Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Low Lumen Lookout


Nighttime security patrol for the forest redoubt. Protecting the overthrown progressive president is a matter of global security and crucial to combating the fascist regime.

We leave the earthy fortification with the Package, which is draped in cheesecloth. Agent 1 leads the way and I am behind the Package. The flash light he carriers is way too dim for this setting. The one I have in my bedroom is orders of magnitude more luminous. Maybe that's the point?

The trail is thin and winding, and the brush is overgrown. Communication through whispers. No noise at all from the mysterious Package.

---

Out to have lunch with my friends at East Palo Alto High School.

Dammit, I forgot my backpack. What was I thinking? Now I'll have to walk all the way back later.

Plastic trays with tater tots. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ammonia Wine Glass

With advanced virtual reality technology, B. uses Snapchat to teleport me to his seat on the Ferris wheel on the pier, where I do not appear to be strapped in. "Don't worry," he says, "It's more enjoyable this way. Aw shit, look who's coming on...." The carriage rocks back and forth, and the next set of passengers (a women with an obese child) seem to bring sentiments of bad luck. I can see the ocean below and my hanging feet.

After the ride, the carnival erupts in disarray. A human-sized Lego man tackles a giant eraser monster. His plastic smiling face does not change as the two wrestle on the floor and a fiery explosion destroys the menagerie of animated stuffed creatures in the gift shop.

Now in my backyard, an orange cat charges towards me with devilish warthog noises, but as it is about to pounce on me, it disappears. Dusty chases this invisible wraith around the pool at a lightning pace.

--- 

The sliding door has a different frame requiring a more involved interaction with the locking mechanism. Various attempts at getting the hook on the eyelets are fruitless. Is that a second rail behind the primary one? What is the purpose of that? It seems to arbitrarily switch to the second one every other time.

---

Short Asian man with a close-cropped haircut at Vik's Chaat on Fourth Street in Berkeley. I ask him if he wants a glass of wine, and he nods yes. I grab a sparkly clean glass and walk over to the waste receptacle, which tonight doubles as the drink table. Thinking I'm pouring a Cabernet, I discover that I'm actually decanting a blue-colored glass cleaner, which reeks of ammonia. I must have been distracted. Embarrassed, I dump out out the cleaner out of the man's line-of-sight, then fill the glass with Charles Shaw.

Salud!



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Running and Flying

House party at B.’s place in Northside Colton off Mount Vernon. I'm inside the house wearing over-sized blue pajama pants and no t-shirt. My skin has a speckled appearance for some reason.

In a room nearby, a girl is terminally ill and lies in bed as the festivities take place. Enveloped with beige covers with floral decorations, I notice that this is in fact my crush. I dare not wake her from her sleep, or even be in the same vicinity as her. I don't want to creep her out.  In a blue-wire crate, I find my black Deftones shirt and blue jeans, then change and head outside.

Some of the guys are drinking beers from a cooler in the back of a new truck with Tesla-styled glossy blue paint and clear, crystal windows.

“This is a nice ride, man!”



Colton.

Woman walking in the opposite direction on the street mocks my pedestrian ways. She looks 100% like Carla Morrison if she was an office worker at a used car lot.

“Look at this guy. What can he be up to, walking around this dump?” She says in the same way those packs of drunk bitches in Boston would talk down to a guy (especially an average-height guy) on the street. Thing is, this girl is not drunk, she’s just fucking crazy.

“I love Colton”

“Ha. Yeah. Right! Colton is like the Sega Genesis of cities…” she retorts and keeps walking, expecting attention. You know mental girls like that want attention. I faintly hear her talking to herself.

I try to ignore her and turn left at the corner. In my peripheral, I notice someone walking fast-paced behind me. It’s the Carla lookalike! She’s stalking me! I move quickly to the left into the bus stop awning and she walks into my original destination: TJ Maxx. The fluorescent warehouse ceiling lights and generic clothing racks with marker-written sale signs tell you they sell some quality shit. I try shopping there, but that woman is keeping her eyes on me and making faces.

I make a run for it. Sprinting down La Cadena in the cold night, faster than the scant cars. Almost flying at some points. Flying and landing in the wet dirt in front of the historic library. Picking myself up, and running and flying, and I usually get green lights, but I think I blew some reds, too.

I just keep running and running fast. I make my way to South Colton. Then side streets. Then a hiking trail I’ve never seen before. Fewer and fewer houses. Houses become decrepit and abandoned. The sycamore trees become more dense.

This magical South Colton trail leads to the impassable sea! Oh shit, there’s a cabin on fire. Oh shit, it’s the fire department that’s on fire! If I’ve ever seen anything resembling hell, it would be the immense billowing black clouds and the inferno beneath. I have no choice but to backtrack.

Embers reach several dry bushes on the path. Some early-2000s suburban-style houses (for hermits?) magically appear intermittently in the wilderness, with no noticeable roads leading to them. Fires blaze through their chimney vents like flares at an oil and gas refinery. I didn’t notice these on the way over here. Am I on the right path home?

I reach a meadow and convene with other concerned hikers, although it is clear to everyone that we are still in danger of the wildfire. I’m wearing a day pack, but I realize I did not bring any water with me. Not a single Nalgene, and my mouth is getting dry.

Among the scant people here, there is a lovely blonde woman, about 5’7 and close to my age (or just blessed with a youthful appearance) with stunning, piercing blue eyes. She wears navy shorts and a grey heather shirt from some high school color guard troupe (which I’m sure is a departure from her normal wardrobe) and is against-all-odds very humble and sweet. She is strapped into a large backpack, but doesn’t crumble under it’s weight. It must be 60 pounds at least. 

Some lovely conversation ensues between us. I think I get too close(?) Oops. She blushes, but is not offended, and gets closer as we talk. A thirty-something, thin white guy wearing shades and a black tank joins us (probably could have been in a 90s ska punk band). He was also hiking and says there doesn’t appear to be any way out. Grey smoke darkens the horizon, and becomes gradually more intense.

We all take decide to take a group selfie. As the three of us group together, the man poses with a crowbar and I pose with a screw clamp and make a distorted, oger-like face. My facial hair experiment looks especially unappealing in the smartphone screen, and I like like a midget compared to the girl. She is obviously the focal point of the picture (being so damn cute) despite the lame-ass guys around her.

“Yo, I go backpacking, too!” I say to her. “I just don’t have my backpack right now.”

“Oh cool. Where have you been?…”

We try exchanging phone numbers. She uses an grey old-school flip phone. Her number is interesting and involves characters I don’t imagine being on a typical dial pad. It’s “282 @2: 5000 824” she tells me, and the buttons are magically there. Apparently, that allows for a secure connection to her company’s secret landline. She’s some sort of head honcho at a coffee bean company in San Francisco, and her soul is just as lost as mine.

Dammit, did I type the number correctly? Where’s my phone….



Plastic tourist restaurant like an adult take on the Rainforest Cafe. The cuisine is certainly way more industrialized than the dishes from any country with a rain forest.

This guy in a Hawaiian shirt (circa third grade fashion) at the table looks like Erik Estrada, and he loves their margherita pizza. He passes a pitcher of beer to me. Haven’t we had enough to drink, dude? Birds of paradise and other tropical plants in the steep hilly planter in the background. Cheap touristy vibe reflects the consistency of the cheese.



My chili plants have sprouted after one day on top of the furnace. Vibrant green shoots intertwined and full of life, squirming like thin fingers amid the earthy, organic brown soil. All viewable from a strange plastic box, friction-fitted but dismantled from the root pressure.



In the future, Shattuck avenue is now fully gentrified. There is a next-level artisan bread and wine restaurant where Thalassa used to be. They don’t even have their prices posted or on the menus; they want to drop these poor saps a hint. Freshly-installed brown tiles line the floors. Cozy yellow light with the just the right amount of dimness specified from heuristic market research.

I get on my way and meet some graduate students at a co-op. They're having a middle-eastern spirits party where drinks are served in pewter decanters.

“A glass of Persian Verasch for the two of us, please.” Whatever the fuck that is.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Spicy Trail Mix

Meeting up with some friends in the plaza in front of the de Young museum. 

J. arrives with a bag a spicy Brazilian trail mix from Manaus and rich, brown artisan donuts based on the same ingredients. I've already tried Rosie's custom mix, and I hope that J. will give me a doughnut. S. is also there, dressed in a team Mexico sweater, and she tells me the confections are really, really good.

"Here, open you hands...." J says and drops about a half pound of the stuff into the human bowl I create. No doughnut though. I nibble in disappointment.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Blue-green acrylic

I live in an underground dwelling excavated directly into a grey sandstone formation. I'm in the middle of a coordinated viewing of a Netflix documentary with my father in a different part of the cavernous abode while I simultaneously work on a painting.  I tell him over the intercom to pause the show so I can use the restroom, and he gives me a weary, yet patient, response.

My hands are covered in a dark blue-green acrylic paint that heavily resists any scrubbing with soap and mineral water. I resort to touching an old ice cube tray to physically transfer most of the stubborn pigment, but this is only partially effective. It gets on my cheap white apron from Amazon.com. Anyway, I waste a lot of time trying to deal with this issue.

Oh no, is Dad asleep by now? Have I failed him? I stare at the newspaper clippings posted randomly on the cave walls, which are dimpled and wavelike, like the inside of a melon that was thoroughly scooped and enjoyed at a party. Or,  a material that has undergone shot-peening.

---

This black belt doesn't have enough notches on the skinny end...

Looking in the mirror. My hair line is receding in a circular manner around the temples but below scalp.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Daily Val's

Fifth-wheeling at the reunion. My friend is adorned in a beautiful white dress, which I'm certain is well within her aeronautical budget. She feels sorry for my single-ass and offers to dance with me instead of her husband. I can't let myself be this pitiful, I think to myself.  I refuse her offer and dance with some other person, who probably also has an S.O. of sorts, not caring how I look or of the consequences. She's some hot white girl; we cop feels with each other while drunkenly dancing something related to a "waltz."

I don't get her number. I get very drunk. Blurs of people I doubt I know.

---

La Val's and Daily Pint hybrid restaurant on the sidelines of le Tour de Berkeley. Cyclists make it to Euclid and begin the long steep climb.

Fans in the restaurant, all discernibly Latino, try to run out through a single opening in the facade, reminiscent of escaping a fire at a club. However, in this claustrophobic commotion, everyone is smiling and laughing. Devoted fans run up the hill to rally their suffering heroes. All the while, my original friends have gradually disappeared without me noticing.

I watch the cyclists suffer on the intense grade, impossibly navigable, that looks more like a glistening black wall that has become lopsided from eroded soil.

"Yeah, man, that climb is tough!" I say to some dude next to me.

"Why aren't you participating, then?" He retorts.

"Haven't trained enough...." I take a defeated sip of beer.

One black participant in green and red spandex takes a breather to the side and shakes his head side to side. I walk outside to the route but most of the bikers have already passed. The somber eucalyptus trees lay steady and silent in the late afternoon and the road is still wet from the rains earlier in the day.

For some reason I'm at the restaurant for a very long time afterwards.  The raucous crowd eventually leaves, one girl remarking on its embarrassing behavior, and it's just the closing staff that remains. Time to leave, I guess.

My bike has a flat though! It's my nice bike too, prone to getting stolen; I can't leave this behind. Shit. I begin to fix the rear tire, and the employees don't seem to care or just are too exhausted to interact with me. After all, it's raining outside right now, and they probably don't want to leave me out in that.

The tire heavily resists fitting over the lip of the wheel and seems to deform through as many degrees of freedom as possible. It even seems to have plastically deformed beyond the diameter of the wheel! I consider it a failure and gather my sparse belongings as the light of the morning shines through. "Why the fuck did I bring this?" I think to myself as I rummage through my bag.

The employees have all left. Can I leave this place without setting off an alarm? I begin my walk downhill on Euclid. I pass by soaked fat tire bikes in the public racks.

---

Date with S. at the AMC theater, where Neon Indian, dressed plainly in a white shirt and jeans, is the third wheel. At the cashier's counter, I try to pay separately for our tickets, but he rushes in with his credit card and talks to the clerk about some obscure online deal. He gets one slip of paper from the cashier and what looks like a small and colorful advertisement or coupon.

"Wait, dude, are you sure that paper lets all three of us in?" I ask.

"Yeah, it's fine" he says.

I hope we're not too late for the film! But then I realize that we're in no trouble since they haven't let the long line of people into the theater yet. Which is unbelievable given my horrible time management that day.

S. takes this as an opportunity to talk. She mentions how It's hair has grown longer and bushier and that It looks a lot different. I tell her to stop. I don't want to hear about It. She stops, but continues to mock my peevishness and my petty triggers.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hurricane winds, yellow leaves


Lupe the barber offers refuge from the storm
His old, unnamed companion dressed in black
Cracks crude jokes in Spanish that I need to get home
They're waiting on me to cast bets at the track

Hurricane winds send the yellow leaves flying
Shed from shade trees cut like clipped ginger roots
Whirled with the dirt in saffron street lighting
Severed fingers reach higher in continued pursuits

Yet time turns slowly among these brown-painted boards
Cringing face of anguish at my snail's pace to piss
Hydraulic seats that lift when you sit, and candies no more
Looks of disappointment at their hometown prick

---

I'm suddenly in the northern tip of Colton near the intersection of Mt Vernon and La Cadena by Valley College, in view of the plastic cheese torta place, which is now closed and filled with employees on cleaning duty. 

I continue on my way down Citrus for my illicit tryst. K is there on her bed, wearing a red shirt. I cannot remember what we talk about, but it's certainly playful.

It gets late and she needs to sleep for work. I tiptoe out of the house, understanding that I now hold the sacred identity of Edward James Olmos. As I split the magnetically-bound screen on my way out, I remember to leave my new, puffy pillow as my offering to the family hearth. I bow and let the magnets rejoin.

I step on the wet evening grass in my fuckboi shower sandals wearing a Dodgers hat and loose white shirt with Adidas shorts.

---

Entrance of the imaginary AMC theater in the Inland Center where the Sears used to be.

It's here.

Menacingly tanned skin. Black clothing. Focused and evil countenance. Friends with knives and few diplomas.

I don't want it to see me. I abort my movie-going itinerary.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Postmaster's Examination

I follow the map at night just as the itinerary stated, taking a poorly-lit and backtracking pathway around Palo Alto's wire fences and laboratory research district (now-emptied).

There are two main entrances to the letter carrier examination offices. The one on the right is filled with people at 5 or 6 round tables, and, given the high activity around the whiteboard and paper easels, it seems like they are deep into a lesson. I guess I'm too late to enter there, so I choose the one on the left.

I'm told by the proctor to sit at the plastic green patio table to the left rear of the room, which has pockets of white residues just like the one I grew up with. I take my seat.

J. is there. Awesome. It is seated right next to me with some previously-unknown assortment of friends. I make it clear that I don't want to make eye contact or acknowledge its existence. It may or may not be reciprocating--I don't know---but it does nothing to make the unfortunate seating arrangement any less awkward. There is certainly tension in the air.

J. leaves with the postmaster's assistant to the rear examination room.

Soon the office is dark and empty except for the postal clerk, and I have not yet been summoned for my appointment. Did J. sabotage me?

I leave the office and accept that I've just wasted a bunch of time. I follow my itinerary exactly in reverse.

---

L. has an advanced early 2000s, pre-smartphone alarm clock she uses for her new job. The handheld device has a PC interface that allows her to dictate specific schedules, frequencies, alarm rings, intensities, and aggressiveness, and allows for sleep-scheduling and coordination with her supervisor. The PC GUI has the UC Berkeley color schemes and font with the Windows 8 "metro" tile layout.

An "Aaliyah" music video is playing on the screen of the old white television set, whose resolution is anachronistically high-definition. (I had no idea she was of mixed Indian and African descent!) Wearing a neon blue tank rimmed with neon green, she dances in a middle-eastern style with a crew dressed in black in front of a robin egg blue backdrop. Her lyrics are unintelligible.

L. falls asleep.

---

I'm on the sidelines at the end of the parade in Walnut Creek, where the flower-adorned floats are directed back to their warehouse garages. I see the survivor, the hero of the parade and the namesake of the float (mounted on a modified car-hauler).  She wears a cropped white top and white track pants with sporty blue flourishes, which match the white jasmine and honeysuckle decorations. I think the theme of the float is centered on skiing and snow sports given the nature of the incident.

I notice horizontal marks on her right rib cage.  At first I thought they were part of a tattoo, but then realized they were scars, certainly of self-harm and not from her recent tribulation.

She notices me and waves, and we have a substantial conversation for several minutes. The other float-riders do not seem so accepting of our talking. They are all exclusively of Anglo descent. A deadpanned middle-aged man, possibly the manager of the float, blocks our view of each other when coordinating with the parade staff, although this seems purposeful in my eyes.

I wish her goodbye, and never mention the scars.

To my left, I see M. with his luggage. "Dude, you better get yours before the float takes off," he says in a departure when his typically nonchalant manner. I scramble to the float; after all, I can't lose my valuables and miss my concert. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dead Man's Switch

Having traveled very lightly to Boston, I have little of my own resources to be an adventurous human being. My friend lends me his rusty bicycle that is permanently locked in an inconvenient gear.

I depart with this fixie towards the Institvte, getting passed by grandpas in hi-viz spandex and plenty of flashing lights. Traffic on Memorial is very slow before the circle; it must be rush-hour. I ride in the dirt pathways near the MIT boathouse with a cadence more befitting of a cycling race.

A reach a warehouse in Cambridge near the "NW" buildings and make my way inside. Former president George H.W. Bush along with an unidentified woman crawl through a hole where a warehouse window used to be and join me on my escapade.

There is unlikely tributary of the main corridor to building ES, with a weird atrium part holding room numbers 40B-42C. One door opens to a room with no foundation, just dirt, and my presidential guests laugh. Other doors open to very old and beaten classrooms.

---

The police chase ends in the hills of Los Angeles at a home that must have been quite an upscale abode in the eighties. The culprit exits his vehicle and tries to escape through a backyard, only to realize this house has been built on a dangerous cliff. Understanding his impasse, he pulls out a dead man's switch.

Just as the officers arrive to apprehend him, his face cringes in anguish as he lets go of the button. A massive black mushroom cloud of smoke envelopes Glendale in the blink of an eye, spreading laterally like a spring from hell.

Crude weapon.
Lives changed forever.
New government.
New way of life.

Rainbow Elixir

A bus drops off me and a group of comrades in the middle of a city for an evening scavenger hunt. I waste no time in seeking the items on my list, which have been strewn about the metropolis in the most difficult ways imaginable. I make a run for it on the cobblestone sidewalks. The illuminated bridge is visible in the background.

Obliquely shaped houses in the Outer Sunset are like playground slides dotted by yellow rectangles of active windows. Cars occupy the streets like strewn bread crumbs. Roof tiles grow like scales. Teenagers stargazing on top of them like the offspring of opossum.

My first item is somewhere in the public garden. I navigate the dark muddy thin, non-intersecting trails in my sneakers to an area enclosed by a red brick wall with wrought-iron decor. A small group of twenty-somethings are having a wine gathering on a muddied blanket in the faint light of the park lamps; the same light that reveals tacky ceramic wall fixtures, like a sun with a human face. The horror when I realize that I'll have to dig through the mud in order to find the needed plastic trinket.

Made in China.

Continuing on may way through the garden, the sun rises and reveals a much more beautiful trail, meant for hiking. It illuminates the strata of red, purple, and sandy-colored rock where small slides of particles are created upon contact with the procession of REI boots.

There are young, friendly people here, but I remain a loner and fallow one trail all the way to a hotel resort.

---

She and an unidentified friend lay in lounge chairs in a shaded area by the pool and sip colorful mixed drinks with fruity garnishes and little umbrellas. I greet her and she gives me a short, tantalizing reply, along with a small finger wave that does not interrupt the coquettish sipping of her rainbow elixir. The movement of her eyes is obscured by novelty blue sunglasses with purple lenses, intermittently traversed by thin locks of her wavy hair. I can't fire-up my natural tendency to generate small talk, as I immediately feel out of place without some drink in hand to fill in my void of manliness. I leave for the bar, telling them I'll be back.

This hotel is a labyrinth of wide empty corridors, featuring unmanned bell desks and an abandoned horse-racing lounge with dusty, rotting cocktails left unbussed. Arriving at some semblance of a bar (in trunks and sandals) I order a vastly overpriced bottle of Bud Light or something.

Things become very blurry. I cannot find my way back to the pool.