the phantom still stalks
with blue suede shoes on
and a pocket full of pills
down a street that shares his name
And at 5 AM
he dances down Beale street
but no one watches
no one sees
And he spins and springs and he runs up the walls
and the sky turns briefcase black
and the moon is scared away
he cries mama where are you
but there is no reply
And at the first light of dawn
which springs like a leak from the mangy Mississippi
the phantom crawls on his elbows
blood bleeding from his nose
and he disappears into a wall
near where Union street meets one called Marshall
where the origin of all hurt was born
and he sleeps until the next night
when he haunts the streets again
wont this decade ever end
wont this music ever stop
my feet are tired, man
I wanna go home
this dance was no fun
It’s been going on since 2002
They’ve been playing this shit since 2002
won’t you catch this money from flying out of my wallet
tiny origami butterfly dollars
always leave me lonely
won’t you stop and think
do i need this brunch
this 67 dollar vinyl
this old dead man’s sweater with holes
your pal is right about you
what am I running from
where am I going to
am I ready to slow down or speed up
or crash into a river and drown
Let’s bring back the draft
put me at war
put a gun in my soft, moisturized, nail-bitten hands
i will make it back alive
or if that can’t happen give me some kids and a wife and let me just get fat already
i just wanna be fat and loved and tired all of the time
i just wanna house in the sticks next to two hundred others
that all look the same
and a cd from starbucks in my tacoma
on the Mississippi highway
i spelled out Mississippi in my mind while they slept
the way we were taught in school
and along the road was a moon lit cemetery
with fake plastic candles burning bright in the night
like tiny abandoned lighthouses
before graves old and new
and a vision came to me
like a cold sweat
i was dead there
in the ground
and my mom and dad and Greta and everyone i ever knew
was there looking down at me
and they had cell phones vibrating in their pockets
later in oxford
in the square where the statue commemorates the confederate soldiers
i had country fried steak
and yams and gravy and bread
and i hoped it would be a long time before
my vision came true
I’ve been watching these newscasters get older for years. I remember their faces young. Allison Rosatti, where did your youth go? You used to read me the news when I was fifteen and still tired and waiting for the bus. You wonderful woman, I hope you keep warm this winter. You too Ron Magers.
Are you happy? Are you content with your place in the world? Do you feel fulfilled by your duty to report the news to the Chicagoland area? You should if you don’t. You’re good at it! You’re growing old doing it and that must mean you’re doing something right. Right?
Do you ever think about what Chicago might look like in one thousand years? I bet it won’t be called Chicago anymore. I bet it won’t be in a state called Illinois either. These things aren’t set in stone. These boundaries are imaginary. This earth has no name and it doesn’t care about Rahm Emmanuel or the price of a CTA ride or the deaths in its streets. It has been called Chicago for three-hundred years but before that it was called many things and before that it was called nothing. I wonder if that ever crosses your mind when you’re reading the Chicagoland news. Not that it should or anything. I just wonder. EO
In an effort to better keep track of all the media I consume on a yearly basis, I have decided to introduce a new segment here called Shit I Consume. Each month, I will list all of the films/books/records I have watched/read/listened to over the course of the last four weeks. Best case scenario, this diary will encourage me to continue being a voracious watcher/reader/listener. Worst case scenario, you guys find out how many bad horror movies from the nineties I watch (this month, three). EO
Alien – Ridley Scott (1979)
Aliens – James Cameron (1986)
Beautiful Girls – Ted Demme (1996)
The Big Chill – Lawrence Kasdan (1983)
The Bird With The Crystal Plumage – Dario Argento (1970)
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice – Paul Mazursky (1969)
Caché – Michael Haneke (2005)
Deep Red – Dario Argento (1975)
Harold And Maude – Hal Ashby (1971)
The Interview – Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen (2014)
I Know What You Did Last Summer – Jim Gillespie (1997)
MASH – Robert Altman (1970)
Putney Swope – Robert Downey, Sr. (1969)
Sorcerer – William Friedkin (1977)
Star 80 – Bob Fosse (1983)
Urban Legends – Jamie Blanks (1998)
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Wes Craven (1994)
What About Bob? – Frank Oz (1991)
The White Ribbon – Michael Haneke (2009)
A Decade Under The Influence – Richard LaGravenese & Ted Demme (2003)
Hearts Of Darkness – Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper & Eleanor Coppola (1991)
Live At The Comedy Store – Louis CK (Comedy Special, 2015)
The Easter Parade – Richard Yates (Novel, 1976)
Farther Away – Jonathan Franzen (Essay Collection, 2012)
The Secret History – Donna Tartt (Novel, 1992)
Among The Leaves – Sun Kil Moon (2012)
Benji – Sun Kil Moon (2014)
Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance – Belle & Sebastian (2015)
GSU – Alex G (2014)
On Your Own Love Again – Jessica Pratt (2015)
Viet-Cong – Viet-Cong (2015)
This new Kanye/McCartney shit is way whack and ya’ll is smokin’ mad ganj if you think otherwise. Peace. Love. EO
Standing in the lobby, he wondered what the hell he was doing. He felt ridiculous. Embarrassed. How did things get so bad?
He could never tell his family about this. Or his friends for that matter. What would they say if they saw him here – wearing a cheap suit in a cheap hotel, soaking wet and twirling his wedding ring around his sweaty palms.
He could see her from where he stood. She was sitting alone at a round cocktail table, framed by the oak door that lead to the hotel bar. He thought she looked pretty, thoughtlessly stirring a red straw around the edge of her cocktail glass. The feeling of discomfiture that overcastted his thoughts suddenly faded. Without realizing it, he had already passed through the bar door, walking towards her.
She looked up at him as he arrived at the table. Up close, he could see that she had put a considerable amount of time sculpting herself for the evening: meticulously applied rouge to highlight her narrow cheekbones, dark charcoal eye shadow – soft and bridal. Her skin was translucent, her lips the shade of strawberries. Realizing that he had already been standing above her in lumbering silence for quite some time, he said the first thing that came to him: “Hello.”
“Hello,” she said, her voice soft and cool, with a hint of a European accent he couldn’t quite place.
“My name is Michael.”
“Nice to meet you Michael,” she said, extending a manicured hand, “I’m Sofia. Please, sit down. Did you forget your umbrella at home?”
He ordered her a drink, surprised when she requested Stoli on the rocks with extra olives. He watched her lips move as she told him about herself (grew up in Denmark, favorite actor is John Wayne, avid swimmer, never got her drivers license). As she spoke, he couldn’t help but let his thoughts travel far away to someplace darker – someplace deprecating.
He began to recognize his distaste for himself, for her, for the hotel, and for everything that had lead the both of them to this fraudulent moment. He ordered them another round of drinks.
After all the chairs had been stacked up on the tables around him, he asked her, “Would you like to come up to my room?” She nodded.
A part of him wished that she had said no – that this whole thing could have ended right then and there. He was drunk, tired, and didn’t have the energy to continue this charade.
It was in the elevator when he asked, “When did you start drinking Stoli on the rocks?”
After a few brief moments of silence, she began sobbing uncontrollably. He turned to look at her, mascara running down her cheeks, pressed up against the elevator mirror.
“I’m sorry, Kate,” he said as the elevator doors opened.
“It’s Sofia, not Kate,” she whimpered, walking past him and down the hallway.
He debated whether or not he should stay in the elevator, letting the doors close around him, watching her walk away. He stepped out and followed behind her.
“You know, you could have at least tried,” she said in her thick Southern accent, pacing towards the room at the end of the hall, “You didn’t even take off your ring.”
She opened the door to the room, silhouetted by pink and green neon lights filtering in through the open window. It was still raining outside.
He closed the door behind him as she threw herself down on the bed.
“Kate, I’m sorry. It just didn’t feel right to me. The whole thing didn’t feel-“
“It wasn’t suppose to feel right,” she said, gazing out the glowing neon window, “It was suppose to feel new. It was suppose to feel exciting, like how it was when we first met.”
He stood there silently looking down at the carpet, his hands in his pockets. “It’s over, isn’t it, Will?” she said, looking up at him.
Their eyes locked in a moment of earnestness that neither had felt in years. He wanted to embrace her, but was unable to find the strength to do so.
Even before what happened, everybody knew that they were evil girls. Weird girls. They never washed their hair people said and they always wore the same thing and they smelled like wet paper. Corby Fletcher said he saw Sadie once at four in the morning on the football field lighting candles naked and touching herself on the fifty yard line. They used to cut their wrists I heard. And worship the devil. Once in gym class, Francine bled in the pool and they had to close it down for a week.
My brother was a great man — a brave man and he went to high school with those girls. He said he smiled at them in the hallway because he felt sorry for them and didn’t think that they were so bad. He said one of them was even pretty and that once she had passed him a flirtatious note in study hall but that he got nervous and didn’t respond and the next day she ignored him in the hall and that was that. He said things like that happened in high school all the time and that when I was older I’d understand.
People called them the devils or the spooks or the weirdos but my brother never did.
They killed 18 people and wrote fuck on the lockers with blood and then put three bullets in their heads. Bang bang bang. Someone wrote a song about in the eighties and it was a hit. They made a movie about them too but it was a cheesy one with bad stuff and corny dialogue. It was called Teen-Age Sacrifice. It played on Lifetime. Phoebe Cates was Sadie and Mia Sara was Piper and Claudia Wells was Francine. My brother was played by Judd Nelson. In the scene where he dies, my mom cried. I remember. She said Mr. Nelson got Phil down perfect. So handsome, she said. Sometimes in my memories of Phil, I see Judd Nelson. There are only a few thing that I remember, but they are all warm and good things.
There’s a plaque up at the school now. It has all 21 names — including the killers. This was controversial at the time, but now I see it’s only fair. They were just poor babies too.