Saturday, December 16, 2006

I do a strip in front of thousands

Bundled up and ready, the winds kept cutting into whatever portion of skin was left exposed, we jammed packed ourselves into two lanes of huffing and puffing runners. There was a lot of stretching and pulling being down and a lot of just standing still waiting for it all to be over.

Of course, eight hundred yards into the 10K run I realized I had on WAY too much clothing. Rule no 1. of winter running is: if you are warm at the start of a race you are going to boilover before the end. So, a half a mile down the road I stopped, took off my headset, took off my hat, my glasses, and pulled my sweatshirt up over my head, all while about two thousand people trotted by me. Then I took off one of the long sleeve shirt I had on, what was I thinking?

I recovered nicely and clopped around the rest of the park at an easy, hey-look at those beautiful clouds- sort of pace. Still ran it in less time than last year, that's good, but less exciting for me now.

The real challenge for me was to get to work after the run. I had to get my bag from the little fenced off place. (I cut in front of 500 people to get in and get out.) Then, after already running six miles I had to jog over to Central Park West (uphill) and get a cab.

The getting a cab part is always the hardest part. Usually about two hundred runners have the same idea that I have and are out in the street with their hand up, but this Sunday was different. No one was looking for a cab, in fact, there wasn't any traffic on the street at all. For a second or two I thought the street had been closed for some reason and was dreading the run over to Broadway (the next nearest downtown street) but a taxi appeared out of the distance and (after I mumbled something about please go as fast as you can) we caroomed through the Park and around Grand Central to my gym.

Sometimes a hot shower can be electric.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"How can you ask someone to be the last to die... .?"

I find myself wondering if most Americans are so removed from this war that they don't have any real connection to it. It's as if we have achieved a kind of national scotoma, as if this war was happening to some other nation, that it was some other distant event being reported on the national news every night, as if it were some kind of really long sports story about a couple of teams no one really cares about. Tonight I am walking through Chelsea to the A train and I see the guys at Station Fourteen setting up their tree.

The NYFD lost 333 firefighters on 9/11, scores more are now dying from working in the Pit in the days and weeks after. We have allowed George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to completely screw up our nation's response to the 9/11 attacks. The war in Iraq is a national disgrace, yet we don't seem, as a nation, disturbed or disgraced by it. I am walking with my camera in my hand listening in my headphones to James Baker of the Iraq Study Group declare that the conclusion of the report is that we can no longer stay the course. That there is great peril in continuing as we have these past four years, five years, whatever. But where is our peril?

I am nearly knocked over by a couple taking home their tree. and my eye is drawn across the street to the GAP store window. Where I see that corporate America has finally (maybe I missed it before?) co-opted the symbol of America's anti-war movement. Our senses, including our sense of justice, have become so dull that we cannot even feel the war. So when I ask "How can you ask someone to be the last to die... .?" America responses with "What you talking about?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

One Loop in the Cold

The December sun was shining with all the power of a 40 watt light bulb as the 5,000 or so folks made their way down the paths to the New York Road Runner's Holiday Five Mile on Saturday morning. The mood of this race is festive, you see a lot of reindeer horns and Santa Claus ( or his representatives) is seen in various garb. I was taking the morning off of work to do this one, it was my insurance race. A runner has to do nine races in 2006 in order to qualify for next year's NYC ING Marathon and I entered this race in case I had failed to finish in one of the others in my list. I didn't. I'm in. I did my ninth race a couple of weeks ago.
So why was I here? For the fun of it. Which makes it a transforming moment, doesn't it? Up until now it was all about the training and getting ready and wondering if all the training and getting ready were actually training and getting me ready for anything. This was a lark. All I had to do was trot around the park once and then go and sip hot chocolate with the other 4,992 finishers.
And it was fun. I bopped along at my ten minute a mile pace until the last mile when I tried to pour it on a little AND succeeded. I did the last mile in the underwhelming time of 9:17 and met my goal of beating 50 minutes.
At the end there was a bunch of us all huffing and puffing and pushing each other to finish strong. Yea us! This has happened to me twice, right at the end of a race with about a half a mile to go, someone says "Hey, you're doing great!" and then we run together to the end just as if we had been best buddies through the mornings. I think I could have run another five at the end which is a good thing because the next race is Sunday.
It's the 6K Joe and it's kind of the anniversary race for me, it's the one where I really felt like I had passed some kind of marker in the change from being a huffer trying to lose weight and (dare I say it?) a runner.


Everyone knows about the middle ear and how there is something there that checks on your balance and helps you know if you about to fall, but few know there is something at the center of our brains which checks ever few seconds on your mental equilibrium and reports to the rest of the mush that your universe is in order, that it is in balance. That little something is always on edge.

Okay, you have to know about the trucks. You have to know because I consider one of my worst, and one of my best, times. Where to start? Oh! At the beginning.

I got the trucks when I was five. There was an orange steam shovel, a long green bottom loader with big wheels and a yellow grader. Down the hill from the Valley Street baseball diamond was a section in the woods where the State of Connecticut had dumped about fifty tons of sand for no good reason, it just luckily made a giant sandbox surrounded by birch trees. The bunch of us neighborhood kids played in that sandpit for days on end. Everyone had trucks, but my trucks were the best, there was nothing like them in the world. They were heavy and had big wheels and were just the right colors. It was such fun. We made roads and holes, lots of them and then the rain would wipe everything away and we would do it again. Our mothers had to walk all the way across the ballfield to call us for supper, if they hadn't I think we would have played until pitch dark.

Then I turned seven and discovered the wonderful smell of baseball glove leather and the pleasure of hitting an outside pitch.

Fast forward
I am now 22 and listening to my sister-in-law telling the story of how Wayne, her dad, had given her older brother a train set one Christmas, but then decided that it was too good for him to play with and put it up in the closet. From then on it was taken out only at Christmas and only Wayne got to run it. It was sillier than how mean that sounds, but I told myself I would never do that to my kids.

Fast Forward
There is a new baby and Mom and Pop have driven out to Oklahoma and with them they have brought the box of my stuff that Mom had kept through the years. There is my stamp collection, record albums, three Hardy Boys books, my marbles, some copies of Sing Out that I thought I had left in Boston, papers from high school, poems from sixth grade and, holy cow, my trucks.

I was so happy to see them. The yellow grader's blade was bent and the treads of the steam shovel were gone, but the green loader looked great and the doors at the bottom swung open nicely.

I was busy with so many things then, the baby's frailness, the unhappiness of the baby's mother, the other little kiddo, trying to find the money for school, the little place in my brain looking for balance, I put the box up in the attic.

Fast forward
After the divorce, the second one, another story, I am packing my stuff to take to the apartment, I find the box and the kiddo, who is now eleven, -yeah, well I forgot about it,right?--when I tell him he can have the trucks to play with. He loves them like I did!! In a stroke of genius he uses two black book bands for steam shovel treads. He builds Lego walls and rolls those trucks around on the carpet in the living room and has a grand time.

Two years later
Kiddo rides up to the apartment on a very nice red bicycle. In Tulsa then, as I am sure now, there are Swap Meets. You bring stuff to trade. If I can get you to take my crap for some of your crap that I believe is better, everyone is happy.

"Wow! Nice bike. Where'd you get it?"
"I traded those old trucks for it. Cool, huh? Can we paint it with pinstripes?"

I am thunderstruck.
I am dumbfounded.

"I was thinking maybe black ones or yellow"

I am incoherently croaking out a question about the whereabouts of the swap meet. I am flying down the street to the corner, I am flying across the ballfield to the sand pit, I am trying not to panic the part of the brain which checks every few minutes on the balance of the universe, I am making roads and holes and above us the birch trees are waving and whispering.

They are long gone. The last few tables at the swap meet hold only stuff that no one wants, even the people who brought it.

I am stomach punched.

I cry all the way back to the apartment. I have to stop once just to remind myself of Wayne and the train and just how silly, how crazy, these feeling are.

Fast forward a week or so.
It took most of an afternoon and evening, but we took the bike's wheels off and then carefully made spirals of tape down along it's top tube and bands around the chainstays and front and back tubes. We did yellow and black. There was nothing like it in the world and the little place in my brain relaxed.

Then it started checking again. It always does that.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

On the Loss of a Favorite Bowl

No one knows when they will meet a traveling mercy.
They arrive in the hands of travelers,
sometimes lovers,
sometimes no one is there at all, it seems.
They take such odd
and infinitely differing forms:
a bowl,
a piece of brown glass,
a long black dress forsaken, but not forgotten,
a collection of stones brought together
on summery early evenings
filled with grandmother smiles and cicada songs.
Not everyone realizes
when they are in the presence of,
or in possession of,
a mercy.
Flown in from the outer reachs of the universe
across a billion trillion miles to the hands of strangers, and sometimes lovers,
reaching out to us
in the plain and simple act of compassion,
of understanding,
of seeing the real you under and between all those layers.
They are hardly ever anything but ordinary,
for, in the rest of the universe,
mercy is the norm.
We here on earth are still works in progress and tend to ignore the ordinary.
Which is why we sometimes lose our mercies.
Everyone realizes when a mercy is lost,
no one ever loses one without a long and serious stretch of tears and grief.
We weep,
we cry,
we shake in mourning for the lost love,
the lost time,
the lost vision of ourselves as something true
that was somehow contained in that little ordinary thing.
Then we go on as if something has been left behind,
but, if we know true mercy
down deep we know
that the power was never part
of the stones
or the glass
or the dress
or the bowl.
It was in the hearts and souls and memories of those who brought it to us
and those never leave us.
Out there in the universe beyond,
they fly circles waiting to zoom down to us,
just as we stumble,
just as we fall,
just as the words of hate strike us,
just as the doctor finishes his speech about cyto something or other,
just as we think the first thoughts about never finding love,
just as we think we are finished -
--they arrive.
You can hardly feel them,
they enter open eyes and open hearts and open minds
and take the form
of stones in a box,
or a long black dresses
or something as plain as a piece of brown glass.
All you can tell is the daylight seems sharper,
more in tune with the moment,
and so do you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

On the Trail of the Elusive Mince

What is the one food, besides turkey, that defines Thanksgiving for you? What is that one delight which has stood out for you since childhood? Cranberries? As in Cranberry Relish made by running those tart orbs through a grinder with bits of oranges and apples? Or do you just heat the berries in sugar until they burst their skins making a lovely tangy tart red goo. Yes, oh yes. How about those yams and pineapple bubbling under the toasted crust of marshmallows? Is that brown sugar and molasses in there? m-mmm. But is it the one? What did you hope would be found in the leftovers the next day? For me, there is no contest, it's mincemeat pie.

Good. I was hoping you would say you didn't like mincemeat pie, more for me!

My father's mother made mincemeat the pioneer way, meaning there was actual meat in her mincemeat pie along with the apples and raisins, dried figs and dates all chopped together. The family had been poor, dirt poor, and Grandma Jeff never lost the art of using up. If there wasn't stewmeat to be stirred in the mince at least there would be some bits of pork fat or goose fat and maybe just a dollop of lard. She was still cooking her pies in a wood stove oven in 1968 when she was nearing ninety. Every year as fall deepened my brothers and I would join the uncles in cutting and stacking enough wood for Grandma to get through the Connecticut winter. Those pies were heavy things, every piece a meal, the kind of thing that sticks to your ribs and your memory.

My mother's mincemeat was a bit more refined, made without the smoky meats but with huge flavor -- more rum and dried citron and currants added to the mix of raisins and apples with ground cloves, nutmeg, allspice and ground cinnamon. And some more rum. The whole lower orchestra of aromas and scents combined under piecrust. Somewhere in the family archives are the recipes for both but for the past twenty years or so I have been surviving on
Cross and Blackwell's sticky sweet version poured into a my own homemade crust. I can still make pie crust, but I can't make mincemeat like Mom's or Grandma Jeff's.

We have been ordering our groceries from
Fresh Direct. We had gone through the big list: turkey -organic and unfrozen -, yellow veggies, smashed potatoes for the gravy and a couple of things for pre-eating, healthy and otherwise, I was on mop up duty for the missing items. The first thing on the short list was Mince Pie Filling. Snap, right? I was a little shocked when they didn't have any kind of mince on their website but I didn't think I was going to have any trouble finding Mincemeat in the Capitol of the World.

Well, let me tell you. I have become the Night Stalker of Mince. Merrily cruising down the Baking aisle at Associated Foods, this bright, innocent soul- I am too!-was unable to locate any cans of Mince Pie Filling and the look on the face of the person I asked for help told me that not only did he not know what I what talking about but he was pretty sure I was doing a spoof video for Youtube. Let's all be Borat this year.

Onward. Off to Union Square where four days a week the farmers bring their wares for sale, apples, potatoes and beets, ciders and wines, breads of every shape and crunchiness and forty kinds of winter squash. There was the goat meat lady with her statuettes of frolicking goats right next to the frolicking goat meat sausage and the neat slices of frolicking goat steaks next to the very nice, jumping for joy, goats plaque. Won't she sell more chivo if people didn't see the happy goats next to their pinkish harvest? Dunno. The bottom line is no one at the Square had Mince Pie Mix. They had twelve kinds of honey, fifty kinds of jam, including Quince, which due to traffic going by caused a slight mis-communication which you can probably guess how it went -
Sure! Right here.
Um. No, I said Mince.
Oh. Mince? Well, no, no then.

Luckily I was a baseball's throw from
Whole Foods, the premier supplier of all that is richly good in the way of food and other things. Sixty kinds of Greek Cheese, count'em, sixty, and fourteen kinds of Hot Italian Sausage, one was good enough for my mother's Lasagna, now I have to choose from fourteen. How about some squash that looks like big overcoat buttons?

I headed for the When You Want to Bake aisle still full of hopeful anticipation. On the way I saw a whole counter of one of the other things, something called Organic Body Polish. Sadly, I did not take the time to read the instructions.

In the When You Want to Bake aisle I would find Blueberry filling, Pumpkin filling in Organic, Solid Pack, and Regular, Cherry Filling, a large can with what looked like a Kodota Figs. There was even, I kid you not, cans of Gooseberry Pie filling which my dad would have loved, but no jars or cans of mince. Rebecca, the very nice stocking persona, rushed off to the back to see if any had arrived. Rebecca was gone a long time, so I played two games of chess on my Palm (lost both badly) and listened to a little of my running music, Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe and the Rain King. Rebecca came back empty handed. Crestfallen, she told me that there would be no mince until after Thanksgiving. Well, thanks.

So I headed for the
Westside Market with the idea that I would go to the Chelsea Market if I came up dry there.
At Westside (Seventh Ave near Fourteenth) all the usual goodies of the upper scale market are crammed into the space of a corner deli. The shelves are ten feet high and groan with every edible product from the ends of the earth. They have cheeses that look alive. They had two dozen kinds of salsa. They have fifty kinds of jams and jellies, including Quince. They have no mince.

I went home. I didn't even try the Chelsea Market.
I changed my mind. I've decided since I can't find it to make the mince and here's how you can help.
My sister, the keeper of the recipes, is in Japan helping with the birth of the latest grandchild in our tribe and won't be returning until two days before Thanksgiving. So what had you got? And don't Goggle me up some Best Recipes Site, I've seen those and find something lacking, I want what your mother cooked for you. Come on, give, it's raining and I'm not going out there for citron unless you show me the family's secret recipe.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No doubt the golden light

No doubt
the golden light surrounding him
holds back much
of the anxiousness of this night,
but he clutchs the flowers tightly by their stems
and wonders again
if they and this date
had both been bad ideas.
Thinking, what was he thinking
when he said yes okay yes sure,
now, less sure
looking the direction she will surely come,
she will surely come, surely come, surely.
what is he thinking
surely she will come
yes, yes okay.
no doubt.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Real Music, Living Color

The curtain of the night's fog hung on for it's last few minutes, trying it's best to blunt the day's entrance. This dawning is rich in muted things: muffled birdsong, the pale glow of light in the quiet woods, the near silent breeze which arrives to send leaves of softest yellow flying. Later, if the rains hold off, there will be glimpses of red and dark orange, but now we run the hills bathed in pastel yellow and the odd deep green that is only seen in November's slanting light.

There is purple here and there, little pieces of night still clinging to the branches, it's the purple of Irises and Springtime floating through the air. The eye denies seeing it but it is there.

I took my headsets off to listen: footfalls fading in the dampness,a muffled crackling off to the left in the painted forest and my own breathing in relief of making the top. Mornings like these make me wonder why I even I even wear the damned things. I mean, I love the music, it sometimes is the only thing that is driving me on, that and the hope that I will be running behind someone that I can keep up with, but hearing the little sounds of the morning, that's real music.
...The year spins towards winter now. These leaves will be gone, or almost gone, by week after next and we shall be on December's doorstep. Why does it seem that autumn, or fall, you choose the word you like the most, seems year after year to hold it's fire and then burst and die? There are some Springs like that, Springs which bypass March and April and don't put any dressing on until well after May Day, but they are rare. Autumns appear more and more like Fourth of July fireworks shows, a steady, but not too showy display to whet the appetite, and then a short urgent cascade of spectaculars.

There is more to see up the road, more days with curtains of fog hanging over them, the tree at the corner signals the year is turning and we hustle towards the horizon.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

At the Intersection of Time and Space

In order
to be
at the restaurant
on time
I have invoked
a time travel mojo
on this taxicab
It's working
red lights to green lights
tottering doddering
from the corners
from the avenues
from the earth
rolling back
as the miles and the meter
roll up
right now
I am only ten minutes late
I am on time
in New York City
ten minutes
is only
ten minutes
twenty minutes
I call the table
to say
I am in a taxi
a taxi
a well known
time machine

Friday, November 10, 2006

Marathon Day 2006

It didn't occur to me until I got to Northeast corner of Central Park (110th Street and Fifth Ave.), but it is the perfect spot to watch the ING New York City Marathon. Why? Because right about at that point, twenty-three miles into the race, Fifth Ave makes a slight angle upward, just a couple of degrees of incline and about a mile long, a little grade that probably doesn't even register on people walking by, but for someone who wants to get to the turn into the Central Park, the last major transition in the run, it is a very long, long hill.

I haven't watched a race in a long time. It is like watching the opening of a floodgate, first, besides the obvious runners in the lead, there are the little knots of men and women, followed by bigger knots and then the scattered left behind runners.
Mixed in with the early leaders were the last of the wheelchair racers. These are not the rollers with the three thousand dollar chairs with the grinder handles and the sleek tilted wheels. Those guys and gals are long gone ( the winner finished in under an hour and thirty minutes.) No, the last wheelchairs are wheelchairs, regular blue and black, footrests in the front, straight wheels and push handle kind of chair you see in the front hall of hospitals. Making that kind of chair go 26 miles is a major effort. Major.

The hill makes this last stretch of roadway very tough. The crowd was tremendous, yelling the name of anyone who was smart enough to put it on their shirt. It must be a great boost to hear your name shouted in cadence at this point of your marathon. "You look great, Joe!" "Wow, Diane, Diane, Diane , go for it now!" Yea, Bill, the top of the hill is the turn into the Park!!" They flew up the hill, not everyone did. There were more than a few who stopped and stretched a hamstring, or an instep, or massaged a shin splint.

As the runners came on in greater numbers the noise the crowd made got even louder. Bells, horns, plastic noisemakers filled the air.

The blond lady waved her sign at every runner while she waited for her husband to come by. He was supposed to be in the three and a half hour finishers and as the time clicked by she got more and more excited, waving and looking and waving and looking. When he finally did arrive arrive, he STOPPED to say hello to her. "Why are you stopping???" she gasped! "Just wanted a kiss, hon."he said and with a little burst of energy in his step, he took off up the avenue.

He had some company.
I'm doing this next year.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Opportunity Knocks, Rationality Answers

A friend writes in regard to the Staten Island Half Marathon:
Great PR!!! I am still working out what PR means but please don't help me, I'm sure I can come up with something. AH, Personal Record - just tell me if I'm wrong.


It could also stand for Particular Reason as in “Do you have any particular reason for standing out in this cold in your shorts?”

Or Personal Renewal which is a lot like Urban Renewal, there is a lot of dust created and eaten and when you are finished no one remembers what the original looked like.

Or Pathetic Raison d'etre. Never mind.


I was hoist by a personal dilemma these past few days. A friend of mine has an entry in THIS year’s marathon, but he is injured and cannot run it. So he offered to pick up his chip (the thing we wear to monitor our times) and bib (the number we wear – it was going to be like number 20331) and give it to me to wear IF I wanted.

What a temptation! I know I could do twenty miles, but I haven’t pushed past that.

Aside from the fact that you are not supposed to transfer any entry and I could be disqualified for next year if I was found out, I was really psyched up and ready.

I got out the maps.

I looked up the ferry schedule.

(The busses were full so I would have to walk trot miles to the starting area. No biggie)
If I ran sixteen miles, I would be back in Manhattan and I could quit and take a taxi home… …. …. I started packing the old sweatshirt I would abandon at the start when a question bubbled up from somewhere deep in my medulla oblongata, “What part of your plan is this?”


I gave the ticket back to him.

I’m going to Marcus Garvey Plaza to watch this morning.

Hey…… want to see what a truck looks like on a downhill at ten miles into a thirteen miler???

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere and Wind too...

One good thing about being in the Poland Spring Five Mile with six thousand four hundred and fifty people a week before the New York City Marathon is that you are pretty much assured of being with a lot of people who aren't going to run very fast. After all, a bunch of them are running in the Marathon on Sunday and 1) don't want to get a) stepped on, b) stepped over or c) injured in any way, shape, fashion, form or manner, 2) are running with someone who is going to run the Marathon and so are going to loaf along with them rather than rabbit out and around the park or 3) are participating in their very first race and haven't a clue what exactly is about to happen to them.

The Kickoff as this race is known is a kind of last fun run of the season for most of the serious runners. People show up in costumes, there were several pirates, a couple of cats, one Disney mouse and a guy in a yellow shirt pretending to be Lance Armstrong. (He was running with a pair of bicycle handlebars complete with bell. Ting ting ting!) It's also a chance for the New York Road Runners Club to have one more practice session at the Marathon Finish Line. Yes. The finish line for the Poland Springs Five IS the same finish line that 37,000 runners will cross next Sunday morning, or Sunday afternoon or even Sunday night. (I don't know when they stop timing people.) So, that is part of the thrill, to know that as you come around the corner near the Merchant's Gate, you are on the same quarter mile stretch to the end that all those folks will be on, and yes, it is all uphill to the finish, it's not much of a hill, but still... .

It was a perfect day for gamboling about, blue,blue skies and winds gusting to thirty-five miles an hour. What? Um, yes, gusting to thirty five so all of the mile markers would be at ground level and ... . Thirty Five miles a hour winds?? But, but ... but, at the start you couldn't feel anything like a gust of wind of any kind, just the warmth of standing on a roadway in your shorts with a lot of other underdressed people. I've learned to run with as little on as possible, I generate a lot of heat and nothing slows me down more than a long sleeved tee-shirt full of salt/potassium water.

Off we went at nine am, I had to be at work by 11:30 so I wanted to just run and get it over with, so my plan was to just loaf along with the others holding back their energy for the big race next week.

I apparently was in front of all of them because the people I was running with were charging along as if they were trying to out run the affects of a dirty bomb. We roared along the West Side, up the hill to the reservoir then down, down and around the 102 Street Crossover and then,


we turned South... and that was where the wind was waiting for us.

Let's see: insert analogy here .... like being hit with a cold wet towel that was in the shape of a truck... like suddenly there were six thousand four hundred and fifty mimes doing "struggle against the wind".... like there was a solid glass wall constructed across the road. Like... .

People groaned, people laughed instead of cried, some seemed to be on the edge of tears and there were lots of Uffs, ahhhs and several mentions of various deities, none of whom, pardon me, none of Whom, were responding to the petitions for aid and assistance. One man, in an attempt to help his running mate, (OH, so that's where that phrase came from!!) said "Don't worry. You'll get used to it."

Well. Well, yes, if a study I once read about is true, one would get used to it. The study asked boxers what their pain levels were during a bout and a majority of them, even the ones who were losing badly, being pummeled by their opponents, reported feeling less pain as the punishment increased.
So as we tottered towards
Fred Lebow's watch watching statue we must have been getting used to it because all the people I was running with seemed to be flying along oblivious to the conditions, completely unaffected by the teeth jamming gale in their face, showing no signs of discomfort except for some really tight grimaces.

Maybe we had gotten used to it. All the water in my breathable running top ($40 at NikeWorld. jeez) had been pushed into my chest so I didn't even have to stop for a water, even a Poland Springs water. Maybe it was because we were finally on the Marathon route, the last three miles of it and the last three of this race are almost identical. (In the Marathon you get to go out onto Fifty Ninth Street for a couple a hundred yards.)

We all zoomed up the hill. Folks gathered to meet their families, people hugged as they ate bagels and apples and drank water. One woman asked her husband if the wind had bothered him. "It wasn't bad." he said. Not one of us called him a liar.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friend Shoots Friend then Self

Tabloid headlines are sometimes mis-leading. The misses here didn't miss or if they did, they just reviewed the images and re-shot. And re-shot, and re-shot, and re-shot. They were having the best time trying to get just the right framing of their friendship. There were several made with eyes closed or crossed, a couple just not right and one that was determined to be "hot".

One thing is certain: men would never do this, that is, take pictures of themselves and their best buddy huddled together on a train. Maybe I'm wrong, or old or both.

The cellphone camera has changed so many things. I saw a guy at Yankee Stadium in the upper deck taking a picture of the field to send to godknowswhere. This huge green landscape compressed down into a little two by two square. Tourists everywhere in the city snap, er, click, er, (there really isn't any sound of the cellphone shutter,,,,) they take photos. In St. Patrick's Catheral, in front of Cleopatra's Needle (there is an excellent red-leafed tree there), in Times Square. Billions of pictures are being taken now everyday, who says some of them aren't of some men, one with his left ear pressed against the right ear of his teammate? I just not seen any yet.

But I have seen girls like these before, taking pic after pic after pic, in cafes, at Starbucks, outside of the movies, at the RoadRunner races, in front of some statue or the Shake Shack or around the corner from Bloomingdale's.

It's a very serious attempt to capture some fun.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Seven Million Keystrokes Later

Everything will be alright, but not for a long time. There will be recovery and rememberances of things past. There will be some headslapping, but, hopefully no blood or exploding eardrums.

It was just part of the many things I did last night just before bed. No one should be allowed to do anything just before bed, but I should not be allowed anywhere near a mouse for at least thirty minutes before I think I am going to lay my head down. I do wild and crazy things.

I wanted to download an audio book or two or three. I hadn't downloaded any books for the past two months and I was building up credits into the double digit range. All I have been listening to in the last few months is music, hard driving, make your truck-like body go faster, music. I've listened and I've run, but now I think it's time to get back to feeding my head so I went to and picked out a few: The Earth is Flat -I read the book a number of months back but now it's supposed to have updated and revised, Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, because you can't walk three steps in any direction without somebody talking about either him or the book and a series of speechs on the direction the digital world is going. Yeah, all heady stuff.

But, of course, the software didn't recognize me or my password and -and!- the software, after being convinced that it was, in fact, me, didn't recongize either of my players. Yes, I have two, I only need one but because I have two I would like to use one for books and one for music, is that so bad?

Anyway, it took me over an hour to get the thing to download the books and get them onto to the Concept Muvo.

Do you know what I find weird? This can't-get-the-software-to-work things happens to me all the time. Everyone in the movies goes to their computer, even goes to the computer of the evil spy genius, and, with a few keystrokes, downloads the files, accesses the money file and escapes within minutes, seconds even. I get -email unknown- error OXX12L23-contact the planet ZARGON for assistance.

I know.... in the movies from time immemorial the hero can always find a parking place too.