Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zombies Vs. the iPhone

People all over the world think Florida is a synonymous for both life and death. It's the retirement location that most of the United States citizens dream about, and nowhere else do you think of when someone says 'Neon Graveyard'. I find it funny that the fashion population of South Beach, Miami hasn't made this connection, since the disco queens  have invented, upgraded, and financed the ability to stay looking as young as possible under an unforgiving fluorescent light that is the sun. Vampires do exist, and they come out of the closet once but by their fifties only at night, sunlight is the enemy. This tends to hide the scars, wrinkles, and flaws of what once was a picture of youth. Anyone who looks past the surface can see a look of history past in someone's eyes, and convincing someone you're younger than you actually are is supposed to be the goal of both middle aged men and women. I know this isn't exclusive to Florida, but it's more obvious than even in Las Vegas where a fifty year old 'dancer' will compulsively tell you she's 29 because she's convinced herself that the reason she's stopped menstruating was due to her eating disorder rather than menopause. Age is something we all have to deal with, whether we do it in gradual steps or fight it every inch of the way til the steps become a cliff that you fall off of one night and wake up appearing 70 as if it had occurred overnight. I quote Andy Warhol's Bad - "Look's aren't everything."

I can't even begin to recreate the events that led up to quite unsavory fodder for tabloids this week. A man who's been called everything from a sweetheart to a person with real anger issues eating someone's face? I've been around for nearly 45 years and I don't think I've heard anything quite like it. Who knows what goes through someone's head that would deem this action worthy or thought in the first place. Turning the thought into action is a real stretch of what has to be psychosis, and to hear this escalation could be caused by bubble bath, or 'bath salts' is an indicator that the world has taken a most radical turn. It pains me to think that a Mother drowning all her children in a bathtub can be one upped so easily these days, and that the tabloids raced to one up the zombie apocalypse in Florida. Someone pulled their intestines out and threw them at the police? Really?

When the fear of death starts to dissolve in the heart, when someone's life has reached either it's zenith or nadir and your conscious thought has you convinced that you've seen and done all there is to do, the rational person sits and weighs his options and will generally find any direction to make forward progress in this spiritual realm, maybe by learning a musical instrument or making a career change. These can be seen as erratic or eccentric changes but who's to judge how one gets from point a to point b in their path to a complete person.

A zombie story has the ability to make the common man prefer death to a front row seat in an altercation like this and it's this trait that makes it such a dangerous event. It's one more image added to the unwritten list in people's minds in a subconscious game of "I'd rather die than..." that we play around the campfire, laying awake at night before sleep overcomes us, or while we're walking back to our cars from horror movies that have evolved from a man stitched together from spare parts of the dead.

Is it the public media that has us convinced that we should be trying to look far younger than we should lest we be unhappy or is it our decision? Is it the movies that make us think that our death has to to be a historically grotesque event lest it be remembered or are we simply bored with common passing? I like to think the world isn't that much different than when I first came into it. The desire for things I didn't need flashing on television, at the movies, and in the music I listened to didn't overcome my common sense to possess them. What more can we be convinced we need whether invented or discovered to make life worth living? 

I just want to wake up and live and laugh, know that I love and am loved by someone, and when I feel full and tired? I want a goodnight kiss before I doze off to sleep and dream of doing it again.... and maybe again and again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Haven't you ever lost anything Bronx? your wallet? your car keys? - Medicine Man

John and I were drinking wine on the veranda <porch> yesterday, when we decided to take a break and go to the shops to pick up lunch, essentials and what nots when he looked on our dining room table and didn't see his wallet. Of course our cocktail function quickly turned to a search party, one that ended quite dismally when it was called off until the following day. At dinner last night, we both had our theories which we could not back up with any solid proof. There was no accusation in either of our voices when we ultimately surrendered any and all hope that it would be discovered, and it was suggested that we just considered it gone. Gone, gone, and gone. To do otherwise would have been the futile, spastic, somewhat psychotic overturning of every object in our home, whether it be likely it could hide a wallet <the couch> or a bit less likely <under the soap in the shower>. Ce la vie, indeed. It's best to relinquish pride to retain whatever you have left of your sanity.

The natural thing to do is to find the optimistic side, for me anyway. I'd had absolutely no money before, it's got to somehow be better to have money that you can't possibly access for a day than to be down and out with no prospects of a better future, and then I remembered what I wanted to talk about over the wine.

I had a dream. No, not an awe inspiring dream such as those of Dr. King but a dream none the less. I was working at an old location of a printing company in downtown Boston, more or less a sale satellite. There were no presses, minimal machinery, but we were in a large pair of office buildings, and our customers were somewhere in the 44 stories of each tower, where we would smile, offer excellent customer service, then jump through hoops to ensure the promises we made in the morning were upheld by closing time. In my dream, I broke my thigh, not easy to do, and had to walk around with my femur in my hand until I had my surgery the following day. I know. Believable so far, right? I had a clear and lucid conversation with my boss as well that stood out in my mind, a boss I learned a lot from in many different ways, and I woke up happily discovering that both my legs were in tact. They were larger than I'd like them to be, but hell, I guess that's another dream entirely.

Being the kind of guy who normally wakes up and reads and writes, I decided to do a bit of sleuthing. After all, Lisbeth Salander isn't the only dragon tattooed person who knows how to do a bit of  'hacking', be it on social sites or Google. It didn't take me long to find an obituary of my old boss. Damn, I have such poor writing skills. He was three years my senior and at 45 I'm reluctant to call anyone old....  my past boss. I was depressed we hadn't kept in contact as we said we would, I was sorry that he'd passed away, and in a fit of selfishness I had to acknowledge that death at 47 of natural causes was possible... ack! As one of the extraordinary people who've entered and now left my life, I could take this information and proceed two ways. Appreciate the people who are in my life and make an attempt to contact them more or I could get bitter, health conscious, and grow wary of people whom I may become attached? I'm a glutton for punishment, and my boss was a perfect example of someone who could give me constructive criticism, let me call him a dick, and not fire me. Good people have a way of turning you into a better person. Hold these people dear.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Any Given Saturday, Military Style.

It's Cinco de Mayo and I'm half reminded of every drinking event that I may or may not half remember in the first place. When reality makes a hasty retreat if you're a lucky soul the imagination takes over and sometimes lends itself to a much better version of events, if only for story telling purposes. If you're willing to totally commit you can spin a yarn that may ultimately have you committed but the only story worth telling is one that is probably a mixture of fantasy with a smidgen of truth to keep it grounded.

It was 1992 in Northern California and it was any Saturday. Vallejo was a Navy town and if you didn't have to serve extra duty on the weekend you were allowed out in public to mingle where the Zodiac killer  had historically found victims roaming the semi quiet streets, ones that were frequently punctuated with biker bars and fast food restaurants, but had really not other ambition other than to eventually put you in the wrong place at the wrong time while being under the influence of the wrong beer and in the wrong state of mind.

As an elder <over 21 years of age> in our military school, I was more prone to hang out with the dorky teachers than the students; these people were more my age and intellect in a world where half the students were too young to drink and the latter half were too busy getting drunk in groups.... in a virtual reality card game called Dungeon's and Dragon's. How's that for a social order? Sad, more sad, and most sad...

I could fall asleep standing up, I could stay awake until four in the morning knowing that our muster was at quarter past five, and I had a whole slew of home remedies and superstitions to keep me out of the barracks petty officers view and more importantly, off their report rosters. I had toothpaste in my pocket for breath, quick responses that were nearly reflexive, and more importantly, I was a funny drunk guy so most of my defense team was comprised on the guys in my room, in my classes, and more importantly on the staff that had been out the night before with me. While standing at attention in line, it's got to be difficult to report someone who you were pouring a beer for the night before, even more difficult when you were pouring the beer into an imaginary glass in your mind, while you were dumping a pitcher of beer all over the pool table in reality. It was a reality you didn't want anyone to bring up during work hours or even in the bar the next night. A gentleman never throws past events in your face, and a drunken gentleman never remembers them in the correct order of events anyway. We were under a lot of stress and we had our method of decompressing; it didn't need any modifying. It was the alcoholic version of 'Don't ask, Don't tell'. No one asked, we weren't telling.

There was a student in our class I'll call Louis, and from every perspective you looked he was an inadequate person who was not fit for military life. While out with my teaching compadres I had been warned that he would come to ill fate if he ever made it onto a ship in active duty, and that they had devised a plan to ensure that he would never reach graduation and deployment. In their scheme I was supposed to put a trash barrel over his head and push him out a window. I'm not sure if it was because they thought I was easily suggestible while drunk but I'm certain it's because they knew I was physically adapted, I went to the gym every day for two hours and ran five miles four days a week, feats that will never occur in my life again or that you wouldn't expect that I'd ever been capable of judging by my appearance now. Schemes like these were a near nightly event; they would dilute and the act of returning to the barracks in one piece would become the common goal by closing time.

I was returning back to our barracks with my drinking buddy, a great big tall Polish guy who was also a Marine. Marine's and Navy guys had an unspoken 'no fraternizing' rule that neither of us paid much attention to; he was old enough to drink, I was old enough to drink and we had a great vibe out at bars, if that vibe was that neither of us knew how to keep our mouths shut but at the same time we were both too large and ominous to be told to shut up... or be shut off. We stumbled into the barracks and we headed to the vending machines, we'd returned too late for the McDonald's to serve us food on the command, and we had to rely on the machines for a crappier alternative than fast food; we also had to rely on what change we had in our pockets. Zoom pulled out a ten dollar bill and found the change machine broken, our class leader came out to survey the damage we'd caused ourselves and was snickering standing next to us. Zoom turned to him and asked if he had change for a ten, and he said yes, took his ten dollars and put it in his pocket, gave him nothing in return. Zoom thanked him, then the unbalanced exchange registered in his mind and he fumbled with the nothing in his hands. He looked over to me for backup, and I'd put a dollar in the vending machine that was not being accepted, instead it was entering and exiting the bill slot while I was trying to no avail to grasp it. Times like these were not times for defense, instead we'd be in tears of laughter trying to decide who'd had too much to drink and who's fault it was. These were fun nights, soon replaced by less fun nights, but who wants to talk about those???