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.

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