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.)