To: Bob Reuter
Date: Apr 3, 2009 2:44 AM
Subject: It's probably the whiskey ..
I feel like writing tonight.
I used to write alot--but the beer and the drugs swept away all that potential. And I don't know why I feel like writing tonight. I'll blame the whiskey; and the fact that the boys aren't home. Solitude breeds literature; punk rock breeds drunks; and the blues breeds domestic beasts that live for cooking dinner and supporting the pack--at least as a woman trapped at the crest of that unbridled wave.
And somehow your records always crop up. Old sessions with bands I've never met, which bleeds into solo sessions at Mangia--when you play songs I never expected to hear live, which end up spewing from crackled blown speakers in the Volkswagen I've trolled the city in since I was seventeen.
Six years is a long time when you're only 23. Less than 25% of a life--all though I've never trusted my math.
When Vonnegut died, I wrote a eulogy "awake on some stranger's speed." It's been a couple of years, and I've become social packmates with that stranger, but I still find myself resorting to his Ritalin bullshit when I'm drunk and not ready to give in to the night.
It'll be a long night tonight--but not as long as others. And there is a mild existential solace in no expectation of company; other than that of our tuxedoed cat (who is currently trying to pilfer drinks from my Early Times and water).
Bad, Charlie. You won't know what hit you.
Eh--anyway. That song .. "After the money from Mama was gone;" I'm not sure if that's the title, but you know what I'm talking about. It always reeks of those years when I officially fell out with my parents, and made a hasty and desperate relocation to Pine Lawn. There was nowhere else to go; I cut the family off; and the money from Mama (or Pops, in my case) was absolutely gone.
I'd had inklings of real life--Richard hung himself (no, really); drugs abounded; and between Oregon and Europe I'd grappled with the fact that the world was much bigger than my St Charles upbringing, but reality had never hit me so hard as that year on the Northside.
I was the only white girl for five miles in any direction. I was broke like all the worst jokes. I lived on Ramen noodles and Tabasco sauce or Sam's Club bulk animal crackers and peanut butter; I drew pictures of bats and crawled out onto the roof to collect shells from the bullets that had rained down onto our house over the preceding New Year's. It was my ghetto coast; like seeing the ocean for the first time; breathing the saltwater air and reveling in every unfamiliar minute of it.
And I was in love.
In love with an illiterate O'Fallon boy, who'd been duped into buying his first house in a neighborhood that no God-fearing O'Fallon boy belonged in. The realtor had brought him there on a Sunday when all the neighbors were at church. He was in over his head even deeper than I was. If I was cautiously testing the coast, he'd fallen off the edge of the reef--way past that safe waist-line water, past where ships run aground--into a seventy+ grand mortgage. We were pallid shipwrecked aliens. And I soaked up every minute of it.
We had a roommate named Dan. He was a Dungeons & Dragons throwback who gobbled up every recording and mixing gadget he could afford under his billing and coding salary. There was thousands upon thousands of dollars of equipment, stowed away in our collapsing basement--a basement where any bacon grease that escaped down the kitchen sink erupted through the cracks in the cement floor like a true blue collar pork-loving American kaleidoscope.
And Dan had some crazy microphone (boom mic, I don't know ..) that could collect the noises from miles around if you sat on the front porch on just the right night (for some reason it had to be humid and July--the plateau before St Louis' end-of-summer climax). We'd pass around the headphones, as ravenous as potheads suckling on the last hits of a roached joint, and listen to the beat of the neighborhood: We'd hear parties and the metallic echoing bass of speakers in the backseats or trunks of janky old cars; we'd hear the hollers and yowls of the dogfights in our neighbors' basements; we'd eavesdrop on the domestic violence ensuing half a block away, or the hasty comings and goings of cars to the crackhouse on the corner.
And then HYACK! .. somebody would shoot off a round.
It was deafening if you were the unfortunate fool with the headphones; your ears would ring for days. The other Mohican porch-dwellers would snap erect; eyes scanning the cross-streets and undamaged ears pricked to discover if the onslaught was headed our way.
You see, our street was engaged in some kind of war with the street two blocks over; some old bad blood that never involved any of us, but that meant we had to duck beneath the stone railing or into the house and below the windows if a car rolled by at night a little too slow with its headlights off. White faces make great targets. Dead white bodies on the Northside are kept on the media downlow; otherwise somebody (county dumbshits with a cause) might give a crap about what happens up there.
But five years ago I was smug and untouchable; I'd never had a gun held to my head. I was fearless and cackled into the full moon from the roof--a wolfen punk rocker, striving with blood, sweat and tears to break away from the safe county roots I'd been born into. Pine Lawn was my proving ground and my trial by fire--or so I'd gone insane enough to believe.
I "grew up" in that collapsing punk rock dive: I fucked my boyfriend recklessly, I swilled beers like water and picked fights at the parties we'd religiously throw there--we had learned real fast that Brothers and Sisters don't call the cops on anything, much less their "Tony Hawk" cracker neighbors, regardless of how late we blasted unlistenable music into the streets or how many folks projectile vomited from the front porch.
Broken bottles, bleeding necks and puke-soaked steps (both indoor and out); that was Pine Lawn. Mattresses on the floor below the windows; a three-legged pitbull plodding about the back yard when his shitfaced owner would head out on a bender and leave Jeff and I to "babysit;" a broke-down Yamaha motorcycle chained to the back porch and somehow ..
Somehow that song of yours brings me back home to all that; that mess I try not to think about too much these days. By dwelling on the past, you can never move forward, right? But you can't deny where you come from. And the sick honesty of it all is that my street these days isn't too far of a cry from Arden: we've had drive-bys; our old roommate got carjacked just as brutally as our house eventually got cleaned out in Pine Lawn by young buck thugs trying to prove something. It's a full circle of bullshit that I guess none of us can ever pray to escape.
Bah .. when I sat down to type this, I thought it would be more worthwhile. But a couple of drinks in, that's always the case, isn't it? But oh well .. this is the most coherent drunk rambling I've had in a while.
Thanks for the music.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
wanted to share this wonderful letter I just got!