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The Drafts of August July 29, 2012

Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Actually, July, but the first sounds better. I either never finished them or abandoned them without remembering to publish them. And so direct to you from the Royal Courts of Europe (time served and a small fine), for the first time ever in these United States of American and now in your very own home town, for just two bits, a trifle, step inside my July.

The Holiday Nod

To live in the collapsing moment: a couch, a particular picture on the wall, a cup of coffee. You just want to go on the holiday nod but the vacuum lurks in the next room, the piles of paper and books around you, all of it must go first. The laptop a glowing post-it note for homework. The collapsing moment, so many monks in their temples and once, long ago, on their mountains, the forest as company and example but the wind must never stop on the mountain. Mountains live in the wind and the trees are never still but if you sit quietly long enough and contemplate the trunks the motion of the crowns is just the sound of the invisible wind, the endless rustling drowning out the world, living in the collapsing moment until suddenly a dragonfly.

You are not a monk. You are a man with an apartment that appears ransacked by primates. Your son hast left a trail of crumbs that mark his path through the house. You don’t own a vacuum and you have to give it back at some point. The litter to pick up first, some of the papers are important and others are garbage. Sit and sort. Pass the vacuum. Sweep and mop the kitchen, clean the bathroom. Two men can turn the once acceptable porcelain and chrome of a week ago into a public urinal. It’s an old bathroom in an old house, clean is relative but toothpaste scraped from the basin, the spigots still polish, the toilet needs a good scrubbing. Ammonia and Pinesol, the scent of fresh chemicals, the American obsession. Then a lecture on the nomination of candidates. You returned for your degree in English but 30 years ago you kept you English courses and dropped the others. You have one English course remaining and a stack of electives, intellectual drudgery. PoliSci 4600. Chop wood and carry water.

The collapsing moment. The nod as inverted desire. You begin to understand heroin but then just another frantic chase. Your life is already a rodent’s wheel until you collapse on the couch and the nod comes naturally. Who needs heroin? Coffee on the other hand a necessity. Something the kind doctor warned against. . Anxiety the diagnosis and of course he asked you how much you smoke, how much coffee you drink and you lied. Symptom of addiction. Coffee and tobacco are difficult. Aroma, flavor, ritual: all the temptations accompanying the habit. Try walking in for a cigar and not leaving with cigarettes.

The coffee is clearly working or I would not be typing this. I would still be on the couch contemplating how to make the digital antenna on the wall into another work of art. Get up and work and later the bicycle, your birthday and Father’s Day present to yourself three weeks ago and so far just another thing to vacuum around. An hour around the park and then home, the pretense of a book, the nod. No mood for fireworks later but you know you can’t resist the ritual. Instead you sit in the yard with pine branches snapped from a neighbor’s tree, shucking the green needles into a pile. Tossed on the glowing dinner coals they pop and snap, send red sparks up into the night and somewhere else in China a thousand years ago a man at the bottom of the mountain watches the sparks and imagines fireworks.

Lay back in the prone folding chair. Imagine the mountain, the wind, the sudden dragonfly. Not a nap exactly, but the collapsing moment.
As the neighborhood firecrackers and bottle rockets drift off to bed, only you remain. No cars or laughing people in the street stumbling home pass. If they do you do not hear them over the rustle of the trees.

Over the Hills and Faraday

I must start the class paper due midnight tonight. I’ve already decided to take the five point penalty and turn it in tomorrow. When I am done with this post I will turn off the wireless radio in the laptop so I can sit and work on the couch without untangling the cord. I am considering turning off my cell phone.

In this Year of Our Motherboard Twenty and Twelve I will let the information stream pass me by. I will briefly cease to exist in our increasingly intemporal world. Facebook and Twitter will count off the minutes since posted and I will not be there. There will be only one time event of indeterminate duration inside this imaginary Faraday Cage, its only flaw a tiny signal leakage between The Paper and JSTOR. If you know what I’m doing, you won’t know when. There will be no orthogonal alternatives, unless the stars unwind and the clocks run backwards.

I will occupy this one point in space/time called The Paper, reduced to three dimensions shrinking rapidly toward a dimensionless line because I will not give a fuck about the outside world and that world will not notice me because I will not be available for chat, wholly consumed by the task at hand. Who knows, time travel may be possible this way, but that is just wishful retrospection, looking for hours lost under the bed. I am a prisoner of a clock-less personal and singular linearity until the paper is done, after which bat shit all might happen. Billions of years from now astrophysicists may identify the birth of their universe in what they decide to call, during one fabulously drunken night of shop talk, The Mark Zero Anomaly.

A Bicycle Built for You

So, you go out and buy yourself a belated birthday/Father’s Day present: a brand new matte black single speed coaster bike with shiny red-hubs, a pedal back to break bike one like you had when you were a kid. Hey, you read on the Internet that all those pictures you see of people wheeling home with a baguette and tonight’s dinner in their panniers are riding single speed coaster break bikes, and it’s not like I’m about to enter triathlon unless the categories are cigarettes, Belgian Ale and napping. Mostly the bicycle sits. Your life is a roaring shop fan and a shower of sparks: they keep tossing you more and more work but hey, you get paid and paid well by the hour so who’s to complain. And then there’s that Internet course you signed up for. Some readings, a couple of lectures that will only play in the dog awful Windows Media Viewer. Chat in the discussion board (minimum three posts) and a couple of short answer questions.

Short answer: what does that really mean? Probably not something you need to edit down to 1,500 words. Show off, but then you fucked up the first assignment, posting one in the wrong place (score out of ten: zero) and turned the other one in late (score:seven). It is easy to become disoriented when you reach age when a.m. and p.m. are easily confused, especially if you laid down for a nap and set your phone alarm for six and when it starts its long awful ringing you aren’t quite sure which six it is. It doesn’t help if you’re taking medication and the agate package insert mentions “bats” and “emergency room” in the same sentence, but doesn’t specify how many bats. May cause loss of coordination is funny when you spill coffee on a brown rug. Falling into the bayou helping someone launch a kayak is not so funny. s. I’ve already started taking half of what was prescribed even after a phone chat with the doctor who said, well, you’re coming in next week and let’s see how you’re doing. No point mentioning those bats, I think. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

Through a highly technical analysis involving my $29 on-sale-at-Walmart weather station (which has lost communication with the outside sensor; again) and the ancient Indian method involving rolling up the magic window scroll until the sky reveals itself, it looks like today might be a good day for a bike ride. You live 10 blocks from the park. You are going to ride that damn thing. But you’re not going to go to close to the bayou. And no matter how geeky it makes you feel you might run out and get a helmet, at least until you do something about that “loss of coordination” problem. And those bats.

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South Lakeview Safari July 29, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Fortin Street, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street.
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I tried to leave a friend’s house the other night, following Woodlawn Place south toward the tracks and confronted what is possibly the worst stretch of road in New Orleans. To call Mound Street where it turns at tracks a road is generous. There are places in this world it might be considered a road. Any semblance to what is considered a street in the developed world is gone. Track might be a better word. I stopped just short of this stretch and turned on my pothole lights (known as fog lights in the developed world) and considered my options. Anything resembling pavement had crumbled into dust which apparently reset itself like a cooling lava flow every time it rained. The way was crisscrossed by transverse ruts and pot holes where I suspect fragments of meteorites might be found.

My car is a Saturn VUE, a sort of mini SUV I bought to pull my boat out of the water. (Hint: if you try to pull a boat of any size out of the water with a front wheel drive station wagon the weight of the trailer’s lever action reduces your traction on a wet and slimy boat launch so much you have to recruit a couple of standers by to sit on the hood and a couple more to push). When I was looking for a car I discovered that there is an Off Road Club for the VUE, but I decided I wasn’t going to try Mound Street in anything less than a Toyota Land Cruiser with a bumper winch. I grew up watching Wild Kingdom, and during some despondent moments found myself addicted to the Discovery Channel (the equivalent in my world of standing on a ledge throwing pigeons at the fire department. If you ever call or email me and ask me what I’m doing and I reply watching Ice Road Truckers, an immediate intervention is required. Bring The Medicine and a bag of limes.) I actually enjoyed the show about the desperate people from the lower 48 who hock everything they own and buy an old gold claim in Alaska. Yes, it is an opiate for the long-term unemployed masses but there is something just too Jack London about that show. I don’t think young boys read Jack London anymore except under English class duress and with no pleasure. I just read a book of poems by an older gentleman, and one ends “the boy disappeared into the map on his wall.” I am that boy.

I am fairly certain I am going back to Mound Street. Orleanians are a proud people, and it is not just a culture of music and food and art but our triumph over kiddie roller coaster streets, sub-tropical weather and incessant insects. I am cursed with a Pandora curiosity about what lies at the other end of the aptly named Mound Street. It is the same curiosity that led me past the Road Closed for Season sign in the Everglades, a glimpse of dark, mangrove swamp just visible. I wanted a picture. I doused myself in enough Deet to probably take a year or two off my life, grabbed the camera and discovered that Everglades bugs are weaned on Deet, that there is a species of Stukka-diving, biting flies who come at you to fast to even notice the nasty chemical you have doused your body with. The pictures were rather blurry.

I can’t afford a new axle or drive shaft any more than I can replace the duct tape that substitutes for a working gasket on my sunroof. A strike plate bolted to the bottom of the car would be advisable. In the absence of a bumper winch when you get stuck you just jack yourself up and drive off. I did this once not long ago when, in a hurry, I drove over an abutment in a multi-level outdoor parking lot. Thankfully screw jacks just tip over and don’t go flying like an old GM bumper jack when you drive off.

Mound Street taunts those of us who daily traverse streets logging trucks would avoid and ford fast-running streams like Palmyra Street without having to leave the comfort of the city. I am fairly sure at the other end of Mound Street is just more backwater, post-war suburbia, the sort of small wood frame houses you find in the corner of a neighborhood crowded up against a tall railroad embankment, homes comfortable with the rumbling of late night locomotives. Then again, I’ve never seen an actual wildebeest.