It would be nice to watch a half-gallon of gold auto body paint slowly pour onto a clean, glossy, white Plexiglas floor. It would have to be poured from a height of no more than, say, 18 inches because much higher would cause the paint to splatter, which would distract from its visual serenity. Gold paint pours well. It's incredibly viscous, and it isn’t a pure color so the paint forms small oil slicks and shadows as it folds over itself. Then, gradually and with the assistance of gravity, the shadows melt away.
I was picturing this exact scenario in my head, just now, as I sometimes do, and it was really very gratifying. Is this the kind of thing people think about when they’re asked by their yoga teachers or kooky therapists to breathe in streams of golden light? I hope not because I never fancied myself a golden light breather waiting to happen.
Maybe I’ve been locked inside the city for so long that I’ve started to think about the various ways man-made plastics and computer lights and cleaning fluids can imitate some of the more enjoyable aspects of nature. Like a white ceramic dinner plate dropped from a rooftop, hitting the pavement flush on its bottom and then exploding—sending hundred of white fragments radiating out from a single point. (That’s Eddie Bauer Home’s equivalent of a very still, sunny winter day splintered by the sound of an ice sheet breaking away and slipping from a gabled roof.) Or my table lamp as sunlight filtered through a mushroom. Or, if I lie on my stomach against my plank wood floor, with all its imperfections pressing into my skin, it feels like the deck of an old ship. And if you close your eyes you can sort of feel the earth shift a bit, like wind moving sails. There’s nothing particularly natural about that, and there’s a lot about it that is patently crazy but, man, does it feel good.
Also, two words that feel really nice to me: endemic and transparency. The former, when I say it; the latter, when I think it.
And while I'm here, a few other things I've appreciated a little more than usual lately:
- Lamp light
- My old Series One TiVo, which I won in a TiVo contest many years ago but recently had to replace with horrible, horrible, miserable and terrible DVR
- Washington State Honey Crisp apples. If you find one, I suggest you eat it. If you find two, give the second one to someone you really love the shit out of.
- A musician named Adem
- Cilantro, and people who really stand behind it
- Managing to keep the weight off and the hair on all these years (not to brag or anything, but lately i've started to really notice what a rare commodity these things are in someone my age. i only wish all of my other age-inappropriate qualities were something to brag about.)
- Friends who know exactly what kind of candy you like
- My pork pie hat (OK. this one is bullshit. i just thought it would be funny to pretend that i've taken to wearing a pork pie hat. i wonder if david cross looks back on his pork pie hat days with fondness or regret.)
- A well-constructed sentence
- And a few things that i'm keeping secret from you
THE EVIDENCE IS MOUNTING BUT IT DOESN'T ADD UP.
I found a dry cleaner in my neighborhood this week. It might sound fancy when you hear that I use a dry cleaner but, really, I'm just paying someone to iron my Billy Squier rock t-shirts for me.
Because nothing in my neighborhood is easily explained, the dry cleaner offered the latest puzzling detail in what is shaping up to be an epic mystery. Sitting on the counter, next to a box of bag ties, was a plastic jar. (the kind you usually find at little league concession stands, stocked with Atomic Fireballs) The jar was filled with free lubricated condoms. Of course.
Now that I'm more comfortable with the large, sweeping changes, I've started to pick out smaller details about my new neighborhood, and how it contrasts with my previous one. Like the attorney-at-law offices with an 8 and 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper taped up in its storefront window, commemorating (in sloppy handwriting) the dates of birth and death of Tupac Shakur. (with photocopied picture from his 'All Eyez on Me' album cover art)
Or the absence of Boar's Head meat trucks, and the presence of dilapidated vehicles bearing sandwich meats from the more downscale Hansel & Gretel.
Or the fact that the bus stops feature schedules that have absolutely nothing to do with when the buses actually arrive. It feels like an elaborate prank engineered by one of those "situationist" artists who attempt to shake us out of our daily stupor by replacing McDonald's drive-thru menus with identically-designed ones featuring funny or politically-charged items.
Or the "Daily Specials" board at the Chinese/Mexican takeout restaurant around the corner from my apartment, featuring the following choices:
FRIED CHICKEN WINGS (4)
FRIED HALF CHICKEN
FRIED CHICKEN LIVER OR GIZZARDS
FRIED WHITING FISH (2)
FRIED CRAB STICKS (5)
FRIED SCALLOPS (12)
FRIED JUMBO SHRIMPS (5)
FRIED BABY SHRIMP (21)
FRIED CRISPY CHICKEN
FRIED CRISPY CHICKEN w/ GARLIC SC.
FRIED PORK CHOP (2)
FRIED BONELESS SPARE RIBS
FRIED SPARE RIB TIPS w/ GARLIC SC.
FRIED CRISPY CHICKEN WINGS w/ GARLIC SC.
FRIED CHICKEN NUGGET (10)
FRIED SEAFOOD COMBINATION
FRIED BONELESS CHICKEN SANDWICH
FRIED FISH SANDWICH
FRIED PORK SANDWICH
I miss Park Slope a bit, but I think I missed it more when I was still living there.
I CAN'T WAIT TO LIVE ON MY BLOCK.
I passed Lucius Love on the staircase this morning. He was ascending the stairs slowly, as befitting a man of his advanced age. He gripped his walking stick with one hand and the bannister with the other. (The bannister in my building is the kind of bannister for which the word "bannister" was surely invented — ancient, solid wood smoothed by 100 years of hands scrabbling for support. Not an ounce of iron or steel in its zigzagging climb from the ground floor to Lucius Love's apartment three flights up. You can have your Communist "railings" and Futurist elevators; I'll keep my bannister, thanks.)
Lucius was smoking in the building again. He's been told not to, but I guess there's an age you reach where you simply stop taking orders from younger people, or stop hearing them altogether.
"Good morning, Todd."
"Good morning, Mr. Love."
I've developed an unspoken mental imperative to formally address older people in my neighborhood. Mr. Love, Miss Willis, etc. Next door there's an older gentleman who looks a lot like "Mudfoot" from Fat Albert. Deep brown leather skin. Unstructured bucket hat. Salt-and-pepper beard like one of those Santa Claus beards I used to make in grade school, from cotton balls glued on a construction paper backing. (I always used too much glue, making the beard impractically heavy. I've never been handy.) The older gentleman sits on a folding wooden chair most days, all day, sometimes clutching a brown paper bag filled with either cough medicine or King Cobra Malt Liquor. I don't want to speculate about what exactly is in that paper bag, but I don't think cough medicine comes in a can. When we first met I asked his name and he replied, big wide smile, "Lion." Naturally, I call him Mr. Lion. Like my bannister, it just fits.