June 26, 2006


You can’t listen to Hank Williams Sr’s I Saw the Light and not feel the thrill. And yet he was a troubled soul. Is it merely the addiction? Or was the addiction a sign of a deeper illness? Chicken or the egg? He reminds me of Jack Kerouac. At the end of his life, the beat poet was throwing up vodka while reading the Bible and National Review. It’s a banal observation, but tragic ends are so depressing and scream “why?”. A friend of my brother committed suicide last week. Why? 36 years old, married, with two foster children. He didn’t want to go to Vegas with the group back in May, the first sign (in hindsight) my brother noted.

Went to the annual Communist Fest Friday. I didn’t enjoy it but went out of a sense of duty. Communist Fest (actually called Comfest) is the annual weekend at a large park in downtown Columbus where progressive types celebrate. It’s a chance for me to experience the Other, where the other is the anti-bourgeouis. The music is rock, the politics frightening. Come to think of it, it functions well as one of those Halloween horror parks. I really wasn’t sure why I was there since I don’t listen to much rock anymore and if I want political horror shows I can just bring up the Daily Kos website.

I recall it was the late ‘90s and Ham o’ Bone was calling a radio station pretending to be a Vietnam veteran.

“When I was in ‘Nam,” he said, and a chill ran through my bones because the authenticity of his voice was undeniable. I couldn’t do it in a hundred years. If I did, I’d probably say “When I was in ‘nam” and then start to giggle. But Bone knew how to keep a straight voice.

“Got gut-shot by Charlie and…”. Turned out he knew the talk show host and all was well, but it never lessened the amount of creativity it took to come up with his war stories. Ham was always the plot man. When we co-wrote our novella, a science fiction romp titled “Steinberg!”, it was always Bone who soberly wanted me to move the plot along. We’d take turns. He wrote his couple pages and then I’d email it back to him with my pages appended. But I had a hard time advancing the plot in a serious way. Updike was my model and I wanted only to describe, in excrutiating detail, the flora and fauna and physical characteristics of amatory couples. In fact there was an element of sabotage as I’d tired of it early and often. Bone would leave the characters in a situation of grave danger and I would somehow manage to find them swapping saliva.

I’ve decided in the interim that God is contrarian, on the basis that everything I said I would not do I ended up doing. Taken to the extreme, this means that I should take write plot and Bone should write detail...

My lust for travel increases exponentially during the summer months. During the fall and winter I’m as hibernatory as a bear. But in the summer even the smallest bike ride can trigger travelin' pangs. Even in the suburbs there is much to see. The variations of houses, the flowers and gardens and half-seen arbors in the backyard, the doors, the cornices, the statuary and the trees. Little things…like a house with her all her windows flung wide open – one can imagine the scent of the outdoors in that house.

Today was the “Haus & Garten” tour in beautiful German Village. And I missed it, due in part for the good reason of my father-in-law’s situation, but it’s funny that I’ve never been to a Haus & Garten. I’ve missed a premiere travel opportunity not fifteen miles from my house. Such is life. We live on an oasis of art and literature and watch American Idol and read The DaVinci Code.

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