17 June 2009

b-day '09

yesterday was my birthday

greg lytle sent me this:

could i ever become a counter culture icon?

kelly reichardt made some movies that i enjoyed watching more than a lot of other movies that i have watched in my life

i looked online and found some information said about kelly reichardt some of which was that she has very subtle homo-eroticism in her movies

i was thinking about this a lot in reference to some fiction manuscripts i have written (which have some sections that i would really enjoy seeing as kelly reichardt-directed movies) and i came up with that i think my fiction could be described as very subtle solo-eroticsm or auto-eroticism

kelly reichardt's movies are so good. does kelly reichardt ever blogsearch her own name? kelly, please read this story and if you like it, please consider making a movie out of it, thank you:


When Arthur woke it was light outside. The light was soft and blueish and seemed to exist without a source. Arthur got out of bed and walked to the window. He looked out the window. Arthur could see only a small section of the street that wound around bends from both sides the window. On the street Arthur saw people out and counted them. Six. Most of them walking with their heads down trying to avoid stepping in various unidentifiable piles of matter or trash or dog shit. Arthur thought the people seemed calm. It must have been early in the morning. The head of one of the people on the street was facing Arthur. Arthur couldn't tell if the person was looking at him or not. Arthur didn't know if he was visible from outside or not. Arthur thought about how he had appeared quietly at the window. He looked at the rooftops across the street from him half expecting to see snipers, but the rooftops were empty. Arthur took a step back and continued looking out the window.

Arthur went into the bathroom. In the bathroom, Arthur heard voices talking about the weather. The voices were in the stairwell outside the bathroom window smoking cigarettes. They were talking about oceans rising. They were talking about voting. They were talking about the weekend. Arthur could smell the cigarette smoke. It rose up above them and drifted up and that’s when Arthur smelled it. Then it left him and went higher up and maybe somebody else smelled it or maybe not. Maybe everyone else smelled apple pie because Arthur smelled apple pie now and he wanted a piece.

Arthur thought about the people above him and Arthur thought about apple pie. Then about cherry pie. Arthur thought about other variations of fruit and the word pie and then he thought about chicken pot pie. Arthur thought about chickens in cages. Arthur thought about chickens on trucks. The trucks were on the highway. Arthur thought about the trucks and about the highway. He tried to listen for highway-like sounds but he could hear only the stairwell voices. Arthur left the bathroom with a vague desire to get back into bed. They were talking about electrical code.

When he came out of the bathroom, Arthur stood motionless in the hallway for a long time before going to the window. Arthur watched a car go by. In the narrow kitchen, he started coffee and waited looking at the stainless steel sink with his back against the wall. He put a cd on in the other room and then turned it off. Arthur stood on the carpet and looked out a different window. He gave water to a few plants on a bookshelf and then retrieved his Granite Gear Vapor Trail backpack from the top shelf. The backpack weighed twenty-nine ounces. It was the “lightest pack on the market” when Arthur had bought it, or that’s what he had told a few people. Some days later, he'd found out about a pack called the Gossamer Gear pack from a hiking enthusiast message board. Arthur did not think of himself as a hiking enthusiast, but he did like to walk and he did like lightweight backpacks and he liked survival gear. Sometimes, looking for technical information, Arthur read the message board, which told him that the Gossamer Gear pack weighed much less, maybe half, but that it didn’t come with any padding or support. It didn’t even have a backbone. The idea was to use the items you put in the backpack to build and solidify the structure and to put padding where you want padding by using your clothes or whatever. Arthur had read about this on the message board website. He'd read the words. He'd read other words about the same thing and about other things. Arthur had thought about buying the Gossamer Gear pack. He thought about returning the Granite Gear pack, but then thought about how he feels in stores, and also knew that he could not return it because he had bought it at a considerable discount from the store’s “Garage Sale” section. Eventually he'd thought “oh well.”

Arthur thought about the Gossamer Gear backpack even now, much later, as he was loading his Granite Gear backpack with a few clothing items, a pocket knife, a compass, and other little survival tools that he never actually used, or needed to use; strike anywhere matches for example.

Arthur went into the kitchen and took some fruit out of the refrigerator and put it in his backpack. He opened the cabinet and took out a bag of dry cat food. Arthur cut it open and set it down on the floor near a small water bowl. The water bowl was full of cat hair. Arthur emptied the bowl and filled it back up with water from the Brita filtered pitcher. He refilled the Brita tank and put the pitcher on the floor with the lid off. Arthur got dressed and looked at himself for a long time in the bathroom mirror, feeling satisfied that his hair made him appear as though he didn’t care. He put his shoes on and left the apartment.

He took the stairs down to the street. He walked through the lobby, past the mailboxes, and out the double doors. Arthur stopped when he reached the edge of the sidewalk. He looked to his left and right. He stayed there for some time, looking left and right. He looked at the sky. He wasn't sure why he was only just standing there. He thought about moving his legs but they didn't move. There were cars driving by and people walking by in both directions. Then Arthur began walking down the hill. When he reached the bottom, Arthur turned north, following the river. He had his compass out and he was looking at it, even though he knew that the river went north in this direction and that he was following it. Arthur walked for a while. Eventually he reached the on-ramp of a highway. Arthur put his pack on the ground, sat on top of it and put his thumb out. He felt uneasy and self conscious sitting there with his thumb out. He stopped holding his thumb out. He rested his hand on his knee. The hand was in the shape of a fist and the thumb was still out, but the arm was not extended. Arthur sat like that for some time. Some cars passed him. Some people looked at him. One man in a shirt and tie with his jacket hanging on the back of his car seat made eye contact with Arthur as he moved his car steadily up the ramp. After a little while, one of the cars turning from the street onto the on-ramp stopped and reached across the car to manually roll down the window. The person looked at Arthur for a long time. Arthur stood up and took hold of one of the arms of his backpack. He moved his head down a little and looked at the driver. She waved him over and he walked to the window. She was leaning across the seats. “Where're you headed?” She said.

Arthur looked up the ramp at the highway and then back down to the river. He looked at the woman and said, “Not sure yet.”

What?” She said, “Can't hear you, hun.”

I'm going to visit a friend,” Arthur said.

Alright,” she said and told him to throw his pack in the backseat and hop in. Arthur didn’t want to leave his pack out of reach in case he had to make a quick exit or if he just wanted something from it while they were driving. He stared at the woman for a few seconds and then did what she said. The car went up the on-ramp and merged into empty space on the highway. There was silence for a few minutes. Arthur had his head turned to the right and was looking out the window. He kept it that way. The woman spoke again.

So, where is it you're going?”

Arthur did not say anything. Then he said, “North.”

But this here is even-numbered. They go East West. Odd-numbereds go North South.”

Which way are we going exactly?”


West is fine.”

Do you have a destination?”

Not really.”

What about that friend?”

Arthur looked at the woman and then out through the windshield at the dotted lines on the road. “Thank you for picking me up,” he said.

How long were you waiting?”

Not too long. Maybe half an hour.”

The woman nodded her head slightly.

Do you pick up… people much?” Arthur said.

Not really. I don’t see them too often though. Kinda thought nobody really did it anymore. Hitchhiking. Can’t remember when the last time I saw one was actually.”

Arthur looked at the woman and then back out through the windshield at the dotted lines. He didn’t say anything.

I hitchhiked to California when I was your age.”

Where from?”

Maryland. Little place called Elkton.”

Arthur nodded his head slightly.

Well, how old are you anyways? I’m bettin’ you’re about twenty-two.”

I’m Twenty-five.”

Oh, ya look younger.”

Yeah, lot of people say that.”

You look like you came hitchhiking through time. From the seventies or something. Anybody tell you you look like you come from the seventies?”

Yeah, a guy in a bathroom said that to me once.”

In a bathroom? Like, a public bathroom?”


What did he say?”

He asked me if seventies hair was coming back into style.”

What did you say?”

I said I didn't know.”

The woman laughed and said, “In a public bathroom.”

A gay man bought me a shot at a bar in Honolulu once. He gave it to a friend of mine and asked him if I was gay.”

What happened?”

Nothing. I said I wasn't gay and gave him back the shot. He said I could have it anyway and asked if I would drink it with him. I said sure and then we clinked glasses and drank.”

Then what happened?”


I don't think you look gay at all. You look more bear-y than fairy. ”

Arthur didn’t say anything. He smiled at the woman and then looked back out at the road. He was nodding again. He looked at tree tops.

So, what’s your name?”

Arthur hesitated. He thought about giving a fake name. He thought of the name Bill. He thought of the name Frank. He couldn’t think of a good fake name quick enough. He realized he was taking too long to respond.

You have a name, don't ya?” She said.

Archibald,” Arthur said.

Your name is not Archibald,” the woman said laughing.

Arthur didn't say anything. He smiled at her and then looked out the window to his right again.

Okay, Archie,” she said, “can I call you Archie?”

Only my grandfather was ever allowed to call me Archie.”

Okay, then, Archibald.”

There was silence in the car for awhile.

What's your name?” Arthur said.

Alice,” she said.

Alice,” Arthur said looking out the passenger side window.

Arthur,” Arthur said.

Arthur?” Alice said.

My name is Arthur.”

Hi Arthur.”

Hi Alice.”

So why'd you say Archibald when I asked you?” She said smiling.

First I thought of Bill and then Frank,” Arthur said, “I don't know.”

Alice laughed. “Archibald is definitely more interesting,” she said.

I don’t know. I Guess I thought I'd giving myself a new identity but I couldn't come up with anything.”

You don’t need a new name to get a new identity.”

Probably not.”

Besides, Archibald isn’t too different from Arthur.”

Maybe I only wanted a slightly different identity.”

Alice laughs.

You’re kinda loopy, aren’t you?” She says.

Arthur doesn’t say anything. He smiles. He looks out the passenger window. He sees trees with limbs and sunlight on them. Arthur turns towards Alice and starts to say something but just smiles and then turns back. They drive some miles in silence. Even the radio is silent. There is only the sound of the engine. And the wheels.

Thanks for picking me up,” he says.

You already did,” she says.

Arthur looks to his right, out the window. He feels hungry. They pass a sign on the highway that says Speed Limit 65 MPH. Arthur looks at the sign. They pass another sign that says Next Exit 6 miles. Arthur looks at the sign. Then Alice speaks.

This next one is my exit. Should I let you off down the ramp.”

You can let me off here, actually, if you don’t mind.”

On the side of the road?”

Arthur doesn't say anything. Then, “Yeah,” he says.

You sure?”

Yeah, I think I’ll walk a little.”

The exit is still a couple of miles.”

That’s alright, I'd rather stay up here for now.”

You want to walk?”


On the highway?”

In the grass there. Over the rail.”

Alright. Whatever floats your boat.”

Arthur smiles at her and then looks at the trees. “Thanks.”

Alice pulls the car over on the shoulder and Arthur gets out. He gets his pack out of the backseat and says thanks. Alice smiles and says good luck and then drives away.

Arthur sits on the guardrail and watches the traffic pass. After a little while, he starts walking down the road. It is warm in the sun and Arthur feels the warmth on his skin. He sits down and takes an apple and the pocket knife out of his pack. He cuts the apple and eats it. He wipes the knife blade on his shirt and dries it. He puts it in his pocket and starts walking again.

Another car stops and asks Arthur if he needs a ride. Arthur gets in the car. The driver doesn’t speak much. Arthur watches the lines on the road pass underneath the car. He imagines himself floating in and out of the dashes like an angry snake, escaped from a basket or a pot or maybe he is some kind of low-hovering hover-bird instead. Arthur rolls down the window and the driver asks him to roll it back up. Wind gives me a headache, he says. Arthur rolls the window up and looks at the telephone poles and the wires. He follows the drooping wires with his eyes. They sag in the middle on the way from one pole to the next. He imagines sheep jumping over the low point. The sheep are jumping from the trees and are landing in the traffic. They are getting hit by cars. The driver of the car Arthur is in does not notice the sheep. None of the other drivers notice them. Many sheep are dying. There is dark red blood.

Arthur’s eyes follow the wire for miles. He counts over seventy poles, using an estimation technique. At least one dead sheep for each. Sometimes more.

As the driver exits the highway, he stops to let Arthur out at the next on-ramp. Arthur says thanks and sits down in the sunlight. He waits there for a while and then begins walking. Arthur walks up the ramp and onto the highway. He crosses the guardrail to his right and walks along it in the grass. Nothing happens for a while. Arthur gets tired. He sits Indian style in the grass and guesses that he has traveled one hundred miles. He looks at the sky. He looks at the highway. He looks at the cars passing on the highway. He looks past the highway. He looks back at the highway again. He looks at the asphalt. He lays down. His knees are in the air. He put his hands beneath his head. He does three sit-ups. He gets up. He stands up. He waits for a break in the traffic. He waits a long time. He crosses the highway to the other side and starts walking. Soon Arthur is in another car.

Where ya headed?”



The odd-numbered roads go East West.”

Yup, they do.”

Where are you headed?”

I’m goin’ up North after East.”

Arthur nods. There is silence.

Where do you want me to let you off at?”

I don’t know yet,” Arthur says.

Okay. Just be sure to tell me.”


Arthur looks mostly out the window to his right. His head is turned away from the driver and he watches the trees pass by him. He fixes his eyes on a single tree up ahead in the distance and holds them on it all the way until the tree flies past him and his head turns quickly and his eyes are looking backwards and then he loses the tree amongst the pack of trees.

The man asks Arthur where he’s from. Arthur says he was born in Philadelphia. The man asks Arthur where he lives now. Arthur says he hasn't decided.

So you’re a rambler?”

I don’t know. Not really.”

A Pennsylvania Rambler. Ain’t much of those. Not anymore.”

I haven’t lived there for a while.”

You been on the move, yeah. Wish I could do that.”

Arthur smiles briefly at the man and then looks out his window.

You don’t seem to have much in that pack.”

Yeah, I don’t carry a lot.”

Just like the pros.”

Some time passes. Neither the driver nor Arthur say anything. The driver drives and Arthur looks out the window. He thinks about the man’s last statement. “Just like the pros.” He thinks about how it sounds strange. How can someone wander around aimlessly like a professional? Only if someone was paying him money to do it. Right? Isn't that what professional means? Money for what? Arthur looks at his shoes. They have holes in the sides and are a little wet from the moisture in the grass. Money for new shoes maybe. Arthur glances at the man driving. Arthur looks at his face. It is concentrated on the road. Arthur looks back out his window to the right and then back at the man. He looks at the man's crotch and then leans forward and looks out the windshield at the sky. He thinks, This man is nice. This man is being nice to me.

No moon,” Arthur says.

What?” The man says.

Can't see the moon.”

It's daylight,” the man says.

Yeah, sometimes you can see the moon in daylight. If its orbit brings it across the daylight side of the Earth.”

Yeah, I have seen that before.”

It is always visible during daylight from somewhere on Earth,” Arthur says.

The man doesn't say anything. He nods his head. Arthur looks out the window and watches the grass and trees go by. The driver turns the radio up. It had been very low, almost inaudible, the classic rock station. Arthur hears the song and recognizes it. A King Crimson song.

I like this song,” Arthur says.

The driver turns the volume up more. They listen to the song for a few minutes, then another song comes on. The driver turns down the radio again to speak.

So, what’s your story?”

I don't have a story.”

You don’t have a story or a home. What do ya have?”

I have a home.”

Thought you said you hadn’t decided where you live.”

I decided.”


During that last song.”

The man laughs. “You’re a hoot,” he says.

Okay, let’s have it,” he says.


Out with it then. What did you decide on?”

Front Royal,” Arthur says.

Shitty place to decide to live. Nobody decides to live in Front Royal.”

Some people must.”

Nobody in their right mind.”

Well, where would you decide to live?”

Right where I do live.”

Which is where?”




Farmland, where?”


Where in P.A.?”

Near Harrisburg. South of Harrisburg.”

Right in the middle of nothing. Good place for a farm,” Arthur says.

Yeah. They don’t call it Pennsyltucky for nothing.”

Pennsyltucky? Who calls is that?”

Truckers. Freighters.”

Why Pennsyltucky?”

They say the middle of Pennsylvania looks just like Kentucky.”

Arthur laughs. “I guess it does,” he says.

You been to Kentucky, then?”

Yeah I drove through it last Spring.”

Great American cross country road trip?”

That's the one.”

With some buddies or with a girl?”

The driver looks at Arthur. His eye brows are moving up and down.

Girl,” Arthur says.

Yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Blonde or brunette? Or redhead?”

Arthur laughs and shakes his head. “She has brown hair,” he says.

Did you go through the desert?” The man asks.

Yeah. The Painted Desert,” Arthur says.

They sit silent for a little while and the driver turns the radio up again. Arthur thinks about Pennsyltucky. He thinks about Pennsylvania and about Kentucky. He imagines the words in his mind. He think about William Penn. He thinks about woodlands. He thinks about driving through Pennsylvania. He thinks about how open and flat and boring it is. He remembers how it always smells like manure on the highway. He thinks about how people always say memories are tied closest to smells. He thinks about a commercial for a men’s fragrance spray. They say the sharpest memories are triggered by smell. There is a woman in the scene holding a plastic cup with beer in it talking to a friend and a man walks past her and she smells him and gets a sexy look in her eyes. Then they say, Smell Memorably – Make Memories. Or something like that. Arthur couldn’t exactly remember. He couldn’t remember what product the commercial was promoting either. Maybe they’re right then. About smell being tied to memory. Arthur thinks about this and then he thinks about Pennsyltucky. He rolls down the window and smells the air outside. It doesn’t smell like anything. A highway. Rubber. Engines. Oil. Arthur thinks to himself, I will remember this moment anyway, just because I am giving it some kind of weight. I am thinking about remembering it based on some smell, but I will just remember it because I am thinking about trying to remember it. You can’t knowingly try to tie a smell to a memory. Then you will remember it just because. It has to just happen regularly and then you probably won’t even notice what’s happening, or what's happened. The man breaks Arthur’s thoughts by speaking.

Well, we’re coming up on 81. I usually take that up North right into farmland, but Front Royal is only a little ways past me here. If you want, I’ll take you there.”

The man laughs. “Are you really going to Front Royal?”

Arthur doesn’t say anything. Then he smiles and says yes.

When they get to Front Royal, the man exits the highway and turns into a gas station. Arthur gets out of the car and thanks the man. The man drives off and gets on the highway going the other direction. Arthur watches him and then goes into the gas station to use the bathroom. He buys a bottle of water and drinks from it. Then he leaves the gas station and starts walking. He walks for a long time, choosing a way and then following signs and then choosing another way. He arrives at a bus station and gets on a bus to Washington D.C.

When he gets to Washington D.C., Arthur changes buses at a large bus station. Arthur rides the second bus for a little while and then exits the bus at a scheduled bus stop and follows the river back towards his apartment. On the way up the hill, Arthur stops at a food store and buys fresh vegetables and fruits. He buys broccoli, spinach, carrots, potatoes, white cabbage, red cabbage, butternut squash, clementines, yellow apples, gala apples, red delicious apples, fresh onions and kiwis. He puts the produce in his backpack and walks next door and buys milk.

Arthur walks the rest of the way up the hill and into his apartment building. He takes the elevator up to the third floor and stands in front of his door looking for the keys. He doesn’t have the keys. Arthur puts down his bag and walks upstairs. He rings the buzzer of one of the apartments and a man answers. Arthur tells the man that he locked himself out and needs the key. The man reaches behind him on the desk and gives Arthur the key. Arthur says thanks and walks downstairs. Arthur opens the apartment and goes inside.

if your brother or sister, daughter or son is in the 4th grade and needs to pass art class, i will provide drawings of your choice for a small fee.
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