Download 7.05 Mb.Pdf ko'rish
- Bu sahifa navigatsiya:
- June 10 – Le G. – Early Morning
- June 11
- June 13 – Early Afternoon
- June 14 – Chelsea Streets – Midday
- June 15
- June 17 – Midtown – 7:45 a.m. EEric Darton NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 372
- June 18 – Early Morning
Several tables away at Le G., a young woman talks with her mother about her
school loans. “I may be eligible for being consolidated.”
Le G. is late to open this morning. Only Mario and Tomás have arrived, no
waitstaff, so you pull some chairs down from the table tops and claim your place in the
southeast corner by the windows. Spot the house newspapers on the magazine rack
and can’t help but laugh when you take in the Post headline: PAPER OF WRECKAGE:
mock Help Wanted ad for a new executive editor, whose qualifications include being a
“lefty francophile [sic] with diversity obsession…respect for facts optional.”
True to form, of all the reporting on L’affair Blair, the Post’s has been the most
gleeful. Murdock’s scribes never miss an opportunity to celebrate the embarrassments
of the gray lady. But the way the Post goes about it reminds you of an elegantly-turned
line you read in Christopher Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down. Commenting on
reports of the Ranters’ practices in the 17th century, Hill said the contemporary press
had managed, “like modern journalists, to titillate while reprehending.”
• • •
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 364
Along the West Side Highway and here and there on subway billboards, the
most interesting, tongue-in-cheek ad campaign you’ve seen in years – for Manhattan
Mini-Storage. A variety of images: a tornado tearing up a prairie, three fat bikini’d
women clustered on a beach, extreme closeup on a godawful haircut, all headed: BAD
THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU LEAVE THE CITY.
On your way to Kelly to get needled, walk past the building Tesla where kept his
offices. Energy, energy! The body electric. Flash on 540 West Broadway, the ancient
tenement you grew up in – so ancient it was wired for DC. You had to use a converter,
a heavy industrial-looking box that sat next to your mother’s upright piano, to run the
appliances. And how many appliances were there? Two: the fridge and toaster. A
mixer? Possibly. And every so often the Electrolux. Christmas lights once a year. And
yes, a vaporizer when you were sick. Your trains too. You gave yourself a mighty
shock hooking up the transformer once. Bakelite it was, with red switch. You knew the
American Flyer logo, that was a brand name. But this other symbol stamped on the
plastic left you puzzled. “What,” you asked your father. “does UL Approved mean?”
• • •
p.m. Apart from a billion other things, this talk you’re supposed to give up in
Byrdcliffe at the end of the month has you bent out of shape. Posing questions like: is it
possible for you to call yourself a socialist? That’s how you self-define. And have ever
since you were in your teens. But do you look at the people of the world and recognize
your brothers and sisters, or see just so many useless objects cluttering the sidewalk?
There was a time when you could genuinely say this wasn’t your operative mode. It
sure is today. Wish you could just shake off the misanthropy, like a dog does water.
Problem is, it’s gotten deeper. Not superficial. How to keep it from your heart? Power
Eric B. comes by the café walking Blanca. Sits down for a coffee and palaver.
Midday he tuned into WNYC and heard Leonard Lopate interviewing Isabele Allende.
Leonard closed a segment with a comment on how Americanized Chile is becoming.
Seems they’re even opening a Starbuck’s in Santiago. Cut to station break: NPR wishes
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 365
You heard somewhere that Chile wants to give a gift to the U.S.A., though not
quite the Statue of Liberty. Seems the Intrepid Sea Air Space museum – or whatever
they call that cemented-in aircraft carrier at the Hudson River end of 46th Street – will
soon be receiving a MIG fighter, no doubt from the stock supplied to Isabele’s late
father. The MIG could take the place of the French Mirage on their flight deck, the one
the Intrepid management wants to get rid of it. Half-jocular talk of pushing it into the
river. Perhaps they’re afraid it will corrupt the other planes. You never know. Can’t be
Sudden realization: You have no empathy for people who have no empathy.
June 9 – a.m.
Shanksmare west to Seventh Avenue to pick up the shoes you’ve extravagantly
caused to be resoled. They’re good shoes though, comfortable, and hopefully worth the
investment. There it is, the trashed car with Pennsylvania plates. Mitsubishi Mirage,
fire engine red. Been there for months. Long enough to turn into a neighborhood
institution. On the days she walked toward home after French lessons Gwen used it as
her next landmark after passing Eric B.’s house across from the Precinct. When she
mentioned the car one time, you nodded, half-remembering having registered it
vaguely. But this is the first time you really look. Pretty awful. Pretty bloody awful.
Word on 20th Street has it that one night in the late winter or early spring, its
driver, intoxicated and pedal to the metal, wrapped it around a lightpole on Ninth
Avenue. Whether he died before or after the EMS crews cut the roof off and extracted
him isn’t known, but that the accident was fatal is a matter of local lore. The cops
towed the wreck close to the Tenth Precinct where it remains – as shattered a piece of
once-sporty automobile as one can imagine, the curbside door flung wide, detached
roof haphazardly angled over an interior progressively filling up with garbage.
Prominently strewn across the topmost layer, a square-toed women’s shoe with a gold
buckle, a Corona bottle, an issue of Bazaar, and a paper coffee container from The Big
Cup, the wildly popular gay hangout half a block up Eighth Avenue.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 366
You wonder, surveying this container of a human tragedy – this site of the
beginning of who knows whose grief – now a vernacular dumpster, what the kids
lugging their huge backpacks to from the International Youth Hostel a few doors down
think of when they it pass by. There’s bits of refuse lying on the sidewalk and in the
street around the Mirage too, stuff that didn’t make it inside, or else blew out. Your
foot crunches something plastic: a discarded orange pill bottle. You bend down to read
the label. Zoloft, 50mg, prescribed by Dr. H. Fong for Donna Parkinson and filled on
May 1st. Take one per day by mouth. A month’s armamentarium against depression.
Assuming Donna Parkinson followed the directions, she needed a refill last week. Her
address is just a few doors down. Have you passed her in the street. Would you
recognize her face, or she yours?
The sun’s broken through. Though it’s muggy, you can feel the moods lift, but
warily. Will the skies stay clear long enough for us to internalize the sense of spring?
The month of May vanished in chill mist and rain making less of an impression on the
collective psyche than a daily round of Zoloft would. Across the brick front of Eric B.’s
house, the ivy is growing like wildfire. You’d swear it’s spread since last week. Does it
imagine it’s dignifying a wall at Oxford, say the Ruskin Institute or Oriel, Eric’s alma
maters? In the last few days, his ailanthus in the shallow front yard has sprouted over
the iron fence and now overhangs the sidewalk.
A man with no front teeth, wearing a baggy basketball shirt and shorts, stands in
front of you, immobile, shouting into his wire. Accusations of betrayal. Dirt done him
by the party on the other end. If you keep your eye on the plants, you could mistake
the street for Eden.
• • •
p.m. Strange how the clear evening makes the city seem louder. Plenty of
identifiable noises – carhorns below, passing tires rhythmically kathunking the metal
plates over excavations, jet turbines overhead, peaking and fading, locating themselves
between roar and whine depending on altitude and atmospherics.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 367
How will you find the wherewithal to stay open these last days before you get on
one of those planes and blow this joint for two months, your journey undergirded by
the possibility of changing continents altogether?
Given that your experience of this city – which constitutes the plupart of your
lifetime – has become inextricably bound up with your writing, is it any surprise that
you feel this is as good a time as any to break off, quit funneling your direct experience
down into pages any more?
But then another stimulus – unintended or happenstance – esoteric or a backfire
on the avenue will entreat, or demand to make itself part of the mix, and the voice in
your head tells you that you have no idea what this book is about, but that it will let
you know when it’s done writing more than vice versa. Control control control. Can’t
live with it, can’t live without.
• • •
Economist offers $10,000 for the prizewinning essay on the subject “Do we
need nature?” Just say no.
June 10 – Le G. – Early Morning
So deep in novel work you hardly notice a young man as he sits down next to
you at Table 5. But when he apologizes for making a cell phone call, you think here’s a
rare one and thus starts a conversation.
Dylan Thomas Murphy he turns out to be: red haired, blue-eyed, strikingly
handsome, firm handshake, ex-baseball player. He asks if you go online from the café
and at once the generation gap yawns wide. No, you tell him, think of this old AirPort-
less Mac as a silent typewriter with unlimited white-out. It rarely talks to satellites. He
laughs and tells you about a techie buddy who took his computer and a homemade
surveillance device – one part of it an empty Pringles can – to Madison Square Park on a
sunny noontime and hacked into the laptops of the folks on the nearby benches tapping
into the open signal there.
How exactly his friend performed this feat Dylan doesn’t know. Nor do you
much care about the means, or even if this actually happened. Makes a good story.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 368
scheme. Dylan returns to his book, a thick tome about the great “they,” the Committee
of 300 elite arch-villains, who’ve chained up the planet and are draining the lifeblood
out of the US of A, and you go back to writing this.
• • •
p.m. – as gorgeous a day as one could imagine – the atmosphere as sweet as New
York gets. All around one can sense the hearts lightening.
Heading home you notice the Laboom “Te Amo” shop stands vacant and unlit
within. Et tu, Brute? One of those neighborhood fixtures that, though not entirely
beneficent, seemed eternal. Cupping your hands to the glass you can make out the
empty beverage coolers in the shadows toward the back. On a metal rack near the cash
register that once offered snack foods, a cleaned-out box of Drakes Cakes. A sheet of
paper taped to the inside of the window bears the NY State seal and attests that as of
March 2, the establishment owned by Issa Gazem was “in substantial compliance” with
all necessary regulations. So what happened? Rent jacked up? The place seemed well-
trafficked enough to make a go of it. But if the increase was into the stratosphere, who
knows? Chelsea is, of late, one of the more action-packed rings in the real estate circus.
The store always had a weird vibe, but after September 11 the clerks seemed
furtive and resentful by turns, as though they begrudged your buying anything there,
and you’re pretty sure this was not entirely your projection. Issa Gazem – was that the
name of the man you thought of as M. Laboom, the shortish, middle aged fellow you
often saw gazing out the window when you walked Gwen to school? When you caught
one another’s eye you’d wave, though your gestures always came up shy of friendly.
An unsold copy of the Post lies on the shelf behind the window: EVIL ERIC:
Olympic Bomber Suspect Nabbed. The accused terrorist stares out from beneath his
headline, indifferent to the woman in the yellow bikini his notoriety has nearly
squeezed off the front page. Next to the Post, incongruously, a yellowing copy of
Palestinian prime minister, face off across a column of type. A box above the masthead
advertises $899 fares to Israel. The writing’s all in Hebrew, so you look for the date on
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 369
else are you not seeing?
Fog then sun then rain then shine. Mountain weather on an island.
June 12 – Late Afternoon
Feels like you just bench-pressed an elephant. What you did was bang out a
rough draft of your Byrdcliffe piece. Your modes of living under this peculiar brand of
fascism is either of being possessed by manic bursts of activity, or losing your energy
altogether. And then there’s always the question begged: how much of a person’s state
reflects their situation, and how much the situation?
A stocky man in work clothes talking on a cell phone abruptly changes
pedestrian lanes and weaves into yours, so you have to downshift your legs to a lower
gear to avoid tripping over his heels. “Eight thousand BTUs of heat,” he shouts. “It’s
Attempt a bit of travel research at the mezzanine café of the Chelsea B&N.
Among the placid readers and laptoppers, a couple speaking Spanish-inflected New
Yorkese stages a loud conversation decrying the evils of bi-lingual education in the
public schools. “When I was growing up, they used to…” “Yeah, and we never…”
You move further down the line of tables, but their voices still carry. Better though –
you can’t hear distinct words, only the tonalities.
This morning on a bench in the Seal Park on Tenth Avenue, Jessamyn presented
you with an extraordinary gift: a pair of heavy, incised Tibetan chimes, strung together
on a leather thong. As you marveled over them, it started to rain harder, so you opened
your umbrella up and with the other hand, suspended the chimes, then allowed them to
strike together. Two hours on, and you can still hear the overtones. Of course you
can’t, but that’s the story you tell yourself. And then you notice that the anti-bilingual
couple has disappeared into the city.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 370
Late evening. The other boroughs got ‘em first, now it’s Manhattan’s turn – the
new WALK/DONT WALK signs. But no longer are these words, rather symbols
composed of multiple tiny lights. The proscriptive side of the dialectic is represented
by a bloodorange palm that flashes, then fixes in an unmistakable “Halt!” Signifying
“go” the simplified contour of a male pedestrian flares out of its box in a blue-white of
almost laser-like intensity. By night, The Walker seems trapped midway between street
and sky – an isolate cartoon constellation of everyman, unable either to come down to
earth or ascend any further. At whatever hour, if there is any humidity in the air at all –
and these days the atmosphere feels saturated – the Walker’s form appears painfully
Whether these new signals are the result of some intended municipal petty-
terrorism, or simply a lack of physiologic empathy for the already maxed-out urban
visual receptor you don’t know. And really, it matters little, the effect is the same. You
have to avoid looking directly at the signs, and particularly not at their multiple
iterations in perspective up or down an avenue. Trooping off toward a vanishing point,
the brilliant figures lose nothing of their harshness over distance. You can’t imagine
you’re the only one whose eyes feel assaulted. But no one’s mentioned it, so perhaps
you’re becoming neurasthenic in your middle age? Back in the day, hipsters and
junkies wore shades 24/7. Perhaps your time has come, daddy-o.
Mizzling rain opens up as you walk along 22nd Street. You catch a whiff of
burning, then hear the sirens. An engine turns left off 19th street and heads south.
At home, you write for a while, then hear more sirens and wake up still sitting at
your desk. In your dream you’ve been running, shouting with excitement: “We saved
the show! We saved the show!”
Construction like crazy all over the place. Down every street one or more
plywood-fronted lots: a sidewalk detour, cranes and dumpsters, broken-up pavement,
flood plains of mud, diluted concrete, you name it. A woman walks past the riot of
posters plastered over the post-no-bills signs. She’s wearing that wide-eyed cellphone
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 371
Dinner party last night at Teddy and Ladan’s. Pasta al dente, bottomless bowl of
green salad, wine in plenitude and spirited talk the table round. First thought on
waking: What a wonderful time!
E train uptown, an odd trinity of signs. Sitting to your left, a skinny, stoned-
looking young whitefella has devoted his entire inner left forearm to the display of a
gothic-lettered tattoo: Faith. Across from you, a young woman whose clothing and
affect advertise her deep commitment to becoming a Future Hottie of America. Over
the metaphorical region of the heart, her red sweatshirt bears a pink, glittery appliqué
of cupid surrounded by type: Hollywood Angels.
Your stop. Scan the ad to the left of the doors as you wait for them to part. A
crudely drawn little pink frock floats suspended from a hanger. Above it the words: “I
got all dressed up to look for him online.” And below: “Yahoo personals. Believe.”
• • •
p.m. Early evening of the Monday after a final weekend of sorting, packing and
dragging the thousand-and-oneth trash bag out of Wilma’s house, across the patio and
up the garden stairs to the vast pile accumulated beside the garage. Consequently, too
knackered despite more cerebral labors today, to subway down to the Poetry Walk
across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn. Would have been fun to share the view and
hear some Whitman, Frank O’Hara and who knows whom else, read aloud in the
company of friends and friendly strangers. Would’ve been lovely. But your legs only
carried you as far as the café to write this, add some few words to Orogene, and
celebrate your own small Bloom’s day.
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 372
On your way to Paul’s, you pick up a cup of coffee from a curbside stand. Burnt
taste, phew. Look at the white cup. Citi, the mega-financial services corporation whose
logo is a red arc, abstracted out and simplified, of the Traveler’s insurance umbrella –
has printed a message there. Before you pour out the bad joe, squeeze and release into
the trashcan, you read the slogan for whatever edification may inhere. “Hugs are on a
52-week high.” And then the tag-line: “Live Richly.”
• • •
Things you never knew. “USA Patriot” (as in USA Patriot Act) is an acronym for
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
Obstruct Terrorism. Amazing what language will admit to when tortured.
Rain again. Vancouver-on-Hudson. New York Post columnist Cindy Adams
blames our “weather of mass destruction” on Saddam.
On your way to the subway after dropping Gwen off at school, you pass the
former Laboom Te Amo. No apparent change within. An illustrated greeting card of
two bunnies still pasted to side of the cash register. Several crushed cigarette cartons,
and a heap of spiral-bound New York street atlases on the lower shelves by the
window. A few touristic souvenirs, one of which catches your eye – a life sized red
delicious-type apple ringed at its base by a miniature, blue-tinged cityscape, complete
with Statue of Liberty. Looks made out of wood. Carved by some industrial process, or
even by hand? Strange chromas, seems airbrushed. It’s lying on its side and partly
covered up by some paper detritus, so from this angle you can’t tell if it’s a before or
after apple. Such a bizarre little tchotchke you might’ve bought it if you’d noticed it
Subway car. What is the distance between Whitman’s Me imperturbe, standing at
ease in nature! and the hundred someodd rancid little souls jammed in here chilled by
the corporate exhale? Me, clueless, taking up as much space as I can.
These days, the only times you don’t feel yourself screaming inside is when you
hold Gwen’s hand. Lucky today. Got to walk her all the way to school under the
NOTES OF A NEW YORK SON 373
but actually just slacken your pace, drop back and watch her figure weave among the
comers and goers, forging imperturbably ahead. There’s something gallant in her
bearing, of going out to meet the world with a light and dignified spirit, no matter what
the circumstances. You recognize a quality her great grandfather Meyer had, and Bea
too, even at the end.
On the subway platform, two guys, more or less your age, both vaguely redolent
of the counterculture, stand close enough for you to overhear a snatch of dialogue
before the train rumbles in. “He’s a really nice guy who really cares about his
company.” Have the surviving relics of your generation had a collective lobotomy?
p.m. You’ve quit your “day job” – indefinite, doubtless infinite, leave of absence
from Goddard. Now starts the countdown: Europe for two months – the Grand Tour,
Daddy-O. And one day, maybe, you’ll get free of the jaws of the city and States. Thing
is, are you chewing your foot off or picking the lock?
Download 7.05 Mb.
Do'stlaringiz bilan baham:
ma'muriyatiga murojaat qiling