October 27, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
It's raining out. I just got in from the clubs. That scene just wasn't fun tonight. I talked to some great guys I know... just from around... like Dan Jones who promotes live music shows and Matt Brown who came with me to Moncton for the film producers meeting last winter, and just other guys I know from school. There's so many people that I know but don't really know; that I have not spent time with, but our paths crossed and we have friends in common.
My eyes are burning. I need sleep. Usually we don't leave the club till after now, 2:06am, which is when the bars are forced to close by law, but since the clock was turned back tonight, they stayed open an extra hour. Bar scenes can be pretentious; smiling and nodding with puffed up chests... both guys and girls; smoky and over crowded; whacked music too loud; just vexatious to the spirit unless you are totally into it.
So... I gotta go to bed. The class this morning was all group work, not presentations as I hoped, and the dynamics were all set, so at 9am I took off my favorite brown cords and olive green suit jacket and crawled back into bed. From 11:30am till 3:30pm I edited images from the photography class I taught at Lorne Middle school last spring. Donna and I then took slides from our over night adventure at Welsford falls to Appleby’s to be printed. That’s one thing I'm happy to do for my friends --take pictures of them. I shoot when they are at their best, so they can look at themselves and realize how beautiful they are.
At Cape Spencer, we stood on top the huge 50 foot boulder, wind howling, nearing blowing us off, freezing rain pellets beating down; we chilled up there embracing, looking up and down the cliff lined uninhabited coast, enjoying conversation and other forms of communication. Sometimes the most powerful statements are not said with words, but a touch or a look at the right moment.
I'm obsessed with writing. Not the writing itself, but that there is a story and I feel the need to weave it; make it part of the social fabric. Why does any artist do anything? I'm not talking about making a living, but making art, expressing one's self, cuz that is what it is to live.
2pm. There is a sack of note books on the floor filled with journals from Baja, Isla de la Piedra, Big Bed and Austin. It's a lot of work to type them all out into a story.
Sadly, my friend Brad Whipple, who I went to play school and high school with and visited in Torreon, Mexico, was just murdered this week in Costa Rica in a robbery. He ran and was shot in the back. I'm looking for my journals from Torreon to find records of my time with him.
2:16pm. I've just been reading a conversation I had in Big Bed Texas with Darlene, Howard Upchurch's wife. Howard, as I understand, was the man Marlon Brando played in Apocalypse Now.
"I'll tell you it was a ball," Darlene said to Sam and I with a warm smile, reminiscing about her life with Howard. She is holding a steaming cup of tea between her hands, pinching a cigarette between two fingers, elbows resting on the arms of a large wood and leather chair sitting on back porch facing menacing dark gray waves of cloud engulfing the crimson stone fortress in the distant east. Her cactus garden is surrounded by stones forming the shape of Texas. "But I never want to go through that hell again," she continued. "I wouldn't go through hell again for any man."
"It was like a bunch of bees. It's just amazing how kids flocked to him. He was a human version of the golden book," Darlene described him as Grandfatherly. "Even when he was drunk he'd by a Golden Book for this one little Mexican girl, and read it to her. He did that a lot. that girl always came to him with her problems. He was a good person when he was sober, but he wasn't sober that much. One day he could be so nice and the next his liqueur is doing the talking. When I saw that Chuck Norris film POW, I could understand why he drank. Howard was really two people-- sober he was one-- drunk another --entirely different. You can love somebody and you don't gotta like him."
"They took the cream of the crop and turned them into killers," Darlene shook her head. "I feel for any veteran, because they don't get what they deserve. They did not recognize them. He would have nightmares and march in his sleep all night long," she demonstrated with her hands. "One night he tried to choke me."
[In the note book there are a couple lines about Howard "shooting at light bulbs thrown in the air" and constable Billy Pat Mckinney, but they are not compete. As I remember the story being told, Howard was shooting bulbs down by the Rio Grande somewhere near La Jitas, and a Billy Pat's plane flew over, and got hit. Billy thought Howard meant to hit him and maybe he did. The next line in the journal is a quote from Darlene, saying "I even gave him a hair cut in jail. The guards up in Alpine loved Howard."]
"I fell in love with Howard when I was 50; and that is one of the deepest loves because it is an old and caring love. It's love about romantic love. When you are this age you don't get over it. It's deeper. That's why I don't want to get involved with anybody. Believe me, I really screwed up when I got married to Howard. It was always what he wanted to do. We was only married four months; that's when I filed for a divorce."
"What do you think of Collie?" I asked, after noticing a hub cap painted by Collie that adorns the wall of Darlene’s kitchen; in it's center is a red chill design matching the theme of the room-- the curtains, refrigerator magnets, shelves, etc.
"She is a beautiful lady, and so talented."
I asked her about Dick Frank, the man who spent ten years with Howard in Big Bend recording his stories on audio tape, and who started me on the path to where I am now.
Darlene smiling recounting, "I said, "Dick it's a good thing you draw a pension, otherwise you'd starve." If he came around today I'd still tango with him."
"There he is..." I pointed out Bunny's arrival in the garden to munch on the nightly apple slice Darlene left for him. Her cactus garden is surrounded by stones forming the shape of Texas.
"You just gotta find somebody who needs help and adopt them. I had 17 kids down here at one point," she said, then listed off a bunch of names.
"I know Rory," I said.
"He is one of my kids. I think the world of Rory. Charley Fletcher, have you met him yet? He used to hang out with Howard. He's from one of the old families. Talk to Larry Harris. If you can find a gal named Mimi, go talk to her. Is it Mimi Webber? Her father was a senator. Did you read the book about drugs and the border? It's talks about her in there."
"I'm glad I'm not having any more grand kids. No I don't envy my grandson," Darlene said after commenting on how air pollution has increase. She is on medication for various aliments, but is with out medical insurance, so it is very costly. She has a few little bottles here has listed off the costs: "2.5ml $56, 22.3ml $56, and 5ml $76."
[I scratched down other quotes from Darlene, such as "It takes a special person to live here", "these people get so far deep in debt", and "when its brown its cooking and when it's black it's done; that's how he liked his steak", but the thoughts are not complete.]
"I think it's a horrible movie," Darlene answered when I asked about Apocalypse Now. "Howard and I went to see it when it first came out in Alpine. Yeah, we used to have some good times when he was sober."
5:11pm. Still sitting here looking through journals. So many interesting little quotes:
Don't hurry... be trippy!
Learn to die little deaths. He who is not busy living is busy dying.
Look with your eyes, but find with your heart.
"Peace and love to the ants, man. How can we live together-- that is the message," Leon said of ants crossing his blanket.
"Sometimes I feel like Jesus. Sometimes I feel like Judas."
"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy." -Tom Waits.
"That's America-- where a poor black boy can grow up to be a rich white woman," a freind said I Micheal Jackson.
"Responsibility is the ablity to respond," Said Alex in Mazatlan
I'm going to marry her just for body," Calvin tells me. "She like that cocaine. That's okay with me-- it's great when I f--k her and that's about every night. She spent all night with me for ten dollars. Once she gets that cocaine she just freaks out."
"Nobody knows what time it is. What is time? I understand time is like a river-- a one way street," Richard the JW said to me on Stone Island.
The edge of our universe is the edge of our perception.
"Its not what you project... its what others perceive. You may open yourself completely, but remember that others can only see as far as they have learned." -Airick (April, 1, 2000)
"How long are your going to travel?" Airick asked.
"We all travel," I answered. "It's just a matter of how far."
"Revelationship! That is such a cool word," said Scott. "That really describes my relationship with a lot of people; like here-- what we had today was a revelationship."
Thank Leon," I said. "He came up with the word."
"It is a growing trend for people not to get involved with their government." Rep. Jeffery Williams.
Money is the system.
Time is money and they are both fake. And they control people so much, its sad. No time to said hello, good-bye, I'm late, I'm late!
I hate the day I am traveling, man. I have too much shit.
"If you want to numb your feelings-- alcohol can be a great help."
"You only think you get smarter from smoking marijuana," Lalo quoted an early public service message on TV.
"We were out of our minds-- tripping our asses off for three days and only one person died," Jeremy said of New Years with Phish in Florida.
"They took a poll of Japanese business men asking what American woman they would most like to get into her pants-- and they picked Janet Reno!"
"Do you have any kids?" Jeremy asked Lalo, who answered, "None that I know of..."
9:20pm. The funeral parlor was packed with people who loved Brad. It was an open casket. Seeing his gray lifeless body void of spirit and energy, it was like a piece of drift wood. He wasn't there.
I didn't cry until his cousin Jeremy got a hold of me, and I realize how much he will be missed. We hugged, then stood there looking at Brad, snuffed out after only 25 years. I saw him just last May. Life is so temporary. I'm looking at my hand-- how it moves responding to my thoughts. Breathe in... breathe out. Its magic. I gotta appreciate it, not take it granted. I only exist in this moment.
Brad lived as an action hero, traveling the world as a student and teacher. He was confident, kinda cocky even, but did what he wanted to do and his life was a blessing to all who had the pleasure to know him.
Cory, a good of mine sent this to me and after reading
it I thought that you might enjoy it. This IS really
what it is all about.
I'm glad you're in my dash---
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning...to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1934-1998)
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars...the house...the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard...
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile..
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?