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April 19, 2001
Want


The squirrels keep knocking our wooden bird house out of the tree, where I keep lodging it into a nook. As much as I like squirrels this makes me mad. We'll never have birds nesting if they don't think the house is stable. If I don't pay attention to the bird house lying pathetically on its side in our yard, though, this is my favorite time of the year in terms of how the grass looks -- long and impossibly green. The dead patches of winter have disappeared and once again I'm reluctant to level the little garden and replant. The sloping does not make it too uncomfortable, I suppose. A book, a folding chair, and if I'm lucky a passing neighbor cat, I'm happy just being in the sun. Which assumes I can ignore work, and that I can't do for long.

Cat

Marmara Island, October 1996.

I want a cat like this. I can't have a cat like this, I'm allergic. Maybe if I lived in a town on the edge of the Mediterranean. Then the cat could stay outdoors and be friends with the fishermen. And it could just come and go and when I pull up a chair against the whitewashed wall it could come over to lie on its back on the warm stone terrace and soak up the sun and want its belly rubbed. I'd feel the fur absentmindedly, trace the gentle outline of that delightfully curved tail, and the paws even -- if the cat happened to be in a mellow mood. Life would be good.

Cat detail

Moving on. I'm nowhere near the Med. I live and work among belching, farting beasts that are many times my size. This particular one below, I don't know why the writing on its back amused me. Maybe it's the elaborate set-up of the advertising pitch, the quest to cram as many words as possible (and still leave enough room for the "If you can't see my mirrors I can't see you"), or the blatant attempt to suck up -- "tribute to your good taste"? It's only beer, people.

Truck

New York, November 2000.

So like the truck says, from the bitter, fatigue-lined tanks of my brain I tender this short, haphazardly written jumble of words for your brief enjoyment as you make your way toward the more useful corners of the Web. You have so much to do, so much to read and write (just like me), yet you paused during your hectic day to take a peek here, which you repeatedly do.

Is this a tribute to your good taste?

break

I was just talking to someone who got fired recently. Psycho boss, predictable story. I'm tired of seeing this happen, the hurt, the bouncy ride that follows, the endless sending of resumes... and perhaps what's even worse is what people put up with so that they don't get fired. They hang on, get by, sick inside all the time. And you know, I get that too sometimes, even though it has nothing to do with losing my job. Perhaps it has to do with keeping it, keeping at doing what I do, the way I go about doing it.

There is, some would say, hope at the end of the rainbow, and I know all about the "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" paradigm and that there's an afterlife to the song, a happy postscript when you do  find what you're looking for... but what shape will you be in when you get there? I watched a German-Turkish film a few months ago, and in it the protagonist covered the width of Europe doing the "seeking," getting mugged, lost, beaten up, not to mention almost drowning in the process, and finally under the bridge (my bridge, the bridge of my childhood!) he stood, across from his sun-girl Juli, and recited what he'd been taught: "Meine Liebling," he said. "I've climbed mountains, I've run through the fields..." And then they kissed, of course, but we weren't supposed to notice that he hadn't showered or brushed his teeth for a good week on the road. If you're an old, stooped, constipated goat by the time you make it, what good is it?

I've been listening to this Del Amitri song called "Nothing Ever Happens" endlessly these days. It's by Justin Currie and Iain Harvie and it has lines like these:

Post office clerks put up signs saying position closed
And secretaries turn off typewriters and put on their coats
Janitors padlock the gates
For security guards to patrol
And bachelors phone up their friends for a drink
While the married ones turn on a chat show
And they'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow

Now the traffic lights change to stop, when there's nothing to go
And by five o'clock everything's dead
And every third car is a cab
And ignorant people sleep in their beds
Like the doped white mice in the college lab

Telephone exchanges click while there's nobody there
The Martians could land in the carpark and no one would care
Close circuit cameras in department stores
Shoot the same video every day
And the stars of these films neither die nor get killed
Just survive constant action replay

Bill hoardings* advertise products that nobody needs
While angry from Manchester writes to complain about
All the repeats on T.V.
And computer terminals report some gains
On the values of copper and tin
While American businessmen snap up Van Goghs
For the price of a hospital wing

(* Why is it bill hoardings and not billboards?)

It's a depressing song, but it's a good  depressing song; what was that skit, "It hurts, Charlie, but it's a good  hurt" or something like that? Monty Python? SNL? Perhaps some pop culture fan could help. And it has a great, upbeat tune.

Why I just didn't stop at the black box while I was still ahead, and told you all this I have no clue...

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The current banner photo was taken on the grounds of the Hains Point golf course in Washington during the snowstorm accompanying the Curious George Bush Junior inauguration weekend. For the story on the foxes in the picture see this January dispatch.


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