Saturday, August 28, 2010

...the echo of an electric echo

(photo concept by sean cusick, goat-herder)

I am lying next to you, watching the longest film I can bear, The English Patient, listening to your breathing, awaiting your stirring, your voice.

I am lying next to you, dreaming while waiting, dreaming in thought, of times slipped past, and time to come, yours and mine, and ours.

I am lying next to you, anticipating the morning poetry of your body, eagerly being still, watching the film, listening to your breathing, dreaming of your kisses, and morning words.

I am lying next to you, in love with the sound of your breath, and the stirring, the gentle stirring of your voice,

of our past...


"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." -Anais Nin

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The city that never… sleeping giants


I awoke tonight and finished the book I was reading, got out of bed and found that my internet was out, so I decided to go for a bike ride. When I left my apartment just before Zero O'clock I wandered for a bit, just seeing what there was to see in The East Village... very little. There were drunks wandering home, or stumbling along in groups, some people just out and about, like me, with no apparent destination. The occasional bark of laughter. I rode down along the southern tip of the island and up through Battery Park then up the west side of the island, along the park, the water. I dashed the cold river northwards..., pilot of night flight, stealth journeyman.

I got to the west 50's and decided to cut into the city and do a few loops of Central Park.

Now, in the late 1970's and early 80's, as you might know, Central Park at any time of the day was considered the most dangerous place on earth. There was little reporting of events outside the United States. Rape and murder in New York was the very best that American news agencies had to offer, apparently. Sometimes it was the only news at all that we would get in Florida. It was as if the only thing to worry about in the world was this dark and dangerous park, especially at night. I could never figure out why anybody would enter such a place. Even the police seemed afraid of it.

One might think that riding a bike in this park as a grown man of 40+ years that I wouldn't have any fear. That those times were long ago and much has changed since then. Tell that to the demon under the bed, or trotting along just behind you, breathing heavily, gaining ground, arms outstretched... reason with him.

I first rode the smaller southern loop in the park, expecting to see other riders. When I saw none I thought that certainly it's just because I am riding the same way that they are, so I turned around and rode the opposite way, noticing then that there was nobody in the park at all. Nobody. I finished the loop backwards and then decided to do the entire park loop. Up past the backside of the Met, lit up at night like a massive operating room, familiar parts of it so alien at this hour, along the reservoir named after Jacqueline O. I thought out loud: the only person that's going to get 'jacked' is going to be me. Pinned northward, up the corridor between 5th and The Jackie O. Reservoir, I could see the renovations of The Guggenheim. Oh Mother, where there be art... oh, mother art, don't fail me now... etc... The shrubbery that separates the reservoir from the road creeps out onto the pavement in a suggestively malevolent manner at this hour. The northern part of the loop gets darker and seems less kept. As I rode I felt like I was jogging nude into Africa, covered in honey and gold...

I knew that I was getting into more dangerous territory. But the northern part of the loop is a better ride, more hilly, more challenging. As I reached the northernmost part of the loop and started heading back south I felt a relief that I wasn't going any further, past the edge of the park back into the city, Harlem. As I shifted into a higher gear going around the gradual down-sloping westward curve, gaining speed, I felt that I was safe again. It had been a while since I rode the full loop here. As I came around the western side and started heading south in earnest I hit what I remembered to be a series of semi-steep hills and curves. I had forgotten what they were actually like. My legs were weakened, not used to a ride this long, I was short of breath. Each curve I rounded delivered another winding hill upwards and further into the park, into more darkness. I felt like I was powering a lone rickshaw expedition up Kilimanjaro, at night, with the devil in tow. The shifting peripheral sight and the shadows of trees all became advancing marauders. Each bush on the side of the road was certain cover for some new horror. I prepared mentally for action, peddled on, saving strength for any sudden danger, and eager to be be back on the coast, at a trading town, the hotel paid many days in advance, my ticket aboard the outbound boat confirmed.

Idiota...

My fears were all mine. I shared the park with no one, ill or otherwise. I crossed a bridge and saw some sign of life. A truck with the headlights on and the sound of industry. There must have been road workers repairing the road that ran underneath, but I saw none. There were, at least, I thought, others. I never stopped, I was eager to get back below the 80's, below the 70's, back to the streets and times of safety. Across The Great Lawn there was nothing, only an eery phosphorescent glow, "The Shining" without snow, or Jack Nicholson wielding an axe. Ahead, I could just glimpse the Museum Of Natural History through the trees and felt some certainty return to me. Silly, that.

I longed to tell of my adventures, my exploration into the darkest, most dangerous place of my youth. I felt like a brother for real, friend to rapist and murderer and drug-dealers alike. At this hour.... who can ever tell.

By the time I reached Sheep Meadow I was already wanting to do another loop of the whole thing but knew my legs would be twice as tired, more. Always darkest before the dawn, etc.

Who can tell? The ride home from the park seemed much more dangerous. Taxi cab drivers are the biggest threat to my safety.

Those who have never ridden a bike down 5th Ave. do not get to talk to me of terror in New York City.




Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"On The Beach"



"Though my problems are meaningless, that don't make them go away."
-Neil Young

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ill equipped for dreams...




Dirt. Warm and dry across my fingers. My fingers scrape again, beneath it is colder and moist. The roots of plants racing, weeds hiding from my closing fists. The earth becomes unforgiving on the knees, the elbows, the fingers, the fist. The earth is hard on the needs. There is unseen blood towards the tip of the fingernails. Occasionally the old earth is hardened, while the flesh is soft and often gives. Memory, the little memories that live. Flesh.

I lift my ear to the sky and listen. Wind like love, birds like lovers. Sudden silence, then the return fluttering of flight. The sound of a passing car blended into what I feel to be natural. I silently yearn to be actual again. I lean in and quietly ask this time to be more temporal.

I move on.

Slowly across the ground I pull and beg.

The sun presses against my back inconsistently. Across my neck weekdays have marched effortlessly. I lift my arm to check the forgotten watch which I must have abandoned. There I find only a hungry mosquito landed. A quick little effort and I am alone again, stranded. Handed back over to the earth, with the broad necklace of sunburn for these candid efforts. The sun presses on.

I lean in and begin again. The fresh life of weeds tickling the palm of my soil smeared hands. Again I imagine myself a minor god delivering terror, order, death. Shiva me. In truth I struggle with order. “Don’t worry, time reminds”, say the clouds. Once found the order embraces me relentlessly. There is a god-damned against all that my eyes prefer. I am held against much that my heart adores.

I dig deeper. My fingers scraping on and into the warm rich soil. Much awaits me there: the imagined love that reality cannot equal. There that soil blackened my fingers and hardened the skin about them, that once tender place.

I tear the leaves from a weed, stripping them away into my palm. The weed stands, unconvinced. I reach down to the base of the weed and try to pull it from the earth. It snaps of in my hand just above the surface of the soil. I dig in and find its roots, clawing at them until I am sure that it is over between us.

I go to the grass and roll into it.

This was spring and all the canaries blossomed to flight. My ears were migrating, my mind was building many castles in Spain. My heart was with the hummingbirds. The countless things that are counting us. I pushed aside some leaves, inhaling some dust. The treasure of soil, that persistent memory swims within me in soft knowing sadness, in dark soil. The eddying earth and my lonely love. The forever dark and unknown toil.

I raise my dirty hands. To whom do I belong? My heart becomes evening waters and I sink within them. Bathed, I wander. Is there ever a redeeming? Ill-equipped for dreams, dreamers and all the dreaming.

Bereft of earth, the soil lingers.


Falling Gardens

(photo by Rachel Cusick)

Aging seems to be a perpetual falling back ; you rarely feel as if there's any way to stop it, though it's usually happening slowly, the best you can do is nervously peer over your shoulder, glimpsing what fresh trouble or imagined doom expects you next, quite certain that only uncertainty awaits again there for you ; having been told by many that age is somehow an improvement on youth, though 'to always be very careful' : that injuries might no longer heal, but rather sustain. Injuries take on a new power and longevity, they loom and wait, then strike.

The ground seems farther away but somehow moving towards you faster each year as you fall. Stumbling backwards into it goes against instinct, but can not be stopped. Opposite all of this, behind you, your youth is glimpsed surfing away from you as a jumbled collection of fond disasters ; towards the far horizon, laughing, galloping, hysterical, unreachable, delirious with its escape.

One of the most idiotic dumb-isms I've ever heard (other than "great minds think alike") is that, "you're only as old as you feel".... Could anything be more treacherous and obviously circular?... I feel 41 years old. I wake up some days and I've incurred a very serious sports injury during sleep, unable to get out of bed without great pain and bewilderment. I know that the intention of the statement means to 'stay young in your mind', but most of the people who repeat that blathering drivel were never young in the first place, mind or elsewhere. They foolishly believed that life can be saved, hoarded, to be spent at a later date. I keep telling myself that they were wrong.

Well, I was given some very good advice by a friend: to avoid opining here. So I will cut it short there. This seems especially sensible when concerning aging.

I ask myself, "What did I come in here for anyway…?"

Oh, tender angel of mercy, what were you doing that day on the Rolls Royce?



Sunday, August 22, 2010

DIA: Beacon


I could nearly see ahead of me, stars
bleak horizon, and the jagged lost line
of inkblack mountain



You and I in this unpieced place,
where unknown:
we fall into the eye of the unnamed



"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid."


"Women have the right to work wherever they want, as long as they have the dinner ready when you get home." - John Wayne

From Wikipedia:

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them if that's what you're asking. Our so called stealing of this country was just a question of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.... I'm quite sure that the concept of a Government-run reservation... seems to be what the socialists are working for now — to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave.... But you can't whine and bellyache 'cause somebody else got a break and you didn't, like those Indians are. We'll all be on a reservation soon if the socialists keep subsidizing groups like them with our tax money." - John Wayne Interview with Playboy May 1, 1971

Oh, it gets better….

Also from Wikipedia:

"I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.... The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically.... I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves. Now I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who getsinfantile paralysis and can't play football like the rest of us.[43]" - John Wayne Interview with Playboy May 1, 1971


"There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action." - Goethe

Saturday, August 21, 2010


"One day you take a look at yourself and wonder how it happened. And you realize it just did. Sloth, perhaps, and a certain admixture of fear and desire. But mostly sloth and the slow, imperceptible movement toward safety. You are not who you thought to become though you are not unrecognizable to yourself. But you are a distorted version of your youth, the smile slightly twisted, the lines around your eyes speaking of compromise." - from www.cafeselavy.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brooklyn Hip Appeasement


I rode my bike out to Brooklyn today. What a pleasant, artfully natty community they have out there...

From the Wikipedia article on "Hipster (contemporary subculture)":

Critical analysis

Christian Lorentzen of Time Out New York claims that metrosexuality is the hipster appropriation of gay culture, as a trait carried over from their "Emo" phase. He writes that "these aesthetics are assimilated—cannibalized—into a repertoire of meaninglessness, from which the hipster can construct an identity in the manner of a collage, or a shuffled playlist on an iPod."[3] He argues that "hipsterism fetishizes the authentic" elements of all of the "fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge," and draws on the "cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity" and "gay style," and then "regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity" and a sense of irony. He claims that this group of "18-to-34-year-olds," who are mostly white, "have defanged, skinned and consumed" all of these influences.[3] Lorentzen says hipsters, "in their present undead incarnation," are "essentially people who think of themselves as being cooler than America," also referring to them as "the assassins of cool." He also criticizes how the subculture's original menace has long been abandoned and has been replaced with "the form of not-quite-passive aggression called snark."[3]

In a Huffington Post article entitled "Who's a Hipster?", Julia Plevin argues that the "definition of 'hipster' remains opaque to anyone outside this self-proclaiming, highly-selective circle". She claims that the "whole point of hipsters is that they avoid labels and being labeled. However, they all dress the same and act the same and conform in their non-conformity" to an "iconic carefully created sloppy vintage look".[18]

Rob Horning developed a critique of hipsterism in his April 2009 article "The Death of the Hipster" in PopMatters, exploring several possible definitions for the hipster. He muses that the hipster might be the "embodiment of postmodernism as a spent force, revealing what happens when pastiche and irony exhaust themselves as aesthetics," or might be "...a kind of permanent cultural middleman in hypermediated late capitalism, selling out alternative sources of social power developed by outsider groups, just as the original 'white negros' evinced by Norman Mailer did to the original, pre-pejorative 'hipsters'—blacks...." Horning also proposed that the role of hipsters may be to "... appropriat[e] the new cultural capital forms, delivering them to mainstream media in a commercial form and stripping their inventors... of the power and the glory...".[19] Horning argues that the "...problem with hipsters" is the "way in which they reduce the particularity of anything you might be curious about or invested in into the same dreary common denominator of how 'cool' it is perceived to be," as "...just another signifier of personal identity." Furthermore, he argues that the "hipster is defined by a lack of authenticity, by a sense of lateness to the scene" or the way that they transform the situation into a "self-conscious scene, something others can scrutinize and exploit."

Time writer Dan Fletcher states that "Hipsters manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity".

Dan Fletcher in Time seems to support this theory, positing that stores like Urban Outfitters have mass-produced hipster chic, merging hipsterdom with parts of mainstream culture, thus overshadowing its originators' still-strong alternative art and music scene.[4] According to Fletcher, "Hipsters manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity. Critics have described the loosely defined group as smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization."[4] Elise Thompson, an editor for the LA blog LAist argues that "people who came of age in the 70s and 80s punk rock movement seem to universally hate 'hipsters'", which she defines as people wearing "expensive 'alternative' fashion[s]", going to the "latest, coolest, hippest bar...[and] listen[ing] to the latest, coolest, hippest band." Thompson argues that hipsters "...don’t seem to subscribe to any particular philosophy... [or] ...particular genre of music." Instead, she argues that they are "soldiers of fortune of style" who take up whatever is popular and in style, "appropriat[ing] the style[s]" of past countercultural movements such as punk, while "discard[ing] everything that the style stood for."[20]



Funny stuff. I didn't actually see any of these "hipsters" this morning. It was probably too early for them to be milling about (before noon, etc.)… and perhaps I was too far South.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nightlife in black and white


I am obsessed with the accidental moments that are caught by my camera; distortions. Things brought into existence only because I'm not a very good photographer. I lack the basic knowledge that would guide me to correct for the blurriness that is produced from the motion of both camera and subject. These absurd mistakes drive me crazy. I prefer them over the pictures I take that are well-balanced and sensible. I look at them over and over and each time I see or sense more than before. They seem to invite and lead my imagination.

It has to do with the relationship between shutter speed and "film speed", I'm told.



These were pictures taken innocently enough. It was a party. People were drinking, some were dancing. Capturing people in motion is very difficult for me. This is the problem I have taking pictures of both animals and children. I show the pictures that I like to my wife and she looks at me as if I'm the one that caused it all to happen. Blurred, distorted, grotesque caricatures... goblinesque monsters of light.

Because I'm using a digital camera it's nearly impossible to capture the very moment that I'd like to. Instead I capture a different moment, just before or (usually) just after what I might have hoped to catch. There is a trick to it, I'm sure, though I have yet to learn it. I end up with a camera full of absurdities.

There was one person in particular at this party that was having lots of fun.



As the night progressed so did the severity of her dancing.




Monday, August 16, 2010

Toxic Waste



For many years in the East Village, on weekends, there has been a sort of summer flea-market on the property that the church owns at the corner of 11th St and Ave. A. They're no longer allowed to use the fenced-off, paved area next to the church. The property was sold to NYU, who tried to develop it, but were eventually stopped by the city. Rumors spread that there was some sort of toxic waste under the pavement and that no one could build until it was adequately dealt with. The expense of doing so was apparently prohibitive. That was fine with everybody in the neighborhood as they were planning on building some monstrous student-housing complex, which would have blocked our ever-diminishing view. The lot now sits dormant, apparently toxic waste only threatens buildings.

From the far cross corner there remains one of the few places that The Empire State Building can be seen from within the neighborhood. The dorms would have forever blocked that view.

The flea-market still happens, but it happens on the perimeter of the property now, spilling out over the sidewalk, and into the streets each weekend.





It is all just junk, of course. I wonder how this stuff has the life that it does, that it was once purchased and now can somehow be re-sold, that it magically retains any of its value at all. I've spent much of my life collecting rare and obscure records, scouring record stores to find pieces of music that I hadn't heard yet, made by a producer whose name I recognized from some other obscure record, or record label... Or endlessly searching for a record that I had only heard once before, remembering only one little vocal bit in it, a part from a movie, a sample from an even older record... Or perhaps having only just barely glimpsed the sleeve under strobed and neon lights, disoriented for hours, days, years... still searching.

But all of this stuff out on the streets each weekend... It seems to live on eternally on the shared junk shelves of the world, street-corners, or strewn from fences… a triumph of manufacturing.




Perhaps I have wasted my life. I could have been a lucrative junk-trader. I think I have a keen eye for it. Though I suspect that I would eventually be detected in that small world and become an outcast there also. My intentions seem always somehow skewed, deeply flawed. I would increasingly gravitate towards the strange and haunting pieces, not just the cute little curiosities, but towards the bedeviled relics of a purchase-culture gone murderously berserk.





Perhaps I have wasted my life. I could have been a lucrative junk-trader. I think I have an extra eye for it.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Almost


I've almost depended on the strangeness of others.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Picasso's Blew Period


(pic of a Picasso painting)


Picasso apparently denied ever having painted this, though only lightly. It was done when he was a young man, a young artist, the self-ness of it seems obvious, now.

The painting has its pedigree though and is an interesting part of his early catalogue, the "blue period", approximately.

Funny, that feeling: blue.


"Yo Fatty"

(snack-stand at drive-in theater, Vermont)

My friend Colin wrote: "I saw your fotos from some trip you made in Vermont. Was the camera on some sort of fish-eye? I thought you were running? Looks like you've only been running to the bakers."

Yes, this is a problem. How to respond?

I have him attacking my ever-expanding waistline and my other friend from down "South" attaching these links to his blog:


What to do?

Perhaps there is a corollary between laziness and weight. Perhaps there is causality.

I sit and wonder how one goes about determining such things, wanting ice cream...


(photo by cafeselavy.com)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Dog Daze


We are all just holding on, waiting for the summer to pass.

It is hot and relentless. The heat steals time in hours and minutes, seconds ; stretching them out and away in increments, but it also reminds with each ungrasped moment that there are endless days, some numbered, some numbered just for you.

The rain is moving in today, slowly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time


None left, none saved… Nunca.

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." - Paul Valery

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The lady with the lamp

(photo by Rachel Cusick)

I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women... no woman has excited passions among women more than I have. - Florence Nightingale

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Burroughs, oho


Just a perfect day

Drink sangria in the park

And then later, when it gets dark, we'll go home


Just a perfect day

Feed animals in the zoo

Then later a movie too, and then go home


Oh it's such a perfect day

I'm glad I spent it with you

Oh such a perfect day

You just keep me hanging on

You just keep me hanging on


Just a perfect day

Problems all left alone

Weekenders on our own

It's such fun


Just a perfect day

You make me forget myself

I thought I was someone else

Someone good


Oh it's such a perfect day

I'm glad I spent it with you

Oh such a perfect day

You just keep me hanging on

You just keep me hanging on


You're going to reap just what you sow

You're going to reap just what you sow



-Lou Reed, "Perfect Day"

... the whole thing off


You say, tomato, tomato, tomato..... I say carrot, radish.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Laziest Nerd Ever



I work for a computer company. Star Wars was the first film I saw without my parents. I've seen it enough times since then that I know every line from the film.

Etc., etc.

I don't worry about alien space attacks.

I understood the threat of Y2K, but didn't care.

I've never said this with any seriousness: "Live Long and Prosper"…



I did make it to the peak of Camel's Hump in Vermont, but this is all I could think to do there…. though only half-heartedly.

Persona


"Human identity is the most fragile thing that we have, and it's often only found in moments of truth." - Alan Rudolph

Friday, August 6, 2010

Anatomy

(picture found on ad in train station)


“Great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion.” - Robert Burton


(picture also found on ad at train station)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Burlington, Vermont: Sunset Drive-In Theatre




The drive-in theater was just like I remember it: a couple crackers sitting in lawn chairs next to us drinking beer and talking over the movie, laughing at all the wrong moments. Perfect.

We sat comfortably in the car the whole evening, with the windows mostly up, eating popcorn, drinking wine. I would go again this weekend, even with a few bug bites.