Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tuesday 24 March 1998 — The Lobster Bible

(Note: The Lobster Bible is a part of this journal that is partly fictionalizing my location, pretending to be in Portland, Maine—but otherwise, everything else is pretty much the same.)

I just picked up my coffee mug—I'm at work—on which is printed "Tony" and then "Luck of the Irish" and a bunch of green shamrocks or four leaf clovers or what have you. I'm not Tony—I'm at work and I got the mug out of the cupboard where it sat with hundreds of discarded coffee mugs from past employees. Every time one of them gets fired they leave their personalized coffee mug. So the coffee mug cupboard is like a cemetery of labor—little commemorative monuments to past lives wasted at this hellhole. But to get to the point, I thought my mug was empty and it was not, and coffee flew all over the front of my white shirt. This, I think, proves to myself, and the world, that I'm mentally—what?—disturbed, disabled, nonexistent?—what I'm trying to say isn't that I profess to be hindered by some clinically recognized mental disorder. I mean, maybe I am, but who am I to say? What I'm saying is that I'm completely incapacitated in the mental department—I mean, why didn't I know there was coffee in that cup, or at least assume there might be? You don't see normal people walking around with big coffee stains on their shirts. Why me, and what happened? I figure this is what this journal is all about—I'm going to write down every last thing I think and then submit it to some experts somewhere—hopefully to a research hospital so I won't have to pay anything—and then I'm hoping they can put all this data in the big computer, and maybe DR. FREUD can take a look at the readouts—if he's not too busy being dead—HA! And maybe they can give me a clue as to what's wrong with me—maybe prescribe some sedative or drug or Prozac or rat poison, whatever. Then I can get on with the everyday tasks like boot licking and shit—okay, I'll tell you what I do.

So I'm not Tony, like I said, but I'm not going to tell you my real name because anonymity is important to this project—I have to feel comfortable not holding anything back—no information that might be crucial—no feelings that might be otherwise too excruciating to admit. So let's see—I'll call myself... Norman, you know, after Norman Bates. No, that's too goofy—okay, how about Travis, after one of my all-time heroes, Travis Bickle. Okay, me, Travis, I work at this downtown architectural firm called "The Sky's No Limit." Actually, that's a joke—but it should be the name of this place, because they specialize not only in big (towering, skyline ruining) skyscrapers, but also in big everything—big hair, tall food, and microbrews with the big head. Oh, and that band, Big Head Stud. Entertainment, restaurants, fashion—they have their greedy fingers in everything (and I won't even get into politics right now). But no—these kinds of respectable firms are always named after the owners or partners or whatever they call themselves—skylords—how's that? Like, I read in the Wall Street Journal about this successful company that picks up dog shit for a fee—called "Shit to Gold." Excellent handle. So I call my employer "The Sky's No Limit" when in actuality it's officially: "Leigh Marvin Albert Speer and Simpson, Architects." The "architects" is necessary so you don't think it's a damn law firm or something, or a goddamned talent agency for Christ God's sake. Just the thought of that riles me up because I worked in a talent agency—started in the mailroom, and I was going to work my way up like those guys like David Geffen and then be the most powerful man in Hollywood, etc., and someday have my own personal guru. Well, my plan didn't work out—I was working beside all these other guys who were trying to do exactly the same thing—and they were getting old there fast. Those kind of "work my way up from the mailroom" bullshit stories aren't really that useful to the world at large—and may actually be destructive if you ask me. Those powerful guys were all born into royalty, and those cute little myths are just fabricated to keep the slaves happy.

Everything gets on my nerves some days like today which is one of them. The guy in front of me at lunch with a shirt that says: "Grateful Deaf Homebrew Society." Am I supposed to decipher that? Anyway, what really gets on my nerves is the thought of homebrew societies and microbrew clubs, etc.—and this really brings me full circle in life, since at one time, if I had a religion, that religion was beer. Now it's my worst enemy. I can't eat (or drink) wheat anymore, and that includes barley, oats, and probably goddamned alfalfa. More on that later, along with alcoholism, etc.—right now I'm trying to enjoy my lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant. (I can only eat Thai food anymore—rice noodles, fish sauce, no soy sauce [which is made of wheat, believe it or else]—but that's okay—it's my favorite!) And my favorite Thai restaurant for lunch is a little place called Thai and Randy (it had once been called Thai a Yellow Ribbon 'round the Old Oak Tree, but business really picked up after the name was changed to honor Randy Russell, the place's best customer before he succumbed to a tragic identity crisis).

Just finished my delicious lunch, followed by a Thai iced coffee which I don't really need, and now for my fortune cookie (which I can't eat, but I observe the fortunes religiously). Oh, that's interesting—here's the fortune: "A liar is not believed even though he tell the truth."

Damn! Does that apply to the subject at hand or what? I think it's prophetic—the mystical fortune—on this day, day one of my new journal, and this new life—it's kind of about, you know, changing the truth to fiction—or telling the truth even with the particulars changed. It's kind of the nature of fiction, and gossip, etc.—I decided that gossip is what is the greatest literature—you know, like The Bible—all gossip. Hey, the newspaper headline this afternoon—something about the "Court"—whatever court that happens to be—decided that it was okay for the Boy Scouts to keep out gays and atheists. As if there's some common thread between gays and atheists. The average guy might not get too up in arms about this because who needs the Boy Scouts anyway—but I guess it is an issue, or precedent, or whatever. What I want to know is what is a gay and what is an atheist? If I am only involved in a sexual relationship with myself, and the past and future aren't taken into account, which they never should be when you're dealing with ideology (i.e. "someday he might become a Nazi!"—not exactly an indictment)—does that make me gay, since I am a man? (Me, myself, and I are all men, all in love with each other—is that some kind of a three-way? Sorry, I know I'm taking this a little far.) On a lighter note, if I believe in God, but I also believe that I am God, does that make me an atheist or not?

Back at work, and I feel better now. Full, and also, I saw a fat man in small shorts on the street, and that always cheers me up (it did at the time, but now it hardly seems worth mentioning, but I made a mental note that I would.)

I'm at home, finally—it was a long day. (Home being a rather complex subject, which I'll touch on later.) I'm watching the Academy Awards, which were on last night—I videotaped it so I can prolong this nausea inducing guilty pleasure, but also to protect myself from the depression danger immediacy of the live broadcast, and also to be able to replay any worthwhile real moments, which they've done their best to iron out over the years, but you never know. Well, it starts right out with jokes about how the Titanic is going to win everything—cynical, but we aren't supposed to care. Why are we not supposed to care? Smarmy host Billy Crystal enters on a set designed to look like the sinking ship. I mean, can it be any more blatant?

I really would like to be watching this with Woody Allen, who cast Billy Crystal in his last movie as Satan—I think W.A. might be nominated as screenwriter. He's not there—it might be fun to be at his house watching it—if he is. It's an interesting idea—you imagine he might make it bearable... Well, anyway—I guess everyone just decided the Titanic will win everything, like I care—but you know—I used to believe someone voted on this stuff. Oh my, this show is just... Why am I watching it? I used to have a designated Masochist Night, about once a week, back in my youth. Why?—just to be silly, I guess—but now—it's like a bad joke gone wrong—it's not even funny anymore—it's any time you turn on the TV, or go to a movie, pick up a newspaper—walk down the street... Well, this just goes to show that Hollywood is just... Hollywood—to clarify things, is what I refer to the popular American motion picture industry as. It is also the name of the suburb where I live—hope this doesn't get confusing—this just goes to show you—Oh, it's sick! James Cameron's acceptance speech for best director—he says: "I'm king of the world!" (It must be a line from the movie, since everyone laughed instead of being horrified.) So much for... whatever...

But I still love movies. All you need to do is think about Robert Mitchum for a second and it brings you right back to why you cared at all in the first place.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tuesday 24 March 1998

And I'm at Dr. Simon's office... once again in Hollywood. For my thyroid blood test. No what? at the H-wood B. Bar? The interesting girl who works there, who is my favorite reason for going there, isn't there on weekdays. I like them all—and the place—but... I'd rather go there on Saturday when she's there. Where should I go for breakfast, after my doctor office visit?

Now I'm at the Beaterville Cafe—a place I'm at for the first time. It is a place that's been around awhile—and I think they might have moved recently, but I'm not sure. Anyway, it's very bright and clean, almost too nice, except the prices seem good. I guess we're in an area of intense gentrification here—N. Killingsworth. The coffee is good—did I say that already? Good coffee is an excellent place to start. Good potatoes, too—the eggs are eggs, but those are the best homefried potatoes I've had in awhile—very tasty, they taste like they're roasted. I sat at the end of the counter and can see into the kitchen to the boxy, stainless steel dish machine. Part of me is disgusted by caring about his—like why don't I just go get a goddamned dishwasher job? Well, I probably couldn't, for one thing. For another, now that I have health insurance, the thought of whimsically dumping it seems crazy. Especially after I just went to the doctor to get a blood test for my thyroid replacement this AM. I don't think that's exactly a shallow desire, to be actually able to go to the goddamned doctor. There's a swell restroom here, big and clean. It looks like a place where you could actually take a shit. Someone's talking about buying their house near here. The buying house obsession in Portland gets on my nerves more and more. Aaron Elliott was right about Portland—about people disappearing into their domestic home-owner life. (Not his words, but I think his sentiment?) There's a bumpersticker on the wall: “I Closed Quality Pie September 12, 1992.” I think that was a good diner in NW—now gone (since before we moved here, quite)—I've heard about it (from Aaron, for one). Probably the last good diner in NW, too—sad (except that Joe's Cellar is really OK).

Thursday 19 March 1998

I'm at the Hollywood Burger Bar for breakfast—it's just so nice out, I had to get out somewhere. Unfortunately there's no—no—I don't know what, because it's now, today...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wednesday 18 March 1998

(National Pseudo-Irish Hangover Day)

What a load of shit, everything. I'm depressed now, so whatever sorry bullshit I've written prior to this is, it doesn't count. I'm at the Sandwich Experience, a place that is frequented by cops. They have breakfast—so I thought I'd drop in. The coffee is self-serve, and you can see your car in the parking lot from where you sit and smoke—this explains its appeal to cops. There's a complete disregard for any decent aesthetic quality, anything diner-like, etc.—but I guess it's a certain type of establishment that is unique in everything that it isn't. It's cafeteria-style—no counters or booths, just tables, and really pathetic attempts at prettification. The cancer ward is sitting near me, four women sucking down cigarettes like it's the last day it's allowed—the oldest of them with an old man's smoker's voice. They're all overweight, don't smile, and are talking about sick and dying people. Probably nurses. Probably work together at a nursing home or hospital, night shift, and are all having breakfast together after work, discussing their depressing job.

The most disturbing thing about Portland is that there never seems to be any crossover between the different cultures—the yuppies all go to the yuppie places, and the rednecks go to the redneck places, and the “alternative” people go to the alternative places—each place is totally predictable, and there aren't any places where everyone goes—that I've found, anyway. There probably is somewhere. But generally, in Portland, there is the lack of subtlety, sophistication, and complexity that there is to a great degree in somewhere like Ohio—and certainly New York City. But maybe it's not Portland—maybe it's the times. After all, I came here from Iowa City, which is a place certainly lacking in many ways, but is full of crossover, because it's so small and thus you have the rednecks and the PhD's rubbing elbows everywhere you go.

I really love Portland, but sometimes the whole West Coast thing gets me down. The newness, lack of old roads and small Ohio-like towns—and the lack of diners and history. I mean, relative to the East. The whole USA lacks history compared to the rest of the world. I'm just depressed today. A woman was out running as I walked here—and her beating the concrete with her running shoes just depressed me and made me think, “What could be worse?”

Smoking seemed much more attractive until I came here. I don't know. I'm paranoiacally worried about being fired from my job. I won't discuss the reasons, the clues, the history—unless I do get fired, because then I'll be right. If I'm not, it'll just be paranoia. Or employer terrorism—which there is—but I don't know, you can't blame them. What do they have to motivate people with, really, besides fear? It's not like anyone's doing that job because they want to. I've got to take some kind of desperate measures soon to not succumb to depression.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Saturday 14 March 1998 — Hollywood Burger Bar

Moving into my new house—well, everything's moved in, but in a shambles—in boxes—a state that usually takes months for me to get out of—if ever. Of course I hadn't moved for three and a half years, but it seems like yesterday. I'm still, at this point, determined to get everything in the room, and the house—all my stuff, in absolute working order and complete organization! I can do it too, but I'll have to be clever, and it won't happen over night. I need some good solid weekend days all day—and right now the NCAA Tournament is on, so that will either be a hindrance or a good thing—to keep me from being depressed. I like to have basketball on when I'm working on stuff—but those first two days are really intense—my favorite two days of the tournament—the first round—32 games in two days!

Heather and I went over to Cinema 21 on Thursday and saw an old Frank Capra movie from 1933—The Bitter Tea of General Yen—probably one of the more obscure and weird Capra movies, but also one of the more complex and best. Things really haven't changed in Hollywood since, say the beginning of sound in 1927 or so—in 70 years! Things haven't really changed very much at all. It's a diabolically in-place system—I guess anything that is so immensely successful creates an enormous monolith of itself that contains the blueprint and the rules, the ten commandments and the holy grail. You know all that. The actual, appropriate metaphor eludes me. Better movies being made from popular but not very good books of the day. The really good movies being ignored.

I like that monolith—like the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey. As a symbol for whatever—it almost doesn't matter. I guess if the monolith is in a movie it should represent the cinema. Or Hollywood (not the same thing). I know—I'll put that damn monolith in everything I do—from now on! It'll represent whatever stupid system that's currently in place that I have to work against, chip away just so I can piss on it. In writing, in movies, in art—the monolith will appear. But not always in black rectangular form, of course—I'm not sure in what form—but that will be dictated by the art form (as in visual art—painting, etc.—the monolith is the four-sided, rectangular frame of the visual piece). (This is all very much coffee thinking!) This is a milestone ***** make a note, mark it here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wednesday 4 March 1998

I'm at Holman's for breakfast, for the special steak—which I'm sure won't compare to my special steak yesterday at the Sandy Hut. I declare war on the kind of easy listening music that is on the radio and is supposed to evoke some kind of emotion but is totally phony. The kind of song Whitney Houston used to do. This one was Vanessa Williams. Probably written by Baby Face. Not necessarily a young, good-looking singer, but most likely. I don't know what I mean by “declare war”—it's not like I'm going to do anything. It's just that I'm violently opposed to it—but my reaction is not going to be violent, or even writing an editorial about it (though if I was a newspaper columnist I very well might). But it's just a way of saying I have to take action the only way I feel I is positive—and write my own songs. Because the world doesn't need any more songs—but if somebody doesn't do something, that kind of mediocre crap will take over.

“Did you see the Titanic?” is the question of the day. Certainly more people are talking about Titanic the movie than were talking about the boat Titanic when it sunk. Insane numbers. “I don't like movies,” says the waitress—but you know, if she ends up going to one movie all year long... “It's going to make the most money of any movie ever made.” Everyone knows this. “It was the most expensive movie ever made.” It's a pure triumph of capitalism and the USA—the big way of doing things. It's kind of excellent in a way—in a purely artistic standpoint. From a social standpoint, it's terrible—grotesque and ugly—but in keeping alive the big movie—which helps the small movie be small, and its own thing—it's good—it's funny. It's comforting, even. (My expression for everything lately—comforting—I must need a lot of comfort.) Last year, “The Year of the Independent Movie”—that was disconcerting—disturbing. But this puts things back where they were. I suppose I'll have to go to it—add $6.75 to their gross—to see if I can find something else good to say about it—or criticize it as artificial, digitized entertainment—we'll see.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tuesday 3 March 1998

I'm at the Sandy Hut for breakfast—is this the date?—March 3 already—boy, half of March could slip by if I'm not careful. It's cold and rainy out, so it feels like winter still, which is kind of comforting. It's taken me over a month to move all my stuff to my new house—this is a record for ridiculous slowness for me. But I guess most of the month was dominated by the film festival—which turned out to be disappointing compared to the past three—but still we saw some really good movies. The best of all, probably, was the Wong Kar-wai movie—Fallen Angels—and lately it has felt like Wong Kar-wai is the real hope for the cinema. 

I moved the last of my stuff out of our old apartment this morning—now my new room is so completely full I can't walk into it. It will be the ultimate challenge making it into a functional room. It's the kind of challenge I like—as long as I can keep from being depressed. I'm going to be late for work, but I had to get some coffee and something to eat before work—so I stopped at the Sandy Hut—just the same as the last time I was here. And it's been awhile. Got a big steak and eggs and potatoes for $4.75. CNN Headline News on the TV—on the several TV's—you can't avoid it—so I watch it. I guarantee that anyone who sits around and watches CNN Headline News all day will go completely insane. Without all the TVs in here, and the Oregon Lottery bullshit all around, this would be the most pleasant place in the world. It's a little disturbing, people drinking while I'm eating breakfast—but that's kind of comforting, too. The guy at the counter next to me is getting breakfast but no coffee—the hard liquor has caught his eye. He was probably working all night—now off work, breakfast—a drink sounds perfectly appropriate.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Friday 27 February 1998

Boy, what an example why this journal stuff never works and writing about the movies never works and working doesn't work and nothing works. I'm really tired and kind of stressed out from being near the day of moving. How many trips have I made to my new house in the car already, and how many more to go? What movies have we seen and were any really that good? I'm just burnt out on everything, and sick of everything. Oh—I talked to Mark Keffer on the phone the other night—he lives in NYC—Brooklyn—talked about painting. He's going to take a year and just paint. Go into debt, etc., it's inspiring. I have to think about that, and not all these little things that depress me. Big things—painting, don't worry about money. Think about that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday 17 February 1998

Well, the film festival started and we're already completely immersed in it, with no time left over for anything else. You wouldn't think that going to a couple of movies a day would be that time-consuming, but it is. I guess partly it's just having to be somewhere at a certain time—and the film festival is massively popular as usual, so you have to be there early.

Sometimes it seems like it makes more sense for a couple (as in husband and wife) to not have similar interests—so like when the husband is out going to all these movies the wife can be washing dishes and cleaning. Just because that sounds so bad, I might add, and when the wife is out at painting class, yoga, tinkering with the 1966 Mustang in the garage, at band practice, etc., the husband can be taking care of the kids and knitting. Many families are like this. But to me it sounds no fun. So what if the dishes don't get done for a week.

Okay—the movies defy easy and concise reviews in this particular context, so instead I'll just run a continuous montage of observations, details, and feelings. Thursday night was the opening party, to which we were lucky enough to get tickets for (Heather and Elissa, for working on film notes—Heather as well for working on the film festival trailer). Aside from the gross smelling cheese table and the cheesy organic local microbrew and the lame-o Tazo tea table, the party offered little except for a crowded room in a pseudo art museum with—it offered nothing. I smoked a cigarette outside. The movie that evening was Almodovar's new movie, Live Flesh. As with all Almodovar movies, I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as most of his other movies—I didn't like the story that much. Also, I felt like I was watching it with one eye, for some reason. I had to pee at one point, which always bugs me. But I don't know if I was experiencing a lack of Almodovar or a lack of me, but something didn't connect.

Friday night I saw Wake Up Love, from Argentina (I'm not going to put directors names in here for the most part—too much spelling involved)—surprisingly good—I expected it to be bad, or at least “Canadian.” (For an explanation of “Canadian Film Theory” see... well, we'll wait until later, or someday.) Then a Bosnian movie, Perfect Circle—maybe the best movie about war I've ever seen. One doesn't really need to say “anti-war movie” I don't think. Probably will be the best movie of the festival by the time it's over.

Saturday, we got ready early and headed downtown for a noon show of Little Dieter Needs to Fly—Herzog's new movie, a documentary about a German guy who was a POW in Vietnam and escaped. There were rumors that Herzog would be there, but he wasn't. I met John Campbell, then, who Heather knows—he is a cinematographer who worked with Gus Van Sant on several movies. Then we stayed downtown, Heather, Elissa, and I—finally ate at Cafe Sol, and then went to Jour de Fete, an old Jacques Tati movie—his first movie, actually. It was about Tati as a postman in a small village—it was excellent. Just inspiring. Then the second show of the postman double feature, Junk Mail, from Norway, which was okay, but also lacking some major thing to make me like it.

Sunday was the Czech double-feature—Forgotten Light, a movie about a priest in a small village—and An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World—about a really far off outpost of civilization—with just crazy editing and one sordid event after another—an endless succession of births and death. Then last night was Wong Kar-wai's Fallen Angels—really a couple of years old, but never played in Portland, I don't think. It was really great and inspiring—and really, if I had to pick a favorite director making movies it would probably be Wong Kar-wai.

Tonight? I don't know yet. So far there have been several themes pop up—and coincidences—trivial, really, but still somehow shocking in the way things connect and resonate with each other. There were crossing-gate jokes both in Wake Up Love and Jour de Fete. Not a big thing, but how long do you think it'll be before I see another crossing-gate joke? Both Perfect Circle and Forgotten Light had appearances by a German Shepherd—and in both movies it was shot and killed. That wouldn't be nearly so extraordinary except that also both movies had a brief appearance by a mackerel tabby kitten. I'm sure it means nothing.

Now that I think of it, the circle thing in Perfect Circle was interesting—the main character would draw flawless circles, he said, when his hand cramped up. I guess these circles were symbolic. How did it go now—I already forgot, I'll ask someone—it was interesting—anyway, in a movie we saw a couple of years ago from Macedonia—by a Macedonian American guy—who?—called Before the Rain—there was also a circle theme, I recall—maybe just a circular structure. Really, an interesting structure.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Thursday 12 February 1998

I've gone all day thinking today is Wednesday, but it's Thursday. I'm so tired and tried of being at my job, I can't say I mind too much.

Anyway, the biggest events, to say the least, lately, have been breaking up with Heather and moving to a new place. I found a room in a house to move into about the beginning of this month. I paid rent but haven't moved yet, and it's already the 12th. But I'm taking my time, and also am reluctant to leave our apartment on Glisan Street, which I love. I want to do a few projects there first, before leaving—such as videotaping myself reading the first part of my novel, Middlebury, and also finishing the first part of the video movie I'm working on called Seafood.

Now, the next biggest thing has come up—the annual Portland International Film Festival. This is the major event of the year, and it completely disrupts everything for the next 18 days or so. The past three we've attended have been excellent, overall, and I usually see a couple of the best films I see all year within the festival, and usually have some type of transcendent, great experience—finding out about a new director or something. I hope this year is the same.

In the past I've tried to write about the films, as I've seen them, like on 3X5 or 4X6 or whatever index cards. This has always been pretty much of a failure, but I still like the idea. I like using index cards, but maybe for writing about films, it's not the greatest thing. After all, I'm not out to be a reference library or encyclopedia, so it doesn't matter if I can alphabetize and remember everything and have facts, dates, etc. at my fingertips.

My idea this year is to try to write about the films here as I see them, since films are a part of life and this is my life. Some will remain a big part of my life, and some will be forgotten. But at least it might be something I read later, and it would add clarity to my memory. We'll see if it happens!

I still want to use index cards for some things—like my restaurant index—I'm going to try to start/continue that soon after moving.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wednesday 11 February 1998

Tony was visiting for the last couple of days, so our evenings were full—it was nice to see him—hadn't since moving out here, four years ago. Okay—the next big question about this project is: Do I use real names or fake ones? Is it fiction or non? Well, I've thought about it and I've decided to not change the names. That simplifies things, for one thing, plus I don't want to call it fiction. I don't want to call it non-fiction, either—or memoir, or autobiography or diary or journal. I don't know what to call it—I suppose anything that would sell. It seems like no one's interested in reading fiction anymore—or maybe there's just already enough—anyway, it's next to impossible to get fiction published, and then distributed, and then read. Tony said he knows a National Book Award winner who can't get her novel published. So I'm thinking, in this current blight, where people want to read dirt on the celebrities, but no novels, I'll just write dirt and then become a celebrity somehow. I still feel that it's all a load of shit, but I'm just writing—and it's going to be so much true and so much fiction, etc. etc. no matter how much I try to do either one or the other—so I may as well just declare the form that I think will sell easiest—because the writing is going to be more or less the same either way. It's style, it's lies, it's the truth.

Also, I'm really interested in filmmaking with the line between documentary and fiction narrative blurred. So this is an experiment along those lines, as well—and I also think it will be the future of the art form. So there!

The early versions of this project were in fictional form—so I don't know how that's going to fit all together—if it is. But anyway, what a mess. Some is written, rewritten (though not published)—and then there's scrawled notes for years after that, and then there's blank spaces. Maybe I should just succinctly outline the past several years—since the start of this project—and then we can just use that for reference, and get on with the present. Here it goes:

Fall 1988—moved to Cleveland.
January 1989 to December 1989—wrote project called Everyday—includes trip out West and then return to Cleveland.
January 1990—started “The Mauve Decade”—ideally a continuation of Everyday that would continue throughout the decade, century, and millennium. (Not sure when writing for The Mauve Decade was abandoned—will figure that out later.)
August 1990—moved to Iowa City with Elissa. Job at Zacson Corporation.
March 1992—quit eating wheat. Opened store: “The Secret Goldfish.”
Summer 1993—break up with Elissa.
Fall 1993—start going out with Heather. Quit drinking.
Fall 1993—work on American Job movie with Chris Smith.
Winter 1993—move to Seattle with Heather.
Summer 1994—move to Portland with Heather.
Fall 1994—move to Glisan Street apartment.
Summer 1995—work at Check Central.
Fall 1995—to NYC, American Job premier at MOMA.
January 1996—go to Sundance Film Festival with American Job.
March 1996—visit Chris in San Francisco to attempt new projects.
April 1996—visit Los Angeles, stay with Peter Rashkin—American Job at LAIFF.
Summer 1996—hired at SSBLS (on July 4th).
October 1997—Fuel Tour.
January 1998—break up with Heather.
February 1998—move to Beech Street house, basement room.
February 1998—start this project.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monday 9 February 1998

EVERYDAY  (Mauve Decade

Today I suddenly feel like getting this monumental project off the ground, or digging it up, so to speak—starting over, starting a-new—or continuing—I don't know. It's the kind of day that makes me feel like beginning something, though it's hard to tell why. It's not the kind of day that usually brings up these feelings. It's kind of wintery, but well above freezing, but overcast, and kind of depressing. But still, it feels like the beginning—and it never seems to at the right times. Like, January 1st—terrible time to start anything, except maybe abstinence. Today is like one month and one week and one day or two into the new year—and thinking back, it always seems like right about now, this relative time, is the new year for me, so here it goes, though it may be one another of a thousand false starts, who knows? If I was to worry about that too much, I just wouldn't start at all. Looking back, I think why couldn't I just keep writing a page or so a day—all through these past years with all the ups and downs? Just continue on as I did in 1989, and 1990—and how long? But I didn't and I can't get back now, and now I have to try to piece the pieces together and figure out what approach to take to—not make it all make sense—but to make something out if it. The question, I guess, is: Is there a book in this, and is it called The Mauve Decade? We shall see, I guess, or maybe not. Anyway, let's get on with it.

A little earlier today I had the strong sensations that I often have that seem to be related to or triggered by a smell—more than likely a smell than anything else—and then evoke some kind of memory. It's almost nostalgia, and almost sentimental, and pretty ephemeral, and damn near of no substance at all, yet I'd have to say it's the single most powerful thing I can think of—this ability to enhance and alter moods, conjure something huge up out of nothing. I can't control it—not at all, and often I think that it must mark the descent into insanity. But at this point it all feels pretty good and I'm not going to worry about it. I'm only thankful for these times and days that are enhanced by this fleeting rush of feelings, or glimpses of something at the edge of consciousness. I'm at its mercy, but not a slave to it.

If I am to continue on with this project, I must soon tackle the big question—how to fill in all the spaces since we last touched down. And there's a lot of spaces there, filled with a lot of events and people. The project, if I decide to attack it, is to simply write each day abut everyday things. There is no big ambition except for consistency and longevity. Originally the idea was to type a page a day, and at the end of a year I'd have 365 typed pages. Soon I found that that was not going to happen, and the best I could hope for was to write in a notebook each day, or on scraps of folded paper I keep in my back pocket. Type it up later. And then I found that, really, every day is not going to happen. And some days there would be a lot, some a little. So I certainly wasn't going to cut myself off at one page on a day when the words come pouring out—particularly if I feel at all inspired. There would be plenty of flat and impossible days to make up for later.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

24 January 1998 - from Dream Notebook No. 1

I'm at a theater with many movies playing—in the lobby, deciding which to see. There are two submarine movies apparently playing next to each other—in the same theater, like split-screen! Anyway, each movie is represented by a different vat of popcorn, all in the lobby, and what you do is buy the popcorn for the movie you want to see. I realize sometime later that the movies are encoded in the popcorn, not even projected at all. I wonder what would happen if you mixed up the popcorn, what kind of experience you would have!

Thursday, 25 December 1997 - Portland, OR

Sunday Project – for Seafood – “The Christmas Story”

Christmas Day in the Multnomah Hotel, the lower level reception room where there is breakfast for the guests. I'm a guest, I guess... at least it's not Sunday, but then it is Christmas Day, which only comes one a week. Once upon a time it was the most special day of them all, Sunday. Everything was closed, yet everyone had to work anyway, the busses weren't running, and our cars wouldn't start. We had to walk, in the cold, unplowed streets, miles and miles and miles to the factory, and glue together those soccer balls.

You're either a guest, or you're a host. Typically, there's a reciprocal thing going on. But in this unique situation, I've managed to become both the guest and the host, thanks to Mr. Ray Wheat, who left his credit card in the room that I rented, so easy to find. In fact, he must have wanted me to find it, or he would have at least put it under a loose floorboard or something. So there you are. Wheat, on Christmas Day, for being my host, and also allowing me to be the host—no, wait—I'm not a host. I'm only a guest. A host is—fuck that—you don't want to be a host. You might get a couple dollars, but no, don't be a host!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sunday, 30 November 1997 - Holman's, Portland, OR

Sunday Project

Special drinks: Peaches and Cream—undrinkable—Absolute or Stoli Martini—stupid. There were classic drinks, like the Martini, and Manhattan, and Jack Rose, and Side Car. Those are good, enduring names. Turning point in drink names: Bloody Mary, which has achieved a genuineness that makes it okay. Harvey Wallbanger—a real turning point, that in itself is dated enough to be interesting and amusing. But newer ones like Kamikaze—bad, but not as bad as these new (to me) ones on the “Specials” wall—the “Dirty Mother,” which, I don't know, considering it's short for “Dirty Motherfucker” kind of warms my heart. But then, the “Panty Dropper”—no way you look at that as a good drink name.

I order the “Special Steak” again—which at $4.95 is the same price as sausage, cheaper than pork chops, and half as much as T-bone, filet, or NY steak. $2 cheaper than chicken fried streak. It's not that this is the cheapest place in town—it's average—but this special steak is a real bargain. How can it be so cheap? Why is it so special? One wonders if the meat involved is of dubious origin. But we won't consider that, OK? In fact, it's very good. And if it does happen to turn out to be a human cut or something, it's a very good cut, and I couldn't exactly say I'm resorting to cannibalism—I would have to consider it a choice. Once again, I hold on to my membership of the CPC (Clean Plate Club).

The Chocolate Martini is the stupidest idea for a drink I've ever heard—hopefully they don't serve them here. No matter how idiotic any prepared formulation of liquor and sugar and flavor—I mean, factory made and bottled, just so it's 42 proof and up, I could enjoy it. Most of the choices in front of me, here at the bar, look delightful. Were I to be drinking, and owned any of these bottles at home, I would finish it off in no time—and it wouldn't be an ordeal. It would be better if I sat somewhere else, not at the bar, so I might think about people more than liquor. The guys next to me have drinks—one of them looks like cranberry juice and vodka—a healthy choice for 10 AM. The other guy has a little snifter of what is likely some brandy-like thing, plus his coffee. Also, reasonable. Down the bar a guy is drinking Wild Turkey and ice, along with Coke and ice—decidedly unhealthy. I didn't go home and read my Bible last time I was here. I probably won't today. But now I'm thinking about becoming a Buddhist, anyway, because I know, seriously, I'll never be able to resolve the elements of Jehovah's Witnesses or all Christianity that I don't agree with. I'd like to study all religions, but not just the elements that have oppressed people forever, which is interesting, but too depressing and obvious. I want to find out about things I've never heard about before.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

17 November 1997 - from Dream Notebook No. 1

I'm going up towards the Terwilliger Hot Springs at Cougar Reservoir, and it looks very different—all very open—I'm walking through the dry lakebed of the lake below. I walk straight up to it and all the trees are cut down and there's a paved, cemented over area—I think it's cemented over, but there's still hot springs, close up. The rest is presented like a news story: Some people started bringing snakes in the hot springs, some of which thrived and reproduced. Many of the snakes were poisonous and bit people. Three people died. But many of the regulars became immune to the snake poison and were bit regularly. The government tried to get rid of the snakes, but they were protected under the Freedom of Religion Act, as the regulars had made it into a religion. Looks like I wasn't going in the hot springs anymore!

Saturday, 15 November 1997 - Portland, OR

Then it was the Emeryville train station for several hours, waiting for the late Coast Starlight. The last game of the World Series was on—Indians and Marlins—and I had to listen to it there in that very nice train station—on my little transistor radio that thankfully Mom had given me before I left Sandusky. It went into extra innings—a great game, but then the Indians lost, and all the redneck Marlins fans were all happy, but not really happy because they didn't give a fuck about baseball, and just were happy because the Marlins are from the South and so are they, and no stock car racing was occurring at the moment.

Then the train was the most annoying train ride ever—it started out OK, but—the romance of train travel is starting to wear off—and Heather and I were unfortunate enough to get the dreaded “snoring coach.”

Friday, 14 November 1997 - Portland, OR

So we were enjoying our stay in San Francisco—the next AM we had our continental breakfast by the pool, and Heather and I also swam before we checked out. We tried to get a room for the next night, to no avail. Full. But that turned out well, since we were able to then stay in the Triton Hotel the next night which I liked a little better—fancier, bu I liked the old building it was in, and that it was on the edge of Chinatown, nice lobby and stairways. Real nice bathtub.

I don't remember the logistics of all this activity. Some talk at the Film Arts Foundation that night, plus American Job screening—at another personality-less cineplex—Chris was at the talk, with Hannah and Suzanne, so I did a Q&A after the screening. Tom was there, and also Denise. Diana came, with Jerry Miller.

Later we're hanging out in front of the theater—and I take migraine pills and start to feel better. Then we see Greg Lynziki, and he goes with us back to the hotel, and we all walked to a bar in Chinatown. This is a constantly shifting group, actually. Then we sleep and next day Chris and Sarah leave for the airport, but we get to stay in the hotel in the morning and store our stuff there. Stephanie, Heather, and I walk around all day, go to to North Beach, etc. Meet up with Rachel and friend for Chinese restaurant. Later, back to the hotel. Stephanie takes a cab to the airport, and Heather and I take a cab to the train station.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sunday, 9 November 1997 - Holman's, Portland, OR

Sunday Project

The coffee is helping with my current headache; it's about 10:30 on Sunday morning, the second Sunday in November, and it's been about 16 hours since I drank any caffeine, which is too long. I took a couple migraine pills before I went to bed, and I slept very well; woke up in the middle of the night, high. Very happy.

Smooth jazz, non-music. I want to play music that when you ask someone about it later, they don't remember that any music was playing. There is an excellent bar here at Holman's. I'm sitting at the bar. If this was a diner, it would be the counter. It's technically a counter, but since we're in a bar, and there is a bar behind the counter, this counter is also a bar. (Look this up in the dictionary.) Being here makes me mourn the loss of drinking liquor. I never could afford it, and still can't, but that's little consolation. Right now my choice would be a small glass of Maker's Mark Whisky. I like how they call it whisky—it's bourbon, but in their mind, bourbon is the only whisky, and it's spelled Whisky, not whiskey. I will sit and meditate for hours, repeating the work “Whisky” over and over until I can taste the taste of bourbon, and smell the smell. The smell of the remains inside my Dad's Beam's Choice bottles, the fancy ones I saved.

Neat. All I need is a small glass—the only way to drink liquor is in a glass, neat. One would think that a person could drink a small glass of liquor on occasion and have only beneficial, medicinal effects. Or like dessert, on occasion. But I know it's not true, and that's so sad. It has nothing to do with quantity, unfortunately. There are those, perhaps, in chaste way, who limit themselves to one glass, maybe one glass a day, or week, or whatever. This seems just as sad, in a way—enforced self-discipline, and why? It is because of fear, maybe not of one's own alcoholism, but of what they have seen in others, in the alcoholics. They don't believe it's the alcohol; they believe it's Satan; though they know, instinctively, or in their own heart, that it's alcohol. They say it's a tool of Satan, but I know there is no Satan, and there is only alcohol, and man. Back to the small neat glass—I want the small heavy shot glass. It's all I need. I can rule the world from a small heavy shot glass, one at a time. It's the color of the liquid in the glass, and its clarity; the glycerin climbing the sides. The smell is the most important, the most important thing of all. The sight of the glass, the color of the liquid, and the smell in the air. The complex relationship of the smell, then, mixing with taste, and then the burning sensation, especially on the tongue. It's all down-hill from there. I can do without the rest.

“What's the dishwasher's name?”—from the waitress, one of many—a bad sound coming from a waitress's mouth. I can guarantee she's not asking him for a date. Scotch is next in line of things I miss. After bourbon. Especially Pinch, in the crazy, three-sided bottle. And then Drambuie, the king of all liqueurs. There's gin, not my favorite, but think of the complex flavors in that Bombay Gin, and the cool persona of Tanqueray. The weird effects of ouzo, and the mythology of tequila, and whatever it is about cognac. I've got to get out of here—home, and read my Bible.

Thursday, 6 Novermber 1997 - Portland, OR

I was really happy to see Heather at the Phoenix Hotel—it turned out to be a nice place with an outdoor pool in the courtyard and a bar that was quite popular. The rooms were painted very well, and the walls were wood slats painted yellow. Nice art on the walls—good ceilings. Kind of old and thriftstore-ish. We ate at a Vietnamese place a block away. Then waited for Stephanie.