For record: I was asked to give a reading of a book of mine that came out a few years ago; a very youthful and messy novel that I spontaneously drafted on a travel I had down to Saint Petersburg Florida It is riddled with random and hidden mistakes but people have taken a liking to it, and it remains the only book that provided me to live and travel based on the sales. Here are a couple of pictures from the reading that took place at a college. This book is really about a writer trying to find his voice, and just so happens to take part the same year of the american collapse that later was called The Great Recession. After Pictures, Below, is a section from the book. (The book is still for sale. I want to do a second edition with new edits, but this wont happen any time soon, so it is what it is, and it can be found to buy on this website under the heading books in print.)
It’s Friday in Saint Pete. About the only normality that I feel right now in my life is when I take a shower. For a brief moment I actually feel clean, then its over, I’m dirty again, and back to the slaughterhouse of love I go. Last night I stayed up all night writing, the morning has arrived, and synthesizer sounds pulsate out of my alarm clock. I’m unmotivated at the job possibilities that are out there. I always am.
How much longer should this charade go on? I’ve been acting the counter-culture part on such an empty stage for years now; six years of trying to learn how to become a better writer. Six years and five books later I am less sure of my writing than when I jotted down my first short story. There is not much interest in my writing from outside sources. Some do admire me for what I am trying to live, the artist’s life, but most just laugh at me and tell me to get job. I have tried, I tell them, nobody will hire me. For six years I have been enrolled in a crash course for the wandering and unadulterated artist. This trip down South, this final written madness, that I plan on writing in my twenties, that depicts my final days in Kalamazoo Michigan, my bus ride down to Florida, and my initial weeks in such a odd and tropical location, will act as a senior thesis of sorts, and it will conclude my completion of this unstructured discipline. I’m in Downtown Saint Petersburg. Janie dropped me off. I don’t even know what street I’m on, so I head straight for the water front. I follow the smell and the sound that the crashing tides make as they break against shoreline. I grew up on Lake Michigan; I instinctively know where to go when I am lost in my surroundings. The sea has always been the place where I can get my social bearings straightened out. This is where I will begin my day. Sitting in the park by the water I am thinking to myself where I am going to go. I mean the main reason that I am here, in Florida, is to look for a job, somewhere to make some money. But where should I go? Nothing looks familiar. I am writing in my notebook at the moment, there is nobody else around me; just large trees and a cool air mass make me feel as if I am not alone. But I came here to look for a job. I get up and start walking, just as I did in Michigan, I get up and I start walking. I passed Mastery’s pub again as I walk in the sunlight. I wonder to myself if Kerouac ever walked where I have, on these same concrete roads, and observed the same thoughts that I am currently dabbling with. I’m sure that I’m not the first young and lost writer who has thought and that is doing what I am right now, but it sure as hell feels like it. It feel as if I have discovered a new land, a new way of being, and I am surrounded by an overabundance of new devices that I will be able to include in my writing. I feel like the last writer left in the United States. I know I’m not. It’s nine in the morning; I don’t even know where to I can go to get a cup of coffee. I should have slept last night, what an error in judgment that was. I need to forget about my character from my last Book; his name was Henry Oldfield, I’m not him. I was his creator, but it seems that he is entangled with my imagination, with my Art, and with my mind. It’s a strange sensation when one of your characters implants themselves in your actual reality; like a ghost who takes over a body. I need a witch doctor. Is Henry’s fate the same as mine? At the end of his story he was a nomad, he disappeared. For some reason I think that Henry is somewhere in this city, walking the same streets as I am. Maybe he is right behind me. This of course is complete nonsense. All of these conflicting and dreaming absurdities are manifested within; there not prone to come from the external world, a world that does not care at all about what I am thinking. I still don’t care much for Palm Trees and even the squirrels are more attractive here than their counterparts up north. Enough of this wasteful use of time! I could do this all day. It’s about time to let my feet carry me around the fresh painted buildings of this ocean side village.
Down the street I keep walking, my shoes are torn, and my hair flops around like a wig. Next to an A.T.M machine is a Water Machine; one dollar for a jug of water, I keep walking. I pass by newspaper stands, the Headline reads: “WERE ALL ALONE“. I believe the quote was referring to the Earthquake that happened in Haiti, but the rest of the paper was cut off. How fitting of a headline, I thought sarcastically to myself. I was starving, I was out of smokes, and I was wandering around without a plan in a foreign city. How perfect, we are all alone, I am all alone, I laughed out loud, and then a stranger looked my way to see what was so damn funny. I did not want to make eye contact. I turned my head in the other direction.
I’m slowly walking down Center Street, the main drag in downtown Saint Petersburg. I have decided not to venture elsewhere. It’s not like it would matter though. At this moment, it does not appear that I’m trying passionately to look for a job. My sociological imagination is searching for input; it’s looking for little morsels of reality that I can include inside of my writing.
Nothing in this town is open yet. It’s now almost Ten A.M. It seems that this City starts its business day around noon; usually I do as well.
In and out of a few doors looking for some cash, I ask the shop owners if they are currently hiring. I don’t really want to work at the hot dog stand, the burger joint, the shipping plant, the football stadium, the meat market, the booze store, and I’m not that sure that I’m cut out for the unpopulated and hidden cafe. I really don’t want to work for anyone, anywhere, and in any time-zone. My body language must inform the management and the yellow hat wearing cadets of this personal truth of mine. I’m too fidgety, I always have a pen and paper ready for action, my hair is too long and unkempt, my eyes are too drenched with my dreams, and my grin is too telling. One look at me and they surly can tell want a bum I am. One quick glimpse and you can see it all, exactly what I’m all about. The merchant man can look all the way into my mind for free, there is no charge at all. They all know, just like I know, that my mind is elsewhere; it is somewhere far off in the distance of the unknown. But still, I keep asking if anyone is hiring. What an absurd comedy this all is. I laugh as I am judged, as the world judges my worth with zeros and ones. I used to let this get me down. I would worry about tomorrow, not anymore. I am alive. I breathe the air and sweat in the heat today. I laugh and keep walking. What else can you do? In the door I ask a woman at the Deli if they are hiring; briefly I explain my travels and personal situation. “I’m sorry, no were not”, the lady says to me. I’m polite, well- spoken, and usually, I’m the kind of person that they would like to know when they are not at work. When they tell me that they can’t offer me a position it’s as if they feel bad for me. I am not too worried about it. Don’t feel bad, it’s just life, calm down pretty lambs, I will be just fine. I have been turned down from another career path. What now shall a poor boy do? Well I turn around, walk out a different door, and back out into the main street of society I shall pander towards. Crowds are starting to swarm with fury around Center Street this time. In another door I go, then it swings shut, and back and forth and in and out, one foot after the other, this dance keeps right on repeating for two or three straight hours.This place reminds me of Michigan, but only with better weather. All these ideas and books read and degrees earned, and still I can’t be trusted to put mayonnaise on a bun or to place Joe’s beer in a brown bag. Please don’t feel bad for me. It’s not your fault that I only have one dress shirt, that I have no clue how to tie a Windsor Knot, and it’s not your fault that I walked into your established asking for a Job wearing sandals. Who am I kidding? I’m not Jesus Christ. Settle down, I’ll wipe that tear, please don’t feel bad for this kid. I’m not giving it my all, this is easy to observe.
Maybe I will trade it all in, the typewriter, the piles of papers, and the sleepless nights. Maybe I will give up the pen for the stage and become an acting participant for eight hours a day, sometimes less I suppose, depending on what label I obtain. Maybe I will change my ways, just not right now. For I am transfixed and obsessed with searching for a plot, I do this with persistence and moxy. Your grease, your cash, your time-clock, and of course your verbal warnings would just be filler for me right now. I’m twenty-eight years old. I’ve had countless disposable jobs. From selling Vacuum cleaners to stocking the shelves, I’ve seen it all. I’m a writer. There is nothing left for me inside of the glass door. Back on the streets I go.
Once again I am unmotivated and standing on Center Street with no hope that I will find any kind of work. A couple of applications crinkle in the warm Florida humidity as storms of new bodies march on by my paused presence. The Applications mean nothing, their not currently hiring, just accepting. I let go of the process, of the paper, and the resume floats away up into the air. I mean what’s the use anyway? What an insult it is to give someone an application if you’re not intending of even filling a position. What a waste of seconds, minutes, and what a wasteful use of real human heart beats; a waste of moments of artistic creation that I can’t afford to forget about. Again I go, slowly I tip-toe and keep my balance with a smile. Moments later the door closes at another shop, I’m turned away, they shake their Head, they even feel a tiny bit of remorse, and back on the street of this tropical City I stroll around. I’m still unemployed, still impoverished, and I’m still sleep deprived. Down the sidewalk passed merchants and shopping bags I continue to take it all in. I’m still walking, I’m still writing, breathing, thinking, and above all else I still believe in my passion.
At 11:21 I’m back at the Bar; back at Mastery’s. Why not? I did my part, I tried to be responsible. Before I decided that a drink would be my reward for my failed attempt I went into the Florida Holocaust Museum. Many people who have met me ask me if I am Jewish, I’m not, so I thought it would be Ironic if I worked there. They weren’t hiring either; they already had a full staff of four. So a drink it will be. Cheers to all of the fallen I drink for your courage.
Sitting at the bar, writing notes on a napkin, and talking to a fifty year old ex-marine with mumbled words and head nods I order the cheapest mug of brew that they have on tap. In a way I feel strange drinking in the same bar that Jack Kerouac digested his life inside of. It’s like I am at a religious shrine; this place is rich with absurd and nostalgic literary artifacts. Like Jack I was raised Catholic, and in a way this Bar feels like a Catholic Mass. Like the Church it’s full of booze, false idols, and male originated sexual frustration. Inside of the dimly lit and cloudy room the bright day is shut out of view. I slam my beer down in less than ten minutes. One beer did the trick, I have not eaten yet today, and I have been walking around on no sleep. I’m drunk. I’m running on fumes. This was not the best of decisions that I could have made. It’s not even noon yet. My ride is going to be coming in less than an hour; I should really get the hell out of here and sober myself up. Exhausted, drunk, and out of money again. Only this time I’m not in Michigan. I am day-tripping in Florida. I guess this is now officially a vacation; one that has been well-earned. Right before I tumble off of the bar-stool and leave Mastery’s, I close my notebook, and I briefly have an introspectively conflicting moment. Thoughts of some of the words that have come from individuals, people whom said that they loved me, concerning my dreams of becoming a writer enter my drunken mind.