Posted to our images page, a new link for photos of my solo trip to play Songwriters in Mixed Company in Great Barrington, Mass. at the end of August. Plus a new self-portrait from the trip. After my Nov. 21st Bukowski entry I read the rest of Tales of Ordinary Madness, and remembered that most of the way through "Animal Crackers In My Soup" redeems having the rest of the book. At last (on page 204) a crafted short story (artfully necessitating shocking sexual deviance to advance the plot), life affirming - although still dark and twisted - see Buk, you *can* do it when you want to. Then I moved on to Notes of a Dirty Old Man which is a collection of Bukowski columns from the underground "Open City" newspaper in San Francisco, mid-through-late 60's. His writing is more focused in this form - sometimes there is even a sense of consideration for the reader - and of course it's packed with his trademark impossibly heavy binge drinking, yet there was some care in the description of his meeting Neal Cassady, and he hazards opinions, and let's his hard guard down a little bit like in this: "once in a rare lifetime have you ever been in a roomful of people who only helped you when you looked at them, listened to them. this was one of those magic times. I knew it. I glowed like a fucking hot tamale. it didn't matter. o.k. I smacked down another quarter pint out of embarrassment." And I feel bad for the old jackass jackal. I'm in a good room every time the Wheels get together to rehearse or improvise, and that friendly fire is brought out with us for performances - we hold that positive space and unleash it. Thank goodness for collaborators and my musical sense or I'd probably be a distraught poet myself. Go ahead and say my standards are lower and I'll ask you who is happier, whose approach brings more fun. Still, I have to respect the guy. I own his books; I got a lot out of re-reading them, and the sonofabitch is haunting me as you will see by this straight outta Bukowski anecdote from last weekend (*with some of the names changed just as he did them): After the eggplant parmesan and delicious cake of not-too-sweet icing and separate layers of chocolate and banana puddings is all consumed, different bands start to play. Later with the children all taken home, the other bands stay to watch our long and last set. Two drum kits, Sharples playing on my songs for the first time ever. A new nic-name in our midst: Biggie Tea. Our players can't keep off the stage; it's a those who dare improv session. At times I turn around and wonder if we'll make the leap onto the bridge, for now it seems neither of the two drummers are usually in my band, so we negotiate it and play, and after the first hour slowly some of the other bands start to leave. The designated drivers from Jersey are looking more and more impatient. Eventually Billy starts taking the curtains down, although we continue to play for some time just for us as a few of the witnesses fall onto the floor and dance on their backs, squirming around and taking our bass player, still jamming, onto the floor with them for a while. It's a birthday party with a Christmas tree and lights. The backdoor is secure, there's still leftover food on the buffet, the cups still on the tables, the gifts under the tree - we head through swinging doors to the bar. I already had my shots of scotch and a couple of beers. Trying to cure this head cold, not drown it. One more scotch. It's a private club. Now that the open bar isn't open, members can come in. We all sit around buying drinks. They have satellite radio, set to "60's Hits Vibrations!" We talk about the Monkees, and how we played that night, and razz the ole man for turning 50. He says "Now I've really come into my own - nobody is ever telling me what to do again!" We tell our war stories and the war stories of people we've only heard about on television. *John's been drinking beers all night, now adding shots of scotch on the rocks. He's pissed at his girlfriend - she's a moody unfathomable - and doesn't she see he's been working hard at this new job, how hard can he be expected to try, surely now it's Saturday night and his right to have a good time. The bar's a lighted blur, his fingers still buzzing from playing. *Walter's a pretty boy, nearing 50 himself, working hard at the stress to keep from slowing down. He lives alone, runs some deals, does some real estate, keeps chasing the pussy. Hits the jackpot at tonight's party with a gorgeous petite thing wearing some dress wrapped around an amazing body. She seems ditzy, tipsy, he moves in and starts talking with her after she gets up from that wiggle dance in the middle of the dance floor. There's something not quite right, she's more beautiful, not a ditz, but absent and hard and he keeps talking to her, ordering drinks at the bar, stringing along to the pearl. Either John leaned over to her, or maybe come to think of it now he bumped her gesturing, and now he's talking to a club regular, or maybe she's a regular because she has no place better to go at 3am. Her name is Maureen. She's old - at least 65 - but she's pulling down Buds which seem to be coming her way for about $1.50. There's a silent man, much younger, 30's wearing a rain slicker and camping backpack occupying the stool beside her. All night he says nothing. John introduces Maureen to the end of the birthday party. She gets off her bar stool, smoothing down the back of her elastic waisted denim pants, pulling the turtleneck back down over her bubbling stomach under her Christmas sweater. She comes around behind John, talking, greeting, her dentures moving loosely about her mouth. Walter takes a break on cracking the great wall of *Melissa. He's done this so many times before. This slam dunk would be obvious and boring if he wasn't always concerned about an upcoming dry spell. He takes to the men's room for a piss thinking not quite so many revelers would be coming out to celebrate his 50 years on the planet when it came to that in a frighteningly few number of years, not even if he paid for the booze to flow all night. He's delayed on his way back to Mel's delicious bar stool of the high-crossed legs by the birthday man and pals. They talk about The Band, then someone mentions the Kinks and he's interested in the conversation for a minute. Besides, John's off-limit girlfriend is talking too and she's hot. A few feet away Maureen asks John for a kiss. She reaches up around his neck as he unthinkingly bends forward to give her an "Auntie Goodnight." She aims for his mouth, reaching most of it and the corner, looking behind him he hears her say "Now that one is good-looking!" As John stands in shock she moves behind the cluster at the corner of the bar, making straight for the target. She can tell a naughty-dirty boy when she sees one. She get Walter off guard. He's not much taller than her and she pulls his face towards hers. He thinks it's funny! He goes with it for one moment too long, feeling flattered, and she's got her arms locked behind his head now, working her lips against his, gets her tongue in his mouth! He pushes her off, not gently, but not hard enough to hurt either. He's blushing and confused and revolted and what about Mel's delicious bar stool? He checks. YES she saw that, he's excited it will make the conquest a little less easy. Andy says "Oh man you can use *that* one later!" The birthday party is laughing, heads shaking, John's girlfriend is smiling uncomfortably, looking at the ground. Melissa says "Whatever! I SAW you kissing that old woman!" He smiles, bends the foul mouth down to talk close to her again. A half hour later she leaves with him. And Mr. 50's wife is telling him it's time to pack up the car and get some sleep.

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