I’m sitting on the couch on a Monday evening with nothing on but my shorts, listening to the heavy rain as it pours down outside. I stay like that, quiet and still, for a long while. This hasn’t been the greatest of days, see.

What were the lines again? Party-boy thinks he’s indestructible. That has got to be a personal favorite, Lyla. That’s what they have been calling me now, you hear? Everyone, from Jimmy to Dee and Kay to Cybill and to god knows who else: Party-boy. Space cadet. The big kid. A screw-up. And true to form, I guess I’ve pretty much earned each one of those.
My mother came by the other day: She asked me how I was and I gave her the usual smirk and told her, “You know me ma, I go lightly”— pun intended and all that. She just looked at me disapprovingly and reminded me I’m over thirty years old. The emphasis was all hers.

It’s raining outside and this hasn’t been the greatest of years, see— and if you want me to be perfectly honest with you, these haven’t been the greatest last five or six years either and I guess in the end it all sort of boils down to my total and complete inability to adapt to life after College. I mean the joke has got to be on me on this one, right?
Textbook irony.

Then I stand up and walk away from the couch, into the kitchen. I open the freezer and I’m sort of bummed to find the bottle of Stoli I’d bought to play Monopoly on Saturday night with Billy and his wife almost empty. What were Billy’s words again? “Man, you drank more than half that bottle by yourself and you’re still standing!”
So I take the Stoli with me, and on a second thought I go back to the freezer and get the unopened Absolut as well.

Then I walk over to the bathroom, get the small unmarked plastic container behind the medicine cabinet and empty its contents in the palm of my hands, leaving discarded blisters behind and a tiny constellation of anxiolytics and tranquilizers plunging down into the toilet. The vodkas follow suit, oozing slowly, half-frozen. It takes me an eternity to empty everything, or so it seems.

The muscles on my back go taut, I clench my teeth: I’d like to tell you I’m doing this because I’m clean now, because I’m stronger than all of this but... Truth is, I fall down and fail all the time, repeatedly: If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year is that I’m not indestructible.

But I’m goddamn resilient, so I end up flushing everything down anyway.
Then I go back to the living room as the rain turns into a storm. There’s lightning now.

Then I look to my battered old Mizunos standing by the door, like twin stray puppies just begging to go outside. I put them on. I also pick up a dirty, smelly t-shirt from yesterday’s wash pile and put it on, too. Then I go to the park to sweat it out under the heavy Monday evening rain.


Down all the days, '10

“Are you even listening to what I’m saying?,” Dee’s friend asks from across the table and if I take a step back down through these last couple of years it will just feel like some old routine that’s been rehearsed indefinitely with nothing good ever having coming out of it. Dee’s friend owns this jazzy alternative bar near my place and Dee often goes there for a nightcap and some conversation and sometimes I’ll tag along like Sal Paradise to his Dean Moriarty, more interested on their vodkas with pineapple than anything else, really.

It’s a Tuesday evening and we are having pizza and wine at this restaurant we’re quite partial to, coincidently enough just across the street from our old College campus: It used to be a derelict Colonial-style house back then, since remodeled.

It takes me a few seconds to connect, though, and once Dee’s friend’s question finally registers I find myself looking up at her from my glass and in the back of my head I’m frantically diving in for any last words that made the cut before I zoned out entirely: “You were talking about the sliding metal door with a view to the kitchen...”
“I was,” she says with eyes locked against mine.
“Right,” I nod in response, deadpan as hell, as I pour myself more wine.
“Is he always like this?” she asks Dee to her left.
“He’s amoral, that’s what we all like about him,” says Dee. “Plus he’s kind of polite too.”

She frowns upon hearing Dee’s words then looks back at me, puzzled, and I have a brain-dead half-smile on my face for no special reason whatsoever.
“Yeah, I’m kind of polite too,” I echo Dee’s words out aloud but I’ve already drifted off to somewhere else entirely.


Maddie & the Bunnymen

“You’re probably the only person here not wearing black,” says Maddie very matter-of-factly as we climb down the stairs into the concert hall towards the GA floor: Another week, another rock concert.

I’m wearing battered jeans and a forest-green t-shirt under this very old plaid flannel shirt that must be over ten years old. My sneakers, dirty and threadbare, are the same Mizunos I use for jogging. Maddie on the other hand is sharply dressed in tight-fitting black denims and a tighter-fitting black blouse, with high-heeled leather boots reaching close to her knees. Her strawberry-blond hair is long and straight, cascading neatly all the way to her lower back. I give her the once-over from head to toe as she steps ahead of me and you’d swear anyone with those abs and that ass and that skin should be at least fifteen years younger.

The lack of a swimsuit model bod notwithstanding, the rest of the audience shares both Maddie’s preference for color and age range.
As we stand in front of the stage waiting for the show to start, she notices this short, stubby character in a black leather jacket with a bald patch and a bad curly ponytail: Maddie tells me she clearly remembers the guy as a regular from her clubbing days— standing atop the stairway at this nightclub or another back in ’88 or ’89, wearing black lipstick, all coked out, ghosts in his eyes. “He hasn’t changed much, though,” she says, “I mean apart from the goth make-up, thank god, because that would be downright scary!”
I can’t help but nod in agreement: “You have a mighty memory.”

Echo & the Bunnymen are playing São Paulo again and post-punk bands from the isles are bound to attract that sort of audience. It’s my second Bunnymen concert and Maddie’s third or fourth; she’s probably the only other Bunnymen fan I know.

The Bunnymen are playing their most classic album in full, backed by a small six-person orchestra of strings: The songs from 1984’s Ocean Rain are moody with a somber, heavy tempo and the lyrics are mostly overwrought save for the Singles— it’s an album to be listened at night, in the dark, by yourself, but whenever the Bunnymen play live they play with very strong guitars and a deep bassline— and the audience goes absolutely crazy.
And this time, though, differently from the Bon Jovi concert last week, I actually know the words.

Once the show starts Maddie is dancing right in front of me: She dances softly with her eyes closed, in quiet introspection, her arms wrapped around her body— quite the opposite to my jumping around like a spastic fifteen year old, shouting and yelling and screaming all the time.

Maddie is married, though, and her husband looks just like Brad Pitt— so once she ties her aforementioned long, straight strawberry-blond hair up in a bun behind her head and a trickle of sweat runs down the exposed back of her neck, I’m relegated to just imagining how nibbling at her earlobes must feel like— I can taste the salt of her sweat on my tongue just as I can taste the metaphors from Ian McCulloch’s drunken crooning onstage: Another week, another playing the heterosexual gay friend at a rock concert for a hot chick.

Then sure: I’ll text-message Alyx once the show’s through now that she’s back in town and I’ll ask her if she’s up for something tonight. She’ll tell me she’s already tucked in beneath a pile of comforters and maybe another day, who knows. Then I’ll just shrug with indifference and give Maddie the once-over for the umpteenth time as we leave the concert hall through the parking lot, to look for a cab home: She’ll light up a cigarette and lean against the wire fence by the sidewalk, looking sexy as hell as she buttons up her black overcoat against the late-night cold wind.

And from the lyrics to tonight’s Ocean Rain, then:
“All hands on deck at dawn /
Sailing to sadder shores /
Your port in my heavy storms /
Harbours the blackest thoughts.”


(Nobody left but us these days)

You upstage the mundane with grace, my dear, he said, typed Montgomery Peer, quoting himself in staccato bursts from the keyboard, stopping once in a while for one allegedly-last sip from the coffee mug on his desk, and back again.
Peer then bit his lower lip, just slightly, before clicking the mouse to send Cybill the e-mail: In Peer’s private little world, he would know he liked people when he’d start to behave like a hyperactive fifteen year-old next to them.

This happened of course in the ensuing morning after all had been said and done and the entire Wednesday had been put to waste and quite properly so: It was something of a dog-day for everyone that reached its climax halfway across a bridge en route to the stadium, walking by the thronged traffic across the river, Peer looking over his shoulder to see Cybill as she actually leaped a stray dog in the way and he smiled first to laugh later.

Peer’d told her, more like an epigram than a joke, really, that if he’d had a time-machine then & there, he would end up mailing himself a letter, to two or say, three years before, and it’d begin with, Dear Peer, and this is how it ends.
The rest of the letter he kept to himself in the back of his head: Not his future to foretell but wishful figments to crash headfirst into— Either way, she did do it with grace as she’d been doing everything else ever since he first met her.

That Wednesday peaked with the ersatz Captain Crash and his stand-in for the Beauty-Queen from Mars shouting from the top of their lungs as the last of the great Arena Rock kings, hailing straight from Jersey (where else?) blasted onstage for close to three hours—There are all those things you’ll go through in life without being able to tell people because of the rules, the laws, the mores, the golden bands and binding ties— yet Peer couldn’t help, avoid, detain himself from falling in love with the girl— well maybe not love-love, not really, be honest, but lightly, more like having each heartbeat of his skipped to match each word from her lips, above the din, the chanting of the crowd, Cybill’s voice risen over all those as she sang along and followed the chorus— so ladylike, like some blueblood royal family or something, but also so girlish too— in jeans and a sweatshirt— plus those ubiquitous cool, sexy, catlike Bette Davis eyes— Singing on, playfully, whimsically, sure to have a sore throat the next day— a singalong catharsis from the drudgeries of everyday and all the confessions she’d thought best to never tell him but maybe hint at, at best, whatever— Whatta pal! thought Peer with a sincere smile to himself.

“These days are fast...” she sang on until her voice maxed out and ultimately gave in.
GOGOGO, he never stopped.

—Then bumming a ride home afterwards with a chapter of the secret society of the super-villains, more by chance than anything else: There in the car, if you heard it carefully enough and really paid attention, you’d end up plucking a few stray truths instead of simply leaping over them too, like with a stray dog on a bridge.


Men in cities

Dear Lyla,
What can I say?

Bugsy Malone is on TCM tonight and it’s inevitably bound to take me back to an afternoon with you ten, eleven, twelve years ago over tex-mex burgers and onion rings.

Sometimes I find myself wishing things could have gone just a little different, you know, at least so I would know what to say to you when writing these posts: I don’t even remember what kind of movies you like and just the other day I was watching The Lady From Shanghai and I realized Orson Welles is such a dead ringer for Vince Vaughn and for the oddest of reasons I wanted to tell you right away. At least so as to know in which side of that fence you’d stand. Almost sent you an e-mail then & there, fact, and would’ve done it, all too true, if it weren’t such beyond all those rules we’ve never even bothered to actually make.

There’s this girl I know—her marriage hasn’t been going all too well lately—and we kind of like the same movies and the same songs so we get to talk a lot every now and then: Just the other day I had switched the background image on my computer at the office: I’d replaced Reneé Magritte’s The son of man for two pieces from Robert Longo’s Men in Cities series. Robert Longo was the guy who directed the video for New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, just so that you know, and she did—and she walked over to my desk and made the usual funny remark that the two of us probably fell off the same spaceship, stuff like that.
I looked up at her and said that knowing there were still people like her around was the sole reason for my not slitting my wrists just yet—It was supposed to be a joke but it just didn’t come out like one, and quite honestly so. Sad but true. Thing is, she just looked at me and her eyes filled up and my eyes filled up too and she touched me very lightly on the shoulder, a gentle tap actually, and said she knew how tough things could get every now and then, and told me sometimes we just have to hang on.

I think it was the nicest thing someone’s ever told me in my life.