Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Glenwood Hotel

This was the third time Pete was OD'ing, I think. Jesus, it's like 8:15am, I just got here. Do I really have to deal with this already? I haven't even had my coffee yet.
I grab the portable phone and head for room 17. I turn down the aisle that leads to his room and there he is, half in his room, half out, on the floor. I walk up to him and ask the three people doing nothing but staring to move out of the way.
“Pete! Pete!” I say loudly. He's not moving. “Pete!”.
I kick him a couple of times. He's not responding.
His eyes are rolling farther back in his head than the first two times. He was really, really deep into something here. This must've been some extra good junk, Pete was lying in some real lowlands here...or highlands. Either way, he was down deep in this hole.
I get down on my knees and get right in Pete's face this time. “Pete!! Pete!!”
I actually really have no idea what I'm doing. I mean, my nine years in the music business before this job selling records to stores really never included how to save someone from overdosing. Not part of the job there. I make a phone call to a record store, ask them if they need any new stock, tell them about the new records we have coming out, and type in the order. Really safe, really manual. Never really came across a situation where somebody had taken too much dope, and were leaning over the edge of the cliff. I think once somebody had a couple too many cups of coffee in the office and got a little panicky. They had to talk to their cubicle worker to calm them down. That was about as close as I got. And that ain't close. And yeah, that somebody was me.
OK, I guess maybe I should slap him in the face or something? Sounds about right. I slap him in the face really hard. I couldn't help it, but I laugh a little. This was ridiculous. The fucking shit I find myself doing at this place, totally ridiculous. I slap him again. He turns his head slightly and I do hear a slight moan. But that's about it. This dude is deep.
I suddenly realized this might be like, for real. My usual cold front towards this type of situation is suddenly altered. Usually, on the day to day here at the hotel, I have myself wrapped in a self-protective field. This is out of necessity. Otherwise, I'd lose it. There's too much here to actually allow myself to calculate as reality. Better to pretend, to blindly robot myself through the day. Better to walk out the door at four PM, hop on my bike and in the ten minutes it takes me to get back to my apartment, forget I was even there for the day.
I dial 911, for what I'm guessing is about the hundredth time in my two years here. I have the routine down to a science by this point.
“911 emergency, how may I help you?”
“Hey, it's John at The Glenwood Hotel. I have another person overdosing here, this one looks pretty serious, he ain't waking up.”
Pete's eyes move a little bit, as if he's trying to find the real world again. There's a flicker that suggests he's coming around. Maybe. I yell at him again. And again.
“Sir, can you explain the situation to me?” says the operator on the phone.
I had forgot I was still on the phone.
“Hang on one second, please.” I say.
I put the phone down and slap Pete again. And yell at him again. Mary Ann suggests that I pour some hot water on his face. She's so old and out there that I do the usual – I ignore her. Pete moans again and I feel like with a little more effort he can climb up out of there. I hear the front desk bell ring, someone wants to check in. I pray the poor soul is lost too. The kind of person that would see what was going on here and still want to check in. The kind that would see Pete on the floor and instead of being scared out of their mind, they would think “Oh cool, there's dope around here.” The chances of that being the case are very high, those are usually the only type that stay here. But occasionally we get the backpacker from Spain, eighteen and in NYC for the first time. If that was the person at the bell, I definitely don't want them seeing this.
Pete's eyes come out of hiding and seemingly almost accidentally align themselves correctly. I don't think it's by any cognizant knowledge of his own. Somehow, someway, he's finding his way back to the light, but I'm pretty certain this comeback is out of his control. It's going to happen if it happens, but not by Pete's doing.
I pick up the phone and tell 911 that I think he's coming out of it. She starts to say something, but I hang up on her. I hardly ever follow all the way through on these calls, since there's hardly ever a need. I'm pretty used to being at this point of the phone call and feeling totally fine hanging up. I don't feel like at this point I need to give her a play-by-play. I think Pete's coming around. If he doesn't, I can always call back.
Pete tries to lean up, but he can't do it on his own. I put my arm around his back and get him sitting up. He starts to try to say something, but his tongue isn't quite working yet. I rub his back. Again, why I don't know. Seemed like the next logical thing to do. Maybe get some blood flowing. Or wait, maybe we shouldn't get the blood flowing. Would that kick the dope in again? Would that get it going to his brain again? Wait, is that where it even goes? What exactly happens when someone takes heroin? What's the science of it? Jesus, I really have no idea what's going on here. I keep rubbing anyway. Maybe the warmth of the rub will take over for the warmth of the dope? That's what I'll go with. Sounds good.
The three residents go back to their rooms. The fun's over. If there isn't going to be an ambulance, a bigger scene, and actual chance of death, then they've seen all they want to see. To them, it's just Pete being Pete. He almost died, but didn't take enough to kill himself. Par for the course, really. One day, maybe, but not today. So the show's over, and the sick fucks are actually disappointed.
Then, within what was probably about ten seconds, Pete's back to almost normal. Like he just woke up from sleep and is starting his day. He gets up on his feet, wipes some spit off his mouth and smiles. He's back.
“Oh shit, man. What the fuck?” he mutters.
He looks around, trying to find something to focus on. He sees the bike that he's been working on. He goes over to it. He grabs a wrench and starts cranking on the wheel. I'm floored. Thirty seconds ago he was at the door, and inch away from the great beyond. It really could've went either way, I think. But he snapped out of it, back into this life, back into his bikes, back into waiting for the next time he scores. I go over to him and turn him around and put my hands on his shoulders.
“Pete, do you realize what's going on? Do you know what just happened?”
He looks me in the eyes. He doesn't answer. I'm not sure if he knows the answer. I'm not sure he wants to know the answer, more precisely. And I don't know if it's even worth telling him. But part of me wants some kind of acknowledgment. I think I just saved this guys life. I think I slapped him back from the brink. Maybe not. Maybe he would've come out of it regardless. I guess I'll never know. And I guess it's pointless to really tell him. It won't make any difference. If he knows he almost died, that will have zero effect on him when he's buying his next bag. I've known Pete for two years, and despite his occasional death taunt, he's a pretty cool guy. And he can fix the hell out of a bike. But maybe he wants to die? I don't really know the inside of Pete. Maybe he'd actually be mad at me for pulling him back. Maybe I interrupted his death wish. Shit, who knows?
“Do you still need your brakes fixed?” he asks.
Yeah, better to leave Pete in his oblivion. They say there's people that are just lost in their own little world. Pete is probably better off there. I'm guessing he put himself there, in his own little world, so he didn't have to deal with the real one. I guess if that's what he wants, who am I to take him out of it? And yes, I do really need my brakes fixed.
“Yeah, Pete, I do. I'll bring my bike over in a few minutes.”
I walk back towards the front desk. Pete goes back to his wheel.
The front desk is actually a cage. Like you see in those old NY movies from the seventies. Those movies where somebody is checking into a fleabag motel. That's because The Glenwood is actually one of those places. The fleabags are bedbugs, however. And there are a lot of them. The front desk is surrounded by a steel cage type of barrier. There's a slot at the bottom where people can slide their room keys or money through. It's kind of pointless though, because if you walk around to the side there's a half door, where the top part is an open space. So if somebody actually wanted to rob me, all they had to do was walk around the side. There was one of those hook latches holding the door locked in place, but very little effort would be needed to actually rip that off the hinge.
The person that had rung the bell was definitely not a backpacker. He was another in a long line of down-and-outs. He needed a room for one night. The rooms were $33/night. And I knew without asking that he wouldn't be paying with a credit card.

Friday, December 7, 2012

No Cigar

I figured I'd try to write a comical piece, something funny, since I always write about more serious type stuff.

It didn't work.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cannon Fire

i only knew the guy for two years of my life. i worked with him, at a dumpy-ass hostel that i "managed". he was a co-worker. we would do projects together. lay floors. paint walls. hang signs.

we were thrown together by circumstance. otherwise, we would never have reason to cross paths.

his name was Mitchell Cannon. we all called him Country.

he was a black man. from the south. north carolina, if i remember correctly. i only understood half of what he said, because his drawl was so predominant. the half i heard, i loved. the half i didn't, i always imagined was even better.

why did i like him? he was kind. he was soft. he was mellow. he was honest. he had a good heart. he lived up to his nickname.

i left that job a couple years ago, and had only visited a couple times since. last time i saw Country, he was sicker than before. i learned right before i left the job that he had contracted AIDS. through a needle. yeah, Country had a drug reliance, and because of that he had caught his death.

i went to the old hostel today and asked for him. they said he had died. six months ago. my head bowed. a heavy weight suddenly rested there. i was instantly frozen with how life can stop you in your tracks. it can say "fuck you" on a dime. hell, a nickel.

i walked around for a bit and tried to enter this information into my circuitry.

i was with a friend at the time, and for many hours after. when we finally parted ways i hopped on the J train, to home. i finally had a silence within myself to process, and found myself instantly crying. heavy. on a crowded subway. i hurt. i really hurt.

i really liked that guy. i liked his open eyes to the world and his open heart to the unexpected. there are people that you know for 80 years, and there are people that you know for 2. i knew Mitchell Cannon for 2. he was a man. he was beautiful. he was alive. he was lost. he was singular. he was unique.

i will miss him.

his name was Mitchell Cannon. his name was Country.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I told somebody I liked "We Bought A Zoo" today. Their reply was "Wasn't that supposed to be corny?". This got me to thinking.

Movies deemed as corny tend to be movies about love or hope or, dare I say it, happiness. Rom-Com's, for example. There are a lot of people that will admit having a proclivity to staying away from these types of movies.

I very rarely have heard a friend of mine say they weren't going to see a violent movie, like 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Goodfellas' or 'Saw'. But I've had a ton of them say they weren't going to see these corny-type movies, like 'Sleepless In Seattle' or 'The Vow' or "He's Just Not That Into You'.

I'm not going to make a statement about gun control or anything like that here. I know we're on the heels of the massacre in Colorado, but this really isn't about this. But think about it, wouldn't you agree that it's your experience also that you have more friends shying away from corny movies than violent ones? I'm generalizing here, of course a lot of us do go to both types, and I'm sure there are some people that won't go to 'Saw' types. I just find it interesting that when it comes to saying they won't got to a movie, it's rarely because it's too violent, but often is because it's corny.

People will go and watch a movie like 'Casino' and not really think twice about the fact that a guy gets his life ended by being beat by a baseball bat. In fact, that scene is talked about with a great deal of admiration. But the 'Jerry Maguire' scene where he says "You had me at hello", yeah, that's made fun of all the time. People, a dude was beat to death with a baseball bat! Think about how fundamentally wrong that is. It happens in real life and the culprit goes to jail for life. It happens in a movie and we enjoy our sour patch kids during the scene. But when we hear Jerry say his line, it's chastised as cheesy.

I for one don't like 'Reservoir Dogs' for instance, and it is because of the violence. I hate shit like that, and don't enjoy seeing it. At all. But you sit me in front of a movie like 'We Bought A Zoo', which is about love, hope, positivity and yes, happiness, and I'm all over it. Is that corny? By most people's definition, yes. And a lot of people will think that people of this ilk are a good target for chiding. "Holy crap, you liked 'You've Got Mail'?...what a dork".

I'm not saying much here really, not making any grand statements. But I do find it very interesting, the whole corny/violence viewpoint. Some of you will read this piece and view it as corny in and of itself. If you've read any of my stories in this blog, you probably view them as such as well. Well, I view them like that myself, but it's done on purpose. I want to throw out love and positivity and hope, because I think in general not enough people do. And if that's corny, so be it. I'm cool with that. In my opinion, enjoying seeing a guy beat to death with a baseball bat is waaaaaay cornier, and it is a bit unsettling that things are skewed the other way.

If the ideal human state is a pure heart, soul and mind, where love and happiness rule, then how nuts is it that a movie that at least tries to border on these themes is shunned, and a movie that is quite the opposite is more accepted? Have we veered that far away from the ideal? Yikes! This makes me want to punch everyone...a ticket to paradise.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mega Millions

The odds of winning the lottery are like 80,431,176 to 1. People would die to win it, have millions of dollars suddenly encased within their bank account number. It's a lot of people's key to happiness...they say "Man, if I could only win the lottery, I'd be SO happy, I'd spend the rest of my life traveling, doing amazing things, just enjoying life instead of toiling through it." I'm not gonna lie, I play the lottery all the time. I'd love to hit it big, win that jackpot. But on the train on the way home today, an epiphany - I've already won it.

I won the lottery on 3/19/69.

3/19/69, for my Dad:

He woke up and went to work at Chrysler, as he would do every other weekday for the next 35 years. He stopped at the gas station to get gas on the way in. He thought about doing it on the way home, but had a few extra minutes because he woke up early. He woke up early because the next door neighbor started yelling at his wife about who knows what.

His work day was pretty unspectacular, as they would be for the next 35 years. He ate a smallish lunch, wasn't feeling too hungry. He wasn't feeling too hungry because he grabbed a danish at the gas station - he normally skips breakfast. He said goodbye to his co-worker Phil, changed his clothes and hopped in the car around 3:40pm.

On the way home, due to his smallish lunch around noon, he felt a small hunger pang. Out of his subconscious came an inkling for a White Castle hamburger. He had seen a commercial earlier in the week, and the advertisement finally did it's job, and he suddenly craved the wave. He pulled into the restaurant, decided to go inside instead of the drive-thru. No real reason, just one of those things. He got in line. Two persons in front of him was a really attractive 26 year old Beatles fan from Duluth. She had moved to Michigan because of a job offer she couldn't refuse. She got the job offer because the person her boss was going to give it to passed away in a drunk driving accident. They were drunk because they were celebrating the fact that they had heard a rumor that they were going to be getting a big promotion, which included a nice transfer out of Duluth.

My Dad stared at this girl for about 8 seconds, long enough for his mind to turn the optical vision into a hormonal rush. The rush, suddenly stored within him, turned to arousal, blood flow, heat. He didn't even really realize it, but all of a sudden, it was there.

He ate the burgers on the way home. His body, still covert to him, was percolating into some serious sex drive. He swallowed the sliders, sipped on a Coke and drove up the driveway to our house. He parked the car and walked into the house. He looked at my Mom, and rather unaware of why, instantly thought about having sex with her. He said "Hey, are the kids home from school yet?", and winked at her seductively.

3/19/69, for my Mom:

She woke up when my Dad did and kissed him goodbye, then fell back asleep for about a half hour. She got up and went into my two older brother's room, woke them up and told them to get ready for school. They, for once, didn't complain and ask for the usual five more minutes of sleep. They did this because today at school was basketball in gym class, and they LOVED that day. Unknown to my Mom, this set into motion a serious mood of relaxation for the day. Just this little non-thing was all it took for her day to improve by tenfold, and the end result was a very happy, cheerful Mom.

After my brothers left, she made herself some coffee and sat down to watch her morning shows. At around 10:30am, her friend Rebecca called and asked if she was doing anything. She said no, and Rebecca came over. Rebecca made it to our house because while driving over there, she had missed a turn while trying to put out a cigarette in the ashtray. If she had made the correct turn, she would have hit a pothole and her tire would have been ruined. She would've gone to the auto shop to get it fixed and would've canceled with my Mom. But since she missed the pothole, she made it to our house. They had lunch together. They chatted. They laughed. They had a really great afternoon. My Mom's happy mood increased even more.

My Mom then listened to her new Rolling Stones record while making a roast for dinner. She did this because her friend Anne, who was never wrong about these things, recommended it to her. The album, not the roast. Mom was particularly impressed by a song called "Street Fighting Man". Without really knowing it was happening, the song stirred up some pretty serious feelings in her. You know the kind I'm talking about. Quite covert to her, without even really knowing it, she was getting pretty damn horny. And oh, by the way, she prepared a salad for dinner as well.

She had just put the roast in the oven and sat down on the couch when my Dad came in and, while winking, said "Hey, are the kids home from school yet?"

3/19/69, for me:

My future Dad and Mom had sex. My Dad released about 100 million sperm cells. Only one of those, if it connected with Mom's egg, would be me. Any other of the MILLIONS!!! of sperm connects, and I'm not me! My life never happened! You're not reading this! The only EXACT way that I came about was that one sperm fertilizing that one egg. If my Dad had been in the mood and Mom had not, and the attractive Duluthian fervor ended up with my Dad going at it solo that night, I wouldn't have happened. I would've ended up down a sink drain. But alas, all events lined up, the ones mentioned above being just an insanely small sampling, and the one sperm connected out of those millions, and on 3/19/69, I was conceived. That, my friends, is what I call hitting the jackpot!

So I've won the lottery. I've already beaten the most mind boggling of odds. We all have. So I think I will spend some time traveling, to Brazil next maybe, or even just to a local bar to hang with my friends. I will do amazing things, even if only small things here and there that make someone feel/live/think/aspire/laugh. And I will enjoy life, because the way I see it, I won that lottery back in '69, and that's a wild, crazy, mind-blowing gift, and that kind of gift deserves respect, awe, honor, activity and mayhem.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Afternoon Beers

I walked in the door and Pops is waiting with that beer gut and that beer smile. He likes to toss a couple back after work, I gots no problem with that. He's the type of guy that could do that, and it wasn't in the "alcoholic Dad drinking in the middle of the day" kinda way. He just liked a couple of afternoon beers, and he never let it create disaster. I walked over to him and stuck my belly out as far as I could. He tapped it gently, and his finger pokes felt like raindrops.

"Gosh, kiddo, you're looking more and more like me every day."

Man, he was the coolest. Never a bad word, never a dark cloud, never turned the lights of hope off. He was Steady Eddie, calm storm in the South Seas. He made my personality want to exhibit itself. He took me inside myself for exploration. I adored this man, this legend, this sunshine.

I exhaled.

"Listen, next Sunday you're gonna have to drive me and Rick to..."

I reached into my pocket and thrust the golden tickets in his face.

"...the Red Wings game!!!"

He grabbed the tickets and looked at them.

"Nice, kiddo. And they're playing the Avs, great game."

I did a somersault. A real one, not the interior kind.

Pops looked down and laughed. He had the world's greatest laugh. I always imagined there was a great place where laughs went once they fell out of our earshot. I imagined they flew somewhere high above and gathered at some sacred ground. This place has so many laughs that they had to expire the old ones after a while to make room for the new ones. They had a whole system set up, categories upon categories of laughs. "Robust, over here. Sly, over there. Innocent, there. Annoying, way back there. No, a little further. More still. A few more feet. There you go." Pops' laugh would stay in this laugh mecca longer than most, purely based on the integrity of it, the honesty of it, the density of its' mass. Yeah, Pops had the greatest laugh.

He turned and walked into the kitchen. I rested down on my back and looked up at the ceiling. I'm not sure why I loved lying on the floor so much. I think it's because I like doing things mostly undone.

My mind wandered to the glance Jenny and I shared earlier in Math class. The "Jenny Glance", as we shall now call it. It's amazing how something so simple can make my insides rearrange. Does she realize her power? I have a feeling she doesn't. What does she do when she gets home? What is she doing right now? Does she masturbate? I heard that most girls don't. That's weird. I mean, I can't stop. I know it's different for girls, but how? Physically, what's the difference? I've heard that it's more about emotion for them. Hell, I'm as emotional as they get. I feel things so deeply sometimes that the pressure splits my head. Too many pounds per square inch, or whatever it is that happens when you dive too many miles below the surface, like in "The Abyss". But what is she thinking right now? I know we're set up for the movies Friday, but did that glance spark a minute beginning of something larger in her head? Is there all of a sudden a picture of me in her head, maybe way at the back? So far back that she hasn't even computed it yet? Will it, I, start to make my way to the front of her head, the part of the brain that recognizes this particular thought needs to be immediately re-directed to the heart?

Pops rolls back in, laughs at nothing in particular, new beer in hand, and kicks me in the feet.

"What are you thinking about, Rodan?"

I think for a second that I might tell him, but I just say "nada mucho" and sit next to him on the couch. He puts his arm around me and grabs the remote, turns on the telly.

"What time is the game on?", he wonders aloud.

"7pm. Duh."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A State

At the peak of a view, pinnacle seat, what will you see? Will it be the ANSWER, will it be final peace? Maybe. But then again, maybe it will be a black painted window, a view clouded over like perplexion. Maybe a gift will be shown, maybe a clearing of gifts, wrapped from your birth, waiting to be unveiled. Maybe country music will whistle in a quiet slumber, basted with a glaze of glory, snoozing on hammocks of slumber.

She IS the queen, as if royalty bowed to her. She is a state, like Arizona or Oklahoma - she has a democracy and a verdict. She is ultimate and omniscient. She'll not let you suffer, she'll not be abstract. She'll give all answers in Van Morrison-esque song, 70's and filled with simplicity. I'll give up 100 Red Wings games if it means one day with her. I'll give up insecurity, jealousy and obsession, if I can have one kiss, one moment of her eyes finding me. Will she understand my intention?

I'd split my life for her, half learning and half worship - let me learn her ways, then bow. A program easy to surrender to. Where is she?