Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Joe Around the World part 5

(Joey Kulkin photo)

BENNINGTON -- Kids get older and adults grow up, and the seasons bleed one into the next. The swelter and the hot of summer kicks and screams in the wake of fall with its wisps and its breezes and its slow erasure of the chlorophyll dreams we hold dear to our hearts.

One day five months ago I stood 18 inches to the right of Jeff Edelstein -- the bearded fella in the picture above who is pondering the consequences of 2 o'clock shots of Jameson's and pickle juice ... pondering because it was in 2 o'clock in the afternoon. 

I was waiting for the Trentonian columnist and five funky-spunky "Tokens" to throw down some Picklebacks at Killarney's in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Yes, that day I was in Hamilton, New Jersey. That day I still was a journalist. A bona fide journalist with rank and title in the middle of journaling for the journal-reading crowd.

Look ma, I'm a bona fide professional!

Five months later, like Edelstein above, I'm sitting behind a counter. The big difference is that I'm sitting behind the counter of an art gallery in Bennington, Vermont. That's because I'm no longer a professional journalist. I'm not even a journalist.

Shit, I'm not even employed.

I was fired on June 22. My transgressions were many and impossible to ignore without taking the harshest action. I bought the ticket and paid the consequences.

I fucked up. I fucked up something fierce. I fucked up so badly that my 22-year career ended in the conference room surrounded by three men of power who looked at me as if I were the plague of plagues. I couldn't tell them that which plagued me.

I won't spell everything out here because I have opened my soul to those who know me best personally and professionally, and that was goddamn difficult, both times.

I have apologized to those whose trust I abused, spit upon, laughed at. 

Hubris is a terrible drug.

In the 4 months since June 22 I have spent most of my waking hours reconciling feelings of hurt and anger and frustration and sadness and bitter and the 417,368 emotions betwixt. A few of those feelings continue to straggle in the shadows of my wake, but I'm trying to slay them once and for all. I'm much stronger than I was last month.

Most importantly, I made restitution to those against whom I transgressed.


I blindly chose the flavor for Day 5 of the java journey. Not like anyone gives a shit. All of minus-6 people have read the previous 4 days. I bunched the 8 remaining packets and shuffled 'em real good and from the bottom of the pile I pulled French Roast.

Which is what I kind of hoped for. Other flavors on this journey have been pedestrian.

You can't go wrong with French Roast. You really can't go wrong with French anything. French fries. French toast. French perfume. French Quarter. French women. French kiss. Hick from French Lick. Soccer stories written by Scott French.


This French Roast is bold, flavorful, good ... like Zinedine Zidane. 4 perks out of 5.


Five months later -- last night -- I looked at the picture with Jeff and the Tokens because someone had read that blog entry. I went back to read it again.

In the middle of a champagne celebration I became sad for a few minutes.

The Pickleback Party was a fun piece of ... was it journalism? It was live TV. Trentonian TV. At the time it was my big thing. I was growing what had never been done in Trenton. But I let hubris and my addictions get the best of me. I made bad decisions.

Those decisions ended my career. I blame only myself.

I tried to snap out of the temporary funk fast because, as I've said, it was a celebration. A celebration after spending weeks and months helping friends build a website for their art gallery Fiddlehead at Four Corners.

The labor of love culminated with this: ...

Does that make me an art gallery dude? Who the fuck knows.

But I'm a journalist no more. Maybe never again.

Maybe I never was one.

Seasons change. Careers end. Kids grow up. Adults grow old.