Category Archives: Travel

Postcard Plains

June 21, 2009

(digging up oldies)

Our minds are electrical freeways. Crowded, cluttered cities. Neurons shoot and fire and explode and we’re left yelling obscenities and insanities in the line at Dunkin Donuts. We’re all psychological drive-by bystanders. Caught in a sticky, mental, web-like gossamer; the hazy Saturday morning blue-gray sea.

I’m listening to compressed computer files. Drinking from an old shoe. I cleaned the apartment and now I’m dirtying it. Thinking of stuff to do. I go to sleep to dream and live to sleep. Everyday is the same yet new.

I want my life to be warm and cozy, like a Russian fur hat. Live in a tin castle. Die in a Greek Epic. I want them to make a movie of how spectacular I crashed.

I wrote a list of all the questions I want answered before I’m dead and I carry it around in case I run into the people who can provide me the answers. Some are personal. Some don’t have an answer. Some only people I will never meet are able to answer. People who are dead. People who live in distant countries. Famous people. Scientists. Thor. The guy who invented sit-ups.

Did you know that ‘goodbye’ is a descendant of ‘God be with ye’?

To the East there are postcard plains. Grass leaning towards the horizon. Highways stabbing space. Lonely towns aching to disappear. A country of gas stations and hot dog stands. Long, cold walks in woods. Wilderness we share with the animals. Werewolves and such. Black bottles of whiskey.

The highways take us there. Atlases are slashed with red interstate wounds. The land is a knife victim. I travel the impersonal roads to towns I’ve never heard of. Mountains named after outlaws. I watched desert sunsets in Arizona. The sky touch both ends of the world in Montana. I drank champagne on a roof in New York on New Year’s. I drove through the swamps outside New Orleans bleary-eyed and insane and made it through to Memphis listening to The Who.

Everywhere everything and nothing.

There are countless vines of grapes that will get smashed into wine and swish around in my glass. I will stare at the water going down the drain while washing the glass and think of my heart, so gentle and easily crushed. There will be hundreds of birds waiting in the trees to sing to you. Buddha throws up his hands and laughs. What do you do? Think of your heart. Is it full of tables and chairs and beautiful things?

Worshiping in bars. Drunk at the museum. Greasy rag sky. Blinking in the luminance of beauty.

Everywhere we go we go sure that both good and bad things will happen but when either of them do we can hardly believe it. We open our souls to stowaways and buy things to throw away. There’s a building in Silverlake that is over ten stories tall and made of solid concrete. It’s sole purpose is so that the citizens of L.A. have an extra place to put their shit. Pretty soon the skyline will be nothing but public storage.

Everywhere we go we go sure that our thoughts alone  are special and unique, but they’re not, and when we find someone just like us we call it phenomenon.

The sun is finally coming out after an afternoon of writing, of rummaging my hands through my hair in deep thought, light thought, shitty-splattery thought. In Iran they’re in the streets bleeding for freedom, while over here I can’t think of a good reason to leave the house. Even with the sun claiming its throne in the sky. With the sparrows calling me their king.

I stay home flipping through a million channels. Looking for nothing, finding it in excess.

I go out to eat and the menu is bigger than a newspaper. The food comes out in wheelbarrows. Mash potatoes you can ski down.

Pretty soon nothing is going to impress me. There will be a billboard on every building and a reality show for every person. I can now listen to a radio station in Tokyo or Berlin or Moscow if I want. I can shoot deer frolicking in Vermont from my laptop. It’s true. I can pay to fly to space except I don’t have the money to pay to fly to space, so instead I’ll go to Saturdays Off The 405 at the Getty and take in the city finely splayed out in atoms and molecules.

After I’ll go to La Cabana and order chicken mole. This city is a tapestry. I take off my shoes and dance in my bare feet. It’s a stupid analogy.

Buddha throws up his hands and laughs.

What do you do?

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Portland… (It’s Nice and Warm In a Bar)

I woke up yesterday in Portland with interstices.
Fragments. Mental Polaroids. Clips of conversations.
A bricolage of buildings and people. Erratic images…
It’s almost as if I lived two days in a dream.
Nothing seems whole.

“You have to try a food cart before you go,” they insisted.
Holiday lights were festooned merrily through the trees.
They said to forget going to Voodoo Doughnuts.
“It’s too ghetto there. Overrated. Skip it.”
Happy shoppers crowded busy Christmas streets.
“Let’s go to a  bar instead,” they said.
“It’s nice and warm  there.”

There were big rain-soaked boulder clouds overhead.
Scarves hugged our necks. Winter coats warmed our backs.
We meandered wondrously. Jellyfish tourists. Taking it all in:
sticking parking receipts to our windows and watching our breath
turn into ice crystals while eating reindeer meat in our mittens.
Distressed signage clung desperately to the buildings above.

It’s all just a vague memory now.
A ship in a foggy harbor.
I remember excellent coffee,
and chilling wind.
Everybody had a tattoo and there
was fresh food always at hand.
The streets were obsessively straight
and orderly and full of grit and history.
The people were kind, and kind of weird.
There was a lot of personality. Style.

Portland offered the feeling of a really good croissant.
Proving there’s something tasty in simple and light.

We drove 16 hours to get home. North to South.
We arrived just as the rain left town.
Los Angeles was freshly laundered.
The stars shined like diamonds.
The street glistened like a car commercial.

Three days driving for two days of staying.
I ate too much salt and chocolate.
Drank two too many microbrews.
I feel mathematically exhausted.
But I’m consumed by the road,
my heart is asphalt,
my soul is a diesel truck,
my brain is a flickering neon sign.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
It’s time to hang up the keys and
light a candle, play a record.
String some misletoe.

Its time to sing a holiday song.

Back Home In The Good Ol’ USA

Traveling abroad is an enlightening experience, you see humanity expressed in different forms: foreign languages, new (and sometimes bizarre) items on menus, different traffic laws (or possibly none at all). It forces you to see the world with new eyes, but, in addition, returning from an overseas trip allows you to see the familiar with fresh eyes. Your home starts to look a little different as well.

While down in Buenos Aires I was impressed and amazed by the amount of street art painted on the walls down there. Also the elegant architecture. The history. The expansive parks. It’s a magical place. The storefronts delighted me, the cafes enchanted me, the gordo cats in the park purred and rubbed up against my legs, and the trendy, determined people walking the bustling streets reminded me that the world is full of beautiful, fashionable individuals. Whether in Los Angeles or Buenos Aires, hipsters are hipsters. And they’re often in a hurry!

Now that I’m home I’m seeing my beloved Los Angeles as perhaps a foreigner would. I’m noticing all the stencils and poster art that I used to take for granted, or else hadn’t even noticed in the first place. There’s the ‘monkey with a gas mask on its face’ mural on Laurel Canyon, coming down into Hollywood from the Valley. There’s the delicious breakfast at Bluejam Cafe on Melrose and the equally delicious people-watching from its sidewalk tables. There’s the absolutely brilliant shade of blue that the sky assumes on clear, summer days, like a turquoise gem flattened and pounded into a sheet. There’s the flock of pigeons on Fairfax that take to the sky in broad, chaotic swoops and then land in military-precise rows on the power lines.

Down south it might be World Cup fever but here cars wave their Laker flags and the city is going to be consumed with the efforts of Kobe, Lamar, Pau, and Ron Artest tonight as they battle for a championship. Same energy, different sport.

Los Angeles has its own magical quality that you have to get away from it every now and then to truly appreciate.

But the differences between Los Angeles and Buenos Aires are also vast. Buenos Aires is a tall, grandly designed city with European style buildings — shotgun gray and withered — but brandishes a pulsing, Latin soul. A city that bristles with activity all night long. Los Angeles is a modern city, spread thin across miles and miles of strip mall flatland, with select pockets of nightlife that ends around the time folks are just finishing up dinner down in Buenos Aires. The sidewalks are chock-a-block with pedestrians in the Paris of the South. As the song goes, nobody walks in LA.

As much as I loved the parillas and the delicious, seemingly endless parade of meat offered, I’m glad to have a little choice back in my diet. From Milk, where the Cobb salad is a bowl of Earth’s goodness, to Loteria in the Farmer’s Market, featuring the best Mexican food this side of homemade tortillas, to the plethora of gourmet burger joints sprouting up in every trendy enclave of this city. If lacking in Fred Flinstone-sized portions, Los Angeles at least has epicurean range.

One of the other things I noticed anew returning home are the flowers. Los Angeles is a colorful city with green lawns, orange and yellow Birds of Paradise flowers, tall, sleek palms, and lavender eucalyptus trees. We may not have plazas or 1920’s-era architectural marvels, but we have the smell of jasmine whispering through the air on moonlit nights.

I’m now determined not to let my eyes go to sleep again. I want to read the names of stores in awe. I will look down alleys to see what secrets hide. I want to dine in as many restaurants as I can. I will ride LA’s public transportation like a modern day Lewis or Clark, whomever looked better in a coonskin. (well, maybe not the last one)

He viajado por lo que he vivido.

Buenos Aires Street Art

Maine

I’m in Maine for the next couple of days, flew in on Christmas on a little commuter plane that bounced around over the bumpy skies of New England. It’s Sunday and there is rain falling on a layer of snow and the wind blowing gusts of rain/snow across the road. I’m driving a rented Hyundai Sonata and listening to Neko Case singing about rain in California. The irony (if it’s really irony) is not lost on me.

Tomorrow I have to help my brother sprinkle calcium on the ice in his driveway. It creates little air pockets and breaks up the ice, then we have to take shovels and hack the ice to bits to fully remove it.  Ah, Maine, what a weird and wacky winter wonderland you are.

People who complain about not having snow in L.A should take note.

We’re headed over to Bangor in the morning (pronounced locally, “Bang-Er”, make up your own joke for this one). I’m going to stop by Steven King’s house and ask him to share his literary secrets with me, how can one man be so prolific? And is it because of some sort of black magic, and if so, can I borrow a bottle? I’m guessing he’ll stick the dogs on me instead.

New Year’s is coming and I’ll be back in L.A. for the celebrations: the countdown, champagne popping, noise-makers, Auld Lang Syne! The twentydime is upon us and I know, I just feel it in my optimist bones, that this is the year I make it to South East Asia, have a piece published, and finally finish Infinite Jest (to be honest, I’ll be pleased if just one of those goals is accomplished).

People have rated the 2000’s as the worst decade of the last century. I have to disagree. 2000 saw the rise of DIY ethos (but more importantly, capabilities) and new technologies that allow some commoner like me to put my thoughts out there for the world to decide whether they’re noble, creepy, or pointless. (I’m usually shooting for all three at once) We can choose what we want to watch — when we want to watch it. We can call Brazil without costing an arm and a leg. We can answer our own trivia questions by looking them up on the Internet, without needing 30 pounds of encyclopedias flanking an entire wall in your den.

Yes, War, the Economy, Environmental Degradation are all terribly depressing facets of the 00’s, but every decade saw it’s share of bullshit, it just used to be easier to escape the bad news — now you’re inundated with images and opinions 24/7 wherever you roam. Fox News is on in the Jiffy Lube waiting room, you go to your email and before it is a news blurb about an iceberg in Antarctica the size of Delaware that had broken off and is floating towards Australia. You stumble into a bar bathroom and over the urinal is an advertisement for Liquid soap for men that promises “magnetic feremones” are injected into the lather. (I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Economy, Environmental Degradation, or War, I just find that kind of cheesy, pathetic advertising aimed at horny young men to be awfully sad and crass, whoever would buy that must be pathetically gullible — and it doesn’t work either, I’ve come to find, $5 down the drain. Literally. Ha!)

I have three more days of this decade to make something good come out of it. Yes, Bangor may not be Thailand or Cambodia, but it’ll have to do for now. Mr. King, please warm up some coffee, I’m on my way.

London: Day Six (It’s Over)

I woke for my last full day in London with a steady mind to stay in bed. I’d done so much already — it’s felt like I’ve been walking around the city for weeks, shows, shopping, art! — that I just didn’t have that push to jump out into the streets like I did the other days. It’s a big city but a tiny room and I was content to stay in it for a bit. There was plenty of instant coffee and biscuits to keep me entertained so I wrote for a spell while watching pigeons flutter to my open window to insult me and move on back to Regent’s Park. Big, fat, mean pigeons.

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Eventually I made my way down to the Continental Breakfast where I learned that just because the cheese package says Easy To Open, it doesn’t mean they’re talking to you.

How boring it must be to work a continental breakfast setup everyday! Stacking the croissants into tiers. Picking up a thousand little saucers all the time. Checking on the orange juice. Setting out the cereal boxes. It would tire on my soul, I was thinking as a couple of older Scandinavian women walked in and stood there dumbly like some dust-collecting coat racks while they looked for a place to sit. There were no windows down there in the basement so I don’t know what caused their careful deliberation but from what I can tell they chose a spot with easy access to the cafe machine and a view of the kitchen. Maybe they thought there might be omelets coming out of there shortly, I don’t know.

It was odd. And so was I. Sitting there wondering about such things as stacking small plastic containers of cream when lovely, old London was waiting for me right outside my hotel.

Harrods was calling my name. Not to buy anything, I had already done some of that the day before on the way back from the Tate, but just to ride the escalator, gawk at all the fancy and expensive stuff and marvel at their food court with all the other yahoos.

Plethora…

On a Saturday afternoon you can count on it being busy, and it was booty to booty on the escalators, so it’s no curious feat that Harrod’s exhausted me in record-breaking fashion. Some people probably end up taking longer to cycle through a revolving door than the speed I went through that department store, still, I managed to check out the sports section which provided me the pleasure of standing there scratching my chin, wondering why one would go to the middle of London and ride five escalators to buy a mountain bike that has a sign on that says ‘do not touch’?

That seemed odd! How should one decide on which mountain bike to buy, in the middle of London, up five escalators, without being allowed to touch it? Needless to say, (and perhaps not so needless if I’m saying it) Harrods was not my cup of tea.

Yo Sushi!, (I didn’t put the exclamation there, by the way — they did) a sushi joint across the street from Harrods, but in some forgettable, nebulous way was part of Harrods, or at least inside some kind of annex, was more my speed. I took a seat next to the conveyor belt and watched the delicious pieces of fish twirl around the counter in circles. It was tempting to grab every colored-plate that passed but I held out for the good ones while sipping my Asahi and catching up on my food-induced drooling.

I don’t know why there aren’t more sushi conveyor belts in America. I don’t know why there’s not more food on conveyor belts, period. Pizza. Burgers. Nachos. Candy bars.

Spinning…

Next I wandered through Hyde Park and scared some ducks. I took pictures of my feet and then the sky began to spit on me ever so gently — like angelic baby spittle it was. I pulled up my hood and kept marching to the Tube, keeping up the happy sushi spirits headed homeward. And by homeward I mean to Oxford Circus, to do some shopping. It was close to my hotel and therefore I didn’t have too long to walk with bulky bags. I scooped up two pairs of shoes, because I know I have a lot of walking to do in this life of mine and don’t want to be unprepared — plus they have styles we don’t back in the States. I also got some jeans just because I got legs and they need to be covered.

I dumped the bags on the couch and turned away from an afternoon nap to to venture down Gough Street. looking for a suitable place to place before me a beer, fancying some suds to relieve the stressful day of shopping. Life really is tough sometimes. I charged it all anyway so I’m sure it’ll actually turn out to be way more than I estimated in the first place, and that was with the rounding down and a more favorable exchange rate in my head, or else the willingness at a certain place and time to suspend my ability to compute and purposely screw up the math.

So it goes. Money. Money. Money. Comes and goes…

Someone should write a song about it.

But back to the topic, which wasn’t economics, but traveling, and that usually doesn’t mix well with economics, while traveling the money goes only in one direction, right out the door usually. I picked a pub to plant the backside and hunker down with my palm under my chin and my gaze streetward. The point is,  London is a great city, its monuments and museums, its bars, its riverbank, it’s architecture, the people, the fasion, the crappy beds and all. It’s a great place to run around for a week, catch some shows, do some shopping, walk in a park.

Oh God! I just realized I had a total travel brochure vacation. The only thing that was missing was going to the theatre — spelled all fancy. Really, am I this kind of tourist? Then I remembered Tayyabs and Brick Lane, that was kind of offbeat and local — but how original was that? I found it on the Internet. Was I becoming a Bermuda short-wearing, camera strap strangling my neck all day, reading the tourist pamphlets, booking rooms online, tripadvisor, expedia, eating croissants in the basement, traveler?

I guess so…

Oh well. I ordered a hamburger to remind me of home, and another Stella to remind me of beer, and sat there flipping through my memories, thinking about what I would write about this trip, and then promptly forgetting it and moving on to different ruminations as time was measured by the banging of doors and rattling of plates. It was a pleasant time.

With my notebook stranded behind at the hotel I would forget half the stuff I pondered silently  about or else needlessly prattled to whoever was around me: the way life kicks its hind legs at you sometimes when you think you got it by the reigns, and how the world is so much more interesting and vast than we give it credit for when we’re in our own heads all the time, and how you think you might know the answers but then realize you weren’t even standing at the right chalkboard. I had all these thoughts and ideas and emotions but most of it went right through my like the third beer.

The burger came and it was marginal, edible at least, and so I ate it methodically and then patted my lips dry with indifference. It took me the remaining quarter of my beer trying to decide whether there should be a followup to this one, I’d already had four now and was wondering if I should make it a domino point before deciding ‘of course I’m going to have another one! I’m in London.’

The bar felt so cozy and timeless, how could I just leave after just four?

And so it was, my fifth beer of the night and last beer in London. Night was coming on quick. The city was coming alive.

I would walk out of the pub, leaving behind the warmth and laughter, before darkness draped the city. When the sky was peachy and pink. I wanted to walk back to the hotel with shifting colors in the sky and people venturing out to greet the night happy and upbeat. I wanted to leave town right then, right on the verge of Saturday night. When things were all beginning. What a romantic time to flee and capture a feeling of joyful society.

But of course, I didn’t. I went home and watched Eminem rap on some late night British talk show — it was awkward — and suffered through one more night on the lumpy, springy mattress from hell. I think Ben Stiller was on it too. The talk show, not the mattress. At eight in the morning I paid for my phone calls, bid adieu to Mr. Glumface behind the counter and dragged my bloated suitcase out of the hotel. I also skipped the breakfast.

It was six days later and leaving felt like Deja Vu, but in reverse and a lot achier. Hotel to the Tube to the other Tube to Heathrow. This time, though, I didn’t get lost or almost run over by a double-decker bus. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Trampoline man…

London Day Five: (The Best Lamb I Ever Tasted)

Thanks to Yelp my taste buds were set on an Indian/Pakistani restaurant in East London. I had read nightmare warnings of lines up to an hour so I figured I’d get there right as they opened up at noon. The day was strange in that I could actually see splotches of blue sky up there amid the clouds. I gave myself some leeway to walk around the neighborhood a little and wandered up to the doors right at noon. I was the first and only one there.

The place was called Tayyabs and it was the best food I’ve ever tasted. I do not kid about these types of things.

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I got off the tube and walked through East London, a much dirtier and grungier part of the city than I’ve seen so far, pass more veiled Muslim women than I’ve encountered in my 33 years living in L.A. It’s not that we don’t have our share of Muslims it’s just that you’re more likely to see one driving a Benz than hiding in a Burka. There was a mosque with separate Mens and Womens entrances, seeing that was a first for me in my young life. (Yes, 33 is young, dammit!) There was trash and urban detritus everywhere and now I know why Central London is so clean, because the wind must blow it all East.

I was seated in the corner while an army of waiters shared greetings and hugs and ignored me. There was a waiting pitcher of water, which I always appreciate, and tiny-tiny glasses so I was able to entertain myself with filling and refilling my glass after ever sip, but even that treasure chest of fun dulls and I quickly grew impatient waiting. I had looked forward to this meal for more than sixteen hours now and my stomach was throwing a mutiny over Captain Brain. It had seized control of the vessel and was yelling at the captain, “Goddamn it I don’t care if you find it impolite, flag one of those motherfuckers down and feed me!”

‘Yo motherfucker,’ I shouted.

Well not really. After sheepishly getting my waiter’s attention I apologized profusely, placed an order for two veggie samosas, a lamb-something, rice, naan, and a mango smoothie, and dazed there dreaming about my meal to come. They dropped a salad in front of me and I was off the races. I hoovered that up and then took notes about how excited I was and read my book and generally sat there reflecting on what a big wide world it is and how many people are out there spinning around aimlessly in its festooned delights and how much good food there is available for modern man to purge on and how the two things might not be so unrelated as at first glance, but probably are.

But I didn’t really have time to get all deep because right then the food came and the mutiny in my stomach was abruptly turned back and I had a moment of wide-eyed wonderment that reached down into the pit of my primitive being.

“Thank you so much. Man, it looks delicious,” I slobbered. “Thank you, oh thank you!”

I was hungry. And it looked good.

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I bit into the samosa and immediately slowed my chewing down in order to linger and savor the taste of it. It was the softest, most lightly fried shell I ever placed in my mouth and the sweetest blend of vegetables and spices combined to create the most delicate of juxtapositions, it was truth wrapped in flaky pastry — there was something heavenly in its perfection — like a haiku of flavors. This was not a meal to be rushed through. It was sublime. The naan was doughy and delicious and when I bit into the lamb I nearly shouted ‘hallelujah.’ Which might have been somewhat inappropriate, so I merely shook my head in disbelief instead and pigged out with a smile on my face, a happy and engorging man.

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With ten minutes of pure delight digesting in my stomach, I humbly forgave them for the small delay in ordering and wished I could go back to the beginning of the dish. I looked around sadly at my disappearing feast. I was half done when I remembered my mango smoothie and, not being much of either a mango or a smoothie fan, was surprised to discover it slid down the gullet like an exquisite narcotic and just instantly made me feel good. Tropical refreshments in the grim, soot-blackened East End? Believe it.

My taste buds had had their orgy and were now forgiving me for all the McDonald’s and other culinary castaways I threw down my human rubbish bin on this trip. ‘This was a festival of epicurean pleasures assembled by the kindest and wisest of hands. We have never been treated so well,’ my taste buds shouted. ‘Thank you, Captain Brain. You may now have the jerk pay the bill.’

That’s me, I’m the jerk. And I was strangely proud for having finished everything except for about a 1/4 of my naan and 274 pieces of rice. This meal was worth the 5,000 mile planetrip. This was one spoil of Colonialism I didn’t feel guilty about. I only wished my credit card was rejected so I could have been allowed to wash the dishes and eat others’ leftovers. Yum.

I then walked through Brick Lane and enjoyed the graffiti and sights of the colorful district, the retro clothing stores, the Bengali and Indian restaurants. The area was a little sleepy on a Friday afternoon and I ambled the the street with an urge to meander, but a bladder that said skedaddle.

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I passed through a business district with tall glass skyscrapers that teemed with industry and men in suits and women in blouses  on my way to the Liverpool Tube stop before disappearing into the Never-where of the Underground where I stared at my shoes and the overgrown lots and bricked apartment rows of Wherever-we-were. I was a plump and satiated man in need of an afternoon siesta, as they say in the home country so I rode the Tube with a fading, drowsy interest.

After recovering from that stretch of noontime gluttony with a little time in front of the Mac, I headed across the Thames to the Tate Modern for a wad of afternoon culture. The Tate Modern is a huge boxy museum right across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s Cathedral and it’s a remarkable bit of time warp to stand next to a surrealist painting by Picasso or Ernst and look out the window at the 400-plus year-old cathedral with an Ipod in your ear playing Kayne West. Weird stuff.

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The Tate is somewhat hit-or-miss when it comes to the art. But it’s free so all those hits are nothing but pure, affordable joy. There’s some really amazing pieces and then there are some room-sized abstract stuff that quite literally made one girl say, “Modern art makes me so angry!” She was commenting on a facsimile palm tree laying on the floor with random palm-inspired collages behind it in glass. I can’t say it made me angry, but I certainly wasn’t experiencing enlightenment.

On the other hand you had Picassos and Dalis and a roomful of Soviet Propaganda posters that could give a hundred Shepard Fairlys a profitable career. It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to get another tattoo on my left leg for about 8 years now. Where does the time go? Christopher Wood was a succesful artist who at only 29 entered a paranoid state and fell under a train. I’m 33 and haven’t done a single thing worth falling under a train for.

I kept going, wandering through the rooms, analyzing the art with that slow up and down appraisle that means absolutely nothing, it’s just how you’re supposed to look at art I reckoned, a pretentious 10-pound cranium stride. I couldn’t keep up the esoteric posturing because I kept getting distracted by my fellow art patrons and ended up having a seat and scrolling what I thought would surely become a tour-de-force screed.

Instead I composed a poem that would prove to be scattered and piecemeal, a vague collection of thoughts…

People — themselves assembled. Hanging on walls.
Stuck to a place in time,


Framed by wood and hard metal.

We don’t have that luxury.

In the painting there is a head growing out of a
tree stalk which is itself a head.
It is not beautiful.

I watched a girl with long, curly blond hair, red boots, black stockings, a purple skirt, and slung over her shoulder a North Face messenger bag. She stood on one leg like a stork as she read the description to a Monet painting, some lilly pads or something. She was a swirl of color and design: a work of art. As was the older lady with seashells on the straps of her purse and a bright pink bonnet. And the man who stood on his tippy-toes to closer inspect the corner of Walpurgis Night, clicking his tongue to express approval. We are all projections, illuminated and self-referential. The clicking tongues, the inadvertent leg-lifting, the toe-stepper. We are all poems, paintings, songs…

The muses were calling. I had the urge to go to my hotel room and pull a Kerouac. Write religiously, feverishly and without stop until I had the great American novel tucked in my book bag then go take a picture in a forest, drink rot-gut wine, slick back my hair with brill cream(?)

This always happens when I’m inspired by art. I immediately want to rush out and type up some impassioned manifesto. That’s the true worth in preserving these pieces, I supposed, inspiring other megalomaniacs to put their worst/best into the pursuit, thus the ideas and passion proliferates so that the art lives on. It’s like a parasite in this way. When Karate Kid came out I practiced my crane kick all summer.

I kid, (Karate Kid) but it’s true. Good art should be exponential; the original creation and all subsequent ones formed in its wake. Good art should make you dream of grander things, so dreams are constantly growing. Good art is a hustler, motivating you to do something obsessively, for no other reason than because it is your obsession. Good art is an elegant racket, and should make you want to add your own voice to the beautiful fray, despite how out-of-tune and offensive it may sound, or precisely because of how out-of-tune and offensive it may sound.

Good art should make you… I don’t know, do something.

Bad art is another story.