Wednesday, June 6, 2007

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.

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