I've really been going kind of hard retro in my writing recently; it's what old people do. We sit around all day and regret. I think very few of us actually get a point where we are perfectly happy with what we have done with our life.
There's a very simple reason for that; Life is pretty damn hard. In fact, it's very much like the 400 meter high hurdles and most of us aren't hurdlers. Very few of us jump for the exhilaration of clearing the hurdle; most of us are content on devising strategies to circumvent, go around, go under, climb through or over, and what not like that
The race is even harder in a place like Corcoran. Our track surfaces often included goat heads, gravel, broken rock, and black tar roads heated to the point of melting. Many of the hurdles are broken with random pieces of jagged wood and metal sticking up at awkward angles. We wear ill fitting hand-me-down track shorts and cut-off Levis. Some of us run barefoot, and a lot of us smoke stuff and drink beer before and after the race.
Hell, our biggest tourist attractions are a lake that doesn't exist except in legend (I think we ought to play up the fake lake angle more than we do) and the place where Charles Manson used to live. I do want to make one thing perfectly clear; Mr. Manson was not a native of Corcoran. He would have fit nicely in some of our neighborhoods, but he wasn't like related to anybody I know.
His presence here was thrust upon us by those same unseen forces that created all those mysterious earth mounds that line Highway 43 from Wasco to Hanford. Wasn't like we didn't have our own trailer parks or nuthin.
In and effort to go a bit more more visionary with this post. I decided to go on an adventure. I decided to go look for buried treasure in this little place about three-four miles directly south of Lemoore.
I have been looking for treasure there for about twenty-five years. No treasure yet, but I dug up some Spanish doubloons a couple of times and that keeps me coming back. It's kind of like a favorite fishing spot where the fish don't bite, but you like the ambiance enough to go sit and stare at the water going by.
I lend some color to the adventure by always taking this hidden back road that takes me to road I need to be. It's a wilder looking area decorated by people with an aversion to county dumps. I imagine like it's a mysterious place where anything can happen, but that's mainly a way to the pass the time as I drive, always perusing the roadsides for mystery or two
One time I got stuck in the road while a herd, a flock (whatever the word is for a big freakin bunch of sheep) was walking down the rode toward the proverbial other side of the street where I assumed the grass was greener, or at least in more ample supply. The sheep had these amazing golden eyes that reminded me of a Ray Bradbury story.
I also saw a big bunch of vultures hanging out where the road bends back north. They were trying to impress each other with who could stay in road the longest as a car approached. I stepped on the pedal to scare them a bit, and they looked pretty damned stupid tripping over each other to get out of my way.
If I ever start describing ghost stories about that back way into Lemoore, I give you all permission to A) check the contents of my coffee cup, B) point at me and snicker when I pass by, and C) flip the switch on my breaker box; it's on the southwest corner of my house. I mean there's only so much credulity that most people have, and I think I used up a pretty good chunk already.
I have developed a great trick I use to mitigate the pain of losing money. I make it into a experience, a Lollapalooza with slots so to speak. I start out sitting at the bar and having a drink. Then I take out my earbuds and light up this playlist I created for the trip. It's called the Cosmic Orgasm list. I swear that's what I named it. It just came to me out of the blue while I was contemplating the sex life of the creator.
I know you're thinking who does that shit? Probably more people than you know. I mean them particular words have existed for many years. I am sure they have come in contact before. (How weird would that be if I was the first?) People had to have done it before me, and I am absolutely certain that the first thought that crossed their mind was God's sex life.
I have, and this is the exact order of the songs:
1) Green Manalishi (with Peter Green)
2) Back Where it all Began ( Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks)
3) Without You (Old Fleetwood Mac, pre-yuppie shit)
4) Oh Sweet Nuthin ( Lou Reed song covered by Rich Robertson)
5) Loan Me a Dime (Boz Skaggs with Duane Allman)
6) Southern Cross ( Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young)
7) Everybody's Got a Mountain to Climb (Allman Brothers)
8) Deep, Dark, Down (Lindsay White)
9) Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
10) Butter (Taj Mahal)
I takes almost two hours to play through once which is just about the same time that it takes for me to lose all my money. It's is a surrealistic experience, the closest aural experience to having sex that I could imagine. I've even included the three slower songs at the end for the post-coital cigarette smoking time.
I wouldn't say that it was better than having sex with a real human being, but its certainly better than having sex with a corpse.
Okay, I apologize for putting that image on your head. I sensed that some of you were nodding off, and I wanted to see who was really paying attention.
The music elevates the experience of throwing money away, it creates transcendence, turns it almost into some kind of religious experience. I'll open my eyes (I play slots with my eyes closed. I'll explain that at a later date, after I've figured it out enough to justify it to myself) and think like I'm in heaven or something. Until a quick perusal of my surroundings tells me that I might have pushed the wrong elevator button.
The people all around me serve as clues. It's a older crowd in the day time, blue-haired women, men bent into semi-colons, people who use their walkers as chairs while they gamble. And who can blame them for coming; the casino floor is helluva lot more interesting than watching the ninety-ninth episode of Dr. Phil reaming out a man who married his brother's wife and then cheated on her with her sister.
When one finally steps off the hamster wheel, many times the path to glory becomes a fuzzy, spiderweb covered forest where Little Red Riding Hood stills lives with twelve crazy kids and an overweight, unemployed, alcoholic logger. At this point in time, she's shortened her name to Red, wears a sleeve on her right arm, and spends her days lying on a worn out couch watching My Six-Hundred Pound Life while wondering if her life would be any better if she tried out for the show.
Its later when the younger crowd come in, entering the room "walking into the party as they coming aboard a yacht." Excited but understanding that the casino energy grid immediately senses that urge to let every thing go and uses it against them in a way that quickly strips them of both their money and their zest for life and afterwards tosses them overboard where they vanish into a creased photograph of a white pimp hat with a feather floating in concentric rings of water.
I quickly throw out the thought that I am surveying the scene in Hades as my mind grasps on to the firmly established fact that the speakers in Hell only play Barry Manilow on loop, broken up only by small snippets of Tiny Tim scatting, and PSAs by Eminem reminding you of how you got there.
I realize with a small twinge of disappointment that I'm still here in the middle, the anteroom to the afterlife; I am still prepping for my moment in the spotlight at the West Coast Relays. Still shooting for at least third but knowing going in that I'll be satisfied finishing the race without bloodying my chin, collapsing on the track, or scraping my knees too badly.
So, I order another a beer and a bite from the Coyote Grill and start thinking about all the hurdles on the way back home on Kansas and 10th Avenue and imagining all the damage that a Mazda traveling at high speed can do. And that thought leads to another, this time on the necessity of working out a believable excuse to explain to my mom why a piece of painted wood is jutting out of my car's grill.