The theme for today is "ham-fisted", not for any good reason other than that it rings of a certain era of Americana, one where fat distorted faces stuffed with cigars and too-small cheap suits pushed brooms around sidewalks. W.C. Fields without the humor or...charm. Ham fisted, naturally leads to "fried brain sandwiches" written in chalk on boards outside midwest taverns on Tuesdays, which were, and are, slow days for restaurants and bars. What to do what to do what to do? Tuesday's special a 10¢ slab of cranial stuff that once coursed with thoughts like "moo," "oink," and "baa," dipped in milk, egg and seasoned flour and deep-fried to a crispy brown and served between two slices of gummy white bread with pickles. A beer goes good with that. Down by the river, and my dad says "they used to sell out of them, they couldn't make enough". Taverns with German names, places where you really aren't welcome unless they know your family, Hamms Beer hard plastic illuminated sign hanging over the sidewalk, where the broom does its work, and the fat Dick Tracy face surveys the street north and south and smells the sweet soil. The water courses always always moving, since this place was covered in a mile of hard, clear ice dragging boulders down under its belly, digging a path for a river, a river where "mark twain" was, if I recall, twelve feet if water, where it was safe to travel, even if your brother will follow in your footsteps and die a horrible death when the boiler of his own boat explodes and burns him, and you will carry the scar with you even though his will be short -lived, at best.

Ham fisted, a fist like a canned ham, straight off the shelf of a grocery store where at one time you could smoke while you did your shopping, and if you were clever and didn't have enough for the food and the cigarettes, you would pick a pack off the rack on the way in, break them open, walk around picking up your sale items, and at some point the pack just ended up in your top pocket, somehow. Then you made your way back home to the trailer on the edge of town, part of a Mortville-esque complex of residences on a slight hill, the trailer were you lost your innocence to the sad, sweet, tall girl who worked on the college paper with you. She told you stories about being molested, and she cut her hair to try and keep you, and you still feel bad about it. Next to the trailer, but down an incline to the north was the place where the cretins assembled palettes every day, happily, and who would, when you cranked up your distorted Silvertone guitar and wailed, cheered and raised their fists as if somebody was really doing something special up there behind that cheap window. I didn't have a problem with it, not one at all.

There is, was (what the fuck do I know what's there now? I'm getting some of this wrong, you know it and so do I) a creek that runs east and west a little south of the trailer, and a beautiful empty field leading to it from the asphalt slab serving as the Mortville parking lot. One day, one early fall afternoon, a wolverine appeared on the far side of the field, bounding across in a powerful, strong, wild movement that was like a tap on the shoulder, saying "get your head out of your ass and look at this." It most certainly wasn't ham fisted. Nobody saw it but me, and behind it all a great, vast, inscrutable emptiness, eating up your questions and your answers and that other girl, a preacher's daughter that you did really love and that didn't love you.

Ham fisted, my great-grandfather making cigars in a hotel room in Ackley, Iowa, staring at the camera in a way that suggests a photo wasn't what he had in mind, at all, you fucking pest. Begot my grandfather, patent medicine salesman left home at 14 did not want to make cigars, begot my father, eighth of ten children and brutalized by a sadistic older brother and saddled with "Bulgy" for a nickname. Begot me, nervous child chewing on pencils and erasers and the metal from the erasers but whose grandparents, in some sort of great fit of mysterious delusion, allowed their grandson to bring home a brand-new copy of the brand new Black Sabbath album "Master of Reality", which he and the little girl across the street danced to in front of the metal fold-down console stereo, and she who would also be molested by Jet Theaville, a teenager from down the street, and who loved "Venus" by The Shocking Blue. Ham fisted, yes, Sabbath were ham fisted, but it was the best ham you ever tasted, and it felt like being stoned even though you wouldn't know until much later what that...meat...meant and even now that feeling, that overwhelming organic sensation of intoxication is evoked by the molten grassy foam unleashed by the speakers when "Into The Void" blasts into overdrive. Ham fisted.