Thursday, August 19, 2004

I am here. I now live in NYC. Flew into LaGuardia yesterday around 3:30 pm. Lucy dropped me off and it was heartbreaking. That all I can say. Heartbreaking. I don't mean to underplay the emotional aspect of it but I don't think I've quite processed it yet. At LGA, I picked up my bag and my luggage claim ticket wasn't checked. Welcome to NYC. Into a cab driven by a man who spoke into a dangling cellphone mike; his voice/language was melodious, and so was the language/voice of the woman on the other end. I spent a few minutes imagining that the other voice is his wife, and he's so smitten with her that he must spend every minute of the day talking to her. In reality, it's probably his lawyer trying to get his out of a pedophilia charge. But, hell, the whole conversation possessed a mellifluous tone so what do I care, right?

The entire contents of my old apartment were/was here when I climbed the four flights to my new place: the movers had come earlier that afternoon, at least a week before their estimated delivery time so Jason had to oversee the whole move. He's a good, contentious fellow so I knew he'd make sure all was correct; however, I hate shunting that kind of stuff off on other people. It couldn't be helped by the eager drawing table-wrecking, picture glass-breaking, chest of drawer-denting movers at MiniMoves. Upon arriving, I got the bookcases in the proper position in the proper room; boxes were shifted and organized, the bedframe was snapped together, and the mattress and box spring tossed upon it. Then Alex arrived and he and Jason sipped some bourbon and had a few squares while I showered.

The doorbell rang and--as we were expecting Alex's wife and her sister--we sent Alex down. Luckily, it turned out to be the UPS guy with the box of extra crap I had sent myself from Chicago so Alex was stuck with carrying that back up four flights of stairs. Ah, that was terrific.

After Katie and Julie arrived--and after we had a few more cocktails--we made our way over to El Boqueron. Heather was there, sipping a glass of white wine, and after some chit chat we began a meal of epic proportions. Dozens of plates of tapas, four pitches of sangria, two entrees--a seafood combo in green sauce and filet mignon--consumed by six upright jackals. Jason has taken me to El Boqueron every single time I've hit the city and each meal is exponentially better than the last. In fact, each course keeps getting better than the previous's like you're climbing to the moon on food at this place.

Up early this morning and began the unpacking and organization of the boxes of books which constituted the majority of my good moved. I culled the hell out of the books--casting off probably 50 pounds of various paperbacks--but I couldn't lose any of the art books. Any reading book I have I can most likely find again at the library or by sifting through used books online; but the art books tend to be one of a kind thing, catalogs from various exhibitions that soon go out of print when the show closes. I can't get rid of them. So they're unpack and ordered, as are the CDs. Also, the clothes unboxed, shelved and hanged.

Jason took me out for a quick walking tour of the neighborhood, pointing out butcher shops, dollar stores, fish markets, laundries, fruit stands, bodegas, etc.; damn, it's fine having a tour guide who's lived in the neighborhood for seven or eight years. This mode of shopping will take some getting used to, certainly. Living only two blocks from a Trader Joe's spoiled me I've got actually hustle up some food. Though, I guess I walked a fair spot most days for my daily needs.

After the walking tour, we stopped in the Bistro 311 for some unbelievably good and mind-meltingly cheap lunch. I got a spicy seafood soup with a seaweed salad...both profoundly delicious...and that was less than $10 total. In fact, the most expensive thing we ordered was the dessert, a banana crepe with vanilla ice cream for $5. Unbelievable.

Jason left for work and I finally plowed through the remained of the boxes and then walked out to the aforementioned stores and got some groceries.

I should probably talk about Tuesday, my last night in Chicago. It was spend with Leah, Marlene and Baby. I can fairly say they were the core of my family in Chicago. Leah invited us over to the SuperLoft for a round of drinks and appetizers before Marlene and Baby and I split off for a meal at Wishbone. (Leah and FK were going to see Diana Krall at the Auditorium.) We sat of the roof and talked and watched a lightning storm roll in from the south, and the storm was preceded by, oddly, a plague of potato bugs; they were crawling all over our shirt, getting snagged in our hair. (I am sure that's not the right name for them--potato bugs--but that's what my mom called them when I was a kid; however, I secretly categorized them as green ladybugs since they're about the same size, though more streamline, and display black lines instead of dots.) Inside, the tomato and mozzarella was server, the tomatoes courtesy of one of the painters working on the SuperLoft. As we milled about, I could see a huge fire burning directly north of us somewhere in the city; I found out later that it was a fire to a house in Lincoln Park, on Wilton, which shut down the Brown/Red lines for a few hours. Anyway, Lucy was our waitress and we were a bit stuffed from Leah's appetizers, so we ordered light (if that's possible at Wishbone) and downed everything with a few glasses of champagne. Afterward, was an slightly emotional goodbye with Marlene and Baby in front of the building. Marlene was the heart of Chicago for me, the one person who defined love and hospitality and comfort.

I had breakfast with Leah and Lucy. Lucy was in good form, charming and funny and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Okay...Saturday the 14th was brilliant, sunny but cool with no humidity. Dropped in at Zg Gallery to pick up a check for the three drawings they sold. Then a brisk walk along Chicago until a bus came which whisked me to the Blue Line at Milwaukee; I ran down two stairs at a time to catch a train that was just pulling into the station. Train over to Marlene's for a ride to King Bobby's Beach Birthday Party at Montrose Harbor.

Marlene filled a cooler with cooked hotdogs and then filled the cooler with boiling water so the dogs would stay hot until we ate; they were room temperature by the time the enbunned them and decorated them at the beach. (I went back for a second dog and it was cold. But I still ate it because, dammit, one dog is never enough.) Several hours of silliness follow, fueled by the drinking a good deal of sangria. Bobby and his cousin, Elliot, tried to capture sea gulls; then so did Ed a few hours later. By the end of the afternoon, I was drunk, sunburned, and everyone was feeding the remaining picnic food to the gulls. Then Baby gave me a ride home to the cavernous loft. Jennymack came over a few hours later for a final visit.

Sunday, Lucy called me at 8 am. She was set in hummingbird mode: she'd heard back from a prof at the school to which she's applying for grad...and the--the art dept--doesn't place much importance on GREs. And Lucy had been killing herself over studying, the dread of doing poorly on the tests, etc. So, of course, we had to shop. I loafed about on Michigan Avenue just soaking in faces and body-types while she picked through the sales racks. Carmel was over to watch the sunset, then ferry me up to the old place on Ravenswood to pick up me old tv, which I benevolently donated to her.

Monday: Hectic. Up early to work on some branding/identity design stuff for Leah. Then I had to run out for my last coffee with Lisa; heartbreaking because she is really one of my favorite people I've met in Chicago. Just fucking bright and funny and good. Monday night it was dinner with Lucy at Grizzly's: she ostrich burger, me catfish sandwich. Then a final drinking at the Ten Cat where I ran into Ed, his girlfriend Jessica, and other alternative friends.

Man, I just don't feel comfortable with this journal thing yet. I don't write this, normally, and I certainly don't talk like this. I feel like I'm spending too much time just making rote lists of what I did without infusing them with any of the specific memories or excitements of the particular events. Huh

So that's it. Out of the apartment now...haven't spend a night there in over a week. A week ago Saturday, back in Indianapolis to visit mom and drop T off; the a quick flight home to Chicago and down to the Loop to stay with Leah and FK in their fabulous, gigantic loft. The "whoa" I let drop when I first saw this place far outperforms any monosyllable ever uttered by Keanu Reeves. Gorgeous place, high ceilings with swings depending from them.

(Leah and FK live right across from where Oprah films her show. So that means I'm currently living right across the street from where Oprah films her show. It's funny: she comes out every morning at six a.m. and eats an entire honey-baked ham for the gathered crowd. She doesn't say a word, doesn't even acknowledge the fans with a single glance or nearly imperceptible nod...she just walks out, consumes the gristly, glistening meat with mighty, jaw-cracking gulps and goes right back in the building. It's magic.)

Anyway, the trip to Indianapolis was the usual unexciting visit. I love my mom, and love spending time with her--more so since her husband died back in April--but the town just wipes me out. There are two things to do in Indy: watch tv and go to Half-Priced Books. I fill the rest of the time by climbing into mom's maroon Buick drive and motoring through old neighborhoods that once had some emotional/sentimental significance to me during the first 24 year I lived in that quaint berg. But it evokes...nothing. Deadness. I guess I keep hoping that it will evoke something, lead to some kind of revelation about life. But...nothing.

T made the transition to Indianapolis quite nicely; she (T) will spend the remainder of her days in carpeted, meticulously vacuumed luxury, spoiled rotten by mom. It was hard to break off that relationship, far harder than it's been to break things off with actual, erect-walking people. I just finished reading Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and the whole last 20 pages of the book concerned the death of a dog shared by the main characters. Devastating and not exactly what I wanted to read a week after ditching my 13 year old dog after 12 years of companionship.

Wednesday, I flew back and packed up the remainder of my clothes in to a medium sized suitcase; Lucy gave me a ride down to Leah and FK's. Thursday up early and caught the Northwestern Line to Woodstock, IL to visit the newly purchased studio of an old teacher from college, Bobby Joe. Man, it's a fucking haul to get out there...1 1/2 hours but riding the train is so hypnotic and plus I managed to finish Knut Hamsun's Pan. I just wouldn't want to make that commute more than once every seven years.

Bobby Joe: good guy. I can't say he had much of an impact on me, artistically speaking, but he had a real gift from exposing his students to all kinds of literature, music, movies, etc. But he did it in a way that wasn't preachy or snobbish or anything like that. He turned me onto the Henry Miller's Rosy Crucifixion Trilogy, Knut Hamsun (see above), the eels, Rotari sparkling wine...and, hell, I don't know. Plenty of other things I'm sure. So, certainly, his impact as an instructor is there in term of developing an aesthetic.

Anyway, Bobby and his wife, Fran, have purchased a former seafood wholesaling warehouse, a big yellow barn-looking thing just a few blocks off the main square in Woodstock. The whole bottom floor will be converted into his studio; the upper floors--former offices--are now their living quarters. It's got a good sized parking lot as's precisely the kind of space he's been looking for since I first sat in his class in 1996. I couldn't be happier for him.

Bobby had invited a fellow wino, Jimmy, and we all sat down for a few hours of drinking wine, bullshitting, and eating: lamb chops with potatoes and green beans. We managed to down three bottles of wine and I was nicely flying when I staggered back to the train depot to catch the 5:30 back to the city. From the Ogilvie Station, I staggered over to Wishbone to have a martini visit Lucy.

Friday: back to the old apartment to clean out a few remaining things and then down to Millenium Park to examine Cloud Gate, the new piece of public art by Anish Kapoor. It's also known--probably for the rest of it's existence--as the Bean, owing to it's kidney bean shape. I have to say it's an excellent piece of public art. Huge, with a beautiful, polished mirrored surface that reflects not only the skyline but all of the people flocking around it--think of a giant ovoid drop of frozen mercury. I stood there and slowly circled it during about a ten minute period and I couldn't believe the intense scrutiny it was getting from the tourists. They loved it, flocked to it, rubbed it, took pictures of their reflections in it. Most public art is either ignored, sat upon, or deface by the public but Cloud Gate is simply stunning and impossible to ignore. (I wonder how long it will take to the scratchiti "artists" to tag it. Man, I love chubby little line-bearded fuckers that confuse vandalism for art.)

I also took a squint at the other big piece of public art, the video fountains. Meh. I don't know the proper name to the piece, nor the name of the artist (he's Spanish I think), but the work...again, meh. It's consists of two huge rectangular monoliths set at either end of a large, stone square. A thin sheet of water cascades down the each face of the monolith. Set into the monoliths (behind glass blocks I'm guessing) are huge video monitors: the two side of the monoliths that face each show giant, smiling faces. Occasionally, these projected faces puff up their cheeks and a jet of water shoots out from their "mouths" on to the kids playing below. The faces--in a brilliant blow for multiculturalism--are white, yellow, black, brown, old, young, male, female, etc. Wow. It's essentially a water park--admittedly a well designed and very popular one--but public art? Man, that's jumping across the art fence at it's lowest point...

Then to the Art Institute to the the Seurat show. Wow, was that boring. Holy crap. I think La Grand Jatte is an excellent painting...but it's on display every single day at the Art Institute and it's not enough around which to base an entire show. A Seurat retrospective, yes, but one Seurat painting? No. It was just a weak, watery show which they tried to amp up with some video presentations about color theory, the stages in which Seurat completes the work over the course of several years, and one video that just essentially zoomed on various parts of the painting so you could see how these areas went from a visually knitted study to a patchwork of random dots. (Remember the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when they go to the Institute? Cameron (Alan Ruck) just stares into the face of the little girl who is staring out of the picture plane, and the camera keeps zooming in and zooming in? They recreate that shot exactly. So you know it's a bad exhibition when they're pinching directly from John Hughes.) To make it worse, they had to trot out the obligatory roomful of Renoirs and Monets. Jesus, I get sick of that crap. I LIKE the Impressionist but the Art Institute has been cramming a yearly Impressionist show down the public's collective throat since the hit it big with Monet in 1995. I understand these show are cash cows for Institute; but I also feel they've got a moral responsibility--as perhaps the largest and most influential cultural institution in the city--to challenge the public and to introduce them to more than art from 1850-1906. Christ, when I think of all of the brilliant shows that have passed through NYC, Boston, LA--Beckmann, Pollack, Picasso/Matisse, you name it--when I think of all that we've missed, it chokes me. I'll give them props (as the kids say) for bringing in Gerhard Richter in 2002 (?), and the Ivan Albright show in 1996...but that does very little to unbalance the Renoir, Degas, Manet and the Sea (another stinker), and the Impressionist Decorative Arts exhibition. I mean, are you fucking kidding me?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Saturday: took apart that entertainment system thing I've been toting around from house to house since 1979; I am not kidding--I went through some old pictures when I was last at mom's and found a picture of me in my Incredible Hulk jammies standing in front of that entertainment system. I mean, I still wear my Hulk jammies but I was a lot smaller in that photo. Clean the floor behind the entertainment system...I hate to admit this but I can't remember the last time I cleaned behind there. I think I did it once several years ago...but I've been living in this apartment since 1998 so it was NASTY behind there. I won't go into the details but it's all clean now.

A quick ride downtown to the Harold Washington Library to check out Zola's Belly of Paris. Then over to Wishbone for a quick Lucy visit--she's so adorable when waitressing. Then off to Zg Gallery to let them know I'm leaving town. I saw some biker get totally pasted by a pickup truck on the bike path just as soon as I arrived at the park; he was faultless--had the right of way, was firmly on the bike path but the truck cut right in front of him and creamed him. He was down, writhing and moaning--no blood or nothing but that truck clocked him good and he was alternately clutching at his right hip and his left hand. The good thing was that at least three people had stopped and called 911 from their cell phones within seconds. I stopped but there wasn't much I could I scooped his bike up out of the road and set it off to the side, right near him. I told him where his bike was and then wished him well---I kind of felt like an ass for just leaving but, really, I couldn't do much else and there was a small crowd there who'd wait with him until the ambulance came.

Saturday night: I watched "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!", the second in the Sidney Poiter/Virgil Tibbs trilogy. It was a weird movie--very corny. I couldn't tell if the movie just hadn't aged well and, as a result, the dated acting/directing style of the movie made it corny...or if it was just corny at the time and still continues to be corny. There was a lot of acting to the camera which made me uncomfortable. For instance, two characters would be having a conversation and they would address you (the camera) as if you were the other character in the scene. It just didn't work because you couldn't see the reaction of the other, who wants to look at Martin Landau's big beetley eyebrows directly? Speaking of that, Martin Landau was a big ham as a activist preacher, and there was this weird subplot with Tibbs and his son, who he ends up smacking around a bit. Jesus, just a bad movie.

Sunday: Out with Sarah Ford. We were going to eat at Midori on Bryn Mawr but it didn't open until we went across the street to Tofu House, some Korean joint. Had me some good ass chicken soup (too bony, however) and Sarah Ford had some cold, spicy noodles. Afterward, a trip to American Science and Surplus, the last time I'll go, most likely. Stocked up on tiny stoppered vials--100 of those--and three of these little metal display boxes; each boxes contains 20 small metal containers with glass lids.

My goal with the vials: collect something from every place I travel. Something like soil (if it's attractive enough...Southwestern red dirt and whatnot) or pebbles or flowers or insects or sand or whatever. And--for places where I live--I'll try to grab something from a place that has a particular emotional resonance. For Chicago, it would be the breakwater at Montrose that faces the city, the dog beach, the stretch of Ravenswood between Montrose and Berteau where T and I have walked so many times. I possess these places internally, carry them with me in memories...I want to see if I can't somehow bring them along externally, in a pinch of their physical essence as well.

After that Sarah dropped me off back home, I did some more packing and washed T. Around 7:30 or so--I took T out for a walk along that stretch of Ravenswood between Montrose and Berteau. We found a squirrel skull (I think) and she found some foul dead something and tried to eat it. Fucking dog. Then a sit on the deck.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Biked home last night in record time. Record time, do you hear me? From Evanston to my place in just under 30 minutes. My body is starting to remember how I used to ride when I first moved up a full sprint the entire time. Speaking of riding when I first moved up here, I took the old bike, the Schwinn, in to get it tuned up and juiced up: I gave it to Lucy. It's been in the basement since August 2000, when I upgraded to the Trek; I rode Old Blue down to On The Route to get it fixed up and realized how tiny the frame is for me. I am not a big guy but that bike was wee. Goddamn wee, fit only for nymphs and leprechauns

This morning: good ride. A few weeks back, I'd given this Japancakes mix cd (an aborted member of the Obsession cds) to the red-haired girl behind the counter. I'd come in a few times when she was working and she was always playing something slightly obscure that I'd long liked (i.e. Mason Jennings) so I thought I could turn her on to the irritating beauty of Japancakes.

Work was deadly again today. A six hour teleconference with the publishers down in Florida. It was excruciating. I cannot wait to leave this place.

More packing tonight...more books, more clothes. Some kitchen stuff. It just never stops and I pack like Joyce must have, in a kind of stream of consciousness...I start in one room, walk into the other to grab something and then become absorbed in packing/tossing shit out in that room...then I find a old letter or a photo of a old girlfriend and I have to sit down and reminisce. Then I have to grab a glass of wine and watch TV a bit. Moving is my Ulysses.

Took my melatonin just a few minutes ago. It's starting to hit already...I want to catch another ten minutes of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; I'm not crazy about it but I'll watch just about any movie pre-1980 just to fill up the holes in my pop culture knowledge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Christ, it was hot this morning. Ride up to Evanston and arrive just awash in sweat. Got the swamp crotch for sure. I love going into the coffee shop, Liquid Cafe, to get my jumbo iced coffee and trying to be all flirty with the girl behind the counter while rills of sweat run down my nose and the body funky rolls off me like fog off Lake Michigan. I do like the girl, however...I think she's a track and field person. She's got that build...lean and muscular with a big strong ass and thighs. I think she could tear me apart like she'd tear apart a loaf of wet bread. And I think I'd like that.

Last night was uneventful. Worked on the cover to the last of the Obsession CDs. a mix of Japancakes (goddamn Japancakes) and the Bad Plus. Had to dig through the many already-packed boxes to find the book I wanted to scan something from--a Dover publication (goddamn Dover) filled with reproductions for old toy catalogs. Scanned it in and played with a type solution before I got completely bored and just went off to read the New Yorker. However, I finished it up and printed it out tonight. The obsession is banished. (Hah.)

Also, had to repack about ten of my boxes last night...I carefully read the contract from the movers and it said "Don't use duct tape"...and, of course, I'd used duct tape on many of the boxes. I can see the days since I taped them up, the duct tape had gotten all loose and saggy in the heat (like my grandma used to do) and didn't keep the boxes closed. Hey, I was on a packing roll and ran out of packing I used duct. So that was a joyful, cheerless grind. The ripping sound the tape-gun scares T and she slinks off to my room to hide....which is good, because that's the only place that has air conditioning. I leave it on all day with a thick, brown wool blanket pinned up across to the door so the coolth stays in and she can come and go as she pleases. But I get this odd sense that she basks in the smoldering crucible of the front room everyday. Not the brightest of dogs, that T.

Bought two plane tickets tonight. One from Indianapolis (i.e. "home") to Chicago--I am going back to spend some time with mom and drop T off to stay with her. (More on that in the next paragraph.) The other ticket is the FOR GOOD ticket, taking me away from Chicago to New York City FOR GOOD. Both tickets make me pass through Midway. Which is odd because I consider O'Hare to be THE Chicago airport. Total cost: something around $230.00. Not too shabby but I'd much rather not spend the money.

So about T: I have had T for twelve years--since early June of 1992--and I'm sending her off to spend the rest of her days with my mom. I hate to do it but Astoria is such a shitty place for a dog: a borough full of hot, dirty concrete, no grass, stunted trees. I remember harboring the same fears about bringing her up to Chicago in 1995...but Chicago is such a green city by comparison, and T and I have always managed to find some doubly green areas in our wanderings. These places smell like yellow and are full of rabbits and birds, wildflowers and tall, lithe weeds and it's enough to make us both think we're wandering through some fossil-studded creekbed in southern Indiana. But Astoria...ugh. Hard and cement-y. So I have only nine days left with T, plus the five I'm going to spend down in Indy. Man. Man. Whoa. Dammit.

No volleyball tonight: big storm blew through the area right around 5pm. Went to Bank One at lunch to see what kind of difficulties I'd have transferring my $$$ to a Chase Manhattan bank, since the two "merged"; the customer service people were completely useless, of course. So no resolution on that. Had a shitty lunch at the Phoenix Inn Chinese Restaurant in downtown Evanston. I generally cut Chinese food a lot of slack because but this place was ass. The food was room temperature, the staff bored shitless and inattentive. I guess that's my fault for coming in at 2:30 pm.

Managed to hack my way through a few stories in Metamorphoses today: seems like everyone either ends up getting turned into a tree, a flower, a fountain, a bird, or they're turned into stone somehow. What I like best about Metamorphoses is the lack of ethical behavior on the parts of both men and gods...both mortals and immortals behave in the worst possible manner. It's odd because we...okay, *I*...equate divinity with morality and these gods whore around, impregnate dozens of women with bastard children, kill people who mouth off; the female deities kill the mortal women who've slept with their immortal husband--whether they were cogent of the facts or not--or turn them into reptiles or whatever. It makes me wonder--since the Roman/Greek gods were so totally bereft of morals--where and how the Romans drew the line in their behavior. I am sure some brainiac out there can point me in the right direction...but I'm equally sure he's not reading this blog.

On the other hand, I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude again which is quite possibly The Best Book Ever.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"If spitefulness were riches, my Esquimaux Lover, you'd live in a preposterous igloo of gold...."

Rummy with Carmel last night at the Ten Cat. Two Woodchuck ciders and I got to overhear some Deadheads talking about music. Boy, the Deadheads sure are cute when they get to discussing that stuff.

After the Ten Cat, I had a few toots of wine and created the drawing to the back of the Preposterous Igloo cds; found an image of an Inuit girl that I used for reference. I've been obsessed with these cds for about six months now and--although I know their creation will alter nothing--I still feel somewhat slightly liberated for dispensing with that nagging urge; I still like to think that it will somehow effect something. I am a dreamer, however. I easily burned 10 different versions, and tore through another twenty or thirty written lists trying to get the right mix. This morning, I played hooky from work for a few hours and printed out the covers (Epson printers are ass), cut them down to size, scored and folded them, and place everything into the cd trays. Now I just wait for the book(s) and drop everything in the mail.

The obsession thing: it seems like I do more damage trying to ignore it or forget it. Seems best to channel it into something productive. Perhaps it's not healthy, but I do get some kind of tangible object out of it.

Bike's in the shop today. They're looking at the "cone body" or some thing like that. I guess you're supposed to downshift into an easier gear when you slow up but I tend to stand and crank in a higher gear when taking off from a stop, creating a greater torque and, hence, loosening the cone shaped assemblage of gears on the rear wheel over time. However, it just doesn't seem proper to start is a pussy gear, does it? Then I feel like one of those old guys wobbling around on bike with their green-striped tube socks pulled up to their patellas, white, veiny flesh translucent in the sunlight.

Faxed off moving contract to Mini Moves today. Yet another step taken in the process of leaving this town.

Back home on the train today. Ugh. Man, I sure hope there's a Cubs game! WOO FUCKING HOO DUDE!

Work. Is. Deadly. Today. I don't know how or why anyone stays at this place for more than a few months. Oh, wait...I'm not staying for more than a few months. Perfect.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Spent the last week culling shit from my life. I am moving you see. I got into grad school in NYC, the painting/drawing program of the School of Visual Arts. It's maybe not so much a step forward as it is a lateral step into a big, hot steaming pile of student loan debt. However, I'm looking forward to completely casting off this city. There's a forever a taint here from the Queen of Ropes. How glad I am to take in a few lung fulls of clean, big city air.

Big City Camp-a-rama was kind of a bust. The plan on Saturday was to motor
all of us about 10 miles up the Kankakee River to a restaurant right on the river
called Marti's place. It was a caravan (armada?) of three bass boats with Marlene,
me and her niece Jesse in the last boat. After about 30 minutes on the river we
hit a submerged rock/tree and knocked out the motor. Unfortunately, the other boats didn't notice we were behind them for about 10 we floated about a quarter mile downstream in the meantime. They had to tow us to the restaurant from that point and it took FOREVER. The restaurant was crappy, all red meat and fried food. Knowing better than to get the salad in a place like that (just think the Gobbler) I got the soup, corn chowder, which turned out to be more accurately described as pork chowder with a little garnishing of corn: it was a creamy soup with wads of bacon, ham, and smoked sausage in it.

Anyway, the Hoosier guys took off in their boats and let the big city folk stranded.
So twelve of us we had to cram into two cars. We got back to the farm and the Hoosier
guys hadn't showed up yet...turns out the boat that towed us up to the restaurant
ran out of gas (it was dark by now) and the remaining boat then had to tow THAT
boat back to the launching ramp. In the meantime, a friend of the family--a young
kid about 14 or so--was flying all over the property and ran his dirt bike into
a barbed wire fence in the dark. He was in surprisingly good shape for hitting a
barbed wire fence but he'd pulled down three posts and the family horse, Whiskey,
got out. So they had to capture the horse. By the time all of that was cleared up,
it was around 11 and the bonfire hadn't been started and they mood there was definitely sour so I left with Julie and her boyfriend, Jim, who'd been kind enough to give me a ride down. Didn't get back home until 1 am but I was glad to get out of there. I certainly felt we weren't welcome any longer.

The good part of the trip was spending so much time around Julie and Jim because
I had a real insight into the dynamic of the relationship. See, Jim is a father,
has a 19 year old son and a 15 year old, both boys, so he's wise in the ways of
dealing with teens. And Julie, in her loud behavior, is such the hyperactive teen--always pushing the boundaries, rebelling, mouthing off, etc. Jim handles it all with impeccable grace, ignoring Julie when she's trying too hard for attention, and shutting her down when she goes too far. My mistake was just battling her toe-to-toe on every single issue: never give an inch. It's really hilarious to watch the dance those two engage in. I certainly like him more now, and more power to him for coping with Julie--there are a lot of good qualities buried under that craziness.

I spent this morning with more packing. Studio's really cleaned out now, packed
up the winter clothes, sorted through videos, etc. Then I went to see Bukowski:
Born Into This at the Music Box. That corny, melodramatic organ-playing motherfucker was there. I love the tone of the MB with it's classic Spanish revival interior with the dreamy clouds floating on the ceiling...I even love the fact that it still has an organ set below stage left of the screen...but I CANNOT STAND the fucker that strokes that thing. Just over the top with it. The film was pretty entertaining. I've read almost all of Bukowski's novels when I was in school (and none of his poetry.) I like him but he doesn't knock me out; he was a miserable, lonely, frustrated hump and he wrote about that and I connected to it, being a miserable, lonely, frustrated hump myself at the time. Anyway, it's got a bunch of footage of him being all drunk and shit. Christ, he's ugly. His wives were ugly as well and his daughter is simply hideous. Bukowski wasn't bad but he's so connected to the tragic, drunken American writer/artist mythology (beebe drunkenly writes.) There's something compelling about Bukowski, certainly, but I've read mostly his novel, none of his poetry. However, the movie showed his poetry as being incredibly unpoetic, borderline prose broken into lines, no metaphor, etc. Snoozy, really. I can see how you'd be totally into his poetry--if you're 23 and a recent grad of the Art Institute and your girlfriend had just given you the clap. Otherwise, I gotta fall behind his novels.

Must sleep.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Today up to work on the bike. Mellow ride, saw two petrified dead baby birds on the street, smashed by passing cars. Makes me wonder what the mortality rate is if I saw two today. It's a wonder there are any birds at all, those miserable pecking little bastards.

Thin, tattooed guy at the coffee shop today. I like him, he's polite and efficient and there is no chit chat. AND he remembers my order--huge iced coffee with no room. I like that kind of efficiency. He gets my tips every time.

Work crawled by today. But I called to defer my loans for another month until school begins and called my contact for the moving company. So something magically positive came out of the grid.

Bike goes into On The Route again tonight. Same shifting just doesn't want to solidly stay in any of the lighter gears and keeps cycling through, especially when I stand to stroke really hard or go over some rough terrain.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

It's been a while...I'm going through one of those phases where I'd rather not sit down and catalog the hours as they pass. Ah, unemployment. I can feel the malaise creeping in already. Shit. Time to put the liquor away.

I've been making long lists of things to to, things that will keep my lazy ass busy so I don't start chewing my own leg off to get out of the iron foxtrap of too much free time. For the first time in my life, I don't want to float so idly. Yeah, I know...I'm art boy, right? I should be up at the crack of dawn, stiff paper on the table and watercolors moistened in their trays. Well, that's not the case. After years of trying to find a consistence routine of working, I've found it. And that routine involves not much more than a hour of work a day. Three at the most. Most of the time is spent just thinking about working, trying to clarify some ideas and it serves me best to have a little tension, some obligation that I pretend I don't want but secretly relish. It's a long, tedious process to get the ideas together for a body of work.

Been reading a bit about the psychology of memory. Fascinated by all of that, the manner in which we cobble together a narrative--and a sense of self even--out of the random stonepile of memory. The more I attempt to remember, the more the past seems so slick and I can only occasionally find purchase. It makes me a bit melancholy that so much time has passed and I can only remember bits of it...and even those only in the most general fashion. I know certain memories are tied to certain eras so to speak (the year in California, the dope smoking years in Indianapolis, college, etc.) but trying to order era-specific memories: impossible. The only solid purchase I have on time and ideas is in the drawings. I can pin that stuff down so specifically to a thought, a specific month. I guess that's why I bother with it.

Put in sometime yesterday with Gaylord's ideas for the alphabet book. Man, that's going to be a pain in the ass. But I want to accept the challenge. So I will. A charm of finches will be done by the end of January.