Friday, February 15, 2008

Cigarettes and Beer

Chapter 1: Cow-town cowboy

There was that one time: a moldy bun from Wendy’s. The replacement had a hair in it, but he was too timid to complain a second time and he ate it. He’d kept it in a long time; at night the view from his townhouse was something extraordinary: McDonald’s, Blockbuster, Qdoba, Starbucks; here, out on the plains, things were really desolate, really cow-town; everything one needs, if one needs a heart attack. A world constructed, intentionally by all appearances, merely to distract. “Distraction is happiness in the mid-west,” he had a theme, not long and he’d have a gallery too. Attractive women, piddling fame, broken hearts. His father was a cowboy, raised on the farm and then in the city, a man with principles, disciplined to the root of his life-long-already gray hair. “No son of mine is gonna be no artist,” and so he was technically fatherless, and, by extension, family-less. The impulse to migrate tugged his chest as though somebody had tied a rope there and carried the other end all the way to India, or China, or Madagascar. He resisted it: that was his passion: to resist himself. He’d therefore never given up on that eternal-life dream. “My Self is locomotion-towards-death, and so, since I’m philosophically anti-self, I might as well live forever.” He fancied himself “mac the last cowboy”; deathless in dreams and lukewarmly cynical, an artist fallen somewhere between an old computer and a new Ferrari. He worked on a typewriter (when he wanted to write his letters), his clothes were all stolen, and he was devotedly public transportation, so he figured he was an atheist by default: mac the atheist-artist-cowboy. He painted naked people because he was really just clothing all the way down, and horses, and sunsets. “Cow-town suburbia,” he thought, “my town, holy crap.”

Chapter 2: Broken Paintbrush

“It looks fine to me.”

“Nah, it’s broken.”

“I’m not sure if paint-brushes can break, I mean as long as they pain—“

“It’s broken.”

It lay there, still wet, unable to paint a thing.

“I prefer it broken.”

“How’s that?”

“The world changes when it’s broken, more colorful, vibrantly painted-like, as though I jus’ seen it for the first time.”

“How’d you figure that?”

“Shit, just an observation.”

“Listen, ‘mac’, you’re an artist by profession. You need to pick up that stick and earn your livelihood, broken or not.”

“I’m a terrible artist.”

“Don’t I know it, but that don’t change a thing.”

Nothing was visibly wrong with the brush. Red paint had bled from the bristles onto the table; dy(e)ing, it’d be permanent soon. It was, in reality, little more than a shit stick. Warhol painted with piss. Human excrement had been on the artists’ minds, so he figured. “Cow-town cow-pies.” He’d paint with shit if he could stand the smell. He couldn’t. He had to take a shower after every BM not because he felt unclean, but rather because he wanted his bathroom to smell of shower and soap instead…. “Those Fancy New-York types and their ideas, the art-world’s really taken a turn.” The plains would be livable even now-a-days if one had a tank—horses won't do to jump all those fences—and maybe a telescope too, else one can’t see the stars. His balcony overlooked a stretch of pseudo-highway, and he’d get honks when he’d stand there butt-naked, which is how he liked it anyway. He was in a garage band when he was younger. They played a few gigs, but were mostly thrown out on their asses—their loud-noise-spine-rattling-split-screaming-cuss-words-and-drunk not going over too well with the `billies. He was there for the heroine epidemic, never tried the stuff himself, “Now all’s it is, is jus’ suits and greed, probably still the heroine, but fancy, crystal droppers and the like.” He probably just needed to get laid, except his ED was acting up, on account of his age, not even forty, but sex requires something he’d lost—maybe the whole mid-west had lost it—but besides, he preferred it broken; it made the world somehow new again; occasionally he’d even watch those sunsets again, pink clouds like winged angels illuminated at the dawn of Apocalypse, the intermittent seas of grain blowing the colors up between reflecting buildings of glass, the pinks and yellows and oranges caught up in the silent unity of land and sky, which, hurricaned together and yet perfectly still, trespassed into one another as currents through the deep and never failed to bring tears to his eyes. He never did do much anyway, “‘mac’ the cowboy, right?”