Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The artificial intelligence took us through unfamiliar streets, the types where bashed-up cars are parked and weeds grow through the sidewalks. “In one thousand feet, turn right,” she says, and we obey.

At a stop light I observed a used car lot. CROWN FORD PRE-OWNED, it said, and all the letters were immaculate blue and white, the logo we all know below. I marveled at the correctness of it all, the font, the kearning. The folks at headquarters must be hands-on. But then as I rolled away I noticed the entire block of text was off-center on the concrete facade. Not by much. Only by an inch or two. But enough.

On the Belt Parkway we watched as the planes came in. There’s always one that surprises you, that appears right out of the trees and blots out the sun.

At the party she didn’t speak to us except to say excuse me. But at least we stayed until after she left.

Monday, May 23, 2022

At halftime I ate the pizza like a, what? Animal. Sure. But what? Like a dog, maybe. Like a rat. Then it occurred to me the reason that rat with the pizza video went viral is because deep down inside we’re all the rat. Snaring a cold slice and running away furtively, desperate to make it descend our throats before someone or something intervenes to tell us: No, you can’t have that.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

I walked up the ramp to leave the 4th Street station, lost in my earbuds, Winterland 1974. A man waved to me frantically, imploringly. I scrutinized him and tried to assess the situation. He seemed stuck in the turnstile somehow, straddling one of the tripod arms in mid-rotation. Did he need my help? In a flash I decided not. But of course that assessment was self-serving. I didn’t want to approach this wide-eyed stranger and disentangle him from the teeth of this machine. If that’s even what he wanted. I thought in fact he wanted something else. The mechanism seemed to be turning a bit. And even if it wasn’t, it was absurd to think he couldn’t clamber over it, or under. Yet he still appealed to me fiercely, arm outstretched. I turned away to exit one of the other gates a little farther down. I looked over my shoulder. He was still there and seemed to be watching me. If he does get free then surely he’ll run up behind and clobber me in the skull, I thought. Kill me. Surely he’ll kill me. What else could he possibly want? Before I reached the stairs to the street I turned around again. I didn’t see him anywhere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Music had been promised between two and five and here we were two-ten and they were still tuning up and fucking around, some sitting on folding chairs in the street, 5th Ave revelers strolling by with their grilled corn and mozzarepas. I really didn’t mind. The plunks and blurps from their instruments faded nicely into the hubbub of the fair. I didn’t want the music to start.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The radio said there’d be violent storms, a tornado even. Watch out for flying branches. But instead it was beautiful, just a little cloudy. It got weirdly bright and silvery midafternoon and then big, fat drops of rain fell straight down like they were dripping from a sieve.

When you’re watching your team it doesn’t matter how good they are, they seem plagued to you, forever vulnerable, unlucky. Because you see yourself in them maybe. I was so sure they’d lose the penalty shootout I braced myself. Clenched my stomach against the inevitable sorrow. Then they had a chance to win, and missed. Now for sure it’s all over. How can it not be over? But they won.

Friday, May 13, 2022

In my slight abbreviation. Sorry, my slight inebriation tonight I remembered that S. said she wanted to watch a documentary about a famous comedian. I know his last name: Carlin. I’m pretty sure it’s Carlin. A very famous, legendary comedian. But I cannot now, and haven’t for some hours, been able to remember his first name. Bob? Joe. Jim?

Bill Carlin. Is it Bill? I’m pretty sure it’s Bill. It’s not Jeff, it’s not Tom. For sure not Tom.

We’re not even going to talk about Adam or Andy or anything like that. It’s a one-syllable name for sure. Of that I am sure. In fact there are very few male names that are not, or can’t be reduced to, a single syllable. Think about it.

It’s not Mike. It’s not Dave.

Bill. Bill Carlin?

Thursday, May 12, 2022

A strange, quiet evening when dinner’s too early because Jackie was at the dentist and they brought back Shake Shack. Now golden sunlight streams across the space and birds are chirping and there’s nothing to do, not even a kid to put to bed.

On my morning run I thought of writing a play about the tragedy. Why not after all? As I turned around at the end of the park I thought of a cutely poignant little ending. Then I thought no. Now I’m not sure.

Sunday before last we had dinner in a covid enclosure on the street, a neighborhood Italian on Sixth Ave. We took our time, had dessert. Everyone so nice and friendly. I observed a shadowy figure pacing a living room on the second floor above the restaurant. A drizzle began to fall but not on us.

On our way back we passed another restaurant. Their street tables were bustling. The food looked good. We thought we’d like to try it sometime. Just past its perimeter, where cars again occupied the parking spots, there was something strange. You could feel it before you saw it. A nice SUV parked beneath a tree, dotted with fresh rain. The windshield was smashed in by a pipefitter’s wrench that remained nestled in the breach, radiating a web of cracks across the glass. It seemed staged, theatrical. Like there was a hidden camera capturing our reactions. A performance art installation, maybe. The wrench was just too perfect. Weighty, industrial. Everything else was just so pretty. The dusting of pink blossoms on the cars and street. The lamplit walls and stoops. We scrutinized the wrench for a minute. Peered at the front seat of the car, apparently unaffected. We thought of taking pictures but we didn’t.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

I read the police report off my phone, glasses up on my head so I could get up close and see the print. Witness #1, Witness #2. The alleged perpetrator’s unlikely alias, Hugh. By one account he was Puerto Rican, by all the others Italian. White. Heavy-set. 5-11.

One passage described the blood as magma-like.

I peered away from time to time to watch a documentary about an extraordinarily successful singer from the nineties whose song may or may not have led to the suicide of the man who coined its title. She collapsed in tears in her interview on her rickety wooden chair.

He was described as having a widow’s peak. Upon his arrest out of state he had been using “some sort of cane.”

The perpetrator and one of the witnesses arrived at the victim’s house in the perpetrator’s thirty-year-old pickup truck. Something was broken and the victim and the perpetrator spent a few hours troubleshooting. Then they came back in the house together.

In the supermarket after the game. There’s no such thing as pretzel rods anymore. Ever since the pandemic. You can buy a bag of black truffle sea salt potato chips but no pretzel rods. I dropped a couple things trying to carry them away from the checkout counter and the guy ahead of me apologized profusely like it was him who knocked them out of my arms. Then the cashier offered me a bag and didn’t make me pay.

It was a quiet time at the bar. Just a few of us out back, a few inside. A man with long white hair and a goatee sat at the table in the corner of the yard, smoking a cigar that never seemed to get small. Not paying attention to the game. But there just the same.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The outside TV was way ahead of the inside TV. Twenty, maybe thirty seconds. Just crazy. There’d be a chance, we out there would cheer and groan, and like clockwork our exclamations were echoed half a minute into the future.

Perhaps for this reason people gravitated out. Some heavy hitters, shouters. They drew others out by their gravity. There was nowhere much to sit. I had my place at the picnic table, Andy opposite. Others were sitting all around us now, some crouching on the gravel. The mood was antic. Adam and Paul talking about the Irish in Liverpool like there’s no fucking game on, come on.

Then the equalizer. A deflection into the corner of the net. Howls of glee like the game was won, not tied. The scoreline didn’t change but neither did this undue jubilation. Buckets of icy cold Carlsberg appeared, like something someone ordered for a shitty party and left behind. I drank one, or almost one. Saleem from Lebanon sat down beside me and told me what it meant to him to be a fan. He couldn’t say exactly why it was important, he just knew that it was. He spoke around it, elliptically. I will remember this moment right now for the rest of my life, he declared. It’s a way of marking life. Punctuating. Of better remembering what’s not the game. There was a bombing near where he grew up on the day of the Champions League final and as soon as it was established that his mother was alive the TV went on. He keeps a football journal now, he said.