Friday, January 27, 2012


i saw this woman from the above charles brittin photograph in a dream a few nights ago. i dreamt that she had been put into a trance before the picture was taken. in my quest to uncover the story behind this image, i found that the woman is shirley berman, the wife of the artist and poet wallace berman. i was disappointed to learn that she wasn't anonymous. that seems like a hurtful thing to think. at least she has a name, thank god she has a name! there is something very sad and very unfair about photographs in which people are pictured and not named. when i see images of anonymous people i always feel bad for them because it seems like common decency that we should know, or at least want to know, their names. however, there is also the obvious enticing mystery that accompanies looking at an unknown. who is she, what is she doing, what is she thinking, how is she feeling? i suppose this photograph has not been ruined for me by learning the woman's name because i still like to pretend that in this moment she is tragically anonymous and possessed: robbed, posable, a vessel. 

i've looked at this photograph so many times now that i can see her pupils and connect her gaze to a point in space, but i'll always think of her as being in a trance. i see it in the whites of her eyes; her tousled, haloed head; and the sunlight resting in her open hand. i like to be on the side of the photographer, the one putting the spell on her, the one who can look and impose whatever i want upon her. i also like imagining that i'm her, that my entire being has been sucked away and that i am free from making choices or being affected by anyone or anything. there is something irresistible about a body that moves at the command of a mind that has been overtaken, but nobody wants that, i don't want that. i want my body to do what my mind tells me to, and i want my thoughts and my thoughts only to be the ones that make me do the things i do and say the things i say, stupid and floundering as they sometimes may be. i guess that's life: you want somebody to tell you what to do, but when they tell you, you say, "no! leave me alone! you can't tell me what to do and it's better this way!" and then you fuck up and learn from it wish you were in a trance but not really.

let's just agree on this: it would be nice to be in a trance for an instant, like the one that i will always imagine shirley berman having been in on that day in venice in 1956.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

old-school polish cobbler/clickity-clack

SETTING: monday afternoon in greenpoint, yelena shoe repair.

RANDALL enters YELENA SHOE REPAIR, a space no bigger than a manhattanite's walk-in closet. the whole place smells like rubber and there are pieces of rubber that will become soles littered on the counter. THE COBBLER stands at the counter doing something to one of said pieces of rubber.

RANDALL: hello, i am interested in getting my shoes repaired?


RANDALL proceeds to remove the shoes in question, a pair of vintage roper boots, from a re-used trader joe's bag. she flips them over to reveal the soles that are cracked on BOTH of the boots. fucking ebay. why does anybody trust ebay ever?

RANDALL: i need to have new soles put on. do you think you can fix them?

THE COBBLER picks up one of the boots and inspects the sole.

THE COBBLER: these very old. sole made of plastic. the heel? also made of plastic. you need rubber sole and heel. i replace sole and heel and put rubber on. okay?

RANDALL: ...okay...

THE COBBLER: friday will be ready. you come in on friday? it will be thirty.

RANDALL: thirty dollars?


RANDALL: that's fine... but can i ask you a question?


RANDALL picks up one of the boots and taps the heel and the sole against the counter.

RANDALL: i really like the clickity-clack noise they make. if you put rubber on the soles and the heels will they still make that noise?

THE COBBLER shakes his head and looks exasperated.

THE COBBLER: no clickity-clack! you want me no fix?

RANDALL: oh, no no no! yes, please fix them!

THE COBBLER: you be in on friday?

RANDALL: yes, i will. thank you.

THE COBBLER writes RANDALL a receipt and they part. END SCENE.

IN CONCLUSION: i am sad that i'm losing the clickity-clack. i like when people can hear when i'm coming. i hope my stomping and marching tendencies are not hampered by these new soles. to be continued. i have heard good things about this guy.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

me around the house

i think this is best done in list format. i love lists. i haven't written a list in a long time. let the list begin!

1) i woke up to my alarm clock (i.e. my cell phone), which i had set to 10:30 a.m. so as to avoid the debacle of last sunday, on which i slept until 5 in the evening due to a combination of sleep deprivation, depression (i'm S.A.D.), and an epic and embarrassingly obvious symbolic dream from which i could not wake. i rose at 11, and suddenly i was filled with the urge to listen to that song "time warp" from rocky horror picture show. so...

2) ...i went into the kitchen, put that shit on LOUD, and proceeded to make my epic sunday breakfast (eggs-in-the-hole, fool!). some songs are really good in the morning. "time warp" is one of them. you know, rocky horror is one of those movies you watch when you're thirteen, and when you're thirteen you think it's awesome but then time goes on and you're like, "this shit sucks and is totally stupid and monster mash." but then you get a little older and then you don't really care anymore. that movie and the soundtrack are really fun. i would never go to a midnight showing. all i'm saying is that you should give it another chance and accept it for the goofy semi-stupid yet amazing movie that it is. tim curry, people. you know you want to do him, no matter which way you swing.

3) i looked at the internet and drank way too much coffee and got into the shower. i blasted echo and the bunnymen in the shower. then i went into the living room and watched porn for a while. THEN as i was reheating some potluck leftovers, i heard a door open in our apartment. i froze. who the FUCK was there? "hello...?" i called. that's it, i thought, my worst fears are coming true. somebody is burglarizing my apartment and i am about to be violated. BUT! just as i was about to drop my reheated sloppy joe and run like a bastard into the streets wearing nothing but my mom's old silk kimono (in twenty-one degree weather!), who walks into the kitchen but ANDREA! "you scared the shit out of me!" i said. i started laughing and then i started crying and i couldn't stop shaking. as it turns out, AJ had taken a personal day and i had no idea she was home. "i was watching porn and listening to loud music!" i cried. she didn't care. i live with an awesome person. she is much more preferable to a burglar.

4) i continued my herzog/kinski marathon and watched my best fiend. kinski is fascinating, seductive, an utter maniac, a complete lunatic. herzog is, i feel, a bit of a lunatic himself, but he is a sneaky lunatic, a very composed maniac. sometimes i question the claims that they, at various points in their working relationship, truly wanted to murder each other, but then i think of the gigantic, almost uncontainable nature of fitzcarraldo and aguirre: the wrath of god, and how they almost seem like products of strangulation. their relationship is tragic in its turbulence. it is simultaneously frightening and enviable. kinski died in 1991. i'm sad he isn't alive anymore. he and herzog made five films together. i suppose i am sad whenever any epic saga ends. lump-in-the-throat and all that shit. 

4) after watching my best fiend, i felt the urge to utilize the B-level vodka somebody had left in our fridge after the potluck. i put on like, A THOUSAND layers and went to family dollar. god bless family dollar. it is a fucking oasis in this wasteland that is the ass-end of bushwick. however, family dollar was out of orange juice. there was orangeADE and TAMPICO and SUNNY D, but i was not about to fuck with that shit. so i went to the bodega on knickerbocker and THEY were out of huge jugs of OJ too! so i had to buy a bunch of small bottles of OJ to satisfy our need for screwdrivers in the evening. i also bought more coffee. WOW!

5) i arrived home and fixed myself a drink and had some smokes and worked on my writing. andrea came out of her room and we scrolled through the best and worst dressed ladies on the golden globes red carpet. we didn't know who half of them were. a few years ago i would have known every single one of them. today it felt good to not know and just be like, "ew, what the hell is she wearing." i am going to hell! oh well. i pressed on with my second draft and now i am here, writing on this thing and exhausted. these days are so long and sad. i love winter, but it is a masochistic kind of love. i wish that i was not so fascinated by misery, by things becoming darker earlier and lighter later. it is safe here in the house. it is safe if you hide underneath thermals and sweaters and leggings and socks and blankets and comforters. i suppose i'll have to leave the house tomorrow if i am to complete the many things on my to-do list, but it feels good to have sequestered myself inside for the day. in winter, you must hide yourself away as much as possible. you must do as bears do and hibernate as best you can until things are not so cold.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

the bus rules (except when it sucks)

i am all about taking the bus right now. the subway hogs all the attention and nobody pays any mind to buses. when somebody who isn't from new york asks you what subway they should use to get to wherever they're trying to go, you know exactly what to tell them: which line to take, where to transfer, and an alternative option. boom, boom, boom. people aren't intimidated of the subway like they are with the bus. i recently discovered that the bus that stops right down the block from me goes directly to the east new york post office, which has saved me the trouble of having to haul my ass AND my undelivered packages down atlantic avenue and back to broadway junction. i tell andrea to take the bus when she needs to go to the post office, but she says she doesn't want to because it's hard to tell where you are and the bus announcements aren't always clear. all of these things are true. the bus can, indeed, suck. i must admit that i am still a bit of an amateur bus rider. just the other day i freaked out and got off at the wrong stop because i thought i was lost. i think the key to the bus is to just not panic and let it take you for a ride. of course, you have to have an idea of where you're going, but i've noticed that all of my shitty bus-riding experiences have always been made that way by anxiety about where i'll end up. if you get lost, you can just go across the street and ask whoever is waiting around for the next bus to point you in the right direction. it's embarrassing to be lost, but i also feel that people who ride the bus are nicer than people on the subway. it takes a great deal of patience to ride the bus, i think.

if you make a habit of pausing at various bus stops to check out the route, you can make your life a whole lot easier and more fun. i like the feeling of being whisked away by a bus. it stops with a sigh and the doors open and you can get a seat by a window, and there is nothing more bomb than looking out a window and totally spacing out while listening to music. i never get on buses when i'm in a hurry. i like the way they move through traffic. there is something very lumbering and majestic about them. when you discover these magic little deer paths that buses make around the city, it feels like inheriting a secret recipe or joining a sacred order. to dole out subway directions feels like barking orders; to suggest a bus route feels like passing on a precious trinket of information. i like the feeling of accumulating these little trinkets. now i know that i can take the B20 to my post office, the B54 to clinton hill, and the M14 to library bar directly from work. perhaps taking the bus isn't any easier than taking the subway, but at least you can look out the window. it's a nice change from looking at the floor or a stupid advertisement or at fellow subway riders and thinking, god, what is that girl WEARING? those are the worst boots i've ever seen. dear god, i need to shut up. i need to think positively. find one thing about her that looks good. fine: her bag is okay. dear god! exhausting! we need more windows and slow-moving vehicles in our lives.

so, yes, i do enjoy the bus quite a bit, but i'll tell you something i sure DON'T enjoy about it, and that is hearing it chug past my building on weekends when the L is fucked up and there is double the bus traffic (via the shuttle). go away, evil shuttle bus! you made me fifteen minutes late for work today! 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

winter march

"four a.m., bars close. guys asleep in bowery doorways. but just before dawn is the worst: despair city. the jumpers start, out the windows, off the roof. i can't even look. So that's the night, new york. Ain't it grand? what a life."
-arthur fellig, a.k.a. weegee

today it felt like january for the first time to me. a friend of mine recently shared a quote from the author jim harrison stating that "it takes a great deal of strength to keep january out of the soul[.]" the past 24 hours of my life have been a complete freak show. i met a man who had lost his glasses and i told him that i would find them for him. "i'm good at finding things," i said, and even though it took me a sleepless night and a clumsy morning to do so, i found them. they were on the floor resting on a dark spot of the carpet. even though i found them, nothing changed. he could see again, but there was no coffee in the cupboard and too much vodka in the freezer, and there was no way he was going to leave the house that day. so i left instead. i had no choice but to leave. there was nothing more i could have done.

when i left i called out of work. after stopping at home to devour four cups of coffee and put on my best chelsea girl outfit (which is what i always do when i go to chelsea), i went to see the weegee/vivian maier show at steven kasher gallery. the desire to attend an art show originates from the desire to educate oneself; the wish to pay homage to art and artists; or the urge to participate in a timely, intersubjective experience. but in addition to all this, i believe that the most important reason we attend these shows is because they speak to certain needs, questions, castastrophes, and epiphanies within us that we aren't even conscious of. these works and their collective energy beckon to us, and once we enter the space in which they occupy we become completely powerless. one might experience a sensation akin to drowning, or, conversely, coming up for air. in either case, something is unlocked, and one cannot help but feel that it must be fate, that these images were assembled in this space at this time because you needed to see them, because the narrative of your life demanded that you do so. i suppose this all sounds very narcissistic, but i am not just talking about myself, i am speaking for everybody who has ever felt themselves become completely undone (for better or for worse) by art.

i suppose i should continue with my story. i walked from the 6th avenue subway stop to the gallery because i felt like taking a walk. i have new black boots and it's nice to stomp around in them after wearing filthy converse sneakers for so long. i silenced my phone before i entered the gallery, the entryway of which was flanked with a small display of photographs by accra shepp depicting the occupy movement. after perusing them, i stepped into the gallery's main space, which was filled entirely with weegee prints. each of these famously sensationalistic images projected a kind of manic, despairing energy into the room. weegee's work has been described as having captured "the good and the bad, but mostly the bad." at the kasher space, the sampling of the "good" and the "bad" were roughly equal to one another; however, the boundaries between "good" and "bad" became blurred in the sense that the "bad" seemed to bleed over into the "good." in the "good" images, people were gaping and not looking, they were not putting on costumes so much as hiding, and every embrace was transformed into a grope. i felt scared and small in that room, and i was highly conscious of the noise my boots were making as i circled the exhibition. i felt deeply sad as i viewed that show. it, combined with all that had occurred within the past 24 hours, made me feel that our constant exposure to misery has the power to imbue even the most benign sights and happenings into miniature terrible melodramas. i thought about my walk to the gallery, and how my good feelings about taking a walk through new york city were also plagued by my own fears, how i would feel distracted at times at the thought of having my purse snatched or being hit by a car. sometimes i feel that i am never safe, and it is true: nobody is safe, not ever. if we are to lead happy lives, we must learn to ignore this fact while also maintaining an air of caution. this, i think, is one of the hardest things to do.

and then i thought about the man whose glasses i found. i thought about him being trapped in his apartment and about the overwhelming amount of vodka in his freezer. the sliver of his life that i had just glimpsed was harrowing, but i couldn't help but be drawn into it, to romanticize it against my better judgement. to sensationalize it, if you will. as much as it disgusts me to admit to this, i couldn't look away from this man whose life was so obviously disintegrating. i replayed the disaster of my brief time with him in the way one recounts the events of a tragic play. i couldn't help but not only want to watch the play, but to be in it. i always do this, so many people always do this. when you do this, you are trying to break your own heart, you are trying to die faster. to thrust yourself into a dangerous situation, to be the first one at the crime scene (or at least feel like it) is thrilling, but it is thrilling in a way that is completely, knowingly wrong. weegee said that people were jumping to their deaths and he couldn't look, but he did look. he couldn't stop looking, and neither can i.

vivian maier's work was quieter and of course wonderful, but i didn't linger for long in the separate, sequestered wing of the gallery in which her work was hung. weegee had me feeling like a complete fucking maniac. i left the gallery and walked over to where the water was. i watched the water, and it was the color of the sky: ice blue. that was the first time i realized that, yes, it truly is winter, because the sky only looks this way when it's winter. i sat by the water and wrote in my journal until my body was chilled. when i realized i was cold i reminded myself to keep january out, to find someplace warm where i could eat and write while i waited to eat. despite not having consumed food all day, i wasn't hungry. i ordered a burger anyway, and when it came i discovered that i was ravenous. before i left i ordered some tea and perused the arts section of a local free newspaper. as i read, i had the feeling that january was still lingering inside me despite my efforts to drive it out, but perhaps i was just chilled from sitting by the water for so long and sad because i felt powerless in the face of human tragedy. either way, i knew the best thing to do was to go home. so that's what i did: i marched straight home. i think that's what you have to do in the winter: march, and don't stop marching until you're warm again!


Saturday, January 7, 2012


i miss my family. why can't we all want the same things so we can be in the same place all at once? everybody is at school somewhere and trying to make it elsewhere or retired in a place that's supposed to be better. i want my parents and my sister and my dogs. i wish i could hail a cab and tell them to head west. i'd pay for the six-pack and the corn nuts and everything else if i could.


Monday, January 2, 2012


on new year's eve i banged my knee on my bed frame and now i am limping. it is one of those metaphorical injuries, i think. what the hell have i done? 2011 was a complete and utter disaster. on new year's day i went to brunch with kelly, and she had to walk extra slow with me. when we parted ways, i thought about how 2011 has, in many ways, left me a broken woman. it only makes sense that i should be walking away from this wreckage with a limp. 

today my knee feels a little better. today i wrote my resolutions on a piece of paper and nailed it to the wall. i think a nail is better than tape. it felt good to hammer it in. it felt good to hit something hard.