Sunday, November 24, 2019

One Eyed King of the Court of Mysteries

My Friend Maggie came to visit one fine Tuesday afternoon.
Well, if were are going to be honest, she came to visit the Thursday before, we all left for the week-end on a gig, we came back Monday evening, and began the Visit on Tuesday.
We got up too early, as I misunderstood the instructions about what time my Kid had to be at school. So I made some strong Coffee, and we chatted about this and that until it was time to take the kid in.
One of those things was "so, what do you want to do or see?"
"it's your town" she said.
We decided to go to the abalone church. It wasn't a church anymore, it was semi abandoned, and now lay mostly in ruins.
It was originally built by a pair of brothers. Controversial contractors who were known for their eccentricities. Aside from the main house, there were out buildings and spires, grand arches and walls, all covered in abalone shells. They called it, "The court of mysteries". It was their house at first, and later, was bought by a local church who adorned all the spires with Coptic crosses. after they left, it sat abandoned.
When I was in my twenties, it was one of many drinking spots for the under age set, and unfortunately suffered from vandalism. I had not been there in many years, but it seemed like a good place to check out.
We pulled the car up in front and got out. Even in its sorry state, it was a thing of beauty.
We had intended on taking some publicity picture there, but as we walked up to the chain link fence across the entrance, there were a few problems. One, several no trespassing signs, which normally wouldn't be much of a deterrent, but then there was #2, a man sitting on the "porch" of the house, keeping his eye on us as we walked up.
We kept a polite distance, busying ourselves with taking pictures of the archway and some of the spires. Then the man got up and walked down the gravel path to the  entry arch.
I knew what was coming. the private property speech. So we took a few steps back towards the road and got ready to leave.
He walked up the the arch a few feet from us. "Hey" he said.
he was wearing a stained tee-shirt and shorts, and flip flops, even though it was winter. But there was something else...
"I know,  sorry," I stared "we'll go..."
He interrupted me. "if you godown to the end there,  to where the fence ends, just down by the corner of the property, you can come inside. Probably get some better pictures"
I did not expect that.
"Thanks" I said, and gave him a nod.
We went in and took some pictures.
He explained that he was the caretaker, and as long as we just wanted to take some pictures, it was OK with him.
There was something not quite right.
He looked a little odd.
Maybe got started on the Thunderbird early, I thought.
We went inside the grounds and took a lot of pictures. He acted as a sort of tour guide, giving us tidbits of trivia as we went from structure to structure.
Then as we were about finished, he asked "do you want to see something cool?"
"Sure" we said, almost in unison.
"Follow me" he said, and led us over to the main house.
That was when I heard the narrators voice: "They then followed the stranger into the abandoned building..."
my daydream was interrupted by a voice. "Look at this"the voice said.
it was the caretaker. "you notice anything?" he asked.
He was pointing at a star made of abalone on the wall near the front door.
I shrugged.
"Five pieces" he said, mater of factly.
He was right. The star was made of five pieces of abalone shell.
I shrugged again.
He went on. "Every other deliberate pattern here has seven pieces. all of them. but not this one..." He tapped the star with his finger. "Why?" he asked.
I shrugged again. It did't mean anything to me, but, for him it seemed to be a thing.
He answered his own question. "No one knows." he said, "but I'll tell you, these guys did nothing by accident. it means something..." He turned towards me, and locked me in his gaze.
That was when I saw it.
By god, he had only one eye.
The other socket was occupied by a murky off color orb that did not follow his gaze, but rather remained fixed on a point only it knew.
"It means something, and I am going to figure it out" he said.
He walked over to a big weathered overstuffed recliner that faced out on the property.
"I am the king of the court of mysteries!" he said. He then fell backwards into the chair, his arms stretched wide. "And this is my kingdom!"
His smile was that of a man whose contentment was a dream to most.
I gave him a slight bow.
"your majesty"

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hellhouse Tales # 7. The Strange case of Rich Bill

Hellhouse Tales # 7. The Strange case of Rich Bill

I remember the first time I met Rich Bill.
We were, as usual, sitting around the kitchen table wishing we had beer. That was one of the two general states at the Hellhouse, drinking beer, or wishing we had beer. This particular afternoon was a transition state, as we were about to go to the liquor store, and were waiting for Dave to get dressed.
There was a voice in the Hall.
"Knock Knock! ... Yo!"  said the voice
"In here" Klutch said.
The voices' owner appeared, holding a six pack of Anchor Steam, our favorite beer.
"Hey," he said, "I brought my bike in to the hall, I just got it and kinda don't want to leave it outside."
"What kinda bike?" I asked.
I was a bike messenger, and a bike mechanic, so these things genuinely interested me.
"Come check it out." he said, setting the beer on the table.
We walked into the hall, and there leaning against the wall was one of the sleekest looking race bikes I had ever seen. I was struck by the thinness of the frame.
"Carbon fiber" he said, running a finger down the center tube, "the rims are aircraft aluminum, most of the hardware is titanium alloy. Pretty sweet!"
I agreed, "Pretty sweet."
We went back into the kitchen and grabbed a couple beers. Dave came in, and Bill handed him a beer, "Hey man" he said.
"Hey," Dave said, "Thanks"
That was when I first me Rich Bill.
Bill settled into a chair. "So, party tonight?"
We were in fact, going to a party that evening, and assumed that was the party in question.
It turned out he was going as well, and said he would come back after his ride and go with us.
His name wasn't really Rich Bill, That was just our nick-name for him because he seemed to be rich.
He would come around, usually bring beer, shoot the breeze, and show off some new super expensive gadget he had recently acquired. I say show off, but it was more sharing. He was a geniunely nice guy, and well, always brought beer.
I started seeing him at all the parties. Usually with some exotic expensive booze, some cool gadget, and tales of adventure.  Once he showed up to play ultimate, and even had his own custom Frisbee. Seemed everybody was friends with rich bill.
 One afternoon, again he came by, brought beer, shot the breeze, and then left, promising to return to accompany us to the Party that evening.
Clutch, Dave and I sat at the kitchen table finishing the beer.
"So, " I asked Dave, "how do you know Rich Bill?"
Dave stared at me, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, originally, is he one of your Colorado buddies?"
Dave looked at me like I was crazy. "I met him through you, he's your friend.."
That made no sense. "He's not my friend. I never saw him before that day he showed up with his new bike. I assumed he was a friend of yours..."
We both looked at clutch, who just shook his head. "I thought you guys knew him..."
We started going through our interactions with him, trying to figure a common thread.
We couldn't find any.
Like I had said, I never saw him before he showed up on his bike. But, he was carrying our favorite beer, asking about a party we were going to. The assumption was that he must be friends with someone we knew, and we each assumed it was each other.
We started making phone calls, but everywhere, it was the same,
"I thought he was a friend of yours..."
Turned out nobody knew Rich Bill.
We began listing the things we knew about him.
It was a short list.
Once you eliminated all the things that we thought we knew, which turned out to be assumptions,
The only thing we could honestly say about Rich Bill was that he seemed to be able to afford, or at least aquire, expensive things.
I remember I once asked him what he did for a living, and he started giving me a vague non-answer, only to then direct the conversation to something else.
That seems to be the case with the other guys as well.
The only thing we really knew was that we had some questions for him.
We waited for him to show up at the Hellhouse that evening to go with us to the party.
But he didn't show up.
We went to the party, assuming he would be there.
But, again, he never showed up.
In fact, we never saw him again, and to the best of my knowledge, neither did any of our friends.
He vanished as mysteriously as he arrived.
leaving behind only questions,
and empty beer bottles.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Cat, A play in one Act.

The Cat, A play in one Act.
An image of a digital clock is projected in red on the black curtains. The clock reads 6:00 am. The curtains part, and there is darkness. Then we hear a mornfull sound…

“Hello? Hellooo? Hellooooo? Helloooooooooo? Helloooooooooooo?”
( The lights come on suddenly, and you see me getting out of bed) “Jezzus! What? What do you want?”
Cat: “Oh! Hi friend! I’m hungry!”(weaves in and out of my feet)” Hungry! Hungry! Hungry! Hungry! I love you! Hungry! Hungry!”
Me: “Damnit! Out of the way, Yes, I’ll feed you!”
Cat: (stopping every half foot to turn around, causing me to trip over him) “Are you coming? Over here? Hungry! I love you! Hungry! Hungry! I love you! Are you coming?”
(I pick up his bowl and put food into it) There you go!
Cat: "Oh thank you! So Hungry!" (chomp, crunch)
( I get a cup of coffee and just as I sit on the couch, the cat comes walking up)
Cat: "Oh! Hello friend! I’m so hungry! (weaves in and out of my feet) Hungry! so hungry! hungry! hungry! I love you! hungry! hungry!"
Me: “You could not have eaten that fast! “( I go into the kitchen,  and the dog has eaten all the cat food) “Why did you let the dog eat your food?”
Cat: “Well, I started to eat, but then I wandered over there and was licking my butt, and well…”
Me: “Fine!” (I give him more food) “There you go!”
Cat: “Oh thank you! thank you! So hungry!”(chomp, crunch)
 (just as I sit on the couch to drink my coffee, the cat comes walking up)
Cat: "Oh! Hi friend! I sure am hungry!" (again, the dog has eaten his food)
Me: "If you would just fricking eat, the dog would stop stealing your food!"
Cat: "I started to, but then there was my butt, and…"
Me: "Ok, This is the last time…. ( I fill his bowl, and stand there. He takes about three bites, and wanders off, so I put the bowl up where the dog can't get it. I get my coffee, and go to check my email. As soon as I sit down, I hear the cat…)
Cat: “Hello? Hellooo? Hellooooo? Helloooooooooo? Helloooooooooooo? Hellooooooooooooooooo?” ( Each vocalization is lower than the previous. It sounds like he is dying)
Me: “What? What do you want?”
Cat: “Oh! Hi friend! I’m really hungry!”(weaves in and out of my feet)” hungry! hungry! hungry! hungry! I love you! hungry! really hungry!”
( we go into the kitchen, I get down his bowl) “there you go!”
Cat: (he sniffs it) "It’s old! I want good fresh new food!"
( I pick up the bowl and shake it, then put it down again) “there you go!”
Cat: "Yes! Delicious fresh new food! Yum! (chomp, crunch)
( again he eats about two bites, and wanders off, so again I put the bowl up where the dog can't get it, and again go to check my email.
As soon as I sit down, I hear the cat…)
Cat: “Hello? Hellooo? Hellooooo? Helloooooooooo? Helloooooooooooo? Hellooooooooooooooooo?”
Me: “What? What? What do you want?”
Cat: “Oh! Hi friend! I’m hungry!”(weaves in and out of my feet)” Hungry! hungry! hungry! hungry! I love you! hungry! hungry!”
( again we go into the kitchen, again I get down his bowl) “there you go!”
Cat: (he sniffs it) “It’s old...”
Me: “Eat your goddamn food!”
(Again, As soon as I sit down, I hear the cat…)
Cat: “Hello? Hellooo? Hellooooo? Helloooooooooo? Helloooooooooooo? Hellooooooooooooooooo?”
I come into the living room, and just stare at him.
Cat: “Hungry...”
(Of course, the dog has eaten his food)
Me: “Why?”
Cat: “You didn’t shake it”
(Curtains close)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hellhouse tales #5, Too much for MTV

  "Summer of love?!? What utter hippy bullshit!"
Dave was on a rant. We had gone down to the liquor store, and it took what seemed like an eternity just to pick up a 12 pack of Anchor Steam. It was 1987, the 20th anniversary of 1967,  the "Summer Of Love" and there was a party taking up a good portion of Golden Gate Park and much of the Haight. 
     And, since we lived literally on Ashbury Street. Just a few houses up from Haight, and a few down from the legendary "dead" house, it was a wall-to-wall clusterfuck of tripping hippy wanna-bees, frat bros, and assorted party tourists making Haight street into a sea of pot smoke and tie-dye.
Dave let us in and we went into the kitchen. I looked around for something to open a beer with. We had no bottle openers. It was a rule. You had to be able to open a beer with whatever was available.
Dave grabbed a spoon from the sink, and popped the cap off an anchor steam. Klutch and I followed suit.
"Goddamn hippies!" dave exclaimed, "We should have a huge fucking BBQ!  Fill this whole valley with the smell of roasting meat!! That would show them! Goddamn vegetarians…"
I hoisted my beer, "Meat loaf, not war!"
"Fuck peace and love" Klutch cheered, "Piece of meat!"
And thus, the Summer of Meat began.
We formulated a plan.
We got good and drunk.
We made tee shirts with psychedelic script that said "Summer of Meat"
We made buttons that said "USDA Choice", "Meat Loaf, Not war!" and one that was a peace sign, and under it, "of pork".
We filled a backpack with what was left of the beer, grabbed the Croquet mallets, and headed out into the crowed.
We chanted our Meat slogans, we waved the mallets, we drank beer.
That was pretty much it for the plan.
Then there was the camera crew.
There was a commotion to our left, some sort of reporters...
"These guys, these guys…" said a voice. Suddenly there was a big TV camera in our faces.
"Hey! I am from MTV, and we are here covering the outrageous party that is the summer of love!"
He was using a suave singsong hip announcers voice.
"You guys look like you're having a good time…"
Dave cut him off
"We're are here to raise meat awareness"
"More Meat!" I chanted, "More Meat, kill and eat! More Meat!
Klutch and Dave joined in chanting.
Our interviewer just looked confused, and then put on a resigned smile.
"So!... What drugs are you guys on?
Dave waved his mallet "Drugs are for Hippies! Pure protien and MSG Man! M….S….G!"
It became obvious that we were not what the interviewers were looking for, but they pushed on "So what’s with the Mallets? You guys expecting a problem?"
 Dave shook his mallet at him. "Hippies are the problem, more meat, more peace!
"Piece of Meat!" I shouted.
Our interviewer shook his head and motioned to the cameraman, who stopped filming.
Our interview had ended
Dave didn't care. "This is the problem!" he said, motioning to the crowd with his mallet. "These people! All these goddamn people!"
As they left, and were swallowed up the crowd, Dave shouted after them, "If it wasn't for vegetarians, there wouldn't be any WAR!
But they were gone.
I shrugged. "I guess we are too much for MTV"
Klutch nodded, "And we're out of Beer"
Dave held his mallet out like a lance "To the liquor store!"
And with that, we were gone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

…in which none of this ever happened.

So I was granted an audience with the Dali Lama.
They brought me in and I sat down on the floor. 
He stared at, or possibly through me.
After what seemed like a long time, he asked (through an interpreter) 
”Do you have a question? “
“yeah,” I said, “but first I thought we could play some Ukulele.”
 So we went through a few chords, and jammed for a while trying to figure out some old Spot 1019 tunes. 
After a bit, I put down my uke and took a deep breath. 
“Great teacher,” I asked him, “Am I Crazy?”
 Without hesitation he replied , “Yes” and went back to strumming,
G7-F-C7 , a classic Hawaiian turnaround.
I was taken aback. I thought it would be more, I don’t know, deep.
Something huge and profound like,
“The Universe is crazy, and you are part of the Universe” or some thing like that. 
I guess I looked troubled cause he asked, “Does that trouble you?”
“Yeah,” I stuttered, “kind of...”
“Then you are not crazy enough” he said, “Go, and be truly crazy”
“Well ok then...” I said, and started packing up my stuff.
“Wait” he said
Here it comes, I thought, enlightenment...
“Yes?” I asked
“Show me that B flat again, it’s tricky”
I looked at him, “Tell you what, holiness, you buy me a rice bowl, and I’ll show you all kinds of chords”
“Rock and Roll!” he said,
 And with a high five to the big golden Buddah at the door, we headed off for some chow.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Nothing important.

So, in the band we tend to drink a lot, and sometimes it is water. The venues generally supply us with bottles of what ever is the local discount store deal. So, with up to six of us swilling from identical plastic bottles, it became necessary to mark them so that we knew who's was who's.
     Each of us has our mark. Mine is this symbol:

     Once I was asked what the symbol meant. "Oh," I said, "that's the Chinese character for water"
They were impressed.
 "I didn't know you knew Chinese" they said.
   I was of course being a smart-ass, as no, I do not know Chinese
 I could have told them the truth, that it was simply my initials, T.K, and meant "Tiki King"
But instead I decided to joke with them.
       However, I recently found out that the Chinese character for water is this:

So there you have it.
Like I said, nothing important, but I find it amusing that sometimes you can do your best to mess with someone, and instead life messes with you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


     Sometime around 1987, I was reading one of my sisters books, a book of poetry written by a somewhat famous (at the time) avant-garde poet. 
I set the book down and regarded my sister across the table.
“This is crap,” I told her.
She looked up from her newspaper and took a sip of coffee.
“I like it” she said, setting her cup back on the table. “it’s interesting”
I will admit, I am not a big fan of poetry to begin with, but even still this felt forced, like someone trying to be “cool.” 
“I dunno… I like art that makes you think, not art that tells you what to think”
She shrugged “You think you could do better?”
I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen and wrote the following:

"Flitting, Flying, Floating,
About my head in circles,
Until I hit it with a flaming stick match.
From where I sit,
I cannot see the people
Although they may,
Or may not
Be wandering aimlessly.
I throw rocks
And wonder
Who might scream?
In agony…
All the while,
The broom sweeps slowly
And I in my chair
Move a fraction of an inch
To the door."

I slid the paper over to her, and she read it.
“I like it” she said, “It’s interesting”
 “It’s Crap” I said.
She then thumbtacked it to the wall over the table, where it remained for the next few years before she moved to New York

Several years later, I received a brochure announcing the grand re-opening of the Carlton Arms hotel in New York. where each room was decorated by a different artist. 
People magazine called it "a live-in museum"
The Sunday times said it was “a window in New York for artists from around the world"
My sister and brother in law had been working there and were organizing the opening Gala.

On the back of the brochure was a poem.
“Flitting, flying, floating…