Monday, December 26, 2005

greatest story ever told, by me precisely

“The Greatest Writer in the History of the World”

In spite of any declarations I may have made in my life, I don’t really know God. He could be a swell guy. He didn’t ruin my life. He may have designed me to be lazy, but I don’t know.

My world is very small. Others around me go places and do things. I know these people but I don’t do things with them. God probably did not have anything to do with that. It is entirely possible that he meets my friends places when they are all out on vacation together and I am home alone or working at the fish factory. They have never told me these things.

My whole life revolves around wanting to have things done. I have no desire to do these things. I also have no desire to go to a bar and sit in silence. Half my life is spent in bars while people talk, meet, contend, coagulate, etc. I leave myself to make snide or willfully stupid commentaries. Sometimes I go outside and leave me in there but mostly I think about death.

Within the small pieces of earth and society that I inhabit there is room to expand. I have even gone so far as to meet people and talk to them. And, yes, make friends. Secretly this is why I go to bars. It is not why I drink, but drinking is why I have friends. This night I went out with lust in my heart and cocaine near my focus. And it began in a dark alley along a not-quite-main drag downtown.

Crampy Joe’s. If Jim Crow were in effect there would have been a sign on the door saying “Colored”. When the cabby dropped us off he did a double-take.

“You sure this is where you want to go?”

They assured him this was right. I didn’t know. Wasn’t aware that we were tourists. Found out quickly that we were joining a train of young hipsters there to slum it. It wasn’t a long jump back to Silverlake habitués, so it’s reasonable to assume nobody realized it was sightseeing.

The second we hit the curb we were facing three crippled teenagers and their caretakers. They were each getting their hair done. In the middle of the night, on the curb, in the middle of Downtown.

One of the girls from our group stopped to talk to a guy who assured us that we were college students. I didn’t think about it, kind of laughed. She was a college student, though. So she stopped to talk to him about her college.

He asked her if she was an exchange student. Somebody snickered that we were all exchange students. It seemed like he was putting the guy down but that was, at most, implicit. A woman standing outside of Crampy Joe’s told us that we looked pretty American to her. The whole crew started walking. Somehow that broke the tension from questionable to menacing.

I didn’t mean to come in and gawk or feel like I was salt-of-the-Earth. I didn’t want instant nostalgia. I wanted a bar to drink and have sex in. I really wanted that. But Crampy Joe’s or T.G.I. McScratchy’s or Diver Down or whatever “funky” Eastside bar I found myself in still would have brought up the question of why this is fun. As a social activity.

I am a social alcoholic and a private teetotaler. I never drink in the 10 or so hours per week that I am home alone. And when I am out, while I am actually there, all I feel is shame at not having a partner or a fuck buddy or a husband or a wife or a girlfriend or a fiancé. I feel fucking shamed. And that is what I do for fun.

I do not actually feel any good will for stories of how “we found each other” or “how lucky we are.” I don’t always feel angry for it, but it’s never a good feeling. And I never feel happy for people kissing. I used to feel shameful for being the couple kissing. And I don’t want a girlfriend or a wife ever again. That will change, but I don’t want it to. I want to be a hermit with far away children and memories of a long dead and beautiful bride. I only want the dead one. I don’t look forward to all the joy and family fun and those sorts of things. I want loneliness and 200-year old bottles of Scotch while I look at ships trawling around in the sea. In this version of the story, there is always a visible moon.

Somehow this all occurs to me in an instant. Satori! Shit, here I am in a crew of people with girlfriends and living wives and nearby, very young children. It is wretched. I am wretched.

When we first got in the cab there was a cute girl who was very messy and likable. She was not there for my sake, though, and I will never force the issue. Like I said, I never want to actually have things; I want to have had them. And people are possessions. Much more tangibly than a pet or a yard could ever be.

Now we are bumbling down the street to another bar. This new bar is sanctioned, apparently. I don’t think anyone in the crew knows for sure but the question of “Are we on Skid Row?” is asked and not answered. We aren’t, but there are homeless people and it is dark and there is not sheen to anything. The parking police drive a multi-toned quasi-lowrider. In spite of the urban knowledge delivered by Vice and the LA Weekly our collective self finds this all exotic and dangerous. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (was it Ginsberg?) pushing a shopping cart down the streets of San Francisco or New York is in my head. I don’t remember the girl’s name. I never remember the girl’s name. The new bar has a line out front and it’s pretty much last call, so we are none of us in a rush to go in. The crew starts to dissipate. The fat guy in the Lycra (I know I hadn’t mentioned any characters so far, but this one makes me laugh, in hindsight, so I had to bring him up) waffles between following me, Jackie and the Killer or going to eat. The fat guy chooses food. That somehow always strikes me as obscene. This is no different.

There is no crew to speak of now. It’s just the three of us, which is similar to being around my brothers except there are no fake Catholic Masses (or real ones) and the Killer has never met my mother. Most of my brothers and sisters have. We go to a bar.

The new bar is in a hotel, across from the reception room where a wedding party is ongoing. We are still downtown, but now in the silly clean corridor where they built all the new expensive townhomes and condos and what not. We are now threatened by halfway rich people who are very wealthy compared to ourselves even though they do not appear to be much older. Maybe this is more disconcerting than it is threatening. I always wanted somebody to make a pop song that says, “I hate everyone.” Sometimes I want to make it myself. More often I wish I didn’t have to have a shape and could just float in warm jelly. Still, here I am in a bar having fun.

An old woman is tending the bar. We are there for four or five hours between 1am and 2am. This is similar to being in warm jelly, but not as comfortably amniotic. Also, it involves drinking, whereas my idea of being in jelly wouldn’t involve moving on purpose. The old woman gives us a pamphlet that tells us where all the bars are. She tells us about something that burns or something and something to do with a bar crawl, which is what we were trying to join, Killer and I. Jackie was on the whole thing. I’m not sure what the woman is saying. She has an accent, but that’s not why I can’t understand her. Jackie and the Killer are speaking, too, and I don’t understand them, either. I just don’t understand right now.

Once when I was drunk and a little skied up I told the Killer that I was the greatest writer who has ever lived in the history of the world. Jackie had my back on it. I was explaining why I was much better than Shakespeare, for what that was worth, but also better than Dante and Hemingway. And everybody else who has ever lived. Nobody asked me for proof then. No one has asked for proof since. Sometimes I talk a lot for no reason other than to keep talking, to stay tethered to the people in the world. There are stacks of words that fall out of my mouth that don’t mean anything but sound like conversation. And I rarely, if ever, listen to what anyone else is saying. That time I really meant it, though.

I haven’t been able to write much ever since I started working all the time. I’m pretty sure that’s related. I never thought of writing taking a physical toll on me and I never thought of time as a bitch goddess until I had to pay my own bills and couldn’t afford to pay for my credit cards anymore. I hate everything except for sex.

So I’m here in this bar, the one in the hotel, and I’m looking at every girl that walks in as a possible sex partner. Even if they are with other men, women, fish, etc. I’m also looking at the fish tanks. And every once in a while I drop into the conversation that is next to me. Robotically I chime in on every name I recognize. Ronnie? I’ve heard of him! You’re mom? I’ve met her! Cows? They stink!

Mostly, I’m just feeling mopey because I don’t ever do anything I like and I’m ashamed of the way I make my living. And I live on scraps compared to these people. And the only thing I’ve really ever been better at than other people I know is writing, and I’m not really even very good at that. But I’ve convinced myself for a long time that I am the greatest writer that has ever lived and so I am gotten fat and lazy, soft and buttery. Just like my physique. Except with less hair. And now I’m not even good at writing compared to the people I know. I am just a malcontent.

So I’m in this bar, listening, not really speaking, and I keep thinking what I was thinking earlier. I hate everyone, and bars are a storehouse for people and their stories. People and their sex lives. People meeting people. People talking to people. People inviting other people to come hang out at the firehouse after hours because there’s going to be poker and fun and rib-eyed steaks with potato chips. I hate bars.

I never think of anything to do other than go to a bar. I have one that I like. It is in Studio City and so people in the basin and the eastside think it is too far away and it is uncool because it is in the Valley. I like it because I will never run into anyone there by accident. I like it because it is cheap. Also, nobody I know has ever hooked up with anybody because they went to the place. I wouldn’t name it in print because I don’t want people to go there. I like it how it is and has been for years.

I like going to museums. I like walking around, playing sports, throwing things, hurting animals, burning cars, and destroying houses. But I don’t like to ask people to do these things with me. It would be like asking a friend to come over and help you with your masturbation homework. You could do it, and certainly folks do, but it feels like an intrusion into me. Well, I don’t hurt animals or burn houses or whatever other shit I say, but I don’t like to share myself with people. It’s like I lose control at that point.

Anyway, the point I was getting at, as I’m sitting in the bar I start to think I should be writing. I’m drunk and despondent and having happy times, but I want to be writing. Because there’s this story (there are about eight that revolve in my head all the time: 3 screenplays and 5 novels) that I have been meaning to write for the last few years and I think I could really nail the voice of it if I started right now. It is one of the novels, and it will be perfect. I am going to become the literary champion of a new generation and I will thank J.K. Rowling for getting kids to read again because kids my age sure as hell never did it. And that is what I want to be doing.

“Dude, you want to go to a strip club?”

We can’t, really, because Jackie is in love and we are meeting his girlfriend in about 5 minutes, after the bar closes. So he would not be interested. I am not really interested either. The Killer’s suggestion is left alone while a story about a strip club incident that happened about a year before with Mikey J and Earnhardt is recounted. It’s a good story and people should really hear it some time, but it’s best if those components are left unformed as of now. It’s really better for all involved.

So we’re not going to the strip club, which is better because I’m scared it would be boring with all the new laws that are being enacted. Why are their always new laws governing strip clubs? I’ve been to quite a few, and the faction of the community that is actually being affected by the constant changes in laws is a very small portion of the society, so why is it necessary to infringe on it? But we’re not doing anything else, either. Well, me and the Killer aren’t. Jackie has a girlfriend, and if it’s anything like the girlfriends I’ve had, it’s a crap shoot that he has anything to do, either. But the chances he is going to have sex are heightened by the presence of all these people and the filthy stink of being a social being that is so fresh upon him. Good work, pal. Really, I mean it. I hate the fact that it’s you and not me. But it’s a lot of work to be happy. A shitload more work than I have to put into being miserable. Besides, I’m happier being miserable than I could ever be having a lot of friends that I can’t remember.

Now we’ve got to find something else to do. We drive over to Anna’s. The Killer’s car is there and it’s not far from where Jackie and his precious cargo are heading. We go inside at Anna’s, just me and the Killer. Anna’s awake. We have drinks, discover too late that she has no blankets and pass out.

The next morning I wake up early. It’s raining for no apparent reason. I sit there and read the history of photography. Everyone else is still asleep (Anna’s man-love ChorizO is asleep there as well) because they all had padding under them. I slept on a wood floor and am not that resourceful that I could make it comfortable.

By the time the Killer wakes up, I have started hearing not-strange but sexual noises. At least the bathroom is now opened. Part of why I went outside in the first place is because it was locked. I didn’t have to pee bad enough to pee outside, but I thought about it just because it’s always a joyous occasion to pee outside unless you get a ticket from a police officer. What a dick.

We don’t bother to say goodbye, we just leave to go get juice. We stumble past the front house and probably are viewed but juice is all that’s important. We go to the happiest place on earth, Juices Fountain. There is a parking attendant asking for money, which is horrible. We don’t pay him, go inside and scarf juice. We drive back to the Killer’s apartment, I get in my car, and we make plans to reconvene later that day. By the time we finally break apart, I’m bounding. I can’t wait to get home and write.

All the way home I am thinking about the new threshold I’m about to cross. It’s going to be a great new world. After I am rich and successful I will let my friends come and live with me. There will be a great big pool, a sand shuffleboard, a basketball court, a bowling alley, and coastal access. Everybody will love coming over and I will be happy to have the respite from my solitary life of leisure.

First things first, though, I am excited to write the story because it’s going to be a great story. I will be happier for having it done than I will be for all the boundless success and monetary rewards that are sure to follow.

I more or less jump out of my car and run to my door. I go inside, pull out a stack of lined paper. Then I go pee to get it started. I thoroughly dry my hands after washing so I don’t smudge the paper. I could type it out but want the immediacy of loose leaf. I want to feel like I’m back in high school smoking weed and writing in between marathons of Madden on the Sega.

I get to the paper. I write the first line that I’ve had in my head for so long, but that’s the easy one. The second line, the one I thought of all night last night, the one that I was sure was going to be the slingshot that fired me onto my greatest winning streak ever, follows. But I can’t remember it exactly and, damn! If I hadn’t gotten it perfect in my head while I was listening to Jackie and the Killer talk about strip clubs past. No matter, I got the essence and it’s onto line three. By the time I’ve finished the first paragraph I’m exhausted. I turn on the football games to recharge and I’ll get back to the writing during the commercial breaks. That’s always the plan.

I get to a commercial break and fall asleep. An hour or so later ChorizO calls, followed in quick succession by the Killer, Jackie and Grant (our living breathing personage of worship). We will all meet up at the appointed time.

I look down at my piece of paper. Is it good work? No, it is a miserable failure. It is complete dreck. I can’t stand to look at it. I actually cry as I crawl into the shower. I can’t stand the fucking thought of going to another fucking bar. And I feel duty bound to do it. Why don’t people hate me more? I’m never going to be a writer at all. I just like to remember when I was in high school and I was good at it.

5 comments:

GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

this is amazing. please keep writing. oh, and read 'Hunger.' This post reminds me of the way Hamsun writes.

I want you to write a story about the fish. The fish in the bar and the fish smell on your hands. That's some good shit. Go with it.

xx

GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

um, hello? you have readers so fucking write! please.

dustin said...

hey man,
ryan and i got to talking and he told me to check out your shit. awesome. i hate when people tell you that your writing reminds them of some other writer, well mostly because it's just who they are reading at the time, or worst yet, the only thing they've ever read. nonetheless, i've been on a bukowski binge, so yeah, but Fante's Ask the Dust when he proclaims to be the greatest writer. Well, great stuff, and i'm not just saying that because i feel bad for forgetting your name. yeah, i handled that bad.

-dustin

TheCultofTiffany said...

Hey Starkweather. I stuck with this to the end. That means something. Yes...

that means something good.

TheCultofTiffany said...
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