Delirious as a blowtorch and begotten in the luminosity of love — This is the infamous out-of-orbit literary journal that delivers storytelling fit for a gathering around fire. Home to unpredictable fiction, revealing personal essays, bitter social assessments, subversive hymns, underwater obscenities, uplifting bad news, veiled confessions, hints of the erotic… And maybe even some dicey advice.
Author’s Note: You might recall me recently posting a story about how Joe Pera Talks With You is my favorite new TV show and how in it I go on and on about how my wife and I spent part of our honeymoon up in Marquette, Mich. I wanted to add some pictures in that post but it turned out they were on my Mac laptop and not on my HP desktop so I had to go dig them up and transfer them over so I could make good on my promise. Anyways, what follows is my first attempt at a photo-centric post… If I can figure it out. Thanks for looking.
In and around Marquette, Mich.
Click on the photos to see them larger against a black background.
About ore docks
I don’t think I ever saw an iron ore dock until I was in Marquette. They are huge… Things. I don’t even really know how to describe them. They sort of look like elevated piers in a way but much wider, and they are kind of creepy and imposing. I don’t entirely understand how they work, but from the reading I have done it seems they are used to fill ships (that pull up, or I guess float up, to the sides of the dock) with iron ore by means of a series of chutes that flip down. The ore is brought to the dock via railcars that ride along tracks at the top of the dock. If anyone knows more about iron ore docks and how they work, please leave a comment. Thanks for reading.
I floated above the road from out of LipLock, Tejas earlier in the day and headed north, then east. I rumbled along with the roar of it all past that Tulia place again, into the belly of the Yellow City and then back out again like a screaming colon blow.
There was a place further down the road there that looked like some gleaming white Zionic temple minus Moroni but turned out to be some angelic rest stop – a sort of place for celestial evacuation I suppose. It was a high-tech joint with sliding doors, acid-high neon and brightly buffed tiles. The walls were decorated with all sorts of Americana logos and pop posters made to look like they sprang right out from the 1950s – they were going for the whole Route 66 celebratory theme, but an earth closet is still an earth closet and making pee is still making pee. I guess it was comforting enough for weary travelers and indeed kept very clean. I saw an immigrant from Nicaragua wildly mopping the floor with mad vigor and I sort of shook my head and laughed at the fact that Wild West rest stops are kept better looking than most of the towns and the cities – and I guess immigrants are fine in our country as long as they are cleaning up after our savage releases.
I stopped for the night in the town of El Torino, Oklahoma. Clint Eastwood was working the front desk of the glowing green hotel and he was kind of grumpy and called me a “punk.” There was a dirty steak place just down the road from where I was staying and I went there for some supper, as my lady friend Ms. Tinkachook says.
The hostess was a sad and desperate-looking white-skinned soul who didn’t smile much and merely mumbled. I followed her and she seated me in the section for all the lonely people who ate by themselves. The joint had been kicked around in the crotch a few times it seemed – a greasy sort of place with smudged windows and a smell more fit for a bowling alley than a restaurant. I felt the need for the animalistic Reverend Jim to be there with a big ol’ bottle of hand sanitizer to baptize me in, but like most men of Bog, he must have had his hands tied by other spiritual and cleansing emergencies.
The waitress chick was a spotted-owl kind of gal reeking of sad spirit and boredom. She strolled about the place with little sense of purpose and recited to all her tables the same rehearsed speech that lacked any sense of genuine care for her work, but I understood her malaise completely, even though I was convinced she hated me.
I ordered an 8 oz. top sirloin that looked pale and beaten but tasted good nonetheless when slathered with some sauce. I got fries too, a salad and some warm bread with cinnamon butter. The food was decent enough for what it was and anyways I was never one to complain in a restaurant. I never thought it wise to piss someone off who was handling my food. There was a table across the way from me with a couple of moms and their dirty kids plus a husband or boyfriend or two. They loudly bitched at the waitress about their steaks not being cooked as they wanted, and they passed their plates back to her and she humped off to the kitchen to turn them back in. I could imagine the cook growling and spitting on the meat or shoving it down his pants and jiggling around a bit to add some of his own spice and sizzle.
My steak was good, and I scarfed it down quickly. And that’s all I said: “It’s good. Thank you.” She smiled halfheartedly and I knew she had better problems than me.
But I had been there before too. I had my time – those days so completely overtaken by life’s strife that I could hardly move or utter a word. Those days of hurt – like a hatchet buried in my skull cap and someone cranking on the handle. There is a laundry list of agonies I have endured that I really don’t want to talk about now except to say it was all about busted up hearts and people dying in real bad ways and there were plenty of times I just wanted to snuff it as Alex DeLarge says. Lights out like a hammer to a lightbulb. No more pawing and panting at the stars like some broken bird who felt like he would never ever fly again. Hopefully I’ve come around to the other side of those ills and I will press on, for there is nothing left to do.
After 37 beers and a carton of Strikes, down there below those swirling, curling lights of the Piccadilly-like carnival on the inlaid pier, I gotten a sudden hankering for a bit of the ol’ south of the border chow — but there I was stuck in a sea of neon beach shops and surfer boutiques — head throbbing like mad and steaming ’cause I had to wait for the maintenance man to come fix my tub in my sixth floor room of the South Seas Lodge — that ghetto, oceanfront property with the metal doors with rusting scratchings of so-and-so loves so-and-so — and my room number was written on the door with a black marker, others were simply slips of paper with the room number scribbled upon it and then neatly stuck to the door with masking tape — high quality joint, yeah, but the view from the room was worth the 49.99 — those slamming waves crashing into the beach right below my balcony — after 37 beers and a carton of Strikes, it all looked pretty good through my grinning fog.
But there I was at dusk, wobbling down the steaming street that stretched on for miles in either direction, hotels, motels and bungalows all lined up, bumping each other shoulder to shoulder and I thought about how we have come to commercialize even nature, and how three-hundred years ago or so, those waves were still out there slapping at the shore, still rolling like white thunder, rolling and dropping their white and foamy fists against the land, pounding it hard like a drunk spring break boy does to some weekend Snow Off White, probably in the very same bed in which I slept upon, the one with the parrots and toucan’s brightly decorating the bedspread alongside the stains of lust and claw marks of a troubled head.
And I was stumbling along, the streets filled with people in skimpy clothes laughing and falling all over each other; the young, the old, everyone connected in their far-from-home fears and I felt like the only solitary being rushing along the waves of this pulse and so ducked into a beach shop for some sandals and found some ones made in China and they hurt my feet because they were too small, so I kicked them off when I walked the beach and watched them roll back out to sea, back home to China where a 9 is probably more like a 4 to us — because they are made by the small children — and I had asked the clerkie where a good place to eat was and he recommended a Mexican place that he liked to frequent, I said thanks and wandered out the door trying to remember the directions he gave me at the same time trying to not get run over by a car… but then again, I could be on Mars.
I saw it after stopping to piss in some gas station, and there it was, across the busiest street in the place and I thought I’d never get across, but I darted when the headlights died down and made it to the joint. I was the only one solo, of course, but I got a nice heaping of chips and salsa, ordered a couple of beers, and watched some Survivor, Fear Factor rip-off where Kens and Barbies were playing stupid games and it really meant the world to them, like it REALLY was important, not just another heap of trash entertainment to babysit our collective lazy and enslaved American minds.
I ordered the No. 11; a taco, burrito, and enchilada, but when the waiter brought it out, it was like I was eating Manicotti, or Rigatoni with some spicy beef inside. The sauce was tomatoey, not like the red sauce or the green sauce I got back in the Land of Enchanto, no, as if I stepped into an upscale Taco Bell in Florence, Italy. But I was hungry and I ate it and it was decent and I slammed my beer and stuffed my face and I was fat and full when I paid my bill — wandered out back onto the street, hypnotized by the guiding lights of cars and booming shops selling surfboards and kief, and there it was in all its glory, a Krispy Kreme donut shop, and even as full as I was I went inside that heaven of baked goods and ordered up a six pack of gut-clogging sin — so I was making my way back to the South Seas Lodge, made my way past the carnival, the Ferris wheel was so high and lit up like an acid trip, I saw the people just dangling there in the night like branches of a Christmas tree, they were all weighed down with the heavy lights of the amusement park. I stood and waited for someone to jump – like the unloved Thanksgiving at Wendy’s.
I walked along slow now, weighed down with the Italian Mexican food in my gut and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. I made it across the main thoroughfare, the traffic was dying down a bit, it was getting late — found a little boardwalk that led to the beach, the tide was a bit higher now and the waves seemed to be grabbing at my ankles a bit more forcefully now, and when my heavy limbs made it to the sand, I almost collapsed, the beach was sparse with people, when at the height of day it was crawling with all sorts — I stumbled along, my eyes now stinging from all the spotlights beaming down on me from the right, the waves kept crashing to my left, and it was getting hard to walk in the sand, but in time I made it back to the South Seas Lodge, took the elevator to the sixth floor, it groaned as it slowly carved its way through the shaft, the stairs were in disrepair, and I thought if there was a fire, I’d surely burn or die from the jump — but it didn’t burn and I made it back to my room, threw my stuff down on the bed and went straight to the balcony to watch the waves, all lit up from the hotel floodlights, crash into the shore, so perpetual, unlike the heart that someday soon shall cease to trouble her.
This past weekend, my wife and I took a mini vacation to a nearby college town – just to get away from home and visit her son’s future campus, among other things, like good food and coffee.
I had searched online for a hotel and found one of those “suite” places, thinking it might be a good alternative to an Airbnb that I just couldn’t get my hands on. It was my wife’s birthday and I wanted her to have something nice – even though she’s very appreciative of anything, except Motel 6.
I was pretty disappointed with the hotel from the get-go, considering I paid so damn much for it – $250 a night plus all those damn taxes. They should have been charging $59 a night in my opinion. I guess the room was decent enough, but NOT worth the price of admission. I was hoping it would be much larger than it was, but it was pretty much the size of your run-of-the-mill hotel room – just with a bigger refrigerator and a dishwasher that was falling apart. Whoop-tee-doo.
In my head I was saying “I am pissed!” just like Tourette’s Guy would. If you don’t know who Tourette’s Guy is, look him up on YouTube. Hilarious.
Anyways, another perk to having the suite was having it stocked with dishes and silverware we could use if we wanted to eat in… Or in my case, enjoy a delicious bowl of cereal.
Even before arriving at the hotel, my wife and I stopped at a nice grocery store, and I grabbed myself a box of Corn Pops and a box of Apple Jacks and some milk. I was pumped! To be able to have a bowl of cereal at the hotel – “I was in such bliss, my brothers,” as Alex DeLarge would say. If you don’t know who Alex DeLarge is, Google him.
But upon arriving to the room and inspecting the dishware that was provided, I just about lost my shit. “What the hell is this!?” I cried out to the cereal gods.
The dimensions of the bowls did not exceed the size of my palms.
“Are those ashtrays?” my wife wondered.
“No, they’re cereal bowls the size of ashtrays. How can this be? How in holy hell am I supposed to eat cereal out of these?”
My wife just looked at me like I was crazy, but I was crushed. Another dream had been snuffed from my life like a dirty cigarette – how appropriate, right?
Yellow Corn Pops polished with sweetness tinkled into one of the tiny bowls in the middle of the night. I poured in a little milk. I couldn’t sleep. My mind and soul were restless. I sat down on the uncomfortable couch on the other side of the partition from where my wife was sleeping in the bed. I began to spoon in the delicious late-night snack. It was so good, but due to the size of the bowl, the pleasure didn’t last long. I had to go back for more. And I did. And I did again. Like crack.
Still restless afterwards, I went down to the lobby and out into the hot air of a summer night. Corn Pops tumbled in the tum-tum. Light pollution blotted out the stars. I turned back to look at the lobby through the sliding glass doors. A few annoying weirdos were playing pool. Yeah, they had a pool table in the lobby. There was a lone lady clerk behind the front desk pretending to work. I considered complaining about the size of the bowls. But what good would it do? It wouldn’t matter what I said – nothing would change. The lady clerk didn’t care. She had more important things on her mind… Maybe.
The lobby doors slid open, and my wife appeared. She was fuzzled and bedazzled. “Are you still upset about the size of those cereal bowls?”
“Yes,” I confessed. “No one should be forced to eat cereal from such a small bowl. It’s ridiculous and inhumane.”
“But you could have no cereal at all. Think of that and all the other things you do have and stop being so glum.”
I looked at her, pure beauty radiating in the neon glow of the high hotel. “You’re always the positive end of the battery,” I said. “Cereal trouble may have killed me by now if it weren’t for you.”
I wrapped my arm around her, and we walked back into the hotel. There at the front desk was a man and he was loudly complaining about something to the clerk. We stopped in the shadows as I wanted to eavesdrop.
“How the hell am I supposed to eat cereal out of a bowl like this!” he screamed to her, and he threw it down and it rattled against the counter.
The clerk was shaking and crying because he was being so mean and hateful. “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll make a note of it for the manager.”
“Oh yes, a note for the manager. I’m sure you will,” the man grumbled. “You’re nothing but an inept ding-a-ling. I’ll never stay in this hotel ever again! You’ve lost my business!” And he angrily stormed off, tossing a perturbed glance in our direction.
“See,” my wife said to me. “Aren’t you glad you didn’t become an asshole like him?”
“Yes,” I said. “You’re right again.”
“Of course, I am. You should listen to me more often.”
I gave her a squeeze and a sultry smile. “Let’s go upstairs and watch some crappy TV, and maybe later you can give me a reason to have another bowl of cereal.”