Monday, July 31, 2006



Bluetooth on your earlobe like one of grandma's clip ons
(or Blackberry/cell phone on your belt like the Caped Crusader)?

So not hot.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I went to karaoke
with J and his boyfriend
and M and his boyfriend
and D and his boyfriend.

I sang Tom Jones' "She's a Lady" to applause
and a heart breaking rendition of
Patsy Cline's "She's got you"
which may have generated tears - I practice in the resonantly tiled bathroom and concrete stair well - I can belt it out.
Afterwards, most stayed,
and decided to play doubles at pool.

There isn't really a place for a fifth
at pool
so I watched the couples from the bar for awhile
before I came back here
by myself.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


...go out to the queer bars in cut off sweat pants.

Even if you have been reduced to these vestments by virtue of being DRENCHED trying to raise the top of your car well into the thunder shower you didn't notice brewing because you had Bloc Party and the industrial strength A.C. cranked so high and loud you missed the first throaty growls of thunder and the start of the deluge which followed - and this is in fact ALL you have dry on hand.

Because men will assume you are a tramp - what with being nearly exposed in fabric hardly more substantial than flimsy drawers - and really, once the menzes have invested themselves so heavily in such a conclusion, how can you disappoint them?


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


As a kid, I spent a great deal of time in the room where my retired grandfather kept his books and carving bench. It had been my Father's bedroom for his entire life previous to marrying my mother. Dad's narrow bed under the low saltbox eaves was gone and replaced by charts and compasses, sextants and globes, pulleys and blocks and tackle and a bushel basket of Japanese glass fishing floats gathered gradually along the edge of The Sound. All held hours of fascination, but the things which drew me again and again were the ship half hulls. They were beautiful to me. They were working models from the boat and ship yards which has thrived before World War I along the banks of the Pawcatuck and Mystic rivers; polished mahogany forms to guide the carpenters and shipwrights in forming the ribbed frameworks of the hulls. They were all different, schooners and sloops and larger full rigged ships, but all had been invented via the maker's instinct from rolling compound curves; an organic understanding of forward motion and displacement through water. Two disparate halves could be placed together-two opposing ogee curves- the outline making what looked like a champagne glass shape (a "coup" contoured like Louis XV's mistress Madame Pompadour breast ) when viewed from the end.

The Andrea Doria was one of the loveliest ships built to ferry Americans to the Old World during the post war tourism boom, descending along the aesthetic lines of the great Normandie, which with many others I had examined in some of the books stacked in my Grandfather's room. Her steel flanks followed the same gracious curves of the wooden hull models. Inside, the swept back wedding cake superstructure was fitted with furniture and artworks by notable Italians of the day, sweeping coved ceilings, ceramic relief walls, lavishly woven carpets and tapestries and figural marquetry paneling and amoeba shaped chairs and sofas floating above polished marble mosaic floors on thin stiletto legs. Brochure illustrations reprinted alongside photos and deck plans in the books showed cheerful blond passengers beside outdoor pools - clean cut men in pale sports coats and ladies in crinoline dresses flared and brightly patterned like the attendant sheltering umbrellas - all being served those saucer shaped glasses of champagne by waiters in white jackets, narrow bow ties, and shiny blue black hair.

All large ships are surprisingly fragile things, considering their great size and cost; their beautifully curved steel skins are only about an inch thick. Late on the evening of July 25th, 1956, in a thick fog off Nantucket island, the fine contour of the Andrea Doria's hull was pierced in collision with the Swedish liner Stockholm. Far less lovely festive and bright, but armored and reinforced against the ice of northern waters, the long tapering, ice breaking clipper bow of the Stockholm penetrated from the portside almost to the Andrea Doria's center keel, and down from the main deck to far below the waterline. When the ships wrested apart, the ocean poured in, and hours later on the morning of the twenty sixth, with news cameras clicking away, the glossy black hull fully revealed itself, rolling over like a giant whale and slipping under the waves. Approximately fifteen hundred were saved by the speedy actions of rescue ships; forty eight died in their lavish cabins; crushed corpses sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic in a cracked eggshell of tons and tons of steel. Deck chairs and lifeboats floated off, and those not scavenged by the boats attending the sinking were carried off on the same currents which brought my grandfather his glass fishing floats.

The dead ship still captivates; people living who mourn the remembered dead, or who mourn that past era as lived or imagined. Less romantic admirers, divers drawn to the popular and accessible site, still sift through the debris for bits of porcelain and crystal not already stripped away by swift currents or previous visitors. The hull flexes and contorts as it crumbles into the ocean bottom, it's contours distorting and settling into new forms crusted and re-encrusted with anemonies and cobwebs of fishing nets. I've read that divers say, when the water changes suddenly, as it does from murky to clear, that it's quite beautiful in the cool green light that filters down from above.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rain (screenplay)

[ Setting: early 1990's; a shabby kitchen in a working class neighborhood of Boston Massachusetts; two young men with shoulder length hair sit in miss matched chairs at a chipped Formica table]

EDDIE: (staring out window at driving rain) Sigh.

JOEY: (looks up from magazine) Did you just say, "Sigh"?

EDDIE: Oh, I just feel trapped by all the rain today.

JOEY: Yeah? (leans back and folds arms over chest) But you didn't actually sigh. You said "Sigh".

EDDIE: Huh? (turns to face Joe) Oh.

JOEY: Don't you think that's strange?

EDDIE: Uh, so much rain in July? No, not really.

JOEY: Oh no... saying sigh - instead of actually sighing.

EDDIE: Oh. It's from "Peanuts".

JOEY: What?

EDDIE: And "Batman". Uh, Sunday comics. When we were little kids, my brother and I were really, really into comics. We punctuated our own actions by saying the printed words used to indicate sound effects. When we played - you know; like Pow! or Blam!

JOEY: Blam.

EDDIE: Yes. Screech! and vroom! when racing Matchboxes - stuff like that. Saying "sigh", or "gasp", or "sobbing" at the appropriate moment - instead of actually sighing or gasping or sobbing - was just a small step beyond that. It's - was fun.

JOEY: Fun (flexes quotation mark fingers on either side of head).

EDDIE: Yeah(averts eyes). I guess I still do it. Sometimes.

(JOEY returns to reading, while EDDIE turns back to the view outside; minutes pass)

EDDIE: (draws in long deep breath, then exhales forcefully while speaking) SIGH!

JOEY: (under his breath) Freak.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


There are animals all around us, even here along the scruffy end of Spring Garden.

We have red neon deer...

sturdy terracotta oxen...

and lucky ceramic kitty cats.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Street Life

The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the realtors and land speculators would like us to begin calling this dingy industrial area on the edge of Center City "The Loft District". Or even worse: "Trestle Town" after the abandoned railroad viaduct which snakes between the largely vacant factories and abuts the building where I write these posts. Art industry laborers have been drawn here by the vacuum of vanished industry for a long time - some toiling in this particular building (a former Reading Railroad freight transfer station) for more than twenty years. I stubornly describe our location as "north of China Town" - the lively, loud and pungent neighborhood to the south. The realtors want this place to be the next "Northern Liberties" or to mirror the skyrocketing success of my neighborhood: "The Art Museum Area", formerly lowly Fairmount. The new titles are attempts to attract the yuppies who have so far been hesitant to colonize these blocks.

Instead, we've recently welcomed an unexpected demographic: Asian and (mostly) Mexican immigrants - and the take out joints, taquerias and tiny grocery stores which serve them. It's really livened things up around here.

Each night after the restaurants have closed, along this "blighted" stretch of Spring Garden, the phone poles and the iron railings sprouting from cracked white marble steps leading up to the sagging - but now fully occupied - row houses, are wrapped and garlanded with the tiny bicycles they peddle to service industry jobs in town. Now in the late hours young men come down from their shabby apartments into the relative cool of the street; clustering in doorways and on the steps; drinking canned beer and smoking cigarettes; and kicking soccer balls along the very recently empty sidewalks. Their dark eyes follow me as I drive by in my shiny black car - top down - to the now desirable zipcode of my own not long ago "blighted" neighborhood, really not all that far away to the west.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Oh! Say Can You See...

I'm hoping to see the fireworks tonight. I've missed the last two nights' presentations as I've been staying in the air conditioning. Our species will not survive such coddling luxuries.

I'm late for a cook out.

The host couple are both serious cooks who smoke and grill, sear, saute and wok whatever delights they find fresh in the stalls of Reading Terminal Farmers' Market, or the Italian Market, or those inscrutable shops in China Town where all the labels and signs are in characters save for the prices. Everything is made from scratch. The guests are asked to bring something. In my case, that means mixers, booze, or deserts or anything else which may be purchased rather than prepared. Mixers this time, including fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juices from the fancy food emporium - where the members of the oppressor class and scruffy folks in dreadlocks and woven hemp drawstring pants alike - fork over a 20% premium for Belgian endives, pomegranates and smoked salmon enriched by nourishing tales of fair trade chemical free Wholeness. The two half gallons of juice and a quart of free range cranberry cocktail (harvested by farmer owners wielding long wooden rakes so as not to disturb the egret broods and bog voles) came to $18.65 - though parking is free in the ample, lavishly landscaped with regional water saving native plant species parking lot.

Oh Jeez, I'm Late.
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