Friday, February 19, 2010

Born Under a Bad Sign

I was conceived on Halloween 1963.
Trust me, as the last of five children my mother knew when these events occurred.
She didn't reveal this information to me until I was in my twenties. "So thats a source of my disfunction!" I joked with her back then.
 Halloween is still, my favorite holiday.
 I donned costumes and participated up to my preteens.

 I have been wearing a mask ever since.

I was born on Soap Box Derby Day. A long gone annual ritual in Fort Lauderdale.
My oldest brother raced that day and thanked my Mom profusely for waiting to go into labor until after the event.
 Both my older brothers had cars for this affair.
 I never did and I want to say I begrudged them but I really don't think thats true.
I am sure my issues are more deep seated than that.

It never fails, somewhere at sometime, the guitar store, grocery store or somewhere in public, I hear: "Matthew! Get over here!"
"Matthew Put that down!"
"Stop that Matthew!"
I immediately think, 'What did I do?' as I turn to locate the source of reprimand although I know it is not me in trouble.
 I was a well behaved adolescent.
Later on in life,
is a whole different story...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I get so depressed, it must be Happy Hour.

2004 I spent most of the year living in Gainesville, Florida. At first, not by choice because I had been intent on leaving Florida to return to New Orleans. Long story short part-I got a DUI around Live Oak, for sitting in my vehicle at a rest stop with an open beer at the end of the long days drive and I had my keys in the ignition. Leave Live Oak and its surrounding penitentiary capitol of the state areas off your list of 'Must See' destinations.
  Happy Hour was a charming decrepid pool hall in downtown Gainesville. Was, as in long gone now to the machines of progress and commerce. Worn linoleum battered floor, decent tables, and a jukebox that didnt get much service or rotation. There were bag chips, a jar of beef jerky and two varieties of chees crackers for food selection. Three brands of cigarettes. Three beers on draft but no glasses. Draft was served in a short pitcher that the spout lip had been ground off of in the back maintenance room. Various beers and sodas in bottles and cans in a reach in cooler. Refreshments followed a trend of what was popular with the crowd of college kids at night the regular locals or the  neighboring establishments employees that wiled away hours on occassion. I generally spent five hours or more a day, weekdays after work. Sometimes reading, sometimes writing, playing pool with the bartender or other regulars.
  Generally open around three or four p.m. depending on owner or present bartenders mood or schedule.
There were two small televisions mounted on either side of the short two-sided bar that generally played animal planet shows, comedy central or our 7pm favorite Jeopardy. There were stools for the railing ledge that extending around two sides of the open room, an old gymnasium wooden set of fold down seats and my favorite, an old barbers chair at one end of the open end of the bar.
   The kind of place you could leave your pool stick on the shelf behind the beer cooler and no matter its value it would be there whenever you needed it. If the bartender was busy you served yourself and noted your drinks by hashmark slashes next to your name on the notepad next to the register.
   Something about toilet seats must have offended someone from the rowdy college set that frequented on the weekends. Every so often on a Monday I noticed that the toilet seat was always obliterated of its mounting fixtures and removed and left cast aside leaning on the wall under the sink. The owner told me he gave up trying to maintain it and wasn't going to repair it anymore. I salvaged four good seats from a doctors office building I renovated and brought them to use in repairs at the poolhall. After I replaced two in two months time I gave up on the task myself. It didn't bother the local regulars. If a toilet with a seat was necessary, they used the womens bathroom. After about eight months I considered myself a local regular but had never seen or needed to use, the womens bathroom.
  I was scribbling in one of my dystopian journals one late afternoon and another regular, I can't recall her name now, asked to borrow one of the pens I had at my disposal on the bar. She had just returned from the ladies room and immediately returned. When she came back several minutes later, returning my pen, she commented, "That'll fix her."
  I was clueless and it showed. I guess I finally earned the rite of passage because I was directed to go take a look at the womens room. I was astonished when I walked in. This was not the handywork of your average male testosteroned gorilla that wrote a scathing derogatory one liner about a girl or some homophobic diatribe. The walls were covered in fine neatly written print. I had to actually sit on the stool to follow the story from one wall to another. One cut down, its reply and the general observations made, back and forth in between. It was the work of no more than three regulars and the smittering of odd retorts thrown in by a person or two who couldn't resist the temptation to jump in.
  It became a weekly ritual to go have a look to see what the latest add-ons were. I sometimes wonder who the other culprits were and wondered if I ever ran across them in my time in the poolhall.
One things' for sure: These girls played rough. Boys that scribbled on the bathroom wall would never win an argument with any of the girls that posted on that bathroom wall. Hands Down.

Monday, February 8, 2010

creative writer wanted

'Please write my book blurb', said the ad on craigslist. No pay and no compensation. Wow, my three sentence blurb will appear in the back of this persons book. Its a travel journal due to hit publication in two months. Email the said advertiser and they will send a sample chapter. Travel writing is not my forte but I could sure give this person some pointers on 'where to go'. It is true though, some of my best writing was in the back of someone elses book. Especially several editions of Home Economics 101, from middle school. After I attempted to make marijuana pizza in the kitchen one semester and fouled up the bobbin threaders of several sewing machines in the second semester, I pretty much spent my time daydreaming and creating stories to fill the last two empty pages of my school textbooks. Just to keep in practice in between English and Creative Writing classes.