Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bernard Sumner from Dolores Park

Julie danced to the song, her hands flowed in the air. The fan near her blew an electric wind into her hair. It made the strands float, and create their movement to the song. She looked up at the stage to see the singer croon out the cover.

"In my next life, I totally want to be a gay man," she said to Sarah. Sarah stood next to her with her arms folded across her chest as if the same breeze that blew on Julie's hair chilled her heart.
"Its cold in here."
"No its not, its so hot."
"There's only old people here."
"Thiry is hardly old, Sarah."
"Its old."
"You'll be old in like 5 years, its not old. You're harshing."
"Whatever," Sarah said with disdain.
"I thought you liked these bands," Julie said. She had stopped dancing and was facing her friend. In the background the second band played their third song. The band, Monaco's birth, played New Order covers. They were finishing Blue Monday as the friends argued.
"I do, I just don't like this place."
"You've come here before, we've been here a million times."
"Its just not the same," Sarah said. Her eyes drifted into the crowd. She searched the small groups for familiar faces. She recognized one guy that she went to college with in Santa Cruz. She hoped that he didn't spot her and come over to talk to her.
"I don't get waht the fuck your problem is. I'm having a good time. Do you want a drink?"
"Yeah, I'll go get us some beers."

Sarah walked over to the bar. The band started to play "Regret." It brought back memories of lying in bed with Andy. Most of their relationship consisted of moments in between blankets. They'd gotten together during a drunken hour at a house party in the mission. Their short relationship continued to be trysts of libations. At the height of it, their three month affair, Andy had told her that he wanted to bathe her in alcohol and then get drunk off her skin. She thought it was awfully romantic at the time.

She ordered two beers from the bartender. He was snaggle toothed and had long hair. He wore an ugly white shirt. He grinned at her when she tipped him. She sighed.

I would like a place I could call my own
Have a conversation on the telephone
Wake up every day that would be a start
I would not complain of my wounded heart

I was a short fuse
Burning all the time
You were a complete stranger
Now you are mine

The singer was a small dirty blonde haired man with a slight effeminate air to him. He didn't sing as strongly as Bernard Sumner, the lead for New Order. She got annoyed with the band. They're only halfway good because they're covering New Order, she thought.

She'd met Julie outside of the SOMA venue as the Joy Division band was halfway through their set. They were good, she had told Julie. She was happy upon arrival at the bar. After the ode of Ian Curtis, Monaco's Birth came on stage.

The club was large. It had a large horse shoe bar that wrapped around the edge of the building. To the north was the stage. It was raised about 4 feet from the wooden floor. The crowd was composed of people several years her senior. They huddled in groups, happy for a night out and a break from their (presumed by Sarah) boring day jobs. When Bernard Sumner's songs came out of the band on stage she became depressed. It wasn't the music that depressed her. She couldn't put her finger on it. The band ended to a small amount of fan fare.

"Here's your beer," She said to Julie. She gave Julie her glass of Hefeweizen. Julie took a drink and then set it down on the large box that the electric fan sat on. She looked at Sarah for a moment but avoided eye contact.

"How are you feeling," Julie asked.
"I'm better, I'm just in a mood, like a pair of pants that just don't seem to fit right. They're too tight in the crouch, or they shrunk in the wash, or they're too loose so they don't make your ass look good."
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"This next band should be good."
"Hopefully they'll play a lot of Morrissey."
"Yeah, I love Morrissey's solo stuff," Sarah finished. She looked back into the crowd. She wanted to recognize more people amongst the small groups. She didn't see anyone else she knew.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Conversation in a bar

Dante began to experiment with instructions for the Golem. After the initial output of motion the Golem didn't respond to the simple instructions that he wrote out for him. Dante was stumped. He kicked the Golem. He hurt his foot on the Golem. How would he ever become anything if he wasn't able to make the Golem come to life again. He sighed and went to bed.

His dreams were haunted by the Golem. The Golem stood over him as he was chained to a wooden platform. It opened its mouth and roared. The inside of its mouth was hollow and black, a deep dark void. Dante felt himself being ripped apart. His body held down by the iron chains yet being slowly excruciatingly drawn into the orifice that led into oblivion. Dante screamed but was unable to hear the sound of his own voice, it was swallowed by the Golem.

Dante woke up in a sweat.

William read his short passage again. He wondered where he should go with the story. Did he really even care about this story? So many of his stories ended abruptly. He flipped the page to where he'd written out, from memory his conversation, with Andy.

"What are you doing over here Andy," I asked him.

"I work over here now. I got a job in a restaurant. Its alright. I work the day shift waiting tables."

"What happened to the bike shop?"

"I got laid off a while ago. I didn't really like it there anyways. Everyone always asked me to fix their fucking bikes too. I didn't really mind for a while but then it got tiresome. What's the point? The kids would buy me a beer or something but..." Andy trailed off. He looked distant, and a little inebriated. I shifted my beer around. I felt awkward.

"Where are you working now?"

"I got a job at a library actually. It was a temp position that turned full time."

"Aren't libraries getting their funding cut now?"

"Yeah, as part of the cut backs they laid off people and then filled me in for two people's positions. I guess the previous two people had been there for a long time so were getting paid pretty well."

"Oh, so you're sort of a scab."

I sat there in silence for a minute. Then Andy laughed aloud and slapped me on the back.

"Hey we all gotta work for our money right? Everyone is a cultural prostitute. Demands of the market and all right?" He looked at me. His eyes looked amphibious, glazed over with a watery substance.

"What happened with that girl," he asked.

"We broke up."

"Oh, why? She not put out enough," he said with a faux ironic tone. He snickered as a I responded slowly and carefully.

"I, I went for a drive one day. I realized that I wanted to keep driving. I didn't know where I wanted to drive to. I didn't know how long I wanted to drive for. I just drove. I ended up driving to Half moon bay. There's a surfer's beach down there. I got out of my car and saw all these surfers. The next day I broke up with her."

He looked at me quizzically. "So you had some sort of revelation?"

"No. I didn't feel any differently when I went home. I didn't even plan on breaking up with her but the next day the words just started coming forth from my mouth. 'I don't want to be with you anymore.'"

"Huh, you're an odd duck McCrack."


"Ah, never mind. How'd she take it?"

"She was pretty upset. We'd been together for a few years."

"Did you regret it at all? Are you seeing someone else now?"

"Nah, I just, I don't know. I can't explain it."

"Oh," he said. He drank the last bit of his beer and ordered two more.

"I don't want another beer."

"That's okay then. I'll drink it," he said. He drank his full pint of beer in two gulps and then took the beer the bartender had set in front of me. "Did you know that alcohol when consumed in sufficient qualities produces all the effects of drunkenness?"

"Yeah, looks like it."

"I have a portrait of myself in my attic at my parent's house. The only reason I go to my family's abode is to gaze on the painting. I wish that it would age but it looks the same every time I go there. My image in the mirror always looks older though. A fucking, fucking, fucking, shame."


We sat in silence for a few minutes then I finished the last bit of my beer. "Thanks for the beer Andy. I think I'm going to get something to eat."

"Alright buddy, a fucking pleasure meeting up with you. A rousing success on a multitude of plateaus. We absolutely must convene again."

"Okay bye."

William reread the conversation. It didn't make any sense to him. Why had Andy invited him for a drink? Did he want something but didn't say? William closed his notebook and looked out the window of his bedroom. He wondered what he would do if he had his own Golem.

Monday, May 18, 2009

From the park to the bar

The golem rose and walked forward, trudging on its clay stubs to fulfill its mandate. The golem was composed of a soft gray mud mixed with clay. The muddy substance squished as the golem moved towards the wall. As the golem neared the brick barrier Dante drew a breath. What would happen to his creation, he thought. Would it break through the building or would it stop? When the golem reached the wall it tried to move forward, relentlessly trying to push itself forward. Its momentum was stopped by the wall and its movements only mashed its soft clay flesh. Dante squealed with glea smitten with the actions of the golem.

William put down his pen. His notebook was filled with sketches like these. The notebook served as part diary and part writer's sketchbook. He rarely finished stories to completion instead jotting out a brief picture. His lack of time never allowed him to flush out the stories was what he liked to say to himself. He looked up from his notebook.

The sun was bright and hot. It cast its rays down on his fair hair. His white skin was turning a bright red burnt by the afternoon light. He sat at a picnic table at the Middleshore Park near the bay. He stood up to stretch his hands and his legs. He'd been seated for an hour. His hand was cramped from writing both a journal account of the past few days and the brief bit about the golem. He walked to over the grassy portion of the park to where the dirty water of the bay met the small beach. The tide was out and so the beach was composed of a dark soft mud. The mud made him think of golems. He'd never had much of a fascination for the Jewish protectors but found himself musing about them as he stared into the mud. He picked up a piece of wood that lay on the beach and threw it into the mud. It made the thick brown surface splat. He laughed aloud.

On the horizon was the Golden Gate Bridge. It was expansive and picturesque. He took out his camera from his messenger bag and snapped a picture of the bridge. The bridge connected Marin, a bougerois town north of the city with San Francisco. William couldn't remember if he'd ever been on the bridge but admired its constructions from afar. His phone began to buzz in his pocket. He took it out of his jeans and looked, it was Andy.

"Hello," William answered.

"Hey, what are you up to," Andy asked. In the background William could hear the sound of traffic.

"I'm down at a park by the water. What are you doing?"

"Well I was looking for a job, and now I've found a job, but heavens knows I'm miserable now," Andy said laughing. "Want to get a drink somewhere?"

"Its 3 o'clock in the afternoon."

"Yeah, I have about 5 hours to kill. I don't want to bother going back to San Francisco, I'm attending an important reading group tonight."

"You're in a reading group," William said with mild surprise.

"Yeah, we're reading 'Society of the Spectacle' at this hipster girl's house. I want to fuck her so I show up at her reading group. She's a prude but whatever. I've got nothing to lose but my chains."

"What are you talking about?"

"You know, the chains," Andy said.

"What? Listen where are you now?"

"I'm up by Ashby Bart. My interview was up here in Berkeley. Want to meet up at Radio in Oakland?"

"Uh okay. It will take me a little while to get there."

"Yeah, that's fine. I'll wait for you there. Make sure you come this time," Andy stressed.

"Yeah, okay." William hung up the phone and looked at it for a few minutes. Andy rarely ever called him. William didn't understand why he was calling now. William hadn't bothered responding to his friend's messages and phone calls lately. He wrapped himself up in his work and spent his free time writing and reading. William gathered his stuff and got on his bike. He made his way east on seventh street towards downtown Oakland, wondering as he rode why Andy had asked to hang out. He'd never been close to Andy. They'd spent some time together at Dolores Park but the two of them never really talked. He'd seen Andy at shows and various events but they'd never delved beyond pleasantries.

The ride took about fifteen minutes. He locked his bike in front of Radio, a small red bar close to the downtown Oakland Bart. When he walked in Andy was already seated on a stool. He had two thirds of a pint of beer in front of him. He was tearing the coaster that the bartender had given him into tiny shreds. He looked up when William entered.

"Hey. You want a beer," Andy asked. He waved at the bartender who was idling at the end of the bar. The bartender came over and poured William a beer then looked at the torn up coasters in front of Andy with dismay.

"I hate when people do that shit," the bartender said. "Its fucking annoying to clean up."

Andy shrugged and turned to William. "So Billy, what have you been up to?"

"I don't think anyone has ever called me Billy."

"Not even your grandma?"

"I never knew her," William replied. He drank a sip of his beer and looked at it for several minutes. The two sat in silence.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another day at Dolores Park

The sun was setting at the park. It was getting chilly. Lee had a coat on her thin pale legs. Her arms were stuck under her armpits.

"Hey there's no line at the ice cream truck," Warren said. "Who wants ice cream?"

"I'll go," Lee said. "Its going to make me freezing though."

The two of them got off of the lawn. They were both clad in cut off jean shorts, t-shirts, and cheap flat shoes. Lee was 21 at the time going on 23. Warren was 25 going on 20. He drank all the time while Lee lamented his drinking all the time.

"Wait, wait for me," Sarah said. She got off the grass and swiped off of the blades from her ass. She jogged lightly after them. Her brown hair bounced in the sun. She lived with Lee. The two of them had met at college and decided to get a house together on Guerro. The three bedroom place was inhabited by the two young women and then a third guy who they found off of craigslist. They complained about his not buying toilet paper, or cleaning, but often their conclusion to their bouts of complaining ended with "at least he's not a pervert."

"Where'd everyone go," Sarah said when she returned. A chocolate ice cream sandwich was in her hands. The dairy desert made her hands messy and there was a slight smudge of cookie substance on the corner of her mouth.

"Oh, Matt left with David. I don't know where they went," Andy said. He finished his speech with a pull from a can of PBR. Andy worked at a local bike shop. Considered awkward by his socially awkward friends he was accepted by his peers for his ability to fix their bikes for free and his uncanny ability to always provide a free can of beer to a friend in need, a friend indeed.

Sarah shrugged and sat back down on the grass. "Today I woke up so early. This guy across the street started screaming. I don't even know what he was screaming about. I couldn't sleep anymore so I got up and showered. I washed my hair."

"Now you don't have an excuse for not going out with the boy that will inevitably call you tonight," Warren said with a sly smirk on his face.

"What do you mean," Sarah asked. "I can always wash my hair again. This morning I didn't use conditioner."

"I haven't showered in like three days," Lee said.

"You're really rejecting bourgeoisie standards aren't you," Andy mumbled. He had just been laid off at his job and had developed a slight drink problem. It added to an already surly personality.

"Where is William," Lee said. She pulled at the grass and threw it at her housemates shoes.

"I haven't talked to William in a minute," Warren said. "I was talking to him on facebook but now I never see him."

"Yeah he doesn't come to the park anymore," Lee said. She looked off into the distance. "Do you know why?"

"I think he broke up with his girlfriend, but I thought he was dating someone new already," Sarah said. "I never see him update his facebook account. I should text him right now." Sarah pulled out her cell phone and started to punch at the keys.

"What are you saying to him," Warren asked. "Tell him to come to the park, or maybe tell him about that house show tonight. Maximo Park is playing. He loves them. He'll definitely be there. Tell him to come for beers here beforehand."

"Its getting so cold," Lee said. Goosebumps started to cover her white flesh.

"Its been cold for years, I can't decide if its the personalities or the melting polar ice caps inducing chilly winds. Probably the two are connected," Andy said. He spoke without looking at anyone. Lee looked at him quizzically.

"Yeah, okay done," Sarah said. She put her phone away. "Oh man our housemate said the funniest thing the other day. He was all fucked up on ecstasy. He's been doing it a lot lately. At least he pays rent..."

"And he's not a pervert," Lee interjected.

"Yeah and there's that. Anyways he comes into the living room where I was watching a movie. He looks at me and says 'You should take a shit while on ecstasy. It feels soooo goood.' He walked back into his room after that.

"I think shitting feels good in general," Warren said. "You know its a release."

"Except when you have diarrhea," Andy said.

"You always have the most negative comments," Lee complained. "What's with you?"

"I didn't realize that this was a celebration, I thought it was a social critique," Andy said. He finished his beer and threw it across the lawn. A bum came up and took it. The bum walked down the hill with the empty beer can and put it into his cart of empty beer cans.

"Lighten up Andy," Sarah said. "We're young, this is fun."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dolores Park

"In this French town all these rats began to die in the streets," I told him. He picked at the grass, picking out blades and then tossing them in the light breeze. The wind was blowing softly in Dolores park. The ground was, thankfully, dry after a few days of rain. The morning mist had been burnt off by the afternoon sun and we were sitting on the hillside of the park. "The people collected all the rats and burned them and then a disease starting to break out. It was like the bubonic plague..." I trailed off noticing that William wasn't even bothering to listen. He'd been listless and depressed since he'd broken off with his girlfriend. I was trying to cheer him up by telling him a morality tale by Camus. He wasn't brightened.

He looked around us and got up. "I need a beer." He grabbed his bike and walked it down the hillside.

"Get one for me," I cried after him watching him bicycle down 20th street off the park to the local bodega.

"I don't get what's with him," Julie said. "He broke up with her, but is moping about."

"Yeah, total weirdfuck," Mac said.

"What the hell is a weirdfuck," I asked.

"Its like, you know, how there's a clusterfuck but its weird. Like when you're getting a blowjob and then there's a candle in your ass. That's a weirdfuck."

"There's nothing weird about putting things in your anus," Julie said. "You're being homophobic."

"Whatever, Joooolllllliiiieee," Mac said. "Besides what if it was a potpourri candle. How many people shove those in their asses?"

"You're so immature. Which reminds me of how I'm never going out with you in public again. Today," she said to me. Julie looked towards me and squinted. The sunlight was coming right into her eyes. "We were at Rainbow Grocery getting some beer, you know the one in SOMA, and there was some girl canvassing for Greenpeace. She said to Mac 'You look like you like polar bears.' He said 'No.' She said 'Well don't you care about the environment?' He said 'I care about the condition of your mother's corpse. If the ground around her is too soft it makes her a piss poor fuck.' We rode off. I was SO embarrassed. Mac you can be such a fucktard."

"Fucktard? Isn't that a derogatory term for someone who is mentally handicapped? Ableist," Mac retorted with a snicker.

I rolled my eyes. The two of them were always bickering. It made the time pass here on the hilltop. We got together at the park most sunny afternoons to drink beer after our jobs. We would pregame on the lawn before heading out for the evening. It was a convenient meeting spot for us. Mac worked nearby, Julie lived nearby, William went to school nearby and I, well I, didn't mind riding my bike to the park.

"Hey, did I tell you about how I got asked out by a midget,"Julie asked me. I shook my head. "When I was younger, like in eighth grade there was a midget that worked at the grocery store by my house. He thought I was older because I was tall. I told him I was only in eighth grade. He got pretty embarrassed."

I nodded. Julie liked to talk. Her stories were usually pretty lackluster. I liked that she talked, it made it so I didn't have to.

"What do you guys want to do tonight," Mac asked.

"I don't know. I'm pretty committed to hanging out with William. He's really down in the dumps about the whole break up."

"I don't really understand that," Julie said again. "He broke up with her."

"Yeah, why exactly did they break up," Mac said. He started rummaging through his Chrome messenger bag. He took out a tall boy of pbr and cracked it open. I reached out for it and took a draught.

"I don't really know. William keeps his emotions to himself. Maybe she said something or did something." I replied.

"Boys are so stupid. Its awful. You never know when you're going to fall in love with them, who you're going to fall in love with, and when you're not going to be in love anymore. They just don't fit into any plans," Julie said.

"Yeah, I guess personalities can't be scheduled," I said.

Friday, May 1, 2009


"And that's the story of 'Honey Bear,'" I concluded, setting down the Murakami novel on the picnic blanket. We'd been dating for eight or nine months. I decided that we should have a picnic in Golden Gate park. The beginnings seemed ominous as we had to walk through a hoard of bums and pot smokers, not very romantic. We passed by a bunch of hippies playing drums on a hillside and a baseball park before we finally sat down. The area in which we were spread out was on a flat hillside. The hillside plateaued where we were. At the bottom of the hill was a group of young men playing soccer. The sky was blue with a few wispy white clouds gently pushed from west to east by a slight spring breeze. The ground was dry, the morning fog of San Francisco had burned off.

"That was really... enchanting," she said. "Its so cute that you brought that to read to me. Thank you." She smiled widely. Her lips parted so that I could see her teeth. The front two teeth were a little large for her small mouth, and her bottom row of teeth had never been straightened with braces. My cheeks lifted upwards with return, but my mouth was kept closed. I didn't want her to see my own teeth.

The day before our picnic I was reading a letter from my friend. She was telling me about how she recently cracked a tooth. Sadly she had no dental insurance. She worked as a waitress and she was given no benefits through employment, although she did get discounted meals. Her letter reminded me of a dream I had had that morning. In the dream I was seated at my kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee. I was reading the New Yorker. I still subscribe to the magazine even though most issues get quickly perused then put next to the toilet where they are ignored except during long bouts of constipation. As I drank the coffee my teeth began to feel brittle. I rubbed my forefinger on the front two and they chipped slightly. I spit out the broken bits onto the table and ran to the bathroom. My front two teeth were jagged shards. I touched them gingerly and they shattered even more, only stubs remained. The rest of my teeth were not brittle but gelatious. They melted in my mouth, sometimes in lumps. I tried to prevent from swallowing the large chunks of enamel that became a thick liquid on my tongue. I spit out my teeth. It came out like thick phlegm. Soon I was vomiting into the bathroom sink. As a mixture of enamel and bile poured from my throat I woke up. My skin was slightly covered in sweat. I tossed off the covers of my bed and went into the bathroom. Opening my mouth I was relieved to see that my teeth were intact. I touched them lightly. They were solid. I brushed my teeth and flossed. They stuck in my gums. I was relieved by that they were unbroken, and unblemished.

"I love you," she said softly. She kissed my cheeks. I leaned into her and put my arm around her. We laid down on the blanket. I looked up at the sky.

"Do you love me," she asked. I breathed deeply, the silence was pregnant.

"I don't want to say things automatically. I don't want to be in a rote relationship where when you say 'I love you,' my automatic response is 'I love you too.' That's just not how I want to work. My feelings for you aren't ones of reciprocity but of giving. I want to say things that I feel when I feel them, not because I feel obligated to say things."

"Oh," she said. She brushed my hair lightly. Her fingers ran through my thin hair tenderly massaging my scalp.

"What do you think that cloud up there looks like," I said pointing at a lone white pillow in the blue atmosphere.

"Uhh.... I don't know."