But You Don’t Wear No Perfume

Blogger has been giving me trouble again. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, what is it about this painting of Johnny’s that I find utterly arresting? Got me! I can’t stop looking at it.

This morning, I wish I could post the scent on the breeze coming off the river and through the trees. Wait, hold your nose up really close to the monitor. No, closer! Closer! Smell it?

To Fall Down At Your Door

Pete and Drusy watch TV.

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, asks an important question.

So I was at a museum in Jersey about fifteen years ago and I saw an exhibit by a guy who put together pieces of swirly formica tabletops from the fifties to create these huge flat pieces that were totally fabulous. I can’t remember the artist’s name. I can’t remember the name of the museum. I can’t remember shit any more. If I didn’t have my Palm, I’d forget to put on my pants. Anyways, does any of that ring a bell? I’ve searched online, of course, but I can’t come up with a thing.

I got bupkis. Any ideas?

Better Learn How To Kneel

Our Southwest Bureau correspondent Johnny should write children’s books.

Surgeon postpones my appointment last Friday. I am disappointed. Whether he’s going to be able to fuse my neck vertebrae and cure my headaches and make me a permanently forward-looking person or not, I can cope, I just need to know. I go to Pawn City to look for Indian bracelets to salve my soul. Murmuring cabinets quietly repeat the stories of people who came here, went native, bought the silver jewelry and the adobe houses and the pickup truck and their life looked like a photo shoot from the Sundance catalog, but the brown summers and the brown winters and the brown springs and falls wore them down and they hocked it all and went back to California and Houston and New York and Boston. That’s okay. More for the rest of us. There’s a bald eagle nesting in a bare tree over the spillway just past the dam, soaring around and picking off the unwary fish. I saw a crow the other day the size of a turkey, eating a sandwich. Meanwhile, there’s snow on the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. The Berkshires seem dreamlike on account of that frosting. At least they say so on the radio. I say good night, you moonlight ladies. Rockabye sweet baby John. Dope pills and booze is the diet I choose. Excuse me if I pass out on your lawn. And rockabye sweet baby John.

I can’t write like that, but I hope someday to write near it. And have a lawn.

My Voodoo Working

Johnny reports from the snack front:

I initially came out strongly against energy bars because every one I saw was some variety of chocolate. Chocolate this. Chocolate that. Chocolate the other thing. You broads with your chocolate give me a pain. If men ruled the world, there would be no chocolate. You’d be able to buy raw meat-flavored birthday cake, except birthdays would be outlawed, because you broads are the only ones who care about them. When was the last time you saw a man start to cry on his thirty-ninth birthday because he only had only one more year before he turned forty? You’ll see that the day you hear a man ask if these pants make him look fat. That said, carrot cake clif bars are pretty good, and they’re a godsend for busy important executives like myself, who can eat one for breakfast while sending out important executive emails like this one.

And speaking of what I eat, I decided not to eat octopus again after I saw this.

I’m almost certainly smarter than chocolate.

See How the Black Moon Fades

Johnny, our Southwest correspondent reports.

Looking at these pictures makes me shake my head in disbelief that I am still alive. I used to say when I was young that the heart could break a thousand times, that you just got up and got back in the ring. But nothing bad had happened to me then. The worst heartbreak I’d had to face was if some punk rock girl wouldn’t have sex with me.

In the death throes of my first marriage, we moved into a broken down old house in Arlington, a grimy second-rate suburb of Cambridge, a dry town where you couldn’t even buy a bottle of beer to drown your sorrows. The house was creaky and sagging and an ominous wind blew across the loose clapboards from the cemetery directly behind it.

I would come home from work and walk Tano, then I’d take a six of beer upstairs, which was my territory. I’d drink and kill the time until dinner, staring out the window at the forsaken headstones, wishing one of them said my name. I dreaded my wife’s hateful stare so powerfully that I wouldn’t even go downstairs to the bathroom. I pissed in empty gallon jugs and lined them up in the back of the closet.

Eventually it would be time for the dinner ordeal. We’d glower at each other with barely concealed hostility until it was over. Then I’d take another six upstairs to help me kill the rest of the evening. It made me so desperately sad to walk past her sleeping on the couch that sometimes, rather than go down to the horrible little room in the corner where I slept, I’d lie down on the floor in my little office and spend the night there. Then I’d get up in the morning, stiff-necked and hung over, have a couple of beers, and go to work.

I remember the night I told her that I would be moving out in the morning. I’d gotten a lot of nasty surprises when I married her, and, to be fair, she’d gotten just as many from me, but she said something that night that I couldn’t even believe I was hearing. She said ‘Are you seeing someone?’ Like the torture of surviving another hour of our miserable existence together wasn’t enough to drive me out of that haunted house.

I blamed my first wife for a long time. Then I got over it. People will tell you that things happen for a reason. I think that’s shite. I don’t believe that some malevolent all-knowing entity crucified me and broke my spirit just so I could appreciate the marriage I have now. But that’s the way it shook out. So who am I to complain?

It doesn’t all fit in the scanner, but you get the idea. I smeared a bunch of medium and extender on a piece of window screen, then stuck in an outline of the Captain cut from tarp canvas. I’ll take a picture of it the way it really works, stuck to a window, with the sun behind it. The medium turns opalescent and the Arabic turns luminous and unearthly. I have about nine paintings going and am in love with all of them and want to ask them to marry me. The glee, the glee, the glee of paint. Did I forget to mention the glee of paint? I don’t care what I had to crawl through to get here. God damn. Life is good.

P.S. I don’t know much about history. Don’t know much biology. But I do know. Mandinka.

A Mixed Up Muddled Up Shook Up World

A few days ago, my erstwhile drinking buddies sobered up long enough to talk briefly about a movie. I hadn’t seen it then but have now, and in the interest of spur-jingling mayhem, sometimes give even tinfoil-helmet theorists a turn holding the Talking Stick. The filmmakers could be total crackpots for all I know. I will say this: the first five-ten minutes sure are visually exciting. Pretty. The second segment of the movie is hard to watch, as planes crash over and over into the towers, and there’s discussion of international banking conspiracies that devolve into RFID chip nerves, and an ending that arrives from – best I can see – nowhere.

I’m not endorsing this movie. I’m saying it’s out there, you can watch it if you choose, and now I have questions about that plane crashing into the Pentagon. Who do I ask? I don’t know, so I was already a little down when I read Court Rejects Case of Alleged CIA Torture Victim. Shit:

The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of a German citizen who said he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.

A federal district court judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had earlier dismissed the case brought by Khaled El-Masri, agreeing with the government that the case could not go forward without exposing state secrets. The Supreme Court denied review without comment.

Masri, who is of Lebanese descent, has said he was detained by Macedonian police on Dec. 31, 2003, and handed over to the CIA a few weeks later. He said he was taken to a secret CIA-run prison in Afghanistan and physically abused before he was flown back to the Balkans without explanation in May 2004 and dumped on a hillside in Albania.

When I read about this case awhile back, I wondered what I’d do if the CIA dropped me on a hillside in Albania. I still don’t have an answer for that.

German officials said they were later informed privately by their U.S. counterparts that Masri was detained in a case of mistaken identity, apparently confused with a terrorism suspect of a similar name. U.S. officials have not publicly admitted any guilt or responsibility in the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union had taken up Masri’s case. Lawyers for the group said the Bush administration was using the state secrets privilege too broadly, invoking it to stop lawsuits relating to wiretapping and whistle-blowers as well as terrorism cases.

In this case, they argued in asking the court to take the case, “the entire world already knows” the information the government said it is seeking to protect.

I wish I’d thought of the I’m Doing Something Against the Rules, Which I Can’t Discuss With You Because It’s A Secret From You Defense when Mom caught me climbing back in the bedroom window when I was grounded. Anyway, in the last paragraph, almost as an afterthought, we find a very distressing detail.

Masri in May was committed to a psychiatric institution after he was arrested in the southern German city of Neu-Ulm on suspicion of arson. His attorney blamed his troubles on the CIA, saying the kidnapping and detention had left Masri a “psychological wreck.”

Rendition didn’t kill him; he lost his mind. Obviously, I needed some good news. Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, came to my rescue. He’s recently started a dog painting business called, neatly, Painted Dogs. Strangely enough, this does not involve applying paint to dogs. Nope!

Johnny says: My brother Brian the art critic said that because the rug doesn’t sort of tilt back like in real life, the painting is “post-perspective.” At least I think that’s what he said.

I love this image. He doesn’t say what size the painting is. You can see the edges of the canvas and some dayight around the edges, but I love Bert On A Persian Rug.

Johnny: Jack has a window company in Albuquerque. He did a magazine ad with a picture of himself with his dog. I did a portrait of the dog and I’m packing up the painting to mail to him. To Jack, I mean. I’d give anything to be there and see his face when he opens it. That is, if I had anything.

Who’s a good boy! I love the essential dogginess of his portraits, their energy and happiness. The portraits, I mean. Our dogfriends are the Kings of Enthusiasm. They don’t love us – they LOVE US! They don’t scamper – they SPRINT! They’re not peckish – they’re STARVING! These are paintings and pencil drawings of charming indoor wild animals who could as soon sit with you at the table as wrestle for roast beast. How can you not love them back?

Howz yer mutt? Need him painted?