Thursday, February 22, 2007

мне пора

As has probably been perfectly obvious for the past several months, my heart's just not really in this internet business anymore. I feel as though this thing has passed through several life cycles and incarnations over the past few years, and now none of them seem to quite fit. I grew tired of the silly, sassy persona some time ago, the earnest world-traveler is back on familiar territory, and nowadays, what I feel like writing is better written to myself. Besides which, the namesake called it quits ages ago, and that pun is only going to get harder and harder to explain.

The old geezer in me that remembers life before the internet is still pretty shocked that a silly little thing like this actually netted me some people that I now consider to be among my very dearest friends. Hey, who can complain about that? And there's no denying I've had fun yammering on about this and that. But all the same, think it's time to turn off the lights around here.

Right-o, enough speechifying. uh, somebody point me towards the sunset?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

snow flake

Was Here You like to think you've crossed some threshold of seriousness by now. Finally mustered up some discipline, squared your shoulders to adult responsibilities and delayed gratification and all the rest of it.

But here you are, nose pressed freezing and fogging the window, fingers tapping the pane impatiently, eyes angled skyward as you take the oldest grade-school gamble and let tomorrow's work rest undisturbed in your bag.

Come on....

Saturday, February 10, 2007


We sat with whisky, poker chips, and cigars in this South Chicago kitchen penetrated by the dark breathing of the steel mills and refineries, under webs of power lines. I often note odd natural survivals in this heavy-industry district. Carp and catfish still live in the benzine-smelling ponds. Black women angle for them with dough-bait. Woodchucks and rabbits are seen not far from the dumps. Red-winged blackbirds with their shoulder tabs fly like uniformed ushers over the cattails. Certain flowers persist.
-Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift

An old journal found from college years confirms that, somewhere around graduation, I was in raptures over this final sentence. I felt (it seems) positively helpless before this sentence. In three words, everything that was beautiful and noble about the peculiar condition of life in hostile terrain. With such economy, the reason I'd adored riding around the L in Chicago at night, past the backs of old buildings, looking at the pockets of life in lit-up squares, as people made dinner and watched tv and lived their lives in a frame of brick and steel.

Just now, I was looking at an old Kertesz photograph called Rue Vavin. It's a detail of the outside of a tenement building, all rickety shutters and stains and disrepair, but in one window, off in the corner of the frame, just a wild burst of flowers crowding the sill. And, looking at the picture, suddenly I was saying to myself, certain flowers persist.

I guess I've reached an age where you have to play detective with the unbidden thoughts of your own mind. What's that again? What's that from? What is my brain trying to tell me? I'd strewn enough mental breadcrumbs around this particular line that I was able to find the journal, and I found the source, and then by the power of Google, I found two people with whom I have this very curious fixation in common. A certain Mr. Roy Bentley has a book of poems, number 7 of which is titled with my sentence; a Mr. John D'earth has written a jazz-classical fusion composition entitled Concerto for Quintet and Orchestra, the second movement of which is reportedly a jazz ballad called, yes, certain flowers persist.

A peculiar fraternity are we.

(photo by John Graham)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Foundering Fathers

If you ask me, the Woeful and Lamentable aspect of current political discourse is not that it is so uncivil, but that it is not nearly hysterical enough.

I'm reading a little bit about the debates between the Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans and the Hamiltonian Federalists following the French Revolution. The DR's supported France and hated and feared Great Britain, whereas the Federalists were all for trade with Britain and were down on France.

When John Jay concluded a trade treaty with Britain in 1794, an editor wrote "John Jay, ah! the arch traitor--seize him, drown him, burn him, flay him alive." Graffiti on a Federalist's house read, "Damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won't damn John Jay!! Damn everyone that won't put lights in his windows and sit up all night damning John Jay!!!"

In return, the Federalists called the Democratic Republicans "a despicable mobocracy," "Gallic jackals," "frog-eating, man-eating, blood drinking cannibals" who wanted churches to burn and guillotines to appear in the public square. Now that's crossfire.

"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys" has a certain lyric and whimsical lilt, to be sure, but lacks some of the gusto and repetitive rhythmic staccato of "frog-eating, man-eating, blood-drinking cannibals." Heritage, not hate!

Quotations from Walter McDougall's "Promised Land, Crusader State"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Esprit d'Escalier

Back in spring of ought-five, there was a minor group spat over a proposition put forth by Tom, to wit: women will one day covet men for displaying primo video game prowess.

I mean, it's still just so cute and dear that merely writing that makes my bottom lip pout out. But he and his cohorts were quite serious and it seemed only kind to disabuse him of this notion quickly and uncompromisingly. So we argued back and forth (and somehow I missed Matty in comments discovering an entire generation[!!] of women existing behind me and Catherine; I've run to the mirror to check for eye bags and other saggy things).

But why did I spill a thousand words when this picture would have done the job?

[shamelessly ripped from the dashing laoser]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stir Crazy: Ice Storm Edition

It's not the ice so much as the stupid drivers, as we all know, so it's really best to sit tight and rifle through cookbooks and drawers for shiny things that will distract you from your torpor until enough time has passed that you think it's acceptable to go back and veg in front of The Wire for a few more hours. Here's what I came up with.

Household Gems my Mother Has Unaccountably Hidden From Me
An apron printed with recipes for Air Raid soup? Yes, please!

Proof that I am a Changeling

My mother folds and carefully stacks plastic grocery bags after returning from a shopping run. Odds that my life will bring her anything but quiet disappointment? Low.

Mad Scientist Comfort Food

That's homemade hot chocolate and a homemade marshmallow [!?!]. I did not know marshmallows could be made. But they can, pretty easily. And when a bit fat pillowy one takes a dip in your sinfully rich homemade cocoa (with just a hint of cinnamon), you don't know how you'll even go back to Ghirardelli, much less Swiss Miss (that cheap whore).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh Yes She Did

In light of David Beckham's announced transfer to play for the L.A. Galaxy, I e-mailed my soccer-obsessed roommate to tell him that I've suddenly discovered a new affection for the sport, and to count me in for tickets next time, uh, the Wizards play the Galaxy.

I mean, the sheer avalanche of ways to let me know I'm a complete retard must have been paralyzing. Not a banner day for the sisterhood; sorry ladies.