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Showing posts from 2017

My favorite music of 2017

This being the occasion of my thirty-first annual Top Ten Albums list – yes, thirty-one years, that’s practically forever, you know – the truth is I cannot recall a time when I did not finish out each and every year in this way.
It is time for me to do it again now, so let’s just get on with it.
10. Lana del Rey –Lust for Life   (pop, 2017) A guilty pleasure, perhaps. No. No, not that. I buy hook, line, and sinker into her whole old Hollywood, strung out faux-glamour schtick, exactly like I bought into Ziggy Stardust and Tom Waits’ Seventies-era barroom crooner thing. She belongs here, I know it, even with a chorus like “God bless America / And all the beautiful women in it.” I buy into it all.
9. Edward Ka-Spel – High on Station Yellow Moon   (dark ambient, 2017) He’s one of my most favorite storytellers. On his own as well as with his bands, The Legendary Pink Dots and Tear Garden, Edward Ka-Spel has snatched me into innumerable strange and beautiful places through the years. This one is …

Liminal house

The Brothers Pyk were not triplets, no, I don’t care what you say, how could they have been triplets when they were not born into this world on the same day, in the same year, and perhaps even decades set them apart? Their case file made this much evident, at least, to me.
I mention this only because, but for their hands, to which I will return in time, I promise, they appeared identical to the point of utter interchangeability.
They stood in the field fog. Stood in, or rather materialized out of. I say materialized because, as so often happens with me, I failed to notice their approach.
It was property taxes that brought us together. On such bureaucratic nonsense, the work days of lawyers, and I am a lawyer, are filled. “It’s not your fault, Attorney Harry,” the brother in the center, known to me, privately, within my head, as Two Hands, said. He said, “Liminal House is a house that cannot decide which side of the border it’s on.”
It was the official position, you see, of Harris County…


I would like to say thank you, which is too much already. There exists no need, really, to go through this whole “I would like to say” rigmarole. I should just say it – “Thank you” – then leave it at that. There. An economy of words, a certain conciseness, it is a wonderful thing in writing, you can ask anyone.
Thank you, Allen Reinertsen, “GOODSTUFF” as all of us knew you, for everything that you did for me. You were the ringmaster, sir, the happy stranger from Bangkok, a shameless self-promoter, and, I suppose, a bit of a pervert, too. Over many years, you did more for my blogs than anyone did. Even now, today, months after the fact, you’ve been dead and gone since October and still you’re bringing more traffic to my words than anyone else does.
I never thanked you, never during your life, for believing in my writing and what’s more, for telling others about it. Me being me, you know, I was always much too arrogant, too cool, too fixated on my next little story to take the time – and…

How to stage an accidental walk-out

I can explain, wait, I can explain. Insofar as my powers of explanation – unacceptably limited though they are – allow for it, you will see I was only leaving. It is a matter of intent, you know, in the end, the difference between leaving and staging a walk-out, but what a difference.
It was my intent to be Don Cook, or to be like him, rather, to disappear from the room, as he had earlier. No one else even had to know. In life, you will agree, a person sometimes just wants to leave a room like I wanted to leave the room last night.
Perhaps, it occurs to me, in Don Cook’s day, a basic education might have included a learning unit on the ways to extricate oneself from a plastic chair with metal sleigh legs. Perhaps there was a test. Probably there was. Extra points for getting out of a plastic chair with metal sleigh legs noiselessly.
Yes, probably.
I have learned only three things in my life and one of them is this: When faced with a toxic environment, one should leave. A…

The astronauts underground

I walked back. What did you expect? I had to return home, after my long walk. That’s how it worked. But on reaching Stanford Street, I could see, clearly, my eyes were fine, the whole block was bustling with some indeterminate activity.
I went forward, nonetheless. Forward. Ducked under a police tape. An officer came to me and blocked me, said, “Sir, we’re asking that everyone just stay back-”
“But I am trying to get to my house,” I said, explaining. “Over there. On Fargo.” I pointed in a general direction, generally. Smoke blocked the view. Or was it fog? I reached for my wallet. My ID. To show him, you know. He’d see… But he waved me past, let me on through. He did not seem to take an interest in my ID.
In the place where my house had been was a mud hole. Four feet deep. In the place where my mailbox had been were sandbags, piled high, all around the edge of the hole. I double-checked the street sign to confirm.
The officers in the hole were not officers. They were soldiers. They were…

Today I crossed the street

I am putting this here, now, so that you can see what it was I did today. What it was I learned today. And with this thing, learned, a thing you’ve probably already learned and which, in theory, even I sort of knew before, though in a hazy kind of way, I have surprised myself. My world has grown bigger, even at this lamentably late date.
For nine years – no, let me be honest here, for eight years ten months – I have run the three-mile perimeter track at Rice University. Three or four times a week, the same track, in the same direction, passing the same trees, the same driveways and, more often than not, the same people.
Three or four times a week for eight years ten months is, if you bother to sit down and work it out, more than one thousand six hundred thirteen times, which is a lot. It is as much as I’ve done anything.
But today, on the occasion of my one thousand six hundred fourteenth time around the Rice track, a voice came to me and it thundered inside of my head, “Harry, why don…

1 snigirO

Dirt, dirt, and dirt. O, but I could have gone with fire! Should have, I believe, probably. It was a choice available to me, once. To you, too.
With fire, you see, there would be no voices, nothing at all, whereas now, with the dirt, there is nothing but. Babbling, babbling, and babbling, without end. One does not think of these things, though, not when it matters, ahead of time, when the choice is made. Only later does one think of these things and later is too too late.
If only I could raise my little hands to my ears, I think, were that still possible, what a dream, I would shut out the voices forever.
Off on my right (what I take to be my right, somehow) a voice makes itself known. Speaks to someone perhaps much farther away than I am, to it, and much too loudly, for me. It is one of the voices I know, or knew, from before and from what came before. It is an East Texas voice that calls itself Pirkle [1].
Pirkle says, “I shit you not.” He says, “I mowed the hell out that grass. No on…

Night anthems of a ghoul

…or what was intended to be a tribute to the great Veva Purvious, who recently announced her impending departure from my law firm. Eyes on stalks and Mini-me in tow, she is making her way to the door, has very nearly now passed through the door, even as I put down a few remarks here.
This is not a tribute to the great Veva Purvious – not anymore, as anyone can see, as you can see – because in truth, it is completely beyond me now to write on a predetermined topic. Anything at all. Like the time I set off on writing about a business meeting of some import and it came out a musing on the size of a woman’s face.
It just gets away from me, somehow.
If it were in me to be a writer, really, a writer, staying on topic, well, that’s a must. Also it could be helpful, I believe, for me to know colors, and plants, and architecture. Extremely important in the way of descriptions, I am told, if you read them. Do you read descriptions, I wonder? Elmore Leonard, who was a writer, gave some advice for …

Mutatis mutandis

The path to the top of the hill could have been better. True, there were no impediments to him, per se, not any people to disturb him in his thoughts, not anything else at all apart from the trees – so very many trees! – and the sounds of birds, too, along with something else, insects, probably, and then there was the air, which was always the same air and always comfortable.
And so much light, light full to bursting with what his mother once called illimitable fecundity.
Still, something nagged at him, in his thoughts, at the very back of his thoughts, every time without fail. It could all be so much better.
At the top of the hill – which he thought of as his hill and which was not a tall hill, really – he could look out and he could see it all. Every single thing he knew of. Illimitable fecundity. With nothing to disturb his thoughts, he could look out and see everything that could have been better.
This hill, for starters. Yes, the hill was flawed. It should have been taller, and inste…

Ward of Moth

If we begin with the right cuff, then truly, there is no problem with it.
The right cuff, then. The entire right sleeve, in fact, assuming it is correct in its length, and most of them are, does its job admirably and no one is the wiser. If you should see this cuff, this sleeve – on me, I suppose – you would have no suspicions, no objections. No. You would say to yourself, if you said anything, and why bother, “Here is a perfectly ordinary man wearing a shirt.” I am covered.
To my right arm I apply, daily but sparingly, at last, Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream USP 1%. O, that’s what it says upon the crinkled tube. Left behind by an old girlfriend, long ago, who knows which one?
It helps, I believe. The little holes in my skin do not spread beyond the reach of my right cuff.
But if it should happen that, for some unknowable reason, we come to speak of the left cuff, now the situation is not identical. To my left arm, I apply no cream but rather, hydrogen peroxide. It is a failed experiment…

Origins 1

I am named after my father, though I don’t know why. Perhaps my parents simply didn’t have any other ideas at the time. I wasn’t expected, after all. O, I’m sure I was expected eventually, and certainly by the time the actual birth came along, but I was not expected at the beginning. Not “planned” is the term I’m looking for, I suppose.
I remain, to this day, unconvinced that a sequel to my father was, strictly speaking, necessary. From him, I’ve inherited little but my tendency towards depression and alcoholism.
Dad was in the Navy and later on worked as a truck driver, then as a welder, and for many years, as a sheet metal fabricator, whatever that is, or was. He was, for a time, a member of the Teamsters Union.
Several years before I happened along, while Dad was driving extremely large trucks all over the country, he was in an accident during which he got thrown through the windshield of his extremely large truck. They say he died for a time, but he got better.
There came a day when…

The panhandler

(based on a true interaction, with apologies to Thomas Bernhard)
I am not Hispanic, said the panhandler, to me, as I passed him, and he wasn’t. I know this because I am, said the panhandler, in the absence of a more precise term, a panhandler, and according to the theory which I have arrived at, said the panhandler, over many years of arriving, it is not possible for me to be both.
It is possible for me to be a panhandler, said the panhandler, according to this theory of mine, in the absence of a more precise term, a term not synonymous with homeless, not synonymous with beggar, the latter term which has fallen out of societal favor at any rate; it is possible for me to be Hispanic, or if you prefer, Latino, but it is not possible for me to be both a panhandler, which I am, said the panhandler, and to be Hispanic, which I am not. The Venn diagram, under this theory of mine which I have arrived at, over many years of arriving, simply does not allow for such a scenario. The two terms are…