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Quarantine brings me back to the blog.
I haven’t posted on here in forever. Checking in to say hello. The last year or so I’ve not been writing much. I am currently working in immigration doing mostly political asylum cases. Wish I had more time to write. Appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my books, check the blog, or follow me on Twitter.
Follow this link to hear me talk CASABLANCA and Old Hollywood.
Today is my second day of reconsidering the internet. My internet. While I have dropped in on Twitter a few times to check your tweets, and thanks for the good ones everyone, I’ve avoided the familiar sites where I used to get my information. DailyKos, Hullabaloo, Huffington Post, Salon, Talking Points Memo, et al. for they are no longer useful to me. I have seen through them and finally figured out something about myself.
I am 47 and my entire life I have believed in progress. No matter what the endeavor, I believed we were getting smarter and our technology was getting better and eventually there would be no obstacle to justice and fairness and equality. Granted there was lots of work required, but I didn’t need to do it because the arc of the moral universe bent toward justice and progress was inevitable. I no longer hold that view.
Over the last few days, I have realized something else that has caused me deep embarrassment. I was in the bubble. I tricked myself into thinking I was being informed, when I was being deluded. I let reading and commenting online take the place of action. I was even dumb enough to think my jokes on Twitter were a good use of time. I was wrong.
Some have said that jokes on Twitter constitute defiance. Others that the jokes made them feel better. I respectfully disagree. When everyone you follow and most of your followers agree with you, there is no defiance. Indeed the comfort one gets from the witty barbs is the opposite of what’s necessary. Discomfort is the only way forward.
That’s why I reconsidered my relationship with technology, specifically information technology and, even more specifically, the internet.
For I am suffering from too much information. I am overwhelmed by stimuli. And I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are “lost in the spectacle” These days, there are countless sources of data and an unlimited supply of charlatans manipulating them. As human beings, it is impossible for us to absorb all this stimuli. This is overwhelming and terrifying.
For this reason, we find solace in organizing the things we do understand. A person might not be able to understand the world, but they can know everything that’s going on in THE WALKING DEAD. You might not comprehend how the government works, but you can collect so many different types of Pokemon.
Now I don’t want to criticize anyone’s particular entertainment choices, but I will say that those enthusiasms are a refuge and I encourage you to leave it. Engage with the world. Take action that yields positive results that can be measured. There will be plenty of chances to create moral justice, but it will not come naturally. And never if we wait to read about it online.
LIZARDS AND SNAKES
The driver handed me a loaded pipe as soon as I got in the car and I went to town. By the time we got back to the spot, I was pretty loaded. He left me on the curb in front of a tropical style apartment building, then disappeared with the car. I didn’t expect to see him again for awhile. He was older, part of a crew out of Beverly Hills. I had no idea why he had been driving.
The apartments were built in that weird island style that mixed Hawaiian and Polynesian and Tahitian or whatever. There were tropical plants growing unchecked in planters all around. Big old Sagos and clusters of palm trees thin and tall. The rotting smell of banana plants was everywhere and I imagined everyone living here tended big complicated aquariums full of snakes, lizards, and iguanas.
I climbed the stairs to the top floor corner apartment. It was at the end of a long outdoor walkway with a flimsy little railing. The tops of the palm trees were almost close enough to touch. The apartment had only one window facing the walkway and its blinds had a small square cut out so someone sitting inside could keep an eye on the approach.
As soon as I went inside, Rob was there. He was tall and angular and bore a striking resemblance to Ben Stiller. Everyone called him Zoolander. “You got it on you?” He barked. He held a small pillow case in front of me.
“Yeah.” I unloaded the gun and wiped it down and dropped it in the pillowcase.
“You in on this?” I held up the bag I’d taken off the swarthy dead.
“No. I’m in on this.” He held up the pillowcase. “Everyone coming here to sort it?” Rob rolled up the piece and shoved it in his back waistband.
“I doubt it. Myles will eventually because he lives here. Everyone else, I don’t know. Dave might come around after he sees about the plants up at the spot.”
“Looks like I’ll have to track them down then.” Rob huffed a little.
“What’s the hurry?” I asked him, but I knew the answer. He usually took the guns and sold them quick or dumped them in the ocean to make sure we got rid of them. Rumor was he had done time for having a piece around that some friend had lied about ditching. That’s how he acted anyway.
“What’s in the bag?” Rob had been eyeing it since we had finished talking about the guns.
I didn’t answer. I stone-faced him and kept to myself. For fuck’s sake, I had no idea what was in the bag. I sat on the couch and got to work on the complicated bong I found on the table. The Lakers ran up and down the TV. They were losing, but the weed was good and that made the game interesting. My pager started buzzing after a few smoky minutes of NBA action.
“Where’s the phone?” I figured Rob would know. He was always on it, selling weed.
“Next to you.” He sneered.
It was wedged on the couch between the cushions and I picked it up and dialed. I could tell by the code at the end of the page who was calling and I did not like what I saw. Maybe the bag had to go somewhere. Maybe I had to take it. I knew I would do it. The longer I held onto this bag, the better my chances of getting money out of it.
The driver loaded and unloaded the gun at least three times. He claimed he was checking the action. I did not know what that meant. I sat in the passenger seat of the old Corolla, smoking and staring at the metal door that floated in the glass of the side view mirror above the words ‘closer than they appear’. I sat low and had my hat pulled down. I threw my cigarette out the window when I finished it, then I lit another.
I saw the door open a crack and close again, but it didn’t close flush. There was a thin black crack of dark now. I took off my cap and pulled the ski mask over my head. He cocked the gun one last time and handed it to me. As soon as he did, I got out of the car and headed for the door. I kept my cigarette going until I got there. Then I spit it out of my mouth still burning and I went inside.
By now they had hit the front door and I could hear the yelling. A gunshot shook me. Already something that wasn’t supposed to happen was happening. I ducked and got up against the wall in the darkest spot that was close. I readied for trouble, but nothing happened. Even the yelling stopped.
I made it to the hiding spot seconds later. It was just like the kid had described it, wedged between a pillar and a soda machine. Across from me was a door at the bottom of the stairs that led to an office on the second floor and it didn’t take long before they came down running. I hoped for their sake they were empty handed. If they came down with nothing, I could let them go and take it from the office no trouble.
Then the door opened and they were there, swarthy fuckers with gold chains and track suits. I’d seen the taller one around at clubs and parties. I stole his lighter once at the beach. I didn’t like them much, but it was still too bad they had the bags with them. They passed me, fleeing out the way I had come in and I stepped out from behind the pillar and shot them.
I hit the tall one high in the back and he fell hard breaking his chin on the concrete floor. The other guy took a couple of shots to come down and did so less dramatically. He ended up within reach of the back door with his back resting against an empty keg. His brain was on the wall above him.
Now I moved fast, I sprinted out and grabbed the bag as I passed. I hit the door. The air felt real cool outside. The driver had backed the Corolla close to the back door and it only took me a second to get in the car. Then we were gone. The guys in front left seconds later. They didn’t steal anything but booze and wallets.
They couldn’t risk walking down the main street. Mike looked like man half-dead from a beating, Benny looked like a guy with a bullet in his gut and the Doc looked like a hophead about to start up with the shakes. The cops would stop them as soon as they saw them and they would have reason to, as all of those things were true.
Here’s the first page of the treatment for my new show in case anyone is curious.
Gina Martin is happily married and lives in Newport Beach with two wonderful kids, Caleb and Iris. Her husband, Dan Martin, owns Freedom Bail Bonds and goes by the name Jimmy Free. He keeps long hours, but he’s good at his job and business is booming. Money rolls in.
Gina comes from a working class background and her husband’s lifestyle is new to her. She embraces it. It’s what she always wanted. She revels in spa days at the country club, shopping trips to Europe, and private school for the kids. She enjoys her life and loves her perfect home. Her only complaint is that her husband spends too many late nights on the job.
Early one morning, it all comes crashing down around her. The authorities kick in the front door and raid the house. They take Dan away in handcuffs. Agents round up the family and sit them down in the living room, then search the place thoroughly. The lead FBI agent, Ezekiel Meringue, interrogates Gina while her children look on crying. He pesters her about Dan and his associates. She hasn’t met any of them and doesn’t recognize the names.
Agent Meringue doesn’t believe her. The questioning continues until Dan’s attorney shows up. He’s wearing slippers and a robe. His name is Raoul Bodega and he lives down the street. He asserts Gina’s rights and ends the interview. Within hours, the police are gone. They leave a mess behind.
As Raoul and Gina sift through the trashed house, Gina’s neighbor Rita comes by and offers to take Caleb and Iris over to her house to play with her kids. Gina doesn’t
hesitate to defend Dan to her neighbor. Gina insists it’s all a mistake. Rita comforts and reassures her, but there’s a doubtful look on her face when she leaves with the kids.
I have published another book. It is called FIXED FIGHT. You can buy it here.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.