Nov 30, 2004

Working the holiday

I was thinking of keeping track of all the strange people who came into my only-place-open-on-Thanksgiving gas station but I was by far the strangest person of the night, so I gave up.

Nov 29, 2004

“Socrates reading Socrates, if you will, and suddenly not understanding a thing, and just on the verge of waking up. It’s cold in this hotel.”
            - Derrida

In this manner, I

We roared in prayer. We shouted the names of God until they could hear us down the street, could pull up their windows on a Texas afternoon and listen to that rumble-yelling wave we called calling down the Holy Ghost and they called a Penny-costal show better’n the radio. We prayed like we were desperatly praying down God, scared he'd pass us by. We prayer there, rocking back and forth in our fold-out chairs like Hassids at the wall, like mental patients confined to wheel chairs, rocking back and forth and praying.

My dad said we would’ve swung on the chandeliers, but we didn’t have any. So we danced in our seats and on our seats and ran through the aisles around the building in a procession going nowhere. We raised our hands and waved our hands and when we clapped I cupped my hands so my claps popped air explosions and the violence beat my palms an ugly red. We shouted in the words of men, shouted in the words of angels, shouted until the place reverberated with the mixed-up mashed-up sounds of supplication noise loud enough to drown you.

The three elders sat up front, where the gray carpet rose in three steps up to the platform past the podium to the three chairs against the wall, sat there rocking and praying in baritones. We’d pray like that to exhaustion, until we’d slow down, calm down, still out into a mumble, tired by the fervor fever, worn out on the excess and you’d hear some sister sobbing and the usher at the door hissing by threes the One Name of Jezzusss, Jezzusss, Jezzusss. Then the second elder, the number two man sitting in the middle chair would drop his west Texas boom booming out over us Aaaaa-men, amen amena mena mena mean men. Aaaaaa-men, and we’d rise to it, shouting Jesus Lord God Yahweh Jesus Amen Hallelujah Amen Hellelujah Jesus Jesus raising prayers to the decibel we called zealous.

We joined when I was 9 years old. Left when I was 14.
Church architecture
for the beginning of the Church year

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Nov 23, 2004

What's the difference, anyway, between a comedy and a tragedy?

I used to think of myself as a monster.

Now I think of myself as a cartoon monster.

Nov 20, 2004

"'What keeps the old alive, Dr. Sengal,' whispers Burroughs, 'is that we learn to be evil.'"

"Only in our solitary hungers do we find ourselves capable of the most magnificently unexpect sins."
            - Michael Paterniti, in Driving Mr. Albert.

Nov 19, 2004

Some thoughts for the road

The similarities between Che and Einstein as resurrected in pop.
Einstein's brain.
The word Hueristic.
The impossibility of an ontology of music.
The occurances of iteration in performance and composition.
The Tractatus' description of the Tractatus as ridiculous.
Cultic inclinations.
The metaphore of ladders.
Chick Tracts as pop art.
The running lights on the front of semis.
What questions I cannot ask myself to ask because of stable structures.

Pretty much

Some guy my brother knows:
"Don't call me stupid man, but what's philosophy? Is that like where you study your signs and shit?"

Nov 15, 2004

Roar Achilles, roar

Rage is an underrated emotion in poetry.
Stories: a universal obsession of human nature.

Nov 8, 2004

We laugh and we know that we lose

Dan-U-el my boss says, giving me the name he gives me when he’s in a good mood, gonna put you to doing the fence today.

So I shoulder the tools from the shop and he takes my job, jingling change behind the counter, leaving be the paperwork and the back office to stand here staring through the window to the gas pump islands, listening to the beeping bleeping whirring register registering the flow of gas and cash mobilizing in and out of the economy. He goes back behind the counter, back to doing what he started doing, 45 years ago, before he was a manager, before he was an owner, before he retired and unretired, back at the beginning, making change. He puts off his trademark expletive motto of F—ing people and does the demeaning little three-step repartee of the clerk, saying How we doing? How we doing? That’s good.

I have to dig out the four-by-fours first, the rotted out ones and the run over ones of the fence’s knocked out sections looking like knocked-up teeth, but the ground is soft and the posthole digger’s handles are new and I set in to the rhythm of work.

The sweat starts in, like something I hadn’t really forgotten, the wood loosens its hold a little from the dirt and the cars come in and out, in and out and I don’t care, don’t care about pre-pay or post- or drive aways or pump numbers or change and wha’cha need or wha’cha lookin’ for. It feels good. Real work. Unmechinized labor. For the first time in six months with this gainful employment I’m doing something that’ll be here, tomorrow. This fence, this is something that’s not alienating or degrading, that doesn’t make me want to fight back, walk out. This isn’t making change on the selling out of the American dream. This isn’t dealing numbers on the hopes of a fluke in your favor even though we all know the house always wins.

They pay you extra for the hard work? the garbage man says from his truck, eating lunch. They aint in the business of paying extra, I say. And we laugh and we know that we lose, and he’s here to play his triple twos - they all play triple twos, like it’s a trinity of hope - and I string out my twine in a straight line for a section of fence. The wood’s almost white, unweathered unstained, and I stand my panel of pine in the dirt kicking the dead leaves out of my way and leaning them against the old fence that wants to wobble.

The election results are coming in from Ohio, Ohia, ‘hia, the one place I lived this year without registering to vote, the one of the four swing states I stopped in that’s turning red, the radio said, and now I remember this is what I was doing when I heard the results of the first race I followed, eight years ago, back in California, back before, back at the beginning. I was tearing down a fence that time. I had to set the radio on top of a post to get the reception to hear the results. I was working behind a hill in back of a field on a corral that was falling down and not needed anymore. And it was Dole/Kemp, Clinton/Gore, and I watched a coyote walk through the fields in the late afternoon, watched him watching me and keeping a board-throwing distance between us.

Good fences, I thought then, and I think now, though I don’t know if anyone believes that anymore and can’t think
of when the last time was anyone voted for good fences. Good work I think I lean on my posthole digger and look at this work I can look at.

I bust my knuckle building this fence, and the red blood left a red spot on the white wood like a marking scent, like a signiture waiting to be washed away with the weathering into gray.

Dan-U-el, my boss says, how we doing?

I built a fence, I say, I built me a fence.

Nov 4, 2004

Barak Obama 2008?

Nov 3, 2004

Election Day, 2004

Nov 1, 2004


My article in Gideon Strauss' Comment on the New York Intellectual's attemps to found a tradition has been reviewed by Fr. Neuhaus in First Things.