Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gone For Good:The End...

Before we can start anew, it's important to say a proper goodbye to those things that are ending. So, to do that, this month's 30 DOW will start with the end. Write the last paragraph of your novel or short story. If the last paragraph is only one sentence (very dramatic, I like), then include the paragraph before it, as well. Also, I'm just going to go ahead and tell all of you that I peed in front of the police station last night. Starting fresh!

Chris Farmington opened the blinds and stared out at the world that he'd made.  His sister's car sat still in the driveway.  Engine running. Lacking either driver or passenger.  He realized that at some point, he would have to go outside and turn the car's engine off, but the stereo was on and he liked the song playing.  So he just stood there and looked out the window and listened.
they say to love is to bury
those demons from which we all hide
but tonight by this river, neath this willow tree
becoming one of earth and sky
Margot Timmons' voice floated out into the soundless night and insinuated itself into every breeze like a soft exhalation.  And airily it moved, gliding out across the empty street. The hollow houses stood as witness.  Faceless window panes taking evidence and account, testifying of the world that was to the world that would be.  And for the first time in almost two decades, the sound of the splintered voices had left his head and Chris Farmington found himself completely and utterly alone.  There was not a single human animal left in all of the world except for him.  And his heart grew lighter.  And he smiled.  And something smiled back.

Monday, January 2, 2012

For Esme Barrera 1982-2012

I feel a desperate immediate need to say something. To say the right words. To say the thing that will make me realize that this is all going to be alright. After all, that is what I claim to be good at. Words. I’ve used them for most of my life. Picking the right ones for this occasion should be no problem, right?
But those words... The right words... They don’t exist. They never have. Words will fail every time. And only time will make us all feel better about this. Slowly. A little bit tomorrow. A little bit next week. There will be set backs, for sure. For me it will be the start of the next Alternative Softball League season. For some it’ll be the next SXSW. Or the next Fun Fun Fun Fest. Or next New Years Eve... But everyday will make things just a little bit better.

Two nights ago, our friend Esme Barrera was taken from us in the most senseless way possible. And there really is no other word to describe it. There is no sense to be made from what happened that night. There was no reason. I really don’t want to rehash details, since they’re out there to be read on the Internet and the picture they form is so woefully incomplete that I’d hate to add any conjecture to the situation. But the blunt truth of that matter is that an unknown assailant murdered my friend in her house after she came home from a New Years Eve show only two blocks away from where she lived. Anything I might add after those facts would simply be the repetition of things heard in conversation, and I have no desire to do that.

It feels strange calling her my friend. Not because she wasn’t. She most definitely was friend to anyone who ever met her. You were powerless. Simply no choice in the matter. There was a magnetic thread to her personality that defined her and shaped everything she did. If you weren’t her friend, it’s just because you never got the chance to meet her. So, she was most definitely my friend. No, the reason it feels weird is because I wasn’t closer to her. Survivors guilt, being what it is, makes you look back on every missed opportunity or blown off party. It makes you second guess the choices you made that kept you from spending more time with people. Esme and I were never close enough to hang out together. We were in the same social circles, and saw each other often. But every time I saw her out, and every time I had a conversation with her, I always made a mental note to try and get to know her better. She made you want to be her friend.

I don’t remember the exact day I met her, but I know for goddamn sure it had to be at a softball game. As a former Waterloo Records Employee (as well as a former member of the team), I dutifully trotted out to watch the exploits of my former coworkers on a regular basis, braving the vagaries of the Texas weather and the cruelty of the morning hangover (the softball league does encourage its drinking, doesn’t it). For a while, it seemed (and sometimes actually was) that I was the only fan in attendance. But as the weeks went by, and the team slowly got its rhythm, more and more people started to come out. I started seeing old familiar faces from my days in the store, as well as a few new people who went to work at Waterloo after my time. And that’s how Esme Barrera entered my life. It’d be nice to recall what she was wearing, or the first conversation we ever had, but my memory just doesn’t work that way. As far as my Remember Machine is concerned, one day she was just there. But once she was there, she was there to stay.

She was small. Like almost CHILD small. Slight and slender enough to almost seem fragile, but just as up to the task of standing up front at a rock show. Sometimes she reminded me of a trouble making kid, hanging out behind the mall parking lot, just waiting for the security guards to leave so she could tag a wall. But instead of just throwing up a tag, she’d be more likely to spray paint a Jawbreaker lyric. At least the Esme of my imagination would. That’s how I saw her.

We bonded over both being border kids. She from El Paso. I from Del Rio. We were both Brown. It might seem superficial to some people, but in this lovely homogeneous scene of ours, people of color (no matter how light the shade) tend to look out for each other. We look for common ground, whether it be familial experiences or High School stories or fluency (or lack thereof) in a native language. In a lot of ways, I felt like I could have known her growing up. I probably did. Well, at least someone a lot like her. She felt a little like, if not a sister, at least a cousin. One that I ran into on a regular basis. A solid stand up person in every way.

As the softball season went on, she started coming out to as many games as I did. Cheering runs and screaming out admonitions at questionable calls. Usually holding a tall-boy that seemed just as big as she was. Volunteering to run the stereo that played out each batters’ intro music. Yelling out her opinion on why a certain song was all wrong for a batter and offering to bring a better selection the next time. There were a few die-hards out there with us. Sometimes the team did so badly that we felt like those lone fans in the bleachers in the movie MAJOR LEAGUE... And sometimes they made magic. David Blaine, street magic. Not David Copperfield, make a jet disappear magic. but magic nonetheless. And Esme was right there along for the ride. She could get a little annoying. Like the time during World Cup season when she started bring her Vuvuzela to the games. That got old quickly. But what I wouldn’t give to have her annoying me with that fucking thing one more time.

Eventually, the team did the statistically impossible and managed to luck it’s way into the league finals. I say this with all the love in the world, but following the Waterloo Softball team is bit like following the Bad News Bears. Some days they got it. And some days it all goes a bit pear shaped. And much like the Bears, (spoiler alert) Waterloo came up short and lost the finals. But Esme was right there with me, cheering every second.

When the league awards were given out at the end of the season, I went to the party. Esme was there too. Aside from the actual championship trophy, and the usual stat based awards (best pitcher, most home runs, etc) there were also some others given. I think Waterloo’s come from behind performance earned them the “We Can’t Believe They Made it To The Finals” Award, or something like that. And at some point in the night, they announced an award for Best League Fans. Waterloo won. I remember being pulled along toward the front to accept the award with some of the other Super Fans, but the whole time I felt like it was all Esme’s. Even when we were losing 20-5, she made every inning feel like this could be the one. This could be the start of the biggest comeback in league history. It all seemed so very possible.

The Super Fans got team jerseys at the beginning of this last season. Hers read “Esmiracle” with a number 7 emblazoned on the back. As the season went on, I didn’t see her so much. She was busy. She didn’t make it to as many games. She missed out the last game of the year where the team pretty much got beat in the first inning, but had to keep playing for another eight... I gave her a hard time about it, the next time I saw her. Questioned her loyalty to this rag tag band of lovable Waterlosers. Told her I didn’t want to hear her excuses. It was playful teasing. But sometimes I’m afraid I might have really made her feel bad. But probably not. That kind of shit just bounced off her like Nerf.

I have a few other stories about her, that mostly involve hanging out on the benches outside of the Liberty bar, but I’m certain I’m not the only one with stories like those. But being one of the Waterloo Super Fans, that’s something that I shared with only a handful of other people. And I’m glad Esme was one of them. She made every game seem like it was the only place to be at that moment in time.

In the last few days, as I’ve read recollections from other people about this amazingly beautiful soul, I’ve learned or been reminded of so many things about her. She was a teacher. The single most unappreciated profession in this country of ours. She was a mentor at Girls Rock Camp Austin, where she taught fledgling young riot grrls the merits of being more Chrissie Hynde than Courtney Love. She was one of the biggest music fans in a town bursting at the seams with music fans. She was the genuine article in a scene often accused of being loaded with artifice.

Even as I write this, it still seems so very impossible that she isn’t here anymore. That she’s been gone for almost two days. And that number will just grow. And it will never stop. But neither will the outpouring of love from everyone who knew her. I was oh, so very lucky to have never have had to deal with losing a friend in this manner until now. I’ve lost friends before. But never like this. And the sudden, gratuitous nature of the crime puts everything else in a brutal new perspective. Just like that, anything that seemed like the most pressing worry you could possibly have gets examined in a cold harsh light and you find that it really isn’t the be all end all that you made it out to be. There really are worse things in this world.

And so people are reexamining their lives. Taking stocks as we so often do in times of tragedy. Though it really is a damn shame that it takes something like this. We talk about how we want to be better people. We want to do more with our lives. We want to help others. We want to love unconditionally and be loved in return. We want to be more like Esme.

That’s not a bad goal to strive for at all...

Watch this girl do what she did best: Being a goddamn rock star.

Here's some more people who felt the same way

Please help her family with their upcoming expenses

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gone for good.

Congratulations. You just testified in court against the biggest crime family in all of Texas. Now, to keep your ass from being dead, the FBI is putting you and your family in the Witness Protection Program. Write about the first day of your new life as Chris Farmington in Poughkeepsie, NY.

(this was the best i could do in a day. BTW, formatting on Blogger fucking sucks!!!)

Chris Farmington was a small man. A petty man. A bitter man. He hated the world with equal bile and enthusiasm. It wasn't that the world owed him anything. That would have meant that he would have had to except something from the world as payment. He simply didn't want anything to do with anyone else and went out of his way to make sure this state of affairs didn't change.

A regular Boo Radley, Chris was never seen outdoors by any of his neighbors. He had begun to acquire the sort of reputation usually reserved for the Jeffrey Dahmers and Norman Bates of the world. There were rumors. He had killed innocent civilians in the first Gulf War and was dishonorably discharged. He had once exposed himself to a passing mail carrier from his open window. He ate cat. If you snuck up to his window, you could spy him masturbating compulsively at least eight or nine times a day. Someone had once seen him standing in his backyard, naked and staring at the sky at 3 in the morning, crying like a child that had just been slapped. He lived off a settlement check that the city paid him because he had been castrated at the age of ten in a freak accident involving an off duty Utility Company employee and a defective voltage meter.

Only one of those things was completely true.

Not that anyone cared. The world needed boogeymen, and Chris Farmington was the boogeyman of 1312 Harmony Circle, Poughkeepsie, New York. Chris wasn't aware of this reputation, but it would never have surprised him. If anything, he would have considered doing more to foster it. Except that would have meant interaction, even on a basic level, for the benefit of other people. That was literally the last thing he wanted.

The 21st century was a great time to be a suburban hermit, and Chris Farmington took full advantage of the resources available to him. His high speed Internet connection insured that anything he needed for survival was a mouse click away, with only a minimum of social interaction. Groceries and assorted basic toiletries were delivered every other week. His bills were paid online. The inheritance assured that he wouldn't have to work for at least another ten years, so there was no need to deposit any checks in a bank. Even the parts for the machine that he had spent the last two years building had come to his door, courtesy of an overseas distributor and the United Parcel Service.

The only person who still had any regular contact with him was his sister. He resented even her. She knew this. Still, she did her familial duty and made sure he was looking after himself. To her credit, she never once tried to get him to change his behavior. She didn't judge his choices. Carolyn knew why he was here and why he wouldn't leave the house. She also knew that there was nothing she could say to change his mind, so there was no point in trying. Mostly, she visited for about an hour, one Saturday afternoon a month, making the drive from Long Island in her busted Hyundai. Occasionally, she had papers that needed his signature. More often, she came because she missed him. Their parents were gone, and even though she had a husband now, Carolyn knew that Chris was the last of her "real" family. Even if he wouldn't make the effort, she would never stop visiting. She felt sorry for him. She never thought he might be mentally ill. Stubborn and ill tempered, maybe, but never crazy. If She had known about the box in the basement, she might have felt differently.

Carolyn pulled into the drive way at Harmony Circle and killed the engine of her car. She sat behind the wheel for a minute, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. She did this every time she visited. It was her cleansing ritual. The Hyundai had such lousy insulation that she had to turn the radio up high to hear the radio over the noise of the I-87 pouring in through her windows for most of the two hour drive. Her ears usually rang for a while, even after she reached the 218 Hwy, but by the time she crossed the Mid Hudson Bridge the ringing was mostly gone. She sat behind the wheel of the car with her eyes closed until she could clearly hear the sound of the street outside. That's when she knew it was time to go in.

Except this time. This time, it was the quiet that was deafening. She realized that the usual sound of shouting kids was gone. No kids. No cars. No dogs. She opened her eyes and looked out of the driver's side window. The block seemed deserted. The passenger's side view was no different. Usually, on a Saturday like this, the block would be a tableau of suburban excitement. Lawns were mowed. Cars were washed. Bikes were ridden. But today, nothing. Not a soul. As she got out of her car, Carolyn was suddenly struck with the notion that she was the last person on earth. Somehow, she'd driven through some kind of reality hole and had emerged in a world where she was the only one left. Chris would have been happy here, but she was becoming a little afraid. She just starting to wrap her head around this reality when the distant sound of traffic on Rochdale Road killed this theory. She laughed at herself, closed the car door and headed up the sidewalk toward the front door of her brother's house.

Chris watched his sister approach the front porch from his upstairs bedroom window and fought back a slight surge of nausea. He had been dreading Carolyn's visit for weeks. Her visits always made him anxious, but this one more so. This one marked the deadline.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Can't Feel My Hand Any More, It's Alright, Sleep Tight

Is it true that women have a higher threshold for pain than men do? We do have to give birth, after all…Write (very graphically) about a sensation of pain that you have had or that your character is having...

Wanna know how stupid I can get?

Surgery hurts. Tumor. Gall Bladder. Wisdom Teeth. Very painful. don't let anyone tell you different. That's why they give you these little pills afterwords. They get you really high. It feels good. But really, that's only if you have insurance, or are brave and foolhardy enough to mortgage your future by having the nerve to demand medical care even when you don't have insurance. the nerve of some people. Without insurance, there's no limit to the amount of pain you're willing to live with.

It was back in my starving student days. All I wanted was a pizza. Not a real pizza mind you, but a sad , pathetic, put me in my place and remind me how poor I am, welfare Pizza. A slice of white bread, some spaghetti sauce, a few peperoni slices and cheese. Throw that beast in a toaster oven, and I was good to go.

It was an inexact science. It's not like I was reading directions out of Julia Child or anything. You just stand there and look through the glass window and hope you can tell when the damn thing is about to dry out and start burning. But, like the proverbial watched pot, that shit takes forever to feel like it's going anywhere. So I stood there bored and restless. Everyone else was watching television, but I was stuck watching the heat rod and the bottom of the toaster oven turn red.

Finally, after a few minutes, it looked about ready. I looked around, and found a battered old oven mitt that looked like it had put in a fair amount of time on the job. I guess I figured that anything that looked that old was probably still around because it worked. If it was crap at doing what it was supposed to do, then it would have been thrown away by now, right? On such unimpeachable logic, are empires built.

I put that bad boy on my right hand and opened up the little glass door. You wouldn't think that such a little box could generate such intense heat (that's what she said.) Right off, I realized that I had misjudges how how hot the oven needed to be. Even if the pizza hadn't started to burn yet, it was still gonna be crunchy. At this point, a stupid panic took over. I suppose I thought that every second was counting, as if I could pull that pizza back from the point of inedibility, if only I got there in time. What I failed to factor in was that it was only a welfare pizza, but then again, if i was eating welfare pizzas, then I probably couldn't afford to let one go to waste.

In my blind panic, I thrust my gloved right hand into the oven and grabbed the tin plate that the pizza lay on. Apparently, my battered oven mitt theory had been way off base. The heat from the plate seared through the glove. It was so damn hot, I wasn't thinking straight. It felt like a cluster on jagged needles were slowly pushing their way through the glove and into my hand. I looked around for a place to put the pan, but the kitchen was such a mess, there was no counter space. I briefly considered putting it back into the oven, but apparently my frugality would not allow the possibility that the pizza might burn and I would have to make another one. All of this, the pain, the panic, the pandemonium, happened over the course of seconds. My mind was racing with the flood of adrenalin from the burning sensation that was coming from my right hand. I just needed to put the tray down so I could get a second to breathe and consider my options. I did the thing that seemed most logical at that instant. I switched the tray over to my left hand. Again, I wasn't thinking straight.

John Hughes (yes, that John Hughes) used to be a pretty competent comedic director. I mean, aside from writing the high school pictures. He knew slapstick very well, and when he held his impulses in check, he could be very funny. When he didn't, it could be "Home Alone". Regardless, the guy knew his way around some pretty clever visual devices. Most of it was in the editing. Case in point, the inserted color card. It's a simple trick. You see it in "Uncle Buck" a couple of times. It goes like this. When Buck gets hit, the sequence is composed of four basic shots. The set up shot establishes Buck's position. The second shot is usually a first person point of view, wherein you see the object of force coming toward the camera, whether it be a fist or a bowling ball. The third shot is actually an inserted color card held for no more than two or three frames, indicating moment of impact. The third is the reaction shot, where more often than not, Buck, or the Wet Bandits or someone rolls their eyes and collapses unconscious. The idea is that the card conveys the amount of pain that the character will experience from the impact they have experienced. The more intense the shade of red, the more pain. Comedy Gold.

White. For one brief second, my entire field of perception went white. There was a very sharp ringing in my ears and everything turned to light gray shadow as the ringing increased intensity. Suddenly, I was brought back to the here and now by the sound of the tin plate hitting the ground. I remember thinking that I was now going to have to start all over, because my pizza was face down on the floor, which was what I'd been trying to avoid in the first place. That was about the last clear thought I had that night. From that point on it all just turned into "ow ow ow ow ow!!!!" and 'holy shit, holy shit, holy shit that hurts, Oh god, dear sweet baby jesus, make it stop!!!!"

Looking at the left hand, the first thing you would have noticed were the large and obvious blisters. Just like that. In an instant. They weren't there. And now they were. One fluid filled line stretching diagonally across my middle and index fingers, and one bulbous lump on the padding of my thumb. I think if the contact had been brief, it wouldn't have been so bad. but apparently, I held onto the plate for a few seconds. I don't remember that, what with the gray ghosts and high pitched tones and all. But apparently, I held onto it a full second. A full second is more than enough time for a searing piece of metal to start to cook your flesh.

You remember back when people used to say that you should put butter on a burn? That was circa right about when this story took place. The sad part was that I don't think I even had butter. Maybe I was saving up for it. I don't know. I think I used ice cubes in a fruitless attempt to get the swelling down. It didn't work. I don't remember very much else about it since it's been almost twenty years. I do remember that I didn't see a doctor because I had no insurance. I had to make do with Tylenol. Tylenol doesn't do shit. People wonder why I stockpile painkillers whenever I get a prescription. The easy, funny answer is so that I can take them later, when I can actually enjoy them. Closer to the truth might be that I never want to get caught short again if I ever need pain medication on the spot. Some of you might laugh, but some of you might have actually already taken advantage of my foresight whenever you tore a muscle or threw out you back.

I couldn't play guitar for a month or so. Oddly enough, the scar was gone after a year or so.

Múm - I Can't Feel My Hand Any More, It's Alright, Sleep Tight

Sunday, February 1, 2009

3 Crucieros

Fiction-good stuff). So today, research the topics below, and incorporate 5 of the 10 into a short story. -nubilous (definition) -laissez-faire -middle eastern cuisine -the commonalities of the Fireside Poets -Bossa Nova -blue-green algae -Che Guevara -gestation crates -the aye-aye -postmodernism Have fun. And please don't hate me.

Fuser sat in the darkened theater, mesmerized by the flicker, the persistence of vision searing the floating images into the back of his head. The audience sat in a nubilous haze, transfixed as Orfeu Negro played to a full house. The melody of Luiz Bonfá's "Manhã de Carnaval" lulled the crowd into a state of contentment even as the tragedy of the street car conductor and his doomed love affair played out on the screen. It had taken Fuser more than two weeks to save up the 3 Crucieros to pay for the admission price. He and his cousin, Tomfeio, had worked for Senhor Belasco, delivering groceries to some of the better off families that lived on the outskirts of Rio. The deliveries allowed him the few opportunities he ever had to actually leave the favela on Morro daProvidênci.

Even standing at the door step of some of the houses, he felt envious that there were people who lived less than a mile from his own house, that didn't worry about things like having to heat up the water they washed in, or even having to get their water from outside their house in the first place. They had proper roofs that didn't leak because theirs weren't made from scavenged road signs and sheet metal. Their electricity didn't come from an extension cord that came in through their window, stolen from a municipal power box that had to be re pried open every month or so after someone from the city would come out to do maintainance. They didn't live packed together in cramped boxes fighting for space, dying from stress and lack of proper medical care. And these weren't even the houses located in the Zona Sul, in neighborhoods like Ipanema or São Conrado. Fuser couldn't imagine what sort of royalty qualified to live in these palaces. There were even houses directly on the beach in Copacabana. Presidential housing, it must have been. Who else could live there? Maybe movie stars, even.

wondered if Breno Mello lived in the Zona Sul. Mello had been futebol player with Fluminense F.C. (Fuser and his friends called the team Fluzão and sometimes O Máquina Tricolor) and before that, he had played with Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense. Now, there he was larger than life on the movie screen playing the title role. Tomfeio had told Fuser that he'd read that Breno Mello had been discovered by a famous director while he had been running on the beach in Porto Alegrense. Ever since, Fuser had been trying to convice Tomfeio and his sister Zélia to go with him to the Praia do Pepino in São Conrado. He imagined that he too would be noticed on the beach and given the lead role in a musical, like Breno Mello.

"You're too rechonchudo," Zélia would tease him. Looking down at his belly, Fuser knew she was probably right. Breno Mello was handsome and athletic. Fuser wasn't really gordo, but he wasn't the type to get noticed on the beach either. Firstly, the glasses he wore were had been his father's. Fuser's family couldn't afford new glasses for him, so he just wore his father's old pairs. The prescription was close enough, but as his eyed inevitably worsened, he simply traded up to the next subsequent pair that his father had discarded on his own way to eventual blindness. This trade up created the added disadvantage that Fuser's frames were always woefully outdated. Quite simply, he always wore old man glasses. He looked like an aposentado on his way to collect his retirement check.

His second problem was that his arms were too skinny for his body, but his legs were, by contrast, rather thick. This created a subtle disproportion that was difficult to put a finger on at first, but impossible to ignore later. And it was all the more obvious when he wore his swim trunks on the beach. Added to these distinctions were his flat arches that made him flap his feet like divers flippers when he ran. But still, he would always return to the fantasy, even in later years when he had grown less rechonchudo and more gordo. It helped pass the time.

Now, watching Orfeu Negro, he laughed quietly as he allowed himself one conceit. He may never be discovered by a movie producer, but if he was, he might certainly do a better job acting than Breno Mello. But at least Breno Mello could sing well.
A felicidade é como a gota
De orvalho numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranquila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor
Fuser had to content himself with the thought that even if he couldn't sing that well, not all leading men sang in musicals. He saw himself as more of the Romantic type. If he couldn't sing those lyrics, he could always recite them with the same sincerity as any poet.

He had recently come to fancy himself as somewhat of an expert on poetry. He had been fond of Olavo Bilac for a few years, especially his poem DELÍRIO, as well as Menotti Del Picchia, the father of Modernismo. He had also tried to expand his tastes somewhat by attempting to read a book of poetry by Federico García Lorca in the original Spanish, but he had to admit that it lost something in the translation. Pablo Neruda was also another great source of inspiration and Fuser saw in him a kindred romantic. On the insistence of one of his instructors at school, he had tried to read a translation of a book of American poetry by Henry Longfellow and some of his contemporaries. Senhor Lutz had spoken effusively about the inspirational spirit of the verses, but Fuser couldn't make sense of them. All the poems seemed so self-aggrandizing and pompous with stanzas about shipwrecks and fallen patriots and quaint families. In short, it all seemed so damn American. Fuser returned the book, half finished, convinced he'd never read anything translated from English again.

On the other hand, he had heard about a new group of American poets who were supposed to be creating exiting work. Work that was being banned by the American government. If anything could raise the hackles of a country that prided itself on it's supposed freedom of speech, Fuser wanted to read it. His classsmate Alceu had received a letter from his older brother who lived in San Francisco, California. His brother Rogério had included his translation of the first lines of a poem by Allen Ginsberg:

Eu vi as mais melhores mentes de minha geração destruída pela loucura,
morrendo de fome, histérico, despido,
arrastando-se através das ruas do negro no alvorecer que procura um reparo irritado

Rogério had promised to try to translate more of the poem but it would take a while because it was over 400 lines long. Fuser couldn't wait. The words filled him with a sense of immediacy and excitement. Even the title, "Howl", conveyed an energy that those staid austere "Caseiros" like Longfellow could never match. "Howl" meant uivo in English. A cry of pain and anger and protest. There was little of any of those things in Fuser's life. The words were like a Clarion Call to action. "Starving, hysterical, naked" these words had power. The only problem was that Fuser had no direction to take. His restlessness was aimless.

His friends had jokingly nicknamed him after after Che Guevara's nickname, on the afternoon that he had expressed interest in the subject of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution. The name had been meant to tease and denigrate, but Fuser suprised them all by embracing it. He imagined himself in the mold of Lord Byron or Arthur Rimbaud, poets turned warriors. That Rimbaud deserted the Dutch Colonial Army soon after enlisting did not faze Fuser in the least. That Fuser himself had never written a single verse mattered even less. In his mind, both of his callings were simply waiting for the inspiration that would set them in motion. In no time, he would become a combination of Vinicius de Moraes and Simón Bolívar. Provided that no one discovered him running on the beach and put him in the movies.

This one took me a few days to put together. It started as a story, but in the end became more of a character sketch than anything else. Though I did manage to satisfy five of the research requirements, most of the time was consumed by additional research outside of the perameters.
The definition of NUBILOUS is utilized from the outset.
Along with providing the inspiration for the characters name, several references to Che Guevara appear throughout, along with references to some of his favorite poets.
The film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) was considered a starting point for the Bossa Nova movement as it marked the first collaboration between Antonio Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, who would go on to become to of the most renowned songwriters of the genre.
Addtionally, Vinicius de Moraes was also considered one of the founders of the Brazilian post-modern poetry movement, but this was purely coincidental and therefore not technically a fulfillment of the writing requirement.
The description of the overcrowding in the Favela was taken from the description of the gestation crates.
The reference to Longfellow was used to contrast what was considered proper poetry to some of the more romantic and radical work that was being done by other writers.
Additional research included the neighborhoods and Favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, monetary conversion rates as adjusted for inflation (a very rough approximation at best as the Cruciero was replaced by the Real as the official monetary unit of Brazil a few years after the setting of the story), a biography of Breno Mello (the star of Orfeu Negro), and most importantly, translations of various words and phrases into Portuguese. The meaning of most of these words can be gleaned from context, but here is a translation of the two portions of verse included in the above piece:

Happiness is like a drop
Of dew on a flower's petal
It shines peacefully then swings lightly
And falls like a tear of love

from "A Felicidade (Happiness)" by Jobim and de Moraes

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix

from "HOWL" by Allen Ginsberg

I'm having formatting problems, but i gotta go to bed now so I'll fix em later.

Antonio Carlos Jobim - A Felicidade (Happiness)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


OK, so I really want to keep up, to some degree, with some sort of collaborative writing. I find it fun. Today, pick someone in the blog group (look in the followers section) whom you know very little about. Based solely on their blogspot pic and the name of their blog (not their writing), write a one-paragraph bio of them. The only person who is a follower who is not participating is Salena (the pic with the smiling couple). If you end up writing this late, check on other peoples' pages to see who hasn't been written about yet so that we can try to get everyone covered.

Raised in the Virginia Highlands on a rubber tree plantation, Fancy lived a life of spoiled opulence. Fast, furious and fierce, Fancy burned brightly and left her mark on the world. Whether maneuvering on the Indiana dunes in her converted Subaru ATV or hunting celebs with her trusty Helga hanging from round her neck, she grabbed the world with both hands and shook it til it puked. Known as much for her well publicized rehab for Red Bull addiction as for her short lived stint on days Of Our Lives, she was also a well traveled raconteur that was equally at home at the bar as she was in front of the television. She will be missed.

Jackie Mittoo - Fancy Pants

In the words of Twain

To whom it may concern:

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I'll live for now. And I get to keep the leg too.

Thank you for the well wishes.

And now back to our regularly scheduled bullshit.