Beer Mystic: A
Novel of Inebriation & Light
believes he [plus beer] may be the cause of a rash of streetlight
outages. This sense of empowerment transforms him into the Beer
Mystic. He has a mission and a mandate. Or does he? In any case,
1987 NYC will never be the same and the rest is history or myth or
Beer Mystic Invitation:
Participate in a unique literary adventure that will
take you on the
longest, rowdiest literary pub crawl ever. Follow the Beer Mystic's
story around the world through a global network of host magazines.
[next excerpt at end of chapter /cover by
<< Beer Mystic
When I finally
managed to finagle an escape scenario out of her house it was
midnight. And then my pity for her started to sink in
conversational tact, her seductions, her exaggerated smudges of
lipstick stretching way beyond the furthest contour of lip, her
former prowess, the way she clung to the few good photos of herself.
You want to say: the more you lunge the easier it is to dodge you.
You want to say: You suffocate what you love. And I wonder what the
fuck I am doing. Oh, she had once been something to somebody. She
had been on TV, in the press, had a style, a record or 22
her rιsumι like others know poems. I saw those 45s with
their intriguing labels [Pussyfoot, Chi-Tow, Firmament, Bean Me Up]
she had even played them on her warped stereo unit, which made all
music sound like it came from some deep, grey sea, like the songs
had been carried through the Rockies, like they had withstood severe
temperature changes in the trunk of a Ford Maverick. She had once
had tits that everyone respected and called breasts. The kind you
really want to fondle, go to town with
Id find myself or at least some kind of floor mop that reminded
me of myself walking the streets again, the misrepresentation
of me that was just drunk enough to get nostalgic. To pity her; of
course, in less than a week Id want her pussy again, along with
all the folds of skin that she would serve up as mock labia.
there Id be outside on the plain of grime
saith deep midnights voice? amongst the pock-faced junkies and grunts, the
paint fumes from chop shops where Elsa got lightheaded
lightheaded makes me easy. Pioneer of a New Promised Land, a
substratum terra incognita, a neglected parcel of toxic land that
could be re-colonized and in some respects already had been. The
Gowanus smells like Turkish Taffy tonight.
myself instinctively reaching for my only weapon
a pen. It had already jabbed a perp/mugger in the
face. I mean, I think he intended to mug me. Although he
could have merely been asking me for a light. You dont stand still in these
disputed quadrants of the Brooklyn dark because you quickly become
their target. We dont take chances in a dark that was
designed by others.
instance, eventually I started carrying a knife, a Chinese knock-off
Swiss Army knife, not because I felt safer but also because I felt
more useful. At a party [I hadnt even been invited to]
I found myself with someone elses Swiss Army knife, opening a number of foreign
beers and uncorking Gamays brought by lithe mocha-epidermal women,
who had voices like Eartha Kitt. And so by the end of the party [the
good beers had all been sucked dry] I departed with it up my sleeve
a new appendage. It was as if my body had evolved to its newest
level of functioning to open foreign beers at parties. Open beers,
open hearts, open legs [I didnt say that!]. As if suddenly useful was chic, and
prepared was sexy. And for beautiful women, I became a convenient
godsend, a character, a dependable sentinel at their command
open this for me, sweetheart? Yes, some cachet was squeezed from
all this... down and out-ness.
that is how I must think of it as I wander unto the strip girding
the Gowanus Canal. There you cry tears that you cannot explain
without some understanding of chemistry. I cry because the air above
the water is sour and toxic
plastic, burning rubber, PCBs, rotting flesh. Or because the houses
seem to collapse before your very eyes and the sad dusty Xmas lights
are never taken down and the Italian guys ride around and around in
their jacked up pony cars through their Carroll Gardens looking for
something they cannot see. It is September
it? and one must be brave when
confronting the dark sadness at the precise location of where the
sky reflects the pavement.
got home it was 2 a.m. and I stare at the note Georg has tacked to
my front door: DEER KOMRAD, THAT DREADFULL ODER? BODY PARTS IN
BASEMEANT? WHO CALLS FOR INFESTEGATION. He cooks forgotten tubers,
black potatoes at odd hours. Behind several thick but moist and
semi-porous walls, painted a sour sanitarium green, I hear Pasha
Georg playing Wagner on his old hi-fi set. I think it is
Siegfried because that is his favorite.
like this Siegfried, he has told me more than once. The Motive of the
Valkyrs, the Motive of the Godss Stress, the Motive of the Dusk of the Gods. You
can almost picture him Georg in his Lawrence of Arabia get up,
conducting an imaginary orchestra with his vintage sabre. Something
about the Boer War. Hear him bellow over the music
Wala! Wala! Awake from lasting sleep
there for a second and I now began to realize that Djunas old
agoraphobic visions [no other word for them] were not all that
wacked after all. She had been onto something and I never noticed
beer and pussy obscuring my vision! As they say. I remember her wild
arms twirling like propellers, her hands swelled by the consumption
of a great number of beers. Djuna would say things like:
theres nothin but a big ashtray with teeth. There was a time, you
know, the charmed period, romance, do each others toes, flowers for
monthly anniversaries, blow jobs in public, back when personal
annoyances were amusing quirks
And then, and then, something gave. The roof
caves in, the ice sculpture melts, her drug dealer [ex-lover!]
disappeared without a trace. And suddenly doing nothing is no longer
fun or alternative or creative resistance. Its
all before she became so
else to put it? hopelessly realistic, so staunchly utilitarian,
before function and purpose began snuffing out all flippancy and
serendipity. I mean, she used to have vision and a sense of
fun, shoplifting on a dare, running down St. Marks pillaging at
random... slam-dancing at Soho art openings, no to-do lists... Those
were the days! And get this, years later at parties she goes around
claiming that we were the worlds first slam dancers when it became
all the rage.
She wasnt even
my ex yet and already we were living in the future past tense. Being
clean, in Narcotic Anonymous [We played with the acronym at her
expense: Neurotic Assholes, Nothing Accomplished...] had managed to
give her the character of a snub-nose pearl-handled pistol of
verifiable accuracy at close range. God, and how I loved her back
then, all 4 feet and 11 inches of her. Back then being before I
moved into her place. Back when the truth about my being a
Repairman or the highest paid foot messenger in the Five
Boroughs was something deliriously curious and entertaining to her.
These are the kind of jobs that make your later success [if it ever
comes calling] all the sweeter. She believed me precisely because
it was so unbelievable! But now the ridiculous had gone on for
too long and it no longer worked in my favor.
get serious, get a checking account
I was no longer surreal and
entertaining; the ridiculous was precisely ridiculous now. And
pathetic. And you get associated with pathetic and you go down fast
in New York.
This ashtrays also got a big powerful sucking action, I remember her great
resilient lips vacuuming me from chin to chest.
whirlpool of screeching steel and splintered chicken bones. Necklace of loving
teeth marks strung across my torso. Which made hairs quiver in
bodily nooks and shadowy undersides and orifices I didnt even know I had. But,
again, that was before. And now I have to ask myself: Was it love,
me, or the drugs? Although drunkenness, reverie, love and memory all
make a shambles out of now and then, out of plot lines and sequence
and sense. Events go back and forth, get twisted like twine and if
that matters you are in trouble until you buy an agenda.
remember one summer eve, under our bedroom window, in the relentless
commotion, some girl is out there in the street and she wants to
know; What is all this? A wall of flesh or sumpin!? Im gonna join me a zoo!
Gonna pose nude for all yooz, be the star of your thousand fuggin home videos! She was the gargoyle
that guarded our stoop. A pretty girl with a bark and a sweet snivel
into a jazz sleeve. In any case, she added exotic verve to the
The more she despised the tourists insatiable appetites for consuming all
experience, the more colorful she turned up in their snapshots. The
more they had to talk about their NY adventure in their homes in
Clifton and South Orange. And, indeed, if you are bored with the
life you have chosen, you can for a price live in a kind of inverted
Disneyland, surround yourself with exotic creatures
them discarded anti-social misfits from the very suburbs and small
towns where the Chamber of Commerce gives misfits one-way bus
tickets to the Big Apple to rid the community of a social problem
and eventually use the fact that New York has more crazies and uses
more tax dollars to maintain them than the suburbs against it in
order to show ones indignant and insecurely tainted sense of
superiority. Or you move there. Or you come visit and you see the
crazy on the stoop and you have this strange sense of familiarity or
I BE your porn star, BAby! A man accompanied her
on garbage cans laid on their sides. They sounded like Santana. I
dont know, and she sounded so right on, like
some Nina Simone with a tornado coiffure. But I was afraid to admit
I was agreeing with someone who was so far gone. I couldve been all wrong about
our stoop gargoyle. I never ventured some
amen response out the
window. Camaraderie even simple niceties are suspect around here. Take the lesbian woman
living in our building. Eating macrobiotic at places where
eating slow is religion hasnt helped her mindset one bit. She does look
like a fuzzy gray version of Anne Waldman or Diane DiPrima working
as an assistant bookkeeper at the St. Marks Poetry Project or something. For months I said
hello to her as we passed in the hallway. Finally one day she turns
to me, aims her slender forefinger at my throat and says
you piece of shit. I am speechless.
I fret, I breathe hard, put my ear on our front door, and I gauge
whether the coast is clear. And like that, Im now
terrified to be out in my own hallway. Every sound I think its slow
chewer or Georg or the Ukranian ladies. I mumble
kokha ju as I pass them. My declaration of love does not
alter their wet dishrag scowls. I will have Pawel at work teach me
to say No, I do not work for the KGB.
Meanwhile, other fucked-up types
kind, like you and me, who get fucked up trying to keep up with
fucked-upness all around them think youre going to bum money off them if youre nice. But theyre onto you; you can
tell by that snide little wound of sneer they give you. They think
nice is weak or a con job. The words in the dictionary dont mean what they say
anymore. I stopped saying hello because it sounds too much like
to knife you or fuck you or steal your dogs bowl of Laddie Boy.
emphasize enough how back then, during our honeymoon season,
me and Djuna were a happy fused WE molecule and we had no time for
sleep. Wasnt it the Maharishi who claimed we dont need to sleep if we
meditate twice daily for 20 minutes? I had imposed a regimen to see
how close I could come to not sleeping: love or what comes
beyond that [if love is marijuana, then whatever the cocaine
equivalent of emotion would be], meditation, coffee, hyper-activity,
beer, intense conversation where your dreams for changing the world
suddenly become a likelihood. I mean, it worked for a couple of
months, anyway. But you have to assume the consequences: a new
more poetic syntax where speculation is equal to fact,
levitation, dislocation, phantom hallucinations, hearing things
wrote down back then are hard to decipher when I look at them now.
But it seems that at a week or so of no sleep I heard myself
sounding like Charles Baudelaire in an argument with Rip Taylor and
Louis Armstrong at 78 rpms. I mean, it sounds wacked but there you
are in the Holiday Bar and your going at it, tearing into the
conventional logic of the universe and they are all nodding their
heads in unison in full agreement. Actually, we didnt know
anybody who really slept a lot. The idea was cocaine, No-Doz,
caffeine and a LIFE TO LIVE because if you slept you might miss
something, somebody might get something up on you. You might become
the victim of a lapse in vigilance. Paranoia was the name of the pet
we took for eternal walks. I kept the windows open to keep hot from
getting too hot. We sweat the sweat you never see in Hollywood
versions of tenement bohemias. There was no way to turn the
radiators off ON meant on, but so did OFF. I knew they
theys that are not me couldnt get in this way unless they [the
they inside all of us] used
a helicopter or a catapult. Or astral projection. Its all been done
surveillance copters leased to the city utilize infrared
technology to detect privacy wrongdoings as well as the
sophisticated windowsill cultivation of cannabis plants.
used to make sense. We had claimed a kind of inspired lunacy as a
reprieve from the paranoia
night the international [Grenada, Chernobyl, El Salvador, Reagan
re-election] would invade the sanctum of the personal. Bed, bedlam,
Bedouin were all related in my dictionary. And so you may remember
me [or am I flattering myself?] as that slender boy with the beer in
paper sack in left hand who might sleep walk with the remains of a
waning six-pak in a rucksack until dawn made me feel like an alien
in an alien world. Thats a clichι but it is a valid experience: Although you might
stand on a corner and tell yourself that this is really happening
and the next your wondering if your words are lying to your mind
everyone is tumbling out of the subways, off the buses, strange
evasive eyes, hands struggling to straighten ties as they gallop
past, all headed this way and youre headed that way, crawling
insanity [that of our kindred spirits] was a kind of performance art
that would purge us of the times, the times that would not have us
the us who were confined to this place
here in Downtown Beirut or the Holiday or Sallys and the them
were everywhere else like McSorleys where cops once beat Leroi Jones
to a pulp for being an uppity Blackman who liked his beer.
Sometimes Djuna made me stand before her recumbent splendor wrapped
in the humid bed sheets so that she could shake my low-hanging
testicles like fuzzy dice and stare at me with her gray
dirty-glacier eyes. Her mind was like the ruins of the temple of
Isis filled with thousands of phalli. She had had
older men in the palm of her hand and they had had her in the folds
of their wallets. Ditto for younger. Her solace was an equation of
being had that was always less than having had someone. Shed
take one testicle as a lozenge and place it in the back of her
cheek, back where the voice becomes something special, something to
be heard. Then places the other in the right cheek and hums and hums
and hums like a Tibetan Buddhist monk or soul singer dressed in
Then shed place
one in each of her eye sockets like one might delicately place [to
not spill a drop] green olives in matching martinis. And she might
have said, Mine eyes have seen the gory.
remember the odd spiral, the way my forefinger was fascinated by the
seashell spiral of her earrings and the impression they left in the
skin near my navel after shed pressed
her ear [attached to her brew-sloshed or psilo-silly nog] to my
trunk for awhile. I remember this while standing in the doorway; the
apartment suddenly feeling like a neglected diorama in a museum
to flick dying roaches [Thai or Jamaican] from the damp bed, aiming
for the window, too drunk and stoned to even think of anything
resembling an upright position [Upright and vertical meant the man,
]. Sometimes these lit
roaches got caught in the lacy curtains. And in no time they were
pocked with a constellation of burn holes [which reminded us of the
universes architecture, which only made us snicker some
more] and from here we created our own constellations and charts,
divined our future. Sometimes the embers got flicked out onto the
people hanging out below. Maybe they thought meteors or smokestacks
you know, like the ones at the Con Ed plant where they burn tons of
garbage [thats the rumor anyway]. And the particulant-dense
toxins tickle our flared nostrils when we least expected it. But
that was so long ago months, weeks, years, hours... I cant
than once we worried about fire, still do. I mean, the lady in #12
used to have this wild dog. When she walked it she had to muzzle it.
Everybody hates her because of this dog
doesnt she understand this? she gets rid of the growling beast she thinks she
needs to protect her from those who hate her and
the source of hatred is eliminated and suddenly shed have friends again
But that is not how
the human soul is assembled. I mean, you used to be able to hear
this beast a block away, its claws digging into the cement sidewalk,
choking itself on the end of its chain, ready to tear the head off a
kid or attack your ankles. And shed turn around and blame you for being
scared, which only encouraged him. He smells fear, shed say.
3-legged dogs. I think: On her death bed will she wonder how much
better would my life have been without that beast? It barks at
anything even contemplating movement. And I can still picture it up
there on her stove, her screaming for help, me scrambling up the
stairs, it barking at rats with wings, it catching fire, igniting
the fake lace, and sending this whole rat trap up in smoke. Me
putting out the flames in a fit of heroism. She later blaming me for
hurting her beast and causing water damage and stealing some of her
Tentative and tenement may have the same Latin root. This will have
to be checked at the library. Our apartment was an illegal sublet
you never knew what the super, who did some time for a crime we can
only guess at, might perpetrate: He might try to burn us out or like
6 months ago, try to flood us out with a broken water pipe
accident. He may be subsidizing Georgs rent to keep him
there and drive the rest of us out. It may be him or Georg, for that
matter, who is dragging large maritime chains across a wooden floor.
Or percussive thumps at all hours against my front door. Like a
warning. When I leap to check, there is no one there, only a weird
cord swaying ever so slightly under the sick rancid butter-colored
light. And I can see the catastrophe before my eyes, a whole life
full of love letters, photos with writing on the back, Cramps
records, and knickknacks from great adventures
gone like that, tossed out on the street, charred at the edges,
one of the gargoyle Ukrainian ladies one day what that cord was for
and they looked at me as if I had asked them whether they masturbate
to the image of the almost-naked Jesus. I believe they believe that
you pull that cord and the whole building falls down. Ok, so I wont touch it but only in deference to their belief system. I
sometimes stare at it precisely where the cord goes into a small
hole in the ceiling.
Itd do everybody good to lose everything every
couplea years. I swear Ive heard Djuna talk like that. She was not
sentimental about stuff, the past, mementoes. Its this type of calamity
scenario that actually resuscitated Djuna
a Phoenix thing
does. Shed be sitting pretty because all my past(s) would
be lying there in a small pile of smoky ash, no longer able to lurk
and linger and drive her crazy. I once caught her scrawling
snide and snippy comments in the margins of old high school love
letters shed found buried away in my part of the closet. I
mean, I didnt even unpack my bags see relation between tentative and
remnant of sobriety can breed this kind of linear sophistry. Thus I
reach for another beer [a metaphysical one, perhaps one brewed at a
Trappist monastery, perhaps a Chimay White
pron. she may a brew of dry hoppy finesse, one
that goes down satisfyingly although not without a battle] in an
attempt to reverse, in some small way, the spin of this earth.
Im on the
ground floor, Djuna is gone, so tonight Im alone again, and when I turn down
Joy Division and really listen, I can hear the howls of the
half-dozen guard dogs that, according to Georg, Marco the super
keeps hungry in the basement.
I remember the dark heads in our red Rambler, I tell Djuna.
my brother counting seas on the moon, drawingm on my Etch-a-Sketch
like faces with eyes and mouth. So that faraway places could look
more like us. I remember thinking brown cows, like the ones at the
farm museum with their butts aimed back at us, made the chocolate
milk served to us at the end of the tour. My old man would say that
all we needed to do was pump the tail to get my own glass full.
I remember you used to be interesting. Djuna, being close at
hand, moving around, folding things, putting them away, made
cringing attempts to taunt me out of these childhood reveries that
irresponsibly never included her. Ah, when we were young [Eric
Burdon & the Animals], those honeymoon dog days when I could do no
wrong with her literally! I could do NO WRONG. That is
freedom. But that feeling died and I could now do no right even if I
was Gandhi, Cary Grant and Joey
Ramone rolled into
If I cant be included in these filmstrips I will keep you
from letting them take you as far as they would take you if they
could. She was young then: pixy, brash, part of the
Young Artists Take Manhattan group that included Clutch, Samo,
Constant I, and Krazy Kat. Her nom-de-flourish was
Lil Dude because she was a
tomboy who thrived on dares, threw herself out of a cab going 45 mph
after the man who wished to keep her forever
kept woman had posted a Valentine to her on the Times Square
text zipper. Thats right, tossed herself out to see if he was man
enough to deal with dares. He wasnt although he remained obsessed
with her [or at least the memory of how he wished her to remain for
all time]. When I met Djuna, she was living somewhere between faith
That swaying chest-high grass
and full o crickets like whispers at dusk as I romped around naked
through a field with no end.
Oh, is this gonna be like Little Hubby On The
Prairie? Oh, God, leave me alone!
Commentary ignored. Id sit up on a tree limb with the setting sun on my
dick. I thought of how many times my mother had told strangers and
neighbors alike how long shed been in labor 42 hours. Or somethin like that. How everything about me drove her
crazy right down to the flap of uncircumcised skin. Scrubbing under
there like there was no tomorrow.
I hope this is not a come on.
Maybe this was her
way of keeping up with the general inflation of disbelief like there
had to be a logical, understandable reason why she felt so
alienated from her life, her surroundings, her neighbors... And I
remember how my mother said the midwife supposedly said I didnt really want to come
out, that I was holding on to the inside of the womb,
scared cat hangs onto a sweater like he knows something we dont. I jumped off the
branch, hid my dick between my thighs in the fields to be the girl.
was all ears and orifices and made me get out of bed to
demonstrate. And kneeling before me on the bed, she caressed me the
way a girl might caress another girl. A tender, satirical ham was
she. But that was long ago. Did I mention that already? Long ago.
tell you she was so light that I could carry her around like a
bowling ball with one finger in her asshole and one in her pussy?
Well, its true. You can ask her. She liked
I imagined being a girl, sun beating down on my
theoretical rearrangement of genitalia up in that tree in the
pasture, counted the cows like they were clouds and waited in the
limbs crux for my body to start doing something.
began rolling her eyes, rolling them the way a steamroller rolls
down a street. She just had no patience for what she called
At sundown in the campground, tiny lights hung
suspended in the big dark like Xmas lights in a roadside tavern. Lit
tents and trailers in the darkness full of insects and their
predators and the predators of those predators. And what good is
light? All it does is attract smogs of blood-sucking mosquitoes. I
remember I wasnt gonna talk for a week on that camping trip as a
protest or something like if I didnt talk I couldnt sound stupid and then maybe girls would like me.
Sounds like a fine strategy to me.
OK, OK, but my parents put a stop to that, they
got really mad and forced me to make friends in the campground,
dragging me around by the hand and introducing me to groups of kids.
are not people, Furman, unless they talk. My ole man used to say.
PuhLEASE! Spare me! I vote for inhuman, then.
Talk! TALK! Mole lady started screaming, as they shook me and
shook me. Then my ole man tricked me into responding by ridiculing
my favorite rock bands Lovin Spoonful and the Rascals
them homos or stewpots or... That got me going. And, yea, I defended
those bands! In the campground we caught fireflies by the
This is as cute as a Disney flick.
We putm in a jar, then held the jar like a lantern to
illuminate us doing these wild, hammy scenes from movies. Casting
crazy shadows against big outcrops of stone. I did a kissing scene
and then a choking scene. You know, like in early silent movies.
Henrietta walked the pirates gangplank. Helen struggled with a
How thoroughly heart-rending.
I sorta liked them. The glisten of a front tooth
like Helens still gets me going. Its easy to say, but
really, these days its not. Like me, they did not want to squeeze
fireflies between their fingers to see if the juice, the blood
if thats what it was was phosphorescent. Or swing toads by their legs
over their heads like they were twirling lariats until the
centrifugal force drove their guts inside out like Jamey and Paul
used to do.
Awh, yer so sensitive!
OK. I mean they were my friends so I had to act
like it was the greatest when their guts came out. Its what gets us in
trouble later in life. Isnt it? Boy scouts, football hooligans, bullying,
armed forces, good ole boys network...
Im gonna meditate now
During mating season, the female firefly hangs
around on a fat, bare twig, responding to signaling males flying by.
Her responses allow them to establish range and recognition. And the
attractiveness of her flashing backside, her pale winking light
guides the right male with the right lighting code in for a landing
like shes some amorous air traffic controller. Each
firefly emits a unique signal that proclaims its species, sex, and
excitability. I remember the burning itch in my crotch area that
night after my romp through the fields.
OK, maybe tell it to National Geographic.
I remember in the
tent having to show my father where it itched. And, while Henrietta
and Helen sat with my mom and brother by the campfire, my father
sterilized a razor blade with some rubbing alcohol. He then made me
lay down on the cot so that he, sweat dripping off the end of his
nose, Coleman lantern hissing, could carve out the tick from
underneath my scrotum. I later joined the girls at the campfire
wondering what they were wondering. Was my limp noticeable? Did they
Or me for that matter!
Adrenaline is what stimulates the ass of the
I wish it was that easy for us humans.
For you its venom.
Oh, yea, Im poison, Furman.
You said my name!... The fireflys generator
Im rememberin this from when I was
like 14 is apparently like some compact honeycomb
churning with swirls of cool but intense radiance. Fueling the light
is luciferin, or light-bearing substance, which oxidizes with luciferase, an
enzyme produced in the stomach, when air is let in through small
Oh yea, those sexy breathing ducts.
My body, at 14, was all fucked up with awkwardness
and self-doubt. Dont sit too close to the fire with all them
combustible hormones. Body parts conspiring to betray my best
As utterance of disgust or as provocation to extreme sex? Djuna
simply ignored me as much as possible. But then later she doused me
in dark beer and drank of me to drain my flesh of all toxins and
memory. I do not know to this day how she did it.
Just shut up, She whispered. The less you reveal the more attractive you are. Her flip-flop moods,
from fire to ice, from ire to nice, was both vexing and challenging.
Love and hate, fire and rain. [In my odd circles of not-quite
friends, my ownership of James Taylors Fire and Rain was still
being used as an argument against my full membership.]
Seventeen says a guy reaches his sexual peak at 17.
Its all downhill from there, a 60-year slide.
I imagined for a long time that all happiness was
contained in the glistening, graceful arms of Helen swimming in the
Thats what makes you so
charming, always telling me things I dont wanna hear...
While women Im harda hearing! have hormones that keep them
waiting till their 27 or 28 even.
Or forever in our case.
Listen, I can get letters of recommendation
I doubt theyre even old enough to write.
Ouch. Whats god tryin to do, Henrietta says, make it difficult before we even get started? I sometimes still see
those lips, their sculptural butterfly perfection flitting before my
eyes lit by the campfire. I always associated lip and the
lep- prefix of the
lepidoptera order of butterflies, so that when I saw a butterfly
they were really the lips of Henrietta, a physical manifestation of
a spiritual state.
Please! Spare me! Djunas jealousy disguised by contempt or vice versa was
as becoming as a beached transparent jellyfish revealing all its
pockets of poison. Just bury it in your next book that wont get published.
At Lake George, one night a thunderstorm carved a
river out of the road and sent forks of light crashing through the
hemlocks. It sent mom, head full of curlers, dragging us in
through a downpour to the car. We faked sleep in the backseat,
watched her wipe the steam from the window to gaze at the tent. She
cracked the window to curse nature or the pact my ole man thought he
was making with it. A car, she told us, is the safest place, because
its grounded by the rubber tires. The ole man
lingered in the tent, determined to ride out the storm. Lightning
lit his silhouette shaking a fist at the heavens. Tipping a bottle
back. Hunched over his transistor radio, drawing in stations from
far away. Mom, through a crack in the window, yelled for him to get
his reet in the car. Thats Lowlandian for ass. She only swears in
Lowlandian when shes outta control. He raged back, his defiant
knuckles punching the inside of the tent. I think thunder reminded
her of air raids, as a teen, in Amsterdam back in 1944. Even today
we kid her when she heads for the basement, where she sits and waits
out the storm in darkness in the middle of Pennsylvania. That
Oh, please dont stop, Im almost asleep.
...the sky was clear and crisp. Campers wrung out
their wet clothes. My father asleep in the tent. Wet floor. His hair
wild on the damp pillow. The branches of the trees totally black
with rain. And when I went to visit Helen and Henrietta I found
their campsite abandoned, empty, disappeared. They were gone. No
They were smartern I gavem credit for.
I scoured the site, kicked the pine needles
around, looking for clues, secret messages perhaps contained in the
way they had left a neat pile of kindling. And I was just going to
ask them to be my pen pals. And it was in that instant of
discovering that empty campsite that I discovered where
self-loathing meets regret.
Heavy! I can show you plenty of other places you
You know, a fireflys foreplay and reconnaissance maneuvers dampen
under a bright full moon. Dontcha get it? Fireflies shy away from urban
auroras of too much light that muck up the purity of the nights darkness and messes
with their signals. The darker the night, the greater the connubial
Tell me something I dont already dont
Later Id figure out the same at necking parties
girls arms were never as lithe and perfect as Helens; the lips never as
magnificent as the butterfly lips of Henrietta
pool dances and spin-the-bottle circles.
Tragedy of the romantic womanizer.
The amount of necking and tongue-kissing was
always inversely proportional to the number of watts, the interiors brightness. People
just dont make out under thousands of watts of floodlight.
Like at a mall: You never see people making out at a mall cuz light
equals crippling self-consciousness. The more darkness, the greater
the surge toward liberty.
curious piece of light sat tauntingly off to one side in Djunas left eye. Like a stiletto made of light. Sleep deprivation, beer,
horniness, the killer heat, doubt, synaesthesia. Did it mean she was
about to pounce?
Dont you see what Im getting at? I had a revelation. And every once in a
while, ever since those firefly and necking nights discoveries, Ive wanted to live by a
campfire, have that be the illumination of our lives, and I think
unbearable wattages, shoot out the massive lights like at the county
fair Bing! Bing! that illuminate shopping-mall parking lots to
undo what doing had done. I take it you dont see what Im drivin at.
Nothin like biographical revisionism
you reachin. Amen ugh aah men.
Beer Mystic excerpt #8
bart plantenga is also the author
Wiggling Wishbone and
Spermatagonia: The Isle of Man
both published by
Autonomedia. His book
YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO: The Secret History
of Yodeling Around the World received worldwide
attention. He is currently [not] working on a new novel,
Paris Sex Tete, which lies
around like an apathetic, half-clad, dissheveled paramour while his
new book on yodeling
Yodel in HiFi,
will no doubt be a bread-winner of epiglottal proportions.
His life has been defined by women, undignified employment [not
unlike 98% of the rest of the worlds population], migration, lack
of money and writing. His writing focuses on inequity, unempowerment,
insatiable desire, the unentitled, the under-regarded, ignored and
ineffable, which has led to a life of luxurious suffering and
indellible indifference to profit.
His radio show
This Mess has been on the air since 1986, first on WFMU
[NY], then Radio Libertaire [Paris], and finally Radio 100 and now
Radio Patapoe [Amsterdam], the worlds most untamed and oldest
pirate radio station. He lives in Amsterdam.