The Seven Year Itch Meets Its Match

To think. All it took was a black leather jacket, a Louisville Slugger and a dream. But The Walking Dead has finally achieved the catastrophic symphony I was envisioning seven years ago when AMC gave zombies their own IMDB’s.

For most of its first six years, The Walking Dead has felt an awful like a reality show. For one thing, it’s not real and we know this (Although someone might want to clue in Norman Reedus to this fact . . or not). As with a reality show, it’s scripted . . with the odd tinker and creatively bent riff breaking into the rote memorization of lines. It’s occasionally ugly and regularly self-absorbed, which are the requisites for basically any reality show. And while it evokes questions about our existence by gleaning the truth of many big picture prospects, it doesn’t feel applicable to our everyday lives so it’s coo if we lie to ourselves about the meaning of life.

As with the reality show that presents us with reconstituted stories, the plot evolution on Dead sometimes feels like a mind numbing, interminable process. To the point where it actually feels like a real time rut- the kind where you greet co-workers with the lame old standard “Same shit, different day”, and you buy overpriced Starbucks drinks that don’t work properly and you bitch about traffic and you sweat car bills. And all the while you know this too shall pass, and that some really bad shit is on the horizon and you really wanna be there when it does. Because it’s a welcomed release when you can dabble in a psychosis without, yanno . . being psychotic.

I’m not gonna lie, the Tara episode left me wondering why I watch this show at all. Because as much as I love The Walking Dead, they do offer up more dead space than a public access channel in Milwaukee. And I know there’s a purpose to all this character development shit, but I really don’t care. My friend insists this too shall pass- that a Tara episode which felt as if it had been written for the Lifetime Channel, has a point to it. If I was a graphic novel geek, I’m guessing I would share his enthusiasm, but I’m not so I don’t dig all the maintenance this show insists on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this series has been devoid of horrible conclusions. Carl having to kill his mom was a pretty horrible scenario, unless you’re a Kardashian. And Bob losing his leg to a camp fire supper was some fucked up shit for sure. Carol watching her daughter die twice, and then the garden scene with her little protege? Agonizing. But it’s why Carol is, well . . Carol– and I wouldn’t trade her bloodthirsty pragmatism for anything. And yes, Walking Dead has gone through characters the way the Cleveland Browns go through quarterbacks. And maybe it’s just me, but it feels too spaced out at times.

So really, thank God for Negan and his black leather jacket and his Louisville Slugger and his dream of bringing civilization back- one caveman at a time. Up to now, the Governor had served as the most worthy antagonist to the Rick Grimes band. And while he was a a bat shit crazy murderer who collected human heads in fish tanks, the dude possessed nuance- he preferred his dinners by candlelight for chrissakes! Garth was a hipster douchebag who you could picture as a Hollister store manager before the world went dark. His lone redeeming quality was that he happened to be a cannibal, so it was a really good thing he only lasted five minutes.

Negan ain’t any of that. He’s a world of hurt unto himself. I fully expect if they do one of those flashback scenes with this dude, we’ll learn that he graduated at the top of his class because he murdered everyone else.

The “Sing a Song” episode married past to present. It was fleshing out and it was maintenance, sure. We got a ‘look inside’ the character and no one (important) died, but man . . . it was sure as hell possible. Every step of the way. That kind of intensity is exactly what this show needed. Negan is a value added character who makes every scene he’s involved in pop. I had grown tired of  learning about characters who are going to be dead sooner than Coca-Cola Life. The inconvenience of that baseball bat changes everything, thanks to the man who makes it swing.

Eighty percent of Dead is waiting for some crazy shit to transpire, and that’s why I watch. Because of that meaty twenty percent that is hell bent on cannibalizing all hope. It will murder the nuance of weepy music and character development and it will rain down with great vengeance and furious anger.

Maybe even next week.

Resilienticity

I have this game I play at work with my boss where we make up a word of the day. I tend to win this game more times than not because I watched Sesame Street while drinking mom’s gin stash in the closet. Man, I really miss being five years old.

Anyway, the word of the day has run the gamut, as you might imagine. From teamworkocity to consumerology, salesaminophen and donutilism on our lighter days to starbuckismspitificity, stupidiverous, Tylenolea and dopeatria on our less optimistic days to fuckonomics, doucheism, cuntarama and blowmegonomy when we ain’t feeling so kind.

So most days are challenging, so what? This makes for a more expansive (or at least more reality based) vocabulary. And so maybe our vocabulary is completely full of shit and Merriam Webster ain’t taking our phone calls. We’re going to keep on keeping on. Which is what our most recent word of the day was all about. Keeping on.

Resilienticity- The quality one exhibits when faced with really shitty odds. The kind of odds that would cost you a thousand bucks for a measly dollar’s return. It wouldn’t matter, because you’d go for it. You will keep on. 

Keep the faith, all you peeps who wonder what the next year is going to look like. Because the worst that could happen is the end of life as we know it.

And that shit happens every day.

The King is dead, long live the next ruthless scumbag

That’s not how the line goes, but that’s what the line means.

It means the world is better off without Fidel Castro, even if his little brother Raul is every bit as despotic a character. In the short term, nothing much changes. But maybe change will finally come to an island in dire need of change. This place has been living like it’s 1959 so there’s a lot of catching up to be done.

Despite what Michael Moore thinks, Fidel Castro was a monster who stifled free speech, disappeared his political enemies and allowed his country’s infrastructure to crumble into obsolescence- all in the name of a twisted vision of national pride. He dressed up all his many sins with social programs, like free education for all. Which is why Cuba has one of the highest doctors per capita rates of any country in the world. Of course, with no free enterprise with which to use their smarts, these people are lucky to score jobs in the tourist industry- because that’s where the money is if you’re a hard working, educated person without ties to the government.

I hope Trump is posturing when he threatens to roll back the restrictions on Cuba that President Obama began to introduce after countless decades and too many administrations that waited for Fidel to blink first. I don’t think we need to play nice with the communist leaders- and I certainly don’t believe we should send a delegation over there to honor the memory of a gangster like Fidel- but I do believe there is a middle ground with which we can gain advantage. Obama may acquiesce too much in these affairs, but I think he’s right in wanting to open things up with an island that sits ninety miles off our coast yet feels a thousand miles away.

Trump doesn’t believe in nation building, which is why he insists on going backwards rather than forging ahead. Yet, when he argues against a more pliable relationship with Cuba, he does so by insisting they behave more democratically. Well, you can’t have it both ways. So grab the fucking middle by introducing the possibility of a better way, and then let the chips fall. And be there, when they do. Be tough on the leaders but be mindful that playing Clint Eastwood will only compromise the people under their control.

Cuba may never be libre, but Cuba can be something better than even Michael Moore imagined.

Cubs and Conservatives

I’m taking out the comments section for a tad, because I got all zen on process inside my intermission. I could write an entire fucking post on process vs outcome, but that would be some boring shit to be handing out and I’m not one of those blogs that takes itself seriously despite the fact it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Yes, I’m talking to you Jake Tapper Uncensored. Anyways, it’s for a tad but if things change, I will attach an email link for thoughts and comments that I might even respond to. In posts, so keep it civil. 

Hey, outside of the Cubs winning their first World Series title in 108 years and Donald Trump being elected President, not much has transpired since my last post on here. I’d like to believe it’s the Mandela Effect ladling its magic gravy all over my oven roasted psyche. As if there’ll be a day in the not too distant future when I’ll be rooming with like minded individuals who insist all this crazy shit really happened. And for all our righteous indignation, we’ll get friendly pills every hour on the hour, padded furniture and Creed on a loop.

Yanno what? Fuck the Cubs. I mean, here’s an organization that did bupkis for over a century . . and made billions doing it! The last time the Cubs won it all before this season, flight was considered a fad, the Titanic was a rumor and Babe Ruth wasn’t even Babe Ruth, yet. And in the time from there to here, the Yankees won a quarter of the century in championship hardware and were damned in all corners not called the Bronx for having the audacity to try. While the Cubs owners sat in their offices and came up with the genius idea of marketing their lovable losers . . . by coining them the lovable losers. They hired managers who couldn’t fill out a police lineup and their front office personnel would’ve been hard pressed to assemble the talent for a tractor pull by presiding over more piss poor drafts than the French Army. For 108 fucking years! I mean, teams have won the World Series by accident inside that time . . . (See the 2003 Marlins).

The Cubs weren’t cursed by billy goats or Bartman. Their trophy case is relevant again because the bosses hired smart baseball people like Epstein and Maddon and they let them do their thing. I’m happy for those dudes because I think they’re the best at what they do . . especially Theo, who should be baseball commissioner someday.

I rooted for Cleveland because those peeps don’t get a curse to fall back on. Their fans simply have to own all the shitty baseball that has prevailed for too many seasons. And they don’t even get Bill Murray. But hooray for the Cubs and let’s get on with the championship hangover and I’m taking the field next year. Just because.

As for President Trump, well, if you saw him coming this time last year, you’re full of shit. Remember how Democrats were busy needling their Republican counterparts when Trump bulldozed the dozens of GOP candidates and swept his way to the nomination last spring? It was all fun and games until Trump beat the incumbent, which is how Hilary ran her campaign. I know there was a lot of red painting the country on election night, but even so . . this wasn’t about Trump winning so much as it was about Hilary not closing the deal.

Hil has never been a closer. She’s solid in the setup, but she has a long history of blowing sure things. Outside of a Senate race she won in New York when Rudy Giulani bowed out due to health concerns, she has never sealed the deal in a big race. She had Obama on the ropes in 2008 and she let him up off the canvas. She let Bernie hang in the primary race because she didn’t want to alienate his rabid base. And then she let an eleven point lead over Trump dwindle away in the final weeks because she was busy fitting her crown rather than scoring frequent flyer miles in key states.

Her critics call it arrogance and yes I’ll buy that, partly. I think Hil wanted to be the all things to all people candidate and in so doing, she became the lesser of two evils candidate instead. She struggled to compete with the reputation her husband achieved for his ability to turn his lame duck one term presidency into a two term lock- despite the affairs and Newt Gingrich and a then failed healthcare gambit. Bill was an alchemist who deftly navigated the obstacles in front of him- external and self made. And he never once underestimated a political opponent. He was polarizing but his charm and his moxie extricated him from the abyss. The fact that Hilary wasn’t her husband didn’t have to be her political epitaph until she made it so.

I don’t know where or when she arrived at her Waterloo, but I do know why. And so does she.And so now we have a President who tweets. But for all the bluster and bad behavior, I’ll give him this. He gamed the system, he gambled big. And he won. Now Pence becomes the most powerful Vice President, ever. And now the cabinet takes on the appearance of the John Birch Society.

And now Trump cannot be cancelled due to low ratings.

The prayers of the cursed

Nope, this post isn’t about those lovable losers from Wrigleyville finally landing a solid left hook on a crisp October night. Even if the upcoming World Series feels like something out of a Ray Kinsella novel, with two star crossed towns looking to put an end to the agony of countless winters. 

This post is about a love story that me and the ladies over at The Lovely Fire have been cooking up. It is a prelude to Declan Beckett’s journey into the zombie apocalypse, with steps tendered out of a proposition he did not bargain for. It’s the music in that crazy little thing called love that allows us to believe in the impossible chances.

The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter came the wicked truths. The season had become a plaintive song to Declan Beckett. The initial frost of a brand new season was little more than a wretched scowl to his way of thinking. The merciless cold murdered all color from the landscape and replaced it with a Faustian bargain, while the darkness spoke the sun into a different language; its dreadful rampart stripping the rind of that ageless fiery circle and rendering it a muted facsimile before schoolchildren had even completed their homework.

He moved to the window of his studio apartment and stared at the barren oak tree that lived inside the street below. It was eighty feet tall, give or take, but it was a thousand miles higher on the pride of its clench. A fearless spectacle of mighty abandon, it had probably fought off the clutches of death a hundred times and it would likely fight it off several hundred more before settling its tab with the stars of a hungry sky. It spoke to the power of miracles; to borrow forever from the shallows, to speak life into a certain death.

Declan placed his hand to the glass panel which was painted in diaphanous rings whose formation was created from the gushing bleed of cold that hollowed the midnight streets. The wind danced precipitously across his brain, widening as a falcon’s wings from begging plead to hopeless flutter to wicked groan to menacing war cry. The seemingly benign construct of its whir possessed a Gothic interpretation of the world whose tariff demanded one’s sanity.

His conscience was an easy enough wall to climb after all these years of a life gone mad with evil deeds and unspent prayers. His last best wish had gone missing to all hope on a September afternoon inside what felt like another lifetime ago from here. With each subsequent winter came a hard and merciless rain that drove his mind to a reckoning he could not supplant with lawyers, guns or money.

The restlessness of his every single day was being especially benevolent on this particular evening, as if his very life was being scratched across the chalkboard of a class on Greek Mythology. It felt like the old days, it felt like New York. Only this was Atlanta, Georgia on a particularly inhospitable night with nary a speck of Southern hospitality in its offerings. He grabbed his leather and a couple necessaries and made way for the rooftop.

“Evening Deke . . . you’re up late.”

It was his landlord, Frank Chance. Dipping his finger into the business of someone else’s cake batter, as per usual. Declan guessed it was the predictable habit of wealthy retirees whose social calendars consisted of missing a woman and the days they spent like Paris. Chance was a harmless little man, if not annoying as all get out.

“It’s a sad fucking thing when an old bugger such as yourself can predict my bed time with any degree of certainty.” Declan winked.

“Well, it’s your own damn fault that you’re so fucking predictable!” Frank hollered. He loved his tenant from 4C, who always supplied him with humorous banter and six months advance in cash money goodness.

The two men spoke for a few minutes, avoiding the awkward reality of Declan’s risk averse love life which consisted of high priced escorts and the occasional celebrity housewife who was in need of some scratch for her perpetual itch. They spoke of the local teams instead, and they labored on modern day politicians who behaved like temperamental chefs and governed like spoiled children. And before they settled their conversation, they spoke of the latest fear that was gripping their town.

The virus was a Frankenstein proposition of Godly smite, Mary Shelly imagination and bureaucratic arrogance and now it was growing in both frequency and dimension. There were numerous reported outbreaks across the city, mimicking the national and global concerns. The days since had swelled into weeks and months, and while every public official insisted there was nothing to fear, it was becoming quite evident that the opposite would soon be true.

Declan said his goodnights to the charmingly inquisitive Mr. Chance and made his way to the rooftop. His cold weather combat fatigues consisted of a gray hooded jacket draped in a well worn black leather jacket whose pockets were lined with a flask full of bourbon and a fresh pack of Marlboro Reds.

The moon was a ripening scream and it was begging his attention from places he could not understand. He burrowed his eyes into its crust, peeling back the cashmere plum in a desperate want that swelled his eyes. He lit up a smoke and took a swig from his flask and he tried harder still. All of this from the inspiration of a dream that he could have sworn wasn’t a dream at all.

He was on the beach, with a lighthouse holding court behind him and there was Marie, walking in that gentle blossom way she used to walk, treading the ancient sands and plugging the world around her into a beautiful sound. Each step filled him with a deep and endless want and each moment with a breathless curiosity. And then she was standing right there, before him. In the dream he did not feel the need to grab her up before she disappeared again. In the dream he was content to listen. To everything.

“Baby. I miss you . . . so much.”

“I’m always right here baby, always . . . right here.” She reached for his hand and placed it over her heart and it was as if the gesture had been created from the heavens above. 

“It’s not enough . . . ” 

“Yeah. It is. Baby, you don’t get what all of this means. Not yet . . . but you will soon enough.” 

“Let me come with you.”

“It doesn’t work that way baby.” 

“Why not?”

“Because there’s another girl on another rooftop, and she needs you more than I do right now.”

“No!” He replied angrily.  

Marie simply touched his face and curled her lips into a smile that lit his world on fire, every time. And then . . . she was gone.

“Mon, it’s the girl who loves you telling you the truth of all things. So no worries . . . everything alright.” 

And so it began, shortly before the end of the world, the Marley dreams. He awoke to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar into a fine mist of purple haze from one flight down in apartment 3C. And that’s when he decided to make way for the roof, no mattering the thermostat. He was going to play it like the old days, like New York; when he used to make way for the rooftop in his Long Island City apartment building and dream upon a skyline wrought by the proverbs of Runyon.

There was something going on outside the cloister of his four walls and a roof, and it was killing him to know the truth of all things. The indigo moon plunged like a seabird, spilling the wake of angry tides across the ancient sands whose answers were still bathed in eloquent smiled answers to the savage beasts of the world. Like that mighty oak, they paid no mind to the losses when all that really mattered was the air that allowed for its climb.

He didn’t figure on outrunning his cursed existence, but maybe that wasn’t the point of all of this. Maybe all the answers to all those many questions was in the music of a person’s soul, and maybe his lost soul could provide a final redemptive argument to the unforgiving fates. And maybe the catastrophe of his present day might show its reason, soon enough.

The promise of maybe was all he had left.

 

Sweet thoughts for a sweet someone’s birthday eve

From time to time I’ll go back and read past journal entries. Most of them are incoherent scribbles from the middle of the night or dumb droning thoughts on dumb droning subjects. Sometimes though I actually manage to write something profound, perhaps even pragmatic and purposeful.

This was written on the eve of a milestone birthday. The timing seems to work out to share it here, as today happens to be the eve of a certain very special person’s milestone birthday.

Sooo, sweet, deep thoughts, for a very sweet, deep someone. Happy Birthday Eve.

*******

From May 20, 2014

This is the last day I’ll be 39.
Tomorrow I will meet 40.
Today I am only three decades and days old.
Tomorrow I will have four decades.
And yet I know it is just another day.

Sometimes I think about life like a big vase of marbles. Maybe jelly beans. You know those carnival or raffle games? GUESS HOW MANY JELLY BEANS IN THIS VASE! WIN A PRIZE! A BIG TEDDY BEAR STUFFED WITH FAKE PLASTIC BEADS THAT–IF DIGESTED–WILL EXPAND IN YOUR STOMACH 400x AND KILL YOU! Yeah. Those types of jars.

Well imagine at the beginning of life we get a jarful of jelly beans — all ours. And at the end of each day, we take out one jelly bean from the LIFE jar, and we move it to the USED jar. (Well, only if we really want to have something to show for our lives. Our days. Maybe some of us just remove a jelly bean and eat it. Enjoy life, right? Ah, but it’s so hard to eat just one.)

The law of averages would probably say I’ve now got just about as many jelly beans in my LIFE vase as I do in my USED vase.

So what happens then? As the beans begin to dwindle? Do they begin to taste sweeter or more bitter? Do you dread the counting of the beans, or does each day become more sacred, taking on greater and greater significance? Or is every day still just another day?

Of course I am sitting on a beach in Aruba as I consider these thoughts. The notion of counting grains of sand (like time in an hourglass, so are the days of our lives, spoken in a dramatic soap opera voice) seems dauntless–
And yet.
And yet.

There is a finite number of grains here too. At least as far as we know. Sand could multiply like Mickey’s brooms in Fantasia expanding exponentially, but even then, if you flash froze time for an instant, wouldn’t there still be a finite number of sand grains?

But back to jelly beans. Can you imagine if we could steal each others’ jelly beans?

I guess we can. I guess that’s called murder. I guess you can even psychologically steal beans too– emotionally hurt another– steal their will to live. But that time is never added to your own.

So, sure, each day is just another day. And yet some days are milestone-ish.

After 40 years, I think I want to travel lighter. Emotionally, but maybe physically as well.

On day Four of Aruba, and I’ve already worn a couple of things twice (jean shorts!) so there is no doubt I over-packed, even though I brought less than before.

Stuff. ALL JUST STUFF.

So to travel lighter, I have to let go.

I have to let go of and release attachments.

The past is just a story we tell ourselves.

Why shouldn’t our stories be happy? Why keep re-living the past over and over again? I don’t live in the past. I live in the now. This one precious jelly bean.

Ahhhh… like jelly beans… assorted flavors. Some days are sweet juicy cherry. Some days are buttered popcorn jelly beans. ICKY.

And I can see more popcorn beans in the vase. I know some days ahead will be icky. Though I don’t know when. But I see a hell of a lot more cherry and blueberry and grape and bubblegum.

Apparently I have a sweet tooth today.

So…

Let go.

Travel lighter.

Enjoy jellybeans.

Have something to show for your days.

And jelly beans can be flavor-combined. If you share with a friend, you can create new flavors. And if you partake in enough others’ cherries and berries, they may even drown out your own icky butter-popcorn days.

*********

To M,

Thank you for making my days oh! so sweet and for drowning out those icky butter-popcorn days with your honey-drizzled fruitiness.
Happy Birthday, Soul Man. I’m sooo glad you were born.
Love love love love you, c-


jelly-belly

******

If You Build It They . . . Oh Never Mind

The world of politics has generated more fairy tales than Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. 

Take this Trump Wall © for example. It ain’t happening. Not even if you fronted Mexico ten billion dollars, not even then. So why does Mister Golden Hair keep beating on these dead drums? Because it’s his one trick, and he’s going to schlep it into history’s footnotes, that’s why.

If Trump was really, truly serious about creating an impediment for unwanted tourists, he wouldn’t be talking up a wall. He would be telling us why a moat is the best idea.

A moat makes TOO much sense, which is why it’ll never happen. It figures that Trump would want to build up, seeing as how he never attached his name to a skyscraper that didn’t run over budget. But if he really wanted to stem the tide of illegal immigration in this country, he’d be shoveling dirt rather than yanno, what he’s shoveling. Generally speaking, digging is less expensive than building up- unless you live in Massachusetts.

As Americans, digging is second nature. We dig in to smorgasboards, we dig our music, we dig challenges and oftentimes we dig our own graves- metaphorically speaking. You dig? Of course you do, you’re an American!

We could build a moat that would leave the peeps in the Seven Kingdoms breathless with envy. Let’s say a quarter mile wide and deeper than Johnny Depp’s thoughts on matrimony. And then we could fill it with water, and crocodiles. This makes sense from a security standpoint AND it also serves an ecological purpose in that it will help to repopulate an endangered species. Hey PETA! . . . You’re welcome.

A wall is going to cost Mexico (sic) tens of billions of dollars, and that’s before the first brick is laid. And really, there’s a better chance Tim Tebow gets laid in the next year than the first brick of this wall. And if the wall does start happening sooner rather than later, it means Trump won the general election. Hardly a sure thing, considering he’s behind in fifty seven states. And we only have fifty.

Okay, so he’s actually doing better than any of us thought. Like Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers and Marie Osmond, he just won’t die. So . . . say Trump does win, what then? Even his followers are well aware this wall talk is shakier than a Stevie Wonder self portrait. Many of his followers get the joke. More specifically, the ones who don’t find Larry the Cable Guy the least bit entertaining. Them. Those peeps fully expect Trump to trash the wall talk should he attain the Oval Office. They’re pre-conditioned for disappointment, which is why they’re behind Trump. Really, the only people- outside of the Larry the Cable Guy demographic- who are looking forward to a wall along the Southern border are graffiti artists and reality show producers. 

Hilary has never been a closer. She snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2008 and she allowed Bernie Sanders to become more popular than Harley Quinn on a party bus. There’s still time for her to awaken her inner Sun Tzu, but to quote one of my favorite Yogi-isms, it’s getting late early. She best get to work, or invite the possibility that her Homecoming Night morphs into a Dr. Seuss readalong, narrated by Louis C.K. Blue State, Red State, Red State . . blew! 

She can lower the bar on Trump, rather than the other way around. See him a Southern Border wall and raise the idea of The Moat. And so what if it doesn’t jibe with her message of inclusivity? It’s just a political promise . . . and political promises are made to be broken. Nixon promised to end the war in Vietnam while Bush 41 insisted he wouldn’t raise taxes and Obama sold hope and change as if Christmas trees on December 24th.

They all won. Because that’s how politics works. Promise voters the world, even if you have no moolah in the old bank account. So what if those promises prove to be like glitter from a strip club and they end up following you home. Your home is the White House, and hell . . the explanations as to why those promises didn’t happen? That’s what press secretaries are for.

Imma shoot off an email to Hil.