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I found a murder scene at my café today. The adjacent alley was roped off with that standard yellow DO NOT CROSS tape seen in city streets and college dormitories, and an officer with mirror sunglasses stood out front joking with a group of local reporters who never lost their smiles. The victim had been stabbed seven times. Seven. I know this because The Cafegirl sung it to all the usual cafe bums like a top forty song played over and over on a HITZ! FM station. In all fairness, most asked for it. She has an appealing, corded voice and let's be honest: that DO NOT CROSS tape just tickles the shit out of our inner voyeur's clit. Everyone was buzzing with drama and pomp.

Tragedy puts a thick black X on memory's calendar. If you're ever lonely or sad or just starving for attention I recommend you acquire some crime scene tape and rope off your front porch at 3AM. I guarantee visitations the next day from all the neighbors who used to look at you with paranoid side glances and never spoke. Not only will you garner the desired attention, but you'll also get the pleasure of exercising your survivalist power of bullshitting. I once told a neighbor that the pizza guy went nuts and began running through our house screaming "I am the Lizard King!" in a fine, tenor screech.

"No...really?!?"

Yea. Then he ran full speed into our bathroom sink and suffered a concussion. The police said he had a serious gambling problem (mostly turtle races), and hypothesized that he'd been eating moldy dough at work in order to afford more money to blow on the odds-out turtle. Moldy bread. Ergot poisoning, you know. And can you believe that our landlord wants us to pay for the broken sink?

"No...really?!?"

NOTE: Commiseration against The Man always casts you in a favorable light.

Not that I actually roped off my own porch at 3AM, but it was some great horseshit to unload on some unsuspecting neighborhood yokels. They ate it up too; I was, for the moment, elevated from "that loud asshole next door" to a local symptom of the tragic human condition. Go me.

And the cop wore mirror sunglasses. I mean, seriously now - talk about self-fulfilling stereotypes. A part of me was waiting for him to come in and order coffee and donuts.

Just down the block the street was roped off for a Caribbean fair, complete with bongos and steel drums and foods peppered with overgenerous portions of Adobo, inviting pale folks to wolf it down and subsequently shit flamming brown liquid for hours on end, much to the insidious laughter of nobody in particular. The best part is I live in upstate New York: the fair was run by collections of brown-skinned people toting lone-star Puerto Rican flags like tribal banners, 1 in 10 of them never having actually seen Puerto Rico. That isn't a stat mind you, just a hypothesis ala the lyrical ruminations of The Cafegirl. But damn they celebrated their heritage with flair.

Sudden Late-Arriving Epiphany: I'm one of the usual café bums. I even called it "my café" in the opening line. Jeeesus...

The murder is thought to be a byproduct of the "ghetto club next door." This is how The Cafegirl sung it. Apparently there's this real dive of a club on the other side of the café that caters to "drug dealers," as Café Bum #4 sung it, and "lowlifes," as Café Bum #2 sung it, and all sorts of other seedy individuals.

And I must confess, when they said "lowlifes" and "ghetto club" and "drug dealers" I immediately thought of a young, early 20s black male dressed in the standard overpriced designer clothing with a blue bandana wrapped around his pate like a turban lacking material to cover the entire head: this was the imagery that those words evoked. Sometimes I hate the culture breathing through my soul. This, my friends, is self-loathing in its noblest form.

Now it's later in the day and I'm still sitting in the café and the reporters are gone and the cop is bored out of his skull and The Cafegirl has stopped singing and I must confess: I'm running out of material to write, feeling quite bored with myself and my condition, as the brown-skinned people down the street continue to celebrate their culture with pomp and flair.

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