Berlin seems like a town where rich kids w/ expensive habits, high hopes, & little productive motivation come to fuck around for awhile before settling down somewhere else. People here, people around the hostel, non-native German speakers are floating around out here, for the most part, & I hope not to join their league. As surprised as I am to say it, I want an anchor—it it’s only my work, that’s as good as any.
I can’t say that Americans are prosperous by virtue; by virtue of the system, by virtue of luck; by virute of being born into the earth between a particular range of latitude & longitude lines.
There are many doner kebab places here—lamb meat shorn off a vertical spit. With veggies, salat, sauce. Inexpensive—don’t want to use the word cheap. For a doner kebab (filling enough and nutritional enough) dinner, plus a water, I paid 3€.
Don’t travel without knowing the language again, you lazy privileged ignorant American fuck. Seriously. Save yourself the anxiety; and save others your disrespect and wasteful demeanor; everything has a consequence, even if you don’t mean it, even if it’s not personal.
Just about everything can be interpreted as personal; we’re all fundamentally ourselves.
Europe dies of lung cancer, age 2,012. Seriously, people smoke cigarettes over here like they’re puffing oxygen through a fucking emphysema tank. It’s amazing! Cigs cost 3€ a pack & you can buy them anywhere, plenty of machines in every fine establishment. On the trip I’ve smoked somewhere, I’d say, around 25 cigarettes. I’m happy w/this.
Coffee seems more of a staple but I could be wrong about that. I’ve been using it as more of a staple, anyway.
I feel more comfortable here writing in public. In the Anne Frank house, someone was copying down a quote (I followed); on Neue National Galerie today I saw a woman break out a pen & scratch paper to copy down a quote somebody had said (but which was written in German).
Sex isn’t so taboo. Nudists in tiergarten. Erotic magazines displayed like any others at press shops. Amsterdam obviously but plenty of sex shops, & titty bars around Berlin, Munich as well, & not lumped all together, but here & there as if they were just any othe store.
Tipping works on a much different basis. You must ask for the bill. When the bill comes you must pay then & you must say how much you wish to pay. The tips I’ve given more often than not have surprised people; five percent probably does the trick. Don’t leave the tip behind on the table. I like this forthrightness where the bill is concerned. But it would take some getting used to. And you don’t say how much you want back. You say how much you intend, or how much you are handing over.
Getting tired. Beer, water, cars, bikes, walking, trains, showering, hand drying—blowers not towels (big fan of this.
Copy of Balthazar among books downstairs in Circus café library, in English, w/ Circus stamp on inside cover. Crossing the street, cars turning right yielding…open sexual preference moreso…
After doner kebab, an espresso. Go down to bar w/ Em & sit w/ Rob at bar. I have first a J&B on the rocks, double. Then a Glenfiddich on the rocks, double. Glenmorangie, too. Then I have one more J&B on the rocks, single. Five scotch drinks. A bit more talkative but not really drunk. Just stodged up a bit.
Different sounding sirens, hee-aw, hee-aw, hee-aw, hee-aw…
Only one thread I can recall. Was dreaming it when I waked with a sudden startling jolt: me in Army basic training, there on the first night, feeling absolutely like I was in prison, contemplating any means to leave—
Let’s do Hierophany tags for artist, title, etc., as museum tags—there the work, then the info, tastefully small, in lower right corner, can do with art & poems, anyway, maybe not with stories—
Thought about going AWOL, just walking right off the base, and I think this was sort of an option. But afterward the Army would make your life hell, and it’d be hard to find a job. I was sitting in the dining area thinking: my relationship w/ Brook went to shit & now I’m in army camp? This can’t be happening, this can’t be real, this has to be a dream—and those were the magic words. I woke up with a jolt and checked my surroundings. Thought, “Oh, thank God.”
But in earlier part of the dream, maybe a factor in my decision to enter the Army was a falling-out between Brook & me. I had accused here of cheating, and maybe she had and maybe she hadn’t but something had changed and if she hadn’t cheated on me, she would sometime soon, or she would leave me. I knew she was not in love with me any longer and I was distraught. I don’t remember too many more specifics so that’s that.
IR (TO AMSTERDAM)
Headin’ to Amsterdam. On train. In private portion of 1st class car here w/ Em. Em going to get chips & tea in an hour. Hell, I’m gonna go and get some coffee.
Thas summa the hottis damn coffee I think I evuh put my hans on. Still feel the warmth.
Finished Richard Ford earlier and I was a bit let down, though I admit to reading a bit too much for plot toward the end.
Passing through Minden, the Minden of Westfalen, supposedly where grandpa Meentemeyer’s folks are from. Took a photo through the window, one w/ flash one without.
Driving past a castle/temple-looking building, one of the coolest buildings we’ve seen.
First sip of coffee. Good. Bad Oeyhhausen. Bad Oeynhausen. That is a really weird spelling. Had two screeps of vanilla ice cream w/ erdbeer, not very good. Bought water & sandwich which I ate about 45 mins. ago. Water not quite gone. A while again before I eat.
We had rest of chiva bang. Nothing to report.
Recycling…k@m@na…sie matic…Deutshe Bahn…
Haven’t said anything at all about last evening. Doner kebabs w/ Em. Espresso at café closing (8:55 p). Drinks downstairs at Goldman’s Bar. Rob was down there and we joined him at the bar. Not crowded, my kind of scene. World Cup highlights on the screen (over & over again). I started off w/ a J&B double. Then had Glen
I felt unsure as to whether I had already written this. Forged on, though. When I got to the Glenfiddich I “knew” I had already written this. Because as I was wondering how Glenfiddich is supposed to be pronounced. I said, “Glenfidditch,” when I ordered & the congenial barman, completely unpretentiously, and not directly at me, said, “Your Glenfiddick.” I remembered this as I wrote the word last night; as I was about to write it above, I remembered the same scene, & remembered having remembered it last night. So I was sure I had already written about it. I just wasn’t sure where because I had stuck it into the midst of my Europe Generalisations.
A flash of it when I see the back of a small quaint orange-roofed house and on a brief back not-enclosed brick patio, a small blue 2-seater bench, some plants in pots next to it. Some other squat blue rounded objects & sun shining on all of it & I think about how it’d be nice to live there. Then a small tweak of it, that familiar sensation.
Do you believe in it, that kind of stuff, gnosticism, a pre-life, the soul; what are you saying when you say you believe in the soul? Believing in the soul is committing to a whole bunch of related & necessary “if then” beliefs, it seems to me. What was your soul doing before you were born? Did it not exist? Then what will it do when you die? Not exist, or most likely people will say it’d go on. Why? Is this the logical parallel of the soul not existing before you were born? If the soul has always been, it’s been since before the birth of you. This isn’t a bad thought. I want to believe in the afterlife & now I’m thinking, if we believe in an afterlife, why wouldn’t we also believe in a pre-life?
If I wanted to do a short story, it’d be like this: a list of one, two, and three, where one is crossed out. It begins in the middle; which seems familiar; the one is implied, not stated, not really known but we see it at least in everything that happens with two; three is what nobody knows, the unfamiliar, the yet-to-be-done, it contains one & two by definition but it has something all its own as well, a strange quality that leaves the story unresolved (of course).
If I teach fiction, this is what I want:
• The first story we do an assigned story; something based on that formula.
• Second story, do whatever you want.
• Third story, you do a revision, or another new story, whatever you want.
• Include some poetry writing in the course.
• Journal entries—whatever you want, doodles, transcriptions, story ideas, miscreant writings while you’re in another state, but an entry—it can’t be blank.
• Transcriptions might be a good assignment, tape a conversation, transcribe it, 15 min. worth, you really pay attention to the language, dialogue this way.
• Readings; presentations on a writer? Yes, but no two people can do a presentation on the same person—or, assign students to go through an archive, like a Special Collection & report back on it.
• A week to go through literary reviews, so people know what’s out there.
• E-mail stories to me & to each other for those who’d like to do it this way.
You can teach people to write if you can make them reveal themselves & enjoy that part in each of us that we refer to as the creative imagination. So how do you do that? Maybe it’s that part of us that people call “weird.” Some weirdness is essential to being creative.
Creating a syllabus would be fun. Want to do a doctorate in creative writing.
Creative product is like a thumbprint. Some weirdness is OK, lots of weirdness is illegal.
It’s not the cities of Europe I’ll come back to. It’s these small towns along the rail line. W/ gardens in the backyard, which you can go out into w/o any shirt on, hang up your laundry, play w/ the dog. I don’t need the cities. These little towns, blinks along the way, brick streets, low houses.
The tourists have been coming here longer than you, buddy. An assload of bikes.
Em & I hear an alarming announcement.
“Did you hear that?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“I think he just said that if we want to get to Amsterdam we have to….”
Get off the train & switch to another. Go to cars 9,10,11, 12? So we hurried up and got our shit together and walked through the dining car like we just took white shits & we were on the run from the cops.
Ladies and gentleman, the shiva bang, I think, is having some effect.
Walking through the dining car I was afraid that my backpack hip straps were gonna knock over somebody’s glass of merlot. We got to the end of the train and saw that it was car # 12, making the dining car #11, and the car we were in #10. So we walked back through the dining car. By this time I had connected my hip straps so that when we walked BACK through the dining car like idiots I wouldn’t worry about knocking anything over.
So I said to Em a few minutes ago, when we had settled back into our original seats, “You know what would be really fun?…” And I laughed a sincere legitimate crack-myself-up laugh. Felt really good. The shiva bhang? The coffee lingering? The train?
(If we got our packs back on & took another tour of the dining car.)
Art idea: post-its on other side of a pane of glass, so would be written on sticky side. On some of the notes:
• Patience, Will, Discipline
• Do Not Procrastinate
• Have someone at Career Center look at resumé
• Mikey, Gone out to get beer. Back by 6-ish.
• Grocery list.
• Love note.
More ideas: post-its composing a stock chart, with one note near the bottom saying “Buy” and another note near the top saying “Sell”. Post it notes composing: zig-zags, lightning bolts, sine curves.
A post-it note piece called nuclear warning, that has three clumps of post it notes, spaced apart in accordance with the nuclear warning sign of three blades. In the first clump: take a shower; wear gloves; don’t let boiler get too hot; tape Simpsons. In the second clump: burn clothes. In the third clump: renew subscription to Nuclear Bulletin; sell nuclear waste to Indians.
Then a post-it note piece called “EEG.” This one has a line bouncing up and down. In a post it note up and to the very left: “Add Jack to the will.” Then on another post-it note up and a few bumps down the line: Tell Lorrie you love her. Then on a down bump: Ask about a sponge bath. Then on the next down bump: Pray to God. Then the line goes flat: Go to the light; and, Admit Everything.
Still have to hunt those post-it notes to see what they say.
The Post-It Project series. Maybe Post-It will sponsor me! Hah! I could use generic scraps of paper. What might they have copyrighted?
What good is insanity, if it can’t make a good excuse? Either we have a mental health problem, either it’s legitimate, or we don’t sell drugs to cure it.
You would think, that with all the prescription drugs we sell in this country, that people could have more success with an insanity plea. I was on medication….
I perceive quite a bit of it
It is scouring alien streets
looking for crumpled-up Post-It notes
Did I write that I dreamt about Fred Hotz?
Right now I don’t want to get high later. Will I? Em isn’t going to like this.
He’s working with a whole different species of orchid.
I don’t think I much like it when I know what an author looks like before I read the book. I don’t want to see an author’s photo on the back cover of a book, like Ford’s is on the back of Independence Day. Because I used that photo as the character in the book, which I guess many other readers did, too.
I wrote pretty shitty e-mail on this trip. Wrote my best to Jeff actually, ‘cause he wrote me some good stuff.
Hierophany. Opening Hierophany is like opening a can of worms. I thought up a very funny joke, logical at least, but it’s disparaging to a population and I won’t make record of it. It’s not racist. Not sexist. What? Elitist? Normalist? Privilegist?
Imagining…what life would be like…if I no longer smoked marijuana….
BRAIN STORM. My first book of poetry. The next issue of Hierophany? I like the idea of a photo as a cover. Phil Meier’s photo could have been good as a cover. Still have his bike photo, which was a real beauty. Jeff complimented the design, I’ll have to tell Brook.
What they don’t teach in design—or do they—is stuff like learning how to understand what your client wants, getting them really to say it, then doing it, but in the final product not leaving yourself out entirely. I mean, this last part is pretty much impossible, but you know what I mean.
Untitled—but you know what I mean. Or title of issue, but you know what I mean.
Modernity—comes to grips w/ the fact that being moral is dificult, but not necessarily unnatural.
Post-modernity—not being un-moral, but in denial of the revelation of modernity
Something after—the application of morality in art, expression. What is moral expression?
The Posties get at this. They are reminders—stuff that we forget or write, post, send to remind ourselves and others to do the right thing. What would people NOT write on Posties?
Find out. Write it on Posties. Go & put them on people’s cars. Check by car later, when it’s gone & see if they trash the Postie!! See if they crumple it & toss it down. Or see if they keep it either to throw it away later or keep, really keep, to ponder, whatever, but keeping it is still significant of something.
Never on the same car twice. Each has a marker on it (invisible ink).
• Be calm
• Have a nice day
• God is coming
• Go Cards
• Be Cool
• Don’t procrastinate
• It’s never early to plan ahead
A drip of sweat. I have to credit that short movie I saw at Hamburger Banhof, “You’d better start thinking about your future.”
This train ride is really moving along. Did shiva bhang get me tweaked? My thinking has been very capable ever since 2p. Stomach growling. Head tight. Face heavy. Feel a bit stoned.
Drawing of a gun with a flag coming out of it saying, “Bhang!”
Gettin’ a little sleepy now. Effects over. Was thinking though that the Joseph Beuys exhibit, “Ricktkraft.” Meaning…?
I don’t know.
Train got in on schedule at 5:49 pm. We walked from the station toward the city, looking for a hotel. Actually, one shady-looking guyy asked us—while Em was using the phone to call Hotel Winston—if we were maybe looking for a place to stay. We said no, although it was obvious that with our big bags at our feet that that was precisely what we were doing. But we were like, “No, we’re good. Thanks.” The guy was American and he looked not too shady, maybe a pothead or a bit worse. US pot dealer type.
The phone call was not happening.
“Is this the Hotel Winston. Hello? Hello?”
“What’d they say?”
“A guy picked up and I said, ‘Is this the Hotel Winston?’ Then he said something I didn’t understand. Then I said, ‘Hello,’ but it was obvious he couldn’t hear me so I just hung up.”
We left the train station & headed south into the city. A tall fellow came up to us & said, “Perhaps you are looking for a place to stay: a hotel or a hostel?” I said no and looked down (we were moving the whole time). Em said, “No, we’re good. Thanks.”
I was like, “Em, where are we going here?”
And she said she knew a street.
I’m about a 3-min walk away from the red light district right now, my loins tell me. They have an excellent sense of direction. Over there! Over there! Get your cock sucked! Over there! Over there! Sorry guys….
Em is lying down listening to her headphones, laughing, amused; more laughing. It must be quite a crack up on the other end.
So we walked that way. South, south-east. We were heading toward red light & the street she meant was the one that had Elements of Nature & Conscious Dreams smartshops on it—a couple streets over from Red Light. We walked down it: busy, crowded, coffeeshops galore, hotels. Another guy says, “Are you guys maybe looking for a place to stay?” There isn’t a willingness to trust in either of us. “No. We’re fine.” “OK, have a good day then. Cheers.” He was polite I suppose. Who knows who these dudes are working for. We came upon Hotel Kabul. Em asks me how I like this area. I say I don’t like it much at all. But Hotel Kabul is in her guidebook. What does it say about it? It says it’s a budget option. We’re only going to be here for one night she reminds me. I say OK. We get a one night twin room. 70€ plus 5€ key deposit which we’re supposed to get back. Em pays cash. We had hit a Thomas Cook right after the station & in between the 2nd & 3rd inquisitors.
I gotta take a shit.
And it was fat and happy.
So we book a room, just one full sized bed, w/ one mattress, at Hotel Kabul. There’s a coffeeshop next door & countless more on this street. A sign in the lobby, though, says that no one is allowed to do heavy drugs on the premises. Sorry, Mr. Huxley, but my peyote experience looks like a raincheck-only affair. I’ll hope my LSD experiences can take me far enough (though I doubt it). Someday, maybe, when I’m rich, & have a pool in the backyard, & leather couches; and when the kids have gone off to college to do peyote themselves.
We set our stuff down. The room is dim & the air in it is pretty stagnant. The window’s propped w/ a wood block. There’s one overhead light. There’s a dinky little thrown together white dresser & a grey wardrobe. I’m not using either. Sink in the room, bathroom in the corridor. Don’t know about the mattress. Spanish classroom decorations. A guitar , w/ flowers, & maracas that says, “Olé!” Yes, just one exclamation mark. Around the door, a three-piece decoration w/ sombreros, guitars, cacti, maracas, a sun, that in the top piece over the door says, “Fiesta!” Same deal. Over the bed a blanket w/ a sombrero; adjacent wall a piñata w/ the word “Bravo!” next to it.
“Decorations for a Spanish class,” says Em, “or,like, a party or something.”
We go out in search of food. Em starts leading us toward red light, we’re south on Dam Street heading east. A man looks me in the eye s he passes and as we’re about even says, “Da ecstasy & da coke: you.” I don’t look back.
Em: “Getting the complete Amsterdam experience.”
We come to the canal & if we go left—north—we run straight into Red Light; this is the same way we took before.
“If I know anything,” I say, “I don’t want to go that way again.”
[You know, actually, this last part, w/ the coke offer came after dinner.]
On the way to dinner we could have taken the left on Damstraat but I said, “Em, I don’t want to go that way.”
And she said, “Alright, pick the way then, and I’ll follow.”
We took a left off Damstraat, went down Rokin a good ways, crossed over to the West side of Rokin, & took a side street. Ended up, after several menu-perusals & one 1hr 15 min wait, at an Italian Ristorante, which itself was reasonably priced & didn’t require a wait. We got a bottle of chianti: Castellani 2000, 18.20€. Not terribly impressive though it did show some signs of life (a 6.0) and we drank it all anyway. Also got a big, green bottle of Panna water. Those came first. Because I ordered the wine I tasted it. Our waitress was cute but curt & not very nice at all. I didn’t like her. So glad not to be worried about language when we get back….
Flying fears but gotta go someway….
Umm, anyway. I got fettucine al salmone. Em some sort of ravioli. Food came w/i 12 minutes. More salmon in mine than I expected, but it was good. So our waitress vanished, & two others helped us the rest of the way. I got espresso. Em got cappuccino & caramel pudding, which I later had a bit of: damn tasty, a mix between flan & crème broulet (sp.?). A wait until we commandeered the check. Rained while we ate but over with now.
Leave, looking for a coffeehouse. I tell Em I won’t be smoking. Told her about my smoking habits over the last couple of years. She’s surprised. Says she thought I did it only once a week. I describe the disaster political mindset revolution semester six credits of Fall 2001. Say how on mushrooms watching Fox News I shed my Republican biases. These people are living in dirt huts & we’re mad at them for not being hip to our culture & economy?
We now walk back to Damstraat & toward Red Light & this is when guy offers da coke & da ecstasy. I say how, after we’ve turned back up Damstraat toward our street—Warmastrasse or something like that. I say how Eric told me about those guys only they offered him either coke or speed. He told me not to mess with those guys. Said he thought maybe they were Moroccan. Which I could believe. Sounded like an African accent though, maybe, Em said, he came from the Caribbean, the Dutch West Indies. This sounds very plausible to me.
So we pass by one—oh, The Greenhouse, the one Em was aiming at was across the canal, very much on fine line of Red Light and we were like: Ehh…. We walked up our street, in the direction of the hotel, & looked into several coffeeshops: Sheeba, Baba, etc. etc. etc. and went on “wrong side,” the bar side, of The Greenhouse Effect before going over to its other side, which was a small little pot smoke-filled café w/ plenty of denizens, candles, not so great music (a B-). But we grabbed a small round table, w/ a nice candle fixture coming out of wall jutting out over our table inconspicuously.
Em went & got for me an espresso—they had none, so a regular coffee—and a joint of Thai for herself. We sat & chit-chatted for about 15 mins. while she smoked.
“How is it?”
She wasn’t feeling too much.
“I don’t think it’s going to do anything.”
“Well, you’ve got a whole joint there.”
I went up and got her a peach Looza, me a Perrier. She smoked a bit more and we never finished the Looza or the Perrier. She stepped into the bathroom for a bit. Came out. Put the joint back into its little, plastic case, then into her bag, & we scuttled out. The hotel was about 25 feet away, thankfully. Got the key & came up. Em lied down. I sat down at this table. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last about hour and fifteen minutes. She says the effects are pretty much over with; lamented having left so early. Wonders if she’s just a wimp & I say no. Pot is strong & the other people in there have considerable tolerance. She says she’s going to toss the joint. My nose is stuffed up. It’s finally dark out. My plan is to shower & go to sleep.