Bart Plantenga’s
Confessions of a Beer Mystic #13

Djuna gave me a crash course in table manners with one hand on the wheel, one eye left on the road as we drove through the phalanx of emerald and maize landscapes.

“But why we bothering with this? I mean I thought you hated me.”

“I don’t hate you, I pity you.”

“Oh, you had me worried there.”

“Listen, I was determined to make something out of you.”

“Something I wasn’t.”

“Something you didn’t know you could be — a real man.”

“I thought I was the fuck of your life.”

“Yea, but a fuck quickly becomes a fuck UP if something else doesn’t happen with that.”

“We fucked ourselves into a corner?”

“Yea, OK, if you say so. Now, some subjects to avoid: Republicans, both my parents’re kneejerk Republicans. They’re hopin’ that if they just keep voting and working for the interests of the entitled class they will some day be recognized and allowed into the club. Don’t talk about wars. Dad says they’re necessary for peace and employment. No sex. They think it’s a topic designed to harass them. Alcohol — they’re teetotalers but will allow one glass of wine or beer. Don’t complain if it’s Coors. It’s just one beer and your sense of superior taste can deal with it. So don’t go filling glass after glass. Don’t even bother to go looking in the refrigerator. That’s no-mans-land. My mom’ll getchu anything you need. Don’t go on about mall blight and how it reflects an empty culture. They believe in malls because of jobs. Malls are progress — just remember that. And fast food — well, dad’s an aficionado. You might even say he’s a bit of a patriot, if you can get patriotic about fast food.”

She checked my fingernails doing 65. She instructed me on how to react to her parents’ funny quirks, how they talked with their mouths full, Dad’s funny noises when he cleaned his teeth, how Mom would change clothes maybe half a dozen times during the course of the evening.

She snatched the green bottle from between my knees. Chucked it out her window.

“You are gonna have to find courage somewhere else today.” She handed me a stick of gum, made me repeat stock niceties.

“That’s a great stone wall there,” she suggested.

“That’s a beautiful soufflé, I mean hair-do, Mrs. Schmeling.”

“Just be somebody else for this once.”

“But what’s in it for me, for you, for us to cart me out as some spousal equivalent?”

“It deflects the inquisition.” The bouquet, which smelled of nothing, was already wilted by the time the borrowed car climbed the gravel-rut driveway. And the Sip&Slurp coffee she made me guzzle just amplified the shrill constricting urgency of our already collapsing day.

The house of Mom was orderly, a tenuous orderliness made so just for us and you just knew that the moment we departed all things would exhale and fall back into their comfortable and natural disarrangement of clutter. This was the kind of power Djuna had over her Mom. And I was a symbol of the power Mom and Dad still had over her. I was all the junk shoved into the closet. I was the closet door.

There were new, tasteful placemats, naturally-scented candles, everything meant to appease Djuna’s imperious sense of aesthetics. These were manifestations of détente, of perhaps a relaxation in the generational cold war which had been fought for over a dozen years.

“Isn’t that Rex’s car? He was darling. Such a charming guy. And successful too. Whatever happened to him?”

“Alright Mom, I get the point! How about Rex got run over by his own ego!”

“Doesn’t Furman have a car?”

“Mom, he can talk. Ask him yerself!”

“No, Mrs. Schmeling. I find myself echoing the words of Ralph Nader everytime I even think of buying a car.”

“Oh dear. Well, welcome to our home, Furman. Djuna has mentioned you …”

I detected odors of things fried years ago, emerging from holes not adequately sealed. And there, perhaps a piece of fruit lost under the couch. Closets crammed full of accumulated trinkets and useless flotsam. A symphony of powdery odors, like an old widow’s bathroom, that was meant to muffle more unsettling human odors.

And I, too, smelled like a cover-up. Like a thousand nervous dates doused in too much cologne and mouthwash. Like a bad actor in an even worse movie.

Mom popped out of the kitchen like a little June Jetson with a serving tray of microwaved frozen hors d’oeuvres. Her mangled attempt at French (Peter Sellers School) made it “oars dee ovaries.” Sometimes people make fun of their own mispronunciations just to inoculate themselves to the criticism of others. And in this kind of situation, her parents must have frequently cowered in the wrathful sneer of Djuna.

“They’re French. They’re good!”

“Yea, like Paris, Texas.” I gave Djuna a look that was meant to remind her of what she had told me.

“So what do you do son?” I looked away from Dad and right at Djuna. Was this a trick question? Did he mean do with or to his daughter? It was as if Dad needed to know, to rub in, exactly how right he was at how wrong his daughter could be. Had Djuna really never said anything to them about what it was I did in the whole year that we’d been together? But what could she say?

“He’s a ‘writer’.” Djuna pronounced “writer” as if she, herself, had decided a pen in my hand was not unlike a scalpel in the hand of a drunken butcher. Or lead ankleweights around the ankles of a skinnydipper.

“There’s a whole world between want-to-be and cer-tain-ty we used to say in the 265th Infantry, Pacific Theatre, WWII. What’s he do to pay the rent?”

“Why don’t you ask Furman yourself?”

“Actually, sir, I lift boxes, move’m around, send’m out from here to there — stock clerk, assistant manager of a warehouse, right at 18th and 11th Avenue.”

“Nothin’ wrong with honest work, son.”

“What’s so honest about it, anyhow, Dad? As long as it sucks your soul out, leaves you too tired to even think for yourself? I mean …”

“Your Dad was only making small talk, DeeJay.”

“Don’ call me ‘Dee Jay’! My name’s Djuna.”

“Yea’s right, Doll, I’m just makin’ small talk to make Foreman feel at home.”

“FUR-man!” Djuna’s skin was extra thin and pink.

“Like a man who works in furs, FURman? Doll …”

“I’m not yer pull-the-string doll!”

“I happened to have made a good living doing that very thing. Ain’t a thing wrong with it, son. Now, I think writing’s good if you’re in television. Commercials for instance. Why, I hear they paid 3 million dollars to come up with ‘Coke Is It.’ That’s a million a word! Refrigeration and air conditioning, now there’s 2 fields about to explode. Why with global warming and all that, if you can believe the news. So are you a writer or are you workin’ in a warehouse?”

“I do both. I try to dig up time in the strangest places.”

“Dad, what he actually does for a living is write pornNOGraphy. And he’s good at it too. He does a LOT research. It’s a subject he REALLY gets INTO.” It suddenly felt warmer inside — the rising temperature of risky innuendo. Disdain and sex were the only conditions that flared Djuna’s nostrils.

“Safer to write about it.” The aim of dad’s voice moving from us to Mom. “And a less disgustin’ business than actually having to DO it, eh, Darl!” He blurted out into the vicinity of Mom back in the kitchen. I felt that I was rapidly becoming the hot potato in the game. And my head was the bomb and my hair the lit fuse. While Djuna went on complimenting me not to compliment me but more to eat away at Dad’s prudish sense of decorum. They grew suspicious of me as if I’d done something cruel to their daughter like make her happy (for a couple of months anyway).

Her Mom loved Katie Lee Norplant, famous spokesmodel, fitness activist, beauty consultant and co-host of the hit gameshow, Tongue Lashing. She thought all girls should aspire to look like her. What’d I think.

“She’s tall.”

“The longest most beautiful fingers in show business. Look at those healthy nails! She started out as a hand model until a photographer discovered there was a lot more beauty to exploit attached to the wrists goin’ the other way.” It was entirely possible that Mom had acquired these opinions just to get Djuna’s goat. And it was a very fat goat indeed. Mom was also capable of turning on the PBS lingo that made you think she may have been unduly cultivated as well.

“I love Pavarotti,” Mom gushed.

“Gimme rigatonis any day!” Dad put in.

Mom or Dot or Doll or Darl — she played so many roles — continued to marvel at Katie Lee’s incredible nails. “Insured for $180,000! Just the nails.” Mom thought Katie Lee’s self-confidence and grace as she presented the lavish prizes on Tongue Lashing put her far ahead of the rest of the field as THE heir to Marilyn Monroe’s throne. “SHE’s the real star of Tongue Lashing!” Mom ventured boldly.

Meanwhile, Dad loved to hate everything Mom adored. Or as he saw it; “She loves all this stuff to irritate me.” He preferred talk of ammunition, glue guns, famous stone walls he pays tribute to with his walls or the secret sauces of various fast food chains or describing a certain “Honeymoon Hotel” outside Miami in 1960: newlyweds on the cheap, cheap champagne. “Remember where the cork went Darl, haha?”

“It’s not allowed to be called champagne unless its actually from the Champagne region of France. Otherwise its just sparkling wine. I saw it on PBS.”

“We like to think of it as the night we discovered birth control. The cork — get it? It’s the night we manufactured our little Dee Jay.” Why was Dad being so … randy? Djuna had her suspicions and suspicions only led to seething. But rather than say anything she just stomped off to brood in various rooms where she could talk to the walls. I could hear her muffled voice emerging from her old bedroom.

Dad called all the family’s women “Darl” or “Doll.” Anyway, not bad, this motel. If I continued to hear right. I was the only one still listening. “Pink flamingo wallpaper. Sturdy mattress. Nothing extraordinary. Newlyweds don’t need extraordinary, just cinderblock painted pink and surf and turf. Maybe a kidney-shaped swimming pool.” He showed me an old postcard of the motel that he pulled from a drawer somewhere. He pointed to the very room — it was circled — where the deed had been done.

He liked this story immensely — every stranger heard it — because he knew how much it irritated Djuna. This was just one of hundreds of inversely related sycophantic interactions that seemed to propel this family unit headlong into the realm of justified multiple homicide.

Djuna made faces at every reference to parental copulation. She just couldn’t get past the gruesome images of her parents actually doing it. And the notion that she was spawned from such vile ignorance made her nauseous. And I’d already learned way too much, way too fast. And so I quickly turned to drastic life support measures. I had learned quite by accident, the art of reprocessing beer that had already long ago entered the spongiest and most rarefied regions of the cerebrum. I discovered that when you teach yourself to burp (age 10) you can haul back a certain percentage of the previous night’s beer intake. It works a little like smelling salts or a stick that an epileptic bites down on. I burped, there was barley, and I was gone. One might call it a spiritual lifesaver or an escape clause.

Djuna emphatically grabbed my wrist out of nowhere and yanked me off the couch, scent of beer caught in my sinuses, and we retreated theatrically to her bedroom even though we’d only arrived an hour ago and I had yet to compliment Mom by eating hors d’oeuvres round #3.

In her room, this reconstructed hot pink and black diorama of defiant memorabilia, Clash posters, dangerous teen jewelry, handcuff bracelets, Munch reprints, she seduced me or a “me” she needed me to be for the occasion. She sucked me off loudly, voraciously. Took the foreskin between her teeth. Made me go down on her, ramming my nose against her clitoris. Biting my nipples. I held onto the bedposts which banged with a vengeance against her wall as she rode me and rode me until her pubic hair left a brush burn on my belly. Then she had me ejaculate all over her chest and belly. We rubbed the sperm all over her body. We fingerpainted it on her belly, into her skin and waited for it to dry. Everything was emphatic, as if sex was going to somehow leech the past from her system. Change her identity. As if motion could overcome memory. We were both someone else to each other. Like actors in a porn movie. This was how we managed to smile at one another in the pink and black denouement.

She lay on her side, leaning on her elbow as she showed me her crushed middle finger on her left hand. I had never noticed it before. She circled my nipple with it.

“It feels like the Creature from the Glue Lagoon.”

I did not want to go back out there. Despite the retro-artsy and defiant zaniness of her room it was a definite respite, a refuge of calm.

“I wish I had a joint.”

“The Suture from the Blue Balloon.”

“My Dad crushed it when he got mad cuz he thought I was doggin’ it when we were forced every weekend to work on his goddamn stone walls. 8 hours every Saturday and 6 hours every Sunday. And Mom never said anything in our behalf. For 7 years.

“That’s forced child labor.”

“Yep. From when I was 10 to when I was 17. So those are my walls. I built’m. And this is just one of the casualties. My sister’s got broken toes that didn’t heal back right so now she never goes anywhere without shoes on.”

“The Future of the Groomed Cartoon. I just wonder if this is — I don’t mean this — I mean comin’ up here with me, I mean, I’ve got 2 to 3 months left.”

“At best.”

“So why introduce a soon-to-be-doorstop?”

“You function so adequately sometimes I just forget that you are you. Forget ambrosia, here’s sweet amnesia.”

We emerged hours (maybe it was only half an hour) later groggy and squint-eyed. My face glazed with the fragrance of her wishbone. Her chest plastered with sperm. I was terrified. But Djuna smirked slyly, bounced coquettishly on the couch. Her parents watched TV. Averted our eyes. It’s a free country. The sound had been turned up to drown out any bedroom noise.

Mom and Dad each had their own channel changer which had spawned their odd sport of screen fencing, or “zapping,” a kind of armchair jousting, where both and neither of these TV warriors was ever totally satisfied or thoroughly victorious.

The football game was a blow-out but Mom didn’t dare zap it even though Dad was tipped back in his easy chair, a real “Castro-naut,” hands folded on his belly, feigning sleep. This defined the outlines of their mutual respect. She didn’t zap football, he didn’t zap Tongue Lashing or PBS. He would just wander out to the garage. His easy chair and the garage were the extent of his territory. Although his domain included the stone walls and the yard. The rest, like venturing into the kitchen, required permission or a guide.

When he “awoke” he offered up a grumpy growl which was intended as his opinion on football players, “Buncha hot dogs, don’t know guts or fundamentals anymore.”

Mom leafed through women’s magazines, whipping the pages furiously — SSHHLLIICKK-SSHHLLIICKK — one after another. One article featured Katie Lee Norplant which offered no-nonsense tips on Autumn skin maintenance. Dad kept the football game on. This was not so much because he was interested but because it was a show of power, a way of squeezing a little satisfaction from the situation, satisfaction that at least he was preventing Mom from finding one of her programs.

Sis was back from whichever mall. She took her big bags straight back to her room. Djuna said she stored all her purchases there; closets full of unopened bags, unworn clothes, sale tags still attached.

“The bargain hunter is like the deerhunter. Like bagging a deer, the idea was to bag bargains. It’s for sport. Everything else, the actual goods are just anti-climactic and secondary. The psycho-sexual relationship is that of buyer to cashier. If you wanted to seduce my Sis, all you’d have to do is record the sound of cash registers and play that for her by electric candlelight.”

“Or pass my Visa card’s magnetic strip between her knees.”

“If you had one.”

Different people were loyal to different malls. Kids carry the bags emblazoned with the logos of malls to school. There are recent reports of “mallings” where various groups of mall loyalists brawl with a gang loyal to another.

“I had no idea that life had become so brutal and tribal out here.” I didn’t.

“And everybody’s able to articulate the good and bad of each of the area’s half dozen malls.” Djuna did.

“It’s like Mall-side Story or somethin’.”

“So how was Sleepy Hollow Plaza.” Mom asked.

“Awh, Mom! Plazas are for Spandex Spuds and losers! We were at the Mall.”

“But which one Fiona? There’s so many around here. I can’t even keep track.” Mom was right.

“There’s only one REAL mall, Mom, Lemures South — it’s where all the hip go. They give you a free makeover and you don’t even have to make a purchase.”

“To the natives their mall is the mall.” Djuna was waxing anthropological.

“Like the names of old tribes translates into the chosen people or the people?”

“Yea, something like that.”

“Today was punk makeovers. Next Saturday is beatniks.”

Mom began reciting part 3 of “Autumn Radiant Skin With Katie Lee” to Djuna’s Sis. Sis hated to be reminded that she USED to have skin “like porcelain from China.”

“Fried foods and cigarettes.” Mom listed other causes: Too much, or not enough, sleep, chocolate, improper breathing patterns, pollution.

Sis had recently been laid off from a “good” job as assistant manager at The World Is A Ghetto, a store of social awareness which sold the work of artisans from such places as Calcutta, the favelos of Rio De Janeiro, the barrios of Mexico City, the ghettoes of Cleveland, East L.A., Detroit, Houston. And Sis was now taking full advantage by sleeping in, sleeping late, sleeping over at her fiancée’s, sleeping to escape, sleep as therapy, sleep as diet. She also spent a lot of time on her hair, on shopping lists and preparations for her wedding.

Djuna now faced her Dad, looked straight into his eyes and said, “Oh Dad, he just screwed me sooo good. I love his thing.You don’t even know. It’s so WONderful!” Sis laughed aloud. She loved to see Dad squirm in silence. An entire childhood of suffering avenged in just one declarative statement: “We’re a research partnership. We’re trying to get into Guinness Book of World Records or till one of us explodes.” This might have been true at one time but sex had long ago been replaced by bickering.

Mom hastily threw dinner on the table as a diversionary tactic. “Dinner’s Served!”

Djuna had done something brash, something you might see in a movie, something you always wished you were capable of. During dinner my every bite was scrutinized. I could hear myself chew. I could hear Sis breathing through her stuffed-up nose. I could see her eyes begin to flirt, to flit like butterflies into my eyes. I imagined them all imagining me defiling their little Djuna. I saw that Sis was intrigued by this idea.

Actually, it WAS all very funny. In hindsight, like we laugh off brushes with death. But not while it was happening. Maybe now. Yea, I can laugh about it now.

Mom changed the subject by beginning a harangue against bag ladies, “I read they’re invading upstate. It’s like an infestation. A lot of them have AIDS or that new TB.” And then, seamlessly we were listening to tax tales of horror and, just as seamlessly, about the declining quality of today’s underwear.

Dad grew melancholy, morbid, withdrawn, acted hurt. This, did not deter him, however, from going on and on about his master plan for worldwide implementation of pay toilets as a method for reducing the national debt. He once sat next to a Congressman on a commuter flight and had fed the Congressman his many excretory nuggets. According to Dad, the Congressman loved his idea and promised to draw up legislation that would mandate pay toilet installation and create an export strategy.

When this failed to impress us he tried the torpedoed-ship-men-on-fire-jumping-ship-in-shark-infested-waters-in- WWII story. This story too, had long ago gone dog-eared.

Mom, in the mean time, harassed Sis with makeover ideas, of how she would look even MORE like Katie Lee if Sis would just allow Mom to pay for a hair job.

“Yea, like Katie Lee cut off at the knees.” Djuna jabbed. “Like a model put through a trash compactor.”

Sis was short. Broad in the posterior. Her body was shaped like an empty Mateus bottle, the kind of shape Hispanic men went crazy for. She had even dated several to get under Dad’s skin.

“It was like they were so fixated on my butt that I felt the rest of me was like a third wheel.”

The only REAL resemblance to Katie Lee was the blond hair. Fiona — the mere pronunciation of her name, seemed to onomatopoetically define her brimming cartoonish contours — in her capri pants, too-small tee shirt, hint of navel and baby bulge.

Dad hated what he called “ed-JEW-cated peoples.” As if education was Anti-American or cheating in the game of life. “The ed-JEW-cated are mostly Jews and most Jews are Communists.”

Dad got HIS education on the streets, the high seas, in Bangkok. The mere mention of Bangkok and “REAL women” set Mom off like smoke to a smoke alarm. Amazing how this 2-day pass to Bangkok and this 20-minute prostitute had accumulated an importance that overshadowed almost everything in his own life including his mother, his wife, his war, his job.

“Why’d’yuh think they call it BANG COCK!?” Djuna was never one to lose her bearings on her way to a throat.

Dad had last worked a loading dock for a place that manufactured surveillance devices, electric eyes and smart bombs. “Smart bombs aimed at dumb people — they wear our jeans while they’re burning our flag. That sickens me.”

Mom spritzed whipped cream over fruit cocktail suspended in Jell-O. The loud sprits of the can shut Dad up. He glared at Mom. She was always futzing around in the kitchen while he was talking. This irritated him and he was sure that she knew just how much.

Djuna preferred to call Fiona “Sis” because it more effectively pinned Sis to her “impoverished” surroundings. Sis bragged about her fiancé, or, more accurately, his inheritance, and the Porsche his parents promised him when he graduated from college.

“More like IF,” Djuna corrected.

“My lay-off’s good practice for my future life of leisure,” Sis gloated. “But a life of leisure is full of responsibility. Like for the wedding; there’s a million things I gotta think about. Just dealing with the weddinggown …”

“Oh, Fiona, the whole affair is getting outa hand.”

“Awh Mom, its just that its being designed by Albert DaSalvo. He’s a world famous designer.”

The name, though, did not ring a bell with any of the rest of us. Sis thought we were just playing dumb to bug her. Sis commandeered Dad’s zapper and flicked furiously through the channels, up and down, back and forth. That would show all of us.

Then we tuned in to a PBS program about Jamaica: “The firefly larvae remain in moist humus for up to 2 years, feeding on slugs and snails often twice the size of the larvae themselves. The shrouded peaks of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains is home to 50 varieties of firefly … Columbus described Jamaica’s topography to Queen Isabella by silently crumpling a sheet of paper and tossing it on the table.”

“Ganja.” Was all Djuna said. I thought I knew what she meant by it.

“They should just napalm the whole island. That’d take care of the mari-JEW-huana problem.”

The following program was about AIDS which prompted Sis to announce, “I been on the pill since I was 15.” While she picked her toes and ate what she managed to dig out from under her nails.

This bugged Dad. “It’s not for lack of things to eat. You’re not a monkey! Although I’m beginnin’ to wonder.” It was as if Dad had been put on this earth to be perturbed. And Sis had 10 toes so Dad could be perturbed 10 times.

“Nobody’s just normal anymore,” He lamented.

“Dad wanted boys. I was a tomboy, which although I really tried, wasn’t good enough.” I was terrified like I had been punch drunk and wandering around a minefield.

I excused myself and grabbed my beer from the inside breast pocket of my coat and, in the bathroom, sucked down my Judas, a blond Belgian beer fermented in the bottle, 8.5% alcohol, kept for just such a crisis. It took some edge off the day. I tossed the bottle out the bathroom window, onto the lawn. I rinsed my mouth out with toothpaste but Djuna took about 30 seconds to guess.

“How many’d you have?” She whispered.

“Jus’ one. My soul was thirsty.”

Sis was rattling on about old boy friends — in chronological order. There had been many.

“What about Georgee? He was a doozy, pouring flat beer over his corn flakes. HooWEE!”

“It’s Hor-Hay!”

“More like ‘hey whore’ if yuh ask me!”

Sis negotiated her fetishized posterior and plopped down in my lap like a wet sack of groceries and then wrapped her legs around my waist and just sighed her “Ow revoir” as in “Owch” (2 years of French). She gripped my waist with a twitch of her thighs and then meticulously lifted her full splendor (2.5 cartons of copier paper) off my lap with an operatic purr. Djuna just glared knives at everyone. And I was already one of them in her eyes.

“He’s cute.” She enthused. I wasn’t sure she meant it or meant it as knife thrust to Djuna’s heart. This made Djuna mad. Which made Sis glad. Fiona even wiggled her ample breadloaf buttocks there as if she were putting out a cigarette.

Dad chuckled, pretending it was something on TV. But Djuna knew better.

“Am I crushing anything?”

“Not yet, Fiona.” I said in full defiance of Djuna’s ban on the use of Sis’ real name. Fiona’s charms were hyper-voluptuous, garish even, and one could appreciate them without having to take Sis seriously. Some men appreciate that in a woman, the ability to be voyeurs with no strings attached.

And when it dawned on Djuna that Mom had not changed into her usual half dozen eveningwear incarnations — in fact, she didn’t change at all! — Djuna felt hurt, betrayed, livid. I burped and the Judas came to my assistance. My soul reabsorbed its potent and rarefied effluvium. In the daydream I don’t have a face. My voice comes from a garden, from flowers, floodlights and the bust of Venus. And one day ganja began pouring out of the factory stacks. A bloodless coup of sorts, that altered crime stats, affected blood counts and vision. And beer was available in post offices and suddenly love was no longer a maligned concept. It seemed nice and important again.

“It’s funny, women, with their game shows. We men know ALL them game shows are rigged. That’s what separates us from women. We can figure things like that out.” Dad declared as we stood in the driveway. He winked my way as if to say men should stick together. If that’s indeed what he thought I was. And what’d I think. This teed Mom off; “They’re leaving! Say goodbye and shut up!” Mom handed us leftover instant mashed potatoes in Tupperware through the car window.

By the time we backed down the driveway Djuna’s face had dramatically changed shape. It looked like some Latin fruit I did not know the name of. Sweat clung to her quivering upper lip as Dad waved furiously, shouting directions. “Turn the wheel to the left! Christ, women just can’t get the hang of backin’ down a simple driveway!”

Suddenly Djuna pushed in the clutch, took her other foot off the brake, a freefall aimed right at Dad, who leaped out of the way, clinging to his stone wall, grumbling on about “lady drivers.”

“Sorry Dad.”

I promised to be nicer to Djuna, knowing what I now knew about her family. But earnestness would soon turn to pity. And pity from the pitiable is a little like praise from a prisoner.

Djuna gave me her silent treatment, seething somewhere between betrayal, contempt and pity.

“I mean you shoulda just taken her in the bathroom. It’d be as close as you get to baptism in this family. At this point I wouldn’t give you sex if it was the last breath of life available to your unresuscitatable body.” She hissed at me as we merged onto the Sawmill Parkway. The dynamic of our relationship “works” this way: At a certain instant it turned from thinking — even hoping! — it would last forever to wondering when it would end. Even just wishing there was a way to end it. Because grace, in a way, is learning how to make pity gather around you in a dramatic and constructive way.

Being nice to someone like Djuna becomes increasingly more difficult the longer you’re with that someone. And, at some point, the only way to be nice is to pity the other person. Longevity breeds familiarity and familiarity boredom and boredom contempt. And expediency, defined by out-of-this-world but totally verifiable rents dictated that certain indignities get in the way of pride. I was Djuna’s roommate, and the idea was that I would pay half the rent. It was a good idea. But I had more important things to do, such as verify the relationship of my supposed electromagnetic field (that fits me like a wet suit) to that of streetlights. And in no time fell months behind in the rent.

“You know what I’d wish for if mind could only recreate that quaint old mechanism called wishing — a transferable intelligence, something that’d crawl up into bright molecules of venom and I’d have a molecule’s point of view as the poison takes hold inside you.”

“But you already been there for 6 months. Just take a look, you see the effects of your poison.”

Later Djuna told me that dad always first thing stripped all the bells and flashing lights off their X-mas toys before they could play with them. And how Dad used to pop squirrels because they made nests in the attic, made a racket, ate the shingles, bugged him to no end. And after he shot one she’d have to go fetch it. He’d tell her to throw it in the garbage but, instead, she’d bury it, say a little prayer for it.

The open road pointed in the right direction, away from their house. And it smelled of freedom. And Djuna was silent and remained so for weeks because she could not tell me why she was periodically drawn back to this place.

“Maybe blood’s thicker’n poison,” she said about 2 weeks later.

– to be continued –

Confessions Of A Beer Mystic by Bart Plantenga

http://smokesignalsmag.com/OldIssue/bartconfession1.html #1
http://www.smokesignalsmag.com/2/beermystic.htm #2
http://smokesignalsmag.com/3/beer3.html #3
http://smokesignalsmag.com/4/wordpress/?page_id=27 #4
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=6 – #5
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=1344 – #6
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2192 – #7
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2295 – #8
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2725 – #9
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2783 – #10
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2910 – #11

How to become a Beer Mystic – by Mike Golden
http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=653

 

Bart Plantenga – is the world’s foremost Beer Mystic and authority on yodel-ay-ee-hoo!
http://www.bartplantenga.com/•
Sharon Mesmer interviews the old Beer Mystic @ http://www.brooklynrail.org/2011/10/books/beer-is-two-subway-stops-away-from-mysticism
WRECK THIS MESS
Here are some of Bart’s more recent radio shows available for your ear-ly pleasure. themes were nature [2], serge gainsbourg, blurt, electronica-blues, the meeting of wfmu & wtm in the amsterdam studios, the dutch band Emma Peel, many versions of that classic ditty of undeniable fluff – Popcorn…

 

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At last a Smoke Signals NO BRAINER
MACACA SPEAKS
MAKE FRAGMERICA GREAT AGAIN
THE BRAND ON TRUMP’S BIG FUCKING WALL

Truly, we’re fucked if we can’t call off and reschedule this whole lose-lose election the failed two-party-system has stuck us with in order to keep control of the country. In order to change things it's going to take a plan that bars anyone who ran for POTUS in this election and replaces them with... »

Jack Wesley Hardin’s
THE ONE THAT GET AWAY

If you unlucky enough to be out in the soup tonight, baby, you don’t have to be told this toxic brew of critics and crucifiers alike is not pissin’ chicken soup for the soul down on us. All you gotta do is watch the waves of rage exploding out over the high bluffs above... »

an Octoberfest hors d’oeuvre
I AM FIFI

I am FiFi (not my real name), the French maid sex slave of two beautiful, brilliant, strong Amazon Lesbians. And though they tell me I am badly flunking the French part of my maid, What, Dear Vibrator, I must ask, is the correlation between pain and sexual excitement? Am I a sickness? »

A SHORT UPDATED HISTORY OF THE EVER POPULAR BELIEF IN MAGIC

As she obliviously barked on, I looked out the corner of my eye to see if everyone was staring at us. But they were totally frozen in time. I mean, they were all completely stuck in mid chew, or suck, as they case may be -- trapped in the unconscious flytrap of our... »

The 49th Anniversary of having to ask
WHO KILLED JFK, MLK & RFK

Though they probably don't have the balls to do it, the best opportunity Trump will ever have to be trusted by the great majority of Americans would be by using MLK's 86th birthday to name who’s really responsible for the assassinations of JFK-MLK- RFK, before bad-politics-as-usual buries the truth again forever… »

Charles Bukowski's
Six Inches

Sarah picked me up and placed me down between her legs, which she spread open just a bit. Then I was facing a forest of hair. I hardened my back and neck muscles, sensing what was to come. I was jammed into darkness and stench. I heard Sarah moan. Then Sarah began to move me slowly back and forth. As I said, the stench was unbearable, and it was difficult to breathe, but somehow there was air in there—various side-pockets and drafts of oxygen. Now and then my head, the top of my head bumped The Man in the Boat and then Sarah would let out an extra-illuminated moan. Sarah began moving me faster and faster »

an excerpt from John Goodman’s
MINGUS SPEAKS
Avant-Garde and Tradition
Photograph by Robert Frank

I don't want to be so junglish that I can't climb a stairway. I got to climb mountains all day long? We're going to the moon, right? Well, I'm with the guys that wrote music that got us to the moon. Not the guys who dreamed about it. Bach built the buildings, we didn't... »

Excerpts from
THE LAST INTERVIEW WITH JAMES EARL RAY
A Counter Myth
from Mike Golden’s
BEEN TO THE MOUNTAINTOP, WENT OVER THE EDGE

Sad to Say, if you ask any graduating class today who James Earl Ray was, less than 10% of those over-priced diplomas would know the confessed, then-unconfessed, alleged-assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King was indisputably one of the three biggest hand-picked-stooges in history, along with Curly Larry Sirhan and Mo Harvey Oswald... »

Victor Harwood’s
THE WRITERS’ CONFERENCE
excerpted from his novel
TO DIE IN MADRID

That Saturday night Malraux and I sat side-by-side, facing the room, watching the crowd flow in and out in waves as it passed through the Dingo, quick to find out what was doing in the Quarter, savor a Jimmy Charters Gin Fizz and head off for dinner at the Brassarie Lipp or the Dôme... »

Now entering the 50th year of having to ask
WHO KILLED MLK
HERE’S A CONVERSATION
WITH PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR WILD BILLY HICKS


“I’d rather be dead than afraid,” the spirit said to Hicks It was Dr. King’s mantra, but all Wild Billy saw was a poor lost soul who didn’t know he was dead. “I never felt so small as when I realized it was my job to inform Dr. King’s spirit his body was gone »

DARIUS JAMES
DR. SNAKESKIN SPEAKS


BOYS TOWN
They took their beer from the bar to a table in the back, and then Johnson started talking about whore houses it had been his distinct pleasure to know. Like shortstops or writers, there was a rating system."There was a place in Jersey. In Wildwood. A grand old House, for its... »


THE NATIONAL PASTIME
Die for it or live for it, it always comes down to whether you go for what looks most inviting in the moment or wait for what you're lookin' for. Call it Yes or call it No, to swing or not to swing appears to be the only room left to move in... »

What's Happening In:

Little Rock - Arkansas Times
Buffalo - Artvoice
Athens, OH
The Athens NEWS
Austin, TX - Austin Chronicle
Baltimore - Baltimore City Paper
Birmingham - Birmingham Weekly
Black & White
Boise
Boise Weekly
Boston
Boston Phoenix
Boston's Weekly Dig
Boulder - Boulder Weekly
Charlottsville, VA - C-Ville Weekly
Chicago
Chicago Newcity
Chicago Reader
Chico
Chico News & Review
Cincinnati - Cincinnati CityBeat
Rochester - City Newspaper
Minneapolis - City Pages (Twin Cities)
Lansing - City Pulse
Des Moines - Cityview
Halifax, NS - The Coast
Colorado Springs - Colorado Springs Independent
Columbia, SC - Columbia Free Times
Atlanta - Creative Loafing (Atlanta)
Charlotte, NC - Creative Loafing (Charlotte)
Sarasota, FL - Creative Loafing (Sarasota)
Tampa, FL - Creative Loafing (Tampa)
Dallas - Dallas Observer
Dayton - Dayton City Paper
Oakland - East Bay Express
Hermosa Beach, CA - Easy Reader
Eugene, OR - Eugene Weekly
New Haven - Fairfield County Weekly
Calgary, AB - Fast Forward Weekly
Athens, GA - Flagpole Magazine
Jacksonville, FL - Folio Weekly
Fort Worth, TX - Fort Worth Weekly
New Orleans - Gambit
Vancouver, BC - The Georgia Straight
Hartford, CT - Hartford Advocate
Honolulu - Honolulu Weekly
Houston - Houston Press
Springfield, IL - Illinois Times
Durham, NC - Independent Weekly (NC)
Corona, CA - Inland Empire Weekly
Madison, WI - Isthmus
Ithica, NY - Ithaca Times
Jackson, MS - Jackson Free Press
Los Angeles - L.A. Weekly
Las Vegas - Las Vegas CityLife
Las Vegas Weekly
Louisville, KY - LEO Weekly
Long Island, NY - Long Island Press
Maui, HI - Maui Time Weekly
Memphis - The Memphis Flyer
Knoxville - Metro Pulse
San Jose - Metroactive

Great Moments in Sportz
Fear & Loathing @ The Kentucky Derby



RALPH STEADMAN remembers meeting HUNTER S. THOMPSON: I heard a quick hiss from the spray can Hunter was brandishing. He had Maced me again!...

HUNTER meets RALPH: Another problem was his habit of sketching people he met in the various social situations I dragged him into--then giving them the sketches. »

Mike Golden’s
Inside Outsourcing
Even if eating it is not exactly their thing they always have the option to use it as a dildo made exclusively for them personally by white trash fashionistas from the south of France collection, Dominique, would you like a tattoo of your face on your ass, dear, while you’re waiting for the designer to take measurements we can use to fit your soul into a gift package? »
Although Tuli was dubbed “the Noel Coward of Bohemia” by his friend co-founding Fug Ed Sanders, I always thought of the multidextrous humanist-humorist as “the Tom Paine of standup protest performance art”, but no matter what handle any of us pin on him it’s safe to say he has probably subliminally influenced more underground writer-poet-artist-publishers than any other Boho to come down the page this century. »

WAA!!
WHAT AN ASSHOLE!


painting collage of UBU, THE DECIDER by aka
Fred Wistow introduces Malcolm Gladwell

Max Blagg Commercial



  • 1965 collage by d.a. levy

  • Before you leave...
    visit Lally's Alley
    for daily updates
  • Visit Richard Cummings'
    The Fire Insider

    for daily updates
    Dick Lit
    Missionary Positions
    fiction by Joe Maynard

    Painting by Peter Cross

    "dick lit" is here to acknowledge the good, bad and ugly that goes with it, as it celebrates every young boy's quest to get off the next time, and every old man's quest to get off one more time, before there is no time left to get off on... »

    THE BEATS:
    REMEMBERING THE TEA
    an excerpt from Ellen Pearlman’s
    NOTHING & EVERYTHING

    Nothing and Everything is about the relationship of Eastern thought, particularly Buddhism, to the arts in post-war New York City —from the early 1940s to the early1960s—a handful of individuals brought about major changes in music, performance, dance, theater, installation, video, mixed media, painting, and sculpture, as the evolution from modernism to postmodernism broke down the idea of art as a practice devoted to a particular medium. The world—or life itself—became a legitimate artist’s tool, aligning with Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on enlightenment occurring at any moment.... »


    A Message from Senator Franken


    Please take 2 minutes to watch this important video.

    Alan Greenberg’s
    ROPE-A-DOPING WITH MUHAMMAD ALI



    For three hours Ali was in the ring sparring, and the entire time he never threw a punch. When he finally stepped down I asked him what he was doing. “I’m gonna get that sucker so tired of punching me he’s gonna fall flat on his face,” Ali replied. And so the “Rope-a-Dope” was born, not in the ring in Zaire, but in a gym in Pennsylvania. »
    MY LIFE & TIMES IN THE SKIN TRADE

    Up on the stage a man who looks like Klinger on Mash lifts his dress for the audience to inspect him. He has a clit. An actual clit. Then suddenly the legs spread, and PRESTO SLEAZO, there's a schlong! What a bargain! A real live hermaphrodite is about to take the skin of his female genitalia and stretch it over his male genitalia and get it on with itself »

    Great Moments in Sportz
    Professor Irwin Corey Accepts The National Book Award for Thomas Pynchon



    It happened Thursday, April 18th, 1974, at Alice Tulley Hall, and those that were there will never forget it (if they remember it at all). The National Book Awards, commercial publishing’s now defunct version of the Academy Awards was in the bottom of the ninth, down »

    Mimi & Richard Farina Live


    In 1965, Mimi and Richard Farina dropped by the studios of WTBS (now WMBR) with electric guitarist Barry Tashian (of Barry & the Remains) for music and talk with DJ Ed Freeman. Richard is on dulcimer. One of Mimi’s two guitars is tuned like a dulcimer. The explanation for the brief gap in the tape has long been lost.

    CLICK HERE

    Michael Disend's RIDER OF THE JADE HORSE


    Li looked firmly into his eyes. “No! I want man who is also a woman.” Penman nodded against his will, his gaze stealing down toward the strap-on dildo she was generously coating with lube. It thrust out like a red cannon from her leather harness. Why red? Is it because she’s from China?

    »

    Dick Lit
    Stacia St. Owens’
    DISCOVERED


    “Dick lit” has been around since the first caveman’s curiosity stuck his dick into the equation when he rubbed those two rocks together around it until....
    DISCOVERED
    Millie tittered, which is how girls used to be taught to laugh. Tilda wondered if this were an intentional jab.

    Barney Rosset Interview
    (The Subject Was Left Handed)


    Nightlife