Letters to Harrison: 9

I came across a signed copy of Julip Saturday and bought it. Maybe you would think of me as an idiot or maybe you would be surprised that someone would keep such a thing, who knows? What is the point of collecting something just because a person signed it, one that you have never met and never will? Your grave is still a mystery and yet you would visit the graves of those that you admired if you had the chance. I can hope that you had your ashes spread and by chance a part of you is somewhere close, inhabiting the landscape in a way that haunts that which you enjoyed and loved so much. There is a film crew tracking your steps, visiting the bars and walkways you once traveled. I don’t know what they will find along the way or how accurate their movie will be. Everything is about perspective and if they want to paint you in a positive light or make you out to be the crass asshole you could be at times. I personally hope they find a middle ground and point out that you were just a man. Your aversion in being compared to Hemingway is understandable, a high marker that no man should be compared to because no matter how hard you try nobody could live up to the expectations one would immediately have on you. How fair is that anyway? It was a different time, a different world and only one person could possibly live the life is the one that he lived. That mold was filled and it was not reproduced with you. I was tempted to try my hand at ordering off of a menu as you had done, pointing to various items and saying “this… and this… oh and this too” going on until the table was filled and I would have to sit there until my buttons popped and people looked at me like I was a crazed individual that had just escaped from a concentration camp. Instead, I ordered the pork belly BLT and called it good. I’m not at that point yet plus I need a reason to go back and try something else. My life isn’t on the road and if I am to be in towns often that I don’t know I need something to look forward to. The sky finally cleared today, the weekend was clouded in gray and the cold rain hung over like a wet blanket of despair. Winter is not here yet and already I dread the lack of sun and the depression that comes with it. On the other hand, it leaves no option than to sit down and write, something I am lacking these days. I have noticed that once in a while you will mention books that you have read over your lifetime and I’m thinking about starting a list. Of course, I don’t know what exactly you enjoyed and what you didn’t but I have to assume that if you liked something that’s what you would have recalled, if I’m wrong you can always haunt my ass and set me straight. The deer are on the move lately, roaming the streets searching for food to prepare for winter. A giant buck has made it clear to me who owns this neighborhood and I am nothing but a nuisance in his eyes. I have considered going deer hunting this fall and after seeing him I wonder if I could actually pull the trigger this time if the option presented itself. There is a big difference between shooting a squirrel, catching a fish and having that disconnect between yourself and the life you took. The deer on the other hand seems to be a beast that knows you are out to get him and has an opinion about it. I suppose if I was hungry these thoughts wouldn’t come to mind and that could be the trick to a successful hunt. Leave with an empty stomach and you won’t have any qualms about taking a shot and dragging something out of the woods. Sorry bucko, I have mouths to feed and you looked pretty good at the time. It is the nature of things. Would things have been different this weekend if I had to shoot the pig behind the brewery to enjoy that BLT? I would like to say not but I know better. There is something different in a person that can take a life and even though I have been the end to many squirrel and fish I don’t know if I have it in me to take something bigger. That could be the next challenge I face this year. What is the worse that can happen? I have a nice day out in the woods? One couldn’t ask for less on a good day.

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Letters to Harrison: 8

Esquire has a podcast now where they go back and look at old articles that had been popular over the years and you will not be surprised that they covered your food column The Raw and the Cooked. They discuss your article The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks which I found to be funny and highly entertaining. Having never been on a book tour, only slinging paperback copies at local libraries and different venues where the odds of finding anyone who reads is like finding bigfoot, I have a hard time understanding the dreaded tour. I was glad to see you made a go of it, ingesting anything that looked or smelled good, and bringing a little extra weight back home with you. Bud is doing a gallery at the Lansing library and I have to say I’m excited to go. You must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t have more that five pictures of yourself on the internet but your friend Bud has enough to do a show. Have it be my luck to drive over an hour one way only to discover Bud has five photos to share and no prints. I could try to be less pessimistic but what is the point. Living my life as if the world is out to get me leaves me with a lack of surprise and yet it still finds a way to throw me a curve ball and beam me in the head. I heard that you had a knack for going into restaurants and ordering everything on the menu. I have never tried this for several reasons, for one my wallet would not allow it and I was raised not to waste food regardless of how bad it is. Well, until my parents tried it and almost threw up in their own disgust. I have always played the Guinea pig and while it has worked in my favor most of the time, I have to admit that there have been long days sweating in bed and mornings that drifted into afternoons while sitting on the toilet. This was in the days before cells phones so a good book came in handy. Try to grab something you checked out from the local library and share the love. There is a local Mexican restaurant that serves traditional tacos not far from my house and while I will say they have the best food in this category their service for the longest time was lacking. My wife convinced us to try it out again and forget the nightmare that happened a few years ago. There was only one thing I wanted to do when I arrived and that was to order every style of taco they had and try them all, which I did. I tried this before and I must have had the order that the cook decided was a pain in the ass. Still, how hard is it to make seven corn tortilla tacos with only onions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime? I waited one hour and fifteen minutes before my food arrived and the server never came back to check on me. The tacos were delicious, that wasn’t what left a bad taste in my mouth it was the lack of apathy to the customer. I ate the food and therefore paid for it but when it came to recommending the place years later, I pointed people to their reviews online and I wasn’t the only one. At some point the manager that the place was presumably named after, a tall blonde-haired white man with Buddy Holly glasses, either left or was finally fired, and the place named the Big White Cock in Spanish finally turned things around. I should do this more often, go into a place and order random things, but isn’t that what a buffet is for? Is the buffet just another form of cheating when it comes to good food even when you simply want to sit on your ass and stuff your face? I had a really good Sangiovese from Tuscany last night and slept like a rock. One of the five wine racks in the basement is drying up and I think it’s time to fill it up again. Maybe I will pick up some lunch along the way.

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Letters to Harrison: 7

Your movie Wolf was about cocaine, right? I haven’t read the book of the same name but I have to assume that with your discontent for Hollywood and the drug seen that the reason Jack Nicholson is running around feeling good, able to smell everything, have a boost in unwarranted confidence, and sleeps for 20 hours after a bender isn’t a coincidence. I have never taken the drug myself but know a few who have. The last man I ran into had just received his disability check and snorted the funds up his nose in one day. All of the Narcan training that people had been given was useless, his heart had stopped from the opposite of heroin. The woods visited me last night, a giant two-hundred-pound deer with a rack that would have made Dolly Parton jealous was standing in the neighbor’s yard when I came home.

We exchanged some snorts and he didn’t seem to care about my presence. It wasn’t until a few trucks drove by that he decided to leave. Before entering the swamp across the street, he turned at me and grunted one last time reminding me that he was the boss. I’m surprised that the neighborhood cats haven’t tried to take him down but it would be like the democratic party trying to take down a republican president. Cats do not form an army well and a liberal party with thirty agendas doesn’t accomplish much. When my non-disclosure agreement expired with my old Hollywood job, I wrote a book called Golden. Maybe it was to burn some bridges and not become caught up in the glitz and glory of a false god. Things must have been different back in your day because if I tried to live off of what I was paid I would have been homeless eating an endless supply of Top Ramen noodles. The last two days have been good except for the endless assault of my daughter who doesn’t have an off switch. The terrible twos is a horrible name for this disease. Maybe it should be called the traumatic twos or the terrifying twos, or the Trumpian twos. the last one might be considered a low blow but there isn’t too much to aim for down there from what I have been told. How is a writer supposed to make a living in a world where people don’t read anymore? Even I have been guilty of this, pulling out my voluntary bugging device and looking at the latest mind-numbing content on the internet. Before we clean up Washington, we should do a thorough flushing enema of the internet first. We can start with rotten tomatoes first who gave your movie between a 62 and 43% rating. I guess the audience didn’t see the point. I will have to grab Wolf from the self sooner than later and see for myself what your first novel was all about. These days good literature doesn’t get publish because nobody reads it and if you want to make a buck these days you have to conform to one or several options for prostitution that are available to be exploded by. I’m tired of getting screwed these days. You spend your time and effort trying to create something real and in the end all you end up with is a bill, lost time, and a sore ass in the end. That reminds me, I need to pick up a new cushion for my chair.

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Letters to Harrison: 6

There is something to be said about isolation, the forced disconnect from people that gives you a new perspective on things. I should have known that being in trouble would free up my time and give me a break from my normal routine. Watching the charlatans and shit stains of previous jobs taught me that the worst of us will be promoted, a polite way to say “shut up and just go over here.” Meanwhile the victims have to deal with their mental scars with the same pay and eventually fewer benefits. If women could figure out a way to procreate without us men would disappear and the world would likely be a safer place, except for that time that the full moon was out and then all hell would break loose for a week. I know you didn’t care working for universities but I’m considering a change. There has to be something better out there for a writer. Today was a bout of self-induced cabin fever. Seeing more people than I have to is not high on my list of things to do and maybe less contact with the outside world will be better for my daughter in the end. Afterall she will have her own fair share of disappointments she gets older. I don’t know where the magic age is for teaching this lesson. If I start her too young, she will trust no one, but if I teach her too old then she will trust everyone and that’s no good. Maybe I should leave some books about the buddha lying all over the house as she grows up, a constant reminder that life is suffering. Maybe she will also follow her own path and continue to be the unique individual that I know her to be. The world is good at many things, most of all destroying what makes us special. I have forgotten that lesson so many times you think I would have tattooed it somewhere on my body by now. My current job is to live as a Hobbit and while that would be fun the only part of it that applies is living underground and keeping things tidy, minus the food and drink that a Hobbit enjoys in the meantime. Its been two days and I wish I was back out in the woods. Morning is coming. Sleep is in short supply. Coffee will be my first real friend of the day.

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Letters to Harrison: 5

The clouds are starting to part and the question of seeing a sun or a moon starts to present itself. There are times in one’s life when you don’t know where you are going, how long until you get there, or even know if you are there when you arrive. You can’t see what is ahead of you, swinging your arms into the fog you learn nothing except that you are alone. I wonder when this is over if there will be a new beginning, the three days of Christ being in the tomb. The book would have been more fitting if he had been betrayed by Mary of Magdalene instead of a sissy like Judas. In fall the days start to feel longer even though night comes earlier with each day. Man fights to squeeze more in as he prepares for winter knowing that the clock is ticking. Beer taste better after a long walk in the woods. One will notice the dirty air of the city, the haze that hangs over, and the noise. There is a constant hum building to a roar. The noise never stops, rising a falling, a sea of waves on the eardrums. The roads absorb the heat of the sun pushing it back up to us, cracking and splitting as they stuff themselves in an all you can eat buffet. The city, with everything it has going for it, is not the place for me. The wildlife looks like myself. The dangers are hard to find and sudden. Tribes are a blurry construction and nobody appears to know where they belong. Home is where the wallet is. People collect jobs like trading cards hoping that one will pay off one day only to find out that their collection is a dime a dozen. Family has been traded for faces and voices in a web of lies where everyone wants to be heard and nobody wants to listen. Each day is a question of what will happen next. Pandora’s box has been opened and nobody has been smart enough yet to close the lid.

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Letters to Harrison: 4

The woods were silent yesterday morning except for the roar of truck tires on 131 to the west. The sun was hidden by the morning fog over the field as we walked through the grass trying to find a trail. The state park has been doing the best it can to erase our footprints. Two track trails are cut off by fallen trees and streams that appeared out of nowhere, eroded through the soil and sand, etching its way into the swamp below. The shotgun in my hands wasn’t as heavy as I remembered. The squirrels reminded me just how dumb we are. Creatures with the technology to send us to the moon in our pants pockets can be tricked by the slight of hand of the woods. In the early hours of the morning the woods came alive to the sound of woodpeckers, deer snorting at the scent of two men wearing freshly laundered clothes, crickets in the field, and blue jays fighting over the remains of a nest they bullied their way into. The hunting was good, but it wasn’t great. One rabbit slipped past us disappearing into the three-foot-high grass and we found more coyote tracks than we did deer. At the end of the hunt two unfortunate souls were in our bag. Last night we enjoyed wine, a Chianti and a Spanish red I had never heard of. Both were thoroughly enjoyed over much needed conversation. It is during hard times that we learn who our friends are and receive the comfort that we need. There is a magic in air as I walk through the trails and listen to absolute silence and a good drink is one that is enjoyed with friends. There is still joy to be found in the roughest of seas, calm waters do not make a good sailor. The world has a strange measure of perfection that is expected from everyone but no one can achieve. The woods don’t judge. The world is perfect in its imperfect beauty. It is rare that man will create something that will improve on its own. The empty lots and dilapidated houses of my own town remind me of that. This system that we created will fade away on its own, eaten up by its own rules and horrible expectations. The only solution is to castrate the world and let mankind disappear in a low whimper. Life continues to go on. Is there anything more to ask for than good company, a walk in the woods, some wine, and a full belly. Anything more than that doesn’t matter.

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Letters to Harrison: 3

The city smells like urine tonight. The hot humid air and killer mosquitoes don’t help any. I long for the north and it’s simple ways. I overheard a conversation in Manistee where a group of old timers reassured themselves that they had chopped enough wood to get through the winter. Meanwhile my street is dug up and the natural gas lines had been serviced to make sure the whole damn block doesn’t explode one day. I decided to give your French reds another shot today, visiting a local shop and finding something that resembled the Cotes Du Rhone I enjoyed the week before. As a sucker I also picked up some white wine called Novelist in the hopes that it would inspire me to write something great. What was it that made you hug your shotgun so many years ago? I have an idea but times are different now and yet betrayal never changes. The hardest thing to overcome is being our own worst enemy. Once you do kick your own ass enough to straighten out there is always friends and family to fuck you over in the end. Never underestimate a person’s desire to destroy someone for shits and giggles. The neighborhood cats roam the streets tonight. They know what I’m talking about, feasting on anything they can wrap their teeth around. With winter coming there is a mad rush to devour anything in their path. Craws scratch and teeth shred as they fight over what little a city can provide to the wild. I enjoy the possums more, snacking on ticks, making sure I don’t have to check my drawers every night for some blood sucking pirate who stowed away on my ship. Life keeps throwing me punches, something that will never end. At what point do you throw in the towel or do you keep going until you stumble and stutter, no good to anyone anymore? I didn’t get to read your words today, locked away in a cave of my own doing. Be careful of who you make friends with, document everything, be careful who you tell the truth to and if you aren’t comfortable lying then don’t talk at all. This nation needs a war before it eats itself alive.

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