Footnotes from the Gutters
The Reading Room
October 2nd, 2011
It’s a warm day in Manhattan, with an impersonal breeze. The grass is ringed with concrete, like a Greek temple. Trees with twisted trunks dome over the space like a microcosm, with purple and green stalks of flowers, flat tropical leaves. They form the thin border between bustling anxiety and timeless relaxation. A great bowl, large enough for Zeus’ cereal, overflows and is surrounded by coffee tables. Everything around you worth sitting on is evergreen and damp. All around you people are fidgeting with cameras, talking politics, or staring blankly at newspapers. On one wing there is a copper green Ferris wheel with Christmas lights, and harlequin stripes that has been there since Salinger was still kicking around. On the other side the trees surround a separate set of tables where boy scouts and retirees read literature on their Sunday morning. It’s a wonderful little place for poetry in a rough and well oiled mechanical city.
23rd + Broadway
A man does tai chi in a sandbox of dirt by a tree older than the city, tall as a giant, with its limbs cut back to the trunk.
Union Square West
A wholesome dressing troubadour plays a beat to hell piano, a shy tan dog sits on top with a blue leash and barks lyrics in time with his master. He plays ballads for anyone in love enough to listen and spare a penny, and he plays jazz for anyone in love enough to dance.
A dirty looking middle aged man sells spectral impressions of the city’s architecture, but the impressions aren’t pictures of things, they are illustrations of this city’s soul, ghostly, and haunting, with the vague impression of existence smeared over the canvas. The painting says Barlow ’11 in the corner.
Another has painted the city from a great distance. With all the beams and metal twisted, leaning on each other. The paint is remorseless, and oozes color and rain.
Gandhi is decorated with flower petals for his birthday, an international day of nonviolence. I should send a holiday card to the jarheads in the wasteland, in case they were too busy staying alive to remember. These things tend to slip the mind.
Fall in Manhattan
mail carrier bags
intellectual is sexy
There’s three people playing guitar pretty well, some 12 year olds in baggy shirts and skinny jeans are jumping some stairs on skateboards. Park guards in green khakis chase them off. Older couples are enjoying the weather while at least four sets of college students are filming their daily lives for a Vlog.
They shoot retakes.
The center fountain is a pillar of water, a young couple walks their dog and kiss.
They don’t need retakes.
Popular Culture Gallery
semi-famous pictures from obscure angles, assorted mugshots — Cobain’s Aberdeen County Portrait in yellow film- doodles, pictures of batman and JFK overlaid with generic paint splatter, corperate logos and advertisements. Facial cross sections of Hendrix, Lennon (Beatles not Russia) and Bugs. Spiderman and the Chrysler in many colorschemes, facial expressions with lips or eyes. The Colts-Jets superbowl from at least the eighties.
MLG on Broadway West
Interview with a grease-ball outside trying to sell his artist relations on camera while a boom mic hangs like a fuzzy dildo under his mouth. A 30 yr old crew member picks his nose.
Down the street, a grizzled old man in a yellow rain jacket is painting his lover naked from memory. The old show tunes wag their fingers on his antique radio, as he shades their bed sheets just right.
It’s where art thrives out of the backs of windowless vans, with too much integrity to walk inside the galleries or get a shower.
They’ve moved the chairs around a bit since I met the fire marshal, but the memorials are still here, the graveyard outside is covered in white ribbons. Printed on them is simply “Remember to Love”… and I answer, I’ll try.