Posts Tagged ‘jean paul sartre’

Cava, Clean Glasses and Nothingness

August 24, 2017

Sal washed bar dishes  first in soap then a solution of water and
bleach that kills anything that could hurt you.  He then let them drip
dry and then took a towel and dried each glass until there was no hint
of finger prints or lipstick or anything.  June sat at the bar, leaning on her elbows.
“I’m amazed by the detail to each glass…”
“Worst thing is serving someone and then they hand it back to you
because of lipstick, or a hair or Rumchata that dried or something.
They not only don’t want to pay you but now they’re disgusted and want
to go.  They then go home and jump on Yelp to let the world know that
there was a pubic hair in their rum and Coke.  The bartender was
indifferent and nobody should ever go to that establishment for that
reason.  I try hard to take away that argument.  Want to hate the
world and complain like a coward?  It won’t be about dirty glasses.
You could go home and say that I have mercenary qualities and looked
bored and you might be right but you at least got a clean glass…”
“And I like that about you…  I’d like a Cava.  Not a little souvenir
split but the whole fucking bottle.  Bring me a flute because I am a
lady…  Right?
“But of course… You asked for Cava.  Did you know that in French if
you separate Cava into ca va, you’d be asking someone how it’s going.
So let’s try it…  Comment ca va?”
“It sucks today.  I went to a funeral of a friend who just died of
cancer and then found a dick pic on the computer and letters and
letters to a mutual friend related to an affair.  I have not divulged
that I snooped and that I have seen the evidence and my fiancé
continues to lie.  I asked him if he would take a lie detector test
and he said that the idea of putting him through such a harsh test
just shows that there is no trust between us…  What should I do?”
“Um…  Do you want to stay with him?”
“I don’t know…”
“That’s a tough one…  True story…  When I was a young man, a man who
knew me and played ice hockey against me, was courting my wife.  Guys
I played hockey with told me,  my eight year old son told me in a
round about way and I didn’t want to believe it.  Once I became a
believer, I caught the two of them together at his place.  I destroyed
the apartment and beat him thoroughly and then left before the cops
came.  Would I do that today?  No way…  I would just walk away.  Jail
time, stroke or a hard attack is not worth it if someone is not with
you, truly with you.  Embarassing him on Maury Povich or on an episode
of Cheaters will not change anything.  No charge for that advice.”
June drank two bottles of Cava and talked about plants, movies, her
children, her fiancé again and death.  After more than an hour, June
noticed a book on the bar and asked about it.  It was a French book
entitled, L’Être et le néant.  Sal didn’t really want to discuss the
book.  June pushed and so Sal took a breath, rubbed his bald head and
looked up at the ceiling.
“How do I put this… Hmmm.”
June always did the talking and Sal the listening.  Sal was caught
off guard.  Sal never let on how he viewed the political landscape and
whether he was for or against the president.  Jazz and ice hockey he
was happy to discuss but all else was never divulged.
“If I were to describe myself, it may come off as self-deception
about the human reality.  I could make myself falsely believe not to
be what I actually am.  Or  deny my freedom by becoming what you
perceive as a bartender.  This means that in being a bartender, I
might believe that my social role is equal to my human existence.
This book explains that an occupation, race or social class should not
define who you are.  I am a person and not a bartender…  I could
become anything.  You sell real estate but is that really you?”
“Fucking deep shit and in French no less.  And that’s interesting to you?”
“I’m interested to be aware while I doubt much of everything in life.
To know is to be and we need to be and know what we are…  There is a
lot I know and a lot I don’t know. I am and actually I don’t know why
I am.  Can I define what I know?  Can I define what I am and wish to
be? There are things I know that I know. There are known unknowns.
That is to say There are things that I now know I don’t know. But
there are also unknown unknowns. There are things I do not know I
don’t know… And so I read about it…  In French.  It’s all really
fucked up but it sounds not so bad in French… N’est ce pas?”
“I don’t think I will ever ask you another question, Sal.”

“I’m totally okay with that, June.  I’m a good listener.”

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Happy Birthday to the White Earth

May 9, 2017

Percy sat in the room with a smile, looking unlike all the others in the room.
Eloise didn’t want her father, who was an assistant to the assistant
to the director of the EPA to discuss the fact that he had voted for
Trump and in a sense, was working for Trump.  She wanted no political
topics, discussions or debates to take place during the party for
their child who was turning one year old.  Little Sarah Mordecai
Terreblanche-Arnofsky.  The name Arnofsky, Jewish and Russian in
origin was the last name of the father, but not the husband of little
Sarah Mordecai’s mother.  Terreblanche, a French name, came from
France, then in the Acadia region of Canada then all the way down to
Louisiana where Eloise was born and raised along with her parents and
their parent’s parents before them.  And the name in English
translates to “White Earth”.  Oh and Mordecai?  Eloise and her husband
did not want to steer their biologically female daughter towards
acceptance of female identity.   They both feel that one day, Sarah
Mordecai should choose what gender she wants to be.  The gifts were
all neutral, most homemade gluten-free and vegan sweets.  The cake was
not really a cake but a bowl of honey mixed with picked fruit and
granola.  One of the Moroccans in attendance brought the recipe over
from North Africa.  In fact three men were playing dissonant sounding
Arabic music in a room with a hookah.
Percy poured himself a glass of wine, went out to the balcony and
looked over towards San Francisco from the condo he paid for in
Oakland.  Percy walked into the living room where all the young people
with their toddlers were sitting on the floor with their children.  A
young couple with ratty, matted dreadlocked hair wore shirts that read
“Resist!” in large letters, their small child also had on an onesie
with the same word on it.   Rainbows, Black lives Matter, Oakland is a
sanctuary shirts.  The guests ate vegan pizza, smelled of some sort of
oil and body odor.  Music indigenous to the middle east played.
Everyone was young and very militant.
Percy went to Oakland Coliseum to watch the A’s play a baseball game
earlier that weekend.  He wore a green and yellow shirt with a green
A’s hat.  The television in the living room had no volume on a
baseball game was on.  Percy ate carrot sticks and watched the game.
A young man in a beard, who shook his head a lot up and down, pulled
down at his beard and decided to engage Percy in conversation.
“I’m guessing this whole things ain’t your scene, man…  Everyone was
on edge wondering who the square was.  Maybe ICE.  Maybe FBI”
“Oh, I don’t know, young man… Square things can be a little round at
times…  You’re close.  I’m with the EPA”
The young guy laughed at the levity and tapped Percy’s knee in
approval thinking that Percy was only joking about being from the EPA.
Percy wasn’t joking.
“I looked at your whole get up man, and I was intrigued.  I mean
like, I just needed to know where you’re coming from, your bag, your
perspective.  You’re wearing baseball stuff and all.  I’m looking at
you and I’m thinking you look like the type that might have voted for
Trump…  So did you?  Are you part of the NRA?  Are you against a
woman’s right to have abortions?  Do you deny global warming?”
Percy lifted his glass of wine like he was toasting the young man,
took a drink, tilted his head to the side, adjusted his horn rimmed
glasses and gave a cryptic answer that only drew the young man more to
him.
“  Sonny…  I’m working with a realtor as we speak.  I’m trying to
find prime land on the equator on Mars.  I want a warm spot like
Phoenix…  You know like a balmy minus 10… Did you know?  No, you
couldn’t possibly know…  Anyway…I was raised in a house by a black
lady back in the early seventies who did all the cooking.  She had a
wide space between her two front teeth and she had bout twenty cats
running round the place.  If you wanted to finish your food, you
didn’t dare give a crumb to the cats til you were done.  If you did,
them cats would be all over you.  I had a mom and several men that
were suitors of some sort that courted my mom.  We lived in a home
where everyone contributed something and we ate together and the
adults hated the war and Nixon…  Did you ever live in a house like
that?  These were real Hippies.  They fucked each other in a loving
way, took a lot of dope and shared.  The music was good and people
really hated the president, the government and the establishment.  Can
you dig that a square like me was raised like that?  When you were a
tadpole in your daddy’s nutsack, my mom wore no bra, slept with
colored men with real Afros and wanted equal rights for women…  Now
this is the truth.  No bullshit, young fellow…  If abortion had been
legal in Illinois in 1965, I would not be sitting here talking to you
right now.  Yes sir…  I’m the son of a true, died in the wool, love
child.  She was only 15 at the time, if you can fathom that deep
thought…  Remember that nothingness is an experienced reality and
existence is transitory and fragile.
The young bearded man forgot that he had asked Percy whom he had
voted for and went on to describe an upper middle class upbringing in
a gated subdivision.
“Wow, young man.  That is truly a white milk, middle class,
homogenous, vitamin D, insulated life you lead.  Do you remember the
first black person you saw in real life?”
“It was probably at Dodger’s stadium in third grade…”
“Far out, man… I grew up practically a poor black child although you
would not know it to look at me…I grew up listening to Smokey Robinson
and Sly and the Family Stone.  We had a thing going on not unlike
Jonestown in Guyana.   Very cult like not unlike what is happening
today.  Free speech is acceptable as long as I agree with what you’re
saying,,,  Color didn’t matter.  Status didn’t matter…  You know, man?
People dying in Afghanistan and Iraq since before you could grow
whiskers and nobody cares if those young guys trying to make to the
end so that they can get their dough and go to college.  Nobody
protests the fact that we’re in a state of constant war.  Trump is the
problem…  Right?”
“Right on, man…  You said it!”
“Let it be soon, don’t hesitate…  Make it now, don’t wait.  Open your
heart and let my love come in.  I want a moment to stop when I can
fill your heart more love and more joy than age or time could ever
destroy…”
“That is some deep fucking shit, bro…”
“Yeah?  You can thank Smokey for that one…  Thing is that once the
war ended and people came home, shit began to fall apart.  Everyone
was worried about their shit…  It’s cool to take a stand when you have
food and shelter.  When you don’t have that shit…  Well, now…  It’s
survival of the fittest.  Origin of species, only the strong survive
and so on…  That’s just how it is.  A fire breaks out in this condo,
who lives?  Those with the best fight or flight response.  There are
people dying of famine in refegee camps in Africa…  Children dying and
some chubby white dude trying to win a Pulitzer is snapping off photos
of a kid about to die…”
“You’re one deep motherfucker…  Really man.  I mean, you show up here
and I think you’re going to be about as flat as the wall over here and
you’re deep as the ocean…  Keep talking , man.  I dig your vibe…  Do
you smoke?”
“The young man lit a joint and held it out to share with Percy.
“Not anymore, son.  I only smoke salmon now…  Where was I?  Old
people have issues with short-term memory loss.  Could have years of
smoking doobies as a youngster.”
Percy paused to hug his daughter who walked by with the baby in tow.
The young bearded man begged Percy to continue to talk.
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he
is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give life a
meaning.  Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees and
that has nothing to do with submission or some homosexual
tendencies…  I’m cool with whatever you’re into, man… Freedom is
what we do with what is done to us… Putting your business in the
street, talking out loud… You better bring the chick around to the
sad, sad truth… The dirty lowdown.”
Percy mixed Boz Scaggs with Sartre and looked the young man into his
eyes like he was way out there.  The young man had no idea that the
old man was just yanking his chain, pulling his leg, putting him on.
After the Moroccan treat and ice cream, presents and singing, Happy
Birthday, Percy decided it was time to leave his daughter’s home that
he paid for.  Percy made it possible for his daughter to teach
philosophy at a junior college and still have a nice place to live
with her boyfriend whose job it was to try and stop ICE agents from
gathering up and deporting illegal aliens.  Undocumented…  You know
what I mean.
The young bearded man followed Percy out to a rented convertible car
and asked how he felt about President Trump.  Percy revved up the
engine on the rented eight cylinder Dodge…  A huge gas-guzzler.
“Son…  When you bought the boat and you’re rowing the boat, you’ll
take offense to those that will coast at your expense…  Just remember
this- Richard Nixon might have been the best suited man to have ever
been given the job of president…  Think about that and wonder why I
would say such a thing…  Some writers I know are damned devils.  From
them I say don’t believe the hype.  Their pens and pads I’ll snatch
coz I’ve had it…  Don’t … Don’t believe the hype… Peace be with you…
Man…”

Concealed Anger at the Buffet or Jean-Paul Sartre and Ringo

April 1, 2014

I was not the one to invent lies: they were created in a society divided by class and each of us inherited lies when we were born. It is not by refusing to lie that we will abolish lies: it is by eradicating class by any means necessary.
Travis read this passage in French of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Les Mains Sales or Dirty Hands while sipping coffee at an Old Country Buffet. Travis didn’t like the French as people or French culture. He liked that French was not English and that it was something different. Travis was different. He worked nights at a Kinko’s/Fed-Ex making copies, during the day he followed the Da Vinci sleep schedule of not sleeping more than two hours a day, listened to the Beatles and idolized Ringo Starr. He was an unmarried survivalist who had a bomb bunker in his mother’s home on the north side of Chicago. Travis felt that the poor economy and high number of random homicides in the city of Chicago, was a sign that something big was coming and so he applied to carry a concealed weapon.
On this particular day, Travis didn’t get his full two hours of sleep. He drank coffee and went for a ten-mile run and then walked to the Old Country Buffet, ready to eat his one large meal of the day at 11am when it opened. Travis took his usual booth seat closest to the action so that he could make his salad with spinach, carrots, peas, broccoli, corn, three-bean salad, raisins and a splash of French dressing. But of course.
Travis heard the Hispanic woman explaining to two patrons that when they receive a water glass, they can only have water. The two men were giving the woman a hard time. Travis’s arms began to tingle. He went back up to the buffet table. Broiled chicken was just put out. Travis studied a pathetic creature in a motorized scooter who sidled up to the table to load two plates full of drumsticks. Travis listened to the man gasp and breathe all over the food underneath the sneeze guard. The grotesquely obese human in a scooter who was either unwilling or incapable of standing as he fought to get food on his two plates. The scooter bound man cleaned the tray of chicken except for the wing that he attempted to plate that slipped from the tongs and plopped into the gravy belonging to meatloaf that caused a minor seismic wave that sent gravy flying up against the splash guard. The chicken was gone. Travis approached the smallish white kid with a neck tattoo and a straight brimmed baseball cap with the initials OCB on the brim, to ask for more chicken. The hip-hop employee laughed and explained how long it would be until more chicken would be available.
“Dat motherfukah always be taken moh than he kin eat. We be taken his motherfuckin plate and he eat the skin and leave all the meat. It bullshit. They should charge a motherfucker like dat by the motherfuckin pound. OCB be losing they ass on fat ass motherfuckers taken moh than they kin eat. It gone be bout thirty minutes befoh the next batch up.”
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe the lack of water and too much caffeine, maybe the disrespect for rules like water only in water glasses unless you pay for a soft drink, maybe it was the scooter or the heavy breathing on the food at eye level. It was most definitely was the act of taking all the chicken, the neck tattoo, crooked hat and inability to use the English language without the use of word motherfucker. People snap everyday and we read about it everyday and then we wonder what lined up to cause a perfect storm in one’s head for them to rationalize that pulling a gun was the proper recourse to resolve an annoying situation.
Travis applied for and was issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The rule was that concealed handguns were prohibited in a long list of buildings, parking lots and properties, including schools, child care facilities, courthouses, government buildings, hospitals, nursing homes and public transportation facilities, buses but all you can eat buffets were not on the list. Travis pulled a gun, walked up to the table of two men that were having soft drinks and pointed his gun at them.
“Red glasses are for water. You were issued red glasses for water exclusively. You broke the rules. You stole. Now go dump the Cokes and put fucking water in your glasses… NOW!”
Travis walked up to the young man who was holding a tray of macaroni and cheese. He took the hat off of the man, folded the brim until it formed an arc rather than a straight brim and then pushed it back on his head with the brim centered to his face.
“Have some respect for your job and the English language. Pull your pants up and wear your hat straight or cut your hair off so you don’t need to wear a ball cap like a clown. Fucking, motherfucking, fuckheaded, fuckstick… I know you understand me. You motherfucking comprehend. Learn the language and you’ll be able to converse with people without offending anyone.”
Travis walked over to the man with a Cubs shirt who was wheezing and eating two dozen drumsticks and put the barrel of the gun to his head.
“Take out your phone and Google gluttony…”
The man looked at Travis as if he didn’t understand. Travis lowered his face to the face of the drumstick bandit and raised his voice.
“TAKE OUT YOUR FUCKING PHONE RIGHT NOW AND LOOK UP GLUTTONY AND READ IT LOUD ENOUGH FOR ALL OF US TO HEAR. YOU WILL ALSO EAT EVER PIECE OF MEAT ON YOUR PLATE… DO YOU FUCKING HEAR ME?”
The heavyset man trembled and began to read. Travis ordered him to eat at the same time that he was reading.
“Gluttony, derived from the Latin gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste. In some Christian denominations, it is considered one of the sins.”
Travis yelled into the face of the man.
“You saw me waiting for chicken and took every piece and put it on two plates. I would say that qualifies as extravagance and over fucking indulgence. Now we will sit here until you are done eating everything down to the bone… You two! The red cup thieves… Go get him a diet Coke. Here is proper cup designated for soft drinks which he purchased.”
The Chicago Police took close to a half hour to show up and when they did, they found Travis seated across from a man with a motorized scooter that was crying and stuffing his mouth with chicken with a gun pointed at his face. Chicago’s finest were accustomed to bizarre events but this was the strangest one in a while. Travis had a bad day. We all have bad days. Right?