Dude Gets Around

Clayton’s back in town. After sneaking into the newly renovated “Cadillac” Palace Theater, he landed a gig with the show that was, at the time, going up there—and then he went to New York with it. That was something like a year ago. Back then, I gave him a direct order: “If you get to go to New York, you stay there. Don’t come back here.” Welp, Clayton got lonely. He patched up with his ex and moved back to Arkansas to be with her. (They’re both from Little Rock and, a few years back, they’d moved up north to the Windy City.) Welp, Clayton got bored with Arkansas (and/or perhaps his ex). He decided to migrate to the last place he didn’t feel bored or lonely: Chicago. *  12 January 2001  * [More recently, though, Clayton wound up working on location as some kind of technician with James Cameron’s Avatar franchise.] 

City Roots

Every time Ma or Stepdude flushed the toilet, their, um, deposits wound up on the floor of the basement. The plumber they called in sent a root grinding “rod” through the sewer pipe that ran beneath the front lawn. Somewhere on the other side of the street, the rod got stuck and the plumber couldn’t reel the thing back. To Ma, I said, over the phone, “Sounds like the hook of a monster movie.” The plumber told Ma and Stepdude that the rod wouldn’t budge until the city dug up the street for it. This was particularly bad news for Stepdude, as the bathroom was his favorite room in the house—and the toilet, his favorite seat. So he, Ma, and their bear-sized shaggy dog had to spend a week in a hotel room. When a city crew finally got around to digging up the street (a major suburban artery) in front of their house, they discovered that they’d gouged out the wrong patch of earth. Meaning: They’d have to fill the cavity they’d made, repair the street and the grassy parkway, and start all over

S T R E A M # 3 0

Start: The dog did not enjoy the tuna casserole, and by “dog” I do not mean Sally’s pet collie, I means Sally’s husband, Al. When we stop to think about the things that do not matter – which is something we often do – then, when the time comes, we check our watches and eat our respective tuna casseroles. We eat the tuna casseroles because we know Grandma would be sad if we did not. Thus, or hence, or hence-thus, the problem becomes one of consumption. Finally, the problem is ALWAYS one of consumption. What do you think about Al’s dilemma with the tuna casserole? Beets are enjoyed by cats in the winter when strawberries are not in bloom. DO strawberries bloom? No. Yes? No. I wouldn’t know. I am not a strawberry farmer. Who told you otherwise? Who led you astray? And why would you believe his or hers or their words over mine? What I feel the next time we meet when you are not sad with happiness in the tuna casserole. I haven’t – I couldn’t tell you about the last time I ate apple sauce i


Along with the stomping freak who uses the flipside of my ceiling as a floor, the folks with whom I share walls cannot tolerate silence. No, they must blast on repeat any of Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2000 through their respective stereo’s speakers. This, in turn, forces me to blast all of my much less popular music to drown theirs out. It becomes a vicious circle of escalating sound. And perhaps the very point of loud music is to drown out all thought, fear, and pain. These days, who can bear to sit quietly and ponder life—let alone read a book? Indeed, the folks in this city—and perhaps the folks in every city—seemingly do whatever they can to stifle the natural inclination to think. At least, that is my impression. After all, the act of thought —the very act of reflection —necessarily slows production and consumption. And we mustn’t have that, no, no. Besides, we need not contemplate our lack of fulfillment or our actual worthlessness if we are too busy playing video

All The Fun I'm Not Having

Old pal of mine from high school’s having an affair with some pastor’s young wife. Maybe it was only a one night stand, I dunno. He met this pastor’s wife where he meets all of his lovers—on the internet. And, no, you wouldn’t call my old pal a Don Juan or a Casanova or a Lothario. He’s not a bad guy, but you wouldn’t call him “charming.” As for looks, like me, he’s squishy and plain. From what very little I understand, this pastor’s wife is forbidden from doing anything beyond keeping house and rearing children (two). Turns out she hasn’t limited herself to my old pal. No, she’s carrying on with a man old enough to be her father. And this other older dude has grown children who probably went to school with me and my old pal.  21 December 2000  [A few lingering questions will, alas, remain forever unanswered. E.g.: Did the adulteress only cheat with men who weren’t Christian? Were these spiteful affairs—that is, was the intent to make a mockery of her marriage? Was the cuckold abusive?


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.