So Let It Be Rugged

Mbrother, in the last years of his life, pretty much lived for cats.

He expressed this explicitly.

When, feeling low, he presented himself verbally to me, as a bites camerabeing who “should have been a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”

But instead he was Here. And, so far as he could figure, but for cats.

When he died, there were 19 of the beasts, that he’d brought in, to his karass and his care, and who were dependent upon him.

When I gazed upon the face of his refrigerator, cleaning up after the mess of his death, I saw this, in note handscrawled: “Am I here just for cats?”

Well. Sure, you were, Steve. And a bodhisattva, in all those years, for that.

I’m not, I don’t think, circling quite the drain, these days, as my brother, in those years, did do.

But I nonetheless need to write about him.

Because my brother, he’s dead.

The above was among my brother’s favorite songs.

But he was on my ass, for nearly a decade, before he passed, demanding I secure him a complete version. Of this non-ordinary version. Of an ordinary “hit.”

See, Peter Gabriel, he raked in plenty of coin, what with the original “hit” version, of “In Your Eyes.” Which, among other things, anchored the finest Mushy Love Film of the 1980s, Say Anything.

But, as a true artist, Gabriel, even with the gold flowing in, knew he hadn’t quite got it right. With the “hit” version.” And so he re-recorded. With a serious mysto-African bent and beat.

And that is the version that I heard. In a basement. On Day Street. In San Francisco.

Where I had been directed, following my arrest for transporting unregistered pharmaceuticals.

Connected, in that transportation, as I was, to Serious People: their reward, for my post-arrest silence, was to gift me, bites on rugvia their connections, PI work. In San Francisco. Where I was, in the subtle course of things, assigned a bed, in a basement, on Day Street.

So there I lay. Upon my back. In a basement. On Day Street. Listening to the Real version of “In Your Eyes.”

Offered by Bobby Dale. Probably the best American dj to come out of the whole 60s/70s free-form radio movement. But who died, in 2001, a pauper. And dying then, only because he could not afford medical care. Because Bobby Dale’s only life-skill was playing Right music, Right on time. And for that sort of thing, in this world . . . well, there is no money in that.

And so. Off to the boneyard do ye go.

Bobby Dale. He was Bald, and he was Wrong. But he knew music.

Anyway. I’d lay down there, in the basement, on Day Street, listening at nights to Bobby Dale.

And because the whole flow of his shows was Right and Meet, I’d record the things, on cassette tapes. Back in the Dark Ages. When what we barely-from-the-monolith humans had only at hand, were cassette tapes.

And this is how it came to be that I recorded a non-complete version of Peter Gabriel’s non-ordinary version of “In Your Eyes.”

Because I was required, due to the fact that cassette tapes come to a stop, to flip the tape, right as Dale lit into the non-ordinary “In Your Eyes.” So that about seven early seconds of the thing, were, on my recording captured, missing.

Which—these missing seven seconds, during the years of playback following—sent my brother, every time, into a complete frenzy.

Me, too.

Though not as much.

Which is, probably, why I am still alive. And he is not.

Let me explain. It’s not like either my brother or I could go down to a store and purchase this special non-ordinary mysto-African bent-beat version of “In Your Eyes.”

Because it was released only on an extremely limited “B” side of an “EP.”

Basically, there were only about 10 pressings of this song. Nine went to Bobby Dale. The tenth got lost in the mail.

In the course of time and tide, some other Gabriel/Dale-head, out there somewhere in the weird wide world, posted the whole non-ordinary version of “In Your Eyes” to YouTube.

And so the missing-seven-seconds problem, of which I was for so what it ismany years adjudged Guilty, was obviated.

But, by that time, my brother was dead.

But, you know: so what?

Because Pluto is here.

This is a cat my brother cohabited with for something like 10 years. Then, when my brother died, the cat came to me.

So long as Pluto is alive, so is my brother.

Pluto had, when he came to me, a completely inappropriate name. Of which we shall not speak. Pluto he is, and Pluto he always has been, and always shall be.

He is currently about 945 years old, is Pluto. Due to his advanced age, he is on about 456 medications. Sometimes I must rush out into the night and onto the lawn of the Manor, to there ravenously gnaw on the fresh wood of trees. Because there is no money for human food. After I have paid for these medications.

But so what. Pluto is the sweetest man who has ever lived on earth.

It is more important that he live, then that I eat a hot dog.

“Am I here just for cats?” my brother scrawled upon his refrigerator.

Surely. And so be me.

And so I ordered cheap from the intertubes a ten-foot long rug, for the two cats in the karass who are, in contrast to Pluto, young and frisky and fully ambulatory, and who with their eyes can see.

These cats are Bites and the Young’un Cat. And they love rugs. And they believe that any rug that comes into the nik new rughouse, comes into the house just for them.

And pretty much they’re right.

In the early days of the Manor, I was so charmed by these wood floors, I did not want ever to cover them.

Ala advised me, from the very earliest days, that eventually I would want to rug.

Because I am slow, it took me a long while, to grow, to accept her wisdom.

But I am there now.

Between Ala, and the cats, I know now that someday the Manor shall more or less be completely rugged. And the Manor, and I, shall both be very happy in it.

So let it be written. So let it be rugged.

Peter Gabriel, as I said, is an artist. He doesn’t give a damn for any of the rest of it. Nor should he.

I never have. Neither did my brother.

Into the great wide open. Direction home.

I would have liked to have known what my brother might think about the latest earnest attempt of Gabriel to get to what “In Your Eyes” might “mean.”

But I know.

Don’t I, Steve?

He would be in Jem’s room all night. And he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

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23 Responses to “So Let It Be Rugged”


  1. 1 Miep O'Brien March 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Last summer I fostered seven kittens for our shelter. They were relinquished with pretty bad upper respiratory infections, so of course they couldn’t stay there. One wonders what people are thinking sometimes. One does.

    I wound up keeping them for several months, until they could all get spayed and neutered and shots and microchipped, and then gradually got five of them adopted as there was space available. Kept two.

    So now there as many as seven cats around whose lives were saved by my intervention. Five of them out there somewhere, I’ll likely never know anything of their fates. But I have a strong sense of connection to them still.

    There are worse things than to be here for the cats.

    Lovely tribute. Lovely cats. Agree about the white people, generally speaking.

    • 2 bluenred March 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Hey. Last night, I gather, you were listening to Lou Reed.

      Below is my favorite Lou Reed, that is available anyway, on the tubes.

      There is even an entire category of stories on this site, monikered after this song: “What’s Good.”

      • 3 Miep O'Brien March 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        Thank you, I hadn’t heard that one. Reminds me kinda of Woody Guthrie’s “Why Oh Why?”

        I do like me some Lou.

        btw thanks for your advice about Thanatos and Eros. The connection may seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious is the hardest to see. I’ve been struggling with something that isn’t just about any one person or experience, by far, and how to get past it, how to reclaim what feels taken from me.

        One of the saddest thing about this culture is how it deals with Eros, how it defiles and mocks it, when it’s not absurdly romanticizing it. It all comes down to fear. Eros is pretty serious stuff.

        I was reminded somewhere today about the notion that if you save someone’s life, you have a permanent obligation to them. I remember being fascinated by that the first time I read it. So much more interesting than the other way around, which just seems whiny.

        • 4 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

          I watched a movie last night in which I was confronted with an aircraft carrier. And I realized that only humans completely controlled by Thanatos would ever build such a thing: the need to kill other humans so ravenous that you float a football field out on the water so your death-planes can hop on and off it. Nuts.

          • 5 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

            They promised us the Age of Aquarius, and instead we got the Age of the Sociopath.

            • 6 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

              I abjure terms like sociopath and psychopath. Too many rent-a-quacks and DAs avidly apply those terms to our clients.

              The Age of Aquarius arrived, and right on time. Ronald Reagan was an Aquarius.

              • 7 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm

                There exist people without consciences. There are plenty of ways to use people without breaking laws. And there are plenty of people who break laws for reasons that have nothing to do with being conscienceless.

                Our legal system is, among other things, deeply racist, so I can understand your ire.

                • 8 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm

                  I am not comfortable with any human being decreeing that any other human being is without a conscience. That is the sort of thing that can, and does, get completely out of hand, and thereby fills jails and asylums and concentration camps.

                  • 9 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm

                    I was originally referring to the culture as being sociopathic, meaning it grinds on with total disregard for the rights of any life form other than those running it.

                    Concentration camps are about racism. Prisons don’t work and are effectively about racism and bias against the financially disenfranchised. Asylums don’t work and are about our inability to incorporate atypical people into our society. They have also historically been about sexism, as women who fail to be adequately submissive, and stand up for themselves, are called “crazy”. This still happens, I’ve gotten my share of this sort of well-poisoning, though it’s not as easy to imprison us as it used to be.

                    That said, I’ve personally known a few people who set off warning bells so badly that I don’t know what else to call them. I used to be more trusting and thus more vulnerable to this sort of thing. I don’t try to get them arrested or otherwise incarcerated. I just stay the hell away from them. People who are all about manipulation and control and deception. People who see other people as targets.

                    • 10 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm

                      “isms,” in my view, is too limiting. Concentration camps, jails, asylums, etc., are all about Otherizing. Not like me: so I can do what I want with them. Same as declaring someone has no conscience. Or is “evil,” or a “fascist,” or a “neocon,” or other words, like “sociopath” or “psychopath,” that have no real meaning, but basically mean “I don’t like them.”

                    • 11 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

                      Dangerous people can be quite likeable. This is more about trust than about liking.

                      You called Dick Cheney a swamp creature the other day. Do you think he feels remorse about all the blood on his hands? I rather think he’s happily counting his sheckels, myself.

                    • 12 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm

                      “Dangerous” is very often yet another subjective judgement.

                      Cheney is legitimately convinced that what he did was necessary and right.

                      Speaking of “isms” and Otherizing, we will not have “happily counting his sheckels” on this blog.

                    • 13 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

                      Okay, sorry. Happily counting his dollars, then.

                      My problem with your argument is that you seem to be conflating “othering” and self-defense. If members of an oppressed group try to protect themselves from members of an abusing group, that is not “othering.”

                      Calling members of an abused group sociopaths is “othering.” Referring to someone who is clearly trying to use one in a way that is damaging to one’s self as a sociopath may be a misdiagnosis, but it’s not “othering.”

                      Part of being a sociopath is the inability to see the harm one does others as being wrong. Sociopaths don’t think there is anything wrong with them. So Cheney doesn’t get off the hook there.

                      While it’s true that a lot of the hatred in the world is driven by paranoid fear, that doesn’t mean nobody’s dangerous. People who are driven by rage and hatred can be quite dangerous.

                    • 14 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm

                      I’m not interesting in identifying people as “sociopaths.” I don’t care who they are. As I said, the word has no real meaning. It’s just one of many convenient labels to attach to someone you don’t like. You call Cheney a sociopath. Limbaugh calls Obama a sociopath. The DAs call our clients sociopaths. The clients call the DAs sociopaths. It’s all fools’ gold.

                    • 15 Miep O'Brien March 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

                      I can understand how trying to prove remorse (or lack thereof) could be difficult in a courtroom setting, as a remorseful person might be poor at expressing his feelings, while one who could not care less and would happily do it again, might be a superlative actor. In this context, throwing around the term “sociopath” would be loaded indeed.

                      I was raised by a public defender and around public defenders. Jewish ones, even. No one ever referred to “counting your shekels” as being anti-Semitic. I thought it was just something Jewish people said. Dense of me not to see the intended slur. Thank you for pointing that out.

  2. 17 Miep O'Brien March 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    The problem with runners is that it’s easy to slip on them, and we are getting oldish and break more easily and heal more slowly.

    If I had your floors I wouldn’t want carpeting either..in fact I still don’t want carpeting, because it starts out leaching formaldehyde and winds up looking ratty, with little or nothing in between.

    I’m thinking crocheted rag rugs. They can be made big enough to get around the slip factor, and it’s also possible to make them with no tools other than a pair of scissors and a used toothbrush, although a crochet hook works better. And when they get funky you can just put them outdoors in the rain, should you have rain.

    I started one awhile back. I should get back to work on that. I should also be able to make the “W” at the bottom of this post go away. The rag rug, however, is within my powers.

    W

    • 18 Miep O'Brien March 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      More on the finer points of crocheting rag rugs:

      To obtain material: here’s a good one. If you have a local thrift shop run by a popular charity, it is a given that they have to deal with donations of unsalable clothing. They may even have a volunteer whose job it is to dispose of all this, not necessarily legally. Ask them whether they need help with this.

      Look for woven, not knit, material. If you live someplace cold, you may be able to find enough used wool clothing, or moth-damaged material, to make into a fine wool rug. Otherwise, denim is strong and holds up well. Cut the strips about three quarters of an inch wide, for denim. Lighter material must be cut proportionately wider.

      Design your rug. Plan how much color you have available for each round, try to create some nice contrasts.

    • 19 bluenred March 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Slipping is the whole point, for these cats. They love to slip and slide the rugs all over the house. This will remain the state of affairs until such time as some civilized person enters the Manor. At which time there shall be rug-pads.

  3. 20 Moonbeam McQueen March 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful post. It resonates with me on many levels. Thank you for introducing me me to the word “karass.” I’d never heard it before and had to look up its definition. What a perfect word.

  4. 22 Elva March 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    How did I ever miss this wonderful piece of yours. It brought tears to my eyes. I do remember your brother and miss him with all my heart. I will reread this each and every day. I too took four of his cats and his sister took one. I do not have any of his left as they all were old and died. With them died a piece of me. His sister’s cat is still happy and doing great.


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