Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rock N Roll Jesus

If you haven't bought the latest Kid Rock album, then you are missing out on a piece of genuine American beauty. This motherfucker smokes. It is hard to get me to dance unless I've been drinking rum... but this CD had me rocking out all the way home from work, almost crashing at least twice.

That would have been hard to explain...

"So son, what were you doing when you rear ended that beamer?"

"Bein' a car dance mosh monster."


"Sorry dude, Kid Rock was on."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Am I crazy about it? No, not particularly. It is very commercial, and being as I'm never quite sure about my religious beliefs, and as I'm truly uncomfortable with the sitting, standing, kneeling, "worshipping", and donating that goes on at the Church, it can be an odd time for me. When I have a girlfriend, I dread the family garbage that comes with major holidays; when I don't, I kind of wish I did, just because the holidays can be tough. There are high expectations that are rarely realized, and things can sometimes just be overly fake.

What I can say is this, however: for all my bitching and moaning about everything, I am a fucking blessed man. I have a good family, and for all their issues and addictions and tramas, I love them, and appreciate them. I have a massive circle of friends who create an aura of invincibility, and indominableness of spirit that has picked me up and dusted me off many times, and perhaps never so many as in the past year. It is neither youth nor naivete that allows me to say that these guys, the older brothers I never had, will never leave me in the cold. They are the source of all my strength, and without them, I would not be around right now.

And perhaps most importantly, I know that I am held dearly in the hearts of some women. Some have come and gone but remember me, some keep me in their minds as you read this.

These are things that are important to me. No one has died this year. I laid some old ghosts to rest... and the Goju-ryu is now my salvation, the thing that gives me the peace of mind that the Church never could.

The presents mean nothing... what means everything is being with the family for a dinner that runs far longer than everyone wants it too, and then going and picking up two of your closest friends so you can go meet others at the bar and celebrate this holiday with shots of Jameson and genuine smiles. Sometimes life is just absolutely worth living.

Monday, December 24, 2007

As always....

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

The Grove

"Yea man, I'm partying down in the Grove."

"Haha. Alright, I'll be there soon."

Now see, if you're not from North Jersey, you're not going to know what the fuck I'm talking about when I say "The Grove". Well, picture the worst, most badass white trash motherfuckers you can think of, and then downgrade it a notch and think about what their house must look like.

The Grove is a floodzone built under a couple of railroad tresses that is supposed to be knocked down by the city a week and a half ago. They are shit houses, to say the least.

One of my boys is drinking down here, and I've come to see him. The house he's at has an above ground pool and what looks like a pool table covered in hay where his mother is growing garlic, evidently. These boys sling the white lady like she's going out of style, and smoke the green leaf every fucking second. The lad that owns the house is a good sort, very tall with about six teeth, but a good soul lies in him and you can tell as soon as he opens his mouth. He likes me even more when he figures out that we like the same music. That's the thing with the people down here, and it's probably why my buddy invited me to come down- he knows that I can deal with them. As we talk, it's clear that I know alot of the same people that these fuckers know.

Another kid is down there, a guinea who looks alot like Christopher from the Sopranos, aside from the wide eyed coked up gaze he casts on everything and everyone. One look at him makes me remember very quickly why snorting just ain't for me- this motherfucker is everything you don't want your kid to be. I'm careful with him, agreeing when I'm supposed to, because getting this fucking guy angry isn't worth it. I could hurt him by himself, but he is certainly the kind that would stab you if he got the chance, and wouldn't realize it until he's been locked up for three months.

We drink a bunch of beers, and the coke that they're supposed to get never comes through, and I am grateful (that shit is just bad news, and I'm not fond of being around it). There is probably some moral to this story that I'm missing, but it won't come through tonight. The fact is that I've got more people I know that would be willing to pull a gun on someone quicker than look at you, and I dig that. I've been invited back for a bonfire at some point, and I will probably end up there. It is funny, but some of those guys are the most loyal motherfuckers you will find, because they don't give two shits about how muc money you got, or what part of my town your from- if you're down, they'll lay down in traffic for you, and their's something to be said for that.

I'm too fuckin drunk to keep typoing, so if you're not down with this, then fuck off.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Every Girl Ever

Normally I don't post things that other people write because most people who aren't me suck. But this was just too fucking funny... and too fucking true.

It's me! Every girl ever.
Date: 2007-11-07, 10:38AM EST

Knock knock

Oh hi, how's it going? It's me! Every girl ever. I'm really looking forward to this date. I'm not nearly as attractive as you remember me being because when we met the bar was dark and you were drunk. Come on in.

Let's start off with the unavoidable tour of my incredibly typical post-college-girl apartment.

You'll notice that I went ahead and purchased everything that Ikea and Pier 1 have ever produced. There's my decorative birdcage over there even though I don't have a bird, and there's my gay wicker basket with bamboo poles in it. I don't know what the hell that's thing's all about, but I bought it.

Hey check it out, I have more candles in here than a Roman Catholic Church. Doesn't it smell like Hazelnut!? If I were to light all of my candles at once you could see my apartment from space! I fucking love candles!

Come on into the living room.

Oh, I see you met my cat there. That's "Freddy Paws Jr." Why don't you pet him and act like you like cats even though you hate cats? There you go. Oh, he took a little swing at your eye there huh? Yeah, he'll do that. Hey, let's check out the kitchen.

Hey look at my refrigerator. There are pictures all over it! Look at all these pictures of me and my equally vacuous friends from college! We were so crazy! You can tell we're really good friends because our faces are all pressed up against each other like that.

And check it out, we're holding up alcoholic beverages to the camera in every single picture. That's to prove that we were partying. College was so fun! But of course I don't talk to any of these girls anymore because now they're all bitches.

Let's go back into the hallway!

Hey, before we leave I'm going to go in the bathroom for ten minutes for some mysterious reason. Why don't you sit awkwardly in my big, stupid, round papizan chair over there while you wait for me. It's like you're sitting in a hug! Be right back...

Sorry that took a half an hour, I don't know what the hell I was doing in there. Let's go!

Wow! Thanks for opening my car door for me! I'm totally going to blow that meaningless gesture out of proportion and delude myself into thinking that you're a really good guy because that's what I want to believe.

Well, here we are at the restaurant. No thanks waiter, I don't need to see a menu, just bring me some expensive things. Hey I know, while we wait, I'll tell you all about my unspeakably boring job. I hate my boss. He's a jerk! I might get another job. Maybe something in pharmaceutical sales.

Now let's talk about my family. I love my family. I want you to love my family. I want my family to love you. I want you to make love to my family! I want you to go golfing with my semi-retarded brother Travis. That would be so God damned cute!

Wow! I can't believe I ordered all this food! I have no intention of eating any of it. No thanks waiter, we don't need a box. Just throw it out.

Hey, I've got an idea, let's go to a bar and have an after dinner drink! It'll be great, it will be just like how we're drinking here, only it will be louder and we'll have to stand up. Come on!

See, isn't this better? Oh hey, what a coincidence. Look over there! It's a group of my friends that I knew was going to be here. Let's go over there so that they can judge you!

Hey, I have to go to the bathroom for a half an hour again for some reason. You can stay here and talk to my unbelievably hideous friend Christine! Christine's so ugly she scares kids! Talk to her! She has a job and a family that she wants to talk to you about too. Be right back.

I'm back! Sorry I was gone for three hours, there was a line. I want to go home now.

Well here we are at my door again. This was really fun for me and not you. You should pretend like we're going to do it again sometime! Maybe I'll see you at Target a few months from now and we can avoid eye contact because you never called me. Here, have this awkward goodnight kiss that's as empty as my soul. Good night!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I sit at a bar, my bar, the rundown shithole of a building that I always end up at no matter how much I try to excape it. Even though the old girl's gone severely downhill in the past couple years, I still don't mind it... the worse it gets, the fewer people that go in there, the more it feels like the old Irish pub that it always claimed itself to be. A dark wooden bar with far too much lacquer on it, lights that are never quite bright enough, and a crowd that always seems depressed. There is a boxed-out corner with a couple of pinball games and that old basketball game where you shoot hoops to beat the clock. It gives the place the atmosphere that the boardwalk in Atlantic City has when you get too far from the casinos... attractions, multicolored blinking lights, a magnificient atmosphere... but a massive sense of sadness that lays in the air like a woolen blanket, as if all the brown buildings are telling us, I've had better days than this. Where have they gone?

I am talking with my longtime compatriot about our dead friend. We go through our stories, the ones we have told each other a million times but never tire of hearing.

"One month dude. One month from tomorrow..." he says.

"And then it's been three years," I say.


"It seems like it was twenty years ago that he was alive, like it never fuckin happened... but at the same time it seems like yesterday I was at his funeral.. Jenn didn't know what the fuck to do with me... It all seems like it never happened, like it was a distant dream that fades into myth as I get older.. we will tell stories of him one day, and he will be no more real to them than Julius Ceaser..."

An olive skinned girl walks by me, dressed to the nines in a black jacket, tight jeans, and high boots. Her yuppie compatriots trail behind her, clad in their sport jacket blazer looking things (or whatever the fuck you call them). The smell of Prada overwhelms me instantly, sits next to me at the bar. My heart palpitates. So familiar... Ignore it, boyo.

My buddy is quiet for a moment, a break in the conversation, and I catch the song that is playing on the jukebox. It is, of course, the one fucking song that I have never heard in a bar because it is so very sad...

I'm sorry I'm bad, I'm sorry I'm blue,
I'm sorry bout all the things I said to you,
And I know, that I can't take it back...

My friend begins talking again, but I am ignoring him for a moment, catching this moment where the senses are being hit so deftly, and this song means so much. And... then my phone vibrates.

I know you worry when I fly. Letting you know my plane didn't crash and I'm checked into my hotel. Be good you jerkface. Goodnight.

My heart screams and tears and claws at my chest, and I realize that what I said to my buddy about fifteen minutes ago is deadly true, a promise that I made to myself long ago to not let this fucking girl slip through my fingers as so many others have.

"I'm going to marry this fucking girl. She is fucking it. I don't give two shits what anyone else thinks, but after this one, I am done. Never surrender.."

Later on, I drunkenly tread across the ice to get in my truck, slowly pulling out of the icy lot, and Flogging Molly comes on the CD player. This is the CD I had on when we made out last December in a parking lot outside a Dunkin Donuts, and I remember how badly Track 5 ruins the mood, as the accordian in the intro completely fucks up the Irish aura.

On the way home, I begin to wonder if my life is ever going to be more than just missing people. It has been a long time since I was content with anything, especially myself. There has been an overwhelming emptiness in me for the past month, something that I cannot understand and have not had before. It is not a depression, or an anger... those things have long since flown from me. It is just emptiness... like when Hunter S. Thompson talked about Phoenix.

"It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix — a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing... And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get..."

Learning to not live in the past is the toughest thing for a smart man to do. Learning to regret nothing is even tougher. When I die, my heaven will be sitting in a dim but peopled Irish pub with a thatched roof where the Pogues and the Dubliners play together in the corner singing songs like, "The Irish Rover" and "If I Should Fall from Grace With God" and Alex is next to me and Ryer is on the next stool and a pint of Guiness is in front of me and I never have to cash out... just sit and listen to those old songs, and want for nothing, and miss no one. Then there will be no more emptiness... only happiness, the indelible happiness that comes with good friends, good drink, and true love.

The song that made me realize that we're really only here once.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some people think that the Lord of the Rings is gay. They'll look at it in the same way that I look at the people who play Warcraft for thirty hour stints- a hint of disdain thrown in with a shot of pity, mixed and served ice fucking cold.

And that's fine. But I, for one, enjoyed it. I read the book long ago, before there was a katrillion dollar movie made with flashy scenes and big name actors. I sat up one summer and read all thousand pages of it, coming home all drunk from cheap vodka, reading as long as my heavy eyes would allow me. The battle scenes enthralled me, and Tolkien, who is perhaps the most underrated writer of all time, described them with amazing clarity. You could see the gleaming walls of Minias Tirith, the old wooden floors in Rohan, the Vatican-esque calm that Rivendell inspired. It all came through those pages, danced and roared like a fire in its death throes. He invented his own world with it's own languages, its own history, its old vendettas and petty differences. He created human nature and dumped it all in, with all the fury of the World War I battles he had witnessed, all of the destruction and creation and beauty and horror.

What he also created was a perfect world... a world that we, as Americans, can no longer identify with. These are dark days in America now. We have gone from being the country that always rooted for the underdog, always helped its friends, always was looked at as the shining city on the hill... and we have destroyed it. What we have become is a nation that uses brute force to subjugate those who disagree with us. We are the nation that flounders in foreign wars like a two legged dog trying to swim, our men bogged down in deep desert dunes that despise us, wish us dead, gone. We are warlike, angry, fat, miserable people whom capitalism has left without a soul, everyone constantly in search for the bottom line, the money, the commission, the paycheck. We have forgotten our hearts in these days, the hearts that flailed and fought in the '60s, only to be crushed by the violent grip of reality. It seems now that there is no room for the caring, the innocent, the decent. Helping your fellow man is seen as "pussy", and the only attitude that prevails is the rough hewn "every man for himself".

People see this. We may live in our boxes, our little cubicles, where we think that America will always crush its enemies, that the Irans of the world will crumble and cower before our might, and the Iraqs will stablize themselves because, hey, we only came here to "free" you. We might have that attitude of, "Fuck the world, we'll do it ourselves". But the sad truth is... what exactly are we doing? When did we become this meglomaniacal demon country intent on fighting the world? What was once a bastion of freedom, a bastion of pure ideals from the Enlightenment, is devolving into posessing an increasingly racist, ultra-religious, thug mentality. We, my dear friends, are not so much the good guys anymore.

I know the excuses. The same old rhetoric from the same old people, "God freedom blah blah blah We're right we're always right cuz we're America". Well... that is a dangerous thing. If everyone in the world hates us, it's not because they are four and a half billion retards. It's because instead of stepping on toes, we have punched them in the throat consistently and hard. You may think that this is the same old liberal whinings from an East Coast limo elite, or whatever the fuck they're calling educated people who live in the cold these days. What it is is a regular, working guy's plea that we save this world, so one day my kids can grow up on a planet where you don't have to wear a Canadian flag on your backpack when in Europe for fear of reprisals because of your "President". It is a plea to return America to how it used to be, the thriving, heaving country where industry was second to integrity. Make America once again the country that does not start wars, but finishes them; the country that saved freedom for the world, not once, but twice, against incredible odds and brutal opponents. Give me back my country, my flag, and give me the freedom to burn the motherfucker if I want. Give me my bastion of idealism, of hope.

What the Lord of the Rings gives us now is the same thing that World War II gave America: a clear enemy. There was no question in the LOTR who was the evil ones- it was orcs, the goblins, the men who were intent on destruction, on ruling the world with a heavy iron fist. There was no question in WWII who was evil- the Nazis, the horrendous oppressors who showed nothing but absolute disdain for human life, for the beauty of the world. It was the American working men, streaming from the factories and onto the battlefields, the tough men with thick forearms who moved I-Beams all day at the top of skyscrapers, that ended that. It was pure America. Now, of course, it is far more unclear exactly who the good side is, who are the ones who appreciate human life, and who are the ones who wish only to end it, all by saying, "Fuck those ragheads, they're not like us".

My friends, we are all people. Those who have never laid at the end of the spear are always the first ones clamoring to use it, and our boys in the White House are no different. I don't know who can fix this fine mess, but when they do, it must be done with gentle firmness and genuine goodwill. Take that away for the Christmas season- live the color of our creeds! Be good men, and make our leaders be good men. Let them serve us, and make us the wonderful land that we once were. Choose to return us all to being good, honorable, honest men, who lead the fulfilling lives that we are so close to.

And for God's sake, vote for Barack Obama when he gets the nod. He is the last, great hope... or this darkness will continue enveloping us, and our country will end in burning tinders, in one way or another... a shadow of greatness covered in ash...

Am I seein' what I'm seein?

One day, I will be able to watch the end of Cinderella Man and my eyes won't tear up. But that day is not today.

There is something about all the guys jumping out of their seats and rushing the ring, the people in the Church rejoicing, the bartender handing out the beers to a crowd four deep, the celebration in the streets, the announcer reading, "The NEW heavyweight champion of the world"... it is just gorgeous.

The REAL last rounds of Braddock's fight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Horror, the horror

The movie Blood Diamond has disturbed me greatly. I wonder if women knew how many gallons of blood were traded for the shining medallions on their chests, or the litter flickers of light radiating from their fragile fingers...

What a beautiful movie... another one that gives hope to us bad fellas... that maybe we will have some redeeming moments in our lives.. where we can die happy men.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm feeling old lately. My left shoulder is continually deteriorating from an old football injury, my right elbow is still torn up from that strip club incident in Newark, I have a strained left tricep that refuses to bow out, my perenially broken right hand is fucked up yet again from boxing, and my hands are so dried and cracked from working in the cold that I've actually turned completely homosexual and started using hand lotion.

Things aren't looking up for me.

Or maybe you can tell I'm feeling old because I'm getting crochety and bitching about everything. Oh where's my fucking AARP card....

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Upset isn't the word... but as I have said on here many times, life isn't like the movies.

Ricky, we love you anyway. Every champion loses once in a while... and we'll be ready when you fight again. Slainte.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Weigh In

There are tears in my eyes as I watch the end of the weigh in.

Hatton grabs the mic, and he is fired up, and his timing is perfect. "Who you come to see?"

"YOU!" the crowd roars.





"Who's takin the belts?"


"Then let's fuckin 'ave'em."

Make us believe Ricky. May the angels fly with you tonight.

Friday, December 07, 2007

There's Only One Ricky Hatton

I have been waiting for tomorrow for over a year. I waited and hoped and prayed that it would come, and tomorrow it's finally fucking here.

Tomorrow night, we shall be privy to watching a pugilistic duel that will be one for the ages... and hopefully Ricky fucking Hatton will leave Floyd Mayweather's black ass in a bloody mess on the canvas.

It is a fight that is very nearly out of the movies. We have Floyd Mayweather, the loud, pompous fighter who pops off at every oppurtunity, telling the world how wonderful Floyd Mayweather is and how he is annihilates all challengers. Consistently bejewled with endless bling and trailed by a posse of hanger ons, the man is the absolute epitome of the joke that boxing has become. The issues with his ex-boxer father, the senior Floyd Mayweather, and his trainer and Uncle Roger Mayweather, are a well documented triangle of anger and hate that makes him even more ridiculous and petty.

Normally prima donnas like him don't last long in any sport- they cause too many problems and end up out in the streets. What saves Mayweather from this fate is that he may unfortunately be one of the best fighters that has ever lived. He is the finest counter-puncher in boxing, perhaps in boxing history, and his hand speed and reflexes are simply amazing. The man was born to fight, and his split second reactions to everything flying at him are proof that being in the ring was simply in his genes.

As impressed as I am by him, as a fan of boxing, I must be honest and say that I'm tired of him. I'm tired of the boisterous bullshit, the never ending shit talking, the family drama.

My message for the Pretty Boy: No one gives two shits that your father and your Uncle don't get along, Floyd. The world of us regular working folks are rife with family discord, and we don't even have your money to comfort us. We know you're fucked up- you're a fighter. That's not a career normal people choose. So please, for once Pretty Boy, spare us the crap. Shut up and fight. And please, lose.

And then, there is our boy Ricky Hatton. He trains in an old red brick steel mill in Manchester that's been converted to a boxing gym; his trainer is tattooed and toughened up by a hard life in England's ghettos (which are far, far, far tougher than you think they are). He howls every time he slugs the heavy bag, moving and swarming around the rocking black cylinder like a wolverine fighting a bear. He is the man, our working class hero that everyone expects to lose. He is Rocky, Micky Ward, and the '68 Jets all rolled into one, our body punching hero with the heart of a lion. Though he's a massive underdog, there are those of us that have faith in our boy, the Hitman from Manchester.

Ricky grew up in a family owned pub, and his garrulous nature stems directly from the old wooden barstools he learned life on. Anyone can watch him train, for the gym isn't his- it's the same old gym he's always trained in, and he is the local hero that the children come to watch, that the old women bake treats for and bring to the gym. He accepts them all with dignity, holding out some baked thing to the camera and saying, "This is how you know you've fucking made it."

He swears constantly, and they have to drag him out of the bar to get him to train. He is the man who is more comfortable on the local dive's barstool than in the Las Vegas lounge. While Mayweather wears fancy 3 piece suits and mountains of gold, Ricky wears a t-shirt and smile. He, my friends, is just like us.

Now, my message for Ricky: Go out there and do it. Do it for us. Do it for the regular working guys who punch in and out every day, whose eyes close prematurely in the night because of ten hour days in the cold. Do it because there are those of us in America who haven't given up rooting for the underdog, and haven't given up thinking that the impossible can, in fact, be achieved. For tomorrow, Ricky, you are Jim Braddock. You are the garrulous lad from the pub, the young tough who needs to prove to us, to make us believe again that we should never surrender, no matter if the odds are against us and all the bets are in. We will be praying for you, Ricky. FUCKING DO IT.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Can't You Hear Me Knockin Part IV

Read the first ones before you read this. The link is on the sidebar. Or not, of course... I could give two shits.

I get directions to the bar, then return to the hotel to shower and shave, trying to look somewhere near human. I wipe my face off in the bathroom with a towel as my smoke curls up from my fingertips. The tiles are breaking on the floor, and the walls that were once white are now colored a grimy tan. I close my eyes for a minute, lay back on the bed and stare at the ceiling that looks like the top of a lemon meringue pie. When I'm in places like this, I imagine what has happened here before, what terrible things went on in the last thirty years in this very room that I'll never know about. My imagination wanders, and scenes run through my head like a movie... a man with a stripper, doing lines of yak off of the table until they're both so fucked up that he thinks it's a good idea to beat her ass instead of paying her, and she's lying a bloody mess on the floor between the two beds... a panicked man with a blonde beard wearing a red flannel trying to hide a gun in the drawer of the night table, next to the King James Bible...smoking cigarette after cigarette and shaking nervously.... a formally beautiful woman with stringy hair tying a ripped piece of a shirt around her arm, furiously working to get that needle in the arm to make the ripping feeling in her stomach go away....

This happens to me all the time. I see ghosts, memories, things that may or may not have happened, things that I know occurred things, things that I wish occurred. It used to happen in my living room; nights when I would watch my ex-girlfriend walk out the door for the last time as I slept soundly, ignoring, as I always do, everyone else's trials and tribulations in favor of taking care of myself. I would see dead friends standing next to me when I would have lonely cigarettes outside parties, and they would be leaning on railings, grinning, looking out into the woods. Sometimes I see happy things, good memories where my grandfather and I would sit out on the deck of his massive house and watch the bats fly over at dusk searching for food. I would worry that they were going to attack me, like they do in the movies, and he would laugh at my goofy fears, signs of a dumb kid who had a lot to learn.

Other times, I see the black truck flipped over, blood all over, the piece of glass lodged in my cheek, my eyes rolling around. I didn't know what to do when I came to, so I lit a cigarette, sitting there upside down in the crushed cab of the pickup.

It always ends the same way, with caskets going into the ground, and roses on the lid as I kiss my hand and lay it on the gray metal, again, and wonder when He's coming to collect from me. That is normally the end of my wanting to remember anything, and the ghosts fade out.

I look at myself in the mirror, and even though I look better than I did ten minutes ago I still look like hell. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m sick. I think about doing some pushups to get my blood flowing, but I’m too damn tired. I need a beer.

I don’t want to attract attention to myself, and so I don’t put any gel in my hair, sticking with an old Red Sox hat with a broken brim that I’ve had for about ten years. As I’m walking out of the lobby, I ask the broad at the counter where the nearest bar is.

“Four miles west.”

West again. Of course. “OK. Is it a shithole?”

She says nothing, just gives me a dirty look. My Jersey accent is coming through, and the farther in I get, the less everyone seems to like it.

I head down some road that winds through the hills and climbs up for miles only to drop and wind again. I keep thinking I passed the fucking place, until I happen upon a house in the middle of the woods that has a big porch and a huge gravel parking lot off to the side, and the only thing that tips it off to me that it’s a bar is a neon "Budweiser" sign in the window. I pull in, get out of the car, and I hear loud blugrass rolling out. It slowly winds down, and again the lot is silent except for a howling in the distance that sounds like babies crying.

The porch creaks under my boots, and I open the screen door and then the heavy wooden door, and I’m seriously hoping that this is a bar and not some rednecks’ house that I’m walking into. My fears are allayed when I see a gray haired, ponytailed guy asking me for five dollars.

I pay him, then keep my head low as I walk to the far end and sit in the corner. The haggard bartender comes over, and I order three shots of whiskey and a beer.

“That’s five dollars,” she says with a toothy grin. Another ugly one. At least the beer is cheap though.

“Here," I say, handing her a ten. "The extra is for you.” She smiles at me and I cringe on the inside.

The stage is at the far end of the room running from wall the wall. There are tables set up in front of it, and we at the bar remain in the back. There’s a couple young guys who have ragged beards and sound like rednecks sitting next to me, and I can barely understand what the fuck they’re saying between the noise and their accents. It’s a constant reminder that I’m nearing Appalachia with every mile southwest I go, that accent. That, and the Denny’s that New Jersey got rid of a long fucking time ago.

The band is good, led by a tall man in a tan cowboy hat with a brown goatee. He is smoking through some Stevie Ray Vaughn song, and he plays it as well as the dead guitarist ever could. I am amazed. Some broad is dancing and screaming to the song, and she’s the only one on her feet in the place. I can’t tell if she’s black or white, and even whether it’s a “she” or not is up for grabs.

This is an old time bar, and this broad is definitely out of place. There are a lot of old hillbillies here, and it’s certainly not the kind of place I want to start a fight at. There’s a couple of guys with wearing blue flannels at the end of the bar, and they’re giving me looks that make it seem like they don’t like that I’m here. There are a lot of older people here, friends of the band or of the bar, and I am not safe here.

"You all got that same damn look, you know that? Them bewildered eyes... you’re all the same." The voice came from behind me.

“What?” I turn around.

There's a woman standing there who I didn't notice when I walked in. She seems like she might have once been beautiful, but that has long since left her.

“You heard me. All you boys from the East thinking that running out of your homes is gonna help something."

“The fuck do you know about me? Christ, you hillbillies are crazy.”

“Crazy? Maybe. But we know about people. We seen men like you. You’ll never be here again, but you’ve been here before ten, twenty times. It’s been a couple years since I’ve seen you. Once you’re gone, another one will come with another story. You can’t hide out here forever."

"Really? Thanks for the advice." I turn away, getting more pissed.

"Ghosts don’t get lost on these highways or in these hills. Sometimes, there just ain’t anywhere you can go. Sometimes they stalk you, and flood you. Other times they’ll just knock on the window of your hotel room and make you think that it’s a tree branch. They’re patient, you know? They got all the time in the world."

This broad is creeping me out, and as I walk away the hairs on my neck raise again. This whole fucking state is creeping me out. I knew that when I started driving out here, I should’ve listened to myself. I buy three more shots, and get lost in my head again as the music blares.

You should know that since I was little, I’ve hated the country. I know I said that before, but the reasons have changed as I got older. Now, I think that it’s too open, there’s too much space, too much room to get lost. Men can disappear out here, and that woman said something that I’d thought forever- the ghosts here don’t forget. There isn’t progress out here, there isn’t civilization, there aren’t bulldozers and buildings and things collapsing and being rebuilt and changing. There’s just woods; the same woods that were here, that have been here, the same woods that will always be here. They can talk to each other, they can tell the stories that we have forgotten. The ghosts wander aimlessly here.

The houses have seen the Civil War, some have seen the Revolution, some were hospitals for both. There have been ten or fifteen generations of men that have never left the same ten square miles, and there is a mysticism down here that we don't have back in New Jersey. These folks take their lore seriously, so seriously that sometimes it makes me wonder if the things are true.

I want to leave, but I’m less comfortable out there then I am in here. The band has filed offstage, and only the guy with the tan cowboy hat is left. He plays the guitar like it’s no one’s business, and right now all he has is an acoustic with him, and he’s sitting on a stool. His eyes are closed, and his goatee covers his mouth as he looks at the ceiling. Suddenly his head is back towards the ground, and he begins stomping his foot. The bar is still. He’s going into his own version of Johnny Cash’s “God is Gonna Cut you Down.” The black broad is still shaking her hips in accordance with the music, and is slowly backing over by me. She’s getting a little too close, and I stand up off my barstool. She’s singing.

She turns around towards the bar, grabs someone’s beer, and drinks whatever is left. When she puts it down I see there’s a cigarette in the bottom of the bottle.

She looks up and is mumbling, then looks straight into my eyes, her wild short afro soaked with sweat, singing, and it seems for a second that the whole bar is stomping along with the beat that the guitarist.

“As sure as God made black and white, what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”

The hairs on my spine rise again, and I start backing away from this thing. She’s seething and staring, my head begins to hurt, and room begins to spin. All I can hear is the chorus, over and over, “You can run on for a long time…sooner or later God is gonna cut you down.” Everyone in the bar is staring at me and the bartender leans over, her ugly grin right next to my ear, and I hear he utter in a low whisper… “Guilty.”

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why I'll Never Make it in the White Collar World

The Appolonians are making their last stand. Glaucus stalks back and forth, sword in hand.

"Soldiers of Troy! You men are warriors! To lead you has been my honor!" He pounds his chest as he says this, and they scream their doomed reply.

Paris enters the torchlit chamber, and he and Glaucous exchange stares and handshakes.

"My prince!" He turns to the remaining men, who stand shirtless and furious.

"The boatman waits for us! I say, we make him wait a little longer!"

He pounds his sword to his shield as his men scream again, and the Greeks break into the room, and Glaucous gets a sword between his shoulder blades courtesy of Odysseus. They fight until none remain alive.

Where, oh where, have men gone? Where are the men who would pound their hardened spears to their shields and welcome honorable death at the point of a sword? Where are the men who would stand firm as the shadows of darkness drew near, fighting without hope because that is what they were meant to do? We are gone, gone in the dim light cast by the headlights of BMW's and the fancy comfortable houses born too large. We have forgotten hardship, sacrifice... we have forgotten what being men actually means.

When the deep snows drift and you huddle around a crackling fire for warmth, looking at your cracked knuckles and your aged face... maybe we think that not all is lost, that the office buildings and pussified yuppies will always, always take second place to those of us who they know could beat their asses into a bloody mashed pulp.

Tell me nothing of where the power lies. It lies not with money or prestige or the illusions of grandeur that so many of my generation share. It lies not with their apartments overlooking the City, nor with their jobs paying 100k right out of college. It lies on no stockholders' floor, on no computer screen. It lies in the scarred hands of us, for they all fail to realize the simple truth that those of us on the underside have long known: The power lies, and will always lay, in the hands of those of us that are physically stronger. It lies in our hearts and our muscles, the ones who know, even though you may drive a motherfucking Land Rover and have some fucking spoiled cunt wife who doesn't tip.... you know that if it was me and you in an alley way, and only one of us would walk out alive.... it wouldn't be you.

There is no man that shouldn't be put in this position at least once in his life. I have put my fist in someone's jaw; I've put my knee into their eye sockets and watched them fall limp backwards. I've beaten guys till they couldn't fucking move, and I've choked them until they puked on hardwood decks. I know I won't win every time.... but at least I know what I'm made of, what I'm capable of if put into that situation. Sadly, that seems a rarity in today's American world.

Some say there's too much violence on TV; I say that there isn't enough in real life. This world is a terrible, dangerous place. No amount of preparation is too much...