Wednesday, October 30
Last night, while I was walking home from Soho, I decided to reorganize the filing cabinet in my head.
A better way to put it might be, the filing cabinet in my head decided to re-organize me.
I’ve been so busy lately, that I’ve actually started shoving thoughts into the nether regions of my skull.
Somewhere between Houston and 1st Avenue, they all came tumbling forward.
How can I get published… more?
Do I advertise or keep banking on word-of-mouth?
When will I have time to paint?
Should I go away to write?
Is 5 business days enough time for a client’s check to clear?
To I crack too many jokes in my writing?
If you write about someone and it’s true do you have to change their name?
Will they ever open the 15th exit on the FDR or will the fear of terrorists attacking the huge Con-Edison plant keep it closed forever?
I must have looked a tad nuts, (well more than usual) this blonde chick in head-to-toe black tossing about these invisible notions as if they were bumblebees.
But that wasn’t what my brain had in mind for me.
A stronger thought seeped out and pushed all my day-to-day jumble aside.
It whispered, “What’s all for?”
What’s it all for?
If I’m anything like the women in my mother’s family tree and lord knows I do take after my mother, then I probably won’t kick around this earth long enough to see my 70th birthday. So when do I stop and smell the hazelnut scented coffee?
My mom lived longer than anyway in her family. She made it to 65.
After a lifetime of striving for more, for herself and her children, putting aside for a rainy day, never flying to see, her beloved Paris, she finally announced, “Now I’m going to have some fun.”
She had a stroke the next year and spent the last few years of her life in physical therapy, too sick to do much of anything. A lifetime of saving for a rainy day, that never came.
I wonder, often, if she has regrets wherever she is now.
I hope she’s in Paris.
I learned about death at the age of 6. I think it was when my pet turtle died. It would be more accurate to say I murdered my darling turtle. I had no idea that leaving it on the dashboard of our car, on a hot day, while we went shopping would kill it. But it did. I still feel guilty about that. Poor thing.
I moped about the house for days carting my dead pet with me and trying to sing it, beg it, coax it back to life, but nothing worked. We buried it in the back yard. That’s when I realized that everything ends. That I would end.
At school the next day, I was sitting at my desk and I started to draw a cartoon on my desk. As I was creating my little doodle a powerful realization came over me.
I would die, but this drawing could live on forever.
I could cheat death by leaving behind something of myself to be remembered!!
Rossi, the artist, was born.
I spent the next 30 odd years attempting to do just that.
Writing, painting, creating, desperately trying to leave behind something of myself as if I knew my days were numbered and the numbers weren’t too high.
Now I’m stuck with this new dilemma; what’s it all for?
We don’t take our possessions with us after we die.
So the best we can hope for, if we’re lucky, is to take our memories, many folks don’t even think we get to take that.
Most religions say the best we can do is to be good in our lifetime and hope for a reward later.
I don’t know. When I die, I guess I’ll find out.
But I do think that the best we can do for now is to stop postponing our life, while we’re trying to improve our life.
I’m all for, getting published, getting heard, making money, buying a home..or two, but not when our ambition so blinds us that we push off being alive.
We push it off for a rainy day.
My girlfriend is in a mad race to make millions. She wants to retire in 10 years. She’s decided this.
I salute her. I do.
But we only get to see each other a couple days a week.
She’s always exhausted, overwhelmed, worried.
She’s inflicted a taskmaster on herself that no one should have to appease.
When does her rainy day come?
Will I be there to see the fresh, crisp, drops cascade off her smiling face?
If I were an American Indian, I’d do the rain dance right now.
What’s it all for?
I don’t know, but after I post this I think I’ll go for a long walk.
The sky is so cloudy today.
I’m sure it will rain.
Saturday, October 26
I have to say, that every time I heard some intellectual serial killer expert pontificate endlessly about the sniper being a white man probably well educated bla, bla,..I kept thinking nope..way the opposite..also was thinking this guy has watched too many Hannibal movies.
From day one I thought the gun-jerk (as I prefer to call him why glorify him, or shall I say them any further) was probably a Ben Laden sympathizer, most likely a Moslem male, skin-color unknown, country of origin unknown, mission; to have us all running around like scared rabbits while a few of us are dying.
Two jerks that caused two states to stay in-doors.
I still find it amazing, that it was what…15 men..who took over those airplanes on “911” and changed the way this entire country thinks and feels.
15 men that cut a hole in the heart of the greatest city in the world.
Part of me would have preferred that it took a lot more people to do so much damage. Maybe that’s my ego talking. Maybe that's my fear.
And yeah, I get that they had the money and backing and training of thousands of nasty folks behind them..(or is it millions) but still the knowledge that it was just 15 men drives me crazy.
15 men? If I saw 15 men sitting in a restaurant I’d say, ‘Man that place is going out of business. No one goes there.”
Now it’s two men, (well one man and one almost man) who had the whole country glued to their television and two states worried about pumping gas, going shopping or letting their kids out to play.
I got a call last week from my brother in California. My dad is driving from New Jersey to California because, hmm, well because he can I guess. Anyway my brother got terrified that the sniper was gonna shoot my dad while he was on the road. Out of the millions of folks on the highway, my brother was staying up at night worrying that my dad was next.
That kinda says it. Two gun-jerks in a car in Maryland, causing a schoolteacher in L A to stay up at night.
I don’t know why the gun-jerks did it.
Maybe to be terrorists.
Maybe to play god.
What alarms me now is all the glory they received.
Two home-less losers on the front page of every paper, the top story of every news program.
They must have felt like super stars.
How many killers-to-be who go un-noticed, who are unremarkable and un-special, and are reminded every day how much they don’t matter are watching the news right now and thinking that to be known regardless of the reason, would be better than being invisible.
How few with the next bunch of jerks be, who will hurt so many?
Sunday, October 20
I remember the way news felt to me in the 70’s.
I never read a paper…well, hey in the beginning of the 70’s I was 6 and in the end I was 16… At 6 I didn’t understand the notion of anything readable in that pile of gray mush except for the one colorful section.. “the funnies.” At 16, the only thing I cared about in the news was whether or not any of the kids I partied with had been busted.
Lord knows I didn’t watch the news on television. As a matter of fact, that was the only way, my dad could get me to go to sleep. He’d turn on the news and I was outa there, pronto.
The bits of news that managed to crack through that distant world of blurry headlines and monotone ramblings and permeate my life, became part of me. They flavored my day-to-day existence like the way the salt in the air seeps into your soul when you live near the beach, but not near enough to see the water.
I knew very little about the “Son of Sam” except that he bore a frightening resemblance to a jerk I dated twice freshman year in high school.
While, we’re on the subject. Hey David! If you’re reading this. You were a @#$^%* scumbag. Just thought you’d like to know.
“Son of Sam” was a phrase that bounced through my bones so many times; it became as familiar to me as the nicknames for my best pals.
I remember Idi Amin…the evil dictator and mass murderer (who I hear is living quite well in Saudi Arabia these days hmmmm). I remember my mother clasping at her heart in a big “Kvel” after the heroic “Raid on Entebbe” liberated the hostages. Idi Amin. How the hell do you spell that…Idi Amin…well in any case..he seeped right in there next to Son of Sam.
Wasn't the Ayatollah (damn another thing I wish they had on spell check) right in there around then too.
Do you remember all the "Fuck the Ayatollah" t-shirts?
This last week I’ve been feeling this eerie deja vus that I couldn’t shake. I’ve only just now figured out why.
It’s the endless news clips bouncing from “ The Sniper Strikes again!” to “Saddam Hussein."
Somehow the combination of serial killer and evil dictator is bringing me back to my formative years.
The only difference is…I’m awake now. I read the papers. I watch the news. I hear the bullets.
Were these things just as real and terrifying in the 70’s when I was too young to let them in or is the world a colder more frightening place today??
I also have to say…I think it’s fairly odd that the serial killer/ evil dictator thing is making me feel home sick. But then so does listening to “Pink Floyd” chant..." We don't need no education.....We don't need no thought control...!"
I drank way to much black-berry brandy in high-school.
Tuesday, October 15
Holy …. War…
It’s a bit of an absurd statement when you think about it.
I remember, as a child, learning about the Christian Crusades; entire cultures, whole populations, destroyed or assimilated in the name of Christ.
As an adult I read about the plight of the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. They were tortured into confessing that they were not true Christians. Once they confessed, they were executed. If they didn’t confess, they were simply tortured until they died and then declared “a true Christian after-all.” Hurray.
As a Jew, I don’t believe Jesus was more than a man, albeit a truly spiritual one.
But I’ve always thought that if he is what so many millions tout him to be; imagine the torment he endures, having seen all that cruelty in his name.
I don’t know much about Jesus, but I do know that he must have been a man of true peace and kindness, not of mass execution and torture.
I feel sorry for him.
And no; I don’t think the past of my people, the Hebrews was blood-less. One has only to peruse the bible, (in this case, the old testament) to read of the count-less glorious wars in the name of the almighty. How many of those wars were really so glorious? We’ll never know, but I suspect way more than a few innocents were slain along the way.
But these are modern times. Jews and Christians have long since learned to get along, (gasp). For many of us, the words “Holy War” had become something reserved for history books, religious study or the “Super Bowl.”
Now it’s making a comeback.
We hear it on the news.
We see it in the NYC skyline, or lack of…
It’s blowing up in Indonesia.
It’s taped to the bodies of suicide bombers in Israel.
It’s littered in the ruins of far too many lives.
We’ll never bring back those beautiful ancient Buddahs.
Sometimes war is necessary.
It’s often in evitable.
But, trust me on this, war is never holy.
Saturday, October 12
Did you watch the Fidel Castro interview last night?
My Cubano love..has told me many times that Castro could be quite a charmer, but when she does, I think about the ugly bearded dictator and answer
Last night I experienced what she meant.
“Why aren’t you wearing your uniform?” Barbara Walters asked.
“I’m wearing this suit to seduce you..so you will go easy on me?” Fidel answered, smiling and trying to look as doe eyed as a man who has murdered thousands can look.
He dodged questions like.. “Why don’t you allow demonstrations?”
With answers like “No one demonstrates. There is nothing to not allow.”
When called on the fact that he has not allowed a political opponent in 43 years, a free election, freedom of press or any facet of democracy.
He answered with statistics about the spectacularly high literacy rate of Cubans, the amazing amount of doctors and teachers.
Teachers and doctors who make less money than a bell boy, a taxi driver or a decent looking prostitute.
I’d have to say although I thought Barbara was perhaps a tad to sweet to the man, she did manage to get in a nice chunk of those tough questions he wore the suit to avoid.
I felt like I was watching a master magician as he wove under and around those questions and answered without answering.
Then came the perfect propaganda footage, Castro surrounded by adoring schoolgirls, teary eyed and ecstatic to see him.
It reminded me of the way, slaves could come to love their master.
After 43 years, most Cubans know no other life, than life under Castro. The lack of freedom, the zero choice in leadership, the knowledge that something truly bad will happen to them if they speak out against him is as ingrained into their existence as the multitude of 1940’s cars put together with bubble gum and luck that still manage to stay on the road.
I admit, I may be a tad prejudiced against Castro, having shared my life with a Cuban who knows his darkest side. I also admit that he is a complicated character.
His people have a love-hate relationship with him and I imagine history will as well.
Pre Castro Cuba wasn’t a picnic either, unless you were rich and, or, white which probably meant the same thing. I think I would have liked Castro in his early days when he was dashing and brave, the noble under-dog leading his impossible revolution and liberating the people.
But to liberate a country and then to take away their liberty simply because he did not want to step down from his newfound power and then to make sure to jail, execute or terrorize any who might oppose him, just to stay in power, has got to be the best example of becoming your enemy I’ve ever seen.
Let’s not even get into his treatment of gays.
I do believe that Castro is well loved by many, possibly most, of his people.
But I know that love is the love you would have for a parent who shut you off from the outside world, took away the vast majority of your basic freedoms, starved you and then fed you and then convinced you that he was doing it all for your own good.
For the Cubans living in Cuba who desperately want more democracy, the 11,000 thousand people (Barbara asked about and Fidel avoided talking about) who bravely signed a petition asking for more democracy (god help them by the way), there is no light at the end of the tunnel except a raft that might or might not make it to Miami.
Let's not even talk about Elian ok.
As to the embargo: it’s hard to see how it’s really helping the cause of Democracy at this point. It certainly hasn’t shut down Castro. It hasn’t helped the Cuban people either. Part of me thinks that what our embargo couldn’t do, a flood of American tourism could do.
Who made that famous quote, “It was Levi’s that brought the Soviet Union down.”
On the other hand, ending the embargo would be a great way to say, “Hey Castro! You are the bigger one!”
Also who wants to empower a monster with money? We do enough of that in Saudia Arabia.
There’s also that other voice in my head that says Castro would find a way to keep all that cash for his own purposes and the Cuban people would not be much better off, except now,they’d be right back where they were before the revolution, eating scraps that fell from the table while the rich were dining on steak and mohitos.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about grandpa Fidel is that lately he hasn’t seemed that bad just by comparison. Compare him to Saddam or Osama and he seems almost kind and peaceful. Compare him to Arafat (another charmer who’s essentially full of shit) and he come across as honest and sincere.
Even while I was watching the Walters interview, trying to understand just who is this person Fidel Castro, I was aware that the interview itself and the footage of Castro in Cuba was all an attempt on Castro’s part to create more propaganda.
"80% of America was for us," he chimed in when talking about Elian.
Ummm Fidel if those statistics were true, that meant 80% of Americans thought the kid should be with his dad. It did not mean 80% of Americans are pro Castro. Sheesh what an ego.
“He’s a master con-man.” I told my Cubana when the show was over.
“Yes..He’s a charmer,” she said again as she had many times in the past.
This time I got it.
“Yep..he suuuuuuure is.”
Hey what's a little loss of freedom when compared with the Taliban?
Monday, October 7
When it comes to politics I’m all screwed up.
I think I’m a liberal, but liberals don’t seem to be very pro-Israel these days.
I’m definitely a Democrat but umm ditto on the Israel subject.
I say I’m anti Bush..well I am anti-Bush..I HATE HIM!!! …but then again I sort of thought Al Gore was more conservative than your average Republican too…I mean hellooo warning labels on rock albums…
So..yeah I’m anti Bush, but to tell you the truth I’m having trouble understanding why it’s so bad to take out Saddam Hussein.
I mean that guy is so obviously sitting in his basement stirring up a Molotov cocktail of germs and nukes that you can practically smell the fumes.
Hell I’m not so sure you can’t smell the fumes.
Either that or it’s my socks..hmmm
I guess from where I’m at it seems there’s no question that he’s a danger and has to go it’s just the question of why now..and what aren’t we being told..
I get that we need U.N. support or it’s just America the big bad bully again and yeah, yeah, I get that we should try to dis-arm him before we try to blow him away.
But why didn’t we take him out when we had the chance last time.
And why do these guys seem to keep living; Osama, Saddam, Arafat??
Is there some truth to that expression only the good die young?
Does evil act as a preservative?
If so I’d like some evil pickles please.
Maybe I just have the political know-how of a sardine sandwich.
I do understand on some level that this whole country is run by folks who have a hidden agenda.
Is war good for votes…or bad?
Is Dubya fightng his war or his dad’s?
Is the only reason we haven’t blown Saddam away, because rich oily Arabs like him and we want them to like us?
Doesn’t anyone in politics just say it like it is?
Here’s what I think. Terrorism sucks.
Let’s get rid of it.
Let’s get rid of the jerks who do it and the jerks who finance it.
Then we can talk about which political side it was good for or bad for.
Meanwhile…what’s that smell?
Tuesday, October 1
Catered two more weddings, stopped to smell a flower, (well one lying on the check out counter of my local Korean deli anyway)..
Ran around the east village like psychopath running errands, the bank, the gym, the laundry, gotta buy that damn cat litter made out of corn meal for a kazillion dollars a bag.. stopped in Tompkins Square park to watch the dogs run in the big dog run and little dogs scamper in the little dog run…..smiled..
Woke up like so many mornings since last fall, unable to breathe, took my allergy pills..They didn’t work..blew my nose, coughed…wheezed…took another pill…called up F.E.M.A and became an official statistic of September 11th… “ My name is Rossi. I live in downtown Manhattan. I spent time at ground zero a few days after ‘911” didn’t wear my mask..haven’t been able to breathe for a year now…maybe it’s just a coincidence..
Met up with my pal Gus for our new pledge. We decided to do something strange, decadent, bizarre and different for either of us..We’re taking tango lessons. Both of our spouses are accomplished dancers in all things ballroom and, or Latin ballroom. Gus’s idea of dancing is sitting in the corner smoking Marlboros. My idea of dancing is free-style rock, head shaking and feet stomping in a black hole of a nightclub where everyone has pierced eyebrows. Gus’s wife wants him to learn how to dance. She figured I was the only person on earth he wouldn’t be embarrassed around. She was probably right.
I on the other hand, still managed to feel fairly flushed, and mortified and basically like a big blonde idiot in the first five minutes of the class but ended up feeling like a fun, hip chick who’s making a few changes in her life…Gus and I weren’t half bad considering the fact that the closest either of us have come to a tango was..an order of Argentinean beef.
We went out for drinks and nachos (sorta Latin right?).. and walked along Houston past the great smoked fish place and way too many delis..The night smelled like motorcycles and falafel…the air was crisp and I had a weird new tango beat in my head, felt a little bit like fun…this night..felt almost like fun
I gotta remember to live life more often
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