Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Time-Space of Here-Now

Behold the times are changing. Or the temperature is forcing changes in the "proper" place of men. Now is the time of Nintendo-game playing, NBA watching, and beer guzzling, inside. Jennifer reports that the “kissy men” are no longer stationed at the entrance to 674 Academy Street. They have forsaken the cleverly placed bottle-opener mounted at the entrance to the store next door. They have gone inside to leer through their beer at something other than my wife.

I know the place is the only thing that’s new; their everyday activities are still much the same. It’s hard to know who to be angry at: these men only know the rules of the game, they don’t know it’s possible to only live. Alcohol, like capitalist hegemony, is a powerful drug of social control. And these men are largely unemployed to the point of being something other than white. Why should we be surprised at psychological violence toward women when “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won an Academy Award this year? When clothing advertisements tell us: “Who needs a brain when you got these?” When women are essentially sexual vessels – weaker objects, to be possessed or consumed?

It makes me mad to know that by April, the kissy men will be back to making Jennifer wish she lived in Ohio where it’s still a surprise when men openly intimidate women as they enter their homes. But until then we will enjoy the sounds and scents of our antique whistling heater, the trilling of the opera singer two floors above us (we have to keep the windows open because the heater makes our air so hot), the taste of the pumpkin pies that are so seasonally cheap at Fine Fare, the beaming face of our Cuban next door neighbor, the repetition of the stories told by the Irish doorman emeritus who haunts our building with a lilt, the barking of the dogs who I wish lived at the far end of Long Island, colors flying (?) over passed boards, “normal” cholesterol tests, 75 cent coffee made without asking by an all-night coffee seller who thinks Ohio would be more like the paradise he imagined (on a night when the wind air is much colder that the dusty wind in Egypt): the smell of the earth as it begins to recompose our return into the cycle of life-death. This is a good time to Live, the place what surrounds us is emptying out, giving us space to breathe. Here and now we have a nice place on Academy Street next to Inwood Hill.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Jamjock Gets Married

Derrick Miller is a thrifty man. His bread and butter is discounted name-brand clothes from Gabriel Brother’s, or Air-Tran air-miles rescued from used drink containers in Burger King dumpsters. I can distinctly recall one three week trip in which he refused to eat at any place that sold hamburgers for more than 99 cents.

But Derrick is also a man of vision – he’s at least as crazy as he is measured. Sensing the uselessness of a Kent State University degree in something like History or English he chose instead to focus his energy on jam making, frequent trips to Florida (where he could count on free lodging at his daughties house) and aeronautics: that is, he bought himself a share in a hot air balloon.

Based on the combination of these two careful qualities, I’m curious as to how we should assess Derrick’s latest long-term investment. Although the food today was excellent in that it was free and tasty – I doubt it had much to do with Derrick’s decision and desire to marry Sarah. No, Sarah should be thought of as more than a good deal or a wise investment. (Both of which I’m sure she is.) Derrick I imagine is marrying her because he loves her. That is, he’s marrying her not because he has fantasies about what a great future they will have together, or because she is just too good to pass up. Derrick will find, if he hasn’t already, that he is marrying Sarah because he can’t imagine living without her. A year from now he’ll look back and forget what it was like to be single rather than two. Not to worry Derrick, from my perspective it’s a better way to live.

I congratulate you Derrick and Sarah on finding each other. I pray that as you cultivate your sensibilities as two different yet now even more familiar human beings you will learn in a deeper way what it means to love and be loved.

Note: Derrick is easily the funniest man I know (after Boozer)

Friday, October 13, 2006


Things I think I saw. #4

Muran: A wrinkled woman in a purple cape dress bulging ominously with corn-cob stopped bottles of water (?). The dress she received from a Mennonite missionary many years ago; the ominous bulges she received from the same place she got the wrinkles. Everyone calls her “godmother.” She is an old woman of the hills; a woman made of hills. Rice braided into her hair a memento of a good meal, the harbinger of a good meal to come. She nearly died this morning she croaks, hands swinging dramatically. She was wandering the hills looking for things. She brought a coffee cup with her, buried in her bosom.

Tonto’s father (with the lazy eye) often yells Tonto-aee in a high and cracking voice for extended periods of time when he wants the young uncle to come home. Tonto and his little sister Carolenne cam entertain themselves for hours playing games of chase and each, pour dirt on each other, twirl around a pole, or spin a pill bottle lid backwards. Tonto is missing his middle teeth. Carolenne is often missing a dress. She likes chewing the paint off buildings. Singing: “Get down, get down, or I’m going to make you fall.” They play at fighting until the cleaning lady threatens to hit them if they keep throwing dirt on the porch.

The son of Nicolas gave the rest of his rice steeped in bean broth to neighbors who lurked in back of the tinless hut. They share in poverty and in hunger. Nicolas tossed a handful of corn to an instantaneous flock of chickens and pigs. A starving dog refused to kill a helpless chicken and instead risked the striking wrath of Madame Nicolas to hastily swipe a dinner droppings. Bearded baptized Nicolas stared at us and thought about how simple it would be for his fellow Christians to extend a helping hand full of money.

A man hoeing a red-brown field of rice the color of soup. A glistening boy-specimen stands, his naked back to the road, looking. The world is green in shades of florescence. It is a luminous world glowing with square inches of life.

I awoke to sun light streaming through a slated screen. A dove cooed, a rooster crowed one more time.

To see photos of the things I think I saw both above and below follow this link:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Things I think I saw. #3

Monday: A woman with HIV was surprised when she could live for another 10 years if she stuck with her new anti-retroviral medication. Maybe she could have a child after all she said.

Tuesday: The neighbors who live in the cultural display (from the Museum of Natural History at 81st Street)

next door came over for pictures this afternoon. The oldest girl who wiggles asked in a shy way – with big eyes. Before I knew it a shirted brother and naked sister had clambered over and under the fence. Next a blue skirted second-to-the-youngest. Later she said her baby sister and her mother wanted a picture too. I asked the father with the wandering eye if he wanted in on the action too: he did. The cultural exhibit was full of light and laughter – under a thatched ceiling. The next door neighbors pick up yard trash and listen for rattling doors and shaking fences at night. For this, and because they are so nice, they receive rice.

Wednesday: Today we ate bread that was too hot to hold in our hands. Haitian bread is dense and white; it is broken into long strips like communion bread in Ohio. It is baked in an earthen oven after it is rolled and stroked with exquisite exacting care by a tall man in a baseball cap. The flour to make the bread is mixed with water which carried on the head from a nearby (3/10 of one mile) down-hill spring. (This spring supplies the local community with all its drinking water.) The flour and the break it produces is owned by women wrapped in adequate but ill fitting clothes. If someone buys a lot of bread at once, one of these women might let the customer borrow a cloth so they can carry their bread (on their head) home. The women who sell the bread must pay for the flour, the skills of the tall tank-topped man and the gaping earthen oven, before they will be able to sell the bread to make more money to buy more flour, to pay the tall black man, and fire the furnace again. Haitian bread is best when it is hot and wrapped in a borrowed cloth.