#TheMartiniEffect II (#HashtagNovella for NYC in the Time of #COVID19 Edition: Chapter 1)

The Martini Effect II – Chapter 1 (Inside This Bunker of Noble Pursuit)

2020-03-25 17.42.39

I should finish this drink and go to sleep.

It’s the wormhole I find myself in from time to time as I tumble too long and too deep through this Media Monkey library.

I scroll through gigabyte after gigabyte of sound and sound and sound and more sound. Joyous noise. It’s all become a blur. Blur. Blur. Blur.

It was Pantera an hour ago and now it’s Pearl Jam and it will soon be Prince and this drink will only become another drink which will quickly be followed by another drink and another after that.

I should finish this drink and go to sleep.

It’s a dirty vodka martini made from Stoli and Dolin vermouth with three olives because an even number of olives is bad luck in certain parts of the world and a single olive just didn’t seem enough. So, I put three olives in. Five seemed far too many. Three seemed the perfect number.

Shake the martini because you need the vodka as cold as you can get it. Otherwise, it tastes like lighter fluid. Shaken, not stirred. Because it’s James Bond’s martini. Bond drinks Stoli. Or so the movies tell us.

I took the time to think of all this because what else am I doing?

Because I have too much time and I don’t have as much time as I did before.

Christ! I don’t have as much time as I did before.

Where does the time go?

Being drunk can be like a time machine.

A few shots and you lose a few hours.

Were they important hours?

That’s how it works some nights. Blink and the night has gone. We’re talking Super Bowl contenders and World Cup qualifiers and Triple Crowns and how we lost Patty and Tommy earlier in the year and can’t for the life-of-us remember if they had kids or not – and suddenly I’m waking up on the sofa curled up under a warm blanket and can’t remember the cab ride home to save my inebriated life.

Those were the days we handled our lives outside this bunker of noble pursuit. This place I find myself inside where I strive to be remembered. Even if I never get to enjoy it. Even if it all happens long after they shovel me into a box and bury me in Calvary. Somewhere in a lost corner of Queens. Somewhere in a lost corner of New York City. Somewhere I get visited occasionally as I am slowly forgotten by anyone who knew me above ground.
Christ! I just need someone to see me. Hear me. Feel me.

Tommy, can you fucking hear me? Can you fucking see me?

Finish this drink and go to sleep.

Everything needs to sleep. Otherwise it goes mad eventually. I guess it’s the only way we can manage the constancy of existing. Like managing eternity in bits and pieces. Starts and stops. Little beginnings and little endings. Micro chapters inside the larger stories.
The only way you can eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
That quote gets attributed to Picasso all the time.
Or Michelangelo.
Or Mark Twain.
In fact, every quote gets attributed to Mark Twain eventually.
Even all the quotes he never said or never wrote.
Who knows.
We like Twain.
Everyone seems to like Twain.
And Yogi Berra.
Many quotes get attributed to him too that he never said.
Because we like knowing who said things.
Otherwise? It’s just a faceless universe whispering things to us. And we can’t have that. Hell. We need to believe we know the specific writers of the various books of the Bible. We can’t handle it just being written by God. Or Anonymous. Or, far more frightening, a faceless amalgam of unknown people.
We like knowing who said things.

Everything needs to sleep. Otherwise it can’t handle the hugeness of everything.

So I guess it was eventually going to happen.
The city that never sleeps went to sleep.
New York City went into a coma.
New York City went into a deep sleep and dreamt of life as a small town.
The residents all retreated to their various four-block quadrants and waited for the smoke signal calling us all back, telling us that everything was safe and we could now return to the normal hustle and bustle of life as a city and not life as a small hamlet.
We were all hoping for a clear signal.
We were all hoping for an alarm clock that would startle us awake and send us back to the hustle and bustle we had all grown so familiar with.

The signal hasn’t come.

We have false starts and near-stops.

A store-front slowly re-opens here.
A bar opens its beer-garden there.
We get tested and vaccinated.

But the city still feels as if it is sleeping.

And we’re all waiting for the smoke signal to alert us that all is well to return to the New York City we knew and loved before the time of COVID-19.

The city still feels as if it is sleeping.

2020-04-05 11.15.35

And if it awakes again?
I wonder if it’s like a harried beast awakened from a hibernation that lasted far too long.

I realize that I have been asleep at the wheel of my own life for far too long.
Hidden inside this cocoon of noble pursuit as I work to finish my various immortality projects.
Novels and plays and poems and journals. Writing my goals out daily. Praying to the muses that they give me the goods so I can finally emerge from this chrysalis and proclaim myself fit to re-enter the world of the living. I have now achieved fulfillment and you can all love me now. I am worthy of your affections. I am worthy of your adoration. I am worthy of your admiration.

And it’s bullshit.

Because I forgot my life entirely.

I kept working on the artist’s life.

And I forgot to check in and see if the human inside this bunker of noble pursuit was happy.

2020-04-05 18.01.42

The city slept.
The world slept.

But the horses kept running.

Within the deepest heart of the pandemic the only sport that continued was horse racing because the thoroughbreds had to be maintained anyway. Attendants had to keep the animals alive. Fed and healthy. And the horses could run without audiences to cheer them on. The horses didn’t care. The horses don’t care about wins and losses. The horses don’t care about pay-outs. The horses care about the thrill of running and the comfort of hay.

They don’t care about winning.

We care about winning.

Who comes first? Who places? Who shows? What’s the superfecta? Can we predict it? Straight down the line. 1-2-3-4! In perfect order. Like a cheat code to life. Find the combination and open the safe. Open the safe and find the diamonds. Find the diamonds and solve the mystery. Love, sex, riches, respect, all for the taking if you find the combination.

Can you predict the superfecta?

2020-04-11 12.56.14

In the midst of the lock-down we lost Diego Maradona. Footballer extraordinaire and also master of what soccer fans playfully call the dark arts. He scored one of the most masterful goals ever orchestrated and committed one of the most flagrant fouls ever seen in the same match.

He was a masterful saint and an unapologetic sinner all in the same five-foot-five frame.

He was remarkable and he was reprehensible.

He was as human as you get.

Because we’re all part-saint and part-sinner. We’re all capable of great generosity and horrific wickedness.

I should finish this drink and go to sleep.

2020-07-19 16.05.34

As the winter air warmed and the calendar finally turned to the summer months, many of the local bars began their soft re-openings serving drinks on the sidewalk as no one was allowed to loiter inside the establishments for longer than a restroom break while fully masked.

2020-06-12 18.19.34

The city that never sleeps finally slept and dreamt it was a small town.

2020-08-08 15.56.46

Locals that never chatted with each other when drinking silently inside the bars suddenly found themselves in boisterous conversation over matters professional, personal, and football-related.

Life on these streets became more and more curious. Wondrous. Devilish.

2020-06-12 17.24.30

On the wall of one of the dive bar bathrooms I found myself inside of hung the poster of DeMille’s classic THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

2020-06-12 18.19.41

As if the Hand of God is upon us during this time of great tribulation.

Not to be confused with the ‘Hand of God’ goal committed by Maradona. Great saint and horrible sinner. May he always be in our thoughts and prayers as he plays his matches out in that wonderfully decadent pitch that stretches out ahead of him in whatever plane of existence he now dribbles effortlessly.

I should finish this drink and go to sleep.

I mix one more cocktail, move to the living room, and put my vinyl copy of Deep Purple’s latest on the turntable.

It’s the warmth of vinyl that makes this feel more like a soft blanket that I pull over my shivering body as I sip what I pray will be the last cocktail of the night and drag my ass to bed.

2020-08-07 16.38.24

I put on Deep Purple and I begin to pray.

I pray for guidance and I pray for solace.

I never pray and I find myself needing to pray.

Because I have been hiding from everyone. But I can’t hide from the Big Thing upstairs that drives it all through the fog in the night with a steady hand and an eye trained on all of us.

I pray for more time and more understanding.

And I pray that someone will hear me on the other side as I crawl out from this bunker.

I just need you to love me. I just need you to hear me. I just need you to understand the madness that is spilling out of my mouth as I dribble these strange musings.

I hope I am praying to a benevolent God that brandishes the sort of warm compassion exhibited by Jesus in the New Testament and not the cold, calculated vengeance often seen in the Old Testament handed out by a stern Jehovah.

I pray to God as I listen to Deep Purple on vinyl.

Because what else am I doing?

I’m waiting for a smoke signal to let me know that the world is ready for me again.

The city that never sleeps is now sleeping and I’m waiting for a signal to let me know that it wants to wake up again.

And the dirge and the drive of Deep Purple makes some sort of sense in the midst of all this.

And it matches well with the last cocktail.

2020-08-07 18.07.23

I want to come out of hiding. I keep waiting until I’ve perfectly called the superfecta. But I can’t wait anymore. I want to come out of hiding. I want to taste love and adoration and admiration and without the combination. Without the cheat code.

We now drink on NYC street corners.

Perhaps this is the perfect time to come out of hiding.

The story begins here.

I have been telling my stories in secret here inside my bunker of noble pursuit.

But perhaps they all die from lack of oxygen.

So I tell the next one out here in the open where you can all mock me and praise me and judge me and laugh at me and love me and hate me and fear me.

At least you’ll see me.

The story begins here as I pray to God underscored by Deep Purple and try to see what the next chapter will be.

And God – whatever it be – answers.

“Sleep this drink off,” the Divine says to me. “And find the next one outside of your bunker.”

I finish this drink and go to sleep.
Because tomorrow finds me telling this story out of hiding where the oxygen is.
The story begins outside this bunker.

To Be Continued…

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