Highlights From The Borderline Bar & Grill


Now, in my 40 some odd years, most of which has been spent in California, a surprisingly rural state, I’ve never actually been to a Country/Western bar. I grew up with horse people and lived aggie-adjacent. But still… I’ve never actually line-danced. I’ve never listened to three straight hours of both kinds* of music. It was a night of firsts. To wit:

In brief:

  • I sat in my car for a couple of minutes in the (packed!) parking lot before going in, to handle my social anxiety and shyness. Took a deep breath, paid the $5 entry fee (really?) and walked in. The place was barn-like (duh), had a lighting rig over the dance floor shaped like a huge, metal cowboy hat. It was filled with white men in plaid shirts and young ladies (I use that term loosely) in Daisy Duke jean shorts and cowboy boots. My nervous fidgeting was alleviated almost immediately by finding a couple of friends and looking, really looking, at the almost hypnotic throng of bodies doing the exact same stomping motions at exactly the same beat. And, I remind you: they were all white. Except for a couple of Asians. In plaid. Asians in plaid. Excellent.
  • Decided I needed whiskey. 
  • After doing the Electric Slide I mentioned to a girlfriend that it felt weird to do it to a County/Western song. Girlfriend (from Colorado): “What? I always thought it was a Country/Western dance…?” (face palm)
  • Made a game with friends (tough-guy friends) about guessing how many guns were in the parking lot. I estimated 75. TGF #1 (ex-LA Sheriff) said, “Oh no, that only accounts for one gun per person.” (Silly me.) Me: “How many guns do you have in your car? Two? One easy to get to, one hidden?” TGF #1 (shrugging): “Yeah.” Me: “(TGF #2), how many guns do you have in your car?” TGF #2 (frowning slightly), “Two.”
  • Best song: “Honky-tonk Badonk-a-donk.” Not kidding. Expected to hear, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” but I guess there’s no accounting for taste.
  • Best outfit: skinny woman, in that taut way that horse-people get when they are scrawny and weathered, wearing what would otherwise be a cute top, unless it was jammed into her skin-tight, high-waisted mom-jeans; black cowboy hat suffocating her long, straight ponytail; thick leather belt with hammered silver, 5-6″ across, oval, belt buckle and further accessorized at her waist by a cell-phone holster and keys (clipped securely, yet accessibly, for use on the dance floor, if need be).
  • Best ridiculous statement: TGF #2 trying to get me to make out with his girlfriend: “C’mon! Do it! You’re both liberals! You both love whales!”

All in all, fun. Certainly a grand experience in the walk of life genre. And, as we know, I’ll try anything once. Twice is absolutely no guarantee. 

love’s labour lost

  • Ex-boyfriends in old haunts
  • Old hedgerows emerge and the
  • Grandest point remains
  • It comes fast and hard
  • The most pristine point of contention
  • Ah, yes, that was why
  • We wouldn’t remain together
  • Why
  • We we remain forever
  • Opposed
  • The sticking point
  • I am simultaneously relieved and defeated
  • Perhaps not to smack my head against this particular wall again
  • But to see the suffering and frustration in the eyes of a man
  • Once so treasured
  • Having known a Love’s deepest stores
  • And the years blur and melt away
  • Yes, it’s the same defeated slouch of shoulder
  • Yes, they’re the same eyes
  • Yes, they swell and redden in the very same way
  • But now it’s not in conflict
  • It’s in commiseration
  • And that’s worse
  • Because the parity of Love without consequential remorse
  • Love for merely affection’s sake
  • Asking for no answer or culpability
  • Love because of Love
  • And sorrow and commiseration for only the
  • Fact of a history of understanding.



lying and cowardice


  • I’ve lied to you
  • I’ve taken the road of strength and power
  • And left you swinging and vulnerable
  • I could have met you there
  • Exposed my own fears and tribulations
  • But I chickened out and left myself
  • Together
  • It was cowardly
  • I could have pressed myself against you as an equal but
  • That would have left me
  • Equal
  • And that would have been
  • Unusual
  • For both of us
  • Upset the paradigm
  • And been yet another
  • Glaring reminder of why we were
  • And remain
  • Wrong

i give it gladly

I’m crying because you can’t
I’m crying because he can’t

Your pain and fear and frustration wash over me
His pain and fear and frustration wash over me

And you’re being strong for him
And he’s being brave for you

And I’m the only one here who gets to cry
And if this is the only help I can offer
I give it gladly


the empty room

My calls reverberate

Around the empty space
Echoing sharply off of the
Cold, dead slate walls
Bouncing and bouncing and bouncing
With increasing speed
To rebound and cut my exposed arms

I don’t remember entering
This room
And I can’t see any door out
But it’s very dark
Perhaps if I feel along the wall

But I don’t move
I can’t even be bothered to sit
I just remain
Straining to search the darkness


I’m looking for my father
Which is ridiculous
He’s not there
No one is there
Nothing lives here
Nothing can
But I’m convinced that
If I just remain and
Look and look and look
And call and call and call


Nothing will happen

It’s almost academic
My job is just to
Stand there


  • I’m drawing
  • Adding colors
  • That are bright and
  • Evocative
  • Rich
  • Shading
  • Lining
  • It’s glowing
  • And sensual
  • It’s wrong


  • I take a black pencil to it
  • I dull them
  • I deaden them
  • I kill them
  • The live colors are
  • What could be
  • But are not
  • Of the future
  • So I mute them
  • Weaken them
  • I punish them
  • Imprison them
  • Drag them to the
  • Sticky depths


Seller’s Remorse

Old Faithful

Off and on for many years I worked on TV and movie sets as the On-set Dresser. This is the person who is the sole representative of the otherwise unwieldy Art Department working with the camera crew. (Usually he) works with the camera guys, the Directors, Directors of Photography, the grips, the electricians, the Prop department, the actors, etc. to maintain the set dressing (read: furniture) while shooting. He moves the correct dressing into the shot or out of the way as needed.

It can be very rewarding. If you can find a good vibe with the Creatives you can help sculpt beautiful still life images. You can save the day with just the right shape, color, creative solution involving MacGuyer-like tactics of fabrication and guile.

However, most of the time you’re just humping filing cabinets around and bitching at the crew about where they take their naps and whose goddamn coffee cup just got knocked over…

Anyway, On-set Dressers have “kits.” These are rolling carts or cabinets that contain all manner of… stuff. Tools, sure, but things with which to bind things to other things. Things with which to hang things from other things. Things with which to magically disappear the fake (or real?) blood stain from the silk whatever. The On-set Dresser is the chimney sweep/shoe shiner/tincture salesman of the movie world and their kits contain a smidge of everything.

I just sold mine.

The Department-of-One life of an On-set can be lonely and frustrating and the kit is akin to a mobile home. Mine had protein bars, tampons, chapstick and pretty smelling lotions to whisk me away from my temper to someplace smelling of plumeria. I would lean on it heavily while cursing under my breath and chucking coffee down my throat. Sometimes I would want to curl up underneath it. I was always confident it had everything I would ever need and it brought me a fair amount of solace on the rough all-night shoots in the cold and wet, urine soaked alleys of downtown Los Angeles. In return, I took good care of it.

Today, I dug mine out from behind my apartment where it had been waiting for a good home. I took it apart, dusted it, removed any personal effects, topped off the tires and put it back together again.

The teamster arrived, strapped it into his stake-bed truck and drove it away (more on Teamsters later). I balefully watched him drive away.

I knew I would have all kinds of feelings about selling it: it was a secret friend; a source of “Check out my sweet ride.” pride and a symbol of my professional competence. Except I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s a hard job– physically and emotionally draining. The money is sweet, but after so many years I was starting to lose it.

So I quit. I wanted to start to be who I want to be when I grow up.

But I kept my kit neatly tucked in storage. Just in case. But, as most, balls to the wall dreamers and visionaries will tell you, security blankets and safety nets will not Get You Where You Want To Go. The philosophy being that the fewer things you have to catch you from free fall, the harder you will scrabble up the cliff to your dreams.

My kit was my last symbolic tether to The Grind.

Hence, today, I feel like I’m swinging in the ether. I know this will pass and I’ll redouble my efforts but right now I could sure use a hug.

autumn at the beach


Beach towns
In the vacant
Autumn nights
I wonder if my
Footsteps make noise

My passage evaporates
With so much breeze

The chill
My leather jacket and scarf
Collude to make me

I pad down the leaf-strewn sidewalks
Wondering if I’m actually
Touching the concrete
Or if I walk elevated across
A cushion of autumnal chill

cutting bait

I roll us over
Onto your back
I look into your eyes
Sky blue crystal
And I tell you how I feel
“I love you.”
And I know it’s true because
I want to cry
You smile and kiss me
“I love you, too, sweetheart.”

And I know I won’t come
And I suspect we’re through

Your phone rings
You let it go to voicemail
“I don’t suppose we can have dinner together.”
“Yeah, I gotta go be Single Dad.”

I take a deep breath
And roll on my back
And stare at the ceiling


For a while you continue to stroke my body
In those long, soft gestures
That would make me purr
If I didn’t know you were
Already gone
“Yeah, you should go.”

And I roll away

The pain in my stomach

The pain in my stomach
Tells me I love you
And tells me

We’re done