The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Floor Is Lava

I should pay extra for the heat up here. My plant shrivels and dies, and I grind its leaves into a powder. I smoke this powder in the heat:

Do nothing. Do not move. They can see you here because the window is open. They can see your bird. There is a staple in your stomach that pierces the back of the chair and pulls to the magnetic North Pole. Drink a grossly oversized drink because it will keep you at pace with the sweat. You will not sing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" at morningtime. Isn't October lovely, even with the Satanists?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Out my window she walks, small head and breasts and long lean legs and arms, gossamer threads concealed by cotton and Lycra. Disproportionate, her great mouth smiles perfectly placed teeth. Glossy black hair curls her face, framed, and sometimes a mischevious strand dances upon her lips then back to its place, giggling, satisfied.

She is a figment because
I am a shut-in.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Soup at the Goose

I have often told myself to avoid copious consumption of alcohol in public because it embarrasses me to stumble, slur, and offer too-candid observations of those sitting near me. However, this Mother’s Day Eve I decided to risk an exception. I could afford to do this because Snuckafoo usually provides an energy that will carry me through a reckless binge, constantly reinforcing the joy of being alive, the goodness of my fellow man, the attractiveness of my fellow woman, and my legs. For this experiment in positivism, there is no better venue than The Wild Goose, and Snuckafoo did not disappoint.

The Wild Goose at 4265 N. Lincoln Ave. is a cozy neighborhood tavern in North Center. The stage rises at the front of the bar, and high and low tables stretch to the back with the exception of ten feet cleared out in front of the stage to accommodate those whose inhibitions have melted away into a dancing frenzy sometimes with lots of elbows and thumbs.

Snuckafoo set the table with their original Bluegrass favorite, “Aloha Mexico.” Heads nodded, and shouts rang out, though no one hit the floor. Late arriving fans were treated to a steaming helping of rapid-fire lyrics in Pat Reilley’s faux-Kentucky drawl and tender high harmonies from the rest of the band.

After a jam-proper unification of their original “Miller’s Fury” and Neil Young’s “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown,” they treated the crowd to some Blues Image with “Ride, Captain Ride.”

Snuckafoo and the crowd settled into synergy. The beginning of one of their signature songs, “Advice for Neddy,” brought squeals of “I have this on my MySpace profile.” These succumbed to the roar of Snuckafoo’s engine, Hondo’s bass. Thanks to Jagermeister, I had begun to use my imagination, and Hondo’s right arm became a four-beaked goose pecking a steady rhythm. This goose would not eat stale bread, as I discovered by inadvisably tossing old baguette chunks at the stage.

The band ended the first set with “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” Wildlife still roamed my mind, and keyboardist George’s hands became Daddy Longlegs, strutting and prancing about the keys. Then they were tarantulas: hairy, poisonous, and misunderstood. If I were to rub them against my face, I would find them soft and kind. To rousing applause, Snuckafoo left the stage, jarring me back to reality. Rub George’s hands against my face? I went out for some air.

Having recovered most of my sanity, I threw it out the door like an unruly drunk when to open the second set, George took the lead vocals for the Talking Heads cover, “Found a Job.” As if by magic, three couples appeared in front of the stage laughing, stumbling, and doing some type of waltz. Within minutes, all six people lay in a pile, but the tone was set. They found their job and did it. Now anyone could dance without fear of shame.

Dance people did to the whirlwind circular guitar of the Snuckafoo original, “Trippin’ Dub.” Pat pushed up his glasses, and smoothly delivered his classic lines, “You no good dirty gigolo/who do you think you is?” I found myself laughing, ensconced alone in a corner. A mustachioed fat man stared at me. Minutes later, the fat man heard the first two bars of “Let It Bleed” and began chortling to himself in obvious enjoyment. I stared at him.

Having found my way out of the corner and up near the stage, I noticed that drummer Dave Schmitt had executed a costume change into a T-Shirt reading “Sexual Dynamo.” During “Swank,” he pounded in steady, rhythmic anger, each drum perhaps the high-school quarterback’s face yelling “Short-stuff” or “Shrimp-o.” My therapist has warned me against projecting, but still the drum-face bled to the beat of the song.

Toward the end of the second set, the room seemed to fill with a soup of music, smoke, and sweat. Pat’s guitar and “Shakedown Street” added noodles to the soup, and perhaps my vision and temporal awareness had blurred, but Pat and Jerry became one and the same. I swam in the warm liquid environment, soul floating euphoric.

Then it was over. Oh, no, it was over. I felt cold. Who would get me a towel? Who would buoy my legs now?

Panicked, I implored Jesus Christ and the band for an encore. The band took the stage, but was it just to get their equipment? They whispered to each other, and Pat picked up his guitar. The doors and windows opened, and I was carried off on a wave of Snuckasoup and the sweet college memories of Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing.”

Beyond the stage, the Heineken star rose red in the window and beckoned me to further joy.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

A Catch After Dark

Well after cold March dusk the girl and the boy throw the football to each other. The park grass glistens orange beneath the tall light next to the monkey bars and the plastic spiral slide. The football, illuminated also by a light bulb inside, wobbles in the air and smacks into his clutching hands. He checks the nearby street for police cars, as the park closes at dusk, then turns his attention back on the girl.

She stands some ten yards away, smiling and curly hair aglow, some strands bright yellow, others the color of smoldering. In the night, he cannot see the delightful gap between her front teeth. He holds this appreciation unique to himself, having never heard of Lauren Hutton.

"Throw the ball," she commands.

He throws softly, mindful of the girl's long fingernails which will need to tap staccato on the desk next to him during History. His ball falls short, and the light bulb goes out. Fingers of shame poke him: an inferior throw from an inferior boy. Finesse should be his strong suit. The ball sits dark on the dark grass, then flickers, then brightens. He smiles.

The boy says nothing, as he has no thoughts, only feelings too large for his age. The simple pleasure of the girl's presence is so rare that it strikes him as fear. Each moment passes too quickly and cannot be recovered. There is only each catch, and each catch must be made.

She throws a pass which sails high to his left. Sharp with anxiety, he leaps and his fingers glance off the bottom of the wet ball, which twists high into the air. He spins toward the escaping ball and dives outstretched, chest banging the ground, wind gone. The ball drops into his hands.

After a moment he rises, imperceptibly nodding to himself.

"Are you okay?" she asks as she approaches, smiling.

He waves her off. "Oh yeah!" he says, turning away from her, cool, indifferent, gasping a little.

"Oh, yeah?" he thinks.

Showcasing his athleticism, he whirls, high from the catch and perhaps something else, and fires a low tight spiral. As soon as he lets it go, heat fills his face and chest. She has continued toward him rather than returning to her previous spot. He sees the speedy ball travel frame by frame toward her midsection. The ball and the "sorry" arrive at the same time.

Her eyes are shocked wide. She holds the ball in her hands, dumbfounded by her natural ability and his sick impulse.

"I didn't realize," he begins.

She laughs, a harsh metallic sound. "It's time for me to go home."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Live at Cause

Some voice has been telling me to live at cause and not to live at effect. That is, among things that happen to me, I should try to increase the ratio of things I cause to things that I do not cause. My deepest thanks to whatever self-help guru thought up these terms because they have become my favorite rationalization of illicit, indecent, and illegal behavior.

I am living at cause when I walk down the westbound shoulder of Lawrence Avenue at midnight drinking a tall-boy Old Style, unashamed. I am living at cause when I open all the blinds and flip my wang at the Korean (side to side), Arab (spiral up), and Yuppie (pointing, accusatory) passerby. I am living at cause when I compliment the spitting, cursing homeless lady on her choice of loose fitting pants and then slip her a twenty for some over-the-clothes analingus (where I am the lingus until beaten senseless). Self-help, indeed. Tell that to my dentist, who sends me home with a roll of toilet paper rather than a toothbrush.