Jul 27 2014 7:47 pm
For the rapid removal of material, for rough shaping and forming of wood, plastic, and soft metals, good for truing the battery hole on your jet jon. I like the way your hand soap smells, very feminine. Everything you eat could be poison. An aspirin could be deadly, concentrated poison. That bottle of beer could contain deadly, cyanide poison. What faith we put in food, what epistemic blindness, what nonchalance about life and death.
Be so courageous. Be so strong. Walk into the room like you own it. Speak loudly when you speak. Make sure everyone knows that you know you’re elite. Punch a stranger. Show everyone who’s boss. Shoulder them out of the way. Spear them in the heart. Eat their liver. Eat their organs. Literally feast on their soft parts.
Let’s plumb the depths of our collective shame. Reach down deep into the weirdest, shameful shit you’ve got. Grab it. Own it. Think about it all the time until your blushing burns out. Racial shit. Sexual shit. Whatever you’ve got, don’t tell me about it. Just dwell on it. Focus on it. Examine it from all the angles and be sure you know why it’s shameful. Be sure you know why you have it.
Houses that need painted are a good indicator of poverty. The houses look scaly, like they have siding eczema. The once-landscaped beds are weedy and the tops of the weeds aren’t uniform and they scraggle and reach towards the crooked porch.
Last weekend there was an F150 from the mid-nineties up on those sketchy metal ramps in the front yard. She was sitting on the top step of the front porch, leaning over her knees, smoking a cigarette, the weeds scraggling, the paint peeling, the porch leaning, the kids running around everywhere. She was definitely the same woman I saw the week before, at the DMV.
She was sitting on the bank of hard plastic chairs next to my bank of hard plastic chairs. We were both holding small pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. She slurred, “Yer like a bear. You need, like, all those chairs.”
I laughed a little and said, “Yeah, at least I have this side all to myself, imagine if I was sitting next to you.”
“Oh, we’d have a good time, you and me, we’d have a great time. This fucking guy, he’s doing homework or something.” She looked over at the kid sitting next to her and gestured at him with a lazy finger.
I said, “Well, we can’t all have tattoos of a naked woman riding a tiger on our legs.”
This made her blush and she crossed her legs at her knees trying to hide the tattoo on her left calf, sinking down into her seat a little bit. “Now I’m embarrassed.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, I think it’s a pretty badass tattoo, actually.”
“I have a bunch of stupid tattoos,” she said like a child sulking.
She was skinny and pale with dark, shoulder length hair and had black low-top Chuck Taylors on, no socks, short jean shorts, a black tank top, and big silver earrings. She had a lot of tattoos. They were randomly arranged and mostly incomplete, single color drawings. I could smell the booze on her breath across the aisle between the chairs and she was high on something too. She had a pock marked face, but she was young enough that if she stopped now, she’d probably be OK, but it wasn’t going great, so far.
She pulled her heels up onto the lip of her chair and hugged her knees and I looked at the back of her thighs and stared at her ass and thought about fucking her.
Feb 19 2014 9:01 pm
Everybody always says “follow your dream.” My dream is to be independently wealthy and travel the world and fish for everything everywhere and do a lot of drinking and when I got sick of all that I’d retreat to a beach house in the Keys or a big apartment near the Blind Tiger or a cabin in the Ridge and Valley and write about it and I’d make beautiful things and everyone would buy my books and I’d drink nothing but fresh, hand-pulled mild and half liters of dunkel lager and have a really responsible, sustainable opiate habit and then when I got sick of being cooped up I’d head out to Kamchatka or Bolivia or probably both and I’d have a wife that loved to do what I loved to do and we never got sick of each other and we had all sorts of weird sex that was completely fulfilling forever.
I guess I tend to think that the “follow your dream” advice does more harm than good. I hate clichés as much as anybody and probably more than most, and both of these perspectives are equally clichéd, but I do take pleasure in going to a real job everyday and being part of making things that people want and the routine that comes with it. I take pleasure in making things better and trying hard and seeing things work out in the end for the effort. But it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for this. And it turns out I really need deadlines to actually get anything written either way.
I’ve been weird lately. Some things are going great: promotion, job satisfaction, really hitting my daily drinking stride after a few years of practice, self abuse peaking in the morning, tapering off never, constant thoughts of small city strippers and what they’d do for fifty bucks. Tramadol Thursdays have been a highlight. Having actual responsibility in a fast paced production environment is stressful and maybe not quite as rewarding as I thought it’d be, but at least I’m appropriately self-medicating.
I’m mad at fly fishing not because I don’t like fly fishing but because I’m kind of generally mad at everything these days. I’m about to buy a jet boat which is what happens when you get a promotion and don’t have kids, I guess, but I’m pretty sure I’ll just rip around the river being a dickhead and only throw giant perch husky jerks and put all three trebles in the face of whatever shows up: big browns, smallmouth, pike, deer, canoers.
Don’t look at me the wrong way because I will wake your canoe. Even if you have children in it. You are going down. Don’t cross me.
Chad’s wife’s brother was seventeen and he wrecked his truck last week. He was speeding between Panama and Clymer, heading south towards the PA line doing seventy when he grabbed some loose gravel on the shoulder and lost control of the truck and rolled it into the ditch and he was thrown around the cab because he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and probably died then but the truck caught fire and burned him up and his cousin, the lesbian embalmer, was the one who cremated his body.
She was close with him, so it kind of surprised everyone that she wanted to do it, but that also probably explains why she wanted to do it. The thing that was most amazing was the way Chad told this story, clearly excited to share a story like this, close enough to partake in some sort of narrative authority, but far enough away to detach himself from the emotions and just spit it out with macabre fascination, hawking it to us on a Monday afternoon like something we’re supposed to buy.
Aug 13 2013 8:23 pm
1. I fished next to him several times before he grunted at me in salutation one random weekday evening. He wasn’t very friendly. He had the wiper fishing dialed in pretty good and I don’t think he liked seeing all the college town transients fishing his water.
I like to think he approved of my struggling in the wind with a fly rod every day and not catching anything when a lot of other guys were throwing gear. He usually had a fly rod and a hard plastic stripping basket and he was a very good caster. He would make three false casts and shoot all his line. Then he’d tuck his rod under his arm, and with one hand after the other, strip small lengths of line into the stripping basket. The way he did it kind of reminded me of a crab feeding itself slowly.
He was a media coordinator or something like that for NASCAR. He traveled a lot for the races and I suppose it made sense to be based in southern Indiana: Crossroads of America and all that. He had a long, Greek last name. He had dark hair and a serious face. He was maybe in his forties. There were only a couple places to fly fish for wiper without a boat. Whenever I was fishing where he was fishing I thought I did a good job even if I didn’t catch anything.
I saw him using a spinning rod a few times. He was always throwing a Zara Spook. He could huck that thing at least two hundred feet and he’d walk it back slowly and patiently. I never actually saw him hook a fish on it, but just the way the Zara Spook walked was enough to stick in my mind as worthwhile.
I was in Walmart the other day and they had some small white Zara Spooks in the discount bin, $1.50 each. I bought all nine of them. I’m thinking of giving up the fly rod to fish Zara Spooks exclusively.
2. This town in north central Pennsylvania was mainly poor people. Not the working poor, but the actual poor, the Social Security Disability Insurance poor, the extremely skinny and the extremely fat, the people that grocery shop at gas stations. The people that stare unabashedly into your vehicle as you drive down their street and have lots of dogs and cats usually.
The one guy was a clean cut, well built Asian man about forty years old in a new white baseball cap and white golf shirt and khaki shorts putting gas in a clean, white, late model Dodge four-door pick up. A white guy with bad acne scars on his face, a patchy five day gray and black beard, torn up discount white high top sneakers, dirty jeans, dirty shirt, dirty baseball hat stepped out of the gas station, put a cigarette in his mouth, threw his right foot up on the bumper of the truck and retied his shoe lace. And he wasn’t dirty because he had been working all day. He was just dirty.
These two men knew each other and obviously arrived together in the truck and were going to leave together in the truck. The white dude put his foot back on the ground and lit the cigarette and got about two drags in before a tall, skinny, mid-twenties, brown complexioned clerk in a tight blue polo shirt, tight jeans, and European sneakers came out of the station and said in a thick accent seriously, “Hey boss, no smoking, OK? No smoking around the pumps, boss. Thanks, boss.” The clerk had a mustache and a truly majestic pompadour of thick, jet black hair.
3. Hippyman Jeff was a craps dealer in Atlantic City for a while. Every Wednesday night I used to go over to his house and roll dice so he could practice his payouts. We’d sit around his little rinky-dink kitchen table with aluminum legs and those tiny pink and yellow boomerangs all over the top of it and drink cheap wine out of small water glasses and talk about the girls that worked at the diner and wax pseudo-philosophical about random psychological and historical facts.
One night we were sitting there and Jeff said, “Did you know that the cardinal directions were once referred to by color, black for north and red for south? In the northern hemisphere, I’m assuming.”
“I did not know that,” I replied, as I scooped up the dice and shook them in my hand slowly and rhythmically, squinting through the cigaret smoke and privately marveling at how we’re all so good and truly fucked.
Jul 24 2013 6:09 pm
Pulp Fly Volume Two was released last month. It's an ebook and you can buy it for Amazon Kindle here or for Barnes and Noble Nook here. Maybe some other places too. You can learn about Pulp Fly Volume One here.
I have a piece in Pulp Fly Volume Two. I don't think it's the best thing I've ever writte, but it's OK. I was reading a lot of Raymond Chandler when I wrote it and wanted to spell 'cigarette' the way he does, 'cigaret', but apparently that didn't survive the editorial process. Not that this is the reason my piece isn't the greatest thing I've ever written, but I feel compelled to mention it.
And to give you a better idea about what Pulp Fly Volume Two is like, I've taken the liberty of excerpting my favorite quotes from each piece in the volume, in order of their appearance in said volume. The number or length of quotes excerpted does not necessarily represent my opinion of a piece, but probably rather something like their quotability. And if I found one quote really striking, that's the only one I grabbed. Though I should say that Sarah H. Grigg's "Eddy Speaks" and Pete McDonald's "Taxidermy" are definitely my favorites.
Erin Block: "I walk to the far end of the lake towards the inlet, where a stream flows down from the smaller lake in the next cirque up like a magnified series of pocket water plunge pools. As I rig, greenback cutthroats cruise around sipping caddis emergers, and I worry it will all be gone before I’m ready. Poof. Before I can get in the game."
Tom Reed: "He thought it was a shame to leave a good animal like her standing in a pasture, pot-bellied, rank —a baby factory. No, she was too good for that. So he rode her, rode her often, enjoying her ground-eat-way-of-go."
Matt Smythe: "Looking down he could see blood soaking through both his pant-legs at mid-shin. Both were at odd angles. Compound. He knew a friend in high school who busted both of his legs just above his ski boots one winter break. The thought came and went."
Michael Gracie: "'Explicitly voice your curiosity. Don’t hold back.'"
Matt Dunn: "There was a cardinal that threw itself against the east facing window until Frank shot it with his snake gun."
Sarah Griggs: "But always the optimistic mythbuilder, I interpreted the exchange as an Omen, the Universe guiding me along my Path through the vessel of this corsair."
"He thought I was an angel on a pedestal. I knew that I was as wretchedly human as the next person; I knew I’d rather be honest than pleasant. Besides, I was just passing through. But once people make up their minds about a person, when they hear the intoxicating Siren choir chant, the Projection often trumps the Truth."
"Here we found a mass of kokanee, tangerine backs lashing through the water like the neural refractors of a concussion. We squealed like Mennonites on a Ferris wheel and rigged up a combination invented by Erik the Red, “The Battle Axe,” ready to ambush the unsuspecting bacchanalia. Before we could launch the goods, a fish bounded across the surface. Compared to the arabesque whip of a trout, the kokanee’s leap resembled a blood orange pontoon plane coming in hot for a landing, flopping into the tourmaline water with a quasi-ridiculous, but joyous kerplop."
"The display triggered a searing instinct, in the same way the sight of a mewing, gangly-legged elk calf running for its life prods a grizzly to truck down the dainty, spotted ass and devour it."
Tosh Brown: "'No. I'll give you that one, and the others you caught before lunch. That's when I got sick of watching you catch fish, right about noon.'"
Chris Hunt: "He hadn’t seen any sign of the bear since it shoplifted his salmon, and with a bellyful of fresh coho himself, he didn’t much mind that his first catch went to feed one of his new neighbors."
Will Rice: "The bottle of Sunny Caribbee Yellow Hot Sauce was jammed between the Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce (Ingredients: select red habanero peppers, fresh carrots, onions, key lime juice, vinegar, garlic and salt) and D’VANYA’S Original Hot Pepper Sauce (Ingredients: Water, Hot Peppers, Approved Starch, Spices, Diluted Acetic Acid, Citric Acid and Sodium Benzoate - straight from the Island of Nassau in The Bahamas)."
Pete McDonald: "For some reason when he killed the fish he recalled this place. He had gone to Lake Placid with Laura once and he’d driven past it and wanted to stop there but she said no. That was it and it shouldn’t have been a thing that even mattered."
"It didn’t feel like a fish anymore. He had ruined it in death and he tried to think about what it all was even supposed to mean and he couldn’t."
Alex Landeen: "The pleasantness was almost embarrassing."
Bob White: "An hour or two further on they came upon the berry pickers, made their camp with them, and spent the night." [I have to use this quote because Hemingway and Traver were effectively and charmingly berry picked by Bob White.]
May 23 2013 6:54 pm
She’s way out of my league as a sexual object and I’m way out of her league as an emotional one. This fact oozes from our weird conversations like a thick paste convincingly. These are real father issues and real mammalian reproductive instincts. We are real low animals. These are definitely not the delusions of a fat, sensitive man. Probably.
I’m not talking about you, at least not in this part, just to be clear.
What I need to do is get that girl from the bar to come back to my house. The one with the short hair that keeps the little bag of coke in her blue panties.
Wake up, alarm, out of bed, bathroom light, pee, shower, towel, deodorant, bathroom light, bedroom light, clothing, bedroom light, stairs, desk light, computer, kitchen light, coffee, cereal, email, computer, shoes, stairs, bathroom light, toothbrush, toothpaste, bathroom light, desk light, kitchen light, door lock, every day.
I’d like to make a map of all the lights in my life and have a big section of it labeled: “Here Be Dragons.”
Parts bucket, clamp, gasket, sample cock, iodophor, brush. Ladder, ethanol, torch. Sterile tube. Beer in a fermenter. Double check the jumpers to packaging. Taste one off the line every time just to make sure we’re not running caustic into those bottles.
Reel and line and flies and leader and forceps and camera and boat and trailer and oars and anchor and fish and river and rod.
At least ten years of perspective. A generally upbeat personality. A good night’s sleep. Alternating absolutely overwhelming enchantment and disgust with the world. An acute, terrifying awareness of the sublime. A good narrative you can tell yourself, a story about how the world works and your place in it. An identity, maybe.
Hemispheres and magnetic poles. A planet and a sun.
Metaphor and allegory, meaning and emotion. Words and concepts. Brains. Bodies. Matter. The theater of existence. Space and time.
I used to see beautiful things every day and watch the sun rise all the time and I had bad hands from rowing and pulling anchor and I’d bang my shin on the trailer tongue and swear a lot. These days I participate in a really old industry sharpened to a fine point with stainless steel, microbiology, and electricity. Maybe they’re not too different when you put it like that.
I need these new rivers with these new river banks and new trees and new rocks and new fish where the Chautauqua moraine splits the headwaters of the Mississippi off from Lake Erie by just a few miles. Radically different destinies for the rain that falls in Mayville, though I guess it’s Atlantic all the same.
Maybe I need the grind of midsummer baseball. The stamping of cleats, the rubbing of pine tar on wooden bats over and over again, stepping in, stepping out, the Velcro on batting gloves, shaking off the sign.
I need to get in the lineup at Bear Creek in September again early in the morning and dump the drift boat into the river like I know what I’m doing and mix it up with all the jet sleds in the dark. As soon as you stop doing that you get soft.
I need to be careful. Narratives are all fine and good but sometimes they fail traumatically. In fact, these days, I find that merely thinking about consuming hallucinogenic drugs is enough to break that last skinny strand, the one that does all the heavy lifting. It breaks and shrivels up and the naked world rushes in and it’s not coherent and it’s not a world at all it’s just my sensory inputs on fire and how all the systems threaten to shut down.
A big curvy doe, a slug gun, a shoulder thump.
It didn’t work out with the foot fetish model. I picked her up in New York City in line for the bathroom while she was on a date with some other guy. Things seemed so promising. But when I went back to visit her it turns out she’s just a fucking weirdo with super low self esteem. I think I flew too close to the sun with that one.
I need to always remember the time this past fall when we took turns yelling into the copper heat reflectors behind my wood stove to hear the echoes. You laughed so hard and I was so happy I thought nothing would ever go wrong.