Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lovers and other strangers

lovers and sweethearts.

They are out there you know, the secret hearts, but these people are fragile and ephemeral as a smile in childhood. Yet they do exist. Places in the heart-oasis' where you may truly escape what we have come to think of as the world. Like walking down Yesterday Street. Dancing to music that was written and recorded before you were born. In those places you are safe from harm and sheltered from sorrrow. If you find one of those places, and then leave it, as I have done, you may spend the rest of your life with the better part of your soul living in the shadow of regret.

Love and happiness-it's either a hospital or whorehouse.

I saddled up and rode off to the lesbian bar, they wouldn't let me enter. I wondered if I had a discrimination suit?

The song I wanted on the radio was about as hard to find as an innocent priest.

Every one hundred years or so. She deflected the concept like a rare interlude, like a moonbeam trying to find a lover. I looked thoughtfully out at the endless Texas night. The night had become as dark as my mood. Such were the somber thoughts and deeds that came to mind this morning like the heavy grey clouds that hung heavy in the sky.

I had looked at her and wished, not for the first time, that she would never leave. She must have seen it in my eyes as she walked away into the night .


The loverly and oft mentioned Freckles the Lesbian dance class instructor and I had dinner last night. Her eyes are still the color of bluebonnets.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where"s The Beef?

When President Obama signed the landmark $787 billion stimulus package, he proudly declared that he did not allow any members of Congress to insert wasteful, last-minute earmarks in their bills to benefit special interests in their states and districts. Dubbed "pork barrel" spending, these earmarks are notorious in Washington, perhaps the most infamous example being the $385 million "Bridge to Nowhere" for Alaska inserted into a 2005 transportation bill by the now-disgraced Sen. Ted Stevens.

But with or without earmarks -- and despite what Obama said -- special-interest spending has found its way into the stimulus in massive doses, budget watchers contend. "We were told this was going to be a massive infrastructure spending program," says Veronique De Rugy, a senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. She argues that the bill is overflowing not with needed infrastructure spending, but with hundreds of billions in pork.
Now the majority of the $787 billion isn't pork. Indeed, tax relief alone makes up some 34 percent of the bill. Where you might find the pork is in the so-called discretionary spending portion of the bill, which amount to $308 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Of that money, $48 billion goes to the Department of Transportation for various rail and road projects to repair and expand infrastructure. That leaves about $260 billion of discretionary spending that goes to various federal agencies, as well as to state and local governments. How much of that amount helps special interests instead of the economy as a whole? That depends, of course, on what you consider a special interest. But decide for yourself. Here is a list of some of the most controversial individual pieces of discretionary spending that might have the pleasant taste of pork.

1) Green golf carts. Ever rode a "neighborhood electric vehicle?" Well, you might want to now. The stimulus includes a tax credit toward the purchase of NEVs, which closely resemble golf carts in appearance. They are considered green vehicles because they use an electric battery instead of gasoline. You fill it up with juice by plugging it into a home electrical outlet. Don't expect to be able to take your NEV far outside of your neighborhood, though. Federal regulations limit their top speed to between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Freeway cruising is out.
Those aren't the only green vehicles getting stimulus subsidies. There is also $300 million to buy "green" cars for federal employees.

2) Closing the ice-breaking gap. The U.S. Coast Guard is getting a shot in the arm from the stimulus, thanks to $98 million for a "polar icebreaker." That's not a new gum flavor, but a ship. The service currently has three ice-breaking ships able to sail through the frozen Arctic Ocean, but it wants a new and improved one to upgrade the aging fleet. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, testified before a House panel last summer that icebreakers are needed for national security reasons. "Russia, Germany, China, Sweden and Canada are all investing and maintaining and expanding their national ice-breaking capacity," he said.

3) Homeland security stimulus. That pricey icebreaker is just one of several examples of homeland and national security spending contained in the stimulus not directly connected to restoration of the economy. There is also $200 million to "design and furnish" the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. De Rugy says that security spending should be considered by Congress in bills related to security, not the economy. "There was no debating these things on the merits," she says.

4) Clean Coal. While Obama has stressed the number of "green jobs" his stimulus will create, $3.4 billion of the $787 billion will be spent on old-school, non-green energy technology. That's how much goes to the Fossil Energy Research and Development program, a Department of Energy project that, among other things, seeks to reduce the amount of carbon emitted by the use of fossil fuels. Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, says that most of this money will go toward the development of clean-coal technology. "The goal is to develop a technology that can capture carbon dioxide from coal in a coal-fired power plant," he says. And where's the stimulus in clean coal? Weiss says that we won't see the results of this investment anytime soon, and $3.4 billion is probably only a fraction of what is needed for real clean-coal technology to ever be achieved. But, he adds, in the short term, "this would create research jobs and jobs at power plants." That isn't stopping critics from calling this fossil energy provision pork.

5) Mystery Meat. It's hard to know just how much pork there is in the stimulus package for one simple reason: We still don't know how exactly a huge chunk of it will be spent. A whopping $144 billion from the bill is flowing directly to state and local governments. That means the true amount of pork will depend on the priorities of your governors, legislatures, and mayors. The best guesses for what this money will be spent on might be in a list of "ready-to-go" projects released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January, dubbed the "Main Street Economic Recovery." Some of the most outlandish of these projects -- such as an $886,000 36-hole disc golf course in Austin, Texas -- won't be allowed to receive stimulus dollars because the bill explicitly says that none of its funds can be used for "any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool."

But a prohibition on funding toward any "stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project" was dropped from the final version of the bill. That means that many other porky projects from the U.S. Conference of Mayors report are open to get money. That includes $150 million for parking improvements at a Little League facility in Cidra, Puerto Rico, and $6 million for a "snowmaking and maintenance facility" at Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth, Minnesota.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Long Ago and far Away

A few years after my mother died in 1997, I moved back to Amarillo, where the people talk slow, the bareness of the landscape embraces you, and memories flash by like bright stations reflecting on the windows of a train at night.

My characters are those of the people, influences and loves I knew here so many many years ago. In other words the ties to a certain place often dictates one's emotional heritage. There may not be much difference in the Amarillo I grew up in and the Amarillo of today. But, Old Route 66 and the San Jacinto area have disappeared into the arms of a dying crack addict.

Both are shadows of what I remember from my youth. Much of what you read here springs from a mystical time, from the heart, deep as the sea of humanity, deep as the winding muddy river of life.

I recall sitting under a tree holding hands with my first true love. I may have been about 12 at the time. We shared a love back then that many of us have forgotten, forfeited or never knew. A love delicate in it's innocence, reachng far beyond time and geography, beyond the secret of the ages.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chisled In Stone

It seemed the right time to share a dream, and it seemed the right time to chase the dreams of the living, rather than the ghosts of the dead. For a long time I felt responsible for both their deaths. Nothing allowed me to sleep at night. My own nightmares had almost become friends.

One of the first things I did once I returned to the USA was visit my Army buddy Bill and Miss Amarillo 1969. They were both at Memorial Gardens Cemetary. I had not been able to return home with my friend in arms. I said I was sorry, and like always he seemed to understand.

My other great love, Miss Amarillo 1969, was a high school sweetheart. She said she would wait for me. She didn't and had kissed a windshield on Highway 287 South. I placed a single rose in the vase and a card under the vase. The card said how much I missed her.

She had been beautiful. But with so much charm and beauty she became the object of admiration and worship. She had no time to wait on someone who might never return home, she was only guilty of affecting my life, nothing more.

I looked out across the Texas prairie and saw us dancing. In my head Nat King Cole played, and the younger gentler versions of ourselves held each other and laughed even though long ago we had left innocence behind. She touched my cheek with her fingers and I smelled the flowers in her hair. She stood on her toes and kissed me softly, but as I pulled her closer she vanished into nothing.

A soft landing back to reality, to replace the things that had once been familiar and safe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Gypsy

Railroad ties are not , my friend, the only ties that bind.

You could say the whole adventure began the day I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw the gypsy. That explanation might not hold up in a court of law, but as far as I was concerned it was close enough for country dancing. I had gone to bed rather late the previous evening and as I slept I was visited by a strange yet singularly vivid dream. Without going into graphic detail. let me just say I finally came across the girl in the peach covered dress, who was being held by a before unknown Norwegian tribe. By disguising myself as a middle aged orangutan, I was able to secure her release but not before they took two frisbees and used them to make her eyes big and blue. By the time I woke up it was late morning. If I had been a banker I still had time to get to work, but if I had been a banker I wouldn't have had the time to remember my dreams.

My life was moving along with all the fluid grace of a North Central Expressway in Dallas traffic jam. My romantic life had been slowed to a standstill as well. I walked miles and miles of bathroom tiles only to stare into the silver distance of the bathroom mirror at those waving fields of emptiness that has become the country of my heart. Alas, but this morning that was not to be the case. There standing staring back at me were two beautiful blue eyes that appeared to be slightly more real and substantial than I felt at the moment. The face I thought I recognized.

The eyes seemed familiar but different. They burned with the intensity of campfire embers, remembering everything I thought I had forgotton. Blond hair and blue eyes, to light to be a gypsy. But like a gypsy she was wearing a large earring in her left ear. The kind of earring not unlike those commomly worn by athletics, homosexuals and death bound teenagers. This gypsy had been born with the earring and it fairly gleamed with the mischief of dreams. I blinked several times, but the image in the mirror did not go away. They never really do. The mirror is the perfect place to one day see the gypsy in your soul. "Who the hell are you?" I said in a mild state of hysteria. I figure if I can talk to myself, I can talk back to a bathroom mirror. "I am the gypsy in your soul." she said, "and I've come to tell you a story that I'm afraid makes about as much sense as your life."

At that moment I was pretty sure she was going to be right. Still I had to preserve reality to save sanity.

"Hold on, I don't even know your name do you have a card?"

Clearly in the mirror she held up the Queen of Hearts. You need to come away. You need to travel the world, leave your village, leave your friends, leave Miss Amarillo 1969.

"How'd you know about her?"

The gypsy said nothing but her eyes sparkled like Norwegian stars. I felt many things just then, mesmerized I gazed into the mirror. Fear, curiosity, disbelief, desire, when I spoke again it was in a voice of sentiment not uncommon to someone looking into a mirror.

"It's really you who wants to travel far away." I said.

"From where?" said the gypsy.

If God had not wanted us to talk to a gypsy image I figured He would not have created bathroom mirrors. Of course then no one would have been able to see their wrinkles, nobody would be like a nerdy teenager brushing his teeth before the prom, Hitler would not have been able to see to trim his mustache, and whores with hearts of gold would not be able to touch up their makeup, and nobody'd be able to find the Prozac hidden behind the bathroom mirror that wasn't there anymore.

So it was that I let the blond haired gypsy slip away through the silver fingers of someone elses dawn and thought about what the ghost writer of this journal once told me, "If you are tired of looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror try looking at yourself in the rearview mirror."

I sat at my computer terminal drinking my first cup of coffee like a brokenhearted Romeo, who at the last minute decided to just keep on living, if you could call it that. A short time later I noticed my hands were shaking slightly. It's not every morning you carry on cocktail chatter with a youthful female gypsy in the bathroom mirror. But it wasn't the appearance of the gypsy that bothered me. It was the ability of the gypsy to see inside my soul and then relate to me what these weary worn vessels contained. Like Miss Amarillo 1969. The gypsy plucked her right out of the sadness of my eyes. From somewher the gypsy spoke, "she's not coming back, you know?"

"I know."

"I miss her too."

"I know."

"But I miss her in ways you will never know."

'I know."

You should probaly see a shrink, I would if I had just spent half the morning talking to a gypsy in a bathroom mirror."

"I know"

"But you won"t do that."

"No," I said.

I thought I was going through some midlife crisis, but I was beyond midlife. I didn't feel sorry for myself because I am just a creation of the guy who ghost writes this journal. I'd obviously missed my chance to be a teenage suicide. Now all that was left for me was a ragged weary and sometimes cynical world with all the ambience of a Karaoke Bar in Dallas. Those were my thoughts as I heard a ringing in my ears. They say if you hear ringing in both ears- someone, somewhere is saying nice things about you. In this perverse world you usually have to be dead for that to happen. It took a few moments but I figued out the ringing in my ears as I answered the phone. A friend inviting me out to a karaoke bar.

I hung up the phone and returned to give the gypsy the only advice I had, after all this was supposed to be about her not me.

All aboard my fellow travelers on this Ship Of Fools. We all find love , everyone. Sometimes we lose it or let it get away. But don't fall through that timeless trapdoor waiting till your time runs out and Miss Amarillo 1969 waltzes up to you and embraces you at the end of a troubled dream. And yet for those who at one time or the other finds love and loses it, life can become frustrating. If you think it is difficult to live with yourself, just think how hard it is living with the person you have become.

It was a rather warm evening for so late in the month of February and as I took my daily walk I happened up on a gingerbread house under storybook stars, I thought of the gypsy....somewhere.... packing to follow her dreams. Fragile, and strong, ephemal and timeless, beautiful beyond words. Words that help heal the hearts of other people, just may heal your own as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Miss Fire Ant

Between the time we ordered and the time the food arrived, Miss Fire Ant and I caught up on all the dreams that had never come true. Things had not worked out between us years ago, but thats how the breadstick crumbles. We never are who we think we are and the people we think we know are never the people we think we know and the country music station never stays in one place long enough for us to hear the end of the song. Every time Cinderella marries Rockerfeller, here comes Jesse James.

Miss Fire Ant had a dream all right. But, as often happens in this grainy old black-and-white world, her dreams were turning into somebody elses nightmare. As I watched an azure blue teardrop make a tiny little splash into her drink, I began to realize the somebody was me.

I took her hand and gave it a little squeeze. Her eyes were the color of Texas Hill Country bluebonnets after spring time rains.

She in turn squeezed my hand in the heart breaking manner of a child who now believed that everything was going to be all right.

"Let me guess what happened to your wrist," she said in a voice loud enough to make a number of nearby tables pause over their pasta. "You were jerkin off and your balls blew up."

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I looked bleakly upon the desolate patches of dirt and weeds. It was a desolate stretch of rural Texas road where my dads pickup had rolled several times. Everybody's got to die sometime. Either you die suddenly on a lonely rural Texas road, or you die of ennui sitting around wondering when you are going to die. Waiting for sometthing to happen.

I tell you it's no way to live.

Exactly 22 years to the day after my dads death I wondered if I was within sight of my own pot of gold. Like so many before me, when was I going to step on my rainbow?

I drove home and watched the city lights paint the dark velvet of night. I dialed my mothers' number. It was disconnected. I dialed my dads, number. It was disconnected.

My phone rang and the voice on the other end sounded very young.

I looked out my window and saw people walking by. The people seemed to cling to the shadows and the shadows seemed to cling to the people like heathens or whores or other biblical types. They huddled together beneath burned-out streetlights waiting for the sun to take them away.

The young voice brought me back to the present.

Tonight I felt rather disconnected myself.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Love is blind

There is a clear distinction between love and life. Love is blind, and life is its seeing eye dog- more kind, more beautiful than love itself could ever be. The kind leading the blind. Yet without love there would be no one to lead across the street.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fat Chance

My thoughts were a troubled, jumbled embroidery of love, loneliness, distance, life and death. The night flashed by like a blurry, pastel view from a childhood carousel. This morning I woke up to the smell of perfume on the pillow case, she had left the bitter aroma of absence that filled the room with the dreamy shards of any youthful notion that life would go on forever. Like every other graffitti strewn, ennui-driven subway train to no where, life would come to a screeching halt and all of the passengers would have to get off.

Anything left unsaid or undone would have to be forwarded to Fat Chance, Arkansas