August 15, 2017

Captain Jack the Ajax


When Captain Jack the Ajax first came to these shores, he did so with the intention of being a full-on superhero in the Silver Surfer ilk. But he soon learned that Silver Surfer spent more time actually doing shit than surfing, which Jack found dubiously unappealing. So now his super power is just being one of the best damn surfers on the high seas. And for Captain Jack the Ajax, that is totally enough.

May 5, 2017

Fido and Billy’s Big Walk



Billy bolts awake with a frown. Nothing like a worry alarm clock. He doesn’t mean to feel uneasy. But feelings have a way.

Physically speaking, waking is just hard. Particularly for one who dreams so deeply.

Fido, on the other hand, chomps the marrow at the bit, runs circles around the dining room table, leash in mouth.

Against such waking instincts, Billy rises. He puts on his pants. First one leg, then the next. Like many a great man, though not many a great Scott!

He slips on his shoes. Grabs the leash and poop bags. After some effort to slow down Fido’s circuitous sprint, Billy finally affixes his leash.

Which means it’s go time. Fido calmly takes his place next to his master, dutiful as a soldier.

They give each other that “go time” look, and hit the street in search of coffee.

Not two doors down, they spy The Scowler. You’d think two people and two dogs who see each other every day could at least do something to acknowledge as much. But that stopped long ago; she can’t be bothered to even scowl at Fido and Billy anymore.

The Wall Lady is a little better. She at least reacts to the duo, even if only to turn her back and build a human wall between her and her little rat dog, whose eyes roll back in his head as his little rat mouth froths with Fido-hating vitriol.

Fido doesn’t react, though, just keeps bopping towards Savanna, the barista with the dog treats.

Billy follows, though he’s sure Fido would like the little rat dog, if they could just get a second to sniff each other’s cute little doggie butts.


Billy gets lost in Fido’s swaying hips for a spell. Has there ever been a cuter butt in all the land?

“Who’s the goodest boy, Fido?”

Fido barks, though Billy can’t be sure if it’s a response or a warning about the oncoming gardener, blowing the grounds of the Mariposa apartment complex. Billy instinctively bows to the man.

The gardener is deeply involved in his blowing though, and doesn’t return Billy’s nod of recognition. But at least he stops billowing city dust in their general direction.

Billy walks on, thinking about home, where leaf blowers are as uncommon as people who don’t say good morning.

Homesick Billy snaps to in time to yank Fido away from crapping all over the gardener’s handiwork.

A few doors down, Fido finishes up his business when a very deliberate, neon-shoed jogger comes huffing uphill. Billy alertly moves Fido out of the way, then tips his usual “hello, my fellow man” metaphorical cap.


Alas, his fellow man seems very intent on his breathing and doesn’t notice. Apparently, the warm glow stops at his shoes.

Further down the hill, Billy and his dog finally reach “The Crossing.” He is sure one, if not both of them will someday die here.

Not today, though, as Billy only has to eye down one yield-neglecting car before the crosswalk safely opens up. Of course, the driver doesn’t even notice Billy’s death stare.

They cross the street and walk into The Coffee Shop. Their timing couldn’t be worse. Obviously, the CrossFit class next door just ended, because as many yoga outfits fill the painfully long line as business outfits.

Or are they wearing yoga pants to work these days?

The line moves at a molasses-soaked snail’s pace. But not Savanna, she flies around like Ms. Pac-Man on level 141, too busy to acknowledge Billy, or even Fido, her supposed “guy.”

When they reach the front of the line, Savanna plops down Billy’s regular big drip, then notes it in the book. Forget about the fact that Billy was feeling adventurous today and thinking about trying an americano, or something else that might maintain more suitable heat.

Savanna quickly moves onto the next CrossFitter, though. Maybe tomorrow, thinks Billy, as he grabs his lukewarm big drip, wary of the lengthening line, and his place so uncomfortably in front.

He thanks Savanna, and moves on, but she’s enveloped in steam and noise, and doesn’t hear him.

And Fido still wants his good boy treat.


“Come on, Boy. Savanna is busy, she’ll get you two treats tomorrow.”

Billy pulls the forlorn, stubborn, and ultimately heartbroken mutt out of line, out the door, and back to the big bad, treatless world.

Fido and Billy head somberly back up the hill. Now that Billy’s hands are properly full, Fido feels compelled to take another morning constitutional.

Billy drops off the bagged remnants of such in the bus stop trash can, trying his best not to allow bag nor can to make any contact with hand nor coffee cup.

The big Zippy-the-Pinhead-looking fella waiting at the bus stop side-glances Billy, who instinctively smiles. But Zippy goes right back to staring ahead a thousand yards, failing to return Billy’s smile.
Perhaps he’s downwind of the garbage pail and not feeling very smiley.

They walk on. As Billy so often does, he recalls The Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road”. Sings softly to himself, “I got a smile for everyone I meet.”

Lotta good it does, he thinks.

At the top of the hill, almost home, a dark-dressed, dark-sunglassed, scowling realtor struggles with an “Open House” sign. She can’t seem to align it as perfectly as her meticulous eye demands.

Considering her laser focus, obvious ignorance of Billy, and today’s track record, his smile doesn’t initially come out. But Chrissie Hynde sings to the ether, and Billy greets the back of the realtor’s head with a smile just the same.

At least he’s not surprised when she doesn’t smile back. Though he’s still a bit dejected.

But she’s got business to attend to. He can admire that. Perhaps Billy’s own business should be more pressing. Perhaps his debts might seem a bit less severe if he cracked his own whip a little harder.

At least then he’d get down to work, instead of just thinking about how much of his soul he’d lose that day while doing it.

Not that he’s complaining; the value of a paycheck he won’t deny. But there must be something greater to do with his life than slinging bullshit for bullshit artists, who may or may not be nefarius.

Not exactly soul-feeding stuff. So how could Billy genuinely expect people to smile back at him, if his own smile felt forced?

Lost in thought, Bill looks down to find Fido nosing his thigh, indicating for him to look up.
A bolt of sunshine blazes through the clouds, sublimely kissing their lucky shoulders.

“Thanks, pal, good looking out.”

Together, man and dog absorb the splendor.

Who knows how long the rays work their magic, when a high-pitched greeting snaps the spell.


“Hi!”

Billy recognizes it sonically somewhere between Alvin and Theodore.

A little girl, June -- running ahead of her mom, name still unknown, both staples along Billy and Fido's morning path -- looks upon sun-worshipping man and dog, and smiles hugely, a mirror to that celestial orb.

Billy looks down; June looks up. They nod in acceptance of each other -- two souls blessed by the same sun.

It makes the little girl’s grin burst, like she's seeing just how big she can actually smile.

Enveloped so, Billy becomes the smile, fills with its exuberance. Exhales his own.

June runs along just as quickly as she came, leaving Billy and Fido glowing in her wake.

Heaven knows, Billy can feel that beam all the way home. All the way through the day, right on through Fido’s afternoon walk.

---

April 24, 2017

Third-Degree Dean

Sure, Dean caught fire when he downed that flaming shot, but at least he wasn't a pansy.

April 3, 2017

Attentive Al

Fourteen minutes into his epic percussion solo, Al realized he had to finish putting away the dishes and stop smoking weed.

March 15, 2017

Charlie Barker


When Charlie Barker was but a wee pup, his master used to tell him no. 

But Charlie Barker's such a creative spirit, the universe forces him to blow.



March 14, 2017

A Righteous Man


Backed again,
To where I am,
Still fighting the good fight.
What choice is there?
As i am always right.

A righteous man is all i am.
And All i’ll ever be.
But a righteous man
In an unjust world,
Is ever far from free.

March 10, 2017

Doing-His-Part Dave

David felt good about performing his civic duty, even if he was only voting for the most Jewish-sounding candidates.

March 3, 2017

Tiptoe Tom

Right there and then -- perhaps because it was his birthday and he was now old enough to be President -- Tom decided he would no longer care what anyone else thought of him. From now on, he would just use the goddamned kiddie urinal instead of standing on his tiptoes, trying to look like an actual man.

February 28, 2017

Real Men Drink

Boundary Binky

Todd knew it was wrong to let Binky sit on his lap at a time like this. But he also recognized that Binky was the only other creature in the world he could share such a moment with. 

February 23, 2017

Tied-Up Tim

Before going on his afternoon walk, Tim spent the better part of five minutes trying to remember if he'd gotten high yet. He finally decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

More


"I'm not sure if there's much difference between worrying and praying."

"Praying is positive. Worry isn’t."

"It can be."

"Nope."


"What do you know?"

"That there’s more."

"Must be nice."

"It is."

"Would you mind praying for me to stop worrying?" 

February 20, 2017

wet


I was the ocean
Full and wet.
I rose and fell.
I sustained life,
Took it away.
Made weather rollick,
Honeymooners undress,
Full and wet.

I'm dry now
Arid and putrid,
A bone picked clean.

But my eyes still close and open,
Squeeze tears from tired lids
To wet my waking world once more.

February 19, 2017

But Forever...

Us versus them,
the universal dialectic.
You and me,
the impartial magnetic.

Turn down the fun.
Hedonism can’t bring
Socialism.
Don’t trust lust.

But in the end,
we must.

In the end...
If there's really such a thing.
If the earth stops spinning,
The universe won't.

What else would we want to be?
But forever...

February 15, 2017

Alchy AdPock?

AdPock was fairly certain that both he and his wife could live without wine. But he was 100% positive they couldn't live together without it.

February 13, 2017

What If Love Doesn’t Win?


What if love doesn’t win?
If penance has nothing to do with sin?
If we’re destined to go backwards, within?

Walls we build up keep us down.
Danger, fear, hatred, rage,
What weight do they add to this tremulous age?
Should I go back to tuning it out?
It used to work, I swear it did,
Could go on with my life,
Assuming mine were all safely hid.
Now we're overexposed
Even in all this darkness.

How can I begin to shed light?
When all I am is noise?
Or worse yet, so far gone,
To believe my words more important than yours.
Does love make less noise than hate?
Or more?

Does spirit count for something?
Since spirit is all we are,
When blue states all bleed red?
We’ll find a new way, 
beyond.
Even those down below,
Drowning in the spew,
Will get higher, and keep reaching for love.

Group Therapy Terry


February 9, 2017

St. Francis With Boobies


This is "St. Francis with Boobies". It's a blown-out photo of a painting I'm nearly finished with, which I'm giving to my pops on the occasion of his 75th, which has already passed. I'm therefore late. Which is better than forgotten completely, as he knows all too well.

Aside from being paternal, in the patron saint sense, St Francis also has another relationship to my father. He used to collect St. Francis statues carved by a New Mexican artist named Ben Ortega. It may be odd for a Jewish guy to be collecting carvings of the Patron Saint of animals and Italians (I believe in that order) but Ortega carved beautiful ones, which my mom sold at the Southwestern art gallery she owned for my 10 most formative years. (Which is why I was raised by HBO.) Many a statue ended up in my parent's collection, seeing as Dad was Mom's best customer.

I guess this painting is my way of thanking Pops (and Ma!) for introducing me to Ortega's art. Not just Ben, but all of his kids, who all carved St. Francises, too. And little birdies to put on the Saints' shoulders. And not just the Ortegas. All the other artists who filled my home too, some quite literally during my Mom's semi-regular artist showings. 

Little did I know how much Southwestern folk art would affect my style today. It's the art I love. It's the art I love to make, though I'm lacking the proper credentials, other than exposure. Hopefully that at least counts on an instinctual level, though.

Indeed, the art of my youth left a mark. I'm more Technicolored for it. More resplendent. More open to magic. And more importantly, more open to other people's magic. Inspired as such, I hope Dad will appreciate his first painted St. Francis. And that you all do, as well.

August 10, 2016

Bless You Bill


Bill hated it when people said, "Bless you" to him. Couldn't the whole world go ahead and forget that germs just rocketed out of his insides and festered the air we all tentatively share? How is that a bless-able action? And what about when it's Bill's turn to say the words? Who is he to bless someone? The Pope? No, he's just Bill.  

April 27, 2016

The Dolphin's Savior



60 seconds, motherfuckers. Just hang on for 60-fucking ticks. Christ, this is dick-sandwich time.
Stop it. No bad thoughts. No bad juju, not now. Now is when the Fish need you most. It's now time. Hold the line.

"Hold it. Right here, baby! We hold them here and it's ball game! Sweet Jesus who art in heaven, please let them hold it right here!"
"Does baby Jesus root for the Dolphins too, Daddy?" asks Charlene, the yelling guy's precocious 6-year-old daughter.
"Ask your mother, Char, Daddy's focusing...”

The Dolphins don't hold.

"Fuck!"

April 21, 2016

Not-So-Dreamy Matt


Matt used to be a great sleeper, until he took a philosophy class and learned he might easily be dreaming his entire existence.

September 15, 2015

Has-Been Hank

Some 20 years later, that was the moment Hank realized he’d never been better at anything in his whole life than Sega Hockey '94.

July 22, 2015

Tough Luck Toby

Toby liked to start his day with a game of solitaire. It got the mind moving while his bowels did the same. And what else was there to do once he'd finished scanning five self-allotted minutes of Facebook?

Unfortunately, Toby also allotted himself exactly one solitaire victory. How else could he move on with the day if the game didn't finish to its proper completion?

Unfortunately, this day, Toby never won that game.

So he never left the toilet. 

May 7, 2015

Grateful George

Like he did most Mondays, George spent the better part of an hour washing nearly every knife in the house. Granted, most of these knives were used by his wife to cook his lucky-ass dinner, but still, it was a lot of knives. It never used to be this many knives when George and Melinda were just living together. But now they had wedding-knives. And wedding-steak-knives. And that meant washing by hand. Every Monday. Hundreds of them.

April 30, 2015

Daring Don

Don had promised his wife he wouldn't eat the whole pint, but the Chocolate Fudge Brownie had almost reached that perfect consistency – no longer frozen, not quite soupy, little chunks of brownie beginning to soften. And if Don didn't know whether his cholesterol would allow him to see the bottom of another pint anyway, why shouldn't he take a stab at perfection? 

April 27, 2015

Evil Laugh Matt


Self-Help Harry

Harry understood that he was the only one getting in the way of his own happiness, but he was a big scary guy with a black belt and a temper.