Sinister Summer Pastimes...

Voices - ahh, the exquisite pleasure of doing voices! I LOVE doing voices. The accents, the rythms, and - especially - the intonations. Yes, indeed, I love those intonations! Mainly from old movies. Classics. 'Casablanca and 'It's A Wonderful Life,' to be specific. I know pretty much every line from each character in these movies, and I like to practice them till, in my mind, I have them perfected...I like to do them while walking somewhere...when I think I'm probably alone.

So, every August, I go up to volunteer at this Buddhist Center in Vermont - waaaay the fuck up in Vermont, out in the country somewhere - not too far from the Canadian border. Far. Every evening, I walk down this country road to this general store about a mile and a half away, talking out loud to myself  - and believe me - it's quite a hefty task!

"Now do you want a drink - or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer? Nick the bartender from when Bedford Falls is Pottersville).

"That is my least vulnerable spot." (Captain Renault's response when Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says he has the gun pointed right at Louie's heart.)

So, I'm strolling along, really satisfied with myself, enjoying life, until...THE UNDERPASS. Tremendous echo. It's IRRESISTIBLE.

"SILENCE! You dare to question the great and powerful Oz?! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!"

I can't help it! I am COMPELLED!! Compelled, I tell you! Immediately afterward, I return to my regularly scheduled voices. Now, as I am making my way back to the Buddhist Center from the general store, I am consuming a Tall Boy ( a big can of beer), when I finish, I promptly deposit the can in a roadside mailbox - making sure to reserve the Bud Tall Boy for the American Flag mailbox. I have been doing this every August for 4 years now.



The Zone...the zone, man - that's the place where every writer wants to be. It's's kinda - like... a miracle! Every writer - or, in fact, anybody who's ever done a creative project - or has been passionate about something they are working on - knows about The Zone. It's not like you can get there all the time, either. Actually, it's kind of a rare and difficult place to be in, never mind STAY IN - but when you are in it - the last thing you want is to be interrupted, y'know what I mean? So, I'm in my favorite writing spot - Panera in Hoboken, NJ - and I am IN IT! Locked in. NOTHING else matters.

Suddenly, a familiar, but dreaded presence, hovers over me.... STEVE! Now, most people wouldn't bother you when they see you so - inspired - but not Steve. NO-NOTHING can stop him!! 

"You know...."

"Steve, I'm really trying to work on something here..."

But this seems to spur him on even more!

"You have to work in a school cafeteria - but you must apply IMMEDIATELY - this one in Jersey City. I know the school Chancellor there - he is a Greek. I can talk to him about getting you in, but you have to go there the day after tomorrow! They have excellent benefits, you work there for 10 years, they even have a dental will be set."

I'm trying to remain in this rarified state I've attained.

"Yeah, Steve, I'll look into it, ok?"

Oddly satisfied, he strolls off down the aisle, seeking out his next victim...ten minutes pass....I am - writing furiously, man. All in.

" You know - the next book you should write is about the Mafia - and their relations with the black community."




So, I'm sitting here, writing longhand in my notebook at my favorite Panera in Hoboken, NJ, sipping my Yerba Mate tea (refer to previous blog), deeply focused, in my own dreamworld - in the zone. Suddenly, I feel a sinister presence hovering over me.

"You know" -

Oh God - Nooooo!!! Is it?! How could it possibly be?!


I thought we had FINALLY seen the last of him, when he was vanquished to Greece just short of a year ago...granted, it was the 4th time, but I thought...maybe...somehow...but NO - he is a force that CANNOT - WILL NOT be destroyed!

"You know - what you have to do is go to work in this Greek diner up in Liberty, NY - you can work as a dishwasher there 7 days a week, eat your meals there so you don't spend any money, you can even sleep there, they have a room in the back. I know the owner - he is a Greek - you work there for six, seven months straight. You can save maybe 6 - $7,000  - and you put that money down on a three story house in Liberty -  then, you rent the bottom two floors out, you live on the top one, you do your writing there, and you continue to work at the diner. After, say, six, seven years, you have enough income to not have to work again - then you spend your whole day writing."

Jeez, just when you LEAST expect it, he ambles over, hands in pockets, and destroys your writing routine with this insane, rambling 'advice!' He, himself, is supposed to be a writer, of some sort, as he has been working on this MANIFESTO for about 47 years now. His own heinous routine consists of putting two tables together - They must be TWO tables - and they MUST be in exactly the same spot each time - and spreading his papers all over them, of which there  are approximately 2,827 pages - all written in Greek. The thing is, he can only write for about 5 minutes at a time, at which point, he MUST get up and stroll through Panera, until he discovers his next victim, destroying their writing routine with some other advice - tailored to their situation, of course - until he eventually corners everybody at Panera, including the employees! More on the characters at Panera coming up.

FINALLY...the moment you've all been breathlessly awaiting...'The Yerba Mate Ritual!'

As I sit here, at the Panera in Hoboken, NJ, I am tearing up to Cat Stevens, 'Father&Son', playing mournfully in the background...but I MUST carry on somehow - even though - "I know I have to go away...I know I have to go". Get a hold of yourself, mahn! Ok, here goes, as promised...'The Yerba Mate Ritual'.  I can't stop sobbing... alright!

When I enter this Panera, I have in my backpack an old (or used, in any case!) paper Panera cup. I stroll in, first completing the my aforementioned feast (refer to previous blog!), then immediately placing two vibrant teabags of Guyuaki Yerba Mate tea bags in the cup, then cleverly filling it to the brim with hot (boiling?) water, simultaneously dropping EXACTLY two slices of lemon into the scalding water, and securing the top! After it steeps for PRECISELY 10 minutes, I put TWO teaspoons of Y.S.Eco Bee Farms Organic Raw honey, and TWO sprinkles of ORGANIC cinnamon (it MUST be organic, otherwise, you may be ingesting cinnamon-flavor only!!), and sip, while thoughtfully devouring my Green&Black's 70% cacao organic chocolate bar - PRECISELY 1.9 oz.!) Now, I am satiated, satisfied, and able to sit for the next 3 hours and write long-hand. I MUST NOT be disturbed!!!