Friday, December 30, 2005

On my way to work, on Central Park North, there was some poor goose that had somehow leapt the wall and was now walking along the sidewalk. I tried to take some pictures of the bewildered and incongruous beast – nothing good, couldn't get one where it faced me. I had some imbecilic thought that it would be oh so clever to have a picture of a goose scrutinizing a fire hydrant, a goose waiting for the light to change. I wondered, too, what would become of this thing, if it would find its way back to the safe, grassy shores of the Meer.

It walked out into the street.

A bus pulled to its stop then pulled away slowly, waiting for the goose to go. The driver gave a little honk. Eventually the goose was on the other side of the street, standing still as cars crept up and gingerly drove around.

Some guy walked out of a building on the north side and examined the scene sternly. He wore some kind of security guard uniform.

"Yo!" He shouted at the goose. "Nigga betta get outta da street!"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Fucking Rant with Many Italics

In my largely pointless meanderings up and down the cable dial, so to speak, it has been impossible to ignore the sentiment among members of the right-leaning, conservative-biased media that Christmas is somehow under attack. Of all the idiotic, gratuitously sanctimonious things anyone could ever fucking say.

First of all: Christmas as it has traditionally been presented in shopping malls and on TV is not a religious holiday, you stupid, fucking cunts. It's a pagan festival of winter survival, of life amidst death, opportunistically and dubiously wedded to the myth of Jesus' birth and, more significantly, transformed into a celebration and bacchanal of wanton American greed, desire, commerce, materialist lust, frivolity, selfishness and envy. And frankly, there's nothing even necessarily wrong with that. Here's what's wrong. Are you sure you want all that to be Christian? What, give unto Jesus what belongs to Jesus? What the fuck is wrong with you. Morons. Does Jesus want to rule the realm of air purifiers, X-Box consoles, chocolate fondue sets, cashmere cardigans, video iPods and GPS-guided vibrators? Fine. You fucking think he'd be happy about that? You think that's how he fucking wants to be remembered, you fucks? You think he'd want his goddamned name evoked every time working, struggling Americans went ever deeper into debt to buy all this fucking goddamned shit? You think the one and only son of God sent to redeem all mankind for its sins would be down with this fucking, fucking nonsense?

You morons. Cunts. Here I am a heathen asking this question: Did Jesus teach you nothing? Assholes.

Is it possible that you're not entirely, honestly motivated by deep and sincere religious conviction here but rather by entirely earthly, petty and mean political desires? Hmmm? An urge to teach a finger-wagging and scolding lesson to the conspiratorial legions of atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims and God only knows what else in this country whom you dislike and fear and who would dare to subvert what – in spite of all our blah-blah-blah about religious freedom and tolerance and openness – underpins this grand ol' country of ours: the holy Christian mighty-right. And it is particularly interesting that you've seized upon this shallow, asinine and stupendously ill-timed issue.

Ah, fuck. Who am I kidding? You people are all such incredible douchebags of the first order that I can't even summon the energy to sustain this rant.

But I'll close with this. Religious freedom is no joke. Tolerance is no joke. It's not as easy as you may think to twist these notions into something you present as suspect, weak, immoral, threatening. The two philosophies, thankfully deeply embedded in American history and culture, have guided us through some very, very, very bad situations indeed. And the American people, for all their faults, won't cotton so readily to your cheap, tawdry moralistic histrionics. And what a sweet irony it is that businesses – big businesses – are the voices of reason here. Of course we all know they want to sell their stupid, fucking crap to as many people as possible, and therefore make as much money as possible, and that's why they all say Happy holidays instead of Merry fucking Christmas. But of course, they also happen to be right. When they give their official PR line, "We believe in openness and tolerance and we would not want to exclude or alienate any of our valued customers, blah-di fucking blah..." They are fucking right. One of the great things about this country, in fact – maybe just a sort of happy accident, I don't know – is the affinity of tolerance and openness with the idea of the open market – capitalism does not favor Christians, Jews, blacks, whites, anything. It favors consumers. And you, my proud, defensive, hideously misguided right-wing foes, are on the outs in this matter.

You infernal cocksuckers.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I remember the bric-a-brac in her bathroom, the candle on the toilet tank, the unhappy mess of toothpaste and brushes and soap on the sink. A burnt orange towel I always used that seemed to always be a little damp. An odor everywhere of slightly dirty perfume. Unmatched dishes piled in the sink, tables and chairs obstructing bookcases overflowing with books and papers and knick-knacks and God only knows, the random detritus of an undisciplined and incomplete life.

She had a life-size painting of herself in butterfly wings in the cluttered study where she kept her treadmill and her stacks and stacks of Penthouse and Omni magazines.

Friday, December 09, 2005


My phone vibrated on my desk at work this evening. It was Jen. Hey, I said, and she said hey.

"Look out your window."


"Look out your window!"

I got up and looked. It dawned upon my addled consciousness that she was out there somewhere, amid the barking Holland Tunnel traffic.

"Do you see me? I'm waving," she said. I began to wave robotically out my fifth floor window at the dark. I perceived shadowy figures across the street, beyond the rows of box-blocking cars. "I'm across the street! I'm waving!" I saw one figure waving as I heard this in my ear. I was waving still. Back and forth, wave, wave, wave. Crouching a bit to see beneath the blind.

"Dan's here!"

"I see you! Down there," I said. Waving.

She was waving from the southeast corner of Greenwich and Canal. Like magic, I could see her dark arm and silhouette yet hear her voice, clear in my ear. She said they were doing something, going somewhere, God only knows.

I was thinking of something to say.

"Kick him in the ass for me."

And then I saw her booted foot arc off the ground and strike the form beside her.

"See? Did you see me kick his ass?"

"Yes," I replied. "Yes!" Waving.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I walked down the middle of Canal Street today on the narrow median that's straddled by hot dog carts on summer days when the weekend Holland Tunnel jams start midday Thursdays. Today was a gray day, gray like the concrete beneath my feet walking down the middle of Canal. In fact the median was cracked; one squarish slab had buckled and been riven like a tablet. It sank like a V into the netherworld beneath the street. I imagined I was in Caracas, Santiago, Istanbul, Algiers. Some second-word place where the earth intrudes upon the infrastructure every day.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I felt much better today than yesterday, Not sure exactly why, but it helped I wrote last night. So all day today, so cheerful. All day today so strong. And yet the world stays where it is; it won't defer to your good humor – or charm you from your grief – with undue prettiness or nothin'. There was still the billboards on Canal, the broken-brick strewn lot. The lotto license on the deli wall. Our wintry plumes of breath. You have to find something there for you if you want. Don't walk, walk. A truck downshifting raspily on the West Side Highway. Leaves & trash.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mea Culpa

Dear John,

At this stage in our relationship, such as it is, which is to say, at no stage at all really, considering recent developments that I need not enumerate, I feel it would only be proper and decent and scrupulous of me to offer you a carefully worded, nuanced, admittedly perhaps even somewhat reluctant apology.

I'm kinda sorry about some things.

It's true I convinced you to abandon your doctoral thesis – what was it? Education, Folklore and Gender Dilemma in Rural, Pre-Bolshevik Ukraine, if I'm not mistaken, or had you changed it again? Was it Literature, Nudity and Secular Authoritarianism in Late Colonial Societies? Stop me when I'm getting warm. Eating, Fucking and Shitting Through the Ages? That might have been it. Whatever the case, I compelled you to hurl your entire manuscript into the fire and disavow yourself of all learning, edification and enlightenment; of the intoxication & majesty of letters; and of the siren call of beauty, truth & reason so that you could get a job selling furniture at that place on Route 9 beside the Olive Garden and thereby fill the car up all the way with gas now and then and pay the rent at those goddamned renovated mill apartments with the shag carpeting and the gym before the middle of the fucking month for once and for this I am a bit contrite.

The day Mr. Heyward ran you around the parking lot brandishing a gun and threatening to shoot you in the face if he ever saw you again, the day you slept off your hangover on that Naugahide loveseat in the display window, I feel I am in some sense to blame as it was my 24th birthday the night before and we drank schnapps until we couldn't see. But sweetheart, a man must answer for his actions, fundamentally.

If he is a man.

Honey, it's possible I broke your dreams. I'm somewhat regretful and have more than a little empathy for you but I think I gave you what you wanted, deep down, on a certain level. And admit it, perhaps you resented that I knew you better than you knew yourself. I do feel bad, I do, that you had to labor, benighted, all our years together.

I might have made something inside of you die, my former love. I thought I was nurturing something richer, deeper; something that would thrive on regular visits to my dad and stepmother's house for dinner, rote responsibilities such as the making of our bed each morning, trips to Target, Parcheesi, brie, the renewal of license plates. The unmaking of our bed at night together to sip soothing herbal tea and read Architectural Digest. Apple-picking, pot-pourri. Baby, this was the real stuff of our very lives. None of that wordy mumbo-jumbo that kept you aloof and onanistic, emerging only long enough to push your glasses up your nose and look away. I guess I'm sorry it destroyed your soul but I was trying to create something.

I shouldn't have fucked your brother. That was too much. A strange and disloyal act, utterly beyond the pale. Yet how could I resist? He was you yet he was not you. Everything I always wanted in a man.

Dearest, by the time you read this you'll be dead. Which is to say, come to think of it, you won't read it at all. By now your veins are pulsing with so much strychnine, mercury, arsenic, rohypnol, cyanide, belladonna and benzene that it's a wonder if you haven't burned a hole right down to your very grave. Why did I do it? For you, my sweet. Liberating you from the hell which I have more or less wrought is the only way I can even hope to make things right. Consider it my ultimate gesture of kindness, a final act to undo and redeem all others.

And why did I write this? For me. It's a little something I wanted to get off my chest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It started to rain hard on the way home. And blow wind. Back home I was sad to see the lights were out in the courtyard on the roof of the building next door, the weird courtyard you can see down onto, with the door onto from a building next door, like in a dream. I like to see the puddles there and the rain falling in them in a bit of light reflected from the lamps on the walls of buildings surrounding. But the lights were out and that was that.

I like the rain sound too, I like it rise, fall in the wind; I like it cut through by a car down Fifth Avenue.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

There's a special sound people make when they speak with their mouths full of steak. A honking, adenoidal sound. Almost choking. Drowning in meat.

In France the premise is that human desires can and should be satisfied, day after day. Desire itself is never extravagant, nor viewed as indulgent or vain, but rather rational and manageable. Not so in the U.S. "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" was written by a Briton but it's a distinctly American sentiment, inspired by similarly titled American blues. In fact it is a reaction to America: In the midst of this bounty, this ludicrous and hideous embarrassment of riches, I am lost, paralyzed, frustrated. A man comes on the radio, and he's telling me more and more. But the French would answer that song with: Of course you can be satisfied. Have a good meal - three courses. Not too much. Enough. Have wine, just enough to begin to get drunk - the happiest period in the span of intoxication. Plus you get a coffee at the end. Then go home and fuck your wife. Or your mistress. We know, and it's OK. Buy her some lingerie from one of those hundred shops on the boulevard. Satisfied? Of course you are. And tomorrow you get to do it all over again. To reenact and ritually refute the myth of desire.

But America is the land of the all-you-can-eat. Implicit in that very proposition is the idea that satisfaction is elusive, distant, perhaps nonexistent. Satisfaction? Who knows. Keep eating. And of course when we follow the American program we cannot be satisfied. The all-you-can-eat leads you directly from hunger to nauseous, uncomfortable fullness without a pause. There is no satisfaction. You are left with a vague sense that you should eat more to really get your money's worth, trumped by the fact of your strained, distended stomach.

Where does this insatiable American hunger come from? There was perhaps a backlash against hyper-abstemious Puritanism. And then the credo of eminent domain - all-you-can-eat writ huge, territorial. But it mostly comes from the very model of the so-called American Dream. You can do anything. How much can you do? More. How far can you go? Further. How much is enough? Nothing is ever enough. Satisfaction is anathema.

French society is calculated to satisfy desire, where American society is calculated to inflame desire. In America the carrot is on the stick; in France the carrot is in the hand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Are you at risk?

What you need to know to keep your family safe.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

After leaving work I observed Halloween from a mental and emotional distance, examining the costumed hordes as they progressed gamely, station to train to station. There's something funny and what's the word. About someone who's all dressed up and waiting. All dressed up with somewhere to go. A man wearing a mask and a ridiculous, long hippie wig, its black synthetic strands shiny in the fluorescence. I scrutinized him as he – poignant? – gathered up his fake mane and took a seat beside his similarly dressed girlfriend. No. Arresting?

Women, young women, scuttled across the crowded subway halls in fishnet stockings and mini skirts with a little knowing smile, ever so slightly self-conscious. All sexy and shit. I mean. There seemed among them a great desire to dress slutty. The license you get this night to play, to regress and play, be cops and robbers, cowboys, Indians and whores.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The air outside the office was richly redolent of butterscotch. As though some tanker heading down the Hudson, God knows. A thick, cloying brown-sweet. The goddamned odors in this city, for the love of Christ.

A homeless man was bent over the trashcan of Canal & Greenwich northeast. Not bent over looking inside mind you. But propped. Perched, by the chest. Examining the ground on the other side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last two, three days I been trying to memorize that Dylan tune Tangled Up In Blue. Waking up in the morning to the deep-deep-deep of the alarm, already bearing the cadence in my brain: Early one morning the sun was shining. Getting up, brushing the teeth. She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe. A strangely difficult song to memorize, its language the authentic one of a single real man in the world, liable to tell you something one way or the other. She said over my shoulder we'll meet again someday. Stepping through the puddles on Canal and Hudson, animated from caffeine and work. And when finally the bottom fell out, I became withdrawn. A flurry from her cigarette, waiting for the light to change. A man and a woman push a car across the intersection. An entire car. I never did like it all that much and one day the axe just fell. A tall, hunched leather rocker with a despondent air chose a seat across from me on the L. She opened up a book of poems and handed it to me. She took off her glasses and placed them on the bar. I jaywalked across Fifth Avenue and the gypsy cabs and a man coming 'cross the other way. Her folks said our life together sure was gonna be tough.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

To plunge into the furious, bewildering flurry of dreams.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I've been putting ashes to my lips.

As I began to take my seat on the flight back to New York the older lady in the aisle seat said, in French, that she'd been separated from her husband and would I mind switching?

We're pushing back.

I said yes, yes, of course, even though he had a middle seat and I wanted window.

The hyper-American accent of the voice from the flight deck. Suggestive of deep and mythical American experience: A lush green and sunlit farm by a winding country road; red barn shaded by oak, maple & elm; acres and acres upon which to play; milk and all it represents; no laws to follow but those of the planting and the growing; breakfast - eggs, sausage, biscuits, ham, grits, bacon, oatmeal, halved grapefruit, monstrous breakfast - steak, waffles, toast and butter and jam, jam, jam; corn muffins and popovers and holy hot cross buns; flapjacks or griddle cakes or pancakes or whatever you want to call them drowning in syrup, beautiful amber syrup. Syrp. Corned beef hash and cream of wheat with cream and molasses or brown sugar, hash brown potatoes. Carnal breakfast. Extravagantly sensual. A new meal for a new world.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gallagher's at Newark Airport with the big band honking away in the upper background along with the sweet tang of onion rings and there's a bartender calls you buddy, pal, my friend, surprisingly old school but why not really? And a bonhomie among the waitstaff, the small-

I love to get there early, you become alive.

He called - the bartender - he called a mulatto waitress "two-tone.'' Hey Two-Tone.

-voiced black waitresses gamely playing along.

There's a guy at the bar, says he's from New Hampsheeah. He talks about here's what I like about sitting at the bar. The girls – you see them – here's what I. What I like. To sit here. To sit at the bar – you see the girls. You can see their – at the bar, you can. Bartender: what? You can see their thongs. You get a view.

The man from New Hampsheeah likes to drink wine and he has an ever-so-slight overbite. Ruffled dirty blond hair and unflattering glasses. The bartender humoring. I hear that, I hear that. But turned away the same time.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Way It Really Is, Part I

The world is made up of many nations with many different types of people, all of whom work together for the betterment of themselves and of humankind as a whole. Nations trade with each other with their mutual interests in mind, knowing that what is good for them is only good if it is good for the other as well. These interactions are always embarked upon in good faith and with utmost sincerity. The leaders of nations accept their duties with modesty and the deepest sense of personal conviction and responsibility. Theirs is a mighty task: to look after the interests of all the people, primarily their constituents but also the interests of all people everywhere on earth. People rich and poor, black and white. People of all creeds and habits and inclinations.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Imfomation Society

Mr. Pride, our alcoholic art teacher in high school, told stories about the Ku Klux Klan chasing him around the South. You'd go into his office, one of those offices adjoining two classrooms. Next door was Mrs. Nevers. Mr. Pride had a bottle of Maalox there full of vodka. Maalox and vodka. White, chalky vodka. He'd take a pull and pry the plastic bottle off his lips, momentarily reluctant, and loose upon the small room the antiseptic tang of alcohol mixed with the faint, sweet blandness of antacid.

This was 1985. One day Mr. Pride told us, "Chillen, you is livin' in a imfomation society. This world is turning into a imfomation society. Iss all gonna be 'bout computers an' communication an' imfomation an' computers talking to other computers an' everything. Git used to it! Git ready fo' it. You best be gettin' on dem computers an' such. Imfomation."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The envoys from the rebel army entered the grand hall of the old imperial palace and took their places around the table to discuss with the president not only his complete abdication and the dissolution of his cabinet, administration and coalition-led parliament but the absolute effacement of the national identity and the overturning or subjugation of millenia of national culture: art, literature, music, architecture, dance, cuisine, folkloric crafts, pagan and modern religious rituals and holidays and the like; these being named as a partial, representative, list only, not to the exclusion of other stipulations to be made at any time at the discretion of the rebel leader or an authorized deputy.

The president was late. He arrived and paused briefly in the doorway to bow and offer his most heartfelt apologies. Gentlemen, he said. I am at your complete disposal.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I worked with her one summer but I'm not gonna remember her name. She drove a blue Mustang convertible. An invisible boyfriend.

She was that type of still-hot Puerto Rican girl soon promised to a life of childbearing, child-rearing and eventual matronly misshapenness. She wore her hair in a trashy mid-'80s bouffant.

Not going to remember her name.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I peered above the magazine to the TV to find that all hell had broken loose in some fucking stock car race. Wheels and side panels had sheered off to glide above the fray.

Monday, October 03, 2005

It's getting dangerously close to the point where the best life to live really may be a life of torpor and indulgence. Wireless Internet access, TiVo, FreshDirect, video games and Netflix, coupled with older and still-improving conveniences such as cable TV, processed and frozen foods, microwave ovens and laptops, are making the case louder and stronger than ever before that we should stay home in the half-dark, sinking deeper into our armchairs and sofas at a glacial yet inexorable pace, in geologic degrees.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I went out with Shelah for a rushed meal at that dangerously precious Flatiron foodie joint, Craftbar. Fennel pollen and sweetbreads in vanilla. We had the foie gras and the scallops and the sturgeon and would you believe it was very, very good. We went to the new Bill Murray which is also the new Jim Jarmusch. Murray is now so deeply entrenched in his aloof and recondite persona that he acts – and here I mean acts the way a protein catalyst acts upon the body, not the way a player acts upon the stage – as a black hole upon all surrounding narrative, feeling, context.
Desire - impossible to sate – is nothing but funny, reverse hunger.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

They met by the folds of the mighty, dusty curtain that sectioned off the eighth floor ballroom of the Marriott hotel for the imminent annual convention of a minor association of pension-fund administrators and recordkeepers. Neither of which were they.

He was looking for an elevator. She was looking for a bar.

They went to a place called Albert's where she drank thirteen greyhounds with a straw.

I picked up the pieces of whatever dream I was dreaming and got out of bed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The girl with her back to the wall, to the what do you call it. Token booth. Back to the side of the token booth. The cop, crowding her, his legs spread a little , his feet splayed as though to brace her. He had out a pad. A ticket pad. She was a little turnstile jumper and her eyes were filled with tears. She looked off to the side, through invisible bars his body conjured to the two-way stream of bodies moving freely. He pointed the ass end of his pencil to her chest in order to reprove her and she slowly turned her head back 'round again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I dutifully read the Hertzberg in the New Yorker, as though I were submitting to a Revival litany: The invasion and occupation of Iraq have diverted essential resources from the fight against Al Qaeda, amen; allowed the Taliban to regroup in Afghanistan, that's right; fostered neglect of the Iran nuclear threat. Help me somebody. The editorial voice of the Left now, it is like a jackhammer: stubborn and tedious, but true.

I arrived at the Coffee Shop on Union Square West 15 minutes late to find my cousin Eleanor a.k.a. Winston or Winnie at the bar in rather close conversation with a corpulent Chilean named Patrizio. It occurred to me this is a big part of how she survives. She gets rich, fat, horny guys to buy her drinks.

50% Free Alberto VO5 Normal Shampoo Gentle, Balanced Cleansing for Every Day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I passed out on the couch earlier and dreamt about the alphabet, perhaps even of organizing some abstract and shadowy things into alphabetical order. When I awoke, I had the impression in my emergent consciousness that it was remarkable even to remember the alphabet in a dream.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Came back from the Yankee game and had to rinse my palate of the cloy of that seventh-inning Lite beer with stinging, smoky whiskey. A couple of times we saw that enormous Hasid, P. and I, the same one we saw in the bleachers a couple weeks ago. That day he paraded across the walkway before the first row, directed toward his seat by a cop. Being accorded a regal deference befitting his enormous heft both corpulent and spiritual. His prayer tassel, whatever they call it, hung out his droopy pocket. Tonight P. saw him as we walked through the halls to our seats and I didn't; after the game, I saw him after the game, shuffling toward me with a vacant, whale gaze. Oddly, he wore a Mets hat. I thought I'd given him wide enough berth but he still rocked into me. His shoulder only brushed me but I had a sense of the tremendous power of inertia in his body. A sense of a thing that amplifies and reflects all the energy it encounters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

With hardly a glance we tumbled into fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mom sounded chipper and alert on the phone today. Eerily herself. As though she'd popped right back from nowhere into our world of street sounds, errands and appointments. Yet she struggled for words to describe the mundanest things. I asked her what she'd been up to, right away regretting that I'd led her into this weird corner where she'd have to account for time spent in oblivion. "Well, I, I, I... you know, I've been – well – I've been... staring at the sky." She sounded resolute, almost pleased when she reached the end of the sentence, as though she'd not only remembered what she'd been doing but that it wasn't such a waste of time, all told. I made words of sanction and endorsement. She seemed to understand that Lis and Jake were visiting soon and what that's all about. "We'll have to, you know, um... cut... you know, cut cubes of meat. And make them, make meat sandwiches," she said. "Yes, Mom. We'll do that. We'll do what we like."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I flossed my teeth in a big old rush as the damn toilet continued to burp and run.

I'm stricken by that soft-numb palsy of exhaustion; it's like I'm shrouded in a heavy, gauzy veil. It's tinged with intoxication to be sure but mainly it's exhaustion. In fifteen seconds I'll be in my bed, inviting what mysteries may await me in my dreams.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I passed P. on my way from the bathroom to my bed and overheard this from the teevee: Has the universe always been here? When did it begin?

In Ireland the sky was a restless, gulping maw, letting bolts of scintillating sunshine through one moment and heaving furious ropes of rain the next.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh-five. Oh-5ive.

I just can't wait most days to get home and spit out my gum, take off my socks and shoes. Drink a whiskey. Sing the blues.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Scenes From the Airport and the Plane

An Italian woman with a United Colors of Benetton shirt and the weakest chin.

Glamorous, sophisticated, delectable. ABSOLUT MANDRIN blends beautifully with the lush sweetness of Cointreau along with cranberry juice and lime.

A solitary figure on the tarmac. As always.

There's highly ambient music playing on the gated plane, going AaaaahhhhHhhh.

They counted us all, on the plane, and thanked us via public address when done as though we'd had a hand in the counting.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

As she approaches death my mom likes to say she lives the life of Riley. I don't think I'd ever heard her say that before. But when I ask her how she's doing, what she did today. Does she need anything. "Boy, I'm just living the life of Riley." And sometimes she seems to forget the expression for a moment. She searches for it and is satisfied to finally find it. "I'm just, I'm just, I'm just... umm..." And here she'll let her voice trail off, the ellipsis landing on a period. "Living the life of Riley!"

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Is "naked stripper" an oxymoron or a tautology?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

James Bond and Moneypenny make me think of Charlie Brown and Lucy. Moneypenny the ever-adoring maid, pining for Bond even as he jokes with her about the conquests he is making. Perhaps Lucy's the feminine revenge for Moneypenny or Bond the masculine one for Charlie Brown. Always tempted, always fooled. A woman maliciously, demonically holding something out that is desired, deeply desired; Charlie too weak to say no, too weak to obey his wiser, cooler instincts. Charlie Brown charging, ardent. Giving it his best, hardest shot, only to find the object cruelly and blithely removed. Finding only the void and thrusting into it nonetheless. The picture of antihero. But Bond – Bond whispering bitter nothings into Moneypenny's ear. Saying I have you with every gesture you make behind that Lucite desk or whatever the hell. You know I do and I do, baby. I have you because I don't want you.

And so goes our awful gender war.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Her face was sadder'n an idiot saving something worthless from the trash.

Jen resigned today and by noon her desk was transformed, hardly recognizable, barren but for the keyboard and monitor, a stray black wire hanging off the front.

Skulking around in front of the Hudson Deli with Britt, waiting for Jim, I saw a woman walk out and turn to me. She was young, attractive. Middle Eastern olive skin and dark curly hair. Beautiful open blue-green eyes and a small, round mouth opened softly to an O. I caught her eyes for a moment and loved her until the end of time; until the sun and the stars collapsed into a singularity and all matter, space and thought went vanishing always into the deep unreal. Then she brushed by me.

"I wish it finally decided to rain," said Britt.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I stare down the barrel of another working week.

Got my blood results today. My doctor so fat and good-natured, apologetic, heaving his burdensome corpus through the sterilized halls. He carried a plastic water bottle, taking several small sips. Do you drink a lot of water? Ah no, not as much as I should. Many small sips throughout the day. If anyone could be said to have blinding kindliness, it was him. He congratulated me immediately for being HIV-negative. Congratulations. Thanks! He shook my hand. A rather odd moment. Then he wheeled his chair to the examining table with a sharp creak and handed me a flowing ribbon of freshly faxed data, the medical me. Kidneys good, liver good. Cholesterol good, good. Actually quite good. When I departed I tried to fold the report into a size I could manage but it was oddly resilient; I folded it in half but it formed a springy, shiny-smooth pillow rather than the expected small blank rectangle that's doomed to be neglected. So I placed it gingerly in my front pants pocket this way, sticking out like a dandy's kerchief. And I bought a sandwich. And I got on the train. And I saw that the report was no longer there, it had risen from me like it was lighter than air. My name, address and detailed, present medical condition floating wispily across the block somewhere Midtown right about Broadway and 53rd Street.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

As I read an interesting yet weighty article in the New Yorker about the new Pope, Ratzinger Benedict whatever, I found I was having a strange dual experience: I was reading the text on the page yet also slipping into a dreamscape set in the desert and involving knives. All of this, in the moment in which I experienced it, felt perfectly logical – both realities at once in fact. It was only after a few moments, when I became aware of what was happening and the very oddity of it I suppose, that I drew back in bewilderment and some wonder.

I took a movie of three black girls crossing Broadway at 14th.

Every day, every day I wear my shoes.

S. returned from work followed by a date with N., all pleated pants and splayed tie. He recounted with some disgust that in the face of her intransigence and her yawns an hour in – yawns followed by intimations of I should be going home – he decided fuck it, to throw caution to the wind. To talk about what an asshole he was to ex-girlfriends, how he would fuck a girl and come home to his girlfriend the same night, night after night; his favorite porn, the assplay porn and the girl-on-girl. And he found he was loose, relaxed. The words, once halting and defused by the examination of his inner censor, now flowed freely, unrestrained. Every new word uttered more confidently and effortlessly than the last. Booze, drugs. Cocaine, acid, heroin. Cigarettes. How he was dying for a cigarette and he didn't mind saying. And sure enough her eyes widened and she said that's crazy, tell me more. You should write a book. And as I told him, in his small, accidental experience lies a lesson for all of us men.

P. greeted me cheerily tonight as the man with the squeaky sneakers, Squeak squeak squeak! So I figured the Yankees musta won but actually they drowned in their own shit. It's funny sometimes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I thought I'd vanquished the tyranny of critics by reading their reviews after I'd seen the movie, read the book, bought the CD. After I'd judged. Then I'd be the critic of the critics really. But what happens is instead of making up my mind they change my mind. As it has been written in that authoritative black and white I think, yes, I guess there were emotion and pathos and violence and despairing habits we recognize in ourselves in that character's fraught relationship with his father. Weren't there? Not just a tiresome, poorly played cliché. And then I try to come to my senses and remember, you have to be on your toes always.

A terrible waste is a thing to mind.

In the vain attempt to slow the ravages of time upon my countenance I've taken to washing with Neutrogena Deep Clean soap every night. In the little pump bottle. I love the act, the ritual, more essential even than the oils and the aloe it involves. And the terms. Neutrogena. Space-age, life-affirming. Swiss? Deep Clean. Yeah gimme the profound clean makes Lady Macbeth green with envy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

As Americans we should be grateful God does not exist. If he did, what do we imagine he'd have in store for us, we who have everything, we smug, gluttonous lords of the land of the treats and the home of the cozy? Do we not imagine He'd redress the grotesque inequities between us and the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth Worlds? Would he not spill something out of our cups and into the trembling, dark hands of beggars on the streets of Bombay? Of dirty-faced waifs in Basra? Of the countless multitudes who inhabit recesses of the world not yet penetrated by fresh water pipes, nor sewage systems, nor sitcom syndication? You better believe He'd shake it up. So what are we really doing when we gather at our altars before lunch, after fucking, before football, after breakfast? We're worshipping His absence and praying He never shows.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Had drinks with CK at Cedar's but we were soon interrupted by an insufferable young banker with manic hands. He wanted to talk about Saudis, the Middle East, Republicans, Pataki, Rumsfeld, Clinton, Iraq, pornography, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and his girlfriend. And we wanted to be left alone but somehow it didn't happen and we rued it later and I wondered what might have been done. Maybe it's good to be rude and brusque and to hurt someone sometimes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

We all went to the Café de la Musique, the restaurant with the terrace by the fountain in the Parc de la Villette, because Mom loves the place, though the food is not great. I got chocolate ice cream for dessert and though Mom does not order dessert she saw the ice cream on the table and thought it was for her and ate it with great, relish and of course I didn't stop her. She hesitated in fact, not knowing exactly if it was hers but her desire for it compelled her and she dipped the spoon in and ate some mouthfuls. I was reminded of the guy with Alzheimer's at Christy's house that one day, the sad and eerie sight of an adult lost to children's pleasures. The great silent unfortunate sight.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sunlight spills over horizons to set the birds to song.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Felt sad and empty towards the end of dinner with Aimee and Rene, but there was no cause for it save self-preoccupation.

More money, more money, more money. Fuck.

On the platform at Canal Chinese men fanned themselves with magazines and papers as one would fan a fire while women stood still and stoic, staring straight ahead.

It's so hot that cold don't feel good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

As I dumped the dregs of the soup into my bowl I pondered the very mealness of it, the heavy word meal, the what goes in my mouth. Meal, supper, dinner & repast.

Crossing Varick Street I spied a staircase through a glass door and it occurred to me how much I liked that, the sight of stairs through doors, especially if no one's on them.

B. ends each e-mail with a delirious, extravagant series of X's, obviously meant to indicate kisses but difficult to interpret as such. They rather give the impression of a madcap, broken border to her text; X's serrating the page where an ordinary salutation belongs. In fact she does not break her line before typing them; her message dissolves into ellipses then a line of crosses, and all they represent, like this......................xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, July 18, 2005

I awoke and immediately considered the accelerated time of dreams, where events that seem like they took a substantial length of time, and indeed would if they occurred in reality, took mere minutes by the measure of the bedside clock. Then thought about that article in that awful Wired magazine about the young Australian physicist who has a new concept of time as inexistent except for sequences of events. It seems true to me.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Flight Risk

Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the flight crew and the security personnel and the terminal ticketing and check-in personnel and our extended family of codesharing partners and the many ancillary service providers and individuals who made today’s flight possible, for example the fuel refillers and cabin vacuumers and wing deicers and Big Mike and his terrific team from meal services and the guy who kicks the tires and the guy who waves the day-glo sticks, wonderful, all of you, great, great, just great, welcome on board.

Please find your complimentary copy of our in-flight magazine, A Wing and a Prayer, in the seat pocket in front of you.

Our video presentation today features a romantic comedy starring Ashley Judd, Ethan Hawke, Keanu Reeves, Alicia Silverstone and Robert De Niro. You may use your own headset or purchase one for the price of $2 which you may use on future flights should you ever have the opportunity to fly again and should you decide to avail yourself of such an opportunity or opportunities.

Exercise caution while opening overhead bins as their contents may have shifted or be packed with Semtex or some other type of plastique explosive which, while likely to have been wired to detonate by remote control or according to a crude timing mechanism, may be highly unstable due to the haste and inattention with which the sweating and eager miscreant prepared it. Enjoy your flight with us today.

We apologize if your preferred beverage selection is not available.

Our estimated flight time, barring such unforeseen circumstances as the gradual appearance of a headwind due to the effect on the jet stream of subtle shifts in the earth's climatic condition which may or may not bear a relation to the ill-controlled emission of so-called greenhouse gases by the industries of rapidly developing economies such as China, Russia, Venezuela, Uganda and Vietnam; planewide hysterical nausea precipitated perhaps by one passenger’s lost struggle with airsickness and his inability to limit the visibility, sound and/or splattering of his vomit to a tolerably discreet degree; a cockpit breach involving one or more assailants armed with steak knives, box cutters, prison-type shivs or some other easily concealable and difficult-to-detect weapon or weapons resulting in the diversion of the flight or the crashing of the plane into a landmark fraught with symbolic meaning; catastrophic pilot error due to aneurysm, cardiac arrest, sudden dementia, the fatiguing effects of a night spent at the hotel bar flirting with the cabin crew and drinking Grey Goose, Johnny Walker Black, Maker’s Mark or some other premium-brand liquor or combination of such liquors far into the FAA-mandated twelve-hour sobriety buffer period for flight deck personnel or the ill-advised yet charmingly playful temporary passing of the commands to his son or some other adorable, towheaded young boy who promptly pitches the plane into an irretrievable, spiraling descent; interference of traffic through no fault of the pilots; accidental shooting by Navy jet pilots in training; congestion at destination requiring the adoption of a holding pattern; running out of gas though that never happens; is seven hours and 43 minutes.

All travelers must complete customs declaration cards and travelers from EEC countries must complete visa and immigration cards. If you are a citizen of a country with a visa dispensation agreement with the United States you must complete and sign a visa dispensation agreement card.

You are free to move about the cabin.

Seat cushions may be used as flotation devices. The white lights lead to red lights and the ramps turn into rafts. In case of sudden cabin depressurization oxygen masks will rain down like a plague of yellow jellyfish. Muzzle your child tightly in one. If you are sitting in an emergency row, remove your window with a glass cutter and suction cups and walk out upon the wing, inviting others in your cabin class to join you. Dance a fucking jig like in those old newsreels. Feel the wind rushing against your face, against your body. Spread your arms like a great big bird. Wheeee!! Did you know that the air at 30,000 feet contains considerably less oxygen than at sea level? We thank you for your cooperation.

Please fly with us again.

Friday, July 01, 2005

When the structural integrity of the cabin became irrevocably compromised and it depressurized in a shock and we all, limbs, blankets, cups & shoes, eyeglasses & magazines, exploded into the void and then commenced our minuteslong drift to the whitecapped waves below, I experienced what might be termed an orgasm of love; love for the tumbling souls beside me, love for my ex-girlfriend, love for my friends and love for every single one of my tormentors.

When that Concorde slammed into the airport hotel after a minute of wobbly flight, its left engine afire with strangely gentle flames, its doomed course momentarily documented by that trucker with a video camera. And then that terminal walkway collapsed. Was it the end of the dream of a modern, ultra-civilized and ultra-humanist France, whose very infrastructure mirrored the highest aspirations of the masses?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

4:55 and I'm advancing toward my goal. The train to the plane.

I've gone micro, taking close-up pictures of words out of context.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In the news today: Shark bit boy – shark killed girl.

My mother said, "I think it's about time I left this family." I followed her around pleadingly, waiting for her to change her mind. We were in the high-rise flat in the tiny French town where my dad took students on their junior years abroad. She seemed good and fed up. Naturally being the child I felt I was to blame. She went into the kitchen and took a pan down off the shelf, her gestures brusque and scary. She jerked the refrigerator open and got two eggs. Lit the stove and buttered the pan. Cracked the eggs in sunny side up – hsssshhh! hssssssshh! – and then she did something I'll not forget as long as I live. She took a little fistful of raw rice and sprinkled it upon the yolks. I'd never seen her cook anything that wasn't for us, so I wondered, Is this what she eats? Very soon she slid it all on a plate, a hot and runny mess. It seemed delicious somehow, crunchy grains drowning in flows of egg and butter. She ate it ferociously, oblivious to everything but her plate. I wanted some but knew better than to ask. This was her food.

Tonight was a hot and rainy night.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The waitress seemed reluctant to step forth. I spied her at the end of the sushi bar, practicing pliès. She yawned. We took a good, long time Liz and me, talking about failed relationships past, present and future. Finally we got her attention for the check.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm listening to jazz that just don't make no sense.

I remember those dewy spring days when I was a temp secretary in the UConn psychology building. I don't remember a lick of work I did there though I think it once involved the mimeograph machine, a car-sized gray steel beast that occupied most of an office down the hall.

I occupied myself perusing a book of quotations on the computer of whoever I was replacing, some homely lady on maternity leave I think. There was a quote on it I'll never forget, though I can't quite remember it either. It was something like this: Give a man a drink or two of wine with supper and he's done for the night. Good for nothing. Done. Going gently into that good, good night. And it's so true. I've tried to fight it and I'm fighting it now, but it's true, you get home from work and you eat and drink and you watch TV and you're done. Done! No damn good to yourself or nobody. May as well stick a shotgun in your mouth.

The jazz makes more sense now, defined by the thump-thump-thump of the bass.

I remember one time we took ecstasy and went to the gay club the Riot. Christene Cooper was going out with Jake at the time and they were sort of at the end of it all, he restless, wandering and distracted and she wondering what's wrong. Same old story. But we took ecstasy and she took off like a fucking jet plane. High, high, high. Thump, thump, thump, thump the house music went and loud, Whoa Black Betty! Whoa Black Betty! Christene was drinking water with an abnormal thirst and staring straight ahead with those curious dark eyes. American soldier dad and Vietnamese ma. Her brow was sweating rather profusely. She wore an expression like she'd just learned something she never knew anyone could know.

"I just realized... what music is..." She was having a hell of a time expressing herself. "It's... it's... it's like the first caveman who ever came out of his cave going ommm, ommm, ommm, ommm!" She was making bass notes, a jaunty walking line.

I nodded vigorously, eager to endorse and possibly deepen this rare revelation.

"It's like he's talking!"

I found Jake and he was high as hell too, we all were. I told him his girlfriend was having some kind of experience and he should go be with her and he nodded emphatically and solemnly in that way that you do when you're ripped on ecstasy, totally open to anything that comes, particularly keen for instances of personal connection. For a funny kind of ceremonial emotionalism.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The petrified pink gum, strawberry flavored, to take away the taste of envelope. It's Hollywood gum from France. I smell it and taste it and I'm back at the corner bakery on rue des Ecoles, surveying piles of chocolate bars in their baby blue wrappers, lollipops in pretty checkered plastic wrap, yellow-wrapped caramels called Malabar and Fresh 'n' Up, le chewing gum qui gicle.

Friday, June 10, 2005

At the restaurant, out on the terrace with everyone, she was delighted that we’d decided to order rosé; she said again and again rosé is just perfect for weather like this and it was true, the heat. She gulped it with great pleasure and asked for more, which I poured for her. From time to time she became worried, a bit melancholy even, at the thought that it might be gone. Is there any more of that rosé? And yet there was, and I poured it, and she was happy.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I thought about 21st century lunacy, in particular the defrocked Irish priest who interferes in sporting events, oafishly and hatefully, stepping in the path of Olympic marathoners, ambling across the smooth gray track of a Formula One race. Defrocked and thus cast adrift in the hypermodern eye, bound to disrupt contests of feats of human prowess like a naked Godzilla tyke barreling through his civilized siblings’ wood block houses.

Bony-ribbed amateurs with cockeyed breasts and drooping panties, women who scare and are scared of the camera.

Monday, June 06, 2005

  1. On March 27, 2004 a male officer of the Bureau entered the licensed premises at approximately 11:30 p.m. He paid a $5.00 cover charge, and proceeded to the rear area where the dancers perform.
  2. The area where the dancers perform is a room whose dimensions are approximately 40 feet by 40 feet. There is a stage in the middle with dimensions of 15 feet by 15 feet, which elevated about three feet above the floor
  3. The officer took a seat at the end of the bar near the DJ booth.
  4. The officer noticed at least ten female dancers intermingled with the patrons. Six of them were seated on patrons’ laps grinding their buttocks into the laps of the male patrons either facing them or facing away from them.
  5. The officer saw some of the female dancers rubbing their breasts into the faces of two of the male patrons.
  6. One of the dancers sat on the lap of the officer, facing away from him. She ground her buttocks into his groin area. She then turned around and did the same thing facing him and rubbed her breasts against his face. When she got off his lap, she ran her hands along his thighs.
  7. At approximately 11:45 the disc jockey called all dancers to the DJ booth, at which time all ten female dancers congregated next to the booth. A bachelor who was about to be married, named Kenny was led onto the stage by the ten female dancers. They sat Kenny on a chair in the middle of the stage and removed his shirt, took his belt off and unzipped his pants. The dancers then took turns sitting on his lap, facing him and facing away from him and thrusting into him with their buttocks into his groin area. Several of them rubbed their breasts into his face.
  8. One of the dancers took Kenny’s belt and put it around his neck. She then led him around the stage like a dog while some of the other female dancers slapped him on the buttocks.
  9. The female dancers then took Kenny back to the middle of the stage and had him lie down on his back. They turn took turns, some sitting on his face or on his crotch. They ground their pelvic areas into his face or crotch. He touched their pelvic areas and buttocks and brushed against their breast areas.
  10. After the bachelor performance ended, a female dancer named Candy took the stage. She was wearing a bra and a g-string. She began dancing on the stage and was joined by a female named Megan who came out of the audience dressed in street clothes. Megan took off her blouse and her shoes. She had only the very tips of her nipples covered. The rest of her breasts were exposed. Candy and Megan danced together for almost ten minutes. They rubbed their breasts against each other. Several times Candy bent over and Megan slapped her on the buttocks. Candy also removed her bra. She also had only the very tips of her nipples covered, and areola areas were exposed.
  11. On April 22, 2004 at approximately 8:07 p.m., the officer again entered the licensed premises. He paid a $5.00 cover charge and proceeded to the back room where female dancers were performing.
  12. As the officer entered the back room a female dancer heard to be called "Cherry" was on stage dancing. Two other dancers were doing their "tip round." They were sitting on patrons’ laps, grinding their buttocks into them, simulating sexual intercourse.
  13. Some of the dancers rubbed their breasts into the faces of the patrons prior to getting tips.
  14. When the dancer named Cherry finished her dance on stage, she approached the officer and sat on his lap, facing away from him. She ground her buttocks into his groin area for about thirty seconds.
  15. Cherry whispered in the officer’s ear, "Would you like to have the best private session of your life?" The officer declined. She said, "You don’t know what you’re missing." She then rubbed a small white purse she was carrying against his groin area and then moved on to the next patron.
  16. The next dancer to finish dancing on stage was named Paris. She approached the officer and sat on his lap. She ground her buttocks into his groin area, simulating sexual intercourse. She asked the officer if he wanted a private session. When he declined, she got off his lap and moved on.
  17. The last girl to dance was named "Jealousy." After dancing on stage, she approached the officer and placed her hands on his thighs. She rubbed her body against him and made a point of rubbing her breasts against his groin area. The officer tipped her and she moved on.
She took the salt shaker and ground it for pepper.

She said, The great thing about Johnny Cash is he mixes the sacred with the profane. She said with a wag of her finger. Mark her words.
Early June and yet the air conditioner labors mightily against the dense, wet heat in my room.

Earlier we watched with one eye as the Yankees lost their eighth of nine games, against the Milwaukee Brewers. A pitiable offensive effort, rife with strikeouts and double-play balls. PC and Steve were cursing extravagantly at the sorry spectacle, waxing scatological. The Yankees were shitting everywhere, messing uniforms, scorecards, the dugout, field, the entire plane of their television existence. Nothing was unsullied. PC and Steve demeaned them exuberantly, in the manner of the most very devoted fans.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sarah S. called me just now, perhaps having inadvertently triggered the auto-dial by sitting on the phone or walking from couch to kitchen with the unlocked keyboard pressed in a confining pocket of too-tight jeans – I say this because I answered and there was no one there. I said Hey, hello, are you there? I heard static and silence intermittently. And then distant, crackling voices. It sounded like an old movie or sitcom. A woman talking to a man about mundane things in that snappy, witty, old-time way. They were discussing having breakfast, lunch or dinner. The woman had a snarky, adenoidal voice I half-recognized. Almost Bette Davis but not really. Lauren Bacall or some shit. Shelley Winters, who knows. Stockard Channing. That honking, tinny American woman’s screen voice, ever calling manhood into question.

Their repartee was punctuated by canned laughs and static, sometimes silence. I imagined how terrified I’d be if, a couple of minutes into this dreamy scene, Sarah’s living voice cut through at me. But it never did. I hung up after awhile.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

She said she was from Oklahoma and going home. Yep. It seemed so clear now: She was a pristine thing from the deep Midwest. But why the French? She'd gone there for a year, to Norman's sister city Clermont. She loved it and didn't want to leave. She tried to change her ticket but her parents came over and dragged her back. She loved the people, loved her friends, had a boyfriend, had a favorite restaurant where she ate all the time, still writes letters and postcards to all the people there and they all write her back. It all cast doubt on her Norman friends she said, who seemed shallow by comparison. Who perhaps resented her worldly ways. She spoke French she said, yeah. Didn't hang out with the Americans in her group, not at all. Threw herself into that new old world and she was glad she did. Would she go back? She's dying to but she's got a boyfriend in Norman. I'm in a relationship, she said. Such a phrase, both innocent and adult. He doesn't want to go anywhere. She said, Chris, you might have to let me go, we might have to visit, if this thing with us is going to work. So now I saw how young she was of course, how far she was beyond the reach even of my dreams. More than that she was an innocent in the best sense, clear-minded, full of love and uncomplicated desire. An American girl in France.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

When the girl appeared to take her window seat she was by me in a second or two and I didn't dare to stare at her for she was, I could tell, extremely beautiful. I couldn't even tell how old. But she was a grown woman that's for sure, lithe in tight jeans and silk-screened black T-shirt, straight blonde hair, eyes that shone and a pretty, pretty face ending with a dimpled, tapered chin. I was of course constantly aware of her presence beside me, the occasional, barely perceptible rustling of her body beneath the belt, seeking comfort. Naturally our elbows would touch. Even when she'd ask me, with a single laugh, to get up and let her by, I'd avoid looking directly at her like you avert your eyes from the sun. Wouldn't want her to think I was thinking of her, anyway.

I could swear I heard her speak perfect English and she looked about as American as a Cadillac. But at a certain point she drew a diary out of her bag and laid it on her tray table and wrote in it in French with a pink fucking pen, I'm not kidding. I stole a glance over her knuckles and I saw telltale, vowelly ending words on the page: peu, beau, lui.

She drank nothing but water. She ate her dinner, the beef or the chicken, with great interest but when the drinks came she asked for water. Water before and water after. There was water on her tray and yet she asked for more water. With an utterly endearing smile and shrug: water. As though she could never hope to fully quench the thirsty beast inside her.

I ordered whiskey, wine. Coffee.

When we were landing in Chicago and we both gazed out the same window through the patchy clouds to the roads and rivers below she asked me if I was staying in Chicago. Shocked to hear her talking, I said yes, then: Well, no, I'm going to New York. New York! she exclaimed without purpose.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ca été, Ca été? It was? What the waiter asks reflexively, taking your plate. They don't even want to say Was it good?, they want to lead you to the answer, abbreviate the truth in their favor. It was? Of course it was. Everything was. Then it was whatever they like: It was good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I came back to the home, PC imploring the TV: No man, no. Don't do it. She's dead! She's dead already. On the screen a man was attending to the birth of his wife's child. His undead wife. She died, she's undead now. Don't do it.

The fat guy sitting in front of me at the Dylan show. With a Slowhand T-shirt. Like, it said Slowhand on the back, with the neck of a guitar, and you were supposed to know what it meant. He was loud, always talking behind his chubby and long-suffering girlfriend's back to his friend. They went and got beers and he had two beers resting on the top of the concrete wall before him and he caressed them masturbatorily, sipping from one then the other and then the one.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I ran around the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, winding between bored kids and their parents, being overtaken by many runners but overtaking some. Rows of people stood on the concrete base of the fence and stared across the water at the Upper East Side, some taking pictures. I looked where they looked and the cityscape seemed unremarkable and strangely low – nothing seemed to be over 10 stories or so besides Mt. Sinai in the distance. But there was the Guggenheim, half-shrouded by trees, and the grand old faces of Fifth Avenue apartment buildings, and I saw where I was after all.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I followed the lope of Alan Alda's feet playing Shelly in "Glengarry Glen Ross." They'd scrape and arc around the office floor, really the stage floor, and I wondered if he was thinking of hitting marks and to what degree those were his pigeon toes or Shelly's. And that an actor doesn't think about his feet if he's any good, and that consequently that's why we should think of them.

This morning on the way to work, on my way into the Park, a young, ill-shaven man approached me. He looked fine, no crazy in the eyes or nothing. But the deliberate way he appealed, I figured I was in for something. He clutched an uneven sheaf of paper, what appeared to be Web page printouts.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," I said, not stopping but looking right at him, letting him know I'm not dismissive.

"How far away is Ground Zero?"

It was such a strange question on 105th Street. And not "Where is Ground Zero?" mind you. How far away. For a moment I wondered if he meant it figuratively, or if he was taking some odd poll and comparing the different wordings of the responses in the pursuit of some linguistic or sociological edification,.

"It's all the way downtown," I responded, jerking my thumb backwards over my shoulder. He nodded briefly, made the faintest grunt of acknowledgment, and moved on. Apparently satisfied.
I edit me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

At Yankee Stadium tonight the game progressed briskly, Randy Johnson purposeful on the mound with stunned fielders all about him reaching for balls like groggy, minute-late commuters waving at departing trains. It was douchebag night at the Stadium, PC pointed out. There was a murderer's row to the right of us, dickhead Yankee fans who hooted and hollered at a young guy in a Red Sox championship shirt, Take that off you faggot, fuck you, you pussy, you fucking pussy, you faggot, what are you doing here, and when he tried to reply it was shut the fuck up. Later in the game the kid must have dropped a beer or something – I can't imagine it was intentional but you never know – and some fat old prick took the opportunity to berate him. Don't be a wise guy, don't you mouth off. I'll beat your fucking ass. You've got some fucking nerve. And the kid did a weird thing. He removed his shirt and handed it to the old guy, made an elaborate show of removing it after shrugging and indicating his chest with both sets of fingertips in that gesture meaning What'd I do? And the old guy threw it back like he knew it was coming, right away and hard in his face. We all watched this with faint smiles, one eye on it and another on the game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The meter read $12.90 at Lex and 96th, pretty red numbers in the prettier night.

As I ascended the stairs I spied a dog across the way, devouring tremblingly from its bowl. I watched it eat its fill and wander off across the polished floor. And this was echoed on the floor above: a solitary wine glass on a kitchen table, a little milky from the ghosts of someone's grip and the dusty liquid it had once contained.

Mom sounded good and elated today and it was sort of infectious. She said she knew she probably wasn't going to make it. I hastened to reassure her, not that she was wrong, not proposing some idiotic false hope, but telling her it was OK and we'd make the most of whatever time there was. It was heartening to hear her sound so philosophical, so willing to accept her fate, not bitter nor even withdrawn while in the midst of it – but strange. We were simply talking about her very own impending death.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I write halfheartedly, one foot under the desk and the other in the direction of the bed.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The geometry of drunk as the panhandler approaches the taxicab. The taxi=abc. He comes ‘round the front and sure enough down the side, glancing through the glass. Lines upon lines and grids upon grids. Minutes and seconds and years. Volume. Boundaries. Around the corner and down the side, his progress the happysad answer to everything.

When you're drunk and I mean really drunk if only you could put it into words what you see. It's cruel: The universe holds still for you but you forget the word for tree.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I think I see a trickle signaling the coming torrent of sympathy. An e-mail from Seth. I see his name in my inbox, unfamiliar, and wonder if he's announced to a group that Sally took a turn for the worse. But he's writing about Mom, a perfectly pitched message, solemn and supportive and selfless.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mother began dying today. Or was it yesterday? Who knows.

On the phone she's reluctant to say what she thinks, which is that she's really dying. She feels she must quietly concede there's hope, that she can make it through whatever's coming, but she's strangely absent in those moments. She feels guilty reassuring me but would feel guiltier if she didn't.
Who is this person who must swish Listerine around his mouth every
night, and I mean every goddamn night? Who carries a small, unmarked
bottle of the blue fluid in his toiletries bag so he can set it
on a hotel sink beside the tiny washcloths folded up and the sets of
twin soaps wrapped in tissue and the thimble-sized shampoo resting on a
flat basket? Madison, Wisconsin; Lawrence, Kansas; Indianapolis,
Indiana; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Akron, Ohio; Beverly,
Massachusetts and Decatur, Georgia. To sip and swish and look lost in
the too-big mirror.


Monday, April 11, 2005

There was an orthodox couple on the flight back from LA. He had a long black beard and glasses and was dressed in his white shirt and black suit and black hat and he gave her the black hat to put in the overhead and she looked left and right and left again for the right place to put it and finally placed it gingerly in an empty spot. She had a rounded, beautiful face with a sensual mouth that wanted to laugh. She wore silver wire-framed glasses and black tights and a dark green skirt and a black shirt and when she strained to reach the overhead with the hat her shirt pulled up to reveal a tumescent belly, lined with a stretch mark or perhaps a scar. I spied her belly button there in the shadow of the shirt right before her husband tugged the hem down reflexively to preserve her modesty and she didn't object or hardly notice.

No more real food on Delta flights it appears, only crinkly blue-and-white packets with Oreos and raisins and crackers, a meager and vaguely insulting repast distributed unceremoniously like so many Meals Ready to Eat or nutritionally optimized famine relief rations. The water is Dasani by Coca-Cola. There's something odd and creepy about Coca-Cola selling water – it's as if Disney started selling TVs, or Simon & Shuster sold printer paper, or something. And naturally they oversell it. Enhanced With Minerals For a Pure, Fresh Taste, it says. For crying out loud, what does that mean? It's water, for Christ's fucking sake. And there's more: DASANI is filtered for purity using state of the art treatment for reverse osmosis... And then the real kick in the balls: DASANI is water – pure and essential. Jesus fucking Christ. How is it pure if it's enhanced with minerals for taste? It's everything we want water to be: pure, fresh, essential. Water out of the tap is never quite that – it's just fucking water. Dasani is water reconfigured and branded to satisfy not our thirst but our fantasy of water.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

How many paunchy businessmen have indulged in sticky, volleyball-sized Cinnabons in the departure terminal before boarding a doomed flight that's exploded in midair, sending seats and bits of fuselage and bodies plummeting into the ocean? Struck another plane on takeoff and somersaulted hideously across the airport's perimeter to come to rest on the interstate? Been taken over by a team of swarthy terrorists barking allahu akbar?

There's a shot of sunshine coming in from the window for the seat in front of me. It's reflecting off my watch and projecting an abstract splatter of golden light all over the wall beside me and my lowered window shade.

Plane tickets are disappearing into immateriality. It used to be you booked a flight, you got a dossier of printed matter: the multi-copy ticket itself with the receipt and the ticket that's not a ticket and the copy for your records. The separate, somewhat redundant itinerary specifying meal and entertainment provisions. A brochure of travel information in the style of a sexual hygiene pamphlet or coffeemaker manual. Car rental and hotel coupons. The requisite airline branding and marketing materials, complete with slogan and mission statement. Fine-print customs and luggage policies, warnings and indemnifications. All sheathed in a glossy, half-size portfolio you might need to fasten with a rubber band. And the volume and self-importance of these documents seemed measured to equal the grand, nearly miraculous nature of what you had contracted the airline to do: fly you somewhere. In the sky. With the introduction of e-tickets you still got something like a ticket, a printed description of the imaginary ticket – it's as though neither airline nor passenger trusted the other to have faith in a thing you couldn't keep close to your heart in the breast pocket of a leisure jacket and produce ceremoniously upon official request. More recently the e-ticket has been represented, appropriately enough, only by an e-mail, which you were advised though not required to make real by printing it out and bringing it to check-in. Which leaves us with the boarding pass as the only tangible document required. For a long time these were still made of sturdy, reassuring card stock, the kind you're warned not to bend, fold or mutilate. But today when I checked in the electronic kiosk spat at me a curl of the thinnest, flimsiest paper. Perhaps someday we'll fly on but a whisper or a promise.

On the way to check-in there stood the entire South African women's gymnastics team, or maybe tennis – glorious in green and yellow nylon, some wearily holding trophies half their size upon their hips.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Casual Encounters

  1. Just moved to the city, sleeping on friend's couch. May I watch you breast feed? (Serious.)
  2. Hot SWF, 26. Take me shopping and wining and dining. Beat off and I will cup my hand for your splendid goo.
  3. Still up, been masturbating for hours. What do I do now?
  4. JO BUDDIES. Come over and have a beer. Watch from my vast selection of heterosexual pornography. Just a coupla guys, drinking beers and beating off. DISCRETION REQUIRED.
  5. Daddy me.
  6. DO NOT respond to this ad if you have not read the text.
(Found on Craig's List.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I turned into the kitchen and gazed upon the mountain of dishes I'd be doing in a few hours, most likely with my bath towel unfastening around my waist and the kids in the building across the way, clamoring at their cafeteria tables. Then I entered the bathroom and lifted the toilet seat to reveal its paint-peeled underside.

It rained ropes all day long and by the time I left work at a quarter past nine the sidewalk along Canal had receded under puddles ankle-deep and cold.

Mom has some kind of lump under her arm, or shoulder. Unbeknownst.

"Will you go to the doctor? Mom?" I asked.

"I won't go until after Lis's wedding. I don't want them taking me, you know, to the hospital and everything. Chemotherapy, you know. All that. Until after the wedding."

"Mom. That's seven months away. Lis's wedding. If it's nothing, you leave, half an hour, you leave the doctor just like that. If it's chemotherapy, it's. Chemotherapy doesn't take seven months."

"I know." She exhaled the word know, she didn't really speak it.

"If this is something you need chemotherapy. You. You can't wait. Will you go to the doctor please, tomorrow?"

"I'll go. I may not go tomorrow. But I'll go."

"You don't have to go tomorrow but you'll go, you'll go the next day."

"Well, I may not go the next day. But I'll go."

Monday, March 28, 2005

There's a little book and pencil icon at the bottom of Word, and the pencil moves across the pages of the book as I type, it's doing it right now, I'm looking at it right now, and when I stop it stops and then moves off the page behind a red cross, like a teacher's incorrect mark. There, it just did it. And it's like some kind of mocking mechanism: If you're writing, it writes too, in a little make-believe book, but when you stop it says bad, wrong, angh. Don't stop.

Friday, March 18, 2005

That girl at the gym in the Jacuzzi had wide doe eyes and a thin cute mouth. She started off saying how much will it cost her for me to swim her laps. I said I dunno, I'd still have to swim mine. She said she swims 20 laps most times, I said I go by time. I don't swim fast though. She said she didn't know if she'd do all her laps today, maybe 15. She just got back from Washington, D.C., where there's nothing to eat. Upon arrival at Penn Station her sinuses were filled with the odor of fried food from the many concessions – she thought it was pizza with garlic but who knows – and she was compelled to eat. Immediately. She had an omelet, fries. Pizza. Brownies. And now she made herself go to the gym.

We talked about the availability of foods and in particular specialty baked goods – blondies to be exact – in New York City and Washington, D.C. She was clearly involved in some arcane aspect of political lobbying but I thought it'd be more interesting not to know.

She said years ago when she moved to Washington she didn't cook and everything closed at six and the closest store was a train ride away and she literally cried. She cried.

I got in the pool and eventually she got right beside me and she did some quick, crawl laps and then stood up. She waited for me to swim up.

"Twelve," she said.

"Twelve, huh? Twelve laps," I replied.

"Yes," she said. "It's the final solu... It's the final answer."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

PC got some badass food poisoning from Chinatown, an issue of soup dumplings containing small, nefarious shrimp. In spite of this he was hunched over a bowl of fried chicken wings.

"I gotta eat something!" he said with a note of desperation.

"You know how guys can write their names in the snow?" Steve said as I stood before them, gleaning details.

"Yeah?" I said.

"Well Pat Canavan can do it with his ass."

The last time I got food poisoning was from Chinatown too, years ago. I had some tomato and beef dish from a place PC liked that was open all night and where the walls were papered with dollars. It tasted fine but I was shitting torrents of liquid for the whole day after. I like Chinatown but there's a deep funk there. An indelible Third World blot. The piles upon piles of fish left out all day, pickled and salted only on the very precipice of decay. Garbage piled on the sidewalks, drifting in the streets; stacks of empty crates and, underfoot, the shucked leaves of some strange, skunky green. And up behind the windows, by the ancient Jewish tailors' signs. Who knows what. A family of fifteen sleeping and fucking in shifts. White men ejaculating between the flat breasts of an aging masseuse. Sullen gang boys smoking crystal meth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Just when the world seemed hopelessly, overwhelmingly normal I looked above the fence around a scaffold and saw the helmeted head of a construction worker moving like a thing on an assembly line, on someone's unseen body standing or perched on some moving thing.

I remember when Betsey and I started having troubles. It became clear that we had different tastes, different habits.

"You're a night owl," she said. "And I'm..." She really seemed to struggle for the words. "...I'm a day owl."

I'd been fucking Janet already, what an imbecile. She was, I was. And Betsey too. She looked like one of those letter-sweatered blonde angels from about 1957, clutching her books against her tits and hopping into the bad boy's Little Deuce Coupe. Her dad was an airline pilot and her mom was the long-suffering, lonesome, alcoholic wife, haunting her own home while he jetted the Cairo-to-Paris.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I went out with that Scottish girl who looked like Keith Richards a couple of years ago but I never fucked her. That ivory skin pulled taut around her skull put me off, her pirate's teeth. Still I kind of liked her and feel a pang of regret.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I stayed late at work as usual, picking the guitar and singing an old Appalachian tune. The Hudson wind buffeted the west-facing windows.

Before long I was slapping down the three light switches and waiting for the elevator in the spooky dark.

At the ground floor the doors opened and as is my obsessive custom I verified our floor was locked by punching the button and watching the light blink reassuringly and punching it again for good measure.

I could hardly open the front door against a gust. Then I was nearly swept out into the street on the exposed corner of Greenwich and Canal.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The tinny concussion of too many TV bullets came through my bedroom door then one solitary, authoritative Pop! came from outside my window in reply.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

She knocked on the back of his hand with her knuckles for the purpose of assessing the degree of his incredulity.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

In the sauna I sensed the unexpected heat of a stranger's gaze; before I knew it he'd opened his mouth.

"I've never seen a tattoo of a chair before."

"No, I guess not many people have."

He asked a few more questions, the typical asinine ones, how did that come about, were you drunk, what does it mean. I gave him my stock replies, not unfriendly though. After a few more minutes of sweating I prepared to leave and thought of what to say, should I say Have a good night? But I looked over at him and he'd gone palms up, lolling his bespectacled head in an earnest and showy display of meditation. I was off the hook.

Snow's been falling in wet flakes all day. They say six inches, eight. I cut across a somehow virgin blanket of it on 56th Street after meeting Eevin and discussing sex, relationships, her upcoming trip to Paris.

Remember when water fell from the sky in drops the size of grapes.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

It was a minor insight and it's gone now.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Gates make sounds. I was walking through them late last night and was startled to hear a weary creak, as of a porch screen door on a rundown house in the middle of the muddy Delta. With a Big Wheel on the lawn and laundry strung from fence to wall. A floral sheet and baby clothes. It was a venerable creak, belying the brand newness of these edifices. And it came from the joint where the orange metal leg met the slate-gray foot. When the wind picked up the Gates creaked and their fabric snapped and twisted.

Matters of fact.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I returned home from Rocky's with PC. It was a decent night; we won the drunken Irish trivia contest and discussed sickening American jingoism in his mother's car up Mad. I sank into the faux Eames and switched between CNN and ESPN. The oblivious, fickle manner in which CNN will transition from a story of deep tragedy and disaster to one of mundane, idiotic human interest – cute pets, let's say – is debilitatingly surreal, disturbing and depressing. This is saying something. It's exceedingly bad, utterly symptomatic of the American condition of the early 21st century and a key to why we are reviled as a society and deserve to be reviled.

The Gates are going up in the park, earnest men and women of all ages wearing their Christo & Jeanne Claude vests and hoisting and steadying frighteningly heavy poles. Like the intrepid settlers of the Old West. Building a home or a work of art, but really an abstract barrier against chaos.

It's going to be incredible, the Gates, I already know it. The saffron color is utterly surprising against the wet gray trees and sky. It evokes candy, sun, pleasure, comic books. And the incongruously happy hue of industrial machinery sometimes: bulldozers, backhoes and cherry pickers. It unites the worlds of childish sensual delight and grim adult labor.

At least it will, I think.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I did not realize the row of waiting cars on North Broome had been loosed by the light just as I'd stepped onto the street. So I stopped and doubled back as they streamed past me, and again I cursed my inattention.

At the dentist all hell was breaking loose. Hygienists were wandering from room to room, attending multiple patients. On this my second visit I noticed the "Forgive our appearance, we're under renovations" sign. They all seemed harried, short-staffed. The sexy dentist from the first time was nowhere to be seen. Instead I was treated by a man who introduced himself and shook my hand as I lay prone in the chair. He wore a ridiculous clear plastic germ guard resembling a flea-infested dog's head protector.

"You're here to get fillings," he stated. But with the faintest question mark at the end.


"Do you know where?" he asked, unbelievably. I told him lower left and he consented, verifying my chart. I had an unnerving feeling he'd been hired for the day, like a cop on the beach in summer. He excused himself precipitously, saying he had a cleaning down the hall.

When they were at work over my face, the dentist and the hygienist bumped arms and made jerky motions suggesting they had not established the division of labor. He seemed competent enough, and I admired the effort he made to maintain a quasi-normal interaction and to avoid referring to the surrounding catastrophe.

The thing slipped and sucked my cheek and she said Oops!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I Don't Care What You're Thinkin'

Played chess again with George inside the chess club this time, no kind of weather to be on the street. It was good, we each won a game, and I felt less adrift than usual.

There were guys playing backgammon, regular guys for sure, who were making a racket, especially one guy. He had some edgy game with a guy who eventually left pissed off, and then he was playing some new guy but he was still wound up from the game before.

"I don't care what you're thinkin', I don't care what you're drinkin', but if you get outta line I'm gonna set your ass on fire," he said, apparently by way of explanation to the new guy of what had transpired before. The new guy grunted in vague agreement. And then he said it again. "I don't care what you're thinkin', I don't care what you're drinkin', but if you get outta line I'm gonna set your ass on fire." And then again. He said it again and again. And silence. And then he said it again. Sometimes he'd flip around the thinkin' and the drinkin'. "I don't care what you're drinkin', I don't care what you're thinkin', but if you get outta line I'm gonna set your ass on fire." He said it again and again and again. It took on semi-comic overtones, then seemed to reach the status of mystical incantation. The rhythm always the same, the accents on the same places. A sermon-like cadence. It got to be where it stopped making any kind of sense at all, and then it got to be where you were pretty sure this was the only utterance that any human being would ever need to make, ever.

"I don't care what you're thinkin', I don't care what you're drinkin', but if you get outta line I'm gonna set your ass on fire."

Eventually the new guy grew a little bit irritated, not so much at this ceaseless, carping chant but with something in the game or something else about the guy in general. Things were said like fuck off. Other people came in, voices alternating quickly in mood and tone. Like no one could sustain ill will for longer than a breath or two.

And then the rolling of the dice.
At the gym pool tonight I perceived that the lifeguard was doubled over in his chair, asleep face-first in a tabloid paper. He didn't even seem to be on duty; he was wearing street clothes and had a knapsack beside him like he'd just dropped by, exhausted and seeking a few minutes' respite in the course of some unfathomably long journey. He was a young black guy with a matching baggy gray-and-black outfit. I got out of the hot tub and walked by him. The paper was open to a double-page article bearing a headline in huge type. His head covered the second half but the first half said:

GIRL, 14,

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Let me tell you something, and trust me: The sound of a City pigeon cooing is exactly the same as the sound of a Duane Reade bag full of boxes of things scraping against the back of a chair on an uptown bus.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I was contemplating my mortality and deteriorating flesh when the bottle of Listerine seemed to spring from its perch atop the mirror and fell into my hands, blue fluid sloshing foamily inside.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Seller's Remorse

I've been in a frenzy of selling on eBay lately. Old camera lenses, guitar pedals, computer things I no longer need. Straining toward a vision of myself as unburdened and of life as elegantly efficient. But there's a curiously empty feeling now, not because there's nothing left but because there's nothing left to cast away. We're all really materialist fetishists of one sort or another; preoccupation with getting rid of things is just like preoccupation with acquiring things. Either way it's a preoccupation with things.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I walked stiff in the breathtaking cold back up Greenwich. Adam and Steve ahead, Jim and Rumana behind. The whole world seemed to want to crack: cars and asphalt, signs and facades, awnings, free-paper boxes and people belching plumes of breath.

We walked by the Umanov & Parsons bakery, where a waft of warm cinnamon seeped into forbidding air. There's a sign by the door there telling cars to turn off engines while they wait.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The odor of burnt bone clung to the walls and drapes and permeated every porous thing. We lived with it for weeks. The first night, after the shock of near death, we escaped the stench and drove to the ersatz New York delicatessen by the side of the highway for pastrami and French fries and pickles; strong, simple-tasting things to make us forget. And though we were happy to get out – and to have averted tragedy – that haunting smoke suffocated our mood. We were sleepy, dazed, not entirely in contact with the world or each other.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Had dinner with Andrea at a new Italian restaurant around the corner from her. The slate sign on the sidewalk read, "Now open Tuesdays." We were there alone and the place had the forlorn, eager air of a long-neglected inn along an obscure road, where stagecoach passengers in a Russian novel must spend an unexpected stormy night. Each of about twenty empty tables glowed with candlelight.

I had the orechiette and it wasn't bad.

As I drifted off to sleep early last night I remembered years ago when I came back from band practice to find our apartment thick with smoke. It was erupting out of the soup pot in a dreadful plume, like something funneled out of hell. I turned off the burner and took a towel and grabbed the handle and stiffly walked the thing downstairs, smoke still pouring. I threw it in the snow where it sank to the ground with a sinister hiss. I ran back up and found Aimee passed out on the couch. I grabbed her and called her name and as she came to she looked around in dazed wonder. "Baby, I fucked up," she said. We held each other. "I fucked up, baby, I fucked up."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

There is a prodigious icicle growing outside the kitchen window, the sort of thing that might kill someone below. It's a fascinating object, a fresh growth whose molecules contain each ancient secret of rock formation, of erosion. Presently water drips down and off the bulbous tips of its hundred glassy fingers. And emerging from there's a crystal vomit-splash of ice across the window, starry and bejeweled.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Snow sifted down upon the city in a blur. I walked over to Andrea's and on the way I stopped at the liquor store on 103rd and Park, right by the elevated Metro-North, right by the vacant weedy lot where inexplicably there's a sofa, table and two chairs. A husky-voiced drunk was ahead of me in line, buying a bottle of wine or brandy.

"You got a opener? For sale?"

"No sir," said the clerk.

"My man, can you do me a favor? Open it halfway."