Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Simple Mistake, or Everyone Loses It to New York City

Whenever I confuse train rides with romanticism, I happen to sit behind the tobacco-chewing fraternity brothers--hand-over-crotch, looking for ass to tap, comparing spring break rendezvouses (which are "the shit")/tropical beaches ("the shit")/blunt binges (pot is "the shit")/Jamaican godfathers, spitting into empty Cherry Coke bottles. One says, I'd fuck Katie. The other says, I know tons of fucking girls way fucking hotter than fucking Katie. Wow, I struck a chord, the one says, when really he means, Wow, I struck a nerve, and I can see how the two could be confused, chords and nerves being as similar as trains and romanticism, and I can see how we are all, at some time or another, careless or lazy or, rather, overeager, but now he has me imagining all our little nerves--especially the ones connected to women named "Katie," maybe covering her, shroud-like, or maybe more like a web--are ill-tuned guitar strings and to strike them is something of a rustic serenade, something like Will Oldham, maybe, or the queen of discordance, Josephine Foster, veiled in a tangle of her own hair, singing "Crackerjack Fool": shrill, tremulous and intoxicating.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Stupor, This New England Haze

We spend our nights with men with the waists of seven-year-olds, men who know how to tie bow ties over Italian cotton shirts, men who cross their legs, fold ascots, quote Gertrude Stein and Julia Kristeva, and we're all listening to one of them say, "He is the subject born out in death," which becomes the joke of the night, but really, when we're laughing, we're thinking about that boy--not swinging from the basketball hoop, but swinging like strange fruit--so now we're thinking of Billie but listening to someone quite different, maybe some electro-pop band who thinks seriously and plays seriously; and these are men I only see through a veil of cigarette smoke. And, in fact, this whole city is shrouded, but not in smoke and not in mourning. Something like too much time. Memories "inherited through an umbilical cord," a friend said--a flood of nostalgia for a mother's memories before she was Mother--and do you know how weighty this can be? Inheriting age when all you want is salve for your raw tongue and vodka (not the Naragansett shit they use to grease themselves) and something close to but not quite love: "all sharp new remarkable ... collection of angels." Most times I just sit and listen to their chatter. Our ashes fall through cracks in the wood floors. We spill beer on the floors, too, our libations to the architectural gods of the mid to late eighteenth century. Most times they let me be. We always play music, and there wasn't it time it wasn't on. I pretend I'm with the smoke and this is New England, my friends: an invitation to watch what might have been and what has been, the happy voyeur.