Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I refuse to believe your forgetfulness, as if you didn’t have an epiphany
when I had an epiphany. We hadn't spoken for some time, your brother had
just won a competition welding bicycles onto the shells of refurbished Impalas, and
Foster Wallace had just hanged himself, though we hadn’t yet heard
and this wasn’t the epiphany. I watched a man in rags on the opposite bank sway in tides,
hunching, unhunching, and you wore such a sensible scarf
for September, paisleys like pond scum rippling out across your neck.
You say you don’t remember the geese’s noisy irreverence or the birch dropping
their gold under our feet, mocking us. I took just enough
steps to keep up, all the while stealing
your private clichés: your self-sacrificing ‘life lessons,’ your 'care deeply’
which you always claimed meant something
other than I meant. But this wasn’t it. I watched you look for his eyes
across the water, because when you see strangers seeing you, you want to wave.
You want to hold him there with you, but while finding his eyes you missed how his arms
arched toward each other, over his head, a wobbling circle,
as if embracing himself or the air. This wasn’t it either.
It was the moment of imbalance: you continuing ahead
in silence while I paused, and saw our man emerge
from the shade: two Canadian geese arching their obsidian
necks away from each other, fighting over something
solid floating out with the tide.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
To avoid processing, I've let others process for me: Alice Munro and Toni Morrison and, most recently, Laurie Sheck. Unfortunately, Munro writes a world in which everything explodes in subtlety. Morrison divides everything in two. Sheck writes words all poets love/hate: "sometimes," "always," "enough."
The point being, I'm in a rut of avoidance. More coming soon!
No Summer As Yet
And no summer as yet, but it will come with its bright peices of whatever,
Sorted by the eye yet still uncaptured,
Greenly branched and various with promise. I'd like to watch it long enough,
Held fast by the laws of its sequencings and shappings, and be so carried, the way the mind goes in
Search of an after that will temper what has come before,
Or sometimes not—: Did I tell you of the man I visited last week, who hasn't lost the ability
To move his tongue, his lips, to laugh or cry or sing or use his voice, yet is unable
To utter any words, just a few unintelligible syllables,
And recognizing this, stares into the face of it
As at the eggs in an opened anthill? I don't know how to think of him. We are so rawly made,
So carried into the harsh and almost-dark.
As if stung in the throat. As if seared by a narrow wire-like blaze
Sharply upon the air and always.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
My father once said, "Her world is getting smaller every day," and I cling to that, because isn't life just that: the opening and closing of a window? Or as Millay wrote, "presently / Every bed is narrow." But would she know? because her window stayed open her whole life; she was a fucking verandah! But I'm mixing metaphors, and, as they say, "comparisons are odious,"
in which case, your silence is a simple absence of noise; muteness. You conned me to think you a Coptic monk, someone I could admire but not know, that you retreated to a void where the only thing between you and God was holy sand.
I see it now, how you tried to shut me up with cheap films,
flowers and pot and two-act plays featuring confession ("Crime and Punishment adapted for stage, a cast of two and a half), but at the time I couldn't take a hint; silence is never diamond, and if it's golden, we've already traded for paper and/or plastic.
That night, all I wanted was your voice after months of silence, your voice like the crying of the frogs, something to frighten me into loving you, and you must've hated me for expecting so much, and the stairs outside my apartment must've felt cold, even in June, and you cried. I didn't touch you.
Instead, you made me love the voice of the Number 3 Empire Builder, southbound as it returns from the rainforests, traces the Puget Sound, passes my chain-link fence, all the while dragging itself over shimmering rails, wailing wraith, chanting ghost train, on its way to Portland.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
First off, the overview: see Bogie, drunk in his own restaurant, an American ex-pat in Morocco, lamenting, "Of all the gin joints..." Who is he without the eternal flame of that pale cigarette dangling out of his perfectly old-timey lips? A patriot. Steve McQueen would be a model driver; Barack Obama would win the Nobel Peace Prize twice; and (here's the seal to my deal) Katharine Hepburn would be Catholic. With all the indoctrination, can you blame us our death wishes?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
They call it Sin City, but, honestly, my greatest offense against the Almighty was eating too much red meat, and if God is as Right Wing as Pat Robertson will have us believe, eating steak is the next best thing to cleanliness. (And making babies [within sanctified wedlock (and not with a turkey baster.)])
Las Vegas might be saturated with unholy neon lights (the city holds the record as the brightest in the world), topless women (the city holds the record for marriages), gay male strippers, godless drunks, obese Southern women with their husbands' credit cards, and married men looking to make a few secrets (the city holds the record for divorces), but the most drawing aspects of the city is its self-awareness and its absolute understanding of human nature.
The aura of the city simulates everything we consider "real": the Eiffel Tower, Venice, New York City, pirates of the open seas, women. Those simulations remind me of the unreality of the rest of my life. When I saw Winnie the Pooh posing for pictures on the south end of the Strip, I took offense at first.
"Look how this brutal world turned my childhood friend into a costumed whore!"
But who was Winnie the Pooh anyway? What is a Pooh? These fabrications we cling to hold no more importance than Vegas' fabrications of fabrications. As I watched dozens of drunkards crowd around Vegas Pooh, I saw the birth of a new icon, and who can say Vegas Pooh is any less life-altering than "original" Pooh?
As Baudrillard so obtusely said, "[Simulation] is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory -- PRECESSION OF SIMULACRA..." We live in a world in which Vegas -- in all its miniaturizations and replications, Madame Tussaud's, M&M World, Statue of Liberty shrouded in palm trees -- is reality, and preferable to the "territory." Why else do we flock there? We flock to see the painted skies inside Caesar's Forum. We seek refuge in something more real than real. Not a surreality, but a beautiful mind-fuck, a hyperreality. But thank God (and Seattle Fudge) I didn't have to pay for any of it.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
The president we voted for just won the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm sure you've heard, amidst widespread dis-/a-pproval. I thought I'd add my ambivalence to the general ambivalence.
The NYTimes blog "The Lede" quoted skeptics and celebrants alike. Go figure that the skeptics they quoted (all but one) were Russians and Ahmadinejad's close adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, and the celebrants were happy Muslims. Far be it for the Nobel Prize Committee to sway over politics.
Sure, so he hasn't ended violent conflict in the Middle East or stopped North Korea from their adolescent baiting, but I admire the fact that he's offered a reversal in the tone of U.S. and international politics. His administration allows room for a future whereas the Bush administration seemed to wallow defensively in the past. However, the prize is hardly just if it's awarding a positive change in the presidency. "The Lede" quoted Ibrahim Assem as saying, “They are handing him the Nobel Peace Prize because he isn’t George Bush.” And I must admit, if my stoner American government teacher were elected, he would've made a positive change, too.
As far as I know, though, the committee has yet to rescind a prize (although Sartre and some other dude declined theirs), so skepticism over the decision is moot. What's left to see is if the prize motivates Obama to continue his crusade for peace or takes the $1.4 million to the Vegas Strip.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
In high school biology, we learned to remember the lysosomes' functions in cells by thinking of Lysol. Lysosomes were like little aerosol cans that made your cells shiny and/or lemony fresh.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Most of you who feel even slightly inclined to read this blog know this about me: more important than finding a comfortable place to live, more essential than finding good coffee within walking distance, more imperative than tapping a decent library system is finding a pub--a pub I can love as my own mother, a loving, supple, life-giving mother.
Of course, being the foundation of American alcoholism, New England provides a variety of valid candidates: Captain Seaweed, Abe's, Spats, Snookers, Muldowney's, etc. The list continues, becoming more Irish closer to downtown. But my trusty-though-sputtering liver lead me to Wickenden Pub, est. 1890.
I was the only patron there Thursday aternoon, so my personal bartender Ken and I get to talking. We cover sports and the ailing job market, school, beer in the area, beer in the Northwest, beer in general. Everything is normal. Until he opens a plastic grocery bag on the bar and starts unloading individual sacks of blue water, each with its own beta fish in it.
I say, "What're you doing, Ken?"
He says, "It's fish raffle day."
He then proceeds to pull empty clear bottles from beneath the counter. Bacardi, Patron, DeKuyser. I don't really understand New England humor yet, so I have to assume he's 1) playing an elaborate trick on the fresh meat in the area, or 2) serious.
He then proceeds to pour beta fish into the bottles. He's serious.
"The Patron is the easiest one. It's all about fitting the right fish to the right bottle. I've been doing this going on 20 years now. You should stick around. Get a ticket. Maybe win a fish."
I'm thinking, "This man is out of his fucking mind. He's going to get a crowd full of Rhode Islanders (who're all stodgy and pissed because of the I-95 redirection construction, by the way) drunk off their asses, and then let them take home a pet, a living creature, who's only going to die the next morning from breathing too much tequila."
But, I have to recant because of this epiphany: pair beer with anything and life gets better. Beer + beta in a Bacardi bottle = the American dream. The same with winter Olympic biathlons: Norwegians pair everything with skiing and make it a sport. Hence, skiing and shooting a gun. Americans, being slightly less athletic but vastly more entertaining, need to step up and introduce the consumption of beer as an Olympic event. We already regularly enjoy beer + ping pong. Why not beer + speed skating? Beer + volleyball? Beer + fencing? Beer + hurdles (which only seems natural)? Beer + javelins? Why not skiing and downing an Irish car bomb? Oprah Winfrey should've thought of that. Then, maybe, Chicago might've had the bid for 2016 instead of Rio, eh?
Friday, October 2, 2009
I heard from a reliable source that the Fox Point neighborhood is located in the oldest area of Providence, RI, and that it "retains much of its historical character" (wikipedia.com). And I believed that source. I also believed the craigslist.com ad telling me this studio apartment is "historic" and, in so many words, quaint.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Harken back to the days of the railroads, coon hats, and Manifest Destiny. We could shoot buffalo out of coach windows and piss off the steps of the caboose. Weren't those just the golden days? They were, I would think, if you're James T. West in a Stetson and you get the girl at the end of every episode. Anyone who thought a cross-country train ride would be romantic (including myself) is either a sadist or a TV producer. Four days in a chair next to a variety of middle-aged men who can't take a hint (hello, boy-cut hair, nasty rat tail, rainbows all over, NAKED LADIES ON MY T-SHIRT) is plenty enough "experience" for me to recant everything positive I said about Amtrak or America or traveling previous to September 28.
In all seriousness, though, I would do it again. Maybe not Seattle to Providence, but Providence to Miami, Miami to San Antonio, San Antonio to San Francisco. Traveling, for some people, is like blood in a sow's mouth; we just want more, even if it means eating our own babies, or gorging until our organs rupture. Is that just me? I do think traveling is addicting, though. The feeling of arriving in a place utterly foreign, surrounded by people utterly alien is my new high. (For those of you who want me to quit smoking, I just might, so rejoice. But Amtrak is more expensive and possibly more dangerous; I swear the pillows are made of asbestos. Cancer is still an option)
That high from, or anyway, that desire for, traveling, drove Millay to write, "there isn't a train I wouldn't take, / No matter where it's going." I would hardly compare myself with the great Millay, but I would say we share a certain willingness to sacrifice some things (comfortable networks, stable jobs, safety nets) for movement - be it physical or otherwise.
Everyone I met on the trains carried lifetimes of travel under their proverbial belts: Tommy the Thai manicurist (if somehow you're reading this, you crazy stalker, please understand I write this with only sweet tenderness) tracked me down in King Street Station. I saw him approaching and couldn't do anything. I was an abandoned pack animal - a llama, maybe, in the Andes - weighed down by 55 lbs. of baggage. Easy prey.
"What are you? Korean?" he says.
"Japanese," I say.
And for next 45 hours, he tells me the stories of the half dozen Japanese women who fell in love with him, from Tokyo to Baltimore.
"You like Korean boys?" This is about 21 hours out of Seattle. "You like waking up and smelling kimchi? What kinda boys you date?"
"I don't date... boys," I say. And that's when he gives me his number, saying, "If you ever change your mind..."
Goddamn, if I had a dollar every time I heard that. And if you can answer this question, I'll give YOU a dollar: Why do men think they can change everything with their dick?
But now I'm on a tangent. The point was Tommy can barely speak English, but he knew about all the best hiking in New Hampshire, the estimated size of spiders in Texas, the cleanest hospitals in New York. This man, despite his political incorrectness and raging sex drive, is a regular Rick Steves, complete with nerdy glasses but sans nerdy family.
Cliff the Canadian cattle rancher jumped on board in Shelby, Montana, and by the time he disembarked in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I knew intimately his whole "operation" in Alberta (5,000 "head" of red angus), his daughter's thriving family in the states, his online dating career with women half his age, his cell number, and his Canadian cellular service provider's number. I suppose when you live the romantic life of a solitary cowboy out on the range, you tend to be an insufferable chatterbox among company.
He did offer me one brilliant insight, though. We passed a small gaggle of antelope somewhere between Nowhere and Shithole, Montana.
"There must be coyotes if there are antelope," I said.
Then he, fabulous man that he is, said, "There be coyotes, alright. There be coyotes." (As in, "There be monsters in these here waters.")
And the heavens opened up, and God appeared all glowing and dressed in Gucci, and touched my eyes with his heavenly middle finger, and I had my revelation: Canadian cowboys = pirates.
But again, I was talking about traveling, and Clifford is the king of travel. He's spent the majority of his life sleeping outdoors with a herd of cattle. He buys month-long Amtrak passes and hops trains all over the U.S. He has never traveled outside of North America, but he has traveled to EVERY SINGLE PLACE in North America. I have nothing but admiration for his ability to simultaneously run a business and do what he loves: explore. And rape and pillage and bury his booty on godforsaken islands that only Johnny Depp can find.
This post is too long. If I were Natalie Tran from communitychannel (I desperately wish I were), this is the point at which I'd say, "It's porno music slash comment time."