Pimp to the mouth-breathers

An Early Comcast Valentine to the Misbegotten

I’m taking back Comcast equipment that didn’t work. I’m in line. The Steve Harvey show is on. Steve is talking to an older asian woman, but evidently Comcast doesn’t care to hear what they’re saying because old Steve is on mute. So instead, arms locked with Comcast gear, I stand watching the images flick - a couple of yet to be discovered silent movie stars. The asian woman has a laser pointer and she’s hovering it over photos of couples sleeping in bed. The red dot dances over the space between them. And here they are wrapped in each other’s arms. And here they are turned away from one another. An early valentine to the misbegotten.

Steve’s spotted tie doesn’t match his striped jacket and he fidgets and pulls at the tie. Maybe all this talk of couples in beds makes him uneasy. Maybe there was no one in bed with him that morning to talk him out of that outfit. 

And as I’m told to step forward to window four, my neck continues to crane towards Steve and the empty space. Towards the unfixable tie and the red dot that keeps the couples oh so far apart. 

Happy Light

In a slump of winter despair last month, I bought a light that’s supposed to fight seasonal depression. It’s called a happy light. If I’m being honest, I was hoping it would imbue my little skin cells with some good old vitamin D, a la pseudo tanning bed.

But instead, it’s just an awful florescent light. Far worse than light wrought by any hospital or DMV. I’ve used it only twice. The first was while blow drying my hair before bed. This is great, I thought, until my dilated pupils kept me up until 3am. The second and last time I used it while working out and almost puked from all the happiness. 

The moral of the story: lights don’t make you happy. The sun does, but in Chicago, that prospect still has a long way to go. 

Found these while looking for a picture of a dog in a purse this evening. A bunch of Little Village friends who started a library out of their teacher’s house. Really great kids. Alive, confident, and willing to chase you around with a balloon until you beg for mercy.

Just a little slice of summer as we inch toward another round of Chicago snow-laden oblivion.

Sky-Clogging Bastards

I’m driving the everyday drive on the highway. It’s dusk and 5:30 p.m. Chicago winter is some smug version of Robert E. Lee: winning the battle, failing to see the spring about to Gettysburg its ass. Out my window, the street lamps are like little clusters of friends showing me which way to look on the way home. Over here, one says. Look at that Greek church. It’s less like a church and more like a portal, I think. So many see-through windows to the west. And I look through them, but I’m also driving so I can’t look as longingly as I’d like. 

The church is the gem in this otherwise spice-less life slice. The Budweiser ads and car billboards clog up the sunset and sometimes the street lamps don’t have much else to point at.  But I always notice the church. A big thing dwarfed by the even bigger city thing across from it. A thing that thought it knew its place, but now isn’t so sure. Beautiful and confused. The Anna Nicole Smith of churches. 

And soon it’s a confused thing seen through a review mirror. And I wave goodbye to my friends the lamps and their enemies, the sky-clogging sign bastards. And I exit. 

iphone woe

Just because you can communicate doesn’t mean you get what you want, I think, looking at the six people, heads stuffed into iphones, around me. I feel like a candy tantrum-throwing three-year-old, except instead of snicker bars, I’d like my friends back. 

Being ignored for a phone is like being picked last in gym. A deliberate sidelining in the kickball game of life. 

Her is Red with an ‘H’

The color of passion, right?
And Joaquin Phoenix’s shirt
Red is the color that River Phoenix’s veins are no more.
And probably one of those colors you should have studied
On that failed Great Gatsby quiz.
Red is people and all their mistakes
Death being the big fat mother.

You have a body that dies, the floating Scarlett Johansson voice says
like some sexy Buddha app.
“You have me and you don’t.
The heart is ever-expanding, not empty”
And all that other crap that robots like to say to make humans feel guilty.

Red like Spike Jonze’s loneliness
Red like the phone
Red like the strawberries I feed my parakeet
To make him feel so less alone.

I wish someone would feed me a strawberry
Take me out of my cage once in a while
Play my old Shins songs to help me remember
What the not in a cage feeling is like.

Sex is Red without the love
Love is Red without the hurt
Red is Scarlett Johansson’s voice plastered on Joaquin Phoenix’s body
A modern marriage
A two-way street
A virtual someone’s serenade
by a silent parakeet.

 

 

Sister Wendy

”She was so loved, and so damaged,” Sister Wendy intoned gravely as her hands, like hummingbirds, fluttered toward the wound. ”Love’s a dangerous thing.

-From Sister Wendy, Cloistered, New York Times. Sept. 30, 1997.

PBS has been rerunning old Sister Wendy Beckett episodes (she’s a nun who had a show in the 90’s where she interpreted art) and I recently watched one where she talked the heck out of a Rembrandt painting called The Jewish Bride.

"This is a much older couple," Sister Wendy said in her breathy lisp. "Notice he’s placing something around her, and she puts her hand up to signify, ‘I accept, I give up my freedom for you and you for me. We are bound to each other. It’s almost like Rembrandt captures the whole concept of marriage using just the one image."

Not bad for a woman who’s only been married to Jesus.

Sister Wendy will be 84 in February and I thought it might be nice to send her a letter. That is, until I came across a New York Times article from 2007 with the headline: Sister Wendy Beckett: ‘Don’t write to me - my time is for God’

Well, all right then.

"My time is for god," the hermit nun said. "I’ve no time for gardening or letter-writing, the usual let-outs for those who are alone."

I thought letter-writing and gardening would be the perks of nun-dom, but perhaps only for the transcendentalist nun. Then again, the word “alone” is an interesting word choice coming from a woman who’s been syndicated on PBS. 

But then again, again, maybe praying is just another word for stillness, for listening to the quiet in one’s head instead of being always so eager to fill it with outside noise and distraction.   

And if that’s the case, then hats off Sister Wendy. May 84 bring you inner peace and tranquility, with none of that gardening business to muck it all up.

And, if god allows, a new PBS series. 

One Drunk Wall Deserves Another

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You may recall my fondness for other people’s bathrooms, providing they’re clean, warm and interesting-looking.

This one belongs to a girl who acted as host of a Shakespeare party, in which a whole group got up and read through the entire length of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in one evening.

Her name is Grace Sherman and judging from this picture, looks to be about 26 now.

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I’ve never heard an entire Shakespeare play read aloud like that at a party, and the effect was something else. The audience really listened, groaning and heckling at any part that could be sexually skewed and verbally harassing and engaging the show’s characters as suited them. The “mechanicals” - the play within the play people - upstaged everyone else by far. Pyramus and Thisby were heartbreaking, the stage presence of the woman who played “Moonshine” shone brighter than many an actor I’ve known, and a drunken “Wall” passed cinnamon whiskey back and forth to a Lion who, by the play’s end was so inebriated his part was usurped by the versatile “Moonshine.” At one point, Demetrius was practically booed off the stage for scorning the lovesick Helena: “I am sick when I do look on thee.”

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The whole thing made me see that Midsummer Night’s Dream isn’t really a comedy. Most of the show is about love that doesn’t work - people manipulating and rejecting one another, compounded by further layers of fairy dust and deception. Even the death of Pyramus and Thisby - one of the most tender moments in the play - is an act. A play within a play. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written post Romeo and Juliet and it shows. It’s no coincidence that the latter two characters are the dullest to watch in that particular play. True love can be, well, truly boring on stage. But manipulative love…now there’s a truth for the ages. 

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The aforementioned Grace had a hammock strung across her room, from which she let yours truly swing. And so concluded the night. Hammocking in a stranger’s room, suspending both my body and disbelief. Already plotting for a better role in next month’s show.  

To Be a Fish

I wish I wish I were a fish
Or maybe just a grub
I’d swim away to foreign shores
Or hide inside a shrub
But sharks can be a problem
As is the robin in the tree
Perhaps I’ll just stay here a while
Content with being me.