Monday, April 28, 2014

Garden State Brickface & Stucco

This is the design equivalent of waterboarding.  What kind of brute would do this to a brownstone???

Morning view

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How dry I am...

How dry I am
How wet I'll be
If I don't find
The bathroom key...

So it's kind of funny (not haha funny) that I find myself returning on the regular to this rhyme that I found so hilarious when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Or maybe 13.  I don't know.  I don't remember.  What I know though is that it applies as much now in my life as it did then.

You never need to piss so bad as when you're right outside the bathroom door.  That's one of the truisms of The Universe.  Everyone knows it.  Metaphorically speaking, it has daily applications to the rest of your life far beyond bladder functions.  The world is a lot more uncomfortable right before you let go of all the waste you've been accumulating.

The detritus of the past...

What's left over.

I found the key
Now where's the door
it's too late now
It's on the floor.

And there you have it.  The longer you stand there fumbling about like a fucking idiot with your legs crossed, trying to figure shit out, the greater the odds are that you're going to embarrass yourself.  Nobody is going to open the door for you.  You have to make the leap of faith and just turn the handle.

That's where I am.  I'm turning handles.

And I'm letting go.

What's my name?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can't get there from here...



"You can never go home, Bigga."

So I turn to look at her because she's been making noise lately.  She's been asking those what is all this about anyway after all this time questions.  I can't get my head around it.  I'm not ready to try.  I'm not ready to answer.  Maybe.  I don't know.  But it's not what we do, even after all this time.  So I'm looking at her and she rolls her eyes.

"Don't give me the knucklehead face, Mistah Biggs!  Of course ya go home and do what you do there! I mean you have no time machine and the people in the past have no time machine.  It's done and over wit!

I nod.  She's right.  She's right that I'm a knucklehead and right about most things and we've been talking and she knows I've been dredging my lake lately and knows what it's been turning up.

We talk.

We talk an awful lot.

"Bigga, ya talk to me like if ya keep on digging and digging you will come 'pon some gold back there in ya history.  Like the answers are there somewhere.  The answers aren't even here, man.  Ya find out when you find out."

"Yah, I get it, baby.  I get it."  And I guess I do but you get in the habit of leaving things still.

The government has these plans to dredge decades of toxins from the Hudson River.  They have their reasons I guess but there are opponents who are pretty certain, and this makes sense, that it's better to leave everything down at the bottom to remain buried.  That fucking with it will poison all of us down on this end.  I'm beginning to suspect they're right.

But I digress.  I don't know what I hope to find.  Wait. Yes I do.  I'm lying.  Nat knows I'm lying.

"Bigga you know I care about you."  (Did she almost say love?  What was that?)

"You know I care about you, and I say this for that reason and that reason only."

Nod.

"Bigga.  How far back ya gonna travel to find those moments ya think are back there?  Ya told me in your own words, 'a pickle can never again be a cucumber' and ya need to heed your own words.  Whatever it is back there, ya jus' cyan get it back!  Ya hear now?  Ya haffta be happy now! You're not the man ya were.  Not the pickney ya were!  Dem times are back then an' the people are all grown and changed too. Seen?"

Nod.

"What you think you see is not real.  It's a mirage, Mistah Biggs, cos you're in a desert and ya deny yourself water.  You're a good man now.  Feel that!"

There is no response.  She never looks for a response.  I wrap around her and she is still impossibly soft and smooth after all these years.  She still smells like cocoa butter and something I can't put my finger on and I keep meaning to ask, but haven't yet.   I can stay right here like this forever, but then again, I can't and I don't really know why.  But for the moment...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Laughter is the best medicine, but...

image via This Isn't Happiness

... it isn't much of a fucking parachute, is it?

Oh well, it's said that comedy is tragedy + time.  About 15 seconds, if you ask me.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Patience

as in lack thereof...

Some days are like that.  I am impatient with The Universe today.  It feels like you survive one round a little punch drunk and you think you'll have a few minutes to sit in the corner and recharge, but then Life is still throwing haymakers after the bell.  There is no corner.  There is no rest.

Some days feel like that.  This is one of them.

Yesterday was too.

We'll see how the rest of today goes.  It's not even 8 a.m.

On a related note, I was walking down 40th Street in Manhattan yesterday and there was a young man standing on the back of a delivery truck wearing a big grin (connected to a conversation with his cohorts, I think) and a tee-shirt which proclaimed in huge print:  GOD IS FAKE.

The message made me laugh and cringe at the same time.  How fucking bold! Not just the old GOD IS DEAD axiom, but an assertion that God never even existed to begin with!  I mean, I'd be hard-pressed to put to words my own beliefs and I've heard it said that if you understand God, then you need a bigger God.  I've also spent a good deal of my life pretty well convinced that there isn't and absolutely couldn't be any God.  I believed this!  What do I believe now?  That's more complicated.

I'm talking to someone or something out there... or more aptly... not out there but in all of us and all around us.  That's a pretty nebulous concept and open to interpretation but it's not for you anyway.  It's for me.  It's between me and whatever it is that I'm talking too and often pleading with throughout my waking hours.

All damn day.

All Goddamn day!

There are these days though when I'm ready to say, "Fuck you, Jobu!  I do this myself!"  Major points if you know that reference.

All this to say, is that I'm out of patience today.  Whoever it is I'm talking to must have a shite sense of humor.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Nigh on 22 years...


The end of this month will mark 22 years since the infamous L.A. riots, blazing up in the wake of the blatantly racist Rodney King beating verdict.  It just struck me as I typed that, that we always refer to it as the Rodney King verdict, yet he was never technically on trial.

That we only remember his name and not the real criminals though is telling.  He was on trial.  Furthermore, as a black man, he was born on trial or he would never have been chased, pulled from his car and beaten like an animal.  Worse even, few people would ever consider beating an animal like that.  

And the culprits?  Where are they?

Anyway, this photo came up in the travels this morning.  On first glance, it looks like the Alamo, or a still from Beau Geste.  These are shop owners prepared to defend their only anchor here on this side of the planet.  All they own in the entire world... They're on trial too, aren't they, the immigrants?  They're caught in the middle of 400+ years of something so much bigger than them.

Oops... go back to the last post.  Just dance.

Sorry.

Forget I said anything. Just dance.


No, seriously.  I mean, not seriously.  Just forget I said anything at all.  Dance.  Dance because you're pretty much powerless to do anything, at least until you've had a few cups of coffee.

Garbage Day

Sitting here with my coffee listening to the radio and it's kind of a novelty because after four years living here, it was only the other night that a clean signal found its way down into the Coyote Den.  WNYC Public Radio is broadcasting a Greatest Hits Collection -- current strife in Ukraine -- older strife in Rwanda because it's 20 years on now and nobody really talks about hundreds of thousands of machete murders anymore.  It might get more press if it were a Quentin Tarantino film but...

Yah.

...

Dot Dot Dot...

It's a hell of a way to start the day.  Maybe Public Radio does it backwards.  It seems to me that it's always bad news all morning and then music all night.  It could very well be that they've found nobody will get any sleep if they reverse it.  Who knows?

So... Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.  There is war in the air.  It's drizzling down and seeping into my bedroom where I sit with my coffee cup.

Not quite ADD... This is related, I promise, at least in my head.

It's garbage day and the trash is stacked up about the neighborhood.  Templeton the Rat and his cohorts are having an early morning feast.  It's really only on garbage day that you get the big picture.  We're still in Brooklyn.  We're still in the big city, 8 million of us or so, doing what we all do best.

Generating waste.

It's not all that much of a leap when you see how much there is.  We're not that densely populated an area.  Trash was last picked up only 4 days ago.  How did we create this much in 4 days?  How is it even possible?  You start doing the math though and it's fucking boggling.  There are more than 6 billion of us on this small blue rock.  How much longer can we keep this up?  Or are we all already dying and too dumb to realize it?

You have to figure that even in the absence of war, we're going to bury ourselves in our own waste.  It's pretty frightening.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Parting Glass: An elegy for a departed friend.

It was a floating feeling, sort of green and sick and spinning somewhere just above the knots of people and out of their reach.  Their voices were there in a jumble but there was some kind of disconnect, as if they couldn't see me.  As if I wasn't there at all.  Perhaps it was the stomach flu or whatever the bug was that was batting me around the way a cat does a mouse on its way off this mortal coil, immobile and accepting that it wasn't going to be much longer.  Maybe it was the fever, or maybe it was just like things have been always and I was never connected to any of these people at all.

Funerals are funny.  Not haha funny at all, but curious.  You learn more about the departed, or at least have the potential to, than you ever knew while they were living.  You get to see all a person's lives assembled in one place.  There are probably people in the world who live in places where a body only has one life but that seems rare in places like New York City.  Things are so much more complicated, or it seems so.  Maybe that's self-delusional but it doesn't seem so.

You get to see their home and family life assembled in one circle.  Then there is the work circle.  Then there is "the guys," maybe from a bar or some other social activity, and a circle for the people that flew in from wherever the recently deceased is from.  Floating above it's kind of a Venn Diagram and there can be overlaps in the circle, and then there are entities like myself who might be tangent to the other subsets but not really sharing a common vector like the others....

The secret past that doesn't get shared with family or co-workers or casual acquaintances.  That of course makes it sound like homosexual lovers and DD and I didn't share "the love that dare not speak its name," at least not in the traditional sense.  Secrets go darker than that, or deeper depending on which prepositional phrase you want to use.  We won't get into that here.

In any event, sometimes it's not until you're at a person's deathbed or their funeral that you really come to a full understanding of who they are/were as a person.  All these lives are assembled in one place for the very first time and depending on how suss you are, you can take a look at all the pieces and see that it's not a puzzle.  It's more a case of the realization of just how complex each of us can be and how may versions of ourselves we carry around.  There is a life for each incarnation, or not, and maybe that's the real root of unhappiness.  There are a lot of people that despite everything and everybody they have near them aren't happy still.  Whatever.

So I'm standing somewhere tangent to all these circles in the diagram that was DD's life with a glass of ginger ale in my hand and they're all going to toast his life.  We had toasted many things happy and not so happy when he was alive.  But I'm disconnected and all I can think is that they've upholstered his body because its not the body that was in the hospital bed the previous week.  There was hardly a body there at all.  Just a skeleton bedspring frame with bedding draped over it and tubes and wires disappearing somewhere into the wrinkles in the sheets.

DD:  You're going to have to play my song at the funeral.  You remember which one?"  (his voice all rustling leaves.)

MSR:  I think if I play Too Drunk To Fuck your mother is going to be the next into a box.

DD:  You're always going to be an asshole, aren't you?"

MSR:  Yah, I would imagine so.

DD:  Just figure out a way, even if you have to stand in front of the room and sing it.  We made a pact.

MSR:  Tell you the truth, I thought I would be going first.

DD:  And you might still and I will make sure Ace of Spaces is played.

(rasps from the sheets)

DD:  Cunt

And we both laughed, or I laughed and his mouth opened in a grin.

But that was pretty much the end of it.

The end of my old friend, at least in this act.  Fuck knows what's on the other side but that knowledge will come in its time.  I spoke with his brother before the wake and with permission of from his mother and the funeral director, The Parting Glass was played over the PA in the funeral home.

As promised.

I walked out before it was done.  There was no real reason to stay and watch the box close on a body that was not my friend and see this not friend carried off.  I've been mostly sick in bed now for three days, a stomach flu or food poisoning or something.  The last verse is still stuck in my head though...


A man may drink and not be drunk
A man may fight and not be slain
A man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcomed back again
But since it has so ought to be
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Remember me this way...

Toward the end of the session, Josef Breitenbach asked James Joyce if there were some special pose or gesture that he would wish recorded. Joyce thought for a moment, and raised his hand to his forehead. Then he let the hand pass over his eyes, covering them. When the hand cradled his nose and chin, Joyce indicated that this was the pose, and Breitenbach pressed the shutter. ~ from The Paris Review

Cast out they demons...


Parting thoughts...

Our last conversation...

DD:  It kicks up my shit, ya know?

MSR:  What does?  I don't understand.

DD:  Being sick.

MSR:  What about it?

DD:  You know.  You've been there.  Don't be fucking daft.

(and he sinks further into the sheets, and I realize again that this thing has carved him out and he's nearly invisible.  He's just wrinkles in the surface of the hospital sheets and the blanket thing and I am angry for a moment that I've never seen anything resembling a real blanket in a hospital.  Just these things that are not sheets.  He doesn't seem cold though and the room seems chilled and sterile like the IT room in the company where we worked, and even that seems like someone else's life.  Like a photo in an old magazine that's laid in a box in a garage somewhere and gone faded and yellowed.  His voice is like a breeze in dead leaves.)

DD:  You don't really sleep.  You just drift off and you wake up and you're still sick, you know?  And you know there is only one thing in the whole fucking world that is going to make it better because it always makes it better.  Then you get all bunched up because you know that same thing doesn't last and it's just going to bring you right back to feeling like shit again.  But you want it because it takes the bad shit away and gives you a bit of control....

MSR:  Control?

DD:  Well, you know.  That's what it's about, right?  Control.  If something hurts you take something and it's all better, even if it's not.  Just like when you were a little kid and you fell down and fucked yourself up and your Mom always had something to make it all better.  Just put something on it.  Take something.  Magic.  Puff of smoke.  All better.

MSR:  Moms are magic.

DD:  Haha.  Yah.  For a while.  Then you grow up and you realize you don't need her.  You can do it yourself.  Always something you can put on it.  The scrapes.  No more pain.

MSR:  Yup.

(and I laugh a bit too even though this isn't really any fucking time to laugh and there isn't a goddamn bit of funny about any of this, but he's right.)

DD:  Then you really grow up and you learn that Mom wasn't really magic after all.  That's the first real heartbreak.  And you figure if she isn't, or maybe she just lost her mojo, some other mother might be.  You can't find that and you're left with your own medicine.  Always works until it doesn't.

MSR:  Ain't that the truth.

(We're not even looking at each other anymore.  We're staring off into some distance as if some big answer might amble out of the ozeone.)

DD:  It doesn't ever really go away.  You figure if you feel like shit, there ought to be something... there has to be something that works the way shit worked before.  So yah, this kicks up my shit and I wonder why I even fight when I know there's 15 minutes of warm, dark, nothing right there a phone call away.

(Hospital air is always as cold, coarse and stiff as the sheets.  The lights are rough and the sounds of wheels and the clicks and beeps feel like sand inside the shoes.  This is supposed to be the place where nothing hurts, but I swear to God nothing is comfortable.  Why do you suppose that is?  Maybe they figure nobody is going to be there that long anyway.  We didn't talk much after that.  I remember the nurse coming in to take a lunch order for food that wouldn't be eaten.  It's inedible the way the light and the air grates.  I watched my old friend dissipate.  Wrinkles.  When he dozed off I couldn't see him breathing but the monitor said there was still life somewhere in the sheets.  Somewhere.

The perfect shot...

RIP Anja Niedringhaus

How far are you willing to take it?  How far are you willing to go?  Just what are you willing to sacrifice to get that one perfect picture that tells a truth bigger than most people are willing to listen to?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Gentrification, by Sherman Alexie


Let us remember the wasps
That hibernated in the walls
Of the house next door. Its walls
Bulged with twenty pounds of wasps
And nest, twenty pounds of black
Knots and buzzing fists. We slept
Unaware that the wasps slept
So near us. We slept in black
Comfort, wrapped in our cocoons,
While death’s familiars swarmed
Unto themselves, but could have swarmed
Unto us. Do not trust cocoons.
That’s the lesson of this poem.
Or this: Luck, is beautiful.
So let us praise our beautiful
White neighbor. Let us write poems
For she who found that wasp nest
While remodeling the wreck.
But let us remember that wreck
Was, for five decades, the nest
For a black man and his father.
Both men were sick and neglected,
So they knew how to neglect.
But kind death stopped for the father
And cruelly left behind the son,
Whose siblings quickly sold the house
Because it was only a house.
For months, that drunk and displaced son
Appeared on our street like a ghost.
Distraught, he sat in his car and wept
Because nobody else had wept
Enough for his father, whose ghost
Took the form of ten thousand wasps.
That’s the lesson of this poem:
Grief is as dangerous and unpredictable
As a twenty-pound nest of wasps.
Or this: Houses are not haunted
By the dead. So let us pray
For the living. Let us pray
For the wasps and sons who haunt us.

Lean in

via Old Chum

Merely semantics


I have, on occasion, dismissed piddling word comparisons as "merely sementics," especially in cases where people are trifling about phrasing, etc.  This is somewhat different.  Here are two words that are not generally thought of as being in any way synonymous.  The truth is that they are.  It takes no effort at all to enjoy something or be energized by something which consistently makes you ecstatic.  That isn't passion at all.

This...

You have to know something or someone in painstaking detail from every angle to be passionate about it/them.

Highly illogical.

via ThisIsNotPorn

There is no rational explanation for plaid against floral.  HIGHLY, illogical.