This morning I woke up to the androgynous machine voice of my Blackberry telling me that voice dialing had been initialized. The detached voice was coming from across the room, under the dinner table. Jumping out of bed, I could see the new message light; a moving, blinking red dot that weaved amongst the chair legs and table legs. As the cobweb of dreams became disentangled, I realized the pup, also known as carpet shark, was using my daytime minutes.
Archive for February, 2009
“The essential thing is to etch movements in the sky, movements so still they leave no trace. The essential thing is simplicity. / That is why the long path to perfection is horizontal.”
— Philippe Petit
On the weekend nights, after arriving back at my basement apartment, I usually take about twenty minutes to sit with my legs straight up a wall. This is a yoga pose that my sister taught to me to aid in recirculation. The legs go straight up the wall so that the bad blood can drain from my tired feet back to my heart and then my brain gets good blood. Its also a way to quiet my thoughts after what can feel like hours of non-stop verbal communication.
There was some news this week out of South America regarding camelids indigenous to the Chilean island, Tierra del Fuego. The species is called guanacos, and are relatives of llamas and alpacas. Previously, scientists considered their only predator to be puma cats, but a disturbing photograph began to change scientific opinion.
In the new photograph, a culpeo fox can be seen running alongside a guanaco, bearing its teeth and I inferred growling as well. It seems to most in the world of science that this culpeo fox would very much like to eat the guanaco. But the guanaco has other thoughts entirely. Scientists read the guanaco’s lips as saying, “Oh hell no…”
Which is interesting because previous to the incident this week, most in the sphere of scientific pursuit only knew guanacos to flee in the face of a predator. A reminder that change is one of the few constants in our nature… this guanaco did not run away making alarm calls. He lead the culpeo fox to his family of guanacos, and the adults cornered the little fox and kicked it.
This co-operative, active group defense saved the guanaco from being dinner for a month in the underground den of the sharp-toothed culpeo fox. Perhaps this group of adult guanacos grew up playing Halo together. Their story means a great deal to me. We are all Americans, on both continents, and where I work, the affectionate name given co-workers from El Salvador is guanaco. And recently, there have been attacks in the neighborhood.
What we need to do when under attack, instead of merely fleeing-as-fast-as-we-can, is to trick the culpeo, red in tooth and sharp in claw, back to the herd. There the strong adults can kick the foxes and teach lessons, daily if necessary. Recently we have had a resurgence of Amazonian river fish on the menu at work, including pacu and pintado. The tide of interchange is high between North and South.
But I do not compare myself to a guanaco, llama or alpaca. Clearly, if I was an animal in South America right now, I would not be one of those. Perhaps I would be a river dolphin, majestic, pink and swimming through the roots of rain forest trees. Most likely, I would be a pudú. Pudús are preyed upon by eagles, owls, foxes and small cats, but maintain a complex system of paths that allow them to easily escape, find food, and rest.
This past Saturday was Valentine’s Day. The management team utilized the mathematical seating matrix I developed late one night in my basement on an ancient abacus, and allowed for limited reservations to be taken. It became apparent that those reservations were unnecessary; we were crushed underfoot by the hundreds of walk-ins, and struggled to honor our reservations. Part of my strategy included wearing a wool / silk compound thread sweater vest, hand-wash only.
In the previous image I am in the dinosaur pose, howling at the glass sculpture that hangs before the open kitchen in the restaurant. I would describe the sculpture as a chimerical combo of male / female sexual organs and a gramophone recording horn. It reminds me of the song, “Sex On Fire,” by the Kings of Leon. My favorite local radio station right now, Radio 92.9, mostly plays jams from the 90′s, and rotates in current hit singles. Out of all the songs they put on the air, “Sex On Fire” is by far my least favorite.
For the sake of this post’s continuity; to flesh out my full loathing of the song; to tie the red ribbon of my ideas into a bow for your reading pleasure; its important that I bring up my own sexual history. Or lack thereof for the past half decade. Dealing with the lovers of Valentine’s Day, then, was downright pleasant compared to waking up alone with my alarm clock radio blaring “Sex On Fire” by the Kings of Leon. Usually I assume the dinosaur pose and twist and snarl in my bed until Snooze has been properly activated.
My wardrobe has not included a real sweater vest since middle school, when my aunt and mother bought most of my clothes at Bob’s and Eddie Bauer. I bought the wool / silk sweater vest at Marshall’s for $10 last week. Thank goodness no barbecue sauce was spilled on it because the hand-wash only tag is a little scary. I think people generally appreciated it, but I’m not sure I’m going to appreciate wading into a swift river to wash the thing, then drying it in the sun over flat rocks by the shoreline.
Its been a tumultuous week. At the restaurant on Monday we had our annual Bob Marley themed dinner and although I think perhaps marijuana may have been involved, at least the real Jamaicans left happy this year. At home in Cambridge, I picked up my new computer, a 24 inch IMac, but have not been able to flex its muscle yet because… In CT, my grandma, Happy, fell and broke her leg. I have been down with my family at the hospital the past two days and she is recuperating pretty well. Please send her your positive thoughts.
Shepard Fairey, of Obey Giant fame, was to celebrate the opening of the first major installation of his street art, “Supply and Demand,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art last weekend, but unfortunately was not able to attend because the police arrested him on his way over there, on graffiti-related charges. The image above is me ripping off Shepard’s “Andre the Giant Has a Posse.” The image was originally intended for a new Hell Night teeshirt to honor Dr. Pepper, aka George Greenidge, the East Coast’s spiritual leader.
George once gave me a framed photograph of him and me hanging together at the July 4th party, and I brought it down to Connecticut to show my aunt and grandma. We both look a little tired, a little tispy, in the picture, and are leaning on one another for support. Well, Happy took a liking to that photo and it found a permanent home on her bedside table. She has never met George yet I believe she would love him if she did. And it may that “No Woman No Cry” on endless repeat Monday night got me slightly brainwashed, but I have to believe everything is gonna be alright.
Someone told me sometime or somewhere I read that the consumption of caffeine right before sleep can have the effect of creating crisper, clearer dream visuals and I have found it to be true. The night before these pictures were taken I was drinking India Spiced Chai well past midnight and that night I dreamt I was back at the inauguration. Except the national mall, instead of greenish and flat and adorned with monuments was an endless sloping hill… and I had to walk and walk… down I went…
At the bottom of the hill was not Barack Obama or anything to do with any kind of federal ceremony or swearing-in. Instead what I had walked to was a dreamy carnival shack selling circus food. A wooden shack with a long line selling the kind of fatty food sold on Friday nights at the firefighters’ carnivals held in the summer in many a nutmeg state hamlet. Stuff like sausages and whatnot. I bought a cardboard tray of food and carried it all the long ways back up the hill from whence I came. But when I got to the top, exhausted and aching to devour my cardboard tray of circus food, I woke up. I ponder what this portends for America.
Last week word got around the restaurant that if Arizona won the Superbowl, we’d all have to find new jobs. Apparently, the owner had put a large bet on the Steelers, and was lucky enough to win. The next day, I asked him what he had won in his large bet. I thought it might be a Jeep Cherokee or a long boat but the owner wouldn’t tell me. The same day I noticed that wicked pricey orchids, some with price tags still attached, hundreds of dollars worth of orchids had been transplanted to the dining room, and were peering out at snow-crusted Inman Square.
Thank you Lady C for the photography and coaching.
“You can put a cat in an oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.” Quote from White Men Can’t Jump (click link for entire script.)
The image is a little busted. I took this picture using my Blackberry in Stop N’ Shop and then had to crop it at home. That’s not whats important. This cat bed unfolds into a play tunnel! My bed doesn’t do that: I have a queen-size bed and I love it, but it doesn’t unfold into anything like a play tunnel. The one time I upended my large bed it fell on me and I was stuck under the mattress on the dusty floor in 90 degree heat for about half an hour. I was not a happy cat… but I’d be totally content if a human-scale Kuddle Kup could be created for me.
My friend Lady C needed some encouragement tonight, for tomorrow morning she takes an exam on abdominal pathology. So like FDR with a spaniel on my blanketed lap beside the blazing fireplace I asked her what would be appropriate. It was then she formally requested a famous quotation to encourage her. Full disclosure; I’ve needed some encouragement myself lately. Fatigue and doubt and a bunch of small defeats whilst fighting the good fight slowed me down last weekend. Lots of green tea and time with family and dog-petting / playing / mutual-biting have helped me break out of my mental funk.
I had turned off my phone and the internet (and in doing so, freaked out my sister) and curled up next to the fireplace and finished “The Pilgrimage,” by Paulo Coelho, while snow and temperatures fell and the wind howled and rattled the windowpanes, and a February I could neither feel nor see through the curtained blinded windows carried on. From my cuddly nest I deliberated over Lady’s request for a powerful quotation, and with the aid of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Third Edition, copyright 1980) and an hour’s time, I mashed up quotations from James Joyce and T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman (respectively) into the following gem of inspiration:
“The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea… Where the breadfruit fall and the penguin call and the sound is the sound of the sea. Under the bam. Under the boo. Under the bamboo tree. O Captain! O Captain! Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.”
The pants I wore on Saturday are special pants from my bin of winter clothes. They are 36″ by 36″ (about 4 inches too wide, 2 inches too long) LL Bean khaki pants with black and white flannel lining. Obviously, having flannel on the inside is a super bonus. I recently extended my contract with the ECG until the end of 2011 (just in case the Mayan calendar is correct, and the world ends on December 12, 2012, I’d like that final year as personal time)…
I also have the pants in navy blue with red and yellow flannel on the inside… its actually the superior pair of pants for me, clocking in at 34″ by 34″, much closer to my true dimensions. The hat I’m wearing is an aggressive, psychedelic blue winter hat that I bought at a gas station. It originally had this weird double liner but I ripped it out after I washed and dried it because the double lining made it so tight on my head that I was contemplating trepanning through the cheap fabric directly into my skull.
Usually, I wash items of clothing that I buy at gas stations before I wear them. Taking the lining out of this gas station blue hat has endeared it to me all the more; it feels vulnerable now that its roughly the same as my other winter hats. It cost $3. at the gas station. Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I am not 100% sure about this but I believe that, for the first time ever, one of the brunch specials could be named after me, and my love for late night brisket burritos every Saturday. What an honor… I think someone needs to name a brunch special after Darnel…