So much for sticking to a regular schedule in posting these old letters from my young-man youth. The idea was to be done by the end of the 2014 National Football League season, providing a degree of symmetry which I believe the project deserves, begun as it was in the slough of despond of the Seahawks January 2013 playoff elimination; also, the period of time to post and comment on these old letters, which describe my newlywed life in the Big Apple at the end of the Reagan era but predominantly record the pining for the lost innocence of my university life, would match the length of time it took me to actually compose them in the first place. Two years.
But since I haven't posted an installment of what I call "The Colt 45 Chronicle" in a month, aspirations to be finished by early February -- there are about 20 letters left -- seem too lofty.
Part of the problem is that I ran into the letter below, which is lengthy and replete with professional basketball and baseball references from the late 1980s that required a lot of hyperlinking.
This old-letter project has proven to be an interesting exercise in that it constantly forces me to ask myself, "What if I had never gotten married and not been constantly ensnared with women? With drinking buddies? What if I had been more like I am today?"
The answer that comes back is that likely I would have been more happy and productive. The reality though is that it is too much to expect a young man to have the discipline -- the ability to self-isolate -- of a man of middle age. What is required is ruthlessness, and that is something with which most young people are not equipped. At the time of my young-man youth I was intellectually aware of my lack of wisdom; hence my fascination with Diogenes' "shortcut to virtue."
The letter below is an accurate rendering of a young man recently eructed from the university. It is all here. The preoccupation with professional sports, the oblivion of worklife, women problems, drinking, an appetite for classic literature and underground rock'n'roll. An unhappy, semi-angry lout destined for future hardship.
First things first, how about those GS Warriors? What's the deal with Mullin averaging 30 pts. a game? I never would have figured them to dominate Utah in three. The Knicks sweep of Philly is misleading; they won all three in the last second, and Ewing didn't do shit the whole series. On the other hand, they have an easier draw than the Warriors for round two judging from the game I saw on TV last Sunday between Cleveland and Chicago. Chicago is easily the worst team in the NBA -- minus the expansions and maybe the Kings and Clippers -- without Jordan; and, as for the Cavaliers, they look burned out compared to their February form. Price and Daugherty aren't the same. What's the deal with Sampson, is he playing? I haven't seen a box score. That Phoenix series should be good; Chambers and Kevin Johnson -- what an awesome scoring tandem.
As for baseball, I'm actually beginning to feel a little for the Yankees and Mets, Dallas Green is a disgusting person but a solid manager, and you can tell the players appreciate the switch from Martin/Piniella ball. Green acts as a kind of buffer between Steinbrenner and the players. (Steinbrenner's hardly ever in the media now.) The big story is the Leiter for Barfield deal. Leiter is twenty-three, a local from New Jersey; he had a great start last year but choked in the second half. This year, he's pretty much been shelled. What gets people around here so pissed off is that S'brenner always unloads young talent for questionable middle-career hitters (though Barfield does have a cannon for an arm); he does it every fuckin' year, and every year for (what?) the past eight years the Yankees have ended up third or fourth or second. But through all this, I kind of like them. I like Tommy John (he looks like my old Berkeley landlord), with his ridiculous off-speed pitch and that twice-every-nine-innings fastball that either gets called for strike three or roped over the center-field fence for a three-run four-bagger. I like Don Mattingly because he really is a straight-on nice no-bullshit american kind of person who really fuckin' flagellates himself when he doesn't get a hit or when he makes an error; he doesn't do it in a grandiose, look-at-me-I'm-a-team-player media butt fuck (no Will Clark here); no, he ducks his head into his locker as he's getting on his shirt and blinks in the camera lights and politely, selflessly, but angrily (like he wants to rip the reporter in half) fesses up to the shit that went wrong during the game.
You see, I have this feeling that Mattingly is from a white-trash family, had a dad who was a sheet-rocker, and a mom that smoked Marlboro 100s and drank longneck Miller High Lifes on a bar stool while little Donny ran off to smack fly balls to his buddies in the warm dusk under chainlink backstops; which, when combined with his good-natured seriousness, makes him a truly transcendent, pure and holy figure.
And I like Sax and Righetti because they're from Sacramento and San Jose.
The Mets come in second to the Yankees; I don't know why, they just do. I like the pitching staff -- Gooden and Leach and Myers, for sure. But I don't like Strawberry, Hernandez, Carter, Teufel and Elster. I do like -- though it's hard to believe -- Dykstra and Hojo; and less hard, McReynolds and Mookie.
I follow the A's and Giants. I can't believe that the A's are as good as their record. and I don't understand why the Giants aren't better than .500. Wow! What an April for Mitchell and Clark. Thank God for Kevin Mitchell's RBIs. And you're right Ollie, Jose Canseco is is is a paper player.
Well, on the home front, we've had a few ripples recently; namely, Ashley found out -- or, rather, I should say, I told her in a drunken state, finally, arbitrarily -- about my romances with Stacey and Maura. I don't think I ever told you guys about the Maura thing. And I've been out of work for a month and one day now.
But despite these two things, the revealed adultery and the unemployment (actually the adultery admission took place some time ago, a month, which I guess means that my unemployment corresponded with revealing my adulterous behavior, the last incident of which had gone on, or, I should say, had ended, eight months previously) we have been doing pretty damn good.
The work issue is a strange one. I'm registered at several (four) temporary agencies, and I've received zero calls in three weeks besides working a half a day as a proofreader at this place called DDB Needham. What makes this peculiar is that ever since I've come back to New York from California I've been able to work regularly as a temp. Now I'm thinking about whoring myself to some permanent position again (pray for me). But in the interim I've been reading like a lot, sucking down anything I can get my eyes on. I'm working on Suetonius' TWELVE CAESARS right now. Did you know that Nero, after indulging in all possible indulgences of the flesh, struck upon the novelty of being clothed in the furs and skins of wild animals and locked in a metal cage, only to be released on signal so that he could scamper forth and devour the genitals of nude men and women bound to a stake, and this as an exciting erotic prelude to being buttfucked by one of his freed men (ex-slaves)?
Ashley is good; she's got six more exams to complete before the end of her first year; she's looking good.
I've got a few of stories tucked in my head, as we all do, and here is one of them: One rainy Friday night about two months ago Ashley and I saw a performance entitled "Violin and Feedback." It took place at a snotty Soho record store. The guy doing the performance was a friend of Jessica's and she wanted as many people as possible to go with her and see it. So we did.
Did you guys ever meet Jessica in Berkeley? She is a friend of ours and an old and brief amour of Colin's. I remember one time Lyn and Ben dropped me off at a party Jessica was having at her house on Dana St. This was the night of the Saturday you had that Fairfield summer barbecue, the one where everybody drank beer and red wine on the backyard deck in the afternoon shade; and there was that smug Aussie there; and just before we left I shook your dad's hard and told him he was a good man. The only reason I remember this -- that Lyn and Ben dropped me off in front of Jessica's house (after the familiar fifty-minute westbound stretch on I-80) -- is that I went into her party and continued to drink after all that rich German beer and thick red wine until I was fucked up enough to stumble down a stack of porch steps and lurch half a block to a deserted dentist-office parking lot and spray puke up on a cinder-block wall. I I found out a little bit later that a lot of the puke had shot down on my shoes. Anyway, that was it; that's why I remembered this story, because I can still see that golden puke-paste sticking to my boots like starfish.
Jessica did modern dance and drama and all that at U.C. She wants to be an actress; she is genuinely very nice and sweet and has been in New York since October, which is good for Ashley since they both like to talk astrology.
The record store, LUNCH FOR YOUR EARS, was one of those intelligentsia-art-sham-rock shithouses. As soon as I walked in the front door I was confronted with a big trough of Brian Eno, Fred Frith, Tuxedomoon and The Residents. Tangerine Dream was playing on the turntable. But what made this particular avant-garde trading post so fucked up and self- congratulatory was how it offered such a condescendingly premeditated smattering of soul, funk, jazz and punk/hardcore. I went to flip through a bin (which I did), let's say it was "Hardcore," (which it was), and I saw Husker Du's LAND SPEED RECORD (Okay, fine, but CANDY APPLE GREY?); Suicidal Tendencies; and then one of those recent Dead Kennedys LPs. And that's it, outside of one or two New Jersey indie labels. So where's the Flipper? Where're the Bad Brains? Where's MEATPUPPETS I? Sure, it's mostly unlistenable. But that's what makes for good hardcore: a lot of nasty chaff with that occasional kernel of joy. They did have a healthy Minutemen collection, bigger than BLEECKER BOB'S, much bigger; and as a result, I couldn't totally distance myself from what they were all about. All in all though, their meaty and burly sections were awkwardly undersized, kind of like the big junior high jock soaping up in the second-period PE showers with his peanut-shell cock (sorry, I'm kinda of fucked up; I had thought about that earlier and had to toss it in).
This is the deal. I got to the record store first. Ashley and Jessica had stopped off at a nearby bookstore hoping to find some astrological titles. I told them that I'd go on ahead and meet Antony, just in case he beat us there. So I tossed them a good bye and hustled my soggy wool pants down
Prince Street due east. It was raining at a good clip and not a soul was on the sidewalks.
After three blocks of craning my neck trying to locate the street numbers, I passed a woman, probably a dike, carrying two white plastic shopping bags full of groceries. The sidewalk was poorly lit, but when she walked by I saw enough of her face to see that she was pretty scared. Nobody out, nobody even within shouting distance; nobody except me; and the wind blowing everything around except the old dark brick; and an alley only three yards -- a mediocre Roger Craig line plunge -- away, as peaceful and slender as meadow rivulet.
After another few blocks the streets started to brighten up. I found the street numbers without any problem thanks to a corner pizza place which lit up the whole block; a guy was working the dough inside. This was my block. LUNCH FOR YOUR EARS couldn't be far. I figured maybe four or five stores down at the most. I walked on a few more feet and found the address, but I kept on moving because it was a record store and Jessica had told me that we were looking for a cafe. I looked around for something else, like a bar or restaurant, but I figured that the record store had to be it. It was the only thing still open.
I had been drinking for a long time and walking around in the rain. It was Good Friday and Ashley and I had started the day with a few cups of coffee at around a quarter to Eleven. The view from our window was gray and wet. I can always tell when it's bad out. The rain drips off the upper concrete ledge like snot, white and frothy. I had put on one of the last three Van Morison albums and was feeling pretty shitty, a sore golf ball in the ear/throat region as I drank the coffee, every gulp grating the back of my throat like it was a piece of Monterey Jack cheese. But after half a cup and a few songs I was feeling very fine and plenty energetic. Ashley picked up the phone and called Jessica, who was at work, Good Friday and all. Thank goodness I wasn't, and thank goodness Ashley wasn't. Jessica told us to come down to her apartment in the East Village around 1 o'clock. So Twelve-ish we took off, taking the elevator down. And damn it was cold when we got out into the weather -- blowing like a storm and pushing icy rain, feeling like needles, at your face. We made it to the subway, and a beautiful and understated couple walked onto the downtown train with us.
I'm sorry, I can't finish the story; it got too big and I got too drunk. I wish I had more tenacity and energy. What I can say, which is what made me tell this story in the first place, is how this guy -- the guy who was putting on the show at the record store LUNCH FOR YOUR EARS -- the guy who was doing the violin and feedback -- how this guy took a snapshot of the crowd with a small Instamatic camera while he was playing, which reminded me of the concert where I saw Tony Levin, the bass player who was playing the Chapman Stick for Peter Gabriel), do the same thing; more precisely, it reminded me of the Monday after the Saturday I saw Tony Levin do the same thing at the Greek Theater, the Monday I walked into 386 Doe and saw you guys tucked into that big library table and said to you I had seen God, and He was Peter Gabriel; and everybody responded with a thunderclap of belly laughter shooting fast and loud out of sunburning faces, teeth spit flaked. That was it, and I thank you, Oliver.
Right when I got back from California, I sat rosy-cheek bemused in some newlyweds' apartment (a fellow first-year classmate of Ashley's), drinking beers -- quarts -- listening to a freshly purchased HAND OF KINDNESS by Richard Thompson, which I had brought with us to listen to. Once I caught a three-quart buzz, I started thinking about the time I saw the very same album in Lyn's Hillegass bedroom at Eleven o'clock in the morning on one of those days that Oliver had brought me over after an early Baker run -- a Top Dog securely under belt -- and this is what I jotted down on the back of a list of phone numbers when I got home from the newlyweds (I was blasted): You guys had it all then You were perfected Going forward Yet resting At the same time.