Breakfast in the Time of Cholera
Bacon, Eggs over medium, Home style potatoes, Wheat Toast and Grape Jelly served with Coffee and Water.
This has been my breakfast choice for the last seven months. I don't know why it doesn't vary. I think it might have something to do with the fact that this would pretty rate as a pretty good damn breakfast in the life of one my ancestors. The bacon was probably thicker then, the eggs fresher, and the bread just out of the oven and slathered with butter.
In any case, it's a hard dish to fuck up. It's been done, I know, but most cooks, regardless of their training and ability, should be able to do a passable job of it. I mean, I cook about as often as Joe Biden completes a coherent thought, and even I could eat the outcome of my efforts without gagging.
It's a breakfast that needs to be judged on its nuances, the texture of the egg yolk, the flavor of the potatoes, and thickness and crispness of the bacon. It helps if it's served with good coffee, and, in my judgement, if the establishment happens to have hazelnut creamer and serves butter with the toast.
There's also the matter of service. I have found that it has been pretty consistently good throughout. Most of the people who have served me during the lockdown seem to be trying hard to please. I prefer the local girls who greet me on sight and bring my coffee and water with the menu. I've also met a lot good servers out of town too.
The added factor nowadays is the total experience. We are living in a different world, but it doesn't need to be an alien experience, or one where we just have to accept whatever is being thrown our way. Some places go out of their way to make things familiar and others just go through the motions. The universe seems to jump in and help the ones who are trying.
Take today for example. I went to the Denny's and got seated next to pair of older gentlemen. I heard one of them tell the other, "This feller I know is a good old boy." He was dressed like my dad and this sounded like something my dad would have said. When the waitress came, he called her Hon and told her a joke where he played the fool. It was a nice moment to start my day.
I've decided to pass on what I've learned about eating bacon and eggs during the lockdown and to rate several area restaurants on the quality of their breakfasts in the process
Best Service - Tie - Reyna's and El Cap
Like I said, I'm partial to the locals. They are all nice ladies who know me and greet me by name, and they always treat my Mom, when she's with me, like a friend who they haven't seen in awhile. I also lose my glasses a lot and they always keep them safe till I return for them. On a couple of occasions, it has been my debit card that was returned
Best of all, they usually hand me my coffee almost before I'm even seated and ask me, "the usual, Mr. White?" That's pretty damn priceless in my book.
Best Ambience - The Patio Cafe in Fresno at the Fig Garden Village
I've always liked this place. Back before the Covid, I used to meet my daughter there for lunch. I was there this last Sunday, and saw a Jaguar luxury sedan pull out of a parking space and a Porsche 911 Carrera pull into the spot that just been vacated. That's not a sequence of events that you would see everyday in Corcoran. Throw in the fact that it was a handicap space, and you could safely say, that isn't something that you would probably ever see here.
One time, I overheard two retired college professors arguing over the state of politics in America while mixing in details of their many trips to Europe and Asia. In comparison, my brother and I were discussing which CNN news anchor that we wanted to throat punch the most. They have health food too, the real kind in case you have a picky daughter.
It is a little more expensive there, but the food is top notch and there are usually several beautiful people seated out on the patio. I don't want to throw my Corcoran peeps under the bus, but I'm talking supermodel beautiful. It's a different world, and in this day and age, it's important that we keep reminding ourselves that such worlds are still out there.
To make the trip even more special, I exit 99 at the southern end of Van Ness and drive right down the middle of Fresno to get there, from the first overpass where the homeless sleep to the beautiful homes in the Fig Garden area and then repeat the journey along different streets on the way home.
Most importantly, it's on my path to Barnes and Noble bookstore at River Park. My favorite part of the week is when I get home and sit down with a last cup of coffee to read the first choice passages from my most recent treasure.
Best Breakfast - The Lamplighter Grille & Bar - Visalia
I don't usually order hash browns, but it is the hashbrowns that pushes this breakfast to the top of the list. The chef there knows how to cook hash brown potatoes, and it ain't no secret that it involves the use of butter. The bacon is thick and perfectly cooked as is the toast, and they have great coffee too.
The surroundings doesn't hurt, as it is outdoors in a garden spot. Before the covid, I liked to come here on Sundays with my mom as there was usually an older crowd which means it is quieter and easier on the ears. The service is great too as they always had a great mixture of older waitresses with the personalities that comes with being in a service industry for years and fresh faced younger employees eager to please.
Runners-up - The Patio Cafe, and The Corner Cafe, Goshen Avenue SafeMart Center, Visalia
Both of these establishments are top quality, rating highly in every category. The food is great, the ambience is good, and the service is impeccable.
Bad Experiences - Black Bear Diner (Hanford and Visalia)
I hate criticizing anybody trying to make it work in these difficult times. But there is such a thing as trying to do too much to stretch a dollar as in not having enough wait staff to seat and serve breakfast in a timely manner. I know that they are trying and are having to adjust to things too, but it's still the same things that will keep you coming back as it was before the virus struck.
Places I Want to Try - The Red Apple, Fresno on Herndon, The Elbow Room, Fresno at the Fig Garden Village
On my way home from Barnes and Noble, I always see people lined up outside the Red Apple trying to get in. I always want to stop in and try it. The Elbow Room has guy playing the piano on the Patio on Sundays. I'm a sucker for a guy playing a piano on a patio. That's class.
Lazarus Russell died all alone on outskirts of Concord, a small, judgemental town full of people who often carved their presumptions out of stone, yet had a hard time scratching the surface of the obvious. Lazarus had lived there so long that he had become to seem of no more substance or meaning than a barely noticed tree, or a warning sign posted on a certain corner that no one ever heeded.
It was cold and bitter the night he died lying on a dirt embankment beneath the railroad bridge along State Route 23. He looked up at the slight, blurry, sliver of silver hanging in a dark black sky then lowered his gaze toward the brackish water pooled below the railroad bridge and saw the same slivered moon floating lightly on its surface. He then closed his eyes, mumbled something toward the shadows, exhaled and surrendered.
Three days later a pudgy little boy named Juan and his half sister Maria were out looking for aluminum cans while riding double on his red Schwinn birthday bike. They smelled something that made them both want to puke and discovered what appeared to be a man's body covered from the neck down with a dirty piece of black plastic.
They didn't know at first if the man was dead or just sleeping. So, Juan decided to pick up a stick to poke him. The smell was too much for him to get that close, so Maria took the stick away and handed him a dirt clod. Juan tossed it gently hitting the wool cap on the man's head, and it didn't move. They quickly ran back to the house where they lived with their mom and her scary boyfriend.
Their mom thought they were playing a trick, so she went back with them, and they had only gotten half way there before a slight breeze told her there was no trick. She signed the cross and rushed back to call the police.
It was Roman Ramirez and his co-worker and friend George Martin who were sent out from the Coroner's office in Hartford with orders to pick up the body. They almost couldn't do the job and were only able to avoid the embarrassment of failure after soaking cotton swabs with alcohol and stuffing them into their noses. Roman kept his sunglasses on throughout to blur the image of what he was seeing. That night though, he eagerly recounted the scene at his brother-in-law Cruz's weekly poker game.
"D'you know Lazarus Russell?"
"That old, crazy fucker that rides that three wheel bike."
"He used to ride that bike, but somebody stole it from him. That's the dude though. It don't need that bike no more anyway. They found him dead under that old railroad bridge that crosses the Hayes Canal."
"Someone kill him?"
"Naw. Looked to me like he just got tired of living. A couple of kids found him out there. I swear, man, we could smell that dude a half mile away. We had to go bag him up and, let me tell you, that dude was in bad shape, the worst one ever. You can ask George."
"How long he been out there?"
"Doc said at least three days."
"That's too bad. My Uncle Roy told me that Laz used to be a warrior. Said he had a good record as a welterweight then went down South and got his ass kicked pretty good by a Mexican kid."
"You know, I ain't never heard that guy say a fucking thing in all the years I lived here."
"Me neither, used to be hell of a fighter though from what I heard."
"Well, I guess you only get one shot for something like that. You fuck it up, you fuck it up."
Most people in Concord had never paid any attention to Lazerus Russell as he rode his bike up and down Concord's main drag digging in trash for cans to recycle. People either just ignored the old man or averted their eyes like he was a bad omen.
Cruz got a haircut the next day at Ernie's Barbershop on Main Street. He always went to Ernie's because he liked the cigar store Indian that silently stood guard at the door. He knew he would've got a better cut and a cheaper one if he went down to Jerry's a block over on Jackson Avenue, but he had always felt a deep sense abiding loyalty to the wooden chief with his solemn eyes.
"Like usual, Ernie, around the ears and square in the back."
"You got it, Kiddo. What's been happening?"
"Hey, did you know that crazy dude Laz Russell who used to ride that bike all over town?
"Yeah, man. I went to school with him at Cherrywood School. Why?"
"He dead. They found him under a railroad bridge south of town. My brother-in-law Roman had to bag the body."
"Oh, man, that's a shame. You know, I knew Lazarus before he went all crazy. He was a pretty good dude back then, had a way with the women. I used to be envious of him and how all the girls buzzed all around him. That dude was major playa back then.
"When did he start acting all crazy?"
"He was in over Korea. Got himself a big medal too. When he came home he found out his old lady was shacked up with his best friend. Of all his girlfriend's, he married the worst damned one. Get this. She used to call Lazarus up at work while she was screwing the dude. One day, Laz got sick of it and left work and went and killed them both."
"What did they do to him?"
"He did some serious time on it. He was a decorated veteran though and his lawyer made a slick case of temporary insanity, so they cut him some slack at the sentencing."
Later, Ernie closed up his shop and decided, as usual, to stop for a drink at the Four Queens two doors down. The evening sun was sinking slowly in the west, and there were just enough shadows that the town was beginning to flatten out against a pastel sky. It took Ernie's breath away for a moment as he remembered the myths of his youth.
Melvin Lewis, the proprietor of the Four Queens, was talking to a tall, young stranger in a brown suit. Melvin looked up and nodded when Ernie entered.
"Give me a Pabst, Mel." The bartender sauntered over to the taps and filled a tall glass and slid it toward Ernie who took a big drink, wiped the foam from his lips, "Hey, did you hear about Lazlo Russell?"
"The Chief was in here earlier. He said something about finding a body south of town. Was that Laz?"
"Sure the shit was. Remember when we were at Cherrywood?"
Mel nodded sadly, "I remember one day Greg Avalos and his cousin Teo jumped me at recess and Laz jumped in to help me. We used to be good buddies back then. You know, I always tried talking to him when he rode by; I figured I owed him that much, but he wouldn't ever stop and talk to me. I do know that he was a father too; he had a girl. She's lived in Concord her whole damned life, but someone told me that she's never knew that Laz was her daddy."
"Damn, no one ever told her? That's kind of hard hard to believe in this gossipy assed town. Hell, my old lady usually makes sure that everybody knows everybody's else's business.
"I bet you Alice didn't know though. Remember, she came here after Laz got out of prison. I'd also bet that most people round here don't know the story, don't remember, or don't care. I do know that it was said at the time that the girl's granny, her mom's mom, raised her and hated Laz. It was old Felix Miranda who told me she hired someone to put a curse on Laz, a witch doctor or someone like that. Hey, did you hear about that medal he got in Korea?"
"I kinda remember something about it."
"It was a big deal, man. He saved a bunch of people's life over there. Killed a whole bunch of them fuckers too. Doc Jones told me he was over in Korea and heard about it over there. He was kind of laughing when he told me that in the space of an hour, Laz set a record for the most enemy combatants ever killed by a citizen of Concord. I remember that shit because he also told me that Mr. Munoz our old PE teacher killed five German soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge."
"No shit! Munoz was mean old fucker. I hated that dude. You know Laz's daughter's name?"
"Yeah. In matter of fact, I do. It's Carol, Carol Ramos. She works down at the Best Deal Market, that tall, thin check out lady."
The man in the suit was listening in. "Hey, guys. I couldn't help overhearing. I'm sorry about butting in on your conversation, but you want to hear something strange?"
The stranger extended his hand to Ernie, "My name is Dale Young by the way. You guys are talking about that guy that rode around this town on the red three wheeled bike? I first saw him other day. I thought he was just homeless dude looking for recycles. You see, I've been doing some long term subbing in the fifth grade at Cherrywood Elementary. I got a girl named Felicity Ramos in the class. That's Carol Ramos's daughter. I saw Mrs. Ramos talking to a woman in front of the school, and she wasn't really paying attention to Felicity, and the girl ran out in the street and almost got hit by a car. That Laz guy you talking about was across the street digging in a trash can, and he ran out there and grabbed that girl right before the car hit her."
"Damn, that is crazy!"
"Pretty fucking weird!"
"That ain't what's crazy though. The mother ran out and started beating on that dude with her purse and calling him every name in the damned book. Everybody out in front of that school heard her call him a smelly, assed bum and a piece of shit."
"What happened then?"
"Well, the principal and the custodian ran out there and pulled her off of him and gave the old guy a chance to leave. He got on his bike and rolled out there and never looked back. It took them a full ten minutes to get the woman calmed down.
"Damn that's screwed up man. She doesn't even know that dude was her dad."
"Prolly not. That's just the way that shit is though."
"God. I hope fucking not. You guys ready for another?"
Roman Ramirez shut off the backhoe, jumped down and walked over to where George Martin was removing the form. After they placed it on the trailer, they both walked over and looked down into the grave.
"Easy money, George. Easy fucking money."
"One way to look at it."
"Only way, Dude. I hope Ignacio stays on vacation another week, so you and I could make some dough for Christmas."
"It don't creep you out digging holes out here in this potter's field?"
"Hell naw. No reason that it should. Way I figure, it's the same as over there in the real world, not a damn bit of difference if ya ask me."
"I don't know, Roman. I think you might be on wrong side of the fence on this one, world of difference, dude, a whole world and just think about it, according to your uncle, this dude was a war hero too."
"You put it that way, I guess it might. Imagine if he'd died in over in Korea."
"Hell, then they'd buried him over there by that big fucking tree."
"That big one over there where that tall, skinny lady with the two little kids is putting down flowers."
"Oh. Hell, that's this dude's daughter! That's Carol Ramos. the one I was telling you about. Unbelievable."
"Putting flowers on her mama's grave most likely. She probably don't even know we're burying her dad today.
"That's seriously fucked up, Bro."
"No shit, Man. Hey, we got time to smoke a joint?"
"They said ten o'clock. It's nine. We got time. You weirded out by this or what?"
"Naw, man. You know me. I just wanna put this shit in the proper perspective."
Wow, man. That shit's strong, where did you get it.
Kaghh! Kaghh! Cwfh! (exhales) "F-u-c-k. Give me a drink of your sodie pop. (takes drink) I got this shit from Rufus, man. He didn't say nuthin about it peeling the mucus membrane offa your throat."
"Now we got a buzz, we just gonna sit and wait here. We can't leave to do that other thing because we got a close shit up when they done."
"You wait here. I'm gonna go talk to Carol Ramos. Tell her about her daddy."
"W-WHAT! Are you fucking crazy. That shit aint none of our business. Why you want to go sticking your nose in somebody else's shit for? That's how you always getting yourself in trouble, Rome, and you fucking know it."
"Fuck you, I know it. The thing is we know the truth. You might be willing to just sit back, not do nuthin, and let shit happen, but not me. It was me and you that bagged the dude, and me telling my cousin about it that set this shit in motion. Way I figure, the universe just reached out and laid the burden on us to tell her. Why else would she be here this morning?"
"Give me back my soda! She just got the urge to put some flowers on her mama's grave."
"Yeah. On the day they are burying her dad within earshot. Hell, I could just yell the info to her from here."
"My old grandpa always told me not to go looking for trouble and if it came my way to just get the fuck out of the area."
"Your old grandpa always pissed on hisself whenever he got drunk, and you know it. Seems to me, I rather take my cues from the universe when its damned near jumping up and down pointing out what we oughta be doing than your crazy ass grandpa."
"Pointing out what you oughta be doing! I'm just sit right here and watch you make a fool outta yourself."
George was eating pickle out of his lunch pail when Roman returned. He finished it off, wiped his hands on the ground, and belched.
"What'd she say?"
"Pretty much to mine my own fucking business. I could tell though that she didn't know the whole story. She told me that her dad was dead already, and that he died in prison a long time ago."
"Well are you satisfied with yourself?"
Roman looked at his friend without saying anything. It was a full minute later before he finally answered. "Yeah, yeah, yes I am."
The funeral of Lazarus Russell took place at exactly ten o'clock. In the meantime, a miracle of sorts happened. Melvin Lewis's ancient dinosaur of a station wagon pulled up and parked on the road that represented the border between the world of the moneyed and the poor. Him, Ernie the barber, Dale Young, and Misty Dawes, the waitress at the Four Queens got out and walked over to where Roman and George were arguing. They were shortly followed by Cruz Mendez, his uncle Roy, Doc Jones, and old Felix Miranda. A small woman named Martha and her two kids Juan and Maria walked all the way out to the gravesite from the other side of town. Then to top it off, a rifle crew from the army base came right before Rev. Moore showed up with his Bible and his wife Gypsy.
It was, to Roman's mind at least, the best funeral ever preached on the Old Testament side of the cemetery, and probably the best one ever preached on the green side too. The only thing that marred it was the thought that if they'd had a few more days, they could raised the money to have buried Lazarus on the other side of the fence, closer to the big trees, and at a place where his only daughter would not have had to have made the choice of watching the ceremony from the other side of the fence.
Kevin Cash was all burned up on the inside before he died. He lived life like his tail was on fire.
We called him Devil, or Diablo. Looking back it was pity. He weren't any worse than the rest of us and no more sinister than I.
It was one of them days that you walked out of a cafe after eating breakfast and tried to get into a stranger's car. I didn't know what it was about that particular breakfast of bacon and eggs that made me want try to drive away with someone's shiny new SUV, but it had to be something pretty serious because I had only done something like that two other times.
I was first awakened to my mistake when the key to my 1995 baby blue Miata, a gift from my first wife, didn't fit the door lock of the SUV. I stood in there in a drizzling rain looking pretty stupid while trying to process what the hell was happening before I spotted my car on the other side of the lot. I walked briskly over toward it looking straight ahead trying to not make eye contact with the people standing outside of the Bluebird Grill.
I got to the Miata and verified that it was my car by looking in the tiny window and spotting the half empty bottle of Johnny Walker Black and the well thumb volume of T.S. Elliott sitting on the passenger side floorboard. I sat down inside of the car and tried to figure out what had caused this significant lapse of judgment. I checked off being drunk because I hadn't had a drink since yesterday's breakfast. I was also all out of dope, so I knew I wasn't high. Then suddenly, I remembered that Gladys Newcome and a couple of her friends had walked by me while I was paying the bill.
Maybe the word walked is kind of imprecise; Gladys and them women she was with always moved like strippers on a runway if they so much as got up to turn off the lights in a room. And that scent that trailed behind them was usually like sniffing heroin out of a daffodil's ass. I slapped my forehead so hard it made my eyes water; that must have been it. Every time Gladys had ever sashayed by me like that I immediately went somewhere else in my head, and I've known the fucking girl all my life.
There was this one time in seventh grade; she dropped her pencil in front of me just to show her friends how completely lost I was beneath her spell. I bent down to get it, and hit my head on the bottom of my desk. Her friends giggled as I handed her the pencil and rubbed the back of my head at the same time.
She leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Thank you Billy. You are such a gentleman." I woke up from that reverie a full three minutes later with Miss Lathrup, my pretty young English teacher, and the school principal staring at me wondering what the hell I was doing. I guess the bell to go to lunch had rang in the meantime. I didn't hear no bell. In my head, Gladys and I were was rolling around on beach in Hawaii just like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.
Gladys had just rolled me over and stuck her tongue in my ear when I felt Miss Lathrup's hand on my shoulder shaking me gently and heard her say, "Billy? Billy?"
Thinking fast, I told her that hitting my head must have knocked me out for a second, but I knew I was lying. I could still taste the salt water on Gladys's lips.
When these things happened, immediately afterwards it was always inevitable that I reviewed the full details of our relationship. This would be from the moment I first became aware of her presence on the this spinning orb right up till Margie, the battle hardened waitress at the Bluebird handed me my change, and I turned and noticed the top of Gladys's leopard skin thong sticking out above her tight blue jeans. Hell, she was forty-three but still moved like a seventeen year old groupie. It must have been that leopard print that convinced me I belonged to the SUV.
Gladys had lived next door me for ten years and had once been the typical, fresh faced neighbor girl. We spent many hours sitting in the rope swings that hung from the sturdy limb of a huge Eucalyptus tree in my parent's side yard. We would sit there and talk from the time we got our homework done till her mom called her into dinner. The image of her opening the gate that separated our yards and turning back to wave goodbye is etched into my brain so deeply that if I ever dissolved down into nothingness, I figure that memory of her turning back and waving would be the very last part of me to go.
During those days, I told her everything about me including the secrets that resided way down deep in the little caves in the earliest folds of my brain; things I had never even told my best friend Chuckie, and I told that fool everything. Well almost everything.
One night, my mom and dad went and sat outside with her parents, and Gladys and I got to sit in the swings under a magical diamond covered sky. We were laughing about something when a large shooting star flew over the silver crescent of the new moon. We giggled and hooked pinkies and swore that we would always be friends. On the inside though, I didn't say the word friends.
Gladys moved across town the summer of our sixth grade year. It was the same year that us Southside kids had to travel across town to Emerson Junior High School. It was also the year that Chuckie drowned in his cousin's swimming pool on the Fourth of July; and the same year that Mom backed out over my dog Barker, the only critter I had ever loved. And it was also the same year that my Dad, Hank Miller, met Jesus coming out of poker room in back of the Hillbilly Heaven Barroom one foggy night about two A.M.
I know the precise time because Dad always said later that Jesus told him to make sure he noted the time of his salvation. Mom always backed up his story by saying that that night Dad had showed her the time written down in blue ink on the palm of his right hand. It sounded shaky to me like one of the stories I would have made up to explain why I was coming in past curfew.
But if I had ever had any serious doubt about my father's conversion, and I did, it was was quickly erased by the change in his behavior. He quit playing poker all together and only cursed and drank beer if my mother wasn't within a fifteen mile radius. He bought my silence on that subject with a single wrinkled dollar bill.
The first day of seventh grade, I was feeling way down. I missed Chuckie and all his dumb jokes. I arrived early and made my way to the back of the school where I spotted Gladys standing by the bathrooms with her cousin Rhonda. I started walking toward her to say hello, but when I got within fifteen feet of where she was, I saw her take Rhonda by the arm and guide her into the girl's restroom. She was smooth about it, but I knew she saw me. I was crushed.
I've never kept track of all the times she walked by and caused me to slip into a trance, but it had to be at least a couple of hundred times. Once, she walked by me in a Denny's over in Hartford. It was late in the night, and my first wife Jennie and I had come from a party, and we had picked up our boy Jeremy from his grandma's house. We stopped to get a bite to eat. Jeremy was about six years old and was acting like the fool that night. Jenny was wanting me to take him outside and whip his ass. I had just told her to relax because Jeremy was just playing off her own anxiety.
She got mad and told me to just shut the fuck up.
Then Gladys swooshed in the restaurant like an autumn breeze. She was with a local lothario named Stu Holliwell and his crowd of hangers-on. We were sitting at one of the tables in the middle of room, and when Gladys got behind Jennie's chair, she looked over at me, smiled, and winked. When I came out of mists that time, Jennie was glaring at me and wearing Jeremy's spaghetti.
I had come back to Concord this time to take my dad to the Veteran's Hospital in Freiberg. He had dementia and needed a colonoscopy, and my mom wasn't up to the task. It had taken me three months to get him set-up for the procedure. While we were waiting, he pissed all over himself. The hospital staff just threw me a towel and told me to clean him up the best I could. I took him in the bathroom, washed him from the sink and dressed him in a green hospital gown. I had to toss his undies into the trash, and he wasn't happy about that at all. On the way home though, he told me he had had a good time. It made me laugh.
He died last week. I got up one morning, went in his room to wake him for another appointment, and he had gone to see his buddy Jesus.
It was late April, and I suddenly remembered the lines from The Wasteland, "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." Sitting in the parking lot, I felt infinitely sad. I had left my mom's house to get some bacon and eggs because I didn't want to think about my dad anymore. I didn't want to think about my two ex-wives who had eventually reached the same conclusion, that I wasn't good enough for them. I didn't want to think about my mom being alone in her house with all her memories hanging dusty on her walls. And I damned sure didn't want to think about Gladys and her strange powers. But there I was sitting in a baby blue Miata, in a weed strewn parking lot, thinking about all that shit and on the verge of crying.
It dawned on me that life usually comes at us like a fastball thrown by a superhero while we keep looking for the curve. The ball is on us so quickly that we swing weakly and miss it by a mile. We know we can't quit though, it wouldn't be right, so we tell ourselves on the way back to the dugout that that motherfucker gotta wear out sometime, and sooner or later, that curve will hang right over the plate.
It's been over twenty years since that star flew across the moon that night and the same amount of time since Gladys crushed my hopes like a bug on the first day of seventh grade year.
You'd figure that those two events should have been deeply buried in the sediments by now, far enough beneath the surface of the water, rusted and forgotten, that they couldn't possibly affect me anymore. But you'd figure wrong. It's those deep, forgotten, rusty things that always hurt the most.
I wasn't expecting him to be waiting outside, but there he was sitting in the blue and white lawn chair he had placed in the middle of the barren lawn outside the front door of his small gray apartment. He was basking in the shade of tall chinaberry tree. I knew he hated that fucking tree, and justifiably so because it showered that scraggly lawn of his with thousands of small, hard, yellow chinaberries which made it hard for him to walk, him having only one leg and all.
Many times, I heard him curse that tree so long and hard that I fully expected that one day a lightning bolt would tear through the clouds and strike the tree rendering it useless.
He was dressed as usual in a loose fitting pair of blue jeans held up by a pair of red suspenders, and a blue long sleeve work shirt buttoned up over a white wife beater under shirt. I noticed that both his live foot and the fake foot on the end of his prosthetic wore black loafers with velcro in place of strings.
Bad Bob, that's what all his friends, those who were left anyway, always called my dad. He had some rude tendencies; I ain't gonna lie. He had done a short stretch in the penitentiary for beating a guy senseless because the guy had called him a liar, but if, at one time, he had been two sticks of dynamite tied together, life had certainly worn him down to a tiny red firecracker with a damp fuse.
I pulled up to the curb and he got in. "Damn it, boy. I thought I told you to be here at ten."
I pointed to the clock in the dash. "It is ten, Pop. Ten on the dot."
This made him a little flustered, "Damn, don't you know nothing? I need to be at the doctor at ten."
"Well excuse me for living. You said ten and here the fuck I am!"
Anger sparked up in his piercing blue eyes like a million times before. Those damn eyes were always the most frightening thing about him. I had nightmares growing up; the monsters that scared me in my sleep always had the same blue eyes.
My answer made him chuckle and then raise a bony finger and point it toward me. " Son, I knowed you doing me a favor, but you better not forget that I ain't never been above taking something like this here cane and knocking the sass right out your smart ass."
That made me laugh, "All right, Old Man, shut the damn door and let's go; we already late."
He rolled down the window and put his right arm out like he always rode. He was wearing his round wire rimmed glasses and was staring at the outside world like it was on revolving movie screen. The sight made me remember how much he loved the movies, particularly stars like Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen. He would cuss you out good and proper if you tried to tell him that he tried to copy those guy's mannerisms. As a kid, I always thought that he wanted to be perceived as man's man. It took me a while to forgive him enough to realize that it wasn't a matter of perception. My dad is and always was nothing but hard sinew, tightly stretched tendons and bone.
The forgiveness part came because of how he treated my mom. She was a fragile woman who loved her kids beyond measure. He aged her. Wore her down to skin and bone and almost nothing. Between him and the act of protecting her kids from the ravages of the world that he created around us, she had lost almost everything there had once been of her true self, only the will to put her children up on drier ground remained.
When we pulled up on the corner of Cedar and Main, Pop leaned out the window. He had saw a old lady friend coming out of one of the storefronts on Main.
"Goddamnit, Jeannie. Your ass still looks good but it's getting soft. I could see it jiggle from way over here. Them there are yoga pants you're wearing. Girl, you need to do some damn yoga!"
Mortified, I drove off before she could answer, but I looked back and saw her laughing and flipping us off at the same time.
"Damn, Pop! Don't be screaming shit like that out my window. How you even come up with stuff like that?"
He laughed, "Just telling it like it is, Junior. Besides, Jeannie probably appreciates the advice."
"Yeah, that's why she was flipping us off."
Pop chuckled again, "Oh that. She's been doing that ever since I broke her heart. It started out angry, now it's just the way that she tells me that she still loves me."
I just shook my head and looked at him. He looked back with a smile on his face but also a stare that dared me to contradict his account. I backed down, but I took the opportunity to ask him a question.
"Pop, is there anything about your God forsaken life that you actually regret?"
I saw that the question hit him right between the eyes, and he flinched for just a second. For as long as I had known him, my dad had never, ever looked backwards. He even told me once that he had taken the rearview mirror out of the first car he owned. When I asked him why, he surprised me with his answer.
"A old man I knew, Guy Mitchell, used to be a Professor back in Arkansas, once told me a story about a mule sitting equal distance between two bales of hay. He said that damn fool mule couldn't make his mind up which bale to eat and starved to death. There's only one way to go, Son. Forward. And because life is hard on your ass trying to run you down you gotta move fast, so you got no time to sit cry in your fucking beer."
"Regrets, Pop? You got any?"
He looked out the window as the town he had lived in for over sixty years flew by like the moving back drops in the old Western movies he loved so much. After a minute, he turned back and looked me in the eyes. He wore thick lenses, and they magnified his eyes so that I could see that his bottom lids were damning the flow of the only water I had ever seen in those eyes.
This man had cracked jokes at my mom's funeral. He complained so much about her cooking, that I had to threaten to kick his ass if he didn't shut up. It was only now though, in sudden flash of insight, no doubt helped along by the shock of seeing those damn tears welling up, that I realized the jokes and the complaining was all facade. I knew that he was hurting, maybe even feeling guilty as sat there by the side of my mother's grave.
"You can't live life the way I"ve done and just up and start feeling guilty or ashamed. It wouldn't be honest. My old man use to beat my ass every day. Right up till the time I could take his belt away and turn the tables on him. The way I see things, I only have two regrets."
Pop stopped mid thought. I waited and waited and the answer didn't seem to be forthcoming. "And?"
He then gave me the saddest look I had ever seen, "I regret in taking the pretty offa your mama. She was the prettiest girl in this county at one time. . . . . .then she had the bad judgement to take up with me." He chuckled sadly, "I used to parade her up and down this very street like I was toting peacocks."
With that, he grew silent and turned and looked back out the window. I could tell though that what he was seeing sure wasn't out there now.
"Pop, you said you had a second regret?"
The words came out simply, hard, fast and resigned, "My greatest regret is using turning that belt on my daddy. I should never have done that."
Inside the car, there was silence. The only noise coming from the road outside and the wind flying by his window. As we drew close to the doctor's office, a drab looking gray cement building on the corner by the park, Pop rolled up the window. We drew up to the curb, and he wasted no time opening the door and getting out.
"You never told me why you seeing the doctor."
"Well today, Doc Jones going to tell me I'm dying, Son." He balanced on his good leg, clutching the top of the door with his right hand.
"Let me put it to you this way, Son. The doctor's going to tell me I'm dying again."
"You want me to go in with you?"
"Naw, no need for both of us getting bad news."
My dad shut the door and started up the sidewalk, but he only took a couple of steps before he turned back to car and tapped on the window.
I rolled it down, and he leaned in and spoke sharply, "You gonna wait?"
I looked up into his blue eyes. "I just might surprise you and be here when you get out."
He laughed and then raised his middle finger and flipped me off and then started up the sidewalk for the door.
I was eating some bacon and eggs when suddenly a big bird flew smack dab into the window at El Cap. I see all things as kind of revelatory now, and no longer believe in accidental events. This bird's mistake was no mere accident. In some cultures, it would be taken as sign of doom; in others it signifies great change.
I have been tripping on Greek Mythology for quite a bit and learned that what the word myth means is an event (or events) that is out of the ordinary. The word profane means the opposite. Profane happenings are the things that wear the ruts in the roads we travel. Mythical happenings should fill us with some wonder and cause us to shake our heads. Big myths should cause us to reevaluate our existential understanding of the world and the way we look at things.
It don't take a fucking genius to look around us and understand there is some big mythological shit going on. Each extraordinary event we went through the past seven months was big enough on its own to make us doubt our grip on sanity. For example, the CNN coverage of a riot with the words 'Mostly Peaceful' below the image of a burning city. I mean as if the rioting, the burning, and the looting wasn't the craziest shit. The fact a major news outlet saw fit to post those words beneath the flames took us right out of the profane world and forced us all into an Orwellian scenario.
And the mythic elements of past seven months have yet to subside. AOC talking about creating enemy lists, and the media mentioning reeducation camps is downright scary. It rips the narrative away from George Orwell and blends it into something that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn might have written. It becomes kind of plain that something seriously fucked up is afoot here. Yet, most of the voting populace walks around unaware of all these parallels, you know somewhat like how birds have no reference point to think about glass windows, that is until they run into one.
There are a whole lot of clues that most people choose not to see. The missing middle of the American body politic should have been a major red flag. The Pravda like media's incessant refusal to make anyone on the Left look bad another.
I mean for God's sake, you have to be pretty bad to ignore the Dickensian character flaws in people like Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff. I know that Socialists believe that anything goes when it comes to reaching their goal, but you have to be a pretty empty sack of nothing yourself to ignore their characters are so obviously etched into their outward actions and appearances. It's like Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Hell, Dickens, or even Dostoevsky, couldn't have drawn them any finer.
I once appeared in an elementary school production of The King Who Wore No Clothes. That experience reminds me of the voting public's perception of Biden. This man dropped out of the '88 election partially because he plagiarized a speech by British MP Neil Kinnock, a speech that contained some of Kinnock's personal family information. Biden not only stole the speech; he left the personal information in the speech! Dropping out of the race, he said, "I did not intentionally move to mislead anybody. And I didn't." He also said his actions in withdrawing were motivated by "the exaggerated shadows" of his past mistakes. In other words, it was other people's fault that he had lied.
He reveals so much of his character in this story that to me, it is unbelievable that any halfway intelligent person would ever vote for him. Then add in the fact that everybody to the left of him hates the fact that he was the Democratic candidate and can't wait till he's gone. Top it off with the fact that mainstream media could never find anything negative to say about him even though his faults stood out like lipstick on a pig. That takes the story from Solzhenitsyn and hands it over to Joseph Goebbels to add the finishing touches.
Boiled down, it means the Americans who took part in this insanity are just like the bird hitting the window. Yet, it should not have to be my problem if you are blinded to the obvious signs of what is really going on.
The way I see it is if you choose to fly head down into fucking glass windows, it should only be your problem for not being aware enough to notice that the Universe is jumping up and down trying to warn you to pay more attention to what is really happening.
The problem is that the outcome you created is probably going to hurt us all.
I'm fading. Seven months ago they said to stay home. It would only take two weeks. Flatten the fucking curb. They lied.
Instead of two weeks, a lot of them are now saying that things will never go back to normal. It wasn't like my life was all that great to begin with. Hell, my body hurt and everything took longer to do when I could muster the energy to do it. My wife took a notion to leave and left me and then she died. My dad died too right before she did. Next my mom broke her hip and now has a hard time getting around.
Life goes on after a fashion, but the idea of putting all the grief away, or even leaving it behind is something of a joke I like to tell myself but never really believe. To do so would lighten the load considerably at times, but mostly would not only untether me from the reality of my grounding, my time and place, it would eventually leave me floating a few inches above the ground looking for something to grab a hold of. My greatest desire would then become to dig a hole a few feet deep and plant then my two feet inside it and cover them with dirt just to have some solidity to refer back to.
I was watching a movie recently and it had Emma Roberts looking bright and fresh and very pretty. The story took place in New York City among art shows, coffee shops, Manhattan apartments, and nightclubs. Freddy Hightower played the love interest, an overly sensitive young man with great artistic ability. When I see movies like this it stirs my soul and makes me think about the all of the time I did not spend in New York City amongst the beautiful crowd at parties in lofts and then later watching the sun rise on the Hudson River with a lady who had Audrey Hepburn's eyes.
Last week, I watched a documentary about antiquarian book sellers. It said that at one time Fourth Avenue in New York City had over a hundred used books stores lining both sides of the street. I love used book stores. They remind me of the times my mom took me to the library on Saturday mornings. It was amazing how discovering stories about the Greek gods and goddesses could color up an otherwise unimaginative situation.
Over one hundred used book stores! What I could have done with that. I would plan to go through two of them a morning and then take the afternoon to sit in my apartment and read by the window with a small balcony. All I would need to have was a bed, a chest of drawers, a small desk with a computer, a nightstand in the bedroom, and a living room given over to two or three floor to ceiling bookshelves.
There would be large, overstuffed easy chair and a reading light. I would spend two hours writing about what I had read before I showered and dressed to go see a play or concert. At times, I would sit in a cafe and have conversations with people who read as much as I do. At other times, I would call the lady with the big, bright eyes and sit by the river watching time slip away to the ocean.
Everytime I get in a mood like this I start comparing the live I could envision with the life I actually lived on the southside of Corcoran. I gotta admit that Corcoran always comes off looking more than a little shabby in the comparison. I'll think about the opportunity of hearing Elvis Costello playing in a small club in Greenwich Village versus the ZZ Top concerts I actually saw in Bakersfield and Fresno. I like ZZ Top, but I love Elvis Costello. And I figure that any artist would try a little bit harder to be cool in New York City. I argue this point with my brother and he always mentions the time he saw Grand Funk Railroad in Houston. I just roll my eyes. I once saw a play at the William Saroyan Theater in Fresno. I've never been to Broadway. I would have loved to have seen The Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway.
But then a simple understanding snaps me back to this gritty little world that I inhabit where dust comes nightly to settle on our cars and our furniture, sometimes so thick what we can plant wildflower seeds on our furniture. It is a town where we know our homeless people by their first and last names, and we have eaten the food of every restaurant so any times that we longer get the thrill of eating dinner out.
I get to the point where I start wishing the life I actually had away, trading it for a world of wishful thinking and wonder. That thought usually breaks the spell because it would mean a devaluation of my entire life. It makes me realize that every scar, every broken heart, and every frustration, every attempt, and every failure was filled with existential meaning several times over. I cover my eyes with gauze and vaseline, trying not hard to see the road ahead, and always end up longing for the good old days that never really were. And by doing so, I often miss the fact that the only thing I've ever accomplished, that we have ever accomplished, was always living on the cutting edge between yesterday and tomorrow.
We've all been kissed for the first time and fell in love. Sometimes it was glorious and sometimes it hurt like hell. We've all stood at side of grave containing someone we loved. Most of us have heard a song or two that filled our heart with tears or joy.
I make myself realize that, in my universe, the touchdown I caught playing frosh-soph football was every bit as important as The Catch. At least it was to me.
I learned a lot of lessons in this small town. I learned not to drink peppermint schnapps my freshman year of high school. I learned how to roll a joint in high school too. I learned how to read at Mark Twain Elementary School, a place I'll always revere.
I learned that getting over a divorce is lot like chewing broken glass and that losing a father no matter how old or lost he is, diminishes a person. I learned that raising children is both the hardest and the most rewarding thing that we can do, and it often hurts more than anything else.
I also learned that the kiss I stole from my first girlfriend while watching Haley Mills in the Parent Trap at the Corcoran theater was every bit as powerful and wonderful as that kiss that George Peppard laid on Audrey Hepburn in that last scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
And that's something, I suppose.
It had been a late night phone call that had woken me up from a cannabis and Trazodone assisted slumber. I was having trouble sleeping ever since Jenny had left me and died from cancer; I felt the problem was caused mainly by the fact that I had been inflicted with a bad case of Tinnitus the day she had passed on.
The phone call had come from a friend of mine named Jetty Jones. (His real name was Jerry, but he had married a Vietnamese girl who pronounced it Jetty so it stuck.) He informed me that he had seen something real strange in the tiny Curly Headed Girl casino a shot drive from the outskirts of Tonopah, Nevada. He wouldn't explain much past that, but he claimed I had to see this for myself. He wouldn't hang-up either till I promised that I would mosey up that way and check it out.
Jetty was my best friend growing up. Him and I had taken a shit load of acid trips together when we were doing that kind of thing. He still existed in a halfway world somewhere between the material and the mist, but even so he often came up with much more interesting perspectives than any of my journalist friends. In fact, I had won the prestigious Beamess Award for Journalism because of an idea he had triggered during an hashish inspired discussion on the meaning of the gorgon Medusa.
"Why did you call me? Frankie's in Reno. Call his ass!"
"Fuck that, Danny! He's a teacher; you the journalist and the writer. You look into it, write it up, then Frankie can read it and teach it."
"I'll come because you ain't never let me down, Jetty. But just know that one of these days I'm going call your ass up at 3:30 in the morning and wake you up."
He laughed, "Good luck with that. I don't sleep much nowadays."
I laughed back, "You ever try Trazodone?"
"I was the one who told you."
So, I got up, took a shower, brushed my teeth, made a cup of coffee, packed my notebook and a change of underwear, jumped on my Harley and waved goodbye to San Diego.
Eight hours later, I walked into the scratched and battered red doors of the Curly Headed Girl casino. I do have a little bit of a hard time referring to the place as a casino proper. It looked more like huge, garish Denny's that had been decorated by a Satan worshipping meth addict in the last throes of his addiction. The walls were painted neon green and the carpets were bright red and threadbare. There was lots and lots of neon everywhere, and signage with some of the letters missing. For example, the neon sign over the slots area only said LOTS, and someone had added a cardboard sign to the end of the neon POKER sign that said ;I DID!
I stood there in front of the sign and thought for a moment what it might mean that whoever had put the sign there knew to add the semi-colon. In my way of a thinking, it made the situation somewhat mythical, God's hand so to speak. I don't why it surprised me so much; as I knew that everything that Jetty was involved in boasted signs that life itself was an endless display of such "divine configurations."
I walked the place around slowly taking everything in. It was a strange place to say the least. I knew because of the way that Jetty had spoken that I would know what I was looking for the moment I saw it. Yet, there were a lot of contestants competing for my attention, an awful lot, more than enough to have frustrated a normal reporter.
For example, there was a couple of octogenarian looking hookers strutting their stuff wearing almost next to nothing while carrying cardboard signs that claimed that for $20 they would fulfill your darkest fantasy and then donate the money to a fund that would clean the ocean of plastic.
There was also a homeless guy riding an electric wheelchair up and down the slot aisles looking for change in the slot machines. I couldn't muster the will to tell him that none the slots operated off of change and hadn't for the last twenty-five years. I probably would have told him though if it hadn't been for the cocky looking rooster that was sitting on his lap.
I'm deathly afraid of roosters and have been ever since my dad's pet rooster Jack Dempsey sneak attacked me while I was taking a leak out behind our barn. Me and Jack Dempsey engaged in all out war for years up until the time that my little brother Scotty matched him up with the neighborhood's version of Gene Tunney.
My dad came home from work and found Jack Dempsey lying dead in the middle of the barn floor.
"Wha happen here?"
Scotty sheepishly offered, "Looks like the trepidations of Old Age finally caught up with the toughest critter I ever knowed."
Dad stood there in his dirty overalls, looked at Scotty for a minute than down at the corpse, "Second toughest. That rooster's bleeding prolifically from at least four holes. Far as I knowed, Old Age will choke the living shit right out ya, never knowed it to poke no holes in a creature, be it beast or man."
I heard a commotion and headed toward it. I had to wiggle through a small crowd of people gathered around a single Texas Hold'em Table. I might be a little generous on labeling them all as people. Steven Spielberg must have gambled here before he came up the idea for the barroom scene in the original Star Wars movie.
There were more large badly placed birthmarks, outsized warts, pronounced scarring, jagged teeth, broken bones, pus producing wounds, and foul body odor in that one place than anywhere else in the world, and probably the universe.
And right there in the middle of all these miscreant looking, subterranean beings sat none other than Gandalf the fucking wizard his own damn self. I could tell it was him because he was wearing the iconic hat and a tall staff made of dark oak was leaning up against the wall behind him. He was drawing on a long stemmed wooden pipe and blowing colored smoke rings out. The rings would hover above the table for a moment and then disappear with a pop.
All of the commotion was because the wizard had caught a three of clubs on his final card giving him a full house of twos and threes to beat out his opponent's three aces. He raked in the pot of strange looking silver coins. When I got there, he put the coins into a large brown cloth bag tied at the top with a small rope, looked up at me like he was expecting me, and said, "There you are! I've been waiting since I saw Jetty last night."
We found ourselves seats in a darkened corner of Euryale's Bar near the western wall of the place. The table was lit by a single candle, and it was so dark that I could barely make out the wall painting of a setting sun hidden in the shadows. I ordered up a bottle of Glenlivet.
"Well, what brings you here, my son?"
I couldn't hide my shock. "What brings me! You're fucking Gandalf the Wizard. What the hell you doing in this hell hole of a casino? You were a character created by Tolkien not Dante Alighieri remember."
He gave me that hmph voice, "Created by Tolkien? Tolkien did the revealing not the creating, and this, "He spread his arms and looked around at the casino, "this is your world not mine."
After he calmed down a bit, he explained, "Everytime that someone reads entire Lord of the Rings cycle without putting it down, I check out for minute. It always happens during the scene when I battled the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazam-dum. I disappear for while and only return when I'm needed at the end.
"You're gone and Frodo has to take the lead?"
"Oh please, that fool couldn't find his way out of the cookie aisle at a grocery store! He's only placed in that position to create dramatic tension."
"But he defeats the Dragon!"
He arched a long bushy eyebrow in my direction," Did you even read the fucking story! Bard defeats the dragon, it's a mythical revelation, an ancient story written in stone in the construction of the small air channels of the Great Pyramid? Frodo is the stumbler, didn't you notice that he accidentally stumbles upon everything, the arkenstone, the cellar door, the entrance to the dragon's lair? Just like his uncle stumbled upon the magic ring. Behind the scenes, all us literary characters have an over/under bet on how long it will take for him to do his job."
"But it's in the book. Doesn't it stay the same?"
He put down his pipe and looked at me sadly, "It's different for everybody."
"How long must you stay here for?"
"I have to wait."
"For as long as it takes for two things to happen."
"What two things?"
"It's like a video game. Every time Frodo levels up, I have to gain a level too. In my case, I have to wait until that guy over there," he points to large, bald, one-eyed man with two missing teeth. "That's Hero my mentor; I have to wait till he goes up a level."
"I have to wait until he convinces Helen, the highest priced hooker in Nevada to sleep with him for free." He pointed towards a window hidden high in the wall over the bar. At that very moment, a woman, no make that a goddess, walked over to the window and looked out. Everything stopped for a minute as her beauty lit up the entire room exposing the dust in the corners and spider webs in the rafters.
She turned and looked at me, and that single look aroused such passion in me that I almost embarrassed myself in front of Gandalf. "She's so freaking beautiful! What's she doing here?"
The wizard chuckled, "Well, you don't change history being just pretty."
"Yeah. We all have our own purgatory. Hers is here, just like mine and his." We looked over to where the mentor sat making obscene gestures up toward the window.
"What are his chances?"
"Well you would think much of them just by looking at him, but he's got a good heart, one of the best, and on the last level that fool banged half of Hollywood, and on his first level he had to sleep with Cleopatra with Caesar in the same room, so it might take awhile, but he's like that Bill Murray character in the movie Groundhog; he'll get there in time.
"You mentioned you had two tasks. What's the second."
The question caused him to laugh, and then he poured us both another shot of Scotch, "Oh that, I had to go all in in a poker game against Judas Iscariot over there to see who gets back to their story first.
I dropped the glass on the floor. Some of the Scotch splattered onto the hem of Gandalf's garment. "Wha..."
"You think that's bad. It was stipulated that I had to win on the river card."
If you are anything like me, the current social/political reality is playing games with your head. There is always an anxious uncertainty that doesn't allow us any rest and recharge. The selfish actions of our political elites and the slobbering stupidity of the media not only add to our anxiety, but keep our stomachs feeling nauseous. Rather than using hateful violence and adding to the rage, we need to get together and projectile vomit on the idiots causing all of the unrest just to let them know that we consider them more like a bad case of salmonella than anything remotely resembling human beings.
While doing some research as to meaning of myth, I ran across some very illuminating bits of information, the kind that allows a person to put things into focus.
"The sacred (mythic) does not mean exclusively the supernatural or other otherworldly, but simply the extraordinary, the uncommon, both wondrous and terrifying. Profane, therefore, does not mean the sacrilegious, but the simply the ordinary, the common. . . . . . . The sacred is shown whenever something affects an existential situation in important ways -- exciting fear, hope, joy, or awe or displaying pragmatic efficacy. Given the limited conditions in life, the sacred expresses the various meanings arising from these conditions, the powers and fortunes that arrive and withdraw in circumstances involving success and failure, quests and struggles, life and death."
What it means is that far from being a child's story with fantastic creatures, myth is the way that nature reveals itself. The pandemic, the fires, the political bickering, the lying media, and the peaceful but violent social unrest are all part of this great revealing, possibly the most mythic in the entire history of humanity.
It means that the years of pretending that we don't die in the end are over. Those distractions that we pay a massive fortune for to lull us into sleep, are not going to work anymore, and if they still do, then we have a more serious problem.
The massive nature of the calamities that surround us are nature's way of telling us that existential meaning is tired of fighting for a space in our consciousness. It's nature's way of asking, why can we so easily identify the McDonald's arches but don't know a fucking thing about the existential meaning of life? Or, how can we recite LeBron's stats at the drop of the hat, but not know that Marxist thinking is both materialist and atheistic, and therefore lacks any spiritual substance that would make it either meaningful or worthy of discussion?
We can argue in defense of the freedom of expression involved in our culture's efforts to engulf us all in a ocean of debauchery and license, but are completely unable to understand in the least the nature of the arguments that prove that we are being corrupted by our sweet tooth and totally misguided.
This mess we are in now and the extraordinary events that are causing it, compose the Mythic revealing that nature's had enough of our whining and is telling us that we need to pay better attention from now on and need to start making better decisions, to stop buying shit we don't need because we saw it in a Super Bowl commercial that totally interrupted the flow of the game. We had better stop electing narcissistic, greedy, sentient turds to office and figure out where the real leaders are. We need to stop watching commercials period, and put the Madison Avenue people to work cleaning out New York City's sewer system and after that, cleaning the plastic out of the oceans.
Mostly though, we need to find the place where the truth and the sacred is stored within ourselves and learn to keep that place holy, or else we lose that space and fill it full of meaningless shit and one day find that we contain no truth at all.
At which point, we are going to get drug big time.