for friendship

For friendship, fulfillment, and that loving feeling you've been longing for,

write to: PO Box 2333, Lake Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Monday, September 26, 2011


Everyone has at least one relationship they can look back on and shudder just thinking about; that one special person in your memory Rolodex where the idea of their saliva in your mouth or how much time you spent with them makes you want to run puking to the nearest wax-coated airline bag. What were you thinking? What allowed you to let them into your life? Are you just some kind of kind of emotional baglady with a shopping cart of character defects, hobbling along, mis-wired empathy in one fingerless glove and faulty gut-instincts gripped tightly in the other?

I've made my fair share of bad decisions in the past. In fact, I'm sure my future is sprawling with new bad decisions, shining like diamonds with the hope of tomorrow's tomorrow. But enough about me, let's talk about these songs...


by Kenny Rogers

You've painted up your lips
And rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby are you contemplating
Going out somewhere
The shadow on the wall
Tells me the sun is going down
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

It wasn't me
That started that crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go
And do my patriotic chore
And yes, it's true that
I'm not the man I used to be
Oh, Ruby I still need some company
It's hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralyzed
That my wants and needs of a woman of your age
Ruby, I realized
but it won't be long I've heard them say
until I'm not around
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

She's leaving now cause
I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I've heard it
Slam one hundred times before
And if I could move I'd get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town
Oh Ruby for God's sake turn around

I think maybe the question here isn't whether I would date the narrator in “Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town,” because I think I already have. The narrator here has a laundry list of problems, the least of which are his bent and paralyzed legs, which actually seem to be the only thing keeping him from murdering his wife. In the line, “it wasn't me that started that old crazy Asian war,” he seems to be downplaying Vietnam like it's some kind of newfangled video game, the Nintendo all the kids seem to be into these days, with their 8-bits and their stubby, blown-off legs. He's blaming everyone except himself for his crappy attitude. People are all, “It won't be long until you're not around, Kenny,” and he's all, “It's not my fault I'm laying here bitching and feeling sorry for myself in my last moments while my young wife is boning the whole town.” Yes, Ruby keeps bailing on her crippled, dying husband, but she may have joined a dart league or a support group. There's no way of knowing, and, really, even if she was out boning the whole town, can you blame her? If he could move, he'd get his gun. I'm sure he's not quiet about it either. She's feeding him grits, and they're dribbling back out because he's muttering about his gun again, like some kind of feverish backwoods mantra.

This song reminds me of this dude I dated who had been hit by a train and I was his first girlfriend “since the accident.” That said, I would probably date the narrator of this song for about two weeks, until he said, “I LOVE YOU!” in an outburst the way you would scream your order into the drive-thru panel of a Burger King. Then I could try to break up with him, but he would cry, and I would take him back until I realized his twitch got worse, then I would dump him for once and for all.

DATEABLITY +'s: Notices your painted lips and curled hair, Proponent of 2nd Amendment rights
DATEABILITY -'s: Needy, Psychotic

by The Who

Ever since I was a young boy
I've played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
He plays by intuition
The digit counters fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

He's a pinball wizard
There's got to be a twist
A pinball wizard
He's got such a supple wrist

How do you think he does it?
(I don't know)
What makes him so good?

He ain't got no distractions
Can't hear those buzzers and bells
Don't see lights a flashin'
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets a replay
Never tilts at all
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

I thought I was
The Bally table king
But I just handed
My pinball crown to him

Even on my usual table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He's got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball

If you have ever dated someone after the recent purchase of a video game system, you are basically dating the Pinball Wizard. Proper nutrition and personal hygiene fall by the wayside as they struggle to move on to the next level and beat the game. Their interpersonal relationships falter, night turns into day, they fall behind at work. Not before long, they're sitting in three-day old boxers, squinting and complaining when you turn on the light, growling if you touch anything in the nest of take-out containers surrounding them.

But maybe the Pinball Wizard is just looking for someone to love him. Maybe if there was something else in his life to take the place of the silver ball, he would move out of the dank Soho arcade and into the shelter of a mutually rewarding adult relationship. It could be a romance as beautiful as Eric Stoltz and Laura Dern in Mask. You could teach him what “billowy” means and let him touch your face. You could go to the flea market and get matching airbrushed jackets that say “PINBALL WIZARD” and “PINBALL WIZARD'S GIRL,” or “I'M WITH PINBALL WIZARD,” if commitment isn't his thing. But I think it is. Pinball Wizard strikes me as a sensitive lover. Maybe it's those supple wrists.

DATEABILITY +'s: Unsurpassed manual dexterity, Will to win
DATEABILITY -'s: One-track mind

If Kenny ever found out I'd been going down to the arcade, he would use his last reserves of strength to roll off the medical bed and get to his gun rack, then he would then crawl to the mall with the gun in his mouth like Prince Randian the Human Torso in the movie Freaks. At the arcade, the Pinball Wizard is playing the Aerosmith machine (which doesn't actually exist, but for the purposes of this fantasy does). He is flanked by his disciples while I rub his lower back in concentric circles, saying encouraging words he couldn't see or hear, but can sense in the far-out cosmic way that is characteristic of our love. Suddenly, he feels a disturbance in the air, licks his flipper finger, and smells the gunpowder as Kenny enters the room at a slow crawl. Then PW picks up the machine and hurls it at the doorway with a controlled abandon never before seen by any of us. Pinball Wizard blew his streak that day, but he saved all our lives.

And that, children, is the story of how your grandfather and I got together.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I guess that was the turning point, where things started their downhill sleigh-bell ride into breakup. The party at that place in the West Village, the one with all the candles lit up red and the stainless steel bar that was supposed to be sleek and modern but instead looked like the slab where they do all the embalming. It was a birthday party for your artist friend but it was Christmastime. I remember because my feet were cold and we took a cab back even though neither of us could really afford it.

I didn't know anyone there. Maybe that's not true. There was that painter who came into the art store, the walleyed lady with frizzy gray hair who was rude the way people get when they know they're not where they should be and take it out on everyone else. I started calling her Flounder, as in, “Flounder complained again because we're out of the cheap canvas,” and, “Would you rather kill your own grandma or make out with Flounder for an hour with your eyes open the whole time?”

Well, anyway, the week before the party, Flounder came in demanding star treatment and then told me it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand what she was asking for. I thought it was presumptuous to assume my dreams began and ended with Art Supply Retail Store Manager, and it made me defensive of my own hypothetical career path, because even though I'm not a rocket scientist, how would she know? Maybe I was trying to make ends meet in an economic rut by selling acrylic paint to cross-eyed, demanding old bags when the lab closed and all the other scientists went home.

Flounder left her professor ID on the counter when I passed her off to someone else. My hand twitched a little as I reached for the enamel pen under the register and drew a Charlie Chaplin mustache on her frowny, washed-out photo. I felt warm inside and hypothetically avenged until I realized it wasn't going to come off. Then I panicked and looked under the counter for turpentine, but decided I didn't care and went on break instead.

So anyway, Flounder was at the other side of the long table, looking homeless and crazy the way artists sometimes do, eying me up because she knew I had sullied her faculty ID. I was talking to some other guy, the authoritarian figure with a dignified gray mustache and matching drill sergeant crew-cut. He had a book, too, and was telling me how I should plan my tour.

“Radio,” Mustache said, holding a small glass and looking into the ice like he was reading tea leaves. “Yes. Radio. And if you can get the Times to review it, it can't hurt.” He summoned the waitress over by snapping his fingers and pointed to the empty glass. “Scotch.”

I looked around at everyone at the party, holding wine glasses the way I do when I'm drinking water and pretending to be old and monied. Mustache began talking to someone else and the conversation turned to vacations, or really, world travel. There's a difference, because world travel seems to take a certain willingness to combat flies and incurable stomach trouble, but I bet you already knew that.

“Machu Picchu,” Mustache said. “It's a hike to get through that South American jungle, but it's the dawning of civilization, you know. You really must go.”

Mustache held his glass like a gold chalice. Flounder burned a hole through me with her one good eye, and with the other intensely looking somewhere to the left of me. I watched as the snow piled up against the window outside and thought about how I would rather spend a week in jail with ten friendly strangers than pass one second in Machu Picchu with anyone identifying themselves as an artist.

I looked at you, and you smiled. I smiled back and held my glass of water gingerly, a protege of Dali, a broke Mona Lisa, a friendly stranger who was about to get fired from an art store.

“Yes,” I said. “Machu Picchu. We really must.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dear CJS Fanclubsters,

I have been a little busy with moving and writing new material for some big readings (this Sunday, September 18th at Previously Secret Information in San Francisco, I will be telling a NEVER BEFORE TOLD story! Buy your tickets soon before they sell out!) I am also working on a NEW FANCLUB T-SHIRT and other exciting secret projects I can't tell you about yet which will make them TWICE as exciting when they are revealed!

Anyway, we will be back to our regularly scheduled Every Monday Update next week. Until then, please accept my apologies with this comic that originally ran in the zine Not My Small Diary, which is a yearly compilation comic. The theme for this one was "transportation." Enjoy!

Cassie J.