UNJUST

       WRITTEN BY: SHIRLEY OBITZ

 

Jessie didn’t know anything about Alex, other than what she imagined or observed. He was just her boyfriend’s best friend. He was one of those guys that didn’t talk about himself. He sat as quiet as a disciplined child. I say that to distinguish him from the brooding, silent type, which he was not. She got the sense that he was forcing his way into the “now” pushing everything else out to stay in the moment but not to become more “aware” no--but to escape. Escape the past that she always sensed was just about to snatch him up and drag him back to wherever he was really from-- and she knew that wasn’t Michigan like he claimed. And she knew his name wasn’t Alexander Bell either.  Jessie was from the mid-west, and his accent wasn’t Midwestern, it was Southern, and he had that polite Southern charm that only Southerners possess and no matter how low-key he tried to play it, it would come out in subtle ways. On the second point, no one is named Alexander Bell, except Alexander Graham Bell.

 

It was another hot smog driven day in LA 1976 and nothing good ever happened here.

NEW YORK CITY UNHELD

                             WRITTEN BY: SHIRLEY OBITZ

When Phil and Hazel first arrived in New York City in March, day one, it snowed. Hazel looked out at crowds shivering, with soles of their shoes removed from spruce, from lake, from woods, from crow, from wolf. She pushed the thought from her mind as this is where she wanted to be. Sirens and cabs willed their way down Eighth Avenue and West 33rd. She walked to an opening through the tide taking comfort in a historic pub and drifted in. Pillow feather-snow twirled behind threatening to enter when she pushed the cellar-like door open. The smell of hollowness, of oak barrels, of mold, of ancient times— still lingering, of dark times and of comfort too. It felt familiar; it was similar to the pub she worked at in LA, where she met Phil.  There was bourbon; there was one table left. Hazel and Phil stood silent, looking at the crowded pub. “I’m going to order us a drink,” Hazel said and walked to the bar. Phil went to the washroom. She presented herself before the bartender to order. He saw her not. The usual. The incoherent. After too many shifts and too many experiences he brushed off his impression of her like dust, and she noticed this, but there was still a hovering of it. She ordered bourbon. He poured the two bourbons without asking for ID. She noticed this. He smiled, their eyes met  as he set down the drinks. She read his eyes, and she knew there was going to be tears in New York City. 

 

For now, she was to sit at the last table.  She walked towards it. It was a small table for two that was pushed up against the wall with two wooden cafe chairs. She held the drinks, one in each hand. Hazel, had an experience in her mind that the wooden floor was layered in history and as she walked across it she dreamed of being in the past, imagining those who had crossed it before.  Becoming them in her mind, she was them, and the dream that filled each of her steps made everyone look up, as New Yorker’s have radar for performance. Hazel stepped through centuries as she walked upon each board and some patrons, for a brief moment, glimpsed the past through her pantomime, through her attitude, through her shadow dance until she reached the last table. Hazel sat down; the onlookers looked back to their own place in time. She set down the two bourbons and fixed her eyes nervously on the corner, not where the kitchen was, but the opposite corner, towards the bathroom. She wanted to make sure Phil could see her. At last, she saw a hint of Phil’s light blue sports jacket, she stretched out her arm and waved, relieved to see him and secure knowing someone familiar. “I almost fell down, he said, the floor’s wet in there, the sink overflowed. What did you get us?” “Bourbon, isn’t this great? New York.” Hazel said. Phil let out a sigh and forced a smile and nodded. It was agreed. To agree it was great, which perhaps, it wasn’t. They sipped their drinks. Outside the snow, continued to fall. The waiter finally arrived, he had a triple chin and a practiced smile, his white apron hugged a monstrous belly the size of a pickle barrel. Although he was friendly, Hazel sensed he was disappointed the last table didn’t hold a prosperous customer instead. He placed forks and rolled napkins in front of them. They ordered chili bowls. The waiter wasn’t surprised as it was the cheapest thing on the menu. Hazel too had wished she could have ordered something more expensive, maybe something with capers.

They ate the chili, Phil crumbled crackers in his, it felt warm and satisfying. Hazel dipped the crackers in hers using them as a spoon.  “This would be good with cheese on top,” Hazel said. “It’s probably extra,” said Phil. “I like the onions, though,” said Hazel. “It’s really good, Phil said.” The strangeness of their experience was wearing off for now at least it was on hold. The train ride was behind them like the wind. Phil cleared his throat and asked, “Where are we going to go now?” Hazel took charge, “We’ll find a hotel.” The bill came, and the bowls cleared, and it was time to leave. The place was packed, and the table was needed, and the bourbon was gone.

 

FROM CHRISTMAS TO CHRISTMAS

WRITTEN BY: SHIRLEY OBITZ

A mythological memoir of a mother-child relationship told from the child’s perspective as the mother and child travel across the country on a journey of struggle, survival, and separation. The child witnesses the mother's search for acceptance by her family, her culture and ultimately herself.

VENUS WISHES

WRITTEN BY: SHIRLEY OBITZ

Venus Wishes is a fictional story of drag performer in the Harlem Ball scene of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Inspired by the life of the real Venus Xtravaganza, featured in Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning. Harmon, a struggling playwright, who recently experienced a break up of a long-term relationship, turns to Venus to understand his sexuality. Venus finds herself in an unbearable, secretive love for Harmon. Harmon fails to understand the essence of the relationship until it is taken from him.

MY LIFE WITH LOU REED

WRITTEN BY; SHIRLEY OBITZ

Edgar Allen Poe has nowhere to go

Living on death row

In Tompkins Square Park

 

That was a song I wrote but never finished. Life. I threw batteries. I threw them out...the window at cars. People— I hated. Lou was there. He saved my life. “You know exactly what you want, and you know exactly how to get it.” I heard him tell me this in a dream after he had died. People were always dying, but life with Lou Reed was closer to life and death than air. Lou likes the Big Sleep. There is no air in L.A…anyway

 

We were living in Zurich in 1919 Lou, and I decided it was a beautiful evening to go out to the Café Voltaire. Lou had a new poem he wanted to recite called, Nach Geschaftsschluss.

  • Twitter