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Bombs Bursting In Air: From New York to the Crystal Coast with the Wartime Author photo

June 30, 2023

“The 1980’s called and they want their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for twenty years.”

Obama said this to Mitt Romney during a presidential debate in whatever year that would have been. A possible epigraph to an impossible war.

I’m sun bathing in a chaise longue, cigarillo in hand, orange soda, no thoughts of the war or New York, The Damned’s version of “Alone Again Or” playing on several stations at once.


July 2, 2023

My friends are all gathered elsewhere. Mingling with my enemies, real or else imagined. I am lonely and traveling with a fully stocked medicine cabinet for ailments at any hour plus a generous CIA weed supply courtesy of a strip mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey. You’ve never seen such trash, such an ugly empire in ruins, such a wretched, diseased people popping polyps in the street, divided highway, ash and smoke and smoke and ash.

The moon is enormous tonight, over Long Island, southern tip of the Hamptons practically.

Today I glimpsed the women, barefoot, selling sliced mangos on I-95 at the foot of the George Washington Bridge, cusp of America’s birthday.

One entire Clonazepam, one joint, one gummy & I feel afloat, entirely awake, in these dead hours. It is rural here, very much so. There are wine tours and farm stands; the beaches are further down. There are manicured backyards and chaise longues by the pool, smoke from Canada still, a kind of silence, a certain implication hanging in the air, always.

The Bradley Graveyards, I’m hearing whispers.

“This is especially true of literature, where the real time is independent of the apparent, and where many dead men are our grand-children’s contemporaries” - Ezra Pound

Literature happens all at once.

In the twentieth century Bertrand Russell sent T.S. Eliot’s wife silk undergarments. At Sewhirt Farm on Abinger Common, in the Surrey Hills, he took her as a lover. It was a brief affair.


July 3, 2023

On the Fourth of July, at the southern tip of the Hamptons practically, America celebrates her freedom with a colorful show of fake bombs bursting in air.

The war we fund in Europe. The civil war in the Middle East. The rising threat of China. The sea levels besides. We stand in unison, hat over heart, and bless our luck - to have other bodies fight our wars.


July 4, 2023

Literature is happening all of the time, all around us, all at once.

We’ve set course for the Hamptons in the top-down beige ’92 E30. The drifts from the city won’t reach us here; I’m not liable to be photographed. I don a pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses just in case. The temperature is the sound of frogs by the creek. My hair is all frizzy, matted down uselessly. “Runaway” by Del Shannon playing on repeat.

It smells like rotted cheese on the road to the Hamptons. No one tells you this.

It was a year of dissonance and distrust, the year of distance and disregard.


July 6, 2023

We are all pieces of one consciousness. Our time, talents, and energy must go into finding the purpose of our piece of the collective soul then sending our signals through time and space for the next people - the wanderers on this dying, lonely, unvisited planet sitting beneath a sun set to explode like a time bomb.

I wrote the above inside a porta potty stuffed with blood-soaked tampons and cheeseburger wrappers, six gallons of unflushed piss and human excrement, and the phone number for a ‘Katherine’ Sharpied on the blue plastic interior, who apparently handles the blowjobs around here, at the public lot in Ponquogue Beach. There is ample evidence that God is everywhere and even visits us from time to time.

I sat on the rocks watching the boats come in and made certain decisions about my life.

“There are hot dog trucks all along the Long Island Expressway, every exit, both ways. Converted Winnebago’s. She sells hot dogs in the front, jerks the guys off in the back. Whole landscaping crews. Farmers. Day laborers. Fridays were always busy.”

In the late sunlight, top down E30 with Prada sunglasses speeding between the farms and the sea on the road to Montauk I resolve an issue with the purpose of consciousness and devise a theory of art as necessary salvation.

I came back to the Southern tip of the Hamptons practically to understand the purpose of my consciousness (this expensive evolutionary tool, as Cormac McCarthy so wisely put it - setting me down on this path - in one of his last interviews), and to understand my particular role in this great untangling. I see that now.


July 7, 2023

I did not make it to New York.


July 8, 2023

We are releasing the cluster munitions. The Museum Director warned of a looming munitions crisis. “I was an ammunition officer,” he reminds the Laurel Room.


July 23, 2023

The President of Belarus is joking about letting the Wagner Group loose in Poland. I am hiding out from the war and the publicist and lawyers and a crumbling estate and fallen empire at The Islander motel, quad espresso, pineapple vape.

My fat and skin seep into the air folds of the luxuriously wasteful ice cold air conditioning of the Islander Motel, waiting for the bar to open, studying maps & cluster munitions casualty counts. I am being ignored by the mainstream media! I am a leper! A black sheep! A ne’er-do-well! They don’t know what to do with me. This morning, even: iced coffee, rose matcha, micro dose psylocibin, the women and the daughters eating out of my hand! They’ve never seen the likes of me in this town! I am waiting for the bellman to bring up my typewriter. I am muttering to myself and missing the page - in all this waiting, all this dullness, all this waiting dullness and pain.

I cannot write the war until this Porter arrives! It is an electric. A good model. I travel lightly. He is taking his sweet time. I met a woman in the deserted ball room earlier, sometime before lunch. (Pimento Cheese tea sandwiches on the veranda, overlooking the swells). She asked me to come see her again tonight, when it’s later. I’m always waiting for it to be later. And I’m still waiting on my goddamn typewriter! Where are the go-getters in this town? Who is working their way up? I have thousands and thousands of dollars, mostly in poker chips and first edition novels all written by dead drunk losers (geniuses, all) in an unmarked storage facility in Pfafftown, North Carolina, $15.00/month.

I need, for the purposes of this project, a more thorough education on psilocybin mushrooms. I walk up and down the beach, looking for my dealer. He assures me he is in a white cut-off ‘Big Johnson’ t-shirt and is surrounded by a harem of twice-to-thrice divorceed registered nurses in thongs and butterfly tattoos. I sense he is trawling in the deep end. My calves hurt. I turn around deterred and sober. This was before lunch. This was before Poland.

It was too hot to nap. I got up, got half dressed, and walked down to the surf shop to buy some plaid. It might be the hottest day of the year today, but soon it will be Fall and the War, and I refuse to be out of fashion or out of time. I need to look the part. I feel good. The vapors are flowing through me, undetected.

It’s California street plaid or nothing for me. I get back to the room and switch to Polo. Dior would be wasted on the crystal coast, I’ve come to realize. From the next room I hear The Modern Lovers “Pablo Picasso.”

A one-hundred-year-old Henry Kissinger is visiting China. A fourteen-hour flight. A handshake agreement. An accounting error. A gross miscalculation. An understatement. A century between us, now two. Certain measures, proactive. A productive meeting between counterparts in foreign lands. All enemies, foreign and domestic. The call is coming from inside the house. The cluster munitions are evidence of a war crime. One hundred and twenty-three nations are signatories and members of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty drafted in Dublin in 2008 and signed in Oslo just six months later. The United States is not a member.

China is not a member. Russia is not a member.

The cutlery of a place is something I pay attention to. The cutlery and the lighting, of course. I’ve made mention, before, of the situation with the lighting and it being very important.

Days like this I could write a war and yet other days I do.

“There is no entertainment yet as immersive, intimate as literature. Immediate too, hopscotching as it does through time and space - mimicking and mocking an eternity.”

No one talks like this.

“They should.”

The vibes must be immaculate. I am a tuning fork. There is a war going on here. A woman two spots ahead of me in the buffet line is making eyes. What a century we’ve arrived at!

The stench of the public pool costs me an hour and a half, half a can of Gold Bond powder, and all of the hot water on the third floor for hours (well into the evening). The sun is relentless today, unforgiving, cruel. It pounds and pounds at pounds of miserable flesh and skin suits sauntering on the sand. The sand enters us through the cracks in exchange.

How many days is it until cocktail hour, I feverishly ask the glowing beast in the sky? The sun sags, saps all of us. Afternoons take several lifetimes to pass. Children here are learning to smoke cigarettes, teenagers fill carts with cyanide; they come for you twice here, and from every direction. This is not Montego Bay. There are no spies in the gift shops. There are no gift shops or spies. The crystal coast is one of the last best places to hide.

Poolside I inhale the news of Linda and Steve’s messy divorce (“and all those gorgeous plates!”), berry flavored gelato oil off-market, a hint of smoke from Canadian wildfires, and Cheez-It and goldfish powder. I count the blues. And the greens.

The Mexicans won’t stop feeding the pigeons.

I am surrounded by aunts on vacation crushing unlimited margaritas over crushed ice, styrofoam. We get the oysters, fried. Peel and eat shrimp. The butter sauce, squeezed lemon. “A Song From Under the Floorboards” by Magazine comes on, is turned up.

The young ladies tending bar at the Fish Hut Grill, and their runners, are devastatingly hot and finely tuned to kill. Every summer a man snaps after a few mid-day Painkillers, and proposes, sometimes in front of his wife, red faced from the drink, wrinkly from the sun, leathered and slathered with Old Spice, crisp hundreds falling out of his pocket, a regional sales manager and international playboy in his mind - failing and flailing and falling to his knees at the sight of the  bar wenches.


July 24, 2023

The loblolly pine forests line the southern coast. Power lines, chemical weapons, word of God.

I woke up in a whole new century.

Odessa has been hit hard every night since Russia pulled out of a grain deal.

Two drones crashed near the Ministry of Defense in Moscow. “The Hit” by Daughters plays.

image: Derek Maine