I would love (I think)
to know why I am here
stuck in the craw of the yachting elite
hundreds of miles from the gritty streets,
the fumbling managers,
the mumbling bastards of my home.

It seems unfair to be away from home,
and yet so obviously fair to travel.
To be in motion is to live and to slow time at once.
And to see the situation as such is to believe that only
benefits are fair,
and only obligations un-.
But how am I obliged?
I can travel. I am free to live and to slow time.
And were I to take that choice,
my time would be accelerated.
So my time now is slowed,
but how am I traveling?
Is it only through time?
Or is “only” too harsh?
I should not devalue my journey
through time, merely because my journey is involuntary,
and proceeds while I sleep.
A train, after all, does not stop for my fears.

Having traveled, I may also return.
These same rails may remember me
(albeit on a different train)
to those stations of my journey’s infancy,
though I must sacrifice my experience of those passengers
that have joined me to this point,
and abandon them to points forward.

If I were to point my bow backward and venture
to make a life out of stations passed,
how responsible am I to myself?
Not as I write, but as I read,
I may feel slighted by myself
for my retreat. I pay dividends
on each investment backward
that impoverishes my present path,
which truly lies before me only.
I steal from my own pockets and dull my sword,
I drain my flask and steal my rations,
Cleave my tongue to the roof of my mouth
and make myself dumb
when I fly backwards
to a port whose stamp I know.

And yet I find more and more
I have forgotten stores or supplies
at earlier stops. My mind ejected
concern for some sacred thing I require
at this station, as much as at my start.

The quandary, of course, being

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The View From The Porch

August 26, 2010

It’s too cold here.
It’s too gray and cold.
Look at that motherfucker
spit on my front lawn.
Hey fuck you, man.
No one respects anything on
this block– not the laws,
not the homes,
not their friends,
and certainly not themselves.
Fuck these bro’s.
You are parked illegally!
Get back in that goddamn
car and move it into a
legal space, you jackass!
You boy, Eli, you BOY!
Last night I took the dog
out and let him shit on
the front steps. I didn’t
even pick it up. What
the hell is the matter with
me? What kind of life is
this? Why is it so fucking COLD?
Somebody fucked up somewhere
and now I have to LIVE
with this goddamn climate.
STOP WIND-ING!
STOP ALL THE WIND-ING
IMMEDIATELY!
God damn it I gotta go
to the store. Fucking wind.
GET A JOB! Go put
out candles in a Mexican
church and make everyone get
scared. Something! Get outta here!
Every day with this fucking
wind. The FOG moves in
this town.
Oh God, now it’s you.
Thank you, person-with-a-nice-car,
for reminding me how poor
I am. Every damn day with
this. I GET IT! Leave me
alone.
God, it’s cold.
Was that a snowflake?
God, damn it. It’s snowing.
It’s fucking snowing again.
It’s goddamn April and here
we are with the snowing again.
God, this town sucks. I have
18,000 things to do right now
that I could get done easily
like a regular person if I could
just get on a goddamn train
and go downtown and do them
and be done with it, but as
it is I’m going to spend all
day walking to get to one of
them, maybe, and now I got
snow on my hands.
I’m moving. Seriously. This is it.
This is my last winter in
this goddamn town. Does it
snow in Brooklyn? Who cares;
at least there’s vegan tacos.
Why can’t I get a good taco?
Now I want a taco.
Damn it.

The Golden Good

August 22, 2010

13 August 2010
Exit 40-ish, NYS Thruway, east-bound.

I fucking love McDonald’s.
I love how there are 65
people that I can see
milling around the counter,
knocking into each other
they’re so full of nothing
to do, and it still takes
the cashier two minutes to
say, “Can I help you?” because
she, like I, is so rapt or
bored with this awesome spectacle
of wasted life and time.

I love how my two
cheeseburgers and small fries
take 30 seconds to come up,
because another thing I
love about Mcdonald’s is
how uniform the burgers
and fries are. My meal
tastes exactly the way it
did when I ate it
while waiting for a haircut
in the Latham Circle Mall,
200 miles away,
over five years ago.

I love how the food here
reminds me of times in
my life that were (by the
debatable logic of memory)
better than my life is
now. I love how happy
the meal is. I love how
sad I will be in a half
hour. I love how I’m
not even done with my
second cheeseburger and I
already have heartburn.

I love the way the
fries make the car
smell, and that in two
days when I go back
into the car to grab
something, it will still
smell that way, and I’ll
go, “Oh yeah…”

I love how the fries
taste like everything. The fries
taste like the fries. The
fries taste like the straw
wrappers. The fries taste like
the plastic tables in the
sit-down corral. They taste
like the inside of my
mouth did before I even
ordered. They taste like I
imagine the middle finger of
the teenage cashier girl does.
They taste like McDonald’s
and everything in it, even me.

I love how inappropriately air-
conditioned it is in McDonald’s.
Like how the temperature hovers
around 40 degrees at the
doorway, then slides up to
an almost unnecessarily comfortable
70 at the counter, and then
back down to a bone-chilling
square of floor space that
invariably appears as the only
reasonable place to stand and
wait for a burger.

I love how little everyone cares. I love how little
eye contact everyone makes. I
love how frustrated I never
am in McDonald’s. I love
that McDonald’s is so
nakedly temporary. I love that
they don’t apologize for it.
It’s as though they are
challenging the bourgeoisie
snobs who hate McDonald’s
with their conscious
knowledge that McDonald’s is
not an institution designed
to remain and/or grow with
the community, and that in
five years or five days if
the numbers don’t work–
or even if they do but there
are too many bitchy post-adolescent
shift managers making
demands about benefits–
corporate will call the
motor pool, they’ll back a
semi up to the loading
doors, grab the fryers, mail
the checks and GHOST.
When you think of McDonald’s,
think of Ladybird Obama in
an argument with a well-dressed
lawyer who never responds
except to remind her
that she is going to die.

Or don’t. No, think of
the burgers. (I told you:
45 minutes later and I’m an
unfocused pile of miserable.)
Think of the fries.
Think of the naps you’ll
take afterwards.
Think of the farmers you
aren’t supporting. Think of
the toys. Think of how difficult
it is to reconcile the food with
any other experience you are
capable of having. Think of
the future. Think of the
parents and kids and the kids
with kids that are
supported and represented by
McDonald’s. Think of the buns.
Think of the ball pit. Think
of the marketing genius,
the successful organism,
the feast. Think of the ease.
Think of the simplicity.
Think of the memories,
the golden good.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a journalist throw up his hands and abandon the industry that pays his kids’ college tuition. Read the rest of this entry »

Arthur C. Clarke

In the swirl of campaign coverage and Iraq War anniversary articles, I missed an important passing: Arthur C. Clarke died on Wednesday at the age of 90.

NY Times obit here SF Gate here,
tributes by fellow authors and scientists here and here, and fan site here.

Brad Listi is the a creative writing professor at Santa Monica College and the author of ATTENTION.DEFICIT.DISORDER. The myspace blog created for fans of the book, The A.D.D. Blog, has a number of devoted followers and has been called one of the best blogs on the Internet.

A few months ago I interviewed Brad via e-mail about his book, the state of American letters, and the best way for writers to avoid awkward questions at cocktail parties.
Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t really have any good reasons for starting a blog, other than that I’ve been calling myself a writer for a little while now and everyone keeps asking me things like, “What do you write? Could I see it? Well then why didn’t you just say you’re an English B.A. graduate with a boring day job and poor work ethic?” So here I am. Blogging. Like mad.

This probably won’t be a specialized blog, like a food or advice column or anything. I’m not really a specialist in anything. I mean, I’ve done some stuff. I’ve cooked professionally; I’ve worked door-to-door as a non-profit canvasser. Data entry for the Democratic Party. Answering and writing mail for a congresswoman. Associate editor of a moderately badass (student) magazine. I have some things to say and can speak with a certain amount of authority in some areas. I know how to make italic text in HTML, for instance.

I’m really starting this, though, because I don’t work at a magazine anymore and I want to (I think) and it’s tough to get a paying job working for one. And the book I’m working on is progressing slowly. And sometimes I want to throw the whole thing out – all 30 pages (though I remember that Tarkovsky said the true artist commits himself to a certain set of parameters and follows his project through to the bitter end, even as he becomes disilliusioned with his ideas and work as the process drags on. That might be what I’m doing.). And my girlfriend always wants to see what I’m working on when I tell her I’m working even though I’m not at work, but it’s hard to send six hours’ worth of marginally connected wikipedia articles in the mail. And I don’t really want to start going to the gym. Or church. Or start playing video games again. I’m bored basically, is what I’m trying to say. And writing something like this will give me something interesting to do every day when I get home from work and I’m too tired to work on the book or even read someone else’s book. And it might keep me from watching TV.

Unless, of course, I just stop writing at some point. I actually started this blog about a month ago, but didn’t write anything because I thought I wanted it to be all super-serious, a foray into a new art form, or something. (You can see some of that on the “About Me” page where I thought it would be pretty sweet to hyperlink every word of the blog, but then stopped because it was a lot of work and the idea was stupid to begin with.) And so I just sat around and thought about stuff to write but never wrote because everything I wrote embarrassed me. That could happen again. I’m not trying to lower expectations or anything, I just want you to know what you’re getting into. I could post this and then never post again. I could do that. Just sayin’.

Anyways. Here I am: Jake Drum, your blogger. And there you are: my reader (Hey Dad).

Let’s hope it all works out for both of us.