Sunday, December 21, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
ben was up to his usual tricks and it was a wonder that the current batch of underworld thugs he'd ripped off hadn't murdered him yet. he wanted to tell me the particulars, but i just waived him off. if ben wound up dead, it made no difference to me as long as i had the cash in my hand for the work i'd completed. i don't know why i took the job, i didn't really need the money- i guess greed since he'd offered me 5x my rate with no strings attached. anyway, the house was finished now and in spite of having to constantly struggle against bens' nagging bad taste- it was spectacular. the color palate was rich and sumptuous, the textiles were luxurious and tasteful, the walls glowed with painstakingly applied venetian plaster and all the architectural details had been researched and lovingly restored to their perfect art deco origins. i'd brought in some massive gears and used them as a partition in the great room to top it all off with a little bauhaus flavor. it was gorgeous and i was exhausted. ben and i ended our tour of the house in the media room and when he indicated that we should sit for a moment, i did not hesitate to rest my weary bones on the aubergine mohair chesterfield sofa i'd placed there. as we surveyed the room, ben was twitchy and looking around as though he expected someone to burst in at any moment. finally he suggested that a finishing touch would be over-sized panels between the 4 columns on the far wall, each painted with a figure. i was astonished to realize it was true. my insides churned as i knew i would never be happy unless those paintings were there. i excused myself and headed back to my studio. i toiled through the weekend but it was no use, i simply had not budgeted for the energy expenditure of four 8 foot oils. finally i called in erik. i handed him the roughed out canvases almost in tears. as usual, he smiled and said, 'don't worry, i'll make them beautiful'. 3 days later we were standing in the media room with ben watching the workmen put up his finished masterpieces.
as we walked out onto the patio, i saw that ben's house was actually attached to another and there was no wall separating the yards. ben saw me looking at the garish, cartoon palace of his neighbor and said, 'i don't want to put up a fence because it's roseanne barr. erik and i looked at each other incredulously.
i watched as ben counted out many thousands of dollars into erik's open palm. erik and i drove away laughing so hard we could not speak.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
as we drove toward our fake town center, i rested my head on the open window frame of the pickup truck like a dog. i looked sideways at the long, flat horizon in front of us and reaffirmed my affection for saguaro cactus. even though the road was bumpy and unpaved, the warm air rushing over my face gave me some relief. when we arrived, i was surprised to see our little location clinic was full of people. i looked at susan like wtf? and she shrugged and shook her head. the whole room was filled with the families of black gang-bangers from compton. i'm thinking, these can't be locals- we're on an indian reservation. i counted the bodies in the room and realized there was no way i would be seen quickly. i walked to the desk anyway and asked who the attending physician was. it was my doctor! i asked them to tell her i was there and it was urgent i see her (i knew she'd leap frog me to the front of the que). i scuffed over to the only empty seat, sat down and draped myself over the armrest onto the little attached side table so i didn't have to use my neck muscles to support my head. soon a woman with elaborate hair, clicking plastic fingernails and a dripping, phlegm-filled toddler plopped down almost on top of me and started to talk loudly about every fluid that had projectile-d out of it the night before. the room started to spin again as she described the colors and textures of the miasma that already enveloped me. i got up and went back to the desk to inquire and they said they had not sent word to my doctor yet. i was furious but too weak to be an effective negotiator. i ended up in an endless loop of inquiry and no word was ever sent. before i left the clinic, i made my way to a bathroom to splash some water on my face. i was literally green and thought, 'well, i guess i'm dying on location then...'. i walked back outside to look for my ride. at that moment stephen merchant pulled up in another truck. he seemed relieved to see me- well, not actually me, but a familiar face. as usual, stephen was his weird, 'can't. just. freaking. be. normal.' self and babbled on completely oblivious to my obvious impending death. he pretended not to hear the part where i needed a ride back to my rented house to die in peace. i tried to get the keys to his truck, but he wanted me to follow him and so he slipped them into his pocket.
i'm sitting in a dark, abandoned saloon. stephen is sitting in the only pool of light. he is conducting an interview with a young talented local girl who was a combination of bobby gentry and june carter. she held a guitar in her hands and was responding thoughtfully and earnestly to his glib questions. it was clear to me that stephen had no frame of reference to understand that he was dealing with someone genuine and talented. he was just mining her for comedic material. as i was sitting in the dark watching this one-sided exchange, i took inventory of my body and realized i was feeling better and was probably not going to die. i did not feel disappointment or relief. stephen started to ask the girl probing questions about what 'courting' was in her world.
now i am watching the finished scene that stephen has written from his interview. stephen and a pretty blond are naked in a shower. stephen is trying to kiss her, but it is obviously the first kiss for both of them. they make repeated attempts to create a kiss worthy of this super sexy backdrop. they both keep leading with their teeth (clank) and then following with an awkward lip wrap.
it was hilarious.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
crocodile hands in order to decorate their automobile tire sidewalls (from the wrist joint, palm side up only as the scales where paler and flatter). they had no plans or use for the rest of the reptile, but argued it didn't matter if the reptiles were left to rot in the equatorial sun as we had no claim to them anyway. my anger grew as they shared more of their intention and i loudly drew my people in from their chores to understand the repercussions of the useless slaughter. in an effort to calm the situation, the white men turned their focus away from me and the other women and began to speak only to our men. they began to offer them money (a truly useless thing) claiming that all manner of tools and goods could be purchased with the colorful paper they fanned in the air. in towns only weeks away by foot, 'everything' could be purchased. i saw that the men began to respond to the thought of sharp new knives and tools and the crocodile slaughter was losing importance by comparison. my village was small and the women and i quickly came to an irrevocable agreement- if our men did not stand with us against the killing, we would abandon them all. this shared statement woke our men from the hypnotic fumes of greed and they immediately turned their heads back to right thinking. at that point, the white men understood the battle was lost and they were quite outnumbered. almost without pausing, the white men began to point up and all around to our rubber trees saying that they would be just as happy to harvest them.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
roller derby girls
the currency came in one pound lumps of living flesh and john handled it all. the flesh was covered in a seamless dermal layer and each varied in texture, color, firmness and shape to a certain degree. the lumps did not give the impression that they were in any way sentient, but did seem to respond on some level to being tossed from hand to hand as they appeared to tense up slightly when traveling through the air (though in truth, they were rarely dropped). john held roughly 50 at any given time in a burlap sack he wore across his body. he never strayed far from the ticket cage so that he could easily and safely offload the extras or grab more to make change.
john was gruff with the customers (who were always men). he let them know as they entered in no uncertain terms that we were professional roller derby girls NOT hookers and any money they wanted to win or lose on side bets had nothing to do with the house. we were a clean and legal operation he told them and anyone who tried anything funny would have his fists to deal with. the truth of course was that we made our money selling the men rotgut liquor and tricking them into the futile hope that at least one of the roller girls would get drunk enough to fall in love with them for a few hours by fanning the flames of furious unquenchable lust with an endless loop of thundering ass to eye level bare legs and satin tap-dance shorts. in order for the men to drink they would have to hold out a ticket for a roller girl they fancied and buy her one as well. amid the elbows and sling tosses, the girls would keep an eye out for eager faces and tickets directed their way. once we spotted our mark, we would peel away from our carefully choreographed rolling chaos, roll over just close enough to grab the outstretched tickets and roll down to the bar in the center of the ring. the bartender would mix the rotgut for the customer and an exact replica of the drink in colored water for the girl. the girl would wait for the other roller-girls to pass, bring the two drinks back to the customer and then make big theater out of downing the shot at the same time as the mark. it never took long for the crowds to get angry-drunk. always, just before things got really awful, john would pull the plug, stop the music, turn up the lights and have his goons roughly clear the hall to make way for the next group of suckers.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
i'd known him for years, he was gentle and kind and when he asked if i felt like being his company on a road trip to buy a small town i said yes. we traveled in a giant, cherry red and white futureliner that he'd turned into a house on wheels. we walked to the front of the vehicle and climbed up a small, winding stairwell into the plane-like cockpit. we were 20 feet in the air and the window wrapped around the space like a slice of a giant fishbowl. he settled in behind the massive steering wheel in the single captain's seat and i sat behind on the sofa, my camera and carry-on nesting safely beside me.
as we traveled, our conversation was pleasant, but mostly we reveled in the easy silence that fell between us while he concentrated on the road and i took pictures. as the days passed, we stopped in dozens of towns to eat, laugh and chill with the locals. we smiled all the time and each went to sleep at the end of every day with a calm anticipation that the next day would bring more fun.
after a couple of weeks, we finally rolled into 'his' town. at first blush, it seemed to hold nothing but a couple of stray dogs, vacant streets and lots of rubble. it vaguely resembled the ruins around the salton sea. we rolled to a stop and climbed down to explore. he said he'd expected it to look this way, but that we should keep an open mind because he was certain there were gems.
as i climbed in and out of broken doorways, i reached out to support my footing and suddenly felt a solid wall. the plaster was cool and smooth to the touch. as my hand traveled over the surface i realized it was venetian plaster. i looked ahead and indeed, the walls as far as i could see absolutely glowed. i called to my friend, 'i found it! i think i found it!'. soon we were excitedly crisscrossing each other as we found complete, perfect, spacious apartments- 19 in all- that needed little more than a broom and mop to be minty and luxurious.
when he saw how excited i was, he asked me if i thought any of my friends would want to come to live and breathe life back into the town. i started dialing immediately and over the next few weeks dogs were adopted, streets were cleared, gardens started and the nightly community ritual of talking over the day with dinner and wine was firmly rooted.
everyone (including me) started calling my friend 'pappy'- which he adored.
Monday, November 24, 2014
it would vacillate between being a beautiful box constructed by traditional japanese joinery finished in beeswax and a bright pink lacquered frame. every time it would morph from one to the other, we would all 'ooh' and 'ahh'. both were exquisite and we all agreed there seemed to be sound arguments on both sides when it came to choosing either one. finally someone said, 'only a geisha would know the right answer!'. at that exact moment, two geishas entered the room and as they carefully folded their flowered umbrellas, we ran to them and excitedly explained our dilemma. the geishas did not interrupt the smooth forward flow of their entry despite being mobbed by us. they folded and then carefully placed their umbrellas into the porcelain stand and then slipped out of their wooden getas. they only nodded at us over their shoulders as they continued wordlessly up the stairs and on into their rooms.
we felt somewhat deflated but quickly agreed that our excitement must have seemed frivolous to them. we returned to our previous spot, marked two columns on the top of a paper and began to make a list outlining the attributes of each as the object ebbed and flowed from one form to the other.