Monday, March 26, 2007


"Hey, this woman needs help over by the rock. Can you help her out?"

"Yea, sure."

Spring is here. I'm getting busy again with stone and rock. Now, however, I am not happy about it.

"So, I'm looking to build a pond... and they tell me, uh, that I should put stone around it. What kind of stone do I, ahh, use, to put around... it."

"Most folks use fieldstone."

"Which one is that? Is that, like, this stuff?"

She's pointing to moss rock, which is dense, dark stone that would make up God's fists if he had them. I don't want her to use moss rock for this pond, mostly because I have no desire to break my back picking it up out of the ragged wooden bin it lays in.

"No. That's moss rock. Fieldstone is over here."

She's gazing back at the moss rock, but I'm trying to move her towards the flatter, lighter rock. I notice she's also kind of cross-eyed, and it freaks me out because that's the second one I've had in three days like that. Never think that people in retail have your best interests at heart- unless you are a genuinely nice guy or a very hot woman, we will not go out of our way... or at least I won't.

As I'm talking and giving my whole bullshit thing about rocks and stones that I've perfected over the years, I suddenly get very depressed. I hate retail, and I'm tired of dealing with people and pretending like I care. What do I want to tell them? Something similar to....

- Do you realize how fucking smart I am? Do you understand that I have a motherwhoring college degree, and yet I am still inexplicably stuck at this shithole job working with a bunch of drunks, felons, and drug addicts? I can quote Shakespeare, Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, or Coledridge off the top of my head. Can you do that? Can you recite the fucking, "Out, out brief candle, life is but a walking shadow that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, then is heard no more" speech without thinking about it? Can you?

I'm tired of dealing with dumb dagos that I have to humor into thinking that they have half a fucking brain. I'm tired of telling jerkoffs how to lay a patio so they can ask me the same fucking question ten minutes later, or go to someone else and ask the same question and try to get a discount on some rocks.

Why the fuck am I still here? Why? Lady, I don't give two flying fucks what stone you want to use, and I don't care what the fuck happens to this pond. I've helped out a million shits with ponds, and all it's done is torn my fucking hands up and made crappy money. You think you're any different? You think I should go out of my way for you, so I can load up eight hundred pounds of stone and you can not tip me and I can hope you hit a fuckin telephone pole in some kind of karmic retribution? Not fucking likely.

Yea. Use these rocks. They're flat and look natural.

"How much is a pallet?"

"Around $220."

"Oh, OK. I'll be back for them another time."


I'll be waiting. With fucking bells on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lessons from St. Patrick's Day

1. If you drink enough, seeing who can take the hardest shot to the face may sound like a good idea. It is not.

2. If you drink enough, putting a cigarette out on your knuckle may make sense. It does not.

3. As Brendan Behan said, Guiness does indeed make you drunk.

4. If you drink enough, it may seem like a good idea to call the bouncer, "A fucking doucebag." It is not.

5. The day after St. Patrick's needs to be a national holiday, or at least a paid day off for any of those 1/8 Irish or more. Fuck healthcare, you politicians- work on this! You will have my vote.

6. I should be banned from all things having wheels. Even tricycles are dangerous to me.

7. There are many beautiful women in New York City. None of them want to talk to me.

8. Never ask one of your best friends why he caught the shallow end of the gene pool because you think all his cousins are hot and... well, look at him.

Friday, March 16, 2007

St. Patrick's Eve

Tonight is the most holyiest of nights, the eve before St. Patrick's Day.

Tomorrow is one the only day of the year that I will try to get past my Catholic grudges and try to go to Church. It is the day that I will walk into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to a backdrop of wailing bagpipes, and light two candles for two dead men at the first statue to the right; one for my grandfather, and the other for my best friend. I will go to numerous pubs, and drink until I can't see straight anymore. It will start off in a good natured, fun way... and after many hours and many Harps, it will turn into sadness, as it has always done with me after I've drank for too long.... Why, you ask?

Because as anyone who is Irish in their soul could tell you... "To be Irish is to know that the world will break your heart."

And so we drink.

Happy St. Pat's, and "Up the Republic" for every tough bastard who gave his life for the old Emerald Isle, our home across the ocean that our families fled from so long ago.

Riamh Nar Dhruid O Spairn Iann

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Guys who work outside are like modern day Thoreau's. We are more observant of the weather than any meterologist, and we see the change of the seasons before the rest of the people. When you're outside for 50 something hours a week for years, you become like ole' Henry, listening intently to the sounds of the woods, waiting to hear the cracking of the ice on Walden Pond that tells us that the long winter is ending.

With that, of course, comes new jerkoffs. They stream in from all over as soon as the add is placed in the paper, that fateful, "Help Wanted, Yardman" that gets plastered all over Northern New Jersey at this time of year. They are looking for jobs doing anything, working anywhere, and very often the garden center is in their list of shit jobs that they'd love to do.

There are two types of people that are employed at garden centers: the full timers that have led a fucked up life and ended up needing to pay the bills by any means, and the part timers who do it either for extra money or just because they're bored. Me, I'm the second type, who works there mostly because I've been doing it for so long that one more year won't kill me; I've got a degree, and will eventually move on (although whether that is sooner or later remains to be seen.) The characters I meet through that shithole are ones that one of a kind, though, and their fucked up lives are more interesting than anything I could pull out of my own head.


He walked up to me the other day as I was driving the forklift, locked in a wrestling match with frozen pallets of topsoil. He has flaming red hair, pale skin, and a forearm decorated with a black celtic cross; when he came here the first time four years ago, he was a dumb, scrawny 18-year-old who called himself white trash, and had a taste for illegal drugs. He would pull up in a beat up old Saturn with a half wrecked bumper, blaring Kid Rock from the windows and smoking Newports. I had liked him immediately.

He worked for a long while, and was good at the bullshit that the job entails. When I think back to when he was there, I have to climb a ladder of faces as to who was there at the time, what they looked like, where they were in relation to others who worked there... it's likely climbing a mental ladder backwards in time to figure out who he knew and who he didn't.

After a spell, he'd decided to go into the Army. I think I tried to talk him out of it, as I always do with dumb kids who want to sign up, but it didn't work (as it never does with dumb kids itching to sign up). He had seemed kind of directionless in his life anyway, so I most likely thought that the Army might be good for him and give him somewhere to go, maybe a career or something.

"You guys hiring?" he asked.

"Yea man. We're picking up some now and they haven't got anybody here besides me... you looking for a job?"


"How was the Army? You done already?"

"It was alright. I was in there three years, that's all I signed up for, so I'm done."

He's thicker than he used to be, no longer the boney kid that left here. He's a little more composed, a little less goofy. Age and the Army work wonders for some.

"I'm surprised they let you out... they're in a bad way for guys, aren't they?"

"Yea. They threw all kinds of shit at me, offered me 30 grand to take another tour. I told them, "Fuck that." I was in Afghanistan... I wanted out."

He's younger than me by a couple years, but it struck me as I looked at him that this fucker is a "veteran" already. When I hear the word "veteran", I think of the eighty-year-olds with withered forearms who wear blue hats with a picture of a battleship on them and ask you to hump a bag of 5-10-5 out to their cars for them... I don't think of this guy. I don't look at any of my buddies who are getting back from Iraq or Afghanistan as "war veterans". It is strange for me to realize how much they've been through already compared to me, even though some of them are younger. The term "veteran" is something that I'm going to have get used to as my generation gets older. It is funny how things change when you get older.

It occured to me, also, that he had not heard about Ryer. This was one of the guys that said that me and Ryer were like older brothers to him, and yet I never had a chance to tell him about what had happened. There's no need to quote what I said here- it's the same fucking thing I've had to tell everyone for the last two years. He blinked and looked down, surprised.

Seeing this guy brought back a flood of memories about the way things used to be- reminiscient of a time and place in my life that I will never get back. But in the last few months I've been taking the advice of Ryer's old girl, and trying to let go... and when that coincides with other decent things happening, the days have brightened a bit. It is ironic that this fella comes back at this time. I am looking forward to hearing the things he has to say now... both of our lives are far different than they were the last time we met, and there are many days that lie ahead of backbreaking work under the sun.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Musical Brawls

Q104.3 plays a lunch block of Mellencamp songs yesterday while I'm working with another guy.

"Mellencamp kicks ass."

"Yea he does. But I think Bon Jovi would kick hiss ass."

"Bon Jovi? Are you kidding?"

"No, man. C'mon, it's Bon Jovi... he'd be goin' all "dead or alive" on him."

"You're full of shit on so many fucking levels. C'mon man. We all know I like Bon Jovi; that's a given. But he's a pretty boy. Fancy girly hair, leather pants and all that shit... he's not tough at all. Mellencamp was the one with the jeans and the t-shirt, working on a farm and all, gettin' in trouble all of the time. He's one of those tough hillbillies... those guys are nuts. "Little Pink Houses" was even a tough song, and it's got the word "pink" in it. "Paper in fire", "Authority Song".... all about getting in trouble. Just tough songs. Bon Jovi? "Bed of Roses"? "Have a Nice Day?" I think not."

"Fine. What about the Boss? He'd beat Mellencamp's ass."

"Sorry man. Don't believe that either. Bruce was always the skinny beat poet guy until "Born In the USA." After the Born in the USA days, Bruce would put up a fight; he bulked up a lot. But before that, Mellecamp was like the Hell's Angels to Bruce's hippie poets. The Boss was riding the rails, and Mellencamp would have been the bull, you know? Now it'd be an even fight though, cause Mellencamp smokes like five packs a day and has had a handful of heart attacks... but he also has a tattoo on his forearm... still a tough hillbilly. Now it'd be a tough call."

"Yea... Bruce did have a lot of soft songs. A lot of melancholy ones."

"Exactly... but then you know who would kick all of their asses."

"Oh yea. Lemmy. Probably all at the same time."

"Fuckin a' right, man."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


it is days like this, when we are so close to the breaking of the long cold time, that i long the most for hot nights in backyards overlooking the faded lights of Pompton Lakes, drunk, wandering around talking to women who are beautiful but would never look at me. They are hazy nights where the pool lights waver as the water dances and jives with joyous movement, and young people with nothing to lose drive under streetlights that have seen all of this before.

It is the summer, with lightning storms and thunder and fire that makes you think for a second that we never quite stop breathing, that our spirits never die, and that there is more for us in this world besides the sometimes passionate, sometimes mundane, always doomed life that ends looking at the cream colored underside of a coffin lid until the world explodes or burns or fades. No warm floodwaters hurt me as much as the stacked snow during a blizzard; if summer be a shortness of breath, than winter is the gallows.

Summer is the green field where death is powerless, and nature wars to make us believe.

Believe what? That doesn't matter. As long as you believe.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I don't talk much about politics these days. I've had it out with every asshole in the world about politics, and I've basically given in to the fact that Americans are much dumber than I thought and the world is doomed to destroy itself in some orgasmic religion driven fury that I will have no part of. However, I will say a few things in the light of this coming election that has the Democrats wondering what soldier to send to war against the Republican political machine.

Yesterday I watched Barack Obama give a speech to a room full of black leaders and preachers on the anniversary of the Selma Riots, and it was then that I realized one thing: this man is the last great hope for our democracy.

He speaks with the eloquence of a Clinton mixed with the honesty of a Lincoln, and when he talks, men listen. The Democratic Party line is one that is among the most noble in the history of men- that no man should starve, and all should have a floor that no one can fall below. It is not a Communist line, as the Karl Rove's of the world would love you to believe; simply a humane one. When that is mixed with the message that every man can be whatever he wants, and can pull himself out of the gutter and climb to the peak, as Obama himself has done, it can be a beautiful thing. When combined further with the fury and passion of a man who can talk with the fire of a black Southern can be unbeatable.

And then what have we on the other side but the frothing cunt of a woman named Hillary Clinton, who, as an underhanded, lying, scheming politician, lies in the high grass like a snake, waiting for her chance. She bounds from up from Arkansas so she can pretend to be from New York to get elected, pulling bullshit lines from her carpetbag of tricks, about how "We the people of New York" blah blah blah. She represents the American monarchy, the ideal that one family can be in power for possibly 16 years, and that two families could be for 27. She is the politician who starts including God in her speaches after she realizes that America is still blinded by religion, who will con and connive her way into the Oval Office in whatever manner she can. I liked Bill Clinton, even though looking back, I would not trust him all that much. I still liked him, though, and that was his great power. A charming leader is a good thing, especially in politics. Everyone needs to remember that this cold hearted bitch is not him, and do not let her fool you into thinking she is.

If Obama gets the nod, I will support him as much as my measley abilities allow me. If Clinton gets it... then this year, I will vote Republican, and abandon the Democrats, possibly forever.

Why? Cause fuck them, and fuck her.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.