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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

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

April 16, 2011

balloon shoot

We landed in an “impact zone” on a shooting range.

Having trouble as usual using technology. Sophia got an iPad from her work. Doesn’t quite work like a desktop. Anyway, we went on a hot air balloon ride and the pilot really did land us in a rifle range. No casualties. Someday I’ll upload the video when I figure out how to edit it on my phone. By then I won’t even care so how can I expect you to?

worat landing ever

Hot air balloon disaster?

April 14, 2011


There’s a little cafe in Oakland the diesel mechanics at the port all know. It’s got all the races in there eating elbow to elbow at the big horseshoe counter.

A second generation Irishman got talking.

“I’m too old to climb under there and change my oil, i dont even tie up my shoes, I only buy slip ons. I made a vacuum to change my oil. I stick a little tube down the dipstick and suck it up. Same with transmission fluid. Works great.”

April 13, 2011

been where you’re goin’ and you got more to go than you been

My first ship out was a tramp diesel anchored off Cork. The chief said they’d been floating for two months waiting for work. We went South, tacked to port to duck under Portugal and found a pier in Tunisia where a hill of yellow-cake phosphoric acid was waiting to be craned into the hold. I was a salt water trucker.

Salt water trucker? The truck was a ship. The highway an ocean. Cork was a rest stop. Salt was rust, rust was a cancer, the rest is another story.

This story is now about a tramp Chevrolet, port of call SF CA. “Hauler!”, it says in paint across the metal hull.

I’m no boat – don’t get me wrong. The chief in my memory had some dirty pride when he called his ship a tramp and being I was young I didn’t recognize it, but I knew to remember it.

I’m not afraid to find my bread in the street. The calendar on the wall is an empty collection of boxes but there is no worry. A tramp doesn’t want to know ahead of time. Were those boxes to fill up with obligations there would not be the calm horizon of the open ocean, my mind would be plotting paths through the dangers of a twisting city.

Again, I’m no longer at sea. I know this. My little truck and I have a city, but we have none of the structure a city appears to be built on – office space, meeting rooms, time cards, we drift among this, acting out bit parts the well defined roles of corporate culture can’t improvise on.

My truck is my boat if I have to talk metaphorically. The streets are rivers. I fish rather than grow crops. I need the movement farming won’t allow.

If this country falls apart because people want riches more than parity, I’ll drag a blanket as I walk the potholed streets looking for what someone else may need more than I.

April 9, 2011

My lover she tells me she’ll draw me a map ’cause I don’t know what I’m doing. I have not received the map.

She buys coupons online. Half off little watercress and cheese sandwiches and a pot of rooibos at the tea house. The tea came out in a pot that had a gingham jacket over it to keep it warm. The cups matched the saucers. Milk. Sugar. A scone and orange marmalade. Pictures of dressage horses on the wall and classical music drifting from ceiling speakers. Online coupons.

She bought us a trip to the indoor skydiving place. We’re going on a hot air balloon ride next week. Massages, Pilates, Rolfing, Bhangara dance classes, she has us going all over town at up to 50% off.

Is this part of her map? I take her to bars, docks, bars on docks, scrap metal yards and the different dumps. Neither of us have any idea where we are when the other one drives.

April 8, 2011

is this whiskey or piss?

“He’s just fucked up. He’s done so many goofy things. No what you call common sense. He got in a fight on a job site and decided he wasn’t gonna win. Turned and ran away, straight into the bucket on the backhoe. Knocked himself out cold.”

It was Friday five o’clock in the Pioneer Saloon. Rusty Sunshine had his Genuine Draft in a glass of ice and I had a Tanquery and tonic. Looking around it was a beer drinker’s bar. The type of place where you wanna fit in or else they give you trouble. Rusty was my pass. He nodded toward another guy.

“He’s a real good finish carpenter. I’ve known his wife for years. She waitressed tables at the lil’ restaurant and lived up the hill till she changed hands and moved back down. She don’t come to the bar no more. Women don’t as they get older. At least gen’lly from what I seen.” He got a little grin and said, “When they do you wish they hadn’t.”

“You call ’em a cab home as soon as they walk in,” I said.

It was a bar full of older men with mustaches and ball caps, heavy jackets for the cold of early morning starts. They’d leave by six at the shift change and the young crowd would come in and fill the Internet jukebox up with hip hop.

April 4, 2011

April 3, 2011

this may be about my high school reunion

I’m living a common life in the midst of extraordinary change on the waterfront of San Francisco Bay. Construction crews with Igloo coolers sit on the sidewalk, hardhats still on, the Latino crew brings a microwave and runs an extension cord for their tortillas, and the former small time warehouse district grows up condos and biotech research office parks like chips stack up on the baccarat table in Vegas.

It’s a gamble, it’s a short term sure thing for someone somewhere, and it’s sure thing time right now or else these guys wouldn’t be eating lunch on the dock of the bay, just watching the tide roll away. Money is here now and it feels good to be a common man, one of the little guys, making it actually happen.

A pawn gets to charge first into the battle and if life is gonna suck as long as you live, charging into battle makes a lot of sense. If it can end fast, falling off an unsecured balcony and the employer pays your family 60,000 dollars U.S. for your life, you done good kid – we put a sticker on the rear window of the Civic to honor your name.

I’m at the pawn level. Driving my junk truck around. I have a 14 foot rowboat – traded my old Hard Worker pick up for it. Just put it in the water, which brought me down to the waterfront. I was rowing back to my slip at the slack tide from a boat club bar and it was dusk and I was under the piers trying to stay out of the pushy wind coming down the channel.

San Francisco piers are 300 yards long, 100 yards wide, cement pilings every 8 feet in all directions. The damp concrete roof is inches above you and it’s dark under there, and silent. The gentle lapping of water is all you hear, but the echo makes it hard to pinpoint the shore.

Giants’ stadium is not far at all, but you have entered another world. Tug boats are moored up and seals bob in the water in the sun, but your row boat has to be no wider than four feet to get between the perimeter pilings. At close to high tide you must lay flat to the dinghy seat to get past plumbing strung underneath the pier.

Underneath and protected from the wind the water is still and flat. A tentacle could rise from the water and the ripples would be unmolested as they rolled towards the bow.

Under here, you remember you are not the only predator on earth. Too often in a city we think only of other ethnicities as predators, our fellow humans that don’t look just like us are the only danger. But on a tippy little rowboat with an old wine cork for a plug, in the darkness and quiet with just a square of light on the other side guiding you, you remember. The unknown is a monster. There is so much to fear. Unhuman things.

But you get to the other side. No problem…gill-netters, nuclear waste from the shipyard down the line, toxic rain and general over fishing pretty much guarantee nothing can live in this little shoreline habitat. The water itself is the killer – the small fish come with government mercury warnings.

But it was scary. And you feel good to have been afraid, and safe on the other side, tied up and walking to your car.

The completed condos seem to be furnished but empty, the shoreline view reflected on windows with pulled blinds. You, a common man, feel better than the incredibly wealthy that own on the edge of an icon. But wait, up on the top floor you see a man waving his arms. He’s air conducting an orchestra. Probably a symphony. Something by Mahler. Hundreds of musicians in his mind. His back is to the window, and to the view of the Oakland hills. As you walk by you realize your sense of importance probably isn’t even on the same chart as his. Other people both think they are, and are, doing more than you.

It is too much for the mind to understand, the disparity of resources, so the drink you buy your pal at the bar has the weight of an island given by a king to a general for a well fought battle. And we all keep fighting.

April 2, 2011

my camera man

secret insider message board

Al – I called Rooter Bong to set up an interview. His brother said he’s in the Philippines for two more weeks.

Ken – the milk mouth is the best idea tv ever had.

Lyle – I’d love to see you in June at our 20th high school reunion

Donno – you too

Oggy – can you do aftereffects?

Everyone else – Doug and I shot the first two trash can scenes. Stay tuned.

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