Thursday, July 31, 2008

On age...

My brother and I lived in a world of science fiction when we were young, as did many boys and girls growing up at the dawn of the Space Age... many adults also. There was a lot of conjecture about how our lives would change as we explored the galaxy. About how we would be living, etc. Where we might be living.

Everything on television and in books seemed to be set in 1999 or 2000. One of my first books was called One Day You Will Go to The Moon. It illustrated how life in space might look. I recall sitting with my brother in our bedroom in a space capsule made of blankets and chairs and discussing how old we would be in 2000 (a year come and gone without the promised journey to space). The idea that we would end up 39 and 40 seemed as much science fiction as anything we saw on Star Trek or Lost In space.

Later in my 20s, after reality showed us that we would probably not be living in zero-gravity at any point in our lifetimes, the idea of being 40 was no less unreal. Still though the imagination running wild we spent a lot of time thinking about how we might be living by the year 2000 and beyond. Some dreams were still more unrealistic than others.

So the year 2000 came and went. 40 came and went. No space walks, but some interesting journeys nonetheless. Some in real space and some in inner space. The basic framework of the question never changed though... Where will I be when...? Where do I want to be?

I find myself now not lamenting age and mourning things I haven't achieved because ostensibly there is still plenty of time. It can't be denied though that time is more limited whereas at 10 it seemed limitless. Decisions in the mid-40s carry a lot more weight than they did in mid-20s. With a long marriage and a divorce behind me, and 20 years in more or less the same industry it does become a question of separating realistic goals from science fiction... and that's what I think about when I consider nearing 50 years old. And I do think about it an awful lot. Perhaps too much? I can't say that it's too much.

In any event, I thought it best that if I'm going to explore some of these ideas in a public forum that I qualify that I'm not sitting here fretting and counting white hairs... which seem to be multiplying in quantum leaps... warp speed if you will.

Life, the final frontier... these are the voyages of the... So that's what I'm up to really. Just working things out and making decisions. Cruising speed, Mr. Scott.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Aging Gracefully?

Paul Weller might well have just watched Mike Leigh's Hard Labour right before penning these lyrics. I have to wonder how he feels now about age and aging... and yes I've been giving it a lot of thought as I bear down on my 47th birthday, but my thoughts have rarely darkened to this extent:

Private Hell

Closer than close - you see yourself -
A mirrored image - of what you wanted to be.
As each day goes by - a little more -
You cant remember - what it was you wanted anyway.
The fingers feel the lines - they prod the space -
Your ageing face - the face that once was so beautiful,
Is still there but unrecognizable -
Private hell.

The man who you once loved - is bald and fat -
And seldom in - working late as usual.
Your interest has waned - you feel the strain -
The bed springs snap - on the occasions he lies upon you -
Close your eyes and think of nothing but -
Private hell.

Think of emma - wonder what shes doing -
Her husband terry - and your grandchildren.
Think of edward - whos still at college -
You send him letters - which he doesnt acknowledge.
cause he dont care,
They dont care.
cause theyre all going through their own - private hell.

The morning slips away - in a valium haze,
And catalogues - and numerous cups of coffee.
In the afternoon - the weekly food,
Is put in bags - as you float off down the high street

The shop windows reflect - play a nameless host,
To a closet ghost - a picture of your fantasy -
A victim of your misery - and private hell

Alone at 6 oclock - you drop a cup -
You see it smash - inside you crack -
You cant go on - but you sweep it up -

Safe at last inside your private hell.
Sanity at last inside your private hell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Then We Came To The End, by Joshua Ferris

My initial suspicion was that having already seen multiple seasons of The Office, or Office Space, a novel about the people and places that fill many of our 9-5 lives would almost be redundant. My initial suspicions, however, have been exposed in reality so many times as being colored by misconceptions, prejudice and cynicism, and this case is no exception.

THEN WE CAME TO THE END proved me wrong. It's okay. I'm used to it. It's old news, being wrong.

My thoughts on this book are probably too complex to form anything coherent here in this medium. I started out at first thinking about the big corporate office milieu, and how relatively new it is against the backdrop of human history--and being that people often define themselves by what the do... It's not like there is longstanding tradition as a cornerstone to this definitions in many cases. We can stand in front of the mirror and say, "I am a..." And you can fill in the blanks to suit yourself. When push comes to shove it doesn't mean all that much. When you're with your co-workers you can look around and say, "We are..." And so on. What defines us? Who are we? It's not that this very novel novel (written in 1st person plural which I've never seen before) will give you any answers, but it's definitely food for thought.

It got me thinking an awful lot about the contexts in which I'd referred to myself as part of a collective "we" on the job, or socially, in a family setting... and the rules and behaviors inherent to being part of the "we." And in what contexts we are led to look at another person individually, or look at ourselves as individuals.

The office setting (in this case an advertising office) is the perfect context in which to examine these dynamics, and the often fictional bases by which we define what it means to be a part of the community. You've got the 'us and them' factor with management and workers for starters... and the it builds out from there... from interacting within the office to factors leveled against each member from the outside world. It is inevitable that something happens that will put each of us under the scrutiny of the others and we are no longer part of "we." It becomes you, him, her, they... not us.

TWCTTE does expose a lot of the falseness and hypocrisy inherent in "community," but never falters into bleak cynicism. Everybody is human, and flawed. There are no bad guys. Just regular people, even at the points where group hysteria might paint someone or another as "messed up," or a "traitor," or "dangerous." In that sense it's much like most office environments I've ever worked in. In this sense it's enlightening.

So there are too many adjectives... ranging from brutally hilarious, dark, and then light, touching, comical, sweet and sad. It just really resonated as I thought how many times I've looked at the people I've spent my days with and judged them and also felt camraderie... moments where I thought with so much certainty how well I knew them and then they surprised me with so much more depth, or downright weirdness. So many times I've eaten my words.

I will not eat my words on this one... this book touched me in ways that I will remember.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Space: The Final Frontier

Those of you who read this small space regularly (Glossophagiacs? Glossophagiaphiliacs?) might remember a couple months back when I bemoaned the limitations of my living space offers, and my frustrating search for a suitable domecile within a price range that doesn't defy Logic and Reason. I was, when I last brought it up, having trouble deciding if I even want to stay here in New York City...

But back to logic and reason. Logic and reason (The Saviors of the Modern Age?) informed me that staying or leaving isn't a decision that necessarily has to be made now, if cards are played right. My Lawyer and my Accountant, partners of Logic and Reason in the firm of Lawyer, Accountant, Logic & Reason, lent some perspective to the dilemma. It comes down to this: Despite that the mortgage industry is in disarray, and that prices have fallen, New York City real estate is still teetering at the top of the market. If you're not paying top dollar for rent, and I'm not, and you're not rich, and I'm not, only a fool would buy unless it was absolutely necessary. And only a fool would trade rent that is far below market value for whatever a larger space offers, unless of course it was... repeat after me... ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NECESSARY! YOU PAY WHAT? AND YOU NEED TO MOVE WHY? (my accountant speaking now). So I've decided to stay a bit and buy time to make the decision on whether to invest in this dirty, ol' town, or plan my escape.

This decision does leave me though with the limitations, both spacial and aesthetic, of the apartment I now inhabit. I've been here for exactly five years and 1 month. It can, on a good day, be called cozy. It really is a dingy, little flat though and leaves a bit to be desired as far as appointment and decor. I have, in an act of defiance and never having made the conscious decision to stay, ignored the limitations. Those days are done though and I've committed to working on it... my own version of urban renewal.

There is only so much I'm going to put into the renovation of a rental, but I've been thinking an awful lot about how to best utilize the space, and of course beautify the old cur so that it might be called cozy even on the bad days. The first step was to consider the size and dimensions and how to make best use of that. It's not like I'm going to tear out walls so that is a further constraint. Space though... a good part of the population of the planet gets by with a lot less domestic space than Americans. We tend to overuse words like cramped, tiny, closet, and the like. I needed to get beyond that and view it from a different paradigm.

Today, connected to this vision quest, I trampoosed off to MoMA to see an exhibit called HOME DELIVERY which is a showcase of the history of pre-fab housing. Pre-fabricated dwellings have been traditionally very small. The early days were mostly driven by economics and that is still the raison d'etre that rules the industry. It seemed that this was a good place to start, despite that this show really culminates more in a celebration of innovative design and aesthetics than economic necessity. The model houses in the West Lot, boasting innovation and building technology to the maximum, are interesting. I took a lot of notes (no photos please!!!) and they set me off dreaming of building one of these oversized Erector Sets on a beach somewhere, or on the edge of a mountain lake, or an expanse of Southwestern desert... but they didn't really help me with my current needs. I still need to see something furnished. It did reinforce my belief though, that we can get by with much less space than we often think. The Cellophane House truly is a vision, if somewhat impractical. I did love the use of solar panels, despite that they were the old-fashioned cells and not the transparent cells that are being successfully used in commercial spaces in Japan and Korea. There can not be enough stress put on a switch to clean renewable energy sources! There was a really cool little cube, if impractical at about 10 feet by 10 feet... it's the sort of space that might make one rethink vacation or hotel space... a bit futuristic by practical standards.

The history display on the 6th floor was interesting, if less impressive. There were some interesting models of Charles Eames and Jean Prouve designs (nearly as impressive as their furniture designs on display two floors down). The highlight though on the 6th floor is a reconstruction of a Carl G. Strandlund/Lustron design made of steel, porcelain, vinyl and linoleum. I can imagine it looked rather space age when it was first rolled out in the late 40s. I'll have to consult Lord Google but there was no testimony from anybody who had ever lived in one of these. While I was walking through, two gentlemen behind me were making derisive comments about the design and manufacture and their major gripe was that being made of steel it must be "like an oven." I guess they never heard of air conditioning... nor had they considered that the engineering of their own oven holds heat in, so its not unreasonable that a similar construction could hold heat out... but the wee, tin bungalow really does resemble nothing else but a gas stove, what with porcelain encrusted sheet metal. Sylvia Plath would have been right at home here... oooooh.... ouch. Sorry!

So the exhibit did convince me further that small space is good... it's economically sound and low maintenance and given some eyeshadow and lipstick I can make mine... well... mine. Also, there is a rather large Dali exhibit going on, featuring painting, sketching and film, so if you're into that. I've mixed feelings on Dali, having never been able to separate the man from his art. I do admit an fondness for his film work though. I also admit that I've a bit of a problem with surrealism outside of spiritual and religious contexts where I see it as better suited... wait...that's another story.

Back to space... It is impossible, unless you are just a twat, not to be thinking about greener living, and related to space, someone told me just recently about a project in New Mexico called EARTHSHIP BIOTECTURE and having read into a bit I'm fascinated. It's not unrealistic to say that within our lifetimes--and I'm pushing well into the latter half of my life--that many of us will be forced to make drastic changes in the way we live. This planet simply cannot sustain human life, or rather lifestyle, as it exists. The Earthship people have gone far beyond design and into lifestyle engineering. Their vision for both... I find it overwhelmingly beautiful. I only first heard about it on Thursday and I've already begun making plans to visit this fall. There are a bunch of Ruckers in New Mexico so it's a good excuse to reconnect with some of them.

And again, back to space... Efficient use of space really is about appropriate thinking first,and then efficient furnishings. I'll keep you updated... that is if I don't end up running off to the desert.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Tao of Popeye



I yam what I yam...

This must certainly be a piece of ego-dissolved taoist philosophy that Popeye came to realize while off in the desolate anonymous expanse of the sea -- away from the familiar and comforting. Away from his expectations of himself and self-imposed pressures to fulfill his role within that milieu.

Time stands still in travel.

No pressure to be Popeye, or the specific arrangement of characteristics of Popeye that people had come to expect of him. Did they ever ask him who and what he would have rather been? I don't recall... oh but we loved this Popeye just the way he was. And of course the acceptance must have been validating for him. Arent the pressures though, of sticking to the role our friends and neighbors are comfortable seeing us in also very limiting? After all, don't the people we surround ourselves with typecast us and get squirrelly when we detour from that path? And do we continue to take these roles because people prefer us this way? Are we all not like Samuel L. Jackson taking any old assignment, no matter how droll, or limiting or even humiliating... just for that emotional paycheck?

When Popeye first uttered these words was it really a declaration demanding that people accept him as he really was, a small and rather limited man? Was it defiance? Or was it a revelation? An epiphany? Was he only just realizing himself? Accepting his own humanity and his relative insignificance against the immense backdrop of the sea and force so much greater than himself? Was it a relief not to have to be the hero? The relied upon or the put-upon?

Or did he only feel empowered in that role and accept it willingly? I have trouble with that because it's not like anybody, even Olive Oyl, had any use for him until they were in need. Popeye is widely considered the metaphor for the heroic common man, struggling against insurmountable odds and always triumphant. Yet I can't help but see him as a tragic figure, locked into an assignment, suffering beating after merciless beating, simply because this is what was expected of him. This is when people loved him... when he came to their rescue.

Or maybe he should really be commended for his humility... that he never let it go to his head.

I yam what I yam.

I think it's greater than that though. He spent so much of his downtime alone, searching for his father who abandoned him... searching for his place. The townspeople seldom had any real need of his company. Olive Oyl, despite his undying love for her, opened the door to Bluto as soon as Popeye was out of sight. It was only when the world became menacing that she called for him. What kind of life is that? I find it difficult to see the man as anything but hard done by... hapless... like Odysseus just trying to get home, and then when Ithaca was in sight, battered back out to sea by higher powers with an obviously devious sense of humor.

I do believe, that if anything, it was on the bounding main, alone, that Popeye came to know himself. Just a man. One man. One small part of a big, strange world. I want to believe that it was in this knowledge that he found his peace.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ozymandias

I've been thinking a lot lately about Shelley's Ozymandias and believing myself clever for seeing it as a metaphor for events in the world right now. I remembered though that the first time I saw this connection made was by an extraordinary journalist named John Maxwell who writes for the Jamaica Observer. I was first introduced to him by Celtic Gods, first through is writing which CG forwards by e-mail weekly, and then last year in person when Mr. Maxwell and his lovely wife opened up their home to us. Maxwell, in his characteristically thoughtful and incisive manner, suggested in a column that if George Bush had not read Ozymandias, then he certainly should and very soon. It's pretty clear that GW did not read the column and if he did, ignored the advice.

I did heed the words though and have been re-reading it regularly ever since:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I'm pretty sure that there are a few literate right wingers somewhere that will point back in time a few years when the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in Baghdad--and say that Ozymandias is a fair warning to other Middle Eastern leaders, or any number of dictators... the Axis of Evil and such nonsense. It strikes closer to home for me though and leaves me thinking not of Saddam Hussein's final days but our own. The train rises up above Brooklyn every morning and looks down on New York Harbor and The Statue of liberty--and I'm reminded of the end of Planet of the Apes when Taylor, riding along the beach finds the remains of Our Lady of the Harbor--and the truth grips him in it's vise. They'd finally gone and done it. They'd destroyed everything. The Bush administration has already gone a long way towards accomplishing that metaphorically. How long before the job is complete? Every king dies and is forgotten. Every empire falls and the idols and temples are smashed and buried. It's only a question of when.

It's hard also not to internalize Ozymandias on a more personal level... pride and such, but perhaps that's a topic for another time. Or not. I can count myself among the many who has spent a lot of time wondering how I will leave my mark... how I will be remembered. I've no power. No armies. No wealth. No sculptors in my service. That makes the answer pretty clear when considering the question against the greater scheme of things. And in that answer perhaps a landmark, or an arrow to a better path. Kind of liberating in a sense, really.

Selah

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Man oh man!

You know this whole Homeland Security thing and fear of terrorism has gone too far when YOU CAN'T EVEN TAKE ALL YOUR CLOTHES OFF ON AN AIRPLANE!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Now tell me who are you, you, you, are you!

Just having recently passed my 5 year anniversary in my crooked, little flat here in Windsor Terrace, it's occurred to me that I've not gotten to know many of my neighbors. I have, on the one hand, found some comfort in this relative anonymity. On the other, it can be a bit isolating, admittedly. It's also relatively new and novel phenomenon for me, despite that I've often read that in cities where people are stacked up so densely, people often cling to this sense of privacy, and purposely remove themselves from close interaction with those around them. I suppose it's about space. If you can't get it literally, make it in your head? I'm not sure, but it's different than any other place I've ever lived in this city.

And I know it's not that people don't notice each other, and I'm sure they wonder, as I spend an increasing amount of time wondering, who these people are behind their front doors.

There's the stout woman a few doors down, with the huge breasts that rest on her huge belly which rests on the top of the waistband of the black stretch pants she wears every single day -- this whole thing topped by a 60s style white beehive. Every morning at 5:30 she lights a smoke, gets into her car, and drives in reverse all the way down to the expressway entrance. I'm always expecting her to swing around onto the ramp backwards and drive all the way to work looking in her rearview, Virginia Slims dangling from the corner of her mouth. It's not that I want to find out much about her, of all the lot. The only words she's spoken to me in 5 years were to wave me over furtively one evening when I was returning from work just to inform me that "a long haired boy and a colored boy were going into your house today." Well, okay, thanks... that was my son and his friend. She looked confused. I didn't try. Thanks again.

Two doors up is a house with a tall skinny door behind the front stairs. Tallest skinniest door you've ever seen. Who could fit through that door? I was here two years before I saw someone coming out of it. It was a really tall, skinny woman. To every door, a match. Every morning at the same time the white beehive is driving backwards down the block, this young lady steps effortlessly out of the world's skinniest door -- a door I would need a shoe horn to get my ass through -- in her gym clothes and heads off... presumably to the gym. It takes work I suppose to ensure that she'll be able to get back in, and feed her tall, skinny cat, mix a drink in a tall glass, and go to sleep in her long, narrow bed.

I presume that if I notice them, they are noticing me, these two... but like everybody else, nobody really talks. There could be any number of strange things going on behind all these doors. I hear, on occasion, music, laughter, domestic disputes, dog-calling, parrots shrieking... I hope they are parrots... but sometimes I do get to wondering who these people are. I make up stories for them as I'm sure they have stories for me. And I wonder.

Of course I might be better off not knowing. Maybe they all, like Madame Beehive, harbor archaic fears of longhairs and "colored boys." More than likely, they probably just find the same comfort that I do in others not knowing, and not interfering. Not asking too many questions. Not meddling. Five years is a long time though and some of them I understand, through what little information does filter through the ether, have been here for over forty years. That's a long time to ignore your neighbors. That's a lot of not knowing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh dear! Spank me.

The English have never really cloaked their PENCHANT FOR THIS SORT OF THING in secrecy. After all, they did more than willingly endure IRON MAGGIE for 11 years.

Funny stuff though--I actually saw the Max Mosley videos they refer to in the above article--or as much as one semi-sane person can stand of an elderly gentleman being de-loused by Nazi she-wolves. Though I suppose there are some that can stand it more than others. The internet is the glorious realm of those who appreciate such things, but that's another subject for another time.

The most rigid, repressed (read fascist) societies often seem to have this dark undercurrent of fetishism though. As for the reasons, perhaps that's best saved for the academics and far be it from me to steal their thunder. Let the sociologists and psychologists and historians have at it. I'm not going to expound on it, at least not now. I'll just say it's often brutally funny... to a point anyway.

It is often a strange, strange world we live in.

And call it an example of English discretion (thanks to CelticGods for the Thatcher link) but the Guardian seems to be taking a very gentle tack with her in this article. It's a bit confounding and reminds me of how the so-called liberal press here treated Nixon and Reagan with kid gloves at the hours of their demise. I do understand boundaries of taste, but we're talking about two men who knew no such boundaries. What was the point?

A strange, strange world indeed...

And I promise that at some point I will get to a little treatise on the internet and facilitation of exhibitionist and voyeuristic tendencies... speaking of really bad taste and bizarro planets.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sudden Faction

Not too old. Not too young. Really pretty face. I liked the way the corner of her eyes crinkled up when she smiled. Very pretty face. And well fit. And she was talking to me. That's just my type.

"I'm always looking around, down at the sidewalk and the gutter, thinking maybe I'll find lots of money, like maybe drug money or something that somebody dropped," she told me.

"Ooooh you live dangerously," my retort.

"What do you mean?" She smiled and her eyes crinkled up again. I was done for.

"I mean you must bump into a lot of people. They hate that shit." Always the smart-ass.

"Ha ha fucking ha."

"Nooo really, people get really pissed off." I sat back waiting out her pause. Tried to decide if I was overdoing it. And did I care? Was she all that hot? No matter. Neither am I. I'm not exactly Cary friggin' Grant. And the fact is, I was fairly well fed up with my own company.

"A little here and there. The other day I found ten dollars. Once I found five pennies, all heads up."

"And that's good luck, right?"

"Supposed to be." She looked pensive all of a sudden, head cocked to the side and far off. Was this the point where a woman stops to assess what the guy talking to is after? And if she just might? "The big payoff hasn't come yet." And then she smiled that smile again. Another long pause, during which I denied my habit of filling in the silence with something... anything.

"The thing is, MacGregor... that's a cool name by the way... The thing is I'm always looking up too!"

"And not straight ahead." Thinking of all the pretty women I see walking down the street. Determined not to look around and acknowledge that they're being looked at.

"I'm always paranoid that something will fall out of a window and crush my head."

"Like a cartoon?"

"Exactly!" And then she smiled a smile that said 'yeah I probably would,' and I exhaled.

"Sooo, like a safe or a piano?"

"No," she answered. "Don't be silly! THAT only happens in cartoons. I mean like an air conditioner."

"I've never heard of anybody getting their head knocked in from a falling air conditioner."

"No, but it could happen, right? So I've always looking up and down."

"And never straight ahead?"

"Sometimes."

"You must get lost a lot."

"Sometimes."

"So all this looking up and down must give you a sore neck."

"MacGregor... where's that name from anyway? You have no fucking idea!"

"I might."

"You might."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Future Is Unwritten



I've yet to collect my thoughts on The Future Is Unwritten, despite viewing it twice in 24 hours earlier this week. My feelings move glacially and it resonated deeply so this will be a process.

Never one given to idol worship, or at least not since my teen years... okay, perhaps into my 20s, this documentary/bio film went a long way towards validating my feelings that Joe Strummer is as worthy as anyone of idolization. But in the end, he was just one small man with very big dreams for both himself and the rest of the world, and that's pretty much what the film portrays. And in the end also, as the saying goes, if you're not dreaming, you're just asleep.

Some of it will be repetitious if you've already seen The Clash: Westway to the World, or Dick Rude's documentary, Let's Rock Again. There's only so much you can say about the rise to fame and fall from grace of a rock band, isn't there? TFIU focuses more on Joey though, from his early school days, life as pre-Clash Johnny Mellor/Woody etc, to his resurrection with the Mescaleros. There is a razor sharp focus on Joey as a man trying to reconcile ideals with reality and if you can't relate to that then perhaps you're one of those life-less-examined sorts. This will mean little to you. Should you stay or should you go. Just go.

It also makes a strong statement about the redemptive power of music... its power to communicate and unify... provided you're listening. It seems to me that nobody was listening more intently than Joey Strummer and that's what really moved me about him, and made me feel connected.

I was going to make this entry more of a personal statement on what The Clash meant to me but decided to save that for the memoir (insert obligatory eye-rolling here). I remember the morning I woke up and got the news that Joey Strummer had died. I don't think it could have hit me harder had it been news of a death in the family. In a way it was... like a favorite older cousin that I looked up to and ran about with. I got up and muddled about in a daze, making coffee, taking the kids to school. Then I came home and put on the first Clash album and went back to bed. Weird day. The future isn't written from bed though... well at least not if you're in bed alone. That's the message though, and you can't write it off as hippie bullshit though. The future is unwritten and you are the author. I am the author.

Selah

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Know what it is, coyote...

But Im near the end and I just aint got the time
And Im wasted and I cant find my way home...

So it's 2008, and I'm looking around and not finding too many familiar landmarks. This dirty old town bears little resemblance to the place I just couldn't wait to get to nearly 30 years ago. I've littered this site, My Digital Vanity, with so many laments about change, and gentrification and ghosts and memory, that I've succeeded in boring myself. I can only imagine the eye rolls that this missive has already invoked. Here he goes again. Worry not...

The fact is, young men and women are still flocking here for exactly the same reason I did way back when. If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere... and all that. The kids in THIS ARTICLE FROM LAST WEEK'S NEW YORK MAGAZINE aren't exactly trying to "make it" in any Calvinist work ethic sense of the word, but they're just trying to make the scene... make A scene. They're trying in their own misguided way to be a part of something, even if their sense of history is a bit off. I can't say much. So was mine. It may still be but I'm not about to cop to that... yet.

But then there are others, like THIS YOUNG FELLOW who found himself in a tight spot yesterday in the Bronx. Out of place and out of time with the whole world out to get him. No question that New York City is no place for him... way too young to be out on his own in a city that has done a number on a lot of adolescent minds and souls. Who hasn't been in his place though? Caught out in the open with no place to hide... exposed... and then trapped. He did fall into friendly hands though proving that sometimes you can depend on the kindliness of strangers. I'd be lying if I said that's not exactly what got me by back in the day... the kindliness of strangers. You can't always rely on it, but when it happens you'd better be thankful. Empathy can be in short supply in a world where we're fed tall tales about Forrest Gump-style self-reliance... that hard work and perseverance will always get you by. Don't believe it, my son. Sometimes you have to wish for a little luck. This particular coyote got lucky. Do you feel lucky? Well do ya, punk???

This would be the place where I might usually embark on a long-winded moan about that change I mentioned above. I'll refrain from that now. I've been lucky here and I've always found a way to get by, and where I couldn't find it, the path was revealed by friends and friendly strangers. The feeling does creep up often that my time here is done and that it's time to wander along on my own coyote path... new foraging grounds and such. But where to? Don't fix it if it ain't broke is what they'll tell you. But seriously... where to? Most of the old crew has already made their escape, that's true. The remaining few are on their way... talking of the Adirondacks, the Caribbean, England and even Malta. As for this old coyote... hard call. There are days when it feels all right. And then there are others... And I've always felt best when the Earth is moving beneath my feet. It's hard to imagine more than a couple more years here doing this thing I do. Is it time to strap on a 30 year mortgage and commit to the long term... or time to execute my own escape? The means are at my disposal. Oh decisions, decisions...

Latest news on our adolescent trapped yesterday in the Bronx: "The plan is to return him to the wilderness." Yeats comes to mind...

Come away, O human child
To the waters, and the wild
With a faerie hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping
Than you can understand

Saturday, July 05, 2008

NYC Harbor 7-4-08





From the Schooner Adirondack... independence indeed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July

There are few holidays that move me like Independence Day. It's not a patriotic thing as I'm not given to such feelings. I've rarely thought too much about what it means to be American, except on rare occasions like being overseas and being reminded of that I'm one... like Leicester Square in 2003 right after the war started when a tinker started in on it after I wouldn't spare him a few coins and assorted hooligans joined in, suggesting in not so subtle words that "the Yank should go home."

It's more about my own history and memory, and present--expectations of summer holiday weekends and the excitement and romance and poetry that should be part and parcel of all long summer days. Like an extended New Years Eve when you feel compelled to mark some important passage but always fall short and you might reflect on it the next morning over coffee and aspirin. The sense that it should have been something more significant and the promise that next year...

But others capture it better in song:

First, the one that always seems to capture my day after, John Doe who nails it for me with his Fourth of July.

Second, Shooter Jennings son of my hero Waylon, in a much more celebratory version of the day, and of love and dreams.

Yes, I do love country music. It seems so out of place sometimes in my grimy city, but evokes air and sky and movement... movement forward or backward, or both at the same time which is how it feels sometimes in that Gatsby sense.

And so we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Flashback

Alternate title: Mantra

Someone googled the lyrics to this song today and came across an old entry on my blog and it reminded me of an old friend and of a message that's meant so much to me over time and so without further ado...

BRAND NEW START

It has not escaped me

That half a year has expired... It's been an odd one so far. I've accomplished quite a bit in a some significant and some not quite so obvious ways. But I turn the table over to readers now. What have you gotten done this year that means a lot to you? Please share.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Equal Rights? Yeah, right...

The Guardian weighs in with an excellent piece on THE DEMISE OF FEMINISM.

I think this is an important read. It's a strange world indeed when the top of the list of most reviled media figures is young women, and starlets who've had children are having the condition of their bodies picked over. And then there's equality in the workplace, right? But the article says it well, so I don't need to.