Serial Installment #14 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 259-282

72west7th

Please read with multiple grains of salt. Keep recalling the title to understand state of mind during a most revolutionary time in my life.

Book 3: Misanthropic Love Letters

An Open Letter to friend and family…

I surrender. I must go on record. I begin my true career today. My spirit down-sized itself into a fickle, indecisive, pot-bellied embarrassment. Now I am stuck in internal revolution. When I am through and all the manias on the inside are hung on the outside, then I will have erased doubt, denial, melancholia, fear… What or whom do I have to fear? All the animals laugh at human melodrama. I swear everything human that is not connected to love is melodrama and useless.
I am not useless. I am a child.
Look here friends, family, all strangers alive today, and those living tomorrow… I am through playing the sad game. I want to live the life I was born to live. I cannot wait for security in order to practice happiness. I do not wish to pursue happiness. It’s here! At my writing table. The same table I set my meals on. The table from where I teach. The table in the kitchen of my home.
As downright stupid and confused that I was at twenty, at least I had the foresight to know I would be ready to write “professionally” by my thirty-fifth birthday. Thereafter, I would keep no job that would steer me away from my true desire. I have done horse and mule work to keep the artist in me alive. I purposely hacked at all financial opportunity because I could never imagine any other life for me besides that of the poor artist.
For the time being, (and I pray that I can summon the courage to make it forever) my indentured servitude is over. Now at thirty-four years of age desire is shooting out of every pore at a screaming boil. Freedom! Poverty! Yes! For the rest of my life I would like that my government mark me out as one of the impoverished. Frankly I believe that its mark of poverty is a king’s income for a sane man.
Because I am a father and a husband, I realize that I will never join that degraded class of poor which turns out the brilliance of Hamsuns, Van Goghs, and Dostievskys. I want to do my part providing the necessaries for my family. Therefore I foresee many more degrading jobs popping up in the future. I write this letter hoping that someday I can be employed by you or someone you know. I am a fantastic cook. I can create all sorts of delicious goodies for the gourmet. I am also quite handy around the house. Home repair. I prefer electrical work to fine carpentry. In fact I am pretty good at anything which can be finally hidden behind a professional job. I can paint the inside and outside of homes. Not too well, but much cheaper than you’d pay someone else to do it just as poorly.
What I really want is to sell my paintings. While the writing is in progress I plan to paint for relaxation as well as keep the creative juices flowing. I use mostly acrylic and sometimes watercolor. I’m good enough. That is to say, I am a living artist, and whatever I do today should be of some interest to posterity. I will charge twenty-five dollars plus shipping and handling for each finished work. I will take commissions. Presently I am painting a goldfish in a busy underwater scene. When it is finished I will have spent approximately eight hours working on it. You can see what a measly hourly wage this will make. A little over three dollars an hour. Yet it’s such a sweeter life than sweeping a stranger’s floors to get my butter.
There are those who think my business will fail miserably. I am positive that it will! But not trying is wrong living, and who wants to be guilty of that!?
“The primary thing is this, that whatever money is given me constitutes a mortgage on the future, my future as a writer. Making water colors is so much play for me; it gives me a release. In other words, it keeps me happy, enthusiastic and alive, and to be happy, enthusiastic and alive is a prerequisite for the artist.”—Henry Miller
The point is I won’t go another year suffering for illusions which others may have of me. (A path I have foolishly followed for most of my adult life.) I am not a sole provider. I am a father, a friend, an honest, loving, incredibly cheerful, desperately creative and funny man. I want coffee in the morning, hot, delicious food for dinner, rent paid, and time. You can help me achieve my first three objectives by offering to purchase one of my books or paintings. Time is up to me. I could make the most of it with your financial, or at the very least, moral support.
One more quote before singing off… It should set the droning, one hundred page tone of bitterness for the remainder of this book. Erica Jong wrote the following about Miller, but it works too for all of us lazeabout, good-for-nothing, artsy-fartsy types:
“The New York that Henry left in March of 1930 was nowhere as fraught as the New York of today, but it still bore certain similarities. In New York it was a dishonor to be an unknown writer; in Paris one could write écrivain on one’s passport and hold one’s head high. In Paris it was assumed (it still is today) that an author had to have time, leisure, talk, solitude, stimulation. In New York it was, and still is, assumed that unless you fill up your time with appointments, you are a bum.”
So be it. But I must warn you that I did not set the stage for this play, although I share the guilt of every actor playing in it. Help if you can, or decide to breeze alone through this one safe life never to support a fallen man unless he’s prepared to give you back some proof of financial success. Invest in paper clips but never individual men. The return is slight compared to the trillions already in degradation circulation. My hand holds a blank sheet of worthless paper. Sometimes I write words on it. Sometimes I fill it with colors of joy and light. It’s not plastic or perishable. It won’t make much money. But it shouldn’t make me broke either. It’s time now to make an exchange to benefit humankind. Neither of us will get much out of it, but one of us will get some money to buy food.

Hello. I am a writer. I am finished as a man. That’s enough. But I need something to do. So, the rest of this book is a silent scream of agony to prove to myself the obvious. I will not torture my wife any longer. I am a loafer, a vagabond, a hobo of the spirit. I am nothing. I am a loser of the first rank.
A man is an idea. An idea comes from man. Man is his own idea about himself. Leave me, love me. I have nothing to do with anyone from this world. I am a writer. So you can read what I write and then you can go to hell.
This cry-baby versus man crap has my insides twisting and squeezing. I don’t want to be crazy. If I don’t give up now, I might do myself lots of damage. That possibility was not in the initial plan, since I remember being born to be alive. Yet because I am alive, here today, in modern America, I cannot truly exist as a man. Therefore tonight I have decided to live the life of a man vicariously, through my own image of myself. And I shall write to prove that I am a writer, as well as a living, breathing, human entity who hates and loves himself on equal par.
Actually I probably hate better.
I can hate myself often enough to begin to wonder what exactly is the matter with me. Why live through another night if tomorrow is the first day to rid the world for good its many human shows of blunder? Why the stubborn, insane desire to want to write about hate, as it’s happening, and with no end in sight?
Who would agree with me that hate is now necessary to survival? The life-force fueled by hatred? Where? Among the animals? No. People are crazy. Animals don’t hate. People have made me crazy because they hate, and I am a people who hates. Anyway, this short book will help me get through the worst of it. The hate that is. Better to hate hard than be saved lightly. Better to hate than play eternal hopscotch with the holy scripture of your choice. Do you think that your boss, your bank, your landlord, your creditors love you? No. They hate you. They despise you. Play these circle games all day long, every day until you die with people who hate you very much. And when night falls and you’re alone in the dark, take those precious seconds left before sleep to turn into yourself. Oh no! Where are you? Not there. Not there either. Search all you want and find nothing because there is no you. Man, woman, animal, flesh, organs, bones? Who says so? You? What is you?
Can’t sleep? Good. Because everyone hates you. So it’s best to watch your back. Take a walk outside. Look up into the starry sky. Tell me what star that is—no, that one! The one you cannot see without a telescope. Quick now, tell me its exact distance from the tip of your tongue. What gases make up it’s light? Can a guinea pig survive floating in its orbit if there was a alfalfa pellet to snatch every five revolutions? Answer these questions correctly and then you will be ready to travel back inside yourself to discover what it is you are!
Am I a father, a husband, a care giver to house pets? Our guinea pig has difficulty breathing. She’s been laid up for a week in a small cage pissing on herself. Any other night, I would stop what I was doing to clean her cage. Not tonight. She must suffer. I am a caged pig too. Full of misery and death, but above all, suffering. I didn’t create it. I have no love for it. In fact, I am ready to destroy it. I could kill a Peruvian grandmother patrolling these hills at twilight for us terrified, little pigs. Damn right I would leap up and sink my fangs into her wrinkled neck skin. You can bet I’d slurp the blood out of her jugular, just for the hope of finding myself. Sure I’d kill for that chance. Tonight it’s eat or be eaten, no matter what the pretty face disguise we slip on.
Where the hell am I? What country is this? Who are these queer inhabitants? The problem is that I have lived like a minister for the past ten years. I should be a murderer and get paid well enough to put food on the table. Or at least a thief sneaking up from behind and stabbing you in the leg for a few dollars. Why not? Have I missed out on something? Is this a perfect world? Is it even a good one? Murder happens and then there’s breakfast. Whoever thought to stop eating in order to stop murder? Has that kind of love ever been attained? The truth is that the two or three people in the world who know how to love like that would not stay alive for long if anyone got wind of their idea. I know the truth gets cut by the human censors. If the humans found truth standing vulnerable alone somewhere, they most certainly would unleash their total ferocity upon it.
Most of humanity today, right now, tonight, is murder, rape, and funny fart jokes. My life has been ten years of filtering out the filth of humanity in order to protect my child. I’ve made all their rotten brain piss pass through me, first. An infected, thick sewage being pressed through my sensitive China cap. This has saved my oldest daughter from premature aging. Yet during this near fanatical process of sheltering her, I have clogged up my heart and soul beyond repair. Wonder, vision, truth, beauty? Human words. The poet’s hope, the painter’s dream, and the suicide’s proof that it’s all just pretty lies told to ignorant, happy babies. The trick is to shelter your young just the perfect amount, so they don’t grow up hating like you do.
Last night I upset my wife with a phrase I read out loud from my writing. She said I would never say, “sure as shit,” in real, everyday conversation. She’s right. Not in the real life I have with her. No, of course not. Unfortunately this life, this human life, expects me to be several mes before getting tucked into bed at night. She also said that my writing is angry. Too angry.
We fought for over an hour, made up with a glass of wine, perused our wide open hopes and dreams, and afterwards sat down to watch Hollywood’s latest R rated movie. The words “fuck, bitch, and pussy,” and a steady stream of innuendo about fuck, bitch, and pussy. Repeatedly throughout two hours of fuck, bitch and pussy, bullets splashed in and out of people’s blood streams, humans stabbed and got stabbed by humans, and gorgeous actors and actresses pretended to fuck each other like hairy dogs pretending to be human.
I write, “sure as shit” and my writing becomes material set up special for the criminally insane.

I am frozen in this life. I am an artist in America. I could be a factory worker, or the wealthy owner of three car dealerships, and the same sad, stunted life would envelope me. That means I haven’t changed a god-damn thing with my writing. Effort is frustrated. It is wiser to paint the casing pink than write a chapter about nothing, even if the latter saves your sanity. My mother-in-law told me that her niece married a millionaire. And then she said if a girl marries for love, why not fall in love with someone who is rich? That would be the smartest thing to do, right?
Yes. She’s right. Money is everything in America. Money and bigness. If you have a lot of money, you have a big house, a big car, or maybe a small car, but it’s bigger because it cost a bundle. Big is big money in America. If it is this way everywhere in the world then I think that I want to die. Hope tells me that you, my only reader, are a small thing with few wants and a little money. Multum un parvo. Much in little. Are you big? Yes? Then you are a filthy, dirty beggar I think. If I were an honest man, I would have the god-sanctioned right to do to you what I did to the squirrel crossing the street. But I am not an honest man. This is what I need to prove to you. I am less than zero. But if I think that nullity of myself, and the title of this book includes the word “misanthrope”, then you can probably guess about how high up the place is where I hold my opinion of you.
I intend to write a living book. However, in order for it to come alive, I must hate the very skin off of you. But I am writing it for your love too, even if I don’t like either of us. I hope we will grow together and the same to appreciate this book. It is the year 2056. Anyone hear me? Fifty-five years ago I got infected with hate, and I wrote about it from a wasteland. Did it do anyone good? I don’t care because now I am dead. I got to say what had to be said, and now I am dead.

Letter of Resignation to all Future Employers:

I am becoming more and more interested in objects, scenes, places which are dilapidated. I am attracted to things run down, broken, and decaying. I am associating cleanliness with loneliness, strength and power with confusion, neurosis, and utter despair. I am finding out that America is a spoiled child, and I have no sympathy for her. I know that the child will grow into something monstrous and equally harmful, to one day neglect her own children, but with an increased estrangement, molestation, violence. And healing will altogether cease. And understanding will die.
America is rich, fabulously rich. Rich and glamorous. So rich and refined that her toilets are palaces where shit never stinks. Her kitchens are full and well-equipped with the finest equipment, yet nothing is ever cooking. Her parlors are stunning, but empty of personality, and no one comes to call because she is terrified of her neighbors—all of them.
Here no one is content. It is not important to be. A good thing is security; a bad thing is drug addiction. The drug addicts are the ones who fail marvelously. Non-entities. There is no other way. Happiness is truly dead until a man finds a large sum of money. Art is for the college bred, and the college bred are making art with computers. No one is painting beautiful works of art, besides maybe the preschoolers, and that happens in between TV time, but only if there is nothing else to do, and mommy and daddy have slipped through the clutch of insanity.
No one is stopping to eat or drink. Unknown purpose, plastic goal. And in the spastic rush to make a living, nothing is left standing. Strangers are trampled. Loved ones destroyed. Houses gutted… Houses which never were homes. For the American house is built of old plaster or new sheetrock, and after all, just a flat facade to hang a meaningless painting on. One brushed by a great artist of course, but the beholder sees nothing, feels nothing… The walls are up. They will fall and be built again, and again. Unknown purpose, plastic goal… Dementia. Here nothing is allowed to die. It better be breathing or back away! The young get younger and the old won’t age. To stop means to be destroyed, by yourself and your illusions. To let on that you may be ill is one step closer to suicide. No one denies tomorrow. Nobody gets old. No time to rest. No death. Unknown purpose, plastic goal…
I write my resignation to all employers, past, present, and future. I am finished with your colossal despair, your anxieties and petty fears, your impossible hope. Why hope? You predict no end. Always I hear the words “tomorrow” and “more”, but no one is listening to the reality of no tomorrows. Each day I get more and more confused, more desperate, unyielding. Shall I accept this fate? You put me in a box and I am slowly suffocating. I am a trapped toad made house pet. This is my death box. I will go mad hoping for life, for freedom. My big eyes will watch and hope, waiting for that precious second when the lid lets in a stream of light, and for an instant I will hope again. The child will call out, “Mommy, my toad looks sick!” So what? The lid will come down. The lights go out. Eventually I will hope until I croak, after several thousand more lightning bouts of depression, anxiety and fear over the near impossibility of setting myself free.
At a time in my life when I should feel rich with joy, wanting to be married, wanting to remain alive, desiring happiness…, I find myself instead becoming increasingly angry, disturbed, upset, separate. Your common ideals, your status quo, your worship of no-nonsense, your whole persona, infuriates me! I can hop, but how far? I am locked up in a shoe box. The hopeful thought that brings temporary relief is that once I was told these walls are paper thin. But all my teachers are dead. So is my belief. I find it more difficult these days to believe a word they wrote. I have no more living belief.
Presently I am employed and sick in the noodle. Something is amiss, I know not what. Maybe I detest work. Maybe my passion for loafing is too great. Maybe I am too smart, and know that I am waiting in line like so many pounds of meat with legs in the way. I fall into a special category of men unknown even to myself. No one can label me, therefore I have promise.
My dear employers, what does all of this have to do with you?
Listen, you being the money, spending the money… You even owning the responsibility to share the money, you living a whole lifetime of money, it would be impossible for money not to be your end. However, loving money and being American means that you don’t give a damn about the artist—the writer, the painter, the candlestick maker. By graciously employing him, by putting him into a position where he does not belong, you unwittingly show your contempt for his spirit. You may assume that you are doing him a favor. Money is the common need, is it not? You think that he can support a loving family with the paycheck that you supply. He can write in his spare time. And if he times life perfectly, someday his work will be found in supermarket aisles across the nation. What a fine piece of work! The towering obstacles in his way! Finally! The time has come for his sun, his moments of clarity, light, joy! Maybe even a fortune. Because of your generous support the artist was able to endure despite all roads (besides yours) being closed to him. Is it something like that? No. You dirty old man. Art can only be perverted by you.
Listen, art is not a trade. One cannot make it on command. Nor is it ever a hobby, to pick up and begin again whenever time allows it. One thing for certain, art is always the result of bad timing. The artist is whim incarnate. He is, because he has to be, whether or not time allows for it. Herein lies all of his madness. Time and poverty. The artist’s best friends. But two of the most bitter enemies to the man refusing to be the artist. The plumber knows a trade. Time is money and money isn’t poverty. The artist knows poverty. The man-in-the-artist can respect poverty and even appreciate it to a degree. But in times of weakness thinks that he could do very well with what the god damn plumber has. And the man-in-the-artist is haunted by his own reoccurring desire to take the limits of time and detonate an infinite explosion inside of it. How can two physically equal, yet morally and spiritually opposite mammalian types play the same game of life, expecting the same results? Both live in the same town, perhaps the same house, and yet the space of an ocean exists between them.
What is a man? Is he a plumber? Yes? What code of living has he set for himself? Is he fed up with an ugly, mad world? Does he search for beauty in a toilet bowl? Does he find beauty there? Where does he get his mental nourishment? The daily news? The classic rock station? Is he peaceful, content, or a revolutionary plumber? Are his ideas plentiful? Does he put them into action? Is he in love? Does he give a damn? Why does he break his back? Why won’t he stop? Why isn’t anyone alive? Does he want to be happy? Onward. Yes, onward. Always today and tomorrow. Today there is a sink to fix; tomorrow, a sewer pipe. He’s growing old. Now he is old. There will be no more growing. He is fine right where he is. Today he is as hard as a rock. Tomorrow he is a petrified street elbow. And he will have it no other way because he is dedicated.
At an employee meeting not long ago, my boss addressed his final words to me. “Ron, don’t you have anything to say? Any criticisms, ideas?” I sat there silent for a few moments while nothing came to mind. Nothing at all. Finally I spoke up. “No, today I am the quiet cook. But I will do my best to come up with something.”
All he wanted were new ideas for lunch salads and veal tenderloin. For him the question was simple enough, direct, even needful in a business that relies upon customer titillation to make money make money. However to me it rang of blasphemy. And it was—from the artist’s point-of-view.
Here boss, you want something from me, you greasy silver coin with arms and legs? How dare you! When you know perfectly well that any questions pertaining to business make my nerves snap, crackle, pop! No boss, I haven’t any menu ideas. I have no special presentation to give to veal, none to color your money anyway. No preparation dreams about filet mignon, bluefish, flounder, lobster tail… I am sympathetic towards the plight of these beasts, but I have no passion for, nor any desire to cook them for money. So, ironically, I thought that this time it was I who was ripping off the boss and not the other way around. Humph, imagine that!
After the meeting, while walking along the river, I considered the possibility of writing a letter to my boss, explaining to him my own ideas about cooking. My mind was so clear. Surely I could win him over, earn his trust, if nothing more. I would tell him that the only real cooking is what is frying in the pan at home. Sustenance. I cook to eat and eat to live. How strange a labor it is cooking for the paying customer. Cooking behind closed doors no less. Cooking food that I would eat only if I were starving. But I will gladly touch it, trim it, flame it, stir it, spice it, flip it, for eight dollars an hour. Ouch! I might kill it myself for ten bucks. For thirty dollars I would set fire to old zoo animals and drag their smoking carcasses back undercover of night. For forty I swear to God I’d be ready to defrost frozen corpses if asked of me, and there was a pension forthcoming.
I would explain to him how in one sense I am following quietly in the footsteps of great union brats and spoiled children. I will not clean up my room, but I will gladly drain my parents for all they have, or my boss, or the government, or God… It’s the American way. That is how things get done around here. Give me more for less! That is my motto. If you want me to learn how to cook hamburgers, then I expect eight-fifty an hour. If I am to order fish, then make it nine dollars. Hell, for a modest salary I will even manage the slaughter house. If you desire a silent partner, I am prepared to spend every waking moment with you. Provided that you make me rich.
What am I going to do? This is your racket, boss. I would like for you to do the best that you can. Begin by firing me. Or at least offer me a salaried dishwasher position. That is something which I can do cheerfully. Cooking is an ancient pastime. People have been feeding themselves forever. But I don’t want my hands serving them chemical chickens sauteéd in artificial Marsala wine.
Must I? Would you in the perfect world that you dreamed about once as a boy and later, so often, as a man?
What do I want then? Maybe I should put the same question to you boss. How can you create the sweet life for yourself without having to deal with the likes of me? You don’t want a hero. You want roux, buerre blanc, piccata, Madiera; you want a pinch of scallions here, a dash of salt there, capers on the salmon, red onion in the salad. You may need all these things because your future depends upon them. But me? My future will depend on nothing.
What are you going to do about that, eh? Tough to find and keep good employees. It’s better to take on all tasks alone. But then that wouldn’t get you rich enough quick enough. So you’re forced to take small risks many times. You hire a workforce of poor, dreamy artists. It pays off in the end. It always pays off. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in business and I could struggle proudly the rest of my life without your money whip to keep me in bondage.
Lately I fear my ideas. I don’t dare put them through the final test. I live the life of the worst type of hypocrite. This makes me a true non-believer. To end up at the same place everyday without contentment means to fail, miserably. What is worse than to fail without ever trying? I cannot say that I am running into walls consciously, because I have been asleep. I am forming habits which, as time passes, are becoming very hard to break. Like the current job which I despise but come back to everyday, religiously. Worst of all, I fear that if I quit and never came back, I would still form the same habits, just in a different habitat.
Presently I am in the process of inflating my ego. I am testing its elasticity. Someday I will burst like a balloon, and then I may very well see for the first time the smile on a human face, the grass, the stars, the living scenery that I once placed my dead self in like a paper doll. I say that I am working up to that point. It may take a while; yes, it may take a very, very long time.
In the mean time what can I do? What a question! I can dig ditches of course. I can work the register at a fast food joint. I could go for broke and earn my doctorate. America needs more psychiatrists, more surgeons, more professors, more nuclear physicists, more veterinarians. I can even run, dance, skip, or juggle for the right price. But I don’t want all that! And there is no way to describe exactly what it is that I do want. I seek the invisible “what,” the illusive “it.” The it that is untouchable, unthinkable, untranslatable. I can say this about the it, and it is a fact. Money is not one of its by-products. In its realm there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain—a world where one must dedicate his life to its vaporous instability.
Meanwhile I remain priceless. I can neither be bought nor sold. This is all that I can do to separate my life from yours. So often I have muffled my spirit to make excuses for you, to cry, to laugh, to lie for you. Nevermore. It is high time that I check out of this asylum. I was crazy. My life was not good while I was with you. I took an extended vacation in your dream. But your dream is insane. So long. I am drifting out of it.
I cannot expect myself to work for the boss anymore. I know too much or too little. Either way I have already been forewarned. There is a voice inside me which calls out, “Everything is screwy! Breakout before you become a permanent, lifetime worker in America. They will get you if you don’t leave now! The odds are very good that once you cross their threshold, you’re stuck for life. Once inside you’ll be bombarded with overtime hours, vacations, pay raises, Christmas bonus’… Even a slight murmur of protest shall provoke the display of a fat portfolio of what their wages have built: a family, close, bosom friends, a never-shrinking better living to content themselves with. Abandon ship! Run away! Go back to from where you came. You can’t possibly be wooed by all of this. Can you?
Can you?
Very good question Mr. Throop. A question which has held you in limbo for so long.
I can’t believe it.
Well Jesus, Ron, look for yourself. It’s such a cozy, seemingly content and overflowing place.
Dear future employers, I write to you the voice of an angry and confused man. I write to you for negative reinforcement. I write to be reminded that I am human. That I am positively human. I express my humanity with the written word in order to avoid the great modern American heart-melt. I know where I must begin. The earth being contaminated, the earth destroyed, children still being born to die unfulfilled, unhappy… What does anyone want with that? Fame? Fortune? Half-fame, a quarter fortune? A fearful life pretending freedom?
By declining every offer that is made to me, I create meaningful, positive action. I do not want your offers. They distort me. I do not want your money. I do not want the be-all and end-all of the corrupt American mind. To join you means to give up so much, beginning with my sanity. Relinquish all chance for peace, tranquility, serenity? No way. I quit! And down the road, if I make the mistake to join up once more, I will quit again. And again. And again. I must make this constant quitting so much seasoning of my destiny. It is part of my plan to create an identity virtually unknown to the American mob. I’ll remind you of it each passing day with my life to contact as a guide. Listen here you greedy boss of bondage present and bondage future… I quit! I quit! I quit!

Phew. A piece of my peace being made, I leave you now to your own end.

When can we get together and go shopping for a hand-held King James Edition pocket Bible? This is paradise. I should love it here. But mankind has amounted to just too many full grown bodies all of which put together, house barely a small crumb of spiritual freedom. Not long ago our representative of the good life came to a fork in the road. One path was the quiet, contemplative existence. The other was the same thing with lots of yummy cookies to eat. He chose the one with the cookies. Every one followed. Some distant long dead relative of mine, the black sheep of his family, the bum without property, the lazy husband, the no good son of a bitch, rotten cousin, smelly-assed idiot, stood at the fork in the road of life, waiting expectantly for the spoon.
Now it’s money and stupidity because it’s $55.69 for the pocket bible. I want to go with you to the store and purchase one. Then I want to take you by the hand to the land where babies starve, stand beside you in the cold room where the stiff body of a child lies holding flowers. I want to give you a peek at the world where our new pocket calculator gets shoved thirty inches up the colon of the man who thinks he knows Jesus. I want you to see for yourself what a tremendously useless thing the human being has become. If he did nothing more than what he was doing up to approximately 500 years ago, the earth might have been saved from the homicidal silliness of mankind. You can say technology polluted the world thus far. But I say it’s the people’s cookie farts
bloating the atmosphere.
June 22, 2001. On the other side of Addis Ababa, three pregnant mothers are too weak to even beg for food. Their big eyes watch potential rice balls walking by, but all hope is lost, and each will die soon enough. Last night at the drive thru, they gave my dog two biscuits, one green and one purple. I think I will dedicate this book to all the children even if most of them are crazy. But I feel that if one or two can be reached immediately, the trees might decide to take nourishment into their limbs this year and forgo their recent decision to dry up so to choke us to death. At present, a welcome summer rain falls hard on my garden. Food is the last thing anybody needs. Mr. raccoon is too fat to waddle across the street safely. Cars are riding over its head. Not a turkey buzzard in sight. Not for days or weeks. The raccoon rots to the bone. Nothing is hungry here. Over there? Yes. Across the ocean many are starving. From here the statistics might appear gruesome. An African proverb: When an old person dies, a library is burned to the ground. An American nonchalance: When an old person dies we are afraid for a few hours after breakfast, sad on and off, before dinner, and then giddy when the lawyer comes over to give us presents with dessert.
In Africa old people have eyes that no American could look into without having his guts turn around once inside himself. In America old people have eyes that would want to strip an African naked, tear away all flesh of dignity, love, security, hope—then lay it down on a busy road, to roll over its head with steel cars and trucks. The children must not care too much about the old people because the old people want to be children. They play dress-up like children. They finish up their lives wanting to play like children. Yet when they’re old and too weak to walk or feed themselves, the children are grown-up and almost old themselves, wanting to start play some time soon. In America it’s something quite similar to kicking the aged in the face until death. And when that’s over and done with, we slap the dirt off our hands and then get back to work. The old teach the young to be indifferent towards death. As if our babies couldn’t see the line of road kills littering our freeways, our highways, our thruways, our countless ways to get away. That deer’s head is hanging on by a thread! Is that a whole possum or an organ pancake with blood syrup? Daddy, why is that African man sitting cross-legged on the side of the road, gobbling up a mutilated raccoon? My tummy hurts, Daddy! Please stop the car. My tummy hurts, and you don’t care at all about the murder of my playthings.
Affluence and swimming pools. Everyone here has nothing to say. Yet the silence is not wise. It’s stupid. The look on their faces is a dumb one of fear. Fear a-plenty. Fear of losing the affluence and swimming pool. I say buy alpacas, a girl and a boy, and go broke all day long with the birds. We are sad, frowning beasts of unnecessary burden suffering from lifelong joy constipation. Giono writes for Bobi: “Youth and joy is a passion for the useless.” That means live and die for a jar of hardened peanut butter.
I reside on the corner of living death, number seventy-two, where the sweeping never ends. Adventure is over. Death happened yesterday. Everybody went to heaven without saying goodbye. Then heaven kicked out the selfish brats. I want to throttle little boys for being born too alive for idiot parents to guide them.
It is time to write a book of morals, of principles, of destiny. It sounds queer, I know. Time to live some other philosophy besides “I have a rotten hole in my porch that needs to be fixed.” Listen to me. Mark my words. All the mothers and fathers are dead beat, apathetic, girl men and boy women. They are dumb bullies walking tall in an Internet schoolyard made expressly for television’s empty fake life. For purity to reign, for the sake of our mental health and happiness, America must cease creation altogether. It makes nothing worthwhile. Only more apathetic androgynies with the curiosity and wonder that befalls wet cement blocks.
Now we know how the mob rule of democracy breaks a healthy mind. No thoughts beyond going to the post office, to Florida, out to lunch, the cleaners, on a lawnmower. It’s the death of spirit and personality. I can’t believe how ungoofy the grown-ups are. I sit down on the porch of suburbia, drink from an aluminum can and watch the neighbors swarm about me. Not one of them is silly enough to notice. The plastic silliness of the world engulfs them. It is an enormous obviousness that is
staggering. One must gyrate a goofy hump dance with the dog, whistle his own made-up tunes, ask unanswerable, nonsense questions to no one, just to light a tiny spark of happiness. Freaking Christ, we need to be silly or die!
No. Instead one drinks scotch or tries yoga, and then watercolors, and then health food, and then screams out “why me?’ while his uninvited guest cancer gobbles up entropy cells. It’s all too serious. Everyone needs a loud laughing at. The neighbor sets up his sprinkler with such a sad face. The plants would rather wither away and die than be quenched by such unendurable sorrow. Every woman in America between the ages of twenty-two and fifty-two must either turn all-out lesbian or band
together to laugh together in packs at one man standing naked holding a toothbrush. American men are nothing but excellent material for Pakistani comedians. I asked my daughter to count the obese people yesterday. Granted we were at an ice cream stand, but I bet similar results at a water fun theme park.
There will never be a revolution. Just look at what we are dealing with! When life is this sterile, potential revolutionaries become soy milk drinkers. Where are the mad ones? The hermits with a sense of humor and human? The craziest crazy of all is that such insanity can take itself so seriously. I don’t know one person as healthy as myself. I don’t look up to any living man. I look down at dried up dead worms on my walk to get orange juice. In a world consisting of billions of like creatures, how can it be that the future of mankind is all up to me?
I am going to go out on a limb and say insanity is the disease. Everything in America is now a mind disease. There is no more room for good physical health because our fat brains have taken over. The fall cannot be prevented. Now we are falling. Jump off the limb because they’re going to cut down the tree anyway. Daddy’s got a wallet stuffed with cash so the tree-cutters must come. Daddy doesn’t mind if the tree-cutter is a boy half his age with a plastic phone to his ear. He’s all decked out in fashionable shorts and cloth belt, white sneakers, and moosed hair. Daddy’s got money and that’s all that matters. Even if in some cultures a man would die from shame if he could not complete these natural tasks alone. That is not the point. Today the ancient tree gets put down with paper money taken from the paternal wallet.
I am going to write. I am writing now. It is inevitable. I’ve been pushing it off for so long. America wants that I go crazy and soil myself. I swear that I have never met another poet. The closest I’ve come to finding one agrees with me that the sky is falling, and then rushes home to mommy, smokes a bowl in his bedroom, and gets rocked to sleep by late-night cable TV.
I am going to start the revolution. Gather all ye rosebuds now you fat sloppy piglets, crush them between your fast food hamburger and chew. Soon Ronnie boy’s gonna walk by dropping death onto your pot-bellies.
I could kill. The apathy is total now. The slaves are eating their breakfasts. There is nothing that can stop me from hating you. My cat struts through the tall grass with a dead bird in his mouth. Oh that proud animal doesn’t need my store-bought bag of urinary tract kibbles. I’m going to get you first! Did you think I would just wait for the cancer to eat me? Or for the President to bomb me? Or for the CEO to pollute my lungs? I say America should stop breathing. And it will. This is the beginning.
My wife is envious of the old lady who’s in charge of the community garden. I wonder if she knows she’s living and sleeping with the man who will watch the old woman burn at the stake, while he chews on one of her asparagus spears. I am a fat, humming high voltage wire. I want the nuclear power plant enveloped in flames. I want Iraqi fighter planes to spray bullets at my home. I want disaster to wake me up enough to kill. To gather my daughters up in my arms and run. I won’t wait for the judgment that will never come. I want everyone to start believing in their local flora and fauna more than in their own, fellow human beings.
Poetry is dead. I believe that life is dead.
Whoever reads my book, know that I know you are dead.
I want to hold her hand and cry.
I have never met a man I would want to imitate. I must be the greatest man alive who does not accept logic.
I do not believe there is a man who struggles to complete himself like I do. No other bodies in the park grass lying around like beggars waiting for poetry. Even the women, who could be our last, and greatest poets, are content to remain a male waste product recycled into farm animal key holders, crafted for the next generation of men to hang their tiny, insignificant glories upon.
Men, ha! There’s a book out on the shelf, a bestseller, entitled Being a Man. That’s also a popular phrase these days used with the hope that nobody sees the man stripping off his lace underwear and standing in front of the mirror with those bony knees quivering. There’s a chapter on John F. Kennedy. As if he was a man! A shit father, a cheating husband, a masturbating girl-boy, sticking his finger in his ass and smelling the
finger. I want all men to poison themselves. He was President? A martyr? For whom? The Alabama disenfranchised? What, you don’t think he smirked every time his piss drunk father said the “N” word?
His contemporary, Fidel Castro, was, and is more of a man. Hail Fidel! Still, just a smidgen less the girl-boy than JFK. All world leaders need and want to be spanked. It’s the truth. Fidel wanted to be a baseball star. John Kennedy thought Robert Frost was a poet. “Ict bin Berliner” The Berliners should have set him on fire and tinkled warm piss over his ashes.
We are bonkers. One hundred percent crazy. Careful to the edge of madness, and dying of cancer before getting the bright idea to live first, and then die. Stand apart from the world as it turns now. Stand on Mars to watch. Stand in your own front yard. Open your mouth and stand there not making a sound. Nothing is here because of you. You stand alone without any truth. People never talk to people like they do to dogs and cats. God pity the human beings.
At work the country music station plays. It’s been torturing me. Some of the cooks know the refrains. They talk the words instead of singing them. The sky is black and three mile high thunder clouds billow out of the stratosphere. If I knew there would be this much death of spirit when I was nine, I would have made many, many tiny steps away from men. By this time I would be lost in a forest of heaven on earth. The cooks are like plumbers. They have no creation dreams. They put things together and listen to the commercials on the radio. “It would be a pity if you don’t shop at Honda City.” After our children kill us for the highest irony of all—reanimating their souls— I hope they make pee-pee in our mouths.
I want to quit my job as punishment for their constant displays of
apathy and inertia. That has always been the bane of my desire. I would rather live and die the way God wanted me to, but my stomach turns sick inside while watching them, and I can’t stay still long enough to save for myself a quiet, uneventful, uninterrupted, sweet, ecstatic life.
My friend called last night. I told him to be nineteen again or die. He’ll never kill himself. I could give him a loaded pistol and he would watch TV and forget that he was in possession of instant-death-by-boom. Nostalgia are those gray thoughts about gray buildings and gray rain water pouring in my mind. No one ever exchanges money. Always active, alive people in my dreams of the past.
This is not esoteric writing. My friend is like everyone else. A money slave with the real freedom of mad joy lurking several miles deep down in the chasm of his true mind. But his life remains to be a taco sandwich and a long, nightmarish sleep on a cot rocking over the edge of the chasm. Finally mankind has freedom of movement, of sunshine and water without disease and death. So he watches TV with this never before known freedom. My friend would not kill himself even if I mailed him some deadly pills with a note attached that said, “Eat us and die instantly”. So my equally good advice was to become nineteen again. So far he has not raised children to imitate him. His father bails him out of trouble. From a little friend’s point-of-view he will always be thirteen. I told him to eat when he gets hungry, have enough money for beer and cigarettes, and meet me at the tubes at seven-thirty. We’ll crawl inside and talk about girls and feel free because we can finally talk about what we want to do with the girls.
Last Friday I put up a sign for the wait staff. “Please donate to my friend who might end his life soon.” Twenty-three cents went into the bucket. I want them all to be set on fire.
These wasted suicides won’t even do the job the right way. In the forest or out on the ocean. They want to be discovered and buried properly. “Please don’t forget my note.” I don’t know if it’s possible for a man to kill himself the way I would kill myself. That selfish bastard still has a cellular phone and pumps gas into his shiny silver car. “What about my couch?” he says to let me know that I will never see his suicide come to fruition. He doesn’t know how to love. Won’t do anything for love. Wants money so he can fuck. Love is dead. It will be love when it’s a leap off a speeding train in pitch darkness. If you won’t walk deep into the forest to kill yourself… If you don’t have that sensibility to spill your bowels before a squirrel who won’t tell anybody, then all you want to do with life is fuck it.
God! Excluding my wife and children, I don’t even have a friend! We are now afraid to talk to each other. Man to man? Pat, my dear friend of our precious youth, you have become an androgynous money slave ass-sniffer! You have the balls of a girl-snake, the greed of hyena, the raving love and illuminating shows of life everlasting that a sloth expresses to an aluminum can. I can never be the friend I was at thirteen. A friend of yours now would have to drag you into a forest and serve you an Amanita muscaria pie.
This truly is the living death. I told my wife and my mother that I’m going to screw a strip of wood into the wall to hang my pans. “No, no. You’ll rush it, and I want it to look nice.” Women are not made to know pain. I am ready to take over the world to establish my kingdom, and yet I allow myself embarrassment over the decoration of a wall. They don’t see the world dying. They don’t see the marvelous rebirth of humanity. They see perfect walls for no one to look at. I see the sky falling and hear all our babies screaming for their mothers.
Buck and Barney are the two cooks who keep my ten dollars an hour secure for the time being. Buck has been cooking for twenty-three years. Barney for seven. They’re both idiots, but Barney is also an asshole. Buck was offered two dollars more than minimum wage to work the busiest line in Oswego. Seven-fifty an hour to cut through five ribs, broil two gallons of scallops, ten pounds of fish, grill burgers, steaks, and chicken, make marks on all roasted steaks and chops, non-stop for five hours, falling behind, getting ahead, but mostly staying behind, and then mop up the mess on the floor afterwards. Buck didn’t show up for work last night. Time to join him. Here’s the letter I wrote to my managers, Ted and Barney.

Dear management,

It’s time to leave for good. Twelve times is a charm.
I’ll make this resignation short and slightly bitter. I can’t give overtly lax management the pleasure of me keeping quiet.
This restaurant sucks bitter and I know why. I’d rather go broke standing upright than play “Neurological Breakdown” night after night for greedy monkeys. So I leave with some final thoughts for Ted and Barney. Take the remarks seriously because I only write what I know.
Ted, you suck, through and through. You are the worst kind of manager. You think that cutting an ounce off a steak is good management. You are just the bosses’ mouth. So, you have aspired in a lifetime to becoming the mouth of a crazy man. Boss is Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, and you are Mr. Potter’s wheel chair pusher. You play around with a man’s wage. If I were Buck, I would consider shoving a handful of my wage up your ass.
You are whatever you desire to be. A good father? A quiet man? A sexy dancer? Outside of work I wish you an ecstatic life. I don’t know, perhaps you put on a gracious mask upon leaving the restaurant. Maybe out whistling behind the wheel in your 4X4, you imagine yourself to be Harry Bailey, or Bert, the happy cabby. Imagine what you want, because imagination is all we got left. I imagine that if I dressed up my dog Beany in a collar and shoes, he’d manage the restaurant better than you. I bet I could train him to not shit on the floor during service. I would like to say the same for you. But you’re untrainable. Not housebroken. Not only do you ca-ca the joint, but you leave everyone else’s shit there to stink it up too!
The restaurant is filthy. That could be forgiven if it kept its cheer. It’s just not a happy place to work anymore. Everyone is unhappy. Even the bus boys and dishwashers have an opinion of disgust.
A suggestion of choice for you, if you so desire to become a better human being, and therefore a smarter manager… Quit the restaurant business immediately, or clear those god damn cigarette butts off the parking lot! Get to work you laze-about, you sniff ass! Stop stuffing your face with bread and butter chunks, and teach your employees to trust at least half of your poor decisions.
Hello Barney. I gave Ted more than he deserves. My intention was to focus on you, since you’ll be struggling in this crappy business for the rest of your life. This is criticism you’ll appreciate in ten years. But now you’re too arrogant to appreciate a good spanking. Arrogant with Golden Award! Absolutely ridiculous!
I told you the first week I was hired back that your employees can only be as good as the manager. In this type of business anything good starts at the top. I have been at this restaurant long enough to develop a smart sense of the good and the bad—for this restaurant. I also worked at the Captain’s Corner with you Barney, long enough to know how inexperienced you were at management. You had no understanding of proper training, consistency, scheduling, cleanliness, food handling…In fact, you had no qualifications to manage. So this restaurant hired you to manage its kitchen. Like Ted, you think money is management. The plumbers at the Captain’s Corner gave you that disease. They were working with plastic pipe and out-gas of glue—not glorious food that needs to be handled lovingly by inspired cooks. I tell you, now is the time to be humble and learn.
As a sous chef, as assistant to the chef, Jeff Bellow worked twice as hard as you. One has to live the kitchen to head the kitchen. If it means being in at 9:00 a.m. to teach an employee the “right way,” then you do it! For your own sanity. Presently, you’re not the right stuff for management. In the cover letter to my resume, I wrote that I needed to work in a well-managed establishment. Neither you nor Ted are making the right moves. So I go, happily in the right as usual, but broke again for sure.
You’re a good enough cook. I’ll give you that. However, you need to develop a love for the food you cook. And stop talking French! Christ, the French would bury your face in merde if they knew what you were doing to their food. Golden Award! Might as well piss in the sauté and save yourself a lemon.
I’ve enjoyed working beside you during the busy. When I was making mucho bucks as my last chef’s assistant dupe, I had to go off salary time and again because I couldn’t look the other guys in the face. I worked like a madman, but when crunch time came, all of our brains were melting—not just mine. The discrepancy in pay was not deserved. The real asshole is ownership and management, forever playing money master to wage slaves.
It would do you some good to sweep the parking lot. Even the good lard knows you can’t get a dishwasher to do it.
Outside of work, in a more mellow world, I hope we can meet with a handshake and a couple laughs. I believe I helped you out where and when I could. Now it’s time for you to save your own ass.
Good fortune to you and your little girl.
Adios Ted. Talk to you cowboys in the next life.

George Bailey

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