I was walking past some big gully. There was something down in that gully, probably some weird chemical sh**.
My dad had already moved south. It was just me up here in this strange land, and it was 37 degrees and cloudy in mid-March. How to be heroic? Being heroic likely would have meant cleaning up all that weird chemical sh**.
I walked into the Barnes & Noble, which still sold CD’s, unlike the South Bend, Indiana one. I was dying to know old men’s opinions of war… though I forget what my question actually was. I started talking to this old dude in the cafe, and got something along the lines of, I don’t really care about anything, I just keep to myself. And yes, he had a gruff, callous but individually victorious way of speaking. He was once heroic, and now he’s simply American.
Back in the store where I was training, in Orland Park, to work at the South Bend, Indiana Whole Foods, I’d look around, perceive color and light, and sustain positive vibes successfully, all the time. This may sound simple, until you’ve tried living in South Bend, Indiana, which is the sort of place where you get made fun of for taking a dump, or glancing at a negress as a nicety.
In Orland Park, we had a way of not looking at each other, until it was appropriate to. I’d get a pretty good idea of people real quick; other than that I was just there to work, and that’s all I wanted. I’d look at the young girl who was checking me out, there was an understanding of decency with us, she had a relaxed face and was wearing loose, copious clothing, and she’d pretty much laugh at whatever I said, but I was trying to be funny. It was that sort of understanding, and then I’d move off, and no one would be looking at me as I bounded out of the edifice, which had previously been a Borders bookstore. The new Indiana Whole Foods store had also been a Borders. Between summer of 2007 and summer of 2008, I’d bought Liars – Liars, Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam, Beach House – Devotion and Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes, all at the Borders store in Boulder, Colorado, while earning an extremely low pay wage.
I’d get talking with one of the guys in the Orland Park store, and I’d pretty much be spewing my mind as I worked, we weren’t really worried about anything. He’d be spewing his mind too, or just thinking out loud that he hoped the White Sox wouldn’t suck too bad that year.
When we’d convened in Indiana to make the trip to the south Chicago suburb to do the training, the Indiana girl made some comment when we pulled into a gas station that she thought she’d get raped, despite the fact that we were still in a group of four of us, three guys and her, and it wasn’t the middle of the night, but rather 6:30 in the morning or so.
I talked “post-rock” the whole time on the drive, pretty successfully, with the Indiana dude I worked with, but on the fourth or so night in our hotel room I walked in and caught him masturbating. I’d always be out drinking heavily, and he’d always be in the room on his computer. I went in a Hooters, even, and talked to the ugliest waitress the whole time, just whatever. I went into the city (after getting made fun of for being touristy for doing that), got a bag of dried curried snap pea chips from this ethnic convenience store, walked around, through some ghettos, some overpasses with murals, to a random bar, and inside there was basketball on every TV. Despite the fact that they almost put a basketball on the Indiana quarter, it’s often so white trash in the town of South Bend that they wouldn’t even have it on, and rednecks in flannel and jeans drinking panther piss would complain when it got put on. Often, even during the times of an important sporting event, in South Bend, Indiana, if you go into a bar, the fat frumpy people will have the local news on, or American Movie Classics, and the owner of the Irish bookstore downtown has never heard of James Joyce.
I was attracted to some of the men in Orland Park, not sure if it was sexually, more just like they looked like they knew the alphabet, and like they were capable of having a single thought on their mind other than the brutal conquesting sodomy of the next female who walked by. But, there was strain on all of us. In 2004, the chic had been to discuss “terrorism,” and how it was actually a plot by the government to generate fear and support of the ostensibly unrelated war in Iraq, but in 2013, the “machine” kept rolling on, and even the songs on the radio sounded like fu**ing. Fronts of gas stations were faceless, people were faceless. People looked to their own pay checks for reference, indifferent to sporting on TV. “Properness” was defined by “improperness,” and so we lived under a realm of “properness.” The goal was not to be “improper.” This was a goal distributed on a massive scale by parties with money.
In the bar in Chicago, they had some random band on that sounded really good, I asked the bartender who it was and she said it was a band called Swervedriver, I think they were from Scotland or something. The bar was about two or three miles northwest of Union Station. They had basketball on every TV, and there were people playing chess. I talked to a guy from Pittsburgh, which is a city I really like, actually way more integrated than Chicago. Chicago was vast, but also desolate. The amount of hate that could bubble up in the gut of a black person from the south side was almost immeasurable, this was something I’d known since I’d been 22, more full blooded, and bought a New York Times from this black lady who’d unleashed a fury of frustration, malice and hate into my cottage-caucasian eyes.
There was a black dude I was training with in Orland, and when I told him I was going to go home and watch the Big Ten tournament, instead of asking whom I was rooting for, he goes, Who you ridin’ wit’? He was an extremely large gentleman, and in my opinion was overly impressed with the guacamole they made there at Whole Foods.
Last night I dreamed that a mouse will always survive, if he’s put out on his own but has the right kind of claws.