Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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Bad Gringo Hombres

 

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So this was yesterday.

I’m coming back from the center where I’ve dropped my son and a brief stop at Trader Joe’s for non-organic fruits and vegetables. Dinner’s my bag tonight and I’m already sweatin’ it. It’s just after 10 am.

I’m flying down Cesar Chavez/39th and way down there I see an old Chevy pickup slowing at an intersection as I approach, and here I am gunning it 45 in a 25 mile-per- hour zone and just as I get there the pick-up swings into his left turn directly in front of me, I’m jacking up the brakes and looking into a cab filled with four pale hombres who look to be casting rejects from “Deliverance” and meanwhile the driver looks like Donald Fagen from Steely Dan except here he’s been on a vicious meth run for the last two and a half weeks so my speeding-down-the-hill black Taurus is probably mistaken for some strain of mosquito, and since there are barely any mosquitoes in Oregon to begin with I take him and his cab-mates for Trump voters. As my Mexican wife would say – “Estupido”.

Good thing I make it back to the house, having swerved around Sheriff Arpaio or whoever he was, just in time for a traffic jam, my roommate Jannine crawling into the back seat of some road-trip pick-her-up in my parking place, so I’m facing down the street on the wrong side and coming flying in my direction, making my previous speed look lawful, are two small foreign jobs and there’s not much room between the Taurus and the Buick Regal picking up the roomie so I throw up my arms in the windshield in a slow-the-fuck-down you morons we got little kids on the street gesture, as if there are streets that don’t, and in the rear-view I see the tail lights jam to red and there’s screeching stops and out of both cars come the drivers, big scary white dudes both let me point out with Make America Great Again red caps, indicating in less than a half nanosecond that I’m dealing with morons and odds are bigoted pea-brains, and as Jannine’s about 50 percent of Jamaican heritage I slip out the 38 from the glove box and leap out the passenger side, whacking my nuts across the console which pisses me off further and the MAGA boys take one look at the piece of steel and my expression and skedaddle on back to their let’s- make-america-great-again Hondas and boot it around the corner. Which at the same time the Regal and roomie drive off so I can swing a half u-ee and pull in front of the house and unload the apples, raisins, and broccoli, fruits and veggie somehow unharmed after this decidedly trump-world danger driving home from the grocery. It’s 10:14.

Less than an hour later – I’ve been in the basement typing like there’s no tomorrow, which of course there might not be, listening to a YouTube collection of Brenda Lee and Zakk Wylde favorites when I hear some pounding on the door upstairs so I go up slowly – my cajones gently but persistently reminding of the less-than-ballet-like vehicle departure, so it takes a minute and I open the door to two millennials in white shirts and black ties with short hair and big smiles asking if I’d like to be saved, preferably today, never mind receive swell literature with only a monthly contribution to the great educational work going on at Liberty U over there in Virginia, and they confirm that yes in Lynchburg which I point out is surely always a welcoming vision for folks pigmented like my roomie Jannine, of whom they have no idea. But they morph into less than praise-go friendlies when I say no thanks I’ve just express mailed a check for two grand to the Southern Poverty Law Center, me and Morris Dees are tight bruh, and I see their hands curl into oppo turn-the-other-cheek fists, but I don’t think I mentioned yet that I brought the 38 into the house with me – ain’t America great after all – which I now produce in the hopes that even these trump voters (yeah, they got the red caps too, and one’s sporting a rather large button with the words “Goring was good”) so there’s another not necessary giveaway, anyway the 38 helps make the point that my abundance-filled self points in another direction from theirs.

Now get this. It’s not even 11 am on a Tuesday morning and here’s two MAGA imbeciles on the porch and one of them looks at me and quotes Eldridge Cleaver – “If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem”. I have to laugh and it ain’t easy to laugh these days – though our laughter is a shield – but I’ve got to laugh that I’m being quoted Panther phraseology on a Tuesday morning by these two Liberty emissaries who are clearly not, like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from God, and after I’m done chuckling I unbutton my orange-hibiscus-on-blue Hawaiian shirt and reveal the Public Enemy t-shirt I’m wearing underneath.

Fight the power, kiddies.

And that was just the morning.

 

(Above photo contains no bad gringo hombres. But possible aching cojones.)

 

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My Fabulously Wonderful Ford Taurus – Writing 101

 

In May of 2003 I walked onto the lot at Bonnell Ford in Winchester, MA in the company of a woman named Mary, with whom I was living. I was ready to trade in my 1996 Ford Taurus SEL, the goal being to find a newer Taurus. The 2006 was what was called a “program car”, a car that had served as a two-year lease for someone, or a rental car, then turned back into Ford and sold to Ford dealerships. I was looking for another program car, another Taurus. Moving through a lot filled with used as well as new Ford vehicles I came upon a black 2001 Taurus SEL. The car was a program car and had 29,000 miles on the odometer. It looked to be in great shape, clean inside and out, the engine looked clean, not worn. I took it for a test drive and it drove great. I asked Mary about the color, not being sure about black. We had driven to the lot in her black Volvo. Duh.

My 2006 had over 150,000 miles and was giving out, surely but not so slowly. It had been a great car for me and the SEL was the top model – upgraded engine, lots of goodies like keyless entry and moon roof, and a fabulous sound system. That was the best thing about program cars. They were used goodies. I wanted another one. I came back a couple of days later, the saleman got me a really good interest rate, they offered $500 for the trade-in, and I made the deal. In May of 2003.

That black Taurus is sitting just outside, here in Portland, OR, right now, in June of 2014. Thirteen years old, 11 of them with me, paid off six years ago, with just over 131,500 on the odometer. I drove her back and forth from Lowell – where I lived with Mary – to Arlington every day for a couple of years. I drove to California to take a job in San Francisco. I drove back to Massachusetts, with my son Cameron on what I consider one of my greatest adventures – fun stories and memories from places like Elko, Nevada and York, Nebraska – Davenport, Iowa, and Erie, Pennsylvania. I drove alone on yet another journey into the unknown from Cape Cod to Portland – here. And my car has been just wonderful through it all – comfortable, quick, great gas mileage on the highways, and the outstanding sound system. If someone has told me 25 years ago that I would be the happy owner of a Ford Taurus I would have laughed. Way too unhip. But both cars, especially this one, have been great. This one has become my friend. An old friend.

A couple of Fridays ago I brought the car for an oil change at a Jiffy Lube. They proceeded to tell me the usual litany of things wrong and in desparate need of attention. Two did get my attention, brake fluid and anti-freeze on the verge of uselessness. So on the way home I stopped at a Vietnamese owned garage within walking distance from my house, a place I trust, and scheduled both of those fluids to be changed. I brought the car in three days later and an hour or so after that I got a call telling me the master brake cylinder was leaking and would need to be replaced. I told them to do it – broke struggling artist or not. I have a credit card. When I walked up to get it later in the afternoon the mechanic told me the crank shaft bearings are leaking oil. He told me it would cost around $2000 to fix it. I don’t have it so I told him no thanks. He told me is wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t continue to drive the car for a while until it was time for a new one. I looked at him and grinned and said there isn’t going to be a new one. This is my car.

So I have new oil, new brake fluid, new antifreeze, a new master cylinder, tires with pretty good tread, an interior that isn’t peeling and ripped everywhere, and a great sound system. Loaded in my six -disk player right now, in fact, are CDs by The Temptations, The Velvet Underground, Sly and the Family Stone, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, The Beach Boys, and the original Steve Miller Band. The gas mileage has dropped off quite a bit, some of the sensor lights malfunction, and what with the crank shaft leaking when I drive, I will try to not feel like an emplyee of Exxon or Enron, fouler of the earth. I’ll just feel like me, Buddy Cushman, flower child, believer of all things hopeful and magical – painter, writer, walker, dreamer. And proud owner and driver of a 2001 black Ford Taurus SEL, which, by the way, happens to have a bitchin’ sound system, and a decade filled with wonderful memories.

Prized possession? Yessereebob.