Tag Archives: short story

Summer 2009

We lounged almost daily on Santa Monica Beach, preferably on the less touristy north end of the pier, and we more or less happily stayed on our small parcel in this big, enigmatic galaxy of a city. What I remember from that summer is that she would always fall asleep around 3, a little tipsy, with a paperback on her face in a dreamy malaise. I could be wrong, of course, because memory has a way of outstripping reality, but before me is a scene that is somewhat framed and ready to bring to light.

When I begin liking someone I suddenly become concerned and aware of the mushiness effects of my words, she said, and it’s bad luck to whisper that you’re happy. That club last night was too dark. I bet it was to hide the seediness and the shit on the floors, although I suppose it makes people look more attractive if you can barely see them.

It wasn’t out of the ordinary for her to slide into fragmented speeches without the slightest indication of topic change or beat of silence–it was as if she needed to blurt it out before it was forgotten forever. She was also very modern, which is to say a whip-smart, curious, and handsome bottle-blonde who embraced quasi-mysticism as a form of rebellion against technological overload and a generally uncaring world. Her psyche was thoroughly more contemporary than mine–awash in magical-thinking and new-agey nonsense without a hint of cynicism, whereas mine was sober-minded and open to hard truths. The makings of an impractical, doomed relationship.

She was lying on her stomach and clinging to the revolving earth on the day I fell in love, assumably because she got the high score on the Mrs. PacMan machine tucked away in the very back of the costly Mexican restaurant (amongst ogling busboys who made off-color jokes about gueros.) at the very back end of the funky-smelling pier–even though I probably shouldn’t have given in so easily. She bought me a newspaper because I love the texture of the archaic things people derive pleasure from but never talk about. The newspaper told me that a baseball team had drafted Grant Green, passing up the modern-day Mickey Mantle whose name pays homage to an oily fish that grizzly bears love to bite the heads off of and is particularly tasty with garlic butter. It certainly didn’t seem odd at the time.

Eric Chavez retires, the A’s are really, really bad, and the summer is ending on a horrible note.

photo

battered, stained and sad.

The A’s have continued their frustrating nose dive into oblivion, now only percentage points in front of the Mariners, and a half game above the Tigers. The slump is somehow baffling and understandable at the same time, and if the ball-club fails to make the post season it would be seen as the biggest collapse of the Wild Card Era. (and one of the biggest in baseball history in my opinion.) No team with the best record at the All Star break (again, in the Wild Card Era) has failed to make the playoffs. The season is rapidly coming to an end, and what was in the beginning that elicited pure joy now only brings feelings of deflation. Deflated enough to talk about a t-shirt….

I’ve owned this Eric Chavez t-shirt for many years now, almost too many to remember. It is faded, the letters/numbers are cracked, and I usually only wear it to bed or if I’m doing yard work. I cut the sleeves off of it a couple of years ago because I needed a sleeveless shirt for the unbearably hot summers. It’s comfortable and broken in just the way I like it. My girlfriend wants me to throw it away, but I refuse. That would be like tossing away a friend, and we have too many stories and experiences mutually shared.

Eric Chavez, who retired on July 30th, was the greatest 3rd baseman in Oakland A’s history. (Sorry, Sal Bando!) “Chavy” won the Gold Glove 6 times in a row, is 4th on the on the Oakland all time home run list with 230, (Bando is 6th with 192.) and is universally seen as one of the most beloved players that ever put on an Athletics uniform. It’s frustrating paying homage to a player in such dire times, yet Chavy’s legacy will live on– if only in the life of a battered t-shirt that covers a broken heart.

SLUMP!!!!

i guess  Here I am again, sitting by the poolside with a screwdriver, one of my favorite adult beverages. You may think that I’m trying to be a braggart, but L.A. summers are hot, man. I’m not having the time of my life or anything. Mind you, I live in a post WW 2 bungalow (L.A. is known for these….look for them in just about EVERY movie) so I don’t have air conditioning. Yep….tough times.

  OK…OK….on to baseball. As you may or may not know my answers are unfiltered and to-the-point, often poignant but always unsentimental, not rude but refusing to infest the garden of honest human communication with the Victorian-seeded, American-sprouted weed of pointless politeness. What was the question you asked?

Well, the A’s sucking major ball-sack lately.

The A’s hitting has been anemic since “the trade”. They are 7-10 since trading the “Cuban Missile” and have currently lost 7 out of their last 8.  They got a great ace in Lester but traded their 4 hitter to get him. Losing Cespedes has an effect on your 3 an 5 hitters and, ultimately, your entire lineup…..and that’s fine. There is a philosophy at work here. And that philosophy is based on “gamers”, L/R matchups (the baseball du jour) and amazing starting pitching.

 I’ll take the above mentioned any day of the week over a guy who had an OBP of barely .300 and would make a great play every now and then. This is baseball…it takes patience, articulation and grittiness to win. If I know anything about this team….we’ll be alright. This is a desperate plea to all the nerds out there in internet land….CALM DOWN! I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING! ENJOY BASEBALL! SOMETIMES YOU LOSE! LIFE GOES ON! QUIT BLOWING UP MY INBOX! …..and now…..back to my screwdriver.

Sean Doolittle and the hesher.

doo2Q: “Hey, what’s up?”
A: “Oh, ya know, ripping apart, severing flesh, gouging eyes, tearing limb from limb.”

Q: “Hey, why won’t the red light change?
A: “Hmm, gods of the throne must be watching from hell.”

Hessian = West coast name for a heavy metal fan

by John Quittner

Halloween 1991 was my first Halloween in Olympia, Wa. and I didn’t have any plans, so I was spending the evening cold kickin’ it with my roomies Brent and Maia watching Star Trek.  As I went to the kitchen to fetch the wine, my confident strut was interrupted by a knock at the door. I opened up and found myself staring at two young hessians no older than 13 , who wore no costume except that of their normal hessain selves– sleeveless denim jacket with Guns and Roses headband and curled lip etc.

“Fuckin’ trick or treat.” they said.

quit

your esteemed writer.

‘We don’t have any candy or anything.”

“Got a cigarette?” one asked hopefully with a snarl.

“I don’t smoke.”

“Got any alcohol?” They were quite bold.

“Well,” I pointed to the liquor store “they’ll probably sell you some over there.”

“Aww dude, do I look 21 to you?”

“Sure.” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Yeah fuckin’ right.” They didn’t look like they were going anywhere.

I got an idea. “You guys want a Judas Priest record?”

Their eyes got all big…” Fuck yeah!” they said in unison.

“Well hang on a second, ” I started digging through my old hesh records.

“Fuck, man. Do you have PAINKILLER?”

‘Uh huh,” the last Judas Priest record I had bought was DEFENDERS OF FAITH, but then it occurred to me that budding heshers were more into speed metal, not standard early 80’s viking striking stuff.

“Who wants Anthrax FIST FULL OF METAL?”

“Me! Me!”

I handed them both over and let them fight it out.

“KILLER! Thanks man!”

They ran off into the night, and I slept easy knowing that I had pleased two young heshers on their most special night of the year. How stoked would King Diamond be!?

Glenn Burke.

frolic                               “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

The Frolic Room is squished into the armpit of Hollywood Boulevard that is the area between the Pantages Theater and the corner of  the world-famous streets, Hollywood and Vine. It was reportedly one of the famous scribe Charles Bukowski‘s favorite places to drink. I like to go there because it’s a few blocks away from where the tourists hang out, and it exudes the seedier and more retro-glam side of Hollywood that only a denizen of the City of Angels can appreciate.

Gaylord is my favorite bar-tender of the joint, and the separate syllables of his name correctly describe his sexual orientation and demeanor. G. is a bit on the larger side and is known in the gay community as a “bear.”  I’m enjoying a whiskey soda and the Dodgers are playing a mid afternoon get-away game on the tube. There are only a couple of patrons; two sauced frat boys listening to Van Halen on the juke box.  I can tell G. is bored.

“Do you remember Glenn Burke?” glenn burke

“Yeah….gay baseball player… died of AIDS, what about him?”

“You know the Dodgers traded him because he was fucking Tommy Lasorda’s son?”

After some research, this turned out to be somewhat true. He was a close friend of Tom Jr. who died of AIDS in 1991. Dodgers GM Al Campanis had offered to pay for a lavish honeymoon if the talented outfielder and out of the closet gay man would get married.  He was eventually traded to the Oakland A’s because of his refusal.

“Sad story…he was a true visionary…or maybe he didn’t give a shit and just wanted to be himself.”

“I just thought about it a little more because of all the gay this and gay that in sports these days.”

I throw another five spot on the counter, and after a short silence, another drink is placed in front of me. G. gives me a double because I’m such a great tipper. I pound half of it and turn again to laugh at the frat boys as I’m crunching the ice.

“Yep. It’s a damn shame, but what’re you gonna do,” I say.

At that moment a man by the name of “Tip” Rosenberg walks in. I have doubts about the name Tip, but he can bullshit with the best of them, and always seemed to be good conversation. Tip was an agent who flashed the old-time world of show business; he had a gold cigarette lighter, fancy sunglasses and expensive suits. Mind you, these artifacts were impressive in the late 70’s, yet my knack for the retro look made me an obvious sucker for this weirdo.

“What’s the word, Tip?”

“Scripts. It seems to be the place where they spend the least money! If you have a good story and provide good dialogue the audience is happy….am I wrong?”

“Well how in the hell can you explain Transformers and Avatar then?”

Rosenberg had no idea what I was talking about. Him and the Bear start to reminisce about the gay scene of the 70’s.

“We were ALL beautiful….we were in our 20’s….” etc.

I smile at these lavish conversations. I love and adore the freedom and juevos these gentlemen had to have just to be themselves. I am brightened and enlightened as I take the staircase two stories down into the subway.

Just another face amongst the faces.

GLENN BURKE R.I.P. ALWAYS AN OAKLAND ATHLETIC, AND ALWAYS A PIONEER.

Burke.Glenn.Grave