As a result of the overwhelming remorse I undergo if I don’t write at least 1,000 words a day, or due to the fact that I am on coming off a 6 a.m. coffee binge and just couldn’t stop my fingers from making some sort of downward and upward drill bit motion, I should foremost warn that you, in all probability, have something better to do than read this. I also want to assure you that when you sit on your back porch and count the hours by the number of inches of rain it takes for the pool to overflow, or by the number of times it takes you to listen to Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor” to realize that there is indeed an imperfect cadence at the very end and you have to listen to it outdoors to uncover this, maybe, or just how many times that fucking squirrel is going to run across the screened-in covering and rip apart each 4×4 foot square of covering which will certainly issue a costly repair, and how many times my 91-year-old senile neighbor Warren will contemplatively walk out of his house — in the sideways rain now — with his 30-year-old lawnmower and seriously consider cutting his grass in such brutal weather like today’s, and eventually takes a few layers off the top and doesn’t care if the mower is smoking a bit and there’s lightning tearing holes in the sky over the golf course, because nobody else is going to do it for you, and don’t tell me what I can and can’t do, I’m 91 and have smoked two packs a day since grade school and still maintain my hot dog stand down there on the Pier 60 and fuck if I’m going to die in some terrible lightning storm, and yes, I did throw that lit cigarette in the garbage can and my house almost exploded into tiny scraps of paper mache but damnit, I’m 91-fucking-years-old, and you may even count the hours by how many times the fire truck makes a drive down the street after your paranoid neighbors think their house was just barbecued after each yellow neon lightning strike, and like the opening montage of “Blue Velvet” the firemen wave at me in slow motion and make it seem like suburbia is a quiet little getaway but things can indeed turn for the worse here, or maybe in how many times my dad will walk in and out of the house to hoist a soaked Stars and Bars flag attached to our fort of a house that for sure signifies something innocent to him but signifies “we still believe the South should have won” to me, and thank goodness none of my friends question why there isn’t a sufficient amount of stars for states on the flag when they used to come over and play. I want to assure you that if you ascertained any of these qualities that you are severely bored, or severely insane, or just another college student waiting to go back to school. Mornings consist of me sitting in my room and slowly sifting through online news or watching sci-fi films on SyFy (which reads like see-fee to me now, I don’t care what they’re trying to pass it off as), or sewing up holes in T-shirts or wondering how I feel like I need to be doing Something at every moment after living in a city with that approach for a few months, and my room is artfully covered wall to wall with concert and surfing posters which is, what? – is this supposed to represent who I am now? Maybe. But why do cobwebs begin to form in tiny crevices of rooms that we haven’t used in more or less than two months? Is there some non-apparent force of nature or whatever controls these things and it somehow deliberately places these sticky little things around spaces to make us feel bad about our absence? I can’t remember the last time I used that little handle of the window in my room, accept in middle school when I first discovered marijuana and was able to commandeer a half-eighth or so and lit up right in my room and just cracked that window slightly and bought a bottle of Febreze to cover up the smell, but we all know that it doesn’t do the trick and make the room that much more suspicious. And back then I was just beginning to tap into this psychedelic world, and like a juvenile pothead I turned on with Dave Matthews and thought this guy was talking about a Jimi thing and yih yih — he’s really talking about marijuana, but it’s so much more than that, he was talking about Jimi Hendrix too, so I downloaded a copy of “Axis: Bold As Love” and blacked out during the “If 6 Was 9” guitar solo and jumped in and out of consciousness through “You Got Me Floatin’” but was able to regain awareness of “Castles Made of Sand” and wondered if the boy he was singing about was me. But it wasn’t. And later in college when I’d revisit all of these albums during pot sessions, I’d begin to get defensive and think that I discovered Jimi first (or any band I listen to for that matter) and ya’ll are just posers and I became one of those lame concertgoers who’d make sure I’d sing all lyrics so nobody would think I didn’t actually know the artist that well, and then one day singing the lyrics at concerts became incredibly vexing, and so since then I’ve stopped singing altogether at concerts and began to really listen to the artist. And with that I started to think of how we get caught up in this personal relationship with the music and the musicians’ theologies and whatnot and thought, hey!, there were way more fans of Nirvana before me and I clearly didn’t discover them first (it was clearly the manager or record label or maybe a fan with a recording studio in his/her basement), but I say “yeah I saw them before they became mainstream,” which might be true, but does it really matter? Shouldn’t you dig that the other person digs the music too, and be in that musical instant with them and not worry if you fumble the lyrics, but just dance while you still can and sing while you still have the capacity to and hear all you can dig these days? Maybe, but I keep the posters on the wall anyway and could easily spruce up the room but I like seeing what I was ten years ago and sort of relive through these modest suburban subtleties, like when I drive around in my car playing Iggy Pop’s “Home,” and really anything else in my iPod that has “home” in the title, at a low volume of course, not to upset the neighbors, and lit up a little thing and it takes me through a time warp of awkward high school memories and in my head I hope to run into someone I knew from back in The Day at a coffee shop so we can have that conversation about how Things have been and remember The Time when we did This. That was awesome. And when the ritual drive is over and done I make a stop at Barnes and Noble and prance around and take some good, long whiffs of the fresh a/c and new book smell and throw on my tacky jean jacket and for a while stare at the photos of the authors that banner the four walls which are reprinted and altered through this black and white ink stencil that depicts them at some handsome part of their lives, just like the Wall Street Journal’s author photos, and wonder what they think of all this — eh, who cares really. I spend a good two hours between the Essay aisle and the Summer Reading table that still holds a few of the books I had to read and didn’t really register because of reading was ultimately for a grade, and fuck if I’m going to do what They tell me to, and now I can finally appreciate these divine little reads and fucking wish I could do high school all over again. After mulling over the purchase of three stunning graphic novels, I refrain and think that They almost got me because They label it as $9.99 when they are each really $10, but it makes me feel like I’m paying a whole lot less, so I stick it to The Man and purchase the same three novels on later that night for a fourth the price. I decide I need to do a bit more driving and head south to St. Petersburg on US-19 and feel awkward in my own body after not driving for two and a half months and get a headache from the motion sickness and buy a coffee for the cure, but that indulgence makes it worse and I really need to stop drinking this or maybe switch to decaf and get addicted to decaf instead and wouldn’t that be fucking sad — addicted to decaf coffee. And for the record I am now addicted to decaf coffee. I get lost in some slum area of St. Pete and swing into a model train store where the owner sat behind the counter, excited to see probably one of three customers they get a day, if they’re lucky, but he soon realized that I’m not there to add to my basement train set and instead asked for directions to the Army/Navy Surplus Store, and he gave me these convoluted directions that take me through another slummy part of town, but thankfully I found the store with the help of an awfully large Army tank parked in the front lot. I walked inside with my purple v-neck T-shirt and jean jacket and that wasn’t a good choice of attire — the men at the register clad in “Dixie Pride” and “I’m Packing Heat” sleeveless shirts and turning up the volume to some country song about a tractor being sexy over the speakers — they know that I clearly don’t belong there. But I gave they a stern “how’r ya doin’ guys” and begin my quest for whatever the hell I came there for. Maybe it was a new pair of used black worker boots or 100 yards of shoestring. Nevertheless I skimmed through an assortment of baroque WWI U.S. Army issue cadet hats and didn’t dare try one on because nobody buys these man, what are you thinking? They’re just on the racks for the atmosphere. I wanted to buy one nonetheless, but for fear of being taken out back and shot buy the one who was packing heat, apparently, so I abstained. I walked out with a cheap and sturdy olive green duffel bag and decided to do some more thrifting that day. Across the street was a Salvation Army with about 30 cars parked out front because it was half-off price all cloth purchases, so I did a quick look-see at the T-shirt racks for anything I thought might be ironic to wear or something I could turn vintage without looking downright homeless. I walked out with about $10 worth of clothes and my car smelled like that thrift store musty detergent smell for about a half a week after but I didn’t mind. And now my morning decaf is mud, damnit. How about a few more ice cubes, eh? I dragged my body over to the fridge in my kitchen, but the clank clank clank of three foggy cubes out of the dispenser pulsates violently throughout my inner ears, now even more damaged by the 50 or so concerts I attended over the summer, not to mention about 1/3 of which I stood like a dummy right up there at the front guardrail, furthermore without earplugs, and I would feel the buzz buzz buzz in my ears like the sound of an hourglass after the show and wonder no how the hell did that happen? One terribly dangerous Thursday evening in New York City I headed up to midtown for The Dead Weather concert at Terminal 5 and made sure I had my earplugs in hand. As I approached a massive line of people outside the venue, I reached deep into my back pocket, a few inches past the lighter which I tot everywhere just in case some greasy girl with hip-hugging black Levi jeans that scuffs around with a persona consisting of one-third I-cut-my-own-mullet/this-is-edgy-and-you-fucking-love-it-haircut, one-third I-don’t-give-a-fuck-if-I-can’t-smoke-in-here-I’m-going-to-anyway attitude and one-third I-fucking-like-you-because-I-can-tell-you-use-recyclable-bags alter-ego which only switches on when she eases up and you fire up her cigarette she snags from behind her ear that she shouldn’t be smoking in here, but she fucking does anyway, and you realize that she’s as much of a geek as you are and maybe I can swing an unreadable phone number on a cocktail napkin from that $8 draft I just got at the bar because I was bored with the first band and hell, drinking is just something we cling onto when we feel uncomfortable with our unfiltered selves. So I haven’t even walked into the venue when I reach deep down into my back pocket and retrieve my trusty earplugs which are more than necessary for this blaring concert of which I’m about to experience, and then I feel a strong poke on my shoulder. It wasn’t a pussy “hey, you dropped your wallet” kind of a tap. This tap may have pinched a nerve in my deltoid or some peripheral muscle group. This tap meant business. This tap fucking scared me. I turned around and two beefy, white fraternity-type fellows stood in the gutter (near a crowd of other concertgoers who looked perplexed at this hearty tap) and the one without the Mets baseball cap on asked me “hey chief, watcha got there, eh?” and I initially thought I was being mugged for the first time in this treacherous city and always secretly wanted this to happen because it would make an interesting story for the girl inside with the greasy hair, but then I remembered I had my camera in my messenger bag and this was my life and I’d have to fight these bastards off even if it’d kill me. So I put my hands up in the air saying “whoa, whoa guys, take it easy” and he responded with “hey man, why so fucking tense, whatcha got in that pocket there, eh?” and like one of those wind-up chattering teeth with little red shoes, I snapped back “chill dude, it’s just a pair of earplugs, chill,” and then realized that “chill dude” was my natural defense mechanism in tense situations and hated myself for that. The one without the Mets baseball cap reached deep into my back pocket and of course I felt awkward, mainly because I knew then that I wasn’t being mugged and this was just embarrassing now. He pulled out the little clear case and examined it like some alien would after gathering specimens from Earth and with a perplexed pitch in his voice, he added “fuck me, I thought dis leee–tle shit was rollin’ a doobie,” and it was then when I questioned these brutes and knew they certainly weren’t going to mug me because nobody calls a joint a “doobie” anymore and obviously these guys were undercover cops in civilian gear trying to lock up a few Cretans who think they’re going to get past us, fuck no, we’ve got a hearty tap here. And I half smirked when I realized that the New York’s Finest were more humiliated by the fact that they almost took down a boy with some earplugs, and the one with the meatball under his Mets baseball cap topped off our little run-in with “you got anything else that’s sus-pi-cious in dat bag dare?” and of course, even if I did, would I just go and tell him something like that? So I just smirked and gave them a hearty shrug and they walked off under some awning and lit up two cigarettes and Sweet Jesus, everyone is a damn smoker in New York. And that’s when “Hello Tomorrow” floated around my brain like an eerie dream or something and I continued to the concert line. And this was just another night in that dim city. After this isolated incident I wanted nothing more than to smoke a “doobie” when I arrived back home. I’ve been biking along our newly paved black boulevard, mostly at night but recently during the day after the monsoons have ceased and the air isn’t as humid and you don’t begin to cut loose an intense sweat after spending three and a half minutes outdoors. While wearing just normal clothes instead of the tight spandex shorts and shirts that bicyclists wear to cut down friction, but in reality it makes them look like a bunch of sissy space cadets — I end my workout down by the baseball fields and sit in the bleachers and give a quick look around for any middle-aged women walking their dogs or kids practicing their swing in the cages, and I pack a tiny one and look out there to the pitcher’s mound where I used to whisper a short prayer into my glove while fingering the baseball behind my rump with my right hand, and if the catcher gave me two fingers closed together like two adjacent skyscrapers I knew that the batter was in for some trouble because I had the fastest fastball this side of Countryside, but if the catcher threw down a two-finger sextant I had to really mean that prayer because who the hell knew where that ball would end up? — in the stands, in the coach’s face off the third base line, or it would make a coil and twist like a sequence of DNA at a velocity relative to the neighborhood speed limit, and my right shoulder still pops in and out of the socket to this day.