Friday, October 17, 2014

everyday is halloween

the trek to the haunted house was postponed from last sunday to today.  everyone p. and i invited to come along chickened out.  or had other obligations [wink! wink!].  p. confessed when we were in line at heartstoppers haunted house waiting to get in that he never been to a halloween haunted house.  we thought we might be the oldest dudes there.  we were not.  we made friends with a couple of roommates, she in her early 70s, he in his late 20s, while in line for one of the haunted attractions [there are five separately themed haunted houses] who became our companions for our journeys in the the western themed macabre.

this haunted house was the same one my father and i went to last year but the location had changed.  instead of being cooped up in a small downtown location like last year this year's heartstoppers is set up at the mineshaft, an old all-ages dance club and miniature golf course that was the bomb say 30 years ago.  the place is a huge lot and building with a gigantic basement where the dance floor was located.  all the locations of the grounds were used to great effect.

but but here's the rub.  p. and i are two middle-aged dudes.  we were not the focus of the scaring.  the actors look for the people who are the most freaked out and exploit their fears.  two older dudes are pretty much left alone.  which means for all but one of the mazes the scares were just not there.  still, i love halloween and scary imagery, and actors flocked in their finest ghoulery sets my heart a'thumpin'.  scary music and ambient sounds get the dopamine flowing.  i loved it even if it wasn't terribly scary.

that is until we hit the last maze, the tomb of shadows.  pitch black maze.  i was third in our group.  p. was behind me.  you couldn't see nothing, not even the hand in front of your face. we moved by feel.  p. kept saying, rich, are you there!?  i'd feel for p.'s hand and say yes.  and then there was the turn.  a corner of the maze that turned me to a dead-end.  i lost contact with my group.  i heard p.'s voice then it was gone.  i groped for safer passage and found myself in a corner.  i felt panic rising.  i was alone in a pitch black maze.  i imagined myself trapped in there forever.  i imagined myself as being the dork who panics and the management would then have to shut down the haunt, turn on the lights, and lead me to the exit.  it was, really, that freaky of an experience.  all the other mazes were fun but far from scary.  this fucker was scary.  i saw an explosion of light in the middle distance and saw a passage.  there were people facing me.  i jumped.  i thought they were actors.  they saw me and jumped thinking i was an actor.  we all turned a corner.  i lost those people.  i was alone in the dark, again.  i felt my way out.  i did everything i could not to panic.  p. and my group were long gone.  i was utterly alone.

but that was the end.  i felt my way out.  i saw p. and he said, where the fuck were you!?  our two companions were wiping sweat from their foreheads.  that maze alone was worth the price of admission.  that maze was incredibly scary.

the haunt was improved by the added acreage of the old mineshaft.  it is a western-themed haunt.  p. and i explored the grounds.  they were playing the old clint eastwood flick the outlaw josey wales [1976] in a corner of the lobby.  the bar in the center of the haunt served rootbeer and sarsaparilla.  there was also a place where kids could get their faces painted.  i saw lots of kids nick's age and younger. the decor run the gamut of standard spookhouse cobwebs to a skeleton singing old cowboy songs.

p. and i ended the night with a beer at a local watering hole.  we compared notes of the evening.  we both agreed the black-out tomb of shadows was quite freaky and the best part of the haunt.  then we got to talking about the passage of time and getting older.  we are no longer young.  we are not quite old yet too.  one doesn't get say four times to be 40 years old to get it right.  you get only one shot and more than not we will fuck up.  that is the human condition.  to be alive and to know it but be alive for each portion of our lives only once.  we will screw up.  we will stumble.  we will have no idea what being 40 years old ought to feel like.  and if we get the feeling we soon will be 50 years old and be brand new to that.  we will stumble there too.  and so on.  until we get to dying.  then death.  for the first time, only.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

last night anna told me of the passing of the actress elizabeth pena dead at the early early age of 55.  dare i say it but i've long long had a crush on her.  she was a magnificent actor and a great beauty.  the last thing i saw her in was the sitcom modern family.  her death leaves a void in the world of hollywood and the world at large.  as for the rest i fail in words to express my condolences to her and her friends and family.  the world is poorer now for her not being in it.   

everyday is halloween
homage to joe brainard

i remember watching the local news tour the haunted house sponsored by the march of dimes.  there was a creature beneath the water in the bathtub.  frankenstein's monster prowled its halls.

i remember driving with my family down del paso blvd on a very hot october day.  the air was smudged with soot from nearby burning rice fields.  on the movie theater marquee was rocky horror picture show.  i thought it must be one scary flick.

i remember the halloween when latex makeup hit the market.  we gored ourselves up with slashes and wounds and blood.  then we hit the streets.  it was a long night.  we forgot how late it was.  when we got to what turned out to be the final house of the night the hippies who lived there invited us inside.  they ooh'd and ah'd and fussed over our makeup saying we were blowing their minds.

i remember we lived in salt lake city.  i forgot to wear my batman costume to school on the day of the haunted house tour.  the teacher had a large, painted, paper bag with holes cut out for the head and the arms.  he gave it to me to wear for the haunted house.  i put it on.  i felt like a fool.

 i remember choosing my costume at payless drugstore.  a whole aisle of ready-made superheroes and creatures.  my happiness was red-lining.  i picked up a flashlight with a plastic jack o'lantern over the light.  it was, at the time, one of the most beautiful objects i had ever seen.

i remember the neighbor set up a haunted house complete with strobe lights and spooky sounds.  everyone went inside.  except for me.  i could not will myself to cross its threshold.

i remember an after school assembly.  the teacher told scary tales.  the one with the beautiful lady with the sash around her neck continues to haunt me to this day.

i remember we were living in san jose.  we approached the house on the corner.  the lights were not on.  when we got to the door a  figure in utter white burst out with a loud boo.  i shit my pants and ran to my father.  the man took off his sheet and handed out candy.  i, with great trepidation, gingerly took a piece.  my father couldn't catch his breath as he was bent over with tears running down his face.



Monday, October 13, 2014

on aesthetics

there are moments, yes, when, if, instead, or in spite of, the ugliness of the world you watch a movie and get all HUBBA HUBBA at the actor and/or actress of the film


travels thru the 'net

i'm an addicted traveler of the ether.  like most of us i read a shitload of poems and essays online.  when i fall in love with a writer i will often follow their work via the internet using google to search for interviews, essays, poems, pieces of fiction and so forth.

i am a late bloomer.  i didn't seriously read until i was 16 years old.  i knew i wanted to be a writer.  i wrote a lot of shit, and i do mean shit, for a very long time.  i read bios of writers and painters to figure out how they did it.  one thing bios of writers and painters never seemed to mention: money.  how did the writers and painters of yore make ends meet?  that is a topic for another day.  suffice it to say when i wrote i revised and revised and revised.  i revised because the great writers of the 20th century demanded rigorous and religious revision to the work.  i recall a documentary i saw in my early 20s about james joyce.  an actor portraying the great genius described a full day's work.  what did joyce accomplish that day?  two sentences.

revision has its place.  i remember a quote by kurt vonnegut that said something like revision allows mediocre minds an improvement.  okay.  sure.  but then something happened to me.  i started to write fast.  with little revision.  i don't claim my work to be any better for lack of revision but for me writing a poem in one sitting without the agony of having to make hundreds of drafts was liberating.  a little later in my 20s i discovered ted berrigan.  the great NYC poet was not only prolific but a generous soul.  he said, don't worry about meter and rhyme, poets have a little guy tucked in the office of their minds that take care of such things.  i don't know if berrigan was a heavy reviser.  i suspect for his Sonnets he was.  but for his later poems, perhaps he simply let them fly.

so the other night when i was bone tired but still awake i found this article, writing or rewriting, by poet paul nelson.  the gist is this, heavy revision is a 20th century invention based on the development of the typewriter.  heavy revision is, i might add, a romantic vision of the writer suffering for her art.  all of which is nonsense.  i recall a course on shakespeare when the professor told us a particular play was written in two weeks by the bard.  i don't recall the play but i remember thinking two fucking weeks?  that's it?!  i suspect the bard did not do any heavy revision to his play.

turns out nelson compiled a list of poets who also try to write in one sitting.  among them is my man jose kozer and, if you click the link above and scroll down, you'll find the prolific canadian poet george bowering who in his photo is wearing a motorhead t-shirt and flipping us the bird [don't get much cooler than than]!

sit down, shut up, and write.  revision has its place in writing.  i've got into the habit to write one draft and post it here.  i will revise, later, if the piece is going to be read in public or published elsewhere.  many times the pieces i publish here need revision.  but sitting down, shutting up, and writing gets me to where i need to be in writing and life.  for i don't separate writing and life.  we only get one chance in this life.  no practice and no do-overs.  writing we could argue is a place where we can have do-overs.  hence we need to revise.  okay.  sure.  but then when we face the blank page and/or screen we can suffer fear of not getting it right.  the result becomes a poetic impotence.  we become mute and unable to perform.  the pressures are too great.  so if that is the case, say fuck it.  no one demanded you to become a poet.  it is a calling you feel within you.  damn, to use a phrase by charles bernstein, official verse culture, or, i might add, MFAs.  we make and break the rules as we go.  including the rule of heavy, radical revision.  we just need to simply sit down and write.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

everyday is halloween

someone suggested ghost hunting.  we find a scary place, like an old, abandoned building or cemetery, and see if we can see a few spooks.  okay, i said, i'm game.  plans were made.  the location was found, a remote graveyard.  the place, i was told, is very very scary, and haunted to the nth degree.  but there is a stipulation.  we must be quiet in order for the ghosts to appear.  too much human noise and the specters will not make an appearance.  you mean that we must hush and disguise our presence for us to glimpse an apparition or two, i asked.  are we in danger of us being the scary ones, and we not being scared by the spooks?


Thursday, October 09, 2014

everyday is halloween

anna and i just watched the season premier of ryan murphy's TV opus american horror story: freakshow.  i got to wondering what if the stuff and creatures of halloween haunted houses are real.  turns out someone made a movie about it.  it is called the houses october built.  the movie is brand new.  i doubt it will get a wide distribution.  i haven't seen the pic.  but i love the trailer.  a group of dumb-ass kids go looking for the most extreme haunted house in the u.s.  the haunted house finds them.  the movie looks like a lot of the POV shit that has become de riguer of indie horror films since the blair witch project.  POV may not be your cuppa.  murphy's television creations may not be your cuppa.  but c'mon!  it's the scary season.  let loose and get the bejeesus scared out of you.  oh.  i'm set to go to a haunted house sunday night with a group of friends.  i'll let you know if we make it out alive!


blood on the moon

i awoke at 3:30 a.m.  i fumbled toward the window to look into the sky.  can't see nothing.  i grabbed my glasses, headed to the backyard.  it was warm still, standing in my t-shirt and undies, a light breeze.  it had been a very hot day.  i looked up, westerly.  there it was, the blood moon.  gorgeous.  a small disc of rust in the blue-black night.  i thought about waking up nick to see it.  i remembered that the lunar eclipse would last until 6:00 a.m.  nick should see a bit of it by then.  when he got up he did.  sometimes the world and our place in it is magic.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

shovelhead poetics

this dude gets on his hog
revvs up

opens the bores
glides along the street

this other dude

kicks his electric
bicycle in gear

to pass
in the slow lane

Monday, October 06, 2014


cool mornings hot days cool evenings even walking becomes journeys to an other where i saw a black cat with green eyes wearing a large red studded collar in the window of an early 20th century victorian that was so beautiful i stopped and said to myself that cat has the most gorgeously flamboyant collar in the whole universe