The Ides of March – Kickoff to Disaster 2020

Novel CoronavirusHello world. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, one of my “traits”, if you will, is I see patterns everywhere. I’m that guy who, walking down the street, will notice how three or four cars parked in a row all have license plates that begin with the same letter. I’m that guy who memorizes train routes then quickly notices something is amiss when a new version of the map is printed. I’m that guy who predicts what the look of a meal at a restaurant would be based on the quality of the arrangement of my favorite appetizer, calamari. Here’s a quiz: You walk into a room and give each of the ten kids sitting there a toy truck. How do you recognize the autistic kid? The nine neurotypical kids will start playing with the trucks, making noises and rolling them all over the place; the autistic kid will be sitting in a corner trying to figure out how the lights work, what the wheels are made of, what kid of metal the body is made of, and so on. Such is a structurally ordered mind.

Which brings me to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. To this day, China and South Korea have a relative grip on containing the spread of the virus as their infection numbers are lessening day by day. China, being authoritarian, was able to initiate a general lockdown that western governments can’t, or won’t. South Koreans are generally well-behaved, following the suggestions of their leaders in mitigating the spread of germs. Western folks, on the other hand, challenge their leaders a lot, and this is fine. It’s healthy. It’s one way of making sure duly elected leaders don’t try to become monarchs. The effect of that, though, is sometimes people won’t heed professional advice and do whatever they want. That’s why I started looking at today, March 15, the Ides of March, as the kickoff to disaster for older folks.

There are two general areas that older, more vulnerable, people should avoid, but they won’t – churches and casinos. Those are perfect spots for circulating the coronavirus as they’re closed-in and the people are in close proximity to each other. I’d say the same thing about movie theatres but older folks generally don’t frequent those that much. Indian casinos have their own sovereignty so they don’t have to abide by the laws of a state government. Federally, they do, but we haven’t gotten to that phase yet. With all the recent banning of large congregations of people in select spots nationwide, there are bound to be those who’ll eschew the new rules and go out today anyway. I suspect that in about two-three weeks, we’ll really see an explosion of coronavirus cases. Sigh. People have been warned.

Once The Homeless Is Housed, They Can Never Relax.

After spending years sleeping in shelters, car seats or park benches, it’s hard – near impossible – for the homeless to feel at ease once a roof actually materializes over their heads. There’s always the agonizing thought that it could all end in a flash and they could be back to square one – the streets. That’s a thought I harbor constantly, rendering a good night’s sleep difficult to come by. There are the frequent thoughts that I could lose my disability, insurance or the building’s rent could suddenly double in this volatile market, or something could happen to get me kicked out, like an argument or fight with a neighbor. Every day, just a cursory glance at the news reveals the thousands upon thousands of homeless people in the world, my people, people I could unwittingly rejoin if I don’t play my cards right. I don’t want to be homeless again. This hand-wringing anxiety is driving me bananas. I can’t even stay in a shelter because the men complain I snore too loudly or my BiPap machine is keeping them up. I wish I could relax, find some solace. Maybe in the next life.

I Was Nominated For A Pushcart Prize!

In the small-press literary world, the Pushcart Prize is analogous to an Academy Award, so a nomination can prove fruitful along the way in getting recognition from other literary markets. In my case, I was nominated by the editor of Hawk & Whippoorwill for my poem “Lost At Sea.” It’s actually one of my favorite poems, too, given the large amount of research that went into creating it.

In other news, I’ve completed my first short film, Major Nobody. That’s the good news. The bad news is I don’t like it that much. I’m the only actor in it and, basically, there is no story. It’s 14 minutes of a man contemplating whether to remain freely homeless or turn himself in to an institution. What I do like about the short flick is it allowed me to combine a lot of my skills – cinematography, acting, sound design, video editing, poetry, audio dubbing, etc. Maybe I’ll take a look at it later and rewrite some of the dialog to create more conflict.

KPGY-FM, Iowa State University, 1981/1982

Here’s something I rarely talk about. As an Electrical Engineering freshman and sophomore living in Friley Hall at ISU, I used to host a three hour Saturday night radio show from 11pm till 2am called New Music Experience. Mainly, I played music by punk & new wave bands like Circle Jerks, Lene Lovich, local Iowa band A Testament Of Youth (ATOY), The Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Jimmie Mack, S.C.U.M., Joy Division, The Jim Carroll Band, The Stepmothers, The Specials, Squeeze, B-52’s, etc. My friends at the time were punkers like Fuchsia, the brothers Wump and Wormie, and singer Brad Roth and other members of ATOY.

It was an interesting time principally because we were all outcasts. Whatever was popular then (football, sitcoms, etc) didn’t interest us. We were too subversive for that. Dead Kennedys and Husker Du were more our style. Anyway, such is how life goes: you migrate from one experience to the next. After my 2 1/2 years at ISU ended, I returned to Mt. Vernon, NY and joined a band which we eventually named Future Fuzz. I think my next blog entry will be about that 1 1/2 year experience. Here’s an interesting: I booked us a gig at the legendary CBGB’s at Bleeker and Bowery in New York City. That was a fun Wednesday.

Editing My Short Film

This has been an interesting few months. I suffer from bipolar disorder so I’ve had episodes where I’m depressed as hell followed by times where I feel like I can climb the Eiffel Tower naked. During my “up” periods I’ve been fairly productive, so I can’t complain. Besides writing the occasional poem, I’ve been writing the script for my short film, “Major Nobody,” as well as shooting principal photography around town. I’m pretty much done with the photography so now I’m in the editing phase. I’m using the latest version of Adobe Premiere. I’ve used it in the past so the learning curve wasn’t all that difficult, just had to consult a few online self-help manuals here and there to help me optimize it for my laptop.

I’ve also started working with my recording equipment after a long hiatus. Again, there’s a bit of a learning curve because I’m using Cubase 9. The last time I recorded with Cubase was about six or seven years ago and it was with Cubase 5 so you can imagine how much more complex Cubase 9 is. Still, I have some new toys from IK Multimedia to work with – MODO Drum and MODO Bass, both excellent plugins. I also have some guitars coming in from China in a few months which should bring my collection of axes up to 8, maybe 9 if I spring for a Rickenbacker 4001 Walnut. All in all, I’m not complaining.

“You Don’t Have My Permission.”

I was down at the PT bus terminal this afternoon shooting footage for my short film, “Maj. Nobody.” A woman drove up, took my picture, and said, “Hey, what are you doing?” “I’m making a movie,” I replied. “You don’t have my permission,” she said. “Huh?” “You don’t have my permission to put me in your movie,” she explained. “Oh,” I told her, “I was taking pictures of the garbage can. You’re not in the movie.” “Oh, okay,” she said, then drove off.

Rude, right? Reminds me of that night when I was minding my own business sleeping in my car in the empty parking lot of a church in Ballard when a woman came knocking on the glass and said, “You can’t sleep here.” Of course, I turned that incident into a book, so many I can use the line “You Don’t Have My Permission” somewhere in my film, maybe even change the name of the flick to that. Stay tuned.

My Bike Riding Challenge

When I was in my teens, I used to make whole bikes out of found bicycle parts. The result was always Frankenstein-like and was a source of amusement for my neighbors which called it a truck. Nevertheless, it was my bike, my handmade treasure, and a way to escape my neighborhood, albeit briefly. In that sense, it became important for my well being.

Later, during my early 30’s, I found myself bike riding again. And, like before, it wasn’t really for pleasure or exercise. When I lived in Westchester County, NY, I rode my bike, two days, to Woodstock, then a few months later, again to Kingston, NY. Both trips netted be about 200 miles on my “truck.” Yes, it was tiring, but clocking in back then at 165 lbs, I couldn’t really complain.

I’m still the same height today, but now I weigh 220 lbs and bike riding is an absolute chore. I bought a Mongoose dual suspension 29er about two weeks ago and only average about 3 miles/day. My need to escape doesn’t exist anymore as I’m finally settled in an okay place. Some of the tenants here drive me nuts and I try my best to avoid them, but still, my living situation could be worse. I could be back to being homeless.

My reason for riding these days, then, is not about seeking greener pastures, but slimming this fat gut I’ve acquired over the years. I’m diabetic now so it behooves me to lose as much weight as possible. My doctor said I’d make her a happy camper if I dropped 15 pounds or so. If my living arrangement truly drove me bananas, then losing the weight would be a walk in the park. Now, surrounded by the comforts of home (computer, flat screen TV, guitars, a keyboard, a roof over my head, a working refrigerator, etc.), I’m downright lazy. Still, I’ll give my exercise regimen a shot. What do I have to lose except this bulging gut?