Sunday, February 27, 2011

On lunch

An inquisitive young girl sits patiently, waiting quietly to eat her sushi, looking around the store cafeteria while her country club parents pray over lunch. I wonder when they are going to realize she doesn't look to them for answers anymore. Damn you, school and your science!!!

I turn back to my coffee. "Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Bosses

Management: snappy dresser, wears no socks, doesn't get hands dirty

K: in over his head, just a chef, quit to be just a chef at a restaurant, musician, just wanted to be warm

CrazyLady: crazy, over-share-er, always does what she is told even when it makes no sense or is a bad idea

The Kid: didn't get no respect, didn't take the job seriously, enjoyed addictions & ladies, quit to go back to a restaurant, then quit restaurant, still just a kid

Self: it was only temporary

BossMan: certain of himself, self-described as tricky/devious, believes cavemen rode dinosaurs at the beginning of time (2,011 years ago), once hit former boss with chair, stole policeman's gun, poisoned wife

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The First Few Weeks. Delirium III.

I work alternately in a refrigerator or between two fires.

7. Management.
The day begins as all days begin. With an alarm clock. And misery. Later there is coffee, ideally. Some days there is no coffee. Those are bad days. Though, these days, all the days have been bad. Today management will drop by unexpectedly. The idealism will be infectious for about twenty minutes. Then the infection will set in.

1. Training.
Day 1.
“There is a lot to learn and no time. We’re understaffed and I’m leaving in less than a month. After that you are going to have to take over. But don’t worry. I’ll show you how to work smart not hard. Now I’ve already cut this beef and I’m not going to do it over to show you. I’ll show you that next time. But here is how we prep it. We need egg whites. Do you know how to separate an egg?” - Hammer. All in one breath. Without taking his eyes of the meat. At least I’m getting paid.


I would relate more details. There are endless details. Touch of pepper. Add salt to this when. When and where and why. But remember it’s all up to you when you do it. Rules? Guidelines? Health code? Who knows? But details are irrelevant. There is food. I cooked it. People bought it. And presumably ate it without complication. It is best not to search for meaning where there is no meaning. Total hours for the week: 56.

4. I can’t wait to quit this job.
I can’t wait to quit this job.

19. We begin anew
There is a malaise that spreads like a contagion. I see it in their eyes. Dead, empty eyes. I see mine reflected back at me in the mensroom mirror. The air is heavy with the stench of bleach, semen, and charred flesh. My skin has gone pallid. I am in disarray. My body aches and the fear is setting in. This is not -


6. Scheduling.
10 hours a day. Six days a week. And of those hours, only about one a day is real, actual work. At least cube monkeys have the internet to play with.

The fog hugs the ground, coiling through the parking lot as if it had a mind of its own, a destructive will. I cut through it towards the dim neon of the empty store. The air is acrid, foul, and reeking of death. The night crew is finishing up, putting away their mops and insect heads. A million eyes turn towards me as I punch in.


19. I am still alive.

13. Payoffs.
There are four separate inspection agencies. None of them inspect anything. Mold has colonized every walk-in. Fungal spores cloud the air of our prep room. Rat shit remains the primary cause of slip and falls. There are four separate inspection agencies. They each take their own cut. Everyone gets a taste. The spice must flow.


27. One of us.
After a month they seem to trust me. They clue me in on what I already know. This is a Nexus. The primary one for our perfect little corner of the Blight and we do a brisk trade. The rest either they keep to themselves or even they don't know.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Questions to which gesturing with a recently sharpened 270mm sashimi knife is a sufficient if not customer appropriate response:

Do you have a men's room?

Do you still do cold cuts?

How much is the soup?

Wait, did you stop making sandwiches?

Where're the spoons?

Do you have lids for the soup?

How much is this falafel?

Where's the egg/chicken/tuna salad?

Is the soup charged by weight or what?

Do you have anywhere that we can sit down and eat?

Do you have spoons?

Where do you keep the soups?

Where do I pay?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be careful. They're watching. Delirium II

She nods towards one of the hanging surveillance cameras trained on the registers and then to the beer I'm buying. "Be careful. They're watching."
It's my first day.

I imagine it to be a cramped little room with a hunched old man, unshaven & with coke bottle glasses, watching. Just watching. Like the Pearl Station. Reports flying off to nowhere, still watching:
The cameras pan the store. Checking customer bank accounts. Sufficient funds. That woman is not wearing a brassier. Nice. That man is stealing from the salad bar. Investigate. Only 3 outstanding warrants. The police need not be notified. They return to their regular hobby: watching the staff.

The Hammer takes me back to show me dry storage. A narrow side hallway/fire exit with shelves overstuffed. "This is our dry storage. Where we keep the rice and -" his phone rings, he checks it - "if you need to take a call, do it back here - " nods up at a camera - "they can't see you back here -" takes the call.
It's my first day.

Wrinkled decrepit man, staring with lidless eyes, gesticulating frantically, teeth crumbling to dust and falling from his gaping maw, drool pooling at his feet. Watching as I toil. Why is he watching?

I blinked. “Excuse me?”

“I said, ‘is there anywhere we can sit down and eat this?’”

“Yeah. Café’s right over there.”


Friday, February 18, 2011

Shackleton's Scotch

“Antarctica is not and has never been the home base to Predators or any other Alien Master Races. It is not Atlantis and there are no secrets buried in the ice…”

- Official Press Release from Antarctic Preservation Commission, LLC

The ice could not harm us.

The claimed it was a preservation issue. The hut was a historic site and they didn’t want to damage it or the booze buried in the ice. They claimed they were testing the scotch and the brandy to see if it was still good, if it was a marketable brand. Brand management is all the rage. The public, as much as the paid any attention, lapped it up. Smokey aftertaste. Plenty of peat. They joked: could this qualify as aged 100 years. Ha. No. But brand management and a lost recipe didn’t explain the circus. Didn’t explain the gathering of great and diverse minds, occult resonance. Didn’t explain the complete lack of media inquiry.

“Mankind knows no limits or bounds. We shall prevail over the cold, over Gaia’s frozen cunt.”

- Overheard at APC press conference.

The ritual was simple

In 1908, Ernest Shackleton set off on an expedition in a ship Christened "Rebellion." The goal, never fully disclosed to the public, was to destroy evidence of a previous (clandestine and failed) expedition. To unlearn everything they had learned on the ice, and to keep any and all others from returning, for the risk was too great. Aleister Crowley had been slated to join him. Everyone who knew what he was doing knew what he was going was wrong. It was said that the sailors heard ghosts howling in the frozen desert.

"Day 23: Digging continues apace and we seem to have found something today. If it is what we have been looking for, then Reginald truly deserves the £100 reward."

- last entry from the ship's log of Thomas Magog, Captain of the HMS Moria

A candle. Blood. Focus. And Shackleton's demonic Scotch.

I sip icy gin in the late afternoon. The news has come to me from several sources, is there any truth they ask, they worry so. Yes. It has been found. But they don’t know what it is.

“And the pit shall thawed [and the] beast[s] shall pour forth […] like devouring insects, like serpents […] and they will know no limits or [b]ounds and the [whole of] creation shall be […] razed.”

- The Apocalypse of Judas 12:22, fragment

This wasn’t about booze.

The permafrost was not an ideal location to perform a summoning, but one makes do. The bottles wouldn't unearth themselves. And the 12 nations would never resolve would retain ownership of the elixirs. This wasn't about a recipe, this was about power.

“When hell freezes over.”

- Jessica McDougal, response to when she would like to go on a date with me, c. 1992

You could almost see the gates straining to open as the seals fell away.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knife work

I move the blade in circles. Slow, then faster. Is faster better?
I move the blade in circles. Ellipses, really. Ellipsis.

The stone is dirty. BossMan soaked it in oil and basically turned it into a fancy colored rock. Told me that was how it was done. He has five years of experience. Clearly this manner of juvenile fuckup is not par for the course. Surely. Why would I have been replaced otherwise? Why indeed? I've managed to mostly clean it. They weren't going to give me a new one. Not when BossMan and BossWife prefer to sharpen their $20 blades with a ten cent scissor sharper.

I move the blade in circles. Two minutes. Flip. Two minutes. Test the sharpness on my thumbnail.

I don't really know how to sharpen a knife on a stone. No one ever told me/ever showed me me. I hope this is right. At least it works. A lot better than...

I move the blade in circles. My back tightens up. It's harder work than you think, the repetitive motion, over and over, I roll my neck, crack my back, stretch, keep moving the blade:

It can score my fingernail and cut through the dishtowel. It's sharp enough for the fish. Tomorrow I need I to sharpen up a knife for sushi.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Delirium I

Working hours like this I could have been an ibanker. I could have been they smirking guy, caustically indifferent to my role in having caused the breakdown of the global economy. "If it ain't broke, break it." I mean, I haven't seen Finn all week. The first years are so formative. Whiskey. Bed. No time to think about it. Back to the fridge in the morning.

I see Common playing basketball with a pizza. Steve-O is shopping for cheese with his grandparents. Olivia Newton John wants kombucha, chicken, to get physical?

This can't be ...

I put on my hoodie and roll up the sleeves. Don't need to cover them with avocado again. That shit stains like a Pollock. I put on my uni, the dumb as shit hat, the still dirty apron. I should ask the Hammer where it was we get clean ones.

K is standing in the oven, rubbing his hands together, looking guilty/satisfied: "It's just so cold."

The room is wet. The air is wet. K has turned on the sinks, full hot, full blast. He just can't take the cold. It brings the temp up a few degrees, sure. But it makes the room into a humid mess. The cooling unit drips on my head. I hate being the new guy.

The Hammer comes in swearing about something not being where he thought he left it. Racial epithets in southern drawl spanglish ensue. Something about the genitals. I laughs weakly. K tells him to shut up. His brother is off today otherwise there would have been another fight. The Colombian never breaks stride: "I do my job."

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Year With the Shining Prince: the beginning & a disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of speculative memoir. Which probably means it is mostly fiction. The thoughts, ideas, stories, reflections, & recollections are solely my own or my own adaptations of hearsay/heresy. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of any employer, associate, colleague, subordinate, student, teacher, friend, or relative. Past or future. Thus it is written, thus shall it be so.
I. In the beginning...

I woke up one day (about a year ago) in South Florida in much the same way that Michael Westin did. Except that I wasn't (and still am not yet) a burned spy. Didn't have many (any) marketable (or even black marketable) skills or friends with guns and a list of illicit contacts. Which is why his version of dazed, trapped, and resentful was made into a hit TV show and mine never will be. [Unless of course this tale becomes a break-out hit and is optioned and I won't say no to that kind of action. Just don't cast Shia.] Also, I didn't find myself stuck in Miami. No such luck. The Palm Beaches are just not my kind of cultural wasteland. I would complain about the weather, the lack of snow and mountains and recognizable seasons (much as I complained when I lived int he desert), but as I will get to as this journey down memories back lanes and forgotten highways continues, I quickly found myself in a position to never be able to take advantage of the fact that it is currently in the upper 70s while the rest of the country is reeling between one snowpaclypse to the next snowmageddon. Frankly, I would still rather be back in Brooklyn. It took me almost 2 months to make it to the beach. The beach is one of the few redeeming aspects of this part of the world. What did I do instead? I took a job paying me almost nothing that called for unnecessarily long hours IN A REFRIGERATOR.

[and Finn is up from his nap, so I guess that's all for now.]