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

Waving

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

"Look out your window."

"What?"

"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.