Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grass & Concrete

There is a small outdoor bar near the Brooklyn Bridge shut in a little grove of trees and shrubbery with only pockets of sky and river and bridge and city to peer in like voyeuristic neighbors from a distance. The green encapsulates and invigorates while the dusty brown of long-spent brick and mortar stares at you and reminds you that you are in New York and not some other place with sandy beaches.

The booze is too much and the food even more so, but I can kind of see why some would pay such unseemly prices to have lunch here--the place is set up like a beach-side cabana in some British or French-owned colony from the 1800's still populated by dark-skinned natives. It's a bit other worldly--if you stay long enough to go blind to the inane New York squabble from tourists, locals and babies, not to mention the shouting of class-trip children who march endlessly South past the bar towards the higher Piers and then back again an hour later, still squabbling and screeching but with less energy, having been filled with chea ready-made sandwiches of PB&J, egg salad or chicken salad, or maybe makeshift burritos filled with brown rice and pinto beans. Who knows? I don't make lunches for grade school kids.

The whole of Brooklyn Bridge Park is laid out over 1.3 miles of river side, but really grass only inhabits the first third--the rest is mostly concrete and pretends to make sense in a beach-community kind of way if someone who was born in the middle of the Bronx was to describe a two-home island off the shores of Nantucket during a fever dream. Most of what I assumed were water features, including a closed boat ramp and a swirling water area I forgot to write down but essentially looked like a closed, windy boat ramp, seemed to be untouched since the year prior and most of the trees were too young to be of any good for shade. However, despite it's clear lack of understanding of whatever it was going for, Brooklyn Bridge Park still manages to have a few moments of the surreal honesty that a lot of new York parks seem to pull of. It is a weird sensation that starts with the thought "only in New York," as a detriment, the aforementioned boat ramp and spiral boat ramp being obvious notes toward this idea. Namely only a New Yorker would think that someone would launch a boat there. Only a New Yorker would fence in a lawn on a manufactured hill that runs for 200 yards and have one entrance on one side and expect no one to hop the wire fence, and only a New Yorker would not hop the fence when that gate over there is clearly open. But over time, and the further I got away from actual trees in favor of marsh-grass and concrete tide pools and is that supposed to be a beach? it started to feel more legitimate, more proper, more like a fenced in beach that just needed time to grow into its new shoes. You've got to give this stuff time, Wes. Relax a little.

Suddenly someone puts music on and though it doesn't ruin the mood, we could do with something more timeless than whatever it is, something sweet and quiet and uneccesary but I get it--any music will help keep the bubble going, keeping the place to it's own even when the sky gets dark and the tiny bulbs strung across the patio wink on and shed their orange glow.

The guy who I assume is the proprietor is a gruff, sunglasses-indoor kind of guy with an Irish cap and gym shorts and high socks in running shoes and despite his toolish exterior I have to commend him--if he's owned this place more than 12 days he knows what he's got here and hopefully won't fuck with it too much. Part of me wishes he was twenty years older and wearing a straw hat with a white suit jacket , drinking endless mojitos at the end of a nonexistent bar but the other part of me know that would ruin it--it's as if I like that this place has an other-worldly vibe but doesn't try too hard to pin down whatever world that is. No straw on the tables, no giant margarita bowls, nothing served in coconuts. It is already perfect without these things--no pretentions and no need for concrete whirlpools. It is the precise place to get a drink on a quiet Thursday afternoon while your legs rest, a breeze wafts in from down river and the problems you've had over the last few days feel mostly out of sight, over there on the other side of that little grove of trees.

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Jimmy Cliff Ain't Got Nuthin on Me

There is an apartment a block away (or is it two? I'll have to check) that can probably see into my room right now. My windows are huge in this apartment, all the windows are except the bathroom's, and I wonder if it's so you can get out of them if there is a fire or if it's a carry-over from the days before plastic and the windows had to be bigger...for some reason? No. That doesn't make any sense. Perhaps it was the style of apartments at the time (1920's? 30's? I forget. I think 30's. So far I'm batting about 0.000 for knowledge about anything around me) but the point is this: these windows are huge, and you can see through them.

The windows in that other apartment building are bigger, though, and holy hell that building is like 4 or five stories higher than me right now (I'm on the second story) and if they wanted to on this dreary Saturday morning, someone could walk right up to their window over there, remove the elephantine curtains they must have, sip their coffee and look through binoculars and probably watch me talking to all of you over there. Makes me think if anyone ever saw me having sex. The answer is "No" there, buy the way. I don't leave my "drapes" open for potential voyeurs. In case you were wondering.

There are videos taken with cameras with crazy lenses on the internet where people are zoomed in on some innocuous thing--a guy mowing his lawn, a couple on a bench, some boat on a canal--and then they zoom out and you find that the person with the camera is like half a city away looking down from a high building or hill, spying on this other persons doldrums and completely aware that they are going to put the video up on line, people are going to view that, and then that person is going show other people, and then there is the potential for millions of persons looking through several screens and time and place to watch some guy picking his nose and reading a book too blurry to read.

This makes me think of what I can see, and share with others, and my first thought is that I live across from a pre-school, which is closed (it's Saturday, again, for those of you who aren't paying any attention), they have a fenced-in playground that just got new wood-chips (the truck woke me up trying to park the day before yesterday) and all the cars are smattered with what must have been an early morning rainfall as they look slightly wetter than they did when I got home last night (1am) but too dry to have had significant rain in the last 2 hours.

Which reminds me, this week has been hard for people who like the sun and the light it brings to warm your face or heart or existence. It has been a low, grey, wormy kind of week and it's been hard to get up every morning knowing that though the weather is starting to finally warm-the-fuck-up we're still dealing with cool nights, wet afternoons, and just low, ready-to-burst cluds that make going outside without an umbrella a treacherous plan. I plan on doing that today, though. Because reasons. Also my friend is coming by. But also because I need to get out and move, look at and listen to strangers, look at the world again and see it from a new perspective.  Because listen: I'm kind of a doom-and-gloom kinda guy. I am not always glass-half-full. In fact, I rarely am. But I do understand the strength of perception, and I do understand the depth or perspective. I know things will get better. I know they can get worse. I know that life makes you eat shit, and I know that sometimes you still come out on top. But to me, what becomes important the more I see it and the more I'm aware of it, is that perspective and perception are related and that what you see and how you see it now isn't always how you'll see it in the future, or even exist as the same thing. I guess my point is that that person over there who can look down into my apartment may never een notice they can, and if they do, they might not write a blog about it.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Presented by Clearchannel

I need a new phone. Or maybe I need a better phone. That's it. The second one. The phone I have now seems to do whatever the fuck it wants and it's driving me nuts. I've spent the last twelve minutes trying to send a text message, but since the piece of shit decides to download whenever I actually get active on my phone, my text messages won't send. But thank God Lyft, a program I've used exactly twice, has patched itself. PS--all my other apps (why don't we call them programs anymore?) updated yesterday. Why isn't it coordinated? Why isn't it programmable to download at, oh I don't know, a period of LOW activity? Like 2 am?

I'm a bit media-saturated right now. I finally watched the new Ep of Game of Thrones (more on that later), got a Hulu account and started watching 11.22.63 (more on that later), I'm on my second badge in Pokemon Ruby and now I'm watching Seinfeld while I write this. It's the pilot episode, because I haven't seen all of them and didn't really watch it when it was popular (I saw it many, many times but I didn't watch it if you know what I mean) and so I had to start at the beginning. And it's helping me realize how distracted I am. If I pause it, I wonder what happens next, if I turn it off, I lose the ability to stop and start and drift off.  The idea is to have something in the background that I can kind of ignore, roll out on to every now and again, then come back in and do what I have to do.

The other "problem" is that I'm distracted by successful shows and projects around me that seem to be compelling and not totally out of the reach of someone who can string a couple-three ideas together, but for some reason I can only watch for a few hours before I have to change the show/do something else. Game of Thrones, now almost completely out in the woods beyond the "hope-it-gets-finished-before-he-dies" George RR Martin plotlines seems to be cramming a whole bunch of stuff into the season, just like the last. I predict lots of cliffhangers and no conclusions. 11.22.63, though, when it's not cramming exposition, is pretty interesting so far. I'm not all the way through it yet, but it's pretty great so far. James Franco is kind of awesome in it--which is hard to swallow since he's such a fucking goofball whenever I see him in anything else. Every now and then he crinkles his eyes a bit like he does in The Interview and I can't help but laughing out loud. To myself. In my empty apartment. I feel like a weirdo.

The thing is too that I am watching commercials again. Between Youtube and now my Hulu free trial, I now get some of the advertisements I see on the subway--it's almost like the posters now are designed to remind you of a commercial you saw on TV. That way you get the same message twice worked into your brain. Not subliminal, mind you, more hiding in the open. Still feels pretty much like advertisers have no idea how to reach their audiences. It is weird coming back to it, though, even in the small way that I have (what, 12 commercials in an hour? Most less than 30 seconds? I just realized that it's probably more than that--by a lot--oh no) and it's so strange how easily I've come back into it when it's in small doses. The last time I left my apartment and got a real spike of television into my head-vein the commercials were more numerous than the show and four-times as loud. Here on Hulu (the one where I can't skip the commercials) if they're louder I haven't noticed, and for the most part I just do something else while they run. Sometimes I think I don't notice them, but then I start thinking about my insurance premiums or eating at Applebees while listening to Spotify.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

There's a clinical name for it, isn't there?

I don't know why the formatting is fucked up It's driving me nuts looking at it. Sorry...
"To begin... To begin... How to start? I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That's a good muffin."  --Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation

I haven't given up, but starting is difficult. And every time you stop and start it's like going back to school, going back to the start it feels like its a taller hill, mountain, cliff. Whatever.
I haven't watched the new Game of Thrones, but I have watched The first episode of Horace and Pete (twice, technically), Breaking the Maya Code and the first half of Jaws (again). Is this why I don't write? Overabundance of Media? Or is it lack of idle time? Or is it lack of gumption, or some weird mellowing of my dreams? Or have I given up? Let's talk about something else.Pancakes are great, aren't they? Out of all the things I can have for breakfast, pancakes are definitively up there, though I must be honest in my old age I enjoy scrambled eggs and a good western/Denver omelette better on most days because they're easier to make at home. Omelette is a funny word--theres at least 1/3 more "e"s in there than I think rightfully belong there, but it's French, so it kind of makes sense that the "e"s are a bit excessive. French is an interesting language--I tried to take it as a kid (mainly because everyone else was doing Spanish and fuck that--an opinion I later pooh-poohed with the same self-satisfaction [God, I really am a monster--look at all these dashes and half-self-effacing declarations, who do I think I am, anyway? I'm so deep in this segue I'm using BRACKETS for Christ's sake!]) but mainly what I learned was that learning other languages is harder than I really want to try. Even now I make jokes about how I've flunked Spanish a bunch of times (I'm still churning my way through Duolingo and dropping it after two months only to pick it back up once the mood strikes again). Wow, this got depressing, lets back track a bit before I get too deep in this wall of self-pity.

Honestly my most normalized breakfast at this point is a bagel with cream cheese a couple times a week with a coffee. My favorite breakfast is probably the breakfast sandwich, which isn't my favorite sandwich, which I don't even know what that would be. Bacon cheese steak? Turkey Club? Cheeseburger? I mean, sandwiches probably entail a good bit of my chosen food type, but I would think most people would consider a cheese burger a cheese burger and not necessarily a sandwich (though technically, we can all agree that it is, and that the question is unarguable). I also like making grilled cheese, and would prefer that you learn how to mix your goddamn cheese when you make it, and for the love of christ use butter, you're already eating literally a fat sandwich coated in fat, why the hell would you use whole-wheat bread? Healthy eating is ridiculous when it comes to grilled cheese. For realz.

But making a real sandwich takes time and love. It's not like chasing bluegills or tommycocks. You have to toast the bread, use crisp lettuce. Get a real tomato for crying out loud--something local grown local, certainly not one of those rose-colored shitty-chemical-colored tomatoes you get everywhere else. And maybe that's why so many people just go to shitty places and let some slack-jawed idiot slap fake meat onto the cold bread they pulled out of a fridge that was loaded with wilted produce. What I mean is maybe it's also why I put it all off--the writing, I mean. Maybe it's my desire for perfection that hold me back. Maybe I'm afraid that I'm just going to make a bad sandwich.

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Friday, April 22, 2016


What's missing?

I wrote something earlier, deleted it. Will I delete this one? Right now I'm reading Mysteries of Pittsburgh--debut novel of one Michael Chabon--probably one of my favorite writers. I haven't read everything he's got, but I read a couple and he's fucking good. I don't know what it is about him that fascinates me, or why his prose is so easy for me to gobble up like cheeseburgers straight from the grill (with those little squares of american cheese laid oh-so-perfectly upon their tops). But every time I start one of his books I feel like I have landed inside a strange bubble of reality and time--usually one that is almost my own but not quite. This one is less maddeningly confusing as the first I read, The Yiddish Policeman's Union but not as epic as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, but that's okay, because it's about being drunk and confused in college. I know that undersells it, who cares? If you want to read it, go do that, or you can borrow my copy, alright? If you're reading this than maybe my opinion matters to you. Either way, this isn't a book review.

On the other hand, I'm listening to Anderson.Paak's album Malibu and I kinda dig it but I don't get it. It's weird and unruly and not repetitive and I haven't changed it. This following a week where I listened to Minor Threat by Dave's suggestion as well as Arcade Fire's Funeral which of course which's genius I am only now discovering like 10 years after the fact. It's usually how it goes.

I'm not trying to structure an argument here, I'm a little too self-aware that I haven't written here in three years and the last things I wrote were for my friend teecozee's blog called "theoretical Thursdays" (found here) and the last thing I wrote for myself was a little over a year ago. Can't let it get me down though, gotta power through the weariness and the nightmare of self-effacement before it unspools into whatever that other article was about (don't worry, it's gone now. Shhhh, shhhh, I'm here now, all will be okay and the mean truths can again go unspoken).

Before I read Mysteries of Pittsburgh I read Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard, who is an author every single person (especially aspiring authors) shoud read. His dialogue is spot-on and I like that his charaters are visceral and give absolutely no fucks about anything else but what they're up to.

There is a fire-siren going off every forty seconds or so, starting low and reaching a crescendo within seconds and holding there, right on the outer edge of steel-blade slicing evil, mind-numbing, wriggling excruciation before dropping down below the line of hearing. And then of course it winds right.the.fuck.back. UP. If it goes on for another hour it will drive the entire neighborhood insane. I'll have to cordone off the stairwell as sound-induced zombies crawl up the banisters and toss molotov cocktails up onto the foyer, parents will overturn carriages, skip over the baby formula for the hard liquor and hand soap, drinking both with fevor only matched by the way the children throw chunks of the torn up street through the windows of local businesses. Fire will start in the corner of the gas station and the whole thing will go up, engulfing the whole block, and probably half of the next one, an M conductor traveling past with be inundated with sound, drive the train too hard and fast and whip through the station and rattle the bridge until it collapses onto the street, filling it with wrecked debris and cars and train parts and lives and then they'll call the locals, and they'll come in, go mad and start gunning down the innocent, then they'll call in the SWAT and the same thing will happen, and my normally mild, boring street will fill quickly with warring factions of madness driven by a sound that holy fuck it finally stopped. Whew. That was trouble.

I am 8 songs into this album and still haven't changed it. I think that is a good sign. I don't really know how to listen to music anymore, or how to find good shit. I don't even know if this album I'm listening to is any good. I do know it's not shitty. So I like it. I recently tried to discuss how I am an album person with Dave (after he called himself "an album guy") and realized that it's a topic that doesn't really warrant a conversation. We're the new Old, aren't we, Dave? Give us another fifteen years and our children will draw comics about us gumming our food we're so old.

In conclusion, this is my conclusive paragraph. In it, I will make vague references to my earlier statements and try to tie them together in a conclusive way, so that I may conclude this paragraph as well as this group of paragraphs that couldn't be called an essay even if I wrote it in double-spaced type in 14 pt font (Times New Roman). With any maybes, I will be back soon to put more thoughts into your heads. Hopefully with more, "you know"s and long-winded extrapolation of what I really meant earlier when I said. Not to mention the unmentionables and the way sometimes you just want to write something and say it instead of having to have a real point. It's nice.

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