Sunday, May 26, 2013

Herodotus Lounge

Herodotus Lounge


Burt arranged the glass to the mermaid carousel in the mist of Founders narthex   hoping the lulling sway of the water pump would relax the students into an environment conducive for academic growth. He placed it next to the mascot of our beloved Fightin’ Squirrel clad in patriotic garb holding up a copy of Johnny Tremain goading college students to READ VICTORIOUSLY into battle.


 The goal was to make the library a hip place to be.


"Think of it as a giant fish tank—an aquarium for excellence." Burt says, explicating how he heard a thump near the dam at Lake Havana with Miss Kewanee two weeks ago before prying the fin free from the grin of his jet-ski propeller. 


            As interior decorative consultant Burt is assigned the task of locating intriguing monuments for display throughout our building. Last September he recruited a thirteen foot tall Rubik cube a liberal grad student whittled out of drywall and claimed was art. As pre-dawn custodians our task is to thoroughly windex any smudges and graffiti from various building shrines as well as to catch the library gnomes in the early morning hours before they pillage the shelves and jam up the copy machines with faded date due slips and jinxed copy cards. Because CAMPUS HUMANITARIANS IDEALIZING DIMINUTIVE EQUALITY   prohibits the destruction of lilliputians, we suck the thumb sized creatures into the trunk of a Hoover, later depositing the gnomes near the one armed statue of William James even though by the next morning they seem to have made their way back to the abandon card catalogue section of the building, much to the chagrin of the part-time reference librarian.


But it was the mermaid tank that would save us. Carousel in semblance, Burt placed WiFi carrels around the exterior glass chirping out visuals of young scholars lost in a studious fantasia as they extrapolated quantum binomials or crammed across Excel documents.   At the ribbon cutting ceremony he toasted to the genesis of a new dawn for the Lewinsky-Baker library, before a bevy of media hounds interrupted him.  Due to the misty additives the water inside the tank was a bulbous crown of dust and the mermaid would not be completely visible for two days. The petoskey -colored silhouette blimp that floated inside the mermaid tank looked more like a manatee than the mythical creature it was purported to have been. The media seemed dubious and ready to carp in fabricated print.


“Don’t worry, the mermaid will eventually begin to come around.” Burt told us while handing us a special sort of sanitizer to disinfect the edges of the fish tank with—informing us that it was part of our job to feed the mermaid a special alloy of anchovies, dill weed and herring three times a day.


            "Can you believe this?" Kirk said, over our early a.m. smoke break, holding up a palm sized tile of Rubik cube that the 'brary gnomes had pried loose in the middle of the night. "Another piece of Burt’s bric-a-brac to steward."




Later that week the mermaid began to reveal herself. I had just finished lacquering up the dated spindle kiosk in what was left of the Herodotus Lounge when Kirk notified me of the sound of bubbles expiring from the top of the mermaid capsule. The students had arrived for RUSH orientation a week before and there were already graffiti’d hieroglyphics promulgating the immortality of certain frats stenciled into the side of the mermaid’s prison. The additives in the water had begun to clear and in the center of the tank floated the mermaid, the most beautiful hybrid between fish and female I have ever seen.


            There was something about the mermaid. Her hair was the color of a forgotten penny found in the bottom of a car ashtray—a wiry bushel of bronze that seemed to sway above her bosom like a whimsical stage curtain. Her emerald fin stretched below her cottage cheese flavored torso like an upside down question mark. But what allured me most about the mermaid was her eyes. A peaceful button of unblinking moss. The lone olive stranded in the martini chalice long after the cocktail party has ended.   


“She’s beautiful.” I told Kirk, still enamored with the twin pebbles of her eyes.


“She’s fat.” Kirk responded.


“She’s not fat.” I told Kirk.


 "That mermaid looks like it should be modeling fins for Lane Bryant." Kirk added while trying to swipe the guts of a stepped on 'brary gnome from the bottom of his steel-toe boot.


“I wouldn’t call her fat,” I told Kirk. “I would call her ample. I would call her extravagant.”


“She’s fat.” Kirk noted again, padding his upper pocket for a pack of smokes, cursing under his breath that Burt isn’t going to be happy when he sees this.






All registered students at HillSide Plus gain instant access to Midgard, our university’s virtual cyber world distillate. Inside Midgard the students can look like any college student. Many classes are conducted solely inside the portal of Midgard, with students simply plugging up their Spindles and entering meadows of infinite cyber possibilities. Every academic text and online journal Lewinsky-Baker has to offer is available within the clime of Midgard—as is every other library in the country, granting students instant library loan and imminent perusal of almost any text imaginable. 


The onset of Spindles and Midgard has really wrought havoc on the antiquity of academia. Gone are the days when students huddled around laptops or reviewed recorded lectures from the digitalized socket of their cell phones. Even more gone are the days when students used to check out books. Gladys’s stats from circulation show that she checked out only two books in the last week and they were both in braille. The bookstore even went bankrupt and transitioned into Hookah-Smoothies a few years back. The library was hurting hard until they hired Burt.


“That thirteen foot sized Rubik cube brought in a huge Euclidean convention last year.” Burt reminded us at the staff appreciation luncheon where they give us each a free Frisbee with our buildings motto on it.


“Unlike the time you turned the Herodotus lounge into a casino.” Kirk uttered, looking into the initials of our university on the Frisbee.





Autumn semester convenes with crimson leaves skirting into the entrance of our establishment and new freshman elongating their Identity Features in Midgard so as to confuse technologically wizened professors. About a week into the semester the mermaid became a salient feature on the Virtual campus tour, prompting students to abandon the screen of their Spindles and witness the anomaly with their own eyes.


            The first two months the mermaid became the campus cynosure. Lines stretched all the way from the customer service oath mural. Initially students would idle in line for up to two hours, texting visuals of themselves standing in front of the elegant legend.    Cheerleaders held pep rallies, temporarily placing a Fightin’ Squirrels football helmet over her copper tresses in support. Professors organized office hours in the sight of the spectacle, gesticulating with their arms as they argued about the infinite possibilities of the human condition and the ongoing mysteries of the world around us.  Mathematic professors would use part of her glass abode as a translucent note board, scribbling out various equations before nodding.  A ten percent rise was noted in academic exploration students changing their major to marine biology.


             Public patrons would even abandon the inky tint of their privacy screen on the old Mac’s to see what all the fuss was about.


Theatre majors seemed to take an almost a cultish following congregating around the mermaid, watching her furl her fin in jubilation as they recited lines from You Can’t Take it With You. Burt had a promotional picture taken in front of the mermaid with a foreign exchange student from Darfur, each of them holding up a screened Spindle with the words MOBY DICK flashing across the screen. He even scheduled an elder anachronistic society member to portray Hans Christian Anderson and host story time for the dole-eyed inhabitants from Bethany home.


The mermaid even served as the centerpiece for the 200 dollar plate champagne and sea food fundraiser dinner which left Burt whistling out the tune of “We’re in the Money,” while Kirk and I cleaned up.


There was even a waiting list for students volunteering to help feed the mermaid herring and dill weed supplement.


The Lewinsky-Baker library seemed to be back on track.


Mornings after vacuuming up ‘brary gnomes I would again lose myself in the deep pine of her eyes, wondering what narrative lay behind the dual orbs of her vision. There were questions I wished to inquire of her. I wanted to know where she came from. What her passions were. How her ferrotype reproduced.


“I think the mermaid is lonely.” I said to Kirk, one morning, after we shoveled marine vittles into the tank.


“You’d be lonely too if you looked like that.” Kirk snapped back.


I wanted to know what she thought of us. I wanted to know if there were mermen.  I wanted to know if she missed the place she came from.  I wanted to know what her world looked like as seen through the veiled tank of the aquarium lens.


“Looked like what?” I inquired.


“She’s huge. Look at her. She’s like an all you can eat shrimp buffet.”


I continued to ogle the mermaid, noticing how the gills that dotted along the side of her neck resembled two wispy treble clef signs. As I fell deeper into the puddle of her eyes, I wanted to hear her sing. I wanted to hear the sound of her voice emanate within the prism of glass. I wanted to simply to hear her song.


“It must suck to be locked up like that—look at her eyes.”


“You are locked up like that, look at your job.” Kirk barks back in my direction before handing me a bottle of disinfectant as he points to the smudges my nose left on the edge of the aquarium, telling me to hurry up, the building will be opening soon.







Around midterms the fascination with the mermaid began to wane. The mermaid tank began to exude a noticeable stench.  Burt blathered something about it probably just being some sort of mermaid menopause thing before leaving for Grand Cayman. 


            “I don’t know how she can smell that rancid,” Kirk observed, one morning, while placing the mobile of daily air fresheners above her tank, “it’s not like she has never taken a bath before.”


            Slowly students returned to their Spindles and variegated cyber vistas and the building became quiet once again. Less and less students sought out the mermaids company, leaving me more time alone to gaze into the emerald gloss of her eyes. Twice I thought I saw the pink hyphen of her lips move as if to tell me something. As if to sing. 


A former spelling bee champion espied me gawking at her one day and inquired if I knew that in the first trimester human embryos develop vestigial gills and a very small almost fin like tail, so that maybe the sole raison behind me drooling over this dolphin is that I see something latent in myself that I had somehow lost long ago.


I don’t know why you are so obsessed with what it sounds like,” noted Kirk. “Haven’t you ever seen the movies. Every time a mermaid tries talking out of water in the movies it always sounds like a siren is going off and people have to cover their ears.”


            “I just wonder what the mermaid would say, that’s all.”


            “I know what it would say,” retorted Kirk. “You’re a loser. I’m fat. Feed me.”






Things gradually got worse. The odor was so bad that even the ‘brary gnomes refused to enter the building. An unseasonably amount of seagulls seemed to linger outside the entrance to the building at all hours, one even surprising Gladys in the drop box one morning.  Burt came back all burnt demanding to know who crawled into the Narthex and died.


The library became known as the home to the fat, smelly mermaid.  Even the cyber enhanced mélange of the mermaid in Midgard made her look like something that might up-chuck Jonah. Students held tuition protest rallies referencing the mermaid, claiming that if the University could support a zoo for overweight cryptic creatures why couldn’t they splurge on a decent half- functioning whirlpool in the student center.  The thespian portraying Hans Christian Anderson turned out to have a mild case of turrets triggered by the scent of dill weed, leaving the Lewinsky-Baker library with threat of a lawsuit. A week later student Senate issued a statement that bacteria from the mermaid’s tank was almost solely responsible for the recent outbreak of pertussis on campus.


Finally, a post-it one morning from Burt that fat fish needed to be disposed.





Kirk and I moved the mermaid out of the library on the last day of finals, placing the creature on a book gurney that once housed the Oxford English Dictionary in the early 90’s. Burt hoped to air out the Narthex over winter break and hopefully recruit something less noisome to the propagation of human thought. Kirk was convinced that we could get a good price for her from some cannibal on ebay, but I insisted on taking the mermaid down to Nuclear ravine, feeding her into the creek near the Christmas tree reservation.


“She weighs more than she looks,” added Kirk, noting that our healthcare plan doesn’t cover hernias.


As we hoisted her off the gurney and placed her into the back of Kirk’s Chevette dried scales scattered everywhere like stale New Years eve confetti.  The eyes that had once enticed me into a daze of green pastures were now the color of used sandpaper. I sat in back, cradling the beautiful fish, using a plastic spray bottle to squirt water into her gills, asking her just to hold on. To this day Kirk still claims that the foul odor was imposing on his sense of direction in the midst of Holiday traffic. When I noticed her gills seemed to be winking out what could only be intuited as SOS signals I dumped the remainder of the water across her neck and pulled her out of the vehicle myself, carrying her in my arms, running. I think about her eyes now, as I look at the guppy I keep for a pet in the campus prayer room, occasionally fishing out a curious library gnome, trying not to fret over Burt’s latest campaign to endorse literacy. I think about what her voice might have sounded like.


I think about her song.  


She died in my arms across the street from a garish display of Holiday lights with a giant balloon of a side-burned Santa Elvis caroling Oh come all ye faithful in the front yard, the owner of the house coming out with a shovel, cursing at me, asking me what the big deal is, requesting that I move that fat smelly dead fish out of his driveway right now.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Repent Hound Dog! Repent!

Years later Pastor Rupert would tell chat rooms that the concept for “Leap of Faith” stemmed from growing up next door to Sister Teresita. Sister Teresita had received a Papal blessing for opening a National chain of buffet styled Soup Kitchen’s entitled “SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF A HUNGRY GOD,” before resigning into partial obscurity when risqué photos of her getting kinky with a wet-banana surfaced online.

Sister Teresita weighed four-fifty. In sweltering August of early adolescence Rupert would ogle in curious awe as Sister Teresita sun dried her mature undergarments, flinging the cotton stalactites over the barbed wire clothesline that ran between the back of the Cloister and Dale’s Used HubCaps.

The day an eleven year old Rupert snorted a mixture of crushed Pez and Ritllin through a pixie-stix he filched a pair of the Holy Sister’s panties and scaled the loose shingles of St. Onans, using the Sister’s undergarments as a parachute, landing with a thud, on the Bethany Project below.

“Those Panties saved my life,” Pastor Rupert would later recall in front of parish, swatting a tear off his cheekbone. “

After coming off a coke-addled binge Pastor Rupert went to Vegas, enrolled in a drive-thru course in clergy and became ordained by a state-collared Elvis, informing him that the good Lord wants to hunka-hunka have a personal relationship with you, baby-girl. Repent Hound dog! Repent!

Now Pastor Rupert organizes weekly devotionals four feet above Reno’s skyline and when the plane jitters and the Judas pilot takes a swan dive he asks the prostitutes and bookies if they know where their true stock lies before looking for the overhead emergency parachutes and finding a dusty row of King James instead.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Drinkin' beer, engendering art and reading poems in West Peoria w. Kyle Devlak...a hymn (hymen) to the West Peoria Bars...

Early in Zach Sievers ( a young Bradley student with a vision)cinematic vignette CLOSED FRAME there is a riveting close up of coffee beans pendulously churning in a roaster bin as if searching for the elusive God particle in a nuclear accelerator at the end of time. There is a really hot girl pensively pirouetting through the still-life linoleum commerce of Haddad’s market place in West Peoria, plucking a Hallmark tithe from an unassuming kiosk of loss. There are stuttered jump-cuts key-signatured in waves of amplified static scratching against vinyl shorelines.  There is the guttural hiss from the chrome udder of the espresso machine evincing plosive wisps of  enveloped time, the serrated silence and truncated awkwardness of human interactions, the sadomasochistic propensity to slice into the supine flesh of the (capital oh) ‘Other,’ to mix your body fluids with them, to find yourself momentarily ensconced in the gravity and sockets and friable ziggurats serving as the constricted tarp pinned across the joints of the human anatomy like a makeshift sail, Odysseus voluntarily trussed to the totemic strip-pole mast of ecstatic longing unable to defer from emotionally ejaculating into the cradle of his cod-piece with every forbidden sip of the Sirens’ refrain. There is a really cool actor whose name I will learn is Raj who stands sentinel-postured beguiled in poetic paralysis at the cosmological scent of the creature standing in front of him, tete-a-tete, as if counting the lapsed integers of metered blinks waiting for his vision to explode in tandem plops while staring straight into the frissoned bangs of the blinding sun.

There is also bleach, as the cinematic auteur stipulated was his chemical muse, the portly papal white plastic container tucked like a donor-awaiting liver in the intestinal substructure of kitchen sinks. The sterility of bleach. The searing corrosiveness of various compound chemicals mixed into an ablution that cleanses and burns. Bleach with its olfactory-offensive aroma and alchemizing disinfectant swill. When I was 21 I inadvertently washed a load of clothes mistaking a cup of chlorax for a half-pint of dainty liquid detergent.  The mixture of bleach and water transitioned my damp raiment into archipelago-ridden patches of loss, turning my laundry into leprosy, corroded pink and albino splotches gnawing into the fabric, the color semen makes when mixed with blood and copper shelling’s microscopically assayed under  the neon glower of a blue light yawn.  

Bleach with its blank-baptismal assurance to be washed clean and somehow be born again. 

The allotted ending of the  film feels as if David Lynch decided to redirect Blue Velvet visually supplanting  ersatz suburbia for the topography and tumult of an Hieronymus Bosh patina. Poignant and emotionally vacuous and metaphysically distillated and raw. The standing room only crowd at Champs West basked in a stream of silence. The girl standing next to me broke down into triangles of tears.

Preparatory to anything else (as Leopold Bloom once poetically posited) poet Kyle de valk and I started out the evening with cursory tours of the West Peoria bars. We ate Larry’s driftwood pizza at the Owl’s Nest while hanging out with cool bartender Holly. When Kyle crashed with me last year hardly a day went by when we weren’t plucking amber stems from buckets of beer between intellectual banter at the Owls ‘Nest. For some reason we adopted the habit of peeling off the label from previous pounded libations and then pinning the sloughed label on the side of the aluminum bucket like wallpaper.  Occasionally we espy a bucket with one of our pasted PBR labels still adorning the cylindrical brim after seven months like a war badge and feel like we have left our mark in this world.  
I harbor a hardcore deference and loyalty to the bars within crawling distance of my apartment. 
There is something about the West Peoria bars (esp. the Getaway and The ‘Nest) that feels like you are taking your Drivers’ Ed test while wearing beer goggles skidding through the sawdust paragraphs of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Fraught with blue-collar brotherhood they used to be called PODunk. Now everyone is christening them with the moniker of ‘Dive bars while trying to sound like they are some authority on the matter. To me, the five bars located above the hill in the geographical rhombus of Western, Waverly and Rohmann will always be family.  
After leaving the ‘Nest we stop in for a quick Milk Stout at the Tartan Inn. When I first moved back to West Peoria four years ago the Tartan Inn was my favorite watering-hole. It went downhill for a while, and a lot of hard-drinkin’ hedonistic West Peoria locals vehemently refused to set foot in there. Last autumn Tom Inman and Joe Hauk and a cool dude named Bradley bought the place and literally transitioned it into the neighborhood bar of my dreams (well, if they served an occasional cheeseburger with a side order of beer battered onion rings I’d never go anywhere else) the sight of Guinness and various Microbrews and IPA on draught makes me look at the tap as if it were constructed out of a baroque-themed pipe organ festooned with dorm room Christmas lights. I chugged several Milk Stouts while Kyle marveled over the refurbished interior before we left for Mike’s.
About three years ago I started the tradition of always stopping at Mike’s Tap for beer prior to the poetry readings at Champs West. Last week there was a picture of  owner Roy in the newspaper drinking with columnist Phil Luciano at Hemingway’s in Bartonville and I immediately cut the picture out, trundled down the street and taped it to the door of the establishment. The picture was removed when I got there but our barkeep jovial Julie (who is a bit of a Ham radio junkie and immediately inquired why the fire dept was at my house last month) welcomed both  Kyle and myself and we drank several beers from the oak cask before heading off to the reading.
We had not had a reading in Champs West for almost a year. For a while we moved the readings into Gavra Lynn’s formidable art show gallery in the Twin towers plaza and reveled in a great deal of linguistic spoken word glory. We also had some epic readings at the Speakeasy Art Gallery in Pekin and a few domestic duds (thank you, Dust) at the (now comedy club) Cornerstone building. Our last reading at Champs’ was Bloomsday 2011 (well, we actually had a pretty successful reading Feb 2012 but I had to leave early and go to work). Art Show closed and Gavra started tending bar three nights a week at Champs and has moved much of her artwork into the backroom, sometimes referring to it as Art Show II, while hosting acoustic hootenannies during the week.  Dedalus Hotspur who orchestrates the readings left to teach college exposition and now he is back.
And somehow it felt like coming home again.
By the time we arrived at Champs the brachiating limbs of many a late twenty-something’s (many clad in beanie stocking caps and horned rimmed glasses) were already frothing across the coniferous/menthol interior of the bar, engaging in philosophical-fueled discourses, clinking shot glasses, blathering about books and literary aesthetics. Beer bottles alighting like syncopated pistons amidst conversational cogs of trumpeting wit and laughter.
 It was a hip crowd and there was hunger. They wanted to view Zach’s movie. They wanted to drink beer. They wanted to hear poems. They wanted to witness rivulets of alphabetical warble guised as sound carbonate and fellate from the nozzle of the microphone. They wanted sentences that bruise and leave narrative welts across the inky flesh of the page. They wanted to be fucked visually in swift cinematic jump-cuts and thrusts. They wanted the clitoris of their chest to be chafed with joy.
It felt real good to hear Deadalus say, “Silence in the Pews,” once again.
She can describe the nearsighted
mosaic of the sub-atomic kingdom
Blinking, Apiary den of molecules
 Scuba-diving  past the coral
reef barrier of microscopic Quarks
String theory resembling cuneiform on unblemished
Operatic sheet music
The strip pole plank scale—  oomphalos elevator button
Going nowhere and everywhere
Through drizzles of consciousness 
And what we have perceived as chapters of\
Time is nothing more than thinly veiled
Sheath of saran wrap, Nikola Tesla’s lunch
Where everything is simultaneously occurring
And will re-incarnate again and again ad infinitum.
She masturbates to Jeopardy!
Hummingbird arpeggio, two fingers
Bookmarked in the collected sonnets of her loins
Stating the question before the
Premier syllable of the answer is revealed
  Rabelasian blindfold occluding her sight
bathing in a rococo bathtub
  Brandenburg concerto chiming in the background.
--incipient mist of spring.
Or when we are making love how gravity
Sometimes reverses itself in dyslexic applause
The fractal of our limbs iterate in evolutionary flap
 defy the stolid linearity of physics
Ankles and kneecaps parallax constellations
 tight algorithmic recipes, square root of our
buckled thighs  launching like sputnik, skirting around
The circumference of the over head ceiling fan
In frenzied apollonian orchestration before crashing
The quantum concavity of the cosmos
Elucidated in the hush of her eyes.
And somehow then there was family. Syllables and vowels flouncing off the walls in ricocheting orbs of  light. Will read poems I had never heard before with gavel-sentencing vigor. Kyle (who always flagellates his forefinger while reading his poems as if taming the vagaries of language) read the “I can’t help when it happens,” poem that I adore. Shannon Moore (impeccable scribe as she is) read. A cool writer from Bradley named Sam ripped up the floor with his rhythm impending sonatas.  The actor Raj recited an arresting colloquy from Richard III (I meant to yell out something about reading that they recently unearthed poor Richard’s skull but  I was three sheets to the spring wind  and all I could think of to exclaim was ‘Go Yorrick!’).
And there was family. At the end of each individual recitation the audience didn’t applaud. The audience chaotically erupted in echoed plumes of incendiary howls.
 I felt privileged to introduce poetess Laura  (telling the audience that Petrarch’s muse was also named Laura ) making her debut, who looked divine draped in this cherry-blossom oriental Kimono-thingie that I had to inquire if she was performing aria’s from Madame Butterfly. Straddled on the bench outside next to the NO SKATEBOARDING sign my new friend Krista read  me poems from the lens of her cell-phone. Normally when people read me poems from their cell phones it looks like they are trying to scrutinize dates off an expired package of birth control pills, but Krista has a very Victorian voice and alluring good wedding china countenance and was able to launch emotions with romantic yearning and stirring resolve.
When Krista finished reading she pushed her glasses up the Euclidean slope of her nose and into the drywall of her forehead and then looked up.
I could not refrain from smilin’.
And it felt like family, sporadically dappled with the aunts and uncles of academia. Dr. Blouch made a cameo appearance (it’s hard for not to cry when I see Dr. Blouch, who in her splendiferous English 300 classes at BU always refers to each of her students’ as individual  ‘authors’).  I felt honored to bask in the scholarly silhouette of Dr. Greene. Dr. Greene teaches philosophy at Bradley and is the most incisive intellectual orator I have ever heard.  When I first read his book Bataille’s Wound back in 1999 it was so beautiful that I had to read it standing up. Twice.  Ironically I was looking for my autographed copy of CIVILWARLAND IN BAD DECLINE earlier in the day and I stumbled across Greene’s bulletin of pithy phenomenological aphorisms and when Dr. Greene arrived Kyle and I just started heralding him with Husserelian hosanna’s about how brilliant he is and he just sort of looked at us funny. 
And how it felt like family, sitting around side table drinking beer and chatting about the battered bohemian impulse to yearn. Meeting fellow local artistic stewards Natalia and her cool beau. “Natalia Talk a la francais to me!”
Sauntering into my new friend Micahel galletii.
Mike who is the formidable lyricist and lead singer of the band The Dirty Gentlemen. I met Mike a few days earlier at Champs and after he told me that his favorite author was my late mentor David Foster Wallace we immediately left the bar, purchased an aluminum bouquet of PBR 16oz cans from the liquor store and traipsed around West Peoria for an hour talking about Post-modernism  (I’ve met only one other person in this area code who knows who William Gass is) between taking swigs from our alcoholic scepters.  A couple of hours later we re-entered the bar in an hyperborean frenzied stated and everyone looked at us as if we had just shot heroin.
No, we were talking about books.
This is why I endorse the reading at Champs West which, along with what dulcet eye-lidded Natashia Deon is doing with Dirty Laundry Lit in Hollywood, I find to be the best literary series in the country. This is why I will stop into Champs several times during the week (even though the beer selection sucks) and hang out with Gavra and visit Monica on Taco Tuesday and stop in for one of Pam’s signature six-dollar lunches during the week and (if I’m lucky) amble in late at night on a Tues. to smoke a cigar with the legendary PJ Star editor the great John Armstrong.
This is why I endorse the readings—because the life of an artist is often one of imposed solitude and loneliness and it’s the best feeling in the world when stragglers from different artistic vocation gather in the emerald coated cum-stain watering hole that is a local neighborhood tap to foster each other’s creative calling and to grow. Because every year (even in the bar that night) I come across a fellow artist who has cut their hair short and jettisoned their dreams for a steady paycheck. Because putting your life on hold for five years’ while you do nothing but bang out sentences and while working menial jobs is just flat out taxing and hard. Because the worse feeling on the scalp of this planet is when you feel compelled to spend hours transcribing human ache into linguistic scratches when you’d much rather be cuddling with the person who inveighed such emotional pain
Because every year I hear of a friend of immeasurable literary talent who just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to dash one final punctuation mark in the narrative of their lives by ending it.
Because writing is a lot like putting your heart into an empty gin bottle and then tossing it out as far as you possibly can into the ocean of cyberspace. You never know whose shore the bottle is going to brush up on. You never know who's going to uncork the capsule of your life's story. Never know who's going to be moved by it.
Because this is how art works.
Because the best feeling in the world is when someone you don’t know comes up to you, squeezes your hand and tells you that something you flippantly compose four, five  (or shit) even nine years ago added something to their life and helped them get through hard times.