Sunday, November 3, 2013

sand dollars

(These are some old notes gathering dust from the Chicago era circa 2006.  I was a simpler fellow back then, btw.  My values, my aesthetics, my schedule, my hobbies, my friendships, my fantasies: it was all much more straightforward.  I did only what had to be done and left the rest well alone.  Paradoxically, that nasty city fed on parasites such as myself!  I wasn't doing nearly as much appropriation/pastiche, had never even heard of people like Shakespeare or Nietzsche or Taoism, just fooled around with my crayon box and sketchpad, read my Kafka, Beckett, and Baudrillard, courted a woman obsessed with Baudelaire and actually tried imitating him for awhile hoping to increase my chances of blowing her mind!  Utter failure.  Returned to my wilderness outpost, scrawled notes similar to these in my notebook, stockpiled food, ideas, cats, walking shoes, sand dollars, photos, sweaters, newspapers, shovels, binoculars,   


I'd put on headphones and SOTL and head down to the lake.  

They said, "Hey, old words, come and visit me", and because we didn't have any other pressing engagements, it became a meaningful question, and the slight bone tremor became an almost-but-not-quite equally meaningful answer.


Benches reserved again along the edge of Mulholland, bicycle paths spiraling around inside the local DNA cataclysmic, a collage-maker's fantasy based on wedges of shadow slithering over cracked walls in the hospital parking lot where someone was not born according to plan or on schedule on plan according born somewhere slithering rat's nest of illusion catacombs spiraling back towards the old days edge along again served equal meanings tremors slight in the scary blue dawn of Lake Michigan wait for me:

old paintings sold here-
"a unique thrift store experience."  
sentry, so-called, never blinking.  
tweed coat, pocket watch, cigarillo,  
his own headphones, 
his beverages, 
his cell phone thrown off the pier 
and mosaiced/de-spliced with all 
the rest of the rabbit holes, 
all the time, 
all the worlds, 
all the old nights come back to me, 
second hand frames hanging cock-eyed, 
glitch music custom-made, custom-rendered, 
24 hours a day, insubordinate, 
chicken wire chain link picnic shelters 
serve now as emergency housing, 
that's cozy:

old clothing repaired here-  

old domiciles refurbished here-
old radios tuned here-
old food preserved here-

kids with plastic serpents hanging out their back pockets, full grown adults terrified at the mere sight of a person simply walking alone, even at this hour of night, the ghost choir lies down to discuss the sonata, they're expecting nothing, and guess what, nothing expects them in return.  primordial standards here, the premier sailing league pushes off, the waves lengthen and quietly prepare shock treatment on a first come-first served basis.  (don't worry, there's a sliding scale for those of you out there with money problems, worry big time.) 

[I overheard the roadmender mutter something about "mis-directed development", and I wanted to know what he meant by that, so turned around and asked for clarification.

"a long firing process, an even longer cooling process, then the hammers and chisels and all of that labor-intensive stuff people are always complaining about."

I had a distinctive feeling that he was talking about people like me, so I simply nodded, which I intended for him to take as a cue to continue.  he did so.

"everything we put in the blueprint we put there for a reason.  the folks in this neighborhood can't seem to get their heads around that."

he lifted his gasoline milkshake and took several deep gulps.

"the concrete, the duct work, the plastic- it's real!  it's the genuine article!  it ain't fake or second hand stuff, simple fellow."

(long pause)

"what?  you wanna see the actual invoices?"

"I believe you, roadmender."

"a well is nothing but water that somehow bubbled its way up out of oblivion.  at first our rope wasn't long enough so we sat down again with the financiers and developers and pretty soon trucks were pouring in from every distribution center around here."

"simple house twine, you were saying?"

"that's right, son.  but we needed a lot of it.  the pulley system was intricate.  enough to wrap around the earth 25 thousand times."

"that's a lot of twine, sir."

"no, not really- we've undertaken much bigger projects."


"hey- would it be possible to have a quick peek at the blueprints?"

"sorry, lad- they're all over at company headquarters."

"well then what are you working from?"



"no, that's just natural, son.  like when the well is finally dry."


"what does that have to do with it?"

"well, there's usually a crude map or diagram to be discerned amid the mud and rocks at the bottom."


"yeah, this map points the Way, at least in a general sense.  so we proceed to tear down, pack up, shove off, and keep traveling."

"that must be an arduous lifestyle."

"not a bit."


"roadmender, would you like to come give a talk to my daughter's second grade class?"

"be delighted."

"wow!  that's super!  so I'll see you tomorrow?"

"bright and early."

"but wait- I thought your team worked thru the night."

"we do.  we drink energy shakes."

"oh- I've heard about those-"

"well, son- you're probably going to be hearing quite a bit more."

"the market is booming, then?"

"in every sense of the word."

"wow!  that's super!"

"well, we're a super-power, young fella."

"I guess so."

"no, there's no guess-work about it."

"you think the kids will be able to grasp that?"

"no problem."

"ok then...well, look, roadmender... I've gotta be going..."

"no problem- just remember to notice this patch of road on your way back."

"I will, sir."

"have a good one."

"you too."

"later on."]

old echoes, 

like favorite spots to watch pigeons circling, 
continents welded together, wow, took my new camera, took notebooks, took a part of the trilogy, heading north on sheridan avenue past the blinking neon, the dollar store, the el fresco experience happening right there in plain sight, gravel-voiced, oil-soaked, momentum decidedly seizure-like, older terminus cobwebbed, odder link card data costumes uncovered, waiting patiently, moving thru the dharma vortex of permanent homeless encampments, sand registers anyone who cares to show up without any current id, atm, dnf, dmv, ect, bbc, dsm puts it all out there at fire-sale prices.

(note to self- file under: the old days)

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