Right dead center in the blackened heart of a decaying old mill town just north of God-knows-where, in a cheap all-night diner staffed by what were like carbon copies of the no-nonsense tough-cookie Alice or Flo that permeates our banal cinematic landscape—women slowly ruined by loving irascible, unreachable men—seated strategically in the corner booth so as to witness discreetly all entrances and exits (few as they were at this unhallowed hour), drinking his coffee weak, black, and burnt, eating nothing, eating the space all around him, but quiet—there sat Jacinto, the Interrogator of Smiles.
I’ll be damned if the tiny dream ponies didn’t come back again the other night. Dozens of them. Each only about three inches tall, but together they make one hell of a racket, us having a metal roof and all. Worse yet, one of the little buggers exploited a vulnerable point (where an ice dam from last winter must have pulled a nail loose—I’ve got to get up there and deal with that) and got himself or herself into the house, so now we hear her tiny insistent whinnying in the walls. We thought we’d try to call Uncle Sol because he reputedly had some experience with these things years ago. We figured it’d be hard to get a hold of him because he was locked in a sanatorium for so long and then apparently paid off the right orderly so he could slip out the back door and disappear forever. We always knew he was alive because once a year he’d send us an envelope full of dead leaves. No return address, but who the hell else would do that? I just got off the phone with Julie and she says Sol is somewhere in the innards of Mexico where he may still own a two-bit movie theater and may also still be plying his trade as a haberdasher. In any event she says we don’t want to ask him about the tiny dream ponies and that he sure as hell won’t talk to us about it as he’s entirely disavowed our side of the family. Damn shame that a family grudge would prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. I do have a lead on a rogue extermination guy in the area who may be up for the job. I’m not sure it’s the best plan of attack; rogue sounds right, but I’m uncomfortable with the extermination, I guess. I just want to understand what the hell I’ve gotten myself into really. The whinnying, tiny as it is, doesn’t even keep me up at night. In fact, I’m sleeping better than I have in years.
In this new year, I resolve to:
Help Tom Hanks to mitigate the symptoms of his diabetes
Invent a virtual reality machine that simulates the experience of childbirth and then market it to macho men
Get to the bottom of who is continually foisting Matthew McConnaughey upon us and then send him or her a strongly worded email
Get the video website http://www.whitemendancingdoubletime.com off the ground
Not wince during a brain freeze
Use my caffeine-induced manic powers for good
Invent a new cocktail drink and/or a take-the-world-by-storm dance craze bearing the name “The Cynical Bastard”
Foment revolution without raising my blood pressure
Fall passionately but platonically in love with an inanimate object and then compose sonnets dedicated to it
Provide evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions to troubled computers, phones, and tablets
Sing 30% of what I say
Lead a double life wherein both lives are exactly the same
Say outlandish and false things with an air of authority while wearing a turtleneck and holding a book that appears to be Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish” but is actually a coloring book full of unicorns and fairies
Learn to read binary code
Wonder aloud about “God’s sexual prowess” often
Refer elliptically to a period of life called “the goiter years”
Say obscene things in the voice of Fred Rogers
Whenever challenged, believably simulate stroke symptoms
Invent a new kissing technique and name it after Mother Theresa
Continue ongoing diplomatic work with prominent leaders of the bed bug community
Shudder at the sight of toothpaste
Drink wheatgrass juice from a flask engraved with a portrait of Ed Asner
Blog about pandas
Arm-wrestle a urologist
Be a little more gay
Ride public transportation while wearing an expensive suit and loudly negotiating imaginary stock trades on a pink Dora the Explorer cellphone
Speak often but evasively about time spent with “El Jefe”
Scoff at a sunset
Bring breakdancing back
Just once, apropos of nothing, exclaim “What a darling little Hitler” when referring to a puppy
Keep immaculate data about inch worms
Write a suite of atonal nursery rhymes on anarchistic themes
Be invited to give a guest sermon and speak solely about hygiene
Read Beckett in a sing-song voice in a public restroom
Blame everything on toxoplasmosis
Cross myself and somberly bow my head whenever Dick Van Dyke is mentioned
Situate furniture so it faces wall when first inviting new friends into home
Adopt the phrase “He’s no Cusack” and use daily, especially when referring to highly esteemed world leaders
Attend a yoga retreat and consistently be seen drinking Dr. Pepper from a can
Compose “Hawaii Five-O” fan fiction
Join MENSA and send documentation of membership to the MacArthur foundation
As non sequitur, complain that livestock “aren’t as virile as they used to be”
Refer to anyone who dislikes puppetry as “a bloody philistine”
Convince Judd Apatow to produce a comedy that is less than two hours long
Affix numerous bumper stickers to car but limit content to support for Republican political candidates and proud self-identification as a Wiccan
Review my own artwork under a pseudonym and extensively employ ad hominem attacks
Work at a call center and introduce myself using a repertoire of false and mildly offensive names, such as Booby Lipshitz
Spend the entire year reading “War and Peace” taking great care to mention the undertaking in each conversation, especially with strangers
At the following link, you can hear audio from the March 2nd Prairie Home Companion broadcast, in which I had the honor of participating (accompanying Heather Masse):
Be sure to listen to Emmylou and Rodney, who sounded so terrific that night!
Also, Heather and I will be at Stone Mountain Arts Center (Brownfield, Maine) on June 1st, featured as part of a “Stone Mountain Live” show with Carol Noonan and her formidable band. Should be a lot of fun:
Make no mistake: music, after all, is nothing more than meaningless drivel. It just happens to be an especially beautiful form of meaningless drivel. Beauty without meaning is enough to warrant our love.
Hello! Happy New Year! Artichoke Dip!
To recap what we’ve learned so far this year: you can rescue a dog, and then you can eventually neglect that dog, and then you can realize what you’ve done, and then you can rescue that dog again – from yourself.
That was a “Life Vignette” brought to you by the static in the circuitry of my unconscious.
Here’s a thing to do when going to sleep: remember yourself backwards to that very morning, and then remember backwards to the evening before, and then to yesterday morning, and then to the evening before yesterday, and so on and so on. In such fashion one should be able to retrace all of one’s life, right? But you find that you can always only get back to last Wednesday. Would you fare better if you tried it in the morning, after a cup of coffee, with a notebook and pen? Why not find out? Report your findings to your congressman.
Also I want to thank everyone who came out to the live taping of the pilot episode of “Hipster Nun,” wich I co-wrote with the brilliant Devin Nail. Unfortunately Starz did not pick it up, and, most diabolically, retains ownership of the master. Rumor has it that a bootleg copy is circulating the web. If you find it, please send it to Devin or myself.
It is interesting to imagine a world wherein each citizen is required to keep a blog, to update it daily, and, on pain of death, to be utterly and obscenely honest in self-disclosure, essentially publicizing one’s private thoughts. How would this be policed? Who would happily tell the truth? Who would fabricate a fascinating but false inner life as a smokescreen?
I hope you know what I am about to say.
Now it is interesting to imagine our own world becoming like the world I just described, except the citizens publicize their interiority by their own volition, needing no Stalinesque authority to sanction them if they do not.
I knew you’d see that one coming.
I love your blog, by the way.
Soon culture might be entirely in the hands of a class of Laptop Women and Laptop Men who document furiously their inability to make sense of their inability to love anything. They will publish by the minute, via phone (and, later, digitized eyepiece) in their cyber diaries the most intimate inanities. Each of these anti-social robo-children will be sponsored by one of six super-companies which run the world, and ads for these corporate monoliths will be interspersed in the constant updates provided by this cadre of needy human-bots. This could even take the form of product placement. Entire narratives could be constructed for the sole purpose of selling a particular good or service. Art and Commerce will finally end their long seduction and consummate the relationship in a most thrilling and horrifying way.
Maybe we really are what we say we are. (I’m calling our bluff.)
Heather Masse and I will perform at the Brick Church for the Performing Arts in Lovell, Maine on Thursday, June 7th (7:30pm). This concert will be a fundraiser to support the continuing restoration of the church, a historic building which now serves as the site for concerts and other arts-related events each summer. The suggested donation is a very reasonable $15.00. I hope you can join us and give to this wonderful cause!
More info at: http://lovellbrickchurch.org/
I’ve got a couple of exciting concerts with Heather Masse coming up. We’ll be at Stone Mountain on April 6th, and on April 7th we will be at One Longfellow Square to open for Ron Cody, a world-class banjoist who is releasing a new CD, “Sprung a Spring.” If you have not heard Ron, you should rectify that! His wonderful new disc features Darol Anger, Mike Block, and a host of other tremendous musicians, and I’m delighted to say that Heather and I both make cameo appearances on the album. Come all without, come all within, you’ll not see nothing…