Friday, February 22, 2008

Yer Blues

Howard Zimmerman rescued me from an otherwise dismal personal appearance at Midtown Comics last night. I write this after several hours sleep and a strange dream that included Sarah Dylan explaining why Bob hadn’t sent me a hundred-dollar check yet but would I please wear the silver ribbon, then ended abruptly as I heard the dogs howling upstairs in the kitchen. So I dragged my ass off the couch where I’d passed out fully clothed and trod up the thirteen steps to walk them. Only to find eight inches of snow in front of my front door and everyone else’s and still falling madly as the dogs and I moved slowly about at 6:30 a.m. looking for a place to squat. This would be bad enough with sufficient sleep and no hangover but I’m not that lucky. And only the Bob Dylan part was dreamt—the rest, brutal reality as I type. Even those wet dogs, back in the kitchen now after shitting themselves silly, feel better at the moment.

Gahl, my host at Midtown Comics, was amiable as always and there’s no slight intended. His shop is my favorite one in the city. It’s just that signings are a no-win unless you can sketch for a few bucks, and no one knows who the fuck I am anyway, and neither, it seems, do I. Spent most of two hours exchanging industry gossip and hoping a certain reader wouldn’t show up because her constant, endless, maddened emails and attempts to instant-message me have made me so uncomfortable that I’m about ready to send in my brother Dave, and that’s never pretty.

Back to Howard, my first reaction to him some fifteen years ago was in response to his first reaction to me, which carried his discomfort with my smashing some wise-mouth skinhead in the teeth at NBC Studios. At least that’s how I remember it. Harlan remembers me hitting three guys, and all that without a single beer. Though I see him only on occassion (or perhaps because of it), I enjoy Howard’s company more than I do most people’s, a keen repository of accurate information and sense and good humor, this man—“He was the voice of sanity at an otherwise insane publishing house,” as Bob Silverberg recently described him to me. Howard had several vodkas, then caught a train home from Port Authority, while I had to walk with a bellyfull of tequila and ale and no dinner back to a parking lot to locate my Toyota. It wasn’t hard to find; some dickless piece of shit had sideswiped it, leaving me without a sideview mirror. Not a lot of cars look like that. I drove through the Lincoln Tunnel, worse for tequila, and phoned a few friends until the cell kicked out, an asshole move that late at night but almost forgivable given my state of un-mind. Made it as far as Passaic before hunger overtook me, so I pulled off the road and found an all-night glatt-kosher Chinese takeout joint, then ate lo mein in my front seat.

Somehow made it back to Rockaway. All roads lead to Rockaway. Home again, I collapsed on the couch then let the tequila take over. Dreamed that I raped my wife in the bathroom. Not sure how Sarah Dylan fit in. In all, a weird way to start my 47th birthday.


Howard said...

First, I've got to say that I'm relieved Cliff made it home without incident or accident and that he found the kosher Chinese take-out, proving that while part of his brain was impaired, the important parts were not.

Cliff is surprised that he can no longer drink like a 20-year-old. Hell, he certainly can, it just has a more dramatic effect these days.

To set the record straight, I was drinking vodka, not scotch.

Cliff is one of those natural forces of nature that, if one is wise, one will tack with against the wind.

The fact that he remains an angry young man after all these years is truly astonishing to me. But it is one of the secret sources of his muse, and so he wisely keeps the flames burning.

Cliff and I have not worked together. Yet. When we do, it will be an event that even I would buy a ticket to.

As to that first meeting more than a decade ago, it was quite something to see this compact ball of rage, erudition and chutzpah upstage Harlan on the street. (And yeah—I would have bought a ticket to that, too.)

Then I read some of Cliff's work, and I kind of understood the fire that spills over.

Cliff is a "dangerous talent," the highest praise I can bestow on a writer.

Whatever works for ya', keep on doin' it Cliff.


(You, too, gentle reader, can join this mutual admiration society; it just requires talent, unmitigated moxy, and a zero-bullshit tolerance level)

Dave said...

As one of those who received a call last night, I can attest to the amount of Tequila you imported back to Rockaway and the hour the calls were made. I’m sure you remember the series of calls I made to you one night -- the chronological events of a night of heavy drinking in Atlantic City... Call me anytime, Brother. And give me what you have on this “fan” that likes to harass you. I’ll take care of it…


Dave: If you keep popping up like this, people won't think I invented you!

Bryn said...

Happy Birthday Cliff!

Ben Herman said...

Sorry, I had no idea you were doing a signing at Midtown Comics. If I had, I would have stopped by. I'll try to check your blog more frequently to see when you'll be popping up again in the NYC area.