subtle and restrained yet somewhat wacky  

April 9th, 2009

I have always thought of myself as a good talker, and once I talked a man out of shooting another man, although I didn't succeed in talking him out of his violence.

Herbert Huncke

is updated on Thursdays.


For sale: several things in a small bag. Kind of rattly sounding. I'm afraid to look. $4 OBO. Box 9.
For rent: movies of me riding a bike when I was six. All 8mm format. $3/day. No late fees! Box 1967.
For sale: very rare fotograph (note the incredibly rare spelling) of Thornton W. Burgess being unkind to a squirrel. From the PETA collection of famous animal rights hypocrites. $4000. Box 12.
For rent: faint smell of cinnamon. Daily and Weekly rates. Box 37.


This week on The Napper: The Napper infiltrates the mob by posing as a hitman, acquires the contract to kill the Mayor and then sleeps through the hit thereby preserving the Mayor's life. With Michael Cera as The Napper, Dennis Farina as Big Julie and Adam West as the Mayor.

Legal Announcements

My lawyers, Batu, Mangu, Kublai and Hulagu advise me not to answer any questions relating to my alleged recent pillaging of the Sears at Polo Park. If you have questions concerning the aforementioned event please direct them (the questions) to them (the lawyers). Thank you. Larry the Pillager.

Tip For Spring Living #3:

In a hurry to get in shape for bathing suit season? Don't overdo the exercise. Remember to spend one hour a day eating cake whilst lying immobile.*


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* May constitute a choking hazard.

The Artist at Work

That business with the belt was just embarrassing. He ended up with a headache and a sore neck. He'd found it hard to tie a decent knot. He hadn't done that well in Scouts and besides, the belt was too wide. It undid itself and he came crashing down.

If he'd been higher than the rod in the closet he probably would have had other injuries as well. As it was his right knee was a bit bruised. But it wasn't even a very satisfying bruise. Just a little yellowy in some lights. He couldn't even do that right it seemed.

His life, as far as he could see, had been one long series of failures and he was getting tired of it. The Nike commercials were getting to him. They seemed aimed at him, mocking him for his failures, particularly this latest.

He considered his options. Pills were out of the question as he just didn't have those connections any more. He had no gun or access to one and he lived on the first floor. How the hell was he supposed to just do it?

Sometimes he thought "Hey, snap out of it! Things will get better." But they never seemed to for very long.

What seemed possible for everyone else seemed impossible for him. Why? He couldn't say. Something wrong in his head he supposed, but he didn't know what exactly. He didn't seem crazy. But maybe that was how you thought when you were.

Did those wild-looking fools out on the street in soiled bathrobes babbling to themselves think they were crazy? Probably not. But surely he wasn't in that category. Yet.

Sometimes he thought it might be easier if he was truly mad. To become convinced that he was the rightful heir to the throne of Spain. To have heated arguments with the neighbour's dog. In some ways that seemed like it might be the happier existence. At least he might lose, along with his sense of so-called reality, this terrible feeling of hopelessness and failure.

He had failed at everything he had ever tried. At school he had always been told that he showed "great promise" but he'd been totally unable to fulfill this potential. When he left school he failed, after many sad attempts, to make his way in the world. He lost, or more accurately, sauntered away from every job he had ever had.

Then there were the relationships. He never managed to sustain any of them for very long. And then, when finally it seemed like he might be able to, he blew that and ended up making two other people miserable.

And he had failed utterly as "an artist". Not only had he never able to sell or show a single thing but he'd never even managed to really finish anything. He had just a bunch of little bits of stuff.

The artist thing was particularly distressing. He thought maybe he could have lived with the other failures if somehow he had managed to accomplish something.

The biographies of the artists he admired were filled with stories of their failures which didn't seem all that different from his own but in the end they redeemed themselves by creating great works of art. He had certainly failed to do that.

For most of his adult life he had lived like an artist. He had made a great show of sacrificing other things for his art (like money and comfort and respectability) but in the end he had produced a big fat zero. Not a thing.

It was time to quit. To give up. There was no point in dragging this out further. It wasn't going to change. This would just keep going on for... God knows how long.

Sure, he might feel good for a few days, get excited about some new project or chance for success but it would fall apart again and he would slip back into the crushing downward cycle of despair and defeat.

And there was always the oppressive weight of his loneliness. There was no one even to talk to about it. He knew no one could possibly understand. Not because they were too stupid, he was aware the problem was his, but it was incomprehensible even to him. How could he expect anyone else to understand?

But that didn't make it any easier to bear. That, in fact, was the worst part. If he'd been a religious man he'd at least have God to turn to. You could be pretty sure God would understand. After all wasn't he was supposed to be omniscient?

But would you get any kind of response? He thought the most likely response from the Almighty would be silence and that would be pretty frustrating. Having wrenched up all that feeling, convinced that here you would finally find some understanding, and then... nothing. Just God's withering silence. What a complete and final dead end that would be!

It was funny in a way. A man, totally frustrated and confused and at the end of his rope, sure of never finding any human connection or understanding, turns to God.

He tells God the story of his life, looking for some kind of answer, just a nudge, a shove in the right direction, you know, some kind of hint. Like "Hey, have you considered going back to school?"

But what does he get? An impassive God sits there, a stony look on his face, and then smiles quietly, saying nothing.

This would be too much to bear. The guy would lose it.

"What does that look mean? What the hell are you smiling about? What am I supposed to do?" Nothing.

It would be the final straw. Perhaps it would even provoke violence. He'd get so angry he'd end up taking a swing at God.

Actually, he thought, that would not be a bad painting.

He'd been thinking primarily in visual terms as he nearly always did, while the one-sided dialogue took place in his head. He thought of a series of images that wouldn't have been out of place in a gallery devoted to Renaissance art. The Frustrated Sinner Attacks God.

He could already picture it quite clearly as a finished painting. Especially the expression on God's face. That damn look of all-knowing smugness.

And the sinner's! He knew that look! It was in the mirror! By God, this could really work!

He was getting excited. He picked up a small chunk of charcoal and began to sketch on the back of his already filled sketchbook. That was okay for now but he was going to need canvas. Maybe he could paint over one of the many paintings strewn around his studio.

And he would need to buy more paint, most of his tubes were almost squeezed out. He would need lots of burnt umber for the dark face of the Creator. And a lot of cadmium red for the angry face of the sinner. He began to sketch wildly.

This could be something! This could really be something.