Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The prey of the man in the white cotton dress.

He was wearing a dirty cotton dress and white socks. Tall, black and completely crazy, he paced the subway platform from the stairway to the track edge and back again. On his tenth or
eleventh circuit he stopped on the stairs and bent down to adjust the sock on his right foot, then, as if he had just remembered an important appointment, he strode to a nearby bench and searched it's surfaces. Finding nothing, he began to look under the bench, on his hands and knees, giving a view to the onlookers that I'm sure they hadn't expected that morning.

He was hunting, looking carefully with no anxiety, just a resolute determination. His hands floated just above the pavement until, with a suddeness that drew a gasp from the woman standing near me, his left hand stabbed into the dark space and he scutted backwards and stood up. His prey, a cigarette, he held out before him in his fingertips.

He rejoiced.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Joe thinks about Lent, Easter and psychotherapy.

Joe decided that for Lent he would give up Death. Give up thinking about death or at least stop seeing it in the mirror. Now see? That doesn't sound right, it makes it seem like he was laying around, looking out windows, gazing into the distance, dreaming about death, when it really only came over him when he was shaving. There was something about the warm water and the smell of lather that reminded him of falling down dead in the street. He might drop dead in the street. He just might. That was how the thought had come to him seven or so weeks ago.

It was a Tuesday morning. He was shaving under his left ear. He was shaving under his left ear and not thinking about anything in particular, certainly not death and certainly not dropping dead on the street, but then, there it was, the thought of it rose up in him. He saw himself dead in the street, his bags and belongings scattered around him. At first, the thought only came once every few days, then it became pretty regular and now it was every morning as soon as he lathered up.

That was how he would have described it to the other members of the jury at Johnny Fox's if he hadn't stopped going there. He would said it rose up in him and that he saw himself clear as day, dead on the street, that the thought had floated there, at first in his mind and then, and this felt odd, this was weird, it was out in front of him where he could see it like a movie or one of those music video clips on a computer. He had caught a glimpse of himself falling, sort of collasping in a heap of suitjackets and shopping bags. Then it was gone. All of it, the image, the thought, all gone. Gone and he didn't think about it again until the next morning in front of the sink. The disappearing part, the disappearing of the thought, that had stayed the same since the first morning.

The evening of that first day, half way through through dinner, he had mentioned it to his wife.
"I had the oddest thought this morning" he said and then he told her the story- shaving, floating image, shopping bags.
''Are you depressed?'' she had asked ''Is something bothering you?''
"Not that can think of.. l haven't really thought about it at all till now. I kind of thought it was interesting. It was viv..."
"Are you sure you're not depressed?" She looked him over her forkfull of salad.
Depression, according to his wife, was the national pastime. He stirred his soup watching the colors change.
''Things are good. Oh, did I tell you they approved the..."
''Because if you are, I think you should go back to your doctor.''

He'd never had the heart to tell his wife that he didn't have a doctor, a therapist that is. Well, he had a doctor, but the kind you go to twice a year, maybe three times, to get a flu shot or something. Five years ago, when things were not so good, he'd promised her he would see someone and on the promised day he had come home with a brief tale of the supposed appointment which he had really spent as a patron of Johnny Fox's Bar and Grill on 3rd Ave. After that, he had gone to Johnny's every other Thursday at 4:45 for about two years. Then, one night in October, he'd seen someone from his building, not in Johnny's, thank God, that would have really done it. No, the guy was with some other guys walking towards the corner of 23rd, but he was the kind who would say to his wife, "Hey, I saw Joe coming out of a bar on 3rd." and as sure as water runs downhill his own wife would hear about it. So he had stopped going and he missed it. He told his wife he was better and he was, but he missed his therapy.

Back then he had sat on one of the middle stools and nodded at the various conversations going on about him: the crisis in baseball that he knew nothing about, the battle over the West Side Stadium that he only knew about from brief blurbs about it in the NYT Opinion section, the miserable conditions at the local electrician's union hall which were made known to him by all the out of work electricians gathered there in the remaing bar space.

At first, they didn't pay him much notice. The electricians, they merely brayed about this and that situation and how bad things were. Weeks went by before someone, Tim Hanelly he thinks, asked who he was. "Joe," he had replied," Just Joe, just Joe." They shook hands. The noise in the bar caused Tim to hear the 'just joes' as Joe Justco but through the rest of the introductions he didn't correct them, he liked being Joe Justco. He didn't know why.

It was great therapy. Tim and two fellows, both named Mike, worked out of the local around the corner except there wasn't much work so they got to their places early. A guy named Andres or Andre or Andy or Andrew and his in-a-hurry-to-get-married girlfriend Christina, her girlfriend Diana who liked to be called Diamond and another guy, an Irish guy named Patrick, Paddy Mike, made up what Joe called the jury. Others joined in , chimed in, barged in, however and whenever it pleased them and the talk was loud and full of sureness. Ethan, behind the bar did nothing but smile, pour drinks and hold the money on the occasional bet. All the world's problems were solved, well, those that came up. Dafur was not mentioned, but the obscene salaries of the pathetic New York Yankees were fully descibed on several occasions with the solution of selling ever last one of them proclaimed to be the most promising outcome. That is, unless they were able to pull it out this year. There was no way that Bloomberg could stick it to the Transist Union Workers. Diamond's mother should get a spa makeover as a birthday gift. Bloomberg should rot in hell. Ethan put too much cranberry juice in a Cosmo. Jesus, did you see the ass on that one? The tear-out at the Gramercy Park Hotel showed the place still had the wiring in it from 1910, like that was a surprise. They open another Thai food place in this block, wha? It wasn't the end of the world that the sons of bitching Boston won the Series, fuckinga. Pass the popcorn. Where's Leo? Who knows what happened last night up at 31St Street, christ, there must have been ten fire trucks and on the news, nothing. Pass the fucking popcorn.

Okay, so it wasn't great. And maybe that's why it has taken Joe seven weeks of visions to decide to go back. He couldn't just burst in after two years and start blurting out his tale of suitjackets and shopping bags and shaving cream. He couldn't. First, he'd have to ask if Andres and Christina had gotten married, listen to who wasn't around because they weren't around and who wasn't around because they were dead. Catch up on what was going on. See if Paddy Mike or Tim were still in attendence because they were Catholics and they would know about things like giving up death for Lent.

Friday, April 15, 2005

This is the A train subway station on Overlook Terrace. Despite the ugly chain link fence I love the way it looks. A little squat castle, an entrance to the underground..

This is the famous stairway. Generations of teenagers have gathered here to sort out their lovelife, their destiny or just collect on their Mets bets. It's a long uphill,

This is the downhill run of Overlook Terrace. Steep with a Stop sign at the bottom (never adhered to by either cars or bikers)

Here's what Overlook overlooks....

First, a word about the neighborhood, here the waiters are the poochs of the world. They are more loyal than any of us, would you let yourself be tied up even if you knew the person in there was buying Alpo??

We love Frank's. Good meat, good Sushi (Made fresh in the store) and deliveries everyday . See the stuff stacked up on the sidewalk?? Tomorrow, the same thing.

Across the street is Gideon's (the d has been missing for about four years) the Flavor of sweet pies, pasteries and noshes of all kinds remains. Kosher Passover food is the subject of the sign in the window.

Here is what I love about Fort Tryon. Little bunchs of people passing each other in a beautiful scene. How many groups do you see here?

The man in the wheelchair presided over the meeting. The agenda included the weather, the impossibility of getting good help (discussed in front of the help) and whether the man in the wheelchair had been missing for six or ten weeks.

Okay. Here's a crowd of daffodils...

I couldn't figure out from here what was going on.

It was a race. It was a drag race of boys and girls in the SAME race.. Ready, set...

These two share a bench. No crowding here.

Her friend was taking the picture. She was very serious about taking the picture. The girl in the blue skirt just looked at the lens as a good model should, relaxed, springlike.

Here's the opposite shore from where we were earlier in the day.

Spring arrives in glory.

This is the dogwood across the street. Dogwooods are dying everywhere. Maybe it's a good thing that it is behind expanded metal. Could it be that the last dogwoods will be here in the nabes of New York while those out in the woods will be long gone well before this pretty little thing/

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I'm on the street


Monday, April 04, 2005

Still a little surprised

Is it just me or is everyone else surprised by Daylight Savings Time? I get such a jolt of joy the first time I step out of the subway onto our street and it's still light out. Maybe it's because for most of the year I leave our apartment building in the dark and return in the dark at night that I feel like some kind of coalminer, but then I am easily pleased. I love the first snowfall of winter, I get a charge out of seeing the ocean again after a long time, the first colors of autumn make my engine rev. The first emerging leaves in Spring, the first robin seen, the greening of the grass...

I guess I love changes, movements of time, the newness of the seasons is new for me each year.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

a Propos

First go read some of this:

Then meet the woman in the white hat:
Between the stops, she wiped her black bag of the last drops of rain, adjusted her white hat and pulled the Daily News onto her lap. She looked only for an instant at the front page before turning to the articles inside, glancing at the headlines, her eyes narrowing slightly before moving onto the next and the next. In three minutes she was six pages deep and still going strong. Black boots, short heels with black pants and a cream colored car-coat that almost matched her hat. Her lips moved into a purse as she saw something on the page. When the conductor's voice burst out of the speaker reminding us for the eleventh billionth time to watch our personal belongings and report any supicious package or bag to an MTA official or police officer, she did not seem to hear. She turned the page, peered, scanned, peered again and then sighed a little.

At 145th she gathered her bag and her paper, stood up as the train slowed, took two steps towards the doorways before, as all New Yorkers do, she made a quick look-back to see if anything had been left.

The two girls who had been out all night entered the car as she left.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Doorways

There are three doorways in this picture.
The middle one is behind the merchandise. The proprietor, who declined to be photographed despite this blog's immense journalistic credentials, spends a lot of time rearranging the various items on his two tables. Between each item and the next there is about 1/8 of an inch, (2mm), making it very difficult to pick anything up.
"It slows down the thievery." he smiles. Anything you are interested in seeing closer up, he will withdraw for you. So the carved Madonna, made of some heavy wood and stained with something I didn't recognize, rose up out of the jumble without touching either the snake-covered Medusa or the blackened box with the rose-shaped designs and was placed in my hands. He puts it in your hands as if you have already bought it. There, this is yours now. That's the feeling I got and, because you could not possibly put the thing back on the table by yourself, you feel impelled to keep it. I tried to think of some excuse.
"The eyes don't seem right to me."
"That's to give you something to think about while you are looking at her.
I gave him a doubtful look, he tried the historic perspective.
"She comes, I think, from Silesia, maybe from Croatia, maybe from the wars there. I think she likes you. You like her?"
I handed her back to him as a reply. He shrugged and with a single movement placed her back in her cramped spot on the table.

It's images like this that make Colbert seem able to do the impossible.

Spent part of yesterday reviewing the Ashes to Snow exhibit in this movable museum. It's shipping containers stacked on top of one another. Very cool space,