Showing posts from October, 2007

The Quiet Man

Let us broach the subject of my father and investigate him in small amounts. The danger shows even here, before the words have started flowing, as my brain becomes crowded with sentiments and remembrances and theories and emotions. There is so much to say.

Let this not be an obituary, because the man is only-half-lived. Fifty-three today and fifty-three these days is middle age—early middle age. I know men fall sooner than 106, but men like this?

He stands stooped in his garden and pulls flowering yellow squash from the vines. The basement is filled with paper bags of his tomatoes. He tells my mother he will be a vegan, but maybe she knows better and keeps cooking everything with a pile of sausage. Once he ate a live mussel from the cold Maine seawater and fell violently ill.

My mother tells me what he says to her in secret. To me he says my veganism is turning my bones to paper. He tells me how Bush is strengthening America, but he has voted for Ralph Nader in the last two elections. On…

Fear Eats The Soul

It’s time for a statement of principles. Let’s get to the bottom of me, finally and firstly. Let us define me and then start from that. I cannot have a direction until I have a standpoint. Let me let you know me, and let me say aloud what I’ve always meant you to hear. (Mother, look away.)


There is no God, in any sense. There is no Christian or Jewish God or Allah or any of the Hindu deities. And before you chime in with your surety, first define which God you mean, and allow me to ask you why a somewhat larger group believes something totally different, and why there is little solidarity even within your own group.

I was indoctrinated as a Catholic from birth. When I began to define my own beliefs, I became an agnostic, which is to say I no longer believed in the same God I used to, and I didn’t know what else there might be. Recently, I applied an afternoon’s thought to the subject and decided my ambiguity was a weakness. I had to stand for something.

I am an atheist. There is …

Human Desire

Buddhists believe that only when we are free from desire are we ready to achieve bliss. I’m not a government-registered Buddhist, but I have read a bit about them and they seem all right. I like that part about the love and oneness and fair treatment of all folks and that’s how we’ll all enjoy paradise together. Like whatshisname said. Jesus.

I thought they might be right about the desire stuff, so I’ve been keeping a log of my daily desires, the stuff that pops up in my head in the middle of all the sexy thoughts. (The iPhone is considered a sexy thought.) And when I look at the list, I realize that if I didn’t desire all this stuff—or at least if I had it already—I’d probably be a lot happier.

Catalogue Of Desires
October 11th, 2007

10:37 A.M.–– Pancakes
This is generally how I start all my days (except that this day began a little earlier than usual). This is a great first desire to have, because when I actually fulfill it and eat a stack of pancakes, I feel terrible for the next five h…

The American Friend

Dear Joey,

What strange relationships we foster! I cannot remember your face or the sound of your voice, yet through our biannual correspondence I am forced to consider you my most loyal friend. I dare say I will have to come back to Los Angeles before I die simply because you have made it feel more my home than any other place. “A letter from Los Angeles!” I cheer, and my heart glows to a color and temperature that if they were quantified would be called Home. Why doesn’t Crayola produce a box of feelings? Rage, lunacy, kinship, absence of God. How we see these cannot be so unalike.

You do me a great service, too, in quashing my sweetheart’s recurring opinion that I am incapable of making or keeping friends. An aberration she calls me, a total perversion of man’s social tendencies. She tells me of experiments with apes, infant primates raised without any companionship. They had pleasant quarters, were fed, and given some toys, but eventually they stopped eating and starved to death, af…

The Root Of Humor

“Light a cigarette, Jean. Listen to me.”

“What is it?” Jean asked. He’d been in the process of lighting a cigarette. He gave Bernard a quizzical look and flared a bright match near his lips. He sucked in the smoke and let his shoulders drop a few inches. In a minute he would take off his jacket.

The thick flesh of Bernard’s hangdog jowls nearly quivered. He’d just shaved, Jean saw. Twice a day all his life and, presently, there was no wife. She left, or he kicked her out. That story wasn’t set in stone yet.

“I had a drink at Les Halles today,” Bernard began.
“Sure that wasn’t yesterday?” Jean chided.
“Shut up. Listen. You know Henri? He sells the potatoes?”
“I know Henri. On Bastille Day I get my blue, white, and red potatoes from him.”

“Shut up, jackass,” Bernard said. He paused then, and laughed, and remembered the year his wife made a potato salad that looked like the tricolor. They’d pissed her off by eating all of fraternit√© and not touching egalit√©.

“You made her leave, Jean.”
“I’ll buy …