He Ran Through The Flames: a Tribute to Harry Dean Stanton

He was like all the others:
a soul trapped into the phantasmagoria of cinema.
Once you enter, you can never escape.
You’re in the collective unconscious,
you pretend to be other people
while the people who watch you pretend to know who you are.
It’s all projection,
we mourn our icons not because of who they are,
but who we think they are.
This world of endless identities,
method acting,
and countless deaths,
belong to the actors alone.
Your face has to be on the screen,
your name alone is not enough.
He was one of the faces, people remember the faces, they wonder about their names,
they look them up.

Wasn’t he the singing convict in Cool Hand Luke?
Wasn’t he the first victim of a grown-up xenomorph?
Isn’t he from that one movie where he snorts speed with Emilio Estevez?
Isn’t he that sad old guy whose afraid of death from that Twin Peaks movie?
Wasn’t he the brother who had a stroke in that movie where Richard Farnsworth travels on a lawnmower to see him?
Wasn’t he the guy on the tractor that got blown away in Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?
Isn’t he the lead of that movie about the ninety year old atheist? It’s called Lucky I think. David Lynch is in it too.

They look at their faces,
sometimes with shock: oh man, he’s got so old!
And sometimes with comfort: oh good, he’s still alive! If he can live so long drinking and smoking, I might still have a chance!
They reflect ourselves,
but they become more human than any of us.
It’s okay if they fuck up,
they can escape in all these different kind of roles,
the face might stay the same,
but the soul can travel in all these different vessels.
And then they die.
You watched them on the screen as a child,
you hear about their deaths when they are an adult.
So you sit still,
Then you begin to mourn.

Mr. Stanton,
I was hoping to meet you one day.
I would imagine leaving the meeting,
telling the world that you were so down-to-earth, friendly,
your wise words would never leave me.
I would tell my friends about my meeting with you; this is what he told me, isn’t that great? It gives me hope for the future.
Tell you the truth, your death isn’t a huge surprise.
You were ninety years old,
I recently told my father that you were probably on the list.
But goddammit sir I hoped you would prove old age wrong.
And you already did, your lifestyle was your own, your dignity was never taken away.
The way you inhaled that smoke,
you never quit like I promised myself I never would- but I have, because I’m not as brave as you.
the way you drank,
your crystal clear words in interviews- you were a greater poet than I am sir,
the history of your sad eyes: I can see you were beaten, your heart was broken, but you survived.
You survived the war,
and at some point in time, you might have wondered if you could survive death.
None of us can, the rules will always stay the same, but I bet you pissed off death when you raised your glass at him.

Your wrinkled face wasn’t the convention of beauty,
but you were beautiful to me sir.
You were a real man,
and you left this world,
leaving your mark,
your performance in Paris,Texas- if that would be your last role you said, you would be satisfied-,
seeing your enjoying your cigarette and looking into the sky in Twin Peaks: The return- only for that peace to be shattered by the brutal death of a small boy-
I’m sure your final performance, the leading role in Lucky, will be incredible.
You’ll play a defiant atheist pondering his mortality,
in a town full of weirdo’s played by incredible character-actors (I know you hated that term, I’m sorry, but it just fits this poem).
It’s a role that seems to fit you perfectly.
In a trailer you sing,
you perform yoga,
you look so damn old and so cool.

You are gone now,
left this world for another.
You’ve gone to meet Sam Shepard,
who gave you your favorite part.
You’ll smoke and have drinks with him,
in the place where barflies never need to drown their sorrows.
He’ll write you a transcendent sequel of Paris, Texas; where Travis finally finds happiness, where love comes back to save us all.
Or perhaps his tragedy is where we should end.
It’s such a good story
and that story will never go away.
Just like your days as a Repo man,
sharing the prison confines with Paul Newman and George Kennedy (both there with you),
in Missouri playing an outlaw alongside Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando (he’s there with you too),
in a dystopian New York with Ernest Borgnine (gone as well),
walking the green mile just like angelic Michael Clark Duncan (they all go, even the young).
The stories will never go away,
but we’ll miss seeing you in new ones.
But it’s like you said:
eventually you’ll accept all of it,
suffering, horror, love, loss, hate.
”It’s all a movie anyway.”

It will take some time for me to accept your departure,
but I know I will,
we have no choice in this life.
We know how this movie ends,
we move on or we let life destroy us.
We die inside and live another day.
I think I’ll take a page from your life,
and try to survive this movie as long as possible.
I don’t think my movie will end as gracefully as yours,
I don’t think I’ll be as beautiful as you were at the end of your life,
but that’s because I’m Chris van Dijk
and you were the great Harry Dean Stanton.
Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania harry dean stanton smoking



Our Disease 18

The Sad Man in The Coffeeshop 

There was a man that walked into a coffee-shop. He stood in the center of the room, looking around. It was as if he was looking for something. Sometimes he would stare at a corner of a room, the customers were thinking that he was looking at them. There was a sadness in his eyes. He remained standing there for over an half an hour, finally a kindly barista walked up to him, asked him if he was okay, if there was anything she could do for him.
”No thank you,” he said, ”I’ll be leaving soon. I don’t mean to bother anyone.”
”It’s okay,” said the barista, ”would you like to sit down? Did something happen?”
There was a pause before he answered, ”there used to be a playground here. There was a sandpit there. A swing right there. They demolished it long ago. I never really cared. We shouldn’t, we should move on. But I’m looking back at things, even if it might hurt. I think this is a good place to start…” A pause, he looked at the barista who listened intently, she was only a teenager, ”my best friend died about your age. He would have become a great man. We lost touch before it happened. So many could have become great men, so many didn’t get a chance.”
He looked at the teenager, smiled for her, yet his sad eyes remained.
”Thank you for listening, you take care of yourself,” he turned around and headed out the doorway, it was unusually bright outside. The barista would see him leave and disappear into the light. He made one final remark before he left: ”and for god’s sake, take care of each other…”

He was sitting next to Crispin, both on a separate swing, gently moving along with the wind. Crispin, still looking like the sprightly twelve-year old, was sucking on a lollipop. There was darkness above, the rain was coming soon.
”You want a lollipop?” asked Crispin.
”Why not,” said Harry and Crispin handed him a lollipop from his pocket.
”It’s strawberry, your favorite.”
”You remembered.”
”We remember everything here.”
Harry ripped open the plastic and put the lollipop on his mouth. They both sucked on the lollipop for a while, enjoying the silence.
”There are some who fall to deep and were never able to come back up,” said Crispin.
”I know.”
”In the end it’s very simple but not very easy.”
”I’ve seen people who were lost in there. I’ve seen their eyes. It happened to the one of the people I loved the most.”
Crispin turned to Harry, ”you know, she’s very proud of you. I hope you know this.”
”I think you are just telling me that. I don’t think that’s true.”
”I think you are telling yourself the opposite because you have trained your mind to do so. I think that for a man who values the truth, you lie to yourself all the time. This is what we do. This is what we train our minds to do. It’s the disease. The bug is making us lie to ourselves.”
”Well I guess I’ll figure that out. In the end, I’m supposed to realize you are right and I am wrong.”
”This is not a competition. I don’t want win by being right. I want you to be happy.”
”I find it hard to believe that’s possible in this stage.”
”It’s going to take some time.”
”How long?”
”This depends, each person is difficult. You gotta get through your own pace. You’ve already made some pertinent moves, believe it or not. You’ll get there. You just gotta have faith.”
Harry sighed, he could feel him coming closer.
”I’m scared Cris,” said Harry, ”I’m really scared.”
”I know, it’s normal to be scared.”
He could see him coming, his white face and dark eyes.
”It’s going to hurt a lot.”
”Yes, you will have to confront the pain. You will have to wrestle with it. Eventually you’ll be free.”
Harry began to swing forth and Crispin followed his league. He was swinging back and forth, getting higher and higher. He was coming closer, he was so close.
”I never said goodbye,” said Harry, ”I never gave you a proper goodbye.”
”You never have to.”
Suddenly the swing, the cable that held it, disappeared and Harry felt himself falling. He screamed and reached out to the dark skies. It began to rain. There was a strike of thunder. Then everything went silent. Harry couldn’t even hear himself screaming.

Art by Jeff Lemire


Our Disease 12

The Impeccably Dressed Man in the Woods

Harry was frantically pacing back and forth in his living-room, smoking a joint at the same time. Stone watching with amusement, said smiling ”it’s not paranoia if they are really out to get you.”
”Go fuck yourself Stone. This might not have happened if it weren’t for you.”
”What the fuck did I do?”
Harry stopped at his track, pointed at Stone with the joint in his hand and yelled, ”cos you led them to me!”
”I led them to you?”
”You are the incarnate of the fucked-up political system! Your the demon of Americana. It’s really you they want to destroy!”
Stone laughed, grabbed the joint from Harry’s hand and took a big hit.
”It’s just a bunch of e-mails…”
”And a letter in my car!”
”Oooooh!” Stone said, smiling, waving his hands around in mock-fright.
”I had this dream last night.
”What was it about?”
”I’m not sure but when I woke up I didn’t feel the same anymore. It was if I returned from a different world, the existence of which we are not supposed to know.
”It was just a fucking dream.”
”What if they’ve gotten into my head? Transferred these beams through their e-mails? What if I dream and never wake up?”
”There’s no such world. There’s only this one. Don’t be dreaming about others.”
”I can’t help it!”
”Relax will ya! You think they didn’t try this shit with me? I’ve had them trying to screw around in there,” Stone tapped his the side of his head, ”trying to screw things up around there. They pull this shit on me every year, but I let nothing get to me. They never really find the juicy stuff and everything else they find is gonna be useless because I am not ashamed of who I am. Neither should you. Just open up to me Harry, what is it you’re so afraid of?”
”I just want them to leave me alone,” said Harry pacing the room again.
”They won’t leave you alone unless you they are finished with you or you make them.”
”How do I do that?”
”At times like these, it’s best not to run away from yourself. The best thing you can do now is look at yourself in the mirror and see who you really are. If you can do that, there’s nothing they can do to you.”
”I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror.”
”Well there’s your problem right here. There’s something you’re ashamed about. Something you are possibly guilty about. Just come out with it Harry, what is it you fear? What is that thing that won’t leave you alone.”
”I don’t know. But the thought of this certain thing, if its just one, scares the shit out of me.”
”You know,” Stone said getting up, walking towards him, moving in front of him, blocking his pace as he hands him the joint, ”your mother was the same way wasn’t she? She feared things that weren’t really there.”
Harry leaped at Stone, grabbing his shoulders and pushing against the wall. Stone was shocked at first but laughed wildly, ”what the fuck are you doing you silly boy?”
”Don’t mention my mother again, you got that? I told you before. I don’t want to talk about my mother,” Harry said as smoke billowed out his mouth, as the joint still clung to his mouth.
Stone looked in his eyes deeply, as if seeing how far he could go. He then grabbed the joint from his mouth, taking a deep drag.
”Well I guess we have the nerve right there. The thing that haunts you. It was right around her death when things went sour didn’t it? It started the decline of your marriage. It was the start of your alienation from the remainders of your family and friends until you are all alone, in your little podcast booth…”
Harry squeezed his cheeks, pushing them closed. ”I haven’t got much sleep Stone. I’m in a volatile state of mind and you’ve been feeding me liqueur and drugs for the last few days. I’m liable to do anything.”
Stone’s arms leaped from below, pushing Harry’s hands away and before Harry could react, Stone had already punched him in the stomach, hard enough so that Harry’s breath escaped him. Harry went on his knees, clinging on his stomach, gasping for air. Stone stood over him, calmly smoking the joint.
”You went a little too far there Harry. I’ve got my limits too. Come on…” Stone pat his shoulder, ”come sit down with uncle Stone.”
Stone led Harry on the couch and as Harry was regaining his pace of breath, Stone handed him the joint.
”You’re right, maybe they are trying to get to me by getting to you. Though I don’t understand why they think this would work. They tried getting through my ex-wife and that didn’t work and shit, I think I might even loved. But don’t worry Harry, you’re going to be alright. If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, we simply have to scare them away. Lucky for you, uncle Stone’s got a lot of resources. I can make some calls, we’ll get to the bottom of this. We might not get the guy, but as long as he gets the message that you aren’t somebody to be fucked with, that’s important.”
”How will you transfer the message?”
”You let me worry about that. But don’t worry, you’ll get first class tickets to the show.”
”You handled these guys before? You made these guys stop harassing your clients?”
”Once these guys know that they fucked with someone who knows and worked for the most powerful people in the world, many of them still owing a substantial debt to him, they will leave you alone.”
Harry sighed. It felt wrong getting help from Stone, but it felt like the only way. He just wanted life to be back to normal.
”I don’t want to go sleep today.”
”Don’t worry,” said Stone, fidgeting in his inside suit pocket, ”I’ve got just the thing for that.”

That night, Stone fell asleep on the couch, his escort Tara having fallen asleep on his chest. Harry hadn’t notice this as he was sitting next to them, in the midst of an amphetamine fueled rant: ”….I just to believe in guardian angels you know? I just to believe there was always someone or something protecting you from harm. Like, you could never get to too dark of a place because this force would stop you before you went too far. I felt like this for most of my life. I believed in cos my grandmother told me this story once, when she was lost in the woods, I think somewhere in Arkansas, hiking. She was walking around for half a day and she couldn’t find a way out. Eventually she encountered an impeccably dressed man, like a three-piece suit, something you wouldn’t normally see there, not to mention it was hot and he didn’t look like he was not even breaking a sweet. She gasped and asked him for directions and he told her she had to go this way and that way. She remembered that he spoke in a beautiful English accent. Something she always loved. She asked him if he was English, he said he was. He told her he had to be going and wished her good luck…”
Harry noticed then that Stone and Tara had already fallen asleep. Harry continued on anyway, ”when she started to leave, to the direction he had pointed to, she looked back one last time and he was gone. Boom. There was nowhere he could have turned to. Maybe there was, but at the time there seemed no way. His directions were correct, she found her way home…”
Harry sighed, ”I used to believe there was something protecting me, I believed this until my late thirties, when I was still married and happy. But then things just got worse and worse. And when you think things can’t get any worse, it can. Maybe it’s something I did that made the angels leave. I don’t know. I would do anything for them to come back to me…”
He thought about Sheryl, how her smiled seemed so precious now. Maybe she was the angel he disappointed. The only person that stopped from going the deep-end. It seemed like everything went downhill when she left. His mother would lose her mind right around that time. He would lose the creative drive to write something interesting and his ambition for it seized as well. If he could get her back, he could repair his broken life.
Harry reached into his pocket, grabbed his phone, turned to Sheryl’s number and fondled the call button.
”There’s no use, there’s no fucking use” mumbled Harry to himself when suddenly his phone started to ring.
It said: Anonymous. Harry stared at it. The scream from his dream last night back to him. He could clear it clearly in his mind though he didn’t know where it came from. He dropped his phone on the floor in fright, looked down at it as it kept ringing. Harry closed his eyes, waited until the ringing stopped. He could hear his heart pounding away.
Then it stopped. He looked down at his phone, grabbed it. Suddenly the sound of a text message, Harry dropped it again in fright. He took a deep breath before he grabbed his phone. The message was as terrifying as he had suspected:

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania bukowski  paintings
Art by Charles Bukowski


Our Disease 9

Mr. Anonymous

Like every noted social-commentator, Harry would receive hundreds of e-mails everyday from loyal listeners, some praising him for preaching reality in such a distorted world, others demonising, even threatening him for poisoning the minds of others.
In the beginning, Harry would spend days replying to them but in the past few years, Harry would only peruse them and in the occasion he would find a thoughtful e-mail, he would reply in the best way he could.
In some cases, it was Harry’s fans that bothered him the most. Many of them misconstruing his words. His criticisms about Islam would be perceived as endorsements for the current president, who had the tendency to placidly endorse white-supremacists, or at the very least, would not go all the way to condemning them. His critique on the government has often been seen as endorsing anarchy or a Randian style government, much like it is now, where the elites are playing the free-market to become unimaginably powerful. Harry’s mission was to bring some much needed nuance in society, to show the people that both sides, all sides, had their miscreants and misguided viewpoints. Instead, being harsh on side, on an issue that seemed so obvious, would be perceived as being for the other side and the side that’s being critiqued would see him as a traitor. It never seemed to the end. You had to choose a side or else you didn’t belong anywhere.
Harry perused his e-mails (he had two e-mails, one private and one public, but somehow, most of his e-mails managed to get into his private e-mail). These were some of the things he read (more than often times they included monstrous spelling errors):
You are the last patriot of America
Lying snowflake piece of shit!
You bring much needed sanity into an absurd America…
I know you are working for the deep state….
It’s hard to be a sane American and you give me much needed solace…
I totally agree with you that we need to get rid of Muslim scum!
I’ve heard you are single…
The president is just trying to save our souls, I’m glad you see this…
Harry was perusing them while gulping from a flash containing some potent liqueur, he wasn’t sure what, but it came from Stone, so it was probably something exotic and something that would, hopefully, get him drunk very fast.
Eventually he came across a cryptic e-mail from an Mr. Anonymous. There was no subject title. It just had this sentence:
Harry didn’t know what to make of it and frankly he didn’t care. He replied to the e-mail:

He got up from his chair, turned around in his living-room, where Stone lying back in Harry’s smoking a joint, was having a lengthy conversation with Dale who was sitting on a chair across from it.
”…I don’t need people to hear my music man,” said Dale, ”I just want to play it. When people listen to it, they will want a piece of it. It will change and I like it the way it is. Art is always focused on what other people think of it. But what about the artist himself man? Why doesn’t the artist matter most?”
”Because art like anything else in this world, is nothing more than a commercial commodity,” said Stone handing Dale the joint, ”it is distinguished by the fact that it doesn’t serve any practical purpose, nobody really needs music or letters or images. But we create them because they give meaning to our lives, or better yet, it makes us feel special. That’s all that art is. Art is a business that gives people mental hand-jobs.”
”Yeah I don’t believe that man. The music saved my life. If I didn’t create music I don’t think I would be able to stand myself.”
”You just proved my point there Dale. You create music because it makes you feel better. Cos it makes you feel more special. You know what also could make you feel more special? Having lots and lots of money.”
”Don’t listen to him Dale,” said Harry, sitting next to Stone on the couch, ”this man is the devil himself.”
”I’m not the devil, I’m just a symbol of human nature,” grinned Stone, ”So why don’t you let other people hear your music? Why don’t you me hear your music? I know some people Dale. I know the right people. If they see potential in your music, they can make you very rich. You won’t be as rich as the musicians were in the good old days, the Internet stole that away, but there are ways to tap into the market correctly.”
”You never ever heard my music, what makes you think you will like it?”
”It’s the feeling I have with you. I think you are special. I think you are the real deal. So many people think they can make music or art, but most of them don’t. You’ve given a great deal to the music, I can see that. That’s why your music will be something special. I can feel it.”
Dale smiled, thought for a while and handed him the joint, ”thanks for your confidence in me. But I prefer to keep my music to myself.”
Stone nodded and took a big drag and handed it to Harry, ”I can respect that. You don’t want to sell-out, even though I don’t really believe there’s such a thing. Maybe it’s better that way. You don’t wanna know how many losers become famous and then regret it afterwards. Perhaps the integrity of the music is best served for your ears only.”
Harry took a big drag, laid back on his couch and closed his eyes. There was a vision of Sheryl, his ex-wife. Her face against naked chest, her mouth agape in an orgasm. There was a smile on Harry’s face. Then came the vision of her hiding in the corner as he was destroying the living room, punching holes in the wall, demanding her to love him.
”You going to pass that joint frendo?” The voice of Stone bursts through his vision. Harry opened his eyes. ”I’m sorry,” and passed the joint to Stone.

That night, the three of them were each lying on a separate garden chair, looking into the starry night. Dale had already fallen asleep, with headphones attached to his hear in which his own music crescendoed him into a peaceful slumber. Harry was on the verge of falling asleep when Stone suddenly asked about his mother:
”You ever miss your mother Harry?”
The memory of his mother, caressing his forehead.
”I don’t want to talk about my mother.”
Stone ignored him, ”She was a stone-cold bad-ass. All my peers feared facing her. She was an idealist like you, but she was tough. She would not back down for nobody. She was a force of fucking nature. If more like her were around…”
The memory of a young twenty-eight year visiting his mother’s place, calling out his mother’s name. Hearing sounds upstairs….
”…the world would be a better place. People like me wouldn’t win so much…”
Harry entering his mother’s living-room, seeing his mother siting naked on her bed, shivering. Her skin red as if it was scraping it clean. She looked at Harry, her eyes moist with tears. ”I’m sorry, it’s happening again…” she said.
The memory made Harry get up from his chair, turning around, heading back into his house. ”We have to face our memories Harry!” Called Stone after him, ”We can’t reject them when they visit us! We have to be honest about their nature or they will always come back!”
The memories of Harry’s mother came flooding into his mind:
I’m sorry mom, I don’t know how I can help you. I’m sorry, I just don’t know how I can help you…

Before Harry went to bed, he checked his e-mail again. From Mr. Anonymous: I’M SORRY, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania painting lost highway lynch
Artwork by Massimo Carnivale