Sunday, November 8, 2009

Travels To The South of Texas...

"It's part of the creative journey. Sometimes, you have to disappear..." - Patrick Alcatraz, Colorado, 2004

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Long & Winding Leg...

"Sometimes I wish that I had never met you, so I could go to sleep at night not knowing there was someone like you out there..." - Anon

By Patrick Alcatraz

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - We were in town to work on a story about Americans retiring to this lovely, mountain town north of Mexico City. Mike Boddy,a photographer for The Houston Post, and I were trolling for interviews, at the market, at the Instituto de San Miguel, where the foreigners studied languages, music, and art, at the downtown plaza, at the post office, at the cafes, at the hotel. They were everywhere, at the time said to be some 7,000 retirees and students from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and elsewhere. Boddy went off on his own after the second day. I hung out with the man serving as consul for the American Embassy in Mexico City, the guy Americans ran to when they got in trouble with Mexican law. It was through him that I met a bubbly woman from California named Helen. She became my guide.

And so we traipsed across the old, Colonial town, and it wasn't long before a new friendship turned into a new affair. Helen had something for an underground piano bar, where she would go and sing along with the nattily-attired piano man. The name of the place was The Princess and it quickly became my evening hangout. On the other side of the plaza was a noisier disco - The Bull Ring. I enjoyed that one, but Helen would sooner or later steer me back to The Princess, which, truth be told, served better, bolder drinks.

She lived in a second-floor walkup some four blocks from the downtown shops, in a cluster of apartments leased by Americans. She had a small fish bowl on a kitchen table and two-three parrots in cages set along corners of her small living room. The bedroom was out of the 1960s. A beaded curtain took you in from the hallway. She had asked that the door be removed, is what she told me. I'd have guessed, going in, that she'd have a frickin' water bed in there, but it was just an ordinary post bed with a headboard she had adorned with paper flowers and more beads. It did look - and was - rather comfortable. I recall falling on the bed and bouncing nicely before she lapped-up to pull my boots off before going for my jeans. She was a bit older, something like 52, was my guess at the time. In short time, she made me quite aware that her age had not at all sapped her energy. She was tallish, leggy and used her physique as leverage when we eventually completed the coupling.

My stay that first time lasted two weeks. It would be yet another time when a female source for my stories ended up as a photograph in the newspaper. When I told her I was leaving, she took me out and sprung for a great dinner at an outdoor cafe known for its tree lightings and cackling flock of evening birds. I walked to the bar and picked out a bottle of good wine. We drank while talking our asses off, as if knowing this would be the last conversation between us forever. It was. On occasion, she would mail me a postcard with neat-sounding words and I would stick them in my desk at the newspaper. But I remember I cleaned out my things and threw most of that stuff into a trash can when I left The Post and headed East.

Helen likely stayed in San Miguel. Who knows?

I know this: Endings such as this one are common in meaningless flings...Que lastima, indeed...

- 30 -

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Lover...

"What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?" - Jacques Lacan

By Patrick Alcatraz

JAMAICA BEACH, Texas - This is the place to make love well-above ground. Most of the buildings are on stilts, there to perhaps fend off the whippings of a hurricane coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. You can see them up and down this beach-front town. Some are neat, weathered architecture facing the sea, and some are fading victims of the salty winds, decay, and abandonment. There was a time in the mid-1980s when I often hit a cowboy bar here, when my life was writing stuff for The Houston Post out of the Galveston bureau a few miles to the north. My drinking was a shared experience with a young chick named Carole, one of those nubile nymphs of the sort you meet in places near water, like Carmel, Fort Lauderdale, Provincetown, Mass., etc., etc. Carole was 24 at the time.

The time came and went. It's been a few decades now, and memory fades. But we danced inside that shitty bar, danced to songs by Jerry Jeff Walker, Rick Springfield, Dennis DeYoung, Wham, and the band Foreigner. As times go, it was just another winter chapter in a guy's life, full of boozing, laughing, and partying till the cows came home, as they say in Lubbock. We'd go out and then we'd chase something else back at my apartment, or, when the opportunity came, at a stilt home her parents owned on the southern end of this village, over on the road toward San Luis Pass.

She'd just come off a relationship, one I didn't ask about, mainly because I just didn't care. She was a tallish, outgoing cutey and I enjoyed waltzing across Galveston with her. Winter does that to you along the Texas Coast. I left for the East Coast a year later and lost track of Carole. Once, when visiting, she came to see me in Houston when I was staying at my friend Steve's apartment. We made love one more time and I recall it did feel as if something new. Life is funny that way. You can see a woman for a few years, go away, and come back to find that, yeah, there was something unique about her. At afternoon's end, she left and I never saw her again.

Endings can be quirky. Some you control and can write about, some you cannot. The end comes, and no matter how great of a tale you can spin off it, the story ends - just like The Bible...

- 30 -

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Notes From A Rolling Manifesto...

"Heaven is dumb, echoing only the dumb..." - Franz Kafka

By Patrick Alcatraz

ARARAT - Because, well, because I am something of a nice guy, some people who meet me often simply have to ask about my religious beliefs. It always comes in this tried-and-true form: "Do you believe in God?" I can be buying someone a cup of coffee, or helping with a term paper, or merely voicing a political opinion, and, yet, there it rears its ugly head, as if religion is any sort of gauge of lifestyle, faith, or civility. It isn't. Religion in the context of our current times is just another fuckin' "divider," the so-called acid test of the New Century. It's no test on me; I rarely get past my initial response: "I don't believe in buildings or images..."

The other day I was telling someone that some of the greatest astronomers have said they have looked far into Outer Space and, Great Scott!, they have seen no sign of Heaven. Nothing. Not a huge, fluffy cloud with a celestial kingdom riding on it, not one angel on the wing, not a sprinkling of moon dust moving between here and there, not even what might be interpreted as a Giant doorknob presumably there to welcome believers from Earth. The Bible, say others, was written by Man, by someone who likely was the Stephen King of his time - a writer with one Hell of a wild imagination, a guy out to scare the Beejeezus out of everyone from here to eternity. Much of what's in the Bible deals with "faith," not fact. Facts and the Bible never meet. Who knows? Maybe Cain and Abel were really another epoch's Everly Brothers. And perhaps Mary Magdalene simply existed as a good-looking chick in a time of female ugliness, hence the immaculate conception.

I don't know. And that's my answer, I just don't know what to say to "believers" who would fall on a sword to prove their loyalty, their faith. When the times have called for prayer, I have prayed. I have prayed for help, only I know my words sailed out into the wind and nowhere else. But that's okay; it did relieve me of something, and maybe that's all religion can ever do - give you the false hope of expectation and of wishing it could all be true.

I understand that time is only something measured here on Earth, that the time of Space laughs at seconds and minutes and hours and days. Space goes forever and it has no time for the 24-hour day. When "believers" tell you that God created Earth in a week, well, that's funny. The only way you'd believe that would be if you agreed that this miserable, flawed planet is the way it is because God didn't take his time. Dammit! Just how close were we to being a perfect world society, free of pain and hunger and bigotry? How close! Goddammit!

I hate it when the Bible cannot answer my questions, yet I do love the crafty romance within the dogma. Of course, I know that much of my life and how I live it comes from learned experience, from seeing and reading and doing. There are, as far as I know, no instructions on how to make love in the Bible. Perhaps there should be...diagrammed at the very least.

- 30 -

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Save A Life...

"If you cannot work on the marriage or the woman is a moron, staying married and cheating makes the most sense because divorce is disruptive to the family life and your bank account..." - Al Goldstein

By Patrick Alcatraz

WEST FORT WORTH, Texas - When I was married, my friends would ask why I saw the need to cheat on my wife, especially since she was an attractive chick. The love I felt for her was real. Much of what happened fell in the category of sex-of-opportunity; that is, my travels often threw me up against women at a bar, a conference, or at an airport. One wink led to a drink and that drink led to something else. Eh, it didn't mean much, just another broad on the road. So, when my wife asked for the divorce, I did not fight it. She deserved to do whatever else she wanted to do with her life, was my feeling. I believe she's happy with the decision. Me? I endure my failings in my own crazy way.

Recently, a good friend let-on that he was having problems with his wife's disinterest in sex. It's not a new story for Today's Man. Many of them are living lives of sexual desperation, working their asses off to pay the bills and going home to be ignored. My marriage never saw any of that. I never prepared my own dinner and I never was told to go masturbate myself. My then-wife and I enjoyed sex, especially during a thunderstorm. Those sessions lasted for hours, forever a series of creative couplings and endless stroking. It is a huge part of being alive. My friend works like a dog, eats at fast-food joints, tends to the kids, makes his own sandwiches, and hits the sack knowing he won't be having his cock sucked or seeing the low back of his wife moving toward him and away from him during those oh-so gorgeous thrustings. I wasn't being asked for advice, but I did ask him what he was saying to his old lady. He said: "I want my wife back," that's what I tell her.

It isn't working, so I suggested he let-go of the intellectual approach and spell it out to her in clear words, something like, "I've had a long day at work, and what I really want for dinner, honeybuns, is to give you a good fucking." He says that sort of lingo will never work with his good wife.

I disagree: There are times in every woman's heart when she wants to be treated like a prostitute, when she wants to hear the lingo of the gutter, when she wants to be balled in new places, when she wants to be taken into the darkest part of the scary forest, when she wants her man to know, to show her, that he knows she is a woman. My friend said he was horny enough to try it.

I suspect he will get the fucking of his life...

- 30 -

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Man Who Loved Women...

"I don't think when I make love..." - Brigitte Bardot

By Patrick Alcatraz

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - What they say about romance is that it is, even at its worst, the best reason for living. Everything else is peripheral collateral, the job hunt, the social climb, the buying, the debt, the pain, the angst, and the stress. A friend of mine found himself caught in that soul-sucking web, and what he said there near the end was that he was leaving, that he'd heard about a place in the Pacific where everyone was on downers. There is something to be said for solitude, although I've never found it to be the answer for anything.

Women are the answer - for everything.

I am frickin' convinced of that. A woman is a certain refuge from the storm, in church, out on the town, in the bedroom. You travel with a fine woman and you should count yourself among the lucky. And, yet, even when I've been with a bad woman (it's all relative, I know), well, I've still felt the special attraction, the closeness to God, the power of salvation, the warmth of the ultimate shelter. Can there be anything to replace woman? No. Never has been, never will be, and you can look it up. History is strewn all across the ragged geography with tales of women and the role they played in the advance of civilization. We are a soiled planet from top to bottom, only imagine what it would be without women. I like to say I chase the weekend, buit it's really women I am talking about. I may get burned by shitty service at the post office, but if I run into a good-looking chick on my way out, well, that erases all the bad.

Once, I left a nightclub here with a woman I'd known when she'd been married. We headed for her place and strolled into the bedroom, where the undressing brought me a scene out of some horror flick: she had this weird, purple bruise halfway up one thigh. It sort of looped me, but this woman, as all of them down the line, from hopeful Eve, to partying Cleopatra, to betrayed Elizabeth Edwards, had the ready answer. She turned off the lights...

Passing moments never have been as emotional as the ones that followed, moving from anticipation, to pleasure, to the soundtrack of a woman sobbing softly, perhaps in answer to the pain, the divorce, the long-awaited arrival of what was at hand...

- 30 -

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Conquer The Caribbean....

"...jealousy makes the prick grow harder. And the cunt wetter. " - Erica Jong

By Patrick Alcatraz

PALM BEACH, Fla. - Saturday nights were the best for me inside The Lizard Lounge here. Every chick looked like Lauren Bacall, wrinkled mavens from another era. I felt like a Cuban star from the 1950s. The ornate joint rested somewhere in the innards of the Chesterfield Hotel, magnet to the super-rich, the prostitutes, and my colleagues from The Palm Beach Post. I went there often, at times after swatting golf balls at a golf range across the causeway in West Palm Beach. When in paradise, you have to do things that are sort of parasidic (is that a word?). I danced and drank and fooled around with the older women. This was in the mid-1990s, so I was a bit younger and still invested in the game.

I'd been seeing this young reporter who covered the police beat and her idea of a good time was to buy a few bottles of Johnny Walker and go home. I can still see her throwing her shoes off to climb atop her bed to switch off the bedroom lightbulb. The daughter of the Dominican Republic wasn't even thinking about her future, in journalism or anything else. She liked to drink and drink hard, and after that she liked to do it all. The Lizard Lounge bored her, but she trudged along with me, 'cause I liked to see the old Geezers angle off to make their moves at the wrinkling broads. It was something to hear a Rolling Stones song crashing off the walls of the lounge while watching the crowd taking secret sips of Maalox.

Who knows what happened, but my petite friend went cold on me late that winter. She was in her early 20s, fresh out of the U. of Miami. I'd walk into the newsroom and she'd turn away. I didn't give a damn. My days were hard fuckers and my nights were fucking hard. It was life as a two-page chapter bridging into another two-page chapter. One day, I was walking back from the newspaper cafeteria when I saw her walking in my direction. She looked beat-up, a drinker's face, hanging and sallow. "Hidee, kid," I said from five feet. She tried to smile, but the crooked, hangdog look she threw at me seemed more painful than happy.

"I waited on you all weekend," she said laconically, her heart in her throat, her ass on a long rope.


"I wait and wait and wait...and you never show."

There was nothing else for me to do: We met after deadline at a seafood place and she talked herself all-out, letting go of whatever she had against me, most of which would never convict in a court of true romance. In the end, she said she hated The Lizard Lounge 'cause it was so fake and 'cause I seemed to laugh at everyone. "It's not Disneyworld," she would say. "It's people, people out having a good time..."

That was so. Disappointing women has been a strength of mine, not one nurtured, just one out there. When I left the newspaper, she asked for my mailing address. I gave her an invented one. It served as measure of my biggest strength - an ability to frickin' let-go. But it's also true: I'd like to see her again, tell her she was right about me, and kiss her for an hour. I like petite women, but only if they come with proportional breasts...

- 30 -

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Little Boy's Toys, A Big Boy's Toys...

“There seemed to be some heavenly support beneath his shoulder blades that lifted his feet from the ground in ecstatic suspension, as if he secretly enjoyed the ability to fly but was walking as a compromise to convention...” - Zelda Fitzgerald

By Patrick Alcatraz

WEST FORT WORTH, Texas - It is true: There is something to be said for the fizz in a Coca-Cola, as there is something to be said for the uniqueness of the onion in a hamburger. Most of the time, I find my little pleasures in romance, yet even I have to admit that there are a few aspects of Life that rest comfortably on me. My friends know of my battles with humans, with their failings, with their stupidities, with their lack of ambition. Wouldn't it be nice to already (this centuries into alleged civilization!) be able to move between galaxies, to mingle with beings from other planets, to face the absolute best of beauty and the horrible worst of ugly. If I die tomorrow, without having enjoyed the sexual pleasures of a woman from Outer Space, I will consider myself an utter failure - rivaling Gods mind-blowing efforts to create the perfect Human Being.

I have been thinking about a few things, perhaps because it's just a bunch of loose-ended tidbits of info that are finally coming together. I don't know for sure. I wish I did. The ancient Egyptians believed in horrific punishments after death. Hearts would be extracted from the body and fed to some beast. Why they did this is easily understood: the afterlife is about rotting, for all classes, an ending suitable for the rich and for the poor. The heart going to some beast was a certain notion of meting justice. I want my heart to go to the feeding of a flock of seagulls, maybe two/three harrier hawks. I know there will be no going to Hell for me.

There is no Hell. Hell is part & parcel religion. Without a Hell, religion would still invent one. I say Hell is right here on earth. The misery we have and experience in this world is monstrous. And, still, the church people arrive to pray and beat against Hell. But it is really the equivalent of the doomed Jew at Auschwitz praying for a bad supply of killing gas, some chemical unwilling to kill but quite able to draw tears. I could go on, yet it all strikes me as a waste of time, my time anyway. Churches and priests and nuns and believers can go to Hell. That sounds weird, me knowing that they already walk Hell's streets and alleys and towns and countries. Perhaps Lennon was right when he sang: "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." Only it isn't even a concept. That would mean someone put thought to it. Scientists and astronomers say there is no Heaven; scholars say there is no incontrovertible evidence of a God.

Something way deep in my brain tells me there likely is a creator, but it's not anyone in my image - irregardless of my long hair. As things stand, what with Christmas and the passing of the collection baskets on Sunday, there is too much at stake for a complete denial of a God. The masses, fearful tribes that they are, could not go on without believing. Yet, it too is fast becoming clear that something is coming, that this planet is gasping to its finish. How do I know that? Well, the list of telling signs goes for miles. I say, look around. And listen. And breathe. And look into the eyes of your woman. There is no chance you cannot see it for yourself, you being honest, of course.

For years when I was a youngster, my good mother would ask me what gift I'd want for Christmas. I'd say, toys, toys. And she would get them for me. If she asked me today, I'd again say, toys, toys.

But she would know that I'd be saying it for a very different reason...
- 30-

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Weight of The World...

"The woman is the home. That's where she used to be, and that's where she still is. You might ask me, What if a man tries to be part of the home - will the woman let him? I answer yes. Because then he becomes one of the children..." - Marguerite Duras

By Patrick Alcatraz

WEST FORT WORTH, Texas - It is in the first days after a romantic flirtation that I usually wallow in some sort of self-analysis. It isn't that I want to be critical of my words and my actions toward women; I simply fill a need to wonder away the Big Picture, this Life. If we are here to be human, to live and love, to work and play, to do and have done, then what I do in this regard is normal. I like to send women letters a year after the ending. What I write never explores the reasons for why things died; they are more notes about the state-of-things. How have you been and has your hair grown-out are two sentences. Somewhere in there, I throw in a thing or two about what I'm up to - my work, my play, my hair. Invariably I get a reply, always via the convenient E-mail, which is one of our many resignations to technology and distance. I agree with those who say there is a certain sadness in technology. I do wish I could ride a horse & buggy over to some woman's house and invite her to climb aboard.

There must remain at least one meadow for an afternoon picnic. But, who knows? Perhaps it is as the pop-sociologists say: that yesterday is gone. Is a cup of black coffee our last memory of another lifestyle. Do not think that I am reflecting on a better time. It's just that today's world is a hurry-up exercise in throwing things away - from women to garbage to traditions to culture. I can't remember meeting one Hispanic girl who talked to me in Spanish. Not in this God-abandoned country. And, for sure, not one would choose the horse & buggy over, say, a Lexus or a BMW at date's beginnings.

Sex is the last refuge of the traditionalist, the purist.

That same Hispanic girl would fuck me in the usual way, not one novel move in her body, and not one crazy demand. Even if she approved anal sex, you know she'd throw out some fake moaning and lies that they, for some reason, believe work in the sack, like, "I've never wanted to this before, because it hurts." Of course, with the proper lubricants, it surely cannot hurt as much as they would lead you to believe. That gorgeous slide-in comes as easy as a hot knife through butter. (Excuse me while I smile and take a sip of my coffee; I am so thankful, yes...) It's yet another false pain humans throw at civilization. Most of us reserve those thoughts and utterances for Sunday morning, when a trip to the neighborhood church reportedly is enough to cleanse something. I don't know. I feel cleaner after I bathe and at no other time.

Can there be something I'm not getting? I mean, about life and about relationships. It's not even a vicious world we live in anymore. There is no adjective for this mess. And forget about trying to explain the cheapness with breathing. It's a losing proposition, like smiling in a crowd of clowns.

Yesterday, a girl I met at the coffee shop looked at me, but did not approach. I thought it was strange, seeing that she had been friendly for a good two weeks. I hate mysteries in my life, at least of the human kind, so I walked over and asked about her stand-offishness. She said, coyly, with a look that told of fright and disappointment: "I...Googled your name..."


"It said you're married to some woman named Elaine Benitez, a Central American..."

Well, there is an entry to that effect. But it's not true. I said as much, but drew nothing I'd consider progress. Her face had left me, taking a nice ass with it. It was the Ol' Internet Adios - a bitch of a growing hassle for Today's Man...

- 30 -

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Rose in the Rain...

"I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding..." - Anais Nin

By Patrick Alcatraz

FORT WORTH, Texas - In one dream, I am born on a bed of cold cuts, there atop a thick slice of Salami and under a slab of Swiss cheese, doing my damndest to get the Hell out from my Deli moment as the light in the room is switched-on and I at last see my maker's face. He approaches and announces that my arrival is premature and that I must, at once, be returned to the great celestial incubator in the far sky. I say, in baby talk, " can that be?" And I hear in response, "Your time is on the move, but it is as yet not here. My desire is that you wait a century or two." He goes on to promise that my wait will be worth it. I bawl and feel the cheese and hoagie bun fall back on me, the room's light fading to black.

In another dream, my woman is baking in the kitchen when I arrive from my job in construction to say I won a football pool and we can blow-off her dinner and make for our favorite Italian restaurant. She wipes her hands on the old apron and stares at me, saying, "I've been slaving like a goddamned Yugoslavian washerwoman all afternoon to prepare this supper for you!" Hmmm, I say in reply. She stands tall, points at my dinner on the dining table and waves her left arm in a welcoming manner. I nod and then watch her turn around to see that she is not wearing clothing on her lower body. The buttocks are familiar. I reach for my wallet and prepare to get the cash I'd won. She deserves it, my brain tells me. I eat like a guy who's been cracking sidewalks and digging ditches all fuckin' day. And then, after din-din, she takes me by the hand and trots me to the bedroom, where she fucks me so that I stay fucked. "Do I say it tonight?" she asks and I say, yes, of course. She says it in the dark: "Give me more, sir..."

They say a romantic can dream up scenes like a motherfucker. They say love does that to the human spirit, throws him and her into an emotional spiral that ignores anything else going on in the world. I know that to be true. I know it like I know the most accepted fact to do with humanity. My teachers in elementary school, supported wildly by nuns from our church, taught me that it takes extra effort to be a good person. My women have taught me that taking and not giving is not part of the deal. Dreams are great and some people say they have some however-loose meaning in your life. To that I say, Quien Sabe, mi amor. I wish I knew for sure. Goddammit, I wish that like I wish nothing else under the zillions of stars overhead. My dreams normally saddle me with a tremendous amount of guilt. Who knows? Perhaps they are based on fact, on things I have actually lived and experienced, on people I have known, hurt...and lost.

I remember one woman telling me she had one recurring dream: seeing a rose in the rain. She moaned and groaned that she had no explanation for it. I ran some things across my brain and couldn't come up with anything to help her. A rose in the rain? What in the name of Mary Magdalene could that mean? As a younger man, when I'd graduated from college and taken to my writing career, my principal dream was of me strapped aboard a falling airliner. The doomed fucker never crashed, at least not in my dream. My then-wife said she thought it meant I was about to leave my job. Who knows?

A rose in the rain. What the fuck could that mean?

I still do not know...

- 30 -