Thursday, December 22, 2016

TROOPS


In his experience, many of the world’s greatest discoveries were made by men who would be considered mad by conventional standards.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Fuck 'Em

I got drowsy on the train and missed my stop. I got out at 15th Street, by the park. A fat guy sat on a bench, talking on his phone. As I approached I knew I’d overhear something great. Here’s what it was:

“They didn't much like Michael bringing the pizza in. But fuck ‘em. Who cares. Fuck ‘em.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


There was a guy on the platform this morning, zigzagging close to the edge, babbling. I was lost in thought until I realized he was coming my way. I backed away and hid behind a beam, a little worried that he’d be offended and lash out. We got into the same car and he sprawled out on the bench across from me, chanting and moaning to no one and nothing. He had a belt in his hand and began whapping the buckle against the back of the seats. It made a hell of a racket. He seemed pleased by it, like a baby banging on the bars of his crib. Others in the car peered over their books and tablets at him for a moment, then didn’t give it another thought. “It’s too damn early for this,” said a woman across from me to the right. We caught each other’s eyes and smiled just a little bit.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Sometimes when the computer gets stuck, you get that spinning wheel or whatever the case may be, it feels like time itself enters a strange, inhuman realm. Something that once took a tiny fraction of a section, directed by humans in programming language, facilitated by unimaginable processing power, now takes, potentially, any arbitrary length of time. Could be 25 seconds. Could be three days. Could be 5,618 years. The machine doesn’t care. It’s just going to do what it’s supposed to do. We constrain machines with our imperfect, wishful thinking. But they don’t give a damn.

I'm OK!


About a week ago on the subway steps I was in the crowd going down past the one going up. Two men passed by and the first one stumbled on a step, falling back a bit onto the second one, who helped keep him up. “I’m OK! I’m OK!” he said. Angrily. Like: I don’t want your help. It fills me with rage that you had to touch me, hold me like that. I can’t stand that I just needed you right now.

There were flashing lights down on the street tonight, an ambulance. Voices in the hallway. Unintelligible. The voices of two disparate neighbors, I thought—from 1 and 3. Outside the driver walked back to the door, unrushed. But I guess that's how they always are.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Drivers are worse and worse these days, weaving back and forth across the lines as they text or tap their apps or God knows what. When I see a car like that I hold my breath and pass it, to put the impending calamities behind us.

Feel tired and a little nauseous now, after three days of weird eating and drinking, of too much at once, then not enough for too long, then too much again. And all of it under this cloud of grief, this funeral that doesn’t end.


But there is always something to look forward to: the empty page, another day, and death.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ten Years Ago

I walked down the ramp to the platform at West 4th. One of the crazy musicians was there, not the Rasta who plays the same wuffly-shuffly chords forever, or the guy with the keyboard, but the white guy with the acoustic guitar, a sort of Hemingway-looking guy, but demented too, just not right at all. It seemed he always ranted more than he played, and this time he was right in the middle of one. His gibberish was notable for being articulate and clear. Often, street crazies make so little sense that you can barely distinguish one word from the next. Like stars, the more you focus, the more they fade away. But this guy, you knew what he was saying, and you knew it was pure insanity, and that made it scarier, really. Here's what he said, leaning over his guitar, the moment I walked by:


“She died or disappeared or whatever she did ten years ago.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

TROOPS


She wore a big, brown barrette, and when she turned her head I caught a glimpse of a small, white ear.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

TROOPS


And there were other things in those photographs that he didn't like, either.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

TROOPS


and he felt a kind of panic bloom in his heart.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When Black Friday Comes


Overheard on Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn, a woman tells her man: “On Black Friday I want to get you that TV.”

TROOPS


Macro crises get disaggregated into localised events

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TROOPS


“Is that so? Too bad. Anyway, Helen —Mrs. Wilcox—says that Mrs. Patterson visited regular as clockwork,

Friday, September 30, 2016

TROOPS

The stars had all been stifled by the spreading ink of the clouds.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TROOPS

After these visits I would return to the unit, with its faux-homey look, in a black mood.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Every time I peel potatoes I think about the Holocaust. In the comfort of my well-appointed kitchen. Why is that? Is it some movie, “Sophie’s Choice” or “Schindler’s List”? Is there a potato-peeling scene in one of them? In both? Of an attractive Jewess who’s been adopted by the sadistic camp commander and who, in the midst of horror, has the chance to peel and fuck her way to survival? Such a European food, potatoes. So plain and dumb and useful. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, fry ‘em. The food of kings and pawns and Nazis. I think I also read that the peels were desperately coveted by starving prisoners. Forced to grovel for scraps, like dogs. I think about them with each flick of my wrist.

TROOPS

—Your sister lives in a big house outside town

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Come Fellowship With Us

Brothers, sisters, join us in the light. Our hearts are open. Our doors are open. Thursday’s potluck begins at six o’clock, well, five-thirty if you have something for the steam trays. You can use the side entrance and head straight to the kitchen. Linda will be there. She’ll tell you what to do. As usual.

We’ll need volunteers to help with the folding tables and chairs.

Come fellowship with us.

Brian just came back from Togo and he’ll put on a little presentation about the children he saw, the wretchedness. Your contributions go a long way toward bringing the eternal light of the Redeemer to the darkest places in Creation. They buy mosquito nets. Lentils.

There’s a sing-along every night at eight. Join hands with us in fellowship in the light and love of the Lord.

I understand our Couples Perseverance Circle is becoming quite popular. Tuesdays at seven. What? What’s that Linda? Oh, seven-thirty. OK. You don’t have to— You don’t have to corr— Now come on. You don’t have to correct me in that tone. No, no, no. I know. Seven-thirty, not seven. I know we wouldn’t want our brothers and sisters to be misin— Now come on, now. It’s just your tone, Linda. Please don’t correct me in that tone of voice.

Come in the spirit of fellowship and lay your burden down. Why just last week the Robertsons shared something quite remarkable with the group. I don’t think I’m speaking out of school when I declare that they have reaffirmed their commitment to each other in Christ. Remember some of the interesting scripture they quoted? May all your pain be pleasure; may your bondage set you free. I was intrigued by that. It’s been a long road, and yea the road be curvy. It’s a tall mountain, and verily it be steep. But anywhere a man plants his flag be his... home? Something like that. Can I get an amen? What was it, 1 Corinthians? Not sure about chapter and verse. What Linda? What now? Galatians? Linda thinks it’s Galatians. I’m not so sure, but— Honey? Honey, please don’t interrupt me during the writing of the newsletter, it’s one of the few goddamned moments of peace I get in this—

Forgive me.

Not you Linda, them. Forgive me, dear brothers and sisters in Jesus. No— Uh— What?

OK, of course, of course. You too. You too may forgive me, dear.

I’ve asked Terri and Sam to do a show-and-tell for us next time, anyway. Of some of the blessed objects they described. That have brought them so much light and joy in Christ.

Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. Who’s ready to get their gambling on? Ha ha ha, I like to use vernacular. Our monthly casino night is coming up on the 12th. You won’t believe your eyes as we transform our cherished house of worship into a veritable temple of sin. Blackjack, roulette, you name it. Pai gow poker. The various games of chance. Try your luck, partner! Just for one night, though. At 10 pm sharp we tear everything down and revert back to a modest sanctuary for those seeking the succor of faith. Again, if anyone could stay a little late to help with the chairs and the tables. Those tables, they’re a two-man job. I really threw out my back last m— That’s right, I did! What do you mean, I’m a— Linda, that’s disrespectful. It’s very disrespectful. I did overwork my lumbar. I told you— No, I did. I DID. That’s not true. I need them. I need those for my back, Linda. No, that’s beside the point. THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT. There’s no law against it, Linda. No law. No law of earth or heaven. There’s no goddamn law says I can’t have a glass of bourbon with my percocet. I know, I know, but— He’s one to talk. That’s right. He’s one to talk. Dr. Allen is an old pervert, Linda. People have been saying it for years! For YEARS. You said it! You said it! You didn’t seem to be joking at the time. I’m just saying, you trust a sexual predator, you give ME grief? What do you mean, that’s got nothing to do with his medical opinion? In my fucking medical opinion, he should not have pressed his penis into that girl’s face while she was under sedation. MY OPINION. Sue me. Sue me if that seems, I don’t know, controversial. A rumor? Every single member of our congregation couldn’t stop talking about it for a month. These are good people, Linda. People of faith. People of the Lord. For your information, I’m going to give thoughtful consideration to their fucking opinions of Dr. Allen. That’s right. FYI. You goddamn right I’m going to, it’s a free fucking country. “Potentiate the medications.” It’s the only thing that’s keeping me sane in our marriage, Linda. God help me. It’s the only thing that’s keeping me sane in this goddamned slog that we call life together. Help me Jesus Christ.

So if any of you could devote a few minutes to moving back the tables. And the chairs.

As I conclude this edition of the Fellowship Newsletter, I wish you all peace and blessings in Jesus. May you see nothing but love and holiness in each other and yourselves. May you never strain for the fruit of the tree, nor the light of the s—

OK, OK. OK Linda. I’ll be there in a minute.

Come fellowship with us.

TROOPS


She didn't know how to answer that question. She didn't want to.

Friday, July 22, 2016

No One's Right or Wrong

As I walked the dreary walk down Carmine Street to the subway after work I passed a young woman sitting on the steps of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. She was talking on her phone and weeping.

“It's not about being right or wrong!” she sobbed. “No one’s right or wrong!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Last night we watched the rainless lightning illuminate the clouds. It was right over Lower Manhattan, or maybe it was over Jersey behind it.

As I lay on the beach on Long Island on Saturday I closed my eyes and listened to the conversations around me. A girl had worked in real estate and done real good, she bragged to her friends, but she didn’t want to ever go back. After a while, a man wandered up to them with a rap about how he learned to swim.

“My family had a boat when I was a kid. A lot of us. We were in a bay and we all jumped off. The last one out forgot to drop the anchor. We had to be rescued by the Coast Guard the following day.”

There were murmurs of admiration from the girls.

“You didn’t swim, you didn’t survive,” he said. “Now two of my cousins are Olympic swimmers.”

More cooing. Oh! Ah!

“In the Army they tell you water is like, an obstacle,” he continued. “In the Navy it’s a refuge. The water like, protects you. You not gonna get shot.”

A group of two or three men walked right by our tent, in mid-conversation.

“Sounds like a liberal,” one said.

“... so he gets all naked and starts going on about Donald Trump,” said another.

“Sounds just like a liberal,” he repeated. The word liberal pronounced not with disgust exactly but a kind of exasperated disappointment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I hit my head hard under Jackie’s loft bed today, and bit my lip. I wondered, Is this where I see stars? But I didn’t see stars. I dutifully collapsed on the arm of the big blue chair for a few seconds. But there was nothing wrong with me. I was almost disappointed to realize it. There was nothing to do, really, but to stand up and go on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

TROOPS


“If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less willing to pay the price, son.”
The events of the day defy description, honestly. Not because they were remarkable but because they were not.

Still there is an unseen world of splendor behind every door, over every wall and under every floor.

Monday, July 11, 2016


There was a young couple sitting cross-legged on Carmine Street this morning, with their dog and their cup. They reminded me of those mangy kids on Haight Street, trying to make a buck off some long-dead idea of beautiful, eternal youth. Except these two were alone among the oblivious passersby like me, trudging to our jobs. There was no scene for them. As I walked by I noticed the boy was drinking a tall Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita. Who knows, maybe life was good.
While the players took turns passing out and falling in love in the panoramic production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Prospect Park, I spied a couple a few yards in front of us on the lawn. They were conversing softly, intimately, oblivious to the drama before them. They sat close on a blanket, their limbs in easy, affectionate contact. But she had a pained look. It seemed like she was inquiring about something troubling. He’d say a few words, apparently serenely, and she’d press him, her brow tense with worry. Was a couple breaking up in the audience of a play about couples breaking up? I imagined that he’d cheated on her but considered it to not be a big deal—they were young, they didn’t have kids, they’d only recently started going out for real, the other woman didn’t matter to him, it was her that he wanted, he was sorry, of course he’s sorry, but what more can he say? He loves her. It’ll never happen again. All the usual lines.

Then she smiled and touched his arm, and I realized maybe this is just the way her face looks.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What am I about to dream about?

Naked in the supermarket, didn’t study for the test?

Something erotic?

A familiar city, but strange? Driving in a car without a steering wheel?

What am I about to dream about?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Notes Written Upon Waking Up About a Dream I Can No Longer Remember 2

I took acid with Steve and someone else, a friend of his but no one that I know in real life. I wanted to have enough left over to sell. I really felt high when I took it. Felt high in my dream.

The neighbors upstairs.

A bus ride.

Dragging a suitcase through the mud.
I wondered how many times there was a man overboard. Must be lots. The railing is pretty low. It was crowded on that deck on Saturday, tourists from everywhere. People must get jostled, get pushed. Or jump. Then there’s the drunks going back to Staten Island on weekend nights. Maybe they just huddle in the cabin, bracing themselves against the seasick spins.

It was a beautiful day. Sailboats darting across the water. Helicopters buzzing overhead. The Statue of Liberty right there. I’d seen it up close before. But every time I do it seems like the first.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Enterprise - 54

There might have been a malaise in the office. I don’t know. Couldn’t quite feel it myself. Days would go by when a hush would fall upon the space. Everyone with their headphones on. Staring at whatever on their screen—maybe some tired old code, maybe The Times, Yahoo!, Fucked Company. When you got up and looked around, you could almost hear the click of a mouse.

“Neil, Alan’s in your office,” Robyn called out one day as Neil emerged from the elevator after lunch.

Neil stopped and turned to her. “Alan?”

“Alan.”

“Alan Epstein?”

“Yes.”

“He’s in my office?” Neil asked, pointing at his opened door.

“He’s at your desk.”

“He’s at my desk?”

“I think so,” Robyn replied airily.

Neil shook his head in bewilderment. I watched as he entered his office. Alan was standing behind the desk, poking through whatever was on it like you would a pile of magazines at a doctor’s office. Neil shut the door. It was the first time I’d ever seen Alan. It was the last time I ever saw Neil.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Welcome to the Club

Nothing but the finest for the most refined and sophisticated gentleman. A man such as yourself—well-versed in the ways of the world, women and their wiles, expensive food and drink. A smoker of Cuban cigars. A player of golf. For you, we offer our most exclusive and luxurious package. Three days of deep, intense pampering. Three nights.

You are keenly discerning. A man of few, though judicious, words. Whose strength and vitality is evident to any ordinary passerby who spies you heaving your hulking frame from the back of a limousine, accepting—though not requiring—the gloved hand of a mustachioed chauffeur.  Know the softer touch of Maarja, our Estonian masseuse. She has been trained in the use of oils. She is aware of your unwillingness to engage in conversation. You have a lot on your mind. She’ll help you forget it.

Admire the awning. Our name in gold leaf. Cursive—of course. You’d accept nothing less. Inside you’ll find a peaceful, welcoming sanctum. Do you see the walls? Italian rose marble. No expense has been spared to create an appropriate space around you. Do you see the writing on them, carved by long-dead craftsmen?

Your personal realm is appointed with the best French silk, the best faux Louis chairs, the best Scandinavian wood. The best, the best, the best. Open the armoire to find a sleek, regal, sixty-inch flat screen. Run your manicured fingers softly over its cool, dark face. Does it not seem to pulse with mysterious, otherworldly power? Upon this screen you will have the opportunity to view a cornucopia of expertly curated pornography. You have very specific desires and expectations. BDSM, roleplaying, bukake. Special Ops interrogation. Boardroom humiliation, food & tears, Learjet orgies. Grooming accidents. Nothing too esoteric or risqué. You know yourself. And we know you. Prepare to enter an onanistic paradise without peer, designed and programmed for the one and only you.

Sometimes a man needs a counterpart, a foil. Especially a man of great distinction. How else is he to properly stand out among other men, lesser men? At your leisure you will have the opportunity to shout at the help. Dial one on your room phone and an insecure, introverted, bookish young man of dubious sexuality will present himself at your door to welcome your abuse. Dial two and an unaccountably confident, headstrong young woman will appear. Dial three, a black. Four, a Mexican. Five, a second-generation Middle Eastern immigrant. You may say anything you wish to them. As loudly as you like. Let it all out. Feel your cheeks glow red with righteous rage. You are permitted to touch yourself, but please: not them.

Welcome to the Club. You’ve arrived. You deserve it. You. You. You. Sit on the edge of your king-size bed. Now take off your shoes. We’ll knock your socks off.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

TROOPS


She turned the page, hoping for a photograph of the city where Dev was born.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


I gazed up at the rafters in Madison Square Garden as Robert Smith sang “Friday I’m in Love.” The retired Ranger numbers, jersey style, red and blue on white, floated incongruously over the far end of the arena. The names did too. Names from other times and places. Graves. Gilbert. Messier. I thought about what it meant to retire a number. A great honor, blah blah blah. What it really means is this: If we retire one, we’re going to have to retire them all. Given enough time, and enough acts of athletic heroism, all the other numbers will eventually ascend into that celestial realm. And then what?

Monday, June 13, 2016

TROOPS


Don't believe it. People don't buy things based on how easy they are to return.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

TROOPS


“It came out of the blue,” he says. Boe hasn't even been able to publish his findings in a scientific journal,

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Streak - 100

You wander back out to the parking lot under the starry Southwestern sky. What do they say in that song? The stars are big and bright. Deep in the heart of Texas. Except this isn’t Texas. Or maybe it is. You’re not sure where the fuck you are. Truck Stop, USA. It could be a movie set for all you know. Every piece in place. The pitiful bit of landscaping along the walkway to the diner doors. The garbage can that says Pitch in! With the little stick figure holding his hand above the hole in a gesture of benediction. God bless our trash.

To the right, rows of gas pumps gleam under fluorescent lights. Cars at some of them. Not all. No lines. Not a line for gas. This is America.

There’s a separate area for trucks. Their own archipelago of diesel. And a vast expanse behind it where they park diagonally in the dark. The laws are different back there. Sleeping in vehicles. Sharing crystal meth in the private alleyways between the trailers. You heard about truck stop whores. You imagine teenage runaways. Or sad old addicts. Climbing into the cab to suck a grimy, unwashed cock. Making a thank-you noise through pursed lips as she takes her twenty dollar bill, climbing back out, walking out of view somewhere to spit his seed upon the ground.

God knows what depraved thoughts a man gets when he’s been on the road awake for three days straight. No one to talk to but his radio. His electric cunt.

To the left is the car lot, for civilians; people driving with their families to the Grand Canyon or the Hoover Dam. Eating Cinnabons. Spilling coffee on their balls. Somewhere in that lot is a man who’s dead.

Now you have that stupid song in your head.

There’s a truck pulling in now, says GOD in giant letters on the side. Not just GOD but G.O.D. G period O period D period. To make sure you really get the point. Every period spells fucking. G fucking O fucking D. It stops in front of you and blows its horn, a disturbing, insistent reprimand to your shameful thoughts. You can see the driver in there, gesturing at you. He wants you to approach. Your body vibrates with terror. This is an envoy—yet another—to come get you. Still you find yourself walking forward, off the curb, up closer. The man’s face is now visible through the glass. It’s a round face, mustachioed. It’s a familiar face. Not scary. Not a scary face. Good face. You take a step closer. It’s Bill. It’s Old Bill. You step up on the running board and open the door.

“Evan! Get the fuck in here!”

“Bill?!”

“Get the fuck in here and sit down you cocksucker!”

“Bill?!”

“Get in and close the fucking door, you fucking son of a bitch!”

“Bill!”

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TROOPS


of the private consumption choices of Christians.

Monday, May 16, 2016

TROOPS


He'd beat the miscreants into the ground—

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Enterprise - 53

There was a place I always took my online dates. You walked through a door along the wall of a cacophonous, blaring, second-floor sushi restaurant in the East Village to enter a hushed, dim realm where black-and-white clad bartenders solemnly worked their craft, fussing with jiggers and bar fruit, ever so lightly rattling the sides of shakers as they stirred with slender silver spoons. There was an ornate artwork on the wall above the mirror, as I recall. Perhaps a hunting scene. I don’t think there was music. Or there was. If there was music, its style and volume were precisely calculated so you’d hear it only if you tried.


I met a lovely, young Japanese woman there. She said her roommate, a guy, a white guy, had once left a pile of Asian-fetish pornography on the coffee table, as some kind of provocation. It wasn’t clear what had motivated him. Desire, obsession? Rage? I tried to imagine what brought him to that point, what he expected. She wasn’t telling the story flirtatiously. She wasn’t even telling it for laughs. She was scared. She was scared and bewildered, and nervous. As though she’d just fallen into this incomprehensible world of angry American lust, and had nowhere to go, no one to talk to but a stranger from a dating site. Me. She really was very nice. I never saw her again.

I got stood up once. I think I gave her forty-five minutes. Lots of leeway. But I was happy. Drinking, observing. There were couples here and there. Probably some first dates. People who’d arrived at the appointed time, whether they really wanted to or not, no matter how trepidatious. I was relieved to not be engaging in forced conversation, to feel that desperate pressure to be funny, to be interesting, to not say something strange. It was like I got a reprieve. Then again, some of these guys would likely be ejaculating inside their companion’s vagina tonight, after a few more drinks, then dinner, then some drinks after that, then a cab ride in which they paw and grope and bite each others’ lips. It’ll all be worth it then, for sure. I shook what was left of the ice cubes in my glass, took a couple in my mouth. They tasted a little bit of whisky. But mostly water. Mostly nothing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TROOPS


going slowly along the sidewalk, distracted, he thinks

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TROOPS

“Rancid cod oil may improve it.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

TROOPS


a cinema gig between productions of Titus Andronicus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Notes Written Upon Waking Up About a Dream I Can No Longer Remember


Dad restaurant on the road in France, other people (young), hospital with severely depressed person?

TROOPS


Meanwhile, everyone looks down on May’s unspoken rival

Monday, March 21, 2016

TROOPS


Something unseen stabbed his chest, something more painful and more powerful than he'd ever felt before.

Friday, March 18, 2016

TROOPS


after that one, eh boys?” The saxophone shrieks suggestively

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The car honked a few times and I turned around. A teenage boy was crossing the street in front of it, against the walk signal. I imagined he’d hurry up a bit, even reluctantly, knowing he was wrong but determined to maintain his insolence. Instead he turned and heaved a giant gob of spit in the direction of the driver’s window. It wobbled and distended, amoeba-like, as it arced through the air, shiny in the morning sun.

I don’t know where it landed.

I started at him as he walked away, and he turned around, as though something finally did make him feel guilty. He saw me watching him and turned away. He glanced at me again. And turned away again.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


As he stepped out of the train at 7th Avenue he hissed venomously into the ear of the short man in the baseball cap who stood at the left of the doorway: You’re in the way. There was no reaction from the other man—he might not have heard. But I did. I stared at him as we walked along the platform. Well-to-do, my age. Guy from the neighborhood. Probably a family. Good job. He gave me an unhappy glance, suggesting that he knew I was scrutinizing him, that he knew I’d heard what he said, and that he regretted that I had—that anyone had. It was supposed to come from the darkest core of his self into another human being—his target—and the world wasn’t supposed to know.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


It keeps supposed to be snowing. And it never really does. A flurry here, a flurry there, that’s it. Yesterday, today. The whole city waiting for it to happen. We’d like something pretty and white to cover up the mud and gunk from the last big storm, at least for a little while.

Thursday, February 04, 2016


We all felt like we had a personal relationship with Bowie. Which is immediately a problem, because he didn’t have a personal relationship with us. So to mourn him and to watch hours of videos of him on YouTube is poignant but also disconcerting. Did we all love him because there were so many of him, one for every one of us? He did present many reflective surfaces—or certainly flat white ones, upon which we could project what we wanted, anyway. It is remarkable that there’s something for every gender, every sexuality, every race. Something for the loners and the weirdos and something for the preppy kids. (Mostly something for the loners and the weirdos.) But beyond those obvious conclusions there’s something he said in an interview which makes sense to me and cuts across the personae, and so cuts across us all: the theme in his work, if any, he said modestly, is the experience of isolation and misery, and the urge (the related urge) to make a connection with other people. I want an axe to break the ice.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

TROOPS


There was a faint, unpleasant shiver in the air, like chimes gone sour.
As I gazed into the microwave, the bowl slowly turning, the liquid inside growing hotter—I couldn’t tell it was, but I knew—I wondered about the first microwave of all time, maybe a hundred years ago. What did they think was going to happen? That blue flames would arc across the air? That all life in the vicinity might be contaminated? How could they know? They didn’t. So they tried.

I thought about how the entire twentieth century was defined by leaps into the void. Eat this mold from an orange—see if it kills you, see if it makes you well. What would happen when an atom exploded? Would the chain reaction continue until all of creation was destroyed? How about a sonic boom? Would the airplane disintegrate, and Chuck Yeager too? What if you shined a laser into someone’s eye? What if we played all the wrong notes? Painted pictures of nothing? Made sculptures out of toilets. We suspected someone, or something, might stop us. Or punish us after the fact. But no one did.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Just Do It

OK, ready? Now do it.

Do it.

No. No, no, no, no, no. That’s not how it’s done.

Do it again now. Do it right. Do it.

What are you doing?

You’re doing it wrong. Again. You’re doing it wrong again.

Do it right.

Ready?

You know how to do it. So do it.

No!

No, no, no.

You’re still not doing it right.

You’re doing it wrong. All wrong.

See him over there? He knows how to do it.

Watch what he does. And do it. Do what he does.

Simple as that.

You’re not doing the same thing. Watch what he does. Watch. Really watch.

That’s not it. That’s not IT. He’s doing it right. Watch.

That’s how you do it.

Why can’t you do it right?

Don’t you know how to do it?

You know how to do it. You know you know how to do it. So do it.

No. Nope.

Not like that.

Do it again. Try. Try harder.

Oh no, no, no. No.

You’re not even close. You were doing it better before. When you weren’t doing it before, you were doing it better.

You were almost doing it.

Now you’re not even doing it like that.

You’re not doing it bad like that. You’re doing it worse.

I don’t know what you’re doing now.

OK now go. Just do it.

Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop.

You’re trying too hard.

Do you feel like the harder you try, the harder it gets?

Don’t try so hard. But don’t try easy. Just try. Take a breath and try.

Forget about it. Do it.

Now!

OK hold on, hold on, stop. You’re not doing it at all. Not at all.

Do you think you’re doing it? Do you think you did it?

Because you’re not doing it at all.

Not by a mile.

That’s right.

If he can do it, you can do it.

Right?

And look at her. She did it before and now she’s doing it again.

Look at her do it!

Effortless.

He can do it. She can do it. You can do it.

Ready to do it?

I know you can do it.

Listen: I know you can do it.

Do you know you can do it? You have to know you can do it.

But don’t think about it. Just do it.

OK… OK, OK, OK!

That’s it, that’s it. That’s it!

I think you’re doing it!

Come on, come on, come on!

NO NO NO NO NO!

What’s the matter with you?