Newport Cigarettes because fuck yeah I'm drunk let's have some fun
Published June, 2014 by UnRandom House (New York, London, Kingston), all rights reserved.
Dedicated, with love, to Miss Baker.
The day came sooner than I thought it would. Ma told me this would happen. "Son," she told me, holding me on her lap while I read the New York Times, "don't ever fall in love with a crazy woman. Just don't do it. That's the only advice I will ever give you, on or off my death couch. D o n o t, I repeat, D000000 NOT fall in love with a crazy woman."
Her name was Karen. The craziest most intelligent woman I'd ever met, angry at the world, dominating the canvas of life like she was painted by Warhol as the epitome of the witching way into mayhem in-her-own-mind whacked out genius of a painter. I met her when I saw one of her wall-paintings and made sure I walked into her bedroom, where she'd painted the walls and ceiling and turned it into an art gallery. Every time she moved, someone - usually an artist show-off wannabee who didn't "get" her and never would - painted over her paintings, with only Karen and I knowing that they were destroying five-million-dollar artwork at each and every stop.
I asked her once where she did what she did, and why not curtail the rat into the juncture? She looked at me like she didn't know what I was talking about.'
Chapter One: The bears have no midnight?!!?
We got high the second time we saw each other (well, the first too), in the attic when she unexpectedly came over. There was nobody like her anywhere on the planet. She'd go into these elaborate stories and keep talking and squinting and smirking but-not-a-smirk like she was cute nuts, and the stories would just spin out and her words would start to intertwine and by twenty seconds into one of these tellings most people would edge away in an automatic nervous-system influenced survival reaction. If they lasted a minute into her tale they were some kind of daring-do devil-may-care creative person, but by then they'd have had enough. I was the only one who lasted the full five minutes it took for her to tell a story from one end to the other, or to formulate and word-paint a detailed multi-leveled thought-structure - it wasn't always that long but the good ones were - the whole time sprouting that sinister looking smile like she was going to cut you, the whole time squinting her eyes and giving the story her total concentration. At the end of five minutes the thing would fall together like a puzzle made of Stone Age artwork stirred into bright segments by proverbs and imported fairy dust (get some at the gift shop on the way out). Both her stories and her paintings fell into place so that what you'd see if you could see them, if you could picture patterns, would be an interconnecting matrix-mandlebot twist around to the side of extended fauve artwork.
She painted her paintings' frames better than most painters painted their best paintings, and once picked a peck of pickled peppers just for the life experience.
Karen once perfectly defined Hendrix for me, but I'll tell you about that later. One day she got in her car and drove to to Hibbling, Minnesota on a whim, because that's where Dylan came from. She wasn't impressed, and was sure Dylan wasn't either.
There was sun right where she lived. Totems too.
Chapter Two: Mice roam free
There was a white crow in the zoo. Nowhere else in the world was there a white crow in a zoo. I'd visited it often years before, but not for awhile, and Karen hadn't heard about it. She and I sat on the attic balcony one day (getting high? what are the odds?) when I told her about the crow. She immediately stood up, went downstairs, dressed in a spiritual manner of sorts, wore objects which were magic to her, and said she'd see me later, that she was going to the zoo to pay tribute to the crow.
You ain't kidding, buster
There is no room for compromise when you run into something like that.
Chapter Three: Chapter Three
Chapter Three was the name of her boat, a canoe that a couple had drowned in once. She painted two red vertical lines on the side, daring it to keep the tally going, and paddled it with her head down.
Whenever she was able to get her canoe past the Coast Guard and into open waters she ran it like a cruise liner. She handed out towels. You could sunbath on deck while having slightly-chilled champagne brought up. Pizzas weren't out of the question.
She painted her canoe. It sold in 2012 for 7.9 million dollars, the two lines not added to but now stylized and colored beyond belief.
...I TOLD you I was involved in a writing contest."
She's never let up on me, from that day forward. "You fell in love with that crazy woman! You had to go and fall head over fucking high-heels with a crawzy carny witch-wacked outside of swanity woman. Were you guys talking to me?" Ma often touches at the sky, she does. But when she gets this worked up she usually points at a wall. "You're welcome," the wall acknowledges ma after she hears babies say fuck you to Frank Lloyd Wright, himself an architect of note. Such things evolved in her.
The poster on our living room wall is a life-size photograph of Eddie Gaedel:
and swear to God she makes us pray to it.
Chapter Four: Where were we?
Okay, so getting back to the story. One day Karen was painting, and when I walked in she was so angry at something that she was steaming at ultra-Fahrenheit, but was still calm enough to move the paintbrush around without stabbing me. "It won't let me use my favorite color," she said, pointing at a tube of some kind of deep blue artist's paint lying a few inches to her right. "For three months now." I understood her completely, and that part of me that's amazed by her was amazed.
I'm at the same party where she told me about Hendrix right after seeing me from across the room "get him" for the first time. She was able to tell what had happened just from the look on my face. She walked right over and whispered in my ear "He's the guitarist's guitarist". She'd just gotten back from a month road trip to a place that only Voodoo Queen Mona and her own artwork would know - you had to be there - and she asked me if I wanted to see her new paintings. So we went to her car. It was night. I got in the front seat, she in the drivers. I asked "Where?", and she said, "Turn around." I did and it hurt my eyes. Looking at the two paintings propped up in the back seat literally hurt my eyes enough for me to instantly and involuntarily say "OW", look away, and say "Karen, don't do that!"
They say weird and nice things happen to the crazy and the inbred. When they branch outside of that it's usually danger or anger. Don't ask which is the brim and which is the bonnet.
Chapter Five: Angry as a teenage anorexic bobcat on adrenaline-cola
Every hour on the hour Karen would either scream out or whisper way too quietly "Newport cigarettes because fuck yeah." It was like a clock going off in her head, only the cuckoos usually stayed inside the tiny bird house. Before or after she smoked her precious Newports, often taking the time to paint them with a sugar mixture that she claimed shot the nicotine into her system faster - or at least gave her that smile while sliding it in there, some kind of woman's mystery dictated by the lunar calendar for all I knew - she'd start getting angry at me over nothing. I couldn't tell her it was nothing, although almost every time neither of us knew what she was angry at. I saw enough of those ravings to learn to cut my time off with her, say "I had fun, see you tomorrow", and take my leave. She appreciated that. We both knew how much.
Karen loved the Beatles. "How can you explain Ringo?" I asked her once. "A necessary evil" she replied without hesitation. Has there been a more perfect description of the man?
Many of trhe MAAAAAAAAAAA, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST D0n't sneak up on me while I'm typing......and don't read over my shoulder. I'll recite it for you whenever you want. What?, fuck, take a picture it lasts longer. Yes, I know. Goddamnit don't you think I know she's crazy? Stop mopping for once! She's nuts, loony bin blankets all around her, like the time she stopped the railroad from cutting down the wildflowers along the tracks by attacking the bulldozer with one of the railroad's own orange flags on a stick! And then brings me another one as a memento. So get off my lap ma, you don't belong there anymore. Just STOP it! No, I don't care, no, we are not.
Chapter Six: Tommy and the Technic
Karen was born prematurely on the Winter Solstice. She just had to get out of there and into the dance.
Chapter Seven: MAAAAAAAAA, WTF, STop Sneaking Around or I'm taking my computer over to Eddie's
Chapter Seven: "Are those snakes in your eye or are you just glad to see me?"
Karen was very territorial. And like everyone else I ever knew she liked her alone space. One person who shall not be named Dave intruded on that space once by pushing over a couch she'd propped up against the door, and she threw game pieces at him.
Another time her pet iguana jumped from the attic porch, and as he fell forty feet down Karen calmly explained "He thinks he can fly". He was perfectly fine. Unlike the woman on acid during a rave in our living room who fell 10 feet off the porch railing and paralyzed herself for awhile. This happened two minutes after Violet saw a demon ghost in the hallway and came to tell me about it. Write about what you know, right? Violet held the girls hand, and kept her head in her lap, and talked to her very peacefully and hopefully until the ambulance arrived. Calmly soothing an injured girl minutes after a demon ghost scared her and warned her to be ready, which took a lot of doing, both on Violet's part and the ghosts'.
Karen was jealous of Violet. They had a girl-fight once, after which Violet became a Christian until that wore off. I first met Violet as she was standing on my bed. I'm a little in love with her too.
Part of Violet is as crazy as bedbugs on wormwood, especially now, although hers is more a thoughtful play.
Chapter The Last
And where does that leave the meter running? Already we have ghosts in the machine, cheap at any price, and everytime I see a pack of Newports I have to fight my gag reflex, which you do by wriggling your toes.
Karen sent me this Valentine's Day card last year. Maybe it's to remind me about the time she took me out for my birthday and we ate and ran. Maybe she's giving her heart to me, and this is the way she filmed it. She made over eleven millions dollars last quarter, and only sold three pieces.
I call the one on the far right Anne, but that's for another time.
So, ok, fine. Now you and me and ma have read my UnBook, Newport Cigarettes because fuck yeah. I can still hear Karen screaming and/or whispering those words, except when she slept, and that toothy smirk was there too, the one where she tries to smile and her eyes do that thing. Oh Jeezis f. Kristh fuck me with a full-size Halloween skeleton this god forsaken contest ends in a minute and I have to go pee like Secretariat opening up 31 lengths. So ma, I'm leaving you to push "save" and send this on its way, because I can-not-wait-one-more fuckin'-second. Don't touch a thing except the left clicker, OK, you know how it sweeps the page, remember?, yeah, hold it down, and then do the right click, just like I showed you, and delete this entire paragraph. Ma, no, don't touch anything else, just push "save" before Shabidoo freezes the page. I'm peeing those little can't hold'itin drops now ma, so just be a dear and do that one thing for me.
? assholed, waitl