Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vegas Part I: Miami And Some Of Whats After

The air in Miami was sticky and wet. I remember that much. Alex was already wired when I met him. He was in front of the baggage claim with a suitcase of his own, smoking Marlboro lights and watching traffic cops police the freshly departed. He had a wad of cash in an envelope in his front pocket that he showed me in the car on the way towards the beach. I don’t know how much it was but I faked like I was counting it by flipping quickly through the bills and saying, “Looks like it’s all there,” all Hollywood drug dealer style. That night we played video games high on cocaine and Demerol. The next afternoon we went to the gap and I bought a couple t-shirts, then we hit a restaurant and I had a bacon cheeseburger that looked like the kind you see on Food Network. That evening we were at the airport, in a line that stretched out into the rain outside. We thought our flight would be delayed because of the weather, but when we pushed off to Vegas it was right on time. In the skies, the thunder roared below us.

Vegas was warm. That I remember too. When we stepped through the automatic doors, the squeal of their rusty hinges announcing us into the city of sin, the first thing we thought was, it’s warm. Then we saw the line. Or at least, the part of it that was within our sights. It stretched on so far it looked like it fell from the edge of the earth, but you knew it didn’t, because it stretched back in a loop then stretched back again to the edge of time. It did this 6 times. This was the line for a taxi and everyone stood in it. Once we realized this, we resigned ourselves to the experience. We surveyed the herd for pretty faces. We made fun of people. We laughed at ourselves. We shuffled our feet. We sighed. This went on for an hour. Finally, we got a taxi. When we climbed in and gave him the address to the hotel he whistled bleakly. “That’s a long way,” he said, then shifted into drive and hit the gas.

It was a long way. A hell of a long way. We barreled down the highway in light traffic and watched as the Vegas skyline drifted off behind us like an insignificant memory. Our hotel was miles out. Miles. A poor decision by Alex to save some money which he cursed himself for the entire trip. “The said ‘9 miles away,’” he would say. “”They made it sound so close,” he would whine. Cest la vie. We were in the middle of nowhere and still in Vegas. We settled into our room and headed back to the strip. The total cost in cab rides at the point was at $80.

We meet my friend Theo, who was in town for the same show, on the strip, at the Venetian Hotel. He had a friend who is bartending at a spot called Tao there, and he needed to hook up with him to drop off his bags. The security at the door was having none of it. There was a dress code. No t-shirts. No jeans. No tennis shoes. No Luggage. We were fucked on all strikes. I noticed the girls were all gussied up. Wearing shiny evening dresses that hung low enough to hint at their secrets. The guys wore blazers and shoes with slight heels. We said fuck it and dropped his bags off at a hotel concierge and hit Harrah’s for some drinks. I ordered my first Manhattan of the night. The city had a strange buzz.

After a few drinks and $20 on the twenty-five cent slot machines, we decided to head to a strip club. At this point it was 6 of us. Me, Theo and Alex, and three friends of Theo’s we had just met at the casino. One was a girl, one was a nerdy loud guy, and the other was an equally nerdy but quiet guy that didn’t make an impression on me at all. We pile into one cab and then, around the corner from the club, three of us pile into another. Neither car charges us for some reason. We had done them some sort of service just by having so many go to the club in the first place. I shake my head, confused, when the second cabbie doesn’t take any money. The system is curious in the desert, but I just went along with it.

The club, called the Spearmint Rhino, has to be one of the best strip clubs in America. I mean, I'm the type of guy that prefers a club that’s dark and seedy and populated by shy, silent perverts. It’s where I'm most comfortable when surrounded by pornographic sex, sex of the fantasy. But this place was the exact opposite, and it was awesome. It was set up pretty much like a nightclub, packed wall to wall with loud music, but when you asked a girl to dance they always said yes and then they gave your lap crazy booty action. Most of them were too thin for my taste, though they were all pretty hot. I got a few dances, and ordered a couple drinks in between. When we left Alex was in love and I was sort of hungry. We hopped in a cab and told him to take us through a fast food drive-through before we went home to the hotel. He gladly obliged.

He was Armenian, the, surprisingly enough, first non-American cab driver we’d had. High on lights and sex and cocaine, we started a conversation with him. First explaining why we were so desperate for fast food, particularly jack n the box (they don’t have that chain on the east coast and being on vacation is the best time to eat fast food, especially the rare kind), then, because we didn’t know what else to bring up, the resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

Now, I suppose bringing up the genocide of a race, especially the race of the person you are talking too, isn’t the best opening conversation to friendship, but we were feeling chatty and I think we felt that, in some way, we were on his side, which I suppose we were, but when I think about it, I probably don’t really care.

Anyway, as it turns out, he pretty much feels the same as me, because he hardly has anything to say about the issue. He seems more interested in where we are from. We tell him. Alex is Dominican and lives in Miami, I am obviously an old Asian woman and live in New York. Then the guy looks at us in the rearview mirror.

“Hey have you uh… you ever have any problems with the… um… Puerto Ricans?”

Alex and me looked at each other. We knew that if we said the wrong thing a fountain of hatred for the Puerto Ricans would come gushing from his mouth. This seemed strange, considering we had just been discussing the attempted extermination of his nationality, but you know, different strokes, I guess.

“No man. I know some pretty cool Puerto Ricans,” Alex said. He didn’t.

“No! No! No1 I mean, you know, just working with them.” The cabbie started back tracking.

“”Nah man,” I said, “I work with a few. They’re cool.” I lied.

“Oh,” the cabbie said,”Ok.”

We drive the rest of the way in silence. When we got to the hotel it was almost dawn and we tipped him well for his troubles. The cab rides at that point were up to $120.

When we got back we didn’t even want the food. We did another line and talked about death and Vegas and women. I smoked some weed and when I went for my cigarettes couldn’t find them so smoked his. After a few drinks from the mini-bar I ate my Grilled Sourdough Chicken Sandwich and Curly Fries with Ranch dressing. The sun was coming up. I looked for my phone and it was missing too. I cursed and picked up his to call mine and find it. It didn’t ring. The room was still. It was gone. I’d only been there one night.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

fear and loathing indeed

im leaving for miami in an hour. a quick jaunt to the southern tip for a few martinis and a cheeseburger.

then on friday i fly to vegas for a music festival that Daft Punk is headlining.

i got a psychedelic crutch to keep my eyes wandering. the devil will guide me to all the best tables.

im already hypnotized just thinking about it.

wish me luck.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No Cover and another Open Bar

after work last night i stayed for a drink. just one this time. my usual makers mark Manhattan. while i sipped it i stared beyond the other end of the bar and out the window onto the empty street. it was raining. i ran my finger up and down the stem of the glass and my eyes were lost and the music and voices and hustle and bustle of the bar smothered into a low, distant hum. i was thinking about where i was and where i sat and the whole time ignoring what was going on around me. when i finished my drink i tipped the bartender and called a cab to come get me.

i was dropped off in Williamsburg. a parade of hipsters, young and thin, dressed in old clothes that either hung loosely from their shoulders or fastened tightly to their hips, marched along the streets. laughing and smoking cigarettes. falling over each other, drunk on youth. i got to the door of the club and the bouncer was hollering orders to the herd. have your id's ready! no outside drinks! no re-entry! once you leave, you cant come back in! a kid with shaggy hair and a shirt that looked too long for him kept trying to walk in and the security guard kept pushing him away. they did it over and over. the kid would walk to the door, try to walk past security, and the guard would grab his shoulders and push him to the side, hardly even noticing the kid, like a parent dealing with a toddler while trying to hold conversation with someone else.

i stood in the rain and called the friend i was supposed to meet. a cab came to a stop and a group of four crawled out speaking Japanese. or at least i think it was Japanese. they had smooth, dark skin and their hair was jet black and orange. they huddle in the rain, talking to each other excitedly. it looked like they didnt know where they were. they snatched nervous glances at everyone. when they looked at me i took a hit of my cigarette and managed a smirk. they just looked away.

my friend answered. she'd already left Williamsburg and was at another party on west 40th at bryant park. i cursed her and the rain and, just for the hell of it, those lost Asian kids, then hailed another cab. When i gave the address to the driver he asked me how to get there. this is his first day on the job. he didnt know the streets too well yet. i groaned and pointed east. thats the best i could offer.

when we pulled up the rain had only slightly stopped, the drops were lighter, but were still falling. the street lamps reflection on the wet street struck up a light so bright it almost felt like day. in front of the building stood my friend and behind her, sprawled along the stone steps to the entry way, lay about a dozen smoking scenesters, bathed in make up and hair gel and snug retro fashions. we hugged and i said i need a drink. she was already slurring her words and when we got in the elevator she muttered, -i gotta take a piss, and pressed floor 9.

when we get up there and the doors spread open, the music, loud with no low-end, a popular disco track from the early 80's, washes over us. our voices are drowned out. i can only see her lips, her lip ring, moving in front of me. i point to the bar and then to the line to the bathroom. she nods her head. a strategy is in place.

we meet in back line. its so long shes still waiting and has hardly even moved. everybody is dancing, loosened, swaying with their age. people look a little more dressed up. the crowd is older. a seasoned set. i see suit jackets and skinny ties. flowing dresses with long open backs and thin shoulder straps that remind me of cocaine and lawlessness. a friend that i see far too infrequently (the kind i know would fit easily into my word, that would challenge and inspire me and make me laugh, the kind i wouldnt hesitate to call "best" if given the chance, but seem too busy to make the effort, so the relationship has never gone beyond occasional sightings and accidental bumps) comes over and we make arrangements to share a cigarette on the balcony and catch up.

the balcony is thin and covered by scaffolding. we squeeze between a few bars and find a nice area to lean. he tells me he is working on a screenplay and i tell him I'm working on my memoirs. we discuss our relationships, women, and the complexity of our desire for them. he ask, -who are we to be to so lucky? to have women with such patience? and i say, -yes! and why still, will we never appreciate it?

we shake our heads and drink to being men. he says he wants to move. to go to spain and to write. i say me too, and i dont care if anything ever comes of it. i dont care if i write myself into a grave and the only thing i leave behind is a pile of unread paper. he says me too. then we shake our heads again and drink to lies.

She comes from the bathroom and we help her onto the balcony. she stumbles and grabs the railing. the rain is soft and pleasant. we are all silent for a moment, listening to words rumble through the city. we clink our plastic cups and drink to nothing. The music goes on and on.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

many manhattans into it.

Oh it’s so quick. These glimpses of inspiration. These fleeting moments of creativity.

I cannot even look at the screen when I'm typing; I have to look at the keyboard because I'm self-taught and don’t know the formal way to type. i have to consider each key before i press it. i have to read over each word that is written.

Still, I type fast, but I have mastered the quick edit.

And thus, is my problem.

The edit.

When do I stop? When do I let myself just write without abandon? When will I lose this anxious self of mine, and when I lose it, will I lose the will to write?

Am I only meant to write?

That’s what she asked tonight. And that was a heavy question but when I hugged her I felt all bone. Still, she said she felt fat. I didn’t respond though, I tried to ignore it.

But the thing was she didn’t ask it, she stated it. That was a slip of the keyboard. That was a miscommunication between my brain and my hands and my emotion.

It’s a brutal bureaucracy, this process.

What she did is say is: You were put on this earth to write.

And from the look of this post, she had it wrong.

Monday, October 15, 2007

a compilation things of written in the past few days but didnt post because they were stupid

The trick is trying to remember something that happened a long time ago but I had forgotten. A glimpse of innocence that comes striking up from the bowels of my past and when it comes its like eureka! And I am found with it.

There was the time I looked into the palm of my aunt candy on a late summer evening in Newark New Jersey, and in it crawled a dozen fireflies exploding in her hand and it was like she held some sort of magic


its all lost in me.


He opened the carton and put its lip up to his nose and he inhaled deeply and gagged. It was spoiled. He dumped it out into the sink and ran the faucet full blast. it roared down onto the silver metal, washing milky white down the drain. He paused for a moment, holding his breath, avoiding the stink left over, and wondered what he would do now. He released a sigh and leaned up against the counter, placing the empty carton on the stove. There was nothing in the refrigerator. There was nothing in the cabinets. There were no stores nearby. There was only what was there with him. He shuddered.


keyboards do not bite.

(oh yes we do)


I've created the gutter in which i lie.


why is facebook so popular? is it because it started as a haven for college students instead of high school students [see: myspace]? because now it seems like the "serious" industry link up. all kinds of dignified mayhem goes on there. im getting invites to strange Internet clans [apparently, if you aren't a pirate or a ninja, you are a communist and you need to go to hell], linking up with various cats and kittens that purr real loud and stay up late every night [miles and sophie have pretty elaborate profiles themselves]. everybody has a facebook profile and everybody belongs to a few different facebook groups . you are a total sucka if you aint. facebook 4eva.


I only have the time to watch the television I really really like.I don't have the time to "get into" stuff and all that shit. If an episode isn't good enough to make me want to watch the next one, well then I just wont. Their loss. Bitches. I probably am missing a lot of good shit, but I don't care, I just want Lost to come back on, then I'll be cool.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I've got evil villains in my head.

I've fallen behind. I knew it was going to happen. I predicted it outside the bar while smoking a cigarette. I knew exactly how it would happen and could describe it in detail, every misstep, every bad decision, every hour slept in, every phone call avoided. I could tell you just how overwhelmed I would feel and how it would crush me and I would be dramatic, leaning back as if under a huge weight, and my voice would choke when I said the word crush.

And I’ve lost momentum too. It’s hard to chase forward when you’re in the past dreary clutches. My head spins around, unfocused. I see it all in piles. Piles. Piles of task. Piles of words and scribbles. Piles of notes. Piles of needs and wants. Piles. Piles on top of each other and piles on top of me. Piles like voices scolding. Piles in every corner of the room. Piles gone unruly, spilling onto the floor.

I'm trying to find myself in it. It’s like fishing in a running river with your bare hands. But without the silver reflection on the water and the sun beating down on your back.

All the mess surrounds me. I wear it.

I know, I know, I'm being weird and all this sounds weird. But its true I swear I feel this loss but I cant tell what’s gone anymore. And I dont have the time to look for it.

I'm behind. I've fallen.

I wish I could be less dramatic about it. I wish I could just spill it out in a very articulate essay that is both clever and informative and has a snarky pop culture sentimentality about it. I wish I were such a good writer that I could unfold my confusion into a brilliant string of words that not only would capture your imagination but also be a very good review to the new radiohead record. That would be pretty cool. I'm not that cool.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


for someone so inherently lazy, it is amazing how busy i am.

yesterday i woke up early, wrote, edited, and finished a 2200 word essay [see post below if interested]. created a marketing plan for an album, then a retail coop planner that i had to send to all my sales reps. all the while i was fending off questions from an artist about his digital sales [he doesnt have many and i didnt have the time to find out just how little he'd sold] while explaining to another label how wary the retail industry is and giving encouragement that, with time, we would get more of his records into stores and capitalize on the publicity campiagn that he's running.

in between that i bought the new radiohead record, then posted a link on this blog so that all of you could buy it too.

then i went to school and wrote a little more and discussed the war and ate some trail mix on my break. when i got home i had a beer and then wrote some more. did some more editing. and set some reminders for shit i have to do today. then i smoked some weed. i finally ate at around midnight.

im ok now but its all gonna catch up to me soon.

A Portrait to Forget

I've always had issues with my hair. Since I was a small child with his Afro being pulled and picked at by his mother or combed and braided by an aunt, it has been an almost unbearable burden sitting at the top of my head. It makes sense now, that I wear my hair in the wild fashion I do, letting it poke up and out in every which way, refusing to comb it other than the occasional pluck of a pick in the morning (after a long nights sleep my ‘do is usually flattened to my head in a big, black, nappy clump). And I cant shave it bald, which would be the most efficient and acceptable way to unleash myself from its hindrance, as I learned at an early age when I instructed the barber to do just this, shave it all off, and unveiled the awkward, almost frightening shape of my unfortunate skull. So I have had to deal with the trials of keeping my hair at an acceptable length while still being relatively self-sufficient enough to not be a bother. This has proved tiresome, to say the least.

It is well known that although the barber shop has developed into a haven for black folks over the years, proving a comfortable asylum for all ages to congregate, share stories, offer advice, and engage in general shit talking without the judging eye of “the other” watching over them. Still, given this fact, it is even better well known that black people, especially the men, have developed a seemingly natural skill to cut hair themselves. Once a black kid hits the age of 14 or 15, he socks his barber shop money away and relinquishes his tuft over to the skilled hands of a friend who, with a cheap clipper set brought from the local Walgreen’s, expertly shapes his head into the most current fashion, however difficult that may be.

My first non-professional haircut was from one of the kids I lived with in a group home. At first I couldn’t trust my hair to a non-professional, especially one my age. How could he know how to cut hair? Surely he would shave me bald, revealing the horror that was my unshapely cranium, or possibly just lop off an ear, either way I was doomed if I subjected myself to his amateur stylings. There was no way!

But alas, we were located in an all white suburb right outside of San Francisco at the time, and I’d gone to almost every barbershop within walking distance only to be rejected at each one. I’d open the door, not fully walking in, my nerves rattling each time by the ringing bell that would alert a new customer to the awaiting, mostly old, always white, barbers in attendance, and point at the raging mess of naps atop my head with a pleading, questioning look in my eye. And each time I got the same response, a shrug of the shoulders and a shaking head. They wouldn’t even try to tackle the mayhem that was my hair! The very look of it reduced them to cowardice; the buzz of their electric clippers just a weak whimper, their scissors and shears dull and ineffective. We would hardly even exchange words, it was just open, ring, point, shake, defeat, and leave. This, at every barbershop in a 3-mile radius. Brutal. So I gave in and let him, a kid my age, cut my hair (his name was Melvin and he had a severe overbite, but his hair was quite the beacon of afro style, so he had that going for him). It turned out great.

And it seemed easy enough. He didn’t take the patient, precise approach that a professional would have, but took the attack the hair like you are taking revenge on it for something it did in the past approach, but it worked, and when he was done I looked and felt like a newly confident teenager (which is not easily attainable for a 14 year old, let alone a black 14 year old in a group home in an all white suburb with the ghost of his schizophrenic mother haunting him). After that I got my hair cut exclusively by friends, all of which seemed to have some innate ability to shape and structure my untamable Afro into something resembling a decent, modern hairstyle. It wasn’t until I moved back in with my mother that I began cutting my own hair, a process that yielded mixed results, especially when I tried to get creative. On a few occasions I had to go to school in a hat, covering up various bald spots that my heavy hand had dug into my finely shaped flat top, but these were small potatoes compared to the assault my mother would give me years before, prior to the simple $8 trims I got from the local bargain barber and the elaborate shape ups I received from my friends.

The last and final time I allowed my mother to cut my hair I was in the 4th grade; nine years old. I suppose when you are at that age you just don’t argue with your mother, regardless the ridiculous acts she proposes, but I’d long before realized my mom was “not right” in the head, and her erratic behavior continued to reinforce this deduction. Yet, when I cornered her in the kitchen and pleaded for the money to get my haircut before school picture day, an event on the calendar that meant as much to a 4th grader as the last day before vacation or the promise of a substitute teacher, and she gave me that sigh of an answer that I recognized as saying “we cant afford it,” then broached the unthinkable, cutting my hair herself, I was so confused by this notion that I, in an uncertain haze similar to what one experiences when they are informed they have acquired a winning lottery ticket but must wrestle an alligator to get it, agreed without much hesitation.

I should have known things were going to turn out bad the minute she told me to sit down and grabbed the scissors. Scissors? Anyone of any even remotely African ancestry knows for a fact that an Afro cannot be cut with simple scissors. The texture and density of our hair is primed for the most efficient electric clipper, and that is all. So it was almost a natural action for me to recoil in horror as she began stabbing at my head with the dull paper cutters in her hand.

“What are you doing?” I exclaimed.

“Cutting your hair,” she said, then with her strong grip she twisted my head to the side and with one motion clopped off a huge chunk of hair. I watched in agony as it fell to the floor. I had to stop this madness.

“But you cant cut my hair with scissors,” I said, trying to dodge her advances as she struggled to keep me still, “that’s not how the barber does it. You’ll mess it up!” I was incredulous, paranoid, virtually on the verge of tears. This couldn’t be happening. There were many, many reasons why my mother shouldn’t have been holding scissors, and ‘to cut her son’s hair’ was at the top of the list.

“I wont mess it up,” she said, “now stop complaining.” She twisted my head in the opposite direction and took another whack at my innocent Afro, “I know what I'm doing, I used to cut your uncle Josephs hair when he was your age.”

I thought about this for a second and then grimaced in pain. My uncle Joseph had the most unruly head of hair on the entire west coast. It was no wonder he never married, had a girlfriend, or even any friends for that matter. I’d finally figured out why he was so quiet and distant, always lost in his western fantasy novels or buried in the engine of a car, because my mother had cursed him with her god-awful shears of terror.

“But mom!” I whined to no avail. It was no use, she had already massacred half of my head already, and there was no saving it by that point. I sat back on the cheap vinyl chair, watching as huge patches of hair fell to the floor in alarming volumes. When it was over I didn’t even want to look in the mirror, I could tell by the smirk on her face and the curiously sympathetic look in her eye as she said, “There, now you look very handsome,” that my head was the equivalent of a toddlers Crayola depiction of a galactic supernova.

The next day I put on my best shirt, a pink polo affair I’d gotten from Goodwill not too long before (possibly with the money that could have gone to a barber), and trudged to school, avoiding eye contact from any other students I may have passed on the way. I wouldn’t be able to avoid my friends when I got to the schoolyard, but I’d be damned if I was teased on the way there.

The minute I stepped onto the schools black, kickball asphalt, the taunts began.

“Hey pinkie! Why don’t you comb your hair?”

“Dang, did you sleep on your head last night?”

“You know, its picture day. You should tell your hair.”

“Damn! Yo’ shit is fucked up!”

It was what I had expected so I didn’t let it sink to deep. I tried patting it down on one side and picking it out on the other, but the various shapes she had manicured my head into refused to agree with any sort of resuscitation. I was at a loss, and then my friends arrived. I don’t know if it was that they didn’t tease me and instead felt sorry for my situation, or if that the realization that not only did I have to spend a few weeks waiting for this cranial atrocity to grow out, but that at its most offensive, the image would be captured for a lifetime in 4x6 images sent to all my family members, but the dread of the circumstance filled me up and I could hardly bear the humiliation through those few minutes on the yard before the school bell rang.

Bless my friends for being understanding though, of course, their hairstyles were finely manicured quaffs of salon expertise, so they had nothing to worry about. One friend tried combing the back and side while the other went about furiously patting and shaping the top with his palm. When they were finished they both stepped back and, biting their lips said, “There, that’s much better.”

It wasn’t, but I appreciated their efforts.

When I finally got the pictures back and took them home to my mother, she opened up the envelope, pulled out the large, 8x10 that we would usually just tack onto the wall, unframed, in our hallway next to a succession of school pictures that, I assume, she hoped would stretch from one end of the house to the other by the end of my high school career, and beamed in pride. She turned the picture to me and, smiling wildly, said, “You look gorgeous!”

I looked at it and for the first time saw the horror of my head that day. It looked as if she had tried to carve every single geometric shape she new into my small, barely blossomed Natural. Pentagons on the sides, hexagons on the upper corners, octagons lining the back and decahedrons peppering the bottom and front. It is remarkable that, with all these shapes, she couldn’t execute a simple circle, which maybe would have been a reasonable design for a head of hair. But no such luck, my frizzy mane was in all manner of angles, jetting up here, sloping down there, a strange, jagged section in the middle. Aside from the stain on my pink polo and the huge, gaping hole in the front of my mouth where a tooth had recently escaped for better pastures, I could see nothing else on the picture save the mountainous black mound of hair striking up from my head.

And then I looked at her. At the unhinged sparkle in her eye. She didn’t see it, she really didn’t see it. She was lost in delusions, one of those being that she was a hairstylist of sorts, and another being that I was on board with that particular delusional idea. She tacked it on the wall, like she had the other ones, and admired it for a moment before walking away, giggling. Sometimes I wonder if that giggle was just another act of maniacal behavior on her part or if somewhere, deep down, she was laughing at how appalling my hair in that picture was. Either way, that was the last time she ever cut my hair.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's Your Choice

download the new Radiohead album here.
it is their site. you wont be stealing.

pay whatever price you want for it, they are leaving that right up to you.

will be back soon.
Creative Commons License
:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at