Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Eternity of Your Love

I received a spam e-mail today, the title was:

Eternity of Your Love

The wedding reception took place on the sixth floor of a nondescript building in the Garment District, amidst wholesalers and warehouses and shuttered-up garages. Dressed-up people clustered in the narrow lobby waiting for the single elevator. Upstairs there was a spacious universe of brick and wood. A guest book, coat check, everything. Those potted trees with the thin, bare branches.

Right outside the elevator where the guest book was there were candles everywhere: table, floor. One caught the corner of Sean's coat and he went up in flames, requiring the assistance of a kind stranger to save his lining if not his life.

The waiters brought out tray upon tray of hors d'oeuvres, every last one laid upon a thin disc of cucumber.

Some guests chose to eat the cucumber too, grabbing the entire arrangement sloppily, the cucumber squirming on their thumbs, making two, three, four tries at it with the waiter stiffly standing by until they wrested the thing off its surface and popped it quickly in their mouths.

The hors d'oeuvres presented a narrative from the ordinary to the bizarre, a culinary adventure into absurdity. We began with scallops wrapped in prosciutto and mini quiches and lamb chops and then there was French toast on a stick and chicken livers smothered in molasses and caramels in rock salt and pickled fish eyes, cherries with blood pudding and raspberry-mutton sorbet; peach goulash, whale blubber soup, soy cake with deer antler butter, fried radishes and live ants stuck in honey.

Or so it seemed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Diary of a Ghost

Some strange people live in this house. I was in the downstairs. The younger boy, the one with the disheveled hair. He stayed awake for hours sitting up in bed and playing with toy soldiers by the light of the moon. Infantries charging each other over the hills of his quilt. I scrutinized this scene with fierce interest until finally he fell backwards into a stupor and kicked a dozen doughboys to the floor. I never get bored.

Upstairs Mr. and Mrs. S. were tangled in their bedsheets after a bout of lazy and inattentive intercourse. He was asleep and she was not, her eyes wide open to the dark, afraid of what the day would bring. He snored and dreamt of driving a car in the town where he grew up, except he wasn't at the wheel – he was facing backwards in the backseat and suddenly remembered he had to steer, and he tried to twist his body into place to reach the wheel and see the road, and he tried to find a way to clamber over into the front to find the pedals, and he was facing down an impossibly steep hill.

The older boy had recently fallen asleep too, after obsessing over the ticking of his clock. The more he tried to ignore it the louder it got. When he focused on it he found he could make the infernal sound disappear for a few beats but then it would just as soon expand back into his consciousness, louder still, violent ticktocks blaring at him, taunting him, as though reproaching him for some mysterious sin. It never really ended but thankfully exhaustion prevailed and he passed into a dark and fitful slumber.

I slipped into the heating pipes with a hiss and a clang.

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Washable toast!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

There was a man in the laundry room so I lifted my head as I approached, I lifted my eyes. Nothing. He kept sorting solemnly his remaining clothes into the two machines.

John is the surly, quiet doorman. He wears glasses that droop a little too far down his nose, so when you walk in or out, and say hello, and he lifts his tired, jowly head he has to lift it a bit too far so that he's seeing you through his lenses. He's hunched over but his head is tilted back and he's struggling to see you through the glasses with the light from up above glinting off them too.

"Hi John."


"Hello. Sir," his last syllable dissolving into a whisper, then a breath. And then he puts his head back down again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

George W. Bush Is an Idiot and a Fucking Craven Little Bitch Besides

George W. Bush on "60 Minutes" looked pained, reluctant, tired, all things you might expect. But it took me a while to form any other thoughts about this dreary, obligatory bit of public relations work. The President's vague and halting manner seemed to defy close scrutiny, as though his famous aversion to introspection and his incuriosity form a sort of field around him which similarly dulls our own inquisitiveness.

But with the benefit of a night's sleep a few ideas began to coalesce.

This is a sad, stupid and bumbling man who has real difficulty – and I mean the tragic, pathos-filled difficulty of the semi-functioning adult moron – putting together a coherent sentence. And like idiotic people typically do when they are faced with challenges, Bush has – deftly, even, one might say – developed a series of strategies to deflect questions and thus to appear "normal." For example, there is the "stalling" of questions that are beyond his mental functioning to properly address. Scott Pelley asked something like, "Mr. President, many Americans feel that you're stubborn. Is this true?" Bush replied, "What, that I'm stubborn... or that many Americans think I'm stubborn?" And here Bush produced his slack, shucky grin, like, Whew! OK. I thought of something to say. Pelley repeated, with what appeared to me to be a trace of impatience, of patronization: "Americans feel that way. Is it true?" And then the denial – odd, actually, since he's always tried to play his inflexibility off as strength, as gutsy resolve. This time: "I think I'm a flexible open-minded person. I really do. I really do." A touch of petulance now. And then, "Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?" Bush's reply: "That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?" The maddening tactic he employs of answering questions with questions, often idiotically reversed ones, no matter how ill-conceived or inappropriate, in order to deflect attention from his inability to properly consider and respond to such questions, questions that are even the least bit penetrating, is only part of the problem. He also reflexively casts the blame on others. Like a kid at recess: I know you are but what am I? It's a craven gesture, the signature of a petty and immature soul, and he performs it at once, without hesitation.

Why would HE fucking APOLOGIZE for the IRAQIS not doing a better job, anyway, for fuck's sake? My God, if you're going to be weak, if you're going to be a coward, if you're to be a petty little BITCH and you happen to be the President of the United States can't you be the least bit clever about it?

Bush's spin doctors, aides, speechwriters and other Rasputins have jammed a gummy wad of fucking self-serving, disingenuous, sinister, hypocritical EXCUSES for the mayhem and murder in Iraq into his thick, tiny skull and he STILL can't get them right.

And that's the sad truth about Bush. He's Pandora, who opened the box. And just as the box contained that one ghostly glimmer of good to be loosed upon the world, hope, Bush himself is not all bad. He's not evil; he believes he's doing good and in fact doesn't believe he's doing great harm in the service of good. He's far more dangerous than evil people are. Saddam was evil, and our rickety constitutional democracy seems to protect us against actually electing people like that. People like that are recognized and soon enough marginalized in a free, educated society. They'll make their mark, sure, but they won't become president. And if somehow they were to they'd get run out of town sooner or later – Nixon was as close to actual evil (knowing, calculated malfeasance) as any leader we've had and we kicked him around until we didn't have him to kick around any more. Bush is worse: he's both stupid and craven. Let's face it, this emperor's naked as a jaybird. Can we say so finally? He's a low functioning adult, not borderline retarded but frankly much closer to that line than most people are willing to think. By any measure, by any observation, he's hapless, exceedingly inarticulate, lost, halting, bewildered. In addition, he is a moral coward. He's quick to blame others, to hide, to avoid being implicated and to cower from any physical or other danger even when such a risk might be warranted as a rite, or in order to protect others, or as a matter of principle. He has no desire to accept responsibility and to experience the accordant realization of his own weaknesses, shortcomings and errors. In short, to grow. In some, these shortcomings arise out of evil; in Bush they arise out of stupidity. The effect is the same, though more terminal and – because he is not entirely unsympathetic, not a Nixon – more insidious. To bring us back to the playground, he's like that really fucked up dumb kid no one felt sorry for because his reaction to being dumb was being mean. And in the meantime those who are evil, who know how to, and seek to, take advantage of this circumstance, this president's miraculously obstinate idiocy, happily further their own war mongering, war profiteering, insane pseudo-religious fantasies and all manner of other machinations whose toxicity imperils our moral environment just as greenhouse gases imperil our physical one.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fuck Ford

Fuck Gerald Ford. I mean really. Enough already, day after day of speeches and salutes and viewings and reminiscing and of the laying in state. All anyone can seem to say is he was a nice enough guy. Maybe he was. Who gives a fuck? Who are we burying, Willy Loman? This was a kindly Midwestern good ol' guy, the epitome of a particularly bland postwar type, the decent yet uncourageous American male. Good enough to let his wife outshine him, not too good to pardon Nixon in return for the presidency. In deference to another asshole president, he was kind enough to die when the Iraq War reached a gruesome new depth: the deadliest month for civilians. And what an irony that he upstaged James Brown, something no living man could do. Could you possibly even imagine a greater distance in every measurable way between two contemporaneous U.S. citizens than there was between those two? Hail Black Caesar. As for Gerry, let's bury him, not praise him.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In Paris there was a didgeridoo player down in the metro. Was entrancing two little kids by making sounds like a bouncing ball and miming a bounce with the finger of his free hand. He wore a hipster hat. Bwaaoing, baaoingg, bwoing.

The scene made me depressed for some reason.

34th Street on New Years Eve was run through with idiots. Young boys with gelled hair and pleated pants and their miniskirted dates in high heels and tights, 2007 tiaras. Everyone seemed to be on their way in or out of a deli.

On the precipice of debt.