Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day after Thanksgiving


This Friday I liked more than my Thanksgiving day!


After going to the Neue Galerie on East 86th to see the new Klimt acquisitions (and there buying a neat, highly non-Thanksgiving-ish book "Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin"), I then wandered south along 5th Avenue down to Joan's old home on East 72nd, then on across Central Park, where I came across a statue donated to NYC from Boston in the 1880s in honor of the Pilgrims! (Since I'd wasted my Thanksgiving eating pizza and watching football, I liked seeing a statue that was actually appropriate to the holiday.) And finally crossed over on the west side to John Lennon's Dakota apartment, where I caught my subway.







Saturday, November 24, 2007

NYC Thanksgiving 2007

Aside from my grad school years in San Fran in the mid-90s, this is the first time I've spent Thanksgiving away from my family in Texas.

Interesting to notice that most everything was still open here on Thanksgiving, whereas in Texas, almost all stores shut down. The huge Pathmark grocery store, for instance, was busy. I had nothing to do Thanksgiving day, so walked over there, expecting it to be closed, but no... So I ended up buying some stupid non-Thanksgiving stuff, like Coke and frozen pizza! :)

While Austin (my home-town) has a big Hispanic population, the Hispanics are "Tex-Mex" and Americanized, fully participating in American holidays like Thanksgiving. Here, though, the Hispanic population is primarily Dominican, and they're on their own schedule. While the nearby Burger King and Blimpie's were closed, the McDonald's was open, as was my nearby Dominican-owned beer store and sandwich place, as well as most of the "Bergenline" (nearby street) strip of shops. It was interesting to be able to walk around on THANKSGIVING and to find a bunch of stuff open, which had never been my experience before. (Aside from the Dominicans, this whole area is so international in general that I guess it doesn't make sense for store-owners to close down just 'cause a few Americans are home for the holidays. I can't decide if that's nice or not...)

While walking around on a Weehawken sidewalk late-Thanksgiving afternoon, I also came across a couple of 20-something NY JETS fans, all decked out in their green Jets regalia and saying, "It's almost kickoff! We're going to kick the Cowboys' ass!" WHOA, there, boys! I had to turn around and say "GO COWBOYS!!" and then explain that I was from Texas, et al...! (For non-football fans: The NY Jets played the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys ultimately kicked their ass.) The two boys were cute and flirty: "Well, your eyes are green like the Jets colors, so we know who you're really for!" ---- That's really a good line! And these guys were only about 20

Thursday, November 22, 2007

True Colors (Lovely Christina Crawford!)


Quote from a Kneel-buddy on Flickr: "[One of my best friends Neil] recently met Christina during the filming of a documentary on her that is to be added to an upcoming DVD collection of Joan's work. He said she was the most lovely lady and really liked her a lot. His opinion of her has completely changed..."

Eagerly awaiting the new Christina website!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Charming

It's almost Thanksgiving, and one thing I'm thankful for is the cute names of New Jersey towns. I've only lived here for 2 months, but almost every time I turn on the local news and see a weather map or something, there's ANOTHER one! Weehawken (my town), Teaneck, Cheesequake, Peapack, Ho-Ho-Kus... The names make me feel good when I see or hear them.

Another cute thing this morning: I was waiting for a REAL long time at the bus-stop, and among the 6 or so other people there was a young woman holding and talking to her 3-year-old. He started looking at me and grinning and then hiding his face, so of course I had to start grinning and hiding MY face back at him. Then I went and hid behind a tree so he couldn't see me. And he started bucking to get down from his mom, so she let him loose to chase me: "Where's your friend?" I ran and hid behind another tree, saying "See ya later, alligator!" His mom: "He KNOWS the answer to that one! Say it again!" I did, but he would only grin. Mom: "He KNOWS that! He says it all the time at home!" (BTW: The correct response is: "After 'while, crocodile!" :) He never said it! Later, I thought that maybe I should have fed him the answer in a weird way, like "After 'while, booger-bee!" Most little kids would know that was COMPLETELY wrong and correct me, "Uh-unh! After 'while CROCODILE, not BOOGER-BEE!")

Can't wait to see my nephew Townes this Christmas, plus littler nephew Tavo, who was just a waah-waah baby when I left Texas last year. I knew and liked Townes a whole lot, but didn't really know Baby Tavo yet, except that he liked to wrestle with me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In memory of the now-drowned Julie (courtesy of ELO)

"I am dead - drowned - tomorrow."

----------------------------------
Midnight on the water.
I saw the ocean's daughter.
Walking on a wave's chicane,
staring as she called my name.

And I can't get it out of my head,
no, I can't get it out of my head.
Now my old world is gone for dead
'cos I can't get it out of my head.

Breakdown on the shoreline,
can't move, it's an ebbtide.
Morning don't get here till night,
searching for her silver light.

And I can't get it out of my head,
no, I can't get it out of my head.
Now my old world is gone for dead
'cos I can't get it out of my head, no no.

Bank job in the city.
Robin Hood and William Tell and Ivanhoe and Lancelot, they don't envy me.
Sitting till the sun goes down,
in dreams the world keep going round and round.

And I can't get it out of my head,
no, I can't get it out of my head.
Now my old world is gone for dead
'cos I can't get it out of my head, no no.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Central Park's Ozymandias



This is a statue on Central Park's Literary Walk erected in 1877 in honor of the poet and essayist Fitz-Greene Halleck. From the historical plaque:

"The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1877. The ceremony was attended by President Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893), as well as his entire cabinet. The throng of spectators, estimated at 10,000, was so great on that day, and the damage to the surrounding turf so widespread, that park officials were said to have subsequently outlawed assemblies of such great size."

The president, and his cabinet, and 10,000 unruly people! And today no one has any idea who this man is. Reminded me of the Shelley poem "Ozymandias," though not quite as desolate!:


Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

--------------------------------------------------

Aside from poor Fitz-Greene, I had heard of some of these other guys on the Walk (from top: Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Schiller):







Autumn Leaves

Today I hopped on a Jersey bus just to find out where it went and during my two-hour trip, ended up seeing some of the gorgeous fall foliage that the northeast is renowned for. (Unfortunately, I couldn't snap any pictures since I was in the bus the whole time, but I found myself talking to the trees as we passed: "Wow, you're gorgeous!" "Look at YOU!" "What a showoff!")

On the return trip, instead of getting back off at home, I decided to go on into NYC to see what the trees were doing in Central Park. The Park's a little further south than the areas of Jersey that I was in, and only a few of the trees there had started to change color. So, no great foliage pictures, but I did manage to fall in love with elm trees while I was there! I'm no flora maven, but the trees I remember from Texas were mainly oaks and pecans; while nice, big, and sturdy, there was nothing particularly "magical" about them to me. Elms, on the other hand...Now those are some interesting trees! While big and mighty in their own right, they're also rather weird, otherworldly, and dramatic. (As I've mentioned here earlier about NYC itself: A combination of substance and glamour---my dream trees!) ;p











Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gangsta lit!

I was sitting next to a little 20-something-year-old gangsta on the subway today. I snuck a look at what he was looking down at during the ride... A copy of "Jane Eyre"! :)

But he had the book tucked behind a folder. So no one in the FRONT of him would see what he was actually reading! Cute! ;p

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Quiet, sans hands

All Hands on Lindsay




New Yorkers Trump and Giuliani


Before moving to NYC, I'd always liked New Yorkers Trump and Rudy
Giuliani from what I'd read, because they seemed like "can-do" straight-talking kind of guys. Then once I got here, I find that the citizens of the city seem
to hate them for all kinds of reasons! Not a reason for ME to dislike them (I hate "conventional wisdom"), but once I learned more, I actually did think a lot less of them.

Trump: I'd always heard in the media about the skating rink that he
took over building from the city years ago. The city's effort was
haphazard. Union workers were lazy, the budget was out of control, the
project was way behind schedule. Then Trump took over, and got the
damn thing built within months. I admired that efficiency! I also
liked his personality and intelligence when I saw him on talk shows
like Letterman. He seems very well-spoken, funny, and down-to-earth.
But since I've gotten to NYC, some of his fugly new buildings have
been pointed out to me! I love the character and history of the
architecture of New York, but Trump is directly responsible for what
locals (rightly) call the "Houstonization" of NYC---big, ugly, generic
buildings that block others' views with their monolithic mirrored selves and add nothing to the character of the place.

Giuliani: I'd always admired him for standing up to the Mob as a
prosecutor back in the '80s, and for being a straightforward,
common-sense, law-and-order mayor of the city in the '90s. (Also, I'd
seen him on Letterman, and thought, too, he was well-spoken, funny,
and down-to-earth. I also liked that he once dressed in drag for a
political fundraiser and was pro-gay rights!) But now that he's
running for president, he's surrounded himself with extreme right-wing
advisers and he's suddenly non-committal on gay rights and
internationally, pro-Iraq-war and pro-torture... Not so "funny" or
"straightforward" any more!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tongue forked to flick at nothing in particular


Desert










Desert

is the true gothic

what lightness to guide
sunshine like
new tongued lithium

sucking last life
out of surprised cactus
and never
praying for rain

what obscure world
what mind to be in
that could come close
to your deliverance

think snake even thinks of you

think sun sets once
with you in mind

try lizard mercy
sun mercy
cactus
snake
sand
tongue forked to flick
at nothing in particular

your own absence


-----------------------------------------------

Way back 10 years ago to get to my new grad school in San Fran, I drove (with my brother) for two days from Austin through south Texas and the south of Arizona and New Mexico and California. The landscape was horrifying to me. Utterly barren and desolate. It reminded me at the time of the bottom of the ocean floor... turns out, as I later learned, that exact same part of the country was indeed covered by ocean. Weird and otherworldly, and I didn't feel comfortable around it at all and couldn't wait to get out of there.

Just today, though, at work I was reading a story by an author who'd grown up around the desert and loved it. He wrote about how comfortable he felt there with its "wide open beauty" as opposed to the dense, "scary," thickness of forests! Well, sure, if I'd been an early explorer, I might have found forests' density a bit scary (what's going to jump out at me??)...But at least I would have also figured that such density was life-sustaining... The desert just seems horribly barren and life-draining to me. Nowhere to go for help.

Reminds me of a party-argument I had with a guy years ago... What would be worse: Being in the wild confronted with a bear, or being on a city street confronted with a criminal? I picked the criminal---he might hit you and take your money, but in most cases he's not going to cut you all to bits. And, there are always people around in a city to hear you scream and help you! (Well, unless you're Kitty Genovese...)

I wrote the above poem while I was in my poetry program in San Fran 10 years ago. My professor (who later went on to fame as the author of "Under the Tuscan Sun") found fault that I had compared "desert" to "gothic"----granted, the two "landscapes" are quite different... But when I wrote the poem, I was thinking, "Damn, I'd be a lot less scared in a decadent, dead-people-haunted European castle than in this godforsaken utterly barren land!"

Darn that I don't have my whole collection of poetry books here with me in NYC... But in Ted Hughes's "Birthday Letters," he writes about his and Sylvia Plath's visit to the same exact part of the country...and how horrifying it was to them, as well. I searched fruitlessly online for a copy of Hughes's poem "The Badlands," a look back at the trip that he and Plath took across that part of America... They were really spooked! They actually camped for a night there, unlike me, who just passed through... A line of the Hughes poem, that he attributed to Plath saying, was something like "They want our life force"... The desperate desert creatures wanting to grasp onto the visitors' spirits...

If anyone out there has a copy of this poem from "Birthday Letters" and can share it here, I'd appreciate it----I explain things poorly! :)