Monday, March 31, 2008

3-31-08 And Then Comes Starbucks

Across the street from my apartment building, in what used to be a vacant lot, a backhoe performs it's balletic, spinning dance, bowing it's long, yellow neck, burying it's head in the surprisingly dark soil, lifting up its load and depositing it in a pile several yards away.

A man and his son watch the process with fascination, and the father turns to me and says, "Another condo going in."

I agree that, yes it looks like another is going in, like the many up and down this block, and he continues, "It's 'cause of the stadium going in, people are buying up all the lots, man."

"It used to be," he says, "that after ten PM, you stayed inside, but now," he shakes his head, amazed, "now, you go out and you see people, you know, walking the streets, unafraid."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

3-30-08 Detoxing the Jedi Way

As an experiment (and sort of a goof) a friend of mine purchased a set of "Kinoki" pads after seeing the commercial on TV. They are these pads that one wears on one's feet while sleeping that are supposedly able to draw toxins out and "detoxify" a person, and after he wore them last night, they indeed were filthy black and smelled vaguely (strongly) of barbecue sauce.

We joked that he might be gaining Jedi powers as a result of his dalliance with detoxification, to the point where he might be able to lift an x-wing out of a swamp, to which he replied, "Man, I'm gonna be so powerful, I'll be able to lift the swamp out of the x-wing."

"In fact," he continued, "George Lucas was gonna name the character Obi Wan Kinoki, but he didn't want to give away the Jedi secret."

Friday, March 28, 2008

3-28-08 The Invisibles Contact Me (At Last)

He stands on the corner wearing a brown, army-style jacket with a knitted dread-cap of yellow, red, and green, and he begins speaking to me while I am still in the crosswalk walking toward him, smiling at me all the while like a physics professor attempting to explain a particularly complicated point of string-theory to a promising but slightly obtuse student.

"Four majesties came down on the sun's rays," he says, underlining the names of various deities (Yaweh, Allah, Jehovah, Amen-Ra) with his thick, curved fingernail on a crumpled, photocopied page where texts full of sacred names and alternate histories criss-cross like a dadaist manifesto, "and they created the universe and built the pyramids."

"But the weren't black men," he continues, still smiling gently with yellowed, crooked, but strong teeth, his soft caribbean accent lilting over the traffic hum, "they were aliens and there were four of them, so how could one god create the world?"

I look at his kind face a moment and say, truthfully, "I don't know."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

3-27-08 His and Hers

Many of the buildings along the tree-lined walk to my subway stop have fallen into a slightly shabby gentility, stone facades and carved faces worn away, paint cracking here and there, front yards a little disheveled from the winter and neglect. Above the doors of many of these old-timers the lintels proudly display names: The Park Court, the Woodrow Wilson, reminders of an earlier century and more prosperous times.

Above one particular building, however (flanked with two fussy, pillared entrances of grey stone, like a matron drawing her skirts back in dignified offense from the dreadfully vulgar brays of traffic) there are only two words: over one entrance is the name "Lillianette", and the other, "Paul."

I imagine them, an unhappily married upper-class couple, building their mansion with separate entrances so that they never had to see each other, divided servants forming up alliances, intrigues, plots; or conversely, the lone romantic architect, building a tribute to his beloved, sundered in life, but together forever above the discrete doorways to the same building, and their great love - unknown, unremarked, forgotten.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

3-26-08 Why I have trouble decorating.

My least favorite room when I was growing up was my own, my bedroom. It had blue and white tile floors that were always cold, a single, thin blue rug in the center of the floor beside the bed which was also blue, a pale, rickety wooden desk along one wall and a set of industrial-style metal shelves laden with various toys and games along another. The lights were fluorescent and flickered when they came on, illuminating the white and blue with a pale greenish-yellow light. The walls that were not sheet rock were bricks (painted white, natch), while the only window in the room had bars on the outside and curtains inside with cowboys on them that I hated with a sort of unconscious, lethargic fury until I moved out to go to college at the age of 18.

Monday, March 17, 2008

3-17-08 differently abled

"Actors are flakes," announces Katie as we leave her apartment into the gray Brooklyn morning to fetch some brunch.

We walk down the street as I consider this, past the flea market as the vendors set up their tables. "Well," I say, "actors are flakes, and musicians are emotionally retarded, and writers are neurotic."

Without missing a beat, she replies, "I'm surprised you don't need your own parking place."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

3-12-08 fragments

I receive an email from Katie today and it says, "The Wiener Mobile parks backwards in Times Square." As cryptic as that sounds, it turns out that every word of that sentence is true.

Played saxophone for the first time in ages tonight. Doesn't take much to remember that a) I always feel good after I play and b) I kinda like playing when I'm playing, but don't when I'm not, which is probably a function (as are most things that I'm a bit neurotic about) of the fact that my parents always made me practice, even when I didn't want to.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

3-9-08 Liminal

The day was spent walking the blocks around my new place. I now live right on the border between Prospect Heights (beginning to gentrify, but still affordable to certain people who want to live near the park but are priced out of Park Slope) and Crown Heights (decidedly not gentrifying in the least, entrenched poverty, hardcore gang tags and run down buildings everywhere), and as with all borders, war is the order of the day.

Each street shows the scars of battles, in graffiti and garbage and half completed condos. Outposts of money (a Pilates studio, a cute bar, a coffee shop with indirect lighting and a selection of international brews) jostle up against poverty (the apartment building with garbage in the yard, the empty lot full of discarded auto parts lorded over by a single baleful-eyed rottweiler) and the old-guard of the neighborhood (a Jamaican bakery, a hair salon, an auto-parts store), all uneasy, suspicious each of the other, wondering who will take each contested block.

Friday, March 7, 2008

3-7-08 Settling In

Katie gave me a wonderful gift last night: sandalwood shaving cream. Some people don't care for it, but I find the act of shaving to be wonderfully meditative, and requiring a certain level of skill, which allows me to step outside my usual chattering thoughts in the morning and just DO something for a change. I recently began shaving with my grandfather's old double-edged safety razor, and though it requires a little more concentration, it gives me a much closer shave than I've ever gotten with a cartridge razor.

Even though I've heard that "wet shaving" (i.e. shaving with a double-edge or straight razor, brushes and cups, and using wet cream rather than the stuff out of the can, etc.) is a new trend or something, I don't mind being part of a trend (even though I normally find it abhorrent), and am looking forward to the time when people are brushing their teeth using silver-handled, boars-hair toothbrushes and debating online the merits of various forms of high-grade, high-end toothpastes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

3-6-08 Where My Demon's At?

A tattered bright green flyer taped to a lamp post in my new neighborhood advertises a (long past) night of "Spiritual Hip-Hop", and I remember Christian Rockers I used to listen to and the guy on TV who scared the living crap outtta me, telling me that Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and Black Oak Arkansas were Satanic (I didn't listen to Zepplin until I was almost out of college - that's how much I bought the "Rock Music=Satan" thing).

So the question I have is - where are the goth-satanic-hip-hop artists? Where's the bizzare, almost winking, elaborate stage sets and cartoon-y, Halloween horror-show lyrics. I'd love to see the hip-hop equivalent of Danzig, the Misfits, or even Sabbath, but maybe it's a cultural thing, and the same things that scared and titilated me in rock music would fall flat in hip-hop.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Starting Again and Saying Goodbye

I walked through the Kew (Kew Gardens) for the last time tonight. It has been my experience that when a particular time or place is "done" with you, or you, it, there are very clear signs, coincidences, portents.

I walked down the back road by the railroad track in the late afternoon sun (thank God the days are getting longer again, winter gradually loosening its grip), saying good-bye to my favorite trees, to the place where the cat always sat, to the place where I had to kill that squirrel, and suddenly there was my old neighborhood friend Supreet, who greeted me with amazement. We shared affectionate farewells and he only allowed me to leave after extracting a promise that I would write.