She had a trashy smile that made her the envy of every woman. Yer cash ain’t nothing, but trash. If you can’t think of anything better to do, take out the trash. Don’t let the trash get outta hand. Don’t let them think of you in the same breath with that trash. Keep quiet while they trash the poor fool. Trash is a legacy.
The mountain of trash, the ocean of trash, the plastic trash, the biodegradable trash, the trash that will still be gyring in the sea in a thousand years. Digging through trash is a way to see how people live, hauling trash is a way to make a living. The trash is a home for some, so if you stack it right the trash becomes a wall against the rain.
He trashed her, she trashed him, they trashed the others, the others trashed the comers newer than themselves. Trashy people, trashy neighborhood, trashy thoughts, cities made of trash, islands made of trash, seashores made of trash. Trash for as far as you can see. The largest man made structure in the world is a landfill. The secrets in trash, the logic to trash, the rationale of trash, he rhetoric of trash, the facts about trash. Ah-ha! Wanna se me pull a rabbit outta my hat? Look the other way and there is no trash.
One man’s trash is another man’s cargo. So since you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t throw that trash away. Give it to me. I can make the next iPhone out of it. Taking out the trash is work, figuring out where to take the trash is genius. So where there’s people there’s trash, where there’s trash there’s people. The two are intertwined, if not the two sides of the same coin.
Trash only stays wasted until you figure out what to do with it. Then it becomes part of the GNP. If trash is a problem you’re in luck. They MAKE problems for people. And finally, the plain truth about trash is trash is a resource. Trash is a treasure if you know what to do with it. Trash is slimy, trash is smelly, trash is toxic, trash is gross. Trash is the wrong thing in the wrong place. So, quit yer bitchin’ amigo, put itsomewhere else.
FORTUNE COOKIE IMPROV will rescue art from the arcane.
The only way to end this conversation is to leave. The only way to end this communication is to leave. The only way to end this infatuation… The only way to stop the bullshit is to walk away. The only one among the many, I only wanted for you to like me. You only wanted to follow some one else around. If I could only fly, if I could only get the hell outta here. If I could only start all over again. Only the lonely, only the few, only the lot of them.
The only way to help is leave it damn well alone. The hardest thing to do… The only child, the only book, the only guitar, the only way of doing anything. The only road outta town, the only road inta town, the only girl for me. The only view other than first is of someone’s rosy ass. The only band you listen to in all the musics of the world.
I only want the best for you. I’m only interested in your best. They’re only interested in getting by. My only interest is in staying a considerable distance away. Do yourself a favor, your only interest should be staying considerably away. Get it together. Only child, only girl, only one, only other one, only kind, only style, the one and only. The only way, the other way, another way, not today, but maybe not manana either.
There’s no imperative you have to come ahead of the pack. You only have to stay out of the teeth of the lead dog. You will be enlightened for the experience. Now, should I be exhaustingly honest, the only reason to break a sweat is to stay out of the way of the herd.
FORTUNE COOKIE I did it for a song. And I’d do it again.
I can keep the ball up in the air longer than you, so follow the bouncing ball, keep the ball in play, stay on the ball. The ball is on the court, the ball is in the field, the ball is in a park, the ball is in a stadium, the ball is off the charts. The ball is round, the ball is ablong, the ball is magnetic, the ball is fuzzy, the ball is hard, the ball is foam rubber, the ball is in the water, the ball with the laces goes a hundred miles an hour. The ball is tethered, the ball is bounced, the ball is hammered with a bat, the ball is kicked with a foot, or two. The ball is in the scrum, the ball spirals through the air, the ball is on the field. The ball has dimples. The ball is about fifty feet from the flag, put it away with a wedge.
The ball is in the glove, the ball is in the fairway, the ball is in the woods, but not for long. Hand me that driver, dammit. The ball is not your friend, the ball is the object of your immediate obsession. Though the ball is just the ball to both sides of the line of scrimmage, to both ends of the court, to all the batters at the plate, to all the big handed receivers that come down with the ball, to all the jolly fellows on the tee, to that scrappy, little water bug that fields the punt. First you gotta catch the ball.
The ball is coveted, the ball is dunked, the ball is kept away. The ball is handed off, the ball is fought for, the ball is protected, the ball is caught, the ball is thrown, the ball is over the goal line, the ball is through the uprights, but there’s too many men on the field. The ball is off to the side. The ball bounced outta bounds, the ball bounced off his helmet, the ball bounced into the third row of seats, the ball bounced off the backboard, the ball bounced off the scoreboard.
The ball bounced into the stands, the ball bounced over the catcher’s head, the ball bounced into his hands, the ball bounced into the hoop, he bounced the ball before he dunked it, the ball bounced away on the plate, he’s safe. The ball bounced down to the one yard line. The ball took a funny bounce to get there, don’t touch it, maybe the ball will roll out of the end zone. First and ten from the 20, whew!
The pitcher brushed him back with his fastball, drop ball, curve ball, money ball, round ball, jump ball, foul ball, bunt it. New ball since the old ball went over the fence, the ball is a possession, the ball gets overturned, the ball arcs, the ball gets stuffed, the ball gets stolen by the guard, two easy points. The ball gets penalized, the ball gets handed off, the ball is in the air, the ball is in the middle of the field, the ball is out of bounds, the ball is over the line.
You can fumble the ball, you can intercept the ball, you can throw the ball away. The ball is at the bottom of the pile. The ball is at your own 1 yard line. You can sneak the ball, you can hike the ball, you can fake the ball, you can hide the ball in your glove, you can run a counter play. You can hide the ball on yer hip, you can pump the ball, who’s got the ball? You can palm the ball and the ref will take the ball away. You can place the ball on a hashmark, you can tip the ball, you can knock the ball over the fence.
You can shoot the ball from half court. You can shoot the ball from the free throw line. You can shoot the ball from the corner. You can shoot the ball from outside. You can pull up and shoot the ball from the post, or just lay it up. You can set up a pic with the ball. You can dribble the ball the length of the court, and back. You can dribble a ball with both hands. You can dribble the ball between your legs. You can dribble the ball between your opponent’s legs. ¿See what I mean?
FORTUNE COOKIE There ain’t nothing in this crazy world, but me and this girl.
The Sun & Moon & Stars make the wind blow. Sun up, sundown, sunny day, sunny outlook, sunny disposition. Son of god, sonny, sun rise, sun in my window. The disk of the sun, the pale of the sun, the strength of the sun, if not for the sun, the wonder of the sun, the loneliness of the sun, the warmth of the sun, the sun at high noon. The brooding sun, the oppressive sun, the frown of the sun, the glare of the sun, the smirk of the sun, the smile of the sun, the wink of the sun, the sun at the center of the solar system. If the sun comes out it won’t rain on your parade.
The gloat of the sun, the hand of the sun, the backhand of the sun. The sun turns your skin red, the sun peels the paint off your car. For want of the sun, for need of the sun, but for the sun. The sun’s gonna shine in my backdoor someday. Make the sun go away, too much sun, the eclipse of the sun, too little sun. Wait for the sun. But if you wait for the sun you could be here all day.
The color of the sun, the glint of the sun, the only sun, many suns, does the sun go out at night? If so, where? With whom? Does the sun have a cell phone? Can the sun be reached? On Facebook? Is the sun something you can count on? Ask a cloud. The setting of the sun through the palms, the setting of the sun over the mountain, the sun setting down the alleyway. The sunset in your eye, sun beams, sun shines, the city under the sun, the desert under the sun, the civilization under the sun, the sun will scorch this side of town to a cinder.
The sun bakes, the sun broils, the sun irradiates. Behind the sun, around the sun, like a solar wind from the sun, like a magnetic storm, like a blast furnace, like a nuclear fire. Like photons on the back of your eye, like a chain reaction, like the glow along the horizon, like the light in your imagination.
The tears of the sun, the voice of the sun, the heart of the sun, a chariot in the sky. Like a blaze on the horizon, like a lantern in the night. The words of the sun, the silence of the sun, the outspoken sun, the theatre of the sun in the summer sun. The only sun around these parts, the only sun close enough to make a difference, we’re a long way from the center of the galaxy. The sun hiccups, the sun fumes, the sun neglects to come out. The sun forgot your reservation for the campsite in the forest, so it rained for daze.
FORTUNE COOKIE The best kind of heroism is to be found in the relentless practice of one’s profession.
Might as well stand yer ground if there’s no place to run. Might as well have a go of it till you know what’s going on. Might as well stop doing whatever you’re doing if all it does is cause you trouble. Might as well quit the lover if all they do is make you crazy. Might as well start out on foot if you don’t have a horse. Might as well saddle up that horse if you don’t have wheels. Maybe better yet, you might as well stick your thumb in the air.
Might as well change your mind if you can’t have it your way. Might as well sit down since you can’t seem to stand up. Might as well figure it out since you don’t seem to know. Might as well hold on to what you got since you don’t seem to have a bucket to piss in. Might as well hope the best when it might look the worst. Who knows? Might as well think positively when negativity is all around. Might as well be the one among the many. Might as well win the damned race if you have to run at all.
Might as well give a care when no one gives a shit. Might as well read that book if you can’t get outta bed. Might as well hit the road if no one is home. Might as well give it a try since no one has been able to do it. Might as well be different when everything is so damn much the same. Might as well think your own thoughts instead of somebody else’s. Might as well have a celebration if you get fired. Might as well get comfortable if you’re back in jail. Though you might as well talk it up if no one will talk. Might as well keep to yourself if nobody is interested. Don’t let ‘em know who you are.
Might as well do your best if that’s the best you can do. Might as well drive all day if you can’t get there by dark. Maybe tomorrow. Might as well give it up if you have it to give. Might as well give it away if you don’t need it. Might as well let it go if it has become irrelevant. And maybe only you would know. Might as well forget it if you can’t recall it in the first place. Might as well help yourself since no one will lift a finger. Might as well save yourself the trouble. Might as well tell the truth if that’s as good as you can lie.
FORTUNE COOKIE Being pretty doesn’t make you sexy, being sexy makes you sexy.
Valuable is the way you comb your hair, like auburn spun. Valuable is the way you smile. Valuable is how you talk. Valuable is what I hear. Valuable is knowing the ropes. Valuable is knowing what not to do. Valuable is knowing how to make someone happy. Valuable is knowing how to make someone feel good. Sometimes it takes a little, sometimes it takes a lot. Valuable is knowing when to quit. Valuable is the way you talked that policeman outta that ticket. Bravo!
Valuable is a measure. Valuable is a goal, but valuable is not an amount. Though valuable might just be a place. Perspective is valuable. Opinion is valuable to a point. Hell, like alcohol is a food to a point. Character is valuable. Knowing where yer going is valuable. Remembering where you’ve been is valuable. Having done it before is valuable. Ready to do it again is valuable. Valuable is peace of mind. Valuable is rare. Valuable is desired.
Valuable is a tank of gas at the edge of the desert with an oasis in the shimmering distance. Valuable is a woman to whom you can talk. Valuable is a pal when you need ‘em. Right place, right time. Valuable is knowing someone you like that runs a longhorn ranch. Valuable is liking someone that builds guitars. Valuable is being ahead of the game. Valuable is being in the game, maybe better that. Valuable is the view from the kitchen into the courtyard. Valuable is what you think you’re worth. You’re the first person that needs to be impressed. Valuable is a worthwhile endeavor, maybe two. Treasure is valuable. Service to need is valuable.
If you’re valuable yer admired. If you’re valuable you might be expensive. If you’re valuable you are held dear. If you’re valuable you are cherished. If you’re valuable you are collected. If you’re valuable you are helpful. If you’re valuable you may be high priced. If you’re valuable you are highly prized. If you are valuable you are useful. If you’re valuable you are a nugget in the rough. If you’re valuable you are golden. If you’re valuable you are treasured by someone.
FORTUNE COOKIE If you’re in the drivers seat, all may not be the way it seems, you might be on a tractor.
Make believe is a castle in the air, make believe is whimsy, make believe is a flight of fancy, an apparition, a pretend, ju-ju, voodoo. Make believe is wool gathering. Make believe is pie in the sky. Make believe is a fantasy, make believe is a fondness for phantasy. Make believe is creativity, daydream, imagination, fantasia, a head trip, chimera, hocus-pocus between your ears, mirage, a fools paradise, star gazing, illusion. Make believe is a figment, or perhaps an hallucination. Make believe can be a delusion, or a pipe dream.
If you believe this then you’ll make believe anything. But, are you a believer? Who make believes this shit? Does your make believe stand in the way of your understanding? Do you have to make believe every time, or is it an option? Maybe you would believe if I encouraged you make believe. Maybe not. Y’know, they’ll do it just because you tell them not to. It was only make believe. I bet you wouldn’t, even if you could make believe. Make believe is your own little world, it’s your only way outta here. It’s a place where no one goes, but you. It’s a whole world make believable. They say make believe is just for kids. No creative person ever believed that. Make believe is the most fun of fiction till the ficton is a fact.
So make believe is different from reality. But make believe and reality can be the same. They can look the same, but they don’t have to. What is, one day, make believe is on another day reality. Ask a computer company. Make believe and reality can accomplish the same things, but in their own way. If there’s one there’s the other, like two ends of a walking staff. Both ends will get you there. Make believe, and reality might not stride that road quite the same way, but they might both come around to the same conclusion.
FORTUNE COOKIE I was a kid even after I had wrinkles on my face, then I was just an ugly kid.
Y’know what most people do? Y’know what most people say? Y’know what most people rely on? Y’know what most people think about anything? Y’know what most people want? Y’know what most people feel? Y’know what most people will? Y’know what most people won’t? Y’know what most people did? Y’know what most people said? Y’know what most people told us?
Y’know what most people drive? Y’know what most people push? Y’know what most people do with the time they have alone? Y’know what most people can manage? Y’know what most people can’t? Y’know what most people will admit? Y’know what most people attach weight to? Y’know what most people trust? Y’know what most people place confidence in?
Y’know what most people tell? Y’know what most people are convinced of? Y’know what most people understand? Y’know what most people take for granted? Y’know what most people take as the gospel? Y’know what most people swallow? Y’know what most people suppose? Y’know what most people thought about doing it for free? Y’know what most people believe? Y’know what most people think of us? Some people.
FORTUNE COOKIE Do what your heart desires and do it well.
It’s supposed to be ugly, but beautiful inside. It’s supposed to be a pepper with the heat in the middle. It’s supposed to be somebody if there is no one. It’s supposed to be together cause you made it. It’s supposed to be a warning like the clanging of a bell. It’s supposed to be a tip that you shouldn’t tell her everything. It’s supposed to be easy when you’re up there on the stage. It’s supposed to have a tune if it’s a song. It’s supposed to be a message to someone.
It’s supposed to be pleasure. It’s supposed to be a thrill. It’s supposed to take the chrome off a trailer hitch. It’s supposed to be a talent. It’s supposed to be a privilege. It’s supposed to be fix, but it’s not. It’s supposed to be the cat’s pajamas. It’s supposed to be worth the cover. It’s supposed to be the mother road in between the mountains. It’s supposed to be like you’re in a hurry to be going where you’re going. It’s supposed to be you’ll ever even get there. It’s a journey, not a destination. It’s supposed to be just what it’s supposed to be. It’s just supposed to be that way.
In art you can make one move
too many and dilute a good piece
like the Mona Lisa with a vape pen.
The words in this improvisational series are like the notes musicians play in musical improv. The words are not about my summer vacation, they are not organized, necessarily. They are not in a straight line, they are not apologetic, they are not literary, necessarily. They are not for the wealthy, or political, though they might be one, and the same. They are not for the supposed righteous, they are not for those that think they are righteous. They are not the only way to say anything. They are not, necessarily.
And the words don’t have to say what you want to hear, they just are what they are. And there’s a new word everyday. These pieces move fast, they don’t suffer a lot of pause. They talk about everything at once. They are not terribly thematic individually, but vary in topic, and subject. What subject? You’ll figure it out. Hell, I have to figure it out. You’ll understand as much, or little as you will. Just like me. But so much for the negative.
Sometimes the words fall on you like rain, or blow around like leaves in the street, or gather like clouds in the sky, or move like a line of ants on the ground. Or simmer in a pot like beans in a restaurant, or huddle like stockinged ladies on a team, or assemble like children on a playground. Or cluster like a bunch of flowers, or group like a crowd of well wishers. Or round up like a herd of cattle, or swarm like a hive of bees, or grate like the sands between your toes. Or ascend like balloons at a festival, or not.
They don’t have to make sense in a literal way like the manual for your cellphone, or the pamphlet on venereal disease. They are not required to be readable. They are not necessary to understand the story line. They just are using the tools and techniques I have taught myself to inflict maximum interest on an audience of my choosing. Sounds preconceived. That may be actionable, and certainly entertaining. Good.
They are suggestive, they are emotive, they don’t have to have a thing to do with what the front row is talking about over what you say. They are free to be whatever they want, whatever you want. The audience is a very big part of IMPROV, so I guess their conversation is part of the show I don’t have to write.
New perspectives, a new pair of shoes, a novel idea whose time has come. Sometimes the words come in backwards, or upside down, like gibberish, like garbage. Like something not together, like something confused. But read between the lines. But hear them for what they say. The hints are everywhere, the hints are off the cuff, the hints are on the back of a box of cereal, the hints are hints because they have something to hide, maybe a surprise in every box.
But you’ll figure it out, sooner, or later. Sometimes they come in on top of one another, sometimes they don’t come in at all. Like water that won’t be constrained, or constricted, the words can’t be held for long before the embankment that pretends to hold them springs a leak. Rest assured, when the dam is long forgotten the words, like the water, will still be there. But you get my drift.
FORTUNE COOKIE Don’t wait for the brilliant insights, have studied responses.
Writing like painting, writing like improvisational music, like a whirlwind of words. Makes sense, nonsense, senselessly careening like a big car out of control, nice paint job. It defies Einstein’s time because everything happens at once… this is IMPROV, improvisational writing.
I choose a word for the day and like an accomplished musician, or a dedicated painter I vamp. I start here, and go there unbounded, unconfined by concept, or convention save the word of the day. I come at the word extemporaneously. Free form words to explain the word of the day like free form notes from a clarinet, like the expressive brushstrokes of a painter. Some pieces take an hour, or two, some you can start and finish on a plane ride to Texas.
IMPROV is reflexive, instinctive, happenstance, revelatory like a puzzle you can solve in a sitting. Ingenious viewpoints, and marvelous interpretation. These pieces are unedited stream of thought. They are done in the time it takes to write them down. They occur, off the cuff, just like the musical notes the musicians played in the OJO sessions. They are brainstorms, improvised not calculated. IMPROV is cool, IMPROV is easy, you don’t have to have a college degree to write IMPROV, IMPROV doesn’t cost any money, but a good IMPROV is like a jewel, in your hat, on your lapel, in the top pocket of your shirt, or in the key holder of your coat.
IMPROV is easy, IMPROV is knowing where you are going, IMPROV is confidence you know what you are doing, or what you are talking about, IMPROV is make believe if you have any kind of imagination at all, IMPROV is making your dream come true, IMPROV is talking about it without limitations. In IMPROV pigs really do fly, in IMPROV you are tall, dark, and handsome, in IMPROV you have the solution to illness, to disease, to hardship, to loneliness, imagine that. In IMPROV you are fast as the wind, in IMPROV you are over the top, in IMPROV you are the wisest in the land, or for as far as you can see, or for as long as you can hold you breath.
In IMPR0V you are first in line, in IMPR0V you are at the head of your class, in IMPR0V there are no classes, in IMPR0V you are invisible, in IMPR0V you are like the Wizard of Oz turning knobs and watching gauges as the world passes by like a truck with a big load and a flat tire, or two. IMPROV is freedom to use the writing tools you have learned to write themes that mean what you say. Because you say what you want and by making no stand everything you say means something you might not know ’till you write it. Ha!
Y’see the hardest thing to do is get a writer to write. If it’s easy, then the intimidated writer has nothing to complicate things. And all writers are intimidated about something. They’re not tall enough, they’re not rich enough, they’re not fast enough. They can’t write, they can write. And when the writing flows it might just make sense to the coveted listener. Win, win. But writing IMPROV means you were paying attention, writing IMPROV means you were interested enough to find out, writing IMPROV means you weren’t afraid to make note of whatever it was you might be writing about today. No thinking, no worry, no indecision. Like an arrow from a bow, no hesitation, no doubt. No good way, no bad way, no high, no low, no in between, no right way, no wrong way, just letting the imagery flow from the top of your head to the tip of your finger, fast as you can.
About love, about work, about the weather, about the state of the world. IMPROV is a surprise, IMPROV is a novelty, IMPROV is hard work done lifetimes ago. IMPROV flows from your experience, IMPROV flows like a river, IMPROV gathers like a cloud, IMPROV stops on a dime, IMPROV moves like a cat, IMPROV runs like a horse, IMPROV flies like a bird, IMPROV swims like a fish, like a school of fish swimming through a reef, IMPROV stands like a soldier.
IMPROV is understanding, IMPROV is traveling far and remembering what you saw, IMPROV is using your knowledge of the whirling world, IMPROV is using your language to tell a tale even you don’t know, till you write it, till you put in the commas and periods, and paragraph markings. Before I wrote IMPROV I only wrote about my summer vacation, I only wrote about what I thought, I only wrote about one subject at a time. Now I write about everything I ever knew.
IMPROV won’t bore you, IMPROV won’t let you down, IMPROV won’t scold you, IMPROV won’t criticize you, IMPROV won’t judge you, IMPROV won’t stop you from saying what you will because IMPRVO is a revelation, and IMPROV is an exotic destination you can go to when you will. If you never wrote IMPROV you wouldn’t know the thrill, if you never wrote IMPROV you wouldn’t have the satisfaction, if you never wrote IMPROV you wouldn’t know the freedom and the ease of writing improvisation.
IMPROV will save you, IMPROV will make it up to you, IMPROV will make you wealthy between your ears, IMPROV will let you wonder at the beauty of your thoughts, IMPROV will let you be the boss, IMPROV will let you control the horizontal, IMPROV will let you control the vertical, IMPROV will return control of your set to you. IMPROV is unpredictable, but IMPROV is not late like your homework, IMPR0V is not on a timer, IMPROV is not over the rainbow, IMPR0V is right here, right now, and IMPROV is over in a thought, but on again whenever you please. IMPROV is quick as a hiccup, IMPROV is slick like Elvis, IMPROV is high as the sky, IMPROV is deep as a well, IMPROV is wide as an ocean, IMPROV is remote like a desert island, IMPROV is ephemeral like Shangri La, IMPROV is the nineteenth hole on a golf course.
But IMPROV is simple, and IMPROV is unrehearsed, IMPROV is off the cuff, IMPROV is off the ticket, IMPROV is off the deep end, IMPROV is over the rainbow, IMPR0V is immediate, IMPR0V is undetermined, IMPROV is unpredictable, IMPROV is welcome to be whatever it will be. Because IMPROV is powerful magic. You are what you write, you are what you say, you are the spring from which the waters flow, you are the well from which the thirsty drink, you are the hat from which the rabbit leaps, you are the IMPROV on which the bad old world turns.
Writers were born bored. And it’s hard to get them to like anything. So IMPROV comes along and offers the writer an unstructured place from which to speak. IMPROV allows them to change their minds, and admit to liking anything at all. IMPROV is freedom, IMPROV is capability, IMPROV is wordplay. IMPROV is relaxation putting the IMPROVs together because IMPROV has no rules. IMPROV has no favorites, IMPROV doesn’t keep score, IMPROV doesn’t take names, IMPROV doesn’t even care if it makes sense, to whom? For what? Thanks be, I got that drivel out of my system when I started writing IMPROV. I began to know the writer all the more when I saw how people read.
for that one in the world.