The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2011

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MAY 2011 Issue

Suicide by the Bathtub Light


My shrink says that she understands where I’m coming from because she reads the New Yorker. I tell her the New Yorker says nothing about my life. She says okay, then tell me about your life. I tell her that I’m choking on fear. A society controlled by fear. A country glued by fear. Fear of being killed, fear of being raped, fear of not being able to open file attachments. She asks me if I ever think about killing myself. I tell her all the time. She says maybe I need a break. I say fine, I’ll go to Vancouver.


The bathtub in the Victorian Hotel in Vancouver is perfect. Communal, socialist, immaculately white: I picture a German tourist walking into a pool of blood, wrists slashed to the point where the tendons are hanging out like bad wiring. Superior smile on my face, look of a man who has gotten away with something.

I finish shaving and walk back down the hall to my room. There’s a small bed, a wood desk and a gray radiator. Henry Miller Time. I crack one then go over to the window and look down at the heroin dealers. My sources tell me that in contrast to the brown tar heroin in America, the heroin in Vancouver is white and fluffy. I crane my neck out the window to look at the snowy mountains. This has got to be the only city on the planet where you can buy dope and watch people night skiing at the same time.

East Hastings Street, the Grand Union Hotel. They don’t make bars like this anymore: junkies playing keno and watching hockey, faceless guy on pedal steel playing Sad Hank in the corner, a few like me pretending to be more durable than we really are. Not part of anything, not part of nothing. Oh, how there was once a time when there was once a time…

A couple of guys at the bar see me sitting alone and invite me over. There’s a kindness here, a lack of suspicion. Every interaction about two percent nicer, two percent more pleasant. Added up over the course of a day, a week a month, a year—this is a different country. As one pours me a Molson from their pitcher, the other asks me what I’m doing in Vancouver…

I tell them that Americans used to come up here to avoid the draft, but now we just come up here to avoid America.


I Said Good Mornin’ America How Are Ya….Don’t Ya Know Me I’m Your Native Son!

Yeah right.

Hungover. Go downstairs to breakfast. Miss it by five minutes. Hit the wet and gray streets hungry with my collar up, like that beat kid from The 400 Blows. We all need an image. I look up at the buildings and study the balconies: barbecues, funky blankets, cheap beer, smokes, and other signs of the middle class. The economic balance catches me off guard, goes against the life I know back in the homeland. America has fallen so far behind, that it’s like I’m the poor immigrant now. Eeen mah cuntry America, boutiful places to leev are only for verry verry rich peeples. Eeen mah cuntry America, verry stylleesh places to leev are only for 90-hour-a-week asshole motherfuckers who no piss on you if your head was burning with da fire.

But here you have for regular peoples, yes? Here, the regular peoples geet to have life. This verry deefrent from where I come. Verry verry deefrent. Eeen mah cuntry, we geet zick they say go die like dog in corrner. Eeen mah cuntry, they give guns to these how you say—sheet for heads—who go to mall and shoot everyone. Eeen mah cuntry, everyone scared of each other. Eeen mah cuntry, only few people get to be people and have life– you understand? I like the way you have better. Make me happy, take away my hangover and make me want to marry one of your women so I can stay.

How much to buy a woman from this place you call Manitoba? Eeen mah cuntry, everything have price.


Sitting on the seawall smoking a cigarette with notebook:

In stillness, mist.
In movement, rain.
The texture changes,
the subject remains.
Inside is nausea,
an ocean of pain.
In stillness, mist.
In movement, rain.

I walk around the thumb of Vancouver and get to Yaletown, the upscale section. You can talk about existential meaning, cognitive therapy, reiki, poetry, anti-depressants, growth and self-reflection, but for my money nothing has ever made me like life more and want to kill myself less than getting down in a cool spot with good party people.

I walk into 100 Nights, swank joint with a pumping sexual vibe. Red wine and lipstick. Tight black dresses. Long legs. Designer heels. The kind of scene that some would call disgustingly sexist and bourgeois, but that’s only because they haven’t been laid in five years. The American drag isn’t all about the moral bullshit of the Christian Right—that’s to be expected—but the brutal uptightness of the overeducated Left. No real change can ever come from a group that sees sex as an act of oppression.

The owner comes over and introduces himself: Peter Girges, 31-years old. Burning flame. Rocking out. Crazytalk about everything now. The kind of wunderkind who makes you feel like a jerk for being bored. The drinks and party come our way. I start to feel drunk on life again. The straight up pornography of it. Sweating stinking stallion of existence. The wild glory of being doomed. I don’t live for country. I don’t live for society. I don’t live for political parties. I live for my own truths. My will is my own. My morality is my own. My ideals are my own. My standards are mine. And I will fail, flounder and probably want to kill myself until the day I die, but only a fool would let something as stupid as America put him in a bathtub at the Victorian Hotel—although it would have been perfect.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2011

All Issues