Hillary or Obama?

28 10 2007

This was yesterday. It was one o’clock. A woman left the table with its pens on chains and trays of small forms to rejoin the line. The woman ahead of me turned and addressed her friend.

“It wasn’t there?”

“There’s always a book, but it’s not there. I don’t know. I’m hoping she can look it up for me when I get there.” She nodded at the only open window. “I think it’s 28290. I think that’s it.”

It was a small branch post office by a telephone company in downtown Newark. I had never seen the other window open, or anyone else behind the open one besides Bonnie, with her expression of sorely tried forbearance.

“I’m sure she can look up the zip code of North Carolina for you.”

The woman behind me snorted. “Who asked them to move to North Carolina anyway?”

“That’s what they’re doing—they’re all moving back down south.”

“Now I got to go all the way down there to see my grandpa.”

“You still got your other grandma living up here.”

“Yeah, but I only got one living grandpa. Why couldn’t my other grandma have moved to North Carolina?”

Two more women came in, shaking the drizzle from their shoulders and stamping their feet on the mat.

“You two still here?” Read the rest of this entry »


The Efficacy of Threats and Pecuniary Competition

25 10 2007

This man

Courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

told me to update my blog more regularly. Or he will do this:

Courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

So, today, some thoughts on eating at parties, and looking good afterwards:

Lest I give the impression that I appreciate party guests only in proportion to how much food they dispose of, let me tell you about this paranoid reality I survived when I first started trying to lose weight. As at many middle-class American gatherings, talk at the parties I attended often revolved neurotically around diet and suitably cosmetic emaciation. Young wives paraded their newly trim husbands, boyfriends displayed on an arm their slim dates, such words as “yoga”, “pilates”, “South Beach”, and “Atkins” fell like so much chattered confetti on the luscious dip of pure sour cream while hands darted for the brownie squares. I felt the presence of a feral undercurrent around the snacks buffet. Read the rest of this entry »


22 10 2007

I am the new owner of a bike. It folds. Slightly used, it did not cost as much as that link will claim.

I am a Pisces. Now, I am no longer a fish without a bicycle. Which is to say, to invert the Steinem maxim, that I am a woman with a man. But neither am I that, nor a man with a woman.

The bike will be useful in fetching groceries.

The lock and chain, however, are a different story.  Half as expensive and a third as heavy as the bike itself, they are my first investment in city-proof security, since this is the first time in six years I’ve had a bike worth protecting.  Pulling the chain from the frame feels like hauling anchor.  I’m not sure if you’re supposed to use it on your bike, or if you’re just supposed to park your bike in sight, keeping the chain with you at all times to beat thieves.

Notes toward a revelation, Part II

21 10 2007

Do you know, you go along for years thinking nobody’s onto you, and then… I mean, you think because you’ve had a thought but never mentioned it to anyone, even in passing, that no one knows what you’re talking about, and you’re one of the few to have thought it. Then, there it is in print. Listen to this: “By a back-derivation typical of pop revivals, the fantasy glamour of the original songs is translated into a description of the era in which they originated: in the case of the old-new Bacharach craze, as if life in the early Sixties had been a live-action Dionne Warwick song, with deft periodic accentuation by oboe, xylophone, or celeste.” A Geoffrey O’Brien piece from the NY Review of Books, which unfortunately you can’t read without paying. Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Night at Rocketship

20 10 2007

Continuing the series of places-I’m-already-back-from-but-forgot-to-mention-I-was-going begun with last weekend’s SPX, let me tell you about this party I went to Friday…

The launch party for the AWESOME anthology from ISR and Evil Twin was last night. I got a ride over from Jersey with Mark Smylie. We got a late start, even skipping dinner—I was late to Archaia from the PATH and Mark was wrapping up work—then idled predictably away where citybound Friday night traffic had plugged up the approach to the Holland Tunnel. When we got to Brooklyn, rain was still dripping from awnings where people huddled with their upturned collars, blinking in irritation, wet hair clinging to their skin.

I hadn’t been to this store for a year and a half, during which time the landlord had walled in what I remembered as a back patio, caged in chain link like a city schoolyard, where, in one corner of pitted concrete, a table of beer in plastic cups stood crookedly. The going explanation among disgruntled cartoonists was that neighbors had complained of the noise, which bare sheetrock walls, daubed here and there with white paint, now contained and amplified, so that the room echoed like a cheap venue from the early days of punk. High on the right, a few dusty cinderblocks peered from a ragged gap; above the only sofa, someone had hung the string of jalapeno-shaped lights that once adorned the chain link, tangled like a festive vine, but here did little either to spice up the new atmosphere or to bring back the old. There was still a drinks table in one corner: no longer aslant, but on a cement floor smooth as a garage’s. From behind the girl seated there, the kind of Frosty the Snowman you find on Christmas lawns lent its glow to the bottle of Pinot Grigio, though the reds filed beside remained opaque. I stuffed a dollar in the glass pitcher of tips, and she handed me a clear, hard tumbler of wine. Mr. Phil walked up to me with a Sharpie, proffering a name tag. In white, across a light blue strip on top, it proclaimed: I’m AWESOME. Read the rest of this entry »


17 10 2007
  • The AWESOME anthology is getting nods, shout-outs, and a few reviews, the Flight blog, the Top Shelf SPX roundup. Reviews—one negative aside—have not mentioned “We Are Not Alone” yet, so I will chime in with a “GB, you did a f****n’ fantastic job!!!” The book ships today, Wednesday October 17th, so get your local comic shop to order you a copy, or just buy it yerself!

AWESOME at Midtown Comics

Have I not plugged this book enough yet? If not, how could you resist publishers like these?

Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente of Evil Twin Comics, courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr Charlito of Indie Spinner Rack, courtesy of Jamie Tanner’s flickr

  • Mark Woods posts a link to the Châteaureynaud story, “A Life on Paper”, at AGNI Online.
  • Sam “Golden Rule” Jones links to Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s “Cap Corse”.

Many thanks!

Notes toward a revelation, Part I

17 10 2007

I’ve begun listening to these lectures from The Teaching Company, on Kierkegaard and existentialism, which drastically lower the monotony quotient of 45 biking minutes. They even manage to lend the cardio eternity a certain joy, less from their distraction value than from a sense of time cannily reclaimed through judicious multitasking, some minor, even nominal mental self-improvement smuggled into that mirrored arena of physical preening, with the nonstop industry of its weights and pulleys (the gym might do well to evolve toward some synthesis with that other roomful of machines, the arcade: somehow maximizing pleasure and distraction without loss in fitness benefit). Time feels better spent on learning than on the disposable music with which I tend to pack the mp3 folder marked Exercise, since while sweating and grunting I can give only half a soul to songs I like, and thus avoid them (I’d rather travel with music than have it be a greenscreen of pretended travels behind me). I’m happy to sop up whatever philosophy I can, while conveniently filling in potentially embarrassing gaps in an autodidact’s education (or the series of prejudices, misconceptions, and surmises masquerading thereas)—y’know, dots connected out of order or numbered shapes mismatched to colors. Read the rest of this entry »