I have not watched an episode of The Brady Bunch in well over a decade, but, very early this morning, I woke with its goddamned theme song leisurely jogging laps round my brain. If that’s not a bona fide indication of insanity, then I couldn’t tell you what is. I can tell you this much with near absolute certainty: It is currently four thirty-five ante meridiem. If you must know, I am conscious this too goddamned early to open the goddamned coffee shop. I don’t have a key to the place, and the jolly man on TV says that “with the windchill, it’s eighteen degrees below zero right now.” Rubbing his own shoulders, he adds, “ Brrr. ” But since he’s paid to be jolly, he says it jollily. I do not have a key to the coffee shop, so Manager Mick better be there before I get there. I truly wish that I could, with ease, rise and shine this goddamn early every goddamn day.  12 December 2000

S T R E A M # 2 9

I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’ve lost sight of my objective here. This isn’t about you, the reader. No, this isn’t about amusing you. This is about me, the writer – the streamer. Thus, we’ll summarily dispense with all reason. Henceforth (or, at the very least, until the bottom here is reached), there’ll be a whole lot less forthright insight into what makes the FireVaney tick. The sky is grey because the bombs are not dropping on the sun at five o’clock in the morning when the trees are wishing for a new potato crop at the next summer fair. You’ve been to the summer fair, don’t say you haven’t, don’t lie to your uncle FireVaney. Dude, to say that the dreams are not true just because they’re dreams is like saying that the potatoes are dreams in the minds of so many apple seeds. NO, I won’t eat bananas naked anymore. That was a fad, a trend, a phase. Yes, we all go through the nude eating banana phase. Don’t tell me you didn’t skip to the tree’s beat last Saturday night. I saw you. I was spyi

Itchy Cheek?

The Family Redacted (and friends) came together last night to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of their beloved matriarch, Hattie Redacted. It was held in her son’s luxurious home in/on Chicago’s famed “Gold Coast.” The entirety of this author’s walk-in closet of an apartment would fit into Hattie’s son’s first floor half-bath, with room to spare. This event was catered, naturally, and the catering would put state dinners at the White House to shame. In her informal address to the family (and friends), Hattie, without airs, noted how she’d had the good fortune to chat with dignitaries the likes of Elenore Roosevelt, and dance with luminaries the likes of Isaac Asimov. She paused several times to wipe away a fallen teardrop. (Not the same fallen teardrop, no; rather, multiple teardrops that fell periodically. It was something just short of crying. That is, unless, perhaps, she merely suffered from an itchy cheek.) She’d lived through the Great Depression, abject poverty, two world war


Who wasn’t drunk? Mister Wench: he wasn’t drunk. He was the only one. He doesn’t drink. He looks like he would, but he doesn’t. He’s the rare breed of teetotaler who fits right in with any dive bar crowd. But see, you can’t master much, let alone puppets, when you’re blotto. So Mister Wench was on his hands and knees in the men’s room wiping up the puke. “Think of it as another donation,” I told him. Believe me, it was his kind of snark, but he wasn’t in the mood.  When the girls weren’t flaunting and exposing themselves or kissing each other, they were gathered around me and Slange. We talked about love and desperation. According to Slange, I need to view love more as a concept than as something tangible. That is, unless these words of wisdom were instead spoken by Nikki.  (Something I didn’t think to ask: Unless you’re getting it on , when is love ever tangible? And, something else: How is love ever conceptual? I get how it’s consensual . But conceptual? No. democracy is a concept

For the Love of the "Art"

Damn near everybody I know who saw it called it: “Disturbing.” It was staged in a lovely little theater on the second floor of a church. This was a late night show. (It had to be.) One of my pals played an Eastern European * pimp who dabbled in bestiality. Another one of my pals was cast as one of two hermaphroditic apes. He wore a head-to-toe ape costume. So did the other guy. Said hermaphroditic apes were, as part of the plot, forced into sex slavery. But that’s not all. Said sex enslaved hermaphroditic apes were not of this world. That’s right, they were space aliens. The patrons were drunk and rowdy. (They had to be.) More than a few of them pulled out their cell phones to film the eastern European pimp and the enslaved alien apes as they danced to George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex.” This ninety minute show ran about forty-five minutes too long. At one point, near the end, my friend in the ape suit whips out a twenty-two inch dildo † and uses it to strangle two of the villains.

Big Len's Raccoon

Big Len, our rotund neighbor to the west, found a raccoon nestled in his garbage bin yesterday morning. As he looked down at it, it looked up at him. (In fairness, it is possible that, as Big Len approached, said raccoon was already looking up at the inside of the bin’s lid. I couldn’t say for certain; I wasn’t there. You’d have to ask the raccoon—presuming it would offer a honest answer, that is; and presuming you could hire a competent translator of Raccoon-nese or Raccoon-ish; that is, presuming you aren’t such a translator yourself.) Big Len tossed his bulging Hefty bag into the bin anyways and slammed the lid down. He fixed the lid with a heavy shovel to thwart the raccoon’s escape.  Then, yesterday afternoon, whilst strolling to and from the train station, Big Len told Pops that the raccoon was “too stuffed to move.” Sure, Big Len could’ve called up the animal control folks, but he figured they’d be off for the holiday. Fair enough.  Why Big Len had to “secure” the raccoon within

S T R E A M # 2 8

Last week was a better week. So what’s going wrong with this week? Could it be the cooler weather? You’re supposed to like the cooler weather. Your future is north of here. That’s what you believe. The national inclination is to move south, and/or west. You, though? You’re a contrarian. You’re always pointed in the other direction. “Against the wind.” But if not north, perhaps you’d go east. Then again, you’d consider going west. To Portland, Oregon. According to Chuck, you’d fit right in. Well. Ok. He hasn’t said so. Not exactly. Not explicitly. No. Besides, you’d rather go north. Way north. You’d rather be Canadian. You feel somehow lighter when you’re up there. There’s too much gravity down here. It weighs you down. Then again, Southern California – particularly during sunrise and sunset – felt good, too. But Canada felt better. Calmer. Lighter. Not brighter. Somehow lighter. But you don’t know if you’d actually relocate to Canada. Or even if you should , assuming that you could .

Prophesy # 1

Thanks to artificial intelligence,  Hollywood,  as we now know it,  will cease to exist  inside of three years.  Flesh and blood actors will only find refuge,  if any,  upon the boards.

I, Storm Master

A number of loud and flashy storms scudded through the Windy City last night. It’s been a few years since I’ve heard a strong Illinois thunderstorm. As I cheered on the wall-shaking thunder, I recalled the many violent storms of my youth, and then suddenly reminded myself that I was once the Storm Master. [Self-proclaimed.] That’s right, I had the “authority” to rate and judge [subjectively] thunder, lightning, and downpours. As you might expect, the more relentless and varied the claps and rumbles of thunder, and the more dazzling and blinding the streaks and flashes of lightning, the higher the rating. Bonus points if I could feel the thunder seemingly shake the foundations of the house. [To the best of my recollection, I paid little attention to the rain (I was inside, after all), unless, of course, it thrashed my bedroom windows.] Less worthy storms were those that executed strong starts, but petered out too quickly into a light rain [story of my life, really], and so on.  20 April

Lord of the Crumbs

Betty slid two frozen Eggos into the toaster oven. I didn’t ask why she didn’t use the toaster. True, there is a “toast” setting on the toaster oven, but did she use it? Nope. She turned the temp dial all the way to max and burnt the hell out of those poor waffles. We’re talking burnt enough to trigger a freaking smoke detector. For real. Did she apologize? Nope. Instead, she pointed at the crumbs scattered over the bottom of the toaster oven. She blamed those crumbs for triggering the smoke detector. In other words, she blamed me. True, there are many scattered crumbs and, yes, I should probably clean them out. But I use the toaster oven several times a week, and I’ve never caught its crumbs smoldering. What’s more, I’ve used the toaster oven several times since Betty charred the Eggos, and the smoke detector hasn’t once peeped. Ergo, the crumbs are not to blame. Such being the case, I’ve left the crumbs alone and I’ve banned Betty from using the toaster oven.  29 April 2005