I also won't give up on my Drive-By Poets project, though it languishes for months sometimes and my newspaper boxes end up being flyer fodder on the outside and a stash for blankets and other supplies of the homeless on the inside. Especially the one in front of Broadside Books because it's got some space in it; an upstairs and a downstairs with a shelf in between them. So now when I post a new poem I have to empty all the stuff out of the box and tuck it somewhere else where they'll hopefully find it. I'm not going to throw it in the trash. Though I have tossed many a stashed doggy bag of something stinky that was left and forgotten. Sometimes it's clothes and shoes and a copy of The Prophet or a Grisham paperback. Often it's all held together by a belt. I guess it's poetic in a way that the box provides a service to the homeless when it's not in use as a poetry vending vessel. But they are my news boxes. I stole them and spray painted them myself; from defunct publications who didn't round up their boxes when they went under or lost interest. So losing interest is what I'm trying to avoid happening to this blog. Thus this rambling post.
I just went to the Sierra a last night where I had casual plans to meet Jil and Gaby but I was on the late side of casual and they were leaving. I had brought a magazine to read at the bar with a beer by myself for just this eventuality (that's my new word I use too much; eventuality.) Lord Russ was getting his Wednesday open mic together in the back and Susanne and one of the waiters were talking about Joni Mitchell's "Blue." The waiter said it had come out in 1971, the year he was born, and he felt a kinship with it for this reason. He and "Blue" didn't meet until he was older of course, but it is cool to meet an album that's your age that you get along with so well. Britney Spears was on the cover of my new suddenly regular-magazine-sized Rolling Stone. At this size it didn't look any different than Elle or Marie Claire or Cosmo, especially with Britney on the cover. All those airbrushed blonds stare back at me from the racks when I'm in the eterna-line at CVS. The only other place I have so many women looking at me that way is aisle 3, the great wall of hair colors. I'd wager about 100 different women's faces are on display there. It's like a big babe swatch. The hair spectrum evolves from black through brunette and eases into dark red and then strawberry blond and then blond and on into platinum blond and then the Hallmark cards. In harder times I was actually in charge of Hallmark Cards at CVS. I'll do that as a separate post. By the way CVS is in a down cycle customer service-wise. Get a load of the new crop of disaffected teens behind the register. I had a girl yesterday ring me up while talking to the other cashier, never making eye contact, tapping with her finger at the total cost on the register to indicate what I owed, still talking, not scanning my Extra Value card when I held it out, not taking my receipt off the register to hand me, not saying thanks or offering me a bag. I stood there after she was "done" for about 30 seconds just to see what would happen. She finally ended her conversation, looked at me and said, "what?" I said, "Awesome." Then I left. If you ever get a receipt that says "Take Our Survey and Win $10,000," you know what that is? The scores from those customer calls are a major determinant of the amount of the store manager's year end bonus. I don't really care, nor I am advocating anything in particular but I know that it's true.
Once I swear I found my old girlfriend Kara (left in sarong) from Los Angeles on one of the hair color boxes. I was restocking shelves on the graveyard shift when I encountered her. I looked for her name on the box but I guess they're anonymous models, probably up and comers who can't command top dollar yet and don't even have the clout to insist that their name be credited on a hair coloring box. Even the young Edward Gorey wasn't credited by Anchor Paperbacks back in the '5os for the distinctive lettering that gave Anchor it's look. To this day I can pick a Gorey spine out of a shelf of books at a glance. Later he started illustrating the covers too, as did the late legendary local painter/sculptor/printer Leonard Baskin for a while. Gorey went on to cult fame and now, post mortem, he's been horribly homogenized in the tackiest of gift stores.
Okay, where was I? This is what it's like to talk with me by the way, and my best pals are the ones that can get out on six or seven tangents with me and still bring it in for a landing where we started. As I get older I have to jot down key words on napkins from topics that are temporarily left behind. Nothing bothers me as much as having something pivotal to say and losing it in a vapor trail.
I wonder if those women on the hair boxes list this gig on their resume. "I was Clairol's Champagne Blond." I guess it would depend on the nature of the job they were applying for. So I never figured out if it was Kara on the box. I think it was my wishful imagination. For as long as I worked there I would go by and visit her on the shelf sometimes. We'd had a crappy break-up and her parents had banned me from her life for that time I snuck some cocaine to her while she was in rehab. But seeing her face, or her doppelganger's, was one of the few things that cheered me up during that interminable CVS night shift. Then, one night she was gone. I thought she was just out of stock, but when I opened up the new crates, her SKU belonged to someone new. It was difficult at first. I swear it was harder losing her this time than when we broke up.
So Jil and Gaby and I are out on the sidewalk and I'm having a chat with them while they have a cigarette. I don't smoke. I decided I wasn't going to read my Rolling Stone at the bar after all, and just go home and maybe give a blog post a shot. Rolling Stone sucks anyway, aside from an occasional serious original essay by Naomi Klein or someone. It used to be my main magazine growing up, along with Circus and Creem. We all looked at Britney on the cover in silence. Shivering and smoking outside the old Baystate building. Brit has her t-shirt rolled up and her pants pulled down just enough to reveal a tattoo. It looks like three peacock feathers but Gaby assures me that it's a flower. Her belly piercing looks like a little beach ball. The cover declares "Yes She Can! Britney Returns," implying perhaps that her recovery from all those predictable child star problems, and her triumphant new album, and her Rolling Stone cover nod, are achievements on the level of a black man being voted into the White House. Oh well. That slogan already did its job so the world can use it and its variants to sell other things now I reckon.
Gaby and Jil described the plot and action of the new Britney Spears video, "Womanizer." I'm hooking you up with the "director's cut," people. It's time we cheapen this stuffy blog up a little bit with some gratuitous sauna nudity.
It features Britney playing several different mostly stereotypical male-fantasy female roles: nightie-clad girlfriend, naughty secretary, tattooed waitress and a near-topless chauffeur. She's seeking revenge against a lover who has done her wrong. Bedroom Britney cooks her man some breakfast. In the office scene, Britney, wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a pencil skirt, woos her office lover with a lap dance. Meanwhile, waitress Britney serves him a drink and then, in the kitchen, dangles her assorted junk over him while he lies on the counter. Chauffeur Britney climbs into the back seat to tear her passenger's clothes off while steering the car with her heel. (This is a pretty awesome scene actually.) The characters all come together in the end, when they trap the womanizing boyfriend and rough him up. The naked glistening Britney also appears in a sauna with no apparent plot significance. She's almost showing this and just covering that. I mean, come on Brit, show us the goods! What an opportunity to redeem your vagina from that frank, artless up-blouse in the car that even my 6 year old nephew, a former fan, was traumatized by.
The guy in the vid doesn't even know his girlfriend (or women in general) well enough to recognize that it's her in disguise in every seduction. So blinded is he by his sexual fantasies about other women, so incapable of anything deeper than serial conquest, that he's oblivious to the fact that he's cheating on his girlfriend with his girlfriend. She has everything he wants but he wants it from someone else. Wait. I'm stopping right there. I'm critiquing a Britney Spears video at 2AM on Thursday. Why didn't anyone say anything? And Britney is a bullshit spelling. Brittany! That's my cousin's name.
One more thing. Gaby declared that the song had some pretty profound lyrics too, and sang a bit of it demonstrate: Womanizer, woman-womanizer You're a womanizer Oh, womanizer, oh You're a womanizer, baby You, you, you are You, you, you are Womanizer, womanizer Womanizer.
I have a female friend that finally confessed that her new job was working for a service that teaches guys how to pick up girls. For a fee. Right here in the area. I'm so out of it. She and another friend (why do I feel the need to protect names here?) told me about this whole Pick-Up Artist movement and a show and a book and the Game and now these....schools I guess. I bought a book once called The Art Of Seduction but it was truly evil, describing how to break down a woman's self-confidence with certain tactics. Today she told me about something called NEGging where instead of saying something like "you have such nice eyes" you say perhaps, "do you cut your own hair?" This will throw off a woman who hears ad infinitum how beautiful she is and she will then sleep with you to win your approval. Pretty clever, eh? In Northampton somehow I picture a more likely scenario being a black eye and an ass kicking.
In Little Miss Sunshine, the grandfather's advice to his grandson is to have as much sex as possible and to sleep with as many different women as possible throughout his life. Sometimes I think about that idea. I think back and imagine making moves when I didn't or taking advantage of a situation that I chose not to. This is about relationships too, not just sex. Sure, in the abstract, I can project feelings onto the younger Jim and wonder what stopped him and while I don't remember specifically what stopped me in those cases I do remember that I just didn't want to. For whatever reason. You know when you do or don't want to be with someone and I trust that the Jim who made those choices then knew himself better than I do. It's been pivotal and awesome when life has handed me love or opportunity when I was ready and open to it. But it's rare. And sometimes I haven't thought I was ready and I took the risk. But day to day, week to week, etc. it's hard to see it happening. Jeez, this is nothing new. Why am I going on and on about this like it's some revelation. I guess it's important to repeat it once in a while. My brain won't leave the past and future alone and let me be.I can already imagine who and what I'll be kicking myself about 20 years from now! Is it you? The best I can hope for is pre-cognitive hindsight. (That sounds like a fancy way of saying staring at someone's ass.) I hope that old dude will be getting some action and not dwelling too much on me and time travelling with horny regrets.