Ill like Fargo
I’ll tell you, going outside in this town is over. Come November, folks are sharpening their alcoholic tendencies in preparation for the onslaught, the great covering over with cold that is winter. Now it's come, and everyone's getting down to it. JD, Johnny Walker Black, PBR out of the can. The few times they do go out it’s for some short, violent activity, such as chopping wood or pushing a car out of a ditch. But this is how the west was won, I tell myself. By people just like these. Big, strong people--with pale, thick necks. I'm like the runt with bad posture. They get everything done quickly and efficiently so as to maximize their drinking time. They rush around outside and run to the store and to the bank and to school and a thousand other places and meanwhile I'm getting fucked up the whole time, eating their food and watching their TV and not lifting a finger.
I tell myself if not for the coke I would have been exorcised from the indie rock circle a long time ago, but a part of me thinks that they couldn't get rid of me if they tried. I've left my indelible mark on this scene--like a pair of bitemarks on Conor Oberst's neck. My shtick is to come in the door tossing a tennis ball, up and down, up and down. They know what's coming next and gather round. I grab the ball and give it a squeeze, which pops it open a long the seams to reveal a clutter of plastic baggies' ziplocked heads. One can just make out the jagged horizon of white powder. The music changes to hip-hop.
Suddenly everybody's ready to make it happen...girls and boys alike, jumping up and down like they're already feeling their first line. That's when you know you're really anticipating something--when you can start feeling its effects before you even take it. These kids started out by telling themselves that it would only be a once a week thing, a way to get work done—and now I catch them arguing over a skimpy dime.
There's a guy here I call Television Man. A bunch of us hang out in his living room watching TV on his flat screen. He's got a Rubbermaid, clear plastic tub filled with sticky green buds and an entire library of Woody Allen and Herzog movies. You're going nowhere fast as soon as you sit your ass down. The walls are covered with figures and buildings and cars, each in baby pink or baby blue and all done with the same size hard bristle brush. I like to sit beneath the blue figure of a man looking down at the ground in front of what I believe to be a bodega. He could be praying or he could be thinking. Up above there are some swirls in the sky--planes or the shadow of planes.
I love Television man’s place around mid-morning. The cloud of fresh weed smoke in the air as everyone gets their first or second high of the day, the long, peaceful digitized rays that stretch out from the set and stroke our heads. The traffic shadows have stopped flashing on the wall—rush hour’s over. I imagine everyone’s firmly ensconced behind their desk in their little outdated, Midwestern office, earnestly living out their lives according to a moral code they got way back at dinner time, while here I am, selling drugs to their children and traveling through on the lonely highway that their tax dollars paved, resting my fat head in this town that is merely a station a long my way—nothing more, nothing less. How romantic does it get with my duffel bag and my parka, my black on black Yankees cap and my stash and my money in my shoe? Spouting Shakespeare. Climbing the water tower in the middle of the night with a can of Krink sticking out my back pocket...
I’ve got respect for these kids. They’ve got perfect corduroys and stolen varsity jackets and just the right kind of tousled hair. I like their swollen knuckles and sexy smiles.
“Do you have the movie *Fitzcarraldo*?” I ask Television Man.
“Yes, I do,” he says, and tips the rim of his cowboy hat, real gentleman-like.
“OK, well then I will take the camera.”
He smiles and takes something off the top of the shelf. I open my palm and he places a silver camera in it.
Television Man’s girlfriend is a leggy, befuddled looking brunette who has the power to suddenly appear from out of thin air. I never hear her coming. Now—for example—she’s come out of nowhere to put a disc into the set. I notice, with my casual eye for detail, that the button of her Diesel "dirty" denim jeans is undone.
I click on the camera and get everything focused by panning in and out on the television screen, where a small dinghy carrying Fitzcarraldo and his lady bobs up and down through the darkness to make it to shore, where the Opera is playing and Caruso is singing.
By the time I look up again, Television Man has his plaid, flannel shirt off. The morning shifts, zooms in on an angle on the shag carpet. My mind flashes through all the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. More cheap wallpaper than one can take. I hold up the camera.
For years I have secretly known that I was not cut out for this kind of life but I do absolutely nothing to change it.