Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Existing in New York City: Existing With Intentions
Say Goodbye to: Eddie Yost...a great baseball player from the old 8-team American League days before the designated hitter came along. Eddie was a star on the ill-fated but much loved Washington Senators in the days of Clark Griffith and Griffith Stadium--the days when the great Mickey Vernon played first base and the great pitchers Pedro Ramos and Carlos Pasqual were on the mound, fine hard-working hurlers stuck on a losing ballteam. I was surprised to see Eddie was only 86 years old; I was a kid fan of his and those old ill-fated Senators: Eddie Yost, 86, American baseball player and coach (Washington Senators).
Say Goodbye to: Sylvia Kristel--the Dutch actress who a 17 won a modeling contest and from there went on to a fabulous career that centered around her playing the mostly naked-in-every-scene Emmanuelle in the very successful pervert-jerk-off movie Emmanuelle; she's a The Daily Growler Hall of Fame Actress (our kind of tragic-from-the-get-go gal): Sylvia Kristel, 60, Dutch actress (Emmanuelle), model and singer, throat and liver cancer.
I am surrounded by NOW intentions. They roost in my eerie head. I intend...and I intend...and when I do, I do so smoothly, arising like a Phoenix out of an old intention, an intention that could have been hovering in my belfry like a bat for many a moon.
Reading, engulfing the words of others, springs forth further intentions. Intentions to do what the reading has inspired me to do; intentions from the NOW set down in notebooks for tomorrow. I love playing with the word transcendence. I don't mean transcendental in the US New England Ralph Waldo Emerson meaning of the word; I mean transcendental like going over a transom or riding across the USA in a transcontinental bus. Bus riding being more existentially transcendental than flying. Flying is too fast; flying is simply trying to get from point to point fast as possible. Bus riding is a whole pie of NOW moments conducive to reading, listening to music, or simply ogling at the other passengers like maybe the fat mother feeding her brood fried chicken or the goofiest of young women blabbing on cell phones, electrocuting their brains as though holding microwaves up to their temples.
Bus trips can be nervewracking. I once rode a bus for many miles with a guy who had a tape recorder with him who taped our conversation mile after mile. That was his thing; what the bats in his belfry gave him incentive to do. "I've got a 1000 hours of conversation on this little baby," he bragged as he taped his own brag. Since he talked more than I did his taping was almost taping his conversation with himself, which I thought was very revealing, very transcendental in the US New England Ralph Waldo Emerson sense. When I did talk into his tape recorder, I lied. I told him I was a trumpet player on my way to Portland, Oregon. Then I pulled a silent treatment on him. Answered all his silly mundane questions with yeses and nos. "What's your favorite food, I like to asked people that...why you'd be surprised at the answers I've got...." "Yes," I answered. "Yes, what?" he asked. "Yes," I replied. "You're testing my will power, I know your kind," he said, and I was thinking, "Hey, dude, shut the fuck up, or move over there by that fat gal feeding all that fried chicken to her brood." My inner conversation was filling my mean intentions against this guy with barrels of yeses and nos, pickled in brine, or laced with arsenic. "You're a trumpet player, right?" "Yes." "You see, I've figured you out," he said with a broad grin on his face. "You're favorite food is prunes." "Yes," I answered. "...and pig's feet," he continued. "Yes," I replied.
When I got off that bus in Albany, Texas, this old gent said, "Hey, pal, this ain't Portland, Oregon," to which I answered, "Yes." As I pulled down my bag and was leaving the bus, he had moved with his tape recorder over by a man in a military uniform.
I checked into the Western Skies Hotel in Albany, Texas, a hotel full of old geeks and geezers, my kind of stay-to-themselves Texas loners. That night I had the incentive to write by hand a story of a man who could only speak yeses and nos.
I am a student of spontaneity. Spur-of-the-moment spontaneity. Like thinking of owls. Just suddenly thinking of owls and of the few if any owls I've every seen. Writing a whole treatise on "Owls I Have Seen, If Any." Like the owl on the many boxes of White Owl cigars I once sold while working as a cashier in my brother's magazine and tobacco shop. Those owls led to remembering the Nite Owl newspaper I used to read when I was playing the piano for beers in various bars along Commerce Street in Dallas, Texas. Which led to me remember X the Owl on the Mister Rogers kiddy show. Which led me to remembering how my mother once looked like an owl in a photograph of her looking out the arched front window of the house we lived in Dallas. Which led to remembering driving through Gainesville, Texas, and seeing a sign, "Owls Baseball Tonight." Can you imagine 18 owls trying to play baseball? "That short stop is winging it, Al...he's winging it." "That's cause he's spotted a cute tasty mouse in the stands, X." [From Wikipedia: The Gainesville Owls were a Big State League (1947-1951) and Sooner State League (1953-1955) baseball team based in Gainesville, Texas, USA. They were affiliated with the Chicago Cubs from 1953 to 1955.
During the 1955 season, they moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma to become the Ponca City Cubs.
They won one league championship, in 1951 under manager Hal Van Pelt.]
I've several intentions to read Ralph Ellison forever. I love Ralph Ellison's writing. The way he writes all out. A shoveler of words on a page, words that melt into each other as great moments in writing. Like the following from Ralph's Shadow and Act, about living and trying to write in a small New York City apartment encased in noise with a guy playing his record player screaming loud on one side of you, drunks yodeling and raving in the courtyard down under your windows, and above a woman singer. Ralph wrote the following: "From morning to night she vocalized, regardless of the condition of her voice, the weather or my screaming nerves. There were times when her notes, sifting through her floor and my ceiling, bouncing down the walls and ricocheting off the building in the rear, whistled like tenpenny nails, buzzed like a saw, wheezed like the asthma of a Hercules, trumpeted like an enraged African elephant--and the squeaky pedal of her piano rested plumb center above my typing chair" [p 190, Shadow and Act, 1994, Quality Paperback Book Club, Random House, New York, NY],
I totally understand Ralph's dilemma with the singer above, about noise, about frustrating noise when you are trying to create, unless you are creating your own noise, like holding an all-night jam session in a loft in downtown Manhattan, going all night until the cops break it up at 4 in morning when everybody's all fagged out anyway and ready to go the Pink Tea Cup and chow down on grits and sausage and scrambled eggs and about a gallon of mocha java.
I remember in New Orleans trying to write with two maniac married idiots in the apartment underneath me screaming vulgarities at each other throughout the wrecked night air, "Marshall, you cockamammy asshole, you jive turkey no-good wastrel, you keep Bogarting that god-damn swill you buy, you cheap bastard," she would shout on and on for many haranguing minutes and when he got his chance, he would retort, "Mildred, you're a god-damn worn-out whore of a bitch, you sagging old bitch bag of dog shit, always complaining, never satisfied, unless it's when you're around that god-damn Jimmy Shelby, that phony piece of withered carcenoma." "Marshall, you've hurt my feelings...you take that slander back or I'll slit your fucking throat after that liquor knocks your worthless ass out...." "You just try that, you rejected piece of ancient slime...." I would stomp on the floor and swear but it would do no good. And the next morning Marshall and Mildred would leave the apartment arm-in-arm like newborn lovers leaving my apartment quite as a tomb though I was too exhausted to take advantage of it and write.
And NOW, I have a ton of intentions to get to as they scamper like weasels around in my ready-for-action bat-free belfry.
for The Daily Growler (a very noisy blog, we hope)