Thursday, December 15, 2011

David Blaine

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Dear Karl,

OK, I have attached the interview with Catfish and a photo of him and his daughter.  It's an older photo, but it tied in well because Catfish had a flash fiction about her published at OutsiderWriters a while back, and I linked to it.  
I also attached a  poem Catfish published this at his blog, but shortly after that he closed down.  So it's nowhere on the net for anyone to see anymore.  If you like it that would be a great piece to have re-published, and if you really like it I can send you some more stuff some time.  I don't go for grandiose long winded bullshit bongo bios.  

"David Blaine lives in rural Michigan and works at the family hardware store with his wife, children and grandchildren."  My blog is called "A. Hello Whiskey" and it's at



ps there is a story going round over here that you, through your mothers side, are related, by marriage, to
Billy-The-Kid, who rode with Charlie Boudrie down New Mexico way! is that true? forgive me for asking
I do so only because I have somewhat indirect connections with the Texas branch of the Ring.

  § ¶ 

David Blaine

A Small Death

You are too soon parted from here.
The August afternoon sun beats down,
softening the asphalt.
Aroma of decay wafts in the breeze.
Green bottle flies swarm and fire ants creep,
trespassing against your broken form of feathers.
The quills and vanes still tremble, slightly,
as air flows through and around them.
These wings once held you in the sky
as if pinned against the clouds.
Their colorful array of bars and stripes
are still in tact
but you are at once
morbidly still,
and curiously quiet.
No more does your shrill shriek
boom down from towering heights,
to send field mice scurrying to their dens.
No longer do you return from the hunt
bringing fresh meat to the nestlings.
The wind whistles in telephone wires
and plays a requiem for you.

The Luxury of Agony

He was a fledgling painter who came from a family of farmers.  He said he couldn’t afford the luxury of agonizing over finishing touches.  I noticed that his novice gaze tended to jump around a bit, but assumed he was looking at me, hoping for signs of arousal.  This was what I’d been craving; this was what his art was all about.  With each stroke I wished he would close his eyes, take his time.  He’d end up taking it anyway.  There was no promise about the outcome; that was part of his ethical code. 

He told me that his work was all about breathing; you could do it anywhere.  But he’d almost drowned once at a swimming party, when he was in the first grade.  He believed we re-negotiate our roles daily and re-visit the lost battles in our sleep.

He taught me that context is key, and I realized how universal things are:  How my mother used to cry waiting for Khrushchev to drop the other shoe.  How we hold our breath now, when a jet flies too low.

He said that our insecurities allow us into this world, that in Afghanistan, the men write love poems to their friends.  I’d long been longing for such an exotic way station, but he’d grown tired of being my back door man.  He told me that impressionism actually peaks in the teen years.  I worried how strangers, mere passersby, would view us. In the end this hadn’t been my best-laid plan.   And he really couldn’t afford the luxury of agonizing over finishing touches. 


death as a play in three acts


lurid leering boogies under the bed bad guy

with a gun car crash train wreck greasy bag o’ rags

and kitchen match waiting for midnight to burn my house down

khrushchev calls the cold war to order with his 9 ½ D gavel

bomb shelter in the neighbor’s basement sleep well tonight

god and guard are watching but it’s good friday

god’s kid got killed on a cross again

and they can’t watch all of the ruskies all of the time


my girlfriend’s brother

first one on our block

came home in a flag

inside a box

the radio is my messiah

cuz’ i’d rather my country

than me

i’d rather red than dead

canada is only an hour away

but the draft is over

the month i turn eighteen


success is killing me now

my beer and my steak

each twenty four ounces

death and I have smartened up

he’s out from under the bed

playing the ambassador

the diplomat

i know he’s no friend

but he’s not my enemy either

i can run and jump

but i won’t outrun my parent’s genes

i find myself wondering

what’s next after this?

the curiosity might kill this cat.


Ode to a Bad Example

A curious portrait of postman

as dog.  Uncut,

cut from the same cloth as all

common men.  Commonly

seen debauching his era—

pissing on everyone’s collective porch.

Falling through life or what passed for it:

A state of inebriation— drunk on the heady

and ordinary alike.

In loose association with loose companions

without peers

without friends

chasing off paternal memories

chasing skirts in a most non-paternal manner.

He was on track—

every day if he could—

burning through bets and betting on getting

loaded, laid,

fan mail.

A quarrelling brook, a roaring spring

of poetry and prose spilling

from a soft heart impaled

on the thorns of his own rose.

Impetus for perfection

in a love/hate relationship.

He commands, advises, implores,

even now, past his prime and

past his time:

Don’t Try.

To which I respond:

Why would I?


Maybe She Meant It

Was that a hatchet or a tomahawk that had just flown past, 
grazed his ear, and embeded itself into the plaster?  
He instinctively raised his hand to the lobe but hadn’t even noticed 
the blood until she pointed to his fingers.

The next time
you touch 
my sister 
I’ll be giving you a vasectomy with a Bowie knife.  


The McDaris Interview

David Blaine: I noticed that in all your biographical material Catfish McDaris is born in 1953 and then the story fast-forwards to the time he came home from the Army and started traveling America.  Has he ever had a police mug shot taken? What name appeared on the placard?  

Catfish McDaris: Steven Carl McDaris.  I got busted at 13 for stealing soda bottles for their 4 cent deposit. I no longer drive, but I did for almost 40 years. I quit 7 years ago, when I quit drinking. After my younger sister died, I drove to the graveyard, opened a bottle of Cuervo & got stinkoed. Cops got me for O.W.I. even though I never drove drunk.  I tried to take a cop's gun away; that's the only arrest as an adult.

DB: Tell me a bit about your early life.  What did your parents do for a living? 

CM: My dad was a master bricklayer. Mother was a mobile librarian, a manager at Sears, & Zale’s, & she worked for Norman Petty Recording Studios. (where Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, & Stephen Stills recorded) in Clovis, New Mexico.

DB: That connection to the Norman Petty studios, what did she do exactly?

CM: Mom kept the books for Norman Petty.

DB:  Did you ever get to meet any musicians that an average Joe would recognize?

CM: I met Stephen Stills, Sam & Dave, Three Dog Night, & partied with Waylon Jennings. Our hometown band was Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs, their hits were Sugar Shack & Bottle of Wine. The Fireball drummer used to babysit me & later I was their roadie for awhile. Also I worked for The Shyguys & The Apple Glass Syndrome. I worked with my pal, Bennie Barrow (a relative of Clyde Barrow of Bonnie & Clyde fame) doing a few psychedelic light shows for Iron Butterfly & Strawberry Alarm Clock, but mostly The Flock & Zephyr. (2 super bands back then)

DB: Are you musically inclined at all? I don't mean at a professional level, but do you strum the guitar or blow the harp or anything? Cowbell?

CM: I used to try to play guitar & congas, but I sucked.

DB: Do you express yourself artistically in any other medium that writing?

CM: I do a bit of drawing, I had 3 sketches in a recent Nerve Cowboy.

DB: Do you consider writing an art form?

CM: Hell yes, writing is an art form, anything you pour your soul into is art.

DB: You mentioned a younger sister passing away, are there any other siblings?

CM: I have two brothers and two living sisters.

DB:  Where did you go to school and what type of books did you read as a child?

CM: I went to school mostly in Clovis, New Mexico, except for a brief time in Monterrey, California. I read all the classics, my grandmother & I played Scrabble, & worked crosswords. I loved adventure books, especially about Geronimo, Sir Francis Drake, and Darwin. But I dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.

DB: Wait, you're talking about loving adventure books and reading the classics, then you say you dropped out of school in the tenth grade.  That's not congruous at all. What drove you to that?

CM: I was in a hazing incident in the 10th grade. You were expected to buy a huge paddle made in purple & white (school colors) & have the dude's name & his lady's on each side & he was then supposed to try & break it on your ass. I refused & I almost took his life. I also had been taking too many drugs & I was a full fledged hippie, so school seemed like a waste of time.

DB:  Did you have any jobs as a child, to earn spending money?

CM: After I dropped out of high school I became a journeyman bricklayer & I had lots of hustles on the side. I had a lawn mowing service (my pals with electric mowers), I had several pin ball machines, I had a matchbox business (not cars).

DB: Did you participate in any social activities like Cub Scouts or Little League?

CM: I was a Boy Scout, played football, threw shot put, ran track, I got along with the jocks & the heads. I belonged to the Tijuana Pussy Posse.

DB:  How long did you live in New Mexico? 

CM:  I lived in New Mexico until I split for the army.

DB: Since you’re a couple of years older than me, I’m guessing you were drafted and served in Vietnam.  Am I right?

CM:  I sold 2 kilos of Acapulco gold to an undercover cop, so I was going away for 2 to 10 years. I got the best lawyer in Clovis & paid $5,000, he was to get me off, but I messed with both his daughters & he found out. So, July 71 at the age of 17 I went to Ft. Polk, Louisiana (Little Vietnam) for boot camp. On our last weekend, I went to New Orleans with some amigos to party, we were late coming back, so we were recycled. (did 8 week boot camp all over) Then I was sent to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for artillery training. I got a 2 week leave before reporting to Oakland for Vietnam. While on leave, Tricky Dick said no more troops to Nam, so I went to Germany for 2 1/2 years. I got out in July 74 & traveled & lived in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico & lived around Santa Fe & Espanola.

DB:  OK, when you started train hopping and hitching across America, did you stay any place for an extended time?  Long enough to get a job and find a place to stay?  What kind of work did you do?

CM:  When I was 15 I hopped a train from Dallas to Clovis. (500 miles) I was with 2 pals & we got lost & an old hobo taught us how to survive. A year later I hopped a fruit express in Fresno into New Mexico. I've done lots of short rides & 1 not that long ago. I rode the rails while in Germany also. I've done a lot of hitchhiking especially to Denver, I've lived there many times. I worked at a metal shop, a skyscraper delivering steel doors to each floor. I hitched in Mexico to Guaymas & spent most of a summer fishing. The worst hitch hiking experience I had was in Slayton, Texas just east of Lubbock, a state cop took me & they shaved my head (I was 16). They put me on a work chain gang for 67 days with no phone calls. I wrote long detailed letters of my adventures in Europe. I got my G.E.D. in the army & took enough general college courses through the mail I wasn't too far away from a degree. Things didn't work out though. I worked in a zinc smelter in Amarillo, Texas. I did brick & stone work all over the southwest. I worked for the Santa Fe National Forest Service as a surveyor & firefighter, painting flag poles (that's scary), I worked for plumbers & carpenters. I washed dishes, cooked, bartended, bounced, I was a roadie. Finally I ended up at the main post office in Milwaukee.

DB:  You say you almost got your degree but things didn't work out, what happened?

CM: I took courses from the Univ. of Maryland while in the army & when I got out I wanted to be a game warden, so I enrolled at Eastern New Mexico Univ. only to find out if I got a degree I'd have to run for office, so I abandoned that path. I had a trade (brick mechanic), but the Post Office was much easier than making a straight wall & fighting the elements.

DB:  Judging from your bio statement that you’ve been writing for about twenty years, I’m guessing you weren’t writing yet at this point in your life.  Were you thinking about writing at all back then?  Were you keeping a journal or anything?  I mean, besides in your head?

CM: I wrote long rambling letters to my grandmother (she was 3/4s Cherokee) describing the army & Germany & my travels (mostly to Holland) & castles. I used to go to a nudist colony outside of Frankfurt & to see all the concerts there. Many years later, when I was pen pals with my wife before our marriage, I started writing love letters, mostly in Spanish. Then I wrote protest letters to the newspaper. My 1st paying gig was Humor In Uniform ($75) for a story. I wrote a western in the Louis L'Amour/Zane Grey style, it never saw daylight. Then I started writing stories & a few poems & I discovered Bukowski & the small press. An Indian editor (Dave Low Dog Reeve) from Zen Tattoo took some words & I told him I wanted to quit the post office & start a catfish farm & that's where the Catfish handle came from.

DB:  Well, there's one question I won't have to ask! 

DB:  Clovis, sounds a lot like a typical Midwest small town, aside from the geography.  County seat, 30,000 people, two thirds white, one third Hispanic, agricultural economy.  Again, except for the geographic differences, do you feel living in Wisconsin is similar, culture wise, to living in New Mexico?  Is there a reason you settled in the upper Great Lakes besides the Post Office gig?

CM:  Clovis has huge sand dunes (used to sand surf & have keg parties there) the Clovis man was found there. (prehistoric). Clovis was wet (had alcohol), Texas & the time change was 10 miles east & it was mostly dry for 100 miles, so lots of drunk cowboys. There was also a huge Air Force Base (Cannon), so lots of flyboys. My mom's only sister married a Milwaukee Polack (when I was 10) & that's how I eventually moved to the Brew City. Milwaukee is green & had lots of jobs, Clovis is arid & the railroad or government was the only great jobs.

DB:  How long have you and your wife been married?  Tell me about when and where you met.  How does she deal with being married to such a wildman?

CM:  I've been married for 28 years to a beautiful Mexican lady named Aida, after the opera. We met in Puerto Vallarta, we were both on vacation, her from Guadalajara & me from Milwaukee. While waiting for our first date, I ran into Elizabeth Taylor & her boyfriend lawyer, Victor Luna, I bought them a drink & got her autograph. I kept talking about that almost to the point where I blew my chance at a long & happy marriage. We became pen pals, after I met her parents, & she came to the U.S. a few times. She had studied English at the British Embassy for 8 years, so her English was different than ours. She has a degree in French & worked for a French mining company translating. Aida got her U.S. citizenship 3 years ago after we got hassled on a trip to Paris. We have a 23 year old daughter (Eli-short for Elizabeth), who is just about to get her Master's degree in Criminal Science. I'm not really so wild, I'm like an inside dog I only do it on paper.

DB:  Lets move on to your writing. If I asked you to limit it to just three writers, who would you say most influences your own writing?

CM: My 3 writing influences are Bukowski, Louis L'Amour, & Edgar Rice Burroughs.

DB: What things going on in the world and in your life affect, influence, or inspire your writing?

CM:  Anything & nothing can inspire my writing.

DB:  How do you feel about the direction publishing is moving?  Some of the things I'm thinking of are the death of independent book stores, the move to Print On Demand, and of course, e-books. 

CM: I just did 2 hardcover joint books at, Dancing Naked On Bukowski's Grave with Australian writer Ben John Smith from Horror Sleaze Trash site, & Tales From A French Envelope with New Jersey writer Craig Scott from Ten Pages Press site. I love both books & stand behind them. I did an e-chap called 72 Magpies Fucking In Buffalo at Ten Pages. I still have a chap called Making Love To The Rain with Leah at Alt-Currents.

DB: Do you enjoy reading your work in public?  Would you say that you enjoy hearing the spoken word any more or less than reading a page, or screen?

CM:  I used to love to read my stuff, I needed a drop of liquid courage, now I take Xanax. Once I get started I can roll. I don't really like to hear poetry read, unless someone is exceptional.

DB:  What's on the horizon for Catfish McDaris?

CM:  I just got in Kerouac's Dog #5 the Passion issue. I'm working on some new stuff called Fucked Nine Ways From Tomorrow. I'm rewriting a play I did called Maria Takes A Powder & always working on a novel to escape the small press. I've been offered a tentative editor job (if it goes print) I haven't decided if I'll saddle that palomino. 

CM: On my eastern horizon are steel heads leaping in Lake Michigan, to the west is a field of dancing horses.

DB:  Sounds like a great place to be.



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Old Fitzroy - - Dreaming blues, karlos? said...

terrific interview with Catfish McDaris, himself the inreviewer with Charles (Charley)Plymell, there's been others since but that was the first, McDaris's. Not bad the poems either. cheers karl