Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey Tim from St. Louis, This One's for You

This week, a lot of information was passed down from the Universe. Sometimes your job is to sift, stir well, and respond. Sometimes your job is just to listen. This post is sort of a combination of both. (Which, by the way, is what I have decided a blog is. Mostly.) So, here are all the things I am trying to make sense of this week:

--J.D. Salinger died. This is a tragedy.

--People at the market wondered whether Salinger wrote anything else. If, say, there were stacks of manuscripts tucked away in safe deposit boxes. People wondered if there was nothing.

--I saw in the bookstore that Knopf has published a collection of Nabokov's note cards, called The Original of Laura, which would have turned into a novel, maybe, at some point, had he lived long enough to finish it. He wanted the notes to be burned, but his wife, as the story goes, "could not bear to destroy her husband’s last work." Could not bear to see her future royalties disappear, if you ask me. Or maybe that is harsh. But art is personal. And me, at least now, I wouldn't want any half-done art in the world after I have died.

--An unfinished Ralph Ellison novel has also been published, Three Days Before the Shooting. Juneteenth, which was published earlier, was culled from this same material.

--My friend Jane wonders, in this post, if writers "become better and better at considering [their] audience not purely out of generosity or thoughtfulness, but as a strategy for getting what [they] want?"

--But there is my dear Meg, in videos of old Circus Amok shows, which are hosted on the Hempispheric Institute's website, streaming, for all to see, enjoy, study, relive. Even though she died some years ago--there she is, real again, her movements and gestures, her stature, her economy.

--Is seeing Meg on video anything like the Nabokov note cards? Or the Ellison novel? Or Jane wondering if writer's get better at getting what they want as they become better writers? Because what does it mean that these novels are published after the writer, ostensibly, isn't in control of what he wants?

Help. I'm not sure what to make of it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Saturday, for me, was one of those days when I don't have patience for anything. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me--the customers were perfectly tolerable, the weather was bright and unseasonably warmish, the day went by without incident. But somewhere, my molecules were out of order, shifted perhaps. Uncertain. This feeling has continued through the days, and I've decided that the only way to shake it is to clean out the closets. Literally. Or maybe figuratively. Both?

Jennifer said today on the phone, "That sounds awful, reliving every past moment with every old piece of clothing." But I feel the opposite. It frees me. I feel released from the promise to hold that memory forever. I feel released from the need to carry around the object that contains the history. The old, the unwanted, the style-less--notice that I didn't say unfashionable, and note the difference--will go either to the Salvation Army, or to the Greenmarket's textile recycling program.

The Get-Rid-Ofs:
--The Tommy Hilfiger plaid button-down that I wore every other day when Meg and I went to London. I wore it underneath the hand-altered sweater that Becky made for me when she was at RISD, which I am keeping.
--The woven white Oxford that I wore to Meg's memorial service.
--The Club Monaco striped thing which I wore only once, to a few compliments, I think, but which now strikes me as unlovable.
--The handmade, very expensive shirt that I wore to Amanda's wedding dinner. It was always too big for me, and looked a bit sloppy, but back then I didn't know better.
--Shorts, shorts and shorts.

The Keeps:
--The REI anorak that I wore every day in Iceland. It was lost for a few years, living inside an old coat that I never wear--like Jack Twist's shirt was folded inside Ennis Del Mar's. It might find a new life.
--The English Laundry shirt from a few years ago, before they went all too-too. Anybody have solutions to a little yellow around the collar? Bodies betray us, there, I said it.
--The train conductor's cap which was handed down to NYU by the costume department of the musical "The Capeman." Andrea thought I should have it, and I still do.

The Uncertains:
--The fabulous vintage Wrangler shirt bought from eBay for only $5.00, but which I can barely fit into now. Create a new, thinner you? Or accept the you that is now?
--The insane Edwardian overcoat, which fits me beautifully, but, like, can I work it?
--Some AMOK costumes that I've worn over the years. They are flawless, singular pieces. But do I need one more bit of frippery?

Next week, the chest of drawers.....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Warnings: Poems

I have a new book of poems!!

Warnings is a limited-edition chapbook of thirteen poems. Vietnam, the Staten Island Ferry, Berry Avenue, Passolini, Plath, Swedish Fish and more....

With a cover by David Bivins!

Click here to buy the book.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Evening

Mario and I sat at the Gray Dog on University this evening and drank tea while we talked about lemon cookbooks, citrus cookbooks, his sister, his niece, my nephews, cooking, romance, books, writers, tops, bottoms, Daddys, the problem with Daddys, and on and on. Also about how it takes a certain person who can tell you a certain thing, and other people can tell it to you, but you don't hear it unless it comes from that person.

Then we walked over to find the new Comme de Garcons Black store, (which is on 10th Avenue and 17th Street if you're looking.) They have about 50 pieces of clothing, all blacks and some whites mixed in. The men's section has fewer pieces, but they are all fabulous--if you are the kind of person who can wear that stuff, which I am not. (Though I really loved these flannel overdyed things which are right out of the future and also the now, know what I mean? Mario tried on an insane pair of dropped-crotch pants and we discussed how one could wear them. The salespeople, two of them, both adorably hip and skinny, helped describe how someone would wear these pants--how they were dress down-able, or up-able. How the wool has a certain sheen so it's "you know, more," she said.

Mario, who was my boyfriend once, talked with them about the clothes for a few minutes. I was reminded what it was like dating him--how this whole other language came out when he started talking clothes with other clothes people and how it made perfect sense to those who were speaking it. I've always been fascinated by inner-circle talk--the industry chatter of lighting designers, chefs, hairstylists, mechanics, piano players. All that stuff.

Then we walked down 10th Avenue to find Chef Morimoto standing on the sidewalk in a t-shirt and sweats, talking to a woman. Then we walked across the street to the new Colicchio and Sons (formerly CraftSteak) to look at the menu. It looked exciting--no more $100 steaks that no one is buying--more home cookin' with a few surprises, big flavors and classics shifted a bit. And then there was Tom himself, standing inside in his chef's coat, talking to some staff. The hostess stood watching us through the window, and I felt like if I had made eye contact, she'd have beckoned us inside and we'd have wined (or beer'd, as there is a whole new "Tap Room" menu as well) and dined ourselves silly. We didn't, but knowing that we could have--that was enough.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Two Things

I'm not really a skier. Too much equipment, too much boots and poles and gloves. Too many layers. I like all the things that surround skiing. The whooshing sounds the other skiers make in the powder. The slow, swaying ascent to the top of the lifts. The warm fires in the lodge--though I've really only been skiing in places where the lodge looks like a cafeteria. I like the way your body feels spent and accomplished at the end of the day, and the hot shower that accompanies the exhaustion when you arrive back home. The Frito-Chili Pie that you eat to replenish the energy that you spent, the wine you drink and the champagne bottle you put out on the porch to chill and forget to open.

But the skiing itself--ostensibly the point--is another story. I'm scared of it. I'm afraid that if I start down the hill then I'll never stop. I'm afraid of the uncertain motions that the earth feels like its making underneath you. I don't like that the green circle trails at one mountain have no resemblance to the green circle trails on other mountains, and that you don't get to see the elevation changes in the trails when you study the map they give you. I don't like that your friends tell you that you can "do it," and you believe them, and then you nearly expire of frigid disbelief in what your body can accomplish on its own.

I think to really enjoy skiing, you have to be a little bit outside of your body, or, rather, you get the most benefit, the most pleasure from the skiing experience when you are willing to let go enough that you feel like you're flying. You want it to feel effortless. And so, paradoxically, in order to feel those real moments of effortlessness, you have to really be grounded in your body--you have to let your body make thousands of tiny movements and adjustments as fast as your body can make them. The movements have to be totally instinctual, unconscious.

Earlier this week, while I was at the top of the second section of a blue square trail--Fox Tail at Mountain Creek, in Vernon, New Jersey--I started thinking that maybe the only way to be outside of your body, is to really become it.

The B61 bus is now the B62. Well, actually, they have split the line into two lines--the B61 now runs from Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn, and the B62 runs from Downtown Brooklyn to Long Island City. Apparently, the Red Hook section of the line kept making the buses late, and then they would all stack up and make for a line of five or six buses all hitting a single stop at once. Or, they would all sit around at stops waiting to get back on schedule--and this makes the riders late.

I'm not sure where a person finds out about this before it happens. I found out when I was standing on Bedford and South 4th Street and the B62 arrived, which was a bus I'd never heard of. And I take buses a lot. There was a sign inside the bus that explained their thinking. I'm on board with this--ON BOARD, get it!--but I'm curious to see if it actually changes anything about how long it takes to get from one end of town to another, or if it actually makes the buses less late. What they should really do is stop that dumb curb installation at the intersection of Classon and Flushing Avenue--THAT'S why the bus uptown from there is always so dang late, because to squeeze all those lanes of traffic into the one within a single block is absurd. But I know why they do what they do. They do studies, right?

All this is to say: changes are happening.