Overcast Meditations

Gray and grayer outside. I’m in my local Oregon Tavern Age joint drinking a dark beer. John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” plays. That song seems so naive today and almost dangerous considering what’s going in American small towns in the so called heartland.

I’m reading Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and marveling how ornate the writing is and how the novelist frequently makes short digressions to expound intimate personal philosophies. I guess I do that in my fiction but they are never really personal, mostly social or political.

I bought a Playboy from 1972 for five bucks the other day. Usually a vintage edition goes for $15-20. This one had the centerfold ripped off, hence the cheaper price. No big deal. I always read Playboy for the articles.

What a time machine reading this “men’s” magazine. Many of the liquor ads featured men reading books. There was 7000-word interview with a former American army counterintelligence officer who described all the secret assassination programs in Vietnam that he refused to participate in. There were letters from incarcerated men who were serving 30 years for possession of marijuana. There were four short stories! Sexist cartoons. There was a long article about the New England Patriots preseason camp where the players lived in college dorms and drank every night before practice. I dug the ads from 8-track players and record clubs. There was a feature on how a Democrat could win his party’s

nomination for President. You had to play dirty and also give away cool merchandise to the convention delegates, like monogrammed nail clippers (Hubert Humphrey’s campaign).

I missed that heyday and I wish I hadn’t. It seems so much ragtag, richer and preferable than what our current culture offers. Of course Henry Kissinger was around and committing war crimes and winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dad and I had a good laugh the other day. He lived longer than Henry Kissinger. We had a bet going on that!

I saw an elderly homeless man riding a pink kids bicycle while carrying a bag of cans and swigging from a fifth of Jack Daniels. It was a poem that I didn’t have to write.

I put up the vintage outdoor Christmas blow-mold statues. They look sort of goofy and mismatched but if they cheer one person up, why not?

Absolutely nothing is happening in this joint. Good.

Wait, something just happened. A homeless man bundled in layers just walked in. He ordered a bloody mary and is now playing a slot machine.

Tom Petty is now playing. I can’t believe he’s dead and Dick Cheney is alive.

I’ve been thinking about my writing goals for 2024. They haven’t yet come into focus. I wonder if the subject of homelessness will continue to pervade my creative mind like it has done the past three years.