Windows…

He sits there, drink in one hand, small unseen food product in the other.

I know it’s food, because he holds it gingerly, like it means something more than the size of it would normally let on. He sits in his chair, chewing. Possibly peanuts. Not to be confused with a food-chewing analytical expert, but to me his mouth definitely did seem to swish in the sort of fashion that you’d think it would, had he been chewing on nuts.

Anyway. He sits, eyes casually glued to what turns out to be a television screen. And he does so while she leaves, seemingly unnoticed, from the room. Walking briskly away in her white blouse and black slacks. A look very similar to what you’d expect Bebe Neuwirth to wear on the set of “Frasier,” though this specimen is NO Bebe Neuwirth. No bother, neither am I. Neither are any of us, really.

Mmmm, Bebe.

But alas, I digress.

So he sits and chews, as she sashay’s from the room. And though the poetician in me wants to say that the two were in perfect sync and beat with each other, for whatever reason they were not. And that, my friends, is all the story that there is to tell. Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they in love with each other? In love with someone(s) else? I’ve no idea. I only spy them through their front bay window and make a mental note as I pass along.

Another bay looms into view as I stroll along. It’s a very Polish town, Buffalo, and many of the post-war “cookie cutters” reside here, all storeys single, all front windows bay. Maybe for ambiance, maybe for budget. Maybe just for passersby to have a tale to tell. But this second window provides none. The lights are all lit, but oddly. That weird sort of odd, where the owner was trying to leave just enough on to connect one room to the other, in an effort to traverse them when sauced. But not so many on as to blow their National Grid bill while they were out, getting sufficiently loaded for the experience.

The third looks similar, but buried deep within the kitchen – oh yes, in these houses, every room is viewable from the bay – is a woman hurriedly speaking on the phone. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times, but I do notice that something is wrong with the phone. Wrong, but right. And then I see it – she’s wrapping her finger round the phone’s cord.

A cord!

Have I stumbled upon the Smithsonian? No, just a person who knows better than to believe every advertiser who says that your way is dead and the next way is king. She’s wringing the cord like she’s nervous as she speaks anxious-eyed into the phone. Is she? I’ll never know, as I’ve already passed her by.

The final window I look into shows no communication, no companionship whatsoever. I suppose you could say, the sort of window I fear of one day owning myself. In it, is just one elderly woman, sitting alone in a televisonless, phoneless, and decidedly Bebe Neuwirthless room. Spilling over her comfy chair almost as if she and it are slowly morphing into one. I would normally compare her to a sloth, but honestly, I can’t think of a single sloth that has ever looked so forlorn. So alone. She sits, looking into her lap at something. Looking into her lap at nothing. If not rejoicing over avoiding It so long, hoping that Death would hurry up and come already. And in either case, dreading what she’ll offer It to drink when It finally arrives. The bleak scene deadens me as well.

So I continue on.

I continue on, but decide that my window-gazing is done for the night. Their stories will be forever unknown to me anyway, and I’m a mere shadow to them. A whitened-shave legged aging ghost walking in an effort to stay attractive to no one in particular at the moment. A wanderer who knows the path all to well from taking it almost every single night, though finding something new on each and every pass. A nobody who is only noticed – if at all – by the cloud-covered moon hovering brightly above. A moon that most likely sees – should he be paying attention – only a spindly armed pot-bellied dreamer peeking into worlds that he really shouldn’t be visiting in the first.

I continue on and am able to avoid what – had I still been window-gazing, would have surely stepped upon – a colony of ants. I spy them as they all toil furiously, together and in earnest. In one big and shameless heap of achievement. And I wonder, are they like that because they are not as smart as us, or are they like that because a long time ago, they in their wisdom decided to refuse to build windows?

Windows that would have kept the outside world outside, windows that would have kept them trapped?

Windows that would have allowed each to look into – ever-so slightly – each other’s souls?

•••

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Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie

Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig joined me for my Sunday walk this past weekend.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

This resulted from my choosing for my “solitary Sunday walk” soundtrack, a mixed tape I’d previously made for my long distance friends entitled “Old Punk.” A mix that, it might surprise you to learn, is comprised solely of old punk tunes as sung by old punk bands. As such, the likes of Johnny Lydon, Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop and David Johansen were with me as well (shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!), all of them singing to me of some sort of rebellion or angst, and all while I traveled on my sunny suburbia way.

You see, at some point in time, the house that I bought, the house that I live in, had somehow snuck itself into the outskirts of suburbia. Not by much, but just enough. Enough to be within walking distance of the part “where the rich people live.” A land that is wholly unlike my little part of suburbia. A place where the houses that can be seen are larger than life, obnoxious, snooty and plunked onto parcels of land vast enough as to force for a new definition of the word “parcel”. The houses that can’t be seen are buried behind layers of mighty bushes, equally as snooty, though slightly less obnoxious. I walked past them briskly, keeping my heart rate up, as the denizens of early punk sang to me of how poisonous my chosen surroundings were.

Now the rich may happen to own the land I strode upon, but seeing as I was the only one outdoors, it was I who owned the sky. I who owned the day. The air was fresh, and Spring had finally arrived. After an almost non-existent winter, that was then followed by an intrusive and unexpected bit of summer in between. Why no one else (well, most no one else) was enjoying the fresh air was no longer a puzzlement to me, as this has been a noted and slowly increasing phenomenon for years now. This migration from the outdoors to the in. From the warm glow of the sun, the the cold harsh light of the screen. From the sweat of exercise to the bloat of inactivity. Of course, and in line with my normal digressionary standards, this little bitch session about the sloth-like nuance of modern suburbia has absolutely nothing at all to do with the larger bitch session at hand, so we’ll just sit it here for now, possibly picking it up again in a future post.

As to the larger bitch session at hand, what I was hoping to address was this. While I walked through all the finery and trappings of wealth, I was reminded steadily by bands such as Sham 69, The Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks what a – well – what a sham the whole thing was. Is. OK, the Buzzcocks were actually singing about being orgasm addicts, but I thought it would be better if I didn’t share that little bit with you. A good song, but hardly one that could be seen as politically motivated. At any rate, while there was a time in my life when I would have been standing on the hoods of the fat cat SUV’s owned by these locals; shaking my weak fist mightily in the air in consolidation with these bands – and their rants – I found myself this time instead just walking happily along. Using the racing beat of each song to keep my speed up and my heart rate going. As I did, I realized that I had lost my bite. Or my fight. Or possibly a little bit of both. The rage that originally drew me to listen to, and enjoy, bands such as The Exploited and Charged G.B.H. had dissipated. The urge to change the world that I previously felt strongly enough as to align myself with bands like The Clash and The Jam had mellowed. Instead of seething in hatred at these houses of wealth – these false temples created in false praise to the (false) individual – I simply just walked on at a good clip, and enjoyed the brisk, free air instead. The air that belonged to almost only me.

So as Billy Bragg sang to me of which side I was on (shut up! Billy Bragg was so too punk!), I found myself answering him with a “neither.” As Fear screamed at me that we should start a war, I simply told them that I would much rather not. And when Burning Sensation once again informed me that “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole,” I smiled the old smile that I’ve always smiled when I heard that song. But this time, it was much more out of a feeling of fond adieu than it was because I actually thought it was funny.

OK, it’s still kind of funny.

So have I given up? Have I given in? I don’t think it’s either, really. I’m hoping at least that it’s much more a case of I’ve grown up. The Anti-Nowhere League may hate people, but I can’t say that I do. Even IF there were far more dogs who looked me in the eye and introduced themselves, on my solitary Sunday journey, than there were dog owners who did the same. And The Circle Jerks may very well fear the day that the shit hits the fan. But not me. Not anymore at least. If it does, it will. Raging against it’s inevitability will do nothing more to stop it than ignoring it will. And Henry. Dear sweet Henry and the rest of the boys from Black Flag may jump up and down, demanding that we give them give them give them some more. But as for me, I’ve enough. Enough for now. I’ve me and mine, and we’re doing OK.

Now as the title implies, when I first started this post, I had thought that it would be Black Flag’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” that was going to end it. A proper ditty, especially when trying to show off your punk rock pedigree. But in the final analysis – and ironically enough – it is actually The Damned who will be having the last say today. You see, whether they were being tongue in cheek or not – and I’m quite sure that they were – by the time I had finished my walk, all that I really had to say about the experience was that the locals could keep their parcels, as long as I had the sky. It made me glad to say it really had been a lovely day, and it’s OK.