Monthly Archives: February 2007

Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock

Ahh, beatles reference, nothing beats it! It is of course late afternoon and I am sitting in my uncle’s office with a torrent of water pouring down the little waterfall, it is quite incredible what some rain will do. Today on the train back from Glasgow I saw a rainbow between Paisley Gilmour Station and Johnstone and it made me extraordinarily happy. I do not believe that rainbows represent God’s promise to Abraham never again to destroy the world by flood…even if they are nothing but a refraction of light and water they are miraculous, but I like to believe they are promises of something, pure beauty flung across the sky, living colour against the darkness, a call to remember that life is fucking marvelous and to be lived as deeply as possible. My ipod was presenting a classic rock moment as I watched, a little Marshall Tucker band and led zepplin, it was perfect.

I have this ring I wear all the time, silver with amber set into it. I was sitting on the rapid bus down Wilshire in L.A.next to this guy who was tatted and pierced and covered with jewelry and scarily thin. He liked my amber earrings so we started talking and I was telling him about all of the wonder and magic of the Tucson gem and mineral show, and as we approached La Brea his friend sitting across from us pulled out a rubber tourniquet and wrapped it around his arm, then a little vial and shook some heroin into a spoon and held his lighter under it and then he pulled out a syringe and filled it up and I know my face changed. The pain of his addiction hit me like a hammer for some reason even as I pretended not to see not to know not to feel, I raged at the sadness of the human life before me because every human life is beautiful and I wished there was something inside of me strong enough to stop him, to make him choose life, to give him hope as a gift without judgement…I wished I were more like a rainbow than a girl. He sat there, hand with syringe in pocket, veins bulging beneath the rubber, leg nervously bouncing up and down from the balls of his feet, waiting for the bus to stop so he could shoot up. The guy I was talking to leaned over and said it’s alright, there’s nothing anyone can do but him, but us. And then he pulled this ring off of his pinky finger as he stood to go and gave it to me and it was so unexpected I took it without thinking and then protested but he was already on his way out the door…it’s a prized possession though I don’t know why looking at it makes me happy…

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Friday in Edinburgh

The old man burst out of the door of the old tenement building, wearing cropped silver hair and nylon navy track suit. A track suit with shorts no less. He stood a moment at the top of the steps, chest out, proud surveyor of a city waiting to be conquered and impervious to shafts of curiosity or laughter. A deep breath and he was carefully, quickly down the stairs, an old roller suitcase bouncing in offended protest behind him. It appeared empty, a brilliant battered red against the day’s muted grey. As the old man shuffled in a determined jog down the main street sidewalk the battered case trundled behind him yielding reluctantly to the afternoon’s adventure. I stood a moment and thought, but of course I followed.


The unlikely pair moved slowly down the street, taking the most direct route in and among and around the masses of Friday’s pedestrians. From time to time the old man’s thin legs would slow to a walk, the suitcase slowed its wheels, confronted with an impenetrable wall of prams or hooded teenagers travelling in packs. A breath only. The old man would slow to a walk but looked neither to the right or the left; he looked always straight ahead and picked up his shuffle as soon as he was able. The suitcase rolled confidently behind him, its wheels trapped in the rut of the road most taken. My own feet were delighting in the absurd and the new and the unknown. Smiles blossomed along our path like flowers, and heads turned to watch him like blades of grass before the wind.


Why would an old man go jogging pulling a roller suitcase behind him? Training for the great roller suitcase derby, senior division. Training for his next holiday with its short layovers and mad rushes from train to train, train to bus, bus to plane. Specialized training for the muscles in his arm and lower back. Perhaps the suitcase wasn’t actually empty, perhaps it held dirty track suits, microfilm, a kilo of cocaine, the maltese falcon, the novel he’d been writing for the past 40 years, the last piece of his wife needing disposal, a hot meal in Tupperware for his granddaughter, his vintage porn collection rescued from diligent housecleaning, smuggled Russian cigarettes, a genuine Renoir, a bottle of chocolate milk to be shaken, black-market watches for sale, pink lingerie, crisps, an entire flea circus, a lock of his lost love’s hair, brilliant poetry on crumpled up paper, the answer to life’s greatest question which he had just resolved through physics and that he now needed to urgently deliver, the winners of tomorrow’s horse racing, his wig collection, cabbages…


And so I followed him, slowly, for my walk was faster than his shuffle. Rain fell. It fell lightly all across the great fucking beautiful city, a web of silver spun silk to shroud ugliness and hide tears and awaken a deep throbbing loveliness of colour in the world. It cleaned the sky. People hurried through their afternoon, hurried through their lives and I exulted in rampant loneliness and adventure, following an old man pulling a battered suitcase. The ordinary become extraordinary. I love how that happens every day.

Escocia Querida

I love it, and why? I’m sticking the funny stuff in first this blog because it’s hell of long and philosophical:

Wholey apart from fabulous whiskey flavoured condums, as though you hadn’t just drunk far too much, I have never read anything with more delight than the “WARNING: Do not drive whilst using this product.” It is quite fun to imagine operating a condum and a vehicle at the same time, full of interesting possibilities, even more interesting for the men. Sadly, the machine was empty…I shall be on Rose street again though, it was a really nice pub too so I shall definitely be back. Bet you all know what you’re getting as birthday presents and christmas gifts now…unless I find another stock of Nightrider and A-Team beer coasters at Pivo Pivo, you never know.

So, I am enjoying myself here but I am missing frijoles y tortillas y chile. I knew I would. And I am missing spanglish and gerry’s jokes and my friends quite terribly.

It’s incredible to think that you have the power to send your life shooting off into whatever direction you choose, and incredible to wonder who I would be if I had moved to Gallup, New Mexico or the Yucatan or Mongolia. I wouldn’t be a different person right away of course, but after 6 months, a year, who would I become? And who shall I become now? I want to know, and when I want to know something i can’t know it rather makes me feel like throwing a metaphysical tantrum. That would be a good novel actually, the parrallel lives of A Gibbons all branching out from one single point like the delta of a river and each of them throwing tantrums over not being able to unravel the secrets of life at various points in the book. I might write it, so consider it copyrighted though I have a sneaking feeling it’s already been done. I can’t decide if I believe in fate or not, soulmates or not, God or not, death as the next adventure or death as the absolute end, if you should work to live or live to work to change the world, if there’s any hope at all for us, if the rightwing tide will ever turn, if enlightenment is possible and if so do you really have to go without sex to find it, if the revolution is ever fucking coming and if it does will it actually result in equality, if one day everyone will just suddenly stop believing in money cause it’s make believe anyways…I could just sit and wonder all day, wish you could get paid to wonder…the point I wanted to get to was that my being here in Glasgow is based almost entirely on my brother’s chance meeting with scottish girlfriend laura several years ago on a study abroad program in France…and looking farther back I suppose meeting my ex, getting hired by Carecen in L.A., getting my university scholarship cut which means I didn’t go to Russia. Can you believe I was studying Russian and planned to go to Russia? Fucking hell, but Swarthmore College screwing me over more than 10 years ago now has possibly had the greatest impact of all. And then there was this beautiful and tiny blue butterfly flapping its wings on the asian steppes at 11:34 am on February 2nd, 1982…

Still, I am here! Still swinging between intense happiness and loneliness and a bit of panic. I had forgotten how much I hate not knowing what I am doing, I wish my ego would take a bit of a rest because I know that no one really knows what they’re doing, still, I hate not knowing what I’m doing. I have to go to the job center tomorrow and it’s freaking me out a bit. Which is a bit justified because I have heard terrible things…but more of the annoying bureaucratic sort rather than of the random beatings for being unemployed and occassional public humiliation kind or vampires in the plumbing so I know I really have nothing to worry about, which is why I am annoyed with myself.

Anyways, haven’t been able to write for a while, you can tell because all kinds of silliness is just pouring out…haven’t been with my beautiful silly L.A. friends, that’s probably the problem, I need to find silly Glasgow friends who like to discuss life and politics and videogames at length over pints – maybe I should do a personal add? That would give me some interesting stories…But I had a great weekend with my cousin and his girlfriend in Edinburgh and and walked miles and miles and took some brilliant photos. We went up the coast a bit on Saturday to Gullane point which looked like this in the afternoon:

And became even more beautiful as the sun set

And looking at beauty such as that you don’t worry about life or death or sex or revolution at all, you just feel intensely alive and content in standing seeing breathing living…so forget everything I just wrote, I really do have the answers.

Sunday we walked round Edinburgh, down Leith walk which is also absolutely stunning

Edinburgh is honestly one of the most photogenic cities I have ever been in, you could just wander about taking the most incredible shots day after day after day. I love Glasgow as much, but it requires more work to discover its beauty…like L.A. I think, funny how I prefer L.A. to San Francisco and Glasgow to Edinburgh. Or do I? That’s a discussion for another day though. We walked all the way up to the museum of modern art and one of the coolest art pieces I have ever seen and fell in love with at first sight:

And now I’m back in Howwood, the weather has turned cold, grey and rainy again, perhaps also inspiring such a ridiculously long blog. I might go down to the local pub by myself now, that would certainly be adventurous of me. But dare I court the dissaproval of the aunt and uncle? Perhaps not since I’ll be staying with them another couple of weeks at least and its a dubious sort of adventure, with a possibility of intense discomfort…I might save it for later.

1st blog from scotland

Sunday morning, sitting in Hamilton sipping tea and eating toast…it’s cold and grey and raining softly outside and i can feel the cold creeping in through the window. Can’t believe I’m here, it doesn’t feel real at all which is why I don’t mind the cold or the rain and just feel a bit removed from myself, outside myself, a stranger’s hands typing on the keyboard, a body I am watching from just above and looking beyond to the green grass and bare branches of the trees and roses outside. I hope it snows today, and apart from hope i think I am feeling very happy, a quiet happiness this morning, and lonely, an expectant loneliness this morning, and nervous, a nervousness born of infinite opportunity and new beginnings this morning…

time to go eat square sausages with Laura, I love square sausages. I have been made sad, however, by the absolute absence of pinto beans from the supermarket shelves, and the fact that double sinks don’t seem to have caught on here, and I cannot figure out how you wash your dishes and then rinse them without what seems like a lot of extra work…still, I went out to the pub with my uncle on Friday and ordered a steak pie and just on the off chance I asked the waiter if they had any chile sauce or red pepper flakes…they didn’t of course but guess what? The chef made me chile sauce…and it was really good, not so spicy sadly but really good and it made me so happy! I love this place.

monster trucks

Alright, hanging out, went hiking this morning and it was great except for the bit where we left the trail and I led Mikey’s lovely lady into danger and she was attacked by a cactus and blood was pouring down her hand and I did feel really bad about that…she is now extra special welcome to the Gibbons family though, she was awesome and laughed more than she cried and she didn’t even curse me none…and I’m tired, not as tired as this dial up connection, but lying on the couch with the laptop I pay that no mind, just finished watching Talladega nights extras if you couldn’t tell.

Talladega Nights was just a wind up to what’s on now…monster truck rally! Fuck yeah! The only place you can hear announcers saying

“that truck’s broke”

“The escalade’s real popular with the young people, the neon, the spinners…dude, it’s got it’s bling on!”

The judges were like 3 regular guys in T-shirts and caps and they were snapping pictures with their digital cameras while holding up their scores…Too bad we tuned in at the end, it was the world championship but not much international competition surprisingly enough…now it’s a real life…ron jeremy in the flesh! And Pepa (from Salt n Pepa) deep throating a banana, she put the whole thing in her mouth and then took it out again…nice. She’s got skills I can only dream of. Webster! Cool! And China Doll with dogs Bambi Roo and Honeysuckle Hunnybunny…tv is just so good on Sunday afternoon! Superbowl coming up. Let’s just hope I never have to go through the superbowl again, my dad signed us up for neighborhood party…I’m just going for food. Some classic American moments before I leave…three days, can’t tell if I’m happy or want to throw up. Both maybe.

last wednesday

Forcing myself to write for myself later on…last night I went to dinner with Maria and Araceli and Monic to la Guelaguetza…mmm, mole and nopales and quesadillas with huitlaco…huitzlaco…huitzlacochitl? Maybe? It’s some nahuatl word and I don’t think that’s right…It’s a mushroom that grows on corn and absolutely delicious, I’d never had it before…

And then this morning I went to see Agustina…she made me feel so much better about everything because here she is in her very own office, her business started with the money from the Morrison struggle

I had some clothes needing a bit of taking in, and Agustina always inspires me, she’s an amazing incredible woman, and it made me so happy to see her again, it’s been awhile…she has also learned to drive since I last saw her! And her business is now taking in a profit, if you need anything tailored let me know and I shall give you the address!

Today went to lunch with Linda but we were so busy talking I didn’t take pictures…and then to dinner with dona Irene y Pati, here’s my adopted mexican grandmother making gorditas

They were soooo good, and I can make them as well now…but I ate far too much, I shall be rolling onto my plane I think. I biked home, the skies have finally cleared and it was cold and lovely and a full moon. Beautiful. Nights like this I love L.A.

remembering the Morrison

Sitting at home, watching the documentary Jeff Kauffman did for us on the Morrison Hotel…such a crazy time of my life, all-absorbing life-changing really, I am watching Maria Rivas open up her phone and seeing it crawling with roaches, one of my most disgusting horrific memories…the hallways with their boarded up doors, Mark talking about pulling himself up four flights of stairs, Mark pulling himself out of his wheelchair, he lost a leg because of that damn building, when you’re paralyzed you can’t feel the roaches crawling over your legs, your genitals, can’t tell you have an infection that will mean amputation. I remember the smell, the mold, the fleas that attack you as you walk in and you know are from the fucking rodents, puppy rats the tenants called them because of their size… I remember sneaking in late at night to take photos and document conditions and talk to our folks, the fear and adrenalin as I walked past security dressed in ridiculous clothes. And damn, I remember the day we had our first action and got into the building after months and I have never in my life been so happy, so high really, it lasted for days. I remember the manager sitting on the floor on the 4th floor rocking back and forth with his head in his hands…a small payback for threatening tenants with his pit bull and throwing people into the street but it was something…the remaining tenants cheering us as we roamed the hallways like champions.

I’m sadly one of the stars of the documentary…I wish I spoke better, I feel things so deeply but can’t seem to express myself well out loud, perhaps that’s why I’m a writer I suppose. I am fueled on pure fury, much more so than hope, and I think there’s no way to tell that, funny that you can’t tell how angry I am all of the time…And I look tired, I think I’ve been tired since I first started working, first started fighting with every ounce of strength for a little piece of justice. It’s funny to watch yourself speak. I am so glad, though, that there is some living record of such a long struggle, so glad to see everyone I love, everyone I worked with. Even John Krusynski, he makes me laugh because he is just so ridiculous at times, he’s a psychic you know, and Nasa has been picking up his thoughts by satellite for years. He actually said in his interview that we were a bit annoying at times, that somehow didn’t make it into the finished film. I’m going to miss him. Nor did my stunning analysis of the role of property rights over human rights but that’s alright. Elvis is also missing, he sold out early on and bought some beautiful new clothes we heard…His room was like a tunnel between stacks of papers and sheet music and plastered with music posters of Elvis and the Doors and even a picture of the real Elvis’ mother. he came to all of our meetings with his guitar. Mr Brown is there at the protest, a crochety old veteran who was lost as well when he lost his room, his own place, his home. It was a horrible day the day we had to move him out, I cried. And Sebastian is there at our meeting, an old Italian fisherman, he will never know how much I loved him and I think he left believing we had sold everyone out by taking a deal and that hurts like nothing else. We would have fought all the way if the other tenants had wanted us to, I wanted to fight…but with their kids getting assaulted in the hallways and 90 boarded up rooms and drug deals in the bathrooms…they couldn’t fight anymore. And who were we to demand it when legally we were finished?

The documentary is almost done, nice to see Mark as he was, without his home shithole as it was, he’s lost. He’s been on the streets since then, in and out of the hospital, looking worse every time I see him, how hard is it to understand that a home means more than money and cannot be replaced? There was another tenant with severe mental problems who lived there, we tried and tried to talk to him, other tenants tried to help him, but he would never accept it. he was the last to leave and I don’t think he got any money…He’s homeless now and lives on 30th street near the freeway, only blocks from our office…I wonder if he knows it. I pass him on my bike coming to work in the morning and it makes my soul hurt.

I wonder if the Morrison has given me more hope or less…I know I didn’t have much left inside to give after it, still don’t, definitely need to rest, to recharge…the ending of the Morrison with everyone moving out, a small win more bitter than sweet…and the shooting of Maria’s son, those two unconnected things together have killed a piece of me I think, I wonder if it can come back.

I’m packing this evening, getting rid of more stuff, I suppose it’s a good time to think on all that has been. I am sad, and nothing seems real this evening, even all that I have done, the documentary proves it happened, the tiredness in my bones does as well, and I suppose the hole inside me that appears whenever I cry. My ipod is magically matching my mood on shuffle…shutting the cover on years of your life requires a good soundtrack, did I say I was fucking sad as all hell?