Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, April 30, 2007

what do you look like when you think you are alone and no one is looking?

i stood on a corner near the highway. i was walking to a cafe for a drink. i watched all these people in cars turning left right in front of me.

when you see cars, do you look at the car, or the person inside the car? i always try to remind myself to look at the person in the car.

steel cages, crumple zones, and air conditioning and all of these people listening to radios or shouting into cellphones with one hand and steering with the other.

like mobile living rooms, people hid from their own surroundings inside their cars.

i watched their faces. i saw what people look like when they they are alone and no one is looking.

they look lonely. except the ones who had her windows rolled down. a woman looked at me - a man walking down a busy access road with my bag on my back and a drink in my hand - and she smiled.

two other pedestrians carrying fruit smoothies stopped to share a laugh about the puny sidewalks over the bridge.

roll down your windows. make eye contact with pedestrians. participate in the world around you. you won't look so alone. you won't be so alone.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

man in a bar

normal, unassuming man sitting alone in a nearly empty bar lets his eyes wander over the numerous nozzles for imported and domestic draft beers. he drank two large beers very slowly. he smiled at the bartenders. he ordered chicken wings and french fries.

he gestured with his chin at the various nozzles of draft beer. he has this big, glassy smile on his face like everyone's friend.

"hey, what's that stuff with the evil dude on it?"

the bartender looked up from the glasses he was furiously washing. "what was that, dude?"

"that beer with the evil dude on it? what is that? where is it from?"

"*ma-RE-dsoo*. french."


"yeah. it's stronger than beer. it has eight percent alcohol"

"i'll have to get me some of that next. you get that for me after this one."

"sure, dude."

the man alone at the bar adjusts his hat. he nibbles his chicken wings. he holds the catsup bottle like something lost at sea.

when he thinks that no one is looking at him his eyes drop like a sailor lost at sea. his eyes find the horizon in the mirror over the bar. there is no horizon there at all, but that's how the guy looks into it. like somewhere in the mirror there's this spot where the flat earth drops into the void and he's floating there on a barstool raft, nibbling french fries and waiting. just waiting.

i didn't say hello to the guy. i paid for my drink. i went home, alone. i fell asleep.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

passing through security in philadelphia

"where do we pick up our luggage?" says the sleepy travelers, "don't we have to get our luggage first?"
customs official responds in a brusque, unfriendly tone of voice, "until we know who you are, we're not giving you anything." then he wanders off.

security screener in philedelphia, holding up the tiny bottle of scope in the legal plastic bag that I had just gotten from them as if i had done something horribly wrong, "you should have told me you had scope in here so i wouldn't have to open your bag and search it. next time, tell me about the mouthwash!" of course the point was moot. i wasn't were i was supposed to be. i had asked repeatedly where i could go to get my second boarding pass, and i had been shuffled through security by security officials who kept telling me to go that way to get the next boarding pass - though i didn't have a new boarding pass.

i made it all the way through to the terminal without a proper boarding pass and had to ask a supervisor where on earth i could find my second boarding pass. he took one look at my ticket stub, assured me this was not a proper boarding pass and that i had no business in the terminal. i assured him that his staff had shuffled me in this direction repeatedly everytime i had asked them where i could get my second boarding pass.

the supervisor escorted me out of the terminal, apologizing for the poor customer service of his staff. i should not have gotten into the terminal at all, and i wasn't trying to sneak through security. i was just trying to get my second boarding pass.

they lost one of my bags, too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

in honor of international pixelated technopeasant day


i won´t crosspost this at myspace due to some legal stuff that you don´t need to worry about, but here, for your enjoyment, is a bit of my real fiction for free just for the enjoyment of cyberspace writing. this one is some flash fiction that has only got collected one rejection letter. instead of sending it out again, i´m sharing it here, because i am a pixelated technopeasant.

"Ein Euro, Bitte"

We were late. We were late. We were late.

The ladies had already made their way to the
restaurant. They texted us. They texted us. They
texted us.

We texted back: "almost @ bus stop." "Hold on."
"Get drinks."

The Captain asked me if his tie looked stupid. I
told him we looked stupid because we were running to
catch a bus in suits and stupid ties.

We missed the bus.

The Captain kicked the bus stop's hutch. He
cursed in French, because he was trying not to say the
F-word anymore. His girlfriend didn't know French
curse words, so he used those instead.

I scoured the timesheets at the bus stop, looking
for a bus that had the same stop, and might be here
any second.

(A man touched my sleeve. He was filthy, and old
like I'd never be. His shoes stank from where I stood
- ruined, white tennis shoes that reaked of rotten
leather. He had this arm curled up like he had had a
stroke. One of his feet turned inward like it belonged
to the person sitting next to him. "Ein euro, bitte?"
he said, "Ein euro?" I pulled back, disgusted that he
had touched my sleeve.)

The Captain flipped the old guy off. "Just ignore

I looked down at the man. I rummaged in my pocket
for one euro coin.

Another bus came. The Captain grabbed my arm, and
pulled me on board. He screamed our destination at the
bus driver as if saying it louder would correct his
English pronunciation to the German driver. He was
pissed because we were late. We were late. We were


Saturday, April 21, 2007

coming home

in two days i will be hopping onto a plane. i will be in america again, soon.

until then, i must leave my quill here until i can turn the internet back on upon my arrival. i do not know how long that will take. daily updates are just not possible at this time. perhaps a lovely web fairy will arrive to fill in the gaps where dreams and man merge. neil gaiman has one, but i do not think i do. any volunteers?

alas, i will not know who volunteers until after i land and decompress from the airplanes and timezones.

quill, may you remain as sharp as a the wit of a wiser man while i am away.

may you drink deep of the well of wisdom so i may write deep of wisdom when i return to dip you in my own psychic ink.

americans in a foreign bar

americans - a brassy bunch - only talk louder when they are drunk in foreign countries.

one old army guy to another in an irish pub in wiesbaden describing their favorite officer to serve under:

"he´s a good fucking guy. a nice fucking guy. you know whae he says? he´s a good fucking guy. he says, 'don´t make any decisions, don´t cause any grief.' he´s a good fucking guy. he´s a nice fucking guy. i hope he doesn´t have to make the call."

"fuck, man. look, man. fuck, man. look at the fucking walls."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


can't sleep. bad dreams. going off-line a bit.

a lullabye:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

new imprint finally named

Wizards of the Coast: Discoveries has finally, officially been named. I can finally stop calling it "A new adult, literary speculative fiction imprint from Wizards of the Coast distributed by Random House" which is - to be perfectly honest - quite a mouthful when i'm drunk. and i'm usually drunk when i'm bringing my book up in public.

courtesy of

"WIZARDS OF THE COAST LAUNCHES NEW IMPRINT: Science fiction publisher, and Hasbro subsidiary, Wizards of the Coast is launching a new imprint in 2008 dedicated to adult fantasy. Wizards of the Coast Discoveries will feature titles in a range of sub-genres including urban horror and literary fantasy; it will also publish both debut and established authors. The imprint, which will release its first book in January, Richard Dansky's Firefly Rain, marks Wizards' first foray into "adult non-shared world fiction," according to publicist Caitlin Roulston. Up until now Wizards, which has YA imprint Mirrorstone, has published only adult fantasy series fiction."

Want to find out more about Richard Dansky, the first author of the imprint? Sure you do.

Go here:

And me? I'm one of the literary fantasy debut authors.

Good news comes in threes for the superstitious types. Number One Good News was two days ago. Two days from now, I'm sure something wonderful will happen.

take a picture

if i were more organized, i'd find a bunch of kids from all over the city and give them cameras - a whole bunch of them - and ask them to take pictures of things that make them feel different emotions. take a picture of what scares you. take a picture of what makes you happy. take a picture of what makes you sad. take a picture of what makes you laugh. take a picture of what makes you hopeful. etc. etc.

let them take pictures of their world, in their way.

show us your world through your own eyes, little ones.

Monday, April 16, 2007

the end of the world

when the world ends, will we know it?

will we know that everything we love is gone?

i suspect many of us will not. we will get out of bed, and shower, and eat breakfast like nothing happened. we'll drive to work and we will not see the smoldering ruins all around us.

we will see what we have always seen, and what our children always saw, and what our parents taught us to accept.

the world has ended. get up. hit the alarm clock. get dressed. put on the gasmask. make sure the rubber gloves cover all of your hands. go to the stables where the mutated two-headed emu will pull your hubcap and coffee-can chariot through the streets to your job flinging slog from one pit to another, just like your father and his father before him after the end of the world. sure things are getting worse, but things have been getting worse a long time, and they still can get worse.

when the world ends, it will probably be very slow. big things don't change quickly. one volcano couldn't change the world. we'd need lots of them. two bombs have already dropped, and plenty more where tested out in the empty hills, empty islands.

we'd need lots of them.

we'll wake up one day, and we won't really notice that the sunlight isn't really so bright anymore - or that it's too bright - because it happened so slowly.

we won't see the pattern until it's too late, and nobody even noticed when it finally happened.

that's the end of the world.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

i just found out

my parents bought me a bed, a washer, and a drier for my new apartment without consulting me at all, and for no good reason whatsoever except that they are wonderful, wonderful parents who consistently go out of their way to do wonderful things for their children. they knew that i couldn't afford such things right now and that i was planning on sleeping in an old futon and going to laundromats.

i can honestly say that every time in my life i needed help and had nowhere else to go, they helped. also, when i don't ask for help, they help.

may we all be as wonderful as my parents to the ones we love someday.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

the siroccos of the hyperreal

i've been in foreign places quite a bit the last two years, and i can't help but think about how angry all these people are at george w bush for an unjust war.

everywhere i go, i hear it. i hear it everywhere i go.

the thing that pisses me off about it all is how ignorant everyone is about the rest of the unjust wars in the world. how quickly we jump on the media bandwagon to assault just this one war. what about the saharawi? they've been victims of an unjust war for over thirty years.

saharawi people are completely forgotten all over the world.

west african refugees of war escaping the napalm and aggression of morocco, and her monarch, have lived unjustly in tent cities in algeria for decades. whole generations of children are growing up without a future, and without a country.

and nothing is changing. no one is doing anything. nothing is getting better.

a brief quote about the situation:
"[Morocco] acknowledged the sovereignty of the Western Saharan nation in exile, the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which was founded in 1976. On the other hand, Morocco refuses to this day to relinquish any claims to Western Sahara.

But the 200,000 Saharawis in the camps have proven they will not give up either. They have chosen a life in exile, hundreds of miles from home, rather than live under the rule of a king whose reign has sought to erase their existence."

if you want to talk about america's injustice, fine. but, let's also talk about how spanish backroom deals with morocco and mauritania during the latter half of the last century threw a whole culture into the desert winds.

desert winds come and tear down the tents. the winds are called "siroccos".

i guess all these new firestorms blew new breezes into the datastream. all old injustices swim down beneath the sandstorm.

if an american walks into a bar and says the word "iraq", a firestorm of hot air swarms through the datastream to swallow dissension like napalm melting trees.

if anyone - american or not - walks into a bar and says "saharawi", people look at you funny. then, they take another drink and worry about what they saw on the news.

Friday, April 13, 2007

kurt vonnegut is dead

long live kurt vonnegut.

so it goes, old friend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

aborted beginnings

the ghostly skeletons hang over the rooftops - electric scarecrows stripped of rags and straw in bad weather reaching for the signals in the sky. the wind blows the spindly things around like broken weathervanes.

i'm across the street at a cafe, eating a bagel and drinking coffee. i'm watching the rain fall through the antennaes like falling down pine trees or broken umbrellas. i'm waiting for lightning to strike the roof of a church.

in european cities - most of them - the tallest thing on the horizon are the church towers. i'm looking at this church tower on top of a red stone church in mainz. the top of the towers have these gothic crosses that look just like the scarecrow antennaes all over everything else.

scarecrows keep things away. these broken scarecrows pull things down from the sky. cable television. salvation.

i'm sipping the coffee slow because i'm about to puke and i don't want to puke. before i came to this cafe, i had woken up under the bridge between mainz and kastel. i was fully dressed. i wasn't at all hungry.

my mouth is all full of brown hair, little flecks of bone, and the aftertaste of blood.

i know exactly who i ate when i was blacked out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

some people sudoku, i flash

in need of brain teasing, i do not sudoku. i struggle with the difficult art of flash fiction. for example:

People Got Married

We watched "Billy Elliot" and took a shot of
tequila every time we couldn't understand what someone
said because we're from Mount Laurel, NJ, and we don't
speak like that.
We drank too much tequila.

In the morning, I asked her if she’d been
dancing since she was twelve, and she told me that
she'd been smoking pot since she was twelve, and I
said I had been, too.
That was the only real thing we ever needed to
know about each other.

Then the sun hit our hangovers, the clothes
came back on, and I volunteered to take the movie back
on my way to work.

I said to her, I said I'd call you.

She asked me what people did before phones.

I shrugged. I guess they got married, I said.

She started to object to that, but then she
rushed to the bathroom to throw up all that tequila.

I said it again to her, I said I guess people
got married.

Then I left her like that.

(yes this is from ye ol' archives of things i will not send off to publish - a.k.a. the b-sides... it means i didn't do anything yesterday because i was working.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

if everyone who fell in love with anyone always had their love returned, the world would lack in necessary confusions.

with this simplicity in our love, we'd seek to confuse our hatreds. we'd cause confusing arguments for no reason with strangers instead of lovers. we'd break into neighbors homes to smash dishes. we'd fly to foreign countries to shout "what were you thinking!" at the top of our lungs to our enemies who had done actually nothing that was really so bad.

wars would arise not from conflict but from gossip. one nation would be so irrationally angry at another for taking the patriotism of the citizens that whole armies will jump out of planes drunk and itching for a fistfight just to prove their hatred. another nation might have heard that two others were in collusion, thus needed immediate nuking. in fact, with simple loves, all of our wars would reflect our confusing hearts instead.

thus, it is for the best that our loves are rarely answered. let us be confused in love, not war.

unrequited love is actually a nucleur war averted.

you do want to stop nucleur war, don't you?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

god save us from this kind of person

reading the help wanted ads is enough to scare a sane, free-thinking individual.

if i ever meet someone as excited, organized, multi-lingual, cheerful, energetic, hard-working, honest, selfless, and clean as these ads seem to suggest people are, i will probably hit them in reflex, just to give them a black eye.

of course i take heart that these are advertisements seeking such people. these ads, they never go away.

thus, there must be a shortage. god, let there be a shortage. perhaps they don't exist at all.

part of me thinks this is some kind of hidden code, wherein a conspiracy of sane people search out the crazies so we can lock them up somewhere.

that must be it.

urban explorer

after midnight mass, i missed the last bus home.

i walked home in the dark, my eyes watching for shadows because it's 1 am in the big city, and one never knows.

i avoided the main roads and the train stations - i felt safer walking than catching a train down at that stretch of city - for the wealthy strips of apartments and mansions and condos with elegant cars and elegant gardening. i felt safer surrounded by security systems and sleeping citizens with expensive dogs and good phones. if something evil happened, i only had to trip a fence alarm to bring the polizei.

i got lost because of the night and the new, twisting streets of elegant homes, but i wasn't completely and totally lost. i had my landmarks in the skyline, i just hit them from a weird angle through all those rich homes.

i wandered onto the military base between wiesbaden and erbenheim, but i was on this obscure end of it. i flagged down a passing MP patrol car. i asked him if he knew the way to erbenheim from here because i was lost.

he told me he'd only been here two months and he had no idea.

i asked him how to get back to the autobahn because i figure i'd rather walk the main road fast at this point (i was getting sleepy, after all, and the bars had been closed for over an hour, and i had already snuck around the train station and the city park where the dealers pace the dark) than be lost until sunrise among mansions.

the MP told me how to get to the autobahn.

i laughed inside because i've only been here two months, too. i didn't tell him that.

i know my way around, mostly. i've walked these roads up and down for days. i've climbed every mountain i could find (wiesbaden's is called Neroberg). when i was lost that night it was because i was walking through the winding houses instead of the highways and pedestrian paths. if the sun had been up, i'd have known north from south and i'd have found my way home fine.

i've been working here, too, for two months. i've learned my way around mainz, wiesbaden, munich, berlin, freiburg, himmelreich, titisee, buchenbach, bierstadt...

this tough guy in a patrol car at night carrying a gun is supposed to be the adventurous one, right? he's supposed to be trained in maps. he doesn't even know the cities a half-hour walk from where he rests his head.

easter vigil was beautiful, even if i had to walk home. the adult converts are christened with oil. everybody holds a lit candle in a dark room in this gorgeous eighteenth-century church. streetlights hit the stained-glass windows at strange angles, enhancing the hidden messages of midnight in the glass.

a drunk kid opened the side door of the church and shouted "teuffel!" as loud as he could to shock the church before running off. people startled. but, the ceremony didn't stop. cantors sang in unison. people prayed with one voice like a single organ with every key held down.

and after dark, when i missed the bus, nothing evil found me because i knew how to get home safe, even if it was a bit slow.

people used to ask me what i really wanted to do with my life before i sold my book. i didn't tell them about the writing, usually. i usually told them i saw myself as an urban explorer. i always look for new places, new hidden corners, new cafes, new roads, new directions and how all the people live there.

i wanted to explore the old ceremonies in an old congregation in an old church. i did. then, i got to explore the city in the dark, when all good boys and girls are too afraid to walk from wiesbaden to erbenheim on account of bad boys shouting for the devil in the dark.

i got home just fine.

i'm an old hand at urban exploration.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

sweaty people singing with horns in their hands

blue knights drum and bugle corps, 2005.

brings back memories of the late nineties...

Friday, April 6, 2007

present tense/past tense

i've been catching up on the backlogged typing typing typing that i needed to do after fifteen days of restlessness.

i have a constant tic that speaks volumes of my own mental state. in my writing, i must struggle to keep present tense and past tense separated and in their place.

i live in both. everywhere i look i see things that carry memories and i experience those memories exactly as if they were happening right now. everywhere i walk, i carry all the memories i have collected like a wikipedia wherever i turn my head.

i annoy my friends and close relations with my kneejerk encyclopedic nature - often encyclopedic knowledge is malformed inside of my mixed up head.

when i am writing, the verbal tenses blur from one to the other.

when i am living, the verbal tenses blur from one to the other.

i am where i have always been and where i always will be. home is a denim jacket and a pair of good pants. bed was a warm, dry place. homes blur. i open my eyes and stand up and my feet walked down the old paths of old houses long lost, apartments abandoned and to be abandoned.

each lost friend, lost love, wears the skin of the now and carries the weight of the lost friends and loves of yesterday.

i never know the day. i never know the time. i never know my destination. i know walking. i know arriving. i know departing.

i cannot always separate my dreams from my waking state, and that isn't insanity.

that's normal.

yesterday and i have all we need

i have to leave you, tomorrow. i’ve decided that yesterday and i belong together.
we’re moving in together. we bought cats. we’ll stay in this big apartment, north of the city with our cats.

don’t worry, tomorrow, you’ll be fine without me.
ignore all those people that say we belong together -- we don’t. you’re no fun. you’re cold, and responsible, and i think…

well, i hate to put it this way but it’s just that you seem like the type to kill the person you’re with and don’t even get me started on how you’re never home.

go ahead, tomorrow, and buy the dog we said we’d buy. buy the house on the island without me. buy all the electronics and automobiles we dreamed about because yesterday and i have all we need.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

nothing new today so i'm just gonna plug cool stuff a minute

i'm busy working on my computer after my little adventures. but, do check these two things out.

firstly, somafm is one of the coolest radio stations on earth.

(my favorite stations are cliqhop, spacestation soma, and indiepoprocks)

if you listen, you should drop a dollar their way. and if you start to listen to commercial-free indie radio from san francisco, you'll never look at the noisebox the same way again.

recipe for hip party = champagne, gin, chexmix, and cliqhop as loud as the pc speakers can blast!

also, you should go read a book. here's one i found in a used bookstore in freiburg, germany, surrounded by diet books and self-help gurus.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

in the altes pinarchitek, i saw a painting by gerard dou, and recognized the model. it's the same girl that i saw in this poorly reproduced .jpg from another painter named barent fabretius:

after poling around, mr dou has painted this young woman quite a lot.

look down and watch for any woman named 'young', be she a mother a cook or a girl in a window.

both gerard dou and barent fabretius were in rembrandt's workshop as students. i poked around a while, to see if i could find a familiar face among the budding dutch movement of masters:

carel fabretius - alas - was a true master whose work was destroyed with the man when an armory exploded. very little of his work survived.

still, i like to think that he painted her, too, in some stage of her life. she was beautiful, after all, and at least five great painters mastered their art by mastering the lines of her humble face.

she worked in the kitchen. she plucked ducks. when she had her child, she placed the child at her feet near the fire.

there's a picture of a young boy by gerard dou. the kid looks just like his mother. among all gerard's self-portrait's, i think i see a little bit of his face in the child. just a little bit of one.

ah, love. many of the art websites mention that the portrait done of this girl was the first great, distinctive work by these different artists. i bet she was their first love, too.

i wish i could find her name.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

i smell like a train station

i smell like stale bread, crumpled bits of greasy paper, empty juice bottles, concrete dust, sweaty train seats, mostly-clean urinals, hand soap, toothpaste, coffee, stinky boots, sweat socks, mud, pine sap, iron, and money that has changed a thousand hands and will change a thousand more.

i made it to my sister's place all right. i've got to wash the trains off me.

Monday, April 2, 2007

check in tomorrow

i was hiking yesterday, all day.

i am too tired to type.