You know, I wish this light was all light, that it would follow only us.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


John Constable-Flatford Mill (British 1816)

For RP and The Avalanches.

Life in service--you know, it doesn't teach the lessons you might expect. I mean, you either grasp humility, compassion, confidence and patience while growing up or you do not; by the time you reach that life in service those things either lie in your fortune or you're screwed--to yourself and others. Blame whomever you like.

Tending bar for some rich dude.

I tell you, they say you cannot buy taste, but the reality, bejeweled and fitted with excuses such as it is, far exceeds that: Taste is for the truly poor, the most wretched of the wretched. This is not cause and effect, taste simply engenders bitterness for what one cannot afford.

I told Avocado in a break last night that the place looked like a frat boy had been given carte blanche in a Spencer's Gifts. In fact it was worse and different. Because as much as low brow disappoints our values this aesthetic, this colostomy bag of coffeehouse ideas and pop culture cornpoop in sum constituted a feat of which neither cheapness nor availability availed themselves. Someone worked very hard to assemble Kubla Khan.

Labor, our sophistication, lubrication of lack.

I observed specifically, and stray from the point in saying so--forgive me, my cynicism craves variety, how the rich, who are often older in age, tend to associate with disfigured younger folks. The lower in age the more severe the accident lying in the past, the more hallmarking a career nadir for a plastic surgeon. It is as if either consciously or not they elect a crowd that by bent of time or misfortune shares their chances at things. Roman Polanski could not have cast them better. Not without a heedless appeal to the third world.

Politeness is, too, the savageness of class warfare. I prefer them at the end of the night when the sand has been leveled, when no serif in their speech nor carriage and composure of dress could elevate them. When they ask quietly for the very sum of the ensuing morning's regret. I like that then they ask as I do.

Jason explained to me that the woman who complimented my tie was wearing a necklace made of a particular kind of stone that had all the characteristics of a precious metal. Its name escapes me, though I remember thinking it could be passed off for a sexually transmitted disease--reason number two why not to wear the stuff. Coal, I think it was.

I was tired, too tired to be with people.

There came a lull in the evening, and I did not let go the conciliatory divot without appreciation. Few things please me more than working with magnificent food devoid the inclination to taste it. In the hallway I had a brown pear and a few grapes, but the substance of the evening, the ruby tuna and amber cheese, the dim sum, folded like love letters, I couldn't imagine eating any of it.

I used to think I would, when providence was had, make a house for myself around a kitchen--J.J. lives in a space no bigger than a business envelope and has admirably done so. Now, I'd like to amend that ambition. Why build a house around a kitchen when the utilitarian design is to build just the kitchen--maybe a curtained off portion of the pantry in which a bed and a tv could sit, but really, what else.

This was a grand old place, a rehabilitated factory from the surging years of Pittsburgh's industrial halcyon. Brick and I-beams, ceilings that cracked the sky and a view of the Allegheny rendered purple from the corresponding glow of the North Side across the way. Stretches of the land seemed handpicked between the design of a colonial God and the fortune of an autochthon, and here was one; there was an anodized steel deck stocked with cases of soft drinks and beer. A lonely gravel walk adhered to the river below, and by virtue of the leaden cold and isolation it went undisturbed.

In service and then, later, in wiling away the time after as much consolidation and cleaning could be done was done I thought of the Avalanches, and specifically their tune, "Everyday."

I thought, how could impulse, impulse mind you at its most basic and least poetic, communicate a sentiment not only this grand and willful, but detailed. Faithful to air and temperature. Faithful to the absence of light. Faithful to the have-not, whomever they are.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The moon.

We have, I hope, reached a pinnacle in our genealogical development at which we no longer feel compelled to discuss basic happiness in writing. The compulsion is part and parcel to human expression--it is fundamental, but when it comes right down to it there is the imposing burden it places on the reader to, for no other reason than unprofitable empathy, feel for the Voice.

Unnecessary--listen to a record, meet someone, try a pomelo, cutting, or wearing laurels.

Sufficed to say we hosted a blossom of a moon last evening, one apocalyptic in measurement, conducive to whiskey drinking and no small amount of forgetting. People were stepping outside of their houses in pajamas--okay, sweatsuits, just to say, "look, I am on fire. Beneficence conduct me, Moon, may uncharacteristic kindness alight with your light. Don't be a douchebag. Luminescence, this time it is me--I am watching you. I know about the Drifters record sitting on your floor."

I stocked my barren lp case with 78 rpm records, books and a Mexican candle depicting that most magnetic candle personality, Jesus, with his tranquil hand gesture, saying, "This way and not the other." Topped said column with a cocktail umbrella and a bitty U.S. flag. I am indubitably in that era of adulthood in which one neither contemplates death nor candies his social doings with nostalgia--I am thinking of this country and the verging holiness is quite grand. Once, for instance, my iPod played Sidney Bechet's rambling "Oh, Didn't He Ramble" on a flight. I looked diagonally downward--such was the angle of the circling plane headed for Minneapolis in which I sat, and saw for the very first time ever, the Mississippi River. What a coincidence. The world was not over.

I produced a solid natural emotion, I connected myself to something ancient. There are dreams about old places, and then, in rarest moonlight and mood, there is the nobility and security of the encounter.

All of this reminds me we are quickly approaching Lent. As an agnostic disfavoring devotion it shouldn't matter to me but I tagged along with J.J. and her pals; I will be excising booze from my diet for, well, a month or so. Shit. Anyhow, that's what with the weirdness. Full moon, get me drunk now, tomorrow I will be as dry as a scientist's eye.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh fine.

Miss Ella indulges in sunlight and a heavily porcine campfire diet, Camp Doran, 2009.

Several months ago I feigned illness and began losing weight; I bought skeleton shirts and cut my hair often. The inner worm ate at me. It was time to reshape comfortable delineations in order to provide for what was to come, to haze out and get abstract so I could see what would come. For the longest time nothing came, I collected Hummels.

Since then I sold my records off save for about twenty, got really into Mozart--I mean more into Mozart, and took to reading with that bygone appetite...a grimy appetite encouraging teeth growth and sleeplessness, not that I needed help--old Peanuts strips, John Fowles novels and Hawthorne. Nabokov, always.

The affinity for thrift store clothes faded into a domestic jones for afghans and quilts; these days I boast a Proustian devotion to my bed. I buy pillows, throws, flannels and shawls. I bought a reading lamp; my pal, J.J., lent me her space heater. There are posters of old shows above my bed, a black and white picture of Leadbelly, and some notable obituaries from The New York Times, including that old favorite of some guy named Leopold B. Felsen, who was "an expert on the property of waves." What a milestone of public life, and what better abstract reference point across which to graze dipping eyelids, then sink leadenly into a well appointed bed. I must get a better mattress, I must bore a skylight through the ceiling. When we are honest with ourselves we are as we are in the deepest plumb of dreams, pursuing unrepentant pillow fights with the genitals of familiars and living in rooms that are both indoors and outdoors, replete with candles, books, a piano, women, the sky, moss, and of course a river.

Tonight, well, this morning, I'll be dozing off to David Lean's magnificent Brief Encounter. It's overdue and I already owe late fees on it. I hope Andrew will accept my Monopoly board game rich guy with out-turned pockets gesture as substitute for remittance. I hope I have that Duke Ellington dream again.