Wednesday, July 29, 2009

three word wednesday-darkness patronise weaken


Perhaps there was a time I called her 'Mama', back when I first learned to form words, back when much of your life is spent in the darkness of ignorance. Perhaps there was a time I used the word 'Mommy', because that is what my friends called that parent.. and who was I to be different? I do not ever remember using the word "Mom"--it is too personal, too dear a title for me to have bestowed it upon her.

She is now, has almost always been--will remain-- 'Mother', a word that distances me from her. I do not use it to patronise, I use it to set boundaries, keep me out of her reach. It is formal, cold, detached; much like the woman herself. I will not weaken in my resolve... I will not bend to give her a softer title.

I loved her at some point, I hated her at another, and now I struggle daily not to become her.

So far, I've succeeded.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

sunday scribblings~plan


she wasn’t in the plan... that plan i’d built for my life. that plan included university, a masters degree, the necessary ph.d, investing in real estate, the all important career that put me in a corner office with surround windows and my own staff. no, she wasn’t in that plan.

turns out she had a stronger will than i did, and a well thought out plan of her own.

her plan included finding someone with a ph.d, a large, paid for house in the right suburb, and a career that brought in large bundles of cash, allowing her to remain at home and rule all she surveyed.

her plan would lift her out of that place in life where moving up to white trash was an accomplishment, where cars lived on blocks and far too often, your first lover was a blood relative.

she read and watched and learned how to put on the face, the clothes, the manners, attitude and polish that gave her access to the places where she’d find someone to meet her carefully thought out plan, one written down in a notebook, step by step. she could teach those 'secret' people lessons in how to focus on what you desire in your life.

the one thing she did retain was ‘how to use yourself’--we met, we kissed, she showed me things i didn’t know existed outside of a brothel. moving along with her plan, during one of our dates, she smiled and told me her news. again, according to her plan, there was a short, beautiful wedding in a far away place, where her family couldn’t attend.

no, she wasn’t in the plan, nor was my son... i saw myself as a carefree, eligible bachelor, and she saw me as her way out.

i let her make our life plans now--she's proven she's far better than i.

one word~coin

her pocket was full of coins of all sorts; american, english, french, italian... even a few from singapore.

she put her hand in to move them around, feel the edges, the odd shapes... it was difficult to sort them by feel, as she had hundreds in the cargo pants she was wearing.

he'd collected them in his travels-collected the coins and collected the various women he'd slept with during their time together.

on the edge of the pool, looking into the deep end, she moved to become one with the water, knowing he'd have to also collect her when he finally came home.

closing her eyes, she took that first/last step.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

broowaha article-october, 2007

Fall in New York
by quin browne (contributor), October 24, 2007
You hear them tangling together before they become visible … the audible signs of battle ring out as they attack each other for dominance over the small bit of land mass they occupy.

Sharp, able to take out your eye should you get too close, they parry and thrust … until one goes down, gasping, drowning in the water pouring over the twitching body--the victor scuttles away, the much smaller body moving quickly among the others of its kind … triumphant in its victory.

No, it’s not a battle of crabs on a beach … it’s Fall in New York.

The time we fear most; not because of slush or bad sweaters or despondent Yankee fans (who simply will not quit riding the 4 uptown, convinced the season isn’t over...or even worse, become pseudo Red Sox fans in the hope of winning votes). We do not worry about dashing through intersections, ignoring the helpful RedHand O’Death or the Friendly WalkingMan to guide us, instead taking our lives in our hands as we dodge traffic and rogue taxis. We scoff, HA! at black limos that careen down Park, and the multitude of delivery men who scream at us in a variety of languages, in a tone that lets us know they are not wishing us a good day. No, because it is fall, we know what is coming, what we must gird our loins against, what lurks around every corner...the biggest fear of all the Fall Fears--

The Umbrella Wars.

Yes, it’s that time when the first drop of moisture in the air signals the automatic response for a field of colourful sea anemones to dot the streets of New York. Black, blue, red, black, yellow, black, plaid, black, pink, black, black, black …okay, it’s a desolate group of sea anemones, but you get my metaphor.

As they open, the rib tips touch lightly at first … measuring the distance, the strength of their opponent. The crowd moves forward, tipping the umbrella to maximum advantage for facial and clothing protection … causing you to become completely blind to where you are going. The occasional lifting of the edge brings you into the "I'm defenseless" zone, your guard is lowered … they come at you, a solid wall of nylon… spikes at the ready … all aimed for your eyes.

Swiftly, you raise your own weapon, letting the rib tips shield you. CLICK! CLACK! Battles erupt as people jockey for position, desperate not to be pushed into the nameless muck that flows in the gutter, picking up strength with the storm … picking up strength, cups, small dogs, it waits to soak though those shoes, be they Payless or Ferragamo. A gasp can be heard …there is rumour someone is taking out people up ahead, fighting against the crowd on her way from Penn Station to the huge 99 Cent Store, where you never spend just 99 cents.

Businessmen fall aside. Women scream when small almost-but-not-quite-Burberry umbrellas flip inside out, caught by the larger ribs and tips, allowing their owners to be drenched, as they too, slip and are taken away, succumbing to the swift gutter flood, floundering like some poor one claw crab.

There she is, her 4'11" frame moving with a steady pace … her huge golf umbrella in one hand, her shopping cart in the other. Track suit Bedazzled, hair permed, patted, pinned and in place, a look of determination on her face, she triumphs in the battlefield.

She is proof that it’s not the cost of the umbrella; it’s the size and the steady hand wielding it that wins the day.

We have no choice but to bow to her, to the green and white stripes as they part the sea of wet, weary commuters. We bow, we curse, and we walk against the lights into the path of some idiot who thinks holding his horn down is going to scare us after we've dealt with her.

Who is he kidding? Did he see the size of that umbrella??

broowaha article-november, 2007

The Brooklyn Cowboy
by quin browne (contributor), November 11, 2008

They aren't always found West of the Mississippi....

I used to be a Nanny.

Yes, me. Imagine! I worked for CF, and took care of her three children in Brooklyn, dealing with steam heat (oh! how I miss that!), brownstones, the joys of Hasidim neighborhoods (the house across the street has 23 children in it. Yes, 23. You never hear a peep.) All of the fresh vegetables on 86th Street, the D train... yes, all of it.

I'm helping her out a bit, filling in as Nanny Quin again until she finds someone to do the job on a permanent basis. The kids and I get along, I'd known them since my days in Utah, and it's an easy thing to do.

I had one thing I looked for every day, one landmark, when I walked the youngest two children to school...I'd check to see if he was still around, if the winter hadn't taken him away, if he'd survived another season here in New York.

He was. He'd survived.

The Brooklyn Cowboy.

He's still there, a sturdy, yellow plastic cowboy embedded in the asphalt on Bay two and a half steps from the curb.

He's one of the old plastic cowboys, the kind that sat on a horse, with very bowed legs, his chaps embossed in plastic, his trusty Winchester at the ready. The ten gallon hat remained firmly in place, no matter how hard he rode Blackie or Rusty or Bob out on the Plains looking to protect the wimmenfolk and turn the West into civilisation.

I don't know how long he's been there.. he was rising out of the asphalt before; now, his surface area is larger, but, he's wearing thin and you still can't remove him...I don't know if he was there and the last layer of asphalt is worn down so he's showing again, or, if he was put in on top of the last repaving, an offering to the steamroller gods. I can see some child squatting on the sidewalk, after carefully placing him on the hot asphalt where he's trapped like some modern Mastodon in a flat version of the LaBrea Tar Pits... waiting...waiting.... having the huge steam roller pass over his sturdy body that survives the heat and the weight, feeling the black grit cool around him, and there he'd be, for you to pass over on your way to school or the deli, until one day, you aren't there anymore, you've moved on, something you kept him from ever doing.

One day, a woman with cropped hair and real cowboy boots is standing there, dodging traffic, taking a photo of your offering, a thousand thoughts floating in her head as to how that cowboy ended up as part of a street in Brooklyn.

Yes, I was pleased to see him still there, still bright yellow, still holding his own.

You see, I used to love my plastic cowboys.

They came in packages with a thin cardboard top, hole in the center to let it hang on a rack there at TG&Y... with cowboys and horses (my favourites where the black horses, they looked sooooo sassy), there were some cowboys with rifles, others with a lariat frozen in a perfect circle, ready to lasso that dogie, and each pack always contained the now very politically incorrect Indians in full war regalia.. war bonnets flowing down their backs. Their horses only had blankets, so, you had to be careful to not mix up these horses with the cowboy ones until you started to lose the mounts a lawnmower.... or, as usually happened, one of the extended legs of the perennially trotting mounts would have a leg weaken from the constant galloping it did to the stick fort and finally fall off, causing a burial. In our case, we broke up the monotony of the day and mixed up the normal burial by melting them with a magnifying glass and the hot New Orleans sun.

When you played with either group, they didn't walk properly... the fixed legs made it difficult for the cowboys to be menacing when advancing towards each other in a gunfight, or either group to attack with any sense of violence, so, you did this rocking back and forth motion as they moved forward towards each other...not very menacing at all when you think about it. Add to it their wimmin folk were usually some Kewpie doll that towered over them, causing Napoleon complexes to all those multi-coloured men of either group... thus leading to huge numbers of gunfights, now that I look back on it...and it was all very surreal.

My cowboy was always named Gary. I had a thing for High Noon and it's handsome star....I passed the name onto my yellow cowboy in the asphalt. His tenacity fit the name better than any other plastic cowboy ever did before.

The pack would almost last the month of August, that time after my trip to Monroe. They made it though the Bermuda grass under the trees, the forts built in dirt, the dogs making off with horses or a scout or two. Eventually, you were left with some chewed up pieces, which went off to die to the outside toybox, and finally were thrown away when my MawMaw grew tired of the smell of old socks, flip flops missing chunks that had been left behind on the bark of various trees we'd climbed, and the tired remains of plastic cowboys.

I was glad to see Gary was still there. That he was holding strong, brighter than my photo shows him to be last year, defiant in his refusal to disappear into the road, into the atmosphere, not going into that last sunset.

I leaned over, planting my own cowboy boots next to his, and wished him well.

Then, I jumped quickly out of the way of a bus, that cheerfully rolled over Gary's face.

Gary will survive these streets.... he's part of them, a Brooklyn Cowboy, happy in his asphalt bed, content to be smushed daily, waiting to be seen by someone else aside from me, I reckon.


broowaha article-november, 2007

The Pro
by quin browne, November 12, 2007
He was 22.

I'd been walking, stopping off deliberately in the deli next to the Evil Empire coffee shop to buy a cup of coffee.

I'm defiant that way.

He was sitting on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk, reading Trout Fishing in America, a book I've not seen in, well, forever. Richard Brautigan gave me one of my favourite sayings in my verbal world..."I'm up shit creek without a pair of snowshoes". I felt compelled to talk to someone who was reading Brautigan.

It wasn't just the book, it was the luggage, the blanket on his legs, and the sign that said, "STRANDED IN NEW YORK CITY. PLEASE HELP!"

"Why are you stranded?" I gave him the cup of cocoa I'd gone back inside the deli to buy and I sat next to him on the cold sidewalk, offering a cigarette.

He looked startled as I settled in, taking the cocoa, gratefully lighting up. It was cold Saturday, crisp in the city, dry though, the drizzly air contained to Staten Island when I'd left hours earlier to make the audition.

"Ummm, well, me and my girlfriend, we came here and things aren't working out. She went back to our place in Ohio 'cause we could only afford one bus ticket, so, she took it and we found out we'd been evicted from our apartment there. So, she came back here. Now, we're on the streets."

"Have you gone to the shelters?"

"Yes, we sleep there. Problem is, you can't get a job without a license to drive and and all that stuff.", he continued, sipping and accepting donations into his cup.

"Why New York? It's pretty miserable here in the winter."

He went on to tell me how they'd met in high school, dropped out together to see the country. His eyes never stopped checking out the crowd as he spoke. He said they had hitchhiked and panhandled over the width of the U.S., making it to 35 states. He knew the number because she collected little pins and put them on her coat.

He said he'd been to Bryce Canyon, and he was in a little town near there, and he loved it, they almost stayed, but, they knew no panhandling would be allowed. I laughed, and told him I had a house in that same town.

Small world.

He looked so cold, you could see some warmth returning to his skin from the drink. His mouth was ringed with cold sores, and his hands were chapped... and it's still early in the season... Mommode kicked in, hard. I was starting to think of leaving him my gloves, my last $5.00.

He asked me the time, said he'd be leaving soon, to go to get his girlfriend.

He worries about her. She has a temper, and gets into fights with people. If they say the wrong thing, she'll "... be in their face. I can't have her picked up again. She is small, but, she can punch hard. It's never her fault, though. People just pick on her, you know, say the wrong thing and she has to defend herself."

She was on another corner, near Central Park. They didn't panhandle together, they made more money this way, split up.

He worries until he sees her at their appointed time and place.

"We try and get to the shelters early, get a bed next to each other. I go to the Apple store and check my email, send letters to my mom, let her know I'm okay and shit."

I asked if he'd gone to craigslist, looked for gigs there... told him he didn't need to have a license, that you can find occasional jobs doing labour.

He said he'd not thought of that.. and his eyes drifted to make contact with people walking, shaking the cup.

As he talked, telling me of what they'd done while traveling, how they'd gone from city to city, with no real destination, settling on New York because of the free stuff they could score, the medicine, the housing, the hands dropping money in his cup... that this was a good place for them.

"So, you really aren't stranded."

"No, not really. We can really score here in New York, you know."

I stood up.

"Yeah," he said, warming to his subject, "I don't like having change. At the end of the day, I put what I make into bills, then I dump the leftover change into cups of, you know, the 'real' poor people. I share what I make."

He smiled up at me, as if I should pat his head.

I walked away, glad I was only out a cup of cocoa. I guess everyone has a profession, I have joked that panhandlers are a union gig, and it's a tough union to join.

I think I met the local steward.... who went back to his book, and looking pathetic, and holding up a sign that was a lie. He did this, and I walked away, angry I'd been snookered. Angry I struggle at times, the same way my friends do, and this...this... faker and his anger issue girlfriend more than likely make more money than I do.

Still, was he any more dishonest than sales clerks who say you look great in that fushia skirt in order to make a commission sale or the hucksters who push a fake designer bag on you? Or a President who says we need this war? Was he what he was made to be by his background, or something of his own creation?

All of this rolled in my head, while I walked from 23rd down 6th, looking for bus stops, not paying attention that the traffic was going the opposite way from me, moving uptown as I walked downtown, feeling the air grow colder as the sun dropped down behind the urban mountain range I live in now, listening to the call of the wild tourist as it sang out "Which way is it to South Ferry?" and for once, not giving directions the way I usually do ("Take the 'R' to Whitehall... the station is just there across the street"), ignoring, as always, the pedestrian signs on the street, making my way down to the old stomping grounds by the Soho Grand, only pausing to talk to Josh at the front door, and coming to the realisation I needed to go to Broadway to find my bus.

I was still pondering it all, the decision to be a bum, to let society take care of them, to happily be sickly looking in the hope people like me would help him out, relying on the fact we would do just that, when I went past someone collecting for the Homeless in New York, and I gave them my $5.00.

The bus arrived, I climbed on, and found out my all powerful MTA card didn't work on the 1X bus, it's not all powerful on an Express bus, it seems. A nice driver, however, overrides that, and I was given a free ride back home.

I guess we all get free rides of one sort or another. Leaning back in my seat, opening In Cold Blood, looking out over the water as we drove over the Verrazzano Bridge, I had to ask myself...

Am I any different, or, because I was better dressed, do I think a free bus ride is a small thing in the big picture?

With that in place, who am I to judge him?

one word~dispute

we remain in a dispute of sorts. he feels we should simply be lovers, i have the feeling we need to be more. it's the accepting of a man into your self, your heart, your life... letting them in that makes the difference between us. he sees it as fucking, i call it making love.

one of us will win the stand-off... and one will walk away, either in tears or relief.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My First Contest

To Top it Off

So, I just talk into the microphone?

Right. We’d met via the internet, the shadkhen for the 2000’s... who needs a person? You use the internet for dating, hooking up...marriage. We met, we courted.. we had our first sexual experience . On computers. A year of talking, emails and a lot more virtual sex later, he flew to Chicago from Los Angeles, I’m at baggage check, holding a sign, in case the real me didn’t look like the virtual me. We had the initial greeting, our faces not sure which way to go as we moved in for the hug/kiss--awkward, right?

So, off to a great place that served famous pizza in a town known for pizza. There, it all started to crumble. I noticed when he spoke to me, he moved his fingers on the table as if typing. I ordered a beer (with pizza, you have beer, right?) and he chose “...a nice red wine, not too earthy”. Then, then, he did something that proved this had become a momentous FUBAR. I could have lived with the girth I’d never seen before, his staring at my chest when he spoke, even the fuckin’ pretentious wine. It ended when he eschewed my suggestion of sausage and olives, choosing ham and pineapple.

Ham. And. Pineapple.

Okay, granted, sending him back to L.A. was a smarter choice than the one I took--that whole stabbing him in the eye with my fork.

But, really, ham and pineapple?

three word wednesday~drip hypnotic sulk

The Date

She had two choices, once she discovered that this guy was, as her grandmother would have said, a drip; put on the sulk of a two/thirteen year old, or, go into a hypnotic trance that allowed her to think she was out with Greg Roberts, who took her heart and her virginity when she was 17.

She chose the latter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

one word~lazy

she's lazy with those she meets, making them introduce themselves, allowing them into her circle of self. she's lazy with those who fall in love with her, finding it far too difficult to put forth the effort to love back. she's lazy with exercise...why walk down the street to the gym when you can do isometrics?

she's lazy when it comes to moving on, making you be the one to break it off, break it up. that way, she's never to blame... she figures if you have to have a sin, sloth is a good one... and if someone tells her differently; she's too lazy to listen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

one word~alert

finally! i have the internet back!!


need to stay awake, stay alert... be on the lookout. i used to take the little facebook tests, you know, how long would you survived in a zombie attack, and i would laugh about dying in the first day.

i've lasted five days since it started. they say after 21 it's, only, what? 16 more to go? i need to believe that..16 more days, and i'm safe. still, they said it would never happen, either. and it did. it was a fluke, they said. if i keep the belief in them, and believe the 21 days to the cycle, i can keep my sanity.

the day i stop thinking that...well, i've kept one bullet, just in case, just for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

one word~vows

we take vows of all sorts in life; marriage vows, vows to be honest, vows to seek revenge. it's a word of great intensity, one we seldom keep. the vows of being true to one person fade, it's far easier to lie (even a little) and taking revenge takes second place to sitting on our asses and doing nothing more than thinking of what we would do, oh, yes! what'd we do.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

one word~spun

she spun around, arms out, looking up to the sky, feet moving in a rapid circle as she closed her eyes and dropped to the ground, allowing the lovely feeling of the world moving in crazy ways until she was balanced... allowing her to repeat the performance over and over on this lazy spring day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

one word~reserved

her laugh was full-bodied and rich, never the reserved form she was told was far more acceptable to young women of that time. it spoke of all she was; warm, loving, happy with life.

thankfully, she never did succumb to the dictates of her mother, never losing that huge guffaw that was hers and hers alone.

it's what i still remember when i think back--glad i inherited it, mindful only of what i am laughing about when i let loose, and not what people think of the sound.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

sunday scribblings~human

The Other

It was her hope to be like the other one in the house, to be able to walk the way she did and hold things firmly in her hands. She dreamed of it at night; images of what she’d seen during the day touching her, connecting, becoming real enough that she knew when she awoke, she’d look for a pair of shoes to slip on and wear while she did her daily errands.

With each morning came the abrupt awareness that she was still not like the other, that they had basic differences in so many areas, especially the one that kept them from conversing in a manner that would possibly bring satisfaction to both. This fact made her irritable every morning....she’d shun the other and stay silent and still until coaxed out of her bad temper.

No matter how she desired it, how she yearned for it, how she concentrated, focused her strong will to cause her body to change...she knew she'd never be like the other, the one she relied on for almost everything.

Her long ago far away memories told her there was a time when the other was inferior, and those like herself were gods. Times changed the order, and now, the human was in charge... and she, the feline member of the duo, could do nothing more than be secretly envious of the other’s abilities, falling back on open disdain of any and all attempts to befriend her.... taking bitter pleasure in watching the other try to woo her into accepting a subservient role; and completely rejecting the advances. And, occasionally, when she was particularly peeved or had a deep desire to remind the other who was really in charge--she’d wee in the clothes hamper, just because she could.

Friday, July 3, 2009

one word~surround

it's easy to surround yourself with those who praise you, who say nothing to upset the boat, those who will read whatever you write, and always smile and nod and be pleasant.

the best i've done is get to the point of if i don't like it, i say nothing. i can't pretend to like or be someone i'm not. it may not earn me friends, but, it lets me face myself in the mirror and know i'm true to myself as well as those in my life.

maybe i shouldn't be a film critic after all... this method of working isn't really the best idea when you are in the business of critique.