Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Third Rate Romance

Comstock Farms
Did I ever mention that I live in a trailer park?  If not, it's true: I do. Should I ever win the Florida lottery  (which is unlikely since I don't play), I will have to spend my winnings on some land so I can build my own "manufactured housing development.  Comstock Farms will have nice large lots and communal gardens and its own still and brewery.  There will be a bicycle barn and a swimmin' pond and a big picnic pavilion for Sunday cookouts.  Off in one far corner we will have a primitive camping area for visiting friends and diagonally across the property will be the parking lot.  No cars allowed inside the Farms.  The daycare center will be filled with furry creatures and hand-hewn toys and books.  The entire park will be fenced so that the community dogs can roam free.

Check Out Those Gourds!

Am I missing anything?

Sounds pretty cool, huh?  As a wizard of trailers, I will manufacture each unit to my own demanding specifications in a steel building down by the highway.  Comstock Custom Homes Manufacturing, Inc.  will be next door to The First Comstock Community Bank and Credit Union.  That's where ya go to finance your new home.  Across the way will be the Comstock Grocery Store and Pawn Shop.
Another Satisfied Customer. I don't know who the guy on the right is but I think he has a blackjack in his pocket

I think that covers it pretty well...Sheriff Tim Joe sounds nice, too...I'll have a flashing light on my bicycle and a water pistol loaded with The Scarlet Ink of Shame.  If you've been bad everyone will know...

Just another day at Comstock Farms

But I don't want to be sheriff.  Let's see...

Mayor?  Not me...

Wait...Head Librarian!  I'll be the Comstock Farms Librarian!  Now I'm getting excited

Fifty acres ought to do it.  Maybe I'll start a Kick-Starter campaign, whatever that is.

Here's the Thing:
I don't know what that is but my friend Agent KAZ, the Swell Guy, knows somebody who does and he goes by the name of the Minister of Mojo.  He is doing something or another related to Katrina and needs money to get there.  Look it up here and if the Spirit moves ya, kick in.  As always, I have no money but I have a lot of friends so I'll leave it to you guys to sort it out.

Speaking of Friends
My next tattoo

Remember Judi, of Miles and Madness?  She remains kick-ass as always and her and her husband Dom have opened a super-fine bicycle shop in Cincinnati.  They call it Spun Cycles and I am proud as hell of them for achieving such an enviable goal.  Drop by their site and say hi or, if you are in Cincinatti or somewhere close by. get over there and spend all your money.

That's All For Now
There's a lot to say about one thing or another, but right now I am immersed in fiction and murder mystery fiction in particular.  I simply have GOT to crank something out that people will pay for and while I always planned to be a Melville I will be more than happy to be a Hammett.  The problem is, everytime I sit down to type up a post, someone has to die or get stabbed in the back and some other guy has to do something about it.  There are bicycle chases and gunfire and sexy ladies who are up to no good.  I'm on the track of something, and I kinda-sorta want to serialize some of it on here.  But I also am reluctant to freak out my beloved readers.  But if writing doesn't start to trickle down some spare change pretty soon I am going to have to get a real job and I am VERY reluctant to do that.  I would much rather prostitute my art with hack writing and far-fetched tales.  

Did I mention that I live in a trailer park?

Sexy Lady Up to No Good.  Needs a Cheeseburger

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and House of Dreams

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Off We Go
Being careful not to do any further damage, I gently fold the screen of my laptop down, wrestle the broken hinge into submission and slip the computer into my Goodwill messenger bag. I don't know how many more times I will get away with this maneuver before the screen just falls off once and for all. This seventeen inch HP Pavilion has been quite the loyal soldier. Seven years old, though, and compared to computers, dog years ain't nothin'. This baby is an antique. The “u” and the “y” keys are missing, giving the keyboard a definite trailer park look, like all she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth. But she is hanging in there. I wonder how many thousands of words I have hammered out on this old warhorse? More than a few, I can tell you that. She has served me well as my home entertainment center and web surfer and jukebox and she has suffered the millions of thick-fingered keystrokes from my gorilla-like carpenter's hands for lo these many years.

How It Ought To Be
No trail mix or bananas go into the bag today. I am only pedaling the three miles to the library. They have free wi-fi and a lot of books. My kind of place. If only they served beer. Free beer...

“Hi. I'll have a 16 oz Dewey.”

“Here you go, sir. I'll need your library card, please.”

“Here you go.”

“Thank you. I'll just swipe it here...Oh my! Did you really read all these books? You must be really smart!”

“Oh, I am.  That's why I have to drink so much beer. It keeps my brain from over-heating. Can you check on there? I think I've read enough books this month to qualify for the Frequent Reader two-for-one Decimal Special.”

The weather today is so right that I feel guilty about it, but not much. As I like to say, I live in Florida on purpose. Craziness and over-development and manic-depressive cops and sharks and alligators and mosquitoes and face-eating maniacs be damned, the month of March in Florida is NICE. There will be some long rides coming, I think. I'm living on my bike these days, like a dream come true. Of course, like any dream come true, there are caveats carping in the background, but right now I'll just keep dreaming.

One Day, Long Ago
On my quick ride today I cross an intersection a block away from the library where I lost a friend fifteen years ago. His name was Rusty. After he and I finished a lazy March day working on a waterfront house for some rich young guy, Rusty jumped into his little pickup and blasted away to a cookout at his girlfriend's parent's house. He never made it. Some doofus in a 5.0 Mustang ran a stop sign and t-boned my buddy's truck in the middle of the intersection. Hard. Plenty hard. Hard enough to do the job.

But that tragedy ain't today's story.

“You were his boss?”

“Sorta. We were more like partners.”

“Well...was there, I mean, is there any kind of insurance...”

“No, man. You have to understand, around here carpenters are more like pirate crews...”

“Yeah, I get that, but my brother is dead and...” The guy had flown all the way from Ohio to bury his wild brother Rusty. Wild people are common in Florida. The ones too wild for Ohio end up here. This isn't a conversation I wanted to have at a funeral home, though. I was here to say goodbye.

“I'm really sorry, man.”

“I went to his apartment and except for his tools, almost everything he owned would fit into one cardboard box.. What kind of life is that?”

“ a matter of fact, those are my tools.” I was feeling his grief. I was feeling a little grief myself. But somehow, this brother seemed pissed at Rusty for leaving an estate that would fit into a little cardboard box. I could definitely tell he was also pissed at me for not...I don't know what he was pissed at me about. But Rusty was my buddy and I understood completely his free spirit and why the hell should a dead guy have a bunch of stuff? Rusty was one of the most light-hearted guys I ever knew. He refused to take life seriously and was always available to lend a hand or go out for a beer. He lived in a little pool house behind this rich lady's place on the beach and I never asked what the arrangements were but I don't think he paid much in the way of rent.

The Way
Without even knowing such a thing existed, my buddy Rusty was living a minimalist lifestyle. I'm trying to do the same myself, but I'm a carpenter-sub and I need my gear. It fills an 8x8 room in my trailer. Tools and equipment cleaned and oiled and ready. I don't go in there and dust them, but maybe I should. Lately I have been thinking about selling them. Why not? I think I could get enough to put together a touring kit for my bicycle. I certainly don't seem to be using my tools lately but I sure do use my bike. A lot. That's the way I want it.

I own little else. I don't even have a wall of books these days. That's what the library is for, I think. But minimalism is a silly term. It should be called normalism. Having too much stuff should be called something else, like bag-lady syndrome or packratalism. Or not...I really don't care. For me, possessions are a burden and source of guilt. I always feel like I am a poor caretaker of these things I own. They get dust on them and I feel bad about it. The multitude of of personal storage centers around the country are a testament to the having-too-much that afflicts our sensibilities as a decent people and it is why so many denizens of third-world countries try so desperately to get over here: they want to have too much stuff too. Some of them would be happy just to set up housekeeping in one of those personal storage units. I've done that.

What am I talking about? Who knows? You guys should be accustomed to it by now.

But there is definitely something on my mind. I know what it is. I'm struggling with my inner Thoreau and the need to...I almost can't say it: the need to re-join society and I howl in despair at the thought.

So Anyway...
At the library, I plug in my dilapidated old computer and fire her up. There is a new ticking sound as she begins her dark journey back to life. It won't be long now before I find myself writing my booger posts with pen and ink, hunting down a Xerox machine, making magically fragrant copies and mailing them to my readers postage-due. While I wait the twenty minutes or so it takes Windows to wake up on my worn-out old laptop, I go over to the reference desk to get a beer.

Rusty would have approved.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Wildlife Society

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Mute Button


“Bicycling Magazine has a contest about “Your Favorite Ride.”

“You mean that magazine I borrowed for you from the dentist's office?”


“You left it in the bathroom. I thought I threw that out.”

“You did. I got it out of the trash can on the way to the dumpster.”


“So if I win I could get a five thousand dollar bicycle as a prize.”

“Yeah, right. I'd like to see you do something like that.”

“Me too.”

“Whadaya want for breakfast?”

“Sausage sandwich and hash browns. And go tell the dogs to shut up. I'm tryin' to think up a five-thousand-dollar story.”

“Well, if anybody has five-thousand dollars worth of bull crap in 'em, it's you.”

My favorite ride takes place not in time and space but is a place in my mind that I can find when alone out in that special place where just me and my bike can be together, alone. That place where we both cease to exist as machine and rider but instead...instead we both can, if only for a minute or an hour, disappear.

We can disappear and only on my bicycle on a quiet ride for a moment in time or on a mystical dawn float at slow speed, floating so slowly in the quiet of dawn that almost, maybe, we are not moving at all, we are flowing gently towards something and yet maybe not moving at all. This is a place I find only when riding my bicycle. It is a place where I feel that I know myself. My bicycle is a trusty friend and carries me to this magic place. It doesn't always happen, for time and space are elusive and the world is a tricky place. Favorite rides are hard to find. This is mine. It is the ride where I lose myself, the bicycle disappears beneath me and there is nothing there: I am a cyclist...

What a pile of woo-hoo, said the Voice.

“Ya think?”


“Well, it's only a rough draft...”

Very rough, said the Voice.

“Here. Those hash browns might be a little crisper than ya wanted. I gotta go get ready for work. You want some hot sauce?”

“When have I ever not wanted hot sauce? And grab me another beer, will ya? I'm trying to find a groove here.”

I climb into the saddle from the top step of the porch so that the morning dew does not dampen my shoes. There is a kind of magic in leaving home when your feet never touch the ground. However far I ride today, I will not touch the Earth. I will float above it, a flying spirit at dawn on my bicycle. The mists of sunrise and the sound of the planet awakening all around us create the music and mystery that make this something special. Sunrise! This is my favorite ride. I am a cyclist.

Coasting slowly towards the river, I adjust my glasses and my gloves and twist around a bit in the saddle, getting ready...

“Dammit Toby! Get off my leg! I swear! If you don't quit humpin' my leg! This is my big chance to get a fancy bicycle! Stoopid dog.”

“It is by riding a bicycle that...”

“Oh great! Not only do I have a dog humping my leg and burnt hash browns for breakfast and now you're here”

“One true sentence..”

“Ernest, once and for all, please put a sock in it! You know how much crap I take from the Voice about simple declarative sentences?”

I've always encouraged you in your work, except for when you indulge in too much woo-hoo.

“I wish my head had a mute button.”

However crazy the world around you feels or the time of day, the act of riding a bicycle is a thing that can be done with minimum effort, little expense and maximum pleasure. This is one such ride. I call it the “Mute Button...”

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Literary Society