from Babybirds

His mother had been gone for ten years now and Bernard had adjusted, but his memory of her remained. It has been said that when a parent dies they are not gone, but they move in with you. Bernard survived the loss of his mother through the absorption of her spirit, the unconscious memory of the musicality of her words and the green valleys that were her eyes. She had been storing good thoughts in his head in preparation for the time that he would need them and in Bernard’s case it seemed to have worked. Instead of dreaming of a lost and departed mother he dreamed of the beautiful things that his mother had introduced him to: animals and music and the lyrical quality of the spoken word which seemed to promise more and more beauty and goodness. In this way he lived a peaceful existence and was only rarely attacked by the demons that could seemingly destroy him, the demons that he tried to force out of his head through dizziness and that were sparked by the slightest thought that nobody but Bernard could ever know.

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 6:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is Jed Dead? – Albert (ii)

Let me tell you something about Jed. When Jed was seventeen. He walked into the house and went up to my mother, who was cutting tomatoes for some spaghetti, and said, “Hey, Mom, look” and he squirted some of that shit into his vein and turned and walked out the door.  Pretty ballsy.  I was there, about seven years old.  My mama didn’t miss a beat, just kept cutting tomatoes and throwing them in the pot.  I remember that day well.  He ripped out of there in his gray, never to be painted GTO.  That’s pretty heavy shit, stuff that shouldn’t be done, but I don’t hate Jed for it.  You don’t hate someone who might be dead.  You just don’t.
My mama turned on me and screamed “Get out!”  So I did.  I went outside and sat on a rock by our gate.  Our dog, Snoopy, came up to me and I petted him as the sun burned on bright and loud, but cold-like, since there was such hatred in the air.  The next time that I saw Jed was on a late night rock show three years later.  It was the first time The Priestess had made TV, Rock Train or some shit like that, I think it was.   There was Jed.  Skinnier than before wearing what would later become his signature white cowboy hat with his brown bangs falling down over his eyes, a cigarette dangling from his lips, his arms skinny like a fem from all the dope.  He was just rocking.  Like I said, Jed could rock.
Before he left he’d play his guitar in his room for hours, just smoking weed and blowing it out the window.  He ran the sound through his little pignose amp.  Sometimes he’d let me come in and once he even gave me a puff, and I got really stoned and a little scared, and didn’t want to do it again.  But mostly it was really cool.  I’d just listen and my mind would start wandering from the music.  I’d wonder what it was exactly that I was listening to, what the meaning was to all the noise he made, why one sound mattered over any other, and even though I wondered, the way that Jed did it made the answers apparent.  It was music.  I have no doubt to this day that my brother was a musical genius.  Who cares that he bought his first Strat from selling plastic bags of Jamaican weed to high school kids.
Jed kept the class of ’78 properly stoned at Millsville High.  After he left school there was a marked decline in drug use and the principal received a plaque of recognition by the Millsville County Sheriff’s Department in its ongoing efforts to curb drug use among the young.  Principal Preuss had even been interviewed on television on the ways he had found to get young people to just say no.  Nobody ever interviewed Jed about the myriad methods he had used for getting kids to just say yes.
Jed dated a lot of girls in high school.  He was a charmer.  Every girl he dated, it didn’t matter who she was, a cheerleader, a girl with glasses in the Chess Club, that tall girl on exchange from Sweden, they all fell for Jed, and in so doing each acquired some degree of drug habit from the experience.  He got his GTO through a cocaine deal.  That car is long gone.  It’s the only clue we’ve got about what happened to Jed.  You want to know what happened to it?  They found it stuck to the bottom of the Hudson River, about eighty miles up from New York City.  See, I’m not crazy.  I know where Jed is.  There’s method to my madness.

There are some people who say he died in that crash.  I don’t think so.  There would be a body.  If you don’t have a body you don’t have a death do you?  I choose to believe that we don’t have a death here.  Jed, for all his craziness, didn’t want to die, but you never know about the kinds of places that heroin takes you.  Maybe it changes your mind on the subject of dying so that it sounds good to you.  I guess it made Kurt Cobain want to die, but then again, he probably just wanted to die anyway.  I’ve wanted to die before, but I never took heroin so I’m still alive.      Christ, I’m too young to have to think about this shit, but I can’t help it.  That’s why I write musicals.  Jed’s going to perform one of my rock operas some day.  After just knowing he’s okay, and that’s the main reason I’m going to go find him, he’s going to perform my rock tribute to Princess Diana: Petals.
Everybody in Millsville knows I had or have a famous brother.  He’s the only one from Millsville to ever make it big besides our state legislator and that doesn’t mean shit.  His name is ingrained in the town like a bittersweet history, a remembrance of a man with no statues forthcoming.  People don’t hold it against me that Jed fucked his life up, but they do sometimes ask me if anybody’s heard from him.  I tell them that if I do it will probably be on CNN entertainment report first so they should just go the hell home and turn on the tube and wait.  I get sick of the way they don’t really mean it, like they really believe he’s dead, but they’re humoring me or something, because I’m the only one in the world who believes he’s alive. Sometimes I just tell them that, yeah, he’s alive in Chicago or New York or he’s doing recording work in L.A. and he’s changed his name to Skipper Lee.  I don’t know why I chose Skipper Lee, it just sounds really stupid, and that’s how I want people to feel who ask stupid questions that infer that my brother Jed is dead.  I don’t need it, you see.  Jed’s in New York somewhere.  He crawled out of that car and started walking.  That’s what Jed would do.
He was a determined guy, quiet actually.  If he hadn’t gotten so screwed up on drugs I think he would probably be an engineer or something today, plotting city streets or designing computer highways or something.  He could sit for hours just concentrating on one thing.  That’s why he was such a great guitarist.  He was kind, too.  He always took care of me, was never mean or ashamed of being seen with me in public.  Sometimes we’d go to the roller skating rink, and as he stood over in the corner smoking and talking to girls and his other stoner friends, I’d notice him keeping an eye out for me as I stumbled around the blue roller rink with my little buddy Steven whose mom, amazingly, didn’t have a problem letting him ride in Jed’s car.  I never worried that he would get stoned and leave me behind.  He always went outside and disappeared with his friends for awhile, but I knew he’d come back.
He was tough too, Jed.  He once beat the shit out of a guy about a foot taller than himself for pushing me over on purpose.  He’d been standing over there with some skinny little girl when he saw.  I didn’t even know what happened to me.  This guy was skating really fast and instead of going around me he just ploughed over me, pushing me down with his arms. I could feel his hands on my back first and then just a surreal acceleration as my head met the blue floor and I went dark for a minute and then woke up to stars and then just plain dizziness with a pretty teenage girl with her hand on my shoulder.  I could smell her perfume.  She smelled sweet and when I looked up at her she was looking away across the rink at something and I thought she was beautiful, but what she was looking at was Jed, about to beat the shit out of the guy who did it to me.
The guy didn’t know who Jed was, but I knew, and saw very clearly, like an animal knows the smell of impending violence in the air.  Jed had skated over and stopped within the guy’s personal space.  They talked a little bit.  Jed was fucked up.  He lit a cigarette like only Jed could and then offered one to the guy who simply said no.  When Jed took that first deep puff his eyes squinted and his left shoulder lowered down like a cobra about to strike.  His right eye was whole and wide open, but the left squinted as if to tell the guy that everything was cool, that it was cool to push his little brother down, and everything was going to be alright, because everything was cool.

Jed flicked the cigarette and the cherry, literally, got stuck on the guy’s lash.  When he bent backwards, trying to get away from the heat and surprise of the lit cigarette there dangling a centimeter from his eyeball, Jed, as if finally shucking the world off of his shoulder, swooped down like a Mr. Universe in a winning pose and then said fuck it, and came up with all his might, an uppercut that sent the other kid to the floor, out like a light, the winner, of course, my brother Jedediah Jones.
Jed came over to me, but he didn’t see me that much.  He had that far away look in his eyes that I’d seen, I’d noticed before.  That look couldn’t touch me, but only himself.  It was the kind of look that Richard Ramirez, that famous serial killer had, the one who tattooed a satanic symbol on his palm and smiled when he showed it to the cameras in the courtroom in, I think it was, L.A.  He touched me on the chest and then looked away.  He knew he’d be in trouble if he stayed, so we had to go.  I followed him out.  Steven was right there beside me all scared-like.      Jed’s eyes.  The crazy look.  The look that I even saw a little bit when Jed played his guitar in his room.  A look that told the world that Jed had a little bit more pain inside of himself than anybody would ever be able to find out about, a pain that distilled downward into every cell of his body, making his arms even more stringy later, his hair thinner, his face tighter and whiter.  Some would say that my brother was a little bit evil, but what I always thought inside myself, but never wanted to admit, was that I secretly believed Jed’s problem was that his heart was dying slowly.
When Princess Diana died, I wrote a rock opera. I sent Henri Paul, the drunk who killed her, whisking away on a flying saucer.  I figured Jed could do the music to that pretty well.  I don’t play any music myself.  Don’t know how.  I tried to be a singer with some friends for awhile, but they all thought I was a wimp because I like melodic singing, and not just shit like Metallica I appreciate stuff like Barry Manilow does and opera singers and Eddie Vedder, people who can follow the most elemental note, keeping it fresh like a flower, caring for it in the same way you would a flower, not chopping it up in the name of variation or cool. That’s what those asshole guitar players around here do, those guys who couldn’t hold a candle to Jed, the ones who play the pizza parlors in town on Saturday nights and I’m sure would call Mozart an asshole to his face if they could, because Amadeus had never jammed an Allman brother’s song.
These old fucks ought to go the way they came.  They don’t remember Jed. If they did, they’d be able to do magic with their fingers instead of just make noise.  As you can tell, besides having a low paying job and not giving a shit about corporate demands, I have little patience with idiots as well.  You see, all the shit inside of Jed came out of his desire for someone to play for him the music that I heard sitting there listening to him as a kid.  It was like he couldn’t hear it as well as I could because he was the one playing.  It was like Jed was always on the outside trying to get a glimpse of the inside, and there I was looking inside like a freeloader who doesn’t have to pay for anything and never will.

Jed paid.  Even though Jed rocked like he did, he paid, because he truly attempted to hear the music in his head. It was his hunger, but it was so far down there that it strained him too hard.  Because he had to reach so far down it came out too loud for the world. The world thought he was a madman, but then it heard him and knew he was doing something real, and all he was really doing was listening to a tiny brook lost somewhere deep inside. But it was there, provable to doubters, which I guess included himself, if only he could reconstruct it. I think the doubters included himself because he was trying to hear the very voice of God Himself. I do believe that. I do believe that was where Jed was going to.
Because of this, I believe my brother Jed was a musical genius.  He could have easily  made it solo.  He had a smooth voice that he didn’t show off, and didn’t really need, because of the power in his guitar, but he got to taking heroin, and that’s all she wrote.  His ballads were beautiful and unnoticed by those who claim they know music, people with such long sticks up their asses Mozart probably wouldn’t have even spoke to them. A couple of times I played them for my mom when she got depressed over him.  Back then, when Jed was making it bigtime, I was just teeny-bopper, I’d say to her, look, Jed is really cool now.  I’d say that he’s really peaceful.  Just listen to this, Mom, I’d say.  He’s not all strung out and lost in the rock and roll scene.  He’s taking time to get to know who he is.  These songs can’t be written by a drug addict, mama.
It was all bullshit.  My mama listened to me though.  I’d tell her these big old stories about what Jed was doing, acting as though I knew, simply because I was of the age of rock and roll and she wasn’t, not really.  She was into fifties stuff and that’s not real rock and roll.  I’d tell her that when Jed was on the road they stayed in nice hotels and Jed writes these ballads and gets interviewed by magazines. And I’d tell her that when you’re a rock star everybody is watching you so you can’t show up in public all stoned and shit, and that Jed had to fall in line and be clean cause Nancy Reagan had already been spouting off to just say no.  I’d tell her that even Jed cared about what people thought of him.  I’d tell her how Jed had always looked out for me and how he didn’t want me to do dope, although he let me smoke pot once.  Even my mom smokes pot sometimes.
So I’d do what I could to make my mom feel at ease.  Sometimes I’d tape videos of Jed when he played on TV and play them for her and she would watch him and say things like “he’s skinny” or “I hope he’s not still doing that stuff.”  Just Mom hopes, worries, prayers and despairs.  They were little prickly things that punctured our lives every day after Jed left.  You’ve got to give it to my mom, though.  She put up with a lot of shit from Jed, especially that last bit with the needle.  She’s always tried to do what she can.
I don’t blame her for what happened to Jed.  It’s Jed’s own fault, or maybe my dad’s, who was murdered when we were kids.  But I do wonder why Jed did what he did.  I wonder where he got that look, that killer look that he apparently put to full use on himself.  Everybody knows that Jed very well may be dead.  I don’t believe it at all, but most everybody else does.  Once again, I say, where’s the body?  Nobody knows.  He’s alive somewhere.  New York.

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is Jed Dead? – Albert

My brother rocked. I mean, my brother rocked like nobody else’s brother rocked.  When he was 22, he filled Wembley.  That’s when he was with Moxy Priestess.  Kids now don’t remember Moxy Priestess all that much, but everybody around here knows that at least they were famous. Stadium rock famous.  I grew up with that music with Jed around.  Zeppelin, Rush, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, April Wine, Blackfoot. All that shit.  But Jed was the best.  I don’t care. I’ll say it.  Van Halen opened for him in ’79  for God’s sake.
The Priestess played for four years and that’s all.  Jed was lead guitar and sometimes he sang backup if they needed him to, but they didn’t ask him much because, like I said, Jed rocked on the guitar and they didn’t want to interrupt him.  He was easily as good as Stevie Vai, comparable to Eddie.  Jed worshiped guys like Clapton and Page.  He got to play with Page, eventually, and I saw him on a T.V. show talking about it and he sounded excited like a little kid, and you didn’t get that much from Jed, because he was all grown up by that time, sticking the needle into his arm everyday.
The last we heard from Jed was March 11, 1990. He was high on dope.  I remember it was March because everybody was putting up green all over town in the businesses, and when my mom screamed over the phone at Jed that he was banished from the house, she used that very word “banished,” I noticed that my mom had on a green pin of a shamrock, and I thought to myself how that word didn’t sound very happy like a shamrock was supposed to be.  My mom never talked about Jed after that.  All she ever said about that phone call was that he was on drugs and she left it at that.  But over the years of not hearing from Jed, I could tell she hurt inside.  I noticed this more and more as I got older.
I don’t know what happened to Jed.  I imagine he became one of those people you see in those tragic futuristic movies with oil on their faces huddled together over some street grate spewing off steam, or sitting in sewage tunnels waiting to die unless they get another hit of crack or smack soon.  Simply put, we lost him, he fell off the earth just like Lady Diana.
Now, I work at the same market that Jed used to.  I remember that short story we had to read in high school by John Updike about a kid who quits working at the market after the manager kicks these girls out of the store for wearing bikinis.  Not a chance for me.  I need the money.  I’ve got something to do. I’ve got a plan.

Like I said, everybody in my town of Millsville, a name not quite thought out but typical of the mind set of the people in my town: bland, boring, given by people who couldn’t even think to just call the damned town Mills, everybody at least knows Jed was famous.  But who are we?  Millsville, Tennessee.  Population 14,782 according to the sign leading into town that was last changed as far as I can remember never.  I think we’re over 20 now easy.  People grow up and move away.  Our town is getting bigger.  Nobody cares anymore, really, that Jed was famous.  I mean, where do old rockers go?  Probably hell.  It doesn’t matter.  It takes a lot to be remembered as a rocker because music changes so much, even rock, and people don’t want to give away their age by claiming an allegiance to an old band.  Suddenly it’s like you’ve got to love Rage Against the Machine or Garbage or, you know, new bands, to be cool, but even these bands are going down.  There are very few supergroups.  Rockers generally end up playing Vegas eventually.  Ludicrously, they do everything they can from actually greasing back their balding heads and putting on lavender suede suits.  Elvis wasn’t stupid.  He knew he was going down so he went all the way while he was alive so nobody could ever say he would have ended up a schlep.  He chose to be a schlep first and say fuck’em.
Anyway, like I said, I don’t know what happened to Jed.  I’ve got no real problems here in Millsville.  Got a job, got no brother, but that’s no problem unless I think about it.  I try not to. But when I do, I wonder about the nature of problems in general, I mean, is a problem a problem when there is no proof that the subject of the problem is even alive?  Yeah, it is.  It’s the same old thing as the MIA’s in Vietnam.  Jed’s MIA and that’s a problem.
The market’s a problem only because it sucks.  You check through people and ask them if they need plastic or paper.  You give out so much plastic and paper that you wonder how long it can last.  This shit’s got to run out eventually I figure, but I give it away anyway.  “Paper or plastic, ma’am?”  “Paper, please.”  But wouldn’t you rather save a tree today? But I don’t ever say it.  Hell no she wouldn’t.  “Paper, please.”
Why don’t they just get smaller garbage cans and put the plastic in their cans?  Come to think of it, why don’t they just shove the garbage cans, the plastic, and the paper bags right on up their too well-to-do asses and give us all a break?  In case you can’t tell, I make $5.75 per hour.  Sometimes I take home old chicken from the deli at night and have even been known to throw in a polish sausage on the sly under the eyes of co-conspirators.
It’s an awkward feeling that I possess when I take a little bit of food from my protectors, but thinking about it now, and relating it in this way as I am, I feel that if management could listen, only listen to my thoughts, I would have only this choice morsel of wisdom to relate: Fuck You.
I’m a member of the club of losers in this world.  I, for one, a newly conscious member of my station in life, holding this knowledge close, have obtained by it a certain freedom that will allow me to detach myself from the masters of the world if their veritable and, according to themselves, non-existent thumbs ever proceed to descend from on high.
I am a master dodger, an artist truly, a playwright, musicals.  I write musicals.  I never told you this, but I do.  So I am not unarmed, you see.
Well, so far you know this: I live in Millsville and I write musicals.  My brother Jed is dead or so we think, everybody but me. But that’s the standard line.  No body has been found.  My life is a joke with nobody left to laugh at it, and I am much too young to feel this way.  I have been improperly received, conceived, and laughed at by the world who doesn’t generally take kindly to people with mouths like mine.  I shoot my wad through a pen, and at the end of it all is a splatter of hope that maybe, just maybe, Jed isn’t dead. But even then, that is something of a shot idea.  Beat.  That is, without hope.  I just can’t stop wondering what happened to my brother.
My friends laugh at me, but I’ve decided that I’m going to look for Jed.  I’ve got a few hunches as to where he might be. I figure he’s in New York because Jed always gravitated toward the big time and New York has got the big time everything.  So he’s in New York, I figure.  They got the best crack houses there.

Published in: on August 29, 2009 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  


Chapter 1

I can’t say my family didn’t love me, they did. But it was too much of a love that it impinged on what I thought should be my basic freedoms in this world, namely the right to say whatever the fuck I want. That’s not something most people take kindly to anymore. They want you to have that feedom, but if you exercise it, just don’t do it around them. They’ ve got that right, too. Only problem is that there are so many of them out there, and I’ve got such a big mouth even though most people think I’m pretty shy, that we never get along. It’s sad. It’s like Teardrop.
Teardrop was my mule. Died of old age about three years ago happy, but not always, because I did something really stupid. I lost him in a poker game because I thought that’s what somebody with a mule does. I was stoned and had been fighting with Moxy because she felt like a cowboy and is really this Jewish girl from New Jersey. Down in town, I was playing cards with Jay and Frank. I rode Teardrop into town just for a hoot. Teardrop was a strong mule, but we did walk a lot of the way. The guys thought he was a cool little mule and so did I. He was happy. I kept carrots for him and sugar cubes and apple cores. He dug ’em all. But then Jay gets out a jay and we smoke it up and suddenly, I think to myself how Teardrop is my best friend and then, instead of knowing it, believing it, I think of it in betting terms, and I’m just about out of money… when this guy says, “Throw in Teardrop.”

Throw in Teardrop. An amazing conception ultimately, but I didn’t know it then. Back then, when I was still smoking and drinking a little because I was weaning myself off heroin, I didn’t know better. I didn’t know, either, that a mule could hold the secret not only to muledom, but pretty much to whatever secret anybody would ever feel worthy of holding. You remember that story by Christ, I think it was, he said that he who does good unto the least of these, pointing around at the old and sick does unto me. And that’s what Teardrop was. He was truly the least of these and when I lost after that quick nod of my head, when this guy Jay thought it would be cool to own a mule named Teardrop, I recognized the least of these in my mule and didn’t want to see him go. You know what I mean? You’ve got to know what I mean.
Anyway, I lost Teardrop that day, and he went to live with Jay down in the town. Jay fixed lawnmowers in his lawnmower shop. He lived in the back by his lawnmowers and that’s where Teardrop went to live because it turns out Jay used to have a horse that he kept in a pen back there, but he didn’t have a horse no more, didn’t want one because a horse is for a kid to ride, and, well, his wife left him as was only right since, after all, Jay liked to do a lot of smoking, drinking and gambling. So his vices weren’t all bad. They got him Teardrop anyway, unless you want to consider my side of the story, that is, it took Teardrop from me. But that mule is dead now anyhow.

I got myself a little girl. Yeah, I know, what’s a jerk like me doing with a little girl. I haven’t even been near the mountains for years. Not hardly. Always lived in a town. I moved here a few years ago from New Jersey where me and Moxy had lived for a long time, too long a time. I grew up down the hill in Millsville. Moxy is Helen. She’s my wife. I was on heroin for over ten years and she took care of me. A few years ago I’m sitting around detoxing finally after so long doing smack and my brother Albert comes to Fort Lee where I had been living with Moxy. Minnie wasn’t around yet. That’s my daughter. She’s five going on forty. And Albert comes to Fort Lee looking for me. Albert is one of a kind. I remember when he was a kid I was over talking to this sweet little girl I was hot for at the skating rink, I always took my brother on Friday nights, who else was going to do it? And I look up and I see Albert, had to be about seven, skating around the roller rink with his little friend Stevie and then this monster comes up behind him, about my age, and rolls over my little brother and doesn’t even stop. Just laughs. So I skate over there past my brother whose being taken care of and have a little chat with our friend the gorilla. He disagreed as well that hurting my brother was a good idea. Albert, he looked up to me back then so much he finally rescued me.
Sitting in a Dunkin Donuts while me and Moxy sit in her car outside and me wondering if I should go the hell in because by then I was too ashamed to think about what I’d done to my family, my brother, and my mama back in Tennessee. Well, I go in, finally, but only after Albert comes out. I can’t go in. He starts crying, happy as all hell to see me, and we go back in to sit down. The girl from Dunkin Donuts comes around and tells me that he’s a good boy, that he’s a good boy like she loves him or something and then next thing I know he pops me in the eye real hard and I literally black out. Moxy picks me up and Albert is gone.

So since then I got my brother back. Me and Moxy drove to Millsville, waiting a few days to let Albert get back which turned out to be by bus. Albert was still a little cold to me, but I could see the same Albert there staring at me while I hugged my mama and I myself began to cry. He was bouncing some papers on his leg as we all sat there drinking coffee at the kitchen table. Then he hands me the papers. It says “Petals. A Rock Scenario.” Turns out all those marijuana jam sessions that I had in my room when I truly hated the world and everybody in it was a sort of schooling for my little brother who would sit in on the sessions and listen. Albert turned out to be somebody who wrote rock operas and sitting there with Petals on his lap, him looking so nervous, I thought to myself that whatever it is in his hand that he wants me to see I’ll see, and whatever it is that this little man who listened to me wants me to do, I’ll do. So he gives me the rock opera “Petals. A Rock Scenario” and it’s about the death of Princess Diana. This kid took the whole story of the death of Princess Diana and turned it into a musical, a rock musical, but he had no music. He came looking for me, looking all the hell over New York City, thinking I was a busted up heroin junkie living in the gutter. He walked in to Harlem crack houses and talked to people who I knew. That’s says you go pretty far to get what you want. He knows Slit, for god’s sake, a guy I plied with money, but who was the biggest liar I’d ever met except about his quality of heroin. Slit had some of the best. He was of course connected to The Lady. The Lady was no lady to say the least. She was as mean as they come. A certifiable nymphomaniac. Did me a couple of times till I got to know better. I know that’s a strange thing for a man to say, but it’s true. Albert met her. Once again, for someone who would talk to The Lady to find me, you gotta hand it to him. So I took on Petals.
But that doesn’t mean that my life ends. I am in the process of straightening things out and if I occasionally lose a mule due to the stupidity of a marijuana high then I will die knowing that I, like everybody else under God’s blue sky, is a complete and utter idiot, and that pain comes. Pain comes, but it doesn’t burden us more than we can handle. We always make it because there are people like Albert out there guided by some sort of angel and if we think we’re the angels, we’re wrong. The angels are the angels and they know who they are. They’re out there.

But the point here is this. Jay didn’t keep that mule for long. Teardrop loved me I hate to say and I don’t live all that close to town, in fact, when me and Moxy moved back home she knew we’d have to live on Anna Belle Mountain. So we did, and within the year we had a dozen chickens, a pig, a cow and a mule. The following year we had Minnie. A little baby, Minnie. A girl. We had Albert and my mama down there in town not far from where Jay still lives and my mule did only briefly. We had the supermarket, me, I had the supermarket back. I used to work there. Then Albert got a job and he’s still there. He’s funny. He complains about his job like he’s a columnist for the New Yorker. His literary work hero is John Updike for writing a story about an asshole manager kicking out a couple of babes who wanted to buy something in their bikinis. He’s assistant produce manager now. He hates it still. He’ll never accept it. He’s written four rock operas, but none like this tribute that I’m doing the music for about the Princess Diana. I don’t know. At first I thought my brother had gone a little bit crazy or a little bit queer for wanting to write about a princess, but then I looked at the play. My brother is a first rate writer. His only problem is that he hasn’t been discovered. My mama, she paints pictures, and he had her paint a picture of Princess Diana with folded hands and angels and burning orange sunsets behind her like she’s beautiful but very much dead. Maybe this whole concept of accepting death isn’t popular for a very good reason.
But I’m not quitting on my brother because my brother never quit on me. I never would have gone home or if I had it would have been several years later. I’d become a bit of a coward hiding out there in Fort Lee. Our band had been over for years because the heroin became a better ride. Helen never took that stuff and she stood by me all those years. Actually, we separated for awhile. She couldn’t take it. That’s when I went to New York. Albert was right anyway about where I might go if I was a down and out junkie. I headed straight to New York City. It’s also where Moxy found me. I’d go downtown sometimes even though I lived up in the 200s. Walked right by me. Our eyes met on the street and we just hugged. I was saving my hit for later and had just taken some other things, a few lines, a few bowls. Pretty stoned, but I was still looking for a drink. I’m not an alcoholic though. What I mean was I was looking for a place to sit down and have a drink so I could listen to some good music. I’m a rock guitarist.

Moxy Priestess is a band that I believe was every bit as good as anything the 1970s produced. In 1978 we opened for Rush in Ontario, Canada. I was written up in the newspapers as being Jimmy Page-like. I eventually played with Jimmy three years later, just after Zeppelin broke up. I was 18 in 1978. At 21, I hadn’t talked to my family for four years. Albert was about eight when I left the house at 17 to run away to Nashville where I was kicked out of so many clubs it stopped being funny because back then they didn’t mess with rock and roll at all like they do now. I am a country boy who doesn’t do country. Mel Tillis never graced my eight track if you know what I mean. My dad played a lot of Dylan. Nah, Jimmy Page. With Jimmy I was born. Then came Jimi and that sealed it. Name them then, the ones that you would think my heroes were, and I couldn’t think of nothing but playing as good as these guys or playing with these guys someday, and I did: Clapton, Lifeson, Morse, Beck, Van Halen, the list goes on and on.
Yeah. So this mule, Teardrop, he chews his way out of the weakest part of the fence and he starts walking. Anna Belle Mountain is a little over ten miles away and we live on the top of it up a dirt road that travels beside a sheer fall. If you’re stoned and willing to allow the beast to actually carry you at times, as mules can, then you can make it into Millsville in two three hours. That’s what I did. Took a bongload and went to town. Where I live, well, it’s not the best place to live if you’re afraid of heights or you can’t afford a four wheel drive. We’re about five miles up. Somehow though, Teardrop gets to the mountain unseen, but he doesn’t know anything about roads, Teardrop, he doesn’t think like we do. He just knows that on top of a mountain somewhere is me and Moxy and the baby Minnie, that’s all.

Some days I’ll just think about it. When he finally came into the yard he was bleeding profusely on all four of his legs. He had a gash in his side a foot long. He was wet and caked with mud. There was nothing about him that wasn’t wrong. Even his eyes looked hollow and jelly-like, like he’d seen too many ghosts. Teardrop never took the road, but later we found tracks. He went right up the back side of the mountain and didn’t once stop going up. Nobody knows exactly what happened to him, but I can imagine and I do sometimes and I miss him. He died a few years ago real peacefully. Me and Moxy and Minnie and Albert and even my mama dug a big whole for him and put him right on the side of the mountain that he climbed up so valiantly to get home again, to get to us.

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

turle & listle

9 Turle: But I thought that you were supposed to think. Listle: No, you thought you were supposed to think. The thing was not to have to think. Turle: No, the thing was to think, to think, to think! Listle: I’ll never convince you. Turle: It’s not like you need to convince me of anything. It just occurred to me that when we no longer are asked to think then that is precisely when we must think, sort of like a burp over a period of thought that if we don’t burp over then we stay in the same place, someimes for generations. If we don’t think past those moments when all thought tells us that we are not supposed to think then we stay stashed away inside of some unthinking moment, a moment so blended in with the colors of our day that we have no sense of the difference between us and them and therefore no sense between what is right and wrong. (Listle takes out his tweezers and begins to tweeze dead skin off of his thumb) Listle: But that is precisely the point I’m trying to make! When we don’t think we allow ourselves to become one with our universe! When we look around us and see, say, that tree over there, then we are one with that tree. We don’t put anything between ourselves and that tree and therefore we need not contemplate the existence of that tree nor the existence of ourselves looking to the existence of that tree to validate our own existence! Turle: But we never pop our head out of anything and look around to see beyond this moment of sitting and seeing that tree over there either! If that tree happened to be a dead car, burnt beyond recognition, we would not be able to see ourselves rising up out of our state of being, calling the city and having them remove the car so that we may enjoy our sit on these nice park benches undhindered by such visual pollution. No, we would simply sit here uncomfortably, to some extent, but not really knowing why because we can no longer tell a beautiful thing from an ugly thing. We have lost our power of discernment. Listle: And you say that is where commercialism has destroyed us? Thurle: Yes! Exactly…! (To be continued). Albert’s play “Two Men Sit on a Park Bench”

Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  


This is tape number one of the Fargo Kantrowitz’z Literary Campsite. Fargo here. Well, it seems that the people here in Millsville ain’t quite caught on to the Fargo Kantrowitz’z Literary Campsite yet. I guess it’s pretty hard when you got this first show and it’s on the internet no less. Well, maybe someday I’ll be on the radio, too. I’m a performer. Just past 40. A guy who used to rock, but turned it all in so that he could have some good, ol’ fashion lovin’. That would be Moxy. Some of you locals and even non-locals know Moxy. Former lead singer of Moxy Priestess. A girl so proud and strong and beautiful that we had no choice but to name the entire band after her.  It was actually Rose’s idea and me and Ken just shook our heads yeah. We understood the Moxy Priestess energy and Rose appreciated having someone to supply it while she concocted her magical spells for the synths.  Kenneth was the drummer most of the time. He didn’t like doing nothing more than drum. He had a wall of guitars at his apartment in L.A. that was so huge that I almost, well, I almost shit.  He’s a master finger picker, something or other, guitar player and my yowling could never stand a chance even though I was the one who got famous for playing the guitar and he didn’t. Keith was our bassist. Keith’s dead now.    The Fargo Kantrowitz’z Literary Campsite Number 1.


Well, thank you for listening to that song. Don’t Fight. I wrote that on stage in Memphis when I thought I was going to die. I had a dream that day and something woke me up. I was being strangled by a serpent and I could no longer breathe. A kid ran up on stage and started trying to get me out of it, but I wasn’t coming out of it. I think my heart was stopping and that kid come up and start beating me until my memory sparked up and I remembered that I really should try and live. It’s hard when you live a life like I’ve lived.   The Fargo Kantrowitz’z Literary Campsite. Number 1.

I never thought I’d leave Jed. But I did. I had to. I had no choice but to leave him. He wouldn’t get off that stuff. Any woman would have left him and I did and I stand by it today. But then he got off the stuff and I stood by him always, but when he went back on for awhile, I left. I said goodbye, Jed, and walked out the door. A woman’s got to do that. A woman’s got to be able to say to the world “Fuck You.” At least once she does and I did when I said it to Jed. Not many people get a good Moxy Priestess “Fuck You,” but Jed did, and he heard it and saw it and regretted it immediately. He knew what he’d lost right away and I didn’t care. I just walked on out the door. These boots, you know…     Moxy

Dear Millsville School District,
I had an idea that might help your teachers out a little bit. Why not hire what I call “Specialized Teachers” to come in and take over a teacher’s class on Fridays? The teacher could pay 12 dollars and the school district could pay 8 dollars for each class that the specialized teacher teaches. In this way the teacher, who often feels she or he does not make enough money, could get a “raise” without having to have a raise. Fridays can be free to do all of their preparation and grading. Fridays would be like a mini-vacation because they wouldn’t have to deal with a bunch of kids who don’t want to be there and are becoming more and more uppity these days.
I just thought that this would be a good idea. You could make a list of professionals who would like to make the extra money, writers, artists, true scientists and philosophers, etc. and teachers could sign up for that true “guest” teacher. Just think of all of the creative people that the kids could be exposed to. Perhaps this exposure could lead them to an understanding of what the subject is about and why it matters at all. I strongly feel that this knowledge is lacking today in our public school system since teachers are so overtaxed and underpaid that they can barely feel the pleasure in their subject matters much at all anymore.
I sincerely hope that you would, at least, discuss the matter at a board meeting.


Albert Jones        Albert

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sweet Dreams of Dying Dogs

To all to whom it is a concern.

This is a letter to myself. I don’t know how you can say that you can write a letter to yourself, but I think that you can. You’ve gotta try anyway, because if you don’t try then you stop thinking altogether and then you sit around all week smoking pot and watching t.v. or going to a job that you don’t like every day and every day after that. You are the one who wouldn’t allow thought to continue. You are the one who would not allow the moon to rise for fear of its mythology. You are the one who think that you are so shattered that nothing that you ever do will ever, ever matter. Well, you are wrong.     Joey Kantor

The Sweet Dreams of Dying Dogs

My brother rocked. I mean, my brother rocked. He just rocked. He Rocked. My brother fucking ROCKED!!!    Albert

Love is a strange beast. It is included in the anthology for strange beasts. Without it’s arms we would never suffocate…under love. Without it’s terror we would never wake up in the morning. We are also the ones who said “no” to love. For she is a terrible monster and to some of us, must be destroyed.  Jed

The only hope I ever knew for Jed Jones was his ability to go far.  He wasn’t much of a thinker, although he wasn’t dumb. He was a no good, low-down son of a bitch, but people loved him, ‘specially his mother. Jed Jones was the one who went far. That’s why we named him Fargo. Jed would go as far as the world and then circle it again for fear he’d left something out. He was that thorough. And if it had to do with love, real love, then he would go three times as far. And if that wasn’t enough he’d do it again and again and again and again until he could no longer stand. And when he was at his last step he would simply stop, probably light a cigarette, and look back at where he was. Of course, he would see the very planet he used to be on. And way down there on that planet he would see it exactly where it was at. Love. And he’d dive back down and go get it.       Jay.

The axe is too dull, dear Liza. Liza, the ax is too dull.
Sharpen it, dear Henry. Hone it.
On what shall I sharpen it, dear Liza. On what shall I hone it?
On a stone, dear Henry.
The stone is too dry, Liza.
Well, wet it dear. Wet it.
With what shall I wet it, dear Liza. With what?
Try water, dear Henry.
In what shall I fetch it, dear, Liza.

In a bucket, dear Henry. In a bucket!
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza. A hole!    Henry and Liza in San Francisco 1878

I’ve been wanting to write a novel for a long time, so I started, but it was all fucked up because I thought that maybe I would do the music for the play that I’d written first and in order to gain notoriety for the play I would write a novel and maybe make some money off the novel. But the play is free. I want all of the money for the music and script to go to the Diana Fund.
I found that it isn’t easy to write a novel. Mostly a novel to me is what I think of. And most of the time I don’t know what to think. So if you think that you know how to thread all of life’s stories together in fake people then you’re sadly mistaken unless you eventually won’t go crazy unlike most of the other writers who try and become somebody else too real-like.
There ain’t no explaining it. A writer like me who can barely talk good english good and so by trying not to talk right is able to talk right in another fashion, another voice. I guess that’s all novel-writing really is: trying to find voices for characters who don’t really exist except in your own head, because you decided that you would make a deal with yourself and publish any old damn thing that sounds slightly like James Joyce, who you admire. So you go forward listening to the howling laughter of the world critics aimed at you because they don’t know that you also think somewhat like James Joyce did, but only you weren’t famous and, most of all, it is more an unfortunate thing than fortunate.
So I got my characters in my life. Hell, I even got a hamster named Joey Gant. His formal name is The Hamster. Actually, I think Joey Gant is his formal name and the Hamster came later. Either way, the Hamster refers to himself, I think, by The Hamster. All caps. Yeah. No motherfucking bones about it.     Albert

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

from Teardrop – by Albert Jones

I thought that if I wrote the best story ever written then I would become immortal.

Kierney: and you believed this?

Kantor: Oh yes. I believed that if I wrote a story that was of a notion immemorial then I too would be saved the hatchet man behind me even as we speak or so it is in my daily and worst of nightmares.

Kierney: I didn’t know.

Kantor: Yes.

Kierney: Getting back to Petals.

Kantor: Yes.

Kierney: You said that you believed that you would go to heaven in a literal sense because you believed that you were made of spiritual stuff. Please describe what you mean by this word “stuff.”

Kantor: I sometimes look back at what I’ve said and the way that I’ve said these things and I wonder why the people didn’t hoot and holler me out of town for being a complete bore. But I guess that maybe this whole thing is about living longer and feeling better by living right, eating right, exercising, playing. Everything. So I realize that the world is real. It is real. My new email address is smthngns Somethingness!

Kierney: Somethingness.

Kantor: Somethingness. It’s something to have found something that will let me know that I may live in peace. A peace is allowing all of God’s children to live under the fruit of their desires. We have a duty to every child in the world. As we do have the same duty for our elders.

Kierney: That’s what you mean by Somethingess.

Kantor: Family, basically.

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Henry Mills Diary

June 1865
Gave away that other diary to Jedediah. Don’t know why he wanted it. Was too much in it for me to keep it with me. Now that I’m on the road it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have two of them. So I keep this one now. Been sitting waiting for this sunset for about an hour. It’s been two weeks since I had a drink and my head finally feels good again. Every drink I was taking was a shovel ful of dirt coming out of my own grave. Every drink made me forget Mary and Annabelle and gave me all sorts of reasons for keeping on, but when I wasn’t drinking I forgot every single last reason and all I found I really wanted to do was kill myself. That’s the way the drink works for some people.
I’m sitting in a little place I don’t know the name of not far from the city of Los Angeles. I notice a lot the way that water comes in on the shore. There’s nothing more beautiful I think then the way those water curls boom one after the other when that sunset is just about going down. I never seen sunsets in Tennessee like I seen them here. They’re orange, orange, red, more orange and a little bit of blue.  And then they’re just gone, but they leave the clouds on fire and that’s a good sight until the stars come out and I get cold. Usually by then I got a fire going, but sometimes I wait until the last ray, I mean, that last little shimmer or glow is all gone because I want to see the night in a pure way when it’s just begun because the middle of it gets scary sometimes and cold, especially without the bottle with me any more. And the end of it I’m usually asleep for. No my favorite part of the night is just the beginning of it when I know I’m not supposed to be asleep but right where I am only. Also, this is where a little of the sadness comes in and I close my eyes to it and pray a little bit and that always makes me feel a little better, when I envision Mary again the way that she was when we were kids so beautiful wearing her white dress on Sunday mornings and my daddy telling me now that was a beutiful girl, that if I didn’t marry her someday I’d be a fool. So I did. Now the question remains: was I a fool? I still don’t think so. What’s the point of living if you’re not going to chase down a dream so obvious as Mary was. Her smile and the way that she held my hand and the way she would get distracted by flowers or a bird and then tell me stories about everything she sees, about trees and the people who live in the forests, about flowers and about how a man named Narcissus was so vain that he became one, and about the Goddess of Love named Venus who was married to a man who made her diamonds and beautiful jewels, but who loved a man who raged in war, and about Cupid and how he fell in love with a girl named Psyche and Cupid’s mama, Venus, didn’t like her so she made her do all sorts of things to earn his love. There were so many stories and they all come back to me now. How Mary could talk. And then Annabelle, well, and then Annabelle. That’s all needs be said. For now…

Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

about Thy Soul’s Immensity

There are questions concerning Thy Soul’s Immensity that I just can’t answer because to do so would be to push the boundaries of where I want to go in my life. Everything we author has a possibility of final purpose. To follow these lengths to the point of obsessing on them is to sell yourself short. The final resting place aside, authors must resist the urge to disappear into their works forever. In some ways, an author must hold on to himself and steady himself or herself. The author must allow that a character may have inhabited some part of their being, but that the sad parts do not need to be literalized by that function of the mind that addresses how much adrenaline we feel in a course of a day. We need not live our lives in the parallels that we had discovered in fiction. We must release ourselves from the bonds of perfection and lapse gracefully into the mysterioso of grand Life. For this reason I proclaim that there is an end to Thy Soul’s Immensity and leave it at that.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment