Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 02, 2009

If ...

I'm keeping a little list of some of the things I'm getting done in the city -- the classes I take, the shabby rough drafts I write in a month, the plays and museums I visit ("cobbling together" an education out of nothing -- to paraphrase the great Mamet). I want to assure myself I'm not wasting my time ... you take stock of that sort of thing at age 30.
It's also kind of expensive/tricky to live here. You don't want to fritter away your days, at these rates.
But I guess New York also feels a little dangerous. Not meaning "street crime." I mean, I'm naturally hyper-aware, I think, and see things, but am not afraid to the point of being preoccupied by it.
I'm thinking more of New York, the Target -- 9/11, etc. You're walking down the sidewalk and the big ticker in Times Square brightly warns you to stay out of the subways (last summer). This does not preoccupy me, either, but you do get the sense that ... I'm in a beautiful place of opportunity -- I need to use it and enjoy it. Now.
My co-worker has dreams of fires, and one of my best friends, in her darkly cheerful way, forwarded me a prophecy written by NYC Pastor David Wilkerson of FIRES impending, immediately ... Well, I'm always one for hoopla, so ... I'm not really preoccupied by this, either.
I am preoccupied, though, by the early Christians -- my fascination partly inspired, interestingly, by Buddism and Taoism -- simplicity. I like how the early Church, for the most part, was just Jesus -- relationships, sacrificial service and love. A crew that was hunted and killed, whose lives depended on each other.
I wish I had Googled this before I started writing, but there's a story of early Christians ENTERING a city ravaged by a plague, dying while they helped. So ... being in my right mind, and safely seated in the South Park Ave Kinkos, with a stomach full of turkey sandwich, I want to say if anything ever happens, ever, I want to be here. And to help. (Though I could see how it could also be helpful for me, Sara Harvey, to go, and get out of everyone's hair.) And to not pee myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New York Minutiae

I see a million interesting things, here, every day.

There's a open-air market in Union Square on the weekends, with vegetables and fall-decorations etc. I look over and, under a tree in the park, there's this squirrel clutching a decorative, dried ear of Indian corn. Theif! Dried stolen corn is so, so sweet.

There are so many actors, in New York, that I feel like if I walked into Grand Central Station at 5 p.m., or any crowded street corner and shouted "Zip!" I'd be barraged by "Zaps!" and "Zups."

It's hilarious when people start laughing, on the street, and get loud and boisterous in their own languages.

I'm noting what people read on the subways, and (discreetly) making notes in my Moleskine, @ what that book might say about them, as a character.

I have a sense of New York being a city of a billion windows -- the impression I got from the top of the Empire States Building. For some reason, walking alone on Park Ave. (alone among 8 million people), thinking about "1984," and about how one room represented individuality, freedom and connection for the hero. And how maybe, in a city with such a wealth of windows, there might be the possiblity of such a connection for me.

Espresso like blood -- warm. Thick, and taken from a living thing.

How you're right in the middle of writing down a thought, and you reach your subway stop, and you can't finish it. You can't just ignore your stop, because you'll end up down at the Brooklyn Bridge, and you'll be late for work. You close your notebook with a half-finished sentence, and hurry out.

Pouring an iced coffee -- where the ice cube looks like a black mandarin orange, with cream marking the veins in the ice.

New York as an experiment in nerve -- being as bold and comfortable with new friends of 6-months, as if you'd known them all your life. Actually doing something, rather than over-thinking it. Writing something, and hitting "post."

Being confident that, if you're wearing sneakers, you'll get down Madison Ave. at lunchtime fast -- you can walk on the subway grates (not wearing heels), if you can stand its warm, "subway breath." Not that it stinks; you just know it's exhaled up from the subway.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The girls in the Salem Witch Trials, for some reason, confessed. And not only confessed, but thrashed around like Things Possessed. Maybe, because they revered their leaders and families, that's what they were told they were. Possessed. It's bad enough to believe your own fears, but to believe someone else's fears ...

Let's say one of them was led to a pyre, stood at the stake, and let it burn her.

But for some reason, it didn't consume her. She took stock and a studious look back. And when someone new came at her waving a torch ... in a moment of triumphant euphoria she suddenly knew, and laughed and said, "Bullshit! It was all bullshit. And not only am I fine, I was nothing ever other than fine. And, actually, I am much, much better than fine."

The actual words of a 1700s Salem girl.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Everything old is New Kids again

Somehow, they kept their love for New Kids on the Block alive for almost 20 years, though Nirvana and Grunge, through two wars, and a crop of new boy bands that failed to woo away their First Love. New Kids.
And I'm talking love, because on Monday at lunchtime, I passed these people camped out in lawn chairs on 5th Ave, outside a Best Buy where the Kids would make an appearance the NEXT EVENING, promoting a new album. I walked that way to work again the next day, to see if they were still there. Yes. And the line had grown, and the police had corralled them all into heavy, steel-riot fencing on the asphalt of 41st St.
"The B-Town boys are back in town," one woman declared, as if I could doubt it. No way. Six-foot posters of the Boys blotted out the windows of the Best Buy where they were due to show (in only six more hours).
A little gang of these women, at the head of the line, had camped out over night. And they were great. I'm this random person walking up to them, "Are you freaks?" And they were more than ready to make scoot over and make room for me on the street, obviously recognizing another freak.
No, that's not how I approached them, or how I feel. The more hoopla, the merrier, and they had it going on.
"We're here to say hello to the cutest five men on the face of the Earth!" the office manager said, one of the passel of managerial-types in tanks, shorts and in full block-party mode.
A little farther down the line -- I'm afraid of people who have mullets. I feel like they're so tough, that they even resisted the passing of decades. They brandish their fists at Time itself. (Actually, it may have been a bigger hoot to have talked to them. "Why are you out on the sidewalk?" One would have leaned forward on an elbow, cracked her knuckles -- with one hand -- and said, "The B-Town boys never left.")
The IRS agent at the head of the line that I did talk to, explained that her sisterhood lived their New Kids fandom day-to-day by listening to the music, and writing to each other on message boards. Where she'd met most of the people she'd been hanging out with the past two days.
They mercilessly nudged awake this woman who looked like she'd melted into her lawn chair. Her head lolled to the side, she opened a serpentine eye, her whole manner bespeaking, "bus trip." Long bus trip. She'd come to this thing all the way from Dallas. And in only six more hours, they'd see the new New Kids on the Block! Arising from the ashes of musical obscurity like the phoenix! And just as glorious!
"They're hot," said the IRS agent, who'd met all five members of the band at one time or another. "And they love their fans."

Friday, August 29, 2008


Since, when you flip the calendar to September, there are pictures of school buses or apples (even if it's a calendar of South Park, horses, or the sketches of Escher), I'm going to end "summer" at Aug. 30, and post my list of summer-books-read.

June 1, True and False, David Mamet. There is a God and He is, somehow, sympathetic for my yen for Zen. First, a freak interest in improv -- spontaneity, the "one-ness" of making up a story/being the story for a few minutes, etc. Then, I stroll into St. Mark's bookstore (excellent!) and a yellow spine straight-away catches my eye. True and False. I pick it up. I read the back and ... a seamless weave into the theme of spontaneity, total-ness, etc! The exactly right book for me right then/now. And I don't care what you think of David Mamet.

June 3, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Davis Sederis. I just love David Sederis.

July 13, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, ZZ Packer. Her characters sometimes do unbelievable things like, the girl falls down with a bag of groceries right when it would be most-humiliating/kind of contrived for her to fall down. Still, you still "believe" it. The Story itself is powerful. Props to her Story.

July 20, Exit Ghost, Philip Roth. I haven't read anything else by Roth, to the dismay of several New Yorkers who saw me reading it on the subway/at work, but I'm banking that his earlier works are better? I got the book from the library and it was full of pencil ticks, probably where the previous reader had to get off the subway. Well, I think my own disjointed reading actually helped me appreciate the ... repetitiveness. Everytime I opened it back up, I got caught up. But who am I to judge?

July 23, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie. Pretty and diaphanous as a silken scarf.

August 2, The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. College reading was always daunting because I read slowly. So, my impression of Edith Wharton was always -- the writer of things I couldn't read fast enough, and the author of one GREAT short story. (Roman Fever, my dear.) So, this collection of short stories? GREAT re-introduction to the excellent Ms. Wharton.

August 5, Fearless Fourteen, Janet Evanovich. I love this series.

August 11, Junky, William S. Burroughs. Um, the veins. If you're going to read a book/watch a movie about heroin, you can't be vein-shy. Which I am, but the language was so 50s hip, and the idea of an ... incorrigable lifestyle so interesting, I couldn't put it down.

August 27, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrelll, Susanna Clarke. Great! Great! Great! Her notions on Fairy, her "world building" (re-building?), and the humor. Oh my goodness. Laugh, laugh, laugh.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

improv team names

The Upright Citizen's Brigade is having a Del Close Marathon Aug. 8 to 10 with non-stop improv on about 10,000 stages (teams scheduled for 4:15 A.m., the next team at 4:45, etc.)

So, I have this 4-page, 8 1/2 x 11" flyer of solid team names, and I need to list my 20 favorites:

The Ninjas, Blue Shampoo, Whorenado, Mailer Daemon, Gift of the Wild, Afternoon Delight, Suspicious of Whistlers, Big in Japan, I Eat Pandas, Last Day of School, Shark Attack!, Quiet Monkey Fight, The Sickest F***ing Stories I Ever Heard, Strippers' Picnic, Imaginary Friends, Bedtime Stories for Kidnapped Children, Matador Now!, Super Yum Yum 2, Mr. Licorice, and Brian's Epic Tan.