4.22.2010

Somewhere a magician is getting booed off stage

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It occasioned one night in early spring, he (who is not the aforementioned magician) decided not to go the theater, but to stay home instead. The weather was chilly and the film could wait until tomorrow. It hadn't occurred to him yet just how exactly he would occupy his evening, but his chores were numerous, among them: run speaker cable, finish reading magazine, remove pile of clothes from couch, unpack another box of books. Any one or two of these would form a productive, if not particularly story-worthy evening for our young man.

His girlfriend was admiring all the details of the night stroll, relishing, it seemed, being out of the apartment and away from the computer screen. A computer screen glowing incomplete homework into the darkness of her empty kitchen. The urgency of her homework made her abandon her plans to visit the theater, but it wouldn't interfere with her walk and all the inconsequential observances that beckoned. There was a warning taped to a bicycle rack, newspaper faces cutout and pasted on a window, a dolls head in a shrine, printed dinner ware in the style of entomology, a pencil portrait of a wrestler who may or may not be famous though nobody present knew, and numerous other things it would be a shame not to notice.

* * *

"Let's walk to Dolores," she said.
"Ok," he replied, realizing that she probably wasn't all that interested in the dream he was recounting for her, though she politely pretended to be at least. This convenient extension to the walk would give him time to finish the retelling without skimping on the elaborations. Dreams, after all, aren't about what happened but what seemed to be happening. This, of course, requires quite a lot more explanation.

"...because the camera was automatic, you see? This made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt, this doesn't make any sense now, but, at the time, that I was the murderer, I don't know why, but I knew it and the investigator knew it, but he didn't show like he knew it, he kept being casual, smiling, not letting on, but I knew that he knew and I knew I was fucked because all of a sudden everything that didn't make any sense, like that guitar plug in my room, and a whole lot of other random things, pointed invariably to my guilt. And I had no alibi I realized. I didn't even know anyone in the house. You know? Then when I realized how complete the evidence was against me that when I started to doubt my own innocence and my memory, maybe this was actually my camera, and that was the really scary part. So I asked the people who owned the house where the party was if they knew everyone at the party and they said no way, there was tons of people here..."

"Let's go back."

"We just got to the park."

"It's cold. Let's go back."

"Of course, it was a huge party, they didn't know everyone, so I asked if they knew anyone there that was acting strange. I just needed anything. Well there is Harry and Sex. Harry and Sex? Harry and Sex. Harry and Sex? Yes, Harry and Sex. They told me that they were a dark couple that constantly dared each other to do more and..."

"I want to look at that chicken."

"Chicken?"

"Back there."

He turned and behind them about thirty yards, centered on the path they had just been walking along, sat what in the dark appeared to be a very white hen. She walked back towards it. He followed. She walked right up to it and squatted less than a foot away. It didn't move at all. She reached out to touch it as if that was the most natural thing to do, to reach out and pet a chicken, which was actually not a chicken at all, but a pure white dove, that was sitting in a park at night in the center of the city. It took a step away from her. She took a step forward and reached towards it again. It took a step away. This simple dance continued for ten minutes. She followed (or chased) the dove off the path and down the grassy slope. He watched, amused. An encampment of homeless men with shopping carts sat under a grove of trees and also watched, presumably amused as well.

Eventually she desisted. And, smiling, returned up the slope to where he stood. Whether she had hoped to capture the bird, simply touch it, or engage in this simple gameplay, was unclear to him.

"Did you touch it?"

"Yeah."

Now, immediately after this, the narrative gravity of this encounter struck each of them as overwhelming. They could not bring ourselves to leave the bird. It was evidently incapable of flight, though not clearly wounded. It seemed, undoubtably, to be a gift or an omen or a symbol or something they could not name handed to them and to them alone. And where could such a creature come from but from heaven? They settled to please the gods they must catch the bird and nurse it back to health. Besides, the homeless men might kill and eat it.

Without much difficulty he subdued the bird. It didn't struggle much, and soon acquiesced to the cage of his grasp. No one paid any mind to the boy carrying a dove down the sidewalk.

"Maybe it was a magicians and it escaped."

"Probably."

She emptied out a couple of crates, which they used for a cage. They made a cup out of paper in which they placed some bread crumbs and sunflower seeds. They gave it some water in the cut off seat of a plastic bottle. It never struggled, but moved to the far corner of the crate and watched them.

They named it Harry Houdini.

11.25.2009

Try living with slow internet and monitor what that does to your interest in your e-lifestyle.

10.09.2009

Neighbors

The haunts of this complex are vaporous and strange. Shaggy-haired, sad faced young men with Casios behind closed doors, a glance in the doorcrack, tangled wires and a mass of dirty clothes. There are painters of indiscriminate paintings sweeping dusty footsteps from the stairs, saying not a word, whispering secrets to golden furred cats. Eccentrics, hoarders, lunatics (probable), lesbians tattooed and pierced, and others. Live here.


The grey ghost himself, walking the halls at all hours appears. At three o’clock in the morning, I awake to see you out (fearful of the night, when you’re alone in it) we passed him on the stairs, tall, solitary figure dressed in black; gray curls curtaining the grey gaunt face; the cat with golden furs and the saddest eyes silently submits to a twilight scolding. His ex-wife perhaps, a lost love, tragedy clothed in fur and clutched close to the heart; a spell of unspeakable power was cast.

San Francisco, this is your beating heart. These lonesome souls, frozen in midstep, crossing the street. The countdown on the street outside, on 6th street, skid row, the most poignant art ever created by mechanical failure. The crosswalk sign counting down from one to zero, from zero to one, from one to zero. No sign of direction. Does it count up or down?

As I cross the street, passing confused German tourists wary to step out when the light might at any moment change to red, I imagine all these fallen bodies propped in sleeping bags against blackened brick walls, huddled above sewer grates, are crossing the street, and time freezes before they get across. I imagine they are stuck like figures in a broken tape flickering on a TV screen that no one will turn off. 1-0-1-0-1-0-1-0-1-0-1-0-1-0-

6.30.2009

Mr. Rat, you are the virus that plagues this town.

He recognized me, though I can’t imagine how. It was over a month ago that he pulled that scam. Now he’s limping downtown among the throng. It’s gay pride weekend and people have gathered to show their support in the streets of San Francisco. Butterfly wings, rainbow socks galore. On nights like these I realize, “Dude you’re in f****** San Francisco, man!” I’m listening to noise in my headphones and laughing at everything, walking past Old Navy, past the Gap at Powell and Market whose window is adorned with a rainbow pattern of colored Tees.  Tonight, I’m the tourist of the tourists. Hehe. Going nowhere in particular, watching all these people watching things. I’m chewing on a popsicle stick.


He passes me going the other direction. I know it is him. He’s got the same stupid fake limp, and the same stupid scab, and the same stupid crummy suit, and the same stupid mustache, and the same stupid helpless expression on his stupid motherf****** face. I loathe him. He is a cockroach. I want to crush him with the heel of my boots. I want to boil him in oil. I want to pour him down the sink and grind him to little bits in the disposal. Such is my hatred for this man. This vile vulture.

I turn around and follow him to see if he will try his scam tonight. I hope does. That will be my moment. I’ll interrupt him and demand my money. No, I’ll play along, I’ll ask him all sorts of questions. No, I’ll just glare at him, freak him out a bit. He turns his head and looks straight at me. He recognizes me. He recognizes me? Impossible. I tail him through the crowd, keeping a comfortable distance, he darts across Market St. on a red light, so do I. He weaves through the crowd, almost jogging, so do I. My eyes are fixed on him, I’m trying to turn my vision into laser beams to sever his spinal cord. He turns North into the tenderloin, where emaciated black men sit in lawn chairs at street corners, and loose woman in loose clothing haven’t bathed in weeks, offer themselves, where every brick, every crack smells like piss and spilt booze. I catch him at a red light, act casual, but make sure he knows I know, he turns and dashes across the street just before the light changes. I follow him parallel on the other side. He ducks into a corner store to buy a forty with his ill-gotten gains. I wait, lean against a pole, glare at him in line. Turn my popsicle stick in my mouth. I’m a badass, I can tear this motherf****** to pieces. You filth. You trash. You vermin. You are the sickness of this city. You are the virus, the cancer, the raw canker sore under my tongue. I won’t tear him to pieces. I will glare at him, because I am not the kind of person to tear another person to pieces. But right now I wish I was. I want him to think that I am. I hope he is scared. Or at least a little nervous. He exits and sees me waiting for him. He definitely notices. He definitely tries not to show that he notices. He walks even faster, carrying the little black plastic bag of liquid escapism. Maybe he’s a drug head. Could be this is where he scores his H. All those tourists who didn’t know any better, thought they were gaining karma points, supporting this asshole’s habit. I keep following him, shooting lasers into his skull. Deadly, death ray lasers. From my eyeballs.

He turns down the filthiest, most god-forsaken, street in the whole city. Flesh rotten zombies troll these sidewalks day and night. Half-naked, putrid individuals holing up in half way houses and mangy rat hotels and gutters. Ha. He lives on Sixth Street. We’re practically neighbors. He gets lost in the mob. I lose interest and go home.

5.28.2009

Missing You

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