s for 90 million unaccounted for dollars has just had a name change—I refer to Guiliani selling the city-owned Channel 31—Guiliani sold it to Larry Paxton, the hypocrit Jesus-ass-licker who peddles Jesus right alongside Body by Jake, old Jack LaLanne’s juicer machines (what happened to The Juice Man?), Ron Popeil, and just recently, Praise the Lard, a whole weekend of Clint Eastwood’s best/worst movies, especially The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly , a terribly bad movie you just have to love—Italian-Hollywood view of America’s Old West—the Germans and the Italians loved our Old West, especially the Germans—but then Blaise Cendrars loved our Old West, too, Dan Yack, Sutter’s Gold, and don’t forget My Life and Loves, by Wild West Brit cowboy, Frank Harris. I mentioned Frank Harris the other night around my publishing world niece and she said she’d never heard of him. Poor old Frank. At one time he was briefly considered a serious writer.
War of the Ages
I would discuss getting old, but I don’t won’t to discuss getting old, because getting old, though inevitable physically, does not have to be a mental bother, as long as you can control the stress down there in your solar plexus, the seat of your emotions, the gut; as long as you can talk to your immune system and keep it strong with pride—but then, what the hell do I know about getting old?
I come from Pioneer White Women who grew up without men, with only their children, on the bald prairies of West Texas, in the wilds of Oklahoma Indian Territory, in the male-dominated mining areas of Colorado (Baby Doe, et al.), on the Dust Bowl barren lands of Kansas, with Maria Sandoz in Nebraska, with Willa Cather out of Kansas, too—strong women without men who survived in spite of all odds, leather-hide tough, their sexual beauty deep beneath their hardened exteriors that sometimes made a 20-year-old woman look 60; yet, still, they were sexually attractive in a lean, sure, poetic way.
My maternal grandmother was born in 1877 and lived to be 84 years old, a poet, a single mother for most of her life, her husband dying around 1917 down in Beaumont, Texas, one stifling summer down in those piney woods, all swampy and hot. They put out on a back screen porch, to protect people from his germs, he lay dying on an old cot of what they called “catarrh” (when I was a little kid I though he died of "guitar" disease) and the family legend that was passed on down the line about him when he was dying concerning the fact that my grandfather was a stone Atheist. The legend goes that my grandmother brought her Christian minister to the house to try and talk some sense into my grandfather's Hell-bound soul and pluck him at the last minute from the fiery pits of Hell. This preacher attack him on his cot where he was dying in peace and asked him boldly, with that preacher-way of preaching with a shudder in the voice: “Brother," the preacher asked, "before you leave this mortal coil, all I want to know is have you found Jesus?” My grandfather's grand reply was, “Why, you ignorant man, have you lost him?” My grandfather was sent airmail-straight to hell by the preacher and most of his immediate family but not by my grandmother who swore a man of such mighty love and honesty couldn’t’a gone to Hell; never.
I never thought of my grandmother ever having sex when I was growing up around her—I admired her because she was a painter and a published author and poet—that’s what impressed me about her, though, hell, she had three kids before she was 20 years old so she had to have had a lot of sex. I was never curious about her sex life, though I did notice she had beautiiful long, long hair which she wore up in a bun on the back of the head like so many women did in those days and when she used to "let it down" to comb it out at night, sitting on the edge of her bed silhouetted on the wall by her bedside lamp, she did look glorious beautiful--even though she was in her 70s when I was old enough to enjoy her presence, especially her late-night stories, which were easy to coax out of her if you caught her while she was still sipping her glass of evening wine right before lights out. She really liked a Danish liquer, Cherry Kijafa, which my brother would bring her from Dallas since my hometown at that time was “dry,” a Texas term meaning “no liquor, wine, or beer,” a state of affairs that was once called a “local option,” meaning the citizens of the county voted as to whether they wanted booze in their county or not.
So, my grandfather died and left my grandmother alone to survive as best she could with their 3 kids, dying while the kids were still little, two girls and a boy—but this woman and her brood made it; tough as nails; they made it, and I have that feminine side dominant in me and I use that to thwart off old age. Her son, my uncle, fought against that feminine drive he had in him and he died of lung cancer when he was 51. The lungs are a part of the solar plexus-controlled system—the brain keeps you breathing like clock work under orders from the solar plexus. I don’t wanna get deep; I’m a writer not a thinker, though I’m thinking all the damn time and that's what's wrong with me.
Aging is natural, but it can be controlled as a mental thing, a solar-plexus issue, a control thing, a “being able to understand the language of your body” thing.
“It’s a cruel world we all have to live in to live out our lives/ one thing’s for sure, ain’t none of us gonna get out alive…” A line from a Ray Charles tune called “3/4 Time,” which goes on to say, “So while I’m still kickin’ I’m gonna keep on pickin’ my blues/ I write what I like and hope it don’t end too soon….”
My father’s family's motto is “Hope.” His mother depended on her men, her husband and her 5 sons, and taught her two daughters to be smart as whips, which they both were, the first of all of her children to graduate high school. When her husband, my grandfather, died in 1920, she wasn’t left alone but instead became queen of the castle her husband had built for her with his own hands. She was a queen alright; not only did she dress Victorian up until the day she died at 88, she even looked like old Queen Vicky.
The colonial patriarch of my father’s family used a ship’s anchor as his symbol for Hope—his Hope being tied to the sea as he owned a large fleet of ships that sailed out of Rhode Island, though he wasn’t a slave trader like old John Brown, not the abolishionist, his Rhode Island neighbor, whose ships did bring slaves from Africa to Rhode Island; yes, the John Brown Brown University is named after.
My family's patriarch was a man of a different jibe and color. He depended on his “Hope”—that’s what anchored him in life. I carry a “lucky” piece, and you know I don’t believe in luck (or do I?). It's a silver medallion commemorating my family’s patriarch. On the obverse is the old general’s bust while the reverse shows an anchor surrounded by the word “Hope.” I “hope” I live forever, though I know I won’t; but where there’s hope there’s future. If you have no hope, no matter your age, then you are already dead.
“You wanna die?” my father's mother would have said to you if you gave up hope, “You wanna die? Then here’s your ticket out of here.” And then she’d throw her old long-barrel pistol after slipping one of the huge old bulbous bullets into one of its chambers—I claimed that was the only bullet she had--"There," she'd then say, "there's the solution to your whining misery--go ahead, kill youself."
Teevee constantly reminds us of death. There must be 50 or sixty people killed violently everyday on teevee, on all the shows—even the soaps are full of death and horror. Oprah has show after show on the horrors of near-misses and accident survivors praising their wins over Death. The allure of celebrities is that they offer all of us this Hope we all need—Hope gives you a CHANCE—a chance to live as though you are living in heaven on earth. When celebrities die, we’re suddenly so shocked. Who’d’a thought a celebrity would have defects heavy enough to kill them? There is no such thing as a perfect life, though a guy like me with a family motto like I carry around with me, thinks, hell, I hope there is a perfect life somewhere, maybe in my imagination. There is perfection in hope; which is my point.
War offers NO hope. The Iraq War is so horrible in that it is causing Chaos before Chaos is necessary. Where there is NO hope, there is NO future; where there is NO future, there is anarchy. Anarchy is Chaos.
After Watching a Charles Bukowski Tape
“Women are waiting for grand statements.”
I know what Charles means by that. Especially if women think you are a writer or a poet, which is what Charles meant when Charles was reading his poems in an auditorium somewhere in San Francisco and he said that, while also drinking a cold bottle of Schlitz, which he pulled out of a refrigerator he demanded on stage with him when he had a reading—Everything used to be always seem to be somewhere in San Francisco. The Subterraneans.
“You save your balls and your juice for that typewriter.”
And I know what Charles means by that, too; yes, this is all male stuff. Charles said these things in 1972, pre-desktop computers—Charles used a typewriter, and at one time back years ago I was a writer and I had a typewriter, a Smith-Corona portable that I sat up on a high radiator cover at which I stood and typed, in a back room I used as a library and workroom, overlooking the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, out the swing-open windows from the house my wife and I lived in that sat up on the side of the Sangre de Cristo foothills, up east over Santa Fe, 8,000 feet above sea level. And in those days my fingers came alive in the morning with me as I woke up and they ran me to that typewriter and I started typing, typing fast, typing like a madman, pushing my balls into my work, with music playing, the city of Santa Fe below me in the mountain sunshine, lilac perfume wafting into my nostrils from the rock garden just outside the window, boiling out my juices onto those 8 ½ by 11 sheets of yellow railroad paper.
“…to do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.”
So art can also be, according to Bukowski, knocking a man’s block off with style; being a drunk with style; being a high-wire walker with style…OK, I get it; I agree. Making art is an adventure. Style is you; really you. Style is the way your genes let you observe and absorb things. Style is the way you change a light bulb. Style is the way you drive your car. Style is the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you sack up the cash during a bank robbery.
Found: an Old Tape of Dr. Gene Scott
From out of the past came the thundering show horse hoofbeats of Dr. Gene Scott of Los Angeles, California, a tape of him “teaching”—between begging for money and playing swing band 78s—from Stairway to Heaven, by Jeremiah Sitkin. Dr. Gene sermon concerned Sitkin's saying the cartouche of the Cheops Pyramid is a forgery. Holy Hay-Zeus and Praise the damn Lard; that was Dr. Gene Scott back in one of the Dark Ages.
I hadn’t seen Dr. Gene Scott in years, since the eighties. I did happen, the other night, to catch a truly hot enticing babe preacher on the fat-jowled Jerry Falwell hypocrit channel and was surprised to see scrolling across the bottom of the screen while she was "preaching" drgenescott.com. Then this dripping-with-seduction babe said her name was Melissa Scott and she started talking about what her husband taught…. Holy Shit. Old codger Dr. Gene Scott got this fine young thing, this gorgeous creature, scored on her, the old bastard. Surely there is a God, I was yowling looking at Melissa Scott—What in the hell? How else does a foppish fool like Dr. Gene Scott keep booking in millions of bucks every year and scoring such a gorgeous piece of feminine pulchitrude, tying her up in marriage, with his corny half-hillbilly, certainly Dust Bowl refugee low-life shit? Sure he drinks beer and smokes cigars while he’s “teaching.” Sure he drives Rolls-Royces and owns race horses and show horses. That’s fine; Jesus probably drives a Rolls—surely—and you know Jesus and his Dad have a stable of race horses and show horses, too—Tennessee Walkers and Morgans.I ride off into the sunset on a horse.
for The Daily Growler
Remember a City Named New Orleans?