Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, My Fellow Countrymen!

May this find you happy and in one piece.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

No I swear I'm not...and I promise I don't

When blood starts trickling out your nose at a party filled with wizened twentysomethings, how do you explain it without sounding like an ass: too much coke or too much booger scraping?

Answer: just simply walk away.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thank God for CraigsList...

nude model to pose with fish for tomorrow evening (tuesday)
Reply to:
Date: 2005-11-28, 10:07PM EST

model needed to pose with three foot fish for ongoing project for a published book. Established artist and assistant (female) are shooting tomorrow, should only take 1/2 hour. (Fish is fresh from market in the morning.) Looking for all sorts of women. Please email for more info.

* this is in or around chelsea
* no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* Compensation: $30


Copyright © 2005 craigslist, inc. terms of use privacy policy feedback foru

Friday, November 25, 2005

Zee Fake Tree

Duty follows gluttony, and for the first time in the Wheatley family household, the eight-foot tall artificial arboreal delight was erected the day after Thanksgiving. I hauled it up from its cardboard casket in the basement, each piece at a time, snipped the rope wrapping it like a giant green joint, stacked them, and fluffed the "branches." That all this happened while I was in my boxers, my brother typed away on a keyboard, my mother washed dishes and my father watched Jerry Springer reminded me even more that Christmas is to arrive soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Elevator Ate My Wife

Daniel Gelding made a concerted effort to stop, pouring out bottles of bleach and Windex and reducing his arsenal of paper towels, disinfectant wipes, air fresheners and wood polish twofold. He did the dishes only once every three days and used the Sears-bought washer instead of the scrub method. Daniel's fingers became less coarse and dry and returned to the more suitable form of the hands he had before things got all mucked up, back when he was a respected tailor and a decent husband, a lover of museums and unscented candles. Then an elevator cable snaps and your wife drops with it, and in what can be explained as a horrible turn of events you develop tremors and the skill with which you once were a master now you were a convulsing pin-poking threat. He retreated and started cleaning. And Daniel was going to stop.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why does fossilized dung always have to tell the story?

Dinosaurs may have eaten grass (AP)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Scene outside my window, 3:39 p.m.

The boyfriend was obviously fresh from school, still wearing his backpack, and raging at Olive, the girl who looked like a boy. She had a military buzz-cut that should have been covered by the pink toboggan the boyfriend flailed about. The customers in the pizza parlor were aware of this scene.

"How could you do this to me?" he screamed at her, in her face, as she sobbed and wobbled. He's Italian. He has the accent. "All I wanted to do was get a bite to eat! You can't even go inside this restaurant and get a soda. No, you need alcohol. The girl I was on the phone with last night would have gone. But look at her."

She continued to cry and stagger and was unable to respond. Making her way to a nearby stoop, she aimed her ass for the steps but missed and crumbled to the ground. A passerby offered her help which she refused.

"Nineteen years old," the boyfriend said and gave her the pink toboggan. "And your life is done. How could you do this in two hours? Look at you. Your life is done."

Olive got up and followed him like a sheepish gimp, a puttering jalopy. He told her she loved drama, she loved problems. Olive was happy only when she was sad. Two blocks away I still hear them and she's sitting down again, her pink head resting between her two knobby knees.
David Carr makes an excellent argument for practicing restraint and establishing some sort of poise in blogging. For too many, condescension and finger-pointing is the only way to make a mark. He questions the ethics and architecture of it all.

Find it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You ain't takin' my 40 cents!!!

Bear with me, people. Because I'm a cheap bastard who refuses to be taxed by eBay just to show off my valuables...I choose to post this photo here. The online auction house wants my quarter, dime and nickel to host what you see above. I say hells no.

It's got the story behind "November Rain" and "Don't Cry," as well as "Estranged." Remember the scribbling at the end of those? It was this guy's name.

If you want it, go here.

The damn thing didn't sell. And Cheney says people are using eBay to make a living.

Monday, October 10, 2005

From Flagpole...


Pooper The Wise

On Sept. 11, Pooper, a brown and black tabby of Maine Coon descent, extracted his claws for the last time and passed away roughly 26 years after he entered the world. A regal and rotund beast, he was a friend, a family member and the closest thing this writer has had to a lifelong confidant.

On nightly family walks around our Atlanta neighborhood in 1980, my parents encountered a stray cat that emerged from bushes nightly until he allowed them to gain his trust and convince him to stay. He chose us as much as we chose him. Like a Cuban baseball player, he had no records, and we never could verify his age. At his first checkup, the vet said he appeared to be at least a year old. At the time of his death, according to various different formulas, he would have been the feline equivalent of a nimble and sprightly 120-year-old eunuch.

My mother backed over him with the car without damage, and he survived dogfights and raccoon tussles. He lived through five presidents, several wars and the combined runs of "Cheers," "Family Ties" and "Herman's Head," and nearly matched River Phoenix's time on Earth.

Lately, I watched him fade. His amber marble eyes sank into hollow caves as his fat disappeared and muscles began to atrophy. Pooper could no longer groom himself, so little brown furry dreadlocks twisted. The growl turned into a grumble. He was bowlegged and shaky and lost all interest in food. The delicacies my mother fixed for him - chicken, chili, raw hamburger - were left uneaten.

There were a few last gasps of bravado. After a winter in the kitchen, he started hanging out in my room again, plopping next to my turntable which he covered in cat sneeze. The dreadlocks he shed clung to the fibers of my carpet. His nails grew long and were always extracted and tip-tapped out a shuffling cadence when he patrolled the first floor.

Still, Pooper inhabited the midday sun like a Miami Beach yenta, lying out, passing out, and bathing in the scorching heat.

When his ears failed him, he relied on his eyes. When his sight faded, he chose to keep closer to home, albeit sometimes dangerously; he liked sleeping under my car and many times I would back out of my driveway only to discover my wheels barely missed the bastard. Still he dozed, deaf as nails.

So loyal, he would wait silently with us for the school bus. So caring, he would bathe us with licks. He loved Doritos and cheese and fought raccoons and stood down dogs. Remembering all his former strength and chutzpah, it was painful to see him sound asleep on the porch one night, oblivious to his surroundings as a possum crept close to him and sniffed his impending death.

The day before he died I spent an afternoon fanning away green flies that already pegged him as gone.

The morning he died, I found him cold and slipping, his mouth moving without sound, one eye cloudy, one eye clear. To make him comfortable, my mother and I wrapped him in dryer-toasted towels and sat with him. At 10:50 a.m., he was dead.

In my parent's backyard, next to the skeleton of an old swing set of mine, I dug a hole three feet deep, wrapped his body in a flannel pillowcase, and laid Pooper to rest. Afterward, my mother, father, two of his friends and my mom's divorcée pal conducted an Irish wake with ginger beer and sandwiches. Mom scattered his grave with sunflowers and I checked intermittently at night to see that coyotes from the mountain did not disturb him.

God bless you, you bastard, you orphan, you neutered miracle. May you push up lemon trees and grant us the same sweet sourness in death you gave in life. You were a rarity and a charm and a friend. You are the argument I give whenever somebody says cats suck. Godspeed, bud.

Thomas Wheatley

Thomas Wheatley, a frequent Flagpole contributor and UGA graduate, is a writer and photographer living in Marietta, GA. He can be reached through

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Eating Sushi, Drinking Beer -- The Time Has Come to Leave

I put in my two weeks notice yesterday. In four I should be in New York.
Photo by Thomas Patrick Wheatley/"Toward Adel"/Somewhere on I-75/Sept. 2005

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Victims of Fibs

The truth began in Marie's approach but ended in her words. She was an actress offstage and the ideal candidate to add to this equation I had created, this perfect little world that I crafted out of white lies and black magic mathematics.

I was doing well in my business; making a killing as a matter of fact. So well that I began to slice a chunk of the pie here and there, padding my expense account while I loaded up my savings. I bought a boat, tools, a bunch of coozies and a tanning bed. I looked like a million bucks, smelled great, slept late. Unlike other schmucks, I wasn't going to slip on no banana peels.

She'd come over and we'd just tell each other lies. My colleagues would come into my office, and we'd tell each other lies. My ex-wife would call me, and she would tell me the truth. And I didn't ever wanna listen because listening just takes too much time. Like my daddy always said, just believe what you want and it'll eventually come true.
Photo by Thomas Patrick Wheatley/"Lonely Man in Paris"/Paris, France/July 2004

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Day Off in Pyongyang

I walk district by district with my hands in my pockets, stroking a rabbit's foot made from actual rabbit, not brushed cloth or stringy fabrics. I walk to the center of every street corner and then make a 90 degree turn to the right and breathe in. It is timed and appropriate and a remnant of my days in the service.

I walk the boundaries of the city and wonder if I will see the country again.

My meals are solitary, just like my radio time. My rabbit's foot is rotting I think. It is what happens when they use actual rabbit.
Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press, Undated, Uncredited

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

William Tell Overtones

She could reach for it. He was nervous, concerned, flustered.

If she moved fast, she could grab the barrel of the gun, wrestle it, twist it from his hands, save the day. She wouldn't have to shoot him, but just turn it on him. She was quick, good at surprises. And she could dance, too.

She could get her picture in the paper. She would use the reward money to buy fake breasts, which she would show off while riding the mechanical bull at honky-tonk bars. She would look 'em in the eye. Make an impact, make change. If she would only reach for it. If she could only do it.
Surveillance video courtesy of the Killeen, Texas Police Department/1.3.02/Any information call (254) 526-TIPS

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Wink and a Smile

We drank all night.

Me and he, the brothers three, the poet, the doctor and the runner of guns. Add to the clan the moppet, the rake, the cad and the flake, the gambler, the trucker and the weaver of thread. We were poor and still fighting, the war still inviting, the enlistees are enlisting again.

The shots we lined up on newspaper bins outside the silent auction kickstarted our devolution from checkbook patrons into that of weepy weepies, our eyes red from sobbing, our posture poor and sadly authentic for thus far into the ritual. We are a far different breed than the consortium of seal trainers and society hounds gathered inside the aquarium cum gallery behind us.

I began alternating servings of whiskey with cups of coffee, and discovered, if by chance, that no friend pays your tab without wincing. Even if he is a seal trainer with the most vile of crimes to his name.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


My son is a genius, a sage and a fighting little lion. H's done more than anyone his age -- he's only twenty-nine, still a baby, yes, but old enough to make fools listen -- and his looks, although he's kind of homey and common, get him in good with folks. Not a threat, you know?

He comes home twice a week from two towns over to work on his sculptures, in the garage, by himself, where I let him do his sort of thing. Well, out there, you know, he can concentrate. He won't let his friends or I see them because they're part of a big collection, and he's gonna reveal them all in one big opening, maybe at the civic center, but who knows. I keep telling him the Guggenheim, but he, hehehe, he always, you know. I think they got a theme, too, those statues he's making. Anyways, I park outside in front of the garage door, because all his art is in these crates and boxes in there, and it won't be for much longer.

It's been five years. I went in there one night, and looking into the room, saw the crates under a big green tarp. Sure, you want to take a peek, but it's gonna be a great day, when they roll out. I think he takes his tools with him, cause mine won't be any good for what he's doing--he got this art bug from his mother anyways. I think he takes naps out there sometimes. I found a sleeping bag, some beer. Helps him relax. Some blood. Cut his hand chiseling, what do I know?

Did I ever notice anything weird about him? I know what you're poking at, officer, but no, not really. He's a rare one, my son, kooky, but a really great kid. He wears glasses, you know, to see things right. Blind without them, but aren't we all.

He's building a bike, too, officer, a motorcycle that he built from scratch. That's under the tarp, out there, too, and from the looks of it, it'll be pretty like the sculptures...strong boy, he is.

I resent that tone, sir. My son is a sage and a prophet and a traveling miracle, and this bike he's building is going to be great, and his mother, God bless her winsome soul, will pull the clouds aside and look down upon he and I and know that we are doing okay, ain't nothing different or weird here. You cannot take him from me, no matter what you think he did.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Say it With Emoticons

No thanks, Tubby. I'll keep my seat, you can stand. she said with gritted teeth, one hand clutching the pole next to her, the other gripping my arm, digging her nails through my cotton sleeve, crescents etched into my skin.

Twas angry once again, this vitriolic bitch, my old lady, my ball and pain. I arrived into Des Moines on a business trip and fell in love with her during a hangover, half-drunk pillow talk that escalated into a day at the races. I called in and quit (I'm a travel agent, not a hedge fund manager) and was soon hopskotching around the country with her, this so-called DJ, this so-called artist. This so-called spinner of head trips and promise.

Her nails never drew blood, so they never chased me away. They gave me something to trace with my fingertips when I was lost in daydreams of a Seattle costume shop.

I began to realize my dreams were not about achievement but about cities.
Photo by Thomas Wheatley/Amtrak from D.C. to Philadelphia/June 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Best You Can Remember

Beacon remained the small mythical town in which many dreams play themselves out, populated with familiar faces in unfamiliar houses, three-room shanties with hardwood floors underfoot painted odd colors like those you find in eclectic communities.

In one room were three children which were to be watched and doted upon. In the room adjacent were three bound prowlers I had wrestled and subdued, one of whom had transcended into an intruder. He sat clutching a nasty gash from where he punched his arm through a pane of stained glass.

I had been running late for work (what exactly it was I did escapes me--I just felt a sense of duty) and forgot alltogether to close stormshutters to block out the sun. I chose to watch these manacled prowlers grumble and conspire, their desperate ideas of bravado interrupted by the high-and-lonesome whistles of rural saunterers down the road outside my door.

Painting by William Wright/"Claustrophobia" oil on canvas
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

An Honest Living

The truck stop in Seneca, S.C. offered back-room massages for weary truckers--like those plugging down quarters in the unlit game room--and curious motorists like myself. It was at the end of a long hallway past the common bathrooms and 25 cent showers. Like I said, I was curious.

I opened the door to find what equates to a peep show in the Times-Square-of-the-past sans safety glass, the encounter of lonely man and working girl. I dark-eyed from night driving, she bored and heavy-lidded from rag-mag reading. She placed down her glossy, handed me a towel and pointed me in the direction of a toiletless stall so I could change.

In the gaps above and below the orange door, I noticed the lights dim to a hot cinnamon red--all that remained was the twang music playing from the gas station speakers. Upon exiting the stall, I found a large black man seated in the chair by the door, his arms crossed and eyes fixed on me. The woman stood shirtless, her hair wrapped in a shower cap, her hands in rubber gloves. And on the massage table, my shoes in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag.

And this was the vice I had chosen.

Painting by Patricia Chidlaw/"Truck Stop"/2003/from Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 31, 2005

You Wear Me Well

We opted for a lifestyle different from that of our peers; we had no money so therefore we would make no mistakes. On the margins, you and I drove through town at night listening to no music at all, just the chortling of a diesel engine, just the thrill of a long stare at square dancers at gas stations. Each red light, eyes forward. Each yellow light, go faster and through.

To control you was to keep you and to keep you was to love you and to leave you was to give you all the freedom you could have wanted. Look here, my lovely maid, my keeper of things intact. I find you coming back to me, I'll tie you to the tracks. Look here, my lovely nymph, made of silver some copper, no shine. We both have different day jobs now, we both tell clever lies. We both are still in mourning, for a friend left back behind. We both feed off questions, regurgitated in our mind.

And solemn is the pilot who flies the daily route. And awkward is the drunkard who makes it out of the house. And lonely is the copperheard whose venom is never tasted. A weapon, a missile, a predator--potential depleted then wasted.

Photo by TPW/"Copyright"/Paris, France 8/04 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Better Living Through Dentistry

It sits there like a coy boy in a group of eighth graders, half hiding behind the leaders of the pack. Once in his life, he was proud yet modest, honest with good posture. He saw one of his neighbors to the north get cracked, split in half, only to be replaced by a cosmetic cement.

After the braces he was in front and side-by-side with the others. Then came the tranistion into ninth grade, the kisses from girlfriends and exchanging of saliva through lust and soft drinks. He became drunk with alcohol and once in college felt the ravages of cocaine along his soft roots in weary bouts of fingerbrushing with narcotics at 4 am. He became darkened by black coffee, enlightened by green tea.

And the only way to make him proud is to bind him once again. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The European Invasion

Due to a stagnant economy, staggering debt and a loss of alliance with the world, the United States found itself adrift and alone after gaffes and missteps in the Middle East. Large chunks of North American property were sold to newly allied Eastern European Bloc Allies for the purpose of oversea bases. One of them was several blocks from my house on a now razed National Park and historic mountain.

Construction began immediately, taking the form of a modern building of the Great Pyramids. Through high-powered binoculars one could see people dragging giant stones to create huge towers overlooking the land. And with these immigrating foreign soldiers came their families, their culture and their newfound imperialism. And their boxy vehicles and their grey skies.

It took four years for me to have my friend arrested in the lead up to the war, to save my parents' lives from rebel bullets, to fall in love with the enemy's daughter and to escape from my own country under attack with her.

Photograph by James Nachtwey/Magnum/ from the book "Inferno" Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Thin Black Duke

John Wayne wisely never performed in blackface, although he did portray Genghis Khan in The Conqueror--a performance many call his “yellowface” role (as well as his worst and his most unfortunate-the film's Utah set, 225 miles from a nuclear test site, is accused of giving 90 cast and crew members, including The Duke, cancer). Little do our minds know, but Wayne was a shapeshifter.

My dream last night--influenced heavily by weary eyes, emotional stress and honky tonk alcohol--took place in a newspaper montage of a 1950s black-and-white film, where spinning tabloids rocketed at the viewer, exclaiming what only 48 pt text could back in 24 hour news days. John Wayne, once again it seems, had passed, and only the print media could memorialize him. Unlike Frank Sinatra, whose death was informed to me by Matt Lauer, the written word would break the news.

The media of my dreams decided to pay scant attention to the slow drawing, slow drawl cowboy who was John Wayne. They were all blackface Wayne. Merely seconds after his death, casting calls went out for the actor who would best portray The Duke in his least talked about role: the blackface clown.

There were givens: Tom Hanks, Gene Hackman (one last great time, old buddy). Some oddities: Jamie Foxx, John C. O’Reilly. The role ultimately went to an unknown, whose sepia headshot he submitted of the blackface Wayne captured the idea: even then much like now, he really should just be very tan.

Who got it right, however? The New Yorker, whose black-and-white cover told the story. A nondescript clown in whiteface, standing before a brick wall of black, a big oval surrounding his booger lips. Us and the world we act like we know, symbolism regardless of race.
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

All Doors Lead to Doors

My locker held a locket, and the locket held nothing at all, and upon tossing it to the side I discovered the girl who would ultimately be the martyr of our grade, a soft-spoken pixie of advanced classes and a mainstay on a yearbook masthead. We would go on one date and talk about cannonballs and the importance of grafitti before being split by the choices of PE teams. She reminded me of an obvious fact--this all felt very after-school special, and I informed her that my train of thought was dependent on prior experiences. And then everything ended; I had to gather all my toys, blocks, anger and socks together and try to craft something that would make the exhibit something new. My rent was due and outside there was tear gas and sunshine. All these random thoughts made me a millionaire a million times over and a martyr just like a girl in a hallway who becomes a hero after vaporizing in a car crash.

Photograph by Thomas Wheatley/"Louvre Tiles" Paris, France 8/04Posted by Hello