Friday, September 26, 2003

The Dalai Lama Was in Central Park

On Sunday night I waited for Mona in a bar on Avenue A where it was happy hour and the bartender called me hon. A drunk biker beside me tried to impress her with his wire sculptures. He laid them all out on the bar, each one some evocation of fantasy formed from a single strand of copper: a pterodactyl-looking thing with green bauble eyes, a dragon with a sword, a half beast-half flying machine with batty wings.

A college boy sat on the other side and expressed the sort of forced admiration you only hear among unacquainted men in bars.

"Those things are really cool, man. You made those?"


"Wow. How long does it like take you to make one?"

"This one took me eight hours. Check this out." He held one, a sort of kangaroo monstrosity, and tugged at its rabbitlike foot. "It's ful-ly reticulated, man. That means it has a leg that ac-tually works." He pulled and pushed the leg some more and left it a little askew and when he set the thing back on the bar it pitched backwards on its tail, the bent foot sticking uselessly in the air.

Mona was driving in from Brooklyn and she was stuck in murderous traffic uptown. I called her for periodic updates.

"I'm on Lexington and 69th Street!" she'd say, then "I'm on Third Avenue and the light just turned red and then it turned green and I couldn't move and then it turned red again."

"When that happens that sucks."

"What the hell's going on today anyway?"

"The Dalai Lama was in Central Park."

Later she called to say she ditched the car and was proceeding down Third Avenue by foot. Could we meet halfway?

I finished my whiskey and left my tip and split.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Adam and I reached Lafayette and Houston or so, or maybe Prince, and he was talking about some party he was supposed to go to and do I want to come. I said sure but I wondered what it meant to make good on plans laid before the lights went out across the East. He made a call or two and it was decided we'd meet people on a stoop near Union Square.

We came upon the dark maw of a subway, suddenly neglected by the world, a safety orange ribbon stretched across its entrance.

"Let's go in," said Adam genially.


It was hot down there, and quiet. Deathly quiet, deafeningly quiet the way only a noisy thing can ever become. Somewhere dripping water echoed deep.

And it was dark too, very dark, but for a faint green glow: by some pointless quirk of backup power the green circles with the yellow arrows beside each turnstile were lit and pointing.

I took out my Metrocard and held it aloft in the pale light. I looked at Adam  for one significant beat. And I swiped it through the slot like any other day.



It was like a punch line with no joke. We laughed like idiots and Adam went through and ran yelling out onto the pitch-black platform to wake the dead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

On the subway on the way back home there were puddles of water in the shallow dips of two caddy-corner seats, trails of droplets over the seats adjacent. Although some seats were mostly dry I decided not to sit; neither did others who got on after me. They'd make a move to one of the seats, see it, pause, think, turn away. Then a man leaning on one of the poles suddenly examined his sleeves with puzzlement and dismay. The surface of the pole was smeared with what appeared to be raspberry jam. Others glanced at him, offering a fraction of a second of mute sympathy, of solemn deference to the stricken before hiding again in their papers and books. I looked at the other pole and it too had been lashed with the mysterious sticky matter.

Friday, September 19, 2003


I like to look down at roofs, their dull concrete or tar floors blanketing the hazy vista so there's nothing to see but ducts and tanks and chimneys. Blockish air-conditioning units, utterly, preposterously unremarkable. The imagination is strained by the effort to discern pattern and form in this drab mosaic of white on white, white on gray, gray on white. The heaven-facing other side of the world. Then somewhere there's the green flash of a rooftop garden, the glint of sliding penthouse doors.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Intoxication. INTOXICATION. Intoxication.

J. L.  said he dreamt about A. H. last night and so did I, but I couldn't remember what. He said they were flirting, making out, conspiring to connect. Very erotic. Me I don't know.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Adam and I walked drunk up through Manhattan in the blackout after dropping Jim off at the ferry. In Battery Park a woman sat on the lawn reading a paperback by the light of a backup-powered searchlight. It's as though she'd been transplanted directly from her living room. In TriBeCa we walked past packs of kitchen staff disemboweled from fancy restaurants to play cards and drink by candlelight. Cars drove slowly, deferentially, with what might only be described as personality. Every vehicle seemed aware of every other, and of nakedly vulnerable pedestrians most of all. In my drunken state I suggested that we had evolved past traffic lights as a race; humans had been so conditioned to the red-yellow-green that they had internalized its cold rhythms into a collective, emphatic wisdom. Yield.

There certainly seemed to be no incidents nor threats thereof.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

The most arresting images of all from 9/11 were the telephoto shots of people perched on the toothy edges of blown out windows above the smoking gashes. In the haze they seemed to have the attitudes of benignly mischievous boys, sitting insolently in a tree or on some scaffold. You can't get me. They reminded me of the Tifosi, the Italian Ferrari fans who trespass spectacularly at race tracks for better views of their beloved cars. A chance to wave the flag.