Wednesday, November 20, 2019

WINDOWS MISSED



"It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.
The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.
But you had this idea you were going by train.
You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.
And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.
The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy—
at which point you probably realized

you had always loved the sea."

Naomi Shabib-Nye

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

LETTERS TO JAIL

Hey Clark!
Back about 10 years ago I went to the Green Bay unit to visit my son. While I was waiting for him to come out I saw you in line behind the window, waiting I suppose for a visitor.
Over the years I would check the TDCJ website and see what your status was. As always, following you was very entertaining. It seemed like any time I was compelled to look, you would be back in. Maybe I was just bad luck, if youbelieve in that kind of thing.
So New Years Eve last year my son called me. I friend of his had OD'd. We talked for a while. Every now and then when I would talk to my son about dope, your name would come up. I think it was the next day that I went on to the website, and Holy Shit, you'd been busted the night before.
Damn son, you just cant seem to stay out of Jail!
Anyway, I have another friend who had put together some clean time, decided to become a mountain climber, went on an expedition to climb Denali, up in Alaska. Its a 3 week ordeal, and he trained for a year to do it. Even climbed Ranier just for practice. When he got to Denali at last, the weather turned bad and they never made the summit. When he got back he was so devastated that all he knew to do was go get a big shot of dope and go on a six month peyote and mushroom filled run down through Mexico and South America, only to wind up in a flea bag hotel in Waco when the cops barged in and shut down his meth lab.
Anyway, I thought I'd send you a letter. Its probably not as entertaining as you were.
Me? I have 12 years clean now.
I remember one time you said to me "When I first moved in next door to you you always had money. I could always count on you if I needed a front on some money. Now, you never have any money".
Hahahaha...I wonder where it all went!
I've got a pretty good job theses days. 15 years now, same place.
If you want you can write me.
Good luck to you Clark

Steve from Little Taste of Sante Fe

Monday, November 18, 2019

LETTER TO A FRIEND


Hey Bryan!
Man, I’m sorry its taken so long to get to you. My writing juices have just almost been dried up! I hadn’t really posted anything since 10/25.
Been very busy. I started looking at houses to buy last month. My apartments had decided to raise my rent by 25%. That ought to be criminal, yes? So I gave notice and went house hunting.
I’ve got a contract on a house over in Meadowbrook. I shitty little house really, it needs wood siding replaced, paint, and has grading and drainage problems. The roof might make it another year or two. I’ll be lucky if it passes insurance inspection. These people that flip houses, they do all this sexy stuff inside, but forget the big stuff.  But it has a huge kitchen (big enough for bunk beds and a television) and a big master bedroom, like no house you’ve ever seen, and once I’d seen it I couldn’t un-see it. Me, leaning against the kitchen counter drinking coffee watching my kitchen television; me, sitting at my picnic table in the kitchen, just over from the formal dining room table set with fancy dishes from The Pottery Barn, waiting for a supper party to happen; me, lounging around the master bedroom in my smoking jacket, mint candy sitting on the pillow on the made up bed and artwork on the walls, and a big mahogany desk where I take care of business, maybe pick up a quick million on e-trade while three or four junior Playboy bunnies frolic and lounge around my huge combination bedroom/office/parlor and purr things like “Hurry Sugar, come back to bed”.
Anyway it’s a shitty little house that needs a lot of work on the outside. I could sure use your expertise.

We just finished having the groups 38th Anniversary. It was full of angst, drama,  sturm and drang, and I wont bore you with the details, or get involved with rumor and loose talk about what all went on. As Moneyhandler I can say we made about 600 bucks and no one got knifed in the parking lot so it was a complete success.
A friend of mine from High School, Bill, was asking me what we did at the group. Bill and  I, when we were Seniors at LD Bell were in the first High School philosophy class in the state of Texas. The teacher had tried for years to get it on the curricula, and finally had done it. She wanted 3 volunteers from the class to do a film presentation about the class to take to the State Teachers Convention. Bill and I did that. We were already buds, but that cemented it. It was about a 15 minute presentation, with Moody Blues music and everything, and except for the debate team, the only thing worth having gone to High School for!

I’l try to get another note off to you soon. I have to get your address from Trish. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a David Foster Wallace quote a ran into a few weeks ago. It really stuck with me, and in some way makes me think of you.

“What he'd do, he'd never go out to the length of the chain. He'd never even get out to where the chain got tight. Even if the mailman pulled up, or a salesman. Out of dignity, this dog pretended like he chose this one area to stay in that just happened to be inside the length of the chain. Nothing outside of that area right there interested him. He just had zero interest. So he never noticed the chain. He didn't hate it. The chain. He just up and made it not relevant. Maybe he wasn't pretending--maybe he really up and chose that little circle for his own world. He had a power to him. All of his life on that chain.”
― 
David Foster Wallace, The Pale King



Friday, October 25, 2019

THE EARWORM


Did you ever hear a song that you hadn’t heard in a long time, and the name of the song eluded you, its such a pity too, because it was always such a damn fine song for being an instrumental, and you can’t think of the name of it and its driving you mad and being an instrumental there is no chorus, there is no lyrical clue there, but the bass sounds like Kool and The Gangs Jungle Boogie, and the horns maybe like some Chuck Mangione would do when he isn’t starring in another Simpsons episode, so you just keep humming this instrumental over and over again, making that mouth music to the point where you are really getting pretty good at it, the bass line, then the sax, now you are a coronet, and totally syncopated, and suddenly you are throwing in a whistle or two when the flute kicks in, and then back to the bass, very stylish, and its still bugs the crap out of you what is the name of this fucking song, and its really too good to be Mangione, and it might be Miles Davis, except Miles Davis never got played on AM radio that you are aware of and this tune was such a hit it got played on AM radio while you cruised the loop smokin’ up a couple J’s so it might be Herbie Hancock because Watermelon Man was pretty good for that and you are humming it over and over and finally decide to crank up a Mangione tune on Youtube.
One bar in to “Feels So Good” you know it aint it, you hope to God is the only thing Mangione has ever done you are vaguely familiar with, you discover something horrible has happened.
That tune you had gotten really good at, especially the bass line?
Completely forgotten.
The only thing worse than a 24 hour earworm is having it go away bofore you get an ID on it.
So I googled up “Great jazz instrumentals of the early 70’s”.
It was number 5 on the list...

Thursday, October 17, 2019

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN



My ex wife didn’t get along with my daughters second grade teacher. At all.
One day my daughter brought home a project assignment. She was supposed to flip a coin 100 times and record the results and have the parents sign off.
Well, my ex wife refused to sign off, so I signed it and put

“Dear Mrs Wilson (the teacher)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead!
Mr Renfro

She sent a note back to me with my daughter:
Mr Renfro;
Loved your comment!
Mrs Wilson

My ex wife looked at me and scratched her head.
“HUH?” she said.
She never read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

CHAIN

“What he'd do, he'd never go out to the length of the chain. He'd never even get out to where the chain got tight. Even if the mailman pulled up, or a salesman. Out of dignity, this dog pretended like he chose this one area to stay in that just happened to be inside the length of the chain. Nothing outside of that area right there interested him. He just had zero interest. So he never noticed the chain. He didn't hate it. The chain. He just up and made it not relevant. maybe he wasn't pretending--maybe he really up and chose that little circle for his own world. He had a power to him. All of his life on that chain.”
― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

RIP COKIE



Cokie Roberts, on being asked about obstacles for women journalists covering congress:
"Actually, not any. That is something that's interesting about politicians. They are the most modern of men when they need to be. If you are representing a news organization - as in my case, National Public Radio, which is in every single one of their districts - they don't care what you are. I have always joked, you know, if you walked in and you were a three-headed monster and polka-dotted, they would say - and you had 10 million listeners - they would say, oh - you know, after a moment, hi. Have a cup of coffee, or perhaps you need three. But it is - they were perfectly willing to talk to me or to any of my female colleagues because of the organizations we represented. The problems were much more in the news organizations rather than among the sources."

I knew Cokie's voice way before I ever saw her face. Always good natured and informative, sad to see her go.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

THE KRACKEN


"Yes, I know I am here at Chipotles Restaurant just about every day. We've become BFF,  all of y'all know me. And yes, I would love to sign up for your rewards program and get a free Chipotle every ten days. But no, I do not want to "just download the app" to my phone. I'd rather be struck by lightning. I'd rather release the Kracken.
Can't we work something else out? 'Cause I ain't doin' it."

Friday, September 27, 2019

BACK IN THE USSR


Why does the disgraced Russian Prosecutor Viktor Sholkin look so familiar?
Crack him in half and AG William Barr pops out.
So here’s the deal on Shokin. He is the one that Biden wanted fired. As Prosecutor General Sholkin was supposed to be investigating a company of corrupt Russian Oligarchs called Burisma. Bidens son was part of the board of directors of that company. The charges against the company were from BEFORE Biden's son joined the board.
Shokin had proved himself to be more of a protector of corruption and the political elite than a prosecutor of it. Shokin became an enemy of anti-corruption and watchdog groups, even to the point of an assassination attempt. My blog buddy in the Ukraine wrote a lot about Shokin back during the Ukranian Revolution of 2014.
In 2016 the Obama Administration withheld a billion dollars in loan guarantees to pressure the Ukrainian government to remove Shokin from office.
The IMF was withholding 40 BILLION to pressure the Ukrainian government to remove Shokin from office. Most of Western Europe was holding SOMETHING to try to pressure the Ukraine to get rid of Shokin.
Was Biden and the Obama administration wrong to leverage Russia into firing a corrupt Prosecutor General?
Maybe not.
Did it have any effect on Biden’s political enemies, or elections here in the United States of America?
I think not.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

GOD AND ELECTRICITY



I called last week to the electric company to get my NA group's contract renewed.  
They went up on their electricity by two cents a kilowatt hour. It doesn't sound like much but it's $60 a month.
I called another provider to see if I could get a better rate. They offered me two tenths of a cent less, which is not enough that I would switch providers. Then the girl on the phone asked me who it was again the service was for.
I said Another Chance Group of Narcotics Anonymous.
She said “You guys do good work down there don't you? Let me talk to my supervisor and see if we can do better.”
She puts me on hold. I’m thinking if she can save me a penny per kilowatt I might switch.
She comes back on the line.
“Mr. Renfro, I can get you 4.7 cents per kilowatt!”
That is 2.2 cents less, in fact, its less than we have been paying.
Then my trust issues start to kick in.
“What about hidden fees? I ask “What about delivery charges?”
“No Mr. Renfro, no hidden fees, same delivery charges as the other provider”
Well, down at Another Chance we have a saying that goes like this:
“Either you trust God or you don’t” and God seems to be sending me a good electric rate, the same way he sends boats and helicopters and half off coupons for TV dinners. All you have to do is climb aboard or cut them out of the paper.
I said “Yes ma’am, sign me up” and I can start to feel the lump in my throat.
She asks for the address, and the name of the group again and she gets to the part about what city.
“We are in…H-H-H” and it starts to hit me.
The overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility.
I start over.
“We are in Hu-Hu-Hurst” and then I just break down crying.
“What’s the matter Mr. Renfro? Are you OK?” she asks.
“You don’t know h-h-how much this m-m-means to me” and its true. How can I tell her? How can I tell her what we do there?
How can I tell her that once upon a time I couldn’t even have a bank account, and now I am the Master of Coin, the Treasurer for the group, and how not only do I pay MY BILLS ON TIME, I pay the groups bills on time too. And that once upon a time I owed every electric company in the world, and now here I am, setting up electricity for my group?
Miracle! All of it!

I do the same thing when I renew my KERA Membership. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

ROXY'S

I was at Roxy’s disco one night back in the 80’s. There was a girl I worked with, Lulu, Lulu LeBons, and we danced a couple times and she sat at the table with me. The music was loud, and all thumpa-thumpa, and at some point she looked at me and said “I need a kiss”. So I grabbed her and started kissing her (that’s what I do, I just cant help myself) and she was kissing back, so that’s a good sign, and her kisses were sweet and ferocious, and our tongues danced like David Lee Roth, shirtless, breathless, endless end of the world kisses; my hand was on her breast, hers on my thigh, both of us squirming thumpa-thumpa on our bar stools. 
People walked past and said “Get a room” but we paid them no mind.
Finally, we broke our embrace and untangled our tongues.
She said “Whew, what was that about?”
I said “You said you needed a kiss”
She said “No, I said I needed to piss”