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There’s a bar called St. Mary’s deep in the Mission. Named after the church around the corner. I was in there with Nick, aka Nicky Stixx, having a beer after work. A couple got up and left, a guy went to get cigarettes and Nick went to take a piss while an older woman went out for a smoke. Just like that I was alone with the bartender in the bar. Things happen so fast.
“Give me a cigarette bitch!” I hear a kid say to the woman.
“You’re too young,” she said.
“You better suck my dick then,” he said.
That got me out of my seat. He was so young! Maybe 14. Maybe five two. Diamonds in his ears. Black hoodie.
“What’s your problem, kid?” I ask.
“Fucking puto, I’ll cut you up,” he replies. A big old knife comes out of the hoody’s pocket. Brass handle, long thin blade. Good for gutting fish.
I walked back to the bar and called 911. Second time this week. I look out the door to see which way he’s going and he comes back again, saying, “I’ve got Norta behind me.”
Gang shit. He was so young. He doesn’t even know what’s gonna happen to him if he stabs me. That’s why he isn’t scared.
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I was taught the Bible is the truth and given a King James Version. So immediately I saw that there were versions of the truth. When you start quarreling with someone, it becomes clear. You have to ask them to believe. You tell them a story that makes no sense upon examination. You sound miraculous. Everyone else is a sinner.
There’s Tony and Aileen helping Doug see how the carving will look with light inside. No one thought to bring candles.
Got an ’82 Suzuki 750 for sale. Bought it from Poll Brown himself, and it’s the first real bike I’ve had. It needs a stick jammed in the choke lever on the block and a steep hill to roll down in order to start. I’m asking $400 or best offer. Poll, if you’re out there, you get first dibs at $200.
I caught a kid tagging my big truck Saturday night. I tried to detain him and his friend started punching me. Two on one. Someone broke a bottle across my back. It didn’t cut me but today it’s pretty sore. Sophia was screaming and talking to a 911 operator at the same time.
After the bottle broke they got off me, and the big white kid pulled out a knife and told me not to follow him. So I didn’t.
Not till later. I figured they were drinking out on the street and tagging trucks, so they were probably too young to be in a bar. I found them in the park. They saw my truck and started walking down the street. I followed on foot, keeping out of sight, telling the 911 operator my direction.
I’m not always pleased with cops, not even that evening, but when four cop cars came out of nowhere and cornered them, it was awesome. I’d caught my first tagger. I’ll let you know when we go to court.
I’ve been into eating octopus lately. It’s the most beautiful food ever.
There’s a golf course a few blocks from my house. For the first time in all my years in this neighborhood I went into the clubhouse and had a drink. The bartender put a lime in my beer and so I asked him why they called Englishmen “Limeys”.
He told me to ask Woody when he came back. He’d know. He was in the parking lot drinking Jack Daniels.
I figured it had to do with putting lime in your Gin and Tonic to fight malaria. Woody came in and said, “It’s from World War Two. That’s all I know.”
Woody was from WWII as well, along with most of the guys at the bar. I’d never seen so many old people at one time not on a tour bus. I wasn’t convinced that a guy named Woody who was known to drink JD in the parking lot at 73 years old could be trusted with facts so I got out my cell phone and googled it.
Limey comes from the practice of sailors in the English Navy eating limes to prevent scurvy. Those old guys were kind of surprised and disappointed by the power of cell phones. Where would all the bar room arguments go if you could have an answer to everything right there?
Seth drove us down in this punk rock van
Fernwood is a famous campground in Big Sur. Famous in rock ‘n roll circles at least, because bands coming up and down the coast on tour can play shows at the campground’s bar and groupies can camp out after the show in what is basically a woodsy parking lot with a river running through it.
Campers drive up in BMW’s and bring stereo systems that can plug into the outlets by your picnic table.
In this day and age of zero tolerance for drunk driving, all bars with parking lots should provide a camping option.
Alina’s in town and parked her car in front of St. Mary’s cathedral. St. Mary’s is a Catholic church built in a modern design. It looks like an art museum because it looks vaginal. Most churches have a bell tower or a series of spires that could be phallic. This building has four long slits. I don’t know how to describe it. Can you google St. Mary’s Cathedral, SF CA for me so I don’t have to type a thousand words? Thanks.
It’s modern. Made of concrete. Smooth and round. The organ (musical, not sexual) is floating on a concrete stalk over the pews like a Parliament concert. There are brass sea dragons on the door. The stained glass is cubist. As soon as you walk in, the holy water is bubbling down a geometric white marble fountain sunken into the floor, yet roped off so that Alina couldn’t dip her fingers in and do the stations of the cross. It was like Church was closed. God was out to lunch.
An aluminum extension ladder was propped up into the backside of the banks of pipes and one odd tone kept ringing out. They were tuning it? Then a loud chorus of “Hallelujah” came singing out of a man’s mouth as he walked from the front of the church to the doors we’d just entered. A woman working the single organ key said to the guy up in the pipes, “Hold on. I need to call security.”
What would that call sound like?
“Officer Hong, we have an incident, please respond.”
“What’s the 5-20?”
“We have a white male, approximately 35, praying in the chapel.”
“Praying in the chapel? It’s Wednesday afternoon!”
“I know. We roped off the holy water. Please respond immediately. He may have a rosary.”
We decided we should leave at that point. Somewhere hidden, perhaps in the confessional, a power drill started up.
“This is the least serene church I’ve ever been in,” I said to Alina, and she just laughed. The mythical sea dragons on the door stayed frozen in their brass sea. We walked out to find a bar and some peace and quiet.
I see two spelling errors at least.
The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the toad’s deception, screaming madly, “You lied!”
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
An entry to the 1983 Bulwer-Lytton Contest, where people attempt to write an intentionally bad opening sentence to a novel, in honor of Bulwer-Lytton who un-intentionally did that many times in his career during the late 1800′s. I found the book on the street. Let me explain:
There were two brown grocery bags full of books on the curb by a parking meter as the wind died down and no longer ruffled the stiff handles, (the lack of rustling can’t be said to have caught my eye as much as the still presence of bulging bags of free stuff, for isn’t anything left on the curb free in a big American city?) so I stopped in the calm air of this Thursday morning to inspect the contents and I had one bag emptied and stacked into a keeper pile and a leave behind pile when a homeless looking guy came out of the market that is almost on the corner but not quite, the one that sells frozen yogurt too now, and he starts shouting towards me that those are his books but who would leave two bags of books on a curb and walk up the block almost to the corner to buy smokes if you, or he, really wanted them?
BTW greensward means “surface layer of ground containing a mat of grass and grass roots sod, sward, turf”
“My grandfather always looked to the mountains…He’d say,’You know, whatever else changes,
the mountains will always be the same.’ And then St. Helen’s blew up.”
-Robert Lee Pitchlynn
from an old edition of The Baffler.
At the scrap metal yard an old MUNI bus sits along the fence and the bucket loader uses it like a bumper to corral the debris. He drops the big metal scoop to the ground and the tar suffers with a grinding scrape and the feather edge of the metal we’ve been throwing off the backs of our trucks at the foot of the scrap mountain adds a higher pitch to the rumble as our offerings are forced forward and the old saucepan that rolled awkwardly under a truck like a retarded escape attempt is exposed at the perimeter and bounces off the thick lip of the bucket as now it slams into lengths of water pipe filled with the chalk of forty years deposit and then the bigger items, a wire basket, a lamp, caught in the jaw and dragging, now deeper, closer to the foot of the pile are the washing machines, the water heaters, all with skin torn open by the force of the tractor pushing them into fodder for the ferrous peak.
The guy in the orange safety vest gets to talking to me about Hawaii. He went there last year and didn’t want to come back.
“It was paradise. Coconut trees. I didn’t want to come back. I’m from Nicaragua, the rain in Hawaii is just like Nicaragua. It reminded me of home, how it’s warm when it rains. It gets really warm and the smells in the air of the plants and the soil…I miss that.”
“That old MUNI bus has been there a long time huh?” I ask. It still has the same body style of the public buses on the road, so it’s not so old.
“They’ll never get rid of that, it helps them keep the pile organized.”
“Gives ‘em something to push off,” I answer.