travelin' again, this time to Venice, Italy, which
is the most beautiful creation of man's I've ever
witnessed. Birthday-cake houses with cobblestone
myriad elegant stone bridges, all connected by blue-green
Mediterranean water. Sprinkled here and there are
enormous empty churches and bizarre half-naked half-humans.
Sure, much of the time it's a veritable sewer, and
all the time it's swarming with hordes of white-as-they-come
tourons, but visually it is breathtakingly, heartbreakingly
gorgeous! And if ever you get sick of bumping into
gelato-eating Germans, all ya gotta do is walk over
a canal and Venice is all yours--an empty Eden with
nary a pigeon to mar your path--all moss-covered
lions and Renaissance mansions. No cars, no mopeds,
not even the swish of a passing gondola. Just an
utterly gorgeous ghost town with its deafening post-apocalyptic
silence. And why's that? Cuz NO ONE LIVES THERE.
Venice is nowadays an amusement
park. It's for tourists only, and the price of admission
ain't cheap. Which makes the place ring rather hollow--what
is a place if no one lives there, no one calls it
home? Got me thinkin' 'bout home. You know, is home
where the heart is? Where the heartbreak is? Or,
as Andre Williams said as he placed his red pimp-hat
on my head, is home where ya hang your hat? Dunno.
But home is not geography: street names, architecture,
land forms. No it's not, Miss Las Vegas, tho' I
seems to have thought otherwise, romancing the plains
and grain mills of my birth, the Lutheran hymns
sung off-key in cracking elderly voices, Highway
61, Lake Superior, Magic Gardens, Mary's Club, Satyricon...are
these things home? I thought so. I was wrong. Home
is people. Flesh and blood and souls and the dramas
they enact in the street, schools, churches, and
even strip bars.
I am such an intimacy-fearing ice-cold
romantic beautiful loser. It's like I've already
planned my epic ending off some high bridge into
some cold water. I live my life like a tragic poem.
Always on the run, always running away from home.
Now I've run away from Portland. Why? Cuz I couldn't
see the next chapter? Cuz I wanted to impose bookends
on the chaos of life? The Portland story began 7/21/96,
ended 3/21/01. I made sure it had a beginning, a
middle, an end.
Most writers and artists have passionate
allegiances to HOME, a place that birthed them,
reared them, tortured them. A place they mythologize,
demonize, record. I on the other hand wax passionate
about homelessness, the road, loneliness. Home for
me has always been the last place I left. And now
I'm wonderin' if I don't leave merely to achieve
the idea of a home.
I think my art would improve if
I could just stay put. Get a bit intimate with a
place, its people. Try to love, try to write about
it...Could New York be home? Seems like everybody's
mythologized it, but nowadays hardly anyone is from
here. Someone told me I was already the quintessential
New Yorker, bein' a) not from here, b) fabulous,
c) beautiful. And it's great livin' here, great
to create art here, but it's not home. It's a giant
Monopoly game that I'll play while I'm in the mood.
Then, please GOD, I'll go home. Or create/embrace/accept
a home. Why is it so hard for me? The comfort and
security feel like death. But, says mom, flowers
bloom only when planted.
You know, I even think I know where
home is. But I'm not tellin', not yet.
Miss ya, Portland. But otherwise
doin' just fine. And hey, thanks for the money,
those who sent checks. I'm toastin' your health