Rats in the Afternoon

Finally, sunlight! I was actually hoping that my neighbor Phil would go visit his girlfriend up on the northside for the weekend. That's when I'm saddled with the task of walking his dog. One of the benefits is I get to use his washer / drier. Well, what he doesn't know …. Yeah, my washing machine works fine, but I have no drier. And it's been too cloudy (and beastly cold) to hang laundry on the line. But not today.

I exchanged a few words with my neighbor Michael as I lugged my laundry basket down the side of my house (the washing machine is on the back porch, and a trip down my driveway is the easiest way to get back there). This isn't my new neighbor, Michael. This is Marlys' husband — they live in the house next door. Michael and his teenaged son were in my side yard tearing down and rebuilding their wooden fence. Seems their dogs keep getting out of their yard and terrorizing the mailman. I was a bit taken back that I had missed such neighborhood drama — I mean, it's not like this sort of stuff is happening while I'm at work.

I had a couple cups of coffee as I caught up on a few blogs I subscribe to. Novelist Dennis Cooper is still fighting bronchitis in Paris. He's been posting scanned pages of a lit magazine he edited back in the late '70s and early '80s called “Little Caesar.” Today I was treated to 44 pages of issue 12. The issue was titled “Overlooked and Underrated.” The idea was to have literary luminaries write essays on what authors they thought should be re-examined.

There's a nice piece on Mary Butts, a free-spirit modernist British author who hung out with Djuna Barnes, Jean Cocteau, and Aleister Crowley. The short piece was a memoir by Oswell Blakeston, who also seems to fit into the overlooked and underrated category.

Also, Jonathan Williams added a free-wheeling reading list covering M. P. Shiels, Roland Firbank, Paul Metcalf, et al. Williams created the Jargon Society, one of the great American small literary presses. I discovered Paul Metcalf via the Jargon Society.

This “Little Caesar” also has a one page plug for the author Denton Welch by James Purdy. He suggests that John Kerouac was influenced by Welch. This is something I'd never heard, and I'm not sure if I believe it. I discovered Welch through William Burroughs. He praised Welch's singular voice. The character of Aubrey (a sensitive character who wandered through many of Burroughs' works) is claimed by Burroughs to be based on Denton Welch. And I know that Kerouac was very much interested by the books his friend Burroughs suggested he read, and I don't doubt Kerouac read Welch. But I can find nothing in his work that makes me think Welch influenced his novels.

Welch is a writer difficult to describe. His work isn't self-possessed enough for it be called belles-letters. But, in a sense, it is that art for arts sake. Most of his best known works are very autobiographical. He was a British writer who, at a very young age, was involved in a crippling bicycling accident, and he spent much of his short life bed-ridden. His short-lived literary fame came because of the strong support Edith Sittwell gave his writing. He was a master of describing nuanced elements of objects which most people would over-look, and he would infuse these things with potent emotion.

Anyway, in the “Little Caesar” piece, James Purdy highly praised the first thing he ever read of Welch, a short story titled “When I was Thirteen.” I've never read short stories before by Denton Welch. I immediately did a google search. I assumed the story was in public domain, so I hoped to fine it reprinted on a website.

What I found was this:


It was a blog some guy had been building (now deserted, it seems) with audio clips of stories read aloud. One of the stories was Denton Welch's “When I was Thirteen.”

And so, I let the piece play though as I made a big pot of lentil stew with plenty of onions, potatoes, calabacita squash, garlic and jalapenos. While chopping veggies I was treated to a very well-read piece. I don't know if the reader was the owner of the website, but he did a great job. And, man, the story was incredible. Probably one of the most beautiful examples of adolescent homoeroticism I've ever encountered (although I won't claim to know that particular genera quite so well as Dennis Cooper, Jonathan Williams, or James Purdy).

Check out this audio clip. And there are other great stories on this Stories To Go Blog. Sample them while enjoying a nice big bowl of stew.


On my way to the back porch to pull my laundry from the washing machine to the clothes line, I stopped to see how my neighbors were progressing on the fence. I was quite impressed. Those dogs ain't gonna be going nowhere.

After hanging up my laundry, I got a call from Pete. He was at a gallery space downtown preparing it for a one-man show he's got coming up. He wanted to know if I wanted to see the space. I said I'd try and make it over.

I was too damn cold for a bike ride, but the sun was out, and I felt I should do something. So, even before Pete called, I decided to amble down to the riverwalk and stroll downtown and take a few photos, if the view here or there suited me.

There's a full moon out today. Well, damn close to full. This afternoon on the riverwalk I saw it nestled next to the Tower of the Americas — but in this photo I don't know how well it comes out.

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And, well, I know he's a shy feller, but this member of the local fauna is far from uncommon around downtown San Antonio, or, well, any downtown in this country. Ah, what an adorable little rat!

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And here we have another couple of images snapped from down on the riverwalk.

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It was a slow day for tourists downtown — I had the place pretty much to myself. I did encounter two different groups of Australians and three interchangeable retiree couples in warm-up suits and birding glasses.


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