Thursday, July 31, 2008

I frittered away a little time trying to balance the coaster that's on my desk on end.

When I was outside on the deck there was a warm, enveloping mist. I was surprised by a raindrop. At that moment I'd forgotten that it sometimes starts to rain at night.

There's always this one light on in a window in the back of a building behind us. The window's open and there's a single curtain swaying in the breeze.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I had to go to the little hardware store on 72nd to buy a string of deck lights for the party. A great old, jumbled-up neighborhood place. Too many people working, prices a little high. Every available inch with some tool or paste or fastener.

I presented my purchase to the girl behind the counter. Young, pretty white girl. Seemed vaguely Eastern European.

"Do you know who else hates your sister?" she said absently as she swiped my card.

"Who?" said her coworker. Black guy, late twenties.

"Pizza place guy," she said.

"Thanks," I said, putting the receipt in the bag.

"Have a good day."

Her voice trailed off behind me as I swung open the door:

"Yeah, he..."

Friday, July 25, 2008

I shifted through my morning rituals as though in a haze, my mind pleasantly blank and idiotic.

Next to nothing occurred at work. An interteam meeting of some animated discussion punctuated by drowsy pauses.

We played foosball with the giggly guy from downstairs who doesn't play so well. Swings at the ball lightly and giggles at his maladroitness.

We had dinner with Jan from San Fran. Later we sat on the roof deck and observed a plume of smoke erupt from the side of the San Remo, the black cloud spreading upon the dark blue sky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Sword of Damocles

We sat out among cicadas and mosquitoes. Feet up, drinking, smoking. From time to time beyond the fence a train would rattle by and howl.

Just past the fence there was a tree with a cracked branch dangling over the swing set by its ropey, splintered pulp; the sword of Damocles.

Cicadas sound faster than crickets.
In Verdi Square there was a beggar speaking of himself in the third person and requesting not one dollar but two.

"All he wants is two dollars! Two dollars! Two dollars is all he wants!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coming Back from Long Island

The rest of the Slurpee melted into a frothy pink soup and I wedged the cup between the seat and the door. We got caught in a throng of rubberneckers, lusting for a glimpse of carnage perhaps, but when we passed the accident on the other side it appeared unspectacular. Suddenly the cars spread apart to reveal Manhattan: an array of gray glyphs on a page of sky.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why Is the Dalai Lama Lying?

The Dalai Lama was at Radio City today. At the corner of 51st and 6th Avenue I was greeted by a monk's outstretched hand bearing some anti-Dalai Lama tract. A businesswoman in a skirtsuit took one and opened it up while we waited for the light. I peered over her shoulder to glimpse this heading in the middle of a page: Why is the Dalai Lama lying? Rumana and Devika paid someone $100 apiece for tickets, and I think that was less than face value. It's like Aerosmith was in town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The subject of Italians came up the other day. Jim had read some book some guy gave him that said Italians have a negative birthrate and their culture and race is in danger of extinction. Their precious open and democratic society, corroded though it may be by corruption and hypocrisy.

Also their government colludes with their mothers to infantilize them well into their 20s and 30s. Who will beat back the black wave of immigration? seemed to be the question posed.

Today I saw Italians in the elevator of the Excelsior Plaza King's Queen Hotel, where I have my gym and go to swim. All I can say is this: They have stupendous eyewear. A young woman with wore blue frames, wide on the sides, with some sort of gold logo affixed. A young man with dark frames, split along the sides, adorned with a swirly, baroque emblem.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My nights lately have been muddled at the start by anxiety that I'm not falling asleep and at the end by guilt that I'm sleeping too long. These preoccupations manifest themselves in dreams.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Two young girls, twenty or so, walking to the elevator with me at the Royal Crown Pallazzo Hotel after my swim. Dressed to kill. Tight brown dress on one of 'em, she has the body of a Barbie Doll. They're talking about their plans for the evening.

"I'm going to get soooo drunk. Omigod."

"Me too. I'm gonna really get drunk. Jesus."

"We don't have anything to do tomorrow except turn in our time sheets!"

They behold each other joyfully and just then the elevator we're waiting for opens and out spill the people. One man walks by, late-thirties-looking guy. He notices the girls on his way past.

"Hey! There they are!" he exclaims, still walking.

"Hey!" they say. "See you tomorrow. Be good!"

"We will!" one says.

"We will!" says the other.

We walk in the elevator and just as the doors begin to close the brown dress girl says, "Not."

Illustration by Louise Asherson

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

There's a phone by the pool at my gym, at the Hyatt King's Jewel Hotel on 49th and Broadway, some kind of special phone without a dial that's in a gunmetal box on the wall by the lifeguard. It's suggestive of the communications apparatus in a submarine in World War II - boxy, unfamiliar, fraught with urgent connotations. Why there's a phone I don't know, and why it ever rings I'll never know, but it rings sometimes, and when it rings it makes an eerie sound. Like a kettle all of a sudden on the boil. And it echoes off the steamed-up skylight, and off the walls and water. The lifeguard answers it: a thin Hispanic teenager with long hair, a bandanna and a goatee. When I get out and walk past to the locker room I wonder whether I should say goodnight, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Every time I do he says the same thing: "All right." With a slight accent on the "all." A pronunciation that seeks to reassure, or perhaps under other circumstances to contain, to arrest. "All right."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

There's a new light in the ceiling over the foosball table and now everything is new fluorescent. Monday morning on my way to work there was a crosswalk light hanging sideways on its post like some beast with its head half-severed. It still worked and told you when to walk and when to stop.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I was back out in the world of trees and guard rails last weekend. To Cat and Rich's house on Saturday, on Long Island just past Queens. I forget the name of the town even though it was on the front of someone's shirt the whole afternoon. East something? It was the sort of place that got put on a T-shirt for people to laugh about or maybe not. It was a hometown.

It's a house with a car that crowds the driveway right beside it, and a porch and lawn in back, and fences.

There was a crashing thunderstorm in the late afternoon and everyone huddled around the table on the tented porch, around the chips and congealing meat. I leaned back on the rail to get drops on my face and shoulders. Some lightning must have come beside us; we didn't see it but there was a terrible bang and everyone was OK.

Planes flew low above us toward one or the other airport. Two engines, four engines. I tried to make out their designs. We drank the rest of the beer and Cat broke out some wine. We talked about baseball and Tom Waits and the planes seemed to get nearer and nearer as the night went on. WHOOOEEESH they went with blinking, blurring lights. We played games with the kids such as why are you hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself. And the planes got closer and louder and closer.
I had a dream the other day in which I thought to myself, "This is very dreamlike."