Monday, November 29, 2004

The Blarney Stone on Third Avenue is an unhappy little bar, dark and disordered and infected with the sick-smell of beer rot. This is where PC and Lis and I met for drinks on Saturday. Lis couldn't decide what to drink, was unhappy with everything, two different beers and then a scotch, and so she left with a sigh and PC and I went to Paddy's.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I e-mailed Alexandra to say what the hell, I know it's last minute but what are you doing tonight? And she replied: Crying my eyes out.

Spent the day and night with Kathryn. She said she was thinking of moving. Not sure where. Just moving. Putting the kids in boarding school, moving somewhere alone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

As George and I sat at the sidewalk table to play chess in the evening chill a pudgy, middle-aged Asian man stopped to leer at us. He rocked back and forth on his heels, giggling, brandishing a cigarette. I thought maybe he just wanted a light but it was lit and shedding ash. We didn't address him and George did a particularly good job of continuing our conversation unperturbed. The man rocked and giggled for a few more seconds and walked away.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The date sits over these babbling half-formed thoughts in silent, cool reproach.

She wants this and-a she wants that. Electric, she's a feral cat.



Hobbling across Second Avenue and cross Third. Beyond all glowering cab lights – immune to the mute testimony of the paper box, the overflowing pail; the essentially distressing street.

Waited at Park Avenue with my elbow on the pole. And then I looked and saw: 2:22 next bus, 2:22. And it was 1:36.

So then I headed underground.

The shadowing, creeping blimp, the Goodyear Blimp.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Played on Friday night with George and Joe, at the studio where Joe writes jingles all day. The picture window gave out on 17th Street, the upper limbs and leaves of a tree trembled and shook in the wind.

Saturday at the gym, suds streaming from a shower stall formed a cloudy skull against the tile.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I think I had a dream about Henry Kissinger recently. He wore an Arab headdress like Yasir Arafat, and now I think I was thinking of Arafat too. But it was Kissinger, and he was laughing, nodding and laughing heartily, like he was a little fucked up at a party and just heard a great joke.

As I walked down 56th today I saw a garbage man with a soft, open gaze, waiting for something, and I saw that it was a garage door opening hydraulically, vault-like, descending to reveal, to reveal a room of wheeled canvas bins, bins of insulation in candy pink and yellow tufts.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I had a big dresser in the closet of my room growing up, it was pine or cedar, some kind of redolent wood, or maybe it was the varnish or the stain but the thing had a remarkable floral, musty, acrid smell. It was the smell of its brass handles beating on their stops upon release. It was the smell of the sound they made. The smell of the sight. The face it made when a shirtsleeve protruded from the bottom drawer. It was the smell of the living beast called furniture. It stood watch in the dark as I made mountains of the bedding with my knees, seeing roads and rivers form by moonlight from the foothills to the peaks.
After weeks of no contact I guiltily e-mailed Stephanie and said, you know, sorry, would you like to have a drink? And sure enough she wrote back yeah and then a day later she wrote again, you know what, a drink is not in the cards, so to speak. She said so to speak, as though the cards were a pun. Not in the cards.

The dreary listing of a doomed and idle coupling, sure to run aground but when and how?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

People are wringing their hands over this election. Blaming Kerry. Don't fucking blame Kerry. People are tempted to see in losses sorry, self-evident conclusions when it's really just a fucking loss. Even after the fact we struggle to assert some kind of control over the event, as though we could reverse the outcome by explaining it away. He lost because he wasn't aggressive enough. He lost because he wasn't inspiring. He failed to make a case for himself.

Who's to say that the very qualities we now reproach him for are not qualities that earned him votes, not cost him votes? To a certain degree, for better or for worse, he certainly presented himself as the anti-Bush. Actually fuck that, he didn't just present himself that way, he is that way. Thoughtful and introspective where Bush is impulsive and brash. Intellectual and well-read where Bush is incurious and famously ill-read. Versed in the minutiae of policy where Bush paints broad strokes. The advocate of nuanced and complex views where Bush will hit you in the face with a fucking idiot sledgehammer. Isn't this who we fucking wanted? Didn't the anti-Bush voters want to vote for the anti-Bush? Of course we fucking did. Had he won – had, say, fewer votes in black districts been thrown out in Florida and Ohio, or lines had been shorter in these same districts – you better believe we'd all be fucking crowing about how he had been the ideal candidate. We're so lucky Kerry came along to capitalize on the anti-Bush sentiment, we'd be saying. Wasn't he just perfect? Aren't we fucking delighted that our great country woke up and realized we need a smart, reasonable man in the White House and not a fucking moron? Hurray! This is SUCH A WONDERFUL TIME TO BE AN AMERICAN.

You better fucking believe we'd all be saying that. 150,000 votes in Ohio. But now that he lost we have to fucking cry about it and go blaming Kerry.

It is a sad truth of human psychology that we accentuate the positive and accentuate the negative. When something goes right we trick ourselves into imagining that God Himself is shining a fucking light up our asses. When something goes wrong we enter paroxysms of petty blame and self-loathing. Let's remove the inconvenient factor of subjective human perception for a moment and examine the truth: Kerry lost a very close election to a fucking flag-waving Jesus-talking moralizing prick of a wartime president. Bush basically handed a big fucking lollipop to every single voter who: is insecure and possibly even hypocritical on the topic of morality and craves reassurance that they are morally superior; dislikes gays without quite knowing how to articulate why – just fucking dislikes them; kinda feels the same way about – shh! – black people; thinks America is like, the greatest, and doesn't understand why those who are enemies of freedom seek to do us harm; and perhaps most importantly, resents, fears and dislikes smart city folks.

Turns out there are some people out there like that. Call it the oppression of the many by the many.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

There was a conservative Jewish woman on the train, I could tell from her gray skirt and her knobby knees and the little black bows on her little black shoes. At least I think. She had an unhappy face, her mouth twisted in a perpetual pout, yet it was easy to imagine those same lips in contortions of ecstasy, those watery eyes alive with lust. I watched her fidget with a perforated sheet, some sort of bill or invoice. She had an iPod and as she turned its wheel with a thumb's caress I tried to imagine with what it filled her head.

Arbitrary Ambiguous Film Noir Scene

"I don't think I can."

"You don't think?"

"Get the money."

"You are looking at a man who doesn't care."



"I'm what?"

"You're looking," he walks closer. "At a man."

"Who what?"



"Doesn't care."

Monday, November 15, 2004

I was sick the day after the Yankees lost, trembling and uneasy at work, hung over and food poisoned or just plain poisoned. Haunted by the thought of the Stadium's dank, infernal halls, the floor and walls glowing that medicinal green from neon and fluorescence. So I proceeded gingerly through the day, sipping little spoonfuls of soup, quiet and resolute with regard to work and shuffling to the toilet to shit ropes of black, acid shit. 

Tonight we watched the Ron Jeremy documentary on TV with little interest, which seemed to mirror Jeremy's own view of himself and of his life. What an odd figure – vaguely pathetic in his short, fat unsexiness and his naive conviction he'd be a real actor someday yet also weirdly neutral, disengaged and adolescent; he's got the blank stare and drowsy speech of an onanistic boy returning to the world from his exertions.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

When the legless man comes through the subway car, clomping that tin cup before him to draw forward and signal the solemn fact of his existence. When he clambers through that silver divide to be born in our midst. When he is there. I know he approaches, soon to pass me by; my heart tightens up as though in tune with his odd Doppler effect. I can't breathe when he draws even. There he is. There he goes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

On the way home tonight on the train. A Hispanic girl, must have been six or so. Sat on the bench across from me, right near the rail, unaccompanied. She grimly withdrew a comic book from her backpack, a pink backpack, Hello Kitty. And she began to read.

I kept my eye on her, amazed.

She had dark crescents beneath her eyes. She looked to the right with exasperated kinship upon a family, all dead tired. Her mother a young bleached blond thing with a brood beyond her grasp. She braced one wheel of the baby carriage against her foot and lifted her head straight up to sleep hungrily, mouth agape. And the girl across from me saw her mother and leaned against the rail for a moment's sympathetic slumber. Then she awoke, as did her mother, and we were shaking into the station, and then again the mother leaned back, mouth opening horse-like, and the girl scurried between her haughty brothers to her mother's side.