Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lunchbox Kid Hanging Out With Electric Jesus

My grand plans to put up all of my primary and elementary school pictures are done. I’ve decided they are better placed on Facebook, so instead of finishing that plan I’ve decided to spotlight failure today.

Believe or not I strive for quality here at Soulfish Stew...well most of the time. So that means a lot of posts are started and then left to just take up space on my hard drive. I find it difficult to let go of these orphan posts because sometimes they provide the foundation of another better one. Most of the time they don't and they become like all of the letters unsent I boxed up many years ago. They'll be dragged out once every few years and I'll muse upon them perhaps receiving an emotional charge of some sort before throwing them back in the box and into the attic.

So instead of letting my discarded blog post attempts suffer the same fate I've decided to do a very stewlike thing with them. I'm going to post all of them here today no matter how impoverished or undeveloped they are. First up is what was supposed to be a fever dream spontaneous composition type essay ostensibly about hanging out in Murfreesboro on a hot summer night during the 1985-1987 era. It's actually filled with lots of true things, but it's all so obscured and edited in a way that one shouldn't be able to tell whether it's real or fiction unless you actually know the people.

I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Electric Jesus and his troupe of happy groupies....E.T. used to hang with him when he'd wear his Jesus robes to the game room slash driving range next to Interstate 24 where we'd go to play pinball and then watch people hitting golf balls placing side bets on how many times the little carts retrieving the golf balls would get struck. I imagine you'd get used to the sound of the golf balls like tin roof rain...E.T. had one side of her head shaved and it just wasn't the same as Michelle bobbing her hair, but DD wanted to look for the girl in the Mustang so we'd hit the Memorial Boulevard strip before the merchants and police put a stop to the cruising and we would look for the beautiful girl in the convertible Ford even though we'd probably never even talk to her - she was like fine art on wheels - the exemplary model of teen socialite boredom. People would bring lawn chairs and just sit and watch the poets of the street night weave by and through and around their lives. We were all just little satellites in orbit. Frisbee parking lot and DD would also dream about Carlson and I would dream about leaving town for good, but those were just shimmering asphalt mirages too - I'd barrel across county to work at Mazzio's all week just to pay for some Friday night fun...beer pyramids shotgun bongs skateboarding and torture chambers of youth.

Next up is something titled the Sedaka Theory Of Relativity. It’s about writing and failure with the ultimate outcome being the failure to even complete the blog post which is apropos.

I used to think I was one hell of a writer. I was going to light cherry bombs under the entire literary world and watch them scatter. I had read Kerouac and Kesey. Burroughs and Bukowski. Worshipped at the clay feet of musicians thought to be poets like Lennon, Morrison, Dylan, and Reed. I wore a DIY anarchy button on my thrift store sportcoat and got kicked out of high school assemblies for rowdy behavior. I was ten years ahead of my time in my mind floating around in a miscreant cloud of synched in and out psychosis that was perhaps merely mild narcissist agoraphobia or Asperger's Syndrome.

I ran around scribbling down my thoughts and random story ideas into little spiral bound notebooks feeling like I was a capital A artist and while nobody understood me then...well they would all get it one day and they would kneel before the new god of thunder of prosody. Punks like McIrnerny and Easton Ellis were part of the dying hippie gasp with their proto-yuppie trash aesthetic novels that ripped off Fitzgerald with their marginally sensationalized drug glorifying trips for the post collegiate set.

I kept this up for more than a decade. This fantasy world invention of young author versus whatever you got was compelling and I almost acted upon the shadowy impulse behind the Situationist construct I was building. I almost interviewed to be a sportswriter for the Daily News Journal. I enjoyed sports, while not to the degree of a Frederick Exley, and felt I could be an adept journalist. The interview time arrived and I didn't go. A sudden attack of depression and it was all over. I washed away my dreams of covering Little League and junior school athletics with alcohol and Suicidal Tendencies.

Not that there weren't minor triumphs. One of my friend's mother read one of my notebooks and thought it was really good. She put me right up there with Richard Bach. She loaned me some of his books and I realized my friend's mom must have been a hippie. The only resemblance to Richard Bach my writing bore was that both were in English.

I sent a poem to DD Blank and he liked it because it contained the two lines: prose is for pussies, poetry is for wimps. Or maybe it was the other way around. It does work either way. That portion of the poem was about how jocks viewed a library. Yes, the poem was that deep. It was mainly an ode to a girl I had known in high school that had cut her long hair in the manner of Fitzgerald's character Bernice which had amused and intrigued me. It was also about disappointment of the sort that sometimes turns people into goth zombies.

I showed one of notebooks to my friend Bruno. It happened to be the one that begins "Bruno is now my literary enemy. I can no longer stomach his infantile dreams of rock and roll fame" and so on in rather derogatory fashion down the first page. He never really said much about the content, but we did begin to drift apart as he went on to write for MTSU's Sidelines. He even achieved some campus fame of sorts after he wrote a column titled "Life's A Bitch And Then You Die" which was really about enjoying spring break. Even better was when he got threatening letters from the band Burning Hearts after he called the lead singer effeminate. It got really confusing a few years later after Burning Hearts really did get a female lead singer. I was a writer in my head, but Bruno was doing it for real.

Time wore on and wore out like it has a habit to do. I kept on with the spiral bound trash heaps I was creating. Some of it actually took shape and became, well, good in places. Reading it is like walking through a slum and suddenly turning a corner and finding a shiny dime on the cracked sidewalk. Glimpses of clarity and spirit begin to be discerned. There is some actual lower case "a" art in these latter day notebooks of the 90's. But the indecision was still bugging me.

The Nashville Scene needed some music writers. I talked to Johnathan Marx for what seemed like hours over the phone one day about becoming a paid journalist for them. And then I didn't do it. I chickened out. Oh, yes I did crank out a few issues of a fanzine called Anti-Society. It even got some ego stroking rave reviews by Flipside and Grand Royal, but I wasn’t making cash money. I gave it away and nothing ever really came of it.

I quit working in Nashville and I got out of the pop culture petri dish. I devolved into a consumer again. I no longer played in a band either. I puttered around. I wrote some things that never really went anywhere: a guide to car crash movies, an episode guide to Square Pegs, and the outlines to a kids book I’m still scribbling on every few months or so. It was just scattered energies and creative death.

I got excited for a short time after a phone conversation with DD Blank. I told him about the children during the 70’s that lived at the garbage dump down the road from my grandmother in Ripley, Mississippi. They used to ride by her house on these outlandish bicycles made from trashed bikes and other junk from the dump. They were sorta’ scary. I knew I was dirt poor white trash, but I wasn’t as lowdown as a kid that had to live at a garbage dump. DD thought that little story was great. The thought of dump people tickled his fancy.

So I decided to write the North Mississippi version of Dubliners. The first story I wrote was very brief. It was a trifle titled "The Last Cotton Field." The Dead Mule website put it up....but then again I guess they put all entries up. I’ve done bits and pieces for all of the following titles:

1. “The Last Cotton Field”
2. “The Dump People”
3. “The House Movers”
4. “The Barnstormer”
5. “The Man Who Runs Things”
6. “The Blackberry Hunters”
7. “The Café”
8. “The Shadow of Colonel Falkner”
9. “The Pictures”
10. “Blue Mountain”

So I got excited about these stories, but the excitement wore off as other things like my job and family took up more time. I know you’ve got to make time if you want to be creative, but it gets so tough as you get older.

Third on this list of aborted posts is Nachotastic which is primarily just jibber jabber that doesn’t make any literal sense so let’s call it a “life study.”

mayhaps the nachotastic kid returns to cause a mixture of dismay, trouble, and pain with a cherry jalapeno on top to finally bring some joy - what is last is first and what is first rides in the hearse.

Egad we be OLD! All I've got is my lame old brain decrepit and prone to breakdown.

Nothin' to du but wallow in the past while the present implodes and the future corrodes.

Yep, just swallow it down on the boulevard, tattooed and scarred, mentally barred and tarred,

supernaughting is not anything like pussyfooting, but it is akin to juggernaughting...

Egan ripping off antennas - man cars are like bugs...

"with my face on the floor" sometimes I feel like dying, sometimes I feel like I'm Emitt Rhodes

dully I scrambled
exactly as I liked
to end up first up
scared of the light

More in my North Mississippi material – this time a couple of stories my mother told me, no title given.

My mother told me how she's lucky to be alive because when she was a child she stepped on a nail and blood poisoning set in and traveled up her leg in a black treacle infestation of bad kudzu blood. She lived in Arkansas at the time (it would have been the Forties) on a sharecropper cotton farm far from West Memphis and medical care. Someone saw how bad her leg was and insisted she be taken to the hospital. So off the family went to West Memphis where the doctor drained the bad blood and pronounced her well enough to walk and go home a few days later, but admonished the family for letting her get so bad for she would have surely died had they delayed much longer.

Her other brush with death arrived in a cotton barn with her baby sister Beatrice in her arms. They were inside the barn when their older sister Inez decided to play with some matches near some cotton bales either not knowing or caring about the flammability of cotton. She discarded a match on the ground and a slight breeze sparked the cotton and soon there was a rim of fire around the barn with my mother and Beatrice still inside. While most of the large family set upon dousing the flames my uncle Palmer heard my mother and Beatrice screaming so he went to get them out of the barn that was filling with smoke. He told my mother to jump across the fire but she wouldn't. So he rushed across, took Beatrice and threw her over the fire first and then my mother. The fire was extinguished before it got too out of hand and the poor sharecroppers hoped the owner of the farm wouldn't notice the cotton that had gotten burned.

And finally one I began just a few days ago, but probably wouldn’t have finished. We’ll call it Ringing The Belle.

I saw a girl wearing a Belle And Sebastian t-shirt in the local Wal-Mart here in Smithville. I said hello to her and expressed my amazement that another person in this town knew about Belle And Sebastian. I couldn’t think of the album If You’re Feeling Sinister when we talked about them, but neither could she and that gave us a laugh. She was a student at the Appalachian Center. Once the power of a rock and roll t-shirt was made manifest in my imagination.

No comments: