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The Dude From Bay Area Memes Has A Book Out? Here Are Some Excerpts!

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Cover photo for “Don’t Drown on Dry Ground.” Photo courtesy of dre.bot.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Even longer than I’ve been making memes and I’ve been making memes since 2016. If you’re a BrokeAssStuart.com regular, you’ve probably seen one of my nearly 50 articles covering everything from the Bay Area, to Class, Politics, and whatever else I can come up with. 

I don’t only write articles, I also write poetry, short stories and I’m even working on a few novels, but those remain unfinished. 

In this article I’m going to include a short story and a few of the poems that are featured in my book, Don’t Drown on Dry Ground. If you like my work, you can support it by purchasing the Ebook for $3.99 or the physical for $15.99.  If you can’t afford to do either my just simply share my poetry or my IG page @abeisabadwriter. Or check out my publisher’s website Terrain Empire Publishing

The story I’m going to share is called “Forever in Blue Jeans, Babe.” I wrote it after finding out my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was told he wouldn’t likely survive 2020. The good news is that he’s still here. He still has cancer, but he’s fighting it with chemotherapy and other treatments provided by the VA. 

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Forever in Blue Jeans, Babe:

 I consider my relationship with my father unorthodox at best. It could be characterized as horrible at worst, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are moments that still linger and make me wonder what he could have been, had the dealer that dealt him his cards in the casino called life been less cruel.

My father wasn’t a free man. He was shackled by something. A tangible trauma. I don’t know the origin of this trauma, he never spoke of it, but it could be felt and if you stared into his dark brown eyes, it could be seen hiding behind his pupils, coloring his view of the world.

On special weekends, after sundown, my father found a diamond and told the whole neighborhood about his discovery. My parents’ bedroom had a set of windows that overlooked Patterson Avenue, just a few hundred feet from where it intersected with MacArthur Boulevard. There was a JVC stereo system: 5-disc-changer, dual tape deck, two speakers with a subwoofer that was optional, but allowed for a more bass-rich listening experience. On these very special nights, my father would place two ice cubes in his snifter and pour himself a glass of scotch, then he’d pour himself a few more. After downing his third or fourth round, the stereo was on and the sound of Neil Diamond’s music, completely in sync with my dad’s voice, echoed off of East Oakland’s scarred concrete.

The beginning of my father’s performance always started with something triumphant. “We’re coming to America, today,” he’d sing as he raised his glass out of our window into the cool bay air. I used to come out of my bedroom to watch him. I stared in awe as his body would move wildly to the rhythm of the instruments and his face would match the emotions suggested by the inflection of Neil’s voice.

All of our neighbors got a front row seat to my father’s show, but I was one of the lucky few who was blessed with a backstage pass. Not everyone in the audience were fans. His renditions of Neil’s greatest hits also attracted their fair share of hecklers. Sometimes the neighborhood hustlers who sat on stoops or gathered in front of liquor stores would loudly laugh at my dad or they’d scream “shut the fuck up,” but my father didn’t listen. He wouldn’t lower his voice or turn off the music. He just continued to pour his soul out into the void and his scotch into the glass.

By the middle of his set, the songs my father chose to sing were less about triumph and more about belonging. These were songs about finding a place to call home and coming to terms with the fact that life on this big blue ball, floating through an ever-expanding nothingness, seems to have everything except an instruction manual. Deep down we know there’s no right or wrong way to go. The leaders of the world are just passing down tradition and the laws aren’t rooted in logic, but conservation of the known. Each piece of legislation, no matter what system or nation it governs, is inked with the blood of those deemed too critical to exist within it. There’s nothing special in these institutions and with realization of this, there’s nothing left to do, but exist. Neil Diamond knew it, and I know my father knew it. I could tell from the passion that exploded from his chest as he sang “I am!’ I said to no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair… ‘I am!’ I cried. ‘I am!’ said I, and I am lost and I can’t… even say why!” He may have not been able to express it in his own words, but he knew.

My father’s drunken singing was a part of my life for years. Each performance came with a different setlist, but one song was always included: “Forever in Blue Jeans.” The song was originally released in 1978 on Neil Diamond’s double-platinum record, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.

When I started this story, I said my father wasn’t a free man and that remained true throughout the duration of his life, but when he sang this song, he was free. He looked like freedom. He moved like it, sang like it, lived like it. The shackles that restricted him were gone. He was weightless. There was a grace to his movements that I haven’t witnessed in anyone else.

My father was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. He will likely be dead before 2020 ends. My father’s impending death made me realize that for much of his life he wasn’t actually alive. His heart was beating, but he didn’t always have a pulse. Despite this, I refuse to remember him as a lifeless man. Instead, I will remember lessons he taught me with the songs he sang to me and anyone who would listen on Patterson Avenue. He taught that while money talks, it doesn’t sing or dance and it don’t walk, and as long as those lessons are here with me, his memory will be…

Forever in Blue Jeans, Babe

The Point (Poem) 

I don’t really know what I’m doing

But I know what I’m not doing

And in some ways

That can be more valuable. 

I’m not writing for wine moms 

Nor am I writing for white geriatric women that brag about banging jazz musicians 

You know, before they settled down with your compromise of a father.

I write for the perpetual procrastinators 

The ones that sit at bus stops

On their way to a job you probably look down on

Lost in their daydreams 

Fantasizing about what their lives could be if they had the energy and the courage

To live one.

The people with the projects unfinished

The chores undone

The ones whose depressed days lead to misspent decades

I write for the aching backs in Richmond’s warehouses 

And the suicidal ideation common among cubicle dwellers in Walnut Creek’s entry level office jobs.

The ones where you have to dress like you make 6 figures for someone to pay you 5.

Where the posters show people smiling with dead eyes, stiff hair and white teeth.

In the hell where handshakes are meaningless and pleasantries are endlessly pursued despite being pointless.

I write for the pointless.

And that’s the point… 

I guess.

North Beach (Poem)

The poets in San Francisco during the ‘50s and ‘60s sat around North Beach 

Twiddling their thumbs in cafes

Hunched over typewriters in studio apartments

Writing a lot of trash and mining a bit of gold

The 49ers of the beat era

True team players

Small rooms, cheap drinks and emotional men before the internet told you that that was okay in a self empowerment post written by someone who wants to be empowered by a collection of likes from people that no one loves

They protested wars.

No country for old men

But no property for the young ones

We don’t congregate in North Beach’s cafes as they’ve upped their prices to the point of alienation

And the screams of the unhoused and unhinged distract from the words that want to flow out of open wounds like vertical cuts over healthy veins or clouds that produce torrential rains over ever-moving oceans that rise with overabundance as the land it rightfully reclaims simultaneously dies of thirst 

The rising tide won’t lift all boats

That was a lie.

It will only provide proof 

That some vessels 

Were meant to sink.

God bless San Francisco

The city of the Golden Gate

Stained yellow with piss

Because gold has become the gatekeeper

You’re Not Too Big (Poem)

The people

The small people 

Who gather in big cities 

Cities they’re not from

To wear the city 

Like a uniform

They add nothing

They just take from what was already there

And repurpose it

For social augmentation 

Of a soul

That has no dance

If you’re not from

Make sure there’s a reason

Before you come

You’re not too big for your suburb 

You’re exactly the right size. 

Will To Live (Poem)

Sometimes I want to die.

I’m not going to kill myself.

But sometimes,

I want to die.

I don’t want to feel the fear

I don’t want the rush of adrenaline

That comes with a biologically-driven

Will to live.

That sucks

I want to be somewhere distracted.

I want to be sitting at a table,

Playing on my phone

In a crowded restaurant

Or cafe

Anywhere really, and I want someone to casually walk up,

Pull out a gun

And blow my fucking brains out

From behind

I’d never see it coming.

I’d just go.

What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

It’d be painless

It’d be perfect.

But that’s only sometimes

Other times,

I want to go hiking,

Write,

Fall in love,

Shit like that,

But sometimes

I don’t…

If you like my writing, support and follow! Thanks for reading!

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PURCHASE MY BOOK HERE

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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is a San Francisco-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, BrokeAssStuart.com. His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground will be available early 2022.

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