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tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

August 28, 2008

road trip

Flying to Los Angeles tomorrow to meet with a friend. We’re heading to Las Vegas and from there making our way north to Reno. Gonna split the state of Nevada open, try to figure out what the difference is between those two infamous gambling towns in the desert.


if you click this link you’ll see “The Darkside of the Donuts” won first place for the weekly best of current.com. I was kind of surprised. Thanks if you voted for me.

August 27, 2008

vote for me. best hair.

August 26, 2008

big sur

it’s windy in Big Sur

We pulled off the 101 South onto 156 West and it had already been dark an hour. 156 injects you directly into Pacific Coast Highway 1, somewhere near Monterey. “The One” is a hip hugger of a highway, curly curvy clutching at the cliff edge above the ocean, my favorite ocean, the Pacific Ocean.

Focus on the ocean. I don’t like the beach. I need a battleground where there is land and there is sea and the one slams into the other like it wasn’t even paying attention, it was just rolling along for days and all of a sudden dry earth standing two hundred feet tall is there and the ocean explodes against it.

My gal likes a sandy beach. She likes the meeting of land and sea to be amicable. We came into Big Sur under cover of darkness and we stopped the car to see how close the ocean was. The elctric window slides down and we hear nothing, see nothing. I stop the motor. It seems like there is no noise out there. It takes time for the highway to stop humming and the drawn out curling of a wave laying back onto itself to register in your tread worn eardrums.

It’s as though the volume slowly turns up and there it is. Somewhere in the blackness the ocean is ending its journey with white blood squirting up pumped into the air, a crash victim, the earth’s injury a corroded shore. The inability to hear the ocean at first is like beekeeping. When I look out the back window where the hives are I don’t see anything but the bottle brush tree, old chairs, dead grass. I have to wait a moment before I see the flight path, the little winged blips shooting across the sky. After half a minute the sky looks full of them, even though they’ve been there the whole time.

Big Sur is a little town, no fast food joints, just some campgrounds, a deli, a guy converted his house to a living museum to Henry Miller (you can stop in and drink coffee and play ping pong and buy some books) and that’s about it. The hills have been burned bare, but the stretch along the ocean was saved. I came out of the coffee shop in the morning and an old guy in a flannel shirt was standing heavy on one leg and leaning when I overheard, “When I got run over and started having strokes I had to make some decisions about pharmaceutical stuff.”

I was out of earshot and on my way back to the campsite by the next sentence. But that’s what the locals are talking about, and I guess it’s no different from city folks. We get a spell of bad luck and look for something to take the pain away. In the meantime we’re still working, still drinking coffee in the morning and saying hi to familiar faces.

August 25, 2008

self control machine

God I need one of these. It’s been a long weekend and I’m working a real job again all this week. They want me at work by 8:30 every day, I have to “look busy”, play all those games.

Tonight after work I went straight to a bar and emptied out a storage room for them. They’re gonna pay me in beer. That’s the kind of work I need. Beer rotted plywood and industrial size cans of tomato paste with a crust of sauce inside them, rusted metal fittings to machinery I don’t understand, broken broom handles and bar stool legs. Load it up and head to the bar.

There wasn’t a thing to salvage. But this is the kind of work I like. Back scratcher stuff. Junk for booze. Mighty neighborly. You know the type.

I’d like to wish you all a good week ahead. There’s something floating out there in the breeze. Guess it’s a message. Sounds like it’s saying if you can’t be good, at least be safe.

August 24, 2008

Went to Big Sur this weekend, Ill be home shortly for a proper blog.

August 23, 2008

the dark side of the donuts

Click on this text to watch the latest video Fisher and I made. It’s about donuts. The darkside of the donuts. It’s on Current.com, so if you like it, leave a comment. If you don’t, kindly remember, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. In the comments section. Tell me here.”

August 21, 2008

a sad time today

photo posted from my iPhone

Got another email from Mr. Hawkins yesterday, wasn’t half as fun as the first. After I read it I walked outside and saw this on the ground next to my truck. So take it as a sign Lily is okay, buddy. She doesn’t blame you. Be good to the rest of us and yourself and it won’t be for naught.

“I went to work today like i do everyday, loaded up the dogs and headed to the shop. I was working on this old 33lb lobster that earl sanders had stuffed by a taxidermy specialist. I sprayed some mdf black for a background, and put some cherry mitred around it. I called my dog lilly of 9 months old she was no where to be found, I said “Zoe, go find lilly, She just looked at me and around the surrounding grass, I went to the grass next to 236 and she was lying down, I said “lilly! Bad girl, but she didn’t move, lilly I said with a calmer voice, and started to cry as my feet raced toward her, her body was hot, but not moving, breathing, blood was coming out of her mouth and her collar was missing, I said to myself, i just saw you 10 min ago as I hugged her heavy hot limp body crying uncontrollably, it was my fault, my shop is next to a busy road, and i was irrisponsible,. and as a result she is dead. I went to the farm and buried her there, on the edge of the field, it was by far the hardest single thing i have had to do and not wanted,”

August 20, 2008

Rusty Sunshine at the slaughterhouse

Rusty Sunshine as a child

Rusty and I went down to 5th Quarter Pizza the other day. He got to talking, and this is what I remember of it:

“Left home when I was 12, doin’ farm work. $40 dollars a month and you got you room and board. They’d buy you clothes but that didn’t amount to nuthin’ more’n a pair of overhauls an’ a shirt. That didn’t last long.

I started chasin’ around with the daughter of the woman charged with the hirin’ at the stock yards. I come in with my brother’s social security number and she didn’t say nothin’. Let me work. My first job was finish shearing sheep. They’d come down the line chained by a rear hoof from a system up in the ceiling. When they’d get to ya’, the wool was dangling from around their face still. I’d trim it off and throw the bundle in a hopper. They were still alive, but not for long.

After that I moved over to a cattle line. They saved the blood for somethin’. Not from the sheep, just the cattle. You had you a big long knife, probably this long, say a foot long, a metal shield come up along behind it to catch the blood, so only about four inches of the blade actually stuck in the neck. It funneled into a steel can, like the old milk jugs. You filled six or eight of ’em and then pushed your cart to great big tub and poured it in.

Cows made a helluva racket, it was somethin’ awful. I don’t know why but the sheep didn’t complain much hung up there like that. It was dangerous work too, you had to grab a hoof and hold ’em just so. The old boy worked beside me taught me. He was real good. You only get kicked a time or two before you figured it out.

The floor was like cobble stone, it was real slippery in there. Ever once in a while one would get loose inside and you’d hear a siren. That meant get the fuck outta there an’ quick because someone was coming with a big ol’ shotgun to shoot the sunbitch.

The place was huge. HUGE. Armour on one side, Swif’ on t’other. Cattle as far as you could see. You could drive a mile down the road and that was all there was. You never seen so much cattle in all your life. Different ones in different pens, they’d get graded out by quality. Grade A, Grade B, guys got to where they could tell just by looking at ’em what they’d be.

It was good money. Good money. A slaughterhouse was one of the best jobs you could find back in that part of the world. South St. Paul Minnesota.

August 19, 2008

an absurdly overbuilt sign post in the parking lot

discount builders

Discount Builders is the biggest hardware store in San Francisco. It’s right downtown too, so it stays busy. They have lumber there, pallets of of 2 by, stacks of sheetrock up to the ceiling and grizzled old guys with bodies too busted to function in the field run fork trucks and recommend adhesives. It’s not a little Ace with lightbulbs and watering cans and some sandpaper. Discount offers chop saws with a giant 12 inch blade, Bosch hammer drills, lo-flo toilets, Black Jack roofing tar, wooden towel rods, plastic ornamental columns – enough stuff on hand to build a bungalow and a little carport.

I say this so you understand the typical shopper. Short stout Mexican’s with hoodies smeared in drywall mud, a clean shaven white guy with razor sunglasses on a nylon cord around his neck, long haired original hippies who probably shouldn’t still be working but their joints will sieze up if they don’t keep moving, you’ll hear Irish and Russian and Black accents, see tattoos and limps, notice missing fingers and giant biceps, smell whiskey and b.o. I’m starting to picture a prison yard. With tools.

Then once in a while an art student comes in. Boy or girl, you can pick ’em out like corn in doo doo. They need some bolts for their mobile or plywood for an installation. They have asymetrical hair cuts and slim waistlines. Unnatural colors in their hair. You might see a beautiful couple pedal up on two old Schwinns, one with a basket tied to the bars. The tradesmen look at them as they head in the giant double doors. What does a tradesman think of an art school student? I know I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice.” Others are probably glad to see a femal form. An exotic member of society, these art school girls. What other chance does a guy from Michuacuan or Daly City get to offer advice to an 18 year old New Media Studies major from Berlin?

The only other women in the place are cashiers. Women are almost always cashiers at hardware stores. At Discount it’s a collection of older ladies from foreign countries. I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how many and which ones. I like the near dwarf Asian woman with a high pitched and crackling voice. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she is always saying, as she tries to find the bar code on a sixty pound bag of cement, very nearly her own body weight, and you try to move it for her but she doesn’t need your help.

One of the icons of DB is the old white guy in uniform that polices the parking lot. He wears black shoes with incredibly thick soles, a security guard’s costume and a matching blue ball cap with some shield embroidered on. He walks around with a stick in his hand, and at one end of the stick is a piece of chalk. He marks tires and times customers.

There is something wrong with the guys neck, he constantly describes small circles with his head like he’s working out a kink. The only time this revolution ceases is when he tries to help someone back up. Then his hands pick up the motion, but more franticly. Like he wants to get back to spinning his head in circles. Can’t wait for it. But for now the incessant gear drops down to his hands and he seems to be miming the action of an random-orbit sander.

Anyone who’s been here twice ignores his help.

photo posted from my iPhone

Oakland storefront

August 18, 2008

ease back on the mac

I heard a gal tell me it wouldn’t work out between two friends we were trying to fix up on account of the fellah had “too much mac.”

“You didn’t know you had to worry about that, huh?” she asked me when she saw the puzzled look on my face. But it all made sense. He was polished, witty, charming, and most likely a devil.

In other words, too cool for school. I’m having the same concerns with this piece of art I’m making. The process, in a nutshell, is to put a bad-ass embroidery stitch I call “the Scar Stitch” all across this old letter and envelope. I got through with the first run last night and got The Fear. At what point was I gonna go too far? One looked pretty good, but it seemed to need more. How much more? How much mac is too much mac? I could fill the whole page if I wanted, I’m that good.

the scar stitch.

But then I think about that old cowboy up there in the picture. He was shooting buffalo and cutting off their tongue just because he could. It’s an unstable world when you live in the realm of a true player. So let’s go slow out there today. Ease back on the mac.

but don’t skimp. it’s a delicate balance.

August 17, 2008


Found some wallpaper so old it is made out of fabric, not paper. Used my x acto knife to make it a backdrop.

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