01
Apr
09

This Is My America

I wrote this shortly after I moved to Los Angeles.
I was living in a closet in North Hollywood in the apartment of an old friend of mine named Dug.  I knew Dug from my time as a club kid in Boston.  We both worked at Venus DeMilo on Landsdowne Street.  He was a DJ, one of the best that I have ever known.  I ran the lights. We were both Cage Dancers.
He also lived on my floor for a while and we had some crazy adventures.  Most of which I am not currently drunk and/or foolish enough to relate.
We had stayed in touch over the years and when he movcd to L.A. to pursue a standup comedy career, he decided to repay my friendship by moving me out there and giving me a place to stay.  Literally, in a closet under the stairs.  Like Harry Potter.
I had no job, knew no one in L.A. besides Dug and his girlfriend, and had very little money.
So very often the highlight of my day was to scrape enough change together to buy a cup of bottomless coffee and maybe a piece of apple pie at the 24-hour greasy spoon down the street, where I would sit for as long as I could get away with and write or read a cheap, used book.  This piece was written on one of those long, lonely nights.

This is my America!
24 hour NoHo diner.
too impatient to sugar my coffee.
I want to write
and feel
And feel
and write.
A thousand miles from anywhere.
Everybody’s here.
This is what I know.
Chicken Fried Steak
and Mashed Potatoes.
A bottomless cup
out of a steel pot.
This is what I know.
This is who I am.
Today.
Yesterday.
I think of late Chicago nights.
Too high to order.
Trying not to laugh.
Too hard.
Borrowing money from M—.
G—— borrows too.
“I’ll pay you back on Saturday…”
elaborate,
unnecessary,
explanations of debt.
Midnight Whately Diner,
in that other valley.
“Showers are three dollars.”
Or was it five?
Stainless steel,
jet-fuel coffee.
Weirdo kids
and hunkered truckers.
The swirling cream
catches my attention.
Always does.
I take a second to stir too long.
Remember that line,
stirring up memories.
I remember M—.
She liked it too.
P—— telling me,
in another greasy spoon.
Lunchtime breakup.
Biked home crying.
I just couldn’t do
a Gothic picket fence.
Settled down with a kid named Vlad,
and a dog named Cujo.
Fucking terrier, small dog.
So I got married.
Just to contradict myself.
This is my America.
In Cambridge, after Man-Ray.
It was slices of greasy pizza
then the long drunk walk home.
Up Mass. Ave.
To Porter Square.
Another time,
in the same place.
The Tasty,
Closet Cafeteria.
With N—-,
On Acid.
After dancing.
Met Magic Eye inventor,
bummy old man millionaire.
Absolutely true.
Middle of the night N—-
screaming.
“Get the fuck off of me!!!”
When I wasn’t.
Startled awake.
Scared as hell.
Sleeping in the crevice,
between the wall and
the bed.
Another time.
J—-, drunk too much.
“Who are you?” really not knowing.
Her husband.
She should know.
I’m disturbed that she doesn’t.
Garrett’s in the other room.
With a woman and a sunset.
She keeps trying to look.
I pull the door closed.
This is my America.
Never able to say no
to another cup of coffee.
IHOP in Hyannis.
Matt’s a bastard, again.
We fight about a woman.
She wasn’t even worth it really.
So many midnight diners.
And all night greasy spoons.
Chicago New Years Eve.
Another Golden Something Diner.
Happier times.
Bittersweet.
M— and G—— and J—-
and J— and Me.
And M— and J—-.
And Me.
At the start of a new century.
And the end of a Mistaken Marriage.
I remember so many nights.
And so much coffee.
This is my America.

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2 Responses to “This Is My America”


  1. April 1, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Excellent piece – it brought back a lot of memories for me (oh wait – those were YOUR memories – OK, sorry). Anyway – I lived in North Hollywood for 7 whole years (don’t ask me how I managed). Riverside & Laurel Canyon. Went to the Queen Mary (club not boat) way back in the day before revisiting during my transition but never en femme (though I dressed every night back then) until leading up to the coming out period many moons later. It closed a couple of years thereafter and its loss is much lamented (for a wonderfully trashy dive) – the back bar was such a trip… Oh well, now that I’m old and decrepit I can simply live in my memories of the QM and NH! Thanks for that! Keep up the great blogging! xo J

    • 2 erisis
      April 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks for the compliment! I never quite made it to the Queen Mary, which saddened me as I heard it was a great place. I seem to keep flipping between Nohos. Noho (Northampton) in the Pioneer Valley here and NoHo (North Hollywood) in the San Fernando Valley there. Great memory of your own! Thanks for sharing that!!


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