tumbleweed

Everything is dirty

The moon is waxing, but one doesn't have to look at the sky to know.

On 20th St., outside Long's Drugs, a homeless man is standing in the middle of the sidewalk. He is singing, with a rapturous look on his face, eyes turned skyward. He has a good voice but the blandness of the lyrics and the melody he is singing suggest that the song is Christian pop. People flow around him like a river flows around a flooded tree.

Although his clothes and floppy hat are filthy and grey, his thinness and joyful smile remind me strongly of the Rankin-Bass, stop-motion animated mailman from Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, voiced by Fred Astaire. With his arms stretched out straight from his sides, and his legs and feet placed close together, he also makes me think of Jesus, crucified on the cross or, more aptly, Graham Chapman in Life of Brian, happily singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Later, at the restaurant where I am having lunch, another homeless man opens the door and peers in. He is wearing blue nylon pants over boxers, both of which are hanging well below his waist. Though the temperature is in the 60's, he has no shirt. His skin is dark as midnight and a sweaty sheen delineates each hard muscle on his arms and upper body. The tight curled hairs on his chest and arms appear sharp and unyielding, like barbed wire. If one were to run one's hands along them they would take away skin. The man has been pushing a laundry cart, rimed with dirt. From the cart hang several black trash bags; pendulous, bulbous, like tumors. Except for his eyes and knitted brow, the homeless man, with his shining skin, looks pure. As if he has transferred all his maladies, all his suffering into the garbage bags hanging over his awful laundry cart. He is the Sisyphus of Oakland.

The dark Sisyphus' voice booms out across the restaurant, "WHAT KINDA WOIK YA GOT?"

Silence falls among the diners.

"THE SIGN SAY HE'P WANTED! WHAT KINDA WOIK IS IT? I NEED A JOB!"

I keep my eyes on my bowl of soup, coward that I am. I don't see what the restaurant manager does, but the man at the door goes back to pushing his burden. The garbage bags rock sickeningly. Will his laundry cart overflow?

When I see these things I am reminded of just how thin the veneer of our civilization is. How it peels. How it bubbles in the middle where the glue has dried and blown away.

My mind is on the hypocrisy of civilization because I have just finished markedformetal's new book, Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire. In her book, Sarah Katherine Lewis gives us an unflinching look into her experiences in the sex trade. Lewis uses insight, humor, and a flowing, well written narrative, to take us on a ten year journey through nooks and crannies, past run down buildings on the outskirts of town. Past dirty alleys fronted by old wooden doors with peeling paint. Under buzzing neon signs and into unmercifully florescent lighted rooms with narrow, curtain covered hallways at the back.

I found some of the people in Lewis' book, or at least their archetypes, hauntingly familiar. My years as a sailor, cop, and cab driver have had me in, if not quite the same circles, then at least a plexiglas window away. I could smell the stench, see the stains, and hear the pounding tempo of the music not only in my memory but because Lewis is a very good writer. I was simultaneously amused, nostalgic, enraged, accepting, circumspect and satisfied.

Lewis' book has some lessons but it doesn't really wrap things up at the end, mainly because the story isn't over. She's still in the business and the business certainly isn't going away. Don't let this book get away, either. Check out Lewis' LJ at markedformetal, while you're at it.
  • Current Mood: peeled
*kissing your cheek*

Thank you so much, baby. Holy shit. This is an awesome review! Thank you for being so kind to me!

Looking for work after being fired via email while on the first stop of my book tour. Well, I suppose it could be worse.

"THE SIGN SAY HE'P WANTED! WHAT KINDA WOIK IS IT? I NEED A JOB!"

Yeah, pretty much.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxox
It can always be worse. How great a story is it that you can be fired by email while signing your book for admirers? That's gold and you can mine it. Get your pick and shovel and braying ass and hop to it!