Category Archives: Drunk-chives

Dustiny’s Child (Revisited)

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[In Honor of Dusty Baker’s book Kiss The Sky, to be released on November 10th, 2015, and this fine little New Yorker article, as well as the Cubs losing the NLCS yesterday to the Mets (on “Back to The Future Day”, no less), we re-post this article from August 11th of last year.]
 

“Longing on a large scale is what makes history.”

-Don DeLillo; Pafko at the Wall

 

“God’s on both sides; he ain’t just on my side. If he was, I would’ve won a long time ago.”

Dusty Baker; Esquire, 2004

 
 

There were only eight outs left.

Eight.

More.

Outs.

When your starting pitcher has already made 19 outs through seven innings of two-hit shutout ball, and you have a healthy five run lead, eight outs seems like a mere handful. The last few stones in the path that have finally led you home out of the dark and terrible woods, the warm light of the hearth glowing in the distant windows. It seems like the giddiness you feel being so close to the first World Series Championship in your city since the club moved there 45 years ago can safely start to supercede the tension and anxiety you’ve had to wade through in the last weeks and months to get here. It seems that even though that same starter just gave up back to back hits, and the Manager decided to pull him so that the bullpen could knock off those last eight outs, that he is deserving of the game ball. Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, your team up 3 games to 2, ready to close it out on enemy turf. Your visiting locker room draped in plastic, the champagne on ice, a whole city 400 miles to the north on the edge of their seats, barely able to contain themselves.

So when Russ Ortiz comes off the mound in the seventh inning, and you’re the Giants’ Manager, you do just that. You give him the “game ball.”

And then, inevitably, horribly, all hell breaks loose.

I was watching the game at Lefty O’ Douls on Powell Street, just off Union Square in San Francisco, surrounded by hundreds of Giants fans, all of us jostling, laughing, cheering, ready for the biggest celebration in that city since my birthday in 1995, when the 49ers had last won the Super Bowl (Yeah, that was a pretty awesome day.) But within minutes of Ortiz’s departure, those cheers were replaced by groans of disbelief. His bullpen replacement, Felix Rodriguez, gave up a 3-run homer to the very next batter, Scott Spiezio, cutting a cushy 5-0 lead to a suddenly very precarious 5-3.

With only a two-run cushion, eight outs now seemed like a massive number to get through.

And it was. Monumentally so.

Continue reading

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DRUNK-CHIVES! Empty Hands Part 4 – Survival of the Phattest

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“Even though freedom is instantly available, washing over you like a wave, it often takes time, more akin to water slowly eroding rock, in this case the bedrock of one’s conditioning.  In showing up moment by moment as much as you can, you are spending time in the water.  With each moment of full wakefulness, more conditioning and reactivity will wash away.”

               –Arthur Jeon; City Dharma

 
“The fools… the mad fools…”

               –Ambassador de Sadesky in Dr. Strangelove, realizing that the Russians’ “Doomsday Machine” will be activated by the impending nuclear attack, thus destroying “all human and animal life.”
 
              
“Gee, I wish we had one of them ‘Doomsday Machines.'”

               –General Turgidson; Dr. Strangelove

 

Walking down a soot-stained, gum-pocked San Francisco sidewalk the other day, I passed someone’s discarded port-o-toilet– a white plastic bedpan affixed to an aluminum chair frame, like the ones they use in nursing homes or hospitals.  Although it seemed relatively clean for what it was, it was still a disturbing sight, even amongst  the rampant ugliness and insanity one encounters on a block to block basis in just about any major American city.  You never quite get used to it.  And you shouldn’t. You have to live your life, after all, and you can’t take every single encounter to heart.  But you can’t go around being completely numb either. Continue reading


Elaine’s Wedding: What Elaine Doesn’t Remember, but Haley Does – Part 3

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[Click here for either Part 1 or Part 2 of Haley’s adventures at Elaine’s wedding.]

 

So… Elaine was talking to a lamp and Nathan was wringing his hands trying to figure out what to do with his new wife. Thankfully, I was there to provide advice. Essentially, I saved Elaine’s wedding – not that she was in any state to remember or understand.

Nathan: Ummm… I think the hotel management is worried about Elaine. I think they are going to call someone …

Haley: It’s time for Elaine to say goodbye to her wedding guests and hello to counting the bathroom tiles in her bridal suite…

Nathan: You mean we just take her up to her room? What if she doesn’t want to?

Haley: Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, you are going to have to learn this sooner or later … in order to get Elaine up to her room you are going to have to trick her …

Nathan: You mean … lie?

Haley: It’s easy. Tell Elaine that you have a surprise waiting for her in the room. Tell her that the Smurfs have come to build a village under the bed in honor of her wedding. Tell her that Pink Floyd is setting up a private light show just for her. Tell her that Oprah has finally arrived and is waiting to have a heart to heart with her. She’s on mushrooms – you can be creative.

Nathan’s brother (listening to Haley and falling in love): Haley, you are a genius.

Nathan: Haley, you are a genius. Thanks for saving our wedding. And for saving Elaine’s dignity. Not that she’ll ever thank you or remember. How can I ever thank you? Continue reading


Drunk-Chives: Empty Hands Part 3 – Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow

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“…I swiftly accepted the notion of God. It pleased me to imagine a presence above us, in continual motion, like liquid stars… I would lie in my bed by the coal stove vigorously mouthing long letters to [Him.] I was not much of a sleeper and must have vexed Him with my endless vows, visions, and schemes. But as time passed I came to experience a different kind of prayer, a silent one, requiring more listening than speaking.”

Patti Smith; Just Kids

 

I’m not a Christian.

I’m not anything, really.

Don’t get me wrong. Sure, I’ll chuckle at Bill Maher’s jokes about “the Magic Man in the Sky,” and I do find it hard to not acknowledge how much violence and oppression in the world is the result of religious doctrines. But the same can be said for corporations and politicians and greed and bigotry, and so many other human ills. So I’m not anti-religion, by any means. At least not any more than those other things.

Both my parents were raised in Catholic, military families in D.C., but it never really filtered down to my brother and me, growing up in California; except for the fact that they still expect us to show up to seemingly nonsensical (for otherwise non-practicing people,) events like Easter dinner (or “Zombie Jesus Day” as an irreverent acquaintance recently dubbed it.) We say Grace at Thanksgiving, out of a mostly secular sense of gratitude. At Christmas, we play all the religious carols as well as the ones about reindeer and silver bells, and I actually like most of them. I get chills when the chorus sings “Faaaaaalllll on your knees… and hear the angel voices…” That shit kills me. (If you can’t tell by now, yes, my heart has made pretty much a permanent stain on my sleeve.) Continue reading


Elaine’s Wedding – What Elaine Doesn’t Remember, but Haley Does PART 2

 

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[For the first installment of Haley’s adventures at Elaine’s wedding, click here.]

 

Where were we? Oh yeah, Elaine had just eaten a chocolate sundae and a handful hallucinogenic mushrooms. And I had just lost $200 dollars on a bet that Elaine wouldn’t be conscious after 10:00 PM. To make matters worse, I split open the side of my goth dress. Which meant I had to go back up to my hotel room and change into the only other clothes I brought with me – an Adidas track suit. Wedding guests were staring at me. Apparently, they’d never seen a Goth in a tracksuit before. Who knew that it was possible to wear a weirder outfit than the one that I showed up in?

Continue reading


Drunk-Chives: Elaine’s Wedding – What Elaine Doesn’t Remember But Haley Does PART 1

090520-weddingcakesmash-hmed-10a.grid-3x2In 2007, I had a blog with my friend, Edie. The blog featured stories about our friendship. Most of the entries were slightly fictionalized, but the facts are: Edie got married and had a baby. I didn’t. The blog was a way for us to creatively vent about our lives, friendship, relationships, etc. It was featured on Jezebel.

The sad news: Eventually our friendship ended. So did the blog.

The good news: A few years ago, Elaine and I repaired our friendship and a lot changed. At least for me: I sobered up, chilled out, and stopped running my life into the ground.

The following is a three part series of blog entries about Edies’s wedding, from my Haley’s perspective. We use fictional names. Edie is Elaine. I (Heather) am Haley. Our blog also had a glossary. Some useful terms are:

Jake n.
Used to describe the type of guy Haley continues to date despite the fact that time and again, the relationship leads to nothing. Jake finds “working” to be a hassle and would much rather spend his time rehearsing with his punk band “Death and the Destruction Junkies,” which, despite its kick-ass name, has not landed a single paying gig. (Things are looking good for a show at the Des Moines VFW rec center sometime in the next 6 months.) Because Jake doesn’t like to work, he lives in a disgusting house with eight other Jakes. Jake thinks that futon he bought at Goodwill makes the perfect bed. Jake only drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon and considers himself a true feminist. To prove the point, he empowers the woman he’s dating to pay for dinner. Jake often takes a first date to a taco cart and conveniently “forgets” his wallet.

Jake is a great lay.

Usage:
“That guy’s soooo hot, but he’s a total Jake.” Continue reading


Drunk-Chives: Empty Hands Part Deux! – Dirt is Better Than Poetry

club27[All right everybody, here’s the second installment of Empty Hands, as it was published on Wordsmoker in March 2011. If you happened to miss it, the first part can be found here.  

Each of these chapters inadvertently provoked a small, unforeseen storm of controversy in the comments, a not uncommon occurrence on the ol’ WS. In this case, it was my admittedly cavalier description of a beatnik threesome, which I had thought of as mere reporting, but to one reader smacked of exploitation and the inherent misogyny of the whole Beat culture. While it was most certainly a valid point, any sort of reasonable or nuanced discussion rapidly devolved into the inevitable mudslinging melee, as commenters mobbed to both sides, shouting as loudly as they could about polyamory and blowjobs and puritanism and the crappiness of jazz.  It was just silly, folks, and made me feel tired and old and want to go sit in the corner by myself, smacking my head and sighing loudly (which I probably did at some point, whilst, of course, slurping at a fifth of Jim Beam.)

This is just one reason why DMC is a no-comment site.  In some cases, when it is rigorously refereed, commenting can foster a great feeling of community.  But more often than not, it seems, it alienates and enrages people, and becomes more about knee-jerk opinions and snarky one-liners than about the work. And for my time and money, the work is the only thing that matters.

I realize there is a fair amount of posturing in the following essay, and it makes me cringe ever so slightly to revisit it.  But I hope you will forgive me, as I’ve tried to forgive myself.  I was a man barely hanging onto an idea of himself, and I was heading deeper into the labyrinth, with only my illusions to keep me company.  I’ve done my best these days to shed the kind of inauthenticities that I will one day look back on and possibly disavow, and try to write always from the genuine heart of things, rather than from my idea of what sounds impressive or clever at the time. I’m quite sure I’m not there yet, but hopefully moving toward it. The music of words is seductive, and for good or for ill, sometimes you just want the glittery pop; sometimes you wanna wave those idiot peacock feathers; sometimes you want a jolt of sugar and sex and bullshit; sometimes you just wanna skip all the feelings and the foreplay, and go straight to the fucking. Am I right?  And that’s okay too. As long as it’s consensual and we’re all having fun.  

I  sure am. In all the ways. I hope you are too.]

 

* * * *

 

“Hey Mama when you leave/ Don’t leave a thing behind/ I don’t want nothin’/ Can’t use nothin’…

…Sorrow and solitude/ These are the precious things/ And the only words that are worth remembering”

               -Townes Van Zandt; “Nothin'”

 

Where was I?

Oh yes.  Care- a- Whack.

Somehow my inner Lester Bangs took over and a thousand words in, all of a sudden we’re gobbling fistfuls of pills, drinking a fifth of scotch a day and dying untimely deaths before we manage to even remember what the hell we were talking about.

It had something to do with Zen, I think.

Poor Lester.   Old “honest and unmerciful” Lester.  I love the way Philip Seymour Hoffman plays him in Almost Famous, mostly because he’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, but also because I’m a shameless sucker for wry, heartwarming dialogue.  But it’s not a completely honest portrayal.  Lester was waaaay more of a dickhead than that. (A loveable dickhead, yes, but indubitably a dickhead.  And proud of it.) He may have actually confessed to a teenage Cameron Crowe that he was “uncool,” but I don’t think he really believed it.  Not fully, at least.  It’s a nice posture.  It helps excuse your sentimental tendencies, and bolsters your “outsider” status, but like all critics, he had an obvious superiority complex.  Anyone who claimed that Desire was a crappy record and that Blonde on Blonde and Exile on Main Street would not “endure;” that it was actually a good thing that Kennedy was assassinated; and continually took audience with a vampiric Lou Reed, his ultimate idol, only to shred him publicly (while still nakedly displaying his worship,) must have thought, despite any and all genuine insecurities, that he was pretty damn cool. Continue reading


Showdown in Tent City

riotA man doesn’t always have to be proud of his actions to be a man, but he should at least own up to them when he makes a mistake. And it’s not like I didn’t have the choice to walk away, so I’m not exactly justifying what I did. I guess I’m saying that I know I was in the wrong, but I really don’t regret doing it. Still, I suppose there has to be some kind of reckoning.

Come May every year in Washington, D.C., we have this big gathering of active and retired law enforcement types. It’s a time when a lot of cops from around the country put on their dungarees and double-knit polo shirts and converge on the nation’s capital to commemorate our fallen—sometimes the cops wear cargo shorts. Normally, I have a lot of respect for this particular breed—salt of the earth kind, digging deep into their pockets and burning their vacation time to come out and commemorate the honored dead. I guess that what makes what I did sort of out of character for me. Continue reading


Drunk-chives: Empty Hands Part 1 – Come On Baby Light My Sutra

jim-morrison_s-grave-at-pere-lachaise-cemetery-in-paris-7More Wordsmoker love.

I’ve written elsewhere here about this series, which really helped keep me alive (albeit mostly insane), during a particularly volatile period in my life. It’s a hell of a trip to go back through old ramblings and spend time with someone I know so well and yet also hardly recognize.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” goes the saying, which is often falsely attributed to Buddha, but actually probably comes straight from the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (whatever works). To be an artist, one must definitely be acquainted with pain, but I don’t at all believe one must be in pain to create. If anything, it can be a hindrance. However, sometimes art is all you have, and what a blessing that is. It doesn’t even have to be good in order to save your life. All I know is I’m still around, and Empty Hands played more than a small role in keeping me here.

Much love to Virus and his motley crew, wherever they may find themselves.
 
 
* * *

What is the sound of one hand clapping?
I don’t know, the sound of someone not particularly impressed with your performance?

 
It’s said that some Zen practitioners have spent fifty years, meditating every single day of their life on this koan, and still never managed to answer it. Yet strangely enough the response above, if you were to say it out loud, might be one of the few that wouldn’t get you pounded mercilessly into the dirt by the master.

Well… okay, it probably would.

Either way, I’d definitely smack you for being such a wise ass. Then buy us both another shot of Jameson.

I admit my “Zen essence” is still in a rather infantile stage. Continue reading