Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bad Fundamentalist Poesie - from the Cold Dirt Press archives

Despite the fact that convicted child molester Warren Jeffs is incarcerated in federal prison, he still has his minions at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to do his bidding and they apparently have the funds to publish and distribute apocalyptic warnings to government agencies and schools. Some news stories state that the recipients are throwing the mailing in the trash.

Imagine my glee when my sister showed me a copy that was sent to the school where she worked. Being a Subgenius connoisseur of schizophrenic ramblings from way back, I was fascinated and asked if I could keep it. The bland tome is devoid of any images or color, only black text on cheap paper stock with a hefty title on the matte finish cover:
Words are randomly capitalized and the psychotic warnings repeat for all of the target populations starting with the generalized Nations of the Earth (someone watched a few too many 1950s science fiction movies) to the United States, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Latvia, NATO, the Vatican and so on.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Shop Window Archeology

The center of my adopted hometown of Bloomfield, NJ is undergoing extensive urban renewal and I have mixed feelings about that. This was an area that I visited when I first went to Upsala College in East Orange back in the early 1980s. It remained a place caught in a vortex, clinging to the past so tightly that it was chosen several times as a sure-fire film location to evoke Mid-Century Modern, but there was economic blight blanketing the nostalgia with empty storefronts and crime. 

Back in 2012 I took some photos of the shop windows and now those businesses and buildings are gone. Here are those pictures resurrected from the Cold Dirt Press site and preserved for your enjoyment. 

Relief through Belief


The Party's Over

Cough syrup by the dram

Guess the meds

Historical pharmacy

Designer drugs

Dada lives!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Elegy for Manfred Mystery Mann - From the Cold Dirt Press Archives

The underdog has always held a soft spot in my heart. To me, that includes all types of animals but especially felines. Loving special-needs animals further marginalizes my life, I suppose. I am drawn to shelter sweethearts that are typically overlooked. One of those kitties was named Mystery, a shadowy gray Russian Blue/Siamese mix I adopted in 2010. His elegant nose and world-weary eyes drew me in. When I held him, his disposition was utterly mellow as if we had known each other for ages.

The shelter workers informed me that he had previously been adopted out but returned because he was not playful enough. Maybe those people were expecting a puppy instead. That sealed the deal and Mystery was mine. Firstly, his name was changed to Manfred Mann after one of my favorite 60s groups.  Poor Manny had a misshapen spine from some trauma, perhaps hit by a car, and he was suffering from an intestinal parasite that left his body emaciated and twisted. Because of nerve damage, his claws did not retract. Later I determined that he was also deaf.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beulah and Hoppy - From The Cold Dirt Press Archives

Over thirty years ago, I had an after-school job at a dry cleaners, the same place that two of my sisters had worked at more than a decade earlier. The tailor and one of the workers knew me since I was about five years old. Working there was a bit Dickensian with the chemical smells, drudgery, and the oppressive heat. The other employees were great characters from The Carolinas, Jamaica, and Central America, or from  right there in Westchester County, New York.

One woman who looked out for me was named Beulah. She was rail thin--wearing a size zero. Beulah was tough, smart and funny. We bonded quickly and would work the late shift together, sharing stories and a little libation at the end of the day. She had three little girls and an abusive husband who drifted in and out of her life. She also knew how to do everyone else's job in that place, and she did so when they wouldn't show up.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Too Much is Better Than Not Enough - From the Cold Dirt Press files

Another excursion through the central business district of my town brought me to a window dresser's fever dream full of ersatz Capodimonte and misfit tchotchkes. I want to miniaturize myself and bask in the nuclear glow of this storefront.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don't Get Lost (from the Cold Dirt Press files)

Her memory, at its peak, was more than a steel trap, it was a weapon that she used to slice through any argument or inconsistent story. You knew better than to challenge it. When it began to slip away, it was like seeing a super hero contracting into normalcy without the aid of a phone booth or a closet for secret transformation. We, as a family, didn't speak of it out of deference but it became more apparent over the years.

I always knew that this would happen. You see I dreamed about it almost twenty years ago. It wasn't spelled out clearly like a user's manual or a flow chart on a chalkboard but instead revealed symbolically as a telephone conversation. In the dream, it was one of those heavy Bakelite 1950s style rotary models. I could not reach her despite numerous attempts, dialing repeatedly and yelling into the receiver, growing more anxious and frustrated. There was no happy resolution and it left me feeling depressed after I awakened. Little did I know that it foretold the emotional concepts I would end up dealing with as my mother aged.

Our telephone conversations were almost always about food and the latest updates on family and friends. The memory slips were sometimes subtle, trying to remember a word, or they were glaring as if she did not remember who I was. That is really not as jarring as you might think when you come from a large family where names are switched often. “Wait, I'm not so-and-so. I'm fill-in-the-blank.” One learns to let it go. She also could still reach back with laser precision into the files for some stories from 60 or 70 years ago with all of the vividness as if it were yesterday.

Of course, it should be noted that I inherited her capacity to retain details in a superhuman way. Peers at school nicknamed me the professor or the computer. It was only a matter of paying attention, I guess. These days, in middle age, there is a battle with my memory. It wants to go on vacation to a tropical isle just as it's needed during a hectic day. Acceptance and forgiveness need to go both outward and inward.

Lately, when I tell her about social plans, she says, “Don't get lost.” I tell her not to worry and reassure her that I'm going to places that I'm familiar with and I know my way around but I think to myself that I already am.