Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Chapter One

I smoked a hookah with you
While we watched the library burn down
The blaze illuminated your face
As every word burnt into space
Then with two tongs of tusk
I plucked an ember from our tin and threw it in
‘Specting to add aroma to the cackling crackle of the din
When the pigs came along and locked me up
For starting the whole thing!
In a day and a half I was back out on the streets
Did I cop a plea for my release
When I took credit for the feats?

The first few are Humpbacks and my hunch is there must not be a woman one left lingering these sub arctic streams this late into August judging by the way the calls all moan off in one direction, no responses returned. This generation’s healthiest have long since gone, snagged up by the fertile sows early on to loll merrily down to warmer waters together. I listen and wait, hoping I’m wrong, but the calls keep coming bleating from the north, pleading towards the south, and then an anxious anticipatory silence

is followed by just more bleating from the south as they pass imploring man, imploring in a tilted swim, entire body cocked in plead, along their melancholic migration empty handed south.
The tour guide lectures over the p.a. system on how much blubber these things build up during their summer feeding frenzy before their mating season fast, but I miss the specific info wondering instead what the rate at which they burn it off is when they break from eating for those few seconds in song. It must be just as staggering. It’s freezing below this hull and that makes things burn faster. I know because the captain had us feel the water before the journey began in case we thought about joining the whales in solitary quest and, between a blink, a few pounds of my body exited through the tip of my frozen finger attached to my previously goldened flesh now awed into suspended animation like the innards of these whales when they open their mouths to sing and not eat and the frigid waters come cascading in, stinging as deep as the song is long. Cold.
I’m off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the Pioneer IV which happens to be the same whale watching yacht I was on last summer. The crowd is still made up of the same retirees and young families who snuck us approving winks last trip and the concession booth still has yet to get a proper liquor license so beer or cookies are my only options to enhance this whale watching excursion and I choose both. I need something extra to fill the gap this time around because there is one difference making neither beer nor cookies cut it alone. I need them both to plug the hole. Beer and cookies and a cup for dipping. It has been argued that if I were to dissect the diction of referring to a person as a hole that needs to be plugged I could find my remedy therein, but I don’t believe that remedy is for me to prove so it should not surprise you that I’m here alone this summer.
Last year I shared a hotel room with Jennifer after the first trip, but being in New England, Blue Laws prevented us from buying booze after a certain hour and in a panic we grabbed whatever we could find in the convenience mart. So speaking of cookies, there were cookies then too. Cookies, Yoo-Hoo, and Fiddle-Faddle. Without booze we were out of sorts and as would be expected from the combination, I did not get laid that night and it did not go unfought about either. We fought about who wasn’t turning who on when it was really Fiddle-Faddle to blame. I probably had a piece stuck in my teeth through the whole argument.
“Let’s just watch a blockbuster, cuddle, and avoid words for the rest of the night. They’re getting us nowhere,” we tried. As soon as it was rolling I was out like a light. She pretended like she was transfixed on the blockbuster and wired.
So to say Jen is a distant memory now is only true in the sense that she is both distant and a memory, but the two are not true together nor have they ever been. I keep her close. Either way, she is not here and I have no idea where she is. I’m assuming she’s in the next town over with some choche she met at her bar she’s pretending to trot this summer while she traces over our old dates with dishonest trumps because that’s the way this life rolls -- not quite circles, broken key chains (with secret extras in your back pocket) -- walking arm in arm with the choche. I can hear it now.
“Choche, the vacationers up here must be CEOs in the big leagues yet they only allow mom and pop shops on their holiday drag. They don’t even believe in their own products…and yet these souvenirs they do believe in are just as shoddily tawwwdry.”
She’s getting a kick out of saying it because she thinks she stole it from me. It was one of the little one liners I whipped up in lieu of real conversation on one of our strolls last summer and since it came from me she thinks I own the intellectual property rights even though it only came from me because I was feeling awkward that conversation at the moment wasn’t as fluid as I thought it could be; people and their credits – yeah, but none of this is either here or there. I can’t let myself get dragged into it. I’m alone this summer and that’s what’s important, yet though I don’t have the lagging baggage of an uninterested girlfriend I’m to tote around always feeling the pressure of entertaining making weak one liners come out even when ancient fins come crashing down all around us I still can’t say this trip is any better than the last. I’m free from burden now, that’s true, but any man alone on vacation raises potential pervert red flags which puts me in a state of mild unease. As I walk by families my periphery inverts now winkless mothers pulling their children in tight into an all too embarrassing image on my retina. What am I to do, invite a dude? The flags these folk would still ahoist, just ones of a different color, that is: the multicolor. No there is no winning, only changing. It’s not enough discomfort to kill my joy of watching the whales though or to think twice about pushing one of these protected brats aside if my view is interrupted {more on change: the ruder I am in my elbowing to see the whales, the less like a pervert I appear, just a dick – something different}, but it is enough to keep my joy ratio rationed equally from year to year. Yes the circumstances change but their individual merits, for better or for worse, never cease to balance out.

I’m amazed at what still lives out here in the North Atlantic. White-sided dolphins, tiny Pilot whales, and twenty foot Minkes form the confetti around a scene where giant Finbacks, the occasional Right whale, and Humpbacks garner ovations so severe I fear the whole venture capsizing as us tourists race from stern to bow and back again.
“School of Blue Fin Tuna starboard!”
“Blowholes spotted portside means one’s gonna surface soon!”
Try to paint a foul picture in your mind of the fanny-packed tourist couple already wearing their matching “Portsmouth Olde Fashioned Taffy Shoppe” shirts snapping photos of things they never actually witnessed because they were too busy framing the shot and you are sorely misinformed, my friend. There is nothing like seeing a whale in the wild {why does “wild” feel like such an onland term?}. No distasteful mis-en-scene could cramp this big sea big top. Right now we’re above an underwater mountain range so bountiful with cornucopia that by summer’s end the average Humpback will have added fifteen tons of blubber to its already colossal mass from microscopic krill and plankton alone (I lied, I always listen). There’s a kingdom beneath we only catch glimpses of when they surface for a spout, another spout, one final spout, and the climactic back flop if we’re lucky between their fifteen minute long dives down to the depths again to dine.

I didn’t actually see the last few whales, but I’m sure they were Humpbacks because I heard their song. No other whales have such a recognizable song, or a song at all from what I understand. And like I said my hunch was that these ones were all men because I can’t imagine a woman wailing unrestricted such dismal misery, but don’t think I know nothing, it’s just an unenlightened hunch. And I should mention as well that you can’t hear their songs from the boat per se since they’re only audible underwater, but between this whaling excursion and the abusive play of a flexi disc I stole from an old National Geographic out of the public library when I was a little kid of Humpback whales singing that’s etched its plasticine groove into my subconscious, I synthesized this dream. The image in my head was the first of the day and it was of nothing more than my turquoise blue ceiling. The peeling flakes of paint exposing the plaster beneath could easily be whitecaps. The dangling electric wires for lights I never bothered to put in could be the streams from their blowholes. The sound in my head was also the first of the day and it sounded like Humpback whales and hence, I goo-goo and gaga-ed at my make believe marine mammal mobile. Anyhow, it had to be anything other than my pathetic ceiling.

Drifting in and out, up and down with the wake, the next few are also Humpbacks but only given life through zoonomorphized dumptrucks that, if I recant this story enough, will make the full leap to actual anthropomorphized dumptrucks through the evolution of exaggeration. That is to say, I’m conscious enough now to realize that these aren’t really Humpback whales and I am not on that whaling vessel this morning, nor was I ever on that whale watching vessel alone, but my dreams last night must have been bright and hopeful enough to keep this dream partially afloat while I’m partially awake. Now they are, yes we’re agreeing that they are in fact Humpback whales (for the sake of joy) bounding down Court Street, changing sides of the street from block to block. Big white whales who, no longer hunted, now flaunt tattoos more flagrant than their former foes. I witness words like Mastrogiovanni, Gencarelli, and Lanzo in script, which have replaced the harpoonist’s inked bicep of anchors and mermaids come bumbling by bruising this side then that. Wayside look! The blowholes from where the old air is spewn on both the faux and factual whales are in the same place. A few men cling to the rear of the fake beast like remora to a shark and though this is not a shark, we’re calling it a Humpback, it is in fact still an aquatic poem so the analogy works, and you don’t mind my inaccuracies nor know any better if we remain in meter. This is practically a dream and hence all things are allowed. The baleen however serves only as a vent to cool off the engine within. It sifts only gnats and mosquitoes which though similar in mass to the krill, these ones will go uneaten. The extra fifteen tons from this form are to enter through the rear and as I think about how the gastronomic cycle has already begun to reverse this morning, sealed lips in front and a consumptive bung in back, the poem dissipates and I’m suddenly not digging the way this day has begun after all and, though I struggle, the screeches from the dumptrucks outside no longer sound like astral calls from the frozen abyss, they sound like brakes almost intentionally unoiled to aggravate.

It’s usually the eighth dumptruck to cantanker beneath my window by eight each morning that finally gets me up and out. These ones are no longer anything like Humpbacks and like all vivid dreams, I have no idea where the one I just retold has gone. Disappeared along with the pleasant mood it began me in. Now, “day daily” as the Dutch live and say, a constant contemplation of rolling downstairs and asking the Italians of Court Street already holding court in lawn chairs outside the Van Westerdonk Mother Cabrini Social Club once and for all how the cleanest neighborhood in Brooklyn could possibly need so many dumptrucks rears, but alas we already all know the well rehearsed answer supplied:
“How else do you think this neighborhood could keep so clean?”
But I am curious. Are there or are there not only a limited number of things one can dump inside dumptrucks or am I that naïve?
The easier way out is to lump these inexplicable entrepreneurs in with the rest of us collective hacks expending more futile energy operating around the paradigm, devoting wind to devising plans rather than plugging in proofs, winding up with less in the long run than if we just paid our taxes and settled in.
I wonder who inspired them with the argument that “the mafia does not exist.” A surrealist, Leninist, or Post-Structuralist? I may be projecting.
Instead I lay aside all thoughts of whatever whalishness just took place beneath my window, find whatever pants are closest, and pass through the kitchen en route to the bathroom where I’m caught by my flat mate and my bladder bloats. And if truth be told, maybe I don’t walk a perfectly straight line to the kitchen before I’m caught. Maybe for a second I puff my cheeks out to both counter balance the agony building in my bladder and imitate the whales by performing a quite elegant shuffle from side to side of the hallway in case my song has in fact not gone unheard and she is watching me through the few chalky sun beams that do penetrate this far down. Maybe my song has piqued her interest, but now she needs to see how I dance it. That is to say, I’m also counter-balancing the impending weight of the day.

“I made a pot of coffee. Want some coffee? It’s good. I learned how to do it right in Brazil. I’m telling you, no one makes it as good as me. The daughter of the mayor of Porto Alegre taught me right if you know what I mean.”
I had no idea what he meant.
“Have some, c’mon go ahead.”
“No thanks, I’m actually just about to run out and grab a cup off the street.”
“Why would you want to do that when I’ve already brewed a fresh pot right here?”
As I rub my face, purposefully not making eye contact as to send the unsubtle sign that I’m not yet ready to get into it, I speak through my hands.
“It’s just a ritual, man. I like stepping out of the house before I settle in to a work mode.”
“Well break the habit and chill out with me for a few minutes and have freshly brewed free coffee. Let’s talk. Breaking the ritual might burst open a new neurological canal.”
“But David, the thing is I don’t want to break my ritual, for it is not a habit, it’s a ritual. It’s stabilizing. You know I’d love to chat with you but who knows where this day’s gonna lead so I just like to start with a ritual. Begin at least with one thing I can expect every day. Can ye not respect a ritual?” as I curtsey like a harlequin, “I mean the consistency of this conversation virtually qualifies it as a ritual. I could argue for the benefit of your neurological canals as well, my friend.”
“Wait, the first point first: it has nothing to do with respect, I’m just trying to make it easier for you, but go ahead, go go make it difficult on yourself.”
“Listen. David,” more rubbing of the face to my unreceptive audience, “respect is a poor choice of words, true, but then again I’m liable to make many more inaccurate word choices without a coffee inside me first --”
“So then have a cup from the pot I made, find your words, and we’ll continue the debate.”
“My friend, it’s not about you, convenience, or costs – even an expensive cup is cheaper now before daily inflation sets in after noon and by the end of the day we’re paying more for one drink at a bar than our entire breakfast costs us now, not unlike how the decibels of the music we choose increases at I’m sure the same trajectory as our currency does. Quiet to loud, cheap to expensive. Francoise Hardy serenades the soul while the morning’s most expensive indulgences are still cheaper than midday’s standard fare eaten to the aggression of Jacques Dutronc. Does that satiate you convo need?” Tempted to bloat my cheeks and dance like a whale again, I made it out: “Blasphemy! Jesus! C’mon! Fuck it David, don’t draw me in yet. This isn’t fair. I’d prefer to not race already. Look, it’s never about either and or whatever, I just prefer to step out and take a breath.”
“You mean you like to waste.”
“Yesssss. Exactly, that’s what I like to do, waste, so am I free now to go and waste?”
“Hey, I’m not trying to start anything! Go, go get your weird inferior coffee if it suits you to irrationally spend money when you could just sit yourself down right here and have a decent conversation with a friend whose path unfortunately you only cross in the a.m. coffee hour. I’m not blaming you, my schedule’s as busy as yours, I’m just saying.”
“Dude, not to sound like a coffee person at this point, but I really would like a coffee before any more words ensue. A coffee and a piss first, please.”
“Go, go” he says as if I really were his captive to liberate or bind, “…where you going?”

I could say I’m going to the Fall Café, but he would criticize me for paying too much for weak coffee at an artiste joint that supports the gentrification of this old Italian neighborhood. I could counter that with the argument that I’m curious to see what Italians drink their coffee at Fall rather than an Italian place, but he wouldn’t get it (yet they do exist). I could tell him it’s my long term goal to get a lay in before noon and Fall is the only place nearby that might (I said might) facilitate such an interaction, but he would say without a coffee, shit, and shower in me I look like shit, I should sit down and have a coffee with him first then grab a tea at Fall as to appear like a sophisticate later. A solid argument, so I avoid it. Again, I’m avoiding getting into it so I don’t tell him this, but though he argues against gentrification, not only is he a gentrifier himself, he’s also a Jew the Italians are anything but kind to. A little gentrification would behoove him. This guy needs a camp on his side.
I could tell him instead I’m going to an Italian café, but he would either curse the Italians for their anti-Semitism or call me a patronizing contrarian quainting up the Olde World or most likely both. If I told him I was going to the Italian café to see what other gentrifiers like he and me are there pretending not to be he would call me a counter-contrarian uncomfortable in my role, all before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.
I rub my face again as I can already hear it:
“Before people started arriving here I was the only Jew in the neighborhood. They loved me ‘cause I was a novelty. Now they hate me because ‘my kind’ poses a threat to their lethargy. You’re Italian, motherfucker, and you currently reap some minimal benefits from your misfortune like the oh so privileged ability to lock your bike up outside overnight without it getting stolen like mine, but in due time they’ll realize the truth that you’re ‘my kind’, more gentrifier than Guinea. So yes, they leave me no choice but to subsume them or drive the influxing gentrifiers out, which we know can’t be done. Once the floodgates have been opened they just keep coming. Stubborn Italian fucks, so they get consumed then and I’ll see them in Bayside right before I subsume Bayside with my Jewish realty empire – I mine as well start only hiring Jews since they’ll call it a conspiracy either way. You know why I think they’re pissed at us? Seriously, you know why? I mean ‘us Jews’ – fuck, I am not their spokesman – well it’s because life was a hundred zillion times more when they were pagans and then this renegade Jewish sect comes along and wipes all the debauchery away, which makes them self loathing Jews like the rest of us …and for the record, kill me before I’m forced to move out to Bayside, alright? But seriously, more seriouslies, it’s just the middle zones people have problems with. Irritation pulses the pattern of pink noise, my friend. It embraces half the tones white noise does, skipping every other frequency. When I was the rare Jew gentrifier I was accepted and when I’m the mean Jew gentrifier I’ll be accepted too but this in-between stage breeds this Italian animosity that’s coming out as anti-Semitism when it’s really just a lull in the pink. Am I making sense or what? We pulse in pink. Repulse is pink…Ah, you’re a crock of shit. You’re not any paying attention. You need your to go cup. Go, go ahead. Don’t forget to make me look like a super Jew in your novel, thief.”
Aye, though I was being firm with my inability to get dragged in this early I did in fact agree with his main argument. I just couldn’t let him know. I even already plotted out a bit of my day according to it. I promised Rockwell yesterday I’d get a coffee with him at noon today, but by the time I’m done with this first cup it’ll be nine and that means I won’t need my second until three. Rather than cancel though, I’ve devised a way to get a free cup of coffee out of Rockwell. He’ll expect me at noon, right? When I don’t turn up by one he’ll be pissed. When I don’t turn up by two he’ll be confused. By the time I ring his bell at three he’ll be worried about my condition and as happy, if not happier, to see me then than he was at noon. I’m sure the coffee’ll be on him and in the long run he’ll thank me for forcing him to get work done rather than procrastinating with me. Hit it while it’s pink.
But yeah, my concern at this moment is simply in getting out so I tell David I’m just going to the deli, which is generally run by the ubiquitous and indistinguishable Greek-Italian-Jew-Mediterraneo (Lebanese) deli owner who employs the only Other every New Yorker agrees on, the Mexicans, placing me with some luck in the virtual clear from more David. There is nothing to get mad at about this deli. It is, has been, will be style.
“Which deli?”
“The one next to the Carroll Street F Train stop.”
“Well there’s two delis there, Smith Street Bagels or DiBiassi’s Delicatessen?”
“Smith Street Bagels, happy Hebe? Anyhow, a) I’m not going there for the bagels, just the coffee and b) bagel comes from beugel which means ‘stirrup’ in some Eastern European Jew tongue. The story goes that some Teutonic knight led a cavalry that rescued some Jewish community against someone or so forth so they baked him metaphorical loafs in the shape of stirrups in gratitude or something or I whatever, it’s just too early for all of this. We all own the bagel though, Gentile, Jew, and Heathen, that’s for sure. You can’t take that from me.”
Ignored with difficulty, “Why the deli and not one of these fucking café’s? They’re closer.”
“I dunno.”
“Yes you do know, you must know or you wouldn’t walk the further distance to the deli when you could just grab a coffee right outside our door. So I ask again, which deli and why?”
“Well I already told you which deli, you just mean why right?”
“Right, sorry, you’re distracting me from my coffee, now I’m losing track. OK, so why the deli and not the cafe?”
Bit the bait. Drawn in:
“Because the deli gets firemen, cops, EMS volunteers, and young families. These types of people are our legitimate others, are they not? They’re the insiders. I can watch them until my cup is dry and ponder when and where our paths diverged. We were all in second grade together. Also, the deli is at least a dollar cheaper than the cafes and cheap coffee has a higher caffeine quotient.”
David nods. Either I’ve won or he’s been beaten down to his only human coffee depleted state. So I pummel when the rare chance presents.
“Anyhow, we’re not talking about coffee now or ever, are we David?”
“No no, you’re right. There’s no way we’re talking about coffee, mine as well have been an EMS volunteer then.” Yes, he’s losing steam. A fortunate lull in the pink.
I lie, “A’ight, I’ll be back in a few, save some chat and we’ll sit for couple.”
David’s Jewishness, or my hang-up thereupon (which could also be his hang-up thereupon), exemplifies the racial paradoxes we saunter through in this city. We think in racial equations, but simply as a way to articulate our absurd, copious, and therefore fey numbers. Like if a Jew only left a dollar tip on two drinks we would think he’s a cheap Jew regardless of whether he just paid for my drink as well as his own. If a Jew left four dollars on two drinks we would think he’s an overcompensating cheap Jew and continue on with our conversation. In terms of David, I’m drawn back to two interchanges I encountered moments apart on the Lower East Side another early morning.
The Puerto Rican mom swings her child about, “Stupit! I should smack you! Come he-ah so that therefore I can smack you. Oh, why you so stupit, Victah!? No, no, you going straight to your room when we go home. Don’t go crying to Nana that Mommy’s been mean to you. I DON’T WANNA HEAR IT!”
Then the Orthodox Jewish dad explains to his son of the same age as Victor one block later, “See it’s one of those situations where the actual word you say doesn’t matter, Ari. ‘Do I mind if you borrow my crayon?’ ‘Sure, go ahead’ or ‘no, I don’t mind’ mean exactly the same thing. You can say ‘sure’ or you can say ‘no’ and mean the same thing. Understand, son?”
So when the tangible equation we’re working with is that Ari and Victor will be thrown into kindergarten together next year, we’re permitted to posit any of our own pseudo scientific pub theorems in the small talk between. We’re allowed to despise the Fukianese of Chinatown for moving the pattern of retards on magic mushrooms because we know they’re only passing through the pink. They’re coming from a civilization that once knew how to kill a man with a single touch of Dim Mak and in time their current mayhem will mutate into a community that swirls and spins themselves down Mott Street amongst others who slowly skip themselves backwards to the fishmonger. The sidewalks of Chinatown will look like streams with standing waves, rapids, falls, ponds within ponds, and black guys will lose their knack of dance and a scientist may proclaim “New Evidence! The Chinese Come Already Drunk” so what’s the difference if we find our own way of getting there?
Ooh and somehow I manage an exit to the street for my to go cup though my nerves now no longer need the coffee while my neurons demand it. My soul is already divided before nine. A block away I puff my cheeks out and hit a quick shuffle while no one’s looking, yes, to embrace the division.

Chapter Two

I’m subletting this closet at David’s on Court Street for only two months this summer between Euro tours where I play guitar for various bands overseas the bulk of the year, so since I’m here for such a short time I have no choice but to embrace minutia as the key rather than attempting to take the whole city in and being left with nothing more than a scattered palette in the end. For example, if my room were any larger it would be a small room. In fact, it is so tiny it forces one to edit their margins of focus and turn this box into a microcosm. Enter this world and every scratch on the plaster walls becomes an importantly illustrated detail. It’s that small. When I lie on my cot and stare down at my feet which practically touch the other end of the room I’m amazed at how fast I can twinkle my toes with info sent from way way back here in my skull seemingly landscapes away. Imagining marveling at a city that coordinates its drawbridges in succession as a barge passes underneath five overpasses, those are my toes. If I get my dick to stand up straight it looks like an oracle guarding an entrance to a wasteland designed sans distractions to clarify and fast out inward purges. And if it’s standing up straight I have but one question to ask it. I ask…and know I’ve understood its reply correctly if it’s still standing straight up staring back when I respond, allowing me passage through to the nether lands. If instead it curls away I know it’s in fact shriveling in shame from the amateur crap sprung from the cap the wise oracle is attached to, and grabbing the seer’s attention again is a bitch.
Disgusted, “Oh c’mon man, you didn’t just say that?”
Well if I belabor my ish there’s no getting him back up. He can and has pulled the repugnant card on me many times, “It’s fine. I’ll still always be here to help you piss, Chris. Just think of me as something that helps you piss, that’s all.” He’s right to pull that card. I can be a fool. The only success I’ve had at reopening the discourse destroyed has been through counter-attacks.
“My! What power I hold over you, my subject, to change your mood so abruptly!”
“Yes, yes, that’s the attitude we’re looking for! More, more, in what other ways doest thou reign?” proudly cow toweth (while he climbs!) the oracle .
Less manic times on my cot I imagine one of those demodex mites living inside my eyelash follicle embarking on the long journey out to harvest cheese from the Valley of the Toes. He kisses his wife and children goodbye. If the elements are on his side and there are no soap slides he will see them again with a new harvest next season. His wife warns him to stick to “the side of the beast” (an aphid’s aphid metaphor for wilderness) because it is known that a woman’s tongue (a metaphor for weather) rarely sweeps across its plains though woman’s avoidance thereof is an unquestioned provident mystery. Worlds are created in this small space while white whales splash away on the ceiling and somewhere out the window below.
Women are shocked when I take them in, but the precision and patience with which I’ve given them head has been a direct result of these confines and quite frankly it’s made their clits seem so substantial I’ve questioned what really it was I was licking down there and when their heads crane back in abandon from my concentrated expertise that could only come from such pure desire their eyes have but one place to fall, out the one window that occupies the bulk of the wall that the door does not and onto the vast skyline blocked only by the opaque gothic steeples of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights and their appall is annulled, they cum with the city while they see it upside down and once they are the city’s they are no longer just mine either and I am free to roll over and fall asleep afterwards as nothing more than an appendage of the bigger crease, right? What a little dick in the face of it? Even if my dick were black I could argue that at this moment it’s little in the face of both being fucked and masturbated by the Greater New York. The city did it, not just me. I’m just a piece of they. I’m just a piece of us, babe.
And these oracles stand so firm and proud from every angle it is irrelevant whether we work within a clitoral or phallic metaphor. Yes this room is huge, gigantic. Park bench or palace from this summer on since it’s been proven right here in this room that they amount to equivalent things.
When daylight breaks and the pigeons above my window leave their nest to forage through the spillover from the gutters you’re so close you feel as if you catch flight with them as they swoop down. It isn’t until the seventh or eighth dumptruck rolls through that the dream is shattered and these women are jolted back into the actual hole they spent last night in. Smallness then quickly spirals into a greater and greater force against me and the shreds of a few condom wrappers all in sight because they have nowhere else to hide look like they could have easily come from a million condom wrappers and I receive instant karmic backlash for hubricly claiming to be the city last night, for I am also not the lowly letch they begin to envisage me as. Woah woah woah! That’s also the city! We really did use that many condoms, rubbers suck remember? We had to keep changing them, but that many is not as many as it seems under these circumstances! As I peeled a piece off her moist ass I knew she wasn’t even sure if that wrapper was ours or mines. Bullshit. We were drunk, possibly hammered (how else would she have agreed to come here?). It took me eight bites to get a suitable rip out of each package to slip the rubber through. Doesn’t she remember? Were we that far gone? Could she possibly have forgotten my near slip on the issue when I begged at the height of a drive:
“Can we not kill the condom in this cut?”
Horrified by the thought that I just called her gash a cut, she skittered back a few inches leaving only my suffocating head inside – I wasn’t letting that thing loose -- which just put her closer to the window I was committed to hanging her head out of when summarization surmounted anyhow. Her hands dashed about trying to recall where she tossed her glasses so she could get another glimpse at who exactly, what maniac this is she went home with.
“You didn’t just call my –“ were her last word before my barrage.
“Christ no!” drive
“Have some faith --” jiggle
“Cut, like Biggie Smalls would have –“ retract
“said. As in ‘up --” drive
“in --” drive
“this cut.’ “ drive, drive, drive.
“Like a temporary state --” ischium sets about milling pubis to rubble. Then shifts to give acetabulum a shot.
“of mind or place.”
Still confused we reposition to the semi rear. On a forty five degree angle rather than on our knees my hips can lock into her ass if I connect right and my leverage is fastened with one hand on the hip and one hand clenching her shoulder via the roundabout route round the front. Textural Tourettes tempts me to swear something out loud but I swear I have no opinions of this girl yet so I swallow it.
drive, drive, drive.
“And like the Indo cum Latin ‘cut’ comes from, –“
“Time to shut up, faggot. Wait, did you just say you came?!”
ram, ram, ram the retort home.
“Sker cum caros, from which we get –“
Then sometimes even I’m distracted by sex and it takes me a few later to continue my thought, “body like corporal --” in “and therefore corps--” in “and maybe even couer like courage and corazon like the bleeding beating heart, in between which an eternal bleating binds the verbs –“where my head was when she skittered away, “I meant I wanted to be fucking your body, the cut. The whole thing. The real thing. I didn’t want to be fucking some rubber inside your body, I mine as well only be fucking your cunt then.”
“Oh is that what it feels like?”
“I’m digging myself in deeper, aren’t I?”
fasten a fit, coccyx to coccyx.
“Well if you’re gonna dig boy, dig.”
My sentiments exactly, so I leapt on her pardoning. She mounts, she rides, then she gets back into it, “lose it from your head. Do you think I like these things? You’re wearing it. There is no other reality” at which point I lift my ass to meet her in the sky on her ride and as I sense her getting there she plants the seed that will time release a recurring stall in me at any given point the next day. The stall will go like this:


-- And after the silence I’ll pick up wherever it was I left off. The seed went like this:
“Go ahead, finish your thought,” so coolly cackled, and knowing that she didn’t mean it – her smug champion’s grin followed by my confounded lack of response followed by her cum cementing it – skipped me into the plane of considering if I had been sacked, blindsided, and this unsuspecting character was the one I binged and starved for down Court Street all summer, in which case she’s lucky I didn’t lose my hard on straight away mid her cum with such stuttering a thought. I mean, I had already snuck the condom off anyhow, hence the cum was all cued up. Wow! it didn’t take much to plant that seed. I wasn’t aware I was so famished!


Flip her over and dig, dig, dig, dig, dig until it’s dug and wrung wrung wrung it out..
I collapse hidden between her neck and clavicle while she, on her back, stares at the ceiling. I roll over to join her eyes on the ceiling for a few, but passing out now wouldn’t rid me of the love notion so I roll back towards her and poise to repel, nip this question in the bud. Kill it. So while my left arm props my head up to peer, my right hand surveys the landscape with jaunty skips of finger tips up and down her torso, la la la, as to take her off guard until it settles into a précised reaping of sexual snots from her crotches’ fresh crop. First the ripest ready dangling at the end of her pubes, then, for my appetite to be dismissed was ravenous, I had no choice but to pluck the young ones (working their way up her urinary tract towards an infection anyhow) protected amidst the tauter folds and my hand is finally smacked away.
Thinking my dismissal complete I rolled over, setting into a contented snuggle so soft and natal already anxious for next morning’s metaphorical mobile. What will I imagine the dumptrucks to be tomorrow? If you drift off from the right place maybe you can influence your dream, mmmm.
If it’s not obvious, my brash bents only serve to bolster my lack of god given guile supplements and thus I did not see the flipside lurking.
“Incarnadine,” was the venom seethed between the teeth that bit my earlobe from behind my mind.
It can’t be! She must be dreaming already, talking in her sleep. I was supposed to be the one to fall asleep first. Man, though she’s spooning it’s only because she’s not in a lucid state. She’s cuddling up to what she thinks is an old ex, def. I’ve been guilty of that before too so I’m not accepting it. I’d pray these things weren’t so if I had the power to do anything at all, but her fangs fixed in my flesh froze me straight through with a fear colder than the North Atlantic produced when it seduced my fingertip. I am powerless now only to lie and take it as she oozes more and more in through the puncture, deflating, deflating, I feel the air on my neck.
“Like all bodies dead read. The Devil incarnate, Evil incarnate, Anger incarnate – because those soon to be Catholic Guineas knew that the body, caros, was only truly visible through the cuts, the skers that exposed the flowing fickle flaws inside. Everything else was a mere façade, as much bodice as body. From blood to bloody to body,” the bleakening bloke broke as she poked and she poked, “sker cum caros, like the incarnadine coagulation of my menstruation on one of your collection of condoms scattered about the floor. Do you see how red that mess is? I won’t risk any of your white pulsing it to an incarnative pink while you’re scared of the sker that exposes your ink, little one. Oh sweetheart, do not grieve for even the cardinal receives a reprieve, half of his corpuscles too are white through, though his breed in bones while yours in boners --and his mitre? Why its meter ticks too while your cock crows (thrice!). Yes Sker, like all the lacerations you prefer to lash yourself with rather than get certain. Oh deary, am I sharing a bed with someone more Sirius than serious, more cane than carne? Woof woof, puppydog. Oh Chrissy, let’s not avoid these names any longer, are you over there on your side away from me now tearing with tears, replete with rips, singing a song so sanguinely sick? Did you not think this conjugal visit wouldn’t conjure these wee ghosts within us?”
As she withdrew her fangs the venom’s pangs ceased drowning my lymphs and in a pinch I was released to open my eyes to the sun and seventh Humpback bounding past the Van Westerdonk Mother Cabrini Social Club. For no, it wasn’t she that was talking in her sleep, dreaming. It was me. A bit of a let down to find that my bed talk fell on deaf ears once again, but still more a relief to be reminded that at least she was drunk enough to forget my embarrassing slip that bled into that dream:
“Can we kill not the condom from this cut?”
All the space we created was shrinking fast. One more dumptruck and this room will be too small for even one person to breathe in. Irrelevant really, it’s all irrelevant, I’m ready for my coffee by that point anyhow and the pursuit of all things small still does me more good than it does me harm in the mornings.

Initially, I drew inspiration for this mini model from graffiti inside a bathroom stall. I was passing Niagara Falls driving from Buffalo to Toronto on a solo tour when I saw a billboard for a Seneca Casino called “Vegas” so I ran in. When I entered the main rotunda I was given the option of going downstairs to the Atlantic City Wing which featured the Monte Carlo Lounge, or heading up to the roof and into the Macao Pavilion, or just following the dazzling lights straight ahead to the main rotunda. I walked straight through the slot machines in the Strip section where they played U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” in perpetuatum. Once through, more choices. To the right the roulette tables sat beneath a giant black pyramid while to my left the poker and blackjack section lay beneath a miniature model of the prominent logos of the New York City skyline with a Lionel rollercoaster functioning as a bombed up elevated subway weaving throughout. This would have been the moment I finally played my money on red and walked away a winner or a loser knowing either outcome was extraneous had it not been for the maitre d’ catching me before I had even made a choice of where to sit and chatting me up about how this Seneca casino was actually inspired by an Apache who visited Las Vegas on The Day Irony Died. He assume I knew what that meant. I did. He alleged to have been in the New York Casino in Las Vegas at nine am when the first tower had already been hit. As word spread the screens that covered sports twenty four hours a day quickly switched to the catastrophe and it appeared as if horses reigned by chariots, last ditch punts, and short stops catching stealers pelted the towers down. At said point he alleges he saw the writer who either wished or claimed he were Hunter S. Thompson stroll in off the desert still somewhere else, not quite with us, to witness the event liveish. So seeing as the Seneca have always held a mythical place in their hearts for the Apache and seeing as the Apache considered Niagara Falls the inverse to the towers at the opposite end of the Empire State he decided to give it a go up here.
I had a go straight to the toilets without playing a hand, and though my bowels released, my gut was not clean. No matter how much they evacuated, their was a filth that clinged. This was the moment my brain was beating for a brand, a motto, a reason. On one side of the stall

While each breast abuts
We stand with cheeks of butt abreast
was amounting to slightly less than the maxim on the other
When minutia is no longer my new shit
It’s time to go macro, amigo.

So the stoked iron chose the latter and imprinted away because it had to choose something and here I am now spending a chunk of everyday rationalizing an unfortunate ingestion burnt in at a ripe instant (to the point of banana bruised ripe) as smarts because it’s with me whether I laud it or laugh. I laud. It is lawed.
Fortunately my new shit is still minutia. I have no choice, so I find the spoils of this little life:
On the walk to the deli that David tried to keep me from I read a plaque on the entrance to the Carroll Street Park that tells a tale of the empty pigeon coops on top of our brownstones which were once used to house homing pigeons the Italian émigrés brought with them from Italy. When they’d financially secured themselves here they’d send the pigeons back across the Atlantic to fetch their remaining loved ones. If you saw a white pigeon in the coop you knew a Spaniard was living in the building. All the white ones came from one city only, Seville. Dego doves, they were mocked. Hard to imagine Spanish was once as foreign to this city as white pigeons are now, as David’s kind was to Court Street two years ago, and as the Italians will be soon enough.
The spoiled though?:
As I’m leaving my deli destination coffee in hand David pulls up in a black sedan!
“I tried to catch you but you walked down a one way street going the direction I couldn’t go. I was gonna give you a ride. If you weren’t in such a rush you could have gotten a ride. Like the car? It’s one of the perks of my p.a. position on this Scorsese film. They gave me a car for the week. Not only did they give me a car, but it comes with an exemption tag hanging on the rearview mirror from the mayor’s office allowing me to park wherever I want. And the best thing is – hey, you got a couple minutes? Sit down, drink your coffee with me, I’m gonna grab a bagel. One minute, wait one minute.”
This is my life. I am an adult, but I walk back in to the deli and take my seat as commanded and David returns with his bagel. I hope it’s apparent that I love David, but I wanted my coffee alone.
“So I haven’t spoken to you since I made my tickle fetish flick in Connecticut this weekend have I? This all goes back to my Porto Alegre escapade.”
“That’s the second time you worked Porto Alegre into conversation this morning, and I really don’t think it’s nine a.m. yet.”
“Right, that’s because I knew I needed to tell you about this past weekend, but couldn’t remember what it was I had to say so different parts of my skull were just firing bits and pieces like a pinball machine searching for the stuck ball and it came out with only a partial context. What did I say anyhow?”
“Something about the mayor’s –“
“Right, so I’m fucking the shit out of her. Rebecca doesn’t mind because she claims to be polyamorous anyhow and quite frankly she doesn’t know what I’m up to down there. I’m getting so much pussy in Brazil it’s criminal and then on top of that these friends of mine decide to take me to a brothel, get to the brothel and I’m like ‘why would I wanna pay for this when it’s coming my way for free anyhow’ but I go to a room because I don’t want to be disrespectful to my hosts. My hosts, it should be added, who get even more play than me and yet here we are all at a brothel. So I ask the whore if I can take a few pictures of her and she says no, she’s a Muslim and some cleric decreed that photography steals the soul but I can do anything else I want with her, particularly up the ass because the Koran avoided that, but I don’t know what else I want so I look around and I see this feather, like a peacock feather hanging on the wall and I don’t know what came over me but I asked the prostitute ‘look, do you mind if I tie you up and tickle you?’ She consults the holy texts in her mind, comes up blank, and obliges…”
And as I drift away for a heartbeat, a heartbeat! David scolds me again.
“What are you looking at? What’s over there? Try to pay attention, c’mon. You’re not getting laid this early. No nooner for you, give up on it. No matter how vainly your dress –”
“C’mon faggo, I’ve never seen you wear the same pants twice.”
“That’s not vanity David, that’s the inverse. I don’t want to be connected to my clothes. The more you vary it, the more you’re free from materialism. You c’mon, how put out would a Buddhist monk be if we made him wear a mauve vestment? He’s the materialistic one! He’s the one attached to his clothing. Imelda Marcos and her million shoes? She’s free, her feet are her feet because they can’t be attached to any one pair of material –“
“Fuckin’ A, sorry I hit the funny bone undercummed cannon. If it makes you feel any better, my weekend was not about cumming either.”
Turns out David unearths his tickle fetish at this Brazilian brothel and this weekend he unveiled it on his girlfriend and her friend in a Connecticut chateau with the cameras rolling of course. The good stuff was yet to come.
“So despite this parking exemption tag hanging on my rear view window I arrive at my car this morning to find a parking ticket issued by one…James M Milton III! What was this guy thinking!? Isn’t he aware of the aggravation this is gonna cause the city? It’s not gonna make them money, it’s gonna cost them money! It won’t cost me a dime. I take it to my boss at the set, he writes an angry letter to the Parking Commission, someone over there has to file more paper work that voids the ticket out, and when you factor in all the wasted time and paper they just spent themselves a buck, they didn’t make a cent! I mean…oh, alright alright I see you looking over there again. A mother with a stroller and another busting from the gunt? You’re through with me. Wasted effort my friend, wasted effort. Fine, let’s go. I’ll give you a ride.”
Before I could resist, because the whole point of me stepping out of the house was to walk not ride and get some fresh air, he cuts off my protestation still in thought form. It is, by the way, never my turn to speak.
“C’mon! Over here.”
Then I cease to exist as his gaze fixes on yet another orange parking ticket on the windshield. You can see its luminescence from a block away. The silence by which he walks towards it and picks it up trembles the air terribly enough to finally place me inside this day. Now I’m giddy with fear. I am in! I am in this day now. What’s David gonna do? What’s he gonna do? He opens his mouth as wide as it can go and chokes the barrel by shooting his chords up to the heavens away from us letting it out at St. Peter instead who I assume enjoyed this as much as I did as he pounds his fist on the hood of the sedan:
“James M Milton III!”
I’m in the car before David even. Let’s go! Mumbling to himself, “I’m finding this fucker, y’know what? I’m finding this fucker.”
Yes! We pull out onto Smith Street but a tractor pulls around the next corner in front of us first. Yes! Yes! He fumes from every hole.
“Let’s go! Why the fuck do these Guineas need tractors in the heart of urban Brooklyn!?!”
Neither his jerk of the wheel right nor left lends a gap large enough for us to pass the tractor, but fortunately for David (and to my dismay) the tractor turns at the next corner anyhow.
“You know where that tractor is gonna turn next? The next corner. And after that? The next corner. And after that? The next corner and de ja vu on Smith Street again driving around the block all day long working on the union clock.”
But as soon as the tractor is no longer an obstruction David slows down anyhow remembering that this morning’s enemy is not the tractor, unions, or Guineas. It’s James M. Milton III who could be hiding in any nook or cranny on a cross street off Smith.
The gas, brakes, left and right up Baltic? Nope. The gas, brakes, on Warren? Nope. The gas, brakes, Wyckoff? Nope nine times all the way to Atlantic by which point my elation has been alighted and I’m ready to take my coffee back to my computer and work but poor poor James M. Milton III! You were almost in the clear! You scored two parking tickets this morning. Isn’t that over your quota? Why’d you push it, Jim? Are you not salaried? Couldn’t you have just hid out somewhere for awhile and still gotten paid? No. You were on a roll and you couldn’t stop for you’re both a pig and a meter maid so nothing would suit you more than a promotion. You needed a third ticket in one morning so my pity for you extends only so far, bra.
David spots his car slinking up Atlantic meter by meter.
Who’s this madman racing up behind a cop, James M. Milton III? Why it’s my flat mate, of course.
Rather than pull us over Milton speeds ahead. It takes him two blocks to realize he has the authority to instigate chase, not us. He stops and David pulls along side him.
“Pull over,” David’s pulling his yells but the entire avenue, even the concrete, feels them,” Pull over. I just wanna talk to you. Pull over.”
Poor young Milton whose fresh micro dreads must have been woven in at the Neo Nubia Salon the same recent week he started writing parking tickets consents because I’m sure the Academy hadn’t prepared him for such a wild card.
“Do you see that tag hanging on my rear view mirror? See it? That’s an exemption tag. That means I can park wherever I want to. Read your handbook. Yet you’ve given me two tickets already this morning. They didn’t teach you what an exemption tag was at the Academy?”
This is now more than I can take. I sink into my car seat occupying no size and hopefully no color at all. I do my best to disappear. My chin becomes my neck, my chest caves in, my legs wrap around the bottom of the seat and I am one with the fabric.
“Listen, I know what an exemption tag is,” Milton slips in between David’s breaths, “It’s just that my superior was watching and she said I should still write them.”
“Well your superior’s a fucking cunt! What’s her name? I mean, she doesn’t understand the first thing about the headaches and mindless paperwork she just caused this city. She’s not working for this city. She just cost it money – “
“Well take this matter up with the Transit Authority then –“
“Oh well that’s exactly what I’ll do, Jim –“
“Sir, you need to just calm down then and issue the proper complaint. Again, I was only doing what I was told –“
“I understand that! Look, I’m not mad at you! I’m not mad at you! You should just tell your twat superior I think she’s an enemy of the city and she’ll be hearing from my superior soon enough. Have a good day, officer!”
We’re silent in the car for a few minutes as we drive away and my body gradually begins to retake form peeling itself back into the air.
“David, I really must applaud your use of the ‘I’m not mad at you’ strategy.
“What?” Still in a daze. What’s it called when your head wags back and forth? Whatever the word it’s reserved for times when you’re feeling the opposite of when a dog wags his tail back and forth. David wags his head and licks his lips and I sense another outburst so I beat him to it.
“I’m not mad at you! I’m not mad at you! You’re a maniac! That was brilliant. You were too mad at him, psycho!”
“Psycho? Me? No I wasn’t mad at him, well, listen –“
“You dragged me into this day, you listen, yes you were you were mad at him. You mine as well have commanded him to calm down while your face looked like a beet. You should have asked him why he was so stressed out while you finished your third filterless cigarette in a row in two breaths. You –”
“Go ahead, keep ‘em coming wise guy. Let’s hear them all. What else you got?”
“…Well I’ve actually just run out. I’m still reserving my best poesy for later over a solo coffee with me and my computer.”
For a brief moment I thought I succeeded in bringing clarity back to the morning, but now he had to repeat his whole manifesto a few decibels lower to prove to both of us he was not out of his mind.
“No really, I feel bad for him. I do, but my boss is gonna be briefly pissed at me even though I had nothing to do with the ticket so it’s only fair that it should trickle down the other direction too. It’ll begin with a few irate faxes to the Transit Authority…”
He dropped me off in front of the flat and threw in an arbitrary conversation addendum just so we wouldn’t leave on the hairy note.
“Hey, do me a favor? Put one of those sake litres in the fridge so it’ll be nice and cold when you and I crack it open later? A’ight, adios, I’m off brother.”
I wait until the sedan rounds the block, bid a “buongiorno” to the old Italian guys in front of Mother Cabrini’s before I enter the flat and relax with the knowledge that my bike is safe another day.

Chapter Three

Now to this work in front of my computer I speak of.
The first order is to clean my bowels through the therapeutic effects of the computer’s relaxing hum, for it is hard to begin the day afresh when the only thing remaining from yesterday are its toxins in your gut. Extrapolate. See, I am such an arrogant god fearer that when I’m not relaxed I forget my organs are as much subjects of gravity as any stone or droplet of rain and I hold them in, inside me is heaven and the cosmos and the flesh has been opaqued to shield our eyes in humility from the Lord and stuff. The first step towards relaxation is thinking that I must keep the cosmos clean, free up space for them to float. If they can’t float everything stops so if there’s no space they are bound and therefore as filthy as the bound world outside. What the hell binds bind? The second step is to remember that this god I fear created the bound world outside so it’s also Him as either side of my flesh is, as the bound world outside is also floating in and as the cosmos, as either proximity to shit is within or without. He is also this shit that I am, that I hold. He is also the opposing force to gravity. If he chooses to hold it in ignoring the gravity He created, or more accurately to engage with the opposition to gravity He created it is only to examine the opposite of Him which He also created which is therefore also Him which is therefore not his opposite which makes constipation, if it should come to be, not such an arduous ordeal. The bigger deal is that I barely believe in myself and if He is all things then He is also me and me not believing in myself means not believing in Him and with that the hum emanating from this computer attaches itself to the furthest hum away, way beyond where color ceases to exist beyond the edge of the universe and this screen proves itself to be not white but to be not a color at all and arrogantly I fix upon that far away point and tell it that it is not just far from me, “hey, you are not far from me!” but I am far from it, “I am far from you!” It is so far away from me. I am the distant one! You can’t see me! You can only dream of me! I’m a science fiction extra! And at this point my bowels have woken up. They’ve begun to move.
The hum is also the same sound made by the humidifier my mother placed next to my bed when I would fever, conjuring cozy memories of chicken noodle soup, classic Hitchcocks she’d rent me, and the sound of my classmates passing by on the street at three on their way home from school when I’ve just spent a day exploring my wiener in bed.
The final step in getting them to move is to think of them as a them. The bowels. The bowels sounds like the Bowery which is still where the cheapest flophouse in the city can be found. It’s shitty down there. They’re not just virtual synonyms and accidental homonyms though, Bowery comes from the Dutch word bouderjie which means farm and the bowels are about to go back home to fertilize and start all over again hence the name descending back upon its original form…which is why fart and farm are also almost the same word. So this them I often imagine them as is a garbage men them, bounding bowels with bundles of bail from the bowl. Those white whales they drive by while I wake also sprinkle little faery garbage men into the apartment buildings as the big garbage men haul away the bags of trash. Remember, the gastronomic cycle of the white whales of Court Street (which we mine as well call a haystack full of needles) moves in reverse, so think of these little garbage men as krill and plankton being reborn from the whale that digested them and spewn out to collect their little dusts from the seabed and return to the mouths of the real whales full of nutrients and minerals they harvested from the discard in our bowels.
And being particular to no one set of bowels means that they see it all. They’re seasoned veterans. After they’re done with me they still have 5e, 5f, and 5g to attend to (contend with) and have you seen the paste those tenants glue themselves with! So when the wee team arrives at my locale they thank me for giving them a cake walk. All that vegetarian roughage means they can either zip right through this job and get off of work early or, depending on my mood or need of the day, they may decide to take their time with it, really go to town cleaning every cashew crusted crevice so next time will be even easier. I get behind this team effort. We’re all working at this. So if I sit back and watch them sweat it out alone it wouldn’t be fair. Also, my computer would go on standby from lack of activity and I’d lose the hum so they work, I work.
Now when I say work I don’t mean write you a novel while I think about shit. That wouldn’t be fair. What does fall right within the outer realms of decency though is emailing my friends while the garbage men get to work. What this truly means is that the friends who awake to a tome in their inbox have not been handed an extra load of love from me. It means I ate paste the day before. If it takes me days to respond to someone it means my eating has been pure, which it usually is. Christ, it’s amazing how everything sorts itself out! Does not binging make your dreams bonkers and what better way to dilly dally online than to prolong a type while you wait for the cosmos to relax within?
Last night it was this Bergamasco lover’s delight in which somehow rum soaked polenta, marzipan, and chocolate cream are fused together into a pastry that looks like a tit on a Hindi deity so this morning it’s an email to Rockwell about the dream he starred in after I ate that thing. Oh, this is all working out. Not only will the time spent on this story help get my relax on, but I should also be done with it just about the time Rockwell is expecting the call from me to meet for coffee. I won’t send it because then he’ll wonder why I just didn’t call. I’ll save it and send it later. But he should feel it nonetheless and maybe it’ll add a tickle of magic to my unarticulated postponement of our coffee date.
I rarely have dreams to work through because I always hit my bed plastered and they say drunkenness kills dreams, though the truth is it just moves dreams out of your head and into the real world. You live them rather than sleep them when you’re a drunk (unless you drink during the day which may knock you right out to dream away even when you weren’t tired to begin with – and this same science is directly related to why drunks never get sick: because they always wake up hungover. They never think it might be the flu or bronchitis that’s making their bodies feel like war. They assume it’s last night’s alcohol. On the off chance that it was a bacterium or virus and not a hangover that was wiping them out the alcohol in the hair of the dog a few hours later kills that straight out). Last night with my pastry instead of spirits was a rare exception though so I found myself on a boat tour of the East River one sunny day with Rockwell as tour guide and Jennifer by my side. There were about twenty of us on this open air skiff where everyone was stoked that we knew how to treat ourselves. The moment of disembarkation felt like the hand shake of peace at mass. Good going guys! Jen and I had had our final (fo’ real!) break-up the day before and decided to take Rockwell’s boat tour as our first effort existing as “friends.” The next thing I knew the waters started to rise! The clouds rolled in, the storm sank the city and everyone on the boat clutched the person beside them as we were tossed back and forth at the mercy of the wrath! Rockwell persisted as warrior leader through the waves, lightning, and hail! A staff materialized out of his sheath as he grew into his born role of lunatic leading the lame and the buildings sank behind us. Oh dear God! There goes 40 Wall Street! The building that was only let be tallest building in the world for three weeks before the Chrysler Building stole the crown! The building the Empire State architecturally ripped off uncredited! What an uncharmed life you’ve led 40 Wall!
Crash! The rising waters of the deluge lodge the boat into the rafters of the Manhattan Bridge and we all hurry onto the walking path before the rest of our boat gets shattered and ripped away. The waters are rising so fast the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges have already become the bass of the waterline, but time pauses for an instant as we see the Brooklyn sink behind us. Baby! I miss you already and can’t imagine going on without you! Goodbye Brooklyn Bridge!
We race huddled along the walking path to one of the bridge’s caissons for shelter. The Manhattan has always been the neglected bridge. Justifying its existence is shaky at best and nobody even thinks it pretty. In fact, the city found it so ugly they added the arch at its entrance on Canal Street five years after its inception just to shush the public outrage at the fleecing of their taxes. Poor bridge. And the debate never ends. This summer saw the inauguration of New York City’s newest museum inside this particular caisson on the Manhattan side we were racing towards for safety. It’s committed to the preservation of Lenape New York but it really came into existence because this bridge matters to no one and they had to try something. Everything must matter in New York and seeing as the arch has ceased hiding the bridge behind it, it was time for a wild card. Somebody gave a speech at the opening party about renaming the bridge The Mannahatta but it only partially took. Soon enough we’ll be able to spell our city any way we want which might also be why it’s sinking now.
We swing open the door of the museum in the caisson and once it’s open the wind keeps it flapping like Chinese Opera cymbals until we slam it back closed and there he is. The old black sage we expected to find toking his pipe in silence while he watches the city succumb from the huge gallery window. Not a drop on his drapes, not a shake on his face.
“Welcome. You might be our first guests all week. First things first, let’s get you out of these wet clothes and into some warm breechclouts and moccasins. This way.”
As he led us to the wardrobe he apologized to me for having to suit me in Lenape children’s gear.
“They were tall folk. Taller than the tallest man on Verranzano’s deck.”
Though at first taken with this bit of trivia, moments later I remembered that Varranzano, like I, was a guinea, and being taller than us was not impressive.
We swapped our swamped socks for the wampum and sat in miniature red, yellow, and green plastic chairs around a tiny table in the “activity room.” There was a fluorescent pillow in the corner I was dying to smack Jen on the head with, but it fell just out of reach so I folded my hands and maintained composure. There were books that taught children Algonquin words for things and I was jealous when I realized there’s a good chance baby Victor and Ari know more Algonquin words than I do from their class trip here.
No one was sure whether Rockwell or the museum keeper was the current guide so we sat in silence until the keeper stepped up with “The other Indians called them the ‘Grandfather People’ because they glid about with ease and wisdom and mediated disputes between feuding neighboring tribes. The Iroquois, priding themselves as the height of civilization, felt threatened by them for this. There were Iroquois-Lenape wars that wound up as harmful to our brethren as the British were. Yes, there’s a lesson to be learned from our beloved Broadway, the ancient road these two Indian peoples used to trade with each other. If all roads lead to Rome, all roads also lead out. There is a push and a pull and they happen at the same time.”
“Then how could they give it up? How could they let themselves lose this place?” Rockwell felt it.
“The swap with Peter Minuit you mean? The trading of an island for the legendary 24 guilders? That was a joke! They didn’t really think they were trading an island,” the keeper continued. “They thought they were calling his bluff. They were swallowing their laughter while they went through the awkward Dutch motions. They liked the Italians, but the Italians were flying under the inept French flag and cared more about the beautiful beaches of New Jersey than the perfect harbor beyond the Narrows. They found the English sailing for the Dutch and their subsequent pioneers ridiculous. What a union of know nothings! They called them ‘Shanuken -- the Bitter People’. They knew they were New York, not the Dutch, so how could they not be New York? What, like ten years after Minuit sealed the deal the Dutch brought Minuit himself up on all sorts of treason and banished him to New Jersey, so what threat would you think these people posed if you were Lenape? They thought they were a joke. Afterall, it was the Canarsie Indians of Brooklyn that sold Manhattan to the Dutch. They had nothing to do with Manhattan! If you see it their way, they made off with free guilders. I mean, when it did begin to look like they, the Lenape, were no longer New York though they took it to mean that not only was New York becoming everywhere like Fitzgerald would later profess but that the slavery, slaughter, poverty, and plague they were washed through was New York as themselves purging out a New York within them New York was asking them to rid. Detox. They were so coolly religious they didn’t even believe their own demise while they witnessed it first hand, which makes one wonder – and lest ye not forget the disbelief that numbed you with a smirk while you just watched them take it from you now, which makes one wonder --”
Jen tugs me on my fox fur. Dear lord she is fly. The wild turkey feathers in her hair highlight her cheekbones better than any blush ever had and the strap of leathered moose entrail (there were once moose in these parts!) she’s wrapped around her head to control her hair looks angelically Arthurian.
“Can I talk to you alone?”
“Forever, Jennifer.”
We walk through the main gallery to the “Collect Pond” room which has been recreated into a lakeside scene in lower Mannahatta circa 1600. The floor is made of grass, sand, and moss, and mannequins are rinsing out deerskin in a man made pond being fed by a spring bubbling up through plastic rocks. It’s quiet in here. The Rapture outside isn’t any louder than this bubbling little spring. The spring’s tiny motor must be battery fed, swapping charges unaware even of the end at hand. Y’know, there’s a scene painted on the wall of like everything else happening: children in chase, rabbits on stakes over fires, men in debate, teenagers learning the ancient ways from a shaman who prophecies in cartoon bubble “on this forty-eight acre pond a giant canoe will run as the worlds first steam engine, Prince William IV of the far away country of England will nearly drown, and one day strange men will fill in this pond but they will never stop its springs from flowing,” and one kid gawkily holds a bow and arrow like he’s never seen one before but still leaves you with the sense that next week he’ll be an ace archer.
“Sit by the pond with me for a minute, Chrissy?”
We choose a spot near the stocked salmon who come up to greet our toes in hopes of getting tossed some scraps but we have none. I serve “St. Anthony, St. Anthony please come around. Something’s been lost and can not be found” in lieu, but my sermon doesn’t hold them like the Padovese’s did. Seeing as the direct Word of God was about to come hailing through this caisson any second now, the salmon only wanted the other meat, meat’s meat: bread or snacks.
“Write me a wordless letter, baby, and I’ll believe once and for all that you really don’t believe in words. Until then Chrissy, your words hurt me. They do have foundation. They don’t float as lightly as you wish you thought they did. You don’t even think they do. You only wish you did. Despite what you think, you do believe in words. You do. You do, man, you do. You hate people that play semantics against each other, you hate them. You call them sterile suits that listen to National Public Radio, but what am I missing? Don’t you dedicate your life to words as well? Write me a wordless letter Chrissy and I’ll believe you. Please, you can do that. Until then I can’t take you back Chrissy, I just can’t. To dedicate a life to words you claim you don’t believe in is like saying, well it’s like saying…’whatever Jen.’ ”
“The waters are still rising guys we have to move on!” Rockwell burst in and I grabbed Jen’s hand and she took it for the day as we leapt up and back to the main gallery where everyone had already mounted inside the tulip tree canoe on display. The salmon would soon be freed. We used the cache of copper headed spears to smash open the large gallery window and as the rain and wind sprayed every allotted piece of air we shoved the canoe out to meet the flood and Rockwell’s staff reappeared glistening white as the ivory of the bones from every African buried in the Tombs!
“Follow the path of Washington’s retreat!
To Morningside Heights we feign defeat!
Atop the Cloisters we’ll find our lair!
Waving banners of tapestral bears!
From pomegranate seeds bullets we’ll smelt!
Borrowed from unicorn horns our swords be felt!”
Sigillum Civitats Novi Eboraci!
No devil within will age our City!”
Rockwell lost his mind!
And then the weirdest thing, I watched the canoe sail up the estuary with everyone in it: me, Jen, Rockwell, the keeper, and all our friends from the tour. I overheard me yelling to Jen through the Rapture while I kept repositioning the furs strewn about our bodies to shield the waves from our faces about how right now we’re being sprayed by fresh water from the Harlem River, salt water from the Long Island Sound and New York Harbor, and rain water from the sky and I hated myself while I argued “that’s why New Yorkish never sounded right. The language we speak is Brackish” and luckily I fell out of audibility as I watched me pull away (we’re both to blame for my awkwardness, babe). They, including me, were on their way to the Cloisters where they would trade in their wet breechclouts and moccasins for monastic robes and papal jewelry. Fuck, I wish my dream went that way! Instead the me that stayed was the dominant me and he turned around and the whales began.
But don’t forget, this is excessive. When I eat, which I barely do, it’s generally clean man, if not raw. Polarize me into weirdness all you want but I drink from the fountain of youth and all who know me can attest to this truth. Which makes this typically translate to me not having to feel so inspired while I wait for the hum to bring my relax on. It means I usually don’t have to wait at all. I rarely need more than a few quick e-quips to Marcellus like:
“I can’t keep up with all these Khim’s of yours. Ever think of Asian as just meaning ‘girl’ to you and you’re more accurately a CockAsian?”
To a disillusioned friend whose back I get in a time of need whether I’m at the same place or not:
“Of course they’re evil! They have to love something as hideous as the cock. What would happen to your head if you had to convince yourself around that wretched thing when the rest of your days are spent with earrings, sequins, and papery?”
To a fellow linguist I know is procrastinating in front of his computer too:
“Verbs should come at the end of sentences, man, because they’re the lightest words, always moving away from us. If we begin the sentence with them they might be gone by the time we finish and then we have to start all over again. I think this is why the verb ‘to be’ is the most erratically conjugated verb in every language followed by ‘to need’ and ‘to have.’ It’s because they’re also the most ancient verbs and have hence been doing nothing but moving for thousands of years. Hey, it’s amazing the Germans figured out to put their verbs at the end on the sentence before we have. Animals learn language this way too. So does Yoda.”
To a neurotic friend:
“Don’t kill yourself yet! There’s a lifetime of edits we need to fine tune before we settle on your suicide note!”
To my brother:
“Our Italian roots us with the earth. Our Irish puts us with the spirits.”
That’s usually all it takes. A few quick ones and I’m off to maybe even shower and shave when I’m in there shitting. I’d brush my teeth too if it wasn’t gonna interrupt the flavor of the coming wine in lieu of lunch that with some luck will take me to the real work.
Yet! This time I’m met with but another foe, our cat Frederick Sondheim. He wouldn’t leave the bathroom. So far nothing this morning was turning out simple. When I went to pick him up he pretended to be sleeping so I just decided to ignore him and go about my tasks.
Our bathroom was tiny though so my cosmic continuum that was to pass on the can was also directly across from where Frederick was sleeping. I could wait no longer for him to show some decency. I let the solar winds rip through me and yet still he did not move. I went from there to the shower steaming the whole place up and he still wouldn’t budge. I went to the sink to shave which was right above his resting spot and at this point I’m intentionally splashing water on his ears and causing a general racket just to see when he’ll get up and I’m met with nothing. No acknowledgement I even existed from senor Frederick Sondheim. It wasn’t until I started beating off right over his furry little head that the little poseur woke up and ran to the door, scratching at the handle. I let him scratch away until it turned into a distress meow, chased him with my beating cock, and then I let him out before I finished.

Chapter Four

The “real work” is an essay on nostalgia I owe a Canadian magazine. If I could finish this essay then I could justify writing my wordless letter to Jen, but to start my wordless letter to Jen before I begin my essay for the magazine (the paying gig) would seem like a procrastination of my real work. I recognize that my real real work is to write the wordless letter to Jen, this is what life hinges on, but having yet to purge myself of all doubt the piece with the deadline comes first. This is why I’ve lost Jen, this is why I speak of brackish things in purified moments, this is why I will fail to rid my wordless letter of a word slipping in here and there when I get to it. See, seeing that the wordless letter is paramount doesn’t equate to being able to live it as paramount, and anyhow before I go about writing it don’t I need to know if it’s even my idea or not? Jen told me to write it, but it was Jen in my dream (not to be confused with my ‘dream Jen’, the one that’s always wet and calls me papi, who I would take total credit for) that told me to write it. Does that mean I came up with the idea because it was my dream? Do I take full credit for the wordless letter that could save our relationship if only I lacked the words to write it? Maybe it’s a joint idea? These questions, I rationalize, will sort themselves out after I tend to the essay with the deadline first. The essay with the deadline I fear though, will therefore steal all my wordless words because my gaze is fixed beyond them. No part of this debate will change the chronology of my actions because as I said earlier I have doubt, which is very similar to saying I have chronology. That is to say the essay on nostalgia comes first, which in the long run Jen, may be like saying I lack doubt because I believe all flaws can be fixed in the future so I don’t stress flawing away now. In fact I have so much faith I revel in it. And seeing as this upper hand I gained in this debate last sentence may flee just as fast as it flew in I’ve gotta leap on it now and begin my essay. If I continue to argue for it with more sentences I may argue myself out of it again, so the best I can offer you, reader, is just to reread those last few sentences a bunch of times until it’s clear – Wait, woah! I’m on a roll, a supplemental thought triumphs through that shall ensure possession of my missing words! If I procrastinate writing the essay on nostalgia by writing something else first it will sync my gaze into the piece next in cue, which is nostalgia not the wordless letter! (Again, let me redirect you to rereading rather than extrapolating or I could lose it).
--Shift the pink! –
Therefore my wordless words should now fall forth in my procrastination at hand and later in the letter to Jen while we’ll purge the real ones out in the essay on nostalgia in between. Brilliant.
Well perhaps then it would suit you to know some back story on how your low rolling New Yorker got caught up writing this piece for a Canadian magazine. Well the prose was proposed mid poem on a dance floor in Montreal on the coldest night of the year at a martini lounge called Leika on Rue St. Laurent. My band had played next store at a dive bar called Barfly. The furthest we could make it was this martini lounge Leika before we let the arctic bleating in. From the Angel of Ignoring Bleats, I was given a man in drag at the opposite end of the dance floor who looked identical to an x-girlfriend of mine named Toko. My blood heated back up as I forgot the sow I missed and wondered how I was gonna bring the drag queen in. I leaned over to my bassist Gary and said, “Hey Gary look, there’s Mr.Toko” but I did not tell my friend that also running through my head was the question of how I was going to get my libido into the notion of sleeping with Mr. Toko just to keep things moving and confuse the impetus of spite. Instead I danced in the crowd and crafted this poem:

“Never a Gwen
(Until the Day Gwen and Guido are Etymological Siblings, a Terrifying Collapse to the Pure Who Refer Back to the Welsh “White Wave” of Gwen and the Soiled Immigrant “Brown Wave” Bombardment of Guido)”

There was Toko, a Mr. Toko, and there was even a Yoko.
There was Jen the gentile, Jen the Jew, and Jenny the half Jew.
There was Mika and Kika, a Jap and a senorita.
There was Yana, Una, and Uni, two Khims and a Khan.
There was Jen the twin who was also half Jew and from Philly like plain old “Jenny the half Jew.”
There was Nancy Whang and Nancy Wong, but Nancy Park? -- Better she knew,
(Soon the prude will call this ‘slander’ and sue).
There was Jessica who went by Jess and there was the Jen who hated the name Jessica but thought that at least it was trash which was preferable to Jennifer which never meant much to her.
There was Julie the Jew and Julie the half Gentile whose cousin was named Jen.
There was Nancy Khim, the other Nancy Khim, and the Nancy Khim who was everyone’s friend.
Maurice knows another yet that only Stefano has met.
There was Jen “My Jen” Jen and there was the Jen who only became beautiful a year or two after I refused more than a kiss outside her apartment steps who now thinks me the letch. I missed the catch.
There was Autumn, Harmony, and Gertrude De La Madrigal Fatima Martinez who would have all been better off had they simply shared the name Jen has.
Apparently there were some fat Jens, or so mock all my friends,
Even after you wake up, the nights never end.
They were all Capricorns ‘cept the rare Taurus
And ti da! I’m but another Chris in their crap Chris chorus!
There were several Alexandra’s, Ali’s (one a twin), and Alexes (one Alexis) but
The poem took over and said “There was blah blah de bleh bleh.”

Enter Charlene.
“Hi,” with a firm handshake, “Hi, I’m Charlene.”
“Charlene,” I said her name with the conviction to get me out of this loop, a new name.
“Charlene, Charlene, would you please dance with me?”
“Well, no. I’m leaving now with my boyfriend, but I love your writing and want to talk more about, um, possibly working {she put a premature exclamation point in} together {and then the appropriate one}?”
We exchanged emails, but my focus was busier adding her to the poem:
Charlene, who is as Korean as the Nancy Khims and who would have been named Jen if it wasn’t too obviously Western thus exposing her parents will of assimilation to this Francophonic nation (though I think it an Irish creation).
Charlene, my Jennifer Khim.
“Do we discuss this now or later then, Charlene?”
“Later” made me turn away dancing into the orbit of a Ruka whose friends dragged her home when we were still moving between songs, whose name now lives forever in the stanza where Kika and Mika belong. It’s a stretch I know, but with Charlene hustling home briskly through the Montreal snow next to her boy neither thinking pleasant healthy thoughts how could I be expected to process much more?
Charlene, my Lucille, my Annette, my Meg or Peg.
I returned to where I began when Ruka obliged wisely and danced back to her friends and Mr. Toko was still at the end of the bar and still not working for my cock. Why? Why give me a Mr. Toko if there is nothing I can do with him! Get hard cack! There’ve been times before when, after anal, I’ve proclaimed far and wide that I will never screw the other hole again. So why can’t I just be gay sometimes? That’s the hole I sneak attack nine times out of ten on the other beast (and get swatted away twenty-nine times out of thirty…but oh that one in thirty!) If Toko stokes my flame, can’t Mr. Toko at least bring forth some some warmth!
I abandoned my queer battle and existential queries about holes and empty spaces and we drove back to the hotel room the show promoter named Jean got us which I am told has nothing to do with Jen which comes from Guinevere (that “white wave” from the poem) while Jean comes from John who, if we know well enough we call “Jacky” which comes from the Olde English “Jankin” wherein “kin” is added at the end of a name as a diminutive and therefore means that Jack has as much a likelihood of coming from John as it does from Jaques. Ah Mr. Toko, Monsieur Jean Khim, I will never know which Western name your parents passed over for fear of obviousness!
I lay on my bed, one band mate on the floor between beds, the other on the other bed.
“So,” I began searching for something for this fleet that can’t sleep, “What theories yous got on the night?”
“Millions,” Gary of the bed threw out after a long pause, “Zillions…but since you asked my sum come to none.”
“Well what’s your theory on that?” someone had to keep prodding for a coda.
So Andy the drummer of the hotel floor threw out, “Cabbies know where all the hippest parties are. Not just where they are, but at what times they begin, peak, and end too. It betters their livelihood if they do. They make more money if they know where the best bet is that someone’s gonna fall into their cab blitzed into an ignorance of how the meter moves, yet these people that fall into their cabs consider the intuition of hip parties to be beyond the inverse factor of hip these Arab cabbies embody. And these cabbies consider their bread makers, those putting the naan on the plates of their twenty children, to be the enemies of Allah. Not to sound too much like you Chrissy, but it’s a question of pink, is it not?”
“Excellent. Gary?” I moderated.
“Fruit flies are nothing more than pancreases with wings. They live off the sugars in the booze at the bar. I was watching them fly around all night while they ignored me. They live off the stuff that kills us. Well if they can live off it we can too. We’re both alive. They’ll save us from diabetes one day, mark my words. We will isolate that gene. These little shits that annoy us will save us.”
“And me? Me, my good friends? I thought that to build a mausoleum is to demand post mortem desecration.”
After the show we all had different nights. One out the window, one at the bar, one in the thick, yet the night still lacked coda.


When Charlene made contact through email she to write an article on nostalgia for her magazine she, anticipating a flatter, said my writing was ‘history driven.’ Her “how do you know so much about history?” hit me more like “you’re out of touch” than the compliment she intended. Man, I do overlap historical events, the now with the then, just so the redundancies cancel each other out and we can see clearer what makes this moment this moment, but not because I’m trapped, Jesus. I read her email in Toronto later the next day and carried the torment with me for the duration of the tour through a few days in the Mid West, a few in the Plain States, through a week in the South and a few more in the Megalopolis until I reached home where I am now still a week into the torment without touching a response to her email or an attempt at this article on nostalgia. Every now and then I’d sit down and do some research on the fly, but nothing truly dedicated or inspired flowed forth.
I thought perhaps this essay on nostalgia I was meant to write began where the conversation last left off which I consider to be in the Montreal hotel room with my band mates. So last night I went by the next closest thing within reach which is the bar at the SoHo Grand Hotel Gary the bass player bartends at. Seemed similar or the best I could do. The reasoning is that a hotel with Gary at least, might bare a vaguely similar thread. En route, I found Gary in the back of the hotel on Thompson Street pissing between cars.
“I’m testing a few things out at once,” craning his neck partially as if to direct the words my way but they only connected dead on with the bumper ‘cause he never took his eyes off his action at hand.
“Oh, is that so?”
“Yeah, I’m working a double shift. I worked the day shift too and the boredom got my mind racing. First of all, did you ever wonder if the reason women stayed home while the men tilled the fields was simply because we could piss anywhere we wanted easier? It’s more practical for women to stay closer to the toilets than us. We can just whip it out wherever we want. Not only can we whip it out wherever we want, but no one is gonna get turned on by us when we do either. Is it possible that our societal roles developed from this one difference? Or, Chrissy, or does the vice versa explain our deflated male papillaries?!
“O.K. point two, is safety the primary reason we use bathrooms? Is the embarrassment of someone seeing you piss or shit just an outgrowth of the embarrassment that at that moment one is completely vulnerable? In Costa Rica they say time stops for the three s’s: surfing, sex, and shitting – which you can partially extend to pissing, which is why I’m out here now and not in the employee bathroom testing my vulnerability. It’s true I think. I was sitting on the can killing time earlier on in the day shift and I imagined myself sitting on a Viking latrine. I forgot to lock the door. In bursts Ygor with axe ready to crack! Technically a good warrior would still be able to grab his sword and defend from the low mounting, but would the rushing endorphins that come with a good shit counter intuit? Would the rush let us welcome the crush? Would the position out of time weaken our connection to mortality? I mean, why else would it embarrass us to do something no one would argue is not neccessary?”
As we walked around the block to the front of the hotel already at the next level of the composted theory where we were trying to conjure the same endorphin opiation through imitating squats on the ‘air can’ lazily lifting our air swords to defend, not really caring if we won or lost the battle, just searching for the rush – “If Chinese Dim Mak can kill with just a touch then its linguistic inverse Kam Mid, which we should Anglicize to commode, might be a point inside our gut we can press to live in timeless opiation if we squeeze the same muscle in squat!” -- the essay started to come:

October Fifth All Year Long
The word nostalgie was coined in 1668 by the Alsatian physician Johannes Hofer. Combining the Greek nostros for “homecoming” and algos for “pain, grief, and distress” he used each term to describe the disease of “extreme homesickness.” At the time, this was ill stuff. It could jaundice the soul, blind the spirit, and wither one to dust if left undiagnosed. Doctors shuddered less when encountering ennui because at least the equally arresting condition had a way of mutating here and there into eurekic snaps! They thought of it as nostalgie’s sister sickness because at the critical stage of each disease the stricken appeared the same. At said stage the ailing would stare transfixed on a single dot on a wall for weeks. It was as if the sufferer of ennui bored to death by life kept whittling away substance he couldn’t find interest in until he’d narrowed it all down to one single dot on the wall and in the fortunate cases, the forces inside this dot propelled by the ebb and flow of the cosmos would then reverse its own trajectory into a Big Bang sort of effect releasing the ailed into a furious sweat of ideas! The sufferer of nostalgie however had no similar simple reactionary hope. He would stare at this same dot because it was the end result of his attempt to whittle back to the point he came from unable ever to return. He got stuck on a line and to turn him around would be to place him back in the original direction he was running away from: awareness of the dot at the opposite end of that line.

I was ready to race home and continue it, but since I was already out and Gary was on fire ( I kind of consider that fire) I stayed, gradually molding the essay in my head as Gary continued on with what seemed like an endless well of bottom feeder theories and well needed puffs of a cigarette before stepping back inside to don his work ‘Gary’ role. I knew I had the next day off so I could finish it then and soak up the rest of it tonight here at the hotel nearest the hotel in Montreal that holds the conception of this nostalgia conversation. So when Gary waxed on about how women hold the family down either by raising children or maintaining risk free number crunching jobs, consistently doing better at schooling than men because men are sent out to find the loop holes, the wild cards, which means only ups and downs, it’s to balance out the swap of roles we share in bed where men go straight for the number crunching to make the family happen while women conjure the haphazard hazardous game – “Why isn’t it common knowledge by now that everything has it’s other, Chrissy?” – I finally figured out it must all be steam from his lady not putting out as of late.
“Uh…well it is, Gary.”
I threw in, “My friend, I get laid more when I don’t have a girlfriend than when I do” as an open ended Rorschach response to illuminate whatever it was inside that was blistering out these acidic theories of his.
“I know, right?” meant he really didn’t hear me. So I allowed him to finish his cigarette in his head while I crafted the next two paragraphs in mine. Fuck him, if he’s leaving I’m leaving too:

The doctors were stuck too. No honest treatment was available for the disease. In Alsace-Lorraine going home has never been quite so easy. You could rarely just send the sick home to start afresh. Home was often in someone else’s hands. The first recorded history of the region has the Celts fighting vertical wars with the Romans for control of the salt mines, and then some sort of horizontal Franco-Germanic conflict has kept the area inflamed to the present. It’s been pummeled from every angle. Who knew what language would be spoken in the home you grew up in, assuming your home was even still standing.
It was this same displacement however that inadvertently produced the cure. The truth is Hofer invented the word, but not the condition. The condition was already well researched and known in German as heimweh. Johannes Hofer knew it well. Being Alsatian, he spoke both languages and studied on both sides of the Rhine. In 1668 most of Alsace was in the hands of France though, capitulated by the Hapsburgs in the Treaty of Westphalia a few decades earlier. The Hapsburgs would then lose the rest to Louis XIV within the next few decades therein making French that centuries temporarily imposed tongue and so whether it was by Franco royal edict or personal preference history appropriately does not document, but Johannes Hofer inventing a word where a word already existed stumbled him into the recipe for vaccinations one hundred years before the first vaccine was accredited in use for fighting smallpox. In other words, he discovered that the antidote to the virus is always the virus. By fighting heimweh with nostalgie Hofer was able to spin the victim’s maligned existential lines into whirlwindic circles that vacillated the victims between languages losing track of who’s on first, what’s on second, and sent them out of the infirmary on the long slow skip home.

Gary finished his cigarette and I was happy to lay my essay on ice until today (and to quit using the dirty word heimweh) so I walked back inside with him for one free drink while he resumed his role behind the bar. Martini bianco with soda is a bit queer, I know, but a good tester to see if you wanna take the night to red wine or tequila next and seeing as everything was already going my way I had nothing to lose by opening myself up to a bit of queer. In it came! While Gary waited on people at the other end of the bar I eaves dropped on (and eventually couldn’t help taking credit for summoning) what I initially assumed was just gonna be the banter of two metro choches on yet another playless night out. To my great fortune I found the rare conversation that would both guarantee the night end playless while simultaneously using correct words. I think. Listen with me to choche one:
“If you ask me I bet it happens while the woman’s pregnant. Put yourself in the position of the fetus. You are the fetus. Are you there fetussing? You imagining yourself as a fetus now tucked in tight floating in amniotic fluid? O.K. now imagine this, you’re a girl. Now what if you’re upside down in the womb and every time your father fucks your mother in comes his dick and smacks you in the face, retracts and smacks. Are you gonna like that dick? Hell no, you’re gonna hate that thing. Not only are you gonna hate it, but its persistent smacking in your face is gonna bust you up, your bones are still tender, and you know what? – a few months later another busted lesbian is born.
“Now, put yourself back in the womb. Now you’re a boy and you’re right side up and every time your father fucks your mother he drives that thing far far up there, as far as it can go and every time it plunders your tiny ass just a little bit. Pat, pat, pound, pound, ooh la la! And therefore naturally that boy is gonna be born a severe homo, a total gay.
“So what’s the option, not sleep with your wife? No, you gotta do that. You can’t go fucking a whore while your wife is pregnant – there are some ethical limits and that’s one of ‘em. It’s like heroin. There are a few lines I just won’t cross; I stop at heroin, I won’t fuck whores while my wife is pregnant, and I won’t ever use pvc and tell my client it’s copper. But you do gotta fuck your wife, for her sake and for yours. If you don’t do that not only are you gonna blame that kid when it comes out for nine months of cock blocking but just as off putting is that kids born after nine months of no sex never develop their own sexuality properly and a non sexual being is more awkward than being gay or overly sexed, which may be the same thing. They see the world all wrong. If a person isn’t cumming once a day they’re missing what makes things move and if you’re missing it then you’re just fucking up how all things move, adding misinformation. At least gays are always in a state or on the verge of cumming. That’s what makes things move. So what you gotta do –-“
“Are you gay?”
-- “So what you gotta do is just keep pumping your woman, pray for the best, pray pray pray, pray to Magdalene, but love whatever comes out in the end for it’s your dick that made it happen, your dick more than your wife’s cunt. In fact, maybe you even owe her an apology, an apology for all the off things in the world. Most of ‘em might breed in those nine months. Yup, there ain’t nothing gays do that we’re not also responsible for. Wait wait wait, I may need to take a cigarette break, new theories are forming: are we the off and they’re the on? Oh my god I love the women species. I think, yup, I think we’re doing all right tonight too, my man. I feel a wave of ho’s coming our way.”
That settled that the Martini bianco led to a tequila cosmopolitan in honor of the queers, the choches, and me and hence no matter how hard I tried to hold my essay back until today these barside words around me still lubed it out. I grabbed a pen and doily to meet it half way. One more paragraph this night and then I put it away for the next day. I didn’t want to lose this night to an essay now though, that would make Charlene’s “you’re so historical” comment float.

“Wait doctor, so is it heimweh or nostalgie I suffer from?”
“Well, you see, in a word both…it was heimweh, it is currently nostalgie, and if I have my way you may very soon carry with you something similar called nostalgia. Whatever word you chose to call it, this condition which ponders the past you will see exists in all tenses. It is always around. However, it is this inescapability of nostalgie that frees us. May I offer you October Fifth as proof? This day is just deep enough into fall to begin feeling nostalgic for past summer’s follies while simultaneously near enough to the holiday season you look forward to nostalgically as a summation of all the past holidays you enjoyed. On October fifth both the past and future are nostalgic. Either direction you turn you see the past. This is an impossible equation. All things lead backwards? If this is the case then we must have mistaken what backwards truly is. Backwards must be forwards as well. On October fifth therefore you move forward with no other direction to move. It is for this reason you can not recall a single memory from October fifth. You were moving forward, free of memory. You don’t remember it, but you were happy then. The day is so liberated from memory you are not even sure if it is October fifth precisely you fail to remember. It may have been the fourth, sixth, seventh, or eighth. Seeing as you can’t remember the day, you also can’t recall the date. Yes, you were happy then because you were heading home as you are now.

I came up for a breath, surveyed the room, and found that everyone was still there. All I heard was the listener to the ranter, “Settle down, settle down” and I dove back in.

“Patient, allow me to extrapolate further. You must also understand that to bring you this word for your condition I had to travel to Greece to seek the words the ancient’s would have used to secure firm footing for my new word {we’re told that Greece was as far back as it went in Hofer’s time}. With the imperial forces in this region toppled so frequently I needed a word that would weather any crown. However, from the Alsace there are two routes to go, the northern and the southern routes. I decided to try them both. The south on my way there, the north on my way back. As I passed through Italy on my southern route I heard the first part of this word nos which they used to mean “our.” On my return voyage through the northern route I passed through the Schwarzwald where I heard the second part of this word tal which they used to mean “valley” {the first dollars were used by tal-ers}. This suffix “gie” was used in some way in every language I encountered to mean just about anything so let’s call this tail to our word “everything.” I realized by taking this circular trip to and from my destination I was in possession of a word with the same meaning as the ancient’s but with a different etymology entirely! In the circular etymology it translates quite literally to ‘Our Valley of Everything.’ You see, we all suffer from nostalgie to a larger or lesser degree. We all carry it with us. It is ours. It is therefore not just your disease. We all share it and if we all share it it can’t be considered a disease at all then, can it? Please don’t burden yourself with the weight of the entire load. It is there with or without your extra burden.”

Enough, as I said I wanted to keep last night about last night so I saved the rest for today (a little later in the pink).
“Let me guess,” Gary was back to check up on me, my eaves dropping, and my drink, “The guys next to you, Walt and Tanner, are getting serious on plundering ass, stomping cunt, and using eyes as cum receptacles. Every day, every day, dude. They never get laid, but that doesn’t stop them from talking like they do, drinking top shelf like they do, and always over tipping me like they do. I’m done with this place. I’m done with all these chodes, I’m done with bartending, with New York in general, with the whole fucking thing. At a certain point, I wrote it down on my calendar, even eye plundering lost its charm. I just wanna make music with Eva. That’s it. That’s all I wanna do, either at a farm upstate, a cabana in the Hamptons, or fucking Bahia once and for all.”
“-- Two…whadda you want? Two, two guava Cape Cods, a Jim Jones on the rocks, and a…a shot of schlager,” poesied our post Phi Sigma Phi Clydesdalian fawn pro forma busting her bust between Walt and Tanner and me to get our friend the bartender’s attention.
“Not only will I make them for you but I’ll buy ‘em for you if you’ll show him your tits,” Gary meant me.
They were confused, c’mon don’t be so mean reader, it takes them time with things.
“Wait, you wanna see our tits?”
“Well I don’t just wanna see them, but we can meet in the middle if you like. See, on the one hand this whole thing has taken you off guard, but on the other I’ve already assembled a long laundry list of the things I need to do with them tonight, so the way I see it is that if you just show them now not only are we even but you also get your drinks for free because we’re chivalrous on top of that. How many other men here tonight still believe in chivalry? I, I believe in cordiality, in the notion of elevated ladies, and in the rewards that come with restraint so I’m o.k. with it if you wanna hold off and only show us your tits right now,” cometh through your bard.
The shirt was up, the tits were beautiful, I was now the one taken off guard, and the previously bluffed and unassembled laundry list scrolled down out of nowhere and ‘need’ was a repeating word.
“I’m glad we could compromise,” I dunno, I’m never prepared for them to come out so easily and I especially wasn’t prepared for them to be so perfect. She returned to her girls with the drinks and Gary was back, “Yeah, I’m just done with it. What do I do though?”
Walt to Tanner, “Yeah, but I don’t wanna be responsible for what I saw today. I was leaving Rao’s walking to my car near the FDR and 116th and this white butchie is beating the fuck out of her black lassbian – that’s what they’re calling the female type lesbians these days. The butchies are going by lesbeaus, lassbians and lesbeaus, you didn’t get the memo?! Ha, well anyhow this small crowd forms, right and she’s yanking her head around from her hair like it was a leash inside a Rottweiler’s mouth and connecting, I mean fucking connecting her blows right across her brow. We can hear them smack from far away. They sound like rips in the heavens. Some homies were just there for the comedy, some people were simply too stunned to move, and then there were the rest of us like firemen and shit that wanted to jump in and break it up but a) we weren’t sure if we were allowed to hit a lady even if she was beating on another lady and b) we weren’t even sure if we could take her! She was a bruiser hopped up on hormones. So at a certain point the butchie realizes that everybody’s staring at her and she hollers back, ‘What! I don’t say nuttin’ to yous when you beat the fuck out of yo bitches at home!’ O.K. right so now we’re all a little bit scared, none of us are sure if we can take this thing. She drags her bitch into a car and we all watch and wait. We get coffee and sodas at the bodega and the lesbians are screaming at each other inside the car and none of us are willing to leave in case it gets worse when low and behizznold! The screams quiet down, there’s nothing for ten minutes, and then they both get out of the car and march past us hugging each other, kissing each other, each apologizing ‘sorry boo, sorry coo’ all of our dicks eunuchate in unity! So Tanner, you’re telling me I’m as responsible for that as anyone else is? That’s a lot to stomach.”
“I’m done, Chrissy.”
Our girl is back up at the bar, “What gives the Jim Jones it color?”
“Jizz,” Gary says, “Yeah so listen, I am done.”
“-- What gives it its color? Did you say Jizz?”
“Yes, Jizz, Chrissy’s Jizz, the same jizz that’s gonna bespeckle upon your tits for your next free round of drinks,” to her. “Now she wants us both,” whispered to me. “No more secrets divulged, just sit down and drink up so we can move on to the next round,” to her. To me “Yeah, so Jesus I gotta get out of here.”
“O.K. so then so do I. I’m going home to get you out of here. Check your inbox in the morning,” and I was out.
Tanner to Walt as I left, “Responsible? You have them to thank! The incomprehensibility of the lesbians broke down the barrier between everyone in the crowd at the bodega. Were you or were you not on the same vulnerable team as the homies and firemen for the duration of their battle? The lesbians gave you a shared moment with people you would have otherwise never opened up to and if you truly were in the eunuchal presence of an array of men you were somewhere you’ve never been before. You owe them thanks.”

The night weather was nice so I wanted to make the ride home as beautiful as could be. The most direct and reliably beautiful route was to head downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge, but as I waited at the light on Canal Street a little Latino kid was pointing at a gutter while his dad dragged him along and it caught my attention. To follow them east down Canal Street would put me on a whole new path, but something about the kid piqued my interest so I headed their way. It was long past any kid with a future’s bedtime. I can understand why his dad had little patience at this hour for any childhood curiosities that mine as well wait till morning, but the kid wouldn’t quit. Every sewer grate he passed he pointed to looking to engage his dad in some sort of intrigue. Man, if it was a yuppie dad he would have brainstormed a million questions with the kid in proto higher pitched adult language about what might be down there lurking and why. Yuck. I mean, the yuppie dad isn’t getting laid that late anyhow, so what’s he got to lose? Maybe this Latino guy is both worried about missing his last window for a lay while simultaneously panicking about how he’s possibly gonna give his wife a solid bone after such a long day. This is all to say that I was mildly relieved to see a parent not pretending to be just an empty facilitator. This dad wasn’t doing much. At least this kid looked up to a man that had more to him than just being his dad (though if the dad was thinking like I’m thinking he may still have been playing dad by trying to teach him a lesson about human empathy). I followed them, but I hope you follow me? His dad wasn’t engaging the kid in the mysteries of the sewer at that hour. He was just dragging him home.
Canal Street cuts through Chinatown so if there was gonna be a creepy crawly beast hiding somewhere in the sewers this would be the place to find him. Last year that amphibious fish, the mudsucker, crawled off a Chinatown stand and made it all the way down to a lake in Maryland where he ate every last fish dead. Alright, so for a change I take Canal Street inspired by the kid. At least I engage the kid’s query and it leads to the Manhattan Bridge which can also take me home which I also never take. This night won’t be beautiful per se, but at least it’ll be better.
As I ride past the kid and his dad my musings about the creepy crawly beasts have now contaminated my own non-fictive brain. I try to turn to look at their faces when I realize Canal Street is slippery, not with water, with ill oils and guts from the runoff of the things they sell down here. Everything they sell down here has an explanation point attached to its names: “Hau!Hau!Hau!”, “Lee Kung Quai!”, Sheeee(!)dawursurla!” so it’s only logical that their entrails would carry the same exclamation points with them through death. It stinks. If I should slip and fall into one of those gutter, though it would be an appropriate ending, it would still be an ending nonetheless and I’m not ready to go yet. So I never get to see what pop and son look like because I have to concentrate too hard on peddling on the sea of grease. I only know they’re Latino by their oversized baseball jerseys and trim doos. I swear I must be making twice as many rotations of my wheels and getting half as far as I usually do on this street beast grease. I bet there’s a white person from an apartment window in view that’s waking his girlfriend up right now to look at me in mockery, the Chinaman, on the street not even riding a bike right. “Look at the Chinaman,” the asshole says, “fucker, doesn’t even know how to ride a bike. Ah babe, what would we do without them?” Hey, that’s me!
Some things never change. Canal Street was so named because it was once a canal that linked the East River to the North River before it was called the Hudson. So utilitarian our city was with names! What a front! The Canal didn’t entirely draw its waters from either river though. It was also used to drain the excess from the freshwater spring in the center of the Collect Pond downtown, but as the city grew up the Collect Pond cessed into nothing more than a drainage pool of tannery, gunsmith, and garbage runoff and if it was high tide the waters from either side of the island would mask the cholera beneath (like winter does in Chinatown now), but at low tide the canal, fed only by a trickle of polluted Collect Pond sludge, bore its true colors of typhoid, yellow fever, and the gamut of maladies both clinical and cultural (like our summers in Chinatown now).
Next the City fills the Collect Pond and Canal Street in to prevent further epidemics, but they don’t realize that you can’t plug a spring. Today all of the nearly hundred streams that once traversed this island have been siphoned into underground tubes and led east or west to be deposited in either river. No stream that existed on the island when the Dutch arrived has yet to cease its flow. They’ve all just been bottled up and sunk (to sink a stream!). They didn’t know they had to do that then though. They filled in the Collect Pond and Canal Street and built buildings on top which of course sank, but before they sank for good – while they were merely in the air and state of rot – the poor moved in, the poorest of the poor, like the poorest of the poor in the entire world at that time. The Collect Pond became the ghetto known as Five Points and the swarm of the swamp lived on in sin and typhoid.
Now, with the Manhattan Bridge at one end and the Holland Tunnel at the other, even though Canal Street cuts through the heart of Chinatown, it’s a thoroughfare everyone in the city depends on, not just the Chinese. And seeing as the most common surname in New York is now Rodriguez I think about what a false friend its name must be. When Mr. Rodriguez reads Canal Street does he hear Canela Street? Does he think of Cinnamon while he smells farts?

Those inner ramblings take me up and into the footpath on the Manhattan Bridge and at this point, three minutes later, the kid and his father are already a distant memory. To its credit, I realize the Manhattan Bridge offers a better view of the Brooklyn Bridge than riding across the Brooklyn itself does. You can’t see it when you’re on it. Therefore, this bridge does have at least one purpose. And it also falls in the pink. There is never anyone on this bridge which means there’s also no chance of getting mugged. Late night on the Williamsburg to the north is dark and dicey. Late night on the Brooklyn to the south is well lit, but being a host to the easy tourist prey makes everyone who takes it greater prey to our locals. The Manhattan though, utterly forgotten and overlooked is free of even madmen.
The Manhattan lets you out in downtown Brooklyn which sets the model for all of the other American skylines you can see approaching from the interstate – except Manhattan: that is, the last place to find the American city is in the center. Brooklyn, like the typical American city, exists around its tall buildings. Once you enter downtown you check your character at the periphery. Brooklyn’s skyscrapers are as anonymous as the corporate faces that slink and disappear through the streets at their base. It isn’t until Brooklyners cross back out of the vortex that their characters resume. I swear there’s even more cripples, retards, and morbidly obese under Brooklyn’s skyscrapers than in its neighborhoods. Do they correct their posture and reposition the features on their faces when they cross back out? It seems so, even at this hour I pass a few lurking here and there content to wait hours at bus stops for the next specialty to bus to take them to their specialty homes.
The border of the periphery on my route is Atlantic Avenue where the character resumes immediately again once it’s been crossed like it’s been bottled up, clogged at the gates before entrance to the anonymous silence of the center. Shit, the center is sounding a lot like church (not Church Street, church) which may be why the food sold around its edges is abnormally holy. The Arab souks of Atlantic Ave sell rose water; almond, honey, and coconut baklava; and the Maronite Christians of Damascus make health conscious whole wheat pitas. Two blocks deeper in and the holiness is already contaminated with our clay.
The poet flaneur Samuel Menashe is fond of pointing out that Adem was the Hebrew word for clay, but go one step further with me and hear Adam as spelled etym (none of it was spelled with these letters back then anyhow; it’s come to us Phoenicianly phonetic); the Words are the Clay in Genesis, hence the deeper you dig the more they yap. Like there’s a small chain of ice-cream parlours you can find in Guinea neighborhoods (as in, right outside the city, not yet in the suburbs) in New Jersey and New York called Magic Fountain. In the Seventies they broke away from Dairy Queen when DQ began watering down their ice cream. A group of the Italian owners of these Dairy Queens agreed to keep the dairy content the same and regroup proudly as Magic Fountain. There’s one of these just a few blocks past Atlantic. I approve their firm adherence to beliefs; I just wished I agreed with their specific tenets: water is way holier than dairy. Or if you got better things to do with your day than reread that analogy a few times to get it, at least stutter next time you wanna clamp a yentas mouth shut when it just keeps running on and on. Both she and you are made of clay, man.
I’m glad food was on my mind for once in this late hour because I really didn’t want to get laid tonight and if I had a thirst instead of a hunger I couldn’t risk barring it -- I had a lot of work to do tomorrow morning -- and then wriggling myself out of breakfast or drinking my way through a waking coffee I wished I was having alone or leaving another apartment as fast as I could with my boots unzipped and my socks god knows where – leaving them reason to call me, “I’ve got your socks.” Man, I’ve done permanent damage to my ankles and knees run-walking in the a.m. without socks in unzipped boots just because I needed a nightcap and they fell upon me. Yeah, getting laid tonight would be counter productive to my immediate work of helping Gary escape (remember that!), writing my essay on nostalgia, meeting Rockwell for coffee, and I didn’t know it yet, but writing my wordless letter to Jen. Yes, I’d eat instead and write my letter to Gary tonight.
Fortunately a few blocks from home I found Fratelli’s Trattoria still open so I grabbed this Bergamasco lover’s delight in which somehow rum soaked polenta, marzipan, and chocolate cream are fused into a pasty that looks like a tit on a Hindi deity. I took it to go with a set of plastic utensils so I wouldn’t have to risk engaging in a hang with David when I slipped into the noisy utensil drawer in the kitchen.