Thursday, January 28, 2016

NIGHT SONG






I made the video Night Song in an attempt to capture the essence of my Hollywood past.
Full-screen viewing is best
( Jayveesonata on YouTube)




Having been raised in Southern California, I was very familiar with Hollywood from an early age. It wasn't until I moved there, however, that I became acquainted with the seedy after-dark underworld - - a toxic, highly addictive subculture far removed from the touristy glitz of daylight.


 I arrived at a perfect time - - when Hollywood was still a unique and fascinating place - - sorely tarnished, of course - - but still desperately clinging to genuine links of the golden past. Old buildings and remnants of old landmarks still remained. Out-of-state and foreign investors hadn't yet made their mass intrusion - - bulldozing history and reinventing the entire place, transforming it into a tawdry Disneyesque parody of what it used to be.

The characters who populated the Hollywood night scene were largely innocuous misfits like myself. Crime was relatively low (or, at least it seemed that way in my blissfully youthful ignorance). The LAPD hadn't yet started their unrelenting campaign against sex -  particularly gay sex. 

Through the eyes of an eager, fairly inexperienced youth, it was a perfect setting in which to immerse oneself in the safety of anonymity and to escape the harsh burdens of reality.

In retrospect, it now seems like a different world, a different time. The image of myself young, alone, haunting the deliciously toxic midnight boulevard of broken dreams ......is like watching a stranger far removed from my present self.....


Hollywood Boulevard
long after midnight

The night is hazy with a subtle shroud of mist mingled with smog. The street is nearly empty. The frenzied crowds of annoying tourists are long gone. Those few souls who remain are hardcore night freaks like myself. Phantoms among shadows. Drifters, transients, hustlers, hookers, somnambulistic dreamers. 

The air is chilly and deliciously damp - a subtle reminder that the ocean isn't far away. In the east, beyond a drifting shroud of haze, an orange October moon is rising - inspiring the lurid depths of my Gothic imagination.

I'm sporadically sipping whiskey from a flask that I keep hidden in my deep coat pocket, while chain-smoking Cools. Whiskey provides artificial warmth and courage. Cigarettes make me look tough (or so I think).

I have a switchblade tucked in my right boot and a handful of quaaludes stuffed snugly in the lining of my coat pocket, along with other assorted sedatives. My boots click on the star-studded sidewalk. I casually read names on the faux bronze stars.... .....strewn like an endless litter of fallen stars.....echos of Hollywood's past. Now their names are obscured by time-worn neglect and globs of used chewing gum.


I glance at my pale blonde reflection passing in sightless window eyes: corduroy coat, Billy Jack hat, jeans slung low on dangerous hips.....unintentional imitation of a midnight cowboy.
This isn't my true self. It's the ghost of somebody else. A parody of a street hustler in search of an unattainable score. 



I'm not a real hustler. That's not my scene. I'm a casual cruiser. An incidental poser. A mere prop in this enormous midnight tableau. Never paid for sex. Never let anyone pay me. I'm a staunch champion of free exchange. And I'm easy.

Most of the real hustlers are on Santa Monica Blvd. That's their tacky territory. Mostly pathetic street kids, newbies to Tinseltown, hooked on drugs and illusions of never-attainable fame. Hitchhiking for a ride to nowhere.

One or two unenthusiastic male cruisers stroll aimlessly on Hollywood Boulevard. A few female hookers lurk in the anonymous shadows of doorways, staring silently with cold hungry eyes. There's little business for anyone at this late hour.

A kid comes up to me out of nowhere. Ragged and young. Even younger than myself.

"Hey, wanna buy some blue blotter LSD? Three bucks a cap." He sounds desperate.

"Nope. Sorry." I tell him. I'm not into acid. Ironically, I knew someone who was in prison in Chino for selling blue blotter acid.

Soon I encounter another young man walking on the Boulevard. Lean. Sullen. We pass each other, both seemingly disinterested, but our eyes meet. Contact. Suddenly he stops, turns around.

"Hey, do you know what time it is?" he asks. An all-too typical ploy to induce conversation.

"Yea. Must be near 3:00. Time to go to bed." My choice of words are intentional.

"You know any place where we can go?" 

"I live a few blocks away," I tell him. 

It's as easy as that.

He follows me, with the simple semblance of a lost puppy. In time, we abandon the misty chill of the autumn night in favor of an anonymous interlude, a futile attempt to quench our shared loneliness.

This insatiable quest for connection is merely a raw physical union, very far removed from an emotional one. Anything remotely emotional is quickly and permanently expunged. A crude and ruthless requisite for survival on the streets.

It is an old story.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SUN DAY



Sunday was indeed sun day. After the recent vicious bite of winter storms, the gloomy clouds parted and a blazing blue sky made the Sunday snow-scape sparkle.

I ventured outside to snap a few photos - but the sun was so blinding that I couldn't see a damn thing in the lens. It was all blind guesswork (kinda like the story of my life).

Nothing is more boring than snow photos and weather reports. I promise that my next post will be incredibly intriguing and breathlessly interesting - - which is what you always expect from me.

Breathlessly??

Today (Tuesday, perhaps?) is cloudy and foggy. Slightly warmer temperatures are making the icicles drip and the snowdrifts sag.

So what have I been doing?
An alarmingly lot of nothing. I have many genuinely important things to do, but my motivation has stalled.
Entertaining three housebound cats isn't easy.

So far the water pipes didn't freeze - - like last year - -and so far I haven't fallen on the ice and injured my spine - -  like last year. I still have an enormous amount of pain in my spine..... but it's unbecoming to bitch.





I made a turkey last Sunday -
clarification: I cooked one in the oven.
It is delicious. I plan to make soup with the leftovers- - if I ever get the courage to drive to town to buy fresh vegetables.

Since this post is getting annoyingly boring, I'll commence with the photos.

Commence??
That word hasn't been in vogue since  Uncle Tom's Cabin was on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ah, Jon, even when you're boring - you're fascinating.

Hey, that's my beer talking. 


glimpses of my backyard











Sunday, January 24, 2016

AFTER THE SNOW




After several days of intense winter storms, it has stopped snowing

Long past midnight, under a crystal clear sky, the snow is ignited in ice-covered brilliance by a dazzling full moon. The temperature is zero. Everything is perfectly still. An enormous silence prevails.

The snow began on Wednesday.
On Thursday there was a brief respite.
Friday was a fury of persistent snow, ice, and Arctic temperatures.

I ventured out three times on Wednesday to walk in the woods. When I went outside yesterday (Saturday) I sunk (sank?) into snow up to my thighs and walking was nearly impossible. Nevertheless, I managed a brief laborious trudge and came home with my toes completely numb and my fingers nearly frostbitten (I have no gloves).

Invigorating, to say the least.
Damn near killed me. 

 On Wednesday afternoon, despite having the flu, my cousin Nancy went outside to build a quick snowman in her yard. She couldn't resist.

 
Snow was fairly light on Wednesday, and an agreeable enhancement to my outdoor adventure. Armed with only a camera and a smidgen of fortitude, I trekked through my property.



Pine cones near my bedroom window
(photo taken on Friday morning)


These are the exact same pine cone branches on Saturday, ladened with snow and ice.

Despite the frigid cold, and snow up to my ass, I bravely ventured outside on Saturday to photograph my plight. It was a small sacrifice to make for the enjoyment of my devoted blogger fans - - all three of you (....or is it two?).

Even when I'm frozen senseless and mercilessly miserable, I can still be bitterly sarcastic. It's one of my charms.


My hat and walking stick

 Blizzard conditions on Friday afternoon

Looking north-east, towards the cow meadow (I knew that would impress you)

One of my favorite trees. It's about 150 feet tall (nope, I never climbed up to measure it)


Branches broken from the ice

Nearly impossible to see, but that indistinguishable  white smear on the horizon is the roof of my house.


 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

THE VISITATION




It happened early this evening, after dark - completely unexpectedly. No, it wasn't an angel. But it certainly was one helluva surprise.

I was never in favor of getting to the point easily. Good writing - much like good sex - needs sufficient foreplay before the climax. I'll drive you there, but I'm gonna take the long route. Take a deep breath and fasten your seat belts.

Let's first describe my day:
A bitterly cold, yawning, miserable day.
The temperature is desperately trying to hit 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) but never makes its mark. Everything outside is frozen. I am drifting in an icy, lethargic limbo. Too cold to think. Too tired to care.

The temp dropped to 2 degrees last night. That's Two - like in "Duo". I stayed up all night, babysitting the water pipes. Making sure they didn't freeze. Long, frigid, lonely hours. I made pancakes to pass the time. And a couple cups of hot tea.

By dawn, I have lots of other things to do. Sleep is not yet an option. Just after noon I finally collapse into bed for a few hours, accompanied by Bosco the cat, who keeps stealthily stealing the covers.

I'm gonna radically change the subject now, only because it's imperative to my story. Trust me. I always know what I'm doing.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine in California decided to send me a gift. It was something I can use during the cold winter months (let your imaginations go rampant). She ordered the gift from a catalog and had it shipped to me.

Of course, the package never arrived. I'm here in the wilderness among wolves and heathens. Adequate deliveries via UPS are unheard of. Hell, UPS is unheard of. 

The catalog company was informed of the non-delivery and a new package was immediately sent. Against all odds, it was miraculously delivered - kinda like a virgin birth. I received it last week.
The End.
Happy ending.

So, what about the Visitation? 

Hang on to your wigs and girdles. I'm getting there. 

So. Let's get back to today.
After my afternoon nap with Bosco. I made a quick dinner (fish and chips, if you really want to know).

Just as it is getting dark, I decide to take a shower and wash my hair. Heavy snow is expected late tonight. I want to look my best in case I freeze to death and am photographed by the press for the Morning Edition.

Before I hit the showers, I let my cat Scratch outside. She's extremely demanding and doesn't mind the cold. 

As I'm stepping out of the shower I suddenly remember that Scratch is outside. Despite her appreciation of the cold, she's been out twenty minutes and might very well have turned into a feline popsicle.

With a towel around my waist, I open the back door. The Arctic blast that hits me has the power of an avalanche. 
No cat in sight, and it's now pitch black.

"Scratch, where the hell are you?" I yell so loud that my voice echoes through the forest. 

At that very moment, someone or something is pounding at my front door.
Holy shit, it couldn't be the cat, could it?

Picture this:
I live in the proverbial middle of nowhere. In a forest. Access to the damn place is nearly impossible without sleds and teams of huskies. It's pitch black outside and now 10 degrees. I never get visitors. Even on a good day.

I drop the towel, hastily pull on a pair of jeans and half a flannel shirt (I only had one arm in one sleeve). My hair is dripping wet. I stumble to the front door and open it.

It's a guy from UPS. Young and cute - but that's beside the point. His truck is far away. He actually hiked to my house.

"I'm here to pick up the package," he informs me. 

What the frick? 
"What package??"

I'm not sure what's more embarrassing: my ignorance over what he's talking about, or my appalling - dripping and completely disheveled - appearance.   

"The first package that was delivered on January 4th," he explains.

I make a feeble attempt to gather my wits and explain that the first package never arrived. I only have the second package - and I won't surrender that one without a fight. Or at least a heroic scuffle.

I explain the situation and he accepts it.
We part on amicable terms.   

I genuinely feel sorry for the guy - having to find my place after dark, and having to hike in frigid temperatures to get to my door. 
Kudos to cute and courageous UPS couriers.

I also feel sorry for me - having to make an appearance before a stranger when I'm soaking wet and half dressed. This has never happened before. Well, not when I was sober, anyway.

I feel sorry for my cat Scratch, who looked like a paltry imitation of a polar bear when she finally came in.

I should also feel sorry for the kind and patient people who took the time to read this excruciatingly long tale, but I don't. Hell, it was free entertainment.

And - since it was told by me - it was damn good entertainment.




Hey, Jon - you're full of yourself.



Monday, January 18, 2016

DEEP FREEZE



icicles

 
I was rudely awakened by the nearby sound of gunshots. Hunters are everywhere today and most are far too close for comfort.

I've been in a dangerously rabid mood all weekend. My initial thought was that I should probably be quarantined. Then I realized that I am basically quarantined, in this rustic purgatory of a mountain retreat.


Spell Check keeps insisting that I spelled "quarantine" wrong. Screw them.

I'm glad my cats all have their rabies shots, because I might bite.

Winter is firmly ensconced here in the Tennessee backwoods, and the Arctic temperatures keep reminding me that I should have moved somewhere more temperate. Like Guam.

It's presently 5 degrees (Fahrenheit) as I write this, and snow is predicted to enhance our misery by Wednesday. I had to stay up all night (again) to make sure the pipes didn't freeze. It's going to be a bitch of a week and I don't plan on venturing out anywhere for any reason. If worse comes to worse I'll make feline stew. Scruffy and Scratch will be the first victims. Since Bosco has the most agreeable temperament, I'll save him for next week.

I have an EXTREMELY important letter to be mailed. It's a near-matter of life and death.
My only two options are to:
1. Drive a million miles into town on dangerously icy mountain roads
or
2. Risk putting it in my mailbox and pray that the incompetent and sporadic mail carrier will pick it up some time before summer.

I opted to risk leaving it in the mailbox. 

Early last evening I bundled up against the 15 degree (Fahrenheit) chill and braved the long.....and I mean LOOONG... walk to my mailbox. The damn thing was frozen shut and I had to pry it open. I propped up the frozen little red flag and said a prayer to the Letter Gods that the errant mail carrier will see it on Monday (that's today).

The uphill walk back home in the frigid temperatures nearly killed me. By the time I got to the front porch I was breathless and dizzy with chest pains. 

I sat down at my computer in an attempt to recover, and checked the news headlines.
There - - was an alarmingly huge photo of Martin Luther King glaring at me, with the horrifying pronouncement that Monday is his birthday. Banks, schools, and post offices will be closed. NO MAIL DELIVERY.

My important letter will have to sit in that frozen box for at least another day. Or two or three or four - depending on the weather. And the whim of the mail carrier.

My question:
How many frickin' holidays are there????
It seems like every Monday is a holiday. Soon we'll have so many "holidays" that they will become one endless year-long holiday. I can see it now:

Oprah Day, Obama Day, Geronimo Day, Pocahontas Day, Tokyo Rose Day, Moms Mabley Day....Bill Crosby Day.....

....O.J.Simpson Day...... 

I'm anxiously awaiting Betty Boop Day.

(fat chance, huh?)
 




  

   

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ICY INTERLUDE AND BLOGGING






 sunset this evening

It's long after midnight on an icy night - hence the post title. The expected snow never materialized, but there were heavy flurries and plenty of ice. Tonight it is 12 degrees (Fahrenheit). Two nights ago it was 7. These frigid temperatures compel me to stay up and monitor the water pipes. I don't want them to freeze and burst like they did last winter.

Interlude?
This is a brief respite from my previous post The Long Interview - Part One. Judging by the tepid response it was undoubtedly too long. Some people might have thought it was boring and self-serving. I tend to vehemently disagree, and I might post the rest of the interview just for spite (sarcastic smile).

Most bloggers are very reluctant to reveal personal things about themselves. They toss out a tidbit now and then, but prefer to leave readers in the shadowy netherworld of uncertainty (perhaps they are much wiser than myself). I usually wear my heart (yes, I have one) on my proverbial sleeve. I felt that rehashing the interview would illuminate some of my shadows.

One of my long-time readers, Donna, recently mentioned that she misses my rants about my neighbors (and other annoying people I endured when I lived in Texas). Actually, I miss those rants, too. I used to turn my personal misery into enjoyable reading.

Way out here in the peace and privacy of the wilderness, I admittedly don't have many interesting things to tell. I've lately been reduced to writing about my cats and the weather. Not very appealing subjects, I'll admit.

I used to have a fantastically adventurous life. I figured that re-posting the interview about myself would help expunge the mundane blandness of my present situation. Against my better judgment, I'm going to put the rest of the interview in my next post.

As for tonight: it's moonless, quiet, and bitterly cold. My trio of cats are asleep. I'm drinking a cup of coffee and feeling thankful that the pipes didn't freeze - - yet.


my cat Scratch yesterday, enjoying a patch of sunshine


 
Here's the link to my other blog
(holy crap, why would he have two??)

Cabinet of Curious Treasures


Saturday, January 9, 2016

SCREAMS AND BAPTISM BEFORE THE SNOW




A burst of sunshine and wonderfully blue skies two days ago. The meadow came alive with the illusion of early spring. A perfect time for yet another walk in the company of nature.

Far on the horizon of the above photo are bales of hay, and beyond that are the cows. (closeup of the hay below).




I'll wait a moment, until you recover from the excitement.

The lovely weather had no intention of lingering. Friday was cloudy and cool. Rain is expected to turn to sleet on Saturday night (tonight). It will snow on Sunday and turn bitterly cold.

Pine cones near my bedroom window.


I chose the sunny morning to do some work on my car. I had the door on the driver's side open, while I was doing other things. When I slammed the door shut, an ear-piercing scream scared the jeeters out of me. Squinting in the bright glare of the sunlight, I saw my cat Scruffy bounding away in a blur of panic.

Where the hell did she come from? I didn't even know she was anywhere near the car. I initially thought I'd slammed her in the door and I was terrified. I tried to check her for injuries but she wouldn't let me come near her.

Finally she went in the house and started eating - so I assumed she would live. Later, I was able to thoroughly check her and she was completely intact. 
Did I accidentally slam her tail in the door?
Her tail seemed to be fine.
My only guess is that she was under the car and got scared when I slammed the door.

It's a very boring story, I know, but I was really worried. 

Baptism??
Prepare for another pointless and inane cat story. 

I drove into town Friday afternoon to stock up on supplies before the snow arrives. The treacherous trek always unnerves me and renders me exhausted. I don't like shopping and I don't like piloting endlessly winding mountain roads.

When I got home, I laid down - hoping for a brief but peaceful nap. Bosco (my other cat) jumped on the bed, got as close as he could, and stared at me with his huge yellow eyes. Kinda unnerving, because you never know what he's thinking.

Suddenly, he let out a tsunami of a sneeze, blasting my neck with a very generous spray.
Holy Jeezus!! I was baptized in cat snot!

After I regained consciousness, I thoroughly disinfected myself and seriously considered exchanging the cats for something less trouble. Like an orangatan. 


What an embarrassingly bad post! If I don't come up with more interesting things to write about, I'm going to lose my three readers. Or is it four?

When I actually start boring myself, it's time to worry.

I'm seriously considering re-posting the notorious interview that I posted nearly two years ago on my old blog Lone Star Concerto.
It's (aptly) called The Long Interview and reveals a heckuva lot of juicy personal things about myself.

What? It doesn't interest you??
Well, it's slightly better than cat tails. I mean cat tales.
...or cat snot....
 

Gloomy trees in the back yard, awaiting the first snow of the year.