Monday, May 6, 2013

Little Square Burgers and Johnny Cash.

If you ever think that wring might come from a sound mind just take a look at who is doing the writing. And I’m not talking about someone writing a thesis on how rocket science works or someone working on a cookbook for recipes that are gluten free, but rather the writer that doesn’t seem to have anywhere in particular that the writing is going but it is going. Shit. That would be me.

I sat down to write and suddenly the words began to appear in from of me, very much like they are appearing to you right now.  This is not the product of careful planning or some inner secret I believe the Universe has revealed to me but rather a product of some psychosis, very much like someone who feels the urge to speak to himself while in a crowded bus.  I once knew a man who would burst into song at fast food restaurants and scare the hell out of people.  But the sudden and unexpected rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues” might lead someone, or several someones, to think the song to be autobiographical in nature to the current singer. Or they may, in point of fact, believe anyone who just starts singing aloud at Krystal’s is indeed a little nuts.
Yet this does not address the fact there are people who eat the alleged food at Krystal’s.  Clearly, were we to contrive to slowly poison someone fast food would be a great start.  The people standing in line, waiting to be killed slowly, paying for it in fact, might find disturbing an old Johnny Cash song being thrust upon them by someone clearly not inside the bell curves of expected or silent behavior. Noisily intruding upon other people is looked down upon more harshly than poisoning those same people, in that same room.

But I digress.

Okay, but where does this man’s urge to sing begin? Does he leave the house in the morning with the intent of breaking out his vocal cords and freaking out the patrons of the slow poison cookers and High Fructose Corn Syrup Addicts dispensers?  Does it matter what song? IS there a triggering device? Is there something about the smell of salt, onions, and white sugar buns cooking that makes his mouth water and the bass lines kick up?

How is this different than what I am doing right now?

I could write and never publish a word of it. I did write for nearly a decade and never said a word to anyone about what I was doing or why. The decision to speak about a hobby that requires a lot of time, a hell of a lot of work, but produces very little in the real world is hard to explain. The gardener who spends hours picking away at weeds in a rose plot has something to show, something beautiful and tactile that he might show off, or at worst, have a dead thorny bush  with wilted leaves and brown petals as a testament to a thumb less than emerald. But writing might disappear forever, good or bad, it may be unheard and unseen. Much more writing has been forgotten than will ever be remembered, you know.

Yet here I am.

I was drinking with a friend one night and he told me writing was like fishing, but you don’t know what you’re trying to catch, you don’t know how to catch it, you aren’t sure what bait to use, and you aren’t sure if the line has a hook on it or now. But other than that, writing was fairly simple.  I was drunk so this all sounded pretty good to me. Odd, that most people I know who write are also drinkers and most people I know who fish also drink.

How many of you would never get up in front of a crowd of people to sing unless you have a few in you? Karaoke is very loud way to tell people you are far too drunk to be driving home. I watched a young woman belt out “You Ought To Know” one night with the expertise of Adele after a Ben and Jerry’s Binge. What ever happened to her had happened hard and deep and she wasn’t afraid to say it aloud. You have to admire that sort of pain. Hell, it sells records but not little square burgers, I think.

It’s odd. There she is, right there, in my mind, a snapshot of a young woman stepping up to the mike, and she’s got this silly “Oh shit I can’t believe I’m doing this in front of people” look and then it strikes, but deep. The woman’s face changes and her eyes close. That’s when I stopped shooting pool to watch. To hell with what she’s going to sound like, there’s something there. When the screaming stopped the crowd cheered but I stood there and watched her step away from the stage like she was leaving part of her soul lying there dead and cold. What she took with her wrapped around her like smoke coming off of ice, enveloping her and following her back to the mortals who could never see it.

Take culture out of the picture and there is no difference between some jilted half teen with a big voice carrying half the people in a bar into another world and some half demented Cash fan freaking out minimum wage purveyors of poison and their victims. Both get remembered here, and passed onto you, and both had something to sing, and both had their reasons for wanting to sing it. Value for this sort of thing is assigned arbitrarily and with prejudiced ears and eyes. Switch them around and the man gets laughed off the stage and the woman surprises the hell out of a lot of people in a very small space.

This doesn’t explain why I wrote this. This doesn’t explain why I put it out there for the ‘verse to see. I don’t have an explanation. Sometimes I feel like I’m singing in a fast food joint and there’s someone out there dying to put a tranquillizer dart in me and there are other times I feel like I’ve walked off and left something for someone. 

Take Care,


  1. As to "why" we write, it is often a mystery. One of my favorite quotes by a writer (sorry can't remember name; it was an interview) is this:

    "Some people drink, some people smoke, I just write."

    I do think I, personally, have an "addictive problem" in that I become addicted to stuff easily. Negative or positive. I put my creative writing in the positive column.


    1. As well you should, Cara. Maybe it is some sort of "addiction".

      I hope there is no cure.

  2. Hmmm, fishing with Schrödinger's hook, writing with Schrödinger's pencil. Interesting concept.