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LGBTQtie Pie

              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Monday, March 31, 2008

More about Skimpy, but he is sick and suffering...

The two dreadlocked musicians sat in a SOHO restaurant. “I just don’t know what I feel right now. I love Daisy but I am electrified when I see Monigue. When I’m with her Daisy just doesn’t exist. I think I’m afraid I could fall in love with her too.”

“Oh boy! Fennell I don’t know what to say other than I hope you work it out. In my mind, I see you and Daisy as long term thing. Even though after all these years I’m still a little pissed that you stole my girl friend, I see you two together.” He laughed. They had just done another shot each when Lee leaned in to utter another perception of her situation.. Fennel looked up as Skimpy plopped himself down at the table. Lee held his tongue and shot Fennel an accusing look. Before saying, “Hey buddy how did find us?”

“Fennel texted me and said we needed to talk. Where’s Les?

“He’s not coming.” Fennel said uncomfortably.

Lee was fuming and Skimpy was agitated and distracted. Skimpy leaned in and whispered. “Jesus, take a look at this.”

Three men joined the two women who had been eavesdropping on their conversation. One peeled off his leather outer coat revealing a vest emblazoned with the legend - Hells Angels London. One leaned down and was looking over the shoulder of one of the women looking at some photographs. He turned around and also displayed the Angels’ colors. His were a little less road weary than those of his companions’. The oldest looking member of the bunch was sporting the tattered and faded colors of the Holland chapter of the motorcycle club. They chatted for a few minutes and the women obediently got up and went to the bar at the opposite end of the restaurant.

Fennell changed the subject not wanting to talk about Daisy in front of Skimpy. Besides they had business to discuss. Lee was fascinated by the bikers. They all were pretty well dressed. They were all chatting on their cell phones. Twice the calls were made in very fluent French. One headed to the bar. Lee’s attention was diverted again when an agreement was made and sealed with a clink of three glasses. He wanted to know what kind of business they were discussing. He viewed them with awestruck fear. He longed for their kind of lifestyle, without considering for a moment he had created his own “outlaw” existence which was just as interesting and romantic. He feared the bold and macho connotations putting on “the colors” represented. These gents lived by a different set of laws. They weren’t as down and dirty as some of their predecessors described by Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Wolfe, They were the torch bearers. Just like PRY, their band, was with the genre of music forged by the Grateful Dead.

They were fellow travelers with roots going back to the parties Ken Kesey hosted in the California Hills, the dress rehearsals for the legendary and infamous Acid Tests, where the Hell’s Angels were frequent guests. These brothers carried about the family business with youthful and vibrant energy, aware that on the other side of the pond, previous generations of club members, like Sonny Barger, as he struggled, gasping for breath through his breathing tube, relied upon them to carry out their decades long legacy eagerly awaiting the fruits of their youthful ambitions, as they took the club into the next generation possessing the skill set required to succeed as multi-lingual inter-continental outlaws, pro-actively growing their business.

“Amazing, Lee thought.” Lee missed something as he was jarred back to conversation by Skimpy asking,

“Do we have to talk about this now Fennel?”

“When are we going to talk about it? Lee’s not going to be around for a couple of months.”

“Oh, yeah Dr. Thoreau and his book tour.”

Lee kept his voice down but delivered, “Ya know Skimpy, Fuck You. Why don’t you write a book?”

“Why don’t you write some songs, I did.” Lee was fuming, why does he let Skimpy do this to him? He’s the only one who pushed his buttons like this.

“We could have made a lot of money this summer, Bonnaroo, all of the festivals. We could have even come back here.”

“Look, Skimp, You know I love you and I would do ANYTHING for the band. This is a good example of why we need to take some time off to regroup. Think about the future, we can go anywhere. What I don’t need is this jealous bullshit that you seem to think I am causing. I and every member of the band has to know that we can do our own thing with out animosity from others.”

“Fuckin’ … you write about us, it’s like dirty laundry.” Skimpy was now fuming.

“What is your problem? No, it isn’t dirty laundry, and as far as not touring goes. I need that time. You should use your time wisely. What do you think? I let the world know you’re a dope addict?” he whispered. “Clean up your act a bit and you don’t have to worry about not keeping the cash juggernaut rolling…”

Fennel stated, “Look, you guys need to get through this shit. Les is gigging this Summer, what’s stopping you? ” Skimpy sat silently fiddling with a paper tube full of sugar. Fennel continued,

“Skimpy, you know your temper, Lee you are just as bad. I cannot leave this country and part ways with each of you unless I know whether or not PRY is going to remain an active touring and recording unit, and whether or not you, Skimpy, are going to show up at the Princeton Show on Tuesday. I took that little outburst you had a couple of weeks ago with a grain of salt. Obviously it wasn’t your last show since you are still here. But, there is a lot of work that needs to be done for the upcoming tour, and I’m going to be pissed if I do that work and don’t have a band to follow through with the plans.”

She continued, “Skimpy your songs on the next album are great.” Lee nodded in agreement.

“I love them, everyone does. Can’t you hear the crowd when you sing?” Lee interjected. “This is not about Lee or who is more popular with the crowd. Or who is depriving whom of what. You are an amazing musician and we’ve been together for 20 years, Things are happening for us, our price tag just went up. Why are you so agitated now?”

“Maybe I am jealous.”

Again Lee raised his voice. “Dude….Of What. Everything you have I have. Skills, publishing rights, there is not one of my songs that hasn’t been attributed to the Band. I don’t know what you want. Do want me to apologize for something I did? What is it?”

“People treat you differently, man. You don’t seem like the same person I knew ten years ago.”

“Who is who they were ten years ago, you’re not, and that is a compliment. Please man, take this time and use it wisely. Think about what you want, think about what you need. I started seeing a shrink to deal with some of my shit, maybe you should see someone to deal with some of your shit?”

Lee reached out and touched Skimpy’s arm. “Fuckin’… ya talk about dirty laundry, this is dirty laundry dude.” Lee intentionally brushing his thumb against the bumpy festering hive growing on Skimpy’s skin. It was obvious that Skimpy had just injected himself, and missed the vein at one point, the mis-directed drug caused his skin to bubble and crawl. He probably did it quickly in the WC at the pub he just left. The hive looked pretty irritating. Lee continued,

“Skimpy, I love you and would do anything for you, I’m not the bad guy who is holding you back.” He pulled his arm away and started rubbing the wound himself. “You need to get away from that man. You know I did it once, and it felt too good. I can’t imagine being there every day.”

“You think I want to do this shit? It’s not fun. It feels good for about ten minutes. It’s bad enough waking up sick but Imagine being sick and in your shadow every day.” Lee groaned and Skimpy turned away. Fennell interjected,

“ Skimpy, please everyone loves and supports you. Princeton Tuesday…Sound check at 5 o’clock. Are you gonna be there?”

“I’m cool with that.” In his mind he said, “But, I’m not going to detox.” We’ll set the time and date for the next meeting then.” She grabbed his hands and looked straight in his eyes. “I love you, man. We can get through this”

He thought to himself, “I know.”

Lee fumed keeping his thoughts to himself. “ Huh - my shadow. If he knew what goes through my head every time I try to look in the mirror…Maybe I should tell him ... maybe, but not."

Next a flash back to the present when Skimpy heads into that Barber Shop.

I am still "Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats."


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Paradise Waits..."

I've always been plagued with a personality which lends itself to very creative thinking. I'm always coming up with great ideas, that really don't go anywhere. Part of the reason is that they are forgotten before I have a chance to write them down or think them through. And the ones which do make it...well, I just don't have the money to bring them to fruition. I guess I could bang on some doors, beat a few rugs and hope that some venture capitalists will fall out and agree that these are indeed good Ideas and deserve a shot in the free market place.

I have had my shot at the free market place a couple of times within the food service industry. Restaurants are a hard sell to an investor, unless you are investing in one of those National chain outfits which can have the Mothership beam down a new Funked Up facility to a vacant lot in less that two weeks. Then you will have 1000 people lined up to spend their money the day you open.

The Mom and Pop places in my town are disappearing. As they probably are in your town as well. Last week's news headlines brought forward the news that three downtown eateries in Springfield, MA were closing their doors. I'm glad I am no longer on the ownership side of things as far as restaurants go. I would surely perish even if I did get the questionable location I had chosen going. I occasionally drive by the space where I had my restaurant. I can see the walls which I painted and my lighting fixtures. I can see all of my old equipment. The line is still set up the way I left it. It is still vacant having seen two subsequent attempts by others fail in the same location. No rent is better that some rent isn't it?

I went to lunch with Freddy Freedom the other day. It was a beautiful day in Northampton. We were at one of the newer restaurants in town, Green Bean. This place is fabulous. It's a little bit country and little bit rock and roll. The vegan kids from Smith can go in there and get something delicious without alienating their parents who are looking for some finely prepared eggs with a side of something locally produced, very crispy, smoked, and decidedly non-vegan. It really is the best of both worlds. It is really refreshing to experience an independently owned business that actually has a chance of making it. So refreshing.

I don't want to sound bitter about my life as a restaurateur. I found success and notoriety in that field. Where I really want to make my mark is in the world of Arts and Literature. I am on the cusp, but something is holding me back. Yes, lately, I have been prolific in the writing department, writing the best I have had in years. I am working to hone the craft. It is important to me and a few of you out there who keep encouraging me to continue.

I have a glass studio with an open house coming up in three short months. I can count on one hand the number of pieces I have to offer for sale at this show. It is embarrassing. I need to get off my arse and do something about it, the bills are not going to pay themselves.

But for reasons I fail to identify, I am stuck. I need a muse. I need a few thoughts which will make me laugh to energize and excite those creative juices. I have ideas which are really good, yet the shop lays dormant.

I burned myself a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to jump start myself and get out of this rut. I had an idea, a simple one but ended up maiming myself in its execution. I sat down at the torch recently with limited results.

Freddy and I discussed this at our luncheon. It is a wonderful thing to be able to have a contemporary to toss a few ideas around. He is an amazing writer with a unique perspective. I spoke to him regarding my thoughts about laying it all on the line. In this studio space, I will emancipate myself from the chains I have forged for myself. What I really want to do isn't that difficult. Especially now that I have a clear head. With the lifestyle associated with active addiction behind me, I think I have a chance...In fact I know I do.

I wonder if I am afraid of succeeding. How would I handle success, would I fritter it away like I have done so many times in the past? I'm pretty sure I'm onto something profound with this next thought. I think it is fear of rejection that inhibits my ability to try. Historically, I have succeeded only when I was absolutely certain I would.

As we further discussed my dilemma, the subject matter did lighten up a bit. I let Freddy know about a few ideas I have been kicking around.

Here are some of my most recent hair brained schemes we discussed.

1.) Fashionable and hip sneakers geared toward people who have abnormally large or wide feet. Of course, we would have to make them for "normal" people because they would be just so darned cool, and in demand.

The sneakers would be made with hemp uppers and recycled rubber for the soles. Yes, Freddy pointed out that has been done. They would be made by American Workers paid real wages with real benefits. Oh yeah...and the catch, the catch which would make these sneakers marketable? The name and what they leave behind. Sasquatch sneakers will have a sole which will leave leave footprints wherever you go. Marketing ideas? Think about the concept of taking pictures an leaving footprints. And, of course Bigfoot would make an appearance in the Ads. Cavemen eat your hearts out.

2. It seems like a lot of the younger people are really into the whole tribal/body piercing scene. How about functional accessories? I'm sure you have seen the big 3/4 to 1 inch spacers the kids are wearing in their earlobes? How about making a Bluetooth which would fit in there instead of over the ear. Fashionable, hip and functional a little tribal mixed with some Star Trek, eh, ah?

Freddy and I were sitting there enjoying our food while our waitress was clearing the table. I was admiring the art work which was on the walls.

All of the pieces were a mixed media presentation involving a decoupage collage of old-time magazine clippings and advertising art which were highlighted with fine symmetrical brush strokes of paint utilizing earthy tones. The texture of the painting over the collage was fascinating and really brought the art to life. The brush strokes ran in alternating parallel and horizontal blocks. The strokes had an almost impressionist and multi-dimensional feel in their application. It was enough to give the art life without obscuring the collage, rather offering highlights and texture; bringing the attitudes of old time clippings, depicting apron adorned women in more domestic roles to a hilarious conclusion. I pointed the piece out to Freddy. I also noted the price of the piece, $1,000...a price I surely would have paid if I had some income to invest in an artist other than myself.

Freddy said, "Remember the time you asked me why art was so expensive?" I lurched forward in laughter at how ludicrous a question that was and what I could have possibly been thinking to prompt me to ask such a question. I'm sure I was stoned when I said that.

I looked at the artist's bio posted on the the nearby wall. Then I looked at our waitress and realized it was she, Lisa Orsted, the artist whom I had been admiring, clearing my lunch dishes and who was about to ask us if we wanted any dessert. I complimented her on her skills. She promises to send me a link when these collages are visible online.

The situation of confronting art and artist in such a moment of stark reality made me think of my dilemma and my artistic blockage. It seemed insignificant. It made me humble. It made me stronger. It gave me the patience to wait. To wait for a day when I am successful and living a life not very different from the one I am currently experiencing, just a little more comfortable. I wish Lisa the best. Her art truly moved me that afternoon, the message her work offered was truly enlightening and was further accentuated as she toiled and dealt with reality in the shadow of her Art.

Yes, "Paradise waits..."

"Why is art so expensive?"

Because it is worth it!

Once again, you can find me..."Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats."