Wednesday, December 27, 2006

SKINT NEW YEAR


This cartoon is a cautionary message to all of you youngin's who haven't started smoking, and to those of you who are planning to quit.... please do not start or do quit as you will help me achieve my dream of being THE LAST SMOKER.
I will, however, be a very skint smoker as the new smoking tax, $1, yes one whole entire US dollar will be added to every packet of fags after the new year.
To put this all in perspective for you I have written the following film synopsis. It is an...........
Horror Film
The camera slowly pans from the varnished toes of a woman up her shapely legs to her lap where it closely focuses on her hands holding a cigarette case.

Cue shark music from Jaws

The hands carefully open the cigarette case and….. IT IS EMPTY

Cue shower music from Psycho

Music continues as an underlay to woman’s frenetic raving

Woman: What am I gonna do, what am I gonna do?

FINI

Now I must get the stupidmarket and buy several cartons of fags before the price goes up.

Have a happy New Year, I'll still be smokin', probably eatin' less though.

Monday, December 18, 2006

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
the scent of nicotine wreathed a wretched old souse
the bottles of whiskey were lined up with care
in hopes that they’d last her till the end of the year
the neighbours were all nestled snug in their beds
with visions of a peaceful night in their heads
when out on the veranda there arose such a clatter
the old bird was ranting, as mad as a hatter
My bloody lighter just ran out of fuel
n’ my fags are all soaked in disgusting cat drool
get me some new fags and get ‘em right quick
or I’ll call for reprisals from nasty Old Nick
then what to her wondering eyes should appear
but a wee tiny man saying
Calm down old dear
I’ve brought you some fags, 200 of More
they should just last you, till you get to the store

she fell on her knees and thanked him with glee
shouting Happy Christmas to you n’ especially me

I trust you all will have a very happy holiday. I miss you and I'll be thinking of you whilst I sit on the veranda on Christmas morning, sippin' my whiskey and smokin' them fags.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NOIR VIGNETTE

I got tired of reading about female detectives who always ate salad for lunch, are they a bunch of rabbits or what? So I wrote a little something myself for the giggle.

===============================================

It was a gray day in my customary gray life. I had just finished my usual lunch of a double shot of Jameson and ten cigarettes when my door slammed open and a lad stumbled into my office and fell to his knees at my feet. I looked down and said, “so what can I do for you, other than spread my legs?” I’ve always believed that a short, sharp shock is necessary to bring someone to his senses. It worked; he jumped to his feet and looked me in the eye. When I saw his face, I realized this boy was quite beautiful and I was reconsidering putting my question in a more positive vein until I saw the blood on his hands. Damn, I thought, can’t things be simple just for once?

“Okay darlin’ just what is it you think you need from me?” I asked him as I guided him to a chair, offered him a smoke and proffered my treasured skull Zippo to light him up
He replied, “someone just killed my buddy and I know they’ll think it’s me”
“Yeah,” I said, “considering the blood on your hands you’d be my number one candidate. So tell me what happened?”
“Its like this, we were at the local bar havin’ a few drinks the other night when we got into a heated argument and I punched him.” This led to a knock down, drag out fight until the barkeep tossed them both out. They sobered up a bit when they hit the cold, wet pavement, had a good laugh and went their separate ways. That was two nights ago and he hadn’t seen his buddy until this morning. Or more precisely, he’d seen his buddy’s body casually draped over the steering wheel of his car.

“So what kind of car did your buddy drive?” He looked at me stupefied as if I had asked him an idiotic question.
“What difference does it make?” he sputtered.
“I’m looking for a car and figured his was available.”
The lad’s face turned purple and he half rose from his chair shouting at me. “You fuckin’ bitch! He was my friend.” Well, hell you can’t fault a woman for having her priorities straight. If I was gonna chase this case, I’d definitely need wheels.

I poured him a shot, lit him up again and got him back into the chair. “Sweetie, calm down, I’m just trying to cover all the angles.” For the next hour I listened to him as he told me about his buddy, from the day they’d met in prison till that night they hit the bar to celebrate his buddy’s acquittal for manslaughter.

“So honey, tell me when and where you found your buddy this morning?” Turns out they were supposed to meet up at their local gym for an early workout. When he arrived his buddy wasn’t inside so he checked out the parking lot in back where he found his friend’s car. Thinking it was odd that the car was there but his buddy wasn’t he tried to look into the windscreen but it was so filthy he couldn’t see anything. That’s when he decided to try to open the door and where he found his buddy draped over the steering wheel with a bullet right between his eyes. In an effort to comfort the lad I said, “the best way to go is with one right between the eyes, he never felt a thing.”
“Yeah I’ve heard that,” he muttered. He went on to tell me that he moved the body to be sure that it really was his buddy and that’s how he got the blood on his hands.
“Did you call the police?”

“Hell no, I got my ass out of there as fast as I could. I’m an ex-con, they’d be all over me for sure.”
“Do you know anyone who would want to kill your friend?”
“Nah, we’re just small time hoods and the manslaughter thing my buddy was up for was the result of a fight he got into with a neighbor who was roughing up his wife. Everyone hated the guy, he beat the wife and his kids, no one was sorry to see him go.

“There’s one more thing I need to know. Why did you come here?”
“Well, Mom, you’re the detective, where else should I have gone?”
“Damn, kid, is that you? It’s been five years since you bothered to get in touch with me.”
“Yeah, but I was inside for two years and I’ve been laying low since then.”
“You’ve changed, I guess doing time didn’t do you too much harm. Sorry I had to turn you in but I had to draw the line somewhere.”
“Make this go away and I’ll forgive you Mom.”

Kids, they always want something.

© Bette O’Callaghan

Saturday, December 02, 2006

RAMBLING & MUTTERING

It has been awhile since I’ve written anything here; I’ve been struck by a strange combination of ennui and excitement. Work continues apace, it is lovely to be off the phones and managing a campaign again, but it’s very much of the same old, same old variety. November was notable for Thea’s 35th birthday and Thanksgiving.

My loveliest memory of a special mum/daughter moment on Thea’s birthday occurred when I took her out to breakfast after she came to mine for coffee and the opening of her prezzies. As it seemed to be taking overlong (to my mind) for our food to come, I asked Thea if it would be really rude if I left her on her own whilst I went out to smoke a fag, her reply, It’s okay ,mom, I don’t want to be around you when you come down. Ah, my child (she’ll kill me for using that word) knows me so well and absolutely knows when it’s best to step away from the mother.

We did up the Thanksgiving thing properly this year; there were six of us, just the right number to fit into my bijou studio flat. I cooked the turkey and mashers and prepared the salad with proper French dressing. Melinda cooked the green bean casserole (thankfully) as I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole and as is the case with food I won’t eat, I really don’t have a clue how to make it… no real interest you see. It looked fabulous and everyone said it was excellent. Bazza baked his famous chocolate cherry cake, which we served with pumpkin pie and ice cream and which everyone adored. I also roasted Thea’s tofurkey and she brought her renowned ratouie (I don’t even have a clue how to spell a food that’s made entirely of vegetables) so all in all we had lots of brill food, drink and good company.

I have been troubled of late by a television advert for a firm of lawyers. Their ad is directed towards people who are trying to obtain their social security disability benefits. The gist of the ad is that individuals represented by lawyers constitute a higher percentage of those awarded benefits. Here’s my problem, if one is disabled one is in many cases unemployed, therefore, how can one pay one’s attorney’s fees? It may be necessary to point out to those of you who are not familiar with US law that many lawyers work on a contingency basis, only taking fees from a percentage of the award, if they win the case. Surely it cannot be legal to take part of a client’s disability benefit? Once more the gap between the haves and have nots broadens, I mean think of all of those people who cannot afford an attorney to secure their basic benefits? What a sad commentary on a country. Lest you think I am a jealous, twisted and bitter individual because I am so low on the food chain, might I remind you that I am perfectly happy living a second-hand life, i.e. filling my life with books, clothing and furniture from thrift/charity shops. It’s true I enjoy the occasional foray to the mall to obtain items on sale from Gap and Old Navy and, my real guilty pleasure, rather expensive cosmetics. I’m not slamming the US once more although I am once again disappointed in the extent of the great divide and to my eternal vexation I’ve discovered that I have to wait 5 years longer than if I had stayed in London, to get a free bus pass here. I do, however, get a senior citizen’s discount at Wendy’s so there you go, better than a stick in the eye.

Lastly, today 1st December, is the Naked Kobrinsky’s birthday. She is 29 again, no really she is 29 for the first and only time. Here’s to you darlin’, lets all hoist a few in her honor. We never have just the one, do we?

Postscript: Due to technical difficulties I wasn't able to post this yesterday, on Sarah's birthday, but this does give me an opportunity to add a congratulations to Clare and Jamie on the birth of their son, Liam. I've seen pictures, he's georgeous!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

LONDON AUBADE

It’s a grey and chilly rainy morning in Austin, very unusual weather for a city in the desert. It’s the very weather with which I used to castigate myself, on almost a daily basis, for choosing to live in London year after year wondering why I would sentence myself to days made even more depressing by the lack of sun. That weather is now an instrument on which I play the tune of homesickness. I recently talked to both Roxanne and Sarah who each are pining for London. Is it because we miss our friends, well certainly that is an ongoing emptiness we face each day. It is, I believe, much more than that. We each have definable and indefinable reasons why London calls to us. I miss the pub culture, meeting with friends over a drink or, as most often happened, too many drinks. The bars in America seem to be highly defined by the pervasive class system of age and job title with a strong whiff of a meat market mentality. I loved the fact that local pubs, in Ireland and the UK were a place that welcomed people from young to old, rich to poor and that they all talked to each other. I remind myself that there are good things here for me, the nearness of Thea of course, and the fact that I can live on part-time wages, can even afford my bijou studio flat with its necessary veranda. None of which were achievable in London. As much as I thought I detested the crowded streets of Central London, I find that now I hunger for throngs of people and feel as if I am truly living in a desert when I am in downtown Austin and the streets are virtually deserted. I do not miss the cacophony of traffic outside my window in London and treasure the relative quiet of my flat in Austin, broken generally only by the thriving wildlife although sometimes the noise of those various species is so persistent I feel as if I am living in a jungle. I do, however, choose the jungle sounds over the incessant and maddening sounds of the automotive engine. Politically there is not much to choose between, as always power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I do wish the American people would awake from the nightmares encouraged by the current administration, would that they were more like the people in the UK who recognized early on that the war was an unnecessary waste of money and lives and that the best reaction to terrorism is to get on with one’s life. Most of all I miss the poetry, the venues like Shortfuse and express excess where I could read my work and where I could be inspired by hearing so many other poets. I constantly miss the after gig, after hour’s drinks with people who shared my love of words. I feel as if that part of my life, the best part, has gone. Will I ever return to London? I think about it often but know that I could never leave Thea again. I suppose I must start playing the lottery in hopes that I will someday be able to afford to go back for a visit. In the meanwhile I send a bang on the ear to all of you that I love and miss, please hoist a pint for me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

60 ON HER DEATHBED

Here's a glimpse of my deathbed and me opening birthday prezzies. Posted by Picasa

BIRTHDAY CAKE


This is the perfect, well almost except for where the bullet grazed it, birthday cake Thea designed for me. I was very touched by the and Fabulous Darling. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 23, 2006

GUILTY PLEASURES

Some of you may know that I am a dedicated fan of Xena the Warrior Princess. I was very distraught when they cancelled the show and even more so when Channel 5, in London, abruptly stopped running the series, I mean they were way behind the original and could have easily let us see the series' finish, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Whilst I still lived in London and had a video player, I constantly searched for Season Six on video. Once again technology had outpaced me and the only Season Six material was on DVD, which I didn't have. So I moved to the US and a new neighbour sold me his DVD player for $10. I was amazed at this price and quietly congratulated myself for getting such a deal, ha ha, he was just a young man and I scored big time off him. Well actually, I didn't, as I had to buy all sorts of boxes, cables etc to hook the DVD up to my TV (which I did get free so I guess I shouldn't complain) and the whole thing ended up costing me a bit over $30. It took me months, on part-time pay, to get everything sorted and the DVD player hooked up but I finally achieved lift off and celebrated by buying the DVD of the new King Kong film. Yes, I love gorillas and the new King Kong is awesome! Yesterday, with some of my birthday money, I went to the mall. I believe birthday money should be spent on things one really, really wants but can't justify spending one's hard earned part-time cash on. I found it! Xena Season Six! 10 discs for $44.95, a mere $4.49 per disc, and they gave me $10 in pizza money as well. Got home, after a detour with a friend to a bar for a pint, then on to his to smoke a bowl followed by a trip to the stupidmarket to buy stuffed animals (what can I say, that's how to behave when you're 60, and also when you're 31 that's my friend's age). Sat down in my new overstuffed rocker, oh yes more birthday money wisely spent, and put Xena disc one into the DVD sat back, rocked and watched the first episode.........bliss. Here's the feckin' kicker. I don't have a remote for the DVD and I can't seem to get my, alleged, universal remote programmed for the DVD so I have no way to access the menu on the discs. Damnit, I can't watch more than the first episode on each disc. I'm going to ring the alleged universal remote people and see if they can't sort me, otherwise I will be busing up and down Lamar till I find a remote that bloddy well works.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

WAITIN' FOR WILLIE

Here I am with Thea and her friends at the ACL festival just before Willie Nelson came on. The crowd was huge, we do love Willie here in his home town.

Birthday pictures coming soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

60

I woke up this morning, yes I was as surprised as you are but there you go, I am now 60. It all started off very nicely with some cherry pie, thanks Melinda. Then a 2am smoke and South Park DVD fest with my neighbour, young Carl. Went out to the veranda this morning to find that the cheddar cheese with port wine and the cigarette fairy, Thea, had left gifts outside my door.

So I wonder how did a mispent life lead to a rocking chair on a veranda in the heart of Texas? I was thinkin' as I drank, smoked, dropped whatever drugs were available and frequently went home with strangers throughout my life; that I would have ended up in a box or an urn years ago. Am I disappointed? Perhaps a little, I mean being dissolute should be its own reward imortalising one in dodgy glory. There was also the allure of dying young whilst one is still beautiful. I feel as if I may have overstayed my welcome on that one.

The truth? I don't feel any wiser, older or uglier than I did at 11:59pm last night. So there you go, a birthday is just another day after all. Hey, I'm still lookin' forward to the celebrations tonight. There will be food, music, dancing and, I asked for it and I'm gettin' it, a chocolate cake with a skull on it. Wha hey!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Pleasure of Public Smoking

I often enjoy sauntering down the road smoking a fag. I expect y’all in London don’t saunter overmuch but we Texans are definitely disposed to sauntering, especially when the temperature hits triple digits. It’s the last frontier of freedom for smokers, the one place we can still enjoy a smoke without being legislated into oblivion. Damn, I’m probably tempting the fates by even writing this.

What I loathe is the number of people who, when they see me smoking, come up and ask for a cigarette. People, I do not work to pay for your fags and no, there isn’t such a thing as a spare fag; only the next fag, which I will be smoking myself thank you.

So there I was Sunday evening sitting on a bench at the bus stop enjoying a smoke when a car pulls up to the stop light and someone shouts at me. No, they weren’t in the lane next to the pavement; they were in the middle lane. What did they shout, you ask? Here’s the script.

Youngish girl in car, shouting: Have you got a cigarette?
Me: What?
Youngish girl in car, shouting: Have you got a cigarette?
Me, holding up my freshly lit fag: Why yes I do, thank you.

Words were mumbled from the car, no doubt casting aspersions on my character and lineage but I just smiled and puffed away.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

At Her Majesty's Request

The lovely Alice sent me an email from my blog asking for an up date. Perhaps when you read this, you’ll know why I haven’t been in the mood for writing. Hey, life goes up and down.

It all started last Tuesday night. One of the lads who works with me was giving me a lift home and suggested we stop for a drink. Just the one, is it possible to have one drink? I can’t remember ever having just the one even when my resolve was as concrete as the block a hit man would carefully affix to the leg of the poor sod he was sending to sleep with the fishes.

Of course I awoke on Wednesday morning hung over and totally enervated. In an effort to work off the double whammy inflicted by too much drink, I dragged my sorry arse over to the pool for a, I hoped, restorative swim. But noooooooooooo, the pool was filthy, no swimming for me. Unfortunately I had to be at work early as I had people to interview so I rushed off to the bus stop, 100+ degrees, with minutes to spare to get the bus. I arrived at said bus stop and sheltered under a tree seeking what little shade it offered and found some solace in that I only had perhaps one minute to wait before I could get on the, thankfully, air conditioned bus. But noooooooooooo, I stood there for a half an hour waiting for a bus that never arrived. I managed to get to work, deal with all of that shite and then I get a telephone call from Evan, the Operations Manager for the company, saying he was going to stop by to drop off some supplies for me. He arrives about 10 minutes before my troops are due and drops the bomb. The campaign he was managing was finishing on Sunday and he was taking over my campaign. So as of last night, Monday, I’m back on the telephones (actually this may not be horrible, other than the brain dead aspect of the job, as there is an opportunity for me to work less hours and make more money). Meanwhile back to the day from hell… I get home and am just starting to relax when I see a giant flying roach on the wall above my bed. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, not only do we have these huge motherfucking bugs here, but they fucking have bloody wings and are almost indestructible. One of those suckers can land on its back and lie there for weeks and still be alive when it’s turned over. So I grab the fly swatter and bat the little bastard who falls on my bed, not good at all at all. I hit him again and knock him on to the floor where he disappears. I did a CSI investigation, got out the flashlight and checked everyplace I could get to. But noooooooooooo, he was nowhere to be found. There endeth my day from hell.

The good news is that I was still awake late into the night and at 1:00am, I heard a rustling and tracked that little (excuse me, fecking huge) bugger down. I cornered him and then moved heaven and earth (okay furniture) and chopped him into pieces. So Thursday started a bit better.

Then came Friday, I had drinks and dinner with Sarah and Auggie, always a nice thing to do; only this time it was our last. They were off to Auggie’s cousin’s wedding in the Carolinas and then back to San Francisco early the next morning. Yes, it was sad, yes, I cried a bit. Damn I’m getting tired of saying goodbye to Sarah, at least this time she’s not so far away and we can talk on the telephone regularly.

Possible good news, I hired a lovely young bloke who is a poet and he’s arranging a gig for me, it will be my first for a year.

Meanwhile the heat continues to hit triple digits and my electric bill is climbing along with the temperature.

There you go, young Alice, thanks for reminding me I needed to write something new for the blog.

Friday, July 21, 2006

SUNDAY LUNCH

I had lunch on Sunday, the day after their 1st anniversary, with Sarah and August and a friend of theirs, Jim, who was in town from San Francisco. The San Francisco connection felt very strong to me, especially as Jim and August are of my generation, and it seemed quite natural to share memories of the halcyon days I spent there in the sixties.

I found myself reminiscing about nights riding side saddle on the back of my lover’s Harley dressed in a Jean Harlowesque vintage long satin gown and a top hat, crossing the Bay Bridge from Berkeley to San Francisco on our way to the Avalon Ballroom. Recounting the time I stood next to Janis Joplin as she sang at the Hell’s Angels birthday party at the Filmore Ballroom, and as we were leaving, I watched some Angels threaten to toss another of my lovers down a deep stairwell if he didn’t give up his hat, which I had just decorated with feathers. The Angels got the hat. Relating the night I was in San Francisco with Pallas and Sharon walking the late night streets when a crazed man grabbed Sharon and tried to take her with him. I took Sharon’s other arm and held on with grim determination whilst trying to appear as menacing as possible. Suddenly our white knight appeared, driving by in a pick up truck, he leaned out the window and gruffly addressed the maniac who thankfully fled. He then drove us to his, where his wife made us tea and gave us a chance to calm down. That’s how I met Lenore Kandel, one of the most notorious and renowned poets of our time.

It was a natural segue for the four of us to talk about the poets and songwriters of that generation, who we liked, who we didn’t and to squabble, in a friendly manner, about our differences. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and to make it perfect for me (I was skint as usual) August generously hosted our lunch.

The sixties were a seminal part of my life and that got me thinking about the times in my life, which were true markers of abandon and contentment. The sixties in California and then traveling across the country to the east coast where I lived for awhile when Bobby and I owned a leather shop where I designed and made clothing then crossing the US again back to California where we opened another leather shop. It was not until I moved to Ireland in the late eighties that I was able to find that same sense of freedom.

Ireland was magical. Tom and I lived in Summer Cove, across the bay from Kinsale, just on the southernmost tip of Cork. I both loathed and loved walking up the hill from Summer Cove, a hill that was so steep I had to bend forward as I walked just to get up it. My reward when I achieved the top was to stop at the place where one could turn and see all of Summer Cove, Kinsale and right out to the ocean. Sometimes on Sundays I would stand there watching the boats and I could hear the music drift across the bay from Jury’s Hotel, the sound of the bodhran, fiddle and pipes soothing my aching muscles as I paused to both catch my breath and have it taken away by the beauty of the scene before me. I adored the celebration we made of dole day, or as we called it, free money day, when Tom and I would go into Kinsale and I would wait at Patsy’s CafĂ© eating amazing lemon meringue pie and drinking coffee while he was signing on. We would then drink our way back to Summer Cove, starting at the Greyhound in Kinsale, working our way up the hill around the cove to the Spaniard and then back home to the Bullman. The light in summer lingered long into the night as we would sit outside the Bullman, which sat just across the road from the slip, drinking till last orders. We’d nip into the pub get some drag out and pile into small boats and head out into the ocean, drinking, talking, laughing and sometimes just quietly listening to the waves lap against the boat whilst the ocean was lighted from the phosphorus just beneath the water.

When I left London I was very sad to leave all of my friends but I only wept when I realised that I would never see Ireland again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

WHAT'S IN A NAME

Whilst sitting in my rocking chair this morning, yes indeed I finally talked the young lady into selling it to me and it is now gracing my front room and in the mornings can be found on my veranda, I was thinking about my current name. It quite surprises me, the number of people who remark that my name is lovely. The carnivore in me loves the meatiness of O'Callaghan. I'm also enamoured of the softness of the initial O and the surprising crunchiness of the ghan. I have never been fond of the name Bette, but then who could be when all of their life people have constantly said, Is your real name Elizabeth or is it just plain Bette? I suppose that's why I changed the spelling when I was in my early twenties.

I was also ruminating on whether I should have given up the O'Callaghan after I killed Tom, I had to you know I just loved him too much. I know many women who have gone back to their maiden names after a divorce, I even know women who have changed back to their maiden names whilst still married. Of course there are some women who never take their husband's name at all. Here's the thing, most women who either keep their maiden names whilst married, or go back to their maiden names, generally say its because they don't want to be encumbered by a man's name. I'm not up to date on laws regarding naming a child but in Ohio (USA) the law was that the child's surname must be the same name as the mother's legal name at the time of birth, I believe this is law throughout the US. This is why my daughter's surname is the same as my maiden name, as I was your basic unwed mother when she was born. Of course this means that her name came from my father, yes there's that male gender supremacy thing rearing its ugly head a generation on. I did really like my father so no problems there.

So what is important in choosing a name? My tide mark has always been that if the majority of people, in any given place where I am living, know me or know of me by a certain name, it may be best to use it thus avoiding confusion and requiring my friends to have to reprogramme their mobile telephone entries for me. It's the polite thing to do, don't you agree?

Perhaps the fact that I was adopted makes a choice of names redundant as I will never be able to use my real name unless I go to the trouble of having my name legally changed. I actually do know my real name but it seems as alien to me as any other name I have had in my life.

Does a name define a person? Some names seem to, for example would Cary Grant have been the heart throb he became had he kept his real name of Archibald MacLeish (or however it was spelled)? I think not. Would I have been a more sucessful, or better, person if I lived my entire life with my real name of Marcia (apparently pronounced, Marceea)?

I do like the way Bette O rolls off of Andy's tongue, as he has almost always called me that.

Then again, my dear friend Sharon and I always address each other as Miss Sharon and Miss Bette. Maybe that's the answer, first names only and no worries about male domination of surnames.

So there you go, I sit in my rocking chair on the veranda each morning, drinking my coffee and chainsmoking whilst thinking about inane things like names.

I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't matter what anyone calls you.... as long as they do, indeed, call you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MERMAIDS


Last Friday evening the Pussy Posse came to mine to celebrate my purchase of four new wine glasses. The number of glasses was significant as we inducted Thea into the Posse that night. Melinda was the first to arrive followed quite closely by Sarah so we repaired to the veranda to drink, smoke and chat until Thea finished work. It was a humid and hot night, the wind had apparently decided it was a virgin bride on it's wedding night and it wasn't going to blow anyone! Melinda and Sarah had each brought a bottle of wine, and as you do, we quaffed those two bottles very quickly. Fortunately it was just then that Thea appeared with an extra large bottle of red and a bottle of white, we were saved. We took a break from fags and drink and went inside for dinner. I showed off my new Death Bed, a day bed that I had adorned with Death himself sitting atop the middle spire and skulls on each bed post (pictures soon, I promise). After dinner we took our chairs, glasses, fags and wine back out to the veranda for the usual trash talk and inebriated consideration of life's meaning. It was then that Sarah was inspired and suggested we go down to the pool in my complex. Oh joy, we were going to cool off! Oh sorrow, when we arrived at the pool there was a sign saying no swiming, pump broken. Did this stop us, not the Pussy Posse, we preceeded to drape ourselves along the side of the pool dangling our feet in the water. It was cool, it was divine and yet we were still suffering the unwanted attentions of the heat. It was about this time that the Naked One jumped up, stripped down to her knickers and leapt into the pool (by the by she later lived up to her name by disposing of those pesky knickers as well). She was in heaven and we wanted to be as well so we all stripped down to our knickers and, pump be damned, we were swmming in the moonlight and laughing delightedly. I called for a Best Breast contest (do not fret children, I was not a contestant, I was the Judge, as befits the Alpha Cunt) and the posse came over all vain and insisted that they be allowed to pose with their arms upraised, something about uplift I believe. At the end of the day, I had to declare a three-way tie, assuring them they were all perfect in their own way, as there was no feckin' way I was going to choose between an old friend, a new friend and my daughter. The interesting thing was that we were surrounded by flats, we were making rather a lot of noise and no one came out for a look, perhaps there was a twitching of curtains that we didn't notice. After several hours of watery bliss we trooped back to mine for pud and finished off the evening, almost perfectly for me, with Sarah and I waltzing to our favourite Leonard Cohen waltz, Take This Waltz.

It would have been a perfect evening if the London branch of the posse had been there. Alice, Buffy, Claire, and Jen - a toast to you. Here's to swimmin' with bowlegged women.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

THE MEANING OF LIFE

I apologise for not writing anything new for weeks and weeks and would like to thank those of you who keep having a look in. I never wanted this blog to be about the minutiae of my life; get up, smoke, drink coffee, smoke, go to work, smoke, come home, smoke, eat dinner, smoke, watch TV, smoke, read, smoke, go to bed, smoke etc. Suffice it to say that I have been very busy managing a new campaign at the theatre which has required me to put in an excess of extra hours. Here are some of the things I've been planning to write about, in shortened versions.

Are white teeth the new accessory? There are so many print and TV ads for teeth whitening, capping, enamling etc that I believe this country has taken the perfect teeth thing to a risible level. If the truth were told, Do you really think your gleaming pearly whites are actually going to distract me from seeing the mounds of flesh rolling off your body? When I see all of you out there with glow in the dark teeth and excessively large bodies, I can only think y'all give new meaning to the phrase, All The Better To Eat You With My Dear.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas has wrangled a new tax bill through the state government which is meant to benefit the schools. He has cut property taxes and levied a $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. Herewith an open letter to Governor Perry.

Dear Governor Perry,
As a long time confirmed smoker who has spent these last many years being villified by people for my nasty habit, I wish to thank you for giving me new dignity as a smoker. After all, I'm now smoking for the children. To ensure that I can smoke more and, therefore, educate more children, could you please get the City of Austin to rescind its ordinance against smoking in public places? Additionally, as you have cut the property taxes, could you not get my landlord to lower my rent so that I can afford to pay the new cigarette tax and smoke more, for the children? Oh yes, one more thing, which would enable me to smoke even more and provide a better level of education for the children, could you make it illegal for a landlord to deny an individual the right to smoke in the home for which they pay rent? I would really appreciate your help with these issues, I want to smoke more and it is for the children after all.
Thank you for your consideration.

Buses in Austin don't come in three's like they do in London. I used to have salacious visions of Route Masters humping each other down alleys and side streets in an effort to remain on the road. It was the only reason I could think that so many buses came in threes. In Austin I often see a mirage of buses. The heat here is so papable it creates a haze that rises from the ground draping the street in a gauzy curtain of hallucination. Each day as I wither on the bus bench and peer hopefully up the road I think I see my bus approaching, but wait, it is just another mirage, it's really a tree, or a sign or a house that only appears to be moving as the heat imbues it with a life of its own.

This morning I was thinking about running a lonelyhearts advert.
I'd like to be your widow. Relax I'm not looking for a long term relationship, just a bit of financial security. If you're about to shuffle off this mortal coil and have a few dollars that you can't take with you, I would make a perfect widow. I can make you infamous writing about all of the cheating, drinking and partying you've done, and let's face it, that's not such a bad epitaph. Or if you prefer I can summon all of my latent skills and paint a picture of you as the perfect lover, husband and father (you will of course have to provide the children yourself).

Lastly, the meaning of life. I was going to save this till my 60th, which is right round the corner but then I thought, no, y'all deserve to get this message right now. If you want to have a meaningful life, you need only remember this, If you talk to yourself, you'll never be alone.

Friday, May 05, 2006

YES, I'M APPARENTLY SCARY

Just too stressed, hungry, nicotine deprived to write much so I thought I'd just post this. Found the site through the lovely Alice's Dark Place.


You Are Scary
You even scare scary people sometimes!

How Scary Are You?
Just so y'all know, I didn't choose the skulls, the skulls chose me. Just how accurate is this test? Pretty feckin' dead on, I'd say.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SMOKING KILLS - ALMOST

Left the theatre last night as lightening cracked and roared in the night sky, by the time I almost got to the bus stop, it started lashing down. Bummer. Good thing was that by the time I got off the bus, the rain had stopped but the lightening continued. So I did what I always do when I get off the bus, prepared to light up a fag. Got out my metal cigarette case and my metal lighter and thought to myself, shite, wouldn't it be ironic if lightening struck me down just as I was lighting up? I was rather taken with the idea that smoking kills in, perhaps an unusual way, but no such luck.

Earlier in the day I had another interesting encounter at the bus stop on my way to work. Approached the bench where two blokes were sitting, one of them offered me his seat but I said that I reckoned if he moved over a bit I'd be fine. We than had the following conversation (not verbatim, for feck's sake I'm gettin' too old to remember anything word for word).

Me: I was just wondering if I looked fat in this frock and since you didn't think there was room for me on the bench, you must have thought I did.
Him: You must be crazy, what do you weigh, all of 129 pounds?
Me: Don't know, haven't got a scale.
Him: Now I'm big (with a bit of a glower).
Me: Yes, you certainly are.
Him: Can I introduce myself (holding out his hand).
Me: I'm Bette (shaking his hand).
Him: My name is Monster.
Me: So what do you do Monster?
Monster: My job is to scare people, haven't you seen me around?
Me: No but I haven't been in Austin very long. Just don't scare my daughter, 'cause I can be pretty scary too.
Monster: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
Me: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

Then Monster smiled, we decided we really admired each other and I handed off the remainder of my fag to him as I boarded the bus and he continued to hang out on the bench drinkin' beer from a can in a paper sack.

Altogether a good day.

Friday, April 14, 2006

3 WOMEN, 2 FOAM MATTRESSES & A BED

Sarah picked me up from work in a cab the other night, which was especially nice as I had missed my bus, and we went to mine. I rang Thea who arrived a bit later with a very nice extra large bottle of red and the three of us brought all of the chairs (exactly 3, serendipity indeed) in my flat out to the veranda where we sat in the warm night air and smoked, drank (sorry, no wine glasses, I guess I need to make a Goodwill/Sally Army run for those) and delved into all the dramas of young women’s lives (I was playing my usual role of wise old crone). Some of our discourse was crucial, some possibly life changing and a lot of it was more of a smack on the head realisation that the grass is indeed not greener on the other side of the fence. Personally, I believe the grass is greener ranks right up there with the cheque’s in the post and, of course, my all time favourite, I’ll pull out before it’s too late. Why do we all want what we don’t have, get it and then long for what we used to have? Perhaps more importantly, is the urge to procreate so strong that we forget that head smacking epiphany and consider our lives a failure if we don’t pair up; or is there some innate hunger for love that makes us seek it out as if it is our most important mission in life? I was thinking about all the men I thought I was in love with and realised there was actually only one man I truly loved. How did I come to that conclusion? He was the only man who didn’t bore me. So there you go, there’s my tide mark. As the young ones faded, yep I was the last man standing, not bad for an old broad; I doled out the mattresses, pillows and blankets gave my girls ibuprofen to forestall the morning after headache and got them both settled on the floor then retired to my bed for a little reading. The next morning was a cacophony of moans, groans and where’s my coffee? Still we all made it into the day with a minimum of damage and grateful that we had each other as friends. Ah women….. good friends are there for you forever… men come and go.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

THE HIDEOUT

I'm sitting in The Hideout, the coffee shop where Kobrinsky works, using her fabulous laptop (Sarah made me edit this so I could tell y'all that her laptop is named Wolfgang - I'm a bit disturbed by her insistence on naming things), I'm very covetous of her widescreen. I thought it would be appropo to write this here as it all started here. What's that, you ask? The Austin branch of the Pussy Posse is offically established. Was hangin' out here last Friday night whilst Kobrinsky worked and got to talking to one of her co-workers, the lovely Melinda. Kobrinsky finished early and suggested we all go for just one drink. I'm sure you all know how that turned out. Anyway several glasses of wine and good conversation later, I inducted Melinda into the Pussy Posse. Not surprsingly, perhaps, Melinda is.................. a Brit. She's from Bury St Edmunds and has been in Austin a little over a year. Her husband plays blues harp in Porterdavis, a band that is often away touring, so that's good for the Posse as Melinda is available and up for trouble. I did tell her that the first thing I told my daughter, when she was old enough to notice boys, was Don't marry a musician. As soon as I said it I realised that Thea's mystery dad is indeed a musician. Doh... I didn't ignore my advice totally, however, as I conveniently didn't marry him. We're both oh so glad about that.

Other than that, the weather here is in the 90's and we're all workin' so life ain't too bad at all, at all.

Friday, March 31, 2006

AUSTIN LIFE

I don't have any rants or raves for y'all at the moment so I thought I would just give you some tidbits about what's new.

Sarah Kobrinsky, Lana (work mate) and I were standing in front of the theatre the other afternoon trying to gee ourselves up to go in and start work when who should walk by but Quentin Tarrantino, f.y.i. he's getting quite pudgy.

Speaking of the theatre, I have been promoted to Campaign Manager so no more phone calls for me. I aspire to be Wendy Kroy in The Last Seduction. I'm usually very nice to the troops but I had to do a Wendy last night and it worked!

I was on TV news yesterday evening, was smoking outside the cafe where Sarah K works when we were approached to be interviewed regarding the Governor's plan to lower property tax and put an extra $1 tax on a packet a fags. As y'all can imagine, I was outraged and said so. Didn't see it, I was working, but a friend of Thea's did. Apparently I didn't look like a crack whore and was intelligent and articulate, will wonders never cease.

Found a new blog, through CHERYL B. It's W O M B a blog for women poets. Would be an excellent site to visit. We have exchanged links. Always nice to find new people to share the poetry.

Speaking of which, I'm writing a pulp fiction style short story. I think it may take a while but we'll see where it goes. I just got tired of reading about all of these women DA's, detectives etc who lunch on salad and Diet Coke. Sarah is kindly reading it as I go along and being encouraging.

That's about it darlings. Miss everyone in London, up North (yes, Nottingham especially) and my friends all over the US. I've got space in my flat for guests, so y'all come on down. We got music, we got drink and hell since the weather is gettin' nicer every day, we got lots of outside venues where we can smoke.

Friday, March 24, 2006

WE'LL BE BACK

Right After These Messages.

It appears as if the US has turned into a nation of hypochondriacs given the numerous advertisements for drugs on television. Sure you used to get the old standbys like I can’t believe I ate the whole thing for a little something to provide stomach acid relief, or an advert for aspirin for the day after the drinking binge headache, all over the counter remedies for those irksome, yet relatively mundane, common ailments. Now the drug companies are advertising serious drugs for more serious diseases, drugs that are only available on prescription from a doctor. There are three things I find really interesting about this, first the ads are no longer overtly amusing, secondly they scare the bejesus out of you with a list of possible side effects and thirdly so few people here have health insurance, one wonders who can afford to pay for these drugs.

One of my favourite adverts is for a drug aimed at men with diabetes. Apparently either the illness, or the drugs one takes to sort that out, can cause ED, yes that’s what the bloke in the ad ingenuously calls it. ED my dears is the dreaded Erectile Dysfunction, so if that’s the correct way to describe a limp dick would Erectile Function be the correct way to describe a hard one? It could be the new foreplay in today’s politically correct America, Hey honey I’ve got EF, get ‘em off.

Sorry, I digress. So this drug purports to sort out that very problem and sure enough there’s the bloke in the ad with his lovely wife who just can’t get that satisfied smile off her face. So far so good, but then the disembodied voice starts to recite the list of possible side effects and contraindications. Now if I were a bloke and I heard all the nasty stuff that could happen if I took this drug I’d be all like, My old lady can just take matters into her own hands ‘cause I ain’t goin’ anywhere near that nasty shit. Then I hear the last possible side effect, as the voice gravely intones If you have an erection that lasts more than four hours contact your doctor, and I think, Wow this stuff is the business. I mean, I’m not a bloke but from all I’ve heard most blokes would kill for that sort of endurance.

So I watch these adverts and I wonder who can afford these drugs? I haven’t had to buy more than some ibuprofen here so I don’t know what the cost of prescription drugs are but I’m guessin’ they are outrageously high. This would be somewhat of an educated guess based on a documentary I watched when I was still in London, about a group of US senior citizens from a retirement home who arrange to be bussed over the border to Canada to get their scripts filled as it is so much cheaper there, even with the cost of travel factored in. I recently overheard a pharmacist, in a local drug store (yes boys n’ girls, in America they call Chemist shops, drug stores and what a lovely image that conjures up for those of us who had some fun in the sixties and other decades for that matter), talking to a colleague about someone who had rung concerning their drug needs. Yes, he said, she’s coming in and then added in a very dismissive and disdainful tone of voice but she’s got no insurance. It was like hearing someone being condemned to death, no reprieve, no hope.

To be fair, one can get cheap drugs in the UK through the NHS, the only drawback is that if one is seriously ill, it will take so long to see a specialist that by the time one gets the script for the drugs its often too late.

Speaking of messages, now for a laugh, at my expense. When I lived in Kinsail, Ireland Tom, my late husband, and I used to go to the small local supermarket. I was absolutely mystified by a sign at the till, which read If you want your messages taken to your car, please ask the clerk. I thought about this till it maddened me, I knew most people didn’t have telephones but I just couldn’t figure out why, if they got their phone messages at the supermarket (why not, we used to get ours at the local pub), they would need them taken to their car. I finally gave up and asked Tom who had a good laugh as he explained to me that the groceries were called messages. Why, you ask? This comes from people sending someone to the store with a grocery list, or message. Doh!

Check out the link to my poetry blog, top right side of page. Sarah Kobrinsky and I have been writing poetry together, I’ve posted our first two Naked and The Dead collaborations.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

SXSW

It’s all started… last night I went to work and had to crawl under crime scene tape (it was yellow and read do not cross), through numerous people’s legs, to get in the front door of the State Theatre as there was an event for the SXSW Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre next door. Were they being overly dramatic using crime scene tape to channel people into the Paramount? Hey after all it’s a film festival, if you can’t be dramatic then, when can you be?

Lots of people roaming the streets, more or less purposefully, wearing badges hung round their necks. Don’t know why but I’ve always found that sort of badge a rather unfortunate fashion accessory. Second only to the sticky name badges, earnestly and rather dictatorially, handed out at business functions which they actually expect one to adhere to one’s clothing. Adhesive on silk, fine wool or linen, I think fuckin’ not! Maybe it’s just because I’ve always believed in keeping a low profile or because I hate running with, or being identified by, the herd.

It occurred to me this morning that SXSW has a feel to it much like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Its one of the things I really like about Austin, a relatively small town that turns into a major player for awhile. There does seem to be one big difference between SXSW and The Fringe, other than the obvious fact that SXSW is pretty much all about music, with some film and interactive stuff thrown in. I haven’t seen anyone handing out flyers for shows. Okay, I hated flyering but loved it in a weird way as well. It was always a challenge to get someone to take your flyer when there were thousands of other people handing out flyers for their shows but then there was also a real sense of, Damn, I did it, when you looked out into the audience at your show and saw those people, to whom you had personally handed a flyer (okay if truth be told, you had shoved the flyer into their hand with a bit of quick repartee about your show) sitting there waiting for you to do your stuff.

The music starts Wednesday and I’m having fantasies of, surprisingly enough, not running into a famous musical hero, but the possibility of rockin’ the world of some music addled young lad.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

CHANGES

Changes, I've been through a few in the last 6 months but first let's step into the way back machine when Changes was the title of an album by Jim and Jean and I fell in love with their voices and his picture on the cover. Little did I know then that I would end up meeting him (he and Jean had finished by then, I may be a slut but I do draw a line somewhere) and getting knocked up with my amazingly talented daughter, Thea (that's right, Jim is Thea's Mystery Dad). Enough of that, Jim and Jean are having a reunion concert in New York, with Vince Martin and other singin' guests at the Peoples Voice Cafe on Saturday, March 18th. The concert starts at 8 at 45 East 33rd St. This is their first musical reunion since Phil Ochs died in 76. So if all y'all in NY go along, please say hey for me.

Sorry about the lapse in new blog stuff but one of the major changes for me, at the moment, is I no longer have Internet access at home, which makes it difficult, bloody frustrating etc etc and nigh on impossible to write when the spirit moves. If the truth were told, now that I have a TV I find I spend way too much fuckin' time when I get home from work, zoning out in front of it and getting more brain dead by the minute.

The flat is coming along, thanks to Goodwill, the Salvation Army and friends. I feel as if its almost mine but it never actually will be because of the no smoking rule. FECK THAT! At least I have fewer burn holes in my clothing, is that a positive, I'm not sure?

The Naked Kobrinsky and I are planning a joint assualt on the poetry scene here in Austin. There are mostly open mike nights with round robin readings. Sarah is working (YES, she's leagal now!) at a local coffe house and we'll probably target them as a venue. I really miss doing gigs, can't believe its been six months since my last.

I've turfed in the day job, wasn't gettin' paid the dime for the time and I can't have that. Fortunately I'm doing well on the evening job so I can pay the rent and buy food and fags but its very tight. Meg, you were absofuckin'lutely right, you can live in the US on a part time job.

South By South West (SXSW) has just started and if Austin was music city USA before, during SXSW it may well be the music capital of the world. Lots of bands from everywhere, including the UK. Hope to get out to see some of them. There's also some free events which I definitely mean to take advantage of, like Roseanne Cash.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

LOVERS, AFFAIRS, LIVE-INS & ONE NIGHT STANDS

These words carelessly rolled off my tongue in a conversation with Kobrinsky who reckoned I should take them further…

Kenny, Jim and Kevin you were my first. Did I learn anything from you; sorry darlin’s probably not much. I was young and you were young, groping in the back seats of cars and trucks at drive-in movies and down country lanes only taught me that there is something to be said about proper surroundings for certain activities. I do, however, still count you as lovers.

All my one night stands, too many to remember your names, even if I knew them in the first place, which in many cases I didn’t. Thanks for a touch of flesh on flesh and a brief encounter, all of which helped make me the woman I am today. No thanks to the bastard who picked me up hitchhiking in San Francisco and took me back to his in Berkeley and attempted to strangle me whilst we were having sex. You suck buddy! Special thanks to the lovely older man who used to buy me food at the Mediterranean Coffee house on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and took me back to his to roll me round the black satin sheets on his bed. Oh, by the way, the pet boa constrictors were a bit much; I could have done without them.

Nameless guy affair no. 1, married to a stripper and still looking’ for strange. Lessons learned, where to keep your stash… in a safe deposit box at the bank, who would think to look there. Hangin’, smoking’, makin’ out and talkin’ in the cemetery. You may have ignited my on going love affair with death. Cheers darlin’.

Bob H, you were both lover, live-in and affair, although I did have an affair whilst we were living together. Thanks for sneaking me into the medical experiment in which you were participating, for an hour or so of taboo hot sex and little conversation. I believe you may be the only triple crown winner in my life.

Nameless guy lover, shit I can’t believe I can’t remember your name, ‘cause I remember your Harley and frequently riding sidesaddle on its back across the Bay Bridge from Berkeley to San Francisco, dressed in a long silk gown and a top hot. Lots of rides, lots of sex and lots of music at the Avalon Ballroom where you did the puppet shows between sets.

Bobby how fuckin’ hot was I for you? I was a persistent hippie chick until you broke under my insistence and swept me off my feet to travel across the country from California to New England, and back again. Best night? Dropping mescaline and tripping at your place. Somehow we ended up in Ohio and as a consequence I eventually got pregnant with Thea but not by you.

Jim, I fell in love with you listening to your music and gazing at your picture on the cover of your album. How feckin’ excited was I when I met your mother, Frieda, an amazing woman, who introduced us. Cheers darlin’ for giving me Thea, sorry I didn’t sort out you two until she was almost 30, okay so I was a bit confused about who’s the daddy, but I am glad you all finally met up.

George, affair number three in my on going quest to be the other woman, yep you almost were the daddy. Loved the trip to Lexington when I discovered the gun in your suitcase. Most enduring memory? You piercing my nose whilst I was sitting in your dental chair at the Free Clinic.

Fred, you hard assed bar fighter. Thanks for the chipped tooth (never drink out of a bottle when riding in a car driven by a drunk) ‘cause whenever I look in the mirror I always think of you. The night on Quaaludes was interesting indeed, no inhibitions, no worries.

Nameless guy and my longest affair, I still can‘t remember your name. Your lover was in England and we were in Cleveland doin’ the naughty. Too fuckin’ bad you had to come over all honest and tell her ‘cause I wasn’t half please that she showed up at my house and tried to beat me up. She was a little thing so it was only a matter of straight arming her to a safe distance so I could get her out the door. My advice for future reference… discretion is the better part of honour.

Jeffery - you fuckin’ sick bastard.

John, what a great dancer! You were so good, I asked you when we met if you were gay. Turned out you weren’t. Thanks for the trip to Toronto, the silk g-strings and the many, many dances.

Tom, my first orgasm, achieved at the x rated drive-in theatre. Yes, I was serious about the proper surroundings. A digression… I always insisted that my men were willing to take a fucking break (get it?) so I could light up and enjoy a smoke. You were always willing to take a break to tell me a joke, thanks for the many laughs. Best memory… driving down the boulevard when you screeched to a stop in front of a church and grabbed me to passionately kiss me only then pointing out the sign in front of the church, Thou shalt not park here.

Tom O’, the love of my life.

Thus endth this installment, I suspect there may be more. Come on, folks I’m an old lady and memories come and go.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

THRIFTY OR SKINT?

Almost six months in Austin and I’m learning more and more about the US everyday. Austin is unique in some respects being rather liberal, casual and very much into accepting people and ideas, no matter how strange, hence the official city motto Keep Austin Weird. I am beginning to think, though, that Austin may well be as good a microcosm of what is happening in America, as anywhere else. Because my evening job requires me to telephone one person after another and I have, no doubt, spoken with thousands of people in the last months, I have discovered that unemployment and underemployment are rife. I suspect that may be why so many people, like myself, shop at the proliferation of thrift and charity shops around town. Are we being thrifty, or are we unable to afford anything new? In these shops one can buy anything from clothing to furniture, well actually one can fit out an entire life with the gear you can find at relatively amazingly low prices. One step above these shops are the stores selling new merchandise at usually decent prices, like Target and Wal-Mart (I love this, the spell check just automatically corrected the way I spelled Wal-Mart, just another indication of how big business has invaded our lives), although in many cases their prices are too high for the likes of me who is only working two jobs. Homelessness is pandemic, no one seems to have medical insurance and yet there are people driving around in their huge SUVs spending $130 each time they fill their tank with petrol. When I left America to move to Ireland, in the eighties, I felt then that the divide between the haves and have nots was increasing daily. The current administration, I will not write that evil name, has taken this divide to new and extreme heights by sucking up to big business in a way never before embraced in this country. One only has to look at the way the government handled and continues to handle the Katrina debacle (billion dollar no bid contracts handed out to political cronies whilst people made homeless by the hurricane are being told the government will no longer pay to house them or help them repair their homes) to understand that commercialism, not democracy, is the basis for its policies. A recent article in the newspaper cited the number of low income people being investigated by the IRS for underpayment and/or fraud (N.B. turned out almost none of them were fraudulent and many had over paid) whilst big business gets more and more tax relief and a pass on any scrutiny by the IRS.

Damn, I really did not want to make this a political diatribe but I used to believe in this country and the freedoms on which it was founded. I learned, as one can possibly only do best from a distance, that many of my beliefs were erroneous but still felt that there was a sound foundation on which the US, if it woke up, could provide a quality of life that was reasonable and affordable. Now…. well I spend my free time scouring the thrift shops for a spoon for 25 cents so I can eat my soup, which is about all I can afford.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

SERIOUSLY BAD KARMA

Well darlin', I moved into my own place, Thea is thrilled and I am intrigued by the possibilities of living totally on my own, which I have not done for 34+ years. Its a small studio but way big enough for me, lots of things need fixing, so many that I believe I have finally achieved my ambition of transforming myself into trailer trash. Okay its not a trailer but it ain't no posh place either. My window looks out onto the back of the buiding (its brick, its yellow - that's all folks) in front of mine and the lovely asphalt car park. None of these things are bad enough for me to have used the title I chose for this posting. Are you ready... lord knows I'm not (and sorry Mary Anne, I couldn't bring myself to tell you this on the phone)... my lease had a special clause. Oh shit this is harder than I thought it would be, I just can't but I know I must. Special clause - the tenant will absolutely not allow any smoking inside the property, violation will be cause for instant termination of lease and loss of deposit. Yes, when I read this the words gun and head came instantly to my mind but unfortunately I had neither a gun, nor to be honest a head that could think clearly. Long story short, I had promised Thea I would move out by 1st February, it was too late to turn back. There is a balcony outside my flat (I'm on the 2nd floor US - 1st floor UK) so I spend my leisure time leaning on the rail inhaling tar and nicotine and wondering what the fuck happened to freewill and personal freedoms.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

Each night at sunset I take a break from my evening job and descend to the outside balcony of the State Theatre, overlooking Congress Avenue, to wait for the arrival of the grackels. The sky becomes absolutely black with hundreds of birds flocking into the downtown area. These flocks are so dense it is easy to mistake them for a colony of bats. They fly round the tops of the buildings circling them repeatedly, each flock following a different path. After about five minutes of traversing the skies round the buildings many of the birds perch on the ledges of buildings along the street. They do not perch on all of the buildings but always the same ones, others fly directly to the trees lining each side of Congress Avenue. This flight into the area is accompanied by loud shrieks, whistles and cackles evoking a Hitchcockian response in people who saw The Birds. Slowly, as it becomes darker and darker, the birds descend from the building ledges to roost in the trees. In about twenty minutes all of the trees are filled with birds delicately balancing on a branch. A few nights ago it pissed down rain and the wind was extremely high. Each grackel surfed it's tree branch without a ruffled feather or the flap of a wing for balance. The noise rises as there is some shifting of position from tree to tree and continues as all of the birds are settled into the trees. I find it fascinating to hear them in the dark as one usually associates bird sound with early morning and sunrise. Are they speaking to each other or warning us of an attack that seems imminent? As time passes the birds become quieter and quieter until by the time I leave work, they are a completely silent yet malevolent presence.

Grackels are known as pest birds, they are both vegetarian and carnivore, they may also become extremely nest aggressive and are known to attack if humans should venture too close to nesting places. Apparently, in urban areas, they will also attack humans who are carrying food in open containers. The most important thing to know, if you spot one near where you are sitting, is that they shit constantly (the lovely Kobrinsky discovered this yesterday as we were sitting outside at a cafe - I had warned her). All of the vehicles and benches under the roosting trees on Congress Avenue are saturated with bird shit.

Grackels are pretty much loathed in Austin; I call them my Children of the Night. I feel a strong affinity for these black birds who are my new audience as I, dressed in black, declaim my poetry from the State Theatre’s balcony. Quoth the grackel, Encore!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

THE NAKED AND THE DEAD

Yes, boys n' girls, the Naked Kobrinsky is indeed in Austin and is sitting next to me as I write this. She found a really sweet wireless place just near her house. Bar, food, coffee and even plug in points outside in the garden where, of course, one can smoke. I have been to the very posh house she and August are renting. (Sarah just made me take out an interesting tidbit (not about her and August) so if you want to know all the dope, ring me). Sarah's house has an awesome screened-in porch where I took my morning coffee accompanied by my ever present fags, when we had a little sleep over last week. I have yet to meet August, although Sarah assures me he really does exist. He's been very busy preparing to start classes so I expect to meet him sometime next week.

The reason, other than the obvious that I am the Dead, is that I now have two jobs, a day one and an evening one. I think it may kill me but it appears as if I will be able to move into my own place at the beginning of February. More about this later.