Friday, March 27, 2015

Attention Identity Thieves! Don't Miss Our Spring Special!

Used Identity For Sale or Rent

Why go to the hassle of stealing somebody’s identity when there are plenty of folks that would love will unload theirs for next to nothing. Like me.


Identity profile:

Last Name: Jablome
First Name: Heywood
MI: none
Age: 60
Sex: M mostly
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 210 with a bullet
Hair color: pending
Shoe size: 11 1/2
Waist size: 35" to 37” depending on where you belt it.
Inseam: 34” and dropping

Occupation: Writer, 
Employment status: none
Education: BS, English Education; MFA, Creative Writing 
Language: Spanglish

Sign:  Pisces
Race: White
Religion: Catholic Buddhism or Buddhist Catholicism depending on the phase of the moon
Ethnicity: British Isles
Political affiliation: Adelai Stevenson Democrat 
Sexual preference: women that wear Brooks Brothers shirts and nothing else, any ethnicity welcome, blacks and freckled redheads preferred

Options include:
Wife, age TBD

SSN: 012 34 5678
Credit Cards: Ralph Lauren Polo Stores #23894829, Exp. Date. 11/2020; CVS; Safeway; Shell; Costco
Bank account ID: Bank of the Azores, chk acct: #098762347

What you'll get:

A classic "boomer" identity like this is a "must-have" in every identity thieve's portfolio. You'll get what's become a lonely life in a Pacific paradise, wiling away the hours singing nonsense melodies to the dog, Mr. Booper (available at extra charge), writing on ridiculous topics like Smart DNS Proxy and FAA Drone Laws, and a penchant for medicating away the indescribable longing in your heart for...for...well, if you can figure it out, God bless ya. Your mind will feel like a swirling vortex of pain and confusion, and, though you will have memories of greatness an delusions of future grandeur, you're likely to get stuck in a cycle of unending regret for bad decisions and missed opportunities. Unfortunately this somewhat dour mental state and internal spiritual rot can manifest physically in the form of loud and odoriferous flatulence, chills, sweats, scrotal itch, bad breath, insomnia, acid reflux, abdominal cramping and debilitating nerve pain in the lower extremities. Fortunately many of these inconvenient distractions may completely evaporate in the face of fierce, self-flagellating, heart-ripping exercise or in the presence of beautiful women with dimpled cheeks and almond eyes. Taken together (the women and the exercise) the feeling of transcendence may last up to an hour. Additional temporary relief can be found in playing the guitar (bass or Spanish) and singing with earsplitting abandon; drugs; alcohol; audiobooks; painting landscapes; sex; gazing at a pair of natural, full breasts; Star Trek Next Gen episodes (featuring Counselor Troi or Dr. Beverly Crusher); dancing or otherwise gyrating to a real or imagined rhythms; Bitches Brew at high volumes; being with offspring and reveling in the hope of future offspring; helping little old ladies cross the street; prayer; meditation; communion; the beach at Sayulita and Mary's mole enchiladas; skiing or memories thereof; magic and other supernatural phenomena; and free money.

Act now, before it's too late!

This identity is still in workable condition but it's not likely to last much longer! Get while the getting is good! Call 1-800-JAB-LOME today!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Divining the Armani Man

Sometime it is the simplest of routine activities - a trip to the drug store for some drugs, a trip to the liquor store for some liquor, a trip to the grocery store for some spontaneous nudity in the frozen foods aisle, surrounded by people of like mind on hunting/gathering missions, all of them dreaming of a chance meeting with true love – when you’re randomly selected by the Gods of chaos to have an out-of-body experience with a complete stranger. Today, I was the lucky wiener, the chump of chumps selected from a plethora of hunter/gatherers in Mill Valley on a Friday afternoon, to be pinned by none other than the Armani man.

If you’ve been accosted by the Armani man – read no further: you know how this goes. Or perhaps not. Perhaps Pasquale A., as his business card so identifies him, tells a new story every time. What is amazing, in retrospect, is that he felt compelled to make up a story at all. But I am getting ahead of myself. Here’s what happened.

I drove over the hill from Stinson to pick up a couple of prescriptions, listening to Armando Duran’s subtly accented read of Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera, lost in the author’s renderings of late 19th century Caribbean Colombia (when I think of the Caribbean I rarely consider Colombia, even though it has more coastline on the Caribbean than any of the Central American countries) and the uniquely Spanish variety of heartache lovers suffer there. Mr. Boo howled along with the narrative, feeling the distinct, vibrating lamentations of unrequited love in the back seat. Eventually we parked at Whole Foods on Blithedale and, leaving Boo in the car, I had started to walk the short distance to CVS when a white SUV pulled up alongside me:
“Excooze excooze sir, I ama lost!” the driver shouted through the rolled down passenger window. I walked over to the car. “I ama lost. Can you tella me where is the airport?”
He was young, suave, light-skinned with neatly trimmed short dark hair that was receding even as he spoke and wore a color red striped top like a soccer jersey. I looked at the large screen “phablet” on the passenger seat, wondering the obvious. He read my mind and said something ridiculous like “eet’sa program in Eetaly.” I should have known right then that I was in for some kind of con job. So I told him how to get to the airport. He said his flight left at seven, and, since it was only one, I told him he had plenty of time, opening the door for a more involved, intimate conversation.
“Have you been to Eetaly?”
“Nope, never been.”
“Oh eet eesa very bootiful there, very bootiful. This eesa very bootiful here too, but expensive, yes?”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “Almost everybody walks around with at least $500 cash in their wallet. Or with a crisp stack in the money clip.”
Uh…no. I didn’t say that, but that’s what Pasquale…oh, yes, he had introduced himself and even
gave me his Armani business card, explaining that he had been working  a designer show in SF. Anyway I’m sure that’s what Pasquale was thinking, especially when I told him that living in Stinson Beach was no cheaper.
We were still standing in the middle of the parking lot, and since he now knew my name, knew that I was a writer (oh, for movies? he asked. No, books. What books? Uh…uh…I didn’t bother explaining) and that I lived on the Pacific Ocean, he decided to pull into a parking spot under the inexplicable mural of pebbles and stones under water that covers the east wall of CVS facing Blithedale.  

"I want to give you a present," Pasquale said, hopping out of the car and opening the driver's side back seat door. "These jackets, eet costs too much to take them back to Eetaly." On the seat lay a pile of leather jackets. "The taxes, the duty, ees too high. Cost $2500 to take them back," he explained. "I want to give you, as present."

As if I might have suspected something fishy with his desire to lay what appeared to be about $6,000 worth of leather jackets on a complete stranger, he took off his sunglasses for a moment. "But why do you want to give them to me?" I asked.

"Because the duty taxes too high," he explained again.

"But if you brought these jackets with you from Italy to sell at this show, why do you have to pay duty to take them back?"

He played the "what the fuck are you talking about you crazy American" card. "It is a present."
Giorgio gets the "manboob" thing
Meanwhile he had been showing me the jackets in their plastic, the Armani liner, the flameproof leather which he demonstrated with his lighter. I didn't quite get the flameproof feature, but at this point I wasn't really wanting to extend the conversation. The jackets would be excellent protection in a forest fire or on a yacht firebombed by Muslim extremists on the Mediterranean. He showed me the brown suede and two black leathers, but didn't remove them from the plastic, nor did he ask me to try one on. Then he handed me a shopping bag and dumped all three of them in. "$1500 each. You take them."

"Why?" I asked again.

"Are you married?"


"What is your wife's size? Does she have..." he made the universal hand signal for large breasts.


"Okay good, she is normal."

"Well, hardly," I was tempted to say. But I was now very eager to take my bag full of Armani jackets and hightail it outta there.

"My wife, eet is her birthday tomorrow. I want to bring nice gift from America..." he said, lowering his voice. "Perhaps expensive sex toy..." Okay, maybe he didn't say that.

"Can you give me $500? I can get her very nice present."

I should have said, "Wait a minute. How about this beautiful black leather women's jacket that your were just about to give me?" But instead I said "No. I am broke." The truth.

"Okay, you go to ATM, get me $300."

"No. I can't do it. I don't have a debit card." Again, the truth, and if I did I certainly didn't know the PIN.

"You can make purchase, get $300 cash back from credit card!" he insisted. I knew I couldn't just walk into CVS, get my scrips and ask for $300 cash, but instead I said. "I'm a writer! I'm completely broke!" Again, the truth. "I can't do it."

So he took the bag of Armani jackets out of my hand, threw it on the back seat, slammed the door and said: "Okay, have a nice day."

I rushed into CVS, completely flustered and confused, but also grateful that Mr. Armani had chosen me to fuck with. I am fucked with so little out here in paradise that it takes me an increasingly long time to figure out when it is happening, and one of these days when I am flush with dough and have a money clip fat with crisp Franklins I might peel off three or four for a bag full of fake Armani jackets. I never did take one out of the plastic. Perhaps they had no arms, or no backs. Of course I would be the last person to know a fake Armani, but when I showed Holly the business card Pasquale had given me, she knew right away that he was selling knock offs. "Giorgio would never have such a tacky card," she said. But what was worse was had I ran into Pasquale in the city, or in NYC, I would have smelled a scam immediately. But in the CVS parking lot on Blithedale, on a Friday afternoon?

I got my prescription and briefly considered trading some of the drugs for a few jackets. Such drugs had a street value that could easily exceeded the actual price of real Armani jackets, never mind fakes with no arms. I told the pharmacy gal what happened, mostly because I wanted her to be aware that Mr. Armani was working the CVS parking lot. Then I realized in mid-transaction that I had forgotten an item that I had been instructed to purchase, and that forgetting to purchase the item would be further evidence of my deteriorating mental condition and further grounds for abandonment, a fate worse than divorce for 60 year-olds that are trying to conceal their deteriorating mental conditions.

When I exited CVS to walk back to my car I was surprised to see that my new best friend Pasquale was still there, having relocated his vehicle so I would have to walk past. Instead, I turned tail and headed the other direction. Was I afraid? Not so much as I really didn’t feel like getting hustled anymore. But maybe he had changed his mind and just wanted to give me the jackets because I looked so much like a former downtrodden middle-aged family man that had been through the ringer,  trodden into a state of permanent confusion and bewilderment. Maybe he thought that if I could only wear a fake Armani black leather jacket for a few minutes, I would suddenly feel flush with dough. Maybe he hoped I would be back so he could spring Act II on me, where his accomplice, a buxom young Sophia Loren, would see me in the black leather jacket from across the parking lot and come sidling up to me all moist and musky, reeking of garlic and cigarettes. “Take your pants off, Mister Americano,” she might have command me. “But you can leave your coat on.” Even so, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the $300 bucks.

Why did Pasquale feel it necessary to pretend to want to give me the jackets when he could have simply driven up and said “Hey mister, you wanna buy some fake Armani jackets? $100 bucks each.” It would have saved us both a lot of time. Instead young Pasquale tries to appeal what? The fact that we both have wives? “Oh jeez Pasquale, whatever you do don’t go home empty handed on your wife’s birthday.”

What I should have said was “I was married, but my wife left me for a young Italian fella named...what was his name? Damn. It rhymed with Wally. She said he was an Armani salesman and could barely speak English. Young guy, but goin’ bald. Anyway let me tell ya, if I ever find that fucker I’m gonna dip his naked body in honey and hang him upside down above an ant hill. Or maybe I’ll sew his anus shut, then load him up with ex-lax. Unless, of course, he wants to give me a bag full of fake Armani jackets. Then I just might spare him.”

Good old Pasquale, my best Italian buddy. God bless the slimy little bastard: he made a mundane trip to the pharmacy into a real red letter day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Awakening Elsewhere

You get the sense that you're elsewhere in those morning nether moments between dreaming and waking: someone outside - in a tree, maybe - is making a sound you’ve never heard, as if trying to start up an ancient motorized contraption. But the gears are rusted, the flywheel won't fly, the pistons won't pump, the crank won't turn. In the distance another rusty engine won't turn over, and then another further down the canyon, until you realize that these contraptions -  or whatever they are - are communicating with each other, sending signals, perhaps warning others of your arrival from El Norte, Los Estados Unidos. And wouldn't it be just your luck that the various owners of these broken machines decided to try and fire them up at 6am on the first day of your long awaited birthday vacation?

You slip backward into the dream you were having about the final exams you must take for the classes you never attended forty years ago, while the engines outside rumble, scratch, fail to catch. There's a loud peck-peck-peck-peck on the wooden window frame. Then there is a new sound: someone in the street is playing a slide whistle, low to high. Boooeeeeeup. Boooeeeeeup. Slowly you begin to hear the other jungle creatures: cackles, bloops, cries, and caw caw caws. No robins, these. No squawking jays. The engine rattles out your window, then across the canyon. You swing your aching legs off of the hard futon mattress, standing, peering, retrieving your glasses from the nightstand, peering again. Is that a turkey hopping from branch to leggy branch in the sparse spring growth of the borogrove tree? OR is it one of Disney's Jungle Book Beatle buzzards, now pausing to make that most un-birdlike ratchet racket. Could this be the infamous Jub Jub bird? 

Now that you've matched a voice with the face, or the ungodly machine racket with a beak, you crawl back under the sheet and pull the pillow over your head, in need of just a few more winks. No sooner do you begin to drift than the powerful "Voice of Sayulita" reverberates through the jungle: "Uno! Uno!" the announcer shouts over the megaphone, and you wonder what the fuck? This isn’t the guy in his truck hawking fresh camarones y pescado. The announcer’s abstract dawn polemic is a little disturbing, and you involuntarily envision Los Federales storming the town and rounding up all sunburned men in bermuda shorts and tank tops for a spontaneous “fishing trip.” If there happened to be an important message to impart to the citizenry of Sayulita it would most certainly have been translated, considering the vast majority of property “owners” in this former fishing village are Americans and Canadians. Eventually the guy shuts up and whatever imagined worry dissipates, the bird that sounds like a dying industrial sewing machine shuts up, and there’s just enough jungle birdsong outside to lead you back to dreamland.

For the next few days you’re not sure that you’ve entirely awakened, at least not to the world as you’ve known it lately. Your morning coffee tastes different: sharper, bolder. There is no news of beheadings. The coffee-skinned umber-eyed people smile and say “hola” while you dodge the lobster-skinned vacationers in golf carts. The air is heavy with the sweet, musty smells of the tropics and the occasional and distinctly Mexican stench of raw sewage.  The dusty, rutted road to el centro and the beach is lined with trash and mined with fresh piles of steaming dog turds. There are dogs. Lots of them, mutts all, mostly small, short-haired, pointy-eared females. Nobody collects their contributions because nobody owns them, at least not officially. They wear no collars, no tags; they go unspayed, unneutered, living with whomever will feed them. Vacationers adopt them, love them, take them to the vet, the groomer, then leave. You’ve heard there is a program that allows Canadians to easily adopt the pup or pups of their choice and airlift them north, but no such program for the Americans.

One of the street dogs falls into step by your side: a short-haired she-mutt with the coloring and size of the average beagle, but with pointy ears and the thicker jaw of a bulldog. After she accompanies you for two blocks you begin to call her Lucy, but no sooner do you arrive at the beach than your new friend Lucy disappears into the chaise and umbrella jungles, scavenging elsewhere.  Still no news of beheadings.

The ocean, the beach, the sand, the waves: they look like yours at home but they too are elsewhere. Weaving in and out of the chaise and umbrella colonies stroll the indigenous Huichol beach vendors, along with the local mestizos, selling home-sewn fantastical stuffed animals, “Animalitas”: orange spotted unicorns, striped reindeer with pipe-cleaner antlers, purple turtles and three-legged monkey keychains – blue, pink, chartreuse. “Come on,” says a little Huichol girl with almond eyes of liquid chocolate and mocha skin so smooth you have to
stop yourself from stroking it, “Dos pesos, better than free.” The vacationers wonder: “Why aren’t you in school?” And she says it’s a week off. But then an expat Arizonan tells you that the Huichols don’t go to school because the money they make selling animalitas and trinkets on the beach is more important. They are artisans, this is how they make their living, and who can turn down a doe-eyed child? The mestizo silver vendors, the donut man, the cigar man, the guy with the beautiful carvings, the women and their colorful fabrics - they're used to rejection. But the children? It will take a couple of days before you can ignore them completely, and only after you’ve bought a three-legged “changa.”

The beach musicians are impossible to ignore; even in the late afternoon as you doze, straw hat over your face, you can hear the short, squat Huichol boy beating on his over the shoulder tom-tom, whacking his snare and caterwauling “ay yay yay yay, cuanto mejores” in an atonal shriek so discomfiting you’re tempted to use his beater on his head and put him out of his misery. But his father stands behind him, now and then blowing a solo mariachi trumpet, his ponytail snaking from under his trucker’s cap halfway down his back. The father sounds good enough to play with a real mariachi band. But he’s Huichol, dark-skinned, the lowest of the lower classes in a country where the fair-haired, lighter-skinned descendants of the Spanish Conquistadores hold sway. It may be that a duet on the beach with his tone-deaf son will have to suffice.  

You awaken from your three-beer slumber, but not entirely. Even a swim fails to bring you to back to your normal self. Is it because the water is flecked with sparkling gold flakes that float just below the surface, but when you try and scoop them up in your cupped palms the flakes disappear? Standing in the shallows and looking deeper you think you see thick schools of tiny two-inch fish when, like an exploding depth charge, a brown pelican crashes into the water not five feet away, followed by another, and then another. The gulls are upon them instantly; looking for a handout, hoping a few inchlings will spill from their swollen pouches. Don’t these birds know that this is where the humans swim? Later you watch the pelicans from the beach as they hover from 30 or 40 feet above, then dive with a violent splash between surfers, boogie boarders and swimmers. You imagine that there must be a hundred pelicans circling above the people in the surf, at least one for each human, and it is amazing that no one gets an arm or a leg impaled by a pelican beak. Has there been any news of beheadings? If this were America, either the humans or the pelicans would have to stand down – such co-existence with the evil humans can’t possibly be good for these statuesque seabirds. Are they not endangered yet?

You catch a wave with your body, sliding down the face on your belly, right arm extended, for
My evil twin in the wave
the first time in…how long? It must have been here or someplace like here, where you could stay in the water for hours and never get cold. One day the wind comes up, kicking up the swell and sending waves ashore in a chaotic jumble, and you’re thinking of getting out when an old fat guy, like you except bald, catches a ride that makes you envious. You stay in, diving under the walls of whitewater to the ocean floor, then surfacing, then ducking under again, then surfacing, until you’re in just the right place. As the wave crests you turn and take two powerful strokes before it picks you up and sends you sliding down the face until your head is surrounded by whitewater again. Now you’re awake and you want another wave, just like that.

When you get out of the water there is still no news of beheadings. Tomorrow you’ll stop thinking about beheadings altogether. Why did you start thinking about them in the first place? Were you imagining there was something you could do about them? Some way to tell the beheaders to stop their insane behavior immediately? No, they wouldn’t listen to you – scumbag infidel. In their eyes you are simply another head waiting to be lopped off with a scimitar. You feel bad for those that have lost their heads in the name of Allah, and you’re certain those responsible will pay some day. But you are powerless. You must entrust your heartache to the leaders of the free world, knowing they must, they must – how could they not - share your heartache. They must feel a compelling need to do something about it. Yes, they must. But you? What good does it do you to think about beheadings when there are waves to ride, tequila to drink, beautiful women to love, chile rellenos to eat, more tequila to drink. You’ve awakened entirely elsewhere.

Later, back in the states, you may wonder what happened to your sense of global responsibility. You may ask yourself why you still read the papers, and that it would be far better to write them than to read them. There would be no beheadings in your newspaper. But will you cancel your subscription to the NY Times, as you had when you were elsewhere?

On the walk back to your casita you stop for a package of cacahuates japonesa, which your daughter loves to nibble on during the nightly domino game. Your wife prefers the pistachios. Halfway up Avenida de Ninos Heroes you spy Lucy napping under a banana tree. You give a whistle and her head pops up. “Do I know you?” she asks. Your heart hiccups and you think “but I thought we were…?” Later you’ll have enchiladas in mole sauce that will damn near give you an erection. You have never tasted such pure delight; you shiver with joy.

As you lay your head upon the pillow you notice that the birds are quiet. Only the distant sound of the waves, the faint drumbeat of Cuban band, the laughter of a dancing girl, the chuck chuck chuck of a tiny gecko on the wall, the gentle breathing of the beautiful woman beside you, your domino champ…that is all there is now. All you need. And when those Jub-Jub birds start firing up their claptrap gizmos at dawn between the rooster’s cry and the ka-kaw, ka-kaw of the jungle birds, you might think “ah, so here we are. Home at last.”