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NEW ORLEANS - 20 September, 2002: It's struck me that I could have given this magazine a name like that of a Chinese restaurant, Final Happiness, for example. It would be appropriate and slightly quirky, unlike the clinical-sounding moniker we have now "Generator 21". Sounds so industrial, doesn't it? What was I thinking that afternoon sitting in the park below San Francisco's City Hall with all the other homeless people? Maybe it had something to do with encountering my former girlfriend, The Count, asking me if I wanted "a date".
Oops! Talking about the past again! My bad.
Okay, I promised you last week that I would aspire toward a momentary "flash of brilliance". So let's see what we can do about that.
NOT MUCH SURPRISES ME ABOUT THE MACHINATIONS OF CORPORATE DONS ANY LONGER. General Electric's Jack Welch had to come out in the Wall Street Journal and talk about how he doesn't feel bad about the princely perks he demanded for his retirement he just doesn't want to leave the wrong perception with his shareholders. Lest I puke!
I'll tear a page from Tom Hart and quote our pal Arianna Huffington again:Welch's gravy train Into the sunset includes an $80,000-a-month Central Park apartment (I'm guessing at that price that it probably has a park view), lifetime use of a company jet, maid service at his multiple homes, membership at an array of country clubs, flowers, limos, phones, computers, furniture, and prime tickets to Wimbledon, the opera, the U.S. Open, and every New York Knicks home game.
Welch says he came to this decision not because such lavish excess on the company's dime is wrong -- far from it -- but because, as he put it in a column in the Wall Street Journal, "perception matters." In other words, he hasn't had a change of heart, just a change of PR strategy.
Was it just a coincidence that Welch's high profile column appeared on the same day that the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it had opened an informal investigation into Welch's compensation package?
To hear Welch tell it, not only doesn't he think there is anything "improper" about having shareholders pick up the tab for his corporate raja lifestyle while keeping them in the dark about the details of his deal, he actually believes he was doing them a favor. "I agreed," he wrote, "to take the post-retirement benefits that are now being questioned instead of cash compensation -- cash compensation that would have been much more expensive for the company." Who knew that a $9 million-a-year pension, charge accounts at New York's finest restaurants, and all the roses you can deliver to your new lady love could be such a bargain for GE shareholders?
Let me remind you about schools with the ceilings falling on the heads of students, families so burdened by debt that they are declaring bankruptcy and living in Salvation Army Harbor Light centers, and children going to bed hungry before I repeat that word "criminal" again.
I look around me here in the Big Difficult, I listen to the conversations (mostly reminiscences of either people's better or wilder times) and I wonder why people don't rise up in the streets and pull these people from their plush chairs, drag them down the hallways by their Power ties and run them out of our cities on a rail?
LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING PLEASANT. I need to go on a date. I just need to figure out who the datee should be. That means I believe I have choices.
One of my targets --- Oops! I'm the fly, I keep forgetting --- comes to The Cat a lot. She arrived here on this night before the full moon. Another full moon for the man who loved publishing the story of the full moon parties off the coast of Thailand and threw his own now-legend full moon parties in Austin, Texas. Full moons are either exquisite or cruel for me and now that I am looking for that Next WomanŠ My spirit spikes. My hormones start to rage and the music sounds even better than usual. I want to dance the rumba. I want to be slow and seductive. I want to be captured. And that's not all!
Brian tells me that one of the people from our construction crew is having a house party tonight. Lots of people, food and beer. I need to get out more everybody tells me, though bartending has me less inclined to want to either drink or see drunken people. By the time I complete my performance behind the bar I just want to be alone in the silence.
And that's the way life is for your Butterfly Soul under the waxing moon. A gentleman never mentions names, but I am looking at her right now and wondering when she will pounce upon me. This month or next and when will she go back to this Glass House and read my lurid fantasies about her? Anticipation is half the game of sex, after all, since most of the best part of sex is all in our minds.
I third woman has edged her way onto my radar screen now. She is beautiful and defiant in a way that fires my blood. A friend has already warned me to ignore her, something that is not easily accomplished.
I think that is what I love about talking to you each week, when I think about this construct we now share. You, my little loves, get to see everything I'm willing to tell about myself in a personal and intimate space: alone in your room or reading your Palm while going to and fro, and I am yours alone as you are mine alone at the same time.
There's something sexy about that, too, isn't there?
BARTENDERS ARE THE BEST PHILOSOPHERS my friend Souzan told me in a telephone conversation. So when I go to a bar now, and I'm not in charge, I listen to people's conversations in a different way. Or maybe I just listen like a writer. Writers choose to dissect and that's one of our worst habits. It makes us afraid of people, on one level, and very untrusting of them, as a general tip. We know that sincerity can be feigned. Drunks feign sincerity incredibly well.
And we also know that pain is usually just below the surface of cynicism and triumphalism. Take your pick.
There is more than enough pain in this world to go around. Forgive me for repeating myself.
I think being off work and seeing people outside of The Cat gives me a bit of perspective on the people in The Cat, "my" regulars.
What it also helps me do is work (yes, I do subconscious work) on the kind of people who I mean/want/should consider my true friends and the kind of woman I'd like to know next. I listen to all of your stories about your relationships, I remember my own, and I begin to create a mental picture of the type of woman who would be good for me.
Dragana says that I'm about ready to write fiction now. She thinks I should do it anywhere but here at my own magazine. She's probably right.
Speaking of fiction, I mentioned to Scott for the first time that I "used to be" a fiction writer. It seems like ages ago to me tonight. But New Orleans appears to be sucking me back down ("The Black Hole of New Orleans") into all of the old used-to-bes. Used to be bartender, used to be lover, used to be novelistŠ Or maybe this is the only way to reclaim the Old Rod.
Back during Mardi Gras, you might recall if you're a long-time lover of mine, I sent you words from this same vein and the same place I'm typing to you tonight. I was exhausted then, whereas now I'm just anticipating a bulbous moon, shedding its silver light on the streets of this town, on verdant backyards, on our heads. I'm hoping this full moon will be good to me, make me lucky --- or luckier than I' ve been. That Next (Last) Woman thang again.One sweet dream
Pick up the bags and get in the limousine
One sweet dream
Be true today -- Beatles
21 September, 2002 -- Full Moon - NOW I AM ALONE, as Shakespeare had Hamlet begin his soliloquy. I have been doing my maintenance work, file backups and such, preparatory to providing this new edition for you. After a week of having a cornucopia of new material for you, I've come to this week with lots of queries, but few finished pieces to offer up. That's the way of things when you are always rotating in new voices and hoping the your "regular" writers had a visit from the muse this week. So compulsive wordsmiths like BOB POWERS soldier on as if we were writing for a mainstream publication and I wait for everyone else to feel the itch again.
I've been having the type of dreams lately where I carry on conversations with my soul. My soul comes to me in dreams in the form of a woman, of course, either one I have known or one I've never met before but know intimately in the logic of the dream. We always have history. In my waking life, I try to understand what the latest soul conversation is trying to tell me. Sometimes it takes days to make sense of the significance of what was exchanged.
The first of my recent soul dreams came over two weeks ago. I awakened hearing myself ask: "Can you see the road ahead?"
The latest soul dream was last week. She asked me, "Why didn't you tell me you were an only child?" It was a difficult accusation to deal with, as literally, I'm not. But more functionally, I guess I always have been. That's how all emotional orphans feel anyway.
The upshot of this conversation was that I realized that I could not move back to Casa de Caca. I had a long conversation with Matt about the reasons why, including the fact that he lacks empathy and finds it all-too-easy to leave his friends high and dry if it means he can spend more time in the bars. In our first conversation, when he asked me to be his roommate again, he had conveniently forgotten a number of instances of this latter. He said he remembered one of them after hanging up the telephone with me. That is a positive sign.
I continue hoping that he will gain more emotional maturity and begin to understand how insulting it is to others for him to assert -- very publicly and far too often -- that people willing to work hard for the things they want from this life are chumps.
23 September, 2002 -- THE TALK OF THE TOWN this Monday is hurricane Isidore, which I incorrectly told someone last night was a female name, though I know realize I was mistaking it for Isidora. We are all wondering today if tomorrow Isidore will make a land bounce and head directly for the Big Easy. If that happens we might be ordered to evacuate the city. Nobody is looking forward to that, especially those of us who make our living working outdoors (construction workers) or from behind a saloon bar. Sans Isidore, this could be my only day off this week. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to be back behind the bar. Today, I'm supposed to have lunch date, get my laundry done, and finish this magazine. I dread checking the latest news about the weather.
But everyone is talking about the weather. The wind seems high today. It's making the apartment window rattle ominous. I'm feeling very tired and puny. I've been the entire morning bouncing back and forth from here to the lav. My stomach is uneasy. I keep thinking about those of my patrons already making plans to head for higher ground and those who claim they will defiantly stay put, no matter what. I have no place else to go.
The Weather Channel says that the storm is tracking south - southwest and will ravage the Yucatan and perhaps central Mexico but not turn left toward New Orleans. People here go out and buy truckloads of plywood to secure their homes. The local news, during a special alert during the football game says that the storm, Isidore, doesn't look like it will be heading this way. People here call up their friends with second floor apartments and ask if they would mind having guests this week.
I want to kick myself in the butt. A major storm is barreling down on this city and I can't bring myself to make an end of this Glass House and get the magazine out before maybe I shan't be able to!
Darryl, who might be in town this weekend worries that I don't have much of a social life. Friday I attended the Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Party (Yes, people come up with any excuse to party in New Orleans.) on Royal Street. Saturday I kept my promise to make my pal Roy's birthday party on Burgundy. Sunday, after my shift at the bar, I went to see my friend Linnzi's new band, "Linnzi Zaorski & The Night Blooming Jazzzmen" at El Matador. Today or tomorrow there is that floating lunch date of mine before I spend another seven hours behind the bar encouraging people to quaff cocktails. Naw, I don't get out enough...
I receive an e-mail from my pal Ric, in Texas, which contains this quote:Subject: The Loud Little Handful
Victory of the loud little handful
The loud little handful - as usual - will shout for the war. The pulpit will - warily and cautiously - object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."
Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.
Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...
Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. -- Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger" (1910)
We live together in this virtual communion, you and I, in a world frought with danger, where wicked men plot war and our destruction. There is no such thing as security. And there is every effort to make us remain silent about our precarious futures. So keep me in your prayers, my loves, as I keep you in my own.
What I Want This Week1. A new love. That woman for whom I can write the book everyone seems to believe I'm hoarding like a dragon hoards his gold.
2. A routine that allows me to pursue my outside Web projects and begin writing seriously again.
Thanks for coming back this week.
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appeared both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Rod was the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers, until May, 2001.
This year he worked as Assistant to the General Manager of a Big Easy company that does restaurants and nightclubs. (Think: The Boy.) Oh yeah, Rod's had Day Jobs working construction. Mostly renovations of old New Orleans structures, houses and a bar. Sometimes he designs Web sites for other people so that he can get his creative juices flowing the way he can't at a staid publication like this one. And he's been the instructor in Editing for Internet Publications at the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Yugoslavia. Right now our Resident Philosopher has joined the pantheon of New Orleans bartenders, works construction when he's not behind the bar and still doesn't know when he'll have a "permanent residence" that he likes.. In his spare time, he chases women in the manner that a fly pursues a spider.
Rod lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. This town is eroding his normal sense of driven purpose. He wants to live somewhere civilized when he grows up. Wish him Luck.
He continues to be committed to integrity,
chastity and a dose of humility.
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