http://bit.ly/QKx8uk. Bonnalicious "the beautiful" Hayes does and really embarrassing intro, and I proceed to stammer and spit my way through the always-entertaining Melanie Mills story and first chapter of Hack. This was followed by a rousing set of jazz and blues with Kevin Hayes on drums, Bonnie Hayes on keys and vocals, Greg Glazner on guitar and you know who, still stammering and spitting.
|L to R: K. Hayes, Moi, G. Glazner, P. Houston, A. Roome|
(Keep your dial tuned to this station Limbolanders. The Bolinians Part II is coming!)
The Chicken of The Sea
Henry Griffin never intended to live the life of a starving artist. Or a starving musician. Or a starving writer, dancer, actor, golfer, mechanic, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.
“And if anybody ever tries to lay any of that romantic bullshit on you – you know, art is suffering and all that crap, you should smack them upside the head with a baseball bat,” Griffin would say. “Believe me, the food-stamp existence will gnaw on your innards - day in, day out, like an insatiable, carnivorous worm - and eventually you’ll feel like you have a bright, red ‘L’ tattooed on your forehead.”
Even the real losers, like the guy that sat on the park bench by the Corte Madera Creek every day reciting the dates and places of Grateful Dead concerts from 1966 through 2002 - recognized that Griffin’s “starving artist” act had reached a point where something had to give.
Griffin awoke that bright new millennium summer morning tense and irritable as usual: stomach growling, head throbbing, the familiar urge to dive headlong through the window rattling through his subconscious. Then he remembered – that evening, for the first time since his last art show many moons ago, he would eat relatively nutritious food: a fine selection of chips, dip, cheese whiz, brownies, and copious quantities of cheap Chardonnay, along with his nightly pint of cheap booze. Scarcely a hardy repast; but, his hopes fading for a successful artistic career, or for a career of any sort, even infrequent sustenance seemed at least marginally preferable to the ultimate alternative. So, there was something to look forward to, at least. Throw in a frisky hooker and it might turn out to be a true red-letter day.
When he remembered the show, he swung his long, spindly legs off the futon and reached for the cordless telephone on the "night stand" (a cardboard box covered by a rectangle of plywood and the Sunday funnies) but the cradle was empty. Then he noticed the smell - like several pounds of three-day old road kill stewing in a vat of fresh barf.
He surveyed the scene, trying to recollect events from the previous evening. There was only one empty scotch bottle, a half-dozen beer cans, a plateful of cigarette butts, a worn Fender Stratocaster propped up in the corner, and a fully clothed man curled up in the doorway with a newspaper over his face.
Griffin moaned. Mr. San Anselmo, the local street-walking Vietnam casualty, had snuck into the apartment after the artist passed out – usually around eleven every night. And, as always, Mr. San Anselmo smelled like he had been swimming in raw sewage.
Griffin walked over to the man and gave him a shove on the rump with his foot. “Mr. S. A., wake up. Get up and get the hell out of here. You smell like shit.”
The man wasn’t moving.
“Jesus.” He reached over the sleeping man and opened the door, then walked across the apartment and slid open the double hung window. He leaned out, took a deep gulp of summer morning air, and made a mental note to start remembering to lock the door.
The somewhat expected presence of Mr. S.A. indicated that perhaps there had been other nefarious activities the previous evening, but, as was the case with the last several months of blackout drinking, anything that happened after 8PM was buried deep into the darkest reaches of his aching brain.
On such occasions, which were growing increasingly frequent, Griffin found that he could retrace his steps by checking the CD player. When he saw Bitches Brew in the tray, he paused and ran his long fingers through his thinning brown hair. He remembered stalking around his apartment with a flat bristle brush full of hansa yellow light in one hand, a pint of Dewar’s in the other, bobbing to the thrumming melody of “Spanish Key”, while alternately dabbing at the autumn foliage of a serene pastoral landscape that was slowly turning into a psychedelic mess.
Encouraging though it was, this revelation did not lead directly to the location of the phone. Nor did it reveal how Mr. San Anselmo had ended up sleeping in his apartment, though at least the cool, fresh breeze from the outside had made his sleeping presence relatively tolerable.
“Mr. San Anselmo isn’t nearly as scary as he looks, once you get to know him,” Griffin was fond of saying, though he could see why some folks called him Bigfoot. The only discernible human skin on his face was his cracked, soiled cheeks. Everything else was covered by thick, matted hair and several layers of clothing, which was excellent for sleeping in the bushes, as Mr. San Anselmo did most nights, but completely impractical for crashing at a friend’s apartment.
Griffin watched his P.T.S.S. victim carefully for several moments to make sure he was breathing, then turned his attention to finding the telephone.
If it was my car keys that were lost, I probably would look in the refrigerator, Griffin thought, such being his deteriorating mental condition. Not once did he leave his car keys in the refrigerator.
“Maybe I’m spending a little too much time hanging out with Mr. S.A.,” he wondered aloud.
As he put Bitches Brew back in its case, it occurred to him that perhaps, if the phone were his car keys, it would be very unlikely for them to be in the refrigerator. Just then, as if the phone were looking for Griffin he heard a muffled ring. He stopped, listened. It sounded like someone was strangling a turkey. In the refrigerator. No… it was coming from the freezer! He opened the freezer door and there it was, frosty, next to the buffalo wings from several years back.
He reached in and tried to grab it while stabbing at the icy “talk” button. It immediately slipped out of his hands onto the linoleum floor, where he promptly kicked it under the fridge. He could now hear the faint voice of the caller from deep in the under-refrigerator mire; it was the owner of the California Heritage Art Gallery - the only gallery that showed Griffin’s paintings - his loyal rep, Archibald Wilcox.
“Hello? Hack? Are you there? Henry? Henry!” The artist fell to his hands and knees and poked his hand under the refrigerator, only to knock the phone farther into the assorted clumps of thick, oozing under-fridge grime. “Hack!” yelled Wilcox. “I know you’re there! What the hell are you doing!? Say something for God’s sake!”
“Coming!” he yelled as he lay down and stretched his arm full length, coaxing the phone through the muck. As soon as he got a grip on it, he yanked it from its stinky hiding place.
“Shit! Goddamnit! Oh, you son of a bitch!” Griffin howled. He had ripped off a healthy hunk of flesh from the back of his hand on some protruding piece of refrigerator metal.
Then he heard a battle cry from the doorway “Ayyyy yaayyy!” Mr. San Anselmo barked as he sprung from his supine curled-up position into battle stance, his bloodshot eyes darting around the apartment.
“Wilcox! Jesus, Wilcox!” Griffin hysterically shouted back into the frozen phone. “Mr. San Anselmo! Look! I’m bleeding!” He pushed his torn hand toward Mr. San Anselmo, thinking the shell-shocked vet might spring into action and fetch a bandage. “Aaaaaaagh!” Mr. San Anselmo stood transfixed by the blood. Griffin froze. Oh Jesus, now I’ve done it, he thought. Mr. S. A. is going to have an Agent Orange flashback, break my neck, and carve my heart out with a butter knife.